Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Recap {Take 3}


This summer totally got away from me - in keeping with the "scrapbooking" part of my blog - here are some pictures that probably only my mom wants to see, you're welcome!

This girl turned 2 on June 6th!

She's a fashionista!
Loves a good hat!
Started gymnastics this year

Went for runs with Mom

Had a serious love affair with that binkie

Doesn't care for water - but we're working on it!

Doesn't like loud noises

Her happy place

Loves hot chocolate

*Sometimes* listens at gymnastics

Checked out her first 3-D movie

Still loves hats
And the new playset Dad built for her

Her party:



Those boots are her favorite thing ever - when they got too small, I had to hide them away

And the most special present SP got for her birthday was a birthday buddy cousin!

My precious niece at a couple hours old

Monday, August 18, 2014

AMT {Vol 12}

Linking up with Kendra for Answer Me This :)

1.  What is your favorite room in the house?

I like most of the rooms in my house.  We've been here eight years, and I've pretty much remodeled something in every room, with the exception of the kitchen (it is my least favorite room in this house, probably for that reason).  But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be my bedroom.  It is quiet, I have a lovely, soft mattress and it is away from people.  Growing up, I always thought I was an extrovert, but the older I've gotten, the more apparent it is that I like to separate from people to recharge. 

When Hubby gets home, I often sneak in there, away from everyone and just have a little time away.  Sometimes I bring my laptop in and shut the door behind me and plan dream vacations and blog.  Sometimes I knit, embroider, or read.  There's a TV in there too (I know, half of you have one too, the other half are probably horrified!).  It is my oasis in a small home...and I share it with a pretty nifty guy who only snores every couple nights :)

A close second is our newly-fenced backyard, complete with playset!

2.  Do you subscribe to any magazines or periodicals?

Yes.  Have I read them recently?  No.  I get Mother Earth News and Family Fun.  They usually sit in a stack in the bathroom and get read during kiddo bath time and the like.  My sweet little toddler is horrified by the tub, so the magazines are mostly going to the library donation bucket unread and we're giving her a swift dunk, soap and rinse.

3.  How do you feel about the Sign of Peace in Mass?  Enriching?  Awkward?  Overdone?  Just right?  Some combination of the above?

I think the Sign of Peace is just fine.  I know it can get a little over-the-top in some instances, but our parish doesn't really have any people walking the aisles sharing the love exuberantly, so it's not a problem of distraction in our parish.  I am much more distracted by the toddler next to me than by the lovely old lady behind me who beams with joy when that little turns to her and shakes her hand, "Peace be wit'cha'!"

4.  What is your least favorite sound?

Anything before 6am.  I think I'm with most people on finding certain noises, kids' songs, and the like annoying, but it could be a bird chirping the arrival of a long-awaited Spring and I just don't want to hear it that early!  My alarm goes off twice a week at 5:15am.  That's high on my list too.

5.  What was your favorite TV show growing up?

Anything we were allowed to watch was awesome.  We were a very little/restricted TV house, so I don't have commonality with a lot of my generation in remembering certain shows.  I do remember loving Fraggle Rock, Jem, He-man and She-ra, and the Smurfs.

6.  What are your favorite TV shows now?

I love reality competitions.  Not like the Bachelor or Big Brother, but I've enjoyed many seasons of Amazing Race, Survivor, and have lately started watching Top Chef. 

I love Hulu for current shows and Netflix and Amazon for older shows.

I am eagerly awaiting the season premier of Once Upon a Time and have watched every episode of Doctor Who just so I would know what the heck my brother's family was talking took me approximately five seasons to warm up to that show and my favorites and least favorites directly contradict most peoples.  I don't understand the numbering because I can never remember where the new series starts, but the first one from the new set was actually my favorite.  He seemed the most trustworthy and least ridiculous.  I wasn't sad when Amy and Rory were effectively removed from the Doctor's life, I was mostly relieved for them that they'd be able to live out their lives together without horrible things continuing to happen to them.  I'm probably the worst fan ever of that show, but I will watch the new ones, because after seven or so seasons, I'm invested in finding out about the girl who dies everywhere.

