Thursday, December 18, 2008

3 Best Things...

One of our favorite games to play is called "3 Best Things."

Since it's a busy time for everyone, we simply wanted to highlight this month's 3 Best Things. These are of course debatable! *wink*

1) Married 6 Years! This month we celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe that it has been "so long." Harder to believe that we have, hopefully, another 50+ to go! We are forever grateful that we were married in the Washington D. C. Temple 6 years ago... Mostly, we are grateful for the covenants that bind us as a family for eternity.

2) Alex's Graduation! He did it in 5 semesters... If someone asked us whether we enjoyed being in grad school and providing for a family of 3 amidst many other responsibilities, our answer would be NO! If someone asked us if it was worth it, our answer would be a resounding YES! We have never doubted the prophet's council to get as much education as you can.

3) Christmas! We are so happy to celebrate the Savior's birth. It's such a tender thing for us and hope that it's a treasured time for all of you as well. Merry Christmas from Alex, Tiff & Stevie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Grate-free. Thank-free.

Would you believe that I didn't take a single photo during the entire month of November? Believe it! I think it must be a reflection of the type of month we were having. You know the kind... where every second counts! Either way, I found this vintage family thanksgiving photo online and I LOVED it! Whoever those folks are... I love them! Especially the scary boy and grandma! It would please me to have you remember our November in such a way.

Like I said before: every second counts these days, so here is a quick summary. Alex's graduation is a breath away. Stevie attended her first live play (Alice in Wonderland!) Tiffany played the bass in a trio during sacrament meeting. Our plans for after graduation are still up in the air, but we have some solid choices to make and should know more soon... very soon... attending the adult stake conference session was truly revelatory. Stevie is spending the week at Hotel Studefornia (my parent's cabin) with Grammy, Pa-Pa, Clark & "Aum" or Austin... it's crazy on many levels to not have her around. Tiffany's YW presidency is finally back to business as all the positions have been "refilled." If you don't know why this pleases her so much, then count your blessings! And count our blessing we did... we spent Thanksgiving at Hotel Studefornia with Clark, Aum and good friends Leah & Than. They thought they would stay for only one night... obviously they didn't know that you can check out but can never leave! We had ham instead of turkey (who needs turkey anyway!) and played "3 best things" during dinner. Alex & Tiff were even able to steal away to the Raleigh, NC temple for a session the following day. We also voted this month, and are grateful to participate in such a sacred opportunity. Tiffany enjoyed YW Night of Excellence, hosted Book Club, taught violin lessons and was thrilled to see the new 007 movie. Last but not least, there is no news on the fertility front, but stay tuned! I think that does it! Is your head spinning? See ya next month!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Story Time with Pa-Pa
Boating with Great-Grammy
Grammy Eats at Joe's
Robb & Matt Babysit at Temple Square
Cousin Jenna in UT
Picnic with Friends
YW Apple Picking
Stevie the Pirate, "RRRRR!"
Swabbing the Deck
Well, basketball practices started last month. That means I'm more than usually busy with my YW. We really feel like our entire family life is hanging by a thread as we await Alex's graduation and the changes that will surly follow thereafter. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am big on planning ahead and it's really killing me that we don't have a decision made as to what will happen after Dec. 13th. We are steadfast in trying finalize the solution that is right for our family, but so much of it depends on other people and situations that are beyond our control. FRUSTRATING! However, Alex has been so encouraging in his never failing energies for our family. Being a full-time student, full-time consultant, full-time dad, full-time husband and and active member of the church is no walk in the proverbial park! He has yet to take a "sick day," he doesn't ever stop being proactive when he is discouraged, he goes most nights without more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep, never takes "me time" and he does this in the face of all his trials. I am always amazed by his resolve to redefine the concept of "work" with his every endeavor. In the end, his having a MS will be worth it, but it is all to often difficult to see the end from the beginning.

October was a let down in the fertility treatments arena. I ovulated REALLY early, if I ovulated at all. We did our best, but it was a bust. The frustrating part was how sure I can make myself that "this is the month" even when all rationalization points to the other reality. Don't think we have given up though... I just survived another Clomid treatment cycle (and I didn't kill anyone) and we are ever hopeful in the weeks that follow.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go and testify before the Virginia Senate Advisory Commission as a proponent of a bill that would mandate health insurance coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment. It was a really frightening experience because I didn't know what to expect. However, now that I have done it - I would do it again without breaking a sweat. The proceedings were pretty low-key and about as informal as a formal meeting can be. I really enjoyed being able to speak out and take action on something that is really important to me as well as learning and participating in a part of our political system that most citizens aren't even aware exists. In a month that has been so stressful for our country, it was incredibly rewarding to be able to say to myself at the end of the day, "I took action." An intelligent person could probably argue against the issue I was supporting, but I stood up and testified, I didn't just "talk" about it to cause contention. When is said and done, I feel good about my contribution and will continue to work as a volunteer for RESOLVE in the future.

