Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wake Me Up When September Ends

I heard Green Day's Wake Me Up When September Ends the other day, and I suddenly related to it differently. It's stayed with me ever since.

In a way, I would love to go to sleep and wake up at the end of September... I need a break from all of these dr appts and tests and reminders. I need a break from what has happened in general. October would be a good month to skip to... We've been hopeful for what October might bring us in this journey of healing and moving on.

But when I considered the rest of the words, not just that one phrase, most of it seemed to be applicable, as well. Just take out the part about his father since our situation has to do with little lives lost instead...and the rest describes a lot about our year. Although we had two losses prior to this last one, we were still very excited and hopeful this spring as we were pregnant once again and stayed pregnant longer than the last two times. We were nervous but still hopeful and getting to the point where we felt things were really going to work...when we lost this baby as we were about to head into the second trimester. We have lost a lot of that naivete and innocence about how much really goes into keeping those babies alive while they grow inside of me. This experience has changed who we are in so many ways, and it continues to change us. At this time, in all of this pain and confusion and just being overwhelmed with everything we're dealing with, I just want a break from it. Some days, going to sleep and waking up a month later doesn't sound like the worst idea...

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my fathers come to pass
seven years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests 
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

ring out the bells again
like we did when spring began
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my father's come to pass
twenty years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking for God

I've realized that it's just not easy to notice God's blessings when you're going through something that completely rips your world to shreds. God's blessings are all around us, but sometimes you have to be ready to recognize them, or at least know to make yourself notice them.

Even though it's June and is, what, 100 degrees outside, Aiden asked me to read God Gave Us Christmas the other day. It's one of our favorite Christmas stories because it focuses on what we feel is the real meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ. There is mention of Santa Claus, but the mama character in the story tries to take the focus off Santa without bashing the idea of him, and brings forward the focus of God and Jesus. When Little Cub wants to go out and find Santa, mama says Santa is hard to find..but God is easy to find; God is everywhere. So, they set off on an adventure to find God and learn how God gave us Christmas. He's part of the Northern Lights, a glacier falling into the sea, a bright star shining in the darkness, and many other things they see and experience on their trip.

After reading this, I felt the need to get outside and feel some sunshine on us. Aiden wasn't really in the mood to go outside (that kid is content to stay inside most of the time!), but when I suggested we go out and "find God" ourselves, he loved that idea. So, off we went. And we found God in many things...the wind blowing through our hair, the feel of the sun on our backs, the flowers (weeds) growing along the road. I found Him in my little boy that ran and giggled in front of me.

Yesterday, Aiden asked if we could go out and find God again. Off we went for a walk around the neighborhood. As soon as we felt a breeze on our faces, Aiden whispered, "Do you feel that, mama?"

"That's God."

That kid really makes me smile.

So, this week I've learned that amidst all this difficulty and sadness and confusion going on around us, we have to stop and intentionally notice God's blessings. They're there. I've found God in several things this week... My littlest child laughing, his cuddles as we read bedtime stories. My husband, cooking yet another dinner (he has done all of the cooking since my HG kicked in a month ago) or running out to pick up something my stomach could tolerate when I couldn't eat dinner. My oldest son stopping to give me a big hug out of nowhere. The garbage man telling me I have a beautiful smile. My youngest asking to go find God and telling me where he feels Him.

Last night, I crawled into bed and felt a little person snuggle into me. Aiden has been sleeping in our bed since I got pregnant. He doesn't know I'm pregnant, but he did notice how things changed when I got sick. Sadly, he got less attention from me because I just wasn't able to do some of the things I usually do with him. I think he felt the need to be closer to me and therefore found his way back into our bed. As soon as I climb in, even though he's already asleep, he pushes his body against mine and sleeps close to me all night. Last night, he did the same, and as I lay there in the dark, I felt his soft breathing against my arm. I just let myself lie there and enjoy feeling his breath, and I felt as if I could almost hear him say, "Do you feel that, mama? That's God."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Six months of hell. And counting.

