Monday, April 28, 2014

Woohoo! More Company!

I loaded up a package for our nieces and nephews for Easter.  Your welcome, parents.
My brother's family came and visited us over Easter weekend.  And my brother helped me check off something from my honey-do list.  He changed out some light fixtures in our kitchen, with a little help from his inquisitive shadow.
Snick loved all the attention she got from a couple of the boys.  T wasn't very interested in being around the dogs at all, so M kept an eye on Snick so she wouldn't go close to him.
We made Jell-o Jigglers in this handy dandy Tupperware mold.  I found it in my box of samples that I still have from when I sold Tupperware and decided it was finally time to put it to use.
They made animal shapes.  Sometimes you had to get creative to guess what they were :)
So, I was not very smart when I started buying toys from our toy box.  I chose all these "cute" toys with TONS of pieces.    I really need to come up with a better organizing system for this.
M & K had fun helping Uncle Jake getting the planter ready for corn.
They also enjoyed watching the cattle.

And going fishing with Daddy.
And T very much enjoyed his smoothie for breakfast. :)
This is what I got when I asked him to smile for the camera.  Thanks Uncle Trevor!  You shouldn't teach him such things!
K worn out from the busy day.  He's trying his hardest to keep his eyes open and not miss anything.
Us with the kiddos.
The kiddos on Easter morning.
My little miss L.  She is just such a sweetheart!

We hope you all had a blessed Easter as well!  (Yes, I do realize I am a week behind)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

We Are 1 in 8 {National Infertility Awareness Week}

I have to be honest here, and tell you that this is a very hard post for me to write.  I have started and erased it half a dozen times.  I don't know where to begin.  I don't know what to say.  I don't want to make you guys uncomfortable since this is not a very talked about topic.  But I do want you to know and be aware that infertility is a very real diagnosis that affects us and those around us.  I apologize ahead of time if what I say here causes any offense.  I am just going to be totally honest and share what we have been through.  And hopefully it can help you understand us and maybe if you have other friends struggling with infertility, you can have a little insight on what to say or not to say.  Or just how to act around them.  I can tell it is hard for other people to know what to say around me when the baby subject comes up.  And I totally understand that all comments & questions are not meant to be hurtful.  So my prayer is that this post will come across in a positive way and that you might gain some infertility knowledge when you are done reading.

It is National Infertility Awareness Week and statistics show that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility.  Infertility just means that they have been trying unsuccessfully for 1 year.  So here is a little bit about our story.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency.  This is a problem with my body's inability to manage hormones correctly.  It is likely auto-immune related.  If anyone remembers when I was growing up I got the hives for 365 consecutive days and the only thing that would make them go away was a drug that shut my immune system down, this would make sense. I was referred to a RE (reproductive Endocrinologist) and tried unsuccessfully to get my body to respond to high doses of hormones.  We have a 5-10% chance of conceiving naturally, according to medical statistics.  But we know God does not care what the statistics are.  We were told our only options were adoption or using an egg donor and that when we decided what we wanted to do, to come back.  The emotions started rolling in at this point.  I believe I bawled all the way home.  I felt like we were given a terminal illness diagnosis.  I mean, how could someone that comes from such a big family have fertility problems?  Why us?  It's not fair!  What did I ever do to deserve this?  We are a Christian family, God should bless us with children.  It was like I felt like we deserved to have a family and others didn't.  Thankfully, God has brought me a long ways since that point in my life.

There are a lot of adoption options out there, which means a lot of dishonest/shady agencies as well.  To go through the adoption process with a reliable well known agency in the US is anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000.  International adoption is about 2 times that.  Using an egg donor is anywhere form $15,000- $20,000.  So not much cheaper.  We decided we were going to have to wait on starting a family.  We also prayed and talked about it, and decided egg donor was not right for us.
In the meantime, we heard about Embryo Adoption.  We are in the process of doing lots of research and praying to see if this is the right option for us.  We are willing to follow wherever God directs us.  Please pray for us.
Now, I would just like to share a few things not to say to someone struggling with infertility.  I will just give you a heads up that I have said most of these things before I knew what they really meant,  So, please, don't feel bad if you are guilty of any of these.  Just learn from it and move forward.