Monday, August 11, 2014

When Everyone is Pregnant But Me

Three months ago, I wrote about my experiences on both sides of the fertility fence.  In that moment, I was hopeful that my time on the infertile/subfertile side of the fence would be short-lived.  You see, we finally found the answer, we thought, to our fertility struggles.  I was diagnosed with very low progesterone and given a prescription for 4 HCG shots, timed specifically to induce my body to create the required progesterone.  A blood test the next month revealed that the hormones were responding exactly as they should.  Our doctor told us to expect to be pregnant within three months.

Except now it's month 4.  Which, I realize in the grand scheme of times that people have waited for things isn't really that long.  But I've already waited 8 years plus 4 months....and that seems plenty long enough to me.

It is difficult to live in a place that hopes for a child, but does not grow jealousy; that longs for a child, but does not cast away the hope after months and years of waiting.  There is a delicate tension that is so easy to lose hold of between waiting and quitting; hoping and turning away. 

As much as we long for more children, there are those moments where I think it would be best and easiest to just never try again; to completely remove ourselves from the game by stopping the charting and waiting game.  To just be.  To live with our two children without the hope or effort of more.  To go to Disneyworld like everyone else and stuff our disposable income into having fun and ignoring that gaping hole of the family we thought we'd have.  To remove ourselves from the pain of hearing "no" everyone month by stopping the asking. 

If I, the sullen child, stomp off declaring, "Fine then! I don't want another one anyway!" then it's me that gets to be back in control, if only in my delusion.  Because in my fallen nature, I want nothing so much as to be in control.  I want the injections I've taken for four months to be predictable and work exactly as they should.  I want 2+2 to equal 4.  But children are nothing if not illogical.  Why should the getting of them be logical?

I think the place I should stay is right in between throwing my hands up in disgust and pining the day away.  Cari wrote so beautifully about the cross we carry when we struggle with infertility. 

I have yet to find a way to balance on the tightrope between what I want and what I have.  I struggle to quiet the longing long enough to find the blessing in my day. 

This has been more apparent lately as the school year gets started and activities increase with our wonderful homeschool community.  As I sat in a meeting last night with other families planning our activities and logistics for the coming year, I'm pretty sure every mother under the age of 40 was expecting...and a couple over 40 were as well (this is probably the exaggeration of my id, but it seemed to be the case!).  One woman I sat near recently had a hysterectomy, so I'm fairly confident there were at least the two of us not in the family way.

I was surrounded by the culture of life in all its beauty, sacrifice, and joy, and I almost choked on it.  This is where the faking it til you make it that I've talked about comes in.  Mostly when I was surrounded by those women expecting their sixth, seventh, eighth, or more, I just wanted to cry.  But not necessarily for the reasons you would think.  While we deeply desire to grow our family, I do find joy in this news from my friends.  Sometimes I have those moments where I think, "really? Why can't I have another one?"  But that's most certainly not directed at taking anything from another.  It's more of a "why can't it be me too?" instead of a "why can't it be me instead?" that I feel.

What stings is when I feel shielded from the news.  When I feel like everyone has known and shared in the joy, but they felt to guard it from me to spare me.  That is a compassionate thought, but I'm sure to discover the news at some point, and it only serves to isolate me when it isn't shared.  It is likely I will have very little of this joyful news of my own to share, sharing in yours is a gift.

There are so many ways I feel like I don't belong in this world of abundant-fertility homeschooling families.  I've seen close friends cringe as they share their news.  That holding back is a reminder of the divide that stands between us.  A divide that doesn't need to be.

Many of those women who were expecting have dealt with incredible hardships in the having of children.  They have lost many children through miscarriage, they have suffered with health problems that have made the child they carry a much longed-for and long-awaited blessing, they might even be risking their life to bring that child into the world.  That knowledge brings us together.  We might have different numbers in our cars, but there is so much more the same between us than different.

We've both lost children, we've both had medical complications, we've both known the struggles of breastfeeding or potty training.  We are both the same in so many more ways than we're different.  If I turned away every time it was hard to be me, I never would have known that, and I never would have had the blessing of these beautiful women in my life.

