Random Acts

Shop Locally

Hubby & I started yesterday in Royal Oak & Ferndale … but today is the day to shop at your local small businesses. If we all shop small, we’ll be giving our economy a big boost!

So shop locally … while thinking globally

Practicing What I Preach

Click on the pic to read other 2010 selections

Dear Curious,

Thank you for your comment on my previous post. As always, I welcome any responses to what I write. To me, any response means that I’m effectively getting my words out into the world.

My last post did not mean to belittle Cancer as a disease. And yes, I realize that I was a bit over the top and melodramatic at the end. I truly debated as to whether or not I should respond to you. But then I thought that I should really practice what I preach.

And what I’ve been preaching lately is that it’s better to educate others about Infertility than perpetuating a myth.

In this case, it’s the myth that Infertility is not a disease, but rather just a “condition” that is a result of a “badly dealt hand” in life.

Or as Margaret Wente’s editorial in The Globe and The Mail indicates, “Many things in life are deeply unfair, and infertility is just one of them … … [In the] meantime, record numbers of people are embracing childlessness out of choice. It seems that one person’s deep unfairness is another’s blessed liberation.”

So, as an RN Case Manager … who has not only taken care of many Cancer patients at the hospital and has followed up with them on an ongoing basis after they’ve returned to their homes … let me take the opportunity here to dispell this myth.

1. Let’s first get our definitions straight.

Condition: a usually defective state of health (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Disease: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Cancer: a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues (from the National Cancer Institute website)

Diabetes: a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin (from the American Diabetes Association website)

Infertility: a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (as defined by the World Health Organization, as stated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine website).

2. Now, let’s discuss the difference between a condition and a disease.

Many diseases started out as a being known as a “condition.” Diabetes was a “sugar condition.” Asthma was a “breathing condition.” It’s not until science began to do more research to determine the reason for its abnormal patterns in functioning that a condition came to be called a disease.

To me, this is why giving voice to Infertility and educating the general population is extremely important: so that more research can be done to discover how to effectively and consistently treat Infertility. And when I mean “consistently,” I mean that there should be a specific pathway (or guideline to follow) for treatment of Infertility. Much like there are standards of practice for treatment of the various types of Cancer.

3. Now let me discuss why I think all diseases aren’t fatal, as you’ve indicated.

Eczema isn’t fatal. Scleroderma isn’t fatal. Diabetes isn’t even fatal. What’s fatal is what happens if appropriate treatment is not carried out. That’s when other health conditions (or comorbidities) can add to the complications involving the disease.

Going back to Diabetes: If a Diabetic’s blood sugar isn’t controlled properly, then this could lead to diabetic nephropathy — or kidney disease. This is caused by the kidneys working overtime to filter out protein from the body. Continued overworking can cause kidney failure which could, again if untreated could cause toxicity in the body, ultimately leading to death. But would a pathologist consider diabetes as the cause of death in a situation like this? Likely no; it would most likely be kidney failure as a complication from Diabetes.

Now, substitute diabetes in this situation with, let’s say … pancreatic cancer. Again, pancreatic cancer could more likely be the complication in a fatal situation such as this.

4. So now let me talk about why I think complications from Infertility can be fatal.

First there’s the idea of an abnormal reproductive system; which, like most diseases, could be caused from a variety of different sources. In this case, it’s during any part of the reproductive cycle. But just for sh*ts and giggles … let’s say that — in determining the cause for Infertility — the woman discovers that she has Ovarian Cancer. Or we find out that the man has Testicular Cancer. Then I could logically assume (as you’ve pointed out) that Infertility can be related to Cancer (or vice versa, for that matter) and any complications that result from Cancer can be fatal.

Or … how about this? Let’s say, in the quest to have a child, a woman who has put her body at risk to become pregnant is suddenly more at risk during her pregnancy because of Pre-ecclampsia. And suddenly it becomes evident that a choice needs to be made as to whether to save the woman or her baby? I know women who have tragically been through this. And I hope, sometime in your life that you might have some empathy for them …

5. And finally, speaking of sympathy … I must point out that sympathy for my Infertility is not what I’m asking from you … or from anyone.

