Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's the deal with Modesty?

Many people have seen Jessica Rey’s video on modesty and swimsuits that has recently spread like a wildfire across the internet. I watched it just last week and it got my mind thinking... Here it is in case you haven’t seen it yet. 

After watching this video, I felt a little convicted, a little thoughtful, and a little empowered. I spent the evening mulling over the statistics she mentioned and letting it all sink in. The next day, I read ANOTHER article written by a wonderful young woman about the importance of modesty and what the bible says about it.

After these two instances, I knew I needed a change.

I have never been ashamed of my body. I still am not. BUT, since I have never had a model-worthy body, I think I felt the need to show that it was still just as cute, even if I was shorter and my legs were thicker. I had always thought that women who wore one-piece bathing suits were either ashamed of their bodies, trying to cover up extra weight, or covered in stretch marks and scars. My mind was very twisted. While this may be true for some women (and all are legitimate reasons), I discovered that there is another reason for wearing a one-piece suit. Modesty.

Since I grew up in church and ended up marrying a man in ministry, modesty is always in the back of my mind. There are certain outfits I would only wear in front of my husband, on a special night out, or on vacation. When I lead worship on Sundays and I’m standing on a stage in front of a bunch of people, I feel too exposed wearing a short skirt or even a sleeveless shirt. I think this is partly from the thought of being uncomfortable on stage- adjusting my skirt, being too cold without sleeves, wondering how my legs look to the audience. I don’t want to worry about these things when I’m worshiping! But there are still moments when I  walk out the closet and my husband says “oh, you’re wearing that? Isn’t it a little revealing?”. And I would think “why would he care? Doesn’t he want people to think he has a sexy wife?”. Boy, was I wrong. My husband loves my body, but he wants it for himself.

After my few days feeling overwhelmed by modesty videos and articles, I reassessed my heart. I could throw a bunch of scripture at you on the subject, but I won’t. I’ll just tell you my feelings instead and you can assess yourselves. I wouldn’t feel conviction in my heart unless there was a problem. And then  I reassessed my closet. I have a few shirts that are a little skimpy, and probably only good for playing in the backyard or wearing over a bathing suit at the beach. I have a pair of shorts that could be worn amongst girlfriends, but maybe not to the grocery store. Why do I think this? Here is what I have found:

Modesty is not about wearing enough clothes to keep all the skin-hungry men from looking at you. It’s not about covering up your scars and flaws. It’s also not about rules and regulations. There is not perfect length for shorts, or perfect thickness for straps. There is not appropriate or inappropriate swimsuit. It is about YOU and your convictions, and your heart. Our actions do express what is in our hearts.

So let me ask you: Why are you wearing the bikini? Or the low-cut shirts? Or the skimpy shorts? Do they make you feel comfortable and you have no problem with them? Great, no worries. But if there is another reason, take some time to explore it.

Here is what I am doing. I discovered that my main reason for wearing a bikini now is to show everyone that I can be a hot mom. Embarrassing to say out loud- but it’s out. But then I realized that I have nothing to prove! My husband loves every part of me, and he loves when I share my body with only him. How fun is it to have an awesome secret like that!?! And what is my purpose, to make other moms feel bad about how they look? NO. I say NO.

Instead, I will wear a one-piece swimsuit in public. I am not putting rules on myself- I still have bikinis that I want to allow the perfect tan- and I will address every situation as it comes. I love my body enough to NOT show it off; I know what it looks like, not matter how much skin can be seen. How freeing does it sound to be playing at the beach with your babies and not worry about your bottoms coming down, your top disappearing in the waves or how you look walking across the wet sand? I want to go to beach and breathe in my little girl and everything that experience has to offer- it’s not about me.

And one step further- I do not intend to allow my daughter to wear bikinis anytime soon. I want her to learn to love her body for all that it is and not worry about her top not staying down over her flat chest or losing a piece when she does a cannonball. She will get to a point where she wants a bikini- and that’s fine. I will not put my convictions on my children, just as I would not put them on you. And at that time, we will discuss it and she will begin making decisions for herself. But for the few sweet years that I can protect her innocence and keep her mind pure from this world’s expectations, you better believe I will fight for that. So I will wear a one-piece for my daughter to understand the beauty of a woman no matter what she wears. I will never hold my children to a different standard than I hold myself to- none of this “do as I say, not as I do” mumbo-jumbo.  

Now, there are different instances where I do not have these same convictions. For example, in birth pictures, while breastfeeding, etc. Those are pictures of real life happening, and if you've ever given birth, you don't want clothes on (can I get an Amen?). So please understand that each situation in different and calls for re-evaluation. 

