Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Day of Contrasts

Today we got to visit the FRRO - Foreigner Regional Registration Office in New Delhi.  The FRRO is the primary agency of the Indian Bureau of Immigration to regulate the registration, movement, stay, and departure of certain foreigners visiting India.  Only foreigners that are visiting India on a long term (more than 180 days) Student Visa, Medical Visa, and Employment Visas.  Registration is also required in the case of Visas less than 180 days if there is a special endorsement "for registration required" (as there is for Medical Visas for Surrogacy).  So, most foreigners who visit India never have to visit the lovely FRRO.

Mr. Joy made an appointment for us and carefully went over all of the paperwork that we needed to have for our visit today.  Anyone required to register must do so within 14 days of arrival and generally the sooner the better.  We had copies of our driver's licenses, passports, visas, marriage certificate, and birth certificates, as well as a form from the hotel certifying that we are staying there and a letter from the clinic certifying that we are being treated there.  We were told to have originals of all of these documents on hand in case they were requested.  We were also instructed to answer only the questions asked and no more.  Mr. Joy seemed very nervous about our visit and we were starting to get a little nervous ourselves.

The outside of the FRRO looked nothing like government offices here in the US.  We started in a waiting area outside under an odd green plastic roof.  We were given a number (hand written on a slip of paper) and given the OK to proceed inside.

The inside of the FRRO looked a lot like a really old DMV office, complete with the red digital number counter on the wall and bad wood paneling.  When our number was called we went to the registration desk, they looked over our Visa type and told us which number window to visit.  They only asked one question - our wedding date - I think to verify that it was really our marriage certificate.  Thankfully Mark remembered our anniversary date.

We proceeded to window number two, which was for surrogacy.  Their was another couple ahead of us so we had to wait for a little bit to proceed.  The officer there looked over our passports and our paperwork for while, and then proceeded to stamp a couple of pages and then send us to the signature authority.  There our paperwork and passports were signed and we were given a signed summary page that we were told that we needed to have with us when the surrogacy process was complete to register our baby.

All in all it really wasn't that bad and took about an hour.  When we left we found Mr. Joy who wanted to know how things went.  We said fine.  He asked us to prove it and produce the paperwork.  He looked it over and seemed VERY relieved.  We found out that they have had some couples who did not get their paperwork signed off on in the past - that is why they are very diligent about reviewing our documentation.  Luckily we got through with really no issues.

We went back to the hotel for lunch and to rest for a while.  Mr. Joy met up with us again later in the afternoon to take us shopping.  He suggested that we have him along to help negotiate prices.  He will be busy with another couple from the US starting on the 2nd, after that time our driver should be able to help with these things.

We started at a "cheap market" - where many middle class Indians shop.  I don't remember the name of it, but he said it was named after a famous Indian freedom fighter.  It was REALLY busy and pretty dirty.  We were constantly stepping around garbage (luckily it looked like mostly food) and trying to avoid running into anyone while keeping up with Mr. Joy.  There was a lot of household items - dishes and such - and a lot of clothing.  Nothing was really nice quality and we were getting mobbed by street vendors so we moved on.

We then went to a "high end" market, which ended up being Khan Market http://khan-market.com/, which we were told that we should visit.  This is where the rich Indians and the tourists shop.  We were much more comfortable here - it is actually a lot like many open shopping areas in the US and carried a lot of US brands - Levis, Kiehl's, L'Occitane, even Crocs.  Mark was quickly getting bored with shopping so we only went into a few shops.  I quickly snagged a couple of the Delhi "must buys" - some Kama Ayurveda Rosewater and a pretty pashmina scarf. 

I could see that Mr. Joy was slightly horrified/amazed at how quickly I went through 2,500 rupees, which is only about $41.67 US.  I explained that these items were easily twice to three times as much in the US.  I didn't realize that Kahn Market is the New Delhi version of Fifth Avenue and I often forget the difference in the cost of living.  I just gleefully spent roughly one month's salary for the average Indian in a matter of minutes and could quite easily spent a year's salary given ample shopping time.

When I get down about things I need to remember that in the grand scheme of things, I have a lot in a world where so many have so little.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Cheaper by the Half-Dozen?

Today started off a little slow.  I was pretty tired and jet-lagged so I slept in.  After getting ready and eating breakfast we had some time to kill until our appointment, so I logged into work and went through emails for a while.  We stopped down to the desk to get our C-Forms since they hadn't given those to us yet.  Luckily we looked at them since they put down "tourist" VISA instead of "medical" VISA.  Our correct C-Forms in hand we headed off to the clinic.

