"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, July 31, 2015

An old-fashioned vacation (kind of)


My parents, siblings, and all our little ones (7 grandkids among us 3 siblings) stayed in a cute cabin by a river in north Alabama for 5 days this past week. And it was so nice! It was a very off-the-grid vacation with no cell service...but I actually liked that. We did have wi-fi (which meant at least we could text people who had iPhones too) but we couldn't stream Netflix or anything because of the bandwidth. But that's okay! Here are a few highlights of our trip, in 7 quick take style, with pictures:

The river
It was a short hike from our cabin to the river, and although the water was super low for the most part, it was still fun to wade in!


 THOSE CHEEKS.

Sadly, I have no pictures of the canoeing we also did (too nervous about bringing a camera on water!), so here's the next best thing:
We did a little fishing in the canoes. Landon got to use his new pole (and net) that was bought using some of his birthday money! He LOVED going on "the boat."

Logan and I got to go on a canoeing "date", and he caught a fish! And a tree. And we almost flipped over due to his expert steering skills. But it was fun. ;)


Screened-in porch

Seriously, I think I'm putting this on the list of requirements for a new house if we ever move. Because, perfection. Sounds of nature + a good book (+ maybe a mojito) = bliss

And the fireplace on the porch was pretty perfect for making s'mores. Yummy.


Board games
Well, it's a good thing we brought some games because of the limited technology! And I didn't get any pictures of our Monopoly marathons, but this was happening a few feet away:
I feel obligated to mention that I KICKED BOOTY in our last game of Monopoly. (Maybe next time will be your turn, Lindsey...ha)

Hiking
 This was the only water fall that wasn't dried up (there should have been several along the trails we took), but it was still pretty neat.

 Chase was enjoying a little freedom from my back while we took a much-needed break



3 one-year olds, 3 three-year olds, and a 7-year old. Fun fun fun. (No really, it was fun!)

Cousin love
 "Cheeeeeese" (they were proud of their rocks)

Okay, so maybe Chase didn't love when Leah and Amelie would steal his food...

Birthday
In case you're new here (or didn't know), I have a twin sister! That's her. We got to celebrate our birthday TOGETHER on Saturday for the first time in years - since we live in different states now. So that was neat. And we're holding our twin nieces...because God is funny sometimes. (And we're both fraternal twins, if that's not completely obvious.)

Family
I'm pretty blessed to have a family that just really enjoys hanging out together. And I'm super excited we took some cute pictures!

 My parents (They're THE BEST, in case you didn't know)
 My brother and his family
 My sister and her family
And that makes 7 things so I'll spare you the 200 other pictures I took on the trip. Go see Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for more quick takes!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The very hungry caterpillar plays soccer (or something like that)



Confession: I pick our kids' birthday party themes several months in advance. And somehow they end up being the most perfect themes ever! For Landon's 1st birthday, I picked Curious George, which is hilarious because Landon = George. Like for real. The naughtiness, curiosity, the babbling. Yep.

And in Chase's case, I actually picked the theme before he was born - I knew I wanted to take his monthly pictures with The Very Hungry Caterpillar teething rattle I found on clearance for like $2. And OH MY GOSH, Chase ended up being a very hungry caterpillar himself. He took his good ol' time in the whole mobility department, crawling a week before his birthday. And he eats and eats and eats. So, Chase = hungry caterpillar. For reals.

ANYWAY. Like I mentioned before, we combined Landon's 3rd birthday and Chase's 1st birthday for a big ol' birthday bash. Prepare yourself for picture overload. (Although I have to admit I didn't take as many pictures of the details as I would have liked. Maybe that's a good thing...ha.)