But there is something so freeing about the fact that it is my choice with what I wear, not a rule put on me. That empowers me to make a decision based on my convictions and what is best for my family. And I bought the two CUTEST swimsuits this week for our beach vacation next month!

 I can’t wait to rock my one-piece.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Priceless Father's Day Gift!

Sunday marked our First Father's Day! 

Since the hubs and I aren't too big on 'Hallmark' holidays, we didn't plan on spending it too wildly. He was actually out of town for Mother's Day, so we didn't celebrate. BUT, I came across an ADORABLE picture that I had to do for Father's Day. Since my husband works at a desk all day, this little gift was perfect for him. Here's what we did....

Please forgive the iPhone picture...it's actually extremely clear and so cute!

I pulled together some other mommy friends for the impromptu photo shoot at a friend's house. I bought the D and A letters at Michael's for 3.99 each. Some mommies had cute outfits or military boots, props, wagons, etc. Each one of us used something unique that would express our family. I planned on just grabbing a camera and making it happen, when I heard that one of the mommies offered to take them all for us... then I learned that she is a professional photographer! What are the odds? So cool, right?

We sat around eating cookies and chips while playing with our babies and each of us took turns putting our little one in front of the camera and attempted to make/keep them happy for the pictures!
It was pretty quick and easy!

Alex (the awesome photographer) emailed our final pictures to us later on so we could get our gifts ready. Because Alex is so awesome, this gift turned out adorable and incredibly inexpensive!

Visit Alex's Facebook page or her blog to see more of her work!

 Here is one more picture that we will be sending to the grandparents!

And here are a few of Pip's friends showing off their Father's Day gifts!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Scars and Flaws

I recently became a mother (oh, you didn't know?). Oh my, how your body can change! And also your insecurities, perception, and acceptance of yourself. While spending time with lots of new mothers, we have all discovered that we are unsure of our "new" bodies and accepting the changes that are mostly permanent. But I took this a step further and realized that I have ALWAYS had insecurities about myself and how my body looked. Long before the baby came! So after a few months of thinking and mulling this over, I decided to get bold and share with all of you the flaws and scars of my body.
 Here I am. 

I noticed that when I started preparing for this, I didn't have one full body image of myself since I delivered Pipsqueak. Are you guilty of the same thing? So I had to go take one. It's very awkward to take a full body picture on purpose, in case you are wondering!

I did not do this to point out everything bad about myself and cry about it. I did this in an attempt to boost my confidence in who I am. I did this to boost YOUR confidence in who YOU are.

You see, these scars, flaws, and marks all make up the person who is Aubrey. My mother remembers when I dented my forehead as a baby. I remember breaking my collarbone on vacation and the process of healing. I often look at the scar from my rat bite and remember that little creature (yes, it was a pet). I admire my birth marks- I actually love them. I run my fingers over my stretch marks and I am amused by how soft they are and how different they feel. I count my freckles. I experiment with just how wide I can open my toes.

But the point is, THIS IS ME. All of it. I am not too much, I am not too little, I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

Some of these things I can change, and some of them I cannot. I will work to change the things that I can, and I will pray to accept the things that I cannot.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."- Genesis 1:27 

I no longer want to complain about my body or dwell on what has changed since I gave birth. I now have my own daughter, and she will learn how to treat herself  FROM MY EXAMPLE. If I am negative, self-bashing, and hateful towards myself, she will learn that she should treat herself the same way. I have to be so careful now with how I treat and talk about myself, especially in front of her. At 9 months old, she already watches intently while I get dressed, put on my makeup, and do my hair. 
I am her example of what a woman should be. 

One other thing that has helped me to accept myself more... my daughter has my mouth. Not my lips, but my shape. She has my birthmarks- both of them. She has my eyebrows. She has my tiny feet. And my favorite thing so far- she has my big toe gap! Perfect for flip flops, by the way.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"-Psalm 127:3-4

So ladies, let's embrace our bodies- teenage, pre-baby, post-baby, menopausal, short, tall, fat, skinny, good skin, bad skin, small or big. Because God created us perfectly, and for a perfect purpose. How can we tell God that his creation is wrong or not good enough? And remember that no matter who you are, little eyes are always watching. Let's show them what a woman really is.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Budget? What's that?

Since I was a tiny little kid, I have been practicing the Dave Ramsey cash flow system. My parents had 3 envelopes for each child- one each for tithe, savings, and spending. When we received our allowance at the end of the week, we had to immediately put 10% in our tithing and 10% in our savings, and then we could use the rest towards spending.  This is all I had ever known.

