Infertility: Blessing or a Curse?

By Michele Lemieur

 

Six  years of pokes, prods and pills, and we were still childless.  I worked in a urology practice when my hormone levels were finally “normal” and we decided to run a semen analysis on my ex.  His sperm count was almost non-existent.  The doctors were still hopeful that we could conceive on our own, but still no baby. Little ones joined our circle of friends and we were the best aunt and uncle to them all. We wanted to be a mommy and daddy though.

Together, we decided to look into donor sperm. Ha…..what an eye opening experience that was! Every combination of male characteristic and heritage with family medical history, college education and pregnancy success rates.  Holy crap! Talk about overwhelming.  I printed out the closest matches to my ex and together we chose.  The child would at least be genetically one of us. He didn’t have any qualms about this child not being his biologically.  We wanted a family and at last we had some real hope it would happen.

Timing was essential between my Clomid, ovulation and our precious cargo. An ovulation predictor gave us a small window in time for the IUI, intrauterine insemination to be preformed. Jackpot! First time and I was pregnant, but this little one was not meant to be. My declining hCG level told us our worst fear.  However, I HAD BEEN PREGNANT! After a little break, we tried again adding prometrium and folic acid after the IUI to sustain my hormone levels.  Steadily rising hCG levels made us cautiously optimistic our little would make it.  I continued on the prometrium through my first trimester to encourage growth of the uterine lining, my babies home. Unfortunately when the time came to stop the prometrium, I wouldn’t know if my baby was in trouble until it was too late.

Six weeks later, we saw a heartbeat, strong and steady. I was finally going to be a mommy! It had been a long road to finally getting pregnant, so now I only had to stay this was for another 34 weeks. I truly understood the miracle that was growing within that God blessed me to carry.

~Michele

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 364Michele is the single mother of three and two furbabies. By day, she’s a certified medical assistant in a busy rheumatology practice and a personal assistant at Author’s Assistant Agency to author Michele Villery by night. A lover of the written word when the real world and her children allow. 

 

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Taken- Review Not Your Average Origin Story!

In the “Taken” film franchise starring Liam Neeson, we see an older Bryan Mills use his “particular set of skills” in freeing his daughter and ex-wife from various terrorists and kidnappers.

In this rebooted origin story, we meet a younger Bryan Mills, played by Clive Standen (Vikings)  who as a former Green Beret,  has a skill set that stops an attack on a train which results in the loss of his younger sister.

TAKEN -- "Pilot" -- Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills -- (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

TAKEN — “Pilot” — Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills — (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

Therefore, begins the “Taken” aspect of this brand new reboot.

I call it a reboot because it’s not really a prequel per se.  It’s set in present day rather than in the past.

I really like Standen’s portrayal of Mills.  He’s tough, yet vulnerable.  It’s a brand new Mills. Don’t think of him as Liam Neesson’s Mills.   This new version of Mills reacts due to a tragic loss compared to Neeson’s calmer and organized way of dealing with people who have hurt him.

And that’s great because Standen’s Mills brings us on this journey with him, remember Standen’s Mills hasn’t developed the films particular set of skills yet and hopefully we’ll get to see him do just that.   It’s a marathon for this type of character to develop, not a sprint.

TAKEN -- "Pilot" -- Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills -- (Photo by: Cristos Kalohoridis/NBC)

TAKEN — “Pilot” — Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills — (Photo by: Cristos Kalohoridis/NBC)

 

I love that despite his amazing fighting and gun skills there is an awkward, element about Standen’s Mills. Especially, when it comes to the people he cares for.  Like the sweater in the pilot when he goes home to his parents, and the touching moment with Mills and his mother that was a highlight.

And there is a TON of action!  It is a Luc Besson project after all.  Watching Mills in action, Christina Hart played by Jennifer Beals recruits him into a secret branch of the CIA for her own use.  She is ruthless and I don’t have her quite figured out yet. And maybe that’s by design.  Beals  portrayal of Hart is interesting for sure.

After watching four episodes of this show, I encourage people to watch. Try this show on its own merits. It’s definitely a ride. There’s great action scenes a plenty along with a great ensemble cast.

Four out of Five Scoops!

Inside Sephora Beauty Insider!

By Charlotte Hodge!

If you are a beauty junkie like myself then you should know about Sephora Beauty Insider. It’s a rewards program that is all about giving you the best of what Sephora has to offer. If you haven’t heard about it here’s what you should know.

Sephora Beauty Insider rewards you for your love for all things Sephora. What is it? You shop to earn points to redeem for deluxe samples, product sets and more. Points are earned for every dollar you spend in store and online. Plus you get a free birthday gift during your birthday month and you can also enjoy free beauty classes. Bonus it’s FREE to you! A couple of times during the year you will get discounts off purchases of $50 or more. This is based on the level you are in at the time the discounts are made available. Be sure you are receiving emails and/or are getting them in the mail. It’s worth it I promise!

