I dream of……………DiAPeRs!

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Ok, I said it. It’s out and on the table. I am BEYOND obsessed with my new cloth diapers. So much so that I had to share my obsession with you and can hardly wait to try them. Can you tell that I am clearly NEW to diapering? What expectant mom of one dreams about cloth diapering and can’t wait to begin diapering her second. But a first time mom…these are the things we get excited about. I could be wrong. But I just imagine that moms getting ready to have their second one are OVER it! (Ok, maybe I am alone even amongst first time expectant moms, but the thought of saving thousands of dollars and reducing my environmental footprint is definitely appealing – had to throw that last part in because I am from Portland, Oregon and it is only appropriate that I say that.) But for me…opening up my box of brand new bumgenius 4.0s as well as some gently used ones I found on Craigslist for a killer deal just had me over the moon and around the corner. Specifically, these put me around the corner. I am already OVER the moon in LOVE with our sweet daughter…but to imagine her in these wonderful little diapers and a cute headband on her head. BLISS! Call me crazy. I am…and will fully admit to it.

In addition to the advice of many friends of mine who cloth diaper and LOVE it, I have spent months researching the many options and finally settled on these. There was a spectacular Black Friday Deal at bouncing babies where I was able to snag these brand new for about $12 each. Hardly could believe it!  So here I am, enjoying these treasured gifts beneath the tree. Treasured because they signify so much more then just a diaper to me. They are just another reminder of the new life that God is blessing us with. Reminders of the gift that being a mom will be…especially the joy that comes with the knowledge that God has hand picked us to be the steward of our little girl’s heart as she grows into the woman God has created her to be. It’s the little things that have become so special now. I could have only dreamed about going so far as to think about diapers a year ago…but now I can google and research and price compare to my heart’s content.

Oh, what will be next…..

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19 weeks, ULTRASOUND day, and gender reveal party planning! Keeping busy!

This is a BIG week for us!

I can hardly believe I am a little less than one week away from being halfway through this pregnancy!  6 days and counting!

Today is our anatomy ultrasound.  I am trying to keep myself distracted by planning a little bit more of our gender reveal party next Friday.  So far, I have been able to settle on some cute ideas for decorations, cupcakes, the cake itself and some cookies shaped like onesies that will say boy or girl on them.  (Can you tell that I am very concerned about the food, particularly the sweets?  YUM!  A huge priority for me! : )) I am not much of a party planner and had a difficult time planning our wedding.  I ended up delegating most of that to family and friends, but with this party…obviously it is on a much smaller scale, but it is still a very special day for us.  We will ask the tech to seal our ultrasound results up in an envelope and then off it goes to the baker! : )  I’m hoping that neither our tech nor OB accidentally slip and spill the beans to us.

I have also been busy making a few lasagnas today for our party.  I figure I will freeze them.  Love a good homemade lasagna.  My family has been making this lasagna recipe for decades.  It’s a lot of work though, so I typically do it only once a year and then make plenty for the freezer as they keep very well.

This past weekend we had some announcement/holiday photos taken!  They are incredible!  We have only seen a few of the edited versions, but it was so fun to finally announce our pregnancy to the world!  It has been a really sweet time for us, full of thanksgiving and rejoicing!  We feel so very blessed!

Here are 3 of them:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd TRIMESTER!!! Woweeee! 14w1d

October 1st marked the first official day of my second trimester according to babycenter.com!!!  I am so excited to reach this point.  I have been feeling great.  I couldn’t have asked for a healthier, more feel good pregnancy thus far.  So, I decided to celebrate and post my first bump pic.  This was taken at 5:30am, before breakfast.  I get so bloated by the end of the day, so I wanted my bump pic to be tried and true – not the late evening bloat belly.

I feel that I have really settled into my pregnancy and don’t find myself anxiously anticipating my next change day as much as I used to.  It’s a real joy carrying our little “half pint” as my husband so affectionately refers to them as.

