Thursday, July 31, 2008

Expanding our Family

I was talking to someone today, and she was asking if we wanted to have "our own kids"
I came up with an answer later in the day when talking out the conversation. Realizing that I so infrequently give voice to my real desires thinking that if I don't put words to them, and act on making them happen, perhaps it will be less painful if they don't materialize.

Sitting back, and talking openly, she helped me find the words that have been inside for so long. Yes, we really want to expand our family. 

All my love to our three wonderful children, and may my wishes come true for more. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I was reading a post about why someone blogs and I could not help but agree with her thoughts..In a nutshell, because you can totally say what you think. 
Her goes. 

I am struggling with my parents coming out for a visit. Originally, they had planned to come out in July and spend about 10 days with us and then a few days with my step sister who recently moved to Palo Alto and is more recently going through a divorce. Suffice to say, I was surprised when I called to chat one week, and my step mother mentioned that they would not be able to come out..They had wanted to go to Tanglewood with friends and also come out to spend time with all of us in SF. Since the prices of everything had gone up so much, Tanglewood was the only thing they could afford to do. This was the same call in which I learned that my step sister was now getting a divorce ( there had been no sign of this coming ) 
I was a bit surprised, and I realize a moment later, a bit hurt. Thankful that my stepmother said what she was really thinking, but sort of struck by the choice. 
In the past, my quick response would have been to suggest paying-for the ticket, hotel whatever. Instead, answering honestly as well, I let her know that unfortunately, due to starting our business and our fertility treatments we too were a bit strapped. 

At the same time, I so wanted them to come out. Last year, spending time before and during our weeding week was really meaningful and I long to have us all spend more time together. Knowing the past and creating more of a connection as a family. 
My suggestion, was to figure out how to perhaps use miles for the trip, and that I would look into this over the next week or so. Thinking more about the dates, I was honest about when it would make the most sense for us to have them come..Scott and I talked and thought more about what we wanted the week to really look like. So here we are now. 

I have not made any calls to the airlines. I have thought countless times about the week and what it could look like...I have felt the pain of them not, for once, just getting on a plane and choosing to come out instead of something else. Why is this, and why has it been a pattern for so long. 

So now, I get ready to call..To see if there is a way that I can move us closer to what I believe we want and what none of us seems to have the courage to do. Acknowledge the love that I feel and the hopes that I have. To act from the heart. To talk about what is there. 

To them, not just to you. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting an Education

What an education. The cost of fertility drugs and one cycle of treatment is the same as a year of college. Scary. Researching a variety of options to get drugs for a bit less ( first, the list of online suppliers-all legit and then the fertility clinic advises that you let them know your insurance does not cover IVF) Trust me, I appreciate the advice, but it is amazing to think about how many people have the opportunity to help you along the way.

Part of you thinks, at whatever cost, we will have a baby. Part of you thinks, oh my gosh, maybe we will get pregnant this month. The challenge I think is to pause. To focus on what matters, and not worry about all the other stuff. Sometimes, easier said then done.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Art of the Start...Peek Aren't You Curious

As I sit here on a Sunday morning, I think about the choices we all make, active and inactive.  A few years ago, my ( now ) husband and I would talk about what we want our life to include and how we could go about making it happen. 

As we took walks together, we talked about his kids and how we wanted to spend our time as a family, as much time with the kids as possible, having children of our own, the opportunity to work with creative people, build a concept that we were truly proud of and one that held our beliefs and dreams. For the first time, I found myself giving voice to the boxes of children's clothes, books and toys I had collected from my years of travel and truthfully my hopes to start a family. The boxes that I could not open up litterally or conceptually over the years. As we talked, I kept thinking about how much I love children, the freedom of expression, the emotions that pour out of them, the world through their eyes. As a child myself, I had been fortunate in some ways and less so in others. I always imagined what it would be like to love and adore children of my own.  As we talked, ideas started to form. 

For years, I had been working for companies, with smart and creative people who often became some of my closest friends. I never planned my career with the exception of dilligently pursuing an internship in Retail during my Junior year in College. From there, I was lucky enough to work for and meet some great people along the way-ending up years later in a company that I basically grew up in. After fourteen years, and a change in Management, it was clear that it was finally time to move on. Moving on include a new job, a new city ( LA ) and a new outlook on life. It was if the world had completely opened up. 

Meeting Scott at work, I saw a different life. I found a partner who shared the same dreams and a love for life and adventure that I never new. We found in each other a balance between learning, growing and supporting each other and with that, dreams came pouring out of our hearts and heads. For now, it was about wanting and creating. 