When I got my first job, a bank account, and a debit card, things changed! I really didn't save much and I had minimal bills to pay. I spent most of it, but I have always been aware of how much I have and where it goes. When I got married and bought a house and had LOTS of bills, things changed again.

My husband and I sat down to discuss budgeting, and I told him that I had always done a cash budget, so we agreed that it was the best way for me to manage my money! Basically what I do: every 2 weeks when the paycheck(s) come in, I take out a certain amount of cash to divide between a few envelopes. My envelopes are grocery, pets, home, dates, personal, and travel.  Some people cash budget everything- including gas, bills, gifts, etc. and when the money is gone, it's gone. My husband, on the other hand, LOVES using his credit card to gain points (we can turn them into cash 1-2 times a year), but he pays it off every month. Because we have had to create our own credit card/cash system, we decided to do all bills and gas on the cards.

I purchased a wallet from the Dave Ramsey website to help me to budget and keep my envelopes in good shape and close by. Here is the wallet I have used for a few years.

 It's been a great wallet, but it was nothing special. I had to replace the envelopes a couple times, it didn't stay closed really well (no snap or velcro), and it was just sort of boring. Then one day, I came across this beauty on Pinterest (which connected to Etsy)....

I was in heaven loooking at this! When I clicked on the link and visited the website, I found something even better! So I kept it in the back of my mind and asked for this wallet for my birthday a few months later since it was a little expensive. Now picture my husband: a number counting, budgeting-loving man, and his wife asked for a BUDGETING wallet for her birthday. I don't think he has ever been more attracted to me :). Here is the beauty I chose!

Cute Cute Cute!

Can you see the little tabs to the right? I use a Vis a Vis marker to write my titles!
I liked this wallet the best because all of the envelopes are sewn into the wallet making it a little smaller than the first one. It also has a pocket on the bottom and behind the envelopes, so it can hold change, my checkbook (yes, I carry one!), or anything else! It has lots of space for cards, and I love the fact that I could throw it in the washer when it gets yucky. It is a little larger than any wallet I have owned before, BUT I could easily put my keys and phone in a pocket, close it up, and use it as a CLUTCH! Which I do often since my purse is mainly a diaper bag :).

I also didn't want to deal with Velcro- I preferred the button closure. I LOVE this wallet! Am I better at budgeting with it? Eh, maybe. But as I say to my husband on months where I "accidentally" overspend a bit, "some months the budget just doesn't work". That's actually crap- it's just my excuse!

Visit this awesome Etsy site and pick one up- especially if you are already a believer in the cash flow system. And if you're not, explore the link at the top of the post to learn about it! I'm bummed because she has added new designs since I purchased mine- and I really love the new teal and brown one and the new pink one!!!!

Besides our mortgage (and a few months of unexpected baby bills and paying off a car), we have been able to live DEBT FREE for our entire marriage! Man, that feels good to not deal with that fight! It's worth it. Give it a try!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Catt's Journey to Motherhood

