Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Learning new things from friends

I've met some really great ladies over the past year. Not only are they fun to hang out with but knowledgeable in areas that I am not and willing to share that knowledge. This spring they have taught me some things about plants and gardening. We recently made a trip to a local nursery together. Fun time!

I had this barren area next to our patio just begging for something to be done to it.

With some guidance from my knowledgeable friends, I decided on Coral Bells. Here are the ones I chose. The purple ones have not bloomed yet. Their blooms are not the most attractive part about them but I'm told that the leaves will stay those beautiful colors ALL YEAR long!! Big bonus!

Here is Matt using M & D's 'garden weasel' that we borrowed. Thanks!

Here is our 'almost' after shot. We still need to add the mulch & add a plant to that stand.

There are additional items in our home that the same friends have helped me chose, made for me, or helped me find just the right spot for. I see these pieces & I think about fun times with friends. Thank you again for all of your help ladies!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lucky #3

I have a secret.

I'm PREGNANT!! I still cannot even believe it! It's like a wonderful & amazing dream. I am actually pregnant! We are so incredibly happy.

We found out on May 15th but I've been reluctant to post about it. I am suddenly superstitious. I worry that if I put it in writing it will somehow jinx me. Silly, I know.

I took a test on Wed 5/14 and it was negative. I told Matt that I didn't think it was going to work out for us again this month. The look of disappointment on his face again made my heart ache. On Thurs 5/15 I decided to test one more time, just in case. It looked negative so I went downstairs to get my breakfast. I came back up to throw the test away before Matt arrived home from the gym. I looked at it again and saw 2 lines!! The 2nd pink line was so faint that I had to hold it up to the light to make sure that it was really there. I thought I was imagining it. Wow, it really was there. I started freaking out. I couldn't stop smiling. I didn't know what to do next. Do I wait until tomorrow to take another test before telling Matt or should I tell him today? I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to keep that from him for an entire day. I raced around & prepared to tell him.

I bought baby Penn State hat before we moved away after college, 5 years ago. Penn State is where we met, fell in love, married, and started our life together. I've kept the hat in a box for the past 5 years and Matt hadn't seen it. I wrote a note on it saying "With Love, Your baby, Arriving Jan 2009" and stuck it to the hat then I put it in a gift bag. I set our digital camera up on the counter to record video. I had the gift bag, the tests from Wed & Thurs ready to show him, and I anxiously awaited his return home from the gym.

He arrived home, clueless. I pressed record and nervously lured him into the kitchen saying that I had a gift for him. Here is the video uploaded to youtube. It came out just as I had planned. I didn't want him to see the camera at first so I stood in front of it. Then I faced him towards it and he saw it. He thought it was going to take a timed photo and did not realize that it was recording video. I LOVE his reaction. I'll never forget his facial expression. I still laugh at the part where he nearly hugs me until I say "I think so" :) Like he wasn't going to hug me if I was playing a mean joke on him. I also laugh at the part where he asks me which side of the test that I peed on. We were as excited as a kid on Christmas all day.

I took another test on Friday and the line was darker. Who am I kidding, I took a test for the next 3 days and watched the line get even darker!

I called the RE's office on Friday too. It was such a GREAT feeling to be able to say "I'm pregnant" instead of calling to set up our next treatment cycle!

My first beta (bloodwork to check HCG level) was Monday morning. The nurse's call arrived that afternoon. My HCG level was 323. My progesterone level was 23. Both within normal PREGNANCY ranges!!!

We went back to the RE on Wednesday morning for another blood test. The wait for that call was even longer. We needed to see those numbers double and they DID! This time they came in at 730! Fantastic! This was on our 3rd wedding anniversary. We were celebrating even more that night at Magnolia!

Glad to finally post my news here. Lucky #3 ... our 3rd cycle with injections & our 3rd wedding anniversary. I'll never forget how happy we are at this moment.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

3rd Anniversary

May 21, 2005 was our wonderful wedding day! It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years already.

I don't think I could have smiled any bigger. It was an amazing day for us.

With our guests

All of the above photos were taken by Annie hannah Mancini, Lumina Photography.

For our anniversary this year we decided to celebrate at one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe Magnolia.

Our yummy meals and shared dessert.

