Friday, December 30, 2011

Get out of here, 2011

Let's wrap up the worst year ever 2011, shall we?

First, a month-by-month:

January: Paisley turned 3, Dan's brother got married, I talked about trying to conceive and we started our house hunt

February: Outrageous Kid Parties and the spoiled brats who have them graced our television screen (and recaps graced my blog) and we had a contract on our first home, as well as a moving date.

At this point I took a break to reread my OKP recaps because they are just that funny. Go read them. I'll wait.

Okay, we're back. Moving on

March: We closed and moved into the house and did a quick remodel of the kitchen. We also used a Groupon deal on some new pictures as a (very) belated anniversary session.

April: My sister got married and I made the cupcakes for her wedding. We also hit the one-year mark of trying to conceive

May: We began infertility testing, but I didn't blog about it since we didn't get results until June. For the most part, May was just about little decorating projects and meal plans.

June: We got his and hers results on our infertility testing and I said good-bye to my 20's with a fabulous 30th birthday party thrown by my awesome friend, Mrs. ESPN

July: We met with the infertility specialist and learned that maybe things weren't as hopeless as we feared. Somewhere over the next 4 months, though, we got additional testing and information I haven't shared here and we decided that we weren't as open to assisted reproductive technologies as we thought when we weighed all the risks and costs. I also did a (no) cafeteria challenge and saved myself about $150.

August: Clover turned 2, our gallery wall got a new coat of paint, I discovered Pinterest, and threw my dear friend Rachel a bridal shower. I also poured my infertile little heart out with a letter to my friends.

September: More Pinterest projects, and I got pissed.

October: I was in my best friend's wedding, and we celebrated our 2-year anniversary. I met Brie and Temerity Jane (and the fabulous Penny, of course). We went trick-or-treating with our friend's kids. I also started therapy to help me with the emotions related to our infertility

November: I bullied a sucker into letting me steal her lunch bag, ate a bunch of turkey, and was thankful. We hosted our first Thanksgiving with my parents, in-laws, and two of Dan's aunts. I also got a Kindle from my sweetie-pie husband.

December: It was a busy month. I got a fierce new hair color ("blackity brown"), hosted a jewelry party, and turned my cubicle wall into a giant advent calendar, none of which I blogged about. I did, however show you my tree skirt. We hosted Christmas here at the house with my parents, in-laws, and my sister and her husband in attendance. I've been off all week and haven't really done a darn thing but pin ideas for my craft room.

And now, a look back on what did and didn't get accomplished in 2011 (the latter should certaintly improve my mood)...

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? We bought a house. That's pretty significant. I also got big (for me) into crafting, which may or may not count as a first since I fell in love with baking as a craft in 2009.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Ha, nope. Still on BP meds, and still haven't lost weight. Awesome. The focus on 2012 for me is about shedding all sorts of things, though, and I'm hoping that finding my happy again also means finding myself lighter and healthier. I'm not looking at that failure as a true failure. Call it an excuse if you will, but I had bigger emotional fish to fry than losing weight, quite honestly.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope, but once again, some wonderful blog friends did, and there will be more in 2012.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes. We lost my uncle in April

5. What countries did you visit? I didn't travel outside the U.S. this year

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? Emotional peace and a craft room

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March 9 and 11 - closing and move-in day, respectively. April 11 - the one-year mark. June 28 - my 30th birthday. June 29 - Dan's test result day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Buying the house and getting rid of the horrid green paint job in the master bathroom

9. What was your biggest failure? Must I state the obvious?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I suppose you could say that.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Aside from the house, the new appliances

12. Where did most of your money go? The house

13. What did you get really excited about? Starting a family. Now I'm looking forward to have a custom craft room

14. What song will always remind you of 2011? Anything by our friends, Poz and InfeKt

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? sadder, though I'm getting closer to finding my happiness
– thinner or fatter? the same
– richer or poorer? poorer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Traveling

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Crying

18. How did you spend Christmas? We hosted. We had a tasty brunch and then a delicious roast beef dinner.

19. What was your favorite TV program? Pretty much anything on Food Network, and Outrageous Kid Parties, of course

20. What were your favorite books of the year? The Hunger Games trilogy

21. What was your favorite music from this year? I am loving the new Korn and Chevelle

22. What were your favorite films of the year? We didn't see many movies, so it's not too hard to pick. I really liked The Help. Oh, and Bridesmaids. Duh.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 30, and my friend Mrs. ESPN threw me a party

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A baby

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? I don't change much really. I'm a jeans girl and I pair them with whatever is comfy. This is the year I added headbands, though

26. What kept you sane? My husband. My dear, sweet, incredible husband.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011 Always be kinder than you have to be, you never know what struggle someone is facing.

See last year's wrap-up here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas Wishes

Tis the season for giving, and gifting, and wishing. We all have a wish list, right? It may be in the form of a Pinterest board or just a mental list. Some may be wants, and some may be needs, and some are downright fantasies. Here is what I’m wishing for this Christmas.

My bedroom to be painted. Dan started on it after Black Friday when I bought him his gift: a 40” flat screen. He painted the wall opposite the bed blue just enough to hang the TV at first, then went back and finished most of it. But it’s still not done – the edges are white still, and technically, it’s only the accent wall and we plan to do the other 3 a coordinating taupe. I’d like it to be done in a timely fashion. That would be a great gift.

Gift cards for my Kindle. I’ve read something like 8 books so far since I got the thing 5 weeks ago and my love for reading has been…. rekindled. Gift cards for more books would be a wonderful.

Clothes. I get so tired of my wardrobe. The fashion boards on Pinterest don’t help. I try not to spend much on clothes, but I would love love love a little shopping spree.

A day where I don’t feed anyone. I realized the other day that I’m pretty much responsible for feeding everything that lives in our house. I make breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for me and Dan and I feed the dogs 99% of the time. Dan is self-sufficient, obviously, but if I don’t pack his lunch, he won’t and then he has to eat out and have whatever’s convenient. I personally prefer to know he’s eating homemade food. We also currently have a roommate as well as our friend staying with us pre-deployment, so I'm cooking almost every dinner for 4 (because I'm not going to not feed them). I would kill for a day where all meals for everyone are delivered in healthy, portioned little packages and I don’t have to think about the shopping, cooking, or clean-up. Basically, I’m asking for a personal chef, people.

My craft room. As bittersweet as it is that the guest room isn’t going to be a nursery, I’m excited to design my craft room. I want to build the desk for it and figure out where to put everything so I can conveniently create everything I desire. Not to mention, having the craft room done would mean that the room would be settled and not just a storage space for the stuff we don’t know what to do with. I’m excited about the challenge to make a functional space for both our hobbies as well as a home away from home for our guests. I would love to be able to just spend a week getting it done with no distractions.

Related: a sewing machine. There are so many things I have pinned or could pin on Pinterest that I need one for. Trust me, I never thought I would have a sewing machine, but I’m feeling so inspired lately to try new things and create to my heart’s content. Not to mention, crafting has become a therapeutic outlet for me, and I simply need more tools. Glue guns aren't for everything, sadly.

For my heart to not hurt. I know. A crappy sentiment. I can be okay with the no-kid situation. It will take time and therapy is so helpful but I just want so badly to not be sad. When people ask what I want for Christmas, I mostly just want to say, “to be my happy self again.” Anything else honestly feels trivial compared to just wanting to wake up and feel at peace. I’ll get there, but it would be a wonderful and welcomed Christmas present, even if it comes later in the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

One of my very favorite holiday traditions is picking out the Christmas tree. My parents have always done fresh trees (except for the year they got a live in-the-planter tree) and it's a tradition I intend to keep as long as possible. I know they're pricey and messy, but to me, it's just not negotiable. Dan and I have only ever had a small tabletop-sized tree, but now that we're in the house, this was the first year we got to pick out a full size stunner.

