TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

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It’s time for our 2016 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had nearly 800 ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new moms, etc… more details on this below!) are invited to participate.I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges: (even if you have done this before, I still suggest skimming this as things always change a bit!)

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that while I will do my best to partner you with someone in a similar stage, you may be given anyone to purchase for. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. My very best efforts are given! Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send and receive a box to the same person.

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too. If I cannot find you a partner I will let you know.

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or ordered off Amazon. There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

Our Mug Exchanges have been doubling rapidly. Back in 2013, we had about 30 women, n 2014, we had over 400. Last year, we had nearly 800!  I am excited to see what this year brings!

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCMugExchange2015 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2016/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Tuesday, September 20th. That’s a good 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either September 28 or 29. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, October 15th to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #TTCMugExchange2016 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, Instagram it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Click here to complete the form:

http://tinyurl.com/jbsvye3

You will be routed to a Google Form. If for some reason, you have an extremely difficult time getting this form to work (it’s only happened 1-2 out of hundreds), you can email me at TTCExchange@gmail.com. (Please allow 24 hour for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on September 20th (CST) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Make sure you receive a confirmation page! This will verify that your entry has been received.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #TTCMugExchange2016 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!

friday favorites – october 17.

Fall is in full swing here in Minnesota and the colors that the leaves are turning make me giddy. I am tempted daily to pull over on the shoulder of the road to snap pictures of the kaleidoscope of nature. I feel like the tree in front of our house is getting redder and redder each day and I always smile as I pass by the front windows.

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Okay, enough blabbing. Let’s talk about Friday Favorites! Much of this last week was lived in Savannah, Georgia while on vacation with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and boy, did we have fun!! Doesn’t this picture say it all?

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Take a peek into our very fun week with the favorites below.

Favorite Way to See the City: By trolley! I absolutely love the Old Town Trolley line and have seen several cities sitting on one of their benches. The windows are open, the tour is narrated, you can hop-on and hop-off all day and you get a cool map. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a good map? Ding ding! We learned so much about Savannah this way.

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Favorite Photo: The trees in Savannah are just gorgeous. Big and drape-y and rich with history. I can’t help but wonder what these trees have seen.

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Favorite Meet-Up: While in Savannah, I got to meet TWO gorgeous friends of mine that I met through social media. Karen drove up from Jacksonsville, a whopping 140+ miles to meet for coffee and I am incredibly grateful she made that long drive. Karen has been a true gift to me over the last several months and our friendship and connection is such a blessing. Not a day passes where I don’t talk to this sweet girl and getting to meet in person over salads, mimosas, and coffee was so much fun!!!! Love you Karen!

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And then last minute, I got to meet with up with another friend, Erica and her husband Pat. Erica is such a sweetheart, has been a beautiful source of encouragement to me and her growing baby bump is a testimony to God’s faithfulness. I am so thankful for the unique friendships that can form and loved spending time with this sweet lady too!

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Favorite Coffee Shop: If you are ever in the Savannah area, go to Gallery Espresso! What a fantastic little coffee shop – super eclectic and inviting with fantastic drinks. I may have drank a few too many cups of espresso here but when you find something this delicious, drink on.

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Favorite Breakfast: This trip was all about splurging. We found a great little café, Goosefeathers Café, that offered gluten free bagels (praises!). Team that up with deliciousness like lox, tomatoes, cucumbers, bean sprouts, capers and a hot americano, and you have one very happy Chelsea.

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Favorite Lunch: Gryphon Tea Room. Hands down. This adorable tea room is decorated with tons of old books and laced in traditional features like piano music and scones but also offered contemporary options like iced thai coffee (delicious!) and chai pot de crème. I loved the salmon salad I got but everything we tried was delicious. A win!

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Favorite Dinner: 45 Bistro. I could purr just thinking about it right now. We shared 3 unique and delicious salads – caprese, a modern greek salad, and a beet salad. And then the main course came – espresso rubbed ribeyes. We decided to share 2 of them between the 3 of us and boy, are we glad we did. They were HUGE and delicious and topped with a mushroom medley, asparagus and served over a whipped mashed potato. One of the best steaks I have ever had. My mouth is watering as I type this!

