Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Sister's Bridal Shower

My sister is getting married in February.  Technically, I am her matron of honor.  But if you call me that, I might throw something at you.  At the very least I'll shoot you a very nasty look.  I think I'll stick with maid of honor, thank you very much!  

So, obviously, as the maid of honor, it was my duty to throw the best bridal shower ever!  I don't think I've ever been to a winter bridal shower, so I wasn't exactly sure how to start planning.  Many of the "shower-y" things I kept thinking up didn't seem appropriate for a cold day in January.

But a hot chocolate bar was perfect for a winter bridal shower!  We decided to offer two different types of hot chocolate and then some spiced cider, too.

But a plain old mug of hot chocolate isn't much fun without toppings!  Here's what you see in the pictures below:
*Rum Chata - not my personal favorite, but everyone else loves it!
*Peppermint Schapps - now you're speaking my love language...peppermint and chocolate.  YUM!
*Bailey's - no explanation needed here....absolutely divine!
*Spiced Rum - if you haven't had hot cider with some spiced rum, you are really missing out.
*Homemade whipped cream - What can I say?  My mom is a rockstar.
*Marshmallow straws - The marshmallows in the green Sixlets are topped with chocolate and crushed peppermint.  The marshmallows in the purple Sixlets are topped with caramel and sea salt.  

Another view of the hot chocolate bar...

And, winter bridal shower or not, as far as I'm concerned a bridal shower is not complete without mimosas!  We only did three different flavors because of the hot chocolate bar.  There was definitely plenty for people to drink!

For the record, my mother is amazing.  She made the quiches and all the breads.  She set up this beautiful table!  Pretty sure this shower wouldn't have been nearly as yummy had my mom not helped so much!

I made Meredith a monogram and put her new last name down the side.  I think it turned out really cute!  I also took some old wine bottles (turns out I have quite the supply of empty wine bottles in my recycle box) and spray painted them.  The gold ones turned out much prettier than the purple ones.  

I used some hot glue to put designs on the bottles before I painted them.  I think I liked them better plain, though.  Writing with hot glue is not the easiest thing in the world!

Oh my.  These were DE.LI.CIOUS.

We had fruit salad, too.  How adorable are the heart-shaped watermelon pieces?!  It's silly, I know, but they're one of my favorite parts of the whole shower!  Oh, the power of a heart-shaped cookie cutter!
For party favors, we bought some super cheap mugs ($1 a piece, people!) and some Sharpie paint pens.  Everyone got to decorate their own mug and then use it for the hot chocolate bar!  We made sure to tell everyone they needed to bake it when they got home, though, to make it permanent.  I also had a date night jar for my sister to take home.  Everyone wrote a fun date night idea on a stick and put it in the jar.  Meredith read all of the date night ideas when she was opening presents.  There were some great ideas in that little jar!

I put the directions for the mug decorating on one of the mugs!

Do you ever start a project because you want things to be perfect only to realize half way through the project that you've made a mistake?  That happens to me ALL.THE.TIME.  I like things to be perfect, so when I printed out a banner for the shower and the background looked yellow instead of brown I just couldn't leave it alone!  So I attacked it, with black Sharpie in hand.  Hours later, I finally finished fixing this dang thing and then I forgot to take a picture of it!  So, here's my crummy picture of the most time consuming, labor intensive part of the shower.  Dang banner.

I colored in each of the shapes in the background.  Then you couldn't see the numbers, so I got a gold Sharpie and outlined them.  It turned out really pretty, but probably not worth the time (and hand cramps!) required.  I'd like to say "lesson learned", but I know better than that.  So does my husband. 

We also did a video of Meredith's fiancĂ©.  I asked him questions like, 
"What's Meredith's favorite junk food?"
"What would Meredith say is your most annoying habit?"
"When did you know she was the one?"

There was lots of laughing with some of his responses.  I'm not a fan of games at showers, but the video provides lots of together time for Meredith and her guests and lots of laughter. 
Then it was time to open presents!

After the shower, this happened.  My cousin's adorable little girl was very focused on her tablet.  I can't help but share these sweet pictures!

Now that we have all of these awesome pictures, a Shutterfly photobook will be a great way to remember the day!  I love lots of little photobooks to remember special events!  It takes very little effort by me, and I end up with a beautiful memory!  Don't tell, but I'm going to use the photobook as part of her wedding gift!

Love this picture of my mom, sister and me!  Congratulations, Meredith!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Winter Survival Guide

This week has been stupid cold in Kansas City.  And by stupid cold, I mean stupid cold.  So for everyone else out there just barely surviving the winter, here are some must haves!

If you do not currently own a heated throw, you must stop everything you're doing and go get one of these!  Mine was a Christmas present from my mom, and quite possibly the best present I have ever received!  I'm always cold and this throw has been a lifesaver!  The cats happen to love it, too.  

Mine is from Kohl's.

Your next winter survival must have: fleece lined thermal top and pants.  You will never want to take these off.  There are times when I wear them under my clothes to work and then wear them to bed.  And then repeat.  Before you get to judgey, put them off and then tell me you don't want to wear them 24/7 for the next three months. You can find these at Bass Pro.