1. "You could always just adopt."  And so could you.  It's not that easy.  You don't just fill out some paperwork and they hand you a beautiful healthy baby.  Adoption is hard.  It is heart wrenching.  It is life changing.  It is not easy.  It is not a smooth process.  It takes lots of money.  It takes lots of faith.  And if this is in God's plan for you, He will definitely help you through it.  But you can't "just adopt".

2. "Just relax.  If you stop thinking about it, it will happen."  Really?  This is a medical diagnosis.  Not a mental block.  If this were the case, I would take a vacation and come back pregnant.

3. "You have time." or "You're still young."  I am well aware of my age.  5 years has already passed since we started this journey.  Then what?  Another 5?  Then another?  My 5-10% chance goes down every year that my age goes up.  It will only get harder.  Then if you want to have more than 2 kids and not be 60 when they graduate high school.  You kind of have to take that into consideration.

4.  "I wish I had that problem.  My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant."  Yes.  I have heard this one.  Just don't.

5.  "You're lucky you don't have kids.  You can just go whenever you want."  Again, just don't.  We know our lives would change should we be blessed with kids someday.  We know we would have to watch our finances closer.  We know it would take longer to get anywhere or to do anything.  We know they are messy.  We know they are loud.  We know this.  Please don't make your blessings sound like a curse.

6.  "Maybe you're not meant to be parents."  This one really hurts.  A lot.  If this were true, why are there abusive parents out there that have children?  Are they meant to be parents?  Teenage moms & dads.  Are they meant to be parents?  No one knows but God why bad things happen to good people.  We truly believe that our struggle has a reason and when we are able to hold our baby in our arms someday, we will know why.

7.  "You can be a mother to your friends kids, or nieces and nephews."   I would rather just be their aunt or friend.  Not a 2nd mom.  It hurts when people assume that since we don't have our own kids, that when we all get together we enjoy being at the kids table.  That we would rather be in the corner babysitting your kids while you laugh and have conversations with other adults.  We love your kids dearly, we would just prefer to parent our own.

8.  "It could be worse."  This is "worse" for me.  I have dreamed of having a family since I was a little girl.  This is like saying, "It could be worse.  Both of your parents could have died in the car accident."  What is worse for you is not what is worse for me and vice versa.  So please just refrain from saying that.

Now here are some ideas of things you can say or ways you can help.

1.  Text, call, message, write.  Just a simple note of encouragement is nice.  We like to know that you recognize our struggle and that it is not awkward to talk to us about this subject.  Just a simple "We're praying for you" is nice.

2.  Plan a kid free evening.  This may sound rather selfish, but sometimes we just need to feel that we aren't the odd ducks in the room.  And maybe the conversation doesn't have to revolve around kids, sleeping patterns, Carter's sales, and discipline so much.

3. Support our decisions.  Whatever they may be.  Whether we decide to do embryo adoption or domestic adoption, please let us know you support us and that you pray for God's will to be done in our lives.  You can ask me how things are going.  I really don't mind talking about it if I know you are interested in listening.  There may be some tears, but that's okay.  I need to know you care.

4.  Encourage us on Mother's Day/Father's Day  This might seem hard for you to do.  It may seem awkward.  But it means so much to us!  Just a simple "We said an extra prayer for you on this special day" is nice.

5.  Be patient.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster for 5 years now.  Sometimes I may seem distant.  Sometimes I may be sad.  Please try to understand.  I wish this wasn't how I was.  I am working through these emotions a little at a time and I really do think it is getting better.  But I still have my days.  I probably always will.  It's not something I can just bury and move on.  So, please, be patient with me.

6.  Become informed.  If you don't know, ask.  I am more than willing to share what I have learned through all of this.  I would like to encourage anyone that wants to become informed to read Hannah's Hope.  This book was loaned to me by a friend who also struggles with infertility.  There are so many positive things in there about how family and friends can help that I believe would be beneficial.

^^^This is so true.

