Tuesday, November 19, 2013

8 Years.

8 years.
1 dog.
4 places of residence.
7 vehicles.
2 degrees obtained with one (still) in progress.
9 jobs held.
1 trip to France.
1 surgery.
1 infertility diagnosis.
1 trip to Maui.
1 successful round of IVF.
6 freezer babies.
1 baby girl on the way!

We Are Blessed.

It dawned on me the other day, that I most definitely would not be where I am today without this guy.  I'm not saying that I wouldn't be a functioning member of society (okay maybe), but I most definitely would not have been able to battle infertility and achieve one of my life-long goals of becoming a mother by my lonesome.  I'm specifically referring to my Mr. D - because together we were able to heal from our diagnosis, make a plan of achieving our goal, and will see parenthood come to fruition in the very-near future.  That's a huge thing to get through!  It had to be him . . . we've come a long way together . . I can't wait to see what the next year holds!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We're Having A . . .


We were told back at 14 weeks that it very much looked like a girl - but to not start going crazy on decorating/purchasing.  I started wrapping my mind around this baby being a girl and so when we received the confirmation this past Monday (19 weeks), we were overjoyed!

I'll admit - originally, I had kinda wanted a Mama's boy/an older brother for the girls who came after.  I love my younger brothers, but secretly always wanted an older brother to look out for me.  God had a plan.  I'm a first-born through and through.  My overly analytical mind has weighed the pros and cons and I think I've come up with a good list of reasons why it's a good thing we are having a girl . . .

-I've been hoarding baby girl items since 2006.  No joke.  I've had a stash.

-She'll have an older girl cousin on each side of her family = instant playmate

-Bows, accessories, shoes.  Need I say more?

-Girls' names are so much easier to choose - she has a definite first name - possible middle - we're just not revealing quite yet!

-I can pass on my Samantha - American Girl Doll (I chose her because we are totally alike! Ha, right.) and Playmobil dollhouse (holy-freak! check out the price tag on that now - vintage gem!) - Two of my most treasured childhood items.

-She'll have an inherent love for the Nutcracker as much as her mother.

-Most importantly, Steven has a soft spot in his heart for a sweet baby girl.  He needs his own. Period.

PS-  I'm pretty proud of my Petunia Picklebottom set (photo - right) that I snagged for $15 on clearance at TJ Maxx.  Those suckers run for $60 at Nordstrom see here.  It's been on my mind since I first saw it over a month ago - it was $20 then!

Monday, October 21, 2013

You Think So, Huh?

You think that because you . . .

-Are measuring 19 weeks along (big) and receive A+ ultrasounds every other week and . . .

-Just turned 30 two weeks ago (Hello! New decade!) and . . .

-Had the best birthday surprise that any 30-year old girl could dream of by having her husband and best friend plan the sneakiest stay-cation (apparently was in the works since July - literally had no clue!) and  . . .

-Were 3 weeks behind on your missionary brother's blog . . .

                entitles you to not making updates on your own blog?!

'Tis true.  I've been really bad at blogging.  Not that I don't have anything to blog about . . . I just haven't been feeling it.  My creative juices just haven't been flowing.  I chalk it up to pregnancy brain, pregnancy lack of motivation, and too much Dawson's Creek (oops! I really just admitted that). . .

On pregnancy:

-Thank you, second trimester!  You are a beautiful thing!

-I started feeling baby move over my birthday weekend (16 weeks) after finding smoke-free relief in our car.  Mind you, I don't frequent Fremont Street all that often, but with guests in town. . . I suppose it's a right of passage . . . one we all agreed could easily be forgotten.

-The ultrasound tech seems to think we are having a girl.  We should get the confirmation today at our 19 week anatomy scan.  This may sound bad, but I get horrible anxiety right before our ultrasounds.  I fear the worst  e v e r y time and things are usually just fine.

-I've been having the worst dreams about baby.  Usually the dreams end up with me having no baby in the end.  Odd, super odd dreams.  I guess a bout of infertility will burn those types of fears into your subconscious.  No fun.

-My boobs are huge.  I don't know why they decided to show up, but they are here.  Yikes!

On being 30:

-Steven reminded me over and over that I can never go back to my twenties.  They are done and over with.  That chapter has ended.  He made me feel like a part of me was dying.  I then reminded him that he is with a woman in her thirties, and I wanted to know what that felt like to someone in their twenties.     Personally, I wouldn't know.