Happy Anniversary, Matt. I love our life together.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cynthia Rowley at Target

Have you seen the new Cynthia Rowley line at Target? Such cute stuff! I picked up a plaid picnic blanket, which is very soft on the underside and easy to transport, especially to the concerts we'll be going to this summer. I also bought a set of vinyl/plastic (but pretty- seriously!) place mats. We have 2 of our nephews & their parents staying with us for a week (until their new house is ready) so these will be perfect. Kid friendly and stylish -at least I think so ;) What do you think?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fear and Hope

There are some days that I can't help but cry about what we're going through. I allow myself to have these moments and try to move on. Most of the time they are when I'm alone, in my car. The lyrics below make me feel ...not so alone.

It's So Hard by the Dixie Chicks,

Back when we started
We didn't know how hard it was
Living on nothing
But what the wind would bring to us
Now we've got something
I can imagine fighting for
So why is fighting all that we're good at anymore

And sometimes I don't have the energy
To prove everybody wrong
And I try my best to be strong
But you know it's so hard
It's so hard

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard when it doesn't come fast
It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard

It felt like a given
Something a woman's born to do
A natural ambition
To see a reflection of me and you

And I'd feel so guilty
If that was a gift I couldn't give
And could you be happy
If life wasn't how we pictured it

And sometimes I just want to wait it out
To prove everybody wrong
And I need your help to move on
Cause you know it's so hard
It's so hard

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard when it doesn't come fast
It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
So hard

I can live for the moment
When all these clouds open up for me to see
And show me a vision
Of you and me swimming peacefully

Last night you told me
That you can't remember
How to feel free

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard when it doesn't come fast
It's so hard when it doesn't come easy, easy

It's so hard

-I never imagined that it would be this difficult to have a child. I never thought that I would have to fight my body the way it feels that I am, to prove my body wrong. I didn't think trying to conceive would make me feel so inadequate.
As with most things in life, it's easier said than done. It's easy to say "yes, we are going through infertility treatments & it's hard, but we're doing alright". To actually sit through the waiting at the doctors, the needles, the invasive ultra sounds, the hope, disappointment, & the pain of it all is more difficult than I know how to express. I think if the possibility of this working out was 100% sure, then the light at the end of the tunnel might not seem so far away. The fear of the unknown is overwhelming sometimes. What if this doesn't work, ever. How would we move on from the great desire of having a biological child? What if we do finally conceive and lose the baby? People will say "You can't think about those things" but the truth is, it's impossible not to. I'm not saying that I dwell on them because I don't, but the thoughts cross my mind and they really scare me.

Then I try to be positive and hopeful again. We've been listening to this song on the way to our appointments:

Dream Big, by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband

When you cry, be sure to dry your eyes,
'Cause better days are sure to come.
And when you smile, be sure to smile wide,
And don't let them know that they have won.
And when you walk, walk with pride,
And don't show the hurt inside,
Because the pain will soon be gone.

And when you dream, dream big,
As big as the ocean, blue.
'Cause when you dream it might come true.
But when you dream, dream big.

And when you laugh, be sure to laugh out loud,
'Cause it will carry all your cares away.
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself,
And it will help you feel okay.
And when you pray, pray for strength to help to carry on,
But when the troubles come your way.

And when you dream, dream big,
As big as the ocean, blue.
'Cause when you dream it might come true.
But when you dream, dream big.

(Dream big.)
(Dream big.)

When you cry be sure to dry your eyes,
cause better days are sure to come.
And when you smile be sure to smile wide, and
don't let them know that they have won.
And when you laugh be sure to laugh out loud,
'Cause it will carry all your cares away.
And when you see, see the beauty all
around and in yourself, and it will help you feel okay.
And when you pray, pray for strength to
help to carry on when the troubles come your way.

Chorus 2x

-We are dreaming BIG.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It wasn't a total flop.

I decided to try out my new giant cupcake pan on Friday night. I used this recipe for Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla cake. The cake tasted amazing. The Magnolia recipe is even easier than the Snowflake Cake recipe by Sara Perry that I have turned to over the past 3 years when I wanted a vanilla cake/cupcakes.

Here's what the cakes look like pre-icing and after being trimmed down (flat) so they could be put together:

I used the butter cream icing recipe from the same Magnolia link. It is good but was not stiff enough to use the way I had planned. I was hoping the icing would turn out like these cupcakes , pictured below, that friends and I made at a get together.