Joyel was not able to meet us today since he was escorting another couple.  We decided to walk since the clinic is only 500 meters away and we were able to map quest the route.  It was 95 degrees again today so the walk was pretty hot despite being rather short.  Mark told me to "Be Velcro".  We aren't supposed to show public displays of affection like holding hands, so I just tried to stay as close as I could.  Apparently not close enough as we got separated a couple of times when crossing the street.  I told him that he needs to give me a warning first before darting into traffic.

The clinic was not as busy today as it was Saturday.  We probably would have been in and out rather quickly except for the fact that we needed to make an installment payment today and their credit card machine was not working.  Also, someone was in the restroom for like, forever, so I had to wait a while before my ultrasound.

I was trying to count the "beeps" while the doctor was looking at the ultrasound to see if there were more follicles.  She is a little hard to read, but I didn't think that I was reading great results on her face.  I had to wait for Mark to come in to find out for sure.  I find it interesting that even a woman doctor plays to the gender roles here and will only talk to the husband.  Still only six follicles :(  They are growing, however, so I am to stay on my dosage and we will see her again on Wednesday.

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed by having only six follicles.  We got back to the hotel and Mark knew that I was upset.  I was pushing to go do "something" to keep my mind off things.  Mark agreed, but not until after we had a conversation about his feelings about India.  He is NOT having fun.  He does NOT feel comfortable walking around.  He especially does NOT like the way that every Indian man we pass ogles me.  He agrees to do a few things but wants us to be VERY careful.

We got a taxi through Joyel and headed off for the Lodi Gardens.  Traveling was another adventure.
It took us an hour to go 10 km.  Traffic in Delhi is crazy.  I am constantly amazed how (for the most part) they don't run into each other.  Traffic rules seem to be only guidelines here.  Motorcycles seem to be the preferred mode of transportation here - they zip in between cars and up on the sidewalks.  Midway through the trip a little girl came up to the window and just started mocking Mark - I liked her.

Walking through the Lodi Gardens was a distraction from the IVF "stuff".  The park itself is less than a hundred years old, but was created to surround monuments that are hundreds of years old.  The detail on these buildings is amazing.  The park is full of plants, birds and animals of all sorts - it seems to be a hang out for wild dogs as well as a popular make out spot for the local teenagers.  Mark also enjoyed himself despite his seeming dislike for India in general - maybe there's hope for him yet. 

Tomorrow we get to go to the dreaded FRRO - stay tuned........

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It IS Actually Like The Movies

Today started Early.  We had to be in the Lobby by 7 am to meet Joyel (not "Mr. Joy" as we thought yesterday) and our driver for the day.  I was glad that we sprung for the "large" car.  It was about the size of a Ford Focus - the Focus may be bigger.

The Taj Mahal is in Agra, which is about 200 kilometers or about 2 1/2 hours away by car thanks to the newly constructed Yamuna Expressway.  It is a toll road, which may limit traffic, so the drive there was pretty nice.  Once you are outside of Delhi, the area becomes rural.  It is filled with brick furnaces, farms and lots of cows.  Actually we were told that the black ones are buffalos and the white and brown ones are cows.

Agra is a pretty traditional village and things are still done the "old way" there.  There are cows, buffalos, goats and dogs EVERYWHERE.  And Donkeys, and even Camels!

Cars are only allowed so close to the Taj Mahal, so we park in Agra and look for a tuk-tuk to take us the rest of the journey.  At this point I was glad to be out of the car as I think we had at least a dozen near collisions once we got into the village due to the narrow and full streets.  Little did I know that the journey was just going to get more hairy from there.  The tuk-tuk went as far as the gates to the "park" in which the Taj Mahal is located.  From there we made the journey by camel cart.  The driver offers to let Mark climb on the back of the camel for a picture but he declined.

The journey was worth it.  The Taj Mahal is breathtaking.  The pictures that you see in the magazines show you the beautiful white marble mausoleum and the reflection pools.  What you may not have seen is the detailed work that is the Taj Mahal.  The entire building is ornately carved and inlaid with malachite, lapis lazuli, vermillion, and onyx.  No, the artwork is not painted - that is ALL inlaid stone.  It is incredibly beautiful.  I am amazed that it only took 22 years to complete.  All of this for a deeply beloved third wife.

