A Word From the Men of ToConceive…

You’ve heard from Krissy and Lindsey of ToConceive, now it’s time to get the perspective of infertility from a male, ToConceive’s own Josh Thompson….

Josh and  OliviaI have struggled over the past few months in coming up with ideas for articles/blog posts relating to infertility from the male’s perspective. I have bounced around ideas such as fitness, nutrition, and the holy grail of male fertility topics, boxer’s vs tighty whiteys. However, none of those ideas spoke to me and writers block hit me like a ton of bricks. Then when I least expected it, as I sat on the beach next to my new bride (on our honeymoon), the idea hit me. At this moment I realized that I was now entering into whole new phase of my life, leaving the single life, and entering the world of marriage.
Naturally, my wife and I have always discussed our ideal family design; 2 kids, a boy and a girl (I must say, seeing my beautiful nieces grow up, I wouldn’t be sad if I had two girls), two or three years apart, happy and healthy. What more could a newly married couple ask for? For the longest time this conversation was nothing more than just that, a conversation. But now that we are married, it has become our everyday reality. We must decide when is the right time, is our house, and bank account ready for us to bring in another mouth, am I ready to be a father? (Just typing that sentence is sure to make my mom, sisters, wife, and likely my dad cry when they read it.)
However, what if our dream family doesn’t come as easily as it does in our conversations? What if God’s will is for us to not have a family or for us to deal with the struggles of infertility? While I have been researching infertility for the past year or more, hoping to spread the word to couples who are facing the reality of infertility, it has never occurred to me that I too one day may have to fight the same battle. Will my wife and I be mentally prepared? Will we have the faith to remain strong? I like to think that the answer is yes. But the answer to that lies within my relationship with God and my wife. I do know that the beautiful woman that I now get to call my wife (not to toot my own horn, but I totally hit the jackpot) and I would stand firm in our faith and rely on our love. It is amazing to know that regardless of what we may go through in life, we will have each other. Infertility may be a difficult topic, especially for us men, but is should never cause fear. I don’t know if these thoughts are normal (though I know I am outside of the standard of what is normal to begin with) for a man, but I like to think they are, it just might be hidden under our layers of emotional barriers. If this short blog does anything, I hope it shows men that this is not a topic that you should hide under, but rather speak to it. Family, love, and faith are a part of our lives every day and there will never be a good enough reason to hide from it.
One final story as I open this dialog around male infertility. During our rehearsal dinner my father and mother spoke to us about family and what to expect in the coming years. The one thing that stood out to me more than anything was them describing how before I ever met my wife, they were praying for her. They prayed for my brother’s wife and sister’s husband that we all would meet the perfect spouse, and find the love that they did, they did so before we were ever born. And now, we too are praying.

Thinking of Men this June

Following is a guest post from one of our great partners, Don’t Cook Your Balls.

Men are supermen, right? They are impervious to all danger and illness. At the top of his game, a man is a force to be reckoned with, a superhero in his own right. Able to move heavy objects, sprint at high speeds and burn midnight oil to get the job done. But life wears us all out. With time, late nights drinking with the guys aren’t so easy the next day. A stressful job and long commute makes him want to crash on the couch rather than hitting the gym. Sometimes it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep.

spermWhy care about men’s health?

As life takes its toll on a man’s body, he just deals with it. Silently, as a society we’ve created a gender gap in health. Men are more likely to die younger, deal with more illnesses and receive less medical treatment than women. They are also more likely to face their health in isolation as they have smaller support networks and are less likely to ask for help.