I look forward to writing more.  It has been a busy fall thus far.  Tomorrow we are headed to the mountains for our annual FALL get together with our dear friends.  It’s always a wonderful time for some R&R and a WHOLE lot of the great outdoors.  Last year they were pregnant during our trip.  How I remember dreaming that we would be on similar journey of our own this year and HERE WE ARE!  Such a blessing.

Paradise.

My idea of paradise has changed just about as much as I have over the years. As a little girl it was ponytails and the Barbie Dream house. When I began to study the 50 states, I fell in love with the idea of palm trees and sand between my toes. As I grew into adolescence, I soon began to crush on boys. Paradise became about being with my crush and the emotional rush I would receive when he would one day place his Letterman’s jacket around my shoulders and tell me for the first time that he loved me. Dreaming of a fulfilling career, being with a tender husband, and a house filled with a loving family have all made my paradise list in the past.

But dreams gave way to heartache. Heartache gave way to discontentment. Slowly, over the years, I have grown hardened and jaded by the many pains I have endured. With disillusionment has come a loss of vision, a loss of my ability to believe in my own paradise. Lately, I have been so afraid to dream. So afraid of opening my heart up to more hurt and failure. Life has been so “heavy”, the “wheel has broken” this “butterfly’s back” (reference to Coldplay’s Paradise).

Though I have relinquished the innocence with which I once dreamt, in return I have gained perspective, experience, and a deepening of my soul through so many heart wrenching years. I have loved and lost. I have been broken. At times, I have laid in the streets, wounded and bleeding…for years, sometimes. But nonetheless, deep within, I have found the strength to hold on to my dreams and pursue my own vision of paradise for my life. I have found it in my faith and in the love I share with my dear husband. Paradise. I have learned that the “sun must set to rise”** “…and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4).”

A promise…at the end of the day, should I find the God-given courage within myself to endure, I will be refined and lack NOTHING of which my Lord desires for me.

Thus, paradise doesn’t equate to perfection but rather is a place where contentment and dreams unite, forming a rare bond this side of heaven.

There will be many more fallen dreams and broken wings, but always, at the end of the day, I will rise and find the strength to keep the vision of my own paradise alive.

** – reference to Coldplay’s song Paradise

Paradise. Redemption. Stories.

3 words. 3 words that I have pondered over the past month. 3 words with multiple applications. 3 words with tremendous significance for my life. 3 words I hope to reflect on over coming posts.

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PARADISE. Thanks to Coldplay, I have began to really re-ponder this. What is MY paradise? WHERE is my paradise? When did I first lose sight of what paradise looks like to me?

REDEMPTION. Why don’t I have it? As far as I am concerned, Infertility is a pretty CRAPPY redeemer. Why have I allowed it to set the terms of my life? Why have I allowed it to hem me in? I have access to the ONE and ONLY REDEEMER. I want to see REDEMPTION in my story and I want to start seeing it NOW.

STORIES. Brandy Carisle. The Story. Part of the first verse…

All of these lines across my face

tell you the story of who I am

so many stories of where I have been

My life is a story. Each crease, each scar, each expression…so many stories of who I am.

***

My vacation did amazing things for me. We are already deep into our IVF cycle, yet (by God’s grace alone) it does not reign over me. Trust me, I have been clinging onto this feeling for dear life recognizing that it could be ever so fleeting if I am not careful. As a result, it has been difficult for me to write about it lately. I am afraid to give it more power in my life. It has already tried to take so much of me. Thus, I have been trying to keep my beloved friend, infertility, at bay and on the back burner. She has been all too pushy and demanding. Quite frankly, I am TIRED of it. So, she’s taking the back seat for a bit. She needs a reality check of her own. She’s gotta realize she doesn’t own THIS girl. Try as she may to take over my life, it just AIN’T going to happen. Check ya later, infertility. *smile*

More to come.