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Favorite Square: Savannah is made up around 22 squares – little parks essentially, most in honor of a person or historical event and many contain a monument or statues or tribute. They are all unique and so beautiful! We loved all we saw, but this one, Chippewa Square, is the one where the Forrest Gump bus stop scene was filmed. Life is like a box of chocolates …

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Favorite Must-See: Our trolley driver recommended we stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and while we are not Catholic, there is something so beautiful and historical about grand cathedrals like this one. The inside was beautifully constructed, the stain glass was colorful and the beautiful stories of the Bible the carvings told were powerful.

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There was a place in the front where you could light a votive candle in prayer and it was overwhelming to imagine all of the prayers that were prayed in there. Once lit, the candles continue to burn carrying on the prayers that were said. I am so thankful for a God who hears each and every one of our prayers and cares so deeply about us.

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Favorite Haunted Adventure: Apparently Savannah is the most haunted city in America and while I don’t believe there are thousands of angry spirits strolling the city streets, I do love a good dramatic spooky tale. I somewhat forcibly talked the fam into hopping on a Ghosts and the Graveyard trolley to hear the stories about Savannah and enjoyed laughing at the alleged tales. I am certain everyone enjoyed it as much as me.

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Favorite Fur-Sighting: While walking through a park, we saw this woman walking all her dogs and their new 8 week old puppies. They were adorable little balls of fur and I was so happy sitting and petting them! Too bad I couldn’t have snuck one home for Cali. (Actually, I don’t think she would have liked that very much.)

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So that was Savannah in a nutshell! It was a blast and now I am home, unwinding from the whirlwind of traveling. A few favorites since I have been back:

Favorite Gas Price: Oh how it feels so good to be under $3.00/gallon.

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Semi-Favorite New Do: Cali desperately needed a new haircut but I am afraid she lost a little too much. HA! Poor thing looks robbed of her locks. This mama keeps reminding myself that it will grow back.

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Favorite Thoughtful Gestures: All the texts and pictures we received of your candles burning on Wednesday night. I could post a million of these pictures, but truly, thank you for everyone who thought of us and our babies and all of the loved ones others have lost. What a beautiful night.

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Favorite Funnies: Last but not least!

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Have a great weekend! All of the Mug Exchange emails have been sent out so if you haven’t received your package assignment, please email me ASAP! Happy shopping!

pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

There’s a Lumpy Rug day, a No Socks day, even a Talk Like a Pirate Day. The silly and humorous days that fall on the calendars bring laughter and create conversation. Then there are other days that we hear about that bring awareness, like today, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Let me preface this post by saying this day is not a day where we (generally speaking of those who have suffered a loss) are looking for pity. Today is not about getting sad looks or making you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know what to say. Today is about connecting together a community – those who are grieving and those who are simply supporting those who grieve – it’s about remembering the too-short lives of lost babies and infants and spreading love.

So often we comfort widows, cancer victims, and orphans – all who are beautifully deserving of love and care. But more often than not, there is a group of people who suffer without anyone around them even knowing, ashamed to speak of the sadness that they feel, stripped of the public title of parents or saddened to have other children who will never know they had another sibling. The New York Times last year said “Unless you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with your children’s names or tattoo them on your wrist, you rarely speak their names aloud no matter how much you need or want to tell others. And for women who have struggled with pregnancy loss, there seems even less place to mention the love they feel for babies they will never have.”

One of my favorite parts about today, other than the comfort that it offers and the community it builds, is that there is a way for each one of you to offer support. Tonight from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, in all time zones across the world, you can light a candle to remember the babies who have been lost from miscarriages, ectopic and molar pregnancies, born stillborn or lost to infant death. The lighting of these candles creates a “wave of light” across the world and is a beautiful, touching, moving tribute to the families who have suffered. It’s not an image that will likely ever be seen, but if you are home tonight, even if it’s not at 7 pm, light a candle for those who have lost their precious babies.

Each family’s pain is unique. Each life, no matter how short, was meaningful and special. To our own babies lost, I love and remember you often. I often wonder what milestone you would be hitting, what color your eyes would have been, how your laugh would have sounded. We have treasured every embryo created, prayed for every embryo transferred, and fell head over heels in love with each pregnancy we have experienced. I can’t wait for the day our family can be reunited in heaven.

Light a candle tonight, even and especially if you have not lost a baby. The support and opportunity to spread love and care means more than you will ever know. I’d love to see any pictures you take of your candle burning – feel free to email them to me at trialsbringjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Today is a beautiful day of remembrance. I am so thankful this day exists.

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