Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My sewing room has been moved... a kids' bedroom is now in its place.

 This is my new sewing nook.

This doesn't look like much, but this is the new kid room!  I know I still need to buy some different sheets and also pillows and blankets and stuff.  I have a dresser that will go in here too, at the foot of the bed on the right.   I know that I need some sort of decoration because right now it just looks sterile. But it's a work in progress. 

It definitely feels weird to have a little kid bedroom set up.  I just stand in the doorway and look in and imagine what might take place in that room in the years to come.  I just wonder what our kids will look like, or how old they will be... what will their names be and will they be boys or girls? 

It's such a strange concept to be putting together a room for children 4-9 before putting ever putting together a crib.  When you picture having children, there is a normal order to the way things work.  You always picture that you will be setting up a crib and then later you will set up a toddler bed and then you set up the twin sized beds.  

So there you have it... my newest blank canvas.  I have no ideas whatsoever on how I am going to make this room look more homey and less institutional.

Trout Lake Memorial Day Weekend Recap in Pictures

Don't mind the open gas cap... Jack was emptying the gas cans into my truck so he could put fresh in the cans for the dirt bikes.  I don't just make a habit out of leaving my gas cap off and door open like that ;)
The dogs were very interested in everything that was going on with loading the truck.
It's kind of hard to get an accurate picture to show the size of my dogs.  This is a pretty good one.  I'm 5'3" and the top of Dixie's head when she's sitting down next to me goes higher than my belly button.
Me and the mutts ready to go.

Driving along.

I got bored while driving and tried a new hairstyle that my future sister-in-law showed me.

Pretty rough for my first go at it, but it was fun to try! 

I saw the Mackinac Bridge first!! (See it poking up over the trees near the center?)
My Trout Lake or Bust window sign!! 
Getting closer to the U.P.
The Mighty Mac!! 
Lake Michigan
Lake Huron and Mackinac Island

Well hello there.... I can't believe the fare went up to $3.50 this year!! 
I also saw Castle Rock first.
We're here!! This is walking around the side of the house out to the lake.  The dogs were exploring before we went inside.

Aunt Annie getting a quilt ready to put on her quilt rack
Double checking everything on her quilt rack before she gets her long arm going.
The room where we stayed
This is me whooping my uncle Dave on Rock Band.  I played on expert and he played on Medium :)
The dogs were cashed out from swimming and chasing the ball into the lake. 
That is the infamous "Hut" that has been resided to match the house.  We didn't stay in there but maybe next time we will, there are bunk beds in there also.
And then loading the truck back up to go home :) 
I didn't get any pictures of us out riding because it wasn't very safe to be taking our camera out with us.  I kinda didn't know if I was going to have to swim my bike through a big lake or crash into a tree or down a ravine so I didn't want to risk my camera just to get some nice pictures.  We went on some awesome trails and I think that is my favorite place to ride.  

So now we are just super glad to be home and are ready to get back to life as we know it.  Time to spit shine the whole house so that we can get ready for the licensing worker who is coming for our first meeting on Saturday morning.  It's hard to believe that today is Tuesday and that's on Saturday! 

After all that hoopla dies down, I also have to get ready to meet with the Women's Ministry leaders at our church because Jack and I are starting up infertility awareness at our church and support groups for women and couples struggling with infertility.  I am pretty excited about that too! 

And one more thing!! Blogger added a few new features, and one of them is to subscribe by email notification and Blogger sends out the emails automatically (or so I assume) so go ahead and sign up over on the left hand side at the top of the page. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Foster Parenting Prep 101

We were supposed to take this class after we were licensed, and it was scheduled a month after our last PRIDE class, but there have been delays in licensing, so we were in it tonight... unlicensed.  As were the other 5 members of the class besides us. 

This was mine and Jack's favorite class so far, and for good reason.  This was the first class during which the presenters got down to the nitty gritty of what Foster Parenting is really like.  The first days and weeks that your placement is with you and the requirements of a Foster Family.

Jack joked on the way home that he had no idea how families where both spouses have full time jobs would be able to comply with all of the requirements of Foster Parents.

The law requires 1 hour per week of parental visits for a child over 12 months old.  For a child under 12 months old, up to 2 hours is permitted.  So that means we will have to drive 60 miles round trip at least once a week. 

The State requires that each child is taken to the doctor and given a full physical within 30 days of placement in the home.  And within 90 days the child has to see a dentist if they are over 3 years old.  Also you have 5 days to enroll them in school.  They explained that what would probably be best for us to do was go to our local schools and introduce ourselves and let them know that we are foster parents in the area and that we may be getting placements that are of these age ranges and sort of find out what their registration process is like. 

Almost every child will also be in therapy and will have doctors visits to monitor whatever medications they may be on for allergies, or adhd or what have you.  So basically every week it will be a full time job just driving these children from place to place.

Jack and I are so thankful that our situation allows for me to stay at home to be with these kids and there for them 24/7.  Also, with me staying at home, I will be able to do most of these running around things during the day while Jack is at work, so when he is done with work, he can come home and just be with his family instead of having to run all over the metro Detroit area for all these things.

They explained to us the way each of the three major counties in the area do placements (Macomb, Wayne and Oakland).  They also explained the different visits and the different forms that we are required to fill out with each placement.

There are so many requirements and things that need to be done every day for these children above and beyond normal parenting... It's definitely going to be a huge challenge. 

Obviously every child is different and therefore every case is different, so we cannot fully prepare for all situations, but this class definitely gave us a lot more things to think about. 

We have a few more things that we need to get done for our licensing also, that we know about so far.  Apparently it is not agreed upon across the agency what exactly the requirement is on escape ladders for our two story home.  The worker who did the class said that it was one escape ladder for the whole top floor, but one of the couple's in the class said that it was one per bedroom (which logically makes more sense).  Conversely, we are opening our homes to children that will likely be under the age where they would be able to utilize an escape ladder... but still we are required to have them.  And in all honesty, it's pretty silly that we don't. 

Our master bedroom would be fine to jump out of the window from, mostly because there is a bay window underneath that you can hang down and put your feet on, or if you had to jump straight out, you would land in a flower bed that has a few feet deep of top soil so it's like jumping into a snow pile (sort of).  The other two bedrooms don't have as cozy of an escape route, so we definitely don't mind springing for $30 a pop escape ladders.  If (God forbid) the house was on fire, you better believe that we wouldn't mind spending every last penny we ever laid our fingers on to ensure that we got out safely... so there is no reason whatsoever to scrimp on safety. 

The licensing worker who lead the class went over each of the forms that we would be required to fill out and explained why in detail that each form needed to be fully filled out.  To cover our tails when it comes to a problem, if there was ever a problem.  Also to cover our tails as far as financially.  She explained so many little scenarios that were super helpful and gave us things that we would need to do and watch out for, like never throwing any of the children's belongings away even if they are complete garbage, because their parents will want every single thing back when they go back home, so the best thing to do is just put it in a box and keep it safe until they go home.