While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures.  The Taj Mahal complex has red sandstone walls on three sides with the side facing the river left open.  Inside the complex are two red sandstone mosques on either side of the mausoleum and a great gate.  Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of the other wives.  The grounds are also full of trees and flowering bushes.  It is easy to see why this is considered a wonder of the modern world.

We leave the beauty of the Taj Mahal grounds for what can only be described as chaos.  People, animals, trucks and tuk-tuks everywhere.  We are nearly ran into no less than a dozen times again on our way to find a restaurant for lunch.  Before the Taj Mahal we thought that we were going to see the Red Fort in Agra and maybe a couple of other things.  After walking around in 95 degree heat we decided that we were good with just seeing the Taj Mahal.  At lunch we were also reminded that while it is good to have some fun and see some things, we are not tourists.  We are there on a medical visa and we are here to undergo a procedure.  Point Taken.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Strangers in a Strange Land

Today was an interesting day.  We landed in Delhi at 1:30 this morning.  We got to our hotel about 2:30 this morning and finally got to bed around 3:30 this morning. 

The ride from the Airport to the hotel was very interesting.  The drivers in India honk at each other, A LOT.  We found out that it is part impatience, part courtesy warning when you are passing people.  Since they drive on the left side of the road they pass on the right - everything seems backwards from the US.  We pass a lot of what seem like tents and abandoned buildings - that is what a large portion of the population lives in.  The cab drivers all seem to live in their carts as we pass a lot of them sleeping in them on the side of the road.  We see people sleeping on blankets on the median of the road and dogs everywhere.  No cows yet, but lots of dogs.

The hotel was almost out of place in that it looked nice and somewhat western.  After that adventure we were ready for sleep.

I got to get up at 8:30 this morning to give myself my IVF shot.  It was pretty much impossible to get back to sleep after that, so we decided to tough it out today and try to get ourselves on New Delhi time. 

The hotel had breakfast until 10 everyday so Mark and I rolled down to the restaurant.  It was an interesting mix of Indian and Americanish food.  We were trying to be safe in our food and drink choices, so a lot of stuff got ruled out very quickly.  I had masala, vegetables, and sausage (it was chicken?) and Mark had an egg.  The cook seemed very confused by his request for a fried egg.  I am sure this will be the first of many.

We were wondering what we were going to do today when we saw that we had an email from the clinic.  They wanted us there at noon and were sending someone to get us at 11:30.  Luckily we had time to shower and get ready before "Mr. Joy" arrived.  Seriously, that is how he introduced himself.  Thankfully we have Mr. Joy to show us around because I don't think we'll do well on our own.

We were told that many people in Delhi wear western clothing.  Apparently that is just the men and a handful of young women.  I was hoping that so long as I had my legs and shoulders covered that I wouldn't look too far out of place.  Silly, silly me.  I was also trying to keep my head covered with my scarf but think that just makes it worse.  Mark and I are white as white can be and American to boot.  We are just going to stick out.

Despite the clinic being within walking distance we quickly decided that we were not going to attempt to walk there.  Now that we know where it is and what the going rates on the "tuk-tuk" is I think we could make it there on our own.  Mr. Joy tells us to expect to be swindled often due to the color of our skin.

The clinic was also an experience.  We arrived at a run down looking building on which I see the clinic sign.  We go up a flight of stairs to the waiting area.  It is packed.  The receptionist quickly shoos two Indian women outside to wait so that we can have their spots.  We started trying to say that we were OK but that seemed to make things worse.  We are obviously "VIPS", Mark and I are asked if we would like a beverage - no one else is.  I start to feel uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, the state of the clinic only being one of them.

Mark and I get called back finally.  We get to meet the doctor in person finally.  She seems pretty nice and trys to make some small talk while making sure that we have all of our paper work in order.  It is then down to business.  After we both have blood drawn, Mark gets to go make a deposit and I get to have an ultrasound.  After an uncomfortable amount of poking the doctor and the nurse start making notes on my ovaries so I assume that they are seeing some follicles.  I can't tell if it's a good reaction or not yet.

Mark gets called into the room and the doctor goes over the results.  Only six follicles :(  Of the eight that were on my baseline only six seem to be growing.  Maybe more will pop up.  I hope more will pop up.  The cycle that worked I had nine follicles at the first ultrasound, the one that got cancelled I had five.  I don't like that this is looking more like the cancelled cycle than the "successful" cycle.  She gives us a prescription for antibiotics and changes my Gonal F dosage.  In a surprise move she changes it down.  Interesting.  My last cycles I kept getting upped instead of decreased.  Maybe they are hoping some more will catch up.  I hope some more catch up.  I left feeling discouraged instead of encouraged.