What I really want is empathy. And that would mean that I’d want the understanding from others that Infertility is a disease and it deserves to be recognize. It’s not something to be swept under the rug or ignored.

And quite frankly, I would hope that a person with Cancer would also want empathy rather than sympathy. For me, someone who is sympathetic can only “feel” pity and sorrow for someone’s misfortune. While a person who is empathetic has the ability to recognize, comprehend, perceive and directly feel the emotion of another. Seriously. I’d rather have someone recognize and comprehend how difficult it is to be in my situation than to just simply say (perhaps in their head), “Too bad, so sad.”

So here’s one last set of definitions.

Sympathy: the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

So hopefully you now have a better understanding of why I wrote my last post.

I’m not asking for more recognition than what Cancer, with its multitude of community support, already has. I’m just simply asking for recognition.

And finally … just so you know. I am a survivor of Infertility … not because one of my parents suffered from Infertility (because my Mom did ) … and not because I ended up having children (because I didn’t) … I consider myself a survivor because I was able to sustain years of treatment for Infertility and came out the other end of a verrry long tunnel with my dignity (relatively) intact.

Best of luck in wherever your life takes you,
Emily

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Lessons Learned

Lessons I’ve learned from posting daily for the past 64 days:

  1. It’s tougher than you think
  2. Like anything, you have to make time in your busy day to write.
  3. I can find inspiration in just about anything.
  4. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s more “motivation” block.
  5. Because I can think of a ton of things I’d like to write, but sometimes don’t have the mental toughness or patience to fight through it.
  6. And really, it’s more the patience I have an issue with; since time seems to be limited lately.
  7. But if I had all the time in the world, I could probably do it 365 days a year.
  8. And if money wasn’t an issue, I’d do it for a living.
  9. One day, I’d love to write a book; probably fiction.
  10. But for now, I’ll settle with promising to write … not daily, but at least three or four times a week.

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Lessons I’ve learned from my Lenten promise:

  1. It’s tougher than you think.
  2. But not in the way I thought it would be tough.
  3. I found I was generally apt to do good deeds without thinking twice.
  4. And not take any “credit” for it.
  5. Because taking “credit” or having the “spotlight” for doing something nice is not something I’ve ever  felt comfortable with.
  6. So writing about something that would otherwise come natural to me seemed forced.
  7. As if I was “bragging” about myself.
  8. Which brings me back to that Eighth Grade version of me.
  9. But I love the concept about “paying it forward.”
  10. So next year, I think I’ll do the same thing … but just not write about it.

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Last one. Which feels good …

Good Deed of the Day: For lack of better words, I saved my manager’s butt today. In other words, I discovered something that, if went undiscovered would have caused a major upheaval in this new “project” we’d been working on. Not that I expect to receive any “credit” for it (see #7 above), I just feel good knowing that this little boo-boo has now been fixed.

Grateful Thought of the Day: Days off … especially since I’m off for the next couple days. Woo-hoo! This means I can spend some quality time with my niece and nephew while they’re in town! Of course, this also means that there will be tons of work for me when I return … <sigh>

My New Life Eggsamined

Easter is another one of those holidays.

No, I don’t mean to belittle Catholicism; because I know that today is the most important Holy Day in the Catholic Faith. And, like Christmas, I do understand the “reason for the season.” I do realize that both are more than just holidays that brings out “fictional” characters (like a Bunny who “lays” eggs or a jolly rotund man dressed up in a red suit** ) that bring about candy and gifts.

What I mean to say is that Easter has become one of those holidays like Christmas and Mother’s/Father’s Day that, to an infertile couple, can be a difficult one. It’s a reminder of what we currently don’t have in our lives; the children who enjoy the wonderment of Easter and the joy that hopefully all parents have when they see the look in their kids eyes. It’s a reminder of all the new life that Springs brings into the world.

Perhaps some infertile couples go on to having children naturally or through other assistive measures. Others have braved the waters and opened their homes and hearts to adopt children. And then there are those that have taken the less explored road of living child-free.

