Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fall {Winter?} Lovies

Sorry I have been MIA.  Not that I have established the precedent that I post often, but I haven't even touched this in over a week (maybe 2?).  I came down with some wicked sick stuff last Tuesday and it all but wiped me out.  I trucked through it because we had a ton of stuff planned over the holiday, but the lack of sleep caught up with me Sunday and I spiked a fever and had to stay home Monday (which would have been the perfect time to blog, but did I?  No.  I mourned that fact that I couldn't do laundry because I was out of detergent and felt too nasty to leave the house to get some.. and watched youtube vids for hours in my fat pants.  But, seriously, I almost cried over the whole out-of-detergent thing).

Holidays are just flat out hard to handle.  People assume that holding babies and going into stores with baby things are the hardest.  Sure, they can be difficult to handle (depending on my mood- we have been known to just stroll Babies 'R Us and pick out our "would have" things), but holidays are by far the worst- even Halloween.  So, this last week wasn't the best on top of being sick, but it was still nice to not have to work and relax.

I'm usually so so excited this time of year.  It is, by far, my favorite.  I am still loving it, but this year is a little different.  We try and focus on the things in life we are thankful for- which is not hard to do, because they are abundant- but sometimes my guard is let down and I can't help but feel sadness for so many things.  It doesn't mean I'm not thankful for the blessing I do have- it just means I am still learning how to balance.  I am learning to dance through it.  I am learning how to live life, worship my Savior, love my husband, go to work, and miss my baby.

Here are some fall things I am definitely loving this fall (winter?)-

  • Youtube.  Clearly.  I talk about it all the time-pretty pathetic actually.  Love the vlog world- so much so that I hardly read blogs anymore.  Meh, I never cared much for reading anyway.  Still sketchy on whether I want to start one.  
  • Scarves.  You into scarves and pashminas?  You should.  When I don't feel like wearing jewelry (often), I just grab and scarf and go.  Some days wearing day-old slacks, a long sleeve T and a scarf is all my kiddos are getting.
And, I got makeup all over the collar.  Nope, can't tell.  Khols Black Friday $8
  • Boots and Leggins.  Glorified sweatpants with ultra wide waste band to hold it all in.  No need to find fancy socks for Toms or flats.  Need I say more?  No.
  • Clear Shampoo and Conditioner.  I'm not sure why, but I have some awful breakage around the crown of my head.  Oh wait, maybe it's because I wash, dry, and curl my hair every day?  Sure.  It's terrible.  I have fine hair and always need a volumizing shampoo, which doesn't tend to be very conditioning.  I love this stuff.  My hair is so soft and my little midge hairs aren't sticking up in the back.  My curls don't fall and I smell yummy clean shampoo every time I turn my head.  Woo hoo!
$4 each at Walmart
  • New York!  Daniel and I are going to NYC for our 5 year anniversary.  We have never taken a vaca for the fun of it- we've been places, but they've been visits to see family, go to weddings, or vacas taken with our families.  We have been putting away money here and there and are almost finished planning our trip.  Just bought our tickets to Wicked!

  • Audrey Assad.  Check her out- I listen to her during my plan times and before school.  LOVE her.  Favorite album- The House You're Building.  That Sparrow song is on Christian radio right now (so so great), but I like the album before that one better.  It's super chill and mellow-

Here is what I'm playing now:
Restless is also so great right now.
  • G-O-D.  Yes, there have been times and stages in our mourning where we have been- sorry for the language- pissed.  There have been dark days when my view of a holy, sovereign  almighty God was replaced by the image of a judge stamping his approval on our lives as if we were bills to be paid.  Bills come across- bills that declare what will happen in our lives- and he doesn't even read it.  He just says sure.  Let their baby die.  Next?  Hello?!  God, do you see us?  Do you hear us?  It happens.  We lower our eyes from Christ and set them on ourselves and forget who God is and who He declares Himself to be.  He sees me.  He hears me.  He quiets me with His love.  He is Almighty, He makes and upholds.  His majesty is endless.  I don't know what is in our future- except that I know He is already there.  My salvation is secure.  My home is in heaven and God is worthy of my praise!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:2