After the pharmacy, Mr. Joy asks us what we would like to do.  We were hungry so he recommends a restaurant and sends us off.  He had to run an errand and met us at the restaurant.  We soon figure out that he is our liason.  It feels weird to have a person assigned to us, but it is also REALLY nice.  We have no idea about ANYTHING here.  Just from our short excursion to the clinic and the ride to the hotel from the airport we quickly see that we need the help.  I honestly don't think we would have even found the clinic today on our own.  I didn't even stop to try to take any pictures today - I was just overwhelmed by the experience.

We decide that tomorrow we will go to the Taj Mahal since I am due back at the clinic on Monday and know that I will start to get increasingly uncomfortable as the days lead up to my retrieval.  For the rest of today we are just going to relax at the hotel.  I like that idea.  Relax, get some sleep, and get ready for an early start tomorrow.  Plus, Mr. Joy said today that I need to try to be happy, it helps with the IVF results.  I will try, Mr. Joy, I will try.

Friday, September 26, 2014

17 hours in Coach, Need I Say More?

We got to the airport almost 3 hours before our flight because that's what the TSA recommended guidelines are.  Normally I would think that was ridiculous, but that was before Mark and I missed a flight earlier this year because we arrived 90 minutes prior to our flight instead of the recommended two hours.  Although I still think that was extenuating circumstances and poor airport staffing on a weekend, I will never take chances with airport arrival times again.

Of course there was nobody in the security line and we got through in like 5 minutes, leaving us a LOT of time before our flight.  We decided to go get steaks at Ike's since we wouldn't be having beef for the next couple of weeks.  I even had enough time to go give myself my first IVF shot in the bathroom pre-flight.  I felt ready for the nearly full day of travel ahead of me - boy did I have no idea!

In the end it probably wasn't all that bad, considering travel can go pretty badly.  We landed safely, there were no mechanical problems (that we knew of anyway), the toilets worked, the flights departed and arrived pretty much on time and we made our flights despite having a REALLY short layover in Amsterdam which required us sprinting halfway across the airport to our gate.  It was just a LONG day.

The first lag of our trip was from Minneapolis to Amsterdam (Delta) - just shy of nine hours and overnight.  We were thinking that we were going to just sleep through the entire flight......silly us.  No matter how much wine, melatonin, unisom, etc. that you consume, you are never going to sleep comfortably in coach, never.  Maybe if you drank yourself into unconsciousness, but that also has obvious drawbacks.  You cannot get comfortable in coach.  We did manage to get some sleep and the breakfast wasn't half bad.

Speaking of the breakfast.  I am fascinated by the food on international flights.  I find it amazing that you can fly 5 hours to Maui and only get some stale peanuts and fly 3 more hours across the Atlantic and you get two hot meals plus a snack.  Fascinating.  These hot meals are also often at odd times - like say dinner at 11 pm or breakfast at noon - but at regular intervals.  And, the food isn't half bad, strange at times like the unknown salad I had from Amsterdam to Delhi, but not half bad.  I guess food helps keep us complacent for extended periods.

The second lag of our trip was from Amsterdam to Delhi (KLM) - just shy of eight hours.  This was definitely the more interesting trip.  Even though I was asleep (or near sleep) for most of the first trip, I knew this was the more interesting one.  First, Mark and I were definitely in the minority on this trip.  I spotted only one other obvious American on the plane.  Second, being KLM vs. Delta everything was Dutch first, English second.  It was also very interesting that this flight was definitely more families, whereas the first trip seemed to be a lot more couples and single business travelers.

By the time we landed in Delhi we had been traveling for 17 hours with little to no leg room, eating odd things at odd hours, having had little sleep and our body clocks running 10 1/2 hours behind.

We really just wanted to get to the hotel, hop in the shower, and go to bed.  We may even just go right to bed.......

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Off to a Great Start

The doctor called yesterday and moved my appointment from noon to first thing in the morning.  I thought that this would be great so I could get it over with right away and not have to interrupt the middle of the day to go.