While I can relate very much to those couples that are currently experiencing infertility; I find it more and more difficult to relate to those infertile couples that have crossed over to parenthood.

Please don’t get me wrong … I’m incredibly happy that those who have “survived” infertility have gone on to live their dreams of having a family. And I’m proud of the strength that they continue to have as they raise their children after all the struggles they went through to have them.

For those couples that have decided to live child-free, it wasn’t a decision that came lightly. It wasn’t something that came to us as if to say, “Well, we’ve already been living child-free; so why shake things up now?” And it’s certainly not a decision that we made based on selfishness.

Hubby & Me as Easter Eggs

No … it’s a decision that came after a long struggling road of peaks and valleys; of unnerving anxiety and unwanted stress. And when there was simply not enough energy, not enough finances; not enough miracles left from up above … the only option was to pick up the pieces of the already shattered dream and start a new life.

So perhaps this Easter; the first year that Hubby & I have officially decided to live child-free … it will be this Easter in which we celebrate the next phase in our marriage; we’ll begin our new life.

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Happy Easter to all of you out in Blogland! I hope that this Easter brings about a New Life in all of you. And now for the second to last Lenten Daily for the season.

Daily Good Deed: What better way to celebrate the arrival of my niece and nephew this evening by putting together a couple of Easter baskets? Nothing fancy, but a little something to let them know that they are loved by their Uncle & Auntie.

Daily Grateful Thought: We spent Easter afternoon with our friend T who invited us over to celebrate Easter with his mom and brother at his brother’s place in Evanston. Oh … and did I forget to tell you that T’s brother is a Jesuit priest?! Yes … we had an absolutely delightful time and am so grateful for such a wonderful Easter celebration. More importantly, I’m still so grateful for old friends.

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** Which, by the way …did you know that the North Magnetic Pole is currently located in Canada? Guess that means Santa Claus is Canadian.

Plum Tuckered Out

Ugh. This is the third to the last post before I finish up my Lenten promise. And I must say that I’m struggling to find the energy to write something rather creative.

Maybe I’m just exhausted today. After all, Hubby & I spent most of the day doing some major Spring cleaning. Afterwards, we headed out to run some errands and then grab a bite to eat before heading home. And now, Hubby & I are chilling out in front of the TV watching all those shows we DVR’ed over the past week.

Yesterday I got my lab test results back from my doctor. Other than being slightly anemic, everything else was normal. Even my thyroid levels. So that means that I am a lazy a$$ person who would rather do nothing more than work and sleep. And other than taking some over-the-counter iron supplements, I was told that the combination of my low Hgb level and my lack of ability to stay asleep was the reason for my chronic fatigue.

To which I say “Hmmph!”

Okay, so it’s not that I don’t doubt my Doc. It’s more that after all the years of dealing with infertility and needing to be able to “read” my body that I know something’s just not right here. I know that this ongoing fatigue is more than just anxiety and stress. I know it’s more than just the fact that I find myself tired even when I wake up after what I felt was a good night’s sleep.

For awhile I thought it was seasonal affective disorder. And I even thought that it was that same depression I felt for so long during the worst part of my infertility journey. But because I’m still on the appropriate treatment regimen for that, I’m pretty sure that this is not the case.

So I decided to do the next best thing; go see a specialist. After a couple of recommendations from both friends and fellow coworkers, I have a few Endocrinologist names in which to make an appointment with. I figure it’s worth a shot to do a little more exploration …

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Getting down to the wire here …

Good Deed of the Day: Does spending a couple minutes talking to a strange guy at the grocery store count? Even if it was really him doing all the talking about how cool he liked my “Made In Detroit” jacket?

Grateful Thought of the Day: Does being asked for ID when purchasing alcohol at the grocery store count as something I should be thankful for? Especially when I left said ID in the car? I had to convince the cashier that Hubby & I were married and that it was him (Hubby, who was bagging our own groceries) that was buying it. Either way, the cashier made me feel young; even if it was just for a moment.

Itchy & Scratchy

Day Three (and supposed last day) of beautiful Chicago weather. Not sure how high we hit today, but at the end of the work day I saw a sign that read 78 degrees.