Cupcakes from scratch are THE BEST. Chocolate with cream cheese icing (also from scratch). Thanks to my momma for helping!
Forgot to take close-ups of the food but I will say I tried really, really hard to simplify the food this year. And I did do better than previous years but it still takes time and money to feed 60-ish people. I just like having plenty options because everybody loves to eat at a party!
I thought it would be cute to have all the food the caterpillar ate in the book...but decided it'd be easier to go the candy route. And it was. (I got desperate for the apples....but the rest is cute!)
 The sugar cookies were in the shapes of caterpillars and butterflies! This was the only "activity" I planned, and it was a do-it-yourself thing. The kids are just really good at finding things to do.
Party favors
 Cheerios for the babies, and for the big kids - notebook, pencil, and a sucker
Thanks to my daddy for driving to Walgreens an hour before the party to pick up the pictures! Because I'm a slacker. ;)



 I knew he would love his cupcake...because he IS a very hungry caterpillar. ;)

 It didn't take him long to just grab the whole thing like a hamburger to eat it. So funny.

And just for fun how about a little flashback to Landon's 1st birthday...


 I love this picture! Chase with Noanie and Maw Maw

Somebody was TIRED from all the partying.

Party = Success!

In case you're interested in the details...

  • Birthday shirts: my cousin at MissSewItAllBoutique
  • Caterpillar picture banner and happy birthday banner: Me!
  • Caterpillar food labels: free download at Polka Dots and Puppies, at the bottom of the blog post
  • Soccer treat bags, plates, napkins, cupcake liners and toppers: Michael's (on super clearance so I don't know if they have them anymore)
  • Pendant banner: Oriental Trading, on clearance for $1 or so (I added the foam soccer balls in between, which were from Hobby Lobby...although I could have easily printed some myself. Oh well.)
  • Notebooks, soccer pencils and soccer suckers: Oriental Trading
  • Random caterpillar, butterfly, and cocoon cut-outs: Amazon (the price went way up after I ordered it)
  • The big' ol caterpillar on the wall by the food: Logan!
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar favor bag topper: instant download at ThePurpleMonkeyShop


(No affiliate links because I'm lazy and no, none of these people know I'm linking to them)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NFP and me (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

We kind of let things happen after Landon was born, as crazy as it sounds. I didn't get my cycle back until the day before his 1st birthday, and while Logan and I weren't totally sure we were ready to endure another crazy pregnancy just yet, I don't think we ever abstained during a fertile period.

We did start "actively" trying (if you could call it that? I kind of hate that phrase) when Landon was 16-ish months old because I realized we only had 5 chances a year to get pregnant because of my long cycles. We got a positive pregnancy test 2 months later. Totally shocked, but we were thrilled!

Then we had another crazy pregnancy. That's when we starting thinking that maaaaaaybe we should try to start spacing our pregnancies out more. Yes, we want more kids - that hadn't changed. But now we knew that every subsequent pregnancy was likely to be just as crazy and possibly even crazier.
SO worth it!
This is where - irony of all ironies - I'm actually thankful for my sub fertility in a way. Because if Logan and I had to decide every.single.month whether or not it was a good time to get pregnant, we would be totally overwhelmed. God, in his infinite power and wisdom, knows that in our particular situation, we need more time to 1) recover after 9 months of survival mode, and 2) prepare ourselves for another 9 months of survival mode. [I should remind you that Logan and I have to abstain during our pregnancies - incompetent cervix, ugh - so just that reason alone makes it VERY HARD to be open to a pregnancy. But we just love babies and know it's worth the sacrifice...so...yeah. But it's still hard.]

I was kind of freaking out about getting pregnant before my cycle came back after Chase, so we started learning Creighton. I have friends that found it helpful during the postpartum/breastfeeding time, and I knew it could likely help with my abnormal cycles. So when we were given the opportunity to meet with an instructor at a discounted price, we jumped on it. Chase was 8 months old.

FYI for any potential Creighton learners: they tell you to abstain for your first month of charting. And since my reproductive system is trying oh so very hard to get going again, we've had a ridiculous amount of abstinence days since then. It's been rough. Especially when I think about getting pregnant again and having to abstain that entire time as well. I just want to be with my husband, ya know? And I KNOW it's even harder for Logan.