Hi all!!!
I never thought that writing or talking  about my fertility issues was ever going to be easy but here goes.......
    Obviously fertility issues have to do with many "womanly" things so this is a honest, truthful, long and candid post :). I always knew that something was a little "off" about my body and my periods
(womanly instincts) but everyone else just thought it was normal.  I have always had very very heavy periods with lots of cramps, wayyy more severe than my friends.  In high school my cramps were sooo bad that I either missed school or went home "sick" the first day of my period every month because I was in so much pain!
     Fast forward a few years and I went on the Pill which was supposed to help my cramps and bleeding, but unfortunately did nothing. I went on 3 different kinds of birth control pills and nothing helped me at all so I just suffered through it :(. Luckily some months were better than others but the bad months were even worse.  One day I was at my parents house and in such pain and curled up in a ball that my mom handed me a Vicodin to help the pain...I had never taken pain medicine because I don't like medicine, but it barely took the edge off of the pain!
   A few years later I met Marc, my husband, and we fell in love and decided to move in together. He always made comments when I was on period that he didn't think it was normal to be in that much pain and that I needed to go see a doctor- but I didn't have health insurance so that wasn't going to happen. We talked about having children and we both knew that we definitely wanted at least 2 kids and we couldn't wait to start trying :). I had been on birth control for 7 years and couldn't wait to be off of it to give my body a break.  For my whole life I have always wanted to be a Mom, I knew that was my calling in life and couldn't wait to pop out some babies <3.
       We got married in July 2009 and officially started trying to get pregnant in November 09. I was 24 years old, perfect ripe and ready baby making age :). I remember the first night right after having unprotected  sex thinking "WOW!! I could totally be pregnant right now!"....boy was I wayyyyy off :).  In December my husband received a promotion but we were going to have to move to Arizona if he wanted the job. All of our family and friends and everything we knew was in California but we decided to up and move because it would be a adventure, just the 2 of us. Marc moved to AZ in mid December and I moved in late January so trying to get pregnant was a little complicated :)   As soon I arrived in AZ we were back on the baby-making train.  I started to take prenatal vitamins to get my body ready for a baby! A couple more months went by and I still wasn't pregnant and getting a little worrisome. I googled everything and anything about getting pregnant and I would tell Marc about everything that I found and he would tell me "let's just have fun and have lots of sex, and not worry about it". What made matters worse was that we made a huge mistake and told everyone that we were trying to get pregnant, so any time that we talked to anyone back home one of the first questions was, "soooo are you pregnant yet?"  " nope, still trying" was always my answer.
      About 6 months of trying and having no luck ,we both were thinking that it might be time for me to go see a doctor. I found someone that specialized in abnormal periods so I decided to go see her. I filled out all the paperwork and when she came in the room we went over everything about my periods, cramps,and trying to get prego.  She did a Pap and examined everything down under and she said that she would let me know if she finds anything.  A few days later a nurse from the doctors office called me and said that she had some results for me....she said that I had PCOS, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. My reaction was, "Ummmm, what the hell does that mean?" The stupid nurse said that she really didn't know a lot about it and that she only calls to give people results. EXCUSE ME!!! You are calling me to tell me that something reproductively is wrong with me and you have NO information to give me, that's absurd! I didn't even know exactly what that meant so I called Marc at work balling my eyes out, and told him to Google it.
      We found out that PCOS is the most common female endocrine disorder, affecting approximately 5%-10% of all females. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that involves multiple organ systems within the body, and is believed to be fundamentally caused by insensitivity to the hormone insulin. I went to Barnes and Noble and found a book on it and started balling my eyes out in the middle of the store while reading it, I then went home and googled everything I could find and was freaking out that something was REALLY wrong with me. I mean, I officially have "fertility issues" at 25 years old, how could that be?!?  After researching a ton I thought that it was very weird that I only had 1 common symptom of PCOS and if this syndrome has to do with insulin, shouldn't the doctor have taken my blood???
    After letting it soak in that i have PCOS and that we are going to have to put some work in to make a baby we decided that it was Marc's turn to get his little swimmers checked out to make sure that he didn't have any issues.  He gave his sample and everything came back fine so that was great to hear :). We wanted to get a second opinion about my PCOS so  I made a appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. I told her everything about me and what was going on with the other doctor and she said " I'm sooo sorry that the other doctor put you through all this because you definitely don't have PCOS". It was music to our ears!! She said that I probably hadn't gotten pregnant because I was on birth control for so long and it isn't out of my system, but I didn't believe that at all. I hadn't taken birth control in 7 months, I think it's out of my system by now.  So...off to try to get pregnant...
     I felt very alone as a woman going through all this because I had never know anyone that had a tough time getting pregnant, let alone at 25 years old. I didn't have anyone to talk to about what I was going through that really understood me and I always wished that there was another woman to help me out, just listen, or give me advice.  It was a tough time for me being in AZ and not knowing anyone but Marc. I would go on people's blogs and look for support groups on the Internet but I didn't want to join any of them because I had only been trying for a few months and most of the women on there had been trying for years, and I just didn't know where I fit in.
   So here we are trying again for another 2 months and STILL nothing.  At this point I have taken many pregnancy tests and I'm getting frustrated now! I decided to make a appointment with a 3rd doctor, an OB that specializes in fertility, to get her opinion.  We talked about everything and I told her that we had been trying for 9 months now and I can't figure out why I'm not pregnant yet.  She said that until we have been trying for 1 year having unprotected sex, she can't, by law, give me anything.   We went over what days to try to get pregnant and things I could do to make sure that I know when I'm ovulating so we should have sex on day 8, 10, 12, 14, &16.  I left her office feeling a tiny bit better and I liked knowing that if we didn't get pregnant in 3 months then we could move on to other options...but then the reality hit me,  if I don't get pregnant in 3 months that means that we have been trying to get pregnant for 1 whole year and that's crazy and very hard for me to swallow!!!