Men’s Health Month

Championed by the Men’s Health Network, a non-profit that “reaches men where they live, work, play and pray”, Men’s Health Month is a dedicated opportunity to build awareness about men’s health issues. Here are some of the events that will be happening:

  • It’s a Guy Thing Fertility Summit – Kristen Magnacca Darcy and Don’t Cook your Balls have teamed up to offer a free 5 day online summit dedicated to all the issues surrounding male fertility. It is designed to help couples struggling with male fertility issues to learn more about the condition and connect to key resources to support their journey. It will cover key topics such as testosterone and fertility, varicocele – treat or not to treat, advanced treatment options for azoospermia, tips and tricks to communicating with your wife, what to do when biology won’t cooperate.
  • The Drive for Men’s Health – Dr’s Jamin Brahmbhatt and Sijo Parekattil, are leaving the operating room behind and taking to the highway to spread the word about men’s health issues. The two urologists and robotic surgeons have planned the first even Drive for Men’s Health event, traveling from Central Florida to NYC in an all-electric Tesla vehicle. The purpose of the Drive For Men’s Health is to encourage men to make their health a priority. Throughout the drive, the physicians will broadcast live through Google Glass in order to discuss men’s health issues, as well as related partners and sponsors.

There are many more great Men’s Health events happening throughout the country. Check out the official Men’s Health Month calendar to learn more.

Get Involved

Recent studies show that a man’s fertility can be a good indicator of his future health. Nearly all the health risks associated with chronic disease and early death — such as obesity, smoking, poor diet, high stress, lack of exercise and the like — have also been shown to impair sperm production. As our small part to raise awareness around this important issue, Don’t Cook your Balls is sponsoring a campaign to raise money and awareness for Men’s Health.

You can help! By simply posting a picture to facebook, twitter or instagram, you can raise awareness about men’s health issues AND raise money to support free health screenings for men.

What to do

  1. Take a picture: of something that is bad for your testicular health (smoking, tight pants, hottubs, a donut, you get the idea) with the phase “don’t cook your balls” somewhere in the picture
  2. Post the picture to facebook, twitter or instagram with the hashtag #dontcookyourballs
  3. Ask friends to like, share and retweet

During the month of June, for every picture posted that is tagged with #dontcookyourballs, $0.50 will be donated to the Men’s Health Network to support free health screenings for men. Posts with the most likes, favorites and retweets will be awarded weekly prizes, while the most popular post of the month will receive a grand prize.

10 Indications You Have Had Too Many Snow Days

If you have noticed an inconsistency to my  blog posts in the last couple of months, you are right. I can sum up the reason in two words: Snow Days. Here’s a little snow day fun for those of you who are in the same boat!

Ten indications you have had too many snow days:

1. Normally fun, special indoor activities such as play-doh and painting become as mundane as setting the table.

2. When the phone rings at 5:30am you don’t even listen to the recording, but silence the phone and go back to sleep.

3. Rainbow Loom rubber bands or bracelets can be found in every room of our house.

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4. Your 7 year old is almost in tears because he knows how many days he will have to be in school in June instead of at the pool.

5. The same 7 year old tries to perform a triple axel off the couch and is now missing 1 square inch of skin on his back from the landing.

6. You have watched the “SchoolClosings” You Tube video at least 13 times now. It really is funny… see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=sUtPG2J5RwQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DsUtPG2J5RwQ%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&app=desktop

7. You hand the kids rags and send them to dust off all the ridges in the woodwork on the doors.securedownload

8. Screen time has gone from 1 hour a day to “play until the batteries run out.”

9. The Soundtrack from Frozen has become the soundtrack to your life.

10.  The kids’ Valentine’s Day cards for the class are done 10 days before Valentine’s Day.

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Organize Your Family’s Health Records

As Krissy wrote in her blog post about Mommy Guilt, there are all different kinds of moms out there and we’re all good at different things. Well, I’m one of those super-organized Moms. My kids know that in our house, everything has its place and there’s a place for everything. I just feel like our household runs more smoothly and everyone (especially Mom!) is happier when we’re all organized. When I read an article in Parents magazine about organizing your health records, I was super excited. Who knew there was an area of my life I hadn’t organized yet?!