On Saturday, we started a fun new tradition. We went out for dinner at PF Chang's with our friend and her two kids and then went to the lot to pick out our trees. It was really fun to make it a special night out. Dan and I just adore the kids, and their mom and I have gotten closer over the last 6 months, so it was really fun to have that time making memories with them. After we picked out our trees - both of which were strapped to the top of her Honda Pilot - we got to work decorating ours (she's waiting until Wednesday when her husband returns from a civilian assignment in Afghanistan to decorate theirs). I hit the jackpot at Kohl's on some very inexpensive ornaments, and used our old red and white balls to make a candy cane inspired tree that matches our mantle and also goes with mine and Dan's stockings.

No tree of mine would be complete without a Pinterest project, so I used the tutorial found here to make a fun linen-white and red ruffled tree skirt. Even though it was super easy (and made with my favorite method of attachment, the glue gun) I almost instantly regretted signing up for this. It didn't take that long, but it was kind of a pain. The cutting and the ruffling and the gluing just took it's toll on my psyche about 90 minutes in. But I just love how it came out. Once again, pardon my crappy photography. Maybe someday I'll use a real camera :)

So, I'm ready! Bring on Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The One Where I Set Aside the Glue Gun

Helloooo! How are we all on this brisk morning? I love the cold weather. We don't get a lot of it, so when we do, I take full advantage of the ability to wear boots, scarves and sweaters. So I was perusing wintery outfits on Pinterest the other day and came along this little gem:

And I said to myself, "self, that's a really cute scarf. I wonder where I can get one of those for my collection." And I clicked over, expecting to find a link to some retail outlet, and lo and behold! It was a tutorial for how to make one of my very own. And I just happened to have some white felt (she recommends felt or felted wool) left over from another project.

I admit, it was kind of time consuming. But I had the house to myself Sunday afternoon for circle cutting, and I finished the assembly last night. It came out cute, don't you think?

Okay, so I discovered it's kind of hard to get a flattering photo of yourself in a scarf. Or maybe I was too picky. But you get the gist. I think I've got a new Christmas gift idea. At the price per yard of felt, I think it's a pretty good bang for your buck.

Have you done any projects lately?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: After Turkey Palooza

I'm a day late. Sorry. One great thing I discovered whilst doing the big Turkeypalooza meal plan last week is that my husband looooooves pot pie. I wouldn't call it my favorite thing ever, but I love finding something he really likes. And you know he likes it a whole heck of a lot when he asks me to make it again aoon. And so, my meal plan this week:

Monday: We made faux spaghetti with turkey sausage and peppers, substituting spaghetti squash for actual pasta. Delish!

Tuesday: Pot pie. Ask and you shall receive, hubs. I actually have chicken in the crock pot today for two meals. I'm cooking it in cream of mushroom soup so that it will be moist and flavorful for both the pot pie and tomorrow's meal, which is....

Wednesday: Enchiladas. I never made them last week. I forgot that our roommate (yes, roommate. A friend of Dan's, a recently divorced chef) was cooking us dinner and we had a ton of leftovers from that.

Thursday: I'm hosting a jewelry party and will be doing some heavy apps for dinner

Friday: We should easily have leftovers of something, and Dan and I may actually end up going to CA for the day (favor for a friend), so I'm not planning on cooking.

Pretty simple and easy stuff. This week is crazy busy, so the easier the better. All I have to do these next two evenings is do about 20 minutes of prep and pop something in the oven. Perfect!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Turkey Edition

Ah, the first holiday of the season is over. Hard to believe December is rolling in in only a couple of days. Dan and I hosted our first Thanksgiving, and by "hosted" I mean our moms made all the food and we provided a table. Seriously. We have great moms. Mine came up early in the day to roast our turkey, whom I named Augustus Gloop Hans van Gobbler III. I wanted him to be very regal sounding and German like my mom's side of the family. Mission accomplished, I think.

Anyway, the thing about hosting Thanksgiving is that you get all the leftovers. That can be good and bad. We ate delicious leftovers this weekend, but we're getting burned out and it's time to get creative. I only have three main meals this week, but it should work out just fine with enough variety. Hopefully.

Tonight, I'm making a big pot of tortilla soup from The Pioneer Woman's website. I'll also be doing turkey enchiladas. Lastly, I'm going to make my first ever pot pie. Most everything I need for all of this is in my pantry, so if we do get absolutely sick of turkey, I'm not blowing the weekly budget and I can pick up something - probably beef - later in the week.

So not a typical laid out, day-by-day meal plan, but it'll work. I'm hoping it'll give us both enough choices for both lunch and dinner that it's not too noticeable that it's all turkey.

Do you have any creative uses for leftover turkey?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


As I'm sure y'all are aware, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this here is the obligatory Thanksgiving post for 2011. I'll be honest. I'm having a hard time this year with the thankfulness. I'm still very much feeling like something is missing in my list of "what I'm thankful for," despite the fact that the list itself is long. It's an emotional Thanksgiving for me, and will likely be an emotional holiday season. But for today, I will set that aside and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life.

This year, I am thankful for:

Dan. First and foremost. My husband, my very best friend, my rock. Without him, life would be more dull, more quiet, and far less wonderful. I can't say enough great things about the person who is always at my side, ready and willing with a hug. He knows what I need - a hug, a laugh, a smile - often before I even do. As much as 2011 has been trying for me, it's been hard on him too. Only, he doesn't let it out, because he's the stoic one. We're in this together, he and I, and as much as I knew that when I married him, this last six months has shown me without a doubt that he's exactly who I was meant to spend life with. I am thankful for his strength and for his never-ending drive to make our marriage the best it can be.

My parents. I will never say it enough. Who are we without the people who raised and loved us? My parents have given us so much love and support this year. Without my mom, I may not have had the strength to tell myself it's okay to go to counseling. As painful as it is for her to know she may not be a grandmother to my children, my mom's ability to accept and comfort me in our likely childlessness meant more to me than she'll ever know. And my Daddy. The hardest working man I know, and the most kind and gentle soul you could ever meet. So many things that I love about him, I see in my own husband, and I know that my father taught me how to choose a great husband, even though they look drastically different on the outside. I am thankful for my parents and that they taught me to be strong and loving.

My sister. We've been through good and bad in our life together. I carry much guilt for the way things were when we were young. She's an incredibly gracious and uplifting woman. She's selfless and loving, tender and wickedly funny. She's so much of the best parts of my mom and dad, just as I am, but exemplified in different ways. She's got so much in her that I admire and hope to be someday. I love my little sister more than she'll ever know, and I'm thankful for how our adult life has brought us closer than I could have hoped for just 10 years ago.

My friends. Old and new, near and far, real-life and virtual, I can not express enough gratitude for the family I've been blessed with of people who were once strangers. Their love, laughter and support has been immeasurable and I am thankful for the wonderful ways in which they've enriched my life. I can only hope that I can give it back in their times of need.

Our home. I'm so incredibly thankful for our house. I love that it's becoming more and more what we envisioned at first sight every day. It's given us an outlet for creativity and hard work, and has been a source of pride in its transformation. I love that it's become a place of memories, a place where our friends gather. It will be the place of mine and Dan's first Thanksgiving as hosts tomorrow, and I can't wait to watch that unfold.

Our health. I have to set aside the negatives again here and remind myself that generally speaking, we are very fortunate. Things could be far worse. We are able-bodied and living a full life. We are not hindered on a day-to-day basis by chronic illness or pain. We are not in medical debt or suffering. We are, by all intents and purposes, healthy and happy.

Our pups. Last but not least. Without speaking words or sharing in my tears, Clover and Paisley have shown such empathy and comfort. In the last 6 months, Clover has transformed. She went from disinterested to loving and compassionate this year. She gives kisses and cuddles in all hours of the day. Where I once felt frustration, I now feel nothing but love. And my Paisley. She always seems to know when I need some love. She's the first to crash onto the couch and climb up onto my tummy when I lay down. She'll lay with me for hours, wagging her tail and warming me with her devotion. We are so thankful for their love, health, and energy in our home.

We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you're surrounded by people you're thankful for tomorrow and every day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

101 in 1001

I'm sure everyone has seen these lists floating around, but they seem to be extra-abundant among my blog friends lately. I feel inspired by their 101 in 1001 lists because they don't seem super hard to achieve over the course of about 2.75 years. I think I can do this. I admit, some of it is stuff I'm gearing up to do anyway, but now I'll have the extra satisfaction of crossing something off a list. I also admit that I got some inspiration from these ladies: Kallay, Allyson and Shana. My deadline is August 11, 2014.