I am so excited to go up north this weekend, but at the same time, I keep just wishing that I could stay home and get things set up around here.  I am ready to be in a routine with kids and not just in the holding and waiting pattern.  I know this situation that we are in involves a lot of patience and waiting, and I know all of this is in God's timing... but I would at least like to get some bedrooms set up.

My mom's bedroom in the basement is almost complete.  We are almost at the point where we need to borrow our neighbor's table saw to cut the pieces of flooring to fit right around the edges.  The floor looks great!  We aren't going to have the trim up since we used up the rest of our budget on the floor itself, but the trim can go in any time.  As soon as we are completely finished with the flooring, we just have to paint some of the trim (that as a matter of fact, might just wait until all of the rest of the trim goes in, I'm not sure.  We also need to put in doorknobs and door stops.  And then put the closet organizer thing in.  And then move furniture!!

Resolution #25 complete!!

Reminder what my resolutions were at the beginning of the year, click here.

# 25: Take a vacation. Go up to Trout Lake and relax and bring our dirtbikes and let the dogs swim and go off roading in the jeep. And bring as many of our loved ones up there as possible. And go camping!

We completed this resolution last weekend by going on that couple's retreat.  I would say that this counts as the going camping part of it too since we stayed in rustic cabin.  I know, I know, it did have a tv and cable... but trust me it was more uncomfortable to sleep in that rock hard bed than it would have been to sleep on the ground in a sleeping bag.

We are also going up to Trout Lake this weekend.  We are bringing our dirt bikes but unfortunately not the jeep because we would have no way to get our dirt bikes up north since we don't have a trailer yet.

Or to zoom out a little bit more...

Let me tell you a little about Trout Lake... From what I understand, my uncle Dave bought this property on Carp Lake (the town is Trout Lake) in the 70's.  Since I was a little kid, I have spent at least one weekend a summer up there, every summer of my life.  My uncles and Grandpa built a little hut and we would camp either sleeping in the upstairs attic of the hut or out in the yard in tents.

In 2006 I believe, my Uncle decided to build a home on his property.  They built this GORGEOUS house and moved the little hut to the back of the property.  This place is truly a slice of heaven on earth.

For our first anniversary, we were living in Wisconsin at the time and drove across the Upper Penninsula from Wisconsin to spend the weekend at this house.

(wow look how dark & short my hair was here!!)

I hope to eventually bring our kids up there to share the same kinds of special memories that I had with my grandparents up there.
 (I am holding the pail)

There is really nothing that I don't adore about this place.

(Fun fact too - The first (and only) time that I have ever hitchhiked, it was up at Trout Lake.  My friend Kelli and I had gone off through the trails riding on the 4-wheeler and got the 4-wheeler stuck on a tree that had fallen over the path.  So we followed the railroad tracks back into town and literally thumbed a ride back to the hut.  We were probably 13 or 14 years old. )

As I was thinking about this post and looking for pictures all over of Trout Lake over the years and the hut, I was thinking about all of my crazy memories up there.

-When my older brother and I took out the 4-wheeler and tried to climb an extremely steep sand hill and rolled it backwards on top of ourselves
-Swimming out in the middle of the lake with my sister and my long lost cousin Kathleen
-Getting Ice Cream at the corner store
-Fishing with my grandparents while it rained
-My Grandpa and Grandma teaching me how to fish
-My older brother and I being given 6 dead minnows and a paddle boat and we went out and caught 6 fish.
-Reading about Mike and Scott and their adventures meeting friends up there written in the hut log
-The big sliding swing that used to be out there that was so fun to swing on
-Uncle Jim tripping over a mini bike and dislocating his shoulder
-Uncle Jim and his speed boat up there one memorial day weekend and learning how to knee board and ride the big plywood circle
- Uncle Jim's telescope
-Finnish pancakes and bacon galore for breakfast every morning.
- the chamber pots that I absolutely never remember using
-If it's yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down
-My favorite beds upstairs in the attic to sleep in
-Cramming all the cousins upstairs in that little attic on all those random mattresses and sleeping so soundly with the sound of the lake out front and the railroad tracks out back
-Putting pennies on the railroad track to get squashed
-Sitting around the fire relaxing with Grandma and Grandpa
-Every time we have ever gone up to Grandma and Grandpa's, the question always came up, "When are we going to the hut??"
-Camping at the hut in a tent with my dad and the tent broke because of the bad rainstorm and windstorm
- jumping in the lake at the beginning of winter (obviously before it was frozen) after being in the sauna
-cruising down the side of the highway up there on the front of the 4-wheeler riding as fast as my Grandpa could make it go.
-3 billy goats gruff that my grandma used to play with me on the walking bridge that goes over to the neighbor's house
-I really don't remember ever having a bad time up at the hut!
-hanging out with my 3 cousins putzing around at the campground

I just can't believe how many awesome memories I have of this place... seeing my aunts and uncles and cousins!  Year after year, the hut was always the same little shack that we all adored.

So I suppose I should get busy packing and getting my lists together of everything that I need to do.  My mom is staying home to take care of my kitty while we go... We did bring him up there on our anniversary trip, but I don't think we have room for 2 big old dogs AND a cat in the cab of my truck.  That would just be crazy. 

I think I need to find my camera so I can take pictures of all of my favorite places up there. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Different Aspects of Infertility

I have a dear friend that I met a few years ago online who is also struggling with infertility, but her story is a bit different than mine.  I wanted to give some outside perspectives on what infertility is like for other people too.  So here's her story:

I’m a 27 year old Army Wife married to a 29 year old soldier and I am an infertile woman in the incredibly fertile military world.  We will be celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary in just a few weeks and have been trying to conceive since February 2008.  Uncle Sam put our plans on hold from October 2008-October 2009 while my husband served his second tour in Iraq.  On our 20th month of trying to become parents, we were finally seen by a reproductive endocrinologist. After two semen analyses, a HSG, multiple ultrasounds and a hysteroscopy we have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We’ve tried two months of Clomid + timed intercourse with no luck and last cycle we tried Clomid + Ovidrel (injection of HCG to induce ovulation) + Intrauterine Insemination or IUI, which also failed.  Our RE is confident that I will be able to get pregnant without IVF so for now our game plan is to continue with IUI and follicle stimulation hormones. Here’s to “lucky” 28? 
Check out Megan's blog here at This Space For Rent !

If you would like to be featured, or there is someone you know who might want to be featured on this blog as a different aspect of infertility, please email me and let me know!  irons.jackandallison@gmail.com :) 

Infertility is super difficult by itself, but having support from family and friends as you go through the journey makes a big difference.  Do you have any friends or family struggling with infertility?  Do you not know what to say to try to let them know that you're supportive of them?  Resolve has some great resources for do's and don'ts of having a loved one who struggles with infertility.  Check that out on Resolve's Infertility Etiquette page.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Couple's Retreat

We went on a Couple's Retreat with our church this weekend where all the married couples got to go off and have a conference where we hung out and did fun couples stuff and heard lots of talks from our Pastor and his wife.  My favorite part about these little events is their version of The Newlywed Game.  They pick random people out and put them on stage and play the game. 

