Tag Archives: future

Our Family’s Fertility Struggles


Twenty-one months ago, my husband and I decided to add to our family. Had we been successful, our child would be one year old.

We have now been trying to conceive for almost two years. Speaking not for my husband, but only for myself, I regret the process, and am embittered by it. I have gone through invasive and tear-jerking examinations; frequent, inconvenient, expensive ultrasounds; and several unsuccessful fertility treatments. I have missed work, driven thousands of miles, and spent countless hours sitting in the doctor’s lobby beside excited, heavily pregnant women. I have had blood drawn, taken pills, and given myself shots. I have suffered unpleasant side effects from months of hormone therapy, which included extreme fatigue, nausea, headaches, and weight gain; ironically, the “next-step” doctor told me I have gained so much weight I am no longer eligible for his fertility treatments.

I have experienced physical discomfort, but, worse, emotional pain far more cutting than I ever anticipated. Baby showers and birth announcements regularly fill my mailbox and my email inbox and my social media feeds. My nephew’s wife had a child in June. My brother’s wife is due in January. Two weeks ago my local newspaper, which serves a community of approximately one thousand, featured a picture on its front page: lined up together on a couch were ten newborns that were born in seven weeks to families living in town.

On Friday, I told my husband and my doctor that I just had to take a month off. With school starting, I’m under so much stress right now that any treatments probably would be unsuccessful. Looming over my head is the constant reminder that our insurance only pays for six months’ worth of treatments and we’ve already used the first two, which were the most likely to be successful but failed.

The first time we had a procedure done, I was certain it would work. I never even entertained the possibility that it would be unsuccessful. I began planning what decorations I would buy for the nursery. Josh told me not to get my hopes up, but I had not consciously made the decision to do so — I’m an optimist, so I acted according to my nature. I was so let down by the result that my pain manifested as palpable symptoms: my chest felt heavy and tight, like I was suffocating, like my heart was breaking. My husband comforted me, held me, told me, “We’ll try again.”

When the test came up negative after the second procedure, I was inconsolable. That’s when I gave up. I gave up the hope of becoming pregnant. I gave up the image of squealing with joy at two pink lines. I gave up the idea of feeling a baby squirming around in my belly. I gave up the future of wondering if Baby would have my stubby fingers or Josh’s high intelligence.

And we turned down a new avenue. We, just today, began filling out the forms to start the adoption process. It is going to be expensive, and I don’t know exactly how we are going to pay for it, but I believe God will help us through it.

We are still embracing the excitement of finding out, someday, that we will be growing our family. We are still wondering if we will first be buying pink or blue mittens. We are still prepared to walk the floors at night with a sick child. We are still ready to cover the driveway in sidewalk chalk. We are still excited to leave cookies for Santa. We are still going to cheer the loudest at t-ball games. We are still looking forward to reading stories before bed. We are still going to cry (sob) at kindergarten graduations and high school graduations. We are still going to pull guilt trips by saying things like, “I wish you would call more” and, “I know you’re busy, so just come when you can.”

We are still praying to be parents. Our children don’t have to have my smile or Josh’s eyes. They don’t have to be ours, genetically, to be our kids. Love doesn’t have silly limits.


Peace and love.


Ways We Can Improve Our Society: Part Two


Check out part one for more ideas!

Thankfully, the number of potential candidates for the Presidency has dwindled slightly. Unfortunately, most of those who remain are the loudest, angriest, and most arrogant.  If I actually believed politicians would be willing to listen to the desires of the people they claim to represent, I would offer them the following suggestions for how we, as a nation, might grow and change. Instead, I am relying on the people to change what we can, provided we can stop insulting and berating each other on social media for how our political policy beliefs differ.

To begin, I believe our country (our world, in fact) would be a better place if everyone was required to give another human being a genuine compliment every single day. I’m sure there is a government bureaucrat out there somewhere who is tired of getting paid for reading magazines and pretending to file paperwork. Let him be in charge of tracking how quickly general happiness, self-esteem, and optimism skyrocket under the new Renee Fornelli Love agenda. There’s some type of computer program that can make graphs and pie charts, I assume. He could even create a survey — and we all know how important polls are these days — and build data. There would be so much more paperwork to “file” (and, by file, I mean lose/shred/stick in a box in a warehouse)! What an exciting job for that formerly bored government employee!

Next up, we can easily improve our world through the utilization of recycling centers. Last summer, my husband and I decided to make regular recycling a part of our lives. I organized a small corner of our home to store paper, cans, and plastic bottles. I have a couple pictures of my bins below. It takes, maybe, twenty minutes a month to gather up and drop off all the items that, previously, would have gone towards filling up our landfill. Instead of having companies make new things, they can refashion and reuse old things. Isn’t that “shabby chic” idea all the rage right now? Please consider making a better effort to go green. I was surprised — pleasantly — by how little effort recycling actually takes. Save our planet — it’s the only place we have to live!