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

20 Unweeks

Sweet Baby, you would have been 20 weeks today.
We would have found out whether you were a boy or a girl today.  Your Daddy and I always thought you'd be a boy.  It doesn't matter what you are, we would have been excited to find out.  We'd had your name picked out for a long time, but we were going to keep it a secret until everyone could meet you.  It'll be a little longer than we thought before we get to see you, but we can't wait to find out what your name is.  We know the Lord has named you with a beautiful name and that you get to hear him call you by it while you sing and dance for Him.  How envious we are of you!
We think about you everyday and want you to know we miss you.  We miss you a lot today.  Tonight starts our many of Thanksgiving dinners.  We will get to spend time with our Church family.  You would have loved them.  Your Daddy and I had dreams of taking you there and letting all of those people love on you. We were looking forward to taking you to Sunday school and learning about Jesus from our best friends.  We are thankful for you and how you have changed us.  While we miss you and wish you were here, we know the Lord has been faithful and produced much fruit in us.  The Kingdom is plenty enough to long for, but we yearn to hold you when it comes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crockpot Turkey Stock

Do not throw your turkey carcass in the trash Thursday!
Make turkey stock in your crock pot.
You know, when you are out shopping, spending money you would have had to spend on chicken broth for the next month or two.

2 carrots.
2 ribs celery.
1 onion.
Fill with water.
Cook on HIGH while you sleep and strain.  Let sit in fridge so that the fat rises to the top and skim off.
Freeze in batches.

We do this with chickens every time we have them.  We had 2 Thanksgiving dinners at school this week and last, so I have 5 turkeys worth of stock to make.  Will be subbing it for chicken broth for the rest of our lives!

Friday, November 16, 2012

..Balancing Hormones Naturally..

My hormones have been wacky for 16 months now.  I went of birth control, couldn't ovulate-or obviously get pregnant-and had to take fertility meds to regulate my hormones.  Had an ectopic, and wanted to get my hormones back on track asap.

I did some research about natural ways to balance hormones.  I'm not someone who is in to, say, alternative medicines.  I think there are some legit ways to use natural remedies to heal our bodies, but I think a lot of times these natural things work slower than westernized practices and I just don't have the luxury of taking an extra few days to get over a cold.  If I have a headache or cramps, I take Ibuprofen.  My mom is a nurse and, well, I have faith in doctors and medications, so I take them when needed.

So, with all of this, I thought-Fertility meds must be the only way I can get pregnant, eh?

I came across a few natural things I tried and wanted to talk about in case anyone is in this situation and was curious about how it worked for others.

Maca Root.  I follow a vlogger who had gone through an ectopic (which is how I found her in the first place) and had vlogged about how her and her husband were taking Maca Root afterwards to try and balance hormones/ovulate naturally.  I did some research and thought- meh, can't hurt.

Maca Root is a natural radish-like vegetable found in the high altitudes of the Andes mountains (okay, this sounds like a total scam!  Just keep with me).  I read they found it because people who lived in the region were experiencing infertility, but the goats were reproducing like rabbits.  They figured out the goats were eating this root and gave it to the people.  Bam.  Babies.  It has been eaten for thousands of years in this region.

Maca Root is also supposed to be a mood and energy enhancer... or a natural aphrodisiac.  Are you blushing?  Well, whatever.  All of these things are necessary for a baby, so I tried it.  I bought this bottle of Maca capsules at Whole Foods for I think $8.  It has 100 capsules in it, and I took 2-3/day.

It is also sold in powder, but some people say it has a weird taste and is difficult to get past, no matter what you blend it with (smoothies, etc).  Capsules are great.

I noticed a slight increase in all of the side effects I mentioned above.  Some people report that they break out, but I didn't have an issue.  I don't typically have issues with that anyway, so maybe that was a factor.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea.  Affectionately referred to as "Fertili-tea" in our home.
It is typically suggested to drink in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy to strengthen your uterus for labor.  It tones your uterus (apparently- I have no experience with labor) so that each "push" is more effective.  I also read that it can help regulate hormones.  It's a little hard to find, but I purchased this brand at Whole Foods for $4.99/16 tea bags.