      I started to research more and more about trying to get pregnant. I started to go on a small diet because sometimes losing weight kicks your body into gear,we had sex on day 8,10,12,14,&16, I bought a basal body thermometer and tracked my ovulation with charts (which apparently I sucked at because I don't think I ever did it right). I bought ovulation tests, we decided that it would be best if Marc would always be on top so the sperm would go in at a good angle (yes i know what you are thinking). And yes, every time after we had sex Marc would shove a pillow under my butt and I would put my  legs in the air as high as they would go so I could" help" the sperm get to the egg (yes I really did this :). Desperate times call for desperate measures ladies!  We went to every crazy measure and tried everything we could think of or find on the Internet but still we didn't get pregnant....
      November 2010 was here...Yep, 1 whole year of unprotected sex and still no baby :(.  At this point we were both frustrated, sad, confused, and scared of the "what ifs".  I talked with one of my BFF's and she said that she had been researching what could be going on with me and she came across Endometriosis...uhhh, 'what's that' I asked! She didn't know too much about it but the common symptoms were exactly what I had.  I went home and researched it and found out that Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant (infertility)....that sounds just like me.  We decided to make a appointment with another doctor (4th) who specialized in fertility and talk to him about the possibility of me having Endometriosis.
     The day of the appointment I was a huge ball of nerves to say the least!! I had no idea what this doctor was going to say or what was going to happen. Luckily, Marc was able to go with me to this appointment. The doctor walked in and started asking many questions and going over my history. He then did a pap and we talked about my fertility issues. I told him that we had been trying for 1 year  and doing everything that we could to get pregnant.  He told me that after 1 year of having unprotected sex and not getting pregnant you are considered "infertile." When he said that word I got tears in my eyes and thought to myself "you must be mistaken, I am NOT infertile, I am made to be a mommy!!" I then talked to him about the chances of me having Endometriosis and he went over all the symptoms and  told me that I have almost every symptom so there is a very good chance that I have it. The only problem is that the only way to diagnose and treat Endometriosis is by having surgery- so he wanted to try some rounds of fertility medicine before doing surgery, and if those didn't work then we would talk about surgery. He prescribed the fertility medicine  Clomid, which is used to stimulate ovulation (the release of an egg) when a woman's ovaries can produce a follicle but hormonal stimulation is deficient.  The doctor went over the many possible side effects of the medicine and they all made me nervous because I am NOT a medicine person at all, but we had tried everything else so I guess medicine is the next step to take. The possible side effects are severe lower stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, blurred vision, "hot flashes", breast tenderness, dizziness, nervousness or trouble sleeping, headache, stomach pain and bloating, and mood changes and there is a higher chance of multiple babies also (which scared the crap out of Marc)...LOL.
     Wow! I was in for a roller coaster of a ride. I was officially on fertility meds, something that I would have never thought I would ever need to take, and I was scared because what if these meds don't work and I still don't get pregnant? There were so many emotions and thoughts going on in my mind after the doctors appointment and I needed to have a serious talk with my hubby.  We sat down and I told him that we needed to talk about the plan if I don't get pregnant on Clomid. We decided that if it didn't work then I would have surgery and if that didn't work I would make a appointment to look into In Vitro fertilization. And then the thought crossed my mind..."What if NONE of this works and I can't get pregnant?".
      I told Marc that if it turns out that I can't ever get pregnant that I completely understood if he didn't want to be married to me...Ummm, I couldn't believe that those words came out of my mouth, but it was the truth and it was fair to give him that option, in my opinion.  We both knew that we always wanted kids and now if I can't, I didn't want him to have to give up his dream. He told me that we will work though all of it together and he loves me no matter if I can get pregnant or not, there is always adoption :). Somehow, someway we will have kids one day!
     After being prescribed Clomid, I researched everything about it and I found out that after being on it for 6 months straight it can start to have the reverse effect so we definitely didn't want that but I was going to get pregnant before that anyway...right? Wrong...I was on it for 5 months and still didn't get pregnant, but my periods definitely got worse for some unknown reason.  Not only did I still have severe cramps and heavy bleeding, I now would vomit and have diarrhea!!! On my 2nd  month on Clomid, my period started one morning and I was so physically ill that I couldn't stand up, I had to crawl on the floor to the bathroom! At this point I knew it was time to head to the doctors because I KNOW this isn't normal at all. I drove myself to the doctor and when I got into the office I broke down and started balling my eyes out in frustration, pain, and my crazy hormones!! The doctor said that he definitely thinks that I have Endometriosis because of the severity of my symptoms and we should look into scheduling surgery. I checked with my insurance and because of some stipulation on my policy I had to wait 6 months to get the surgery!!! I couldn't believe it, but then again it gave us a few more months to keep trying before getting surgery :).
      Every month after that my periods were just as horrible; cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, & I could barely physically move the first day of my period because of the pain.  I took Clomid for 5 months and the side effects were like nothing I had ever experienced and never want to experience again!  I was soooo emotional..I would cry at everything and then the next minute be sooo upset at everything and then extremely happy.  I was like a time bomb just waiting to explode everyday while I was on it.  I remember numerous times that things would come out of my mouth that shouldn't have been said, my brain would tell me not to say it and at the same time I just blurted it out. Marc and I got into MANY fights because of things I would say to him.  I honestly don't know how he lived with me because I was not a nice person at all!!!