There was also quite a bit of time spent having good ol' fashioned fun last month... Stevie was a Pirate (along with Mommy & Daddy) for Halloween and enjoyed a visit from the great pumpkin. On another note: Stevie, Grammy & I traveled to UT to visit Great-Grammy and PaPa (and Matt & Robb and other extended family!) It was marvelous (although I do wish it weren't so dry out West!) We spent a lot of time in family gatherings and having fun. I really enjoyed going to the Salt Lake Temple with Mom and Grammy. It was my first time in a live session and the boys played with Stevie around Temple Square while we were inside. Also, nice not to have to find a babysitter and 8 hours to attend the temple! I think Stevie's favorite parts of the trip were: PaPa reading her stories, playing with Matt & Robb, all of Grammy's "bebes" and our visit to Cabela's to see the stuffed displays and all the "rrraaa's." There was also a chance to see Emily Lineberry Gibby (plus husband!) and Emily Kotter Cheney (plus baby!) from my Old School SVU days. It's always great to go West to see the friends and family that I care so much about. Honestly, I don't know why they all want to be on that side of the continent. Wouldn't they much rather they relocate or visit the East Coast more often? Until that time, it was nice seeing everyone and enjoying their company.

One more thing cannot go without note in the month of October. Homecoming at SVU. We weren't really interested in going until we found out that Sara "Boo" Smith would be driving down. That was a deal-maker. We really enjoyed seeing her and Leah and Than and the Kohls
(as well as their fabulous farm-stead). I think we met some of the highest quality people on earth while we were at SVU and it was really great to spend some time chatting with the close friends mentioned above as well as many of our old professors, their families and other alumni who hearken back to our near decade in Rockbridge County. Those memories are so sweet for us and we found that our Friday night "fling" and combined Orchestra/Choir Concert were energizing and well worth the sleep that was lost.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fertility isn't always FREE...

Magical World of Disney:

Happy 2nd Birthday Stevie:

(She just wanted to dig into that cupcake and the fire on top scared her!
She recoved quickly!)
Another month has gone away and now we are only 10 weeks away from Alex's graduation date! Can you feel our excitement? If you can't, it's probably because we are too TIRED to be excited right now, but the end is in sight. We have a countdown calendar on our wall to remind us of that fact! Alex will soon have an MS and considering all that is going on in our country economically... we are especially grateful for our education.

I (Tiff) have had to find some ways to cope after my YW leadership got changed around. I knew I couldn't have all the best ladies in our ward working with me forever, but I could dream. Things are stabilizing now and I'm excited to work with our "new additions." Perhaps as a process in my grieving for those lost, I cut my hair in a major way... and got highlights! (Something I haven't done since I was 15!) I love it, and I loved getting to spend some time with my most wonderful college bunnies/hippos Kim, Leah & Sara Boo at the temple.

Disney world/Orlando FL was WONDERFUL! We hadn't had a family vacation in too long and it was so choice to see little Stevie and Pa-Pa so excited about everything. Stevie was an angel the whole time (except when the Snow White witch scared the poop out of her!) but by the end of day 4 she had fallen victim to a harsh sensory overload. I always remember loving Disney trips as a kid, but I had lost the magic somewhere in my adolescence. I never realized until now, how remarkable it could be to discover something all over again through the eyes of a child.

Of note in our fertility journey: My other cyst cleared up and we were able to have a "real" treatment cycle in September, but it was unsuccessful. The doctor is optimistic and says if there is no progress we will reevaluate treatment in a few months. The good news is, I ovulated on my own (without hCG) for the first time and there was an egg from each ovary (which is great because one tube is blocked) AND my progesterone level was 24 (awesome, considering my prescriptions and history of bad progesterone!) It has been near weekly appointments and sometimes as much as 11 different pills I have to down on a given day (all of which have their own nasty little side effects) but in the coming months it will lessen to only 1 visit to the doc each month... thank goodness! I will have to say, the hardest pill to swallow right now is the Bill! They sneak up on you with a $103 visit here, a $79 Rx there and then you realize as you try to pay your bills: fertility isn't always free.