-So far, I believe that my thirties might just be the greatest decade.  I hope to look back at this time in my life as a concrete time frame as to when we were able to start our own little family.  Nothing to prove - just to ourselves, moving at our own pace, and watching our little people grow . . . causing us to grow as well.  It will be a lot of hard work, sure . . . but probably the most fulfilling thing to boot.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

11 Weeks and Some Heartache

Technically, I'm behind and should be posting about my 12 week milestone that I hit this past Thursday.  11 weeks came and went with some heartache.  From the beginning, I promised that this blog would be honest and real, which means that at times it might not come with the best news.  At our last ultrasound, I found out that 'Baby B' stopped growing around weeks 8 and 9, known as 'vanishing twin syndrome'.  It was a shock.  Baby B has always been smaller, but had a strong heartbeat at the very first ultrasound.  I will never forget those words of, "I'm sorry, the second one didn't make it".  Truth is, even before the tech said anything, I knew that both sacs looked completely different.  Sure, I was overwhelmed at the idea of caring for two newborns at the same time, but never to the point of wishing that I only carried one.  After some dreaded phone calls to Steven and my parents that Baby B didn't make it,  I realized that this has been such a fragile process.  Life is precious.  Every life on this Earth is a miracle. 

With that said,  the next few days were spent mourning "what-could(should?)-have-been", and the last week has been spent worrying over Baby A.  Our little one who continues to grow is strong and healthy, but it doesn't help me from worrying that this one will be taken away too.  I'll be honest when I say, "it's hard to allow myself excitement over this impending arrival".  It's scary.  I realize that life is precious and a gift, but how much more do I really need to learn?  Our journey to parenthood has been  the most testing experiences of faith, in my almost-30 years.  Thoughts and prayers would most graciously be accepted. 

I'm trying to stay as positive as the circumstances allow.  I'm in good hands with my doctor.  He wants to monitor me every couple weeks, which means more glances at baby . . . can't complain!  I know every parent thinks that their child is the most gorgeous thing on the face of the Earth, but when I saw ours in human-looking form, I about died!  That nose and those lips!  Heavenly.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

10 Weeks

I kinda feel like 10 weeks is one of those mile markers in pregnancy . . .you're a quarter of the way done and starting to really show.  I kinda just look like I've eaten too much, which in all fairness, I have.  You know what?  I don't care.  I'm reveling in it!  I'm enjoying the fact that if I feel like 3 Fruit Roll Ups in a row, I'll have just that. 

-So, with that said . . . I've gained 8lbs.
-I crave caesar dressing on veggies - which is funny because I like my roughage, but now I  L O V E it.
-I started using Basq Stretch Mark Butter.  While in California this last weekend, I learned from a salesgirl in a maternity shop, that this one is the only 'clinically proven' stretch mark cream to prevent and cure.  Maybe I'm just gullible, but with a party in there . . . I'll do what I can.
-I went to work today (first day of the school year, yay!) with ALL of my anti-nausea meds in tow. Heaven forbid, I get stuck at school for the next week and a half . . .  really it's just to ease my neurosis.  
-My body aches and I am beyond tired, however, I managed to make dinner this evening -  I tell you . . . I'll do anything for food these days.

I have many other symptoms of pregnancy that are not lady-like enough to mention, nor do you really even care to hear.  So, I'll just leave it at that.  Cheers to 10 weeks!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last Weekend of Summer Break in Southern CA

Monday evening, we got home from our 'final summer hurrah'. . . we went down to Thousand Oaks for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration.  It seems like just a short 10 years ago, I was an unmarried almost-20-year-old, celebrating their 50th in Lake Tahoe with the whole family!  I can't believe how quickly times flies post high school.  I can only imagine that it'll keep going by faster. 

As always, we enjoyed ourselves!  We love southern California (I happen to love northern too!) and the fact that we can get a nice break from the heat - in just a short car ride away . . . We made it in 4 hours!
My Dad and Steven played grill masters most of our nights there.  I love that my grandparents put an outdoor kitchen in down by their pool.  It makes for great ambiance! 
Steven was able to golf . . . always his idea of a good vacation.

I took a 9 week baby bump photo in my grandparents' mauve bathroom.  Don't lie to me . . . with two babes in the oven, it's there!

Steven and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from Newport to Malibu Canyon after his sister's soccer tournament in Irvine.  We stopped for a quick bite to eat right outside of Huntington  Beach.  
**Note to the World - Not all of the PCH is created equal! **

Best part of the PCH in Southern California, is Malibu . . . It doesn't get much better than this!

We are grateful for a relaxing time spent with my family, in one of the coolest places possible - even if traffic sucks.  Steven is back to school today and I go back tomorrow.  We are most gracious for a very full and productive summer!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Two Little Reasons.

