Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Of This Much I'm Sure

Nadine Kenney Johnstone author of: Of This Much I'm Sure NAILS IT!

I am not sure what else to write or how else to say it. I read this book simply soaking it all in. I was nodding and crying and smiling and completely and unbelievably blown away by how every single feeling I have ever felt could be included in this one book. 

I was so excited to be chosen to receive an advance copy of this book signed by the author in exchange for my honest review. I honestly feel like I am THE PERSON to review it. My journey to motherhood ... sucked. And Nadine's did too. But in the end, oh these beautiful miracles. So worth every single second of that pain.

Now let me pause for a moment to tell you that Nadine Johnstone and I are not at all similar in many other ways. She is a big city gal who does not share my faith. She likes yoga and sitting in coffee shops. However, we both did infertility and so, somehow, I feel we are long lost sisters. As she writes in the closing pages of her book:

But I do feel something else: camaraderie. Despite our various backgrounds, we all share something. And so, as they speak of the testing and the disappointments, I nod and pat their arms. I hug them -- friends and strangers -- because we are all soldiers in the same war.

Yes! This is how I feel when someone understands what I did and how incredibly painful it was for me. 

So to tell you the other reason I absolutely LOVED Nadine's book, I want to quickly recap my journey.

You can read my story in pictures here

For those of you who are new to my Blog, let me recap my journey for your first.
  • 4 failed artificial inseminations (IUI)
  • 1 cancelled IUI cycle
  • 4 failed attempts at IVF
  • Quit trying: adopted our son Isaac
  • Conceived two times miraculously (the first just 8 months after Isaac was born)
  • Went back for last embryos and had our one shooting star: Hannah
But here is the part I often don't spend a lot of time talking about. Not only did I have one heck of a time having my children, but I really struggled with how unfair it was that even in the little things, I seemed to get the raw end of the deal. 

I mean how can one person be allergic to all things conception, pregnancy, and delivery?

During Elijah "Sidge's" birth, I was rushed in for a stat c-section, and we spent ten minutes clinging to an Apgar of 1 while we waited for them to save his life. I then spent a week in the hospital battling infection after infection. During my pregnancy with Abigail, I had an emergency appendectomy while awake on an operating table in Turkey. And then my pregnancy with Hannah left me doubled over from depression and incredible illness for 39-weeks, and I birthed her hanging onto mere shreds of my former self. But in the end ...
  • This is my adoption miracle.
  • This is my first natural miracle.
  • This is my second natural miracle.
  • This is my IVF miracle. 
Okay, now back to why I loved Nadine and her writing. I don't want to ruin the book for you, but when she finally gets pregnant and goes into have her son and draws out this beautiful natural childbirth plan, I couldn't help but think, okay. Here we go. Here's where it all changes. She's going to get the baby and the beautiful birth story too.

And she doesn't! I hate to say that I was cheering for things to go badly, but I was so relieved to read that I wasn't the only one who just seemed allergic to everything surrounding children and families. It isn't just me. It happened to Nadine too!

Oh and our other similarity: Nadine wrote about her journey, and I am about halfway through my book on a similar topic. Here's a link to just a sample of my book. (My book will be surrounding our Dalmatian's role in the decade we struggled to start our family.)

To close, I want to say this. Nadine is an incredible writer. Not only is her story just plain good, but she truly has a gift. I honestly thought to myself while reading: if it wasn't for the fact that my story is more about my dog, I'm not sure I would need to write it because Nadine said every single thing I've wanted to say.

Because many of my Blog writers are pretty conservative in their language, I did want to say that there are a few choice words scattered throughout the pages. However, I must say that they didn't bother me greatly. I've read other books where the bad language was a distraction. But in this case, I felt that Nadine usually reserved for a time that sort of deserves it. Close to bleeding to death? You may cuss.