When we first started the Creighton thing, Logan didn't even want to think about me getting pregnant until the end of this year. And I don't blame him! Pregnancy is not fun for either of us (but it's so incredibly worth it, in case I haven't made that clear...).

But the thing about NFP is that it makes you really, really, really discern whether or not you have a valid reason for postponing pregnancy. And every day that we (reluctantly) abstain makes us think, could we have a baby right now?

Honestly, for me, the answer is yes. We could. Both our boys are sleeping through the night, I'm healthy (just saw Dr. H and he said all looks good! stupid cervix included), we're paying the bills, etc. Considering my crazy pregnancies, though, I would like to have a cycle first - just to make sure my body is ready. Logan is still not quite there, and I respect that. Due to our frequent discussions about the matter, however, he is now open to the possibility of a baby in a couple months, as opposed to the end of the year. Pretty sure I can thank NFP for that.

If I could plan the perfect scenario, though, it would be really nice to get pregnant and have a baby all in the same calendar year, for insurance and financial reasons (since our pregnancies are expensive and it would be nice to only have to meet ONE deductible).

But I kind of feel bad saying that because I know these things can't be planned and that some women would take pregnancy in any shape or form. Really, I get that. More than I can convey. I often wonder if we will even be able to get pregnant again!

Right now we're still very much in the learning curve of Creighton, mainly because I haven't gotten my period yet. But I'm thinking that it will totally be worth it in the long run. I just wish I had known about Creighton before I was married! I knew during our infertility period that it would likely help, but I was struggling too much with losing Levi and everything else that I couldn't handle anything else.

So that's why when it comes down to it, I think it's best to just trust in God's plan and in His timing. And to be open to His promptings. Sometimes that means you use NFP, and sometimes that means just letting whatever happens, happen. While Logan and I are abstaining on possible fertile days right now, we also know that we could end up pregnant. Because sex = (the possibility of) babies, even if you think you have a foolproof method of avoiding pregnancy.

I'm sure many people probably think that we should call it quits on the baby-making front and that we should rely on some "permanent" solution to make pregnancy impossible. But I don't see that as an option, nor will I ever (unless it's deemed medically necessary in an emergency situation, which isn't very likely). I know we won't always be terrified of a rough pregnancy. Our kids will get older and will be more helpful, and maybe one day we will be able to shelf NFP for good and let God bless us with as many children as He sees fit...whether it's biologically or not.

As months pass, I find that Logan and I are more open to the sacrifice involved with having another baby. And I think that's what NFP does. What's important to remember is that God always knows what's best for us, even (and perhaps especially) when we don't understand it ourselves.

Jen Fulwiler has the best post about NFP ever, so you should click over and read it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NFP and me (Part 1)

So, it's NFP awareness week (in case you don't follow a million Catholic blogs).

I'm sure I've mentioned NFP here and there on ye ol' blog, but I don't know if I've ever devoted an entire post to it. I think Logan and I have a unique experience, because we've experienced pregnancy right after marrying, pregnancy loss, and infertility. Although I do think I'm considered "sub-fertile" due to the nature of my irregular cycles and the slow return of them after pregnancy, we also have the factor of difficult pregnancies that makes us have regular conversations about how/if we will use NFP.

I wrote this post a few months ago about being open to life when you have rough pregnancies, and everything I said in it still rings true today. We want more babies, but we hate being pregnant.

So I figured I could share what role NFP plays in that for us right now. (I already told you about our sex life, so NFP talk is nothing! Wink wink.)
circa 2006 (or 2007?)....foreshadowing of how we would feel about NFP. JUST KIDDING.
I should say that I guess we've never actually used NFP to avoid until now. And when I say "use NFP" I mean that I'm charting and we only have sex on days when I appear infertile. We've had 2 situations where we just flat out abstained for an extended period (3 weeks and then 3 months) since I had NO IDEA what my body was doing, but those times we actually wanted to get pregnant and needed to wait for specific reasons (I'll explain both situations in this post).