This year the theme was Western.  We went to the Double JJ Ranch  and rode horses and they had a hoedown on Saturday night and we stayed in a little log cabin.

Basically the highlights of the weekend were:
-I was sick all weekend, to the point where we almost considered going home on Friday night after getting there Friday afternoon.
-We skipped Saturday night's dinner and hoedown because 200 couples and SUPER loud music do not do well with a head/chest cold where my head is so congested that I can barely hear and it would just be exhausting.
-The #1 rule for the weekend was to not separate from your spouse.  The point of the weekend was to be able to get away and have some quiet time with your spouse, so just stick together.
-We went on a trail ride on the biggest horses the ranch had to offer.  Seriously, HUGE.
-We ate dinner on Saturday night in this steakhouse that was just amazing
-They had an indoor water park that we skipped
-We actually skipped Sunday's event too, we got up way early and didn't want to leave the dogs sitting in the cab of my truck for 4 hours while we were in this morning session.  It was hot and sunny and we just wanted to go home.

All in all, it was great to get away for the weekend and I'm glad we went.  Unfortunately, we were one of the youngest couples (as I predicted) and we didn't find any comrades.  No one really talked to us until they saw us out walking with our dogs lol.

We also did a LOT of dog walking.

Highlights in photos:

Double JJ Ranch

Double JJ Ranch
Pastor & his wife getting into the western theme

Double JJ Ranch

Double JJ Ranch

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Catching my breath and catching up.

We have been feverishly (well not really) working on the basement bedroom.  The bedroom has now been painted and the closet is painted.  We bought the flooring last night and it was after 9pm so we decided not to pull out the saw to start the project.  I assume laying the laminate floor should go relatively quickly.  I have never done it before, but I'm hoping all will go well.  And also that we bought enough haha.  If we run out hopefully it will be in the closet and not some place important :)

We also got some pretty big news on the Foster Parenting front!! We are having our first meeting with our social worker in the first of June!  I think it's kind of crazy how smoothly this has gone.  I called up to Bethany and it turns out that the woman whose job it was to make sure everyone got everything done before your file goes to the woman who assigns licensing workers was let go!  So thank God I called.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease!  This nice lady looked over our file really quickly, let us know what we needed to do yet and told us that she was walking our file over to the desk of the lady who assigns workers after she got off the phone with me.  So last week, I got an email from a lady introducing herself and saying that she was going to be our licensing worker and we scheduled our first meeting!!

Also we have decided that we are only buying one crib.  So our nursery room is going to be a bit smaller than we thought, well not smaller, but less crowded.  Originally we wanted to get two cribs and have two bunk beds in case we got any combination of children that needed cribs or toddler beds or twin sized beds... We found out for at least the first 6 months, we can only be licensed for 3 kids, so the 4th bed is unnecessary.  So later on, down the road, if we ever do NEED another crib, we can just run out and get one... In the mean time, we will have one crib, two twin sized beds, and one cradle.  I'm sure that will be sufficient.

Right now I'm working on 3 quilts that I would like to get done ASAP.  As soon as I'm done with that, I'm planning on entirely packing up my sewing room and moving it out into the hallway/landing/weird extra room area at the top of the stairs and make that my new sewing room, that way both of the other bedrooms will be entirely for the kids.

I was turned on to this awesome organization by my friend Brittan, called ifosterhope!  I so want one of their tshirts!  This place is great, they organize getting starter kits to foster families so that they can concentrate on the kids and settling them in and taking care of them instead of inevitably having to run out and buy them an entire wardrobe and toys and all that stuff.  It's also based on building up foster families and supporting them as they go through the difficult process of loving these children and caring for them and seeing them go through so much pain and having to let them go.  I haven't researched it that much, but from what little I've seen, I dig 'em!!

Check them out for yourself here!  If you are interested in helping with this organization, or helping us get ready for our foster arrivals, we would love the help!  We are looking for gently used items of clothing for children ages newborn to 9 years old and toys and books and age appropriate things for that huge range!

I'm really hoping that we will be blessed with a family (no matter how temporary it may be) this summer!! That would just be awesome to be able to be caring for children and registering for school in the fall and all that fun stuff!!

Anyway, that's the other stuff that has been going on with us lately.  We have lots more in the works, but we aren't quite ready to share that news yet either so keep an eye out.  Always something new and exciting going on over here, that's for sure!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm done with this rollercoster ride.

The last few months have been a crazy rollercoaster of emotions and physical problems. 

I am officially getting off this ride as of today.

Forgive me for this post being really choppy, I have already written it once and blogger decided to mess up and I lost it... so this is my second attempt and I'm going to make it even shorter than the first version.

1. Ultrasound was normal and as to be expected except that I had my feet up in stirrups for a good solid hour.  Should have taken 20 minutes start to finish with all that I was doing.
2.  Sonohysterogram was even more horrifying than I remember.  She started with a small catheter and tried to fill my uterus with saline and was frustrated because she couldn't get my uterus to distend (fill with saline) and so she mumbled something about how it was possible my uterus was already full of something else.  Cue panic and me asking, um like what exactly?  Then she switched to the larger gauge catheter and used the balloon.  The catheter was not so bad, worse than the first for sure... the balloon inflating was horrible.  I was up off the table in pain and could barely breathe.  Then she started filling my uterus with saline.  After the balloon, on a scale of 1-10 I was at a 10.  Adding the saline made it so I was barely breathing, couldn't talk and could only grunt, tears running down my face and trying desperately not to bawl from being in so much pain. 
3.  She believed that there was something wrong with the top of my uterus.  And she explained that my uterus was physically different in that it was tilted back and to the side instead of straight up and down.  That by itself made the ultrasound difficult to decipher because the ultrasound is designed for a normal woman with organs in their correct place and orientation.  She said what she believed to be an abnormality could easily have been the angle of the image being taken because my uterus was tilted but that she wasn't quite sure. 
4.  We met with the doctor and before he even sat down he started giving us results.  "Well everything looks great.  All of your bloodwork came back very good.  I am very surprised at how healthy you are, even your hemoglobin level looks great, especially for someone who has had such long periods, you should have a lower hemoglobin level from blood loss."  All in all, his conclusion was that I have no cancers, tumors or anything that would require surgery or further investigation.  My ovaries are polycystic and my FSH/LH hormone ratios are elevated which points towards my original diagnosis of PCOS.  (Which by the way, the doctor who tried to rob me blind who has absolutely no integrity at all that I went to last summer, adamantly told me that I do NOT have PCOS.) PCOS explains my long and irregular cycles and irregular bleeding.  So short of being annoying.... there is nothing wrong with my bleeding and basically the doctor believes that I need to move forward with my life an live as normal as possible trying to ignore the annoying bleeding that happens from time to time and that birth control is absolutely NOT the way for me to stop the bleeding as birth control pills are horrible for fertility and will not help me at all, that they will make it harder for me to get pregnant in the long run.