Businessman Filing InformationMy current system consists of numerous manila files (neatly stored away of course!) but after reading the article, I realized there’s an even better way to organize! A number of online and computer-based programs exist that no only allow for easy access to records when you need them, they also allow you to easily provide medical information to caregivers and doctors when needed.

Not sure where to start in choosing a Personal Health Record (PHRs)?. You can find a full list at myPHR.com.

Experts recommend collecting and storing medical information for the last two years for each family member. Immunizations should include very immunization since birth and if a family member has a chronic health condition, is helpful to have more than 2 years of information. If this seems too daunting, consider storing at least the following information for each family member:

 

– Dates of immunizations
– Blood typing
– Lab results, such as cholesterol and blood-pressure readings, Pap smears, and mammograms
– Results of recent checkups, including height, weight, and body mass index (BMI). Also include children’s growth-chart percentiles.
– List of chronic health conditions (such as asthma, ADHD, and diabetes), including treatments, prescription names, and dosages
– Allergies and sensitivities to medications, foods, and materials
– History of hospitalizations (which the hospital’s medical-records department can provide)

 

Mommy-guilt

It comes in all forms and now I am learning that it comes in all stages of life: Mommy-guilt! When my first son was a baby it reared it’s ugly head when I didn’t spend enough time working on “tummy-time.” When I had my second child it came in the form of feeling guilty that she didn’t get as much attention as the first. When I had my third child it came all the time and still appears now and then (he just turned 3 and still only has a few pages complete in his baby book).  Just a visit to the pediatrician for a well check up is enough to store up guilt for months. Reminders to read to your children everyday, make sure they get at least 60 minutes of exercise, limit screen time, count fruit and vegetable servings to ensure they are getting enough. Have they been taking vitamins regularly? Do they have a healthy social life? (And this doesn’t even include feeling guilty every time a chore takes away valuable time from the kids). Most of these I am pretty good about on any given day, but then I could compare myself to other mothers and find something they are doing better than me to feel guilty about. I have come to the conclusion that there is just no way around it. So, what can I do to help relieve the mommy-guilt when it comes crashing in? I can take a look at the most important things and give myself grace on those that are not so important.stay-at-home-mom

A quick search on Google easily brings up advice from numerous sources about the most important things kids need to have a successful life. Although there are variations the top needs are all the same. Security. Stability. Love. Encouragement. Education. So when the mommy-guilt creeps in because I fed my children non-organic chips and hotdogs for lunch and I didn’t sign them up for the new art class in town, I ask myself this question: Are my priorities in order? Do my children feel secure in our home and at school? Do they know Mom and Dad love them unconditionally and want what is best for them? Do they get praise and encouragement on a daily basis? Do they learn something new every day (or so)? If any of the answers to these questions are not a resounding YES!, then I do need to reprioritize. However, if they are in order, there may be some things I can do to improve but the guilt needs to stop because my children would much rather me be smiling and enjoying them than worrying about how I am doing as a mother.

Guilt can also occur before you become a mom as a result of issues with fertility. If you are struggling with any stage of infertility please check out our website, http://www.keytoconceive.com to see how we can help!

Lunch Box Notes

images-7My baby started 2nd grade today! What? How is that possible? Regardless, that is where we are and I’m thankful for everyday. I do however dread packing lunches. It is just one of those things I do not enjoy doing everyday. In addition to trying to provide a nutritious and pleasing midday meal for my son, I also write a little note in his lunch box. By the end of the year my once creative sayings turn into “have a great day” everyday. I was just looking last night for a little lunch box love inspiration and stumbled across a blog on pinterest with a list of great things to write.

http://www.southyourmouth.com/2012/08/lunchbox-notes.html

I have also thought of playing games with the notes, such as writing clues each day that lead to a reveal of some sort on Friday. For example:

Monday- Everyday this week you will get a clue that will help you guess who is going to visit you for lunch Friday. This person shares one name with you.

Tuesday- This person enjoys riding on two wheels.