In order to get a morning appointment I had to go the Eden Prairie vs. Minnetonka office meaning at LEAST 15 minutes more commute time.  Luckily (for once) traffic cooperated and I was actually on time for my appointment.  Those of you who know me know that I am almost never on time for anything.  I was taking this to be a good sign.

The bad thing about an earlier appointment is that I received my test results by that afternoon so I actually had a chance to read them.  As Mark has often pointed out, less information for me is probably better.  I know too much about the whole fertility game by this point and know what my lab results mean........usually that is not a good thing.  This time is no exception.

My FSH is up to 9.0 from the previous level of 8.6, and my antral follicle count was only 8 compared to 10 the last time.  Can a year make that much difference?

OK.  These results aren't terrible.  I will still respond to the IVF drugs and most likely will have an embryo or two to transfer.  It just really sucks that I already know that this cycle is not going to go as well as the last cycle and the last cycle only resulted in 3 grade 3 and 1 grade 4 embryo (read as unlikely to "take" due to quality).

I already feel defeated.  I have been hopeful that this cycle will go better, that all of the stuff that I have been doing for the past few months will magically make my ovaries work.  Why have I been taking DHEA and $$ of supplements for the past 3 months?  Why have I spent $$$ on weekly acupuncture treatments?  I thought that these were supposed to make my results better, NOT worse.  I guess that these may have been foolhardy hopes and that in the end I cannot fight the fact that I am a 39 year old "poor responder" with few and questionable quality eggs.

I am leaving to go to India already feeling hopeless instead of hopeful.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fat Stacks of Cash

In preparation for our India trip I did a currency exchange at the bank and got a fat stack of rupees.  Now I know that this looks like a lot of money....before you consider mugging me on my way to the airport keep in mind that $1 USD is $60 INR, so this fat stack is not nearly as much cash as you think it is.

Now that the "to do" list is pretty much done the reality that WE LEAVE TOMORROW!!!!!!! is finally starting to set in.  I have surpassed stress, surpassed anxiety, and at times have moved into nausea.  I keep having to remind myself to breathe.

I focus on the the good things.  My period came today (like it was supposed to), I was able to get a morning appt at the doctor tomorrow for my bloodwork and ultrasound, I am already packed, I have all of our documents ready, my medicines and supplements are all ready to go, I have travel guides for India and a couple of Hindi translater apps on the iPhone.....I am good to go.  Well, almost.

Of course stuff decides to blow up at work at the worst possible time.  I am freaking out about getting everything done.  Then, once I cross one thing off the list (Yay!), two more things get put on.  I have decided that I will get as much as I can done and some things may have to wait.  I also wonder what will blow up while I am gone.  I am already a valued member of the team at work, but I am thinking that my value will raise even more if someone has to deal with a tax question while I am out.

This is how I am picturing work while I am gone......

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Packing for India

Now that the Permethrin is fully dried on my clothes it is time to get the suitcase packed.  I figure that by packing tonight, hopefully I will remember everything that I forgot to pack tomorrow and will be good for our flight on Thursday.  I am really amazed that my clothes don't really smell after being treated - I figured they would smell like "Off" or the like.  They have a slight smell, but really not that bad.

Note to self if the Permethrin actually works - buy a shitload of this Permethrin stuff and coat everything I own.  Mosquitoes be damned!

As I am getting ready to start putting my clothes in my suitcase I stop and notice something kind of funny.  The suitcase is already almost 1/2 full.  It is 1/2 full of converters, mosquito repellent and mosquito net, and health care items - protein powder, pedialyte powder, water treatment tablets and an assortment of drugs - anti-malaria, anti-diarrhea, vitamins and supplements, etc. 

Hmmmm.....maybe visiting India isn't everything that it's cracked up to be.

This will be the first trip that my suitcase will not be overweight from clothes........

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Getting Ready for India

Treating the India clothes with Permethrin

I spent the day crossing things off of the "to do" list.  Today was about the house and getting stuff ready to pack.

Since we will be returning in mid-October and since Minnesota weather is not always very nice in October and since I didn't want to worry about it when I got back from India, I decided that I should probably do something about my garden.  Every fall I put off taking out my garden, and then have to deal with it in the spring making the garden go in later and later every year.  Not this year!  I am actually getting my garden out in the fall like I am supposed to.  Unfortunately with the trip timing that meant pulling out plants that were still alive and tossing them in the dumpster.  I tell myself that they were done producing anyway.  Hopefully they don't curse next year's garden.