You can get it here online for $2.99/16 bags, not sure about shipping.
I don't like hot tea, so I brew it in a pitcher with hot water and then refrigerate it for ice tea.  I drink it with lemon and splenda and it tastes like Green Tea.  It is made from the Raspberry leaf, not the fruit, so it's not going to taste at all like raspberry.
Some people say that they notice a little bit of cramping when they first start drinking it.  I drink about 2 cups every morning, and I did notice this cramping in the beginning.  I don't anymore- so I guess it's doing it job.  I like to drink it and tell my husband I am tightening and toning as I sit on the couch... if only they made tea that did this for our thighs.

Evening Primrose Oil.  I heard about this last year, but I read that it takes up to 2 months of continuous use for it to affect you so that the oil has time to build up in your body.  I didn't want to wait that long.  Enter TTC hiatus  and I realized I had the time now to let things work.  Evening Primrose Oil is a natural oil derived from the Evening Primrose wildflower.  In England, it is used to treat Eczema and high cholesterol.  It also is known to decrease menstrual pain.  It is often suggested to increase the amount of fertile cervical fluid.  I took 2 pills each morning.  I found it at Walmart for $6/bottle.  I experienced all of these effects.

Okay, overall results?

I ovulated on my own on CD 19.  First time in over a year.
I noticed that my BBT temps were very consistent and in a normal range for me, unlike my charts before Clomid.  My post-o temps were great.  The only cycle they stayed this consistently high was when I was pregnant.  (For more info on temping, click here)

Now, I am a skeptic.  There are so many things going on in life that I don't want to say one of these things or even a combination of them made me ovulate.
We stopped trying for a baby so I could heal, stock my body back up with folic acid, and we could emotional recovery from the loss of a child.  So, I wasn't dealing with that kind of stress (and as much as I want to punch a person in the face who says "oh, just relax with the baby thing.  When you stop stressing it will happen", maybe that had something to do with it?).  Maybe losing a baby reset my body.  Maybe I am one of those people that becomes super fertile after a loss.  I also seriously reduced the amount of processed sugar I was eating.

Whatever did it, it doesn't matter.  Ultimately, Jesus is Lord over all and Lord over my body, down to my little hormones.  If He decided to use these things to help, then cool.  If He just did it on His own, even cooler.  But, for me, it's worth reading into.  Even if it all did nothing, it made me feel like I could be active in my fertility and physical prep for a baby, even if we weren't trying for one (or couldn't).  And, for me, that makes the wait a little easier.

Has anyone else had any success with natural remedies for hormone balance or anything else?
PS Please do not make any decisions about your health because of this post.  I did research and made a decision for myself-I suggest you do the same with anything you read on the internet!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I Went Commercial

A few months ago (well, maybe it was last year?) I posted about making my own laundry soap.  You can find the liquid recipe here and the powder recipe here.
I found a recipe online for some detergent in the hopes that it would make for a fun, relevant, hands on experience for my students when we were in our laundry unit in class (I am a Sewing teacher, in case you are new to the pool.  We do a 3 week unit on textiles and learn about laundry).  It was.  It was fantastic.
I decided to post about it on my blog and use it at home.  I had a ton of fun making it and loved that it was a fraction of the price of commercial detergent.
It worked pretty well.  I did have to train myself to use the tiny amounts it called for, but it did the job.

Fast forward a few months.
After using it over and over again for months, I started to notice our clothes were deteriorating.  I wear a lot of cotton, and it was starting to dinge up and get holes.  I had to pre-treat everything.  I told myself I could live without the clean-laundry smell (it leaves clothing odorless), but truth-be-told, I missed it.

So I kicked my borax box to the curb and went back to commercial detergent.  I buy Aldi's version of "Tide"- I think it is called Tandil.  I use their "Downy" with it, and I found myself breathing in (along with the classic "laundry" smell) a sigh of relief.

My clothes are softer.  My clothes smell better.  My clothes are lasting longer.

Am I noticing my pennies leave the bank?

Here's the thing:  Yes, making your own detergent is a lot cheaper.. on paper.  Compared to the price of Aldi's detergent, I think the DIY detergent is about 1/3 of the price (which is still half of the price, if not more, of regular Tide).  But, in all honesty, I'd rather have better smelling clothing and clothes that last longer for the extra $2.  If I have to mend or {gasp} throw away clothing because of my detergent, I'm not really saving money anyway.