AND, since tourists are out in full swing in Chi-town … riding home on Lakeshore Drive, I saw tons of people on the sandy beach of Lake Michigan. I even saw a couple bikinis out there! Which … I really hope they didn’t try to brave the lake water, because I’m sure it’s waaaay to cold!

But with great weather in the Spring comes one of the worse things of the year … and that’s those seasonal allergies. I knew they’d hit me one of these days when I noticed on Wednesday the trees beginning to bud. And today … yup, they hit me at full force.

Itchy eyes. Scratchy throat. Nonstop runny nose. Yep … gotta love allergies!

Despite it all, I wouldn’t trade the beautiful weather for anything. In fact, I’d rather OD on Benedryl before I’d spoil a great weather day!

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Busy day tomorrow; lots of cleaning abound. Must. Expose. Myself. To more. Allergens. (Oh joy!) But it’s all for a good cause … as this means that my niece and nephew will be heading into town Sunday evening!

So without any more ramblings … here’s my Lenten Dailies.

Daily Good Deed: On the bus ride from work to meet Hubby at the cafe on the opposite end of Michigan Avenue, I noticed a guy struggling to pull out money for the bus fare. So instead of making him dig for change, I took out my handy CTA Card and paid for his fare. Yeah, he was pretty grateful …

Daily Though of Gratitude: Visine for itchy eyes and Benedryl for all the other nasty allergy symptoms. At least I know I’ll be sleeping soundly tonite!!

Spring Has Sprung

What another beautiful day in Chicago … and apparently we hit a record high 83 degrees in the city today.

Let me tell you, it was verrry difficult to want to stay focused at work today. Not only because I had been working on these reports; which were strictly data driven (and boring as h*ll) … but because I would have rather been outside enjoying that incredible weather.

Rest assured, I got outta Dodge as soon as possible and met Hubby down on Michigan Avenue. And apparently, the rest of those lucky students and families that get an Easter Break were on the Magnificent Mile as well. After an entire winter of stragler tourists, I forgot how nuts it could be once the weather turned nice.

Anyway, Hubby & I took advantage of the nice day and did a little exploring. We ended up in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago and had a nice dinner at a small French Bistro. Then we walked next door to the pet store and oogled over cute puppies. Which of course had us missing our own menagerie of furbabies.

So we headed back home and decided to go for an extra long walk with our Kozzy-girl. All of us, dog included, need to lose that Midwestern Winter weight that we all put on these past few months.**

Our poor Kozzy … She was so excited to go for a walk. And even moreso when she realized we were walking much further than we normally do. Except … well, except then she realized that she had to walk that same amount back home. That’s when her pace slowed down considerably, her tail slunk down a little lower, and her tongue started hanging out of her mouth. And when we finally got back home, she lapped up all the water in a bowl in a manner of seconds.

Now … well, now she’s crashed on the rug right next to our couch, snoring. Loudly.

So. Adorable!!

The thing is, that I know today is just an April Fool’s joke. Because even though tomorrow is also supposed to be nice (three days in a row … woo-hoo!!) … the rest of the weekend is going to drop back down to the 50’s and be a bit rainy.

Well … must enjoy it while we can!

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I’m coming up on the last days of Lent. Can’t believe it’s almost the end …

Good Deed of the Day: I spent some time today with a co-worker who was disappointed in the outcome of a possible opportunity. Previously, we had talked about how things happen for a reason. And this discussion today; well, it was just a recap of that prior conversation. I hope it gave her some comfort.

Grateful Thought of the Day: I love warm weather … it puts a little spring to my step. I’m so thankful for days like today. It always makes me look forward to more days like today.

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** Seriously! I put on a skirt that I hadn’t worn since late October and … well, let’s just say it was a little snug. Grr …

Wanted: An Old Skool Spring Break

Wow. It’s bee-yooo-teee-ful outside here in Chicago. It’s a nice 68 degrees outside and sunny. But the best part is that tomorrow it’s supposed to reach the low 70’s!

Unfortunately, I’ll be stuck behind my desk at work for most of the day. Boo.