In summary, we are over the moon and so thankful to God that we do not have to deal with any serious health issues.  We are sick to death over the HUGE scares that we have been given in the last few months.  I am so looking forward to a lengthy amount of time between now and the next time that my feet will be up in stirrups again.  I am so grateful that God has spared us from going through something far worse than what we have been through.  The thought and threat of dealing with biopsies and tumors and growths and abnormal things and blood tests and the word cancer being thrown around... that was just a heavy load to be carrying around for the last while and both of us are so happy to have dropped that load off on the desk of our RE as we walked out the door today.

Thank you everyone who prayed for us and for me, I appreciate your support and your prayers :)

Doctor's appointment today

I don't remember if I made my follow up appointment for today or not, but I have to go in for my ultrasound, 3D ultrasound and sonohysterogram (SHG). 

I had a nightmare the other night about the SHG.  I remember the procedure well, it's pretty simple in fact.  The most uncomfortable part is when the catheter is inserted through the cervix.  That cervix is closed so they shove it through.  That part was a sharp uncomfortable pain. 

Basically a SHG allows you to see inside your uterus.  During a pregnancy, you can see the baby in the uterus because it is inside a fluid filled sac.  So during a SHG they insert a catheter through the cervix into the uterus to fill it with saline.  A balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to stop the saline from coming out, and the transvaginal ultrasound takes place.  In this image, there are growths in the uterus.  In the image of my ultrasound... I'm hoping and praying there will be NO growths.

This is the first time I'm getting these procedures done by someone who actually knows what they're doing and specializes in this type of thing.  I have had many ultrasounds before that were interpreted by doctors who do not specialize in infertility.  Generally pretty useless results and a complete waste of money. 

Today, I will be having these tests to figure out if there are polyps or fibroids in my uterus that are making me bleed the way I do.  Naturally this time, my period was shockingly normal.  3 days of bleeding and DONE.  I almost started to worry like something was wrong, but really, something is right!!

I'm hoping and praying that I do not need a D&C or polypectomy or myomectomy.  They all sound horrible.  Especially the myomectomy.

Fibroids can be in various places in or around the uterus.  They can be on the inside, taking up the place in the center of the uterus, irritating the lining and preventing pregnancy sort of like an IUD.  they can be in the wall of the uterus.  And they can be grown outside the uterus, sometimes people with this problem have bladder problems or bowel problems because the tumors grow in such a way that pushes on these two areas making going to the bathroom difficult.  Thankfully, those have never been my symptoms.
Because of the type of bleeding that I have experienced, my doctor believes that my problem is either a fibroid or hormonal.  

This image better illustrates the difference between a polyp and a fibroid.  A polyp grows in the endometrium that is shed every month, and a polyp can be passed naturally while a fibroid it appears cannot.  Don't quote me. 

So I am sitting here trying not to concern myself... but it sure is hard to not be concerned.  I had a nightmare that some crack pot doctor tried to do the SHG in the back of an SUV.  I'm so glad that Jack is going with me so that no crack pots can get me into the back of their SUV's to poke catheters through my cervix.  

I just want to figure this stuff out so we can deal with it and move past it.  

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Matthew 25:34

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

75 Books in 2011 Master List

(Click on the Links for my Reviews and/or summaries)
1. White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter...1/2/2011
3. A Choice to Forgive by Beth Wiseman...1/5/2011
4. One Child by Barbara Cameron...1/5/2011
6. Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen ... 1/11/2011
7. This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury ... 1/13/2011
14. Divine by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/2/2011
15. Fame by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/9/2011
16. Forgiven by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/12/2011
17. Found by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/12/2011
18. Family by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/13/2011
19. Forever by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/14/2011
20. Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/16/2011
21. Summer by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/23/2011
22. Someday by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/24/2011
23. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury ... 2/24/2011
24. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere ... 3/16/2011
25. Crazy Love by Francis Chan ... 3/21/2011
26. Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury ... 4/11/2011
27. Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury ... 4/13/2011
28. The Cattle Barron's Wife by Colleen Coble ... 4/14/2011
29. Myles from Anywhere by Jill Stengl ... 4/16/2011
30. Logan's Lady by Tracie J. Peterson ... 4/17/2011
31. The Help by Kathryn Stockett ... 5/5/2011
32. When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall ... 5/6/2011
33. When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall ... 5/7/2011
34. When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall ... 5/8/2011
35. Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer ... 5/20/2011
36. Beginnings by Kim Vogel Sawyer ... 5/24/2011
37. Blessings by Kim Vogel Sawyer ... 5/28/2011
38. Homespun Bride by Jill Strickler ... 6/18/2011
39. Text Order Bride by Kirsten Osbourne ... 6/19/2011
40. A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer ... 6/19/2011
41. Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan ... 6/25/2011
42. Woman of Grace by Kathleen Morgan ... 6/26/2011
43. Lady of Light by Kathleen Morgan ... 6/27/2011
44. Child of Promise by Kathleen Morgan ... 6/30/2011
45. October Song by Beverly Lewis ... 7/11/2011
46. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison ... 7/17/2011
47. The Postcard by Beverly Lewis ... 7/27/2011
48. The Crossroad by Beverly Lewis ... 7/28/2011
49. The Bride's Baby by Liz Fielding ... 7/29/2011
50.  The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster ... 10/3/2011
51.  The Parting by Beverly Lewis ... 11/25/2011
52.  The Forbidden by Beverly Lewis ... 11/26/2011
53.  The Longing by Beverly Lewis ... 11/27/2011
54.  Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff ... 11/28/2011
55.  Where Grace Abides by BJ Hoff ... 11/28/2011

Getting really excited for our trip coming up....

Our trip for the Couple's Conference is coming up pretty quick!  I am so excited to go on a vacation with my husband, I can't even put it into words. 

Jack has been working overtime for a long time now, and the poor man deserves a vacation something fierce.  After he gets home every night, he works on the room and renovations in the basement.  The poor guy can't catch a break.  He deserves a weekend where we don't have to get up early to go anywhere, and we don't have to do anything but enjoy each other and relax. 

Today has been a beautiful day so far. 

I woke up and got ready to go and headed to my doctor's office to get blood drawn.  She took 6 or 7 vials.  Then I headed over to my friend Krista's to pick her up.  She's in town from Japan (>.<) and is only here for a few weeks.  I'm so glad I got to see her twice this trip!! Last time I saw her was last August and before that... I think it was years.

We went and saw the movie Something Borrowed.  Not Kate Hudson's best film but it was funny to see Van from Reba on there!  And that guy who was the lead actor... Steamy! He was like a Top Gun version of Tom Cruise :)  Then we went shopping and I took Krista home and headed home myself.

I am looking forward to tomorrow because our invisible dog fence is supposed to come in the mail!! I can't wait until that bad boy is installed!! We have waited WAY too long to not have one of those suckers! Hopefully the dogs haven't learned too many bad habits to learn how to be good stay-in-the-yard dogs.

Now it's time to head out in the back yard and do some raking to get the yard ready to be mowed.  I'm not sure that I can sneak that in before Jack gets home from work, but here's to dreaming!  And getting a little bit of sun :)


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Who Are We?