See the star icing design on the cupcakes at the top right hand side of the picture? That is what I was going for but the tip I chose to use may have been too big and the icing was too thin to create those. If I use that icing recipe again I'd use less milk (or, Jen, can you send me your recipe for icing please?). My icing ended up looking like this:

Not terrible and not exactly what I was going for but I'm still proud of it. I love my new giant cupcake pan. We shared the cake with family on Mother's Day and are still enjoying it with fresh strawberries for dessert this week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The insanity of the 2ww

For those not familiar with ttc (trying to conceive) lingo - 2ww is the 2 week wait between ovulation and finding out if you're pregnant or not. First, I should go back to report on the progress we made this cycle. It took 14 shots to grow one mature follicle on my right ovary, again (why is my left ovary lazy?). Although it was a lonely, single, mature follicle, it was "beautiful" according to our RE and I couldn't agree more. It was perfectly round, full, and looked ready to release one perfect egg. I wanted to take a picture of it on the ultra sound monitor but I didn't want to jinx ourselves or be sad to have the picture if it doesn't turn out to be our baby.

This is our 5th medicated cycle and 3rd cycle with the same injection regimen. If things do not work out again this cycle, then we will meet with the RE to re-evaluate our treatment plan. I know it seems pessimistic to talk about the "if this doesn't work again" possibility, but it's necessary and actually productive. It helps to have a direction to look forward to since the possibility of it not working is real. It's a fine line to walk ... hopeful and realistic.

So, the 2ww... often turns my normal functioning self into an analyzing, distracted FREAK. The first week isn't so bad b/c the freedom from needles, doctor appointments, & ultra sounds feels... well...FREEING! The second week, I have these back and forth conversations with myself about ...
Am I pregnant? No, don't get hopes up too high. But if I were, the baby would be due (insert various due dates here). It probably didn't work again. But if it did work, imagine how wonderful it would be to share the news with Matt ...
Then I just get upset with myself for getting my hopes up again. I've read about others who are ttc having similar conversations/arguments with themselves so I'm not completely insane - yet.

I think Matt has similar thoughts about it too. Last cycle he would make comments about how he was trying not to get his hopes up too high so that he wouldn't be as disappointed, but then I'd catch him participating in conversations about having a baby by a certain time next year. I would take even more pain from this process if it helped him feel less.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Giant Cupcake

From the tiny cupcakes on a stick posted below to a GIANT cupcake! I don't discriminate. I love all cupcakes. I've wanted this special cupcake pan by Wilton since I saw this post last summer. Isn't it fantastic? I wasn't ready to drop $30 on it until I had a party planned to create it for. Well, while browsing the end caps at Target this past weekend I saw the pan on CLEARANCE! It was more than 50% off so I couldn't pass it up. I can't wait to try it out. I'll be sure to post pics when I do. If you'd like to see pics now of other people's creations with this pan, I did a Google image search here. Happy Monday... back to my paperwork!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Creepy High Chair has a new home

We participated in my sister-in-law's neighborhood yard sale today. With coffee & donuts in hand, we were over to her house by about 6:30am and ready for the early birds. We are TIRED but nearly 5 copays richer. This has become our new joke. Whenever we want to buy something we think about how many copays we could use the money towards instead. When you have 2-4 doctor appointments a week I guess you tend to think this way. Someday we'll probably equate that money into how many packs of diapers we could buy instead. So, the yard sale was a success. Creepy high chair and some of our other old belongings have new homes.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I love cupcakes.

They're even better on a stick!
I've had this page bookmarked for a couple of months. I wanted to try to make them. I even bought the tiny scalloped cookie cutter but haven't gotten around it trying them out yet. The first part of the recipe is the same as I used to make the red velvet truffles at Christmas (except I dipped them in white chocolate). I wasn't as impressed with the red velvet truffles as I was with the Oreo truffles. Maybe I need to try to make Oreo cupcakes on a stick!

I checked Bakerella's blog recently and saw that she was on Martha! I am bummed that I missed this episode but hopefully it's still on our DVR (it's set to record all new Martha shows). Bakerella blogged about being on the show here. I'm thankful that she posted such detailed instructions and look forward to trying to make them myself. You should check out her blog & photos. She creates beautiful treats that seem almost too pretty to eat!