Jul 24, 2014

Maybe TMI!? Our Fertility Monitor : The Lady Comp

   Maybe you don't want to read about this, maybe it is too much info. But if you want to know a bit more about a natural birth control method and this nifty device then read on. If not, check back in for our next posts.

  **The info below is not a class in NFP, so please do not read this and think you now know how your fertility cycle works. If you are interested in Natural Family Planning and/or the Lady Comp, or simply understanding your cycles, please inform yourself through classes, books, internet, whatever, but not through this post. I take no responsibility in your fertility and what happens with it!

   Ever since we married Eben and I have been practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP), on and off. The on and off part was due to the fact that we had 2 babies in that time, and lots of breastfeeding. Now there are a lot of naysayers when it comes to NFP, and the joke people often laugh about when we tell them we used NFP is, "yeah and look how well that worked out for you!" But it did work for us. Thanks to NFP we knew the exact days that our daughters were conceived. We knew where I was at that time on my fertility calendar, and bam, it was right. We were fertile.

   To give you the low down, NFP uses the natural increase and decrease in fertility in a woman's menstrual cycle to increase or decrease the possibility of conception. There are several different methods of NFP. Each identifies the most fertile time in a woman's cycle and requires the couple to abstain from sexual intercourse during that time, if they wish to avoid conception. The method we used observed my physical changes as well as my temperature changes during my cycle, which Eben then wrote down on a chart/graph. What this meant was that at a specific time every morning I would have to take my temperature, before I got up and did any sort of activity. I had to be at a resting temp/heart rate. Then when my cycle approached fertility my temps would rise and we would know, that combined with other physical attributes, that we were in "baby making time" and it was up to us to either abstain, keep going, or use other protection methods.

   We liked the natural aspect of NFP. There were no chemicals found in other birth controls entering my body. It was a moral way of controlling our family-unit size. It allowed us to better understand my body. And it allowed Eben to better understand my body (which actually means mood swings and arousals!) What we didn't like was that we were horrible at charting. We got lazy and stopped doing it. Not great if you are trying to use this method to limit the number of kids you have. So our NFP stuff fell to the wayside.

   And then came this wonderful little device that I discovered online. It is called the Lady-Comp. Lady-Comp is an intelligent fertility monitor — a next-generation computer that learns, analyzes and indicates ovulation with 99.3% accuracy, free of hormones and side-effects. I was instantly intrigued and decided to write to the company to see how I could get my hands on one. 

   This awesome, little, hand-size, computer wakes you up, allows you to take your temperature (orally, which is a different location from the NFP temps. I'll leave that to your imagination!), and then analyzes your fertility and gives you a green, yellow, or red light for the boom boom go ahead (or no go). I love this thing, it takes all the headaches out of knowing and understanding your cycle.

   I keep the Lady Comp they sent me on by bedside table, it wakes me at 3:30am (yes that is ridiculously early, but with Ellia and her night time wake ups, 3:30 seems to be the only time where I am getting 3 hours of consecutive sleep to put me at "resting" temp.) I take my temp, see the light go green or red, and go back to sleep. There are also other functions on this computer that can show you graphs, and you can even add your own personal notes. The price tag is a bit high, but the fertility monitor has over 7 years life expectancy, so compare that to how much you would be spending on other methods of contraception in that time period and this method becomes well worth the cost.

   Check it out, and decide for yourself. I thought I would share the TMI about how we're avoiding pregnancy with our Lady Comp and how it has revolutionized, and simplified, our fertility monitoring to better suit our lifestyle.

The monitor and the manual, which I keep close at hand in case I have any questions I need to double check (this is not a subject you want to have an accident with..."oops I misread that and now I am pregnant", no thanks!

She Snorkles!

   As our babies are getting bigger there are more and more activities that they want to join in on. The ones that used to be reserved to just "big people". Well Arias took another first step into the "big people" world last week when she decided to join Eben on her first snorkelling adventure.

   First things first, Eben took a few minutes in the bedroom explaining to, and showing, Arias how to hold the snorkel in her mouth. Then we had to find a mask to fit her tiny face. Then they were off to the swimming pool for a bit of a flat-water tester. She did so good. With mask and snorkel on it didn't take her long before she was swimming around unassisted in the pool. Once she looked like she had the hang of it and that she wouldn't freak out by a rogue wave filling her snorkel and mouth with salt water, we figured she was ocean-ready. 