To those women I say, please share your joy.  It gives me something to hope for.  Please share your excitement, it reminds me this struggle is worth it.  Please trust me to be gracious with your news, and forgive me if I'm not.  You are so dearly loved, and I'm so thankful to share in your life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Homeschool Doubt

First off, in the coming weeks, I'll be playing around with the look around here, so please bear with me.

One of the reasons we've found homeschooling to work for us is Hubby's non-traditional work schedule.  He has worked Tuesday-Saturday the last two years.  When LB went to school one of those years, Hubby and LB barely saw each other.  So, last year, we were back to homeschooling.

For this year, I bought my curriculum from Catholic Heritage Curriculum in the spring.  I'm following most of their recommended planning for fourth grade, with the exception of math and history.  We're using Life of Fred for math, and I have yet to find a history program I truly love, so I think it's going to be unit studies for history.

Going into our fourth year of homeschooling (we started this week), I felt pretty solid in my curriculum choices.  CHC has a nice, gentle four day school week that lets me add in subjects and extra studies where I feel necessary based on my learner, but still provides enough structure that she can work independently when I hit a busy work season.  It works for us.

Four years into homeschooling, and you'd think that perhaps I had fewer doubts, knew what I was doing, or had strong convictions about the rightness of our path.

But something wonderful happened this month that made me question it all.  Hubby's schedule changed to Monday-Friday.  This is a great thing for getting together with extended family and generally socializing with other families, but it made me question why I'm still homeschooling.

Granted, the change happened this week, and we already had everything in place for our school year, but I began to start looking at the local Catholic school with a little more longing.  While I enjoy not spending hundreds of extra dollars a month on tuition, we could swing it, if necessary.  LB had such a great time at all her summer camps, especially seeing school friends. 

And just like that, as the beginning of our self-proclaimed start of the year crept closer, the doubt crept in.  What am I doing?  Am I ruining her high school years?  Her college experience?  Her life?  Is it really so important to homeschool?  Where is my conviction, my zeal for this?

These are, for the most part, ridiculous concerns, and I'm well aware of it.  I have a happy, healthy, functional-in-social-situations fourth grader.  We have always taken each school year a year at a time.  I know that we've left the door open for changes, but I just couldn't get any enthusiasm behind the school year.

So I did what I've found works best in many such situations, I faked it.  I wrote out all the assignments in her assignment book for the first two weeks of school.  I set a new no-screen-time rule during the primary school hours in a typical day.  I prepared, and then, we jumped in.

Monday was Hubby's last workday off before the new schedule takes effect, so he and LB went to a theme park to close out the summer right.

On Tuesday, we began our school day.  And it went just fine.  Even with a trip to the local gymnastics center for SP's class, LB still finished her school work by lunchtime.  In the afternoon, she did chores and began to work on her computer programming class.  Day 1 a success.

This morning, LB was up early and had her school work completed by 9am.  Since she finished so early, I told her we'd go spend the rest of the morning at the zoo.  Off we went, on a cloudy day with an 80% chance of rain, to go see the animals.  The rain held off, and right there, in the middle of the zoo, I found my homeschooling heart again.  It was right there in watching my girls play together.

They're 7 years apart, but homeschooling allows them more time to get to know each other and play together.  While they both have their own schedules and activities, nurturing that sisterly bond is precious to me.  So walking up the path to see the giraffes, I watched them laughing and running in front of me, LB letting SP "win", both girls enjoying the sights and sounds of the animals.  Right there, in the middle of that smelly, drizzly walk, I found that moment of grace to show me the beauty of what we're doing, the rightness, the gift, the goal.

LB has mentioned a desire to go to a traditional high school, so this season of our lives may fade into a more traditional landscape, but for now, for this year, the doubt has lifted and I am reminded of why we choose to live our lives as interwoven as we can.  Family is precious and the bonds these girls are building will outlast me. 

Thank you God for a beautiful start to our school year.

Friday, August 1, 2014


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