Some revisions made 1/3/11, Updated 3/7/13

1. Give homemade Christmas gifts to everyone on our list

2. Learn to knit Completed January 2012. I won't be making sweaters any time soon, but I've got the basics

3. Reduce grocery spending by $50 a month through couponing

4. Convert guest room to craft room Completed 6/3/12

5. Build a custom desk (with Dan’s help) for craft room  Completed 6/3/12

6. Buy a DSLR

7. Read 30 books in a year (The Hunger Games, Sweet Grapes, The Help, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home, Silent Sorority, Rules for Virgins, Bossy Pants, Sing You Home, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Then Came You, Are you There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, Every Drunken Chearleader Why Not Me?, Freakonomics)

8. Answer the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind" - I like these a lot better than the 30 truth questions I tried to answer, so this should go over much better than that failed attempt I did answer them, and am working on when, if, and how I will share them. Very enlightening, though

9. Lose 25 pounds

10. Run a 5K Completed 11/17/2012 I can't say I RAN a 5K. I participated in one - after deciding Zumba would be good training - it's not. But I did one.

11. Go on a vacation with just Dan

12. Send my grandmas handwritten letters or cards once a month

13. Pay off current debt In progress! My personal retail cards are gone, and we consolidated debts (Dan had a card with a ridiculous rate that we just weren't getting anywhere with, despite paying way over the minimums each month), and will have it all paid off in about 2 years

14. Take a cooking class

15. Get through my bucket list of cooking

16. Continue therapy twice a month for at least 6 months (Thanks to changes in insurance, I simply can't afford bi-monthly appointmets. I'm going every 4 weeks, instead)  Completed 5/3/12

17. Participate in infertility awareness week in April each year

18. Find a place to volunteer my time once a month

19. Learn a new cupcake recipe per month for 6 months

20. Learn a new frosting recipe per month for 6 months

21. Create one original cookie design per month for 6 months

22. Blog all new cookie, cupcake and frosting recipes/designs

23. Do two Pinterest projects a month for six months, and this can include recipes (tree skirt, flower scarf)

24. Find one new blog to follow each week

25. Read with Dan on Sunday mornings for a month

26. Put away every fresh load of laundry right away for a month

27. Drink 96oz. of water a day for a month (to become a habit)

28. Clean out friends on Facebook once every 6 months. It’s okay to not be friends with everyone

29. Learn how to do fabulous eye makeup

30. Make the dogs homemade biscuits as a once-a-month treat for 6 months

31. Exercise 4 times a week for one month (to become a habit)

32. Paint 3 new pieces

33. Get one new tattoo I did it, I honestly don't remember when, though

34. Attend a blog gathering (TJs at PJs in February 2012 and 2013)

35. Go to two concerts (Poz and InfeKt - 12/2/11)

36. Write our will

37. Go to Europe That really just isn't going to happen. I'm replacing it with: Amass a collection of greeting cards to be on hand for any occasion

38. Go snow skiing with Dan

39. Invest in 4 quality classic clothing pieces

40. Spread infertility awareness publicly I'm well on my way. I've applied to be a a state legislation advocate and am waiting to hear back on how I'll be helping my community. I'm also "out" retty much everywhere, and take any opportunity I can to educate

41. Read three books related to infertility (Sweet Grapes, I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home, Silent Sorority)

42. Find a way to support or be involved in proper sexual health education I'm working on this one too - I've expressed my desire to the RESOLVE people, and hope I can get into this somehow
43. Attend a food festival

44. Treat Dan to a sky diving session

45. Learn to shoot a pistol Completed. My dad gave a pistol he'd given to his father, and Dan taught me how to use it.

46. Write Dan an anniversary love letter every year

47. Celebrate the anniversary of our engagement with dinner and Wild Horse each year (2012, 2013, 2014)

48. Attend a Post Secret event

49. Learn to make headbands Completed 1-4-11, though I will continue to make other kinds

50. Floss daily for a month (to become a habit)

51. Do a 52-week picture challenge

52. Donate my bridesmaid dresses Completed January 2013

53. Go to Zoo Lights with our friends’ kids

54. Spend each Christmas Eve with Dan and find something fun and competitive to do together

55. Make a headboard (once we buy our new king sized bed)

56. Commit 3 random acts of kindness

57. Start a “pay it forward” in a Starbucks drive-thru Completed July 2012

58. Try one new recipe a week for two months

59. Compliment Dan each day for a month

60. Send two “just because” cards to friends each month for 6 months

61. Learn the moves of one Mortal Kombat character and then play and defeat Dan… by a lot. We seriously just don't play games together much, and this is just not really going to happen, since there are more productive things we can do together. I'm replacing it with: Do three big home projects from start to finish with Dan

62. Take my dad to a Rams game

63. Take my mom to a performance of some sort

64. Send a soldier a care package

65. Send 20 Christmas cards to soldiers each year (2011, 2012, 2013)

66. Watch the news daily for a month

67. Visit Seattle Completed February 2013

68. Visit Chicago Completed June 2012

69. Visit NYC in the winter

70. Buy and use a sewing machine My mother-in-law is giving me hers, so I won't be buying one, but I still have to learn to use it and make something. I'm thinking craft room curtains

71. Win the Christmas cubicle decorating contest at work (I may in trouble on this one, it seems as though they've done away with the contest. But let me assure you, my Advent Calendar of 2011 is a ginormous hit) I'm calling it a W

72. Do a staycation weekend in Arizona with Dan

73. Paint the living room

74. Throw an adult-like dinner party

75. Donate old clothes twice a year

76. Buy a motorcycle or have a 2 year plan at the end of 1001 days to buy one

77. Send a secret to Post Secret

78. Meet more blog friends (this one is sure to thrill Dan) Completed 3/29/12 when I met Shana

79. Learn more about wine

80. Do all my cooking for the week on Sundays for one month

81. Visit 3 farmer’s markets in the valley

82. See the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert

83. Volunteer baby-sitting services to our friends once a month so they can have a date night

84. Host Thanksgiving (2011 and 2012)

85. Find a dog park near the house and take the girls on Sunday mornings for a month

86. Get my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving

87. Subscribe to and read a craft magazine for a year

88. Do 100 tweets a month for 3 months

89. Find a show to recap and stick with it for a whole season

90. Get a bigger dining room table

91. Do a major update of the music on my iPod This one might not happen. Now that I have my Kindle, I don't use my iPod. And I only wanted to revamp my music on the iPod so I would use it, but it seems to have been replaced with something I do use, and it has a lot of new music the iPod didn't. That kind of counts, right?

92. Get off blood pressure medication, if possible

93. Max out my HSA for my annual out-of-pocket limit in the event of catastrophic illness

94. Increase retirement savings percentage by at least 2%

95. Surprise Dan with new lingerie for at least one special occasion per year

96. Do my own oil changes for a year (it’s only 4)

97. Organize a cookie exchange

98. Try yoga

99. Take better care of my skin – I’m lucky now, but may not always be

100. Each year, find and buy a planner that functions well for me and use it regularly (2012, 2013, 2014)

101. Write a new list

You may notice there are quite a few that require longevity. I know that I'm not good at starting something and sticking to it when I get bored of it. I'm purposely including tasks I have to keep doing because I want to better myself in that way.

Do you have a 101 in 1001 list?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Take the glue gun away from me

It's not surprising - because I've said it 1,000 times - that I'm a Pinterest fiend. If I'm at home on a Saturday morning while Dan's in bed, I'm pinning away, adding recipes, photos, and decorating ideas to my boards. What IS surprising to everyone including me (or should be) is that I apparently have an obsession with wreaths. Yes, wreaths. The things old people (sorry, wreath lovers) hang on their doors. Not even two years ago, when I told her that Dan and I don't celebrate or decorate for Valentine's Day, my grandmother asked me incredulously, "you don't have a Valentine's Day wreath for your door!?" Psshhh, no. No way in hell. Except that was then, and this is now, and the Brooke of Now has a wreath pinned for just about every season of the year. Trust me, I hang my head in shame almost on the daily.

