About Me

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North Carolina, United States
(Allie & Harris) Wife, teacher, patient, thinker, friend, worrier, planner, seeker. These are the hats I wear on a daily basis for the roles in my life. Harris and I've been married since 1999 and we have two fur babies of the feline sort. We have a pretty good life, all things considered. But, it's not complete. Seven years ago I received a diagnosis of PCOS, a condition which has taken a toll on both my body and soul. It will not beat me though and we will be parents.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Passing Time...

It's like swimming thru a pool of tomato soup, waiting for "the" email.  So, to pass the time, Harris and I have spent the last week enjoying time with family on Christmas day.  The day after, I went shopping with my cousin and we spent time talking and shopping.  The next day was spent looking for computers to replace my laptop that was dropped (twice) during our trips thru France.  Just in case you're wondering, computers do NOT bounce; nor do they bounce back when one tries dribbling them like a basketball.  On the bright side of this is my new laptop that's sleek and black like midnight.  It's pretty!

I'm not the only one who has had a difficult time waiting.  In the spirit of "good things come to those who wait" and as means to try and help pass the time, enjoy these...

Friday, December 23, 2011


We heard from Dr. Shivani on Monday that the transplant had been done and 5 embryos were put into our surrogate.  Of the 7 that had fertilized, 2 were deeply fragmented and wouldn't make the transfer.  There were 4 Grade 1 with 4 cells, and 1 Grade 1 with 2 cells.  We are really hopeful that something will stick and we'll be back for baby pick-up in the Fall.  In fact, I keep having to remind myself that this may not work - usually, it's the other way around where I have to remind myself that it could work. 

It's been a week since the retrieval, 5 days the surrogate transfer & since leaving India, 2 days since leaving Paris, and 2 "nights" at home.  Our plane was on time arriving Wednesday night, and we were able to get to the house by midnight (my mom picked us up).  My head still is kind of spinning/swirling and I'm not totally sure I always know when I am...date, time, etc.  But, in the spirit of pushing-thru, Harris and I got up and started doing errands today.  We visited 2 friends who have been instrumental in the application of this plan. 

As for how Harris and I are feeling, it's touch and go.  I am having some stomach distress because of not having eaten fruits and veggies regularly in India...apparently, fiber IS essential and consequences will be paid!  We are both kind of emotional wrecks due to lack of sleep, jetlag, and the 2WW.  Plus, coming home and having about a million Christmas cards showing all the kids and families grinning up at us has been tough - if I'd realized it would be so hard to see all of those, I never would have opened any of them.  I feel a yearning for a child that may or may not even exist at this point that's more powerful than I ever anticipated.  We're also feeling various combinations of tired, energized, moody, bereft, happy, scared, anxious, isolated, fragile in every way, and overwhelmed.  In conclusion, Harris is treading lightly right now for fear that one (or both) of us may come unglued completely.  Thank heavens we have one more day at home before the Christmas madness starts!  It's going to be harder than we thought to pull off the "we-are-right-as-rain-and-have-no-secrets" look. 

For everybody who prays, and those who believe in sending positive thoughts, please keep us in mind over the next week and a half.  Fingers are crossed for a BFP! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day after...

Quick summary...

Yesterday we went to the hospital at 3:15.  They did the retrieval sometime around 4:30 and then I went back to one of the recovery rooms.  While I was in the back, they took Harris to give a fresh semen sample.

Results were:
aprox. 20 follicles drained (according to Harris-I was out of it)
11 were empty
9 had oocytes
7 of those were mature & have been ICSI'd this morning (according to Dr. Shivani)

For those who are interested in the details...
I had no bleeding after the procedure or this morning.  I have some oddly placed aches, but I feel so much less pressure in my abdomen since the follicles were drained.  The only thing I didn't anticipate was the mild cramping & urgency I'd feel when I need to pee.  I guess my ovaries are in the same general area with my bladder, and that it would kind of make sense. Currently, I am 4 meds including one antibiotic & a pain pill. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surrogate Chosen!