And when you're looking for a hot drink, there's nothing better than a steaming hot chai tea latte.  We love the chai tea mixes from Costco.  YUMMY!

Michael's contribution to our Winter Survival Guide is just go to Alabama.  Shocker, right?  :-)
Stay warm out there!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Two Week Wait

I think one of the hardest parts of infertility is the Two Week Wait (also known as the TWW).  You've monitored your cycle to the point of ridiculous.  You've taken crazy medicines that mess with your emotions.  You've likely given yourself a shot....or two....or fifty (Or in my case acted like a baby while my husband gave me my one trigger shot.  Lord help me if we do IVF and I have to have a shot daily.).  You've had your procedure.  For me that's the lovely IUI (intrauterine insemination) and the oh-so fun cramping that accompanies it.  You've been busy for two weeks, and now all there's left to do is wait.  Sit and do nothing.  And wait.


Seriously.  We can are freaking sending rockets to outer space for the soul purpose to colonize Mars, but we can't find a way to shorten this stupid waiting game!  UGH!  (I almost compared our lack of technology in the TWW to putting a man on the moon, but that's so 1985.  {Please read that with a valley girl accent.  It's how I'm saying it in my head.}  I needed to be overly dramatic in my comparison, because in the waiting, everything feels overly dramatic.  And, let's be honest, because I have a tendency to be on the overdramatic side of life at times.  So in my quest for a really impressive comparison, I asked Michael, "What is the most amazing feat of technology you think we have created as a human race?".  His response?  "The plunger."  I have no words.  And I came up with my own comparison.  Mars it is.)

Back to the point of this post...when we leave the doctor's office after our IUI, hopes are always high.  There's a nurse at our office that is an Alabama fan, so Michael loves her.  She always leaves us by telling us to call her when we're pregnant.  She's always so positive.  I tell Michael I need to call her every day for the TWW to keep my hopes up.

What I always struggle with during this time of waiting is how to prepare myself mentally and emotionally.  I've had cycles where I've laid in bed at night and let my mind wander to how I'm going to finally tell my family I'm pregnant.  How will I tell Michael?  What names do we love?  What color will the nursery be?  What happens if my water breaks at school?   And on and on.

Full of hope.

But when the negative pregnancy test inevitably comes, I am DEVASTATED.

So then there are cycles when I tell myself over and over that I'm not pregnant.  It didn't work.  I'm better off to just prepare my mind for the worst so it doesn't hurt as much when I get the negative test.  Look forward to that big cup of Starbucks that I'll be able to enjoy on Cycle Day 1.  Michael says I'm a Negative Nancy.  A Debbie Downer.  But how do I protect my heart from the pain of another month passing and another negative pregnancy test?

Truth is, it doesn't help.  Even in my Debbie Downer cycles something will be different.....something will feel different.... and I'll think, "What if this is it?"  Every different feeling or experience could be a pregnancy symptom.  A seed of hope always manages to creep in.

So what do we do to keep positive in the waiting, but to protect our hearts?  If you have an answer, I'd love to hear from you.  How do we keep our hopes high, knowing our Jesus hears our cries and He sees our tears, and He has a plan....even when we can't see it?

On a completely ridiculous note, yesterday at my acupuncture appointment, she put a needle right in the top of my head!  I tried to take a picture.  I almost laughed out loud at myself.  Can you see the blue needle sticking out?  Oh, the hoops we're willing to jump through.  :-)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

You Never Know

It's January 2, and I find myself staring down the barrel of a new year, full of possibilities.  It's the proverbial blank slate.  Every year I look back and say, "I never would have imagined _____ a year ago!"  I think that's so fun!  What's really crazy for me to think about is that even though I never would have planned or imagined everything from 2014 a year before it happened, God knew every crazy thing ahead of time!  It's like when I've lost my keys, and I'm almost annoyed because I know He knows where they are.

So in celebration of all of the"I never would have imagined this a year ago" moments, here are a couple that stick out to me from 2014!

~Michael's job at his beloved place of employment was cut out of the blue in May, and we were left frustrated and wondering what to do.  But because of that job loss, Michael was able to start his very own business!  I never would imagined us being business owners!  (We aren't up and running just yet, but very close!)  

~A year ago I never thought we would have gone through 3 rounds of IUI, a surgery and that I would now be acting as a human pin cushion!  Acupuncture is not anything I ever thought I would do, but I'm hopeful!

~My sister is getting married!  We found out the beginning of December that she and her now fiancĂ© are going to be getting married at the end of February.

~There are a couple of other (both professional and personal) things we are going through right now that I would never have imagined a month ago, never mind a year ago!  I'm sure we'll be sharing those things in the near future.

How fun it will be to see all of the exciting new things we have ahead of us in 2015!  You know we'll be praying and hoping for the opportunity to start our family this year!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

We've had a very relaxing Christmas and New Year's break.  

It was filled with kitties who steal my heated throw.

Christmas decorations have come down.  My living room looks so naked!