I present to you, dear readers, my Fall Wreath (picture taken in the dark on my porch):

I found the tutorial here, but I already had a Halloween (she made it for a shower, but it's totally Halloweeny, right?) wreath that I bought with a coupon at Joann Fabrics when I made my candy corn cones. Anyway, I bought a 12" round wreath (you're thinking "duh, wreaths are round," but the one in the tutorial is squared, smarty) and 8 rolls of ribbon, which is only half as many as the tutorial suggested. Because I didn't think to look at the tutorial while I was at the store. Anyway, I picked a variety of solids, patterns, gross grain and satin ribbons in chocolate and ivory. Actually, at first, I was going to go with really traditional fall - almost turkey-ish - and use brown, red, gold and orange. Only I realized I really didn't like the color combo much at all. I was in the ribbon aisle for about 45 minutes trying to decide and Dan even texted to see if I was alive.

So, chocolate and ivory in a variety of sizes, textures, and patterns. I followed the tutorial pretty exactly, except I would do one thing differently. The instructions said to do 5-6" lengths to use for the loops, but I got kind of distracted with wine TV and some of mine are a little long. Of course, the longer loops are the ones I'm not as happy with. So definitely stick to consistency in the loop cutting. I don't know how the Blue Eyed Bride went about placing hers on her wreath, but I started with the thickest grossgrain ribbon that I had the most of, sort of evenly spacing them on my wreath so I wouldn't bunch them all in one area and totally neglect another. Then I moved on to the second kind of ribbon, then the third, and so on and on and on. I did make sure to glue them down in different directions, so that was good. The only other thing I need to figure out the next time I do one is how to keep the the top layers from flattening out loops on bottom layers. I think the wreath looks fine in the picture, but in person, some areas are floofier (technical term). I also think my wreath came out pretty full, so I'm not sure where I would have put another 6-7 rolls of ribbon. Maybe start with 8 but have a couple extra in case you want to add more, but I really don't think you need 14 (at least for a 12" wreath).

So there ya have it, my latest Pinterest project.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Lunch Bag

Last week, on Tuesday, I went to go grab my lunch bag out of the break room refrigerator and found that it was missing. I was piiiiiissed. I usually have ice packs, but I'd forgotten to freeze them so I had to refrigerate it. Then I forgot it because it wasn't at my desk. So I was beyond peeved that someone had decided to steal it just because I'd forgotten it. Being the passive aggressive girl that I am, I left a note asking that it be returned and even left a little line about how the thief could check Target for one of their very own.

On Wednesday, just before I went home, I checked the refrigerator to see if I'd been taken seriously and lo and behold, my lunch bag was there! I couldn't believe it. Only, it had lunch meat and cheese in it. The audacity! I couldn't believe that someone would steeeeal my stuff and then bring it back to the scene of the crime and just go on like they owned it or something. So I took the bag, left the contents behind, and left another note saying that I appreciate the return of my lunch bag but that I was leaving behind the meat and cheese because "I don't take things that aren't mine." Nothing more was said about it, no one protested. The meat and cheese were taken home, and all was good.

And then...

Dan found mine. And I became a supreme a-hole. Ooooooopsies. So today, I returned the "stolen" lunch bag to the break room, along with an apology note and a Starbucks card as a peace offering. I've learned my lesson about jumping to conclusions.... and I'm done with notes. At least we got a good laugh out of it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Talk it out

I did something good for myself yesterday. Almost 4 months to the day after finding out about the major cause of our infertility, I went and talked to a counselor. The last four months have been up and down. The initial news was really hard, and the first couple weeks were very painful. Now, like with any other grief, the pain is beginning to subside and the sharp pains come with longer and longer intervals in between, and we're sorting out what we're going to do. There have been even more developments that I'm going to keep private, but I can tell you that they make our chances even more slim.

And so, considering the fact that we are truly grieving a loss, I decided to talk to someone. I found a great counselor and sat down with her yesterday and blabbed on and on about our fears, my confessions, the stumbling blocks, the day-to-day stuff and how our lives are affected by infertility. I cried my eyes out, I laughed, I listened. I learned that it's okay to feel how I feel, because there is no wrong way to feel. The counselor was amazing. She's dealt with other couples struggling with IF, so she's familiar with the things we go through. She listened sympathetically as I got angry about people expressing to me frequently how I just need to do this or try that. She complimented me on how I care for my husband, shielding him and emphasizing how we are a unit in this. It felt really good to have someone sense the strength of our relationship through just an hour of conversation.

I'm glad I did something good for myself. It's not easy to say, "I may not be able to deal with this alone." I often have thoughts that things aren't that bad, relatively speaking, and I have nothing to be upset about compared to ladies who've been through 5 rounds of IVF and still don't have a baby. It was good to hear that I don't have to suffer a certain amount to be worthy of that care. It's also not easy to have to tell a stranger - though a very kind and comforting one - very intimate details in order to convey the gravity of our situation. But I feel so much better having gotten it off my chest and starting the process of working through the losses we've experienced and those we'll continue to endure as we figure out which way is up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Catching Up

I've been gone. Not even anywhere incredibly interesting. It's just been super busy. Last I posted, I was getting ready to head to Tucson for my friend Rachel's wedding. This is the story of what's happened in our life since. Get some coffee, it might be long. And grab me a cookie, please and thank you.

Our anniversary weekend was really fun. It started off with a pizza party for all the out-of-towners to meet. I quickly figured out where Rachel gets her "must take a picture of everything" obsession from. I kid you not, somewhere, there's a picture of me and my plate of pizza and salad. I'm posing awkwardly in it because I'm totally caught off guard by the fact that someone wants a picture of me with my dinner. The groom's family is from Spain, but now lives all over the world, and it was really fun to meet them. The super-cute flower girls (the groom's nieces) live in Miami and were super excited to meet Rachel's friends, including me, La Amiga Mas Importante (Spanish for "maid of honor").

On Thursday, I got to spend the day with Rachel - dropping some stuff off at the reception venue, having lunch, getting nails done, talking about friends we were both excited to see. Perfectly relaxing day. We went to the rehearsal (which was interesting and long, so very long) and then just Rachel and I and the bridesmaids went to a gourmet burger restaurant for dinner. Absolutely delicious. If you live in Arizona, you need at least one Zin Burger experience in your lifetime.

The wedding was gorgeous. I teared up about a thousand times during the day - my best friend was beautiful, she was marrying a great guy. It was all very emotional. Side note: I was never a very emotional person. Ever. I'm not sentimental, I don't find myself to be very compassionate. And then, I got engaged. Since I got engaged, I turned into what Dan calls a "mush pot." In fact, he calls me Henry the Mush Pot. Long story.

Anyway, wedding: gorgeous. It was so much fun dancing all night, seeing old friends. I was super nervous about having to give a speech, and I can't even begin to tell you how funny that turned out to be. I'll try though. So I'd had a couple drinks by the time I had to give it, but I'd also had a lot of water. Don't worry, I don't pee on myself. I'm just trying to emphasize that I was balancing out the wine with water. So I was at a fun point where I giggle at everything but I'm no where near sloppy or anything. So, the best man - the groom's brother - was up first. And he went on and on and on. For a while. And then said "and that's point one." And then he had two other points. And then, finally, he said "and lastly, on my wedding day, our uncle (insert uncle's name) sang to me and my wife, and so now I present to you, (insert uncle's name)." Um, yeah, the groom's brother is an opera singer and proceeded to belt out this beautiful song. I was listening, of course, but I was mostly also looking around at my parents and friends with wide eyes and giggling (quietly), thinking, "how the eff do I follow this?!" So the singer/uncle finished, the crowd went wild, and I got up to take the mic, and people start chanting, "Encore! Encore!" Say what?! So the mic is ripped from my hand and the guy sings again. At this point, I'm just dumbfounded, I lost my train of thought, had no idea where to even start. I have little recollection of what I said, aside from a very hilarious, "well, that's what you get when you have 10 years to plan a speech" (because the bride and groom were engaged for 10 years - helpful info) and I talked about how they take thousands of pictures of food (no joke). So yeah, that was my encore matron-of-honoring experience in a nutshell. I'm retiring from bridesmaiding and refuse to make any single friends.