At least I was able to enjoy today; as I worked from home. How enjoyable is it to be able to take a mid-morning break to walk our doggie? And I just love not having to wake up any earlier to get ready for work on these days, when all  I have to do is roll out of bed, stumble to my trusty laptop and sign into the office. Oh how I wish I could do this more than once a month!

Today being the Wednesday before the Easter, I’ve noticed a lot more students out and about enjoying the nice weather. Which makes me believe that these kids are all on some sort of Spring break or semester break of sorts.

Jealous!!

Makes me wish I could be back at school just so I can have those extra days off. And it’s not just because you automatically get those days off … it’s more that when you’re off at that time, your entire “business as usual” routine stops. There’s no other person that you’re responsible for when you’re off. There’s no other person relying on you to make sure things are in order for him/her when you’re gone for the week. And most of all, there’s no pile of work waiting for you when you return from that time off.

Now, scheduling a vacation … even just between Hubby & I is a pain in the neck. After all, last time we went away (to Vegas, baby) … and even though people knew we would be gone, chaos still ensued which ultimately ended up with Hubby having to deal with work-related things. While on vacation.

Blech. When did we become so responsible?

But speaking of vacation … I know that I’m ripe for another one sometime soon. Maybe it’s the fatigue I’ve been dealing with. Or maybe it’s the feeling of being overworked that has me feeling like this. Either way, I think it’s time some quality Mr. & Mrs. ApronStrings time.

Unfortunately … and this goes back to the whole scheduling a vacation thing … that probably won’t be until August; when we’re scheduled to go on an Alaskan cruise out of Seattle with my parents.**

Oh, I take that back. It’ll be in July to Toronto for Hubby’s cousin’s wedding. But even then, it’ll only be for a long weekend.

Anyhoo … I wish that my numbers would come up in the MegaMillions lottery. That way I can go on vacation and travel more often!

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Whew. I did it. I blogged for two straight months … IN A ROW!

And thanks to NaBloPoMo … I get this lucky badge to add to my awards and such. Woo-hoo!

But hold on to you’re seats, kiddo. I still have 5 mores left of posting daily to fulfill that Lenten promise. So without further ado:

Random Act of Kindness Today: Sunday it was my kitty, Rain that needed all the attention. Today (and in most days that I work from home), it was my other kitty, Yami. So … before taking our Kozzy-girl out for that mid-morning walk, I let Yami snuggle on my lap and paw away at my computer for a bit until she got fed up with me trying to take a picture of her on the PhotoBooth application on my laptop. She’s just too adorable to resist … but when ya gotta work … 🙂

Grateful Thought Today: Work-From-Home Days … for all the reasons I listed above. Plus … the fact that I tend to concentrate better on reports and projects without the constant interruptions and meetings. Somedays it can be a challenge (read: still get interrupted by emails and phone calls and IM’s), but it’s worth it just to be able to sleep a tad longer.

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** Thank G*D for my parents love of traveling … if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think Hubby & I would have the gumption to plan something on our own. But really … it would be nice to have a quick getaway with just Hubby & me; to recharge our batteries.

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Effed-Up Signals

I’ve gone and done it. Finally.

That’s right, peeps. Stubborn Emily finally broke down and saw her primary doc today. Not for just the common cold or flu bug; no … I saw her because I’ve been feeling craptastic for the past five months or so. Specifically, I’ve been feeling fatigued.

Now, normally I’d chalk it up to stress and anxiety. After all, my current career path has certainly given me enough gastric reflux. And well, i fully admit that I’m prone to over-analyze and freak myself out over things I can’t control.

But this fatigue is just downright … exhausting; for lack of better words.

I mean, I can’t even wake up from my alarm clock until close to an hour afer it went off!

And even though I want to blame it on the fact that I just can’t stay asleep, I don’t think that’s the case. Because when I do have the ability to stay asleep and/or sleep in, I still wake up with the same fatigue.

This is what makes me think it has something to do with my body. And specifically with my endocrine system; my metabolic system. And given that I have a history of PCOS also which affects my pituitary, I’m thinking that this could be closely related to my body’s ability to produce adequate thyroid hormones. Which could consequently cause hypothyroidism.