Sorry for the lack of posts.  At exactly 5.5 weeks,  I found myself feeling queasy in the middle of Lowes.  Forget our next stop to Costco - btw I never pass up a trip to Costco - morning sickness parked itself in my stomach and has not left.  Luckily, I have a genius of an OB/GYN who knows all of the latest MS remedies out there, and who has found a good little concoction that has allowed me to feel  like a semi-human again.  Two weeks of nausea WITH Zofran and Reglan wasn't cutting it, so we added Diclegis (basically Unisom and Vitamin B-6 in prescription form).

Okay, enough with the boring stuff and on with the exciting part . . .

We are having TWINS people!!!!!

We are feeling so lucky and so very blessed.  This is by far one of the most exciting times of our life and we couldn't ask for more . . . okay, maybe 2 healthy babies at the end of all of this, but so far so good!  Things are looking great.

Luckily, my husband has first-hand experience with twins.  He was 13 when his twin sisters were born and his mom has always said that she couldn't have done it without him.  I'm lucky to have that guy on my team.  He'll make a great dad, no doubt about it.

As of today, I am eight weeks along and feeling pretty okay!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bear Has An Announcement . . .

This is how she really feels about it . . . 

It feels like a miracle!  It is a miracle.  Modern medicine really is wondrous, isn't it?  I've had the thought run through my mind that if I had lived during medieval times and had married a king, I would most definitely have had my head chopped off.  Lovely thought, I know.  I'm a lucky gal to be living in this day and age.  I know it and am grateful for it.

Thursday afternoon, it was confirmed to us that we are very much expecting.  Even after almost a week, it still doesn't seem real!  It's still early - super early.  In fact, I am 4 weeks and 6 days, but I don't have a "What to Expect" pregnancy iPhone app or anything ; ) Anything could happen, but I'd like to make it known that IVF did, indeed, work for us after our first round.  We are over the moon excited and feel like it couldn't be better timing!

"One or two babies??" Now THAT is the question. . .

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Waiting Game

My mind keeps going back to the, "Keep Calm and Wait Two Weeks" poster that I've seen on various blogs.  I can see why it was ever created, especially for those who have suffered infertility at one point in time. 
A lot has happened since I last posted, so I should probably go back to the Thursday of June 27th. . . . our 'retrieval date'.  Under some much appreciated anesthesia (confession . . . I love it!), they were able to retrieve 13 eggs - which is amazing!  12 were mature, fertilized, and all continued to grow. 
On 'transfer day', Day 5 - July 2nd, we had two blastocysts ready for transfer and several on their way to becoming blastocysts.  In the end, we were able to freeze 6 embryos, which we count ourselves very lucky and with a lot less stress; should the time come that we are not pregnant.  Have I mentioned that, 'The Day That May Forever Change Our Lives' is on Thursday?!  I am going to keep my week FULL, so that I don't have much time to think about it.  Can you blame me, though?! 

Depending on the outcome, I will post in greater detail about our 'transfer day' - for several reasons (all good of course!).  Exciting stuff!

Again!  Thank you for all of the texts, phone calls, and methods of keeping me positive and entertained.  I'm restless by nature, therefore, bed rest is not my idea of fun.  The gratitude I have is beyond words.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Feel Like the Easter Bunny

Things are looking good . . . 9 little follicles-good!  We were nervous for a couple days, but when it came down to the wire, things blossomed.  Feels like the story of my life.

Retrieval date  is anticipated for Wednesday. . . if you're interested I'm at this step of the IVF process.  Yes, 3 shots a day.  Track marks on my bum, prescribed-weight-gain, and bloating all better be worth something in the end!
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the greenery out here?  This is the result of Midwesterners enduring long and frigid winters.  I just get to reap the benefits!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On Doing This Thing

I should probably give an update on what my adventures in Illinois have been like, thus far.  My activities here haven't been all that eventful, but will hopefully show for something big in the long run.  All in all it has been great just to be home with my family, visiting, cooking, and sharing Pinterest ideas with my mom (I think she may have had an epiphany of the greatness that Pinterest holds!)
My trip started with Southwest's loss of one of my suitcases, thus no styling tools or makeup for three days.  Fortunately, it was returned and we were rewarded flight credits most graciously.  I still wonder where and how far my little suitcase traveled. . . .
Our IVF process started almost as soon as I stepped off the plane.  Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic but it all began so quickly!  Blood was drawn, meds ordered, meds received, daily shots initiated. You get the idea.  I realized that the box of medication ordered was the cost of a nice trip somewhere exotic.  Honestly, though, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I cried when I opened that bundle.  The possibilities! Oh, and I have to quit drinking diet pop (yes pop - not soda, especially in these parts), I'm dehydrated, and let's be honest; I don't really want a Diet Coke crack baby :).
I did try my hand at golf the other day with the huz and dad.  To be honest, I wasn't that bad! Who knew?  While it's not my sport of choice,  I do love being out in the green green Midwest with some of my most favorite guys!