We are very lucky that a friend volunteered to house and dog sit for us while we are in India.  Now we don't have to oppose on friends and neighbors AGAIN to watch our dogs and our house for us while on a trip.  This way we have someone here in case the furnace goes out or the sump pump stops working or something along those lines.  As we are going through the house "stuff" I realize that I am giving a lot of directions on appliances.....the dryer will dry, but only if you run it for a long time, the washer works, but the safety stop doesn't - so don't stick your hand in there while running, the dishwasher works, but the timer doesn't - so only run it when you're home and you'll probably have to shut it off after a while.

I think that we need new appliances.

I also spent some time picking out what I was going to pack for India.  For me, packing is a process.  I spend time pulling clothes out of my closet and making piles on the floor near my suitcase.  I then start putting together outfits.  I then put back away about 1/3 of the clothes that I had originally pulled out of the closet.  I then make a second round of picking in which I try to mix and match a few times to make the same number of outfits with less clothes.  I then put away another 1/3 of the clothes that I had originally picked out.  Even with this process I STILL end up overpacking.

Since we are going to a country where mosquito borne illness is kind of an issue, insect repellant is a MUST.  It was recommended that we treat all of our clothing with Permethrin (in addition to gooping on DEET) to help repel mosquitos. According to Wikipedia - Permethrin is a common synthetic chemical, widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent.  It is not known to rapidly harm most mammals or birds, but is dangerously toxic to fish and to cats: in cats it may induce hyperexcitability, tremors, seizures, and even death.  Well, good to know that it will only potentially slowly harm me since I am not a cat or a fish.

I read the directions on my Permethrin and it says to apply outdoors and to try to avoid getting any on your bare skin and inhaling fumes (is this stuff REALLY safe for most mammals?).  So, I hang all of my clothes outside and keep the dogs inside to make sure they don't accidentally ingest any of this stuff.  I am sure that the neighbors are starting to really wonder where the heck we are going on our "vacation" that we have to spray out stuff down with insect repellant.  Hopefully this stuff works.  Hopefully it really is safe and I don't produce offspring with extra limbs.....time will tell.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

Last week I talked about the seemingly neverending "To Do" list and how I thought it would never be done.  Today I am happy to report that it is done.  Instead of focusing on all of the things to get done, I instead focused on tackling 1-2 a day until I got them done.

Today Mark and I signed our Last Wills and also our Living Wills/Health Directives.  These were things that we always talked about doing, but just never really found the time to do it.  I was a little worried about the potential time and expenses to get this done, but it ended up being pretty easy.

I found on online legal site (I used Rocket Lawyer, Legal Zoom or one of the other sites out there are probably just as good).  It was cheap, it was fast, it was easy, it was good.

The wills were great.  They state that now we do not have children, but also stipulates what we would want for any future children.  And also our furry children.

Now that we had the documents, we still had a bit of a problem.  All needed to be notarized, and our wills also needed to witnesses.  Two independent witnesses who are not parties mentioned within the will and who were willing to attest to the state of our minds and bodies.  Obviously random people at the bank were not going to want to do this.

Luckily we have a couple of notaries where I work and two of my wonderful co-workers were willing to be witnesses for my will.  If you lovely ladies are reading this.....Thank you again for your help. 

It is also good that tax documents are in some ways tax documents are similar to legal documents and that I often need to pour over legal documents looking for possible tax issues.  The point being that despite not having any formal legal training, I did a pretty good job of quickly going through the signatures today and making sure that we had all of the correct initials, signatures, etc in the all the right places within a few short minutes.  Go me.  Super Tax Girl strikes again.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Deer Stand

Mark and I did another day trip to Crosslake, MN to get our deer stands ready.  Thankfully the bugs were not that bad this time and I managed to escape a day in the wood with only a handful of mosquito bites and no ticks.  The deer stand is up!  Yay!  The trail is marked! Yay!  We saw deer all over the place on the way back which means that there ARE deer in those woods!  Yay!  Hopefully we will see one in November......

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Will the "To Do" List Ever Be Done? - Part 2

Today I am feeling overwhelmed by my "To Do" list.  Instead of happily crossing things off, I just keep adding to it.  As we were preparing our items for the FRRO visit, we realized that we had a lot of other important things that we should probably get done before we leave.  Like most people, we have a list of things that we keep saying that we'll get to, and then don't get to it.  I think that our India trip is making us get to a lot of those things.

