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The Fuel Can – Building a Website

IMG_0787

So even though my main business is an online retailer, http://www.onesmallchild.com, I have never really put together a website. I have a web designer for that. With the simplicity of the product I have to offer with The Fuel Can, I decided this would be a good opportunity for me to try my hand at putting together my own site. It was not quite that easy, but I will walk you through the process.

First I thought it would be easiest to put together a WordPress site with an e-commerce theme to give me the functionality of selling a tangible product. I did some research on Youtube, and it looked easy. Because of some of the recommendations on the internet, I decided to try the e-commerce plug-in call WooCommerce.

After installing WooCommerce, I spent about two hours fumbling through settings and trying to give the site the look I wanted. I went at it some more the next day and still I was not getting anywhere near the look and functionality that I was looking for.

On the advise of my wife, I decided to check out Shopify. I realize they are really different models and after going through the pros and cons of the two platforms I decided to try the free trial and see how easy the design process could be on Shopify. To make a long story short, it took me about an hour and a half and I was done! The site is now live at www.TheFuelCan.com. It is very simple, but I think it turned out great.

My conclusion is, for someone with little experience with web design, its hard to beat the simplicity of a Shopify site.

Trading Sugar for an iWatch

apple-watch

My wife and I issued each other a challenge last night. The end goal of the challenge is to be healthier, but in essence it is a “no sugar challenge.”

So, for the final quarter of 2014, we have committed to abstain from added or excess sugar in foods and eat more home made whole foods and vegetables. We have also pledged to exercise at least four times per week.

Maybe we’re not that committed or maybe we’re just realistic, but we decided to allow ourselves two “cheat days” a month, mainly on date nights. We also realize with the holidays coming throughout the challenge that it will be very difficult to maintain so we’ve agreed that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day are also “cheat days.”

To motivate ourselves to complete this challenge we each chose a prize that we will receive at the end of the year to reward us for doing what we should be doing anyway. I will be receiving an Apple iWatch, and my wife chose to reward herself with laser hair removal in her under arm areas. I’m pretty sure I came up with a better reward, but she seems motivated too.

So, now the challenge begins. This is where we separate the strong from the weak. We have successfully done this challenge in the past and found that the hardest part is staying on track during family events. With the holidays, this will be somewhat more difficult. In making this public announcement, I hope to have some outside motivation to stay strong and maintain the commitment.

In the end, the true reward we are looking for is to be healthier and have a better quality of life overall. I have gone from the extremes of being obese to running marathons. I know how it feels to be on either end of the spectrum. Right now, I am somewhere in the middle, and I know that I will be happier and feel better by exercising and eating healthier. And the iWatch sounds pretty good too.

Let the challenge begin!!!

Time Flies

Tempus fugit - Il tempo vola - Time flies

Last night my boys and I were shuffled out of the house to make room for a “make up” party that my wife was hosting. At first it seemed like an annoyance to be forced out of the house on a Thursday evening. It was up to me to figure out what to do with my sons for the hour and a half that they would occupy our house.

We ended up going to a park near a small lake about 2 miles from our home. The boys played on the playground, ran up and down the hills, and played near the water’s edge. As I watched them, I was grateful for the excuse to go out and spend time with them. They are a lot of fun to be with and I realize daily that they are growing fast and I need to make the time to be with them and develop our relationships.

I never thought I would say this, but Thank You crafty, over-priced, makeup sales Lady, for giving me an excuse to spend time with my boys. I may rethink that statement when I see how much the makeup costs.

The Birth of “That Guy”

Insomnia. Man counting sheep. Cartoon illustration.

So I’m that guy who woke up at 3 a.m. and could not get back to sleep because of an idea to share thoughts, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and embarrassments to hopefully help others realize that we really are a lot alike.

 

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the night with my 3 month old daughter. After the late night feeding I laid down to try and get some more sleep. It was 3 a.m. and I needed to wake up at 5 that morning, but a thought came into my mind that would not leave me alone.  There is nothing worse than waking up too early and having your mind racing, telling yourself you have to get back to sleep or the next day you will be too tired to do anything while at the same time not being able to turn off the thoughts you are having.

Lying there in bed, my mind would not stop going over and over this thought. At 3:45 I got out of bed to do something about it.

The thoughts revolved around me starting a blog. My wife had talked to me several times about putting my experiences into writing. I had always felt overwhelmed at the thought of chronologically documenting my life and trying to convey the events, thoughts and emotions that have combined to make up who I am. Because the task has always felt so daunting, I have never acted on the promptings to begin the journey.

That morning, the thought that would not let go, revolved around the notion that I would not have to take the project on as a chronological documentary of my life experiences. Instead I would focus on a moment of emotion or realization and I would then try and explain the events that had brought me to that moment, and how it has brought me to where I am today.

That thought was so powerful to me at 3 a.m. that I got out of bed and began to write. I thought and wrote for over two hours. That is the moment that “So I’m that Guy,” was born. It felt like the perfect way to take a moment of realization when time stands still and convey the circumstances surrounding it.