As we stepped back, and really decided ( slowly at first ) to start our company I was incredibly optimistic and scared. The security that we had known for so long was gone, and yet it was as if that world no longer fit. This world is a new world-one of risk, adventure, learning, failure, joy and tremendous personal growth. It is taking some getting used to, mostly as I learn that it requires constant dedication, honesty and a commitment like nothing I have ever done. 

I think back at all that we have done and learned...Finding a partner, starting a business entity, creating a concept, finding an office space, registering our trademarks, developing a fund raising plan, partnering with great manufactures,  hiring the first team members, establishing creative partnerships, opening the first store, going to trade shows, creating all of the elements of the brand, sharing the concept with the real estate community, moving into a bigger office, reconnecting with old friends, getting and shipping our first order to Barney's, getting on Daily Candy...I would not have it any other way. 

To those who have joined us, all I can say is thank you for helping make our dreams come true. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

One step Closer

Just off the phone with our clinical coordinator. We have had a few appointments to prep for our IVF cycle, and today getting down to all the detail. Our clinical coordinator had a " minor procedure yesterday" so we had our meeting over the phone. Before the call, in my usual fashion, I was thinking I wanted both of us to be on the call so we could go through all of this together, understand what was coming up and just because. The other side of me of course thought, maybe I should just take the call myself and take notes to review with Scott later. Must be thinking I should not bother him with the details of this, and of course missing that we both are in this together. He wants to actually be on the phone, has been at all the appointments and is as excited and scared as I ( in different ways ) to have a baby together and add another child to our family.

Hmmm..I always thought I would not fall into any stereotypes. Would not feel badly about not being able to get pregnant without assistance, not feel emotional that we could not have a romantic weekend or period of months where we were trying and then we were surprised to find out one month we were expecting. And yet, here we are. Scared, excited, proud, and moving one step closer. Surrounded by a lot of people who want to help. Family, Doctors, Friends, Folks from work. 
There is no pride in doing things alone and without effort, disappointment, loss. As I think back on the week, I realize that at so many moments, letting others in and truly stepping towards loved ones gave us all the chance to truly participate in life. It is hard to say out loud that the pain that comes from thinking you won't be able to get pregnant and then to realize there is so much that you try. To go through a few months of hoping that now that their are doctors involved, that despite some of the statistics that this should likely work for you. It is hard for me to imagine the day that we find out we are pregnant, maybe because I am afraid it may not come. 

My husband always says to me that we are incredibly fortunate to have and write a love story. We found each other, we want more for each other, and we love each other with out question. This is the next chapter. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A great day ( and night )

Just back from LA, spending time with friends last night, and then a dear dear friend this morning..What a great few days. 

Last night was fantastic...good friends, great laughs, a simple birthday bash poolside in West Hollywood. Close friends, lots of love and good conversation. 

The thank you note this morning from the bday girl...

" thank you for all of your beautiful presence and making my bday celebration so special. I love you. Namaste "

To she and her husband I say thank you as well...for fighting, supporting each other, going deeper and knowing that there is much still to be explored..Much love...and may everyday be a celebration of your life. 

Cupcake image courtesy of  Team sugar

Monday, July 14, 2008

Love and Loss

A close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer late last year...A surprise to all of us, as she is young, kind hearted, practices and has learned about her yoga practice in a complete and loving way. I was so sad when I heard the news originally through a good friend, and have held her in my heart and thoughts for the last year. I did not realize until today how afraid I am of losing her, or anyone I love. Why is it that the fear of loss, heavy in my heart causes me at times to pull away.
We have all experienced loss and pain, and have nursed friends and family back to health or closer to death in a loving way. Is it the loss of my own mother so early on? First to the disease and then to life itself? Was it the shielding of a child, the absence of honest conversation and feelings that causes me to be so good at moving on.
It is no longer who I want to be. I want to be there, every step of the way, loving, losing, and experiencing. I don't want to hide behind the to dos at work, or logistics...But it is hard.

Her life has been a rich and loving one. Her birthday and every other day is a true gift. Live Simply, Love often, Face fear and never walk alone.

Tonight a small birthday celebration and more a celebration of living a connected life.
To my life partner, thank you for continuing to show me the way.

A day at the Beach....( The February Version )

A Day at the Beach...I was looking back at some old photos, and love this series....We were down in Los Angeles, after we opened our first store and were doing a really informal photo shoot with a friend. 

The kids were totally relaxed, running around and enjoying a February day at the Beach. 

Everything is better with kids....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Through a child's eyes.

A fun afternoon....the kids came home after camp yesterday with their step brother who is visiting for 6 weeks from Florida. He lives with his mom and comes to see his Father, Stepmom, and the kids on school holidays and vacations. Scott told me about the afternoon, and how dimensional it was-I was hoping he would be coming home with us today as well.