Wednesday- This person drives a gold- colored car.

Thursday- This person gives you candy when mommy isn’t looking.

Friday- I hope you enjoyed your lunch with Pop-pop!

There is no limit to the creativity you could use each day to make your child’s lunch a special time.

Friday

Uniforms in Public Schools

Since my son started kindergarten I have said I was going to write letters to our school district campaigning for uniforms in hopes that by the time my children reach middle school they are in place. Of course I haven’t done that yet, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get myself motivated.  I would like to look at the research that has been done and see what advantages, besides my own personal motivation, there are to having uniforms in public schools.  I would love to hear from others who have had experiences with uniforms in public schools to see if there really is a difference in those places as opposed to schools with little dress code.

From  NYPost

From NYPost

To The Fort Thomas Independent School Distirct

To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I carefully chose Fort Thomas as our home because of many reasons, but the top-rated school district was on top of the list. We have already been thrilled with the district and fully expect our children to receive a wonderful education and experience! There is one area that we would like to express concern for the future and hope that you will at the very least consider our recommendation.

At home we teach our children to dress modestly, to try and look their best for the specific task they are given and to wear clothing that is appropriate for that specific circumstance. Amoung other reasons, we believe uniforms would be helpful to encourage more appropriate dress across the board. Over the past few years we have seen a drastic decline in the clothing choices of young people in our nation- in modesty, neatness and appropriateness. Seeing the declining trend, we are concerned for the types of clothing that will be allowed by the time our children reach high school. We also feel that uniforms would help reduce the pressure for students who cannot afford the latest fashion and help set an atmosphere for learning rather than trend-setting.

We understand there are concerns over students individuality and cost to families, but if done right, we feel these concerns are small in comparison to the benefits of wearing uniforms-even in public schools. According to a study done in 2010, 19% of public schools across the country have gone to uniforms (http://www.sfgate.com/food/bargainbites/2011/map/article/School-Uniforms-Pros-and-Cons-4619310.php). Would our district ever consider this?

Thank you for hearing our concerns and for your consideration,

Matt and Krissy Richard

Are you ready for a baby?

Tiny fingersMost parents will tell you that if you wait until your really ready to have kids, you’ll never have them. It seems you’ll never be totally prepared for the adventure that is parenthood, but Fit Pregnancy magazine offers some great questions for you and your partner to ask each other, to see if you’re ready as you’ll ever be for a baby.

Here are some of the questions I believe are the most important to ask before starting your TTC journey:

1. How are you going to get pregnant?

Sure, you know HOW to make a baby, but do you have a plan? Just going off birth control and waiting to see what happens is one way to do it, but if several months pass and still no baby, it’s probably a good idea to come up with a plan. Consider charting your basal body temps or cervical mucus to find out when you’re most fertile and time intercourse for those days. Download a helpful fertility app, such as Kindara, to track your fertile days. Try ToConceive to help maximize a woman’s natural lubrication and promote sperm capacitation, essential for conception.

2. Are your finances in good shape?

Having a baby is very expensive, from the diapers all the way to college tuition. Each month you’ll have to budget for diapers, wipes, formula or breastfeeding supplies, medicine, and doctor’s appointments, not to mention all the stuff a baby needs (car seat, crib, etc.)

3. Are you BOTH ready for more chores?

Even if the mom decides to stay home full-time to care for the baby, the dad should still be involved in the daily care of baby, as well as chipping in around the house with chores. Raising a baby will be exhausting for both of you, so work out a plan to assure that everything that needs to get done, gets done. And, remember, taking care of baby is most important; those dirty dishes and laundry can wait 🙂

Check out the full list here:

http://www.fitpregnancy.com/getting-pregnant/fertility-conception/are-you-ready-baby

10 Best Cities for Families to Visit

I’m not usually one to brag or boast, but after reading the latest issue of Parents magazine, I need to brag on my city a bit. Parents magazine ranked the top 10 best cities for families to visit and number 9 on the list was my stomping grounds, Indianapolis. Now, I think Indy is a pretty awesome place to visit (but I’m a little biased since we’ve chosen to raise our kids here), but seeing a major media outlet recognize the awesomeness that is Indy is sweet.