I'd like to thank those who have sent words of well-wishes, prayers, 'thinking-of-you' phone calls, those who are keeping things alive on the home front (our plants and precious furry baby), etc.  It is all so very much appreciated. While I am optimistic, I still have some fears and so your willingness to be so uplifting has meant the world to me.

Much Love from this Hopeful-Mama-to-Be.  xo.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wanted: Cousins!

Elise and London are making special requests . . . cousins!!!  Boy! Do they drive a hard bargain!
Elise at 12 months - April 2013
London at 7 months - June 2013

Because Uncle Steven and Aunt Stephanie - toys can only keep us entertained for so long!
So far, we are 2 for 2 with blonde hair and blue eyes, with my brother's babe and Steven's brother's babe.  Our two nieces are about 6 months apart almost to the date!  I wonder what we'll get!  hmmmm . . . 

I'm about to depart for this crazy adventure.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Steven will join me next week after I get started on this whole process.   I've had a lot of questions on how an IVF cycle works.  It's explained here by the clinic that we'll be attending for harvesting and so forth.  I'll admit, I didn't really know the step-by-step process until we found ourselves in this same boat.  Pretty interesting stuff!

Monday, May 27, 2013

One-Way Ticket to Parenthood.

My ticket to Illinois is officially booked.  Tuesday night, we finalized our plans, mostly due to the fact that my mom was having her hip-replacement surgery the following day.  I was getting anxious to make some plans that would get me out there and helping her get back on her feet, so to speak.  My poor mama . . . that woman has had her fair share of physical ailments.  However, her surgeon is optimistic that she'll make a full recovery in 6-8 weeks.  Here's to a summer of me getting to take care of my mom, something I've always wanted to be able to do for her.

June 8, 2013 is when I'll make my departure.  I am so very excited!  I spend a lot of time driving to work and back and I can't help but ponder what it will be like for parenthood to become a reality.  I have gotten choked up and weepy (I can be a mess of feelings sometimes) at the thought of having my very own baby smells, smiles, and skin to nibble on.  Oh it's an exciting thought! Isn't it?! 

I know it's not 100% but I am feeling good and happy and at peace.  I am living by the mantra of, "Come What May", truly!  I have had a good long year to sort this all in my mind and I've come out stronger, smarter, wiser, and with a whole lot more empathy for those in the same boat.  I have learned that this little trial called "Infertility" can do one of two things  1. Throw you into self-pity, deny yourself of progress and personal growth, and put a strain-like wedge in your marriage - all of which I was very close to coming to or 2.  Acknowledge the issue, gain wisdom and strength, learn that you are very much, in fact, resilient; and become happier and more open to communication and love in your marriage.  I'd like to think that after a year, I've chosen the second option.  I am a strong believer that through trials and life lessons, a part of our brain - perhaps a thought process evolves and a new way of our perception on life is gained.  Life's lessons - good or bad - really can be a beautiful thing if we let them.

Thank you Dani-girl for my "Illinois or Bust" care package!  I'm so very lucky to have sweet friends like you.  You better believe none of it will be used until I'm on my way to the great "Land of Lincoln"!

June 8th - I look forward to seeing you.  Let's do this. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Very Happy Mother's Day Weekend, Indeed.

It happened, Friday morning.  The very last and final of my fertility tests, my sonohysterogram.  As the sonographer searched through my file for notes regarding further testing, I jumped up and felt like screaming, "It's been a fun ride, but . . PEACE OUT!"  My face says it all . . .

It was necessary that my joy be documented.  My uterus is clear.  As the sonographer put it, "Your uterus shows no signs of interference for implantation."  Hooray for a good baby maker! In all seriousness, though, I've had this fear that if any medical professional was given the opportunity to peek inside my uterus, I'd be a lost cause.  On the contrary, there is NOTHING!  As planned, zero surgery. . . yay! . . we will proceed with IVF next month.  I'm beyond giddy!  It feels like Christmas/the end of the school year/we're going on a fabulous vacation - all bundled up into one package and then multiplied by ten.

