So just the one baby, then, maybe???

Being ready to write this post has taken me a long time. Over the past 3+ years I've been reminded that our plan is definitely not the Lord's plan, and I've learned over and over again that I'm more than definitely not in control of everything in my life (as much as I'd like to think I am). I know I've learned many times both through my experiences and those around me that often our plan is not better, but that doesn't make some things any easier. Just a constant reminder to trust. I'm not sure why today, on my birthday of all days, I'm feeling compelled to write this. Possibly because another birthday signifies the passing of another year of my life, and another of the years in the window for growing our family. I know that window hasn't closed or is probably not even closing, but it is another year passed nonetheless. I've felt the need to share our story for quite some time, both to connect with other moms facing the same situation, and also to open up about something that has and continues to cause such turmoil for me, regardless of coming to terms with having just one babe. So here goes...again, not sure why I'm choosing to write this on my birthday as it means guaranteed tears, but it may be I'm hoping to give myself some semblance of closure as well as provide answers to many wondering friends.

No, having just one baby was not our plan. We always talked about three, and, ironically, in the hospital after delivering Josiah I remember saying I wouldn't mind four. But just one? I'm learning to love that idea too. One means it's easy to up and go wherever whenever. One means less expense for daycare, sports, traveling, college, and life in general. One means that one of us can fairly easily take off to golf or run errands. One means that we can lend a hand to one of our siblings with 2-3 kids when our families are together. One means that he can soak in all of our love and attention. Yikes...one means that he WILL soak in all of our attention. (Oh Lord, PLEASE don't let him have full-blown "only child syndrome!") One really is wonderful, because we are so unbelievably blessed by our one. He is sweet, caring, intelligent, talented, energetic, and such a joy to have. If one is all I have, I'm ok with that. Really. Having one makes me realize what an amazing gift getting that one is. 

So what happened? Well, the first one was easy peasy. It went something like this..."Do you think we should start trying for a baby?" "Sure, why not? It will probably take a few months, so by then we'd be due in the spring which would be great timing for a maternity leave." "Oh my gosh...it's positive?!" Yep, first try. December baby, and the most perfect time for a maternity leave as I learned.

Second time around went like this...11 months of trying, saw a specialist, went through all preliminary infertility testing, found nothing wrong, and after a simple procedure to make sure there were no "obstructions" remaining after my first pregnancy we conceived the next month. Great news for about a week until blood work showed progesterone levels were decreasing instead of increasing. Not a good sign. Begin supplements. Hear a heartbeat at 6-7 weeks. Miscarry a week later while Jim is out of town. Thank goodness for amazing neighbors and faith to carry me through on my own. 6 months later, after not conceiving again, we once again met with the specialist and began medication. 3 months and a few treatments later still no "luck," the end of that cycle of treatments, and the end of my rope. Clomid was not my friend. That was 2 years ago.

Since then I have slowly come to terms with the idea of not having another baby. At first it was because I could no longer put myself or my family through the monthly cycle of 2 weeks spent wondering - maybe this month will be the month, trying, then 2 weeks wondering - did it work, finding out we weren't pregnant, then 2 weeks being disappointed and starting the vicious cycle all over again. It was like an endless emotional monthly roller coaster. I just couldn't do that to my family over and over and over. It interfered with my ability to be a mom, a wife, and a teacher. So I slowly learned to not expect or hope for anything. That may sound horrible and depressing, but the alternative was the monthly roller coaster. The choice to abandon continued medication and treatment has allowed me the freedom to celebrate my one and only, and freedom from dwelling on the loss of our second baby and the helplessness I have found in not being able to create another little life, and the freedom to trust that life is a gift from the Lord in His timing, not ours. It's allowed me to focus on our future as a family of three and embrace the freedoms we have in that number.

Would I take another baby at this point? Absolutely! Do I expect that to happen? No, I can't...and, actually, as I continue to heal from the experiences and disappointments we've had, I'm slowly giving away or selling our baby gear, toys, and the 20+ totes of boy clothing in our basement as the final phase of my healing process. If we do have a happy surprise then I will simply celebrate with new gear and new clothing that isn't 7 years out of style. And for Josiah's sake I will always hope and pray for the sister or brother (or both) that he regularly asks and prays for, or at least for the words to explain to him why he is one of the only kiddos he knows without a sibling to play with.

No, I don't expect to ever completely stop hoping or praying for another, and I don't expect to get past those random, heart-wrenching emotional moments that bring me to tears unexpectedly. Nor do I think our journey has been the harder than others. But now at least I've shared our story so that those of you who know me can understand the last few years of my life and the changes that have occurred in me and for our family, some subtle and others I'm sure very obvious to those of you who know me really well. Please know that I'm not writing this to gain sympathy, but rather to reach out to other moms who have or will experience the loss of a baby or inability to have one. Each time I've shared our story, someone shares a similar story in return. So together let's love and celebrate our little ones.