      After the 5 cycles of Clomid I decided to take a break from all fertility meds and doctors and see if maybe being off the meds might kick start my body and to let all the meds get out of my body.  We tried for 3 more months and still no baby.  We went back to the doctor to see if there was another fertility medication other than Clomid that I could take for the next few months until surgery time. He told me I could take Femara, which works just like Clomid but is stronger, has less side effects, and they will only prescribe it after the patient has taken a few cycles of Clomid.  I said 'OK, let's give it 3 months and if I don't get pregnant then I will do the surgery'.  I was soooo scared to be on fertility meds again and was scared of the side effects of the Femara, but I wanted to try every option before surgery.   We also decided to make a appointment to talk about the option of In Vitro fertilization just so we knew what to be prepared for.  That would be the next step if i didn't get pregnant after the surgery.  They didn't have a appointment until September 26th so we made that appointment and hoped that we would be pregnant before that, but only time would tell.
          Looking back on the fertility meds, as much as I hated them there were some very hilarious moments... The first day I took Femara my in-laws were in town and I had warned them that there maybe side effects, so watch out...I had just gotten home from the grocery store and asked Marc to get the groceries  out of the truck...he very nicely went out side and got them...I noticed a few things were  missing so I went to the truck to look for them and there were 3 bags that Marc missed...in an instant I was FURIOUS!!!!  I walked in the house with the grocery bags in my hand and looked at my father-in-law and said (remember words just came flying out of my mouth) "where the f@#k is your son!!!!" And he just looked at me and moved out of my way and said "he is right out side, can I help you with something?" I looked at him and said,"NOOO, I want Marc!!!" Marc walked in the door and I went off on him, right there in front of his parents!!!  I was balling my eyes out and yelling at him. I told him that he never listens to me, he doesn't care about me, and how much he hurt my feelings...with many curse words thrown in there!  He said he was so sorry and he loved me and will make sure to pay attention next time (what a wonderful hubby, huh) and he gave me a big hug and kiss. My mother-in-law gave me a big hug too and said "don't worry about it honey, it's those stupid meds" and I actually had forgotten that I took them! I was just so used to being crazy on the meds!!! After that episode I was totally fine on the Femara and really liked it...but, we still weren't pregnant after taking it for 3 months!!!!
       We decided that we needed to schedule the surgery to see if I did have Endometriosis and if so, then treat it.  We told all of our family and close friends about the surgery and everyone was very supportive :). When I was telling my mom about the surgery she said "Oh, I had that surgery years ago because I had Endometriosis too." Uhhhh...what?!? Maybe you should have told me this information years ago, because Endometriosis is hereditary!!! Now I have every single symptom that goes with Endometriosis so there really was no doubt in my mind that I have it....so surgery it is :/.
Surgery Day!
         Ok, so surgery was scheduled for June 16, 2011 @ 4pm and I was TERRIFIED of that day! I am so scared of  hospitals, doctors offices, doctors, needles, everything about it!!!! I had never had surgery, an IV, or even laid on a hospital bed! The day of the surgery came and I worked all day before I had to go to the hospital to help occupy my mind, but that didn't work very well.  I went home and Marc and I were off to the hospital...on the way there I was balling my eyes out because sooo many things were going through my mind...I'm scared of the hospital, what if I don't get pregnant after the surgery, what is recovery going to be like- I had been told that recovery was really uncomfortable and felt like a elephant was siting on your chest and you couldn't sit up at all.  Overall, I thought I was going to have a panic attack, I was that scared!!  I went back in the room and got all prepared  and then finally I got to see Marc. We talked as I balled my eyes out and  he held my hand and then they gave me the sleepy meds- I hated feeling like I had no control over my body- and off I went to surgery.....About 1 hour later they were all done, I was officially "cleaned out!" Surgery went great and I definitely had Endometriosis; it was on the back of my uterus and was blocking my fallopian tubes and my chances of getting pregnant, so it was all worth it.  I had a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, and D&C scrape...I was officially open for business...well in about 2 weeks :) Thankfully my recovery went great and Marc took excellent care of me.
      We went to the doctors 1 week later and he showed us pictures of my fallopian tubes and uterus and where the Endometriosis was, it was pretty crazy to see! He told us to wait 1 more week to have sex so I could heal. Normally after having surgery you get your period 2 weeks later and we could try to get pregnant then!!! He suggested to keep taking the Femara to just help things along.  Wow..I more week and I could finally be pregnant!!!
       So my period came and went and we had sex at the right time but...we didn't get pregnant :(. But for the first time in a long time I was optimistic about the chance of getting pregnant, and that was a GREAT feeling!! The next month was August and we had a trip to Vegas planned with some friends and we definitely needed a vacation.  I told Marc that I should be ovulating that weekend so get ready! We were finally in Vegas and I started to unpack and I just knew I was ovulating!!!!! Wahooo!! I grabbed Marc closed the door to the adjoining room and started to get down to business...then all of a sudden the other door to our room flies open and in walk 4 of our (drunk) friends!!!! Marc and I looked at them and looked at each other and Marc said,  "about 30 more seconds and you guys would have seen us butt naked and gotten the show of your life!" And I yelled, "now get out!!! We are trying to make a baby here!!!" Haha..ohhh memories :). After having sex I remember saying to Marc,"wow we could really be pregnant right now, what if we just made a baby!!" It was the first time in a long time that I felt like we really could have just made a baby, and it was a great feeling to have that optimism back <3.
        Just like every other month, the morning that I should get my period, I took a pregnancy test. It was September 1, 2011.   Marc was getting ready for work so I woke up early to take one because I had a funny feeling in my tummy. I took the test and we put a piece of paper over over it and waited the 3 minutes.  During those few minutes I had butterflies in my tummy, which normally never happened, I was excited about the chance of being pregnant and that felt great! Marc said,"do you think you are pregnant? Because I don't really think so, not yet, maybe next month or the one after that." I told him I wasn't really sure if I was pregnant, but for some reason I had a very strong feeling that I was but didn't want to tell him that I thought I was because I didn't want us to be disappointed.       Well the time came to check the test and Marc said that he wanted to check it...he picked up the piece of paper...looked at the test and "WE'RE PREGNANT!!!!" came flying out of his mouth and tears just streaming down his face...I said "NO WAY!! and went to check the test myself...and yep, there were 2 bright pink lines..I was FINALLY PREGNANT!!!