Becoming a Beauty Insider is where the fun begins. There are three levels that each offer you something different as you reach the next level. First you start out as a Beauty Insider. Once you spend $350 per year you unlock VIB status. Just when you think it can’t get any better spend $1,000 in a calendar year you unlock VIB Rouge status. To stay in VIB and VIB Rouge you will have a full year to maintain your status.

Example I enjoy my VIB Rouge status through December 2017 to extend it I just have to meet the $1,000 spent before this date to take me onto December 2018!

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(all photo credits in article  Sephora.com)

Why are these so awesome? Here’s a breakdown of each level.

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Last year Sephora added the Rewards Bazaar to their website for people like me who keep saving their points in hopes of snagging better rewards. New rewards are added Tuesday and Thursday 9AM-5PM PT. Rewards start at 100 points and go up to 20,000 plus points. They go quickly so it’s suggested that you check in often for one of a kind experiences, services and samples you can’t get anywhere else. I have seen rewards that get you a trip to San Francisco and New York for the “ultimate” experience with brands like Fresh. They even offer rewards for private beauty class parties!

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Seriously this is by far one of the best rewards programs I have seen. So what are you waiting for sign up today!

 

 

How many children do you have?

 

By Michele Lemieur

Even after sixteen years, I still pause before answering this question.  My mind races.  Two or three? How far do I want to take this conversation?  I have two sons and one angel baby.  Emily would be sixteen.  There was a time when I couldn’t see my life past the next moment, the next breath.  I have found my “new normal” as the mother of two boys who couldn’t be more opposite and wouldn’t have it any other way.

After two failed adoptions and two years after Emily’s death, my son Landon was born via open adoption and my extended family grew. I was finally a mother and his little brown haired, brown eyed boy owned my heart.  My ex-husband and I endured nine long years of infertility treatments to start our family before Emily was born. I still wanted to be a mother, so adoption was our only option.   20 months later, Landon Todd Fidel was chosen by his sister to be our son.

Three weeks after Landon’s first birthday, I found out I was pregnant.  Naturally. 38 weeks later, blonde haired, blue eyed Connor Joseph John was born by cesarean.   Two boys under the age of two…..oh my!

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One out-going, one autistic. One athletic, one a gamer. One extrovert, one introvert.  One ying, to the others yang.  Together with their sister, I have never known such complete and all encompassing love. My time to mother my daughter will come, but not yet. I have A LOT of living to do here with my sons. They are teaching me about fly-fishing, football, video games and patience.

No parent should ever feel the pain of having to give your child back to the Creator, yet I survived because of the power of her love. She did not want me to wallow in my sadness, but to bask in the love of her brothers.

 

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When I tell you that I have three children, it is not for sadness or pity, but to share my story of love and survival. If my reply is two, I still have days when I think of the memories that I didn’t get to make as my daughter’s mother. My children are my most favorite topics and can’t wait to share them with you.

Much love,

Michele

 

 

 

 

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LuLaRoe: What’s All the Hullabaloo?

 

Trendy fashion Design Outfit. Fashion Lady Accessories Set. Essentials Fashion Cosmetic Makeup. Stylish Glamor handbag, Trendy Shoes, Sunglasses Watches. Top view. Creative fashion Cosmetic Overhead

By Arlene Allen

You may have seen posts on Twitter or on Facebook. You may have heard your friends talking – or raving – about their new leggings, or their new addiction, or both. LulaRoe seems to be taking the internet and women’s wardrobes by storm. But what exactly is LuLaRoe, and how can you get in on the action?

LuLaRoe is billed as “where fashion meets comfort” and is most famous for its line of comfortable stylish leggings, but the collection is so much more than that, including women’s dresses, children’s clothing and menswear. Founded in 2012 by DeAnne Stidham, a single mom raising seven children, LuLaRoe’s mission is to enable others to believe in themselves. Like Tupperware, Merle Norman, and Mary Kay, LuLaRoe is sold entirely by independent consultants. Combining her background in network-based marketing (a.k.a. direct sales) and the excess inventory of two dress wholesalers sold on her vision, Stidham founded what would eventually become LuLaRoe. In the beginning, Stidham sold surplus dresses to friends and family, and eventually, began working on her own clothing line.

What many may not know is that Stidham is Mormon, and part of the LuLaRoe sales pitch is that her clothing line. She wanted to create a line that would be considered modest for women who were unsatisfied with clothing options at traditional retailers. LuLaRoe is incredibly popular in the modesty movement, though the promise of comfortable, durable, reasonably priced clothing has proved appealing to women of all religious backgrounds or those with no affiliation at all. Stidham’s main goal, however, is to empower other stay at home moms to achieve their own dream or vision, and create a substantive income while raising their children.”Blessing Lives and Strengthening Families is what LuLaRoe is all about” says the company’s website.