Well, for better or for worse, we selected our surrogate earlier today, and will go to sign the paperwork tomorrow at 5:30.  It will be our first meeting with the lawyer who we'll also use at the end of the process for baby paperwork and all things legal.  Our doctor did ultrasounds and bloodwork on the surrogates most close to our cycle last night and sent us a possible 5 surrogate profiles this morning.  From those 5, there were 2 that she recommended we choose from.  We looked at all 5 and agreed that these were the 2 best ones in terms of age, fertility, and general characteristics.  We did request to NOT have a picture of the surrogate or to have a meeting with her as we want to keep this a business arrangement; we are not here to bond with her, just to use her in this business transaction.  In retrospect, I wish I had asked for initials instead of full names.  It may seem cold, but in order to keep our sanity and peace of mind, this has to remain business.  While we will forever be grateful to her if this works, we don't plan for her to become a phantom member of our family or someone we send Christmas cards to afterwards.  I know that's not the way a lot of people do it, but this is our path and it's what will work for us as a couple.

Tomorrow morning at 6 am we go to the hospital for our trigger shot (ovulation will be about 36 hours later).  Tomorrow at lunch we're going to meet a friend at a nice mall.  Then, we have the meeting with the attorney at the clinic at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon where we will sign the contracts.  Friday, we are at the apartment like normal until 11 am.  Then, I have to fast from 11 onward and I go to the hospital for prep at 3pm.  They will give me general anesthesia thru an IV in my hand or arm (wherever they can tap a vein) which will knock me out completely (thank God).  The plan is to do the retrieval around 4pm - it's a 20 minute process - and then have me out and in one of the recovery rooms afterward.  Harris will give a fresh semen sample on the day of retrieval for them to use once the eggs are obtained.  The embryologist will then get to work.  I'll go home Friday night with some pain meds plus antibiotic to prevent infection and Dr. Shivani said I would be a little sore on Saturday, but should be back to normal on Sunday.  I am glad that we're able to have 48 hours after the procedure just in case there's a problem.  

Monday morning, the surrogate goes in for the transfer and then we should hear something around the 30th about whether or not she is pregnant with our child.  Boy, that's a strange sentence to type/hear/say/think about. 

Our nurse celebrated with us this morning when we took the last fertility shot!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's a date!

We're on Day 11 of the trip now (I think) and had what may be our final scan this morning with Dr. Shivani.  Although there are no guarantees on how many will be high quality, fertilize, or be good enuogh to use, I had 14 follicles that are almost ready for retrieval. The plan is to do retrieval on the afternoon of the 16th, which would put the end of our 2WW on the 30th.

After the scan, we were able to sit down and talk to Dr. Shivani in order to ask lingering questions about the rest of the process.  We've only done cycles in the past in order to try and get ME pregnant; never to do egg retrieval.  I was concerned about basic things like when to come in for the trigger shot, when do I fast, will I be completely unconscious (yes!), will I be in pain afterword and for how long, when does the transfer happen to the surrogate (Monday), when do we meet with the lawyer, etc.  Yes, these are all things I've read about, but I just felt more secure having the chance to hear it spoken today.  So, tonight, after the surrogate scans, Dr. Shivani will send over surrogate profiles for us to look over.  We meet with the lawyer tomorrow to sign the contracts, have my final injections, and then we're on for Thursday's trigger shot!
Last night, we had our final dinner with Aleksandra and Rich (and the twins), as they will be leaving Wednesday night for Canada.  Avey and Mia flew in this weekend and joined us to look at the apartment and have dinner.  I must say that my favorite part of this journey so far has been meeting other IPs.
Shayam spent all afternoon in the kitchen making 5 different homemade Indian dishes for us to try.  The food, the company, the fellowship were all wonderful!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Days 5-9

Over the last 4 days, we have not done too much.  Dr. Shivani did another scan on Wednesday (?) and found that my follicles weren't growing quickly enough, and I only had about 4 of them doing anything notable - prediction was that I would still be at least a week out from retrieval at that point.  She switched my meds and upped the dosage to 600 iu to try and help move things along.  The new meds will help support FSH and LH levels to, hopefully, really get the follicles growing.  I am still able to take the new meds subcutaneously and that makes me happy!  I have had a slight allergic reaction to the shots, but nothing too bad - hopefully not enough of a problem to have to switch over to intramuscular. 
Yesterday, Harris and I went to the Promenade Mall with Aleksandra, Rich, Helena, and the babies!  It was fun watching people get that "aww, see at the tiny babies" look on their faces as Aleksandra & Helena walked by them.  We ate at Chili's - and, yes, the food tasted just like the Chili's back in the US and I ate.  Three of us even had real hamburgers!  Good to know that some places serve beef here.  We've also found a place down the road from us that serves steak called the Smokehouse Grille.  It's high end and expensive, but might be a nice  place to go one time during a visit. 