(Picture taken in the gardens of the Chateau Cheverny in France).

Memories made, memories loved in France

We are now in Normandy, France. We have had a few days of pure adventure, remembrance of history, and enjoying the local fare and drink.

After a quick jaunt up the Eiffel tower on Monday, we set out by train to Normandy. Our plan was to pick up our car in Caen, about an hour away from our vacation home in Normandy. Of course, little did we know that our plans would soon be thwarted. After arriving at the train station, we quickly found our car rental company. We were exhausted after our early morning jaunt from London to Paris, climbing on foot to the 1st and 2nd floors of the Eiffel Tower, and manuevering the subway system to make our way out to train station. We couldn’t wait to jump in our car and spend a relaxing evening in the French countryside.

Well, turns out that Monday was a French holiday and to make a long story short – there was NO way we were going to get our car that evening. No matter how many phone calls we made, no matter how much time we spent working towards it. A holiday is a holiday. It didn’t matter that the car was already paid for and that we had a scheduled pick up time on Monday. Go with it. We forfeited our paid night in our B&B in Normandy and settled in for the night in a little hotel outside the train station. We were pretty bummed, but felt fortunate that our problem was relatively insignifiant as compared to all the potential problematic probabilities. At 8 am the next morning, we were able to retrieve our car and set out for our planned D-Day tour with the infamous Brit tour guide, Ellwood.

Our D-Day tour was informative, emotionally charged, and powerful. I am really not even sure I can put into words the sense of awe and amazement we felt for the men who served so valiantly on that fateful day. While getting ready to eat lunch, we ran into a man from the 4th infantry division, who landed on Utah Beach on D-day. He was a 90 year old American Veteran who had come to France for the D-Day celebrations next week.  He has been given the honor of unveiling the memorial to Dick Winters (featured in Band of Brothers) next week at one of the museums. He invited us to sit with him for lunch. My husband and I fought to hold back tears as he described the events of that day to us. He was a tender, gentle man and we could hardly believe that he had experienced so much at such a young age.

Following our tour, we grabbed a delcious, butter ladened dinner and settled in for the night. This morning, we headed out to Mont Ste Michel. The glorious Abbey on a mountain of granite that juts out of the sea. It was a breathtaking climb to the top, but we were rewarded with glorious views of the French landscape in every direction and a fantastic audio guide led tour of the abbey itself.

We are loving France! Tomorrow we move on to the Loire Valley where the castle exploration will begin.

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To Iceland, London, and beyond…

(Please continue to bear with me as this is the first time I have ever posted pictures using my iPad. Also, if anyone knows how to upload the edited version of your photos from iPhoto into WordPress, I would love if you could pass these helpful hints on to me. Thank you. I hope to get better as the trip goes on!)

We are having a lovely time on holiday.

We have done so much in the last two days. Currently, we are on board the Eurostar between London and France. With that comes an opportunity to catch up on my blog as there are no distractions. Nothing but blackness to view from the windows as I think about traveling beneath the waters of the English Channel. We are headed to Paris for the day, but then it will be off Normandy for a few days to tour the battlefields of the second world war as well as take in the glorious Mont St. Michel. We will be returning to Paris later in our trip.