Lots of folks are wondering what has been going on with us lately. We've been waiting and hoping to share some good news, but it seems like we're going to have to wait a bit longer for that. So, we'll just come on and tell it without the good.

We've been trying to grow our family. And while we're apparently pretty fertile, we're not having luck with staying pregnant, for some reason. I have now had three miscarriages. All in the last six months. One in January. Another in early April, over Easter weekend. We are currently pregnant, and the second ultrasound that took place on Friday, showed the baby no longer has a beating heart and stopped growing probably a couple weeks ago. A missed miscarriage - the baby has died but my body hasn't figured it out yet, still acts like I'm pregnant. I believe at this point I can say, without being dramatic, that this has been the worst year of my life. Throw in most emotional, as well.

I had high hopes for 2012, but so far, it has not been good to us.

As you can imagine, we are crushed. broken. confused. defeated. worn down. These babies were so, so very wanted. There are tons of emotions going through us. I dealt with a lot of anger with the first miscarriage. Several days and nights were spent with me screaming at God, cursing at Him, throwing things at him (all in my mind)... I know He can handle all the anger I can throw at Him, and I needed to be able to go through that. Mostly now we're sad and confused and trying to sort through all other kinds of emotions and thoughts running through us.

We're also trying to make decisions about what is our next step in regards to miscarrying the baby (naturally or surgically); we're leaning toward allowing my body to try to do this naturally before relying on surgery. Meanwhile, I am still dealing with relentless nausea and taking medication for that. I have hyperemesis gravidarum, which means I have extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancies. This time around, it has been "mild," meaning I have mostly had the extreme, nonstop nausea which has been handled mostly by medication, though I'm still very restricted on what I'm able to stomach. We've worried that the mild HG might be an indication that this pregnancy would not last, but after the first ultrasound showing a heartbeat, we were more hopeful and considered me lucky with less severe symptoms this time. Regardless, it seems like some cruel joke that I've had to deal with these symptoms for a month now and will continue to have them until after the miscarriage has finished and my hcg levels return to zero, however long that will take, assuming we do it naturally. How unfair to have these symptoms when nothing is even coming from them.

As much as I hate to admit it, I kind of tried not to get as attached to this baby. But...how do you even do that?? It's nearly impossible. Ok, it is impossible - for me, at least. Lately I decided to give up on that and instead think positively and tell that little one to hang in there. I guess it doesn't really matter, and things will happen the way they're going to happen regardless. I've tried from the start of this pregnancy (which we found out about at less than three weeks along, so very early on) to prepare myself to lose another baby, but again, how do you do that? Nothing at all prepares you to lie there and see the screen with the ultrasound images, knowing the baby is supposed to have developed more, hearing nothing but silence. Until the ultrasound tech says it out loud and shows where the heartbeat should be seen. Nothing prepares you for that.

We have been fortunate to have wonderful friends and family supporting us through all of this over the last several months. The doctors office we have chosen has been incredible, as well. We chose the office specifically for its VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) reputation. Last year, we chose to put off having this baby for a year until we could change insurance to be able to see the doctors at that office. We love them for their views on VBACs and natural birth methods, but they have also been amazing in helping us deal with the first two miscarriages, preparing for HG and dealing with it during this pregnancy, and now are helping immensely as we figure out how to handle this next miscarriage. I've been so pleased with their friendly approach and just reaching out to me. Some have hugged me when they knew I was scared, some remembered me from blood work after the first miscarriage (when we returned for more blood work during this third pregnancy, months later), I have been reassured they are there to support me and answer any questions, however small or silly I might consider them to be. I have just felt so welcomed and supported there, which means more than I can say. We'll be seeing them more soon, of course, as we now meet the requirements for "recurrent miscarriage" and all the testing that goes along with trying to find out why suddenly I can't seem to stay pregnant. I've never had problems like this before, and we feel we are at our healthiest right now, so we're more than confused as to why this is happening now. Hopefully we can find some answers, though we know those odds aren't really in our favor. Most of the time, the cause is unknown.