I want to close by saying how PROUD I am of Nadine. From what I can tell, this is her first book. It is simply outstanding. And while I think every woman who battled this ugly disease (I've written about how I feel about infertility in a letter to its ugly self here) should read this book, I really, really, REALLY want to encourage individuals walking alongside women on this journey to read this book. It will give you such an incredible understanding of how hard infertility is on every single area of your life.

Bravo Nadine. YOU NAILED IT!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Funnies


For Valentine's Day, JB gave me the "evening off" complete with hot bath and a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Toward the end of the night, I was sitting on my bed, by myself, in my robe, eating my ice cream when Hannah wandered in.
Hannah: "You have chocolate on your robe."
Me: "I know. I spilled it."
Hannah: "Yeah. Next time you shouldn't eat ice cream in your robe. Eat it naked or in your clothes Mama."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Becoming My Dog and Hiking the Land

I've been very purposeful in trying to keep my mood and anxiety in good shape. I am really only struggling mildly, and JB and I both think it is due to the absence of sunlight and my hormones conspiring against me at the same time. 

The pictures above were taken on my hike of the property. It feels almost like betrayal to take selfies with any dog but my Scrubby. But you know, these dogs are good dogs, and I am really falling for them. I take turns on each of my hike taking a different dog. They love it and are great hikers. Right now I keep them on leash, but I let the leash down frequently when we end up on opposite sides of trees, etc. And Arabelle, our female Australian Shepherd is proving to be the brains behind the operation, while Ritter is more the lover of the two. Man is she sharp. I fell once, and she was right back at my side in a second. She checked for me over her shoulder nearly non-stop, and did not even come close to bolting when off-leash.

One of the things I've been trying to do regularly is hike our property. This is the first time I mapped it using an online app. Hiking the entire wooded areas and back to our house is 1.68 miles. I did it in 49 minutes. That might not sound very impressive, but it is very steep. I mean there are parts where I am grabbing trees to make my way up. So I am proud of this. I thought it would be fun on this page to keep track of the times I hike the property to keep myself accountable. I'm also going to try to put a map on here at some point of the hike. I hope to be doing this at least three times a week.
  • February 15, 2017: 1.68 miles in 49 minutes

Roses are red, violets are blue. I love to decorate my house. How about you?

Once again, February is here and with it, the celebration of Valentines. During the first couple of weeks of the month, our senses were stimulated with a flood of imagines enticing us to find romantic words, flowers, chocolates and the colors red and pink extremely appealing.

Valentine's day represents the love of a couple, the unity of friendship, the spreading of love... All wonderful causes! But also, causes that should be acknowledged and celebrated not only February 14th but everyday of every month of every year...Right?

I don't know if valentine's day is a significant day for you or not. If it is, I hope you got pampered on Tuesday and felt very special. Ans if it is not, I hope you enjoy the "just because" type of gifts on any given day. But, whatever the case, I thought it might be fun to extrapolate Valentines to home decor!

When I think of Valentines, I feel like using the following elements in my ornamentation:

1. The color red: red is the color of fire and blood. It is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate and raises blood pressure.

2. The color pink: pink is a delicate color that means sweet, nice, playful, cute, romantic, charming, feminine, and tender. It is associated with bubble gum, flowers, babies, little girls, cotton candy, and sweetness. The color pink is the color of the universal love of oneself and of others.

3. Soft fabrics: gentle textiles like sheepskins rugs, velvet pillows, wool throw blankets say cuddles and comfort to me.

4. Candles, glass details and brass elements add texture, spark and romanticism.

5. Flowers. Flowers are the perfect touch to create beauty and warmth. They add freshness and a welcoming sensation to your home.

6. Pictures. Nothing says "love" better than pictures beautifully displayed of your loved ones.

Combine all these elements and you will find results like these!