I liked the way it felt, because I don’t consider myself to be anything special. I am just “That Guy.” I could be any guy, because we all have had similar experiences. I think we have these experiences to learn from them and ultimately to help others. I want to have a way to share the highs and the lows, the good and the bad. The times I feel like I am on top of the world, and the times that I wish I could hid under a rock. By sharing this, I hope that others can learn from my experiences and find hope that even when things don’t go according to what we have planned, life can surprise us.

I have found that when things don’t go according to my plans, many times they turn out better than I ever could have imagined. Many people are like me in that they try to control every aspect of their lives, only to find that it is impossible to force the outcomes we think we need. I am trying to look at life as an opportunity for improvisation, to take the circumstances and challenges that otherwise could trip us up and turning them into stepping stones to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Miscarriage: Take One

So I’m that guy, sitting in the room with an ultrasound tech and his wife, anxiously looking for a heartbeat.

 

Kinderzimmer mit Wiege für Baby

 

This was our second pregnancy. Our daughter was 2 ½ years old. We had been trying for about 6 months to get pregnant, so we were excited when we found out we had become pregnant again. My wife was dealing with worse morning sickness than she had experienced before but there were really no other worries at that point. In the past everything had always gone perfectly normal throughout the pregnancy and we had no reason to expect anything different.

At about 11 weeks we went in for the first prenatal visit with our OBGYN. She was unable to locate a heartbeat with the Doppler so she scheduled for my wife to have an ultrasound the next day to measure the development of the baby.  We went to the ultrasound appointment really feeling like everything was fine. As the tech took more and more time, and we did not hear that tell-tale rhythmical beating of a baby’s heartbeat, we were more and more concerned.

The ultrasound tech, not knowing how to handle the situation, excused herself and went to get her supervisor. He came in and spent some time trying to find the heartbeat with no success.  At this point we knew that something was wrong, but we were still not prepared for what came next. He said to us, “I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”  He continued to explain that the baby had stopped developing at about 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy. I don’t remember anything that was said after that, as he left the room, I tried to process the situation we were in.

Taken by surprise, we really did not know how to react to this news. Time stopped for a moment with my wife still on the exam table and I was standing next to her.  She sat up, we hugged, and tears flowed as we realized our hopes for this new pregnancy were over. We knew these things happen, but we never expected it to happen to us.

The rest of the day is a blur. We went to the doctor again and she advised us to have a D&C rather than waiting for the pregnancy to end on its own.  We spent the rest of that day in the hospital and at home as my wife recovered from the surgery.

This was one of those experiences that kicks you in the teeth and makes you realize bad things really can happen, just that easily. I struggled with at the time, and still have the “what if” thoughts that naturally occur with such a loss.  It was probably the first real tragic event that had occurred in my life and it took me time to work through it.

As hard as it was for me, I think it was probably 10 times worse for my wife to deal with. When my wife finds out she is pregnant, she immediately plans the next year of her life. I think a mother has an instant bond to the baby as soon as the test comes out positive. That is what kept her going as she suffered through two months of morning sickness, and all the other difficulties associated with the first trimester of the pregnancy.

What hurt me most was watching that bond taken from her. It seemed like there were reminders every day.  Someone was always announcing they were pregnant.  There were friends and  family members who were pregnant and had babies when ours should have been born. Even to this day there are reminders of that horrible day when everything fell apart. If I had the power to take that pain from her, I would do it in a heartbeat.

It was impossible to understand at the time, but looking back at that tragedy in our lives, we can see that it was a pivotal turning point in our lives. It was not the end of the struggles and difficulty.  In fact it was the beginning of an ongoing battle with infertility that has not allowed us to have any more biological children.  But had it not been for that first step, we never would have started down the path to adopt the three beautiful children that have filled our home since that day.

My Firstborn

So I’m that guy, staring into the huge eyes of his newborn daughter, oblivious to the ways she will change his life for the better.

girl shoes

 

I had known the day was coming for the previous nine months, but I don’t think that time prepared me for the significance of the birth of my first child. My wife and I had been married for a year when we found out we were expecting.  We hadn’t made any specific plans to get pregnant, but we had stopped preventing for a short period of time.  Looking back on the ease of getting pregnant from our current reality of infertility, it almost seems like another life.

We found out shortly before our first anniversary. We had been planning a trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming to celebrate our first year together and we chose to go through with it.  On that trip I made the realization that pregnancy tests are evil.  Everything can be totally fine, there are a few symptoms of pregnancy that nudge a couple towards a pregnancy test, but I am convinced that once she takes that test and it is positive, it becomes the catalyst for “Morning Sickness,” or as in our case, “All Day Sickness.” Needless to say, the trip to Jackson would have been better had we not taken the test.

The pregnancy progressed normally and all went well for the nine months leading up to the birth of our daughter.  Another miracle, as we have not achieved a healthy nine month pregnancy since.

It started when my wife was already a week overdue. The contractions hit slowly one evening and by 1 a.m. the next morning, we felt they were close enough to make the trip to the hospital.  We had a 30 minute trip to the hospital, as we walked out the door I joked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got pulled over on the way to the hospital?”  The state highway was almost empty as I went from a 55 mph zone to a 45 mph zone.  I left the car at 55 mph and sure enough the only other car on the road was driven by a Sherriff deputy.