Jack and I went on our first date in December 2005.  After a year and a half of dating, Jack popped the question and we were engaged in June 2007.  We married in November 2007.  We married young, I was 21 and he was 26.  We moved to Wisconsin right after our wedding and lived there for just shy of two years and moved back to Michigan the week of our second wedding anniversary. 

We bought our first house in May of 2010, and have spent the last year working our butts off getting it to be how we want it.  I have painted every square inch of the top two floors, we have replaced almost every floor covering, new carpet in 2,000 square feet of the house!  We have replaced almost every cabinet in the kitchen and every single major and minor appliance in the house.  (Besides the air conditioner, please God let us keep that one for a while!)

We have 3 animals.  One cat, who doesn't have a name.  Jack got him for me from his aunt in the late summer of 2006.  After we moved to Wisconsin, the first week we were there we got our Bessie.  She's a purebred yellow lab.  The first month that we were in our new house, we brought home my Dixie.  Dixie is a purebred 150+ pound English Mastiff.  She's a silver fawn. 

We love kids and have been trying to add to our family since the month we moved to Wisconsin, February 2008.  It turns out that we will not be able to conceive naturally short of a miracle.  After figuring out that infertility treatments are no longer for us, we are moving on to foster/adopt.  We hope to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our community and we hope to add to our family that way hopefully.

We also  love to be outdoors, camping and walking the dogs and riding our dirt bikes are a few of our favorite things to do together.  I used to love to run, and I'm trying to remind myself all of the wonderful things that I loved about it.  I'm also getting better at riding my dirt bike.  Jack has been riding on two wheels since right after he learned to walk, literally before I was born.  I just got my first dirt bike last summer, so I'm learning!

We are both head over heels in love with God and the Lord of our lives, Jesus Christ.  We hope and strive to live our lives for Him and through Him.  We also hope to glorify God in all that we do.  I have always been a writer, I have handwritten journals that go back to 5th grade, so it only makes sense that I continue on in doing what I have always done and focus my writing to give my testimony to share with others!  So that is really mine (and our) hope for this blog, that we will be able to share how God works in our lives and what our life is like.  So follow along and join the adventure!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day and stuff

I know that I anticipated that Mother's Day would be one of the hardest days for me this year, but really, the days leading up to it and the anticipation that it would be as horrible as last year's was what made the days leading up to it bad.  This past week, I cried and stayed in bed and could barely function as a normal part of society.  Even on Saturday, on our way to Jack's cousin's house to go help him cut down some trees, I heard that song The Good Stuff by Kenny Chesney and started bawling. 

I'm going to be a Grandpa Family Light T-Shirt by CafePress
That part of the lyrics that says, "it's a new t-shirt saying I'm a Grandpa" got me.  My Papa used to wear shirts like that and I had always pictured that I would make those kinds of things for our parents when they became grandparents too and I would hope that they would wear them with as much love as my Papa did. 

Mother's Day, however, surprised me.  It was a beautiful day.  I spent the day avoiding facebook and the internet really like the plague.  Finally when I decided to check, I noticed a few things that really surprised me.  Most of all that I wasn't bitter or angry towards the people who were celebrating Mother's Day.  I don't think less of you because you get to celebrate something that I want so dearly, not even close.  I was surprised by the amount of people who are struggling with infertility that were just plain BITTER.  I understand grief, I am no stranger to it.  I understand struggling with how others deal with your grief and also how it feels when others completely disregard your grief or minimize it. 

But, bitterness is just pure anger and spite towards the people who do get to celebrate.  I do not want to become that way and the more I was online, the more I was starting to feel like a lot of people in the infertility world are at that point in their struggle. 

[[Side note: 
Something that is difficult in the infertility journey is finding people who have common ground with you, and since there are so many different types of infertility and stages of infertility, and such an enormous and broad age range that it affects, it's difficult to find someone who is exactly where you are at the same time in your journey.  

For example:  Right now I am - 25 years old.  Married at 21 years old.  Over 3 years of infertility.  Tried various types of pills for fertility treatments.  Not comfortable with ARTs (Assisted Reproductive Technology).  Male Factor and Female Factor Infertility.  Not at all likely to conceive naturally.  IVF w/ICSI is our only option as far as ARTs go, and we do not feel comfortable with that.  Do not feel called right now to do Domestic Infant Adoption.  Getting licensed to Foster/Adopt.  

Others could be in their 30's or 40's and still trying using ARTs.  Others could be 22 and married just out of high school and never conceived.  Each different situation and each different diagnosis comes with it's own level of stresses and losses.  ]]

I'm not meaning to bash the people struggling with infertility and bitterness right now, I'm just saying that I'm thankful to finally feel free of that emotion this year. 

Jack and I went out to lunch and got sushi which was fabulous.  We got whatever we wanted and sat at the bar where you get to watch the sushi chef make it right in front of you.  All the other groups of people who were waiting for over an hour by the door were severely annoyed when we waltzed in and were seated.  The waitress wished us a happy mothers' day on the way out.  We avoided church because our Pastor loves to make a big deal about Mother's Day.  He does the oldest mother, mother with the most kids, mother with the newest kid, etc etc.  We went to Bass Pro Shop and brought the dogs inside which is always fun, everyone LOVES to see Dixie whenever we take her out in public.  I narrowly avoided being singled out for NOT being a mother as we walked in to Bass Pro, they were handing out a rose per child to each mother as they walked through the door.  Thankfully the greeter was too busy to ask us, so we swiftly walked right past without making eye contact.  We shopped for underground dog fences.  Then we went to the Dog Park and enjoyed the sunshine while the dogs ran around like crazy. After the dog park, we went out to dinner at the little place in our town.  I got a sandwich and Jack got a quesadilla.  Then we headed home and I spent the evening reading and Jack worked on the basement renovation. It was a simple and peaceful Sunday, just like and no different than any other. 

I was INCREDIBLY touched by a dear friend who sent me a facebook message telling me that she was thinking of me and that she hoped I had a good day.  I got the message on Saturday night, an email showed up notifying me and Jack read it.  "Hey, A----- says she hopes you have a good day and that she is thinking about you.... what was that in response to?"  I teared up immediately... It was in response to nothing.  I felt SO loved, I can't even describe it.  He didn't understand at first that she just posted that out of the blue, just to be kind.  He was super touched too.

As we were driving to lunch when we first left the house, Jack started to get pretty emotional.  He was saying that so far he didn't feel too panicked or worried about the day and I was agreeing saying that it was incredibly peaceful.  Then he made me the most beautiful promise that I have ever heard (besides our wedding vows).  He said, "When things change for us... we are going to make a HUGE deal out of Mother's Day."  I can just picture how things are going to be so different.  And I'm so hopeful and so looking forward to that day!

So here is hoping that next year, we will be joining the ranks and I will be able to enjoy the service and spectacle that our Pastor puts on.  And that I will not run and hide when someone tries to hand me a rose and I will not grimace when the waitress ignorantly wishes me a happy mother's day.  And that I will enjoy every minute of being a mother and never take it for granted as soon as it happens for me!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday's Favorites

Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."