Finally mommy and daddy!
       Marc grabbed me and picked me up and squeezed me so tight-we were both shaking and crying and freaking out!!! It was such a emotional and amazing and wonderful memory for us. I told him that I needed to take a few more tests because what if it wasn't right?!!  I took 6 more tests and they all came back positive!!!! We really were PREGNANT!!! It was the most wonderful feeling in the world to know that I had a baby growing inside of me.
First baby belly picture!
      1 year & 10 months of trying to have a baby and FINALLY my dream of being a Mommy had come true!!  Now time to go shopping :).

Things I have learned while going through this crazy adventure....
-Always get at least 3 opinions about any major health/medical diagnosis, so you can take some advice from each doctor and figure out what way is the best for you
- Dollar store pregnancy &ovulation tests work just as good as the name brand ones :)
- Try not to make sex a "chore"- it's a hard rut to get out of.
-Remember to enjoy being a married couple. Go on vacations, go out to dinner, go see a movie, go do anything that's harder with an adorable baby in tow :)
-Throughout the roller coaster ride that comes along with fertility issues just remember that when nothing seems to make sense, "Everything happens for a reason." You might not know the reason right now but in time you will and it will all make sense!

Precious little Zakary
A family of three... on Zak's 1st birthday!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Storage for Small Spaces

My house is not extremely “small”, but somehow we have managed to almost grow out of it with only 3 people! It is a 3-bedroom house with a den and open floor concept... There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to raise an army here, if we do it right! And Daniel and I both feel strongly about living within our means and making our home what we need it to be- not simply buying a new one because we have too much STUFF. It does help that I’m guilty of being a throw-it-away queen.

So here are some ways that I came up with to help give us more storage and space in the home that we have (which, by the way, came with very little storage. First-time homebuyer mistake...).

First, we hired a friend who is a contractor to build us a WINDOW SEAT! My husband would call this a kitchen bench, but I have ALWAYS wanted a window seat, and it's under a window, so that’s what I refer to it as! We had a relatively small budget, so we saved up for a few months to pay him cash for the job. Here are the progression pictures...

Break for the night...
The top is in!
Primed and ready for paint

Tape off- ALL DONE!
 I wanted the bench built into the nook in our kitchen to provide extra seating against our new table.

Photo bomb by the dog...

 I also wanted to be sure it could open and provide storage! I filled the seat with holiday decor and a few kitchen gadgets that are used, but rarely. I wanted them to be easily accessible for holidays or company so I didn’t have to dig through a closet, garage, or attic. It’s perfect!

