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?