I am a lot of things- a lot of bad things, really (selfish, jealous, and discontent to name a few)- but one thing I am not is dishonest.  If I post something and it doesn't work- I'm going to tell you.

The laundry detergent did not work for my family.  That doesn't mean I am against it or think you are a liar if it works for you- it just didn't work long term for us.

What are some DIY remedies you ditched along the way?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Christmas Season

The earliest we have ever put up our Christmas tree was a few years ago while still in college.  We were going to be out of town every weekend in November, except for the first one.  I knew putting up the tree in December would be like putting it up the day before Christmas (way, way too late), so we went ahead and put it up the week after Halloween... and I got to enjoy coming home from work and class every day for 2 whole months to a lit tree.  It was awesome.

I know a lot of people get upset that Thanksgiving gets the shaft when it comes to celebrating Holidays.  I get that.  I love Thanksgiving and the time we get to spend with our family.  It always seems like we get more time together at Thanksgiving than we do around Christmas.  But, there's just something about Christmas.  I am a total sucker for the "magic" thing. 

I follow a vlogger that just had a miscarriage and she made a video about some recent happenings in their life and said she told her husband Christmas was coming early to their house so she could have something to be happy about.  Amen, sister. 

My husband loves to have little traditions.  He gets really excited for them, even if they are silly.  The first time we put up a tree together, we ordered pizza and watched The Muppets Christmas Carol.  Daniel had never seen it, and I grew up watching it and Muppet Babies just about every morning (Babies, not Christmas Carol).  We do it every year now.

Last year we were supposed to put up a tree I had gotten at a rummage sale for $10.  It was an 8 ft, fat tree that had the individual branches to fluff and attach.  I was so excited.  The tag was still on the box and it was something like $200 or $300 retail.  I thought I was so awesome, until we got the tree out and there was no top layer.  It looked like we had a decapitated tree.  I almost cried.  We had to throw it out and put our little 5 ft one up that we had gotten for $5 on clearance at Target on our honeymoon.  Last year, I was out thrifting after Christmas and found another tree at Salvation Army for $10.  It was out already, all set up.  Nothing can go wrong this time....

Except that it was prelit with tacky colored lights.  We shoved it in the box and vowed to worry about it later.  It took us almost 3 hours to cut off and pull out all of the lights from our tree on Friday night.  I was so tired from sitting on the floor looking straight up to cut the cords off the back of each branch that I hardly wanted to hang the ornaments.  But, my sweet husband kept me going and we finished. 

I love it.  I love it all.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and then we only have a few weeks of school before our anniversary on the 22nd of December (and a trip!  I will post about that later) and Christmas.  Almost makes the year bearable.

I am making a stocking for my sister's puppy, so I figured I'd make one for ours, too.  Which got me to thinking that some cute Christmas bunting on our fireplace would be awesome.  So, I will do that and post an update soon!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Strive with Me

Last week I wrote about anger.  I wrote that I had been angry about the loss of our baby.  I had been angry that there hasn't seem to be any rest for us.  I had been angry because I felt like our cries weren't being heard- cries that weren't (at least to me)-quick fixes like "Lord, just give me a baby".  I felt like they were reasonable, pure cries to just feel the Love of Christ in our lives, through the Word and through our families.  And it just never came.
I was in church this morning and it struck me-I have been wrestling.  I didn't grow up in the church, so my knowledge is often limited when it comes to details.  I thought, "Hmm, wrestle.  Why would God bring that verb to mind?  Someone wrestled with God in the Bible, right?"  So, I did what I always do when in the middle of church (or lazy) and need a quick answer- ask my pastor-kid husband.
Sure enough-"Jacob!" (He hates talking in church, as should I, I suppose).
So, I did some studying.
In Genesis 32, Jacob is preparing to meet his brother Esau.  Jacob is scared because he thinks Esau wants to kill him for stealing his birthright.  Jacob basically tries to sweeten up Esau by sending him animals as gifts ahead of him so he won't be so mad by the time Jacob gets there.  He splits his camp into two so that if Esau attacks, one camp can get away and Jacob won't be destroyed.  Jacob sends his family ahead of him and is left alone in the camp to wrestle until daybreak with God, in the form of a man.  God breaks Jacob's hip and then tells Jacob to let him go.
In Genesis 32:26, Jacob says, "I will not let you go unless you bless me".
So, God gives him a new name-Israel.  God names him this because Jacob has struggled with God and has overcome.