So, there are a lot of question marks in our future right now? How long will we be on Algiers Drive? Where will Alex be working, come Jan 1, 2009? Will we be expecting before Stevie turns 3? Most of our questions are largely out of our hands and will depend a lot on economics. For now, we do what we can with the things that are within our ability to control.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


4 Generations of Studebaker:
Great-Grandpa Studie:

Practicing for his funeral!

Cutting his socks!
Wearing out his welcome!
Pool Party

Quilt-Top Tent
Grammy Wheelin'

When it's Worth it:

Often a month passes by and we think, "Where'd it go?" This was not one of those months! Between Work/YW/School/Birthdays/Etc. we felt every minute of it.

Before getting into a fun little story, we just wanted to let you all in on our fertility news... Early in July, I (Tiff) had an HSG (which inconveniently had to be scheduled in the middle of girls camp - making for an extra 6 hour drive - EEK!) which didn't yield great news. Last time I had this done, before Stevie, everything was great... This time, I had some blockage show up in one of my tubes... which is potentially problematic when coupled with PCOS. However, Alex was checked out and is all fine there... for which we are very grateful . For now, I am down to one large cyst on the same ovary that was troubling me before and we have to wait another month on medication before we can actually get down to business. We are hopeful for September.

Now, when you had a crazy month like we did - nothing feels better than forgetting it all and having an adventure... and that's exactly what I did. The day after my birthday Clark took me on a little trip through the woods that I won't soon forget. In fact, I hadn't had an adventure like the one we shared since Alex & I got lost in Venice!

We started off breaking the law and cruising on a road that we weren't licensed to drive the 4 wheeler on. Then, Clark took a turn into a full-fledged ditch and trail-less mountain path. Up, up, up we went into the dense undergrowth of the VA backwoods. I kept clutching his little bod and thinking I would crush the poor kid before we got anywhere near the top. I even practiced my speech for what I would say to the Ranger who would inevitably come to retrieve his body! After about 30 minutes, I started to get used to peeling the spiders off my eyes and mouth and getting hit in the face by logs and brush. At some point, I told Clark that I was sure we were being followed by some dude who was throwing rocks at my hands... only to realize that it was the trees snapping up from under the tires and crunching my fingers.

As if that wasn't adventure enough... there was the crash. At some point we lost the "trail" and ended up careening into a nest of Brown Recluse and old tree vines. One of these vines got wrapped around the front tire and Clark told me to start hiking down the embankment (in my shorts and sandals!) while he broke the tire loose. Pretty soon I see him coming down the hill toward me. It looked like he was pushing the 4-wheeler until I realized he wasn't slowing down. The 4-wheeler was pulling him! I jumped out of the way just in time to see his panicked face shoot by me. Then he did the most "007" move I have ever seen in real life... He catapulted his body onto the speeding coaster just in time to squeeze the brakes with his outreached hand. "James Bond" came to a stop literally 4 inches from a HUGE tree. Yes, these events took place exactly as I have described... and this time I didn't have time to practice my speech for the Ranger that I was certain would have to come to our rescue.

We couldn't get the vehicle to start after that and continued on foot. I got a spider bite and soon discovered we were hiking through Poison Ivy, as well as serving a feast for every mosquito in Carroll County. Then, the trees and everything just vanished and we were at the top. For miles in every direction all I saw was scene after beautiful scene. Sometimes it's worth it... and when it's worth it, you know. As with all good "hikes," this was worth it.

Was it over then? No - a great adventure never ends after you get your reward! We still had almost a full hour of more: retrieving the bike, trails, cliffs, puddles, snakes, creek crossings and illegal roads to pass through before we found a worried family awaiting our late return for dinner. (They had spent the evening picking wild blackberries! Wooses!) It was only then that I realized all the people who had told me, "You just have to go up there!" had never been themselves! My favorite part was seeing the fridge and stove that had been abandoned 10 miles up the mountain from any sort of road... I love Virginia and Virginia loves me!

Well, now that I have emptied my brain a bit I suppose I should be able to focus on the bills for at least on hour! (maybe!) We are so thankful for all the "people" in our lives: past, present and future. Lately, I have spent a lot of time thinking/worrying about the debt I owe to so many. It really brings home the Atonement and I have come to realize that somethings just can't be paid back, and shouldn't. As I cleaned Stevie's vomit off my clothes and face today I found myself staring at the reality: We are indentured servants to one another... and what a beautiful sacrifice it is.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feel Free to Participate...

Below is a link to a page with some easy/simple ideas that would help raise support for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. I am a member/volunteer and know that RESOLVE makes a difference in a lot of lives. Let me know if you have any questions!