Why post about something so personal, you might be wondering... I don't feel like this is something that should be taboo to talk about, for one thing. So many women have miscarriages, and despite how common it really is, it is the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. It is emotionally and physically painful. Nobody should have to deal with it at all, but especially no one should go through it alone. While many of our friends do know about this, so many do not. And we're at the point where it will be harder and more exhausting to act as if things are great when we're around people who don't know than it would be just to say it is happening. I have a hard time putting up a facade and pretending things are ok when my world is falling apart. When we share what we're living through, we also are allowing others to pray for us and help us through this. This is not something we want to go through alone, and we don't wish to cut ourselves off from others who can help. Even though several friends and family do know about what we've been going through over the last 6 months, it's still been very easy to feel lonely. In fact, it's been a really lonely time for me, despite the support we have had. I can't imagine going through this with no support and how isolated one could easily feel. I've realized, since we shared the news of our first miscarriage with others close to us, that opening up about it helps others to open up about what they have been through or are even currently experiencing. I can't help but think maybe if more of us speak out about these things, someone else might feel comfortable reaching out and might feel less alone in their own pain from similar experiences.

In case you're wondering about the boys... Camden does know about this. He's too old to hide it from, and he's known about everything from the beginning. I don't think he quite knows how to feel about the losses, and he is very confused about why it keeps happening. He's at a good age, I guess, where he can understand logically what is going on and knows we're upset, but he isn't quite at the point where it truly upsets him a lot (and that's fine with us; we don't want him to be too upset about this). Aiden, however, is too young to get it, we believe. We haven't told him about the losses or the latest pregnancy, even though he knew I was sick. He was there when we had the ultrasound on Friday, and he had to witness me breaking down with the news about the baby. Thankfully, he has just accepted hearing that "mommy is sad" when he sees me crying, and he doesn't really question it. He's asked about the doctor and what they've said to me, but he has been ok with answers such as "mommy is ok" or that the doctor will help make me feel better. I feel bad not being completely honest with him, but we really don't think he would understand what is going on at his age. And honestly, maybe a part of this is that we're not sure how to deal with talking to a very young child about this. (Any others that have dealt with something like this are welcome to chime in with their thoughts.) 

So, here we are... We're not sure what the next few weeks will be like for us. I still have this baby in me that is not growing. Hopefully things can happen naturally, as we feel that is best and safest in many ways. But if we need to go through with it, we also have a D and C as a last resort. Either way, there will be pain. Lots of pain and lots of different kinds of pain. And then testing. And waiting for healing before we can move forward with trying again. I'm now realizing how naive I have always been about pregnancy. While I've always been in awe of how amazing it is, I'm now acutely aware of how difficult it truly is for all the million things that need to fall into place just right in order for a healthy baby to grow inside of my body. I have faith that we will have a successful pregnancy and have this next baby one day. We're not ready to give up. Our family is not yet complete. I don't understand at all why things are happening this way (trust me, I ask "why?" at least every five seconds), but I hope that one day I will be able to make more sense of it all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Time Away

I know it seems as if I just keep disappearing. (Or does anyone even notice that? Haha! Not sure how many people are reading this regularly anyway, to be honest...) But there's always a good reason, or so I think. We've been dealing with some stuff in our family lately, and I've just needed some time "off" from a lot of things. I've needed to disconnect with more of the on-line stuff and just be with my family. Many of our close friends and family know what's been going on (and if you're thinking, "well, I thought I was a close friend, but I really don't know what's happening," then please don't take it that way and please feel free to get in touch with us and just ask). I'm not being secretive about this or keeping it to just our immediate family. I actually am that person who does reach out and asks for support and prayers. And I've done that some with this. But I'm not posting about it publicly right now. I hope to post some other regular posts soon, but for now, I'm focusing on some other things that are ranked a higher with our family. Meanwhile, whether you know what's going on or not, whether you ask or want to know or not, we would really appreciate your prayers. Or good thoughts. Or whatever it is you do. :) Thanks, all!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Green Cleaning: Furniture Polish