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Last on the agenda today is the need and desire for our society to consider pet adoption. Statistics show there are many benefits to owning a pet. They can help to lower blood pressure, ease depression symptoms, and detect an owner’s serious illness, for starters.  Cats and dogs, especially, are excellent companions for children and adults, and offer a wide array of services to offset any minor inconveniences that go along with pet ownership. Dogs provide protection and a sense of security to people with disabilities and those living alone; they also learn tricks and make for great exercise buddies. Cats are useful for killing rodents and are particularly good snugglers. For example, my cats are great foot warmers in the dead of winter, though they do often steal all the blankets and fashion a nest for themselves, leaving me to shiver uncontrollably through the night. Be that as it may, I know they love me because they show it in other ways. They meet me at the door when I get home from work. They lay beside me and purr when I’m sick. They “sing” with me and often answer when I talk to them. They “pet” my hair and give me kisses. They leave fake mice in my purse if I leave it unzipped, and I often find toys in the toe of my boots when I slip them on. They are content to lay in my lap for hours. They fill my heart with joy and happiness.

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So, to all of you petless people, I will encourage you to go to a shelter and adopt a pet. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to buy one from a dealer or a pet store. Often, people give pets away for free. Pets provide comfort, acceptance, and companionship to lonely people. They give entertainment and add excitement to daily chores. They offer unconditional love. People with pets are almost always happier because of them. That’s why they fill your Facebook news feed with so many pictures of them.

So, if we can change our attitudes and behaviors, we can change our world for the better. I’m willing to give it a try. Are you?

P.S. We don’t actually need the government telling us to compliment each other. Just do it on your own. It feels great for the recipient as well as the giver. Make each other happy today!

Peace and love.


Why Teachers Get Burned Out


In the fall, I will start my tenth year as a teacher, as unbelievable as I find that to be. I still remember the jitters I felt when my student teaching mentor told me she was going to have me take the reins at the end of September. I still remember the nervousness of starting my first job (in March — not exactly ideal) in a town I’d never heard of before, with only a few days’ notice. I still get that “first day of school” bubbly excitement and that “when will summer finally be here” longing. I still think about the mistakes I made early on, the struggles I’ve overcome, but also the victories and success stories that make my job worthwhile. I still love school, just as I always have since starting kindergarten at age four. But I am beginning to feel burned out.

We have, in America, a mindset that our educational system is failing our students, and, by extension, our teachers are failures. There are several widespread beliefs about teachers, none of which are flattering or even remotely accurate. The first is that teachers are exceptionally lazy — how hard can it be to be a full-time babysitter, right? Plus getting the summer off?! Some people think teachers are power-hungry dictators who like to throw their weight around or are only in it because they can’t make it in a “real” job. Everyone has heard the phrase, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

Let me address these outlandish misconceptions. Admittedly, as with any profession, there are those who excel, those who are mediocre, and those who are ineffective. To paint all with the same negative brush is absurd. Did I have bad teachers when I was a student? Unfortunately. Did I have exceptional ones? Absolutely — and I feel blessed to be able to say so. But the majority of my teachers fell somewhere in the middle.

Most of the teachers I’ve known as coworkers are incredibly hard-working, dedicated, and selfless. Therein lies the problem. They are willing to come in far earlier and stay far later than is contractually obligated for meetings, for tutoring sessions, for correcting papers, for entering grades in the grade book, for writing improvement plans and newsletters for parents and reference letters for kids’ scholarship applications. They put in long hours of unpaid time, to spend their “summer free time” prepping and planning and taking extra classes and organizing their classrooms, because it is what is best for their students. They are willing to accept the criticism from outsiders who don’t know what occurs in their classes on a daily basis. They are willing to take phone calls right before bed from angry parents. They are willing to swallow the thinly-veiled insults on social media about how they are letting down America’s youth. They are willing to suffer personal attacks on their character or intelligence or ability level from strangers. They are willing to let go the insinuations of lawmakers that teachers don’t do enough to prepare students for the new world, the global economy, the military, college, or the workplace. They accept the blame that should be shared around.

Teachers are getting burned out because the expectations we have for ourselves and our students are already high enough without pressure from outside sources. We administer weeks of testing — state tests, national tests, tests that affect college and military entrance, tests in the form of surveys, tests that reflect the school’s “annual yearly progress.” Most of these tests don’t actually impact the students directly; if they don’t understand the tests’ relevance, many don’t take them seriously. But teachers do, because we have to.