So far we have braved the winds and cold of Iceland for the opportunity to rejuvenate in the mineral rich hot springs of the Blue Lagoon. We had a nine hour layover in Iceland before our scheduled London departure. Like most of those arriving in Rejkjavik, we opted for the tour out to the Blue lagoon. There appears to be a collaboration between the management of the Lagoon and Iceland Air as we were swiftly channeled towards our bus and into the Lagoon. The lagoon was a needed distraction from our exhaustion though it was quite spendy. I’m not sure we would do it again. Though soothing, the hot springs were mostly luke warm with the occasional burst of hot water. Until we planted ourselves at one of the sources for the hot water entering the springs, we found ourselves shivering in the icy blustery day around us. All in all, we are thankful for the experience and grateful that our 9 nine hours went quickly and we didn’t have to wait them out in the airport.
After a day in Iceland, we flew off to London arriving late in the evening. After checking into our hotel, we set off for a sampling of the local fare. Really, fish and chips? Ok, maybe next time. Instead, we found this wonderful Lebanese place a few blocks from our hotel in Paddington. It was AMAZING. We couldn’t get enough of it and gorged ourselves on homemade hummus, lentil and quinoa salads, lebanese sausage wraps, fresh yogurt and cucumber sauce and baklava. YUM! With full bellies and a warm bed beneath us, we sank deeply into slumber.
Yesterday, we woke up to a brilliant London day. They have been experiencing a heat wave and we were blessed to hit the tail end of it. We spent the whole day taking in the sights and sounds of London. From double decker buses, to the stories of the Tower of London to the waters of the Thames, we absorbed all that London could throw at us in a short time. We walked the streets, rode the buses, mastered the subways and relaxed on the river boats. Big Ben stood glorious in the sky, its plated clock glimmering Gold in the afternoon sun. The London eye moved continuously in the skyline busy with visitors anxious to take in the bustling city scape. The parks were filled with visitors and locals sprawling out on the green lawn enjoying picnics and time spent with family and friends. Starbucks was hopping as folks attempted to beat the heat and enjoy an ice cold beverage. Then it was on to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parlament who remained quiet and distinguished with little to say as their heritage preceded them. Buckingham Palace was busy with the hustle and last minute preparations for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations next weekend. Also, in the right time at the right place, we were able to watch the Queen’s horses with beautiful breastplates of Gold ride from the Royal Mews to Buckingham palace. It was breathtaking! We couldn’t believe our good fortune. Late in the evening, we even took a juant back to the famous Harrod’s department store to capture the essence of it lit up against the night sky. We finished the evening off with another late night stop at, yep, you guessed it, our little neighborhood Lebanese place. Another round of hummus was in order. : )
With that, I am signing off for a little shut eye before we hit the streets of Paris. Our sights are set on the Eiffel Tower and Nortre Dame for the afternoon. Hopefully, we can accomplish each of these before taking our train out to Caen where we will be picking up our rental car. Oh, the let the road tripping adventures begin.

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Let the travels begin!

(First off, sorry this is one continuous paragraph.  My iPad is unwilling to acknowledge the return key at this time.)

I have spent a great deal of time away from my blog this week.  I have missed being able to catch up and read yours as well. I have been so blessed by this community of friends and supporters journeying and sharing their lives, stories, and care for one another. We have been busy preparing for our trip to France. Of which, I must mention that I am currently on the plane over the frozen tundras of northern Canada. I hope to post this as soon as we have wifi again.  We had a brief stop in Seattle where we caught our international flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. As my husband and I rode the train between terminals it was as if all of our burdens had been lifted from our hearts and forgotten back in Portland. It was instantaneous and wonderful. We feel so blessed to be able to do this trip to France with quick stops in Iceland and London.  Ideally, we would have LOVED to have had our first born by now and perhaps have another on the way. Instead, we have found our selves battling to maintain our sanity and self worth through the roller coaster of infertility.  Yet, there has been growth and opportunity during this season. Opportunity to rise above the pain and unmet expectations and grow as a couple in communication, shared memories, and adventures only possible without children.  I think a lot of the peace I am experiencing right now is the result of finally coming to terms with where we are at and where we are going.  Where we are at:  hard pressed with infertility with a new found diagnosis of endometriosis that explains so much. Where we are going:  IVF.  I am so grateful that the days of unexplained IF are behind me. So happy to know that in a week and a half, while on this trip, I will begin our IVF treatment protocol. (Just the BCPs – no big deal).  We know that the minute we fly back into Portland, the weight of infertility will be knocking on the doors of our hearts along with the enormous medication order waiting to be welcomed into our home.  As for now, and as long as I can, I am soaking up the love of my incredible husband at my side whilst resting in great expectations of what is to come. Not only on this grand adventure but the ever unfolding story and next chapter in our hopes to conceive. So, I must warn you that much of my blog will be documenting our traveling journeys over the next two weeks with little emphasis on IF.  This is our long awaited travel therapy and I couldn’t be happier with its timing in all of this First stop: Reykjavik, Iceland for a 9 hour layover of which we are taking FULL advantage of and heading to the Blue Lagoon!!  We are throwing caution to the wind and going to soak it up in the hot springs for a few hours. Last time I had the chance to enjoy some hot springs I sat on the side and just put my feet in or waded in just over my thighs for fear that it might destroy a potential pregnancy.  It was a bummer along with so many other things given up in hopes of trying to conceive.  Not this time though. This time we will immerse ourselves in the mineral rich milky blue waters and enjoy every minute of it.