Making sure that he and all of the kids know that at the heart of it, we are all part of one huge extended family, and wanting them all to occupy each others lives as much and as easily as possible. 
It is amazing to me to watch the 4 of them ( ages 6-13 ) play, laugh and look out for each other. 
I can not imagine what it might be like to spend such little time together and with his Dad, and have so many questions. He is such a sweet and friendly kid-assuming the role of the oldest ( with ease ) and talking about his Mom, Cousins and friends at school..I am so thankful for the kids who make everything so easy, and who just want to be and love each other and those around them. It is such a good reminder of what is important. 

When we drove home later, and it was just Zach and I in the car, his stories and memories about trips with family, a cousin that was living to be with his father for a while, the tension between other adults in his life told me there was so much conflict on his mind. What must it be like for him to be away from his Dad, and the family he was now a part of ? I have my own theories, but don't know what is really there. I have my own wants for them, but realize better that I focus on being and becoming myself. 
What I keep thinking about, is often how easy it is to stay in your own head, and experience things with your own past, hurts, and lens.  Yesterday was about love, about belonging and knowing that the kids can move freely in all of their worlds, and any they choose. 

The afternoon, and conversation on the way home reminded me of one of the responsibilities of adulthood. It is about being the person you can best be. Living from a place of love and grace, and knowing how closely all of the kids around you are paying attention.

It is often this that shapes them, and it is this that we leave behind. 

Camera Ready-The Perfect Baby Gift

There is nothing that is better then photographs of your kids....All around the house, we have great candid black and white and color photos of the kids over the years. 
My FAVORITE gift to give when someone has a baby ( in addition to stuff from our store...)
is this great out of print book from Arthur Elgort one of the all time best photographers. 

The images of his kids are fantastic, and there are really practical tips for even the most amateur photographer. 

You can get it at Amazon How to Shoot Your Kids

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

Our friend Jo Manolis was over a few weeks ago, we were all hanging out at the pool and then had a simple BBQ with all the kids...
At one point in the evening, our youngest wanted to help with the dinner prep ( corn peeling...)
We were all gathered in the kitchen, with kids and grown ups alike prepping various parts of the meal..Unfortunately someone ( we still are not quiet sure who ) grabbed the corn and within seconds shucked all 8 ears...A world record for speed no doubt.

The result is posted above. For a moment, a simple collander on the head was the way to sooth the pain. A quiet escape from the world. A moment to reflect.
As Jo said...I wish I could do that sometimes.

Her work on a more serious note is amazing..We are fortunate to call her a friend.
Check out her blog at Jo Ann Manolis photography

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Falling in love again

A quiet morning around the house, the kids will be here later today and a fun filled weekend for all...I am sitting here thinking about two close friends, who are in serious relationships with guys that have children from their first marriage. It brings me back to meeting our three kids, four years ago. The journey of a blended family and step parenting is pretty amazing, particularly I think, if you don't have your own children. In our case, Scott was incredibly thoughtful about our initial time together, and allowing everyone to naturally bond with each other. Thinking and managing from the sidelines, and making sure to understand all of the emotions-fear, excitement, disappointment, jealousy..We had it easy I think. The kids were amazing, were incredibly loving and secure. I think the most difficult part, was the oldest understanding early on that this meant his parents were not getting back together-an understandable fantasy for an almost seven year old. 
When I think about my friends, I can't help but want to share my own learnings. 

1. Talk with your significant other, and understand what the kids or his ex might be going through. It will help you understand as you navigate new relationships where to spend your emotional energy and time..Their has likely been a great deal of hurt for all in the relationship, and despite your best efforts that can not be healed overnight. 

2. Trust that the kids will express their feelings. Their capacity for love is likely infinite and the more secure and loved they feel, the happier and more emotionally aware they will be. It is not about choosing who to love or express emotions to, let them move between all of you with ease. 

3. Be and trust yourself. Love with abandon, have fun, find your own way and style. 
Time will tell you what and how to participate in their lives. Don't worry about anyone but your self and your new family. 

4. Don't react to the ex. Enough said. 

5. Know that their will be awkward moments. Be yours self. Smile, take a moment, act in a way you can be proud of. 

6. Understand what a gift you have been given. Time goes by really quickly. Seeing the world through a child's eyes and experiencing life with kids is unbelievably fun and challenging. 

Let your self go and experience it all. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Old Quote, A New Day.

There are times
To hold open a door.
To surrender your seat.
To thank someone in writing.
To let bygones be bygones.
To remember your parents.
To listen with care.
To surprise with a gift.
To mind your manners.
To honor tradition.
To give voice to your heart.

An old add from Tiffany, that I have carried around for a bit. Simple, and honest.
When I started giving voice to my heart-much of the world opened up.