Strip Quilt, Part 1

From the lovely ladies at Modern Textiles who are quilt math wizards:

For a strip quilt in California King size (100" wide x 98" long), for those of us with 6' 4" hubbies, choose:
7 x 1.25 yard cuts for quilt top
1 x 1 yard cut for binding

Here's my stack! Go ahead and drool...

See that coral color piece peeking out? That's going to be my binding. It's also going to become one of 5 coral colored throw pillows in different prints. Love! 

Step 1: Iron and Cut
From each of the 7 pieces chosen for your quilt top cut 4.75" strips running parallel with the salvage edge. This will make the longest strips. Cut your binding strips 2.25" in whichever direction you prefer the pattern to run for your binding. 

Step 2:
Sew strips end to end, making sure to not put two of the same together. Also pay attention to the directionality of your strips. I had three fabrics that always needed to be sewn facing the same direction. 

Step 3:
Cut your one ridiculously long strip into strips of equal length. Since I completed this step at the lake without my cutting mat and grid, I used the tile floor in the kitchen for my cutting guide. :)

I "oopsed" the directions and bought too much fabric (that's why you don't forget the pattern at home when you go to pick out fabric). I bought 1 1/3 yards, so I had to adjust the overall dimensions. Instead of 22 rows at 98" long, I had 27 rows at 112". 
Upcoming in Part 2...my fabric fiasco...


New Planner = I heart Filofax

Ahhh...it's already July 23rd, and I'm just starting to feel like I'm getting somewhat on top of things. Summer always seems to appear with a blank slate and somehow fill faster than I can pick up a pen to start writing on my calendar. So far this summer I've been out of town for 3 weeks, in class for 1, and home for 3, and of course those 3 measly weeks were crazy full and busy with running here, there, and everywhere. With the end of July looming I'm definitely feeling some urgency to manage my time well, even though there is no feasible way I'll be able to finish cleaning out our house (and selling everything we no longer use), complete 3 bins of sewing projects, organize 4 months of photos, learn how to use Photoshop, start creating photo books, and create and plan the pile of school work I brought home to tackle this summer, all while spending tons of quality time with my boys and the many friends I want to see. Yikes! Does anyone else have the same problem?! So here is one of the few things I've actually managed to check off my project list...my planner!!! For the last few years I've tried a few options for trying to efficiently and accurately manage our family's crazy schedule. I tried Erin Condren twice, but as beautiful as her life planners are, they simply were not functional for me. Why? The vertical arrangement of the day-by-day section drove me crazy, and I need my planner to house all those random things that I need inconsistently and all the time. Oh, and they are HUGE. I also tried syncing various calendar apps on my phone with my hubby but found that won't work if neither of you are diligent about adding events (or you never remember to check it or look at it regularly). Lastly, I wanted the option to be able to add whatever I needed and eliminate past calendars or lists...so total customization.
Here is what I settled on, and I am SO in love with it. After several weeks of debating (with myself), blog hopping, and searching for the perfect option, I decided to spring for a Filofax (click here for the link). What is a Filofax, you might be wondering? Well, it's a super nice little leather binder that you can fill however you want. Sweet!!! Admittedly, I let it sit empty for a few weeks while I convinced myself that I didn't need to design my own pages (deep breath), but once I decided to just purchase Miss Tiina's printable calendar. Click here for her planner website, and here for her Etsy shop. Was that worth the $10ish investment? Oh wow, absolutely!!! And when I pulled up her Etsy shop I just discovered it's 50% off right now if you'd like to grab it!!!
So after a date with our printer and another with my paper cutter, the last decision was how to organize and insert all the pages. I didn't use the included Table of Contents and decided to create a system that fit me better, so I cut down some super cute file folders from Target and lumped everything into 8 sections: To Do Lists (weekly notes go here too, along with most other random lists of things I keep track of), Calendars, Meals (includes meal planning, grocery lists, and a few recipe cards), Money (budget tracking, bills, and receipts), Celebrating (birthday and anniversary lists along with a record of all the gifts I already have stashed), Mary Kay, Contacts (including sleeves for business cards), and Notes.
How do I love it after a week? OMG IT'S FABULOUS!!! I've already transferred birthdays and anniversaries, taken stock of gifts we have ready to give, added the list of the clothes I have stashed for Josiah in bigger sizes, clipped my coupons and receipts for shopping runs to the divider for shopping lists...WOW, has that been great!!! The last pieces to utilize thoroughly will be meal planning and budgeting sections. Yep, I'm going to be a little over the top and inventory what food we currently have in our freezer and pantry so I can be more intentional with meal planning and prep, but oh I can't wait to have everything I need to keep our family running (more) smoothly at my fingertips!!! I am so never going back to a prebound planner...