I have to say, I think decorating Valentine's style is lovely. Don't you? Let out the romantic in you and display it in your home. The result will be darling! :)



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wee-wind Wednesday

Flashing back to this time of year EIGHT years ago. I had had an everything-that-could-go-wrong-did-go-wrong delivery and recovery which included: stat c-section, an ileus, endometritis. c-diff, mastitis, and who knows what else. This was my first day home. I left the hospital weighing more than I did when entering due to water gain from being on IV fluids for a week. What a mess! We had gone from infertility to two babies and a big dog seemingly overnight. Can't believe how long ago this was. Since then we have lived in Florida, Turkey, the Azores, and now Tennessee. What a difference eight years make!

We Bought a Farm

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Influencers Who Inspire Us

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Happy Tuesday Tribe!
I am super excited to share our influencer with you today.  So let’s jump right in.
John Stephens was born just outside Springfield, Ohio. He is one of four children, raised in church, and a natural-born musician. Gospel music and church were a regular part of life in the Stephens family.
A true child prodigy, John entered high school at the age of 12 and by the age 16 was graduating high school as the salutatorian of his class. With offers from Ivy League schools Harvard and Georgetown, John decided University of Pennsylvania was the best fit for him. There he graduated magna cum laude. John’s intelligence is absolutely stunning! His natural musical abilities and strong intellectual capacity is quite the conundrum and the more I have researched him the more my respect level has grown for him. While his talent and intelligence spoke volumes, I think the uniqueness of John’s story is that his hard work coupled with being in the right place at the right time has catapulted him to success.
So who is this John Stephens? Well John chose his stage name from an idea given to him by friends who he perceived that his voice has a old-school, classic sound. J. Ivy, a poet stated, "I heard your music and it reminds me of that music from the old school. You sound like one of the legends. As a matter of fact, that's what I'm going to call you from now on! I'm going to call you 'John Legend'.” And there it is folks, that’s how the Legend was born!
Through my research of Mr. Legend I discovered that I don’t really share many of the same views he does. I found that quite disappointing for a moment, wondering how I can feel so connected with someone and disagree with them on so many things. HA! Story of our lives! But after that moment passed, I came to the truth: I don’t have to agree with him to find value in who he is and the gift he brings to the music industry and society as a whole. Our commonality is the love of music and his passion for justice. Where we meet on the road of life is at the intersection of incredible music; he makes it and I enjoy it. There is a healthy inclusiveness that comes when you can meet someone who carries opposing views but be willing to understand where they come from and stay on that common ground with them. It’s freeing to know your boundaries with others and enjoyable to know where you stand with them.
While we don’t see eye to eye on many topics, we do share the core value of justice. His conviction for social justice and his generosity to it is beautiful, it’s well thought out, and intentional. When I see what he’s doing and listen to the songs he produces, I can feel that he is truly driven by love and moved with compassion.
Legend, who is quite intelligent and opinionated, seems to be equally humble. What I love about him is that he is walking out his dream: to be a famous musician and create change and opportunity that helps to better others. In an interview, Legend was asked what made him use his voice in a way that advocates social justice, what made him start speaking out and he responded, “I always was, I’m just more famous now, so it gets more attention.” I really appreciate that and I think it’s one of the things that has built respect for him as an artist and it causes me to evaluate myself.
Whether your platform is large or small, whether you’re at the beginning of your career or well into it, what are the things you care most about? On which values are you unwilling to compromise? Know those deeply, so that when your life grows in the direction of your purpose and opportunity comes you are solid in your yeses and unmovable in your noes.
To conclude, I have two stories to share with you. I have had the privilege of meeting Legend in person and seeing him live in concert. I remember sitting at that concert and being completely overcome with emotion. Not because I was seeing this celebrity I loved, but because it was a familiar feeling. It felt like freedom, like the colors that were dull all of a sudden were intensely vibrant. It was this feeling of encouragement and inspiration that reminded the crowd that we can be whoever we want to be. Reading that back, it sounds a little strange, but I will never forget that feeling. That moment makes me grateful for people who are willing to work as hard as they can to go after their dream or calling or purpose, whatever you would like to call it. Then there was the time I got to meet him personally. While it was a brief meeting, he so generously was fully engaged with each person there. It was like we had “our moment”. It was sweet and humbling and kind, again, a familiar feeling.
So to say I am grateful for John Legend would be accurate. His music, his passion, and his kindness has impacted my life greatly. Looking back, certain songs have gotten me through some of the more difficult moments in my life, and they have also been themes for some of the best moments.
Click the links below to share in my top Legend songs:

Thank you so much for reading! Comment below and share who has/ is inspiring you!

See you next Tuesday.

Tuesday Truth: Hannah the Fashionista

My first three children have never cared much at all about what they wear. Abigail will occasionally comment that something feels a little too confining or too tight around her toes (she likes her toes to be able to wiggle), but JB and I have never, EVER had a clothes argument with Isaac, Sidge, or Abigail.

Enter Hannah. It doesn't matter WHAT I pick out, it is absolutely unacceptable to her. I immediately hear phrases such as:"Oh Mama, I canNOT wear that." And if I don't listen, she plops on the floor and literally starts sobbing. She doesn't throw fits exactly, but there is great gnashing of teeth and lots of tears.

And of course, I am HUGE on consistency. So now that I have told her what to wear, I have to follow through.

And for what? So she can wear something that I, not one of the most fashionably with-the-times people there is, can have my daughter wear something that I deem appropriate?

About three months ago, I decided to heck with that idea.

Don't get me wrong. I think the parent should be in charge and that the child should listen. Thus the reason that when I pick something, I have to stand firm and make this girl wear it. But there are so many things I fight with Hannah about every day. Do I really need to fight clothes battles?

So now, each day, I tell her to go pick out her clothes. I only have two rules: (1) they have to be appropriate (aka "modest"? I hate that word) and (2) they have to be weather appropriate. I also reserve the right on Sundays to make sure it is something a little "nicer" just because I want her to wear some of those cute clothes in her closet now and then.

The pictures below is what Hannah put on yesterday for co-op. She wanted to put her head down in the second photo so that we could see the bow she picked out:

Now coming up with what she should wear, is not without discussion. It still takes a long time to get to what you see in the picture above.

Here's how this conversation went:

Hannah comes downstairs in brown corduroy dress without a shirt on underneath. This breaks rule #1 and #2. It is too cold to wear an "overalls" style dress without a shirt on. And you can't wear a shirt that shows your chest (especially because it is winter.)

Hannah: "Mama, this is what I pick to wear."
Me: "Okay, but if you want to wear that dress, it requires a shirt."
Hannah: "Okay."

She returns with purple monkey shirt. She wants it over the dress.

Me: "This is really supposed to be worn under the dress. That's what the dress is designed for."
Hannah: "Okay Mama."

We put the monkey shirt on under the dress. Hannah immediately wrinkles her nose.

Hannah: "Oh Mama. This will not work. No one can even see my shirt or see the monkey on my shirt."
Me: "Well, you can put it on over the dress."
Hannah: "Yes. That is what I will do."

Now the shirt is long, so I pull it all the way down. For some reason, Hannah has an issue with shirts going down over her bum.

Hannah: "Oh Mama. That's way too long. It can't cover my bum. I have to pull it up. Like this."
Me: "Okay."
Hannah: "And I need a bow. A blue bow."
Me: "Okay. And what shoes are you going to wear."
Hannah: "My white sandals."

She runs to the laundry room and returns with white, summer, sandals, thus violating rule #2. It is too cold for sandals. I tell her she has to pick out warmer shoes.

Hannah: "I'll pick my pink tennis shoes. I love those shoes."
Me: "All right."
Hannah: "No socks."
Me: "No, you have to wear socks because it is winter. So get some socks and pink shoes."
Hannah: "Okay Mama. It's a deal."