Yes, it's another Mother's Day sans enfant, but I received some really excellent news; and I could not be more grateful.  I'm thankful for the tender mercies.  They are real and they are there.  At the very beginning of this roller-coaster-ride-of-a-trial, I was devastated and I was bitter.  Shamefully, I have to say that I've never really had anything not go my way, and so it was a hard pill to swallow.  I totally get it now.  It's hard to explain, but a lot of things needed to change and I think that this trial was what it took for it to all happen.  Trust me, I have a l-o-n-n-g-g-g way to go (don't we all, though?), but I think I'm a better and stronger person than I was a year ago.  I believe Steven could attest to it all.  We've come a long way together, he and I . . . I love that guy and all that he does for us.

Speaking of roller coaster rides, Steven and I were 2 of 4 chaperones to take 45 of his 8th graders to Magic Mountain.  Let me tell you, "It was fabulous!" 22 hours - there and back . . . the kids were super cool and my husband sure seems to have found his path.  It's sure good to see Mr. D in his element.

I am praying that my 'roller coaster pics' don't go viral.  They are, in fact, that bad.  Let's just say, that the teenager behind the counter, knew exactly where our pictures were.  Yikes!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#Holdenfam Spring Break: Part Deux

If I had to name one place that has remained constant in my life, it would have to be my grandparents' home in Thousand Oaks.  That place goes as far back in my memory bank as I can go.  Cousin-time, swimming, trips to the park, walks to Thrifty for ice cream, crazy outdoor dogs ( it is my personal opinion that dogs should not be left alone outside . . . it will cause mania in canines), holiday dinners . . . you name it.  While I accepted it as the Holdens' main hub/my birthplace, I also took it for granted.  Regretfully so, because let's be honest . . . it's freaking California!  The weather is perfect, it's green(er), the ocean is near, and the recreational possibilities are endless.
Wednesday afternoon, we made the 5-hour drive down . .  sans Steven - due to his grandmother's health.  In some ways, it felt like my childhood again . . . family road trips were a regular occurrence and so it felt familiar to be taking one again.

-Staying up late and chatting the night away with my aunt, Vicky.
-Thousand Oaks Farmer's Market - holy citrus extravaganza!
-The Oaks Mall (Paper Source . . .yes please!)
-Papa's honey-baked ham . . . so good!
-Walking, yes walking! . . . to Trader Joe's

We made it back to Vegas in time for some dinner at Sushi Fever, where we were ever so honored to be in the presence of Carrot Top (yes, super strange), prepare/enjoy Easter lunch the following day, and allow my family plenty of time to make their flight back to Illinois.  

Spring Break 2013, you were really good to us!

Friday, May 3, 2013

#Holdenfam Spring Break: Part 1

I do realize that this is a month overdue . . . but this little break with the Holden fam is worth noting.   Spring Break 2013 --yes when you are in education, you get to have these fun breaks all over again-- was celebrated here in Las Vegas with my mom, dad, and brother, Shane; with a much needed de-thawing of their Midwestern bones.

Part 1 of their stay includes, but is not limited to . . .

-Celebrating my Dad's 55th Birthday - - yay Dad!
-A couple hikes up Lone Mountain (my first time!)
-1 batch of Strawberry Freezer Jam with my Mama
-Golf for the guys
-The movie: OZ . . . loved it!
-1 glorious afternoon touring the Hoover Dam (Our first time . . the Holdens that is . . . Steven's a native so he doesn't count!) 
-Our second attempt at visiting Pawn Stars . . . the line is simply too long.  They actually have a food stand out in the parking lot.  Can you believe that?!

Part 2 pertains to a trip down to southern California, which deserves a post of its own. . .

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

'Miracle May'?

Photo from my cousin Jenn's wedding this past weekend, here in Vegas of all places (she lives in Idaho)! 
A couple things about this photo:

1.  This is my aunt Mary - she is my goddaughter's grandma (yes, grandma!) and she's b e a u t i f u l both inside and out.  I loved having her here from Minnesota for the weekend's festivities.

2.  Now I realize that I look stupidly happy, but I am!  I think this kind of reflects how I've been feeling.  Stupidly happy.

I promised that I would give an update on the baby-making plans.  Here it goes: 

- I've been on the pill for the past 10 months in order to keep my endometriosis from spreading like wildfire, however, making pregnancy impossible.  I kind of explained it all here.

- It has been the plan all year to go back this summer, to the land where the soil is fertile and pray that it rubs off on me . . . aka use my dad's resources in Illinois and do in vitro fertilization at cost.

- I left one final test for completion - close to the time where we leave (a little over a month away).  The sonohysterogram is done in order to detect whether or not there are any abnormal growths on the uterus.  Boring stuff, but it'd be nice to have things good to go for June.

And so, the sonohysterogram was scheduled for today.  I said "was" because I was supposed to get it, however, due to 'active bleeding' (tmi - I'm sorry but it only makes sense to give such details) I'm getting off the pill to get my cycle under control and then proceed with a sonohysterogram that is not at risk of any false positives.  Do I still have you or have I lost you yet?!