LuLaRoe, though, has gained most of its recent fame online, via tweets and Facebook posts, about their comfortable, colorful leggings. Remember when folks said leggings “weren’t pants”? Well, maybe not, but they have certainly become a reasonable “pants” substitute! The LuLaRoe leggings are made from polyester and spandex, and come in two sizes, OS for “regular size” buyers, and TC (Tall and Curvy) for plus size buyers. At about $25 per pair, and described as feeling “soft and buttery” LoLaRue has been praised as “the best leggings ever.” All LuLaRoe pieces are produced in limited run prints, which creates the brand’s “unicorns.” These patterns, or “unicorns” can be found on eBay for about triple their retail price!

LuLaRoe has spawned dozens of offshoot brands peddling leggings and a fashion storm, but nothing beats the original. If you are interested in meeting with a consultant near you, visit the LuLaRoe website, http://www.lularoe.com/retailer-map. There is an unofficial estimate of 12,000 to 13,000 consultants in the US at this time. If you are interested in becoming a consultant, again, speak with one near you, who will help set you up in the program (remember, this works a lot like Mary Kay). Just know there is a $6,000 start up fee, so be ready to make a commitment.

OFF THE CUFF – Connor in the Kitchen

Connor in the Kitchen – Confetti Cookies

In this crazy, hectic thing we call life, there seems to be an ever-present challenge to find more time in our schedules, to do things faster, easier. As a single mom to Connor, the cutest kid ever (obvious bias here, folks…just go with it), Lord knows I’ve been known to look for shortcuts whenever I could.

Over the holidays I had the grand idea to bake cookies and give them away to loved ones and friends. It was wonderful – all the ingredients were lined up, and the decorative little tins were ready to go. The only thing I didn’t have was, you named it, time. After scouring Pinterest for a quicker solution to my cookie conundrum, I stumbled upon Confetti Cake Batter Cookies.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Not only are these babies absolutely delicious, but they took next to no time to prepare, and were easy enough to get Connor in the kitchen with me to act as my little sous chef… or sous baker, rather. The recipe (below) is fantastic, and the only thing I altered was the amount of sprinkles used. I have a sweet tooth, believe you me, but a solid cup of sprinkles made these cookies much too sweet for my liking. I dropped it to 3/4cup, and truly even that is a bit on the sweet side. But as you can see…clearly the kiddo had NO issues with it whatsoever!

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Vanilla cake and sprinkles are just the beginning though! The best thing about cake batter cookies is that the sky is the limit! Not big on sprinkles? Vanilla cake too…vanilla for you? Why not whip up a box of spice cake mix with some pecans added in? Or cherry chip cake with chocolate chips? How about chocolate cake with almonds and coconut tossed into the mix? (Okay, I drooled a little for that last one.)Hey man, go nuts! Instead of sprinkles why not substitute chocolate chips or mini M&Ms?

Each and every time I have made cake batter cookies, they’ve gone like that *snaps*, and have been a massive hit!

Have you tried these before? What other combinations can you think of that are worth a try?

Until then, from Connor and I … Bon Appetit!

~ Dee K.

 

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Confetti Cake Batter Cookies (courtesy of Sallys Baking Addiction, with thanks!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) vanilla/white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable/canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla by hand. Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to form a dough- stir vigorously until all of the pockets of dry cake mix are gone. Gently mix in the sprinkles – you do not want to dye the cookie dough by overstirring the sprinkles.
  3. Drop rounded 1-inch balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes – do not let the cookies get brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes; they will be very soft at first. As they cool, the tops will settle down so you will not have to press the cookies down yourself. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, for up to one week. Cookies freeze well, up to 2-3 months.

 

16195783_10155238605461756_1049669748438029471_nDee is a single mom livin’ the life with her son, Connor, and two furry babies, Cassie and Max. Always having loved the written word, Dee is an author of erotic romance under the pen name Madison Night, and has decided to venture out into the world of blogging – mainly because she can’t keep her typing fingers quiet. They always have something to say! Lover of music and food, aspiring traveler, animal lover and more! Have a topic you want Dee to cover in her Off The Cuff column? Send The Scoop a message, and let her know!

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Let’s Talk about Books

Welcome to Let’s Talk about Books !

Hi, I’m Donna! And this is the section where  we will post topics  about different genres, subjects and of course everything  books !

Feel free to post in the comments on  what you would like our first real discussion to be.  Below I’ve listed  a bunch of different topics , genres to discuss. 

Or, if you would like us to discuss a particular author or book. feel free to post . After that,  I’ll take all comments and set up a schedule  each month. 

Listed are  various subjects, books  and genres.   Feel free to always comment below on  what you want our next  discussion/or roundtable to be. We want to know what you want to talk about.  It can be anything. I want to know your suggestions .. so post away!

We can and will discuss each and every one each month .   

Let me ask you, would you rather go with just book talk (read then discuss) or would you like to discuss other topics?

 

Subjects:

All about Vampires (What draws us to these immortals? )

Series or Standalones

Witches – Salem Trials

 

Genres

Paranormal

Romance

Urban Fantasy

Horror

Mystery

Sci Fi

Contemporary

Books

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Authors (Indie and Published)