Here's the list.....
1) Update and increase our life insurance
2) Update and increase our homeowners insurance
3) Make wills
4) Make living wills
5) Get extra copies of our birth certificates
6) Get extra copies of our marriage certificates
7) Get international calling for trip
8) Stop paper and mail during trip
9) line up rides to and from airport
10) Make sure everything is covered at work while I am out
11) Make sure we have the dogs & house covered while we're gone
12) Let credit card company know that we are travelling.

I know that there's probably more but my chest feels tight from this list already.......

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Nice Weekend With My Parents


My parents come up to visit every year and we go the Renaissance Festival together.  This has been an annual tradition since I moved here in 2001.  We have missed a year here and there, but for the most part it is every year.

I really enjoy the trip as I don't get home that often to see Mom and Dad and I think that they like the weekend away.  In prior years it was a whole family affair, but in the last couple of years it has dwindled down to just Mom and Dad.  This is nice as in addition the Renaissance Festival we can do other things with it being just the four of us.

We decided to go to the Renaissance Festival on Sunday, since it puts Mom and Dad an hour closer to home for the trip back.  On Saturday I was able to score Book of Mormon tickets, Brave New Workshop tickets, and a dinner reservation in between at Hell's Kitchen.  Looking back we probably could have skipped Brave New Workshop since we were all pretty tired by the end of the night, but it was still a lot of fun.

Sunday Mark needed to hang back and work on wiring for the house (part of our construction project), so I went to the Renaissance with my parents by myself.  It was really a nice day.  We stopped and watched the fire dancers and The Danger Committee as well as the Joust.  We ate loaded tator tots, beer cheese soup in a bread bowl, and shish kabob.  All in all we had a good time.

When I got home Mark had stopped at his parents and secured his birth certificate.  His mother had his original copy.  I read through the mail that I had been ignoring for a couple of days and found out that my Hepatitis titer came back negative. Yay!  I am immune - no more shots!

I would call that a pretty good weekend.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Will the "To Do" List Ever Be Done?

We got our VISAs, travel shots, IVF protocol, IVF drugs, flights and hotel booked.  We FINALLY feel like we have things under control.....and then we read our email.  India let us know that they will be setting up an appointment with the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) within a day or two of our arrival.  We knew that we would be required to visit the FRRO within a few days of arrival, what we didn't know was that we still had some work to do.

India sent us the list of documents required for the FRRO:

1) Application (yet another application)
2) Original marriage certificate
3) Original Residence Proof (Driver's License)
4) Surrogate Agreement
5) C Form from the hotel where we are staying in New Delhi
6) 4 passport photographs
7) Medical Visa copy (with stamp of arrival)
8) Passport copies
9) Birth Certificates.

It was the last item that gave me some heartburn.  I know that I have a certified copy of my birth certificate - I had to get one a while back when I got my passport.  What I didn't know is if Mark has a certified copy of his birth certificate.  And, if he doesn't we are going to have to get a copy ASAP.  Yikes!  As if we didn't have enough to worry about.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello Walgreens My Old Friend

Today I got to make a trip to the Walgreens in Uptown.  If you are familiar with the Twin Cities you will realize that uptown is about 25 miles from Champlin.  Why would I go to the uptown Walgreens when there is one literally a few blocks from my house?  Because the one in uptown is a fertility pharmacy and they pass their bulk discount to their customers (which is huge when your insurance doesn't cover ANY).

This IVF cycle I will be on the antagonist protocol.  After this I can now say that I have tried them all.  I will be on 300 UI of Gonal F for five days and then start Ganirelix on Day 6.  Luckily I had one vial of Follistim 300 UI left from our IVF cycle last September that is still good.  That, combined with the Walgreens discount saved us over $1,000.

I am waiting in line at the uptown Walgreens pharmacy behind the waiting sign - the one that tells you to wait about 10 feet from the counter to protect the privacy of the customer at the counter.  While I am waiting in line I am thinking that 10 feet is not nearly enough space to "protect my privacy".  I believe that this was proven to me when it was my turn at the counter.  I am handed a very large bag (keep in mind that this was NOTHING compared to my first trip to the IVF Walgreens) and told my bill was $1,216.

I hand my credit card over to the clerk like I just bought a $5 latte, meanwhile I swear I see the eyes of the guy behind me pop out of his head.  I am holding back a giggle as I look at the "What the F%^$ did she just buy?" expression on his face.  Little does he know that my last trip to the IVF Walgreen was around $3,500 - this is a STEAL compared to that ;)