He pulled me over and came to the car window. I said, “Officer, I’m sure you probably get this a lot, but my wife is in labor and we are trying to get to the hospital.”

The officer shined the light into the car and onto my wife’s pregnant belly. He said, “Well okay, I am going to let you go this time, but it won’t do you any good to rush to the hospital if you never make it.”  I was disappointed there was no offer of a police escort, but glad there was no added cost to the late night trip.

We did make it to the hospital safely and after checking my wife, they said she was not close enough and sent us home again to let things continue to progress. A few hours later we went back in and once again they said it would be a little longer and sent us home.  Finally, about 24 hours after the contractions had begun; we were admitted to the delivery room to have the baby.

Once my wife was able to get the epidural, the pain was much more manageable. We both slept for a few hours and were woken up at about 1 a.m. when it was time for her to push.  It was a slow process, and the umbilical cord was apparently wrapped around my daughter’s neck, because every time she pushed her heart rate would drop drastically.  After 2 hours of pushing the doctor’s decided to use forceps and they were able to pull her out.

That moment, when I saw my daughter for the first time, is etched into my memory. It was a beautiful moment and very scary.  I saw her in the doctor’s arms and she was struggling to breath.  Her chest was contorting and she was making efforts to breath but she couldn’t get the air to her lungs.  For those 30 seconds, that seemed like a lifetime, the doctor and nurses set her in the warming crib and worked at clearing her airway.  Finally, there was a cry. She was breathing and everything was okay again.

After cleaning her up they put her in my arms. Her eyes were wide open and she stared at me through her huge blue eyes. I can’t put the happiness I felt at that moment into words, but it was one of the best of my life.

I cannot finish this post without saying how amazing my wife is. She is the one who had gone through 9 months of pregnancy and 33 hours of labor to give our daughter life. I love you babe.

Looking back, almost ten years later, I am still amazed at the miracle that happened that day. She is now a beautiful young woman who has changed my life for the better. I am proud to be her father.

Awkward Infertile Moment

So I’m that guy, standing at the front desk of a women’s clinic with his sperm sample in outstretched hand trying to explain why he really is in the right place.

specimen cup

 

I believe that people struggling with infertility are some of the most mistreated people in our society. When stricken with the ailment, through no fault of their own, they somehow lose all rights to privacy and dignity. We have what is called secondary infertility. We were able to have a biological daughter, but following a miscarriage we were unable to get pregnant again

When my wife and I were first diagnosed as “possibly infertile,” she was put through a battery of invasive, painful procedures that according to the doctors had very little chance of having any positive result. To add insult to injury, the cost of the procedures was very high as our insurance would not cover any of these procedures.

This is what I like to call “The Infertility Rollercoaster.” We would save our money for a few months for new treatments. We would go to the new doctor that we were referred to after the last one concluded that we needed a more specialized physician. We would be given hope in the procedure and the steps they told us they were going through in order for this to be a successful attempt. My wife would get the shots and pills for the preparation for ovulation. Then we would go in for an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and the waiting game began. Two weeks later, we could not stand the suspense anymore so we would purchase a pregnancy test. Every test was a crushing reminder of our powerlessness in the situation, but we gathered ourselves back up and rode that rollercoaster several times.

So on one such occasion, we were finally at the day to perform an IUI. We had to go to a clinic in a town about 30 minutes from our home, so time was of the essence. We collected my “sample” at home and hit the road. We were told that it would be best to hold the sample under my armpit until we reached the clinic in order to keep it warm and alive until they were able to process it and to get it to them as soon as possible, so when we arrived at the clinic we knew time was running out.

I got out of the car, with the sample under my arm and walked into the lobby of the Women’s clinic. For some reason, I had been nervously anticipating this exact moment for weeks now. At the front desk there were three receptionists watching me as I entered the front door. I went to the desk and reached out my hand with the cup that contained my still warm sample. The looks on their faces were not encouraging. One woman said to me,” You must me in the wrong place.”

Those were not the words I had hoped to hear at that moment. I asked if this was the clinic we were scheduled to have our procedure in. The ah-ha moment came as one of the receptionists explained that their company actually had two clinics, and that the one we were looking for was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away.

I got back in the car with my wife and as we drove to the other clinic we could not help but laugh the whole way there as we thought about the ridiculousness of the whole situation we were experiencing. Sometimes, the only way to make these things bearable is to laugh.

Long story short, that IUI, with the shots and visits leading up to it, cost us about $800 plus the negative pregnancy test that we had a few weeks later. That was a dark period in our lives. Thankfully, we had a beautiful 4 year old daughter to soften the blows that came with each failed attempt at growing our family.

Looking back and knowing that the difficult, humiliating, invasive, painful experiences we had with infertility, pushed us towards adopting 3 more amazing children, I would do it all over again. It helped us open our hearts to adoption and prepared us for the challenges we would face throughout the adoption process.