After all that, I had to get up early on Saturday and drive back home to get ready for the BBQ I planned to celebrate Dan's birthday. We had a really fun night with friends, eating, drinking, playing Guitar Hero, and watching our friends' two-year-old trying to play Bocce ("dees baws weawy hebby"). On Sunday, we had to celebrate our friends' son's birthday at Peter Piper (really not fun hungover, BTW) and then I took Dan shopping for shoes and did some other window shopping. We had our anniversary/Dan's birthday dinner at our new favorite sushi place. All in all, a fabulous weekend of celebrating.

Since then, life has been more mellow, but still busy. We had a friend and her two kids over for dinner one night, I met up with Temerity Jane and Brie for dinner, and we had a garage sale this past weekend. Side note: garage sales are interesting, by the way. First, I'm amazed that people would want to buy my junk that I don't want. And secondly, at some point, it gets hot and the crowds die down and you're just sitting on your driveway with all your junk. Anyway, with our garage sale earnings and our cut from the sale of a golf cart on my mom's behalf, we installed a new security door and got our turtles a new tank... and the dogs got costumes. Money very well spent.

Up on deck the next few days: we need to prep our wall to be cut for the RV gate we're installing, our friend is moving in for a while, and we're going trick-or-treating with our friends' kids, which I'm super excited about.

Also, I just have to brag a minute, because this is adorable and funny. I'm a prize. Yes, that's right. Mrs. ESPN's daughter, Chatty, was in a soccer tourney this past weekend and came in 2nd place. Since she had to play against girls who are older than her, she decided she was entitled to a prize. And that prize is me. And Dan. See, we're watching Mrs. ESPN's younger daughter, Bia, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and Chatty decided that wasn't fair and decided that to make things even, she needed a babysitting sesh with the Awesome Kingstons, too. So we are apparently her reward for a game well-played. I feel so honored :)

Alright, that's enough for now!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Second Year

It’s going to be a very busy few days, so I decided to write this now before I leave for Tucson for Rachel’s wedding, which will be followed by Dan’s birthday BBQ and then our friend’s son’s birthday party. Like I said – busy weekend.

It’s been almost two years since we said our vows and became husband and wife. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by. It’s been so full in so many ways, and so empty in others. I always remember hearing that the first year is the hardest. I guess people assumed that maybe for couples who didn’t live together before marriage, all the adjustments all at once would make for a difficult time, and I could see how that would be. Our first year, though, was a thing of beauty. It was a fantastic year, full of happiness and fun.

In many ways, today is very much like this day a year ago, with much to be thankful for. We still love each other deeply, and we have had many blessings. We’re healthy (mostly), happy, and are now homeowners. We have amazing family and friends surrounding us. Our dogs are awesome. We each have new opportunities on the horizon to keep us looking forward. In the last year, we saw both our siblings get married, spent time with old friends and made new ones, celebrated my 30th birthday, bought a house and did some major over-hauls, and I baked a lot. It's been great year in many ways.

Yet, there’s something missing. Back at this time last year, I think we both thought there would be a new member of our family in our lives. Instead, the last 6 months have been marked by diagnoses, infertility, and uncertainty about our future as parents. This second year, which should have been a walk in the park compared to that “hardest” first year, has been one of trial and heartache at times.

Still, it’s nearly our second anniversary, and I wouldn’t want to have spent the last two years with anyone else. Memories of our wedding are still among my fondest, and our love continues to grow. I still can’t believe I am the lucky girl that got to marry Dan.

Happy Anniversary, Buddy. I love you!

Oh, and happy birthday, too :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is there rehab for this?

Pinterest struck again, people. I didn't take pictures of the whole project, but it was super easy. I had found a cute photo similar to this a couple weeks ago:

So I headed to Joann armed with a 20% your entire purchase (including sale items!) coupon. I picked up an 18" cone and a 12" cone from the floral department. You know, where they keep the foam wreaths and stuff. Then I went to the yarn section and picked up thick bulky yarn in orange, white, and yellow. I also got a glue gun (for $2.50!) and glue, since I didn't have one.

Before I started, I marked off my color-change points, splitting the cone up into approximate thirds (or so I thought - turns out the white was a little more than a third, but I was consistent with both cones). I started at the top with the white, and glued the whole first wrap-around with it. I wound it consistently around the cone, gluing about 1/2" every couple of rows to keep things anchored. I made sure to switch to orange along the seam in the back so that I would have an obvious front and back. When I switched, I made sure to glue the whole first row of the new color. I also glued the whole last row of yellow at the bottom, and had to overlap a little, since I hadn't wound perfectly straight all the way down. For the top, I made a small coil the size of the top and then hot-glued it right on. Super easy! The yarn in the inspiration photo was apllied a little more haphazardly, with strands overlapping and more like a ball of yarn would look. I prefered a cleaner look, so I wrapped my yarn neatly with one row right under the other.

I think they came out really cute, and put them on the mantle with some pumpkins for a festive touch.

BTW, all the Fall and Halloween decorations are 60% off at Joann right now, and with the 20% off coupon, I saved far more than I spent on some cute decorations for the house.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Pinteresting weekend

Hey there! It's been a while, huh? Sorry. Not much has been going on, so there hasn't been much to write about, but I finally have a few things. Friday was the Poz and Infekt concert. It was the finals to play Fall Frenzy. We had a nice group going, including our friends' kids who were so excited to be there. We had so much fun with them. The concert was a blast - they pulled out all the stops in terms of making it a fun and interactive show. Unfortunately, they didn't win the finals and won't be playing this Friday. We were so bummed, but I highly doubt this will be the end of these guys.

We were lazy Saturday. Or at least I was. And so were these two:

I was lazy for a reason though - I was glued to Facebook waiting for updates on the birth of my dear friend Kari's daughter. She arrived in the evening after about 12 hours of labor. Her name is Brynn Marie and she is absolutely adorable. You know how some newborns are all "rrrreeeeeeaaaaaaaa" like baby velociraptor with their gangly fingers? (Come on, you know it's true - they can't all be cute.) Not this baby. She's 100% cute. But then, I may be biased since I'm her auntie.

On Sunday, we worked on a couple projects, one of which was my chalkboard menu for the kitchen. I had purchased the frame with a coupon at Joann Fabrics and was just waiting to find the right piece of wood to paint with my chalkboard paint. It had to be thick enough to fit in the frame and sturdy enough to withstand pressure when being written on. At the same time, it couldn't be too heavy and obviously couldn't be warped. I know what you're thinking: why not just buy a chalkboard? Well, what's the fun in that? So Dan finally found the perfect piece of wood and cut it down to the right size. He was anxious and painted while I napped, along with the inside of one side of our pantry. Kinda cool - now we have a chalkboard right there for jotting down staples we need to add to my shopping list. Not a bad idea, Dan. Finally, it dried enough and we hung it:

It looks a little boring right there all by itself, but I assure you there's other stuff right under it and my baking supply dresser and the turtle tank are right next to it. I couldn't write on it yet when I took this - the paint has to set for 24 hours - but I was just to excited not to take a pic. Isn't it cute? Yay, Pinterest! Stay tuned for my next Pinterest-inspired project.

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm kind of a big deal

Seriously. Our friends' band, Poz and Infekt recently posted their newest music video for their song, (Party) After Party, and yours truly is in it. That's right. Me. In a music video. Well, in the last like 5 seconds of a music video (I'm the chick in light grey bouncing around when Poz does the row of low fives at the In N Out Parking Lot Concert), but still.

Check it:

Also, we went to their concert again on Friday. They're in a contest to open for Blink182 at Fall Frenzy here in Phoenix. They won the round Friday and play again in the finals on the 23rd. If they win that, they'll open on the 30th and we'll be there to dance our asses off.

I know I talked about them in a previous post, but srsly, you guys, this band is FUN! They've had a number of bands over the years, the most recently a heavy metal band called Revenant. And then they got the crazy idea to make a rap video, and their album, "No Coattails to Ride" was born. The songs are fun, hilarious, and the beats are awesome. I seriously just love them. Truly, check them out if you have a minute. And look for me in the video :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If YHL can do it, so can I

This was a weekend of renovation (on the small scale) and organization. We got a lot done. The laundry "room" got a makeover, my baking stuff got moved into the dresser in the kitchen, the green couch is gone (sorry, Paisley) and the sectional has been separated and rearranged to make it feel like less of a monster in our small living room. I also got a start on a couple DIY projects that will be coming soon.