I've never really liked dusting. I've actually always kind of hated it, especially when there is so little dust you can't even tell. I like for things to be dirty if I have to clean them! I like to be able to see a difference so I know there was a good reason to put that effort into it. BUT dusting is a must in this house with a couple of us having some pretty strong allergies to dust (or dust mites, to be specific, but it sounds kind of gross when you add in the mites part...). I also hate using cleaners that are full of toxic ingredients that could harm my child (or myself). So, I make our furniture polish. It's very easy, as most green cleaners are, and works super well. I actually have two recipes, since you'll need different ingredients based on the type of furniture. And actually, they both have the same ingredients, just varying amounts. Let's get to it...and then get to cleaning!

There are four ingredients. Three are shown here, with a bottle of one of the cleaners mixed up. Water (purified is best), vinegar, olive oil, and pure essential lemon oil. That's it! You probably have most of these on hand already. Don't have the lemon oil (use the real stuff, not just lemon scented somethingorother)...you can use vanilla. Or leave it out. It's not a necessary ingredient.

Furniture Polish - This is good for general, weekly polishing, especially with finished woods.

In 16oz bottle, add:
2 tsp olive oil
20 drops or more pure essential lemon oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

Fill the rest of the bottle with purified water. 
Shake well before each use, as the oil and vinegar will separate. 
Spray directly on a rag or on the furniture.

Wood Furniture Polish - This is good for unfinished or lightly finished woods. 

In a small squirt bottle (not a spray bottle), add:
3/4 cup oilive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar,
50 drops or 1/4 tsp pure essential lemon oil (or pure vanilla extract)

Shake before each use. 
Pour onto rag and then apply to wood.

There you have it! Very easy. And these polishes are great! I've already converted a couple friends (some who were quite fond of their other furniture polish and weren't sure they would like this - but they loved it!). Hopefully this will convince a few more folks out there to try it, as well! ;)

And for a little fun... I'll throw in a picture of me getting ready to clean the cabin we visited last fall. Aiden got super sick as soon as we arrived (even with the allergy medicine we brought along), due to the dust hiding under the beds, behind furniture, along baseboards, on things like this...
These kinds of things are really cute, yeah. But the first thing that crosses my mind when I see them? Dust! Big-time dust collectors. This is why you will not find these things in our house. Cute. But not good for folks with dust (mite) allergies. You can't clean these things!

And here I am. Pretty, huh? I'm ready to go in fighting and tackle that dust! Since I have the same allergies, I have to wear a mask when cleaning. Even with the mask this time, I still could feel it affecting my nose and sinuses for the rest of the day. Thankfully I took along my neti pot, which helped clean it out some. And the mask helped a lot, regardless. Plus, it's a great fashion statement, no? ;) We didn't use all the ingredients for the spray above, since we were in the middle of nowhere (we drove an hour one-way just to get the vinegar and swiffer!), so I just used a bucket and dumped in water and vinegar. Great ingredients when you're lacking anything else!

That child of mine woke hourly the first two nights, crying because he couldn't stop coughing and sneezing. After I cleaned, he slept all night long without waking once. That's how I get paid for my job. Definitely worth it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back in the game. Post-Holiday return!

So, I guess it's time to get back into things here on the blog, huh? I've taken enough time "off," I suppose! I know a lot of folks post a bunch around Christmas, but we have had such an incredibly busy winter with Christmas prep (including making our yearly photo book, which I always put off and then need about a month to make it just in time), lots of sinus infections, Christmas travel (and I'm not going to blog while visiting family out of state - it's my time to just be with family and that's all), and Ryan working LOTS of overtime. During the first half of January, Camden is also tracked out of school, so we've been busy doing things while he is home this month, as well. Lots of good things (some not so fun things) going on lately. BUT it's time to get back into it here...