Last week I was studying John 1 with some students at school (they have a weekly bible study).  One of the questions in our book asked why God gave Simon the new name of Peter when Jesus called him to follow.  Honestly, I didn't know the answer.  Had I not had my study bible with answers at the bottom of the page, I still wouldn't know.  It said that Peter, of all of the disciples, was the one who put his foot in his mouth the most.  Christ gave him a new name because he would no longer be this man.  He was a new creation.  He was redeemed.  He would fall, and learn, and ask dumb things, but would eventually be instrumental in spreading the Kingdom.

Is this why Jacob was given a new name?  Scripture says that Jacob exclaims he will not let God go until he is blessed, and then God gives him a new name.  Like Peter, has he come to some new place in faith, after his wrestling?  Why did God wrestle with him?  I mean, wrestling implies that you fight back, right?
I read a commentary that said that, at first glance, God's words of "Let me go" in verse 26 can seem harsh.  Why would God fight us and then want us to let him go?
Instead, the commentary suggested that God is saying Strive with me. Don’t give up. Pray hard with faith and maybe I will be gracious enough to bless you and grant your request.

My life.
In the Old Testament.
God's Word is alive.

I think a lot of times, we, as Christians, are eager to listen to others when life is great.  We love to hear praises about what the Lord is doing in someones life.  We are more than happy to rejoice with them when life is good.  But what about when we wrestle?  What happens when God is pruning us, like tries, so that we are cut down in pain for the purpose of growing more beautiful and Christ-like?  Don't get me wrong- Ephesians 4 warns us about letting the sun go down in our anger and allowing sin to eat at us until it creates an opportunity for Satan to destroy us.
But, there is something also to be said about honesty.  Honestly, my relationship with Christ is not perfect.  Not because he is insufficient, but because I am.  Sometimes I am so burdened that I don't even want to believe that He loves me or that I can never be separated from his love-I don't deserve it.  And, having something I am so undeserving of makes me unbelieving (although this changes nothing about the validity of its truth!).  For me, wrestling is essential in helping my unbelief.

I refuse to lie and say that my love for God is always deep, always what it should be.  I would be a fraud.  I am constantly unsatisfied with my end of our relationship because I am consistently failing the One who spoke the Earth to be- and I hate it.  I want so much more of Christ.  Isn't that how it should be?  Shouldn't we be longing for heaven, never content with our current state because there is more learning to be done?  I wish I was always useful for His Kingdom, always a kind, effective witness.  I am not, but I am willing to strive until I can be.

So, I wrestled.  I am still wrestling.  But, I am set apart.  I am redeemed.  I am a daughter of the King.
This means that instead of wrestling against God, I am striving with Him.  I will not give up.  I will not let go unless he blesses me.  I am praying hard with faith that we will be mended and our dreams redeemed.  Even when He seems so far away, our cries unheard and our hope shattered, we will lift our eyes from our empty arms and cast them high on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, not for what He can do for us, but because of what He has already conquered.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What Was Lost

If miscarrying has produced any visible fruit in me yet, it has been the enjoyment I have found in reading.
Never thought those words would come out of my mouth.
I always thought of reading as I did exercise- who does this for fun?
Now, Me.  That's who.

I had blogged a few weeks ago that I had read I Will Carry You by Angie Smith, which led me to read What Women Fear by Angie Smith, which led me to read What Was Lost:  A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage by?
Angie Smith Ha, gotchya.
By Elise Erikson Barrett.