First, the laundry room. Dan had talked about painting it when we first moved in, but hadn't so much as mentioned it since. Well, apparently, Saturday was the day he decided to not only talk about it, but do it. He went to the gym on Saturday morning and came home with some paint swatches.... paint swatches that made me cringe. Most of the colors chosen could best be described as "breastmilk poop yellow." Kinda icky. But he loved them. As we were arguing about discussing the color options, he mentioned that he wanted to put the red chandelier in there. This red chandelier was actually a gold chandelier that hung over the entryway when we bought the house and was replaced and then repainted the day after we moved in. It's not that I don't like it (it IS pretty cool) but not for that space. I had a better idea. So I decided to go for a give-and-take approach. I agreed to let Dan choose the color if I could pick the light fixture.

My grand inspiration?

The clothespin chandelier from Young House Love. Totally brilliant right? And perfectly suited for a laundry room. Upon seeing the tutorial, Dan agreed that it was a pretty cool idea and the red chandelier was nixed. So off we went to Lowe's where we picked up 300 clothespins, wire gardening mesh, and a gallon of Dan's color choice, Valspar Golden Avocado.

It took me roughly an hour to assemble the chandelier, between cutting the gardening mesh (wire cutters are a bitch) and clipping the clothespins. I was a little short on the number - I need to get another bag of 50 to finish off that little bald section as well as another full row to hide the bottom of the wire frame. I'm pretty psyched about the result though. In total, it took us about 3 hours to take our boring laundry closet from white-with-floral-wall-paper blahness to this (it's a closet, so hard to photograph, sorry):

I didn't even realize it at the time, but even the yellowness matches somewhat with YHL's color scheme. I want to get some baskets or something to put the shelf contents in and maybe an art print so the walls aren't so plain, but I think it's already a vast improvement. The chandelier was actually pretty heavy, and I thought hanging it might be a challenge. There was a glass dome light fixture - the kind where screws hold the glass on, ya know? (This is my clueless girl-meets-house lingo, BTW) Dan just made loops out of a heavy wire that he attached to the top of the mesh frame and hung them on the screws. So it hangs a little lower relative to the the bulb in comparison to the YHL version, but because it's a small space and the viewing angle is essentially straight up, you can't really tell.

And even though it won't be finding its home in the laundry room, the red chandelier is still haunting me. Dan is threatening to use the same fire engine red shade to paint our washer and dryer. Why he wants the room to look like ketchup and mustard, I'm not sure. But I have a feeling I may come home one day to find it done, and I'll probably hear "I told you it would look good."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I hate Facebook lately

For anyone who's been on Facebook the last couple weeks, you've probably seen the latest wave of posts that look like this: "I'm 4 weeks and I'm craving peanut butter." You might see it and stop and go "oh my, my friend is clearly pregnant! I shall congratulate her." Only, the post has nothing to do with a pregnancy, but is part of some clever little game spread via mass forwarding to - supposedly - increase breast cancer awareness.

Because I need to get it all out of my system once and for all, here are my issues with this nonsense.

1. The email explaining this little game (and others like it) tells recipients to post their status as "I'm ____ weeks and I'm craving _____." The first blank spot correlates to the month in which you were born, and the second blank is filled using a list of foods corresponding to the day of the month of your birth. It claims that the purpose of this is to be raise awareness about breast cancer, but it provides no actual resources, sites, or facts about the disease.

2. The "game" is specifically limited to women, based on the email. Men make up 50% of our population. They are the husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons of women with breast cancer. They can be an invaluable tool in raising awareness, and information should not be limited to women. Not to mention, over 2,000 men are diagnosed and 450 men die a year from breast cancer. Keeping this information from them can literally be detrimental to their health and well-being.

3. The deceitful pregnancy status does nothing to raise awareness if the only people who know the code are the ones who get the accompanying email forward. Which means that - assuming no one in my 200+ friends got the email as well - if I post the status, not one of them knows what the hell I'm talking about. Awareness? No, pretty much just confusion when I have to explain to them that I am not in fact pregnant. I'm pretty sure that even by the time I've explained that it's supposed to be about breast cancer awareness, no one will even care because they'll be annoyed with me for toying with their emotions.

4. Raising awareness - to me - means giving people information. Crazy concept, right? There is nothing informative about the color of my underwear (last year's game) in regard to breast cancer. Raising awareness means teaching people about detection through self exams and mammograms. It means providing resources to learn facts. It means spreading the word about the Race for the Cure and other benefits that raise money for research. Someone please tell me how "I'm 3 weeks and craving effing pretzels" does this. Please.

I realize that this may seem to be an odd thing to get so worked up about, but it really just pisses me off. Treating an illness as a joke is not cool. I suppose I should post about my favorite medieval weapon and say it's for testicular cancer awareness, because it's pretty much just as useful. I'm also passionate about this because breast cancer is sort of my chosen recipient of charitable donations. I've donated cookies for bake sale fundraisers for 3-day walkers as well as money. I donated my wedding dress to give terminal breast cancer patients a last wish. I didn't give my most favorite and exquisite possession to something I don't believe in, and I don't appreciate it being made into a joke.

Not to mention, I'm sure you can imagine that seeing faux pregnancy announcements isn't super fun for me. I don't find that much of a joke either. But this isn't just about me. Cancer treatments often make survivors infertile because of the poisons introduced to the body to fight the disease. So to "raise awareness" of breast cancer by pretending to be pregnant in a forum where survivors - who may now be unable to conceive in exchange for having their lives saved - may see it is truly a slap in the face. Everytime I see one of these status messages I will post a link to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I will explain my above reasons until I'm blue in the face, if I have to.

Seriously people, think before you status.

And because I'm not a hypocrite, here is a link to the National Breast Cancer Foundation

It is also Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September, and I'm fortunate enough to have two survivors in your life. Check Your Neck, people

Monday, August 29, 2011

A letter to my friends

I've been writing this letter over the past couple of weeks as I sort out my feelings, figuring out what I would want to be able to say to friends about what's going on if I had the guts to just let it all out there. For my real-life friends, this isn't meant to offend or make anyone feel as though they've done anything wrong. It's just me being honest and as open as I can be.

Dear Friend,

I may or may not have shared this with you, but Dan and I have a sort of secret. We are two of 7 million Americans (one in eight couples) with fertility issues. Both of us are affected – not only do we each have our own issue, but even if it was just one of us, we’d still be in the same place. One of us can’t make a baby without the other, so we’re in this together. We’ve been through testing, we have diagnoses. We have a realistic understanding of our options and our chances. What’s going on isn’t a result of not relaxing or not doing something right or not wanting or praying hard enough. It isn’t about timing, positions, or old wives’ tales. It can’t be fixed by adopting or not trying. I know it seems that everyone knows someone who got pregnant when they stopped trying or started the adoption process, but it’s not the case for everyone. Adoption is not in our cards, nor is IVF. For a number of reasons, Dan and I have made a decision we feel is right for us for the time being, and that’s to not move forward with any testing or treatment. Because of fear of miscarriage made more likely by my issue, we are actively avoiding pregnancy while not in the care of a specialist. We are in full agreement in this decision, and it’s a necessary break to get us to a point where we can re-evaluate if we will be trying again.

Please understand that though we made this decision together and are confident now, it wasn’t easy and it’s still very raw. There is a lot of grief in our home right now. Our hearts are heavy. My emotions are intense and irrational at times. There are good days and awful days. I want you to know, friend, that despite all this, I am happy for you as you grow your family. I am excited for you as you announce your pregnancy, and I look forward to spoiling your child and seeing you as a mom. That said, it isn’t easy for me to watch you experience things I long for. I fear I won’t get to tell my husband we’re expecting, see the ultrasound, hear the heartbeat. I may never get to decorate a nursery, feel the baby move, or give birth and hear that first tiny cry. My husband may never be a father, and my parents may never have grandchildren that aren’t my sister’s kids. So while I am happy for you, dear friend, my heart aches when I see your announcements on Facebook. Baby shower invitations make tears spring to my eyes. Pictures and videos of your little one, though sweet and appreciated, often make a lump rise in my throat. Little moments and glimpses into your life as a mom-to-be can make a good day go bad in a matter of seconds through no fault of your own.