I hope this post doesn't make you feel like you need to walk on egg shells around me.  I was trying to do the exact opposite.  Now that I feel like I have put this all out in the open, maybe it will help in the healing process.  Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to talk to me if you want more information or me to clarify anything I said!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{Gray & Yellow} Baby Shower

I am slightly behind on my blogging as this shower was several weeks ago, but here are all the details!
I designed this invitation on Photoshop for the brunch shower.
 I made the banners by designing the pendants on Photoshop and printed them out, then used gray and yellow fabric and cut out pendants slightly larger than the printed version.

 I sewed the paper pendants on the fabric pendants.
I also made the tissue paper pom poms, but unfortunately don't have any pictures of making them.  You can find a tutorial HERE .
I used mini clothespins to hang the banners.  One banner said Baby Kraft and the other said Mama To Be.
 My super talented friend Liz made this super cute diaper owl.  Isn't it adorable?
 We taped a piece of paper under 4 random chairs and they got to participate in the baby food tasting game.  We used Berry Applesauce, Pears, Green Beans, and Sweet Potatos.  Barb, Marissa (mama-to-be), Ester, and Crystal were good sports!  Thank you!

 Guess which one Ester just tried?  Yep, the green beans!  They were by far the worst!

 I also designed this game sheet for the price is right.  The guests had to guess the current price of each of these items.

We set up this little station so they could go ahead and get started while we finished prepping the food.
 Haley & Nyla
 Alex ~ Liz ~ Me... Hostesses
 Our brunch menu consisted up Mini Egg Bagel Bites, Mini Quice, Mini Cinnamon Rolls, Mini Fruit Kabobs, Mini Fruit Parfaits, Mini Lemon & Blueberry Muffins, and Little Smokies.

Sadly, I don't have a picture with the Mama To Be as I was busy behind the scenes :(

Monday, April 21, 2014

Surprise Weekend Guests

I pulled it off!  I actually was able to surprise Jacob with some very good friends of ours from Illinois.  Jake has been trying to get them to come out for well over 3 years now, and it has never worked.  He has tried to get them to meet us in Iowa and surprise me, or come out here and surprise me.  So Erika and I decided to turn it around on him and surprise him for his birthday a few weeks early.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go until Friday morning.  He needed to run to town for some errands and I needed some groceries, so we went to Emporia after I got off work.  They showed up while we were gone and I had him help me carry in groceries.  There they were in our kitchen with a cake, candles, party hats, and noise makers.  It worked out great!
Jacob, the perfectionist that he is, had to get the tape measure out to cut all pieces equally.  He has memories of when he was younger and if you divided the piece of gum, candy, etc. in half then the other person got to choose which piece they wanted first.  So he HAD to make sure this was fair.

I just love that sweet Nora sucks on her two fingers and plays with her ear when she is tired.  

Ty and Jake were BFF's this weekend.  He wanted to wear Jake's boots around the house.

Best buddies here.  They were leaving and Ty said, "Bye Jake, I want to give you a hug."  It was SO cute!

Me and Ty.  Doesn't he look vicious! 

And Nora, with her signature look.

Thanks for making the extra effort to travel with the kids and come see us!  We are so blessed to have such great friends!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friends from Iowa

We were blessed with a visit from some close friends a couple weekends ago!  All the kiddos got along so well and enjoyed playing together!

And we had a wonderful time catching up.  The weather was so beautiful that we ended up walking almost 10 miles that day.  When you get to talking, you don't notice how far you go.  

Austin showed me his "tail".  He kept telling us he had a tail.

Austin was also a BIG help on the farm.  He helped Jake and his dad get the planter ready for the season.  He is such a little man.  Sunday morning, Jake was shaving and Austin was decked out in his church clothes, and he came to Jake and said, "Are you gonna need my help today?" :)

I winked at Austin and he tried to do it back, so cute!  Another Austin story.  At the breakfast table he wanted to sit by Jake.  Jake was talking to Carl and Austin kept haying, "Hey! Hey!"  I said, "What do you want Austin?"  He said, "I'm not talking to you.  I'm talking to Jake."  Well Austin, Jake is smitten with you too!

Miss Ellie ready to go to church.

All the kids together.  They have made friendships for life!

Jake took them to the fire station after church so they could see the fire trucks. 

We enjoyed the weekend so much!  It is always a blessing to get to spend time with friends!