Tonight, we're looking forward to heading over to Douglas & Chad's place to have dinner.  Avey flies in tonight also and we're planning to get together with her & Mia, Aleksandra & Rich on Monday night for dinner.  I LOVE that we're able to meet so many other IPs here during this trip.  The timing has worked out so well!

Time now to go and take a nice hot shower!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Showers of Joy!!!

I couldn't be more THRILLED to be in our new Tulip Apartment tonight!  Sandeep worked with Dr. Shivani's office to make sure that Harris and I were both totally happy in a new place where EVERYTHING WORKS AT THE SAME TIME!!!   The apartment is great; the Internet works great; the showers are hot and have pressure!  It's exactly what we had wanted from Tulip House Apartments when we made the arrangements.

I must give lots of thanks and high praise to Dr. Shivani and the staff at SCI for their help with getting the move organized.  I just cannot say enough about how much they have worked to help us in this transition.  It was SCI (Dr. Shivani personally) who worked out an agreement for our benefit.  Sandeep, the Tulip owner, called and offered to change the apartment if the problems were not fixed by morning.  In fact, he came over during the night and early in the morning to check and see how things were progressing on repairs.  What we have learned is that the motor on the pump that supplies our building's water tank had burned out and so no water had been pumped in for several days.  In effect, we were dry.  Since then, we have learned that the government controls the release of water in Delhi and only sends it twice daily.  If you miss one or both of the collection times, there is no make-up for that...you just have to wait until the next time.  It is because of the pump issue that the water problems happened, not because of a problem with the actual apartment itself.  Because of the language barrier, we had not been able to understand any of this until Sandeep came and educated us as to the water system in Delhi.  Knowing that the pump was in the process of being fixed, but wasn't totally corrected, it seemed best to move. 

Our concern was that if we moved, we would no longer be close enough to walk to the doctor's appointments daily.  The agreement was reached that we should move to the Tulip apartment in GKII and Sandeep would take care of the cost for a driver for us daily.  Sandeep even took care of moving all our things, under his personal supervision.  He stayed at the new apartment with us after moving for a while and had both a plumber and electrician come thru to check all outlets and water pipes to ensure they were working.  He has also left us with someone (like a caretaker) who will come and supervise the cleaning people and meet with any repairmen if something should a problem come up.  That leaves us now free to explore the famed M-Block Market and visit with friends away from the apartment.  I am so happy that I can't stop smiling over the move!!!  We are pleased that everything has come together and that Sandeep took such interest in making the remainder of our stay as wonderful as possible.  We are grateful to both him and SCI for helping us to move into a place where we can be at peace.

Bottom line, if there is a problem, you have to speak up.  I am so glad that we spoke up and allowed Sandeep the opportunity to take care of the problems.  For us, he honored the arrangement and we are satisfied with the way that he is taking care of the move's ramifications.  We are so much better off now and are eagerly anticipating hot showers tonight before bed!!!  WHOO HOO!!!

New Bedroom (1 of 3) - You can see the bathroom attached!
Relaxing in the new living room!

Oh, and as an added bonus, there were 2 monkeys at the end of the street when we were unpacking today!  MONKEYS!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Stay or To Go...

Before reading this, I have to say that it is written while I am very frustrated (and it's compounded by 3 days of hormone injections).  Maybe it will look better later...I doubt it though.

As I write this, it is now almost 11am Delhi time and I am STILL in my pajamas - not because I am having a lovely relaxing morning, but because our water is not working correctly for the 3rd day in a row.  The first few days we were here, the plunger that changed the faucet to the shower wouldn't hold.  Then, there was no water in the kitchen at all (washer or sink), yesterday there was no hot water at all (which made us late leaving for Agra), and today, there is nothing but a trickle of water coming out of either shower unless you want to turn them on to fully cold.  Call me crazy, but I don't think I should have to take a cold shower in an apartment that was advertised as having 2 bathrooms with their own hot water heaters - the implication is that each will have hot water available