I was a little weary of this last one.  There aren't many pages (I was always the kid that would calculate exactly how much of the book was left based on where I was and would chant "only 30% of the book left... only 10% left".  Obviously I was more dedicated to math than reading), but the font type is rather small and the pages wide.  It took me quite a bit of time to get through it.
Fantastic.  Hard.  Challenging.  Comprehensive.  Everything I was looking for.  If you have miscarried, please read it. It blessed me tremendously.  It covers everything from a personal story of a pastor who miscarried to basic medical terminology, testimonials, and ways to cope with grief and hurtful people.  Above all, it leaves you knowing that God loves you, God loves and cares for your lost child, and that your grief may not be understood by anyone except God and other women who are walking your road- and that's okay.  It doesn't mean you are overreacting or mourning just the idea of being a mommy.  You are mourning a life lost.  A life lost to you but found in Christ.

I got to the chapter about grief and almost skipped it.  I thought- oh, it's been almost 3 months since that happened.  I'm good.  Ready to put this behind us.  But, being the perfectionist I am, I have to make sure I read every single page for fear I might miss something-or the reading police will come and punish me for skipping.
Reading through it I realized this- I will never be over grieving for my baby.  The first 6 months are the worst.  Sure, life will get easier, and the bad days will be further apart, but this is forever.
Just when I thought I was good, grief swallowed me in a flood, almost to the same degree as the first day we lived without our baby.
From the beginning, I moved from sadness, to acceptance, to what I thought was healing- and then fell back into anger.  Unlike my husband, I completely skipped anger.  This doesn't mean I am not handling it well, or that I don't grieve "right".  There is no such thing.  My grief just looks different.

I love God.  I worship Him and know he is Almighty and Sovereign.  I know his ways are perfect and I won't ever understand them.  I don't think I know better than he does.  Despite the desperate longing I have to be a mom, sometimes I just wish He'd just come back and sound the trumpet for his people so I could be with him and leave all of my earthly dreams behind in the dust.

But crying in my car this week, I screamed at my God.  I yelled at him.  I was mad at him.  For the first time in my life I felt He abandoned me.  I felt no one- not a single being including God, could love me and that I deserved to be hated, despised, and kicked in the face (yea, all us Christians will say we deserve this because we are sinners- but be real- if this happened to you in real life, you were hated, despised, kicked and beaten down and completely unloved, you would pity yourself and think you didn't deserve it.  For crying out loud, we don't think we deserve to be overcharged at the register or be the victim of a hit and run at the grocery store).  And making myself believe I deserved all of those feelings and more made me even more angry.
Yesterday I literally could not stop saying in my head, "God, where are you?  Where are you?  Where are you when our cradle is empty?  Where are you when we cry in the night for you?  Where are you when people are rude and inconsiderate?  Where are you when people say hurtful things?  Where are you when the pain keeps piling up? Where are you when we can hardly breathe?  Where is our rest?  Where?  Where are you?"
I thought of the Psalms.  David cries out to God like this, right?
Every bit of me wanted to tell myself, "No where.  He doesn't care.  His eyes are on the sparrow and changing the colors of the leaves.  He is consoling the widow, healing the sick, forming in the womb some other woman's baby because he loves her more.  You are nothing to him".
But, I know this isn't true.
It sure feels like it, but it isn't true. Maybe if I keep saying that-that it isn't true-I will really believe it.

In one of the books I mentioned before, the mom writing says she had done the same thing- went driving and just cried and screamed at God.  She said she felt bad, but then noted that it's okay.
The God who made the universe, holds it up by his Word, and conquered the grave can handle his children being mad at him.  I thought- um, wow.  Harsh.  Who does this?  Who yells at God?  How rude, unthankful, and disrespectful.  I will never do that.  I love God.
Well, it happened.
And I agree- it's okay.
It's okay to feel like the child who is kicking and screaming and crying in pain, trying to get out of their parent's arms, only to feel their parent hug tighter.  Eventually, the child calms and weeps in sadness and clings to what is good.
I'm not going to lie.. I'm still kicking and screaming.  I am still mad and angry and sad.  Eventually, I have faith in knowing I will calmly weep and cling to my Father.  I have faith that He will sing songs over me and quiet me with His love.  I have faith that praise will once again be on my lips- and I will mean it.
I know the Lord is good.  He loves us.  He is always with us.  Good will surely come of this time of barrenness, in every sense of the word.
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