Teachers are getting burned out because of all the other roles we play throughout the day. In addition to “educator,” I am supposed to be a mediator when there is an argument, or, more rarely, a physical altercation. I am a detective, searching for signs of abuse or neglect, and searching for “lost” homework and “misplaced” books. I am a counselor, discussing with students the many options for their futures. I have been a taxi, driving students to events I am chaperoning or coaching. I am a champion for encouraging new thoughts and ideas. I am a sympathizer for students and staff who are struggling. I am a cheerleader for those who lack self-esteem. I am an artist, coming up with new ways to teach that will keep students motivated, interested, and learning. I am a technology coordinator. I have been a nurse when students have been injured — one unfortunate nose-breaking incident far exceeding my first aid training. I am a guardian for children whose parents are, for whatever reason, unavailable physically or emotionally. I am a rock when I would rather be lax and laid-back, because I know that strength is what my students need. I am a role model, whether I wish to be or not.

Teachers get burned out because we are only human, but we are expected to be the perfect blend of the best qualities of all people. We are forgiving and compassionate. We are consistent and fair. We are adequate disciplinarians. We are experts in our fields, but we are knowledgeable about potentially “teachable” topics. We are “hip.” We are extroverts, who make new students and staff feel instantly welcome and cared for. We are in tune with our emotions and capable of reading others’. We are decision-makers and trust-earners and skills-builders. We are motivators. We are inspiring and memorable. And we do it all for some of the lowest paid salaries offered for professional careers.

But we do it because we love it. Or, at least, we used to. Please don’t make us regret it.

Peace and love.11058377_10205556576209564_1109540006035127487_n


Love Is in the Air


I love weddings. I should clarify that: I love the idea of weddings.

I love the idea that two people, despite the odds of divorce, which are ever-increasingly stacked against them, believe that their love will last “until death parts them.” I love that two people are willing to commit themselves, fully, completely, voluntarily, to only one other person for the rest of their lives. I love the idea that each person in the marriage is willing to sacrifice their own desires, needs, whims, hopes, dreams, or plans, if it means the other will find fulfillment. I love the idea that they trust that their love is stronger than their independence, stronger than their recklessness, stronger than their irresponsibility, for they are willing to exchange all of those traits for a lifetime of partnership, forgiveness, and accountability. I love that, while they each lose their individual freedom, they gain a comfortable security. I love the idea that they both desire only the best things in life for the one person they adore above all others. I love that both people in the marriage promise, on entering the union, to value, trust, support, care for, and respect his or her partner until the end of their days.

I love that a wedding is the beginning of a marriage.

I love that there is a friendship so strong between two people, one they fear losing so greatly, that they devote every thought and action of every day to keeping that friendship stable and healthy and balanced and, most importantly alive. Relationships take work or, much like the cactus in my kitchen, they die slowly, a little at a time, until, unfortunately, they are unable to be revived.

Marriage, at its core, is a long-term inside joke between two best friends. A culture develops for the two people inside the relationship that others simply do not understand.

A wedding, in effect, is a statement that each partner will create a life-long secret world shared only by those two people. No one else is invited in to explore. No one can board a plane and vacation there for a while. Though there are always outside observers staring over the fence, no one else fully gets the couple’s world. No one understands their special language. No one was there for all the memories the pair created. No one has seen all the arguments, the laughs, the slow-dances, the tears.

Nobody else gets the joke. Nobody else needs to. Don’t you just love weddings?

Peace and love.199400_1027251397347_5685_n


To My Students: What I Want You To Know


Dear Students,

I am writing to explain a few things I feel you should know. I realize that it is sometimes hard for you to understand things from my perspective, so I hope this helps to make my views clearer.

I want you to know that I believe that my job is one of the most important in the world, but also one of the most difficult. It is mentally and physically taxing. It is often so stressful that it makes me an emotional wreck. Meetings with coworkers, administrators, community members, and parents, and even meetings with you, often make me feel like I could and should be doing more. I walk away feeling inadequate and unappreciated. I want you to know that I am doing the best that I can. I know how much your learning depends on my being adequate. I want you to know that I know your future depends on my success.

Being a teacher means many long, unpaid hours spent planning, correcting, and reflecting. I want you to know that I do it so I am prepared for you each day. I also want you to know that when you say my class is “boring” or the story we are reading is “stupid,” it makes me feel like I should have prepped better or tried harder to reach you — in essence, I take those comments to heart. I want you to know that it hurts to hear you hate me.

I want you to know that I care about you. I care about what you learn in my classroom, which will, I hope, be more than just the formal rules of grammar. I want you to learn how to be a kind, compassionate, deep-thinking adult with a realistic view of the world. I want you to know that I secretly hope that, as you grow, you will be an optimist, because having a positive view leads to a long, happy life.

Finally, I want you to know that I am here for you, to help when and how I can, to cheer you on, to lend support. I hope I can motivate and inspire you. I want to make getting an education fun for you, so you will recognize the importance of learning throughout your life. I want you to know that if you make the effort, I will make it worth your time.

Peace and love.IMG_20150210_081406_717