No birth control = 1 in 1,000 chance that I can get pregnant this next month - according to Dr. D

Pretty sad odds, but I am praying for a miracle.  'Miracle May', perhaps?  Otherwise, I'll remain, stupidly happy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Service Auction Social

Last Fall, I was called to be in the Relief Society Activities Committee/Service Representative for the Ward.  Which is basically awesome, because I get to help plan the social events.  If you know me . . . I love me some social time!  At the beginning of the year, we mapped out what activities we would be doing throughout the year and who would be officiating based on their duties.  Since I am the "Service Representative" for the Ward, I wanted to do something really fun that stirred up excitement over service.  Let's be honest, sometimes service projects are the last thing on our list of 'to-dos'.  So, thanks to my trusty sources (Pinterest), I found an awesome blogpost on throwing a 'Service Auction' and by golly! . . . it looked amazingly FUN!  Blog post found here.  I tweaked some things to accommodate our ward/budget/time-frame, but this was a fabulous source.
Our set up . . . we had a sign-in table, future acts of service/baked goods/handmade goodies table with bidding bags behind the items, and a survey-on-clipboards table.  Our auction was a "silent auction". . . with our time-frame we figured that this was the best option.  Oh, and I should mention the fabulous girls on our committee . . . oh! I could not have done it without our RS women!!
This activity really allowed for us to see the talents and energies of the women in our Ward.  I'm still in awe.  There was much laughter and a whole lot of friendly competition!  Michelle's (remember Michelle?!) 'made-to-order Bouchon cake' was a hot ticket item as well as the gluten-free brownies I brought for all of our gluten-intolerant women . . . one of our sister missionaries included.  Kinda fun watching them battle it out.  I scored some wonderful homemade bath salts and scrubs as well as some much-needed dog-walking for Bear.
We threw in a birthday cake for the treat, because March is the Relief Society's official birthday month.  Happy 171st Birthday, Relief Society . . . you've come a long way after all these years!

Such a great activity and so much fun! If they keep me in there, we'll do it again . . . hopefully bigger next time!


Remember how I said that one of my goals for the year was to do more service?  So far, feeling pretty good on this one although, there is always room for more growth.  I said it during my closing words at the activity, but I cannot even express the joy felt when doing something for others.  It's helped me grow as an individual and has been a huge blessing in my life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lapse in Time

This evening's text from 'L'Autre Steph' (French for "the other Stephanie - my mom's nickname for my best friend): 

"Why aren't you blogging anymore?"

Ugh, Yes. True. Sorry.

Which excuse did you want?  1. I've been busy with Relief Society activities.  2. My family came into town for Spring Break 2013 . . . holla! or  3. I have been blogging, just not on this blog per se - ElderHoldenNorway.blogspot.com is as up-to-date as possible . . . give me at least some credit there, puh-lease!  Speaking of, I freaking miss that kid . . . like a lot, but being his 'Blog Administrator', I kinda feel like he is not so far away.

However, I do, solemnly swear, that I will update you all on what we've been up to in these parts.  You can look forward to:

-The Relief Society Activity that I planned and executed successfully, with the help of some super ladies!
-Spring Break 2013 with the fam dam (uh, literally!)
-Home Improvements
-My somewhat green thumb - exciting stuff, I tell you!
-Our 'Baby Making' Plans - get your minds outta the gutter . . . it's strictly lab work.  Ha!

In the meantime, here are a couple pictures for you all to enjoy, because that's what blogs are really all about.  Am I right, or am I right?!

Spring Break 2012 - Me, Christopher, and Shane at Spring Mountain Ranch up Red Rock Canyon.  Geez, I miss that Pooker!

Spring Break 2013 - (L-R) Shane, my mom, Me, Steven, my dad at The Hoover Dam

Friday, March 8, 2013

On Being Godparents

I have been waiting for the right moment to post this and I finally feel like that time is now.  Last Wednesday, the day before her scheduled C-Section; I received a call from my dear cousin, Ange (she's the closest relative that I have to a younger sister).  I was all excited because it was the day before baby girl's big debut and I hadn't spoken to Ange in a while.  After a couple of minutes of catching up, she proceeded to tell me that she and her husband had discussed, and wanted to know if Steven and I would be willing to accept the role of their daughter's Godparents.  My heart stopped.  In a good way!  It was the biggest surprise and also the best!  I said, "But we're not Lutheran!  Is that okay?!" She confirmed that it was just fine; that it is a role of guiding her throughout her life, spiritually.  We accepted most graciously.