But first...back to the beginning. Like when I was in high school.

Disclaimer: this post will include the words period, ovaries, mucus, etc. So stop reading if you don't want to hear alllll about my reproductive system. Mmkay?

I think it was my junior year in high school and I still hadn't gotten my period. So I went to see a Nurse Practitioner and she prescribed birth control. Surprise, surprise.

I guess I was on that a year or so, and although I was not having sex so it wasn't actually "birth control", I knew that it was not a solution to my lack of periods. Yes, it was making my period come regularly, but what was I going to do if I got married and wanted kids? Birth control was not an option. Plus, it made me hormonal and emotional and I gained weight. So my mom took me to see her GYN doctor, a very nice man who took my hand as I explained that I DID NOT WANT to be on birth control anymore.

So he prescribed progesterone. I don't remember the specifics, but after going a couple months without a period, I'd take progesterone that would make me start. That seemed to work just fine for awhile, until things went CRAZY (I think I was in nursing school at this point). There was one semester where I spotted off and on for several months.

Looking back, I think my involvement in sports was part of the reason I never started my period. And then I was super stressed my junior and senior year in high school (I was a big overachiever), and of course jumping into nursing school didn't help the stress situation.

But I also had symptoms of PCOS. I've never been officially diagnosed, but 2 doctors have told me they could make a case for it.

Fast forward to when Logan and I were almost married. Not long after we were engaged, we met with the priest who officiated our wedding, and he recommended NFP classes. It seemed like "the thing to do" once you were engaged, so we signed up for the classes - even though Logan and I both wanted kids right away. I knew we might have trouble getting pregnant due to my history, so I figured the classes wouldn't hurt.

These particular classes were for the sympto-thermal method, and while I know now that it is not the ideal method for me....I'm so glad we did take the plunge. Because after a few months we learned that I wasn't ovulating. And apparently that's a very important factor when you want to have kids. *Sigh*

But I also knew that if we were supposed to be parents - and I honestly felt called to that once we were engaged - that it would happen. I was under a lot of stress during our engagement, in my last semester of nursing school and then taking my first RN job working nights. It was probably the most stressful time of my life (which is saying something since later I lost our first baby), so I was hopeful that once I wasn't stressed anymore, I would start ovulating.
At our rehearsal dinner
So we got married and hoped for the best. I ended up quitting my job a month later, so we abstained for 3 weeks until our new health insurance kicked in. And lo and behold, we got pregnant the next month. 2 months after we married. Turns out I do ovulate sometimes. (Seriously, sometimes. Not every month.)

After losing Levi, my doctor told us not to get pregnant for 6 months. I got him to change it to 3 months. And since I had actually conceived Levi on day 41 and had no idea when I would ovulate again (this was before I was really in tune with my crazy fertility), we had to abstain for those 3 months. (And now you know why sex was so hard for us! We abstained for 4 months in our first year of marriage, and I was pregnant for 5 of the months that we actually did have sex.)

Thus began the desperate trying-to-conceive period of our marriage. It lasted 18 months, during which I would chart for a few months, get frustrated and say TO HELL WITH IT, then realize I needed to know what was going on with my body in order to get pregnant, start charting again, get frustrated AGAIN. Etc etc. I tried Clomid a couple times but it literally made me crazy and actually seemed to not work for me, since my progesterone levels were too low.

Eventually I learned that I do ovulate on my own (when I'm not ridiculously stressed), but it just happens every 2-3 months. So I learned the take notice of the signs (mainly mucus, sorry for TMI) that signaled my crazy ovaries were actually deciding to pop out an egg.

So while I wasn't actually "charting" when we conceived Landon, I knew that I was ovulating and we took advantage.

After a crazy pregnancy with bedrest and whatnot, I had quite a few people ask if we would "be more careful" in the future when it came to having more babies. And the short answer to that is...no.

Come back in the next day or two for Part 2! Because I hate crazy long blog posts.

Update: Read Part 2 here.

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