I appreciate that each time we have had an issue, the owner, Sandeep, has sent someone within a reasonable (and sometimes surprisingly quick) time frame to try and take care of it.  That's not the problem at all - the problem is that each day there has been something wrong with the apartment,- and I am not sure if we want to continue staying here thru the 19th because it seems like we are dealing with something different everyday.  To date, we have had these issues:
  • Water line in washer clogged causing water to leak all over the kitchen floor to an aprox. depth of 1 cm and allowing for sewage to back-up into the floor there also.  As you can imagine, it smelled just lovely.  - One of the guys working for Sandeep came over and unclogged the line that night, mopped the water up, and explained the problem.
  • Internet didn't work the first day we were here - fixed quickly thanks to a call from Rachnna
  • No water in the kitchen from about 9pm until about 10am, water ran out mid-wash cycle (clothes now smell a bit mildewed) - When the guy came to look at it, we were in a rolling blackout and the water had come back on, but he wasn't able to check the washer.
  • No hot water yesterday morning in either bathroom - we flipped the hot water heaters off and on several times and then waited a while for them to warm up...45 minutes later, we were ready to go.
  • Today, no hot water pressure to take a shower - it's not just "weak" water pressure, it's so little that it takes about a minute to try and come out the top at all, like the pipe has to fill up and roll out.
Apparently, in retrospect having written this and read it again, all of our issues have centered around water.  We did give permission for them to come in on Monday while we were gone to Agra with the plumber to look at everything.  I have no confirmation of what happened, although the beds were made so we know someone came thru and cleaned at least.  If he did come, as he was supposed to by Tuesday morning according to Sandeep and Rachnna, why are we still having water problems? 

At this point, Harris and I are just really frustrated and feel a bit trapped.  We chose Tulip House Apartments because they would have both a kitchen and a laundry.  But, each day, there has been a problem with the water which has impacted the functionality of either one or both of those.  So, the question is, do we stay or go?  We put down a 5 night deposit and I had my bank to wire another week's rent Monday morning.  So, in all, we've paid for 12 nights and only stayed for 7 so far (including one we missed because we were delayed in France).  If we move, we lose either the kitchen or the laundry as far as I can tell, plus it would cost more per night.  The rent here is $99.27/night with all taxes added in.  It's also within walking distance of the Clinic and Hospital.  Those are all pluses. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  I write all this just to keep things straight because I am trying to keep track of what's happening.  Since starting to write this, 3 people have shown up (1 cleaning the apartment, 1 cleaning the kitchen, and one manager pulling the apartment cleaner to try and figure out what's wrong with the water).  It's kind of like a zoo in here - oh yeah, and I'm still in my pajamas with no makeup and greasy hair. 

I am also supposed to have a blood draw for Estradiol level today at some point.  I'd rather not have to go out greasy and yucky, but may not have a choice it appears.  All I want to do right now is cry.  Even Harris, who usually tells me to relax and hang on, is frustrated and irritable at this point.  How much, if at all, is the stress going to impact what we're doing here?  Am I asking too much for everything to work at the same time?  Is that not normal here?

Now, finished writing this, all 3 people have left and the resolution is this.  We still have only a trickle of water in the shower if it's not cold.  The manager will be back with a plumber at 2pm to check things.  And, Rachnna just called to let me know a driver will be here to take me to Dr. Modi's office for blood draw at 1pm.  I guess it's going to be a cold shower for me today.  Yay.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

India: Days 2-4

Can you spot the 4 monkeys in this picture?