At a time where I feel like maybe there is a reason that we aren't able to have children of our own, my sweet cousin (heart of gold, no joke) and her dear husband asked us if we would be Godparents to their brand new baby girl.  She assured me that we are the best candidates.  My heart has been so full.  I can see that Steven feels the same way.  What a huge honor and blessing!  I have shed many tears of gratitude and have felt completely humbled at this opportunity.

As mentioned above, Ange has a heart of gold and with a husband with a very similar personality as my Steven, I feel so lucky that we have an extra reason to be in their lives.  We will do our very best to assure her of the love that we have for her, remind her of all that she has been blessed with, and to let her know that she is in fact; a daughter of God.  Welcome to the world, Tenley Marie.  You are perfection.

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Have a 5-Year Old

My dearest fury firstborn is five today.  I ask myself, "Where did the time go?!"  I know she's not your typical firstborn, but I do think that a lot of the same feelings of having any type of 5-year old would throw you into a frenzy.  5 year old child, 5 year old marriage, 5 year old ball of fur, 5 year old pair of shoes. . . You get the point.  It really makes one ponder the concept of time.  In all reality, it goes by WAY TOO FAST.
Dodson's Izzy Bear (according to her AKC registration papers)-

Thank you for being the sweetest pup known to mankind!  You truly have brought so much joy to our lives.  You may just be a canine friend, but you have taught us many things that parents of human children need to know.  Unconditional love (your willingness to snuggle is endless), patience (especially in the beginning! yikes!), the need for peace in our home (otherwise you run up the stairs and hide from all of the nonsense), and compassion (thank you for all of the times that you allowed me to cry in your coat).  You are a tiny glimpse of what it's like to be godlike.  We love you!

-Your Mom & Dad

PS-  This year we will celebrate with homemade treats (I actually have a dog bone cookie cutter) and homemade frosty paws.  I will try and do a lot more of this for you, Cherro Perro.  After all, you only have 3 more years. . . teases your dad.  Little does he know, you will be one of those rare cases that lives to be 17!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Girls' Night In

It all began with a box of pink macarons.  Trader Joe's will get you everytime.  I blame it on the packaging.  Yes, they were peppermint and ganache (in the freezer section-during the holidays) but they got my wheels turning.  I figured, "I'm feeling more settled in our place and I need a girl's night."  And so, we had "Girls' Night In"!
Our neighbor is a pastry chef at Bouchon Bakery (he's in their cookbook - so cool!), so we were feted with the most amazing lemon tart and mini raspberry trifles.  Did I mention that I am on Michelle's activities committee at church?  Those are the best! You can imagine what we are treated with during those meetings.  Oh, to be married to a pastry chef; Michelle is one lucky gal! Although, she says that she is not tempted by any of it.  I, on the other hand, am French and so it is in my DNA to be drawn to these things.  My 30 pound heavier self would most definitely return.
It was a fun evening of munching, mingling, and crafting.  I vote more girl time!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Svenska Pannkakor (Swedish Pancakes)

Thank you google for the translation.  I figure, if my brother is working on some Nordic language skills . . . I should do the same.

Sunday morning is our homemade breakfast designated time, unless we decide to do breakfast for dinner . . .we enjoy that too.  We have some breakfast favorites.  Steven LOVES the Swedish pancakes at Stockholm Inn in Rockford.  I know I've talked about it before.  They are a definite treat when we go back to visit my family.  Im talking every other day (for the brothers/dad/huz in my life).  In the meantime, we'll enjoy our homemade version:

Swedish Pancakes:

3/4 cup sifted flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp oil

Sift dry ingredients. Combine beaten eggs, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Pour batter a tablespoon at a time on hot griddle, tilting griddle to make a very thin cake. Serve with melted butter sprinkled with sugar, and hot lingonberry or blueberry sauce.  Maple syrup is a favorite too.

Enjoy or Smaklig mÃ¥ltid, rather!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Recent Thoughts

I'm in the mood to write.  I wrote my brother.  I updated his blog.  I sent out some other emails.  I'm feeling introverted, but I'm feeling good.  I have had some reoccurring thoughts, mostly me trying to analyze things and where I stand, we stand, one stands, and I've come up with some conclusions. . .

1.  Marriage is hard to wrap your head around - Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way.  I've stopped and just stared at Steven and thought, "Oh my gosh, you committed your life around mine and I've committed mine around yours!"  We plan EVERYTHING around each other and we have been doing so for so many years.  It's a trip, but it's good . . . definitely good!  Probably better than it's ever been.  Seven years is for the birds.  If you asked me at five . . . it probably would have been different! Ha!