Then into our master bathroom... for another $50, our contractor made me custom shelves for this stupid little waste-of-space corner.

And then I added our junk to them!
 I LOVE THEM! I finally have some storage! It was really needed because neither of our bathrooms have drawers or closets. Just cabinets (which I added some storage into with plastic drawers from Walmart!).I will be watching Goodwill closely for some cute baskets to organizer it even more!

Here are a couple of other ways that I have found to provide storage...
Two storage solutions- one to hold viewable things, and one to hold not-viewable things (feminine products!)

 This was an awesome find too. My laundry room is TINY, I was tired of having absolutely NO storage there. I searched high and low for something perfect to help. My husband pushed the two machines apart and we measured...we only had 8 inches in between them! So after some more online searching, I found this little cart on Walmart.com for under $20! It fits perfectly and holds so much stuff! 

 Every house with children needs a few hinged ottomans- one to hide toys, the other to hide books, movies, and random stuff.

I am a BIG fan of bookshelves in closets to add more storage- There is one in our (small) closet, one in Piper’s, and one in the hall closet to give me more pantry space!

Slightly messy closet- but hey, we can't all be perfect.

Well there it is. I hope this helps. Good luck organizing and your home!!!
P.S. Don't break the bank looking for storage solutions. First visit places like Goodwill, Savers, and garage sales. Most things just need a little cleaning and paint.
 Most of my bookshelves I get from Target for $20 or from family getting rid of old, ugly bookshelves- they're in closets anyway! 
Find storage ottomans at Ross or TJ Maxx for half the price of other stores.
And NEVER go into debt organizing your home. Spend a few months saving up to pay for it in cash! If you have to endure a little while with piles laying around, it will still be totally worth it.
 Be smart and frugal, and it will come together soon!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Our First Refurbishing Project... the Kitchen Table!

A couple weekends ago, we took on our first refurbishing project- a "new" kitchen table and chairs. I sold our table a few months ago. It was beautiful, but it was big (seated 8), tall (I'm short), and didn't fit in our kitchen nook. So I sold it, pocketed the cash, and waited for the perfect table to arise. I knew the style and size that I wanted, and it was pretty common and easy to find on Craigslist, but always difficult to contact the owner, visit the piece, find a truck, etc.

One day I was visiting ReStore and found exactly what I was looking for! And it was 20% off that day too- SCORE. I called my husband, got the OK, and bought that baby. Here is what it looked like in the store...
Light oak top and forest green paint... oh yeah. And don't forget the STICKERS! can you spot them?
The next day I talked a friend into helping me pick it up and bring it to the house. That night, my friend Dave hung around, and the three of us (husband included), set to work sanding it. We sanded by hand, because we hadn't originally planned on re-staining the top (silly me).
Ready to start- all of the supplies on top!
The boys sanding away while I snap pictures!
Lots of progress, but still more to go. Done for the night.
The next day, I used nap time to continue the sanding (which is the worst part, by the way). But this time I got smart and borrowed an electric sander from my sister-in-law....

my soul-mate....
This literally took 5 minutes with the electric sander!
 On that fateful day, MY LIFE WAS CHANGED. I love that electric sander- I want to sand everything now! After less than 2 hours, I had completed every bit of sanding! OK, not every bit... there were still tiny bits in between the bars on the chairs...but everything else!!!

The next day, my friend Kandice came over with her baby Logan, and I put her to work too. What great friends we have! She finished the little bits of sanding while I prepped the table. In a few short hours we finished sanding, and stained all of the seats and the top of the table!
Kandice working hard!
The babies were simply overseeing the project

  Being our first staining job, we actually did it incorrectly (who reads directions!?). You are supposed to paint it on, let sit, and WIPE OFF after a few minutes. We missed the wiping part, so it stained darker than planned. This is just one coat of 'red oak' stain. I'm glad we forgot though, because I LOVE the dark color! We also started painting the legs of the table and chairs black- it was really coming together.

This roller designed for cabinets was THE BEST!

What Kandice and I accomplished... we loved the matte finish! But we had to seal it...
When my husband got home that night, we started the backs of the chairs and touch-up painting. I was ready to BE DONE. But alas, not yet...

And finally on Saturday, we (actually, Daniel) painted 3 coats of sealant on everything to finally FINISH IT!!!

Then we set the table aside to dry for a few days, and leave room for the upcoming WINDOW SEAT- see next post for this :). In all, it took us about 4 days total to finish this table That was through the work week with babies to care for and some evenings full of events, so others may be able to finish faster- like a weekend!

Here it is... all finished! Not too shabby for our first time :)