So amidst all the chaos of every day life and those not so normal things going on around us, I'm starting up my Friday's Favorites. On Friday, I will list all of my favorite things in my life and rejoice in the Lord and the things He has given to us.

1. My husband. I am beyond thankful every day for such a kind hearted and level headed man that I have in Jack.

2. My home.

3. My dogs.


I do have one quick prayer request too - Jack's Grandpa had a massive heart attack last night. He survived and we haven't heard anything yet since we left the hospital around 1am. They are hopeful, but they have to play wait and see to find out if there are any long term affects. So if you could pray for Jack. (Yes, Jack is Jack, his Dad is Jack and his Grandpa is Jack. lol... LOTS of Jacks in the Irons family.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book # 31/75 The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book is a must read... I couldn't put this one down.  I know it's been on the New York Times Best Seller list for a long time, but it was definitely worth reading. 

When Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi fresh from college with a diploma, her mother dismisses it as ”a pretty piece of paper.” And so the novel THE HELP truly begins, for its Skeeter’s story that drives the pages. It’s the age old story of a child now grown, still hoping to appease an unyielding parent. In this case Charlotte Phelan, who in Skeeter’s eyes is pretty, petite, in short everything a Southern belle should be while Skeeter is not.
Skeeter thinks of herself as too tall, with whitish blond hair that’s too kinky, a nose flawed by having a slight bump along the top and fair skin that’s “downright deathly when I’m serious.”
Although Skeeter enjoys the monthly bridge games with childhood friends Hilly Holbrook and Elizabeth Leefolt, she runs afoul of  Hilly when she jokes about the former’s mission to see that all the white residents of Jackson, Mississippi have separate bathrooms outside of their homes for the black help. For as Hilly believes, “everybody knows they (blacks) carry different kinds of diseases than we do.”
Aibileen Clark, the maid waiting on the ladies as they play bridge, overhears Skeeter’s flippant reply. “Maybe we ought to just build you a bathroom outside Hilly.”
That sets off Skeeter and Hilly’s battle of wills throughout the novel. Not only does Skeeter have to endure her mother’s constant criticisms, but  also Hilly’s attempts to run her life. Hilly fires the first warning shot, when she threatens to remove Skeeter as the editor of their Junior League’s newsletter for her untimely joke. For Hilly is hell bent on having her Home Help Sanitation Initiative bill placed into law.
A somewhat dejected Skeeter tries to engage Aibileen in conversation once they’re in Elizabeth Leefolt’s kitchen by themselves. Skeeter notes the radio station Aibileen’s listening to, telling her the preacher’s sermon reminds her of the station her childhood maid, Constantine always listened to.  Skeeter also tries to broach the subject of Hilly’s sanitation bill, and wonders aloud to a woman who’s lived her whole life under segregation ”Do you ever wish you could…change things?”
To which Skeeter covertly attempts to do just that.
Though she’s landed a job giving out housekeeping  tips for the local paper, Skeeter longs to be a writer. One day, after hearing Aibileen talk about her recently deceased son’s idea to write about his experience as a black worker, Skeeter is encouraged when a New York editor likes her premise of writing about the female domestics in Jackson, Mississippi. For as Skeeter implores “Nobody ever asked Mammy (From Gone with the Wind)  how she really felt.”
She enlists the help of Aibileen to gather up more maids so that she can write a manuscript about their experiences as the Help. Aibileen brings along a friend, the sassy Minny Jackson. Minny has lost a number of jobs because of her sharp tongue, yet with a bit of cunning from Aibileen she lands a job with Miss Celia Foote, a woman who’s an outcast in Hilly’s society circle because she ‘s white trash. Minny and Celia begin a wacky relationship, partly because Celia doesn’t want her husband to know she’s enlisted a maid to help her around the house.
As Skeeter’s manuscript on the domestics takes shape, she also finds progress in her love life once Hilly sets her up on a blind date with a state senator’s son. Stuart Whitworth appears to be the answer to both Skeeter and her demanding mother’s prayers. Because by now Charlotte Phelan has been diagnosed with cancer. Skeeter retreats to a time when she was most comfortable, under the care of the loving maid Constantine. So while she peppers Aibileen with questions over Constantine’s rather abrupt departure, Aibileen silently mourns her son’s untimely death. To compensate for her loss, Aibileen develops a strong, loving bond with Miss Leefolt’s daughter Mae Mobley, and her attempts to teach the child how to potty underscore the absurdity of having an outhouse strictly for the Help. In one scene, Mae Mobley refuses to use the toilet, insisting that Aibileen go first.
There are several relationships woven throughout the novel. Skeeter and her mother, Skeeter and Hilly, Skeeter and the black maids, Skeeter and Stuart Whitworth. Though she dare not tell Stuart what she’s working on, he appears supportive of her quest to become a writer. Stuart even tells her she’s pretty, something Skeeter has waited all her life to hear. The other relationships include Minny and Miss Celia, Minny and her abusive husband Leroy, and Minny’s friendship with Aibileen. Aibileen in turn develops a growing admiration for Skeeter, a close friendship with Minny, and motherly affection for the love starved daughter of frazzled  housewife Elizabeth Leefolt, two year old  Mae Mobley.
When Skeeter misplaces a satchel filled with research information crucial to her  novel, Hilly finds it and demands to know what she’s up to. Because she has to grovel in front of Aibileen, Skeeter gets a taste of what the black help go through. Skeeter lies and pretends her literature is nothing of importance and turns the conversation back to Hilly’s stress over her husband’s political ambitions. But with each lie and hidden meetings with her African American confidants, Skeeter is drawn more and more into seeing how unfair the system of segregation is.
As the novel ends, Skeeter learns the part her mother played in Constantine’s decision to leave their employ. And once her book, aptly titled Help is published, its thinly veiled descriptions of actual residents causes a ripple effect, enveloping everyone who reads it. Minny’s husband is fired from his job because of her participation in crafting the book. She finally decides to leave him after he takes his anger out her one too many times. Skeeter and Stuart’s engagement is called off the very night he finally gives her a ring, after she reveals the project was her doing. And Hilly threatens to not only sue Skeeter, but to enact revenge on all the maids whose stories are included in the book. In order to dull her bluster, Aibileen counters with the special pie Minny fooled Hilly with. Its seems Minny, a woman well revered as the best cook by far of all the local help was able to prepare a pie which included her own feces in the mix. And unfortunately, Hilly ate two slices.
While Skeeter’s book becomes a best seller, enabling her to finally break free of a still ailing mother and the strict social norms of her town, Aibileen is let go from Elizabeth Leefolt’s household at Hilly’s insistence. Though her heart is heavy at leaving Mae Mobley, Aibileen is comforted by a new position as the unknown cleaning advice columnist, a position that Skeeter relinquished for a job in New York City. Aibileen, along with all the other maids who contributed to the novel have residual payments to look forward to, though the amount is not enough to live on. Still, the novel ends on an oddly hopeful note, as Aibileen leaves with her head held high, convinced that she’s not too old to start over.