2.  Marriage shows your vulnerability - Remember the days when you and your spouse were dating?  You were always pretty, 100% optimistic, and had very few vices?  It has come to mind recently, that this person who I NEVER in a million years would have wanted to view me negatively; has seen me at my worst.  Physically ugly (bed head, sans makeup, winter-pale), emotionally ugly (we won't get into details),  my most embarrassing moments (won't get into those either!), times of weakness, etc. Yep.  Seen it all.  That is vulnerability my friends.

3. I love LOVE being a girl  - There is no doubt in my mind that I was born to be a girl.  More specifically, gender and gender role.  Call me simple-minded/submissive-wife(haha, yeah right)/embarrassment-to-women-fighting-for-feminist-movements . . . I just happen to think that I am secure in my role.  Cooking, cleaning (okay maybe not so much), decorating, crafting, making home and family enjoyable . . . that's me.  And I love it!  I think it was mostly my upbringing.  In fact, sometimes I think my parents depended on me for certain things over my brothers.  Could be because I was the oldest, but they always treated me like I was completely capable of anything.  Maybe I'm not  capable of getting preggers without some medical intervention, but I'm not thinking along those lines anymore. . .  Also, my Dad was an excellent example as to how to treat my mom as his equal.  They were and are a great example to me.  So yes, I enjoy being a girl and everything that comes with it.

4.  Where I work is pretty magical - I love working in a school, specifically in a school library.  There is something about being in an organized environment of growth and learning; one that includes books and tales of fascinating stories.  I love those sweet faces and comments.  Sure, I break up fights on the playground and I've been called things that I didn't know kids these days knew existed.  Overall, it's beautiful and innocent and happy.

5.  Cancer is horrible - I have heard so many stories about young people with cancer.  Breaks my heart.  It doesn't seem fair and doesn't seem like something that one should be fighting or having to worry about.  Especially, at a young age.  They are most definitely in my thoughts and prayers.

And to leave on a positive note . . .

6.  My niece is the most darling/chubby-cheeked/nugget/cherry blossom WALKING little human being.  9 months old and walking.  Some kids make it to 14 months without doing so. Impressive on her part.  I just wish that I didn't live so far away, which leaves me not being able to see her meet all of her little accomplishments.  I couldn't stop gazing at her over Christmas break and my mom told me that it's even more so with your own.  Note to Steven, when we have our own . . . some things may never get done!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

From This Day Forward . . .

He shall be called "Hernie"

Results are in . . . Hernia surgery for this guy . . . TBD.  

Grateful that his pains were nothing worse!

In the meantime, he has to lay off the golf and the countless weeknights of basketball

PS - Aren't hernias for old people?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love of Printables and Making Your Own

It's no secret -- the love that I have for Pinterest.  In some ways it has been a huge source of fulfillment.  One of my most recent loves has been the access to free printables and the inspiration to create my own.

This one has been a favorite of mine.  What better way to organize yourself and stay easy on the eyes?  I found a way to justify using the ink in my cartridge.  Simply cut off the top patterned portion when the month has expired and use as a gift tag or craft idea.  Serves two purposes!
Last night, I felt super motivated to make our own 'Family Crest'.  It'll go on a square metal plaque in our kitchen.  I'm excited to get that little project going.

You don't have to have an expensive photo editing program to make your own designs.  I use Picmonkey.com  not only for photo editing but also for customizing my own printables.   It's free for the basics (you can pay to upgrade) and is super fun!  Did I mention that they have the cutest holiday overlays and fonts?  

Try your hand at it!

Stay tuned for a fun Valentine's printable gift that I'm making for the Huz . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gallery Wall

Did I mention that I am happy?  Because I am!  Life is pretty dang good . . . although it's far from perfect . . . it is good and it is full!    

When I am happy . . . I get things accomplished. 

A while back, I decided that I wanted a small gallery wall going up our stairs.  Originally, I thought (and purchased) 4 - 14"x17" West Elm Gallery Frames with the intention of doing colored photos but after much contemplation and planning via Pinterest I decided that I wanted the clean and modern look of black and whites.  So glad I did!

I went back to West Elm (so very much my favorite store right now) yesterday and exchanged 2 of the frames for 1 - 13"x13" square and 1 - 9"x11" . . I did it because I like the different sizes of our personal photo prints and it saved me a good little chunk of money. 

On a side note - West Elm's frames are a must.  Simply, for the fact that they give you a perfect wall mounting pattern.  Saved me so much time in the long run.

Each photo is something that has been very special to us throughout our marriage.  It reminds us of the good that we do have in our life!