I love our Christmas ornament tradition.  Since we've been married we pick out an ornament together My favorite is our first year of marriage with the picture!  Looking at this picture it seems like our ornaments are getting increasingly larger each year.  If that continues, we're going to need a bigger tree!

Taking down our nativity set makes me sad, too!  
I absolutely adore this part of our Christmas decorations. 

We were very relaxed for New Year's Eve.  We had an impromptu taco dinner at some friends' house and were home and asleep before midnight.  Apparently there were lots of fireworks going off.  I slept right on through all of that.  Michael and I are officially O.L.D.

So thankful for sweet friends like Allison!

Today we've enjoyed LOTS of football.  Go MIZZOU!  Michael is starting to feel sick, but the flu/a cold/whatever his sickness turns out to be can't keep him away from an Alabama football game.  Especially this Alabama football game!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope it's the best one yet!!

What NOT to Say to Someone with Infertility

Talking about infertility can be awkward.  I try really hard to make things as not awkward as possible, and I know when people offer advice it's because they want to help.  But even though I know people have the best of intentions, sometimes I have to bite my tongue at some of the things I hear.  So, as a public service announcement, here's a little cheat sheet of the things to NOT say to someone struggling with infertility.

1. Just stop thinking about it, and you'll get pregnant.
Oh, thank you for that information!  When you figure out how I can stop thinking about my biological clock and the thousands of dollars I've spent on trying to get pregnant, you let me know and I'll be sure to try that, too.  Is there anything in life where this advice is actually helpful?  Maybe if you cut off your right hand and then stop thinking about it, it will stop bleeding.  Sound ridiculous? That's how it sounds to us infertility peeps when you tell us to stop thinking about getting pregnant.

A related piece of advice I hear often is, "Just try not to stress about it."  Again....biological clock.  Thousands of dollars.  Try applying this to the hand you cut off and see if that makes any sense here either.

2. Why don't you adopt?
Why didn't you just adopt?  Maybe it was because you wanted the experience of being pregnant, of growing a baby inside your body, of feeling a baby kick or seeing her move inside your belly.  Or maybe you wanted a biological baby - someone who had the family nose or the family eyes.  Maybe you wanted to see your mom or your grandmother in your baby's eyes.  If you didn't want to "just adopt", I don't want to either.

***Fine print here:  We are not opposed to adoption.  In fact, fostering and adopting is something I have wanted to do since I was in high school.  And we are at a point where adoption is becoming a very real possibility.  And even if we are able to pregnant, I will likely want to adopt in the future.  But if we aren't able to get pregnant and we do adopt, I know I will love that baby like he was mine biologically.  But telling a woman who is desperate to become pregnant to "just adopt" is one of the least helpful things you can say.  Getting to the point of adoption is a huge process.  It doesn't just happen for most women.

3. Giving unsolicited advice.
Listen.  I understand that most of the time people who didn't struggle to get pregnant don't know what to say.  I get it.  In fact, I empathize with that position.  You want to say something helpful, but you have no idea what to say or how to be helpful.  But please don't give unsolicited advice.  Chances are that I've done more research and am more knowledgeable at this point about my uterus than you are.  Just give me a hug and listen to my struggle and say you're praying for me.  Your love and friendship is all I really need.

4.  Complaining about your pregnancy -- especially on social media.
Listen.  I know that pregnancy symptoms can be less than enjoyable.  But there are a lot of women out there who would trade your crappy pregnancy for our lack of pregnancy!  I remember about a year ago I was in the Starbucks drive through when a wave of nausea came over me.  I was SO. EXCITED. to be nauseous!  This could be morning sickness!!  WAHOO!!!!!  I learned that day that taking a prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach can lead to nausea.  Oops.  But the point is that while someone who hasn't struggled with infertility is likely to be bummed about morning sickness, I was thrilled to throw up!

So if you're going to be sensitive to the infertility strugglers among you, please do not openly complain about your pregnancy.  Even if it really does suck.  And please, please, please for the love of all things good, do not complain about your pregnancy on social media.  Remember.  I would pay you for your morning sickness if it meant I ended up with a baby!

5.  I know someone who...
This next piece of information may just be me....I don't know if everyone feels this way, but I felt like this when I struggled with singleness, too.  I really am uninterested in hearing about your cousin's husband's friend who had infertility and just took Clomid and got pregnant.  Or your co-worker's brother's sister-in-law who started the adoption process and magically got pregnant.  (BTW: Starting the adoption process and getting pregnant are two unrelated events.  Just because you start adopting doesn't mean you're going to get pregnant.)  Everyone has a different story.  There are many people I know who took Clomid for a month and then got pregnant.  Or did one round of IUI and got pregnant with multiples.  Or did a round of IVF and ended up with twins.  Or started adopting and got pregnant after all of the fertility treatments failed.

But so far that's not my story.

In this process one of the things I'm learning is to not compare my story with someone else's.  (P to the S.....that's really hard!!)  The Lord is writing each of our stories to be unique and not to be compared with another.  And if you want to help someone you love who is struggling with infertility (because Lord knows it is a struggle!), don't be afraid to talk about it.  Stay up to date with where they are on their journey and then just love them and hug on them and pray for them.