 Synopsis with spoilers from here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

25 Resolutions May update

# 1 : My #1 most important goal for 2011 is to finish reading the Bible cover to cover. Still plugging along, I really have no excuse why I haven't finished it yet, but the more I talk about it, the more I read, so I better start updating once a week or something to really put a fire under my tush!!

# 2 : Spend more time with my husband and getting to know how better and growing closer to him. Never have I felt so close to my love.

# 3 : Get to my goal weight!! Working on it!

# 4 : Quit biting my nails. I feel like this deserves a picture!!!! I officially have the longest nails I have ever had in my life, my future sister-in-law has shown me an amazing world of OPI Nail Polish and in the past few weeks I have grown my collection to almost 25 different shades :P I think I can officially say that I no longer bite my nails :)

#5 : Get pregnant. Yeah, well... Look at my post from yesterday. I think I can scratch this puppy off the list.

# 6 : Personally lead at least 1 person to know Christ as their personal savior. Done :P Working on more!

# 7 : Spend more time growing my friendships. I am going to see a long lost friend today actually!! Spending time with my friend Krista who lives in Japan and has for years!

# 8 : Join some kind of a small group. Doing the Women of the Word... does that count?

# 9 : Get more involved with our church. We have our couple's retreat coming up... at some point if Jack is done working OT (which is lovely and I'm not complaining!) we will start going to the Couple's classes on Wednesday nights.

# 10 : Become members at our church. January 23rd!

# 11 : Finish at least 10 quilts. (For me!) Uh I don't think I'm going to do this lol. I have finished one small quilt for my mom, it's more of a table topper. And I am currently piecing a quilt for our bed... it's taking a LONG time because there are a lot of small pieces but I think the end result is going to be worth it. It is rated "Advanced Level" and I can definitely see why, but I accept the challenge.

# 12 : Read at least 75 books. I'm looking for book #30, I need to go to the library. I'm almost halfway done and it's May 4th.

# 13 : Keep my house cleaner! I think I'm doing fairly well with this.

# 14 : Get to know my neighbors better. Maybe when we have a bbq this summer, we will invite them!

# 15 : Sing in front of my church congregation. Not yet.

# 16 : Save $20,000. Haven't gotten our taxes back yet.

# 17: Pray for my family and friends daily. Yup.

# 18: Finish reading the Bible through the first time (I'm about 55% done) and read it a second time all the way through. Still going.

# 19: Rely on God for the big things and the little things. Working on that.

# 20: Share my faith with at least 1 new person a week. I feel like this blog is my avenue to reach new people. In the last few weeks, I have gained 15 subscribers and I think that's awesome! I'm so thankful for all of the people who read what I write!!

# 21: Find a person to bless each week. Right now I'm concentrating on my HP Secret Sister.

# 22: No Fast Food and No Pop. Eating almost every single meal at home and Jack ammended this to Pop on the weekends... but pretty much I have had pop like 5 times in this year so far.

# 23: Paint my 2nd Bedroom. Done!! I wish I had remembered the date, but I think it was in March or April.

# 24: Learn something new. I made my first loaf of bread from scratch and by hand the other day, does that count??

# 25: Take a vacation. Coming up in a few short weeks, OH how I am so looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"It would literally be a miracle."

We met with one of the top Reproductive Endocrinologists in Michigan today to discuss my bleeding problems and how it affects our fertility problems as a whole.

While we got some rather disturbing news of what are the possibilities and what the doctor believes to be the causes of my irregular and dysfunctional bleeding... the highlight of the visit had to be this:

After looking over all of our information he took his time to slowly describe how conception works with a healthy couple and how semen affects that situation and went bit by bit through his spectrum of what a healthy couple could conceive naturally with. Followed by IUI (intra-uterine insemination) and then followed by IVF.

He looked us in the eye and said, "the chances of natural conception for you two (remember, based on the semen analysis ALONE) is not going to happen. It would literally be a miracle for that to occur."

Now of course, add in anovulation. Read: No eggs for the lack of sperm to fertilize. End result : Jack and I have won the fertility lottery twice. Both of us.

Yeah, we already knew that and we already knew what they would say... but it still feels like being punched for someone to say that to you. As a matter of fact, I think I would trade getting punched in the face every day for the rest of my life to never have anyone ever had a reason to say that to us... so maybe that's a better analogy.

On to me though - He believes it to be one of a few things: 1. Uterine fibroids that would have to surgically be removed. He doesn't believe that the fibroids would really interfere with conception for this long of a period of time. The fibroids would then be sent to the lab to find out of they were cancerous. 2. Uterine cancer or endometrial cancer. He wants to do a endometrial biopsy. 3. A blood clotting disorder. 4. Anovulation and hormone disorders and irregularities. All of the first 3 need to be ruled out before proceeding with treatment of the 4th problem, because in his words, "adding estrogen to a cancerous uterus is like throwing gasoline on a fire." So here's to praying I do NOT have uterine cancer, and I am praying I do NOT have uterine fibroids and that I do NOT have a clotting disorder.

I feel even more drawn to adding to our family through the direction that we are already headed. I'm praying that we get a call soon and can start our homestudy process soon. Maybe too some day we will be ready to do domestic infant adoption!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I deem infertility awareness week unsuccessful.

I don't feel like I reached any new people or made any difference for people in the world of infertility. But, hey, at least I tried. Sometimes when I try I feel like I get chewed up and spit back out and I kinda feel like that's how this past week was for me. It was like trying to doggy paddle through rapids in a river and just being tossed and turned. I thought I would feel so victorious this past week and like I had really made a difference and I had really reached people... I was so wrong.

By the end of the week, I didn't even want to utter the word "infertility." Normally, I can talk and talk about anything for hours on end, but this week... due to the overwhelming sound of crickets chirping in response to everything that was posted, I truly believe that my ramblings have fallen on deaf ears. Deaf ears and hardened hearts.

It's heartbreaking to go through infertility, and the support of loved ones makes all the difference. Infertility is very difficult to understand and even more difficult to describe.

As we move closer to Mother's Day or as I like to call it, "National-Remember-You-Aren't-A-Mother-Day," more things overwhelm me.

Conversations have begun to have been had about where Jack and I will spend our day on Sunday. We have not been successful in explaining why we will be where we will be (or where we won't be).

I have found myself mourning all sorts of different things in the past week. Things that Mother's Day really reminds me of.

In a perfect world, Jack and I would have at least one child that was a little over 2 years old. We would have never had to answer to people about how we are spending Mother's Day because it would be expected that we would do whatever we want and it would be no big deal. I imagine that this year our small child would have been old enough to somewhat understand what was going on. Jack would get up early and make me some pancakes and orange juice and bring me breakfast in bed. He would have gone shopping and taken our little munchkin with him to go pick out THE PERFECT gift and I would get to sit in bed and revel in the amount of love my husband would pour on me for being the mother of his child/ren. I would marvel over the tiny hands and arms that hugged me and clung to me and said, "I love you Mommy." I would bask in the memories of every single day since the day we saw the two pink lines show up on the pregnancy test and love every single crazy moment of it.