IMG_3870Receiving mention was the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the largest children’s museum in the world. Yes, it’s really that big!! Five levels full of fun, including a huge dinosaur exhibit, carousel you can ride and even a playhouse area for the littler ones. Parking is free, there is really nice cafeteria with plenty of choices for lunch (or pack your own) and lots of room to sit and a membership pays for itself in just two visits.IMG_3847

Other Indy highlights:

Conner Prairie–a colonial living history museum with petting zoo, live actors, water park area and lots of fun activities, all based around Indiana in 1800s.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum–75 race cars on display, plus other memorabilia from races past. Families can also opt for a bus tour of the track, as well as behind-the-scenes tours of the pits and other race areas.

100 Acres Park at the Indianapolis Art Museum–both the museum and the park are free (double bonus!) and kids especially will love the outdoor sculptures they can touch and climb on.

White River Canal–take a walk along the historic canal, where you can rent bicycles, paddleboats and Segway’s to tour the park area. Check out the gondoliers giving rides down the canal. Lots of open green space with plenty of room to play, picnic and enjoy the Indy downtown. Also along the canal is the Eitlejorg Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions and Indiana State Museum.

Check out the full list of family-friendly cities to visit at: http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/10-best-cities-for-families-to-visit/

Couponing Basics

Being a stay at home mom I have to be creative when it comes to spending money on the things our family needs and also those extras that make life just a little more exciting! I am by no means an “extreme couponer”, but having just learned a few key tips, I have been able to save my family a lot of money. Here are the very basics…

scissors_clipping_coupons_hg_wht1. Double coupons

Until recently, the store I spent most of my money doubled every manufacturer’s coupon up to $1.00. If you can find a store near you that runs this promotion on a regular basis, it basically doubles all of savings for the same amount of time and effort from you.

2. Get organized

I thought my little coupon folder that I could hold in my hand was organized until I got some tips from a friend who was saving quadruple what I was. She used a 2 inch binder with baseball card holders. Each slot has a different coupon and each category has it’s own section. So, for example, when you are in the shampoo isle, you can flip to your “soaps” section and see at a glance what coupons you have for which shampoos. Then you can easily see which deal will be the best that day without thumbing through a stack of paper.

3. Cut multiple coupons and stockpile

Whether you buy multiple papers, search for multiple coupons online or have friends collect them for you, buying multiples that are on sale and that can be discounted further with a coupon can save you money in the future. If, for example, you eat a lot of Cheerios in your home, cut out 3-5 Cheerios coupons and wait for them to go on sale. Then stock up on Cheerios when you can buy them for a fraction of the cost. This is called stockpiling. When you realize how much money you can save by doing this, you make the space to store all the good deals you find!

4. Search Couponing Websites that do the work for you

There are loads of great couponing websites that do the matchups for you. That means you can select the stores you shop at and see what they have on sale that match the coupons you should have if you have been consistently organizing them. I prefer couponmom.com and stockpilingmoms.com, but there are plenty others that can help you get started.

5. Try different brands

If you are really going to save, you have to be willing to buy different brands. We love Hellman’s mayonnaise and refuse to buy any other brand. That means that I might spend $2.00 more on a jar of mayonnaise any given week because I did not cut out the coupon for the other brand or watch their sales. I am not married to most brands, though, and therefore I can save a lot more depending on the sales each week.

When  I was faithfully following all of these tips and being diligent about staying on top of my coupons I was saving close to $200 month on groceries alone. Unfortunately right now I have had to reduce the amount of time I spend couponing, but I can attest to the fact that spending time on couponing can significantly reduce the amount you spend.