Day 2:  Saturday – 1st Medical Visits
We woke up at 4:30 am and our bodies were totally out of sync with the time zone.  After a breakfast of PB&J (so glad we had a few basics stocked in the fridge ahead of arrival), we pulled out the DVDs and watched a few Big Bang Theory episodes.  Nothing is happening in Delhi at that time of day, and in fact, nothing much gets going before 9am.  It's perhaps the only time of the day/night that you don't hear a constant blaring of horns and street vendors.    We napped later in the morning, and then met with Dr. Shivani for the first time at noon down the road at ISIS Hospital.  One thing I got clarification on is that ISIS actually has 2 facilities.  The "clinic" is on the corner at the end of our block.  The "hospital" is about a block and a half away from us.  The IP treatments are done at the hospital, not the clinic.  At the clinic, the staff that I've corresponded with are hard at work on behalf of IPs and surrogates alike.  Rachnna (puts you at ease, helps make connections for what you need, calls the apartment manager when your shower doesn't work - THANK HEAVENS FOR HER!), Lalit (the man that sets up treatment schedules and maintains Dr. Shivani's schedule), Shilpi (helps coordinate things to do in Delhi/India), and all the others are based here.  At the hospital, there are nurses, a receptionist, and IPs.  Dr. Shivani shuffles back and forth between the two as needed.  She was very welcoming and gave us information about the timing for this week's treatments.  She did my first ultrasound (no cysts!) and showed us around the clinic where the surrogates were waiting and introduced us to the staff as well.  Everyone was so very respectful of us and Dr. Shivani - well beyond the professional level in the States.  There was no non-essential chit-chat or banter, just professional dialogue.  Dr. Shivani opened almost every door at the clinic to show us the facility (VERY clean, well lit, smelled good) including the office where contracts are signed by the surrogate.  The paperwork for the surrogate is VERY comprehensive and lengthy.  It includes things we didn't think about at first like a pre-surrogacy psychological evaluation and a section where both husband and wife had to agree that they wouldn't have marital relations during the surrogacy period.  Dr. Shivani sent me over to Dr. Modi's office for her to do the blood draw personally since I have very tiny weak veins that roll and make blood draws horrible.  Dr. Modi is AWESOME!!!  It's the first time in my entire life that I have had blood drawn and not had bruising.  I was a little embarrased because I didn't realize Dr. Modi was Dr. Modi - She is a very unassuming woman who was dressed traditionally and spoke softly.  She sat on the edge of the bed with me and held my hand while directing the nurse where to draw and how to prevent problems.  I wish she could come home with us!  All labs were back to me within 4 hours via email, and I had a message from the Hospital that everything was within normal range.  We made contact with Aleksandra and Rich Saturday night and then headed to bed early.
ISIS Clinic from our terrace
Day 3:  Sunday – Meds, Sightseeing, Select City Walk & Dinner with Friends (IPs)
Again up at 4:30, ate breakfast, and called about going to the mall with one of the drivers.  We ate, waited for the caretaker to come and try to fix the washing machine, and went to the hospital to check-in with Dr. Shivani and pick up my Gonal F pens.  While there, we met another IP named Joanne from Australia.  We invited her to dinner and later made plans with Aleksandra and Rich to bring the babies for dinner too.  (It won’t surprise my cousin, Wendy, to realize it took me only 2 days to find enough friends to have a little dinner party!)  At 1:00, we left with Rahul and saw the Lotus Temple, saw the Indian Parliament and living quarters, the President’s mansion, India Gate, the Red Fort, Humauyum’s Tomb, and then went to Select City Walk mall for a taste of Western culture.  The sights were beautiful and we had a good time.  I think Rahul was surprised at the quick pace we moved thru them – we’re not ones to linger anywhere…we toured the Louvre (including the Mona Lisa) in about 2 hours.  I bought a beautiful pashmina with hand embroidery at the mall.  We ran by Nature’s Basket and picked up chicken, salsa, rice, and flour tortillas for dinner.  Harris and I had a great time visiting with our new friends and holding the beautiful babies for a while! 
Yes, those are Cobras
Day 4:  Monday – Agra & Taj Mahal
Satish got to the apartment around 5:45 this morning and we were not ready – but it wasn’t our fault.  We’d been up long enough, but the shower didn’t have any hot water at all.  Thankfully, we have a second bathroom with independent hot water heaters so we were able to wait the 20 minutes and jump in there.  After showers, a quick bite, and dressing, we hit the road about 6:30.  We were so thankful to have eaten, because it wasn’t until about 2:00 when we were able to eat again.  It took us 4 hours to get to Agra.  We picked up a guide (that we didn’t realize we’d have to pay for…maybe we were told, but I don’t remember.) and headed to the Taj Mahal.  It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  Pictures do not do it justice at all.  There is such detail and artistry in every piece of it.  Afterwards, we went and saw how a carpet is made by hand – and declined purchase of same despite best selling efforts.  Then, we saw how stones are inlaid into marble like was done in the Taj – where again, we declined purchase despite best selling efforts.  We left there and went to MacDonald’s (yes, it’s “Mac” here) where Harris got the Indian version of a Big Mac, called a Majaraja Mac and is made with chicken instead of beef.  I got the MacChicken Spicy and fries.  Yes, I ate the lettuce, and yes, my stomach is okay…I think it’s the meds that are causing the stomach upset.  Oh, and MacDonald’s fries taste the same in America, France, and India…believe it or not, that’s comforting.  Even better, I saw Mountain Dew in the little market stalls yesterday!  I’m not having any because of the caffeine, but once the retrieval is done, I’m all over it!  Still haven’t found M&Ms yet, but I haven’t given up hope!  We got home, totally exhausted, at 8:30 last night.  We were planning to wash clothes, but found that there was no water stopped completely in the kitchen after the wash cycle, no rinse, – fun times – and decided to go to bed.
Does this really need a caption?
I have had mild cramping around my ovaries and my face is looking bloated from the meds already.  Dr. Shivani put me on 375 iu of the Gonal F in order to produce as many good follicles as possible.  Harris gives another sample Tuesday afternoon, I go back in for a blood draw Wednesday, and another ultrasound on Thursday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