Love Conquers All

I woke up this morning, and was just lazing around stretching in bed for a moment. 
The kids are with their mom for the holiday weekend, so Scott and I have had a low key, relaxing, lazy few days. Catching up with life, riding bikes, cooking, reading, thinking, talking, truly enjoying each other and the summer days.
The usual routine is Scott getting up at 5 or so, but on a Sunday with no kids, even he can sleep until 6:00 ish. Going downstairs, making coffee and grabbing the paper. Usually 30 minutes or so of the days news and a moment to reconnect with the new day. 

This morning. A thump. Strange I thought, did someone drop something off. 
When I came down, moments later. The package. Manila envelope from Pacific Fertility Center. 
The Notebook. When we talked to our doctor by phone on Wednesday, she went through the next steps, and was clearly pleased that we were moving into the next phase. When we first met about a year ago ( coincidentally ) she had shared the treatment options and statistics. Basically, our issue was my age. Simply put, the tests were all fine, but the amazing drop in fertility as you get older was really news to me. Ever the optimist, and having been so scared that something more then age was the issue, I settled into the idea that the first, most simplistic course of treatment would work. We had, up until this point done nothing other then monitor cycles and try to be more aware of timing..It did not sink in that these odds were only 8% per cycle. I wanted to believe, was still somewhat scared, and most of all, wanted to get pregnant without all this fanfare and help. 

Why I think to myself, did I let a year go by. What have we learned about ourselves, our relationship and our family. A lot I realize. Parenting and coupling is hard. After years of taking care of myself and others, I know now, I had a solitary process and approach that worked for me then. The notion of truly partnering, understanding, and creating together was unknown to me, and I did not have a picture of what this looked or felt like. My picture was about people or persons that were capable. Being able to solve problems, make plans, take care of things financially...It was not about understanding what was underneath all of it, and how to create a life that was rich in relationships, personal and emotionally security, a sense of grace and a place from wish all emotions-fear, rage, love, hope, anger could be experienced. I have been on that journey now for a while, and have learned a great deal. 

Now is the right time, as I pull open the binder, with a feeling of excitement, pride, nervousness and general emotion, I know that the time for us is right. 

My thought for the day-Love conquers all.. from an artist I was recently introduced to, her work and simple messages are amazing..Her shop is Paloma's Nest

Saturday, July 5, 2008

the beginning

As I sat, finishing my book last night, a few things became clear. 
I have a strong desire to connect with what is in my heart. 
Let me start at the beginning, and please know, this may take some time. 
If I don't start there, none of this will make complete sense. 
There are in fact quite a few beginnings.

At the age of 12 days, my birth mother signed the papers and gave me up for adoption. From what little I know, that was not an easy decision.
At the age on one month and one day, I met and came home to my parents. From what I know, they were thrilled and could not wait to bring me home and build their family.
At the age of 8, my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She was in and out of the hospital for years. 
At the age of 14, my parents wanted to send me away for a few years. As I was told, with her illness, my brother and I were too much to handle. A dear friend and family invited me to live with them. A year later, as had been agreed to, I moved in with my closest friend and her loving parents. 
At the age of 15, I got a call to come home. A day later, my mom died. 
At the age of 18, I meet my step mom to be. 
At the age of 19, my dad remarried.
At the age of 28, I got married. 
At the age of 35, I got separated and divorced. 
At 35, I fell in love. 
At 35, I fell in love again. This time, with my husbands three children. There were nerves too..but more on that later. 
At 39, I married the love of my life and began to understand what marriage truly meant.
At 39, I became a stepmother.
At 39, we tried to get pregnant. Naturally at first, and then with some help. More on that later. 
At 40, we are starting IVF and moving closer to our dream.

Last night, I  began to realized what I have been afraid of. Obvious I am sure to my husband, and to others maybe as they read. How can I be a mom, when I don't know what one looks like. 
When so many memories are of being given away, running away and being scared. When the instincts I have now, to mother my step children are at times questioned? 
What I start to understand, is that the first step is allowing myself to fall into the want. To find the words to say how scared I am, but that I know we can do this together. To stop myself from making lists of all the reasons we should not...3 kids already, how they might feel ( they could not be more excited about the idea of a baby brother or sister ) not being able to get pregnant, being overwhelmed,  fearing that things with my husband and I will change ( and yes, I know they will ) a desire to spend time at home, and having a created outlet and not knowing how to balance it woes of starting a business and having a family of five to take care of already, what car will fit us all...You get the picture. And yet,  I can not bury the want and the fears anymore. 
This blog, a place to share it all. 

On Monday, A new begining. Our meeting with our IVF nurse coordinator and financial coordinator. We begin again. 

Image courtesy of Erica Bartel