Wednesday, July 30

AFE

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AFE. One of the most important people to ever impact our lives. A person we probably won't ever meet. A person who I appreciate beyond all comprehension.

Those were the initials at the top of the profile that we selected from the fertility clinic. A non-identifying set of letters: AFE.

Three non-identifying letters and a detailed personal health profile, that's all we have of our egg donor. The amazing woman who gave me the egg—the genetic material to make Alex. Responsible for half of her genes—her incredible, brilliant brown eyes, round and rosy cheeks, brilliant smile and so much more.

In my heart, I believe that her boundless energy, ability to make friends, empathy and contagious enthusiasm come from her life and surroundings.

Nurture or nature—we won't ever really know which has had a greater impact. But Alex is an amazing little girl. She has the ability to make friends with a rock, she's bright and engaging, smart and beautiful. An incredible little girl, who would never have been born had it not been for AFE.

I thank AFE, from the depths of my soul for my first child, my little-big girl, Alex. And I also thank AFE for Rachel, our second child, who was conceived the good old-fashioned way (which was a HUGE, beautiful surprise for this infertile, breast-feeding woman!)

I'm convinced that somehow my body was retrained through the fertility battle and 'learned' what it was supposed to do. The strict hormone and medication regime somehow re-wired me, and Rachel was conceived. Without that initial struggle, and without AFE, the two greatest miracles in my life would not be.

So, wherever you are AFE—whoever you are—thank you. Thank you for enabling the miracle of carrying my two babies within my own womb, enabling me to give birth and life to each of them, for the countless sleepless nights, gut-busting giggles, the sometimes heart-wrenching worry, the teething, potty training, and the heart exploding love that colors every aspect of our lives. Thank you, quite literally, for life.

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Sunday, July 27

Some call it fishing

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Some call it fishing, but at a place like this it's more accurate to call it catching. Simply throw hundreds of hungry Rainbow Trout into a small pond and it's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

(Click the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the slide show window below if photos aren't showing.)
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Saturday, July 26

Reconciling

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Woman - Wife - Mom

Sometimes sweet and caring, patient and kind. Sometimes bawdy, off-color and irreverent. Crass/respectful

How do you reconcile the multiple parts of yourself?

Woman - Wife - Mom - Friend - Working Woman

Strong/vulnerable
Sweet, caring, patient and kind/stubborn, verociously protective, impatient
Smart/silly and absent-minded
Family-oriented, adoring wife/Social-bee, harmless flirt
Professional, respectful, serious, thinker/bawdy, off-color, irreverent

Balance=Reconciliation.

At 43, I've turned a corner and realized that all of these things are me. And all of them are OK - sort of the ying and the yang of me. I am who I am, not unlike anyone else really. On some level, we're all multi-faceted and a bit complex.

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Friday, July 25

Vacation 2008—Parts 1 & 2

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This year's vacation was a two-parter, and gloriously long! The first half was the 10th Annual Hart Family Vacation. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins—the entire Hart Clan in Seattle for the wedding of another cousin and his Irish bride. Good times! (Click the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the slide show window below if photos aren't showing.)



Part 2 - Playing w/ Papa and Grandma Sherry at Mount St. Helens, the Fish Ladders, and the carnival. (Click the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the slide show window below if photos aren't showing.)


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Thursday, July 24

Sweetness

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"Here Mommy. I picked this for you..."

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Sunday, July 6

The Current Obsession

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The kitchen remodel plans have begun and I'm obsessed. From what I can tell, this is a completely normal condition for anyone who is embarking on a project that costs boat loads of money and is relatively permanent.

And it's not just new cabinets. No. In addition to that, we're ripping out a wall to make room for an island, installing hardwood throughout the kitchen, dining room, living room and hallway. We're also building a custom banquette in the dining room with floor-to-ceiling cabinets on either side, replacing the bay window, and resurfacing the fireplace.

Whew! It makes me tired just thinking about it. CRAZY.

This is a drawing of the new space we've designed. It's tough to see, but basically it's an L-shaped kitchen with a square island that includes room for four bar stools. We cut two of the corners off the square island to enhance traffic flow, and, well, because we thought it looked cool. We'll also have three pendant lights hanging above the island, along the the diagonal.

On the other side of the room is the dining area, where we'll be adding the bench seat or "banquette" under the window with floor-to-ceiling cabinets on either side. A small oval or round table will be placed directly in front of the banquette with a few chairs for additional seating.


And this will be our new hardwood floor, which I L.O.V.E!! It's hand-scraped, distressed, wild walnut with a natural finish. Sooo pretty!!

Now we're in the process of selecting the granite for the counters, tile for the back splash, new appliances and custom cabinets.

At this point, we're pretty sure the cabinets in the kitchen and next to the banquette will be a caramel/honey colored wood, similar to the light wood in the floor. The island will be a contrasting wood similar to the dark veins in the wood floor.

We're also selecting the stone for the fireplace, the design of the bay window, and working with numerous contractors to pull it all together.

It's a crazy, maddening, super fun obsession.

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Saturday, July 5

Summer is in Full Swing

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Summer in Southern California! There is nothing like it. (The same is true of January in So. Cal. too, but let's stay focused.)

The girls are in swim lessons



Alex is just now learning to ride without training wheels



And vacation time has arrived - The first was Grandpa's Birthday Bash in Tuscon. (click the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the slide show window below if photos aren't showing)


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Tuesday, July 1

75 Incredible Years

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Many times I've wondered out loud about my dad's life. I've often said that he lived more by the time he was 35 than I (and most in my generation) will ever live.

At 35, with a flourishing career, I had just gotten married and was living with DH and our dog Ollie in a beautiful, simple little condo in a nice part of town. My greatest losses could be counted on one hand: my treasured dog, Taffy, who had died when I was just a young girl; my grandfather, who died in my arms when I was 11; my one great heart break in my mid-20s; and the loss of my beloved grandmother. All seemingly normal rights of passage on the path to adulthood.

But in the same number of years, my dad's life experience was marred by much greater loss, and conversely, consisted of much more profound events and accomplishments.

As an adult, I can now step back and see him more fully. Maybe not completely, but no longer in the one- or two-dimensional way that a child looks at a parent. My vision of him now includes a new appreciation for his life experience—both good and bad—and all the weight he had to carry as he raised four young children.

We recently took a short trip to Tucson for my Dad's 75th birthday. It was a great trip, with all the siblings, spouses and grandchildren.

As a part of the celebration, I was able to give him one of the most special gifts I think I've ever created. It was a photography book (professionally bound) of his life. Starting with photos of his mom as a baby followed by his first 75 years.

All four kids contributed photos for the book and I put it together, scanning more than 250 images. Its an amazing tribute to an amazing, complex man who, in large part, helped to shape the woman that I am today.

The inscription reads:

This little boy grew to be a man, a marine,
a husband, a father,
a stepfather, and
a grandfather.
He weathered many storms, laughed and cried, prayed and cursed along the way. He served two tours in Korea, one in Vietnam, suffered great loss and achieved great triumphs.

He is our father and we love him.

And the closing note reads:

Happy 75th Birthday!!

With love and best wishes
for many more happy years to come.
Jim
Jane & Dave
Cindy & Carl & Kyle
Debby & Dave & Alex & Rachel
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And one more thing, Dad, that I didn't say...,

Thanks.

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