About my blog’s picture…

Logging on to my blog today, I can’t help but to think where I was at when my husband snapped this picture of me.  It was our first official month that we were being INTENTIONAL about TTC.  February 2011.  We had been off birth control for 3 months.  We were temp tracking, optimistic and felt for sure that we would be pregnant in no time.  We were on our first cruise together….sailing around the Eastern Caribbean.  Midweek, our hopes and dreams came to a quick and shattering halt.  This was NOT going to be our month.  Even that first month, we were devastated…hurt, and disappointed.  We shed our tears and just as quickly, dried them off, put our unmet expectations behind us and moved forward.  Little did we know the part of our story we were just stepping into.

I came across this picture yesterday.  I am trying to put together a scrapbook of our lives and activities since we have been married.  I used to be so diligent about these things.  But since SD cards have replaced film, I have very few pictures to show for it.  But I am working on it…utilizing Shutterfly’s project center to help me out.  Anyway, when I saw this, I knew it would be perfect as the main picture on my blog. The essence of the picture a powerful metaphor for my current struggle with infertility.

In the picture, I am staring out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean…there is not a boat or another piece of land for miles….just the ocean, consuming the entirety of the horizon.  And me…just one person, on this powerful boat, making my way through it.  Waiting for land to appear.  Waiting for the sun to set, for the sun to rise, for sea life to show it self from below the deep waters.  Waiting for a change in scenery.  Hopeful, expectant.  Waiting for what I know I will love…but for now, I journey.  I allow this vessel to carry me through the waves.  I allow it to teach me its lessons.  I can always feel the wind upon my face.  It ruffles my hair, reminding me that I AM making forward progress.  I am not stagnant.  I will see land.  I will walk on land again. 

I remain ever hopeful.

 

New Theme and M&M cookie recipe!

I figure it’s time for a new look. I am anything but tech savvy, so I always gotta stick with the basics…but thought this would look at least a tad more personal.

I have just finished my first ICLW week (the blue link on the bottom), and noticed that so many bloggers over at blogspot.com or ebloggers have THE cutest blogs ever. Either they have a TON more cutesy themes or are just EXTREMELY creative people…or both!

Anyway, I am alone for the weekend…without my sweet hubs. I am really looking forward to him getting home tomorrow! I miss him immensely. It makes me so thankful to have my cuddly labradoodle. He has not left my side.

I’m a few days behind on my LITTLE joys…so thought I would post this oh so DELICIOUS picture of the M&M cookies I made for my husband and his buddies for their big camping trip.

These cookies count for at least 5 Little JOYS!!!

YUM!

The Recipe….in brief:

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp corn starch

2 tsp vanilla

1 egg

4 packets of M&Ms or equivalent

Cream butter/sugars. Separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Then stir into butter/sugars. Add vanilla, egg, and M&Ms. Bake at 350 for 8-9 min or until done according to your liking.

DELICIOUS cookies!!!! They’re already gone around here!