My goal through all of this has been to grieve privately, and celebrate your joys publicly. It doesn’t always work that way, though. While I may not appear sad when you show me pictures or share something cute your husband said about the baby, inside I’m just holding it together. I would never want to take away from your moment. I will not skip baby showers, and I will not dismiss you as a friend for having what I desire. But sometimes, I need time. Sometimes, I may cry – know that if I do so in front of you, it means I trust you with my feelings of grief. Please understand that if I have to walk away or take a day to myself, it isn’t because I don’t love you. It’s because I need that for me. I’m constantly torn between not wanting to be handled with kid gloves, and needing some sensitivity. I don’t want you to not feel free to express your joy and share this experience with me, but I need you to know that sometimes it’s too much and I need a minute, an hour, a day to hash it out. I’m very conscious of my fear of becoming jealous or “bitter.” I’m not asking you to change how you express your happiness and share your family experiences, just to have a little awareness and understanding of how I may react if my emotions get to me. Because it truly is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

There may be times when I withdraw into myself. I go through periods of days or even a week or two where the safest place for my emotions is within me. I may not call to hang out, or talk or text. I may be vague on Facebook. I may just be generally distant. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to you or hang out, I just feel that I lack the energy and motivation to make the effort. I want to spend time with you, chat, and have lunch. Sometimes, though, I feel that I’m experiencing more reminders of our infertility and keeping to myself means less opportunities for that to happen. Sometimes, not talking about IF is achieved by not talking, period. So please, don’t mistake my distance for lack of care. Your friendship is still important to me. I’m just being guarded, and I’ll come around if you just give me time.

I value you, friend. I’m excited for you, and happy for your family. That happiness for you is a distinct emotion from my sadness, yet the former often reminds me of the latter. I will do my best to be a supportive and loving friend as you prepare for and experience motherhood. Just please understand that I am mourning something I never had, and even if Dan and I are successful in having a baby one day, this will have forever changed us. We’ve already had to accept many changes and losses since we started trying to start a family. I fear that everything will change, in fact, including my friendship with you. I worry immensely that you being a mom and raising your family will create a divide between us. I don’t want to lose my friends, too. I don’t want to be left out and left behind. Both Dan and I want to be special people in your kids’ lives and spoil them and love them, as we know you would do for our children.
Thank you for being a supportive and wonderful part of my life.


Showers, dust, and kiddos

This was a weekend of celebrations all around. First up on Saturday was the shower for my friend, Rachel, in Tucson. I'm her matron of honor, and the bridesmaids and I spent the last 6 weeks planning and organizing. It was actually really great how everyone kind of took on a task and ran with it. Two girls took on food and decor. The bridesmaid in NY handled the favors and had them shipped out since she couldn't attend. Another bridesmaid took care of the games and prizes. I did the cake and some keep-sake type stuff, along with the odds and ends that didn't fall into any other category. And it all went just beautifully.

Rachel's wedding color (or the color of our dresses, anyway) is latte. We went with a blue, cream, and latte colored palette to stay within her taste but add some color and make it distinct from the wedding. The cake was made to match the invite. One of the bridesmaids managed to find latte colored roses, the same flowers that Rachel is incorporating into the bouquets. Here are some pics of the spread (mmmm, Costco chicken and cranberry salad sandwiches) and decor.

After cleaning up after the shower, I hung out with my parents for a bit, then headed home and had the lovely privilege of driving through a dust storm. Funny thing, the news people have been calling them "haboobs." Apparently, it's an Arabic word for these giant rolling dust storms. I've lived in Arizona my whole life, and not once have I ever heard them called a haboob before this summer. Weird. But anyway, it was so dusty, I couldn't see more than about 40 feet ahead, if that. The car in front of me took his foot off the brake and literally disappeared. Thankfully, it didn't last long, but it was a stressful 10 minutes as I drove through it.

I finally got home and got to hang out on the NEW COUCH! Yay! I didn't take pictures, because it looks completely jammed in our living room right now. We haven't decided if our old couch will be sold or donated, so we have both in the living room right now, including the chaise lounge part of the new couch that's supposed to reside in our living room. We have stadium seating, people. Paisley parked herself on the old couch, demonstrating once again that I think she'd be perfectly happy living in a house all her own, so long as she gets fed on the regular. Once the new couch is placed properly in the room, I think it's going to be fabulous.

Yesterday was our friends' daughter's 2nd birthday party. I can hardly believe our little Princess Kadence is a two-year-old. She's just so much fun, and so adorable. She was all jazzed up yesterday at her party and talking non-stop. She just adores Dan, and always says "hi, Dan" in her tiny voice whenever he walks by her or she notices he's in the room. She got a ton of toys and had a blast playing with them, though her favorite gift by far was none other than Disney Princess Chap Stick. Our wedding photographer's wife and children were also there, and their 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter had a blast playing with Dan (and his iPhone apps). It happened to be the 9-year-old's birthday yesterday (which we didn't know until we got there), and after we left, Dan decided he wanted to go get him a gift. This kid has the most awesome sense of humor, so Dan did a great job picking out the perfect card and gift bag for him. It was really sweet.

Here's a picture of our piggy-tailed little lady enjoying her cake and ice cream. It's amazing how big she looks. I just can't wait to watch her grow up into a (feisty) little girl.

How was your weekend? Any celebrations?

Monday, August 22, 2011

I need a Pinterest project intervention

One of the things that we noticed instantly when we shopped for our house was that the bathrooms had shower doors. Meh. Dan said immediately that we'd get rid of them, but they didn't bother me so much. That is, until I had to try to give the dogs a bath and couldn't lean in very far to wash them and even then I was leaning on the metal door tracking. Not good at all. For Dan, it's even worse that he has to kind of scrounch down to enter the shower.

So it should have been no surprise to me to come home on Friday and find that his shower door had been evicted, and that mine was up next. I got way more excited than I should have because it meant I got to pick out shower curtains. Because we'd been talking about taking the doors out at some point I'd been surfing the net looking for a design I liked. I even pinned a few on Pinterest.

Unfortunately, all my pins were from online dealers, and since we were about to be completely without shower water barriers, they didn't do me much good. Off to Bed Bath and Beyond I went with my coupon to find a substitute. I was pretty excited, y'all. Shower curtains are kind of one of my "things." I love picking out a cool one and planning the rest of the bathroom around it. This time, since we already have all the towels we need and color schemes in place, I needed to work in reverse and find something that would go with our "milk chocolate" walls and the green and purple accents in each of our respective bathrooms (yes, we have our own bathrooms). I was pretty disappointed that I couldn't find anything with a chocolate or brown pattern with pops of accent colors. The only awesome think I found with purple was sold out and very hard to keep in stock apparently, according to the manager at BB&B. I went from BB&B to Target (which sucked even more) and then back and finally settled on these:

Not what I was expecting, but I found that I loved how they were both modern and organic. And even though the shower doors had been frosted glass, the white lightened up the room. Dan bought curved rods, which makes the tub space feel even bigger, which is very nice. Not to mention, he was able to hang them at a nice and comfy 6'7" off the ground, so he can step into it without any crouching, scrunching, or otherwise shortening himself.

Dan also took the icky old security door that was on the little shed out back, cleaned it, and sprayed it with new metallic paint to go on the door leading from the garage out to the patio. He was a very busy guy on Friday afternoon.

We have another big improvement coming to the house this coming Saturday, too.... a new couch! A sectional to be exact. Our living room is kind of odd with it's shape and multiple focal points. Even more annoying about it is the lack of seating with just the couch and our Cracker Barrel (thanks, Dad) rocking chair. When we have two other people over, we're one seat short. So we decided to fix one of those issues and ordered this lovely thing:

It's the perfect shade of lightish brown and it's nice and comfy. It's also not as deep as the current couch, so the part of it that will be where our couch currently sits won't seem as big and bulky and eyesore-ish (which crazy emotional me has been crying about for like 3 weeks, but that's another story for another day). However, it's huge lengthwise... 12x8'. So that chaise part will likely be parked in our bedroom, meaning I'm getting one of those fancy seating areas in my master bedroom to read in like you see in Better Homes & Gardens. Awesome. Living the high life, people.