We did have a great Christmas, even if it was more rushed and full of allergies than we would have liked.

Before we even went anywhere, though, we had stuff to do at home...

Teacher gifts! Camden's in middle school now, so he has a LOT of teachers (and we have to add in some extras, of course, such as all of the librarians because he is always there and has gotten to know them pretty well). We made some hot cocoa mix, made snowmen marshmallows, and put it all together in a mason jar. Camden wrote a personal letter to each teacher to add in with the card. I hope they all liked their gift!! I know some people don't give gifts once the kids are in middle school. I just can't stop, though. These teachers work so hard every day, working with classrooms full of kids. And middle schoolers! Those cannot be easy some days! ;) I wish I could give so much more than a cute mason jar with hot cocoa!! They deserve so much more.

We also gave one to the mailman. We waited for him one afternoon (to make sure it was our regular guy, too!), and then ran out when he was approaching our house. Aiden ran, holding the jar (with me behind hoping he did not drop it!), yelling "Merry Christmas!!" And let me tell you, that mailman was grinning and taken by surprise and said to us, "You all just made my day." And that most certainly made mine!

Photo coasters I made for the grandparents. They all got a few of the same, and then they each got some others that we picked out specifically for them. That's a lot of coasters, you say? Well, there are four sets of grandparents (and we also made a few for Camden's biological father and his family). Each set of grandparents got six coasters, so...yeah, that's a lot of coasters!

Aiden with his very own (felt) Christmas tree that we made together one afternoon. And an apple. And cheesy grin. :)

We went to KY and WV for Christmas to be with all of our parents (there are four sets, so divide that up between 10 days, and it can get pretty busy!). Our first full day in KY, we visited with my great grandmother, who turned 92 in January. I had to hold back tears during the whole visit and afterward... Seeing her and just talking and hanging out really made me miss being back closer to all of my extended family. Made me miss "home."

 Does she not look absolutely amazing at 92 years old?! 
(I hope this runs in the family...)

Family stop #1 - My dad, stepmom, and sister

 My sister and my son... We took this because they accidentally matched. I love it because I never realized how much they look alike! It's kind of crazy, and I'm not sure how I didn't see it before!

Cousins. Two of my brother's kids hanging out with mine. They even make the same goofy faces...

 Aiden checking out the gifts I made for all the grandparents. 
This is my mom and stepdad. Christmas morning.

 Friends. BEST Friends. I'm lucky to have these folks in my life. 
More people to make me miss "home."

These little guys almost have no choice but to be best friends. 
Good thing they don't seem to mind!
They spent two entire evenings just running around the house together. 
Such a joy to see!

 Ryan's mom opening her homemade grandparent gift.

 And his dad and stepmom, too. 
(Note to self, taking a break from pictures to 
enjoy the moments means you come home with less pictures, wishing you took more.)

Getting ready to leave for home. We kept trying to get some good family shots. This one is great because it shows...neither child looking at the camera and both looking kind of silly, mama has some super swollen eyes thanks to allergies, and daddy is the only half-normal looking one here (and he's looking pretty good!).

We had a blast, got to see a lot of folks not pictured, and just enjoyed being with family for the holidays. Part of it was sad for me because, for the second year in a row, we had to miss extended family gatherings on my mom's and dad's sides of the family. (I have a huge family. Christmas is the only time I get to see much of them, since we live in another state. Unfortunately, Christmas gatherings with all of them happened when we weren't able to be there due to school schedules, etc. That was a bit tough.) It was nice getting home, though. Aiden got homesick while we were traveling, and after a couple nights kept saying he wanted to be back home in his own bed. Who knows, maybe one day we won't have to travel so much to see our family...

Now on to the new year! I've got lots of posts to get on here soon!! There are some awesome giveaways in the works already. Always lots going on. Just wish there was lots more time, right?! ;)