Without going too much into pathophysiology, if the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) which help to control a person’s metabolism, then the pituitary sends signals to the adrenal glands to produce TSH; a hormone that “stimulates” the thyroid to make more T3 and T4.

How do I associate PCOS with hypothyroidism? Well, it has to do with the pituitary gland. In a woman’s reproductive cycle, the pituitary gland is responsible for producing the Lutenizing Hormone (LH), which sends a signal to the ovaries to mature and release an egg to be fertilized. In PCOS, the pituitary gland gets its signals mixed up and secretes too much LH. Which can, in turn cause the ovaries to secrete more than usual amounts of testosterone in a woman’s body … which then can create a situation of the inability to have regular menstrual cycles. In addition, the higher amounts of LH can also cause a lack of ovulation on the ovaries’ part. In turn, the pituitary gland continues to secrete LH, thinking that the ovaries still haven’t “done their job.”

SO … Because of how the pituitary relates to my PCOS, I’m also wondering if it has a part in the fatigue I’ve been feeling; which is one of the big symptoms of hypothyroidism. Perhaps my pitiuary is also getting its signals crossed with the secretion of TSH for my thyroid as well as with LH for my ovaries.

Which brings me to the reason why I went to my Doc. I told her about my fatigue and my concerns about my PCOS possibly contibuting to it … And, as expected, she ordered the specific lab tests to see if my T3/T4 and TSH are out of whack. She ALSO gave me a prescription for a sleeping pill; as she seems to think may also be contributing to my fatigue. <– Hmmph!

So we’ll see … and if I am right about having hypothyroidism, this may ALSO explain the ridges on my finger nails and the increased loss of hair I’ve recently been experiencing.

If not, then I guess my fatigue has nothing to do with my metabolism. Which would mean that I’m just a lazy-a$$ person who just doesn’t want to do anything more but work and sleep.

I hope I’m right about the hypothyroidism …

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Six more days! Until then, here’s my Daily Lenten exercise:

Good Deed Du jour: I actually “made” someone’s day today. At least that’s what the lab tech told me when I complimented her on a pain-free poke to my arm when she drew my blood. Apparently the previous patients were not happy with her technique. So when I told her that I’d been poked enough times during my active (but failed) baby-making yearsand that she was supberb … Well, I made her day!

Grateful Thought Du jour: Health Insurance. Glad I currently have it; glad that the rest of the country will, too.

Luuuucy … I’m Home!!

I’m moving again.

No … not from Chicago. At least not yet. What I mean to say is that I’m moving my blog to my own domain.

It’s about time, as I’ve now been blogging for about three years. That, and I’ve got some ambition to make something more with this blog … even though I’m not quite sure what that “something” will be.

I admit, I’m waaay too wet behind the ears to know exactly what I’m doing. But I suppose that’s what Hubby’s there for, right? That and hopefully any other folk from the blogging community that might be willing to help a gal out. Like maybe direct me to some good widgets/plugins for my WP-powered site? Or give me hints on how to market myself so I just might gather more than a spackle of followers?

Truth be told, the site has been working for the past week or so now. I’ve just been trying to tweak it here and there to make it a little more … uhm, presentable? Then I realized that I’m just never going to be a hundred percent satisfied, so I might as well blog on it while I’m making changes.

So if you’re interested in following me over to my new home, please feel free to make the leap over.

I promise. It’s not that hard … all you have to do is remove dot-wordpress from the current URL.

Or click here and add me to your bloggie subscriptions.

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Last week of Lenten Goodies. Thank G*d … no pun intended. But I am totally ready to go back to (hopefully) writing during a non-daily normal basis.

Good Deed of the Day: Hubby said that the good deed I should have posted yesterday was that I was supportive of him; that I gave him the time to finish up on some of his projects. But I would have done that anyway, so I don’t really see that as anything extraordinary. However, seeing that I can’t seem to think of any specific good deed I may have done today …

Grateful Thought of the Day: I am so grateful for Hubby for helping me to set up my new home. I know he’s been so busy with projects; so for him to help me with my never-ending questions? Yeah, he’s my hero!

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