My next project:

A chalkboard menu! See, isn't Pinterest fun? I need to find the right frame, and I fully intend to paint wood with chalkboard paint (even though Dan insists you can buy chalkboards, pshaw) and hang it on a blank kitchen wall. I also want to make a cute monogrammed something or other to hang my aprons in the kitchen. Dan wants to paint the tiny wall behind our built in shelf the same dark blueish grey as the hallway and then set some of our own original artwork on an easel up there. Lastly, we want to fix up the dinky fireplace. I'd like to have it done in time for Christmas, but it just remains to be seen whether or not that happens. Dan's plan is to replace the blechy tile around it and build a new solid wood mantle. The one there now is literally a piece of flimsy wood and I have to be very careful with putting anything heavy on it. We want something more substantial and grand looking. See? We have all sorts of things going on, and hopefully the weather will start to cool down and we'll feel less blech (how many times have I said 'blech' in this post?) and get to work on them.

What projects are you working on? Have you discovered Pinterest? Do you need an intervention, too?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, Clo!

Two years ago today, our silly little lady was born. She didn't come home to live with us until 8 weeks later, but still. Today is her birthday, a momentous day for sure.

She's changed so much since last year. For starters, she's actually house broken. For the most part. Having a yard and a dog door did wonders in that regard. But her personality is different, too. Last year, she wasn't much of a cuddler. She was far too busy for affection unless she was exhausted. Now, she's a little lover, giving kisses and cuddles. She's still busy, but she takes time out of her busy schedule of collecting sticks and chewing tree pods to toss some affection our way. She still loves on Paisley endlessly. She licks her ears and her eyes, and always lays down as close as she can possibly get to her big sis.

Clover is still as funny as she's ever been, and has her particular little quirks. She doesn't sit down to scratch her ears, but rather balances on three legs. She races to the kitchen every time she hears the dishwasher open and "helps" me pre-wash the silverware (only when it's dirty, of course). She still loves buttons, and ruined a brand new comforter after only 7 days of use when she ripped a button off and kept right on going with the chewing. She loves when I break out the Hulk Hands and when Dan pretends to be an auctioneer a la Storage Wars and gets excited and barks playfully at us. At meal time, she follows me to the garage door, doing jumps and spins the whole way as she waits for me to fill her bowl. She loves to stand on Dan's chest and give him kisses, and she most often rests her head on his shoulder as she sits behind him on the back of the couch.

Our little Bug is just as sweet as can be, and I can hardly believe it's been almost 2 years since we brought her home with us. Tonight we'll celebrate with some special treats and extra kisses and hugs. Happy Birthday, Clover!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cafeteria Challenge Update: Day 24

This is the last week of the 30 day Cafeteria Challenge, and the last week and a half have been so-so. I did great with avoiding breakfasts and sodas, but I had lunches a couple of times in the last 12 days since the last update. One night, Dan decided he wanted sushi; another night, dinner didn't turn out so well. This past weekend, I didn't shop on Sunday, so I didn't have a salad for Monday. So I haven't saved as much. However, like I said, I haven't bought a single cafeteria soda in 24 days, and I've limited myself only to salads when I do get lunch from down there. So despite not pulling through on the savings, I've at least made better lunch choices and saved roughly $2 a lunch compared to the expensive entrees. In the last 8 work days (which equals 12 calendar days), I've saved $57.95, bringing the 24 day total to $150.45. Not bad. The goal is to finish out the remaining 4 work days strong and bank the last $24.

Monday, August 8, 2011

At least he didn't buy horses

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my mom went away to Kansas City for a teaching conference for several days, leaving me and Megan with our dad. From what I remember, it was an awesome week. We went to Grandma's for dinner a couple nights, and got to eat McDonald's. One night we had "yellow food day," where Dad made us corn, mac'n'cheese, and hotdogs with mustard. Awesomely clever. I don't know if it was inspired by his special dinner, but he also decided to paint the living room yellow that week. Like lemony sweet sunshine yellow.

In addition to yellow-ifying our lives, Dad also surprised us with something really special. Ponies! Er, horses. Like every little girls asks for. We got to go see meet them, and Dad traded our neighbors a case of soda or beer for use of their trailer to move the horses to a nearby friend's horse property where they'd be kept. Apparently, my parents had discussed this, but it was a big surprise for me and Megan. And when I say they had "discussed it," evidently my dad had mentioned he wanted horses "at some point." So you can imagine my mother's surprise when she came home a week later to find that her living room was painted yellow and she was told that we now owned not one, but two, Arabian geldings. Surprise!

This weekend, I headed to Tucson to see my friend, Rachel. I'm her maid matron of honor and she wanted to get the bridesmaids all together. When I asked Dan if he wanted me to take Paisley and Clover with me, he told me that he had big plans for their time together. He'd bought nail clippers and planned to give pedicures and baths. He also planned to do some other things around the house, but was kind of vague.

When I showed up at Rachel's house, her parents with there with their two dogs, whom Rachel and her fiance would be keeping for the night (in addition to me). Her mom was talking about how Rachel's dad had brought each of the dogs home without cluing her in, and I told her about how my dad had done the same but with horses, so it could be worse. We kind of laughed about how husbands are silly and forgot about it.

When I got home yesterday, I instantly noticed something was different. Dan had cleaned the carpet (yay!) and clipped a grand total of one dog nail ("but they're getting used to it")(yay, Clover!). I then glanced down the hallway and saw this:

That is my new blueish grey wall, a paint color that we apparently discussed - and I dismissed - back in our apartment-living days. It looks a lot more blue in the photo than it does in person. Dan decided it was the perfect wall for the color because it would make the pictures stand out more, and I have to agree. I really love it. But you'd better believe I checked the yard and the rest of the house for any more surprises, horses in particular. Don't worry, there weren't any.

Have your husbands every surprised you with a home decorating project and/or pet purchase?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My delusions will become reality

Dan and I watch a lot of cooking shows. Our favorites are the competition shows, especially with Gordon Ramsay. His flair is "stunning." We love when a mystery ingredient is revealed - we look at each other and ask, "what would you make?" When we're bored in the car, we play "Chopped" where we try to come up with the most jacked up combinations of foods (ribs, Cheerios, passion fruit and Jello, anyone?) to see what the other would make with them. It's a nerdy little thing we do, and cuisine is something we're both interested in.

All the cooking shows have ignited this fabulously inflated perception that I actually could cook like a chef. The reality is, we eat crock pot chicken weekly and I sometimes over-cook asparagus. While I may never actually get to go to culinary school, I'm inspired to at least try to expand my horizons and learn some new techniques. I've been keeping a mental list of things I see that I want to learn to make, and I've decided to create a sort of bucket list and challenge myself to learn them. Not perfect, but try. It may not be fabulous, but I want to at least give these foods a shot. Now some of these may make you say "pshaw, I make that in my sleep." Well, I don't. Feel free to share your recipe :)

My Cooking To-Do List:

  • Risotto

  • Lemon curd

  • Ravioli from scratch

  • Mascarpone

  • Live lobster

  • Tiramisu

  • A grown-up Mac'n'Cheese

  • Cornish game hen (just 'cause it sounds fancy)

  • Beef Wellington

  • Caesar dressing

  • Ceviche

  • Crabcakes

  • Trifle

  • Red wine reduction (I know! I should know how to do this)

  • 3 gluten free dessert recipes

  • Shrimp tempura sushi roll

  • French onion soup

  • Hollandaise sauce (I don't like it, but I feel like I should know how to make it)

  • Stuffed french toast (a Chopped staple)

  • Homemade tortillas

  • Caramel

This list will, I'm sure, be expanded. These are just the items I've added to my mental list over the last few weeks, and I'm sure I'll come up with more. But I think it's a good starting point.

What's on your cooking to-do list?