I mourn every single loss. I mourn that right from the beginning of Motherhood... I have never seen a positive pregnancy test. I mourn every kick that I have never felt. I mourn every day that I have never felt morning sickness. I mourn the fact that my husband and I have never rejoiced over the positive pregnancy test. I mourn that my many ultrasounds that I have had never included a small sack or a growing baby. I mourn every stupid blood test that my gynecologists have insisted that I have only to confirm what I already KNOW, that I am not pregnant.

I mourn every time I am in a circle of women where the conversation inevitably turns to giving birth and I have nothing to contribute. I mourn not ever hearing the words, "it's a girl" or "it's a boy." I mourn never having a baby shower where I am surrounded by my family and friends oohing and ahhing over every outfit and contraption. I mourn never having gotten to announce to our families. Every single time another family member announces their pregnancy and everyone looks to Jack and I to gauge our reaction, my heart breaks. I mourn never having named our baby.

I mourn never having gotten up in the middle of the night to soothe or feed a crying baby. I mourn never having breastfed. I mourn never having pushed my little bundle of joy out of the hospital and home for the first time. I mourn never having experienced first smiles, crawls, steps or words. I mourn every time I see other babies hit their milestones. I mourn birthday parties with themes and birth announcements.

I mourn baby pictures and seeing how our animals will react to their new human family member. I mourn never having seen Jack take our child for a ride on the lawn mower. I mourn never having my child in a car seat in my vehicle. I mourn never having taken a child to the doctor and never having baby bottles in the house. I mourn family portraits where our family has only grown in the 4 legged variety from year to year.

I mourn the mountains of laundry that I would be doing for my children and the ridiculous amounts of clothes that they will get dirty. I mourn not folding little baby clothes and putting them away in little baby drawers. I mourn never having to pick up a pacifier off the floor and clean it off to give back to my child.

I mourn never having made Jack a father. I feel like I have failed as a wife and as a woman. And I mourn the loss of what I have wanted more than anything for my entire life. I mourn the naivete with which I once looked at the world. I mourn every single month and every single time my heart has broken from infertility. I mourn every person who has not understood our struggle and has caused us more pain than necessary. I mourn people playing the blame game between Jack and I over whose "fault" this "problem" is. I mourn the life I had always imagined we would have.

Not only do Jack and I mourn the loss of the past we believed we would have at this point, we grieve the future too. We look ahead in our life and picture the rest of our lives spending Mother's Day and Father's Day without macaroni necklaces or cards with Elmer's Glue and glitter and finger paintings. It's a dismal and sad vision to look down that road. We mourn the possibility of Christmases without small ones in the house. We mourn every family event and our heart aches as it appears that the world around us grows and families grow as naturally as breathing, and we are just waiting with empty arms.

So on Mother's Day (and Father's Day) I spend the day grieving everything that has been lost to Jack and I these past years. Jack and I grieve every normal and amazing thing that goes along with parenthood. We long for every single crazy or mundane thing that comes along with it and hope and pray that we will experience that soon.

We have been called selfish, and I can understand why we look that way to someone who doesn't understand what we are missing. We are missing every precious thing that goes along with being a parent. Everything that NO parent in their right mind would ever trade for anything in the world.

Of course, we believe that God has a plan for our lives. We have no idea what that plan includes, but our heart's desire is to have children. To have our union come together in the flesh, as a combination of our DNA that is unique only to mine and Jack's combination. We long to be parents in some way shape or form.

Jack and I definitely recognize and appreciate our own Mothers.... if we didn't have such great Moms, neither of us would have had this indescribable desire to become parents ourselves. I love my mom and I love my mother-in-law dearly. Our hearts breaking over us not being parents does not make us love them less or the fact that we just have to be alone to just lay in bed and hold one another as we cry if need be, does not mean that we find them any less important. There is a point in life where the continuum shifts and Mother's Day and Father's Day are no longer about your parents, but they become YOUR day to celebrate. And while in a normal and perfect world, that would have been the case already for Jack and I, until that day comes where Jack and I are a Mother and a Father to babies here on Earth, we will continue to preserve ourselves on these days that break our hearts.

It's not like we are having a "we hate all moms" party at our house. We are broken hearted and grieving fiercely on days like this. We don't have a problem with people who can have children, this isn't about anyone else. This is about us and our broken hearts. I think a big problem that a lot of people have with infertility and not understanding it is that they take infertile people's feelings personally.

If Jack and I don't want to go to a baby shower or a little kid birthday party, it's not because we don't love your kid or that we don't wish the absolute best and most happiness for them... it's because our own losses are so great, that we can't handle situations like that with grace. We try to bow out of situations so that we can mourn in the privacy of our own home.

It's not a pretty situation by any means to watch someone mourn or grieve. No one wants to watch me sit in a corner an bawl uncontrollably or see my face as puffy as the stay puffed marshmallow man and red because I've been crying for hours. No one wants to hear retching in the toilet because sometimes crying is so painful and exhausting and intense and sorrowful that vomiting happens with it. No one wants to be eating a Mother's Day brunch with Jack and I off in the other room and all you can hear is wailing and yelling as both of us grieve in our own way and get our own hurts and frustrations out in our own way.

We just want privacy to grieve in our own way. We don't mean anything personal by it. When I say that I hate Mother's Day, I don't want all of my friends to think I don't want to see pictures of their kids or hear about this or that. I love children. And I love my friends. But there is an appropriate time and place to do things like this with a couple who struggles with infertility.

There are so many struggles in this world, but one Jack and I know all too well is the pain and loss involved with infertility. The same way that someone who lost their mother will mourn on Mother's Day for the rest of their life, Jack and I will mourn the loss of parenthood on Mother's Day and Father's Day for as long as we are in this situation.

I can only hope and pray that somehow, I have been able to explain better what so many struggle to understand. Have compassion for those who are hurting, no matter how they are hurting. Try to be understanding if Jack and I skip some event that you find very important. Maybe Jack and I just need to deal with our sorrow, if you have never dealt with sorrow and pain in your life that is so all inclusive and cumbersome that you are unable to do normal every day things, then count yourself blessed. But just because you don't understand our pain, doesn't make it any less real or any less important. Try not to minimize our pain. And also, try not to compare it.

Infertility is like no other loss. Infertility is continual.

Just wanted to get some of the heavy weight I feel and have been feeling this past week and the past years off my back. I don't mean not to sound hopeful or excited for our future, but this blog is and always has been 100% honest and 100% real. This is the truth of it, ugly as it is. This is our life.

Mother's day is about how much work goes into being a Mom. How special moms are for doing what they do. How most of their work is thankless and goes without ever being noticed. Mother's Day honors moms for what they go through and every miracle and amazing part of motherhood. So consider this mine and Jack's way of honoring the mothers in our lives. We understand what you have and what an honor it truly is to be a Mother. We truly hope that you are pampered and loved and appreciated.