   With the paddle board under his arm, Eben led Arias down to the beach and then they were off on their father-daughter adventure. They paddleboarded to the nearby reef and then snorkelled around admiring all of the little fishies there. Of course, I had a few would she handle it, would she freak out, would it be too much for her. But Eben said she was a pro. 

   Eben filmed their adventure on the GoPro and I was so proud to see our little baby, now big girl adventurer, snorkelling around the reef pointing out all the cool things she was seeing for the very first time. Such a cool experience. I can't wait to see what kinds of crazy, mommy-scaring, adventures she is going to get in to when we move back on to the boat, now that she has this new skill in the bag. She has already asked Eben for a pole spear for her birthday so that she can go catch some fish (supper) with him.

first lets understand the concept of breathing
then Eben assisted her briefly
And off she goes
Arias is laying on the board between Eben's legs

Here's the video of her first snorkelling adventure with Eben!

Jul 20, 2014

Graduation Day at Wonderland Preschool

   Today our girls had their graduation day ceremony at the preschool they have been attending here in Sosua, Dominican Republic. They aren't being bumped up a grade or anything, it was more simply a reason to celebrate our little ones, to put them centre stage and watch them shine. And shine they did. We were so proud of our girls. The kids perfomed many different songs that they had learned throughout their time at this school, and Arias was the "star", lead singer, for three of those songs.

   Her first song was "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and it was pretty histarical watching Ellia trying to keep up with the lyrics of the song by doing all the movements. At least she knows her toes. Then Arias, Ellia, and their friend Greta got all dressed up in their princess dresses to perform "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. It was so cute, and Arias belted out that song like no ones business! Arias and Ellia had been amping up for that perfomance for weeks and telling anyone that would listen that they were going to sing Frozen. Lastly, one that surprised us, Arias sang "We Are The World". You know that old song recorded in like 1985. Yep, that one. And she knew the words. It made for a funny perfomance having Arias sing with her backup singers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and so on, on the tv screen. Throughout all the songs Arias did pretty good at holding her notes, she had good tone, and if she keeps practicing she will be one talented little singer one day.

   Then came the graduation gowns, hats, and certificates. Our girls were so proud of themselves and have every right to be. And you cannot end a party without cake. They had the cutest little cake made for everyone. Unfortunately Eben and I had to run when cake time rolled around, we had to make sure our volunteers made it on to their bus to the airport as the girls' graduation day coincided with the volunteers' last day here. But it all worked out, the girls stayed for cake, we went and said goodbye to the group, and then went back to fetch our very tired girls.

This was the cake, with each student mentioned

They sang, "If you're happy and you know it" but this version had a "If you're sleepy and you know it take a nap", and Ellia decided to act it out!

"Let It Go" from Frozen

Here it is, the performance everyone has been waiting for!
(Ellia jumps in around minute 1:03)

"We are the world" solo

the back up singers to her solo

Ellia rockin out to her sister's song

Arias' Number 1 Fan
Let's Graduate

Jul 17, 2014

T Shirt to Tank Top: DIY Fashion On The Cheap

   The DR has been more than harsh on our clothes. The washing machines have stretched out most of the collars on our shirts, and turned most of my tanks into nightgowns. This means that our family will have to be making a shopping spree stop at Old Navy some time soon, to restock on everything. But in the meantime I have found a way to convert my tshirts into tanks. 

   The "boyfriend" tank has been all the rage this year, which is great for me because it is so simple to turn an old tshirt into a tank in this style. The shirt makeover requires no sewing at all. Double plus for me. Because I don't see myself pulling out our sailrite just to make some tshirt adjustments.

   These tanks are great to wear over bathing suits, bandeau tops, or any sports bra. And they let the air circulate freely through your shirt, another plus in this insane Dominican summer heat. To make one is pretty easy, but first you have to get over your fear of cutting. It took me a long time to get the balls to actually cut into one of my tshirts. My fear was that I would mess it up and have wrecked a perfectly wearable tee. But I went ahead anyways and I am glad I did. 