India: Part 1

We're here!!!  There is much celebration and implied fireworks going into that statement!  When we left RDU airport for Chicago, we knew our flight to DEL was overbooked and there was a good chance we may not make the flight.  Thankfully, we had a Plan B (and a Plan C) on hand.  Once the doors closed (with us on the outside of them), we went to the gate agents and they rebooked us on a flight bound for Paris, France.  We had only 80 minutes to get out of the terminal, collect our baggage, check-in with the new itinerary, clear security, and make the plane.  Believe me when I say that it was a race to be sure!!!  While in the air, my mom and one of the sainted friends I have who is keeping our secret, reservations were made on Air India to get us to DEL.  It was only once we arrived in Paris that we found out about the next leg in our flights.  Harris and I made the overnight flight to Paris and then enjoyed a lovely 13 hour layover in CDG airport - we were so bored out of our minds that we took to watching the crazy homeless people that seemed to be living there.  We had thought about stowing our baggage and taking time in the city to sightsee.  But, since the airport is on the other side of the city, and since we hadn't really made a plan for this day trip, and since we were zombie-like at this point from lack of sleep anyway, it was not something we thought we'd get much out of. 

So, to summarize the trip, here's the travel:

6 am Wednesday - leave for RDU
11 am Wednesday - depart RDU for Chicago ORD
3:40 pm Wednesday - missed flight for DEL, rebooked for Paris
5 pm Wednesday - depart ORD for Paris CDG
8 am Thursday - arrive CDG
9:30 pm Thursday - depart Paris for DEL, India
10:05 am Friday - arrive DEL - Thank God!

When we arrived, we realized that all of our information about how to contact Rahul (driver) was in the kitchen at home on the printer (along with Doug and Chad's maps and list of things to do!!!  I am so SERIOUSLY bummed at this because I wanted to be sure and go to some of the textile markets and art shops they've suggested - still mourning that loss of information).  So, after searching both inside and outside the airport, Harris finally found the driver and we were on the way. 

After being on the planes for so long, all that was holding us together was the thought of being able to shower.  We went to the apartment and met Sandeep (the owner) who had taken care of stocking a few things in the apartment for us to eat.  A quick visit to ISIS Clinic allowed us to meet a set of new parents to twin girls - that has to be a good omen, right??? 

After the visit, one of Rahul's drivers took us to Nature's Basket store in M-Block market to get some groceries.  Both of us were such zombies, that it's amazing we walked out with any two things that would work together.  We also went and picked up outlet adapters for the electronics.  Harris had no idea that we were supposed to bargain, and so he paid full price for everything we got.  Now we know, though. 

Finally, after what seemed like a month without sleep, we were able to go to bed and sleep like rocks for about 6 hours.  We're not totally on the correct time zone with our circadian rhythms yet, but we're getting there.  For some reason, we're ready to be up at 4:30 am.  Hence, I am typing this at 6:20 in the morning after already making breakfast, reading all blog updates since last Sunday, and cleaning the kitchen. 

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who know that Harris usually washes all the dishes, you are in for a surprise.  Not only do I do all the dishes here - I'm totally germ phobic - but I am also sterilizing everything before we use it by boiling bottled water in the kettle and washing/rinsing dishes with that water only. 

I do wish that I had brought along the antibacterial dish soap I'd planned to bring and the GIANT bag of M&Ms.  Other than that, I'm pretty happy about everything we packed or left home.  Oh, and if you are coming over and planning to stay in a place with a washer, you might want to think about bringing along some travel packs of laundry soap/fabric softener.  I got 24 packs of each from Target.com and our clothes are coming out fine. 

More later.