   I put together this step by step tutorial on how to get your Tshirt from just that, to a "boyfriend" tank, and then one step further into a "workout" tank. 

1. Get a tshirt and a pair of scissors. I chose a tshirt that was 1 size bigger than what I usually wear because I wanted it to fit baggy.
2. Cut the neck line off under the seam.
3. Cut the sleeves off so the seam remains on the sleeve not the shirt
4. Try it on and see how you like it. I wanted to make the collar wider and arm holes lower.
5. Make cutting adjustments where desired. (I flipped my shirt inside out to cut so I could draw on it with a white crayon (all I could find!) for a visual cue first. You can cut the bottom seam off if the shirt is long on you, I left mine since the length fit me well.
6. Et Voila, a "boyfriend" tank

If you want more of a "workout" style tank, continue on:

7. Cut the back of the collar into a V, make sure to keep your strap size the same width down the V. 
8. Use a length of cut off scrap material (from sleeves), bunch the back straps together and use the scrap material to wrap around the two straps, tying them together.
9. Et Voila, a "workout" tank. 

I love fashion on the cheap!

Jul 15, 2014

Playing the "What If" game

   As many of you know we are very much the "go with the flow" type when it comes to life planning. We have a hard time to plan anything beyond six months into our future, and even when we think we have come to a good decision it often takes a turn for the unexpected before that 6 month plan is up. But that doesn't stop us from playing the "what if" game. 

   Just last night Eben and I were discussing how it would be nice to build our own house, and what the criteria for that would be. We agreed that it would be somewhere tropical, because much of our "dream home" concept is open-air and warm outdoor spaces. Thanks to living on the boat we know that we do not want to live ocean front, salt water in the air ruins too many things. And being on or near a mountain with lots of outdoor space would be ideal. That didn't really narrow down where we may build this home, but it was nice to dream and imagine the place.

who knows, maybe Eben will soon be doing this, but building a home for us instead

   We also often discuss the possibility of returning to the boat. We don't know for how much longer we would sail, but Eben still has the desire to do one last hooray. The way we see it right now is we have three options. 

1) Sail down island towards Grenada, island hoping the whole way. This would mean short hops, and reuniting with some great sailing friends, Windtraveler, Mirador, and the Luppy 8. And Grenada has always been intriguing to me. We also think that these islands are only something we would visit if we were by boat, we don't see ourselves ever flying to the Virgin Islands. The downfall to this plan, the cost. These islands are not cheap, they would actually be in the most expensive of what we have sailed. 

2) Sail the boat back up towards Georgetown, Bahamas and do another regatta season there. You either love or hate the regatta there. We love it. We have made so many friends in that area, and so many sailing friends that we know will return there as well, that it would be an awesome reunion. It is also a very family-friendly place. We envision that if we did this, at the end of that season we would then sail the boat to Mexico and spend some time there. But that is way down the road! The downfall to this plan is that we have done the Bahamas before, and again, it is not cheap. 

3) We sail the boat the 3 days across the large expanse of water that would bring us to central america. There are plenty of places there that we are keen to explore. And I would love for the girls to keep up with speaking spanish because they are doing really well already. The downfall to this plan is that it is a larger jump, and then once there we would most likely be doing a lot of traveling by land, not boat. In any of these above plans, the preferred outcome would be to enjoy our sailing trip as it may be one of our last, and possibly find an area where we would like to build this above mentioned dream home.

Or is this the life more for us?

   Today I was discussing all of this with a friend and she laughed and asked, "what about here?". Yes, lets not forget, even though we had never even really planned to come to the DR we have now been living here for a full year and this country has found a special place in our hearts. We have really loved the work that we have been doing with this non-profit and the beautiful communities that we have been working with. We have also loved being non-nomadic enough to have made friends that are here, to stay, not sailing away. And the Dominicans, they are so welcoming and loving, we feel that we have made so many great friendships here and that we are wanted and loved here. (or at least our blonde gringitas are!)

The DR has been good to us.

   So we could very well end up sailing, or traveling, or staying put. Right now any of those options are complete possibilities and we are totally ok with that. What do you think? What should be in the Stolz's near future?