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Bathroom Renovation

June 14, 2015

When we bought our house, it had a lot of nice qualities, but it also had builder grade choices for many things or just plain poor taste.  Enter the bathroom…

This bathroom was hideous! Ugly wallpaper, basic oak cabinets, mixed white and off-white, mixed silver and brass hardware, cheap mirror, cheap lights, etc.

Before the kids were born, as part of our preparation for them, we tackled this room. I got a wild hair one day and started stripping the wallpaper. That ended up being the beginning of my downward spiral with my hip problems.  I was pretty useless the rest of the summer in not being able to help out.

We stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls gray and painted the cabinets white. My dad did this and it took SO many coats!  Then, I got a new countertop/sinks, mirrors, lights and faucets. The wall color is Benjamin Moore London Fog (#1541) mixed at 50% saturation, however I always buy my paint from Sherwin Williams and just tell them to mix up this color.

This room is so much better now! (The before picture is at the bottom.)

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BEFORE:
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See? I told you. Pretty awful.

Shop the post:

Photography, Roanoke Valley, USA, Virginia

We went on safari…in Virginia

June 8, 2015

We took the kids to the Virginia Safari Park over the weekend. Or, as Erick said, we went to see “my people.” Mmmm-hmmm. Thanks, dear.

We got to feed tons of animals, including giraffes and kangaroos directly from our hands and I got licked by a zebra. Yep, it was a good day. And, as my cousin said yesterday, “Until a buffalo sticks his head in your car looking for food, you haven’t really lived.” YES — 1000% yes!

The kids had a good time and Cole seemed more fascinated than Ellis. I think when they are older, it will be even better.

It is such a cool concept. It’s a huge wide open space and you drive through the park and the animals come right up to your car…and stick their heads in your car. We went to a similar place in Arizona that had bears.  (Note: the bears don’t stick their heads in your car.)

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Cole said “Woaaaa!!!!” He babbled and pointed the whole way through. He love it! Ellis fell asleep.
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I’m slightly obsessed with zebras. They are so amazingly beautiful with each one having a different pattern of stripes. And, I love their mohawks.

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I just loved this guy. He is so adorable. 
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Such a beautiful setting. 
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I didn’t even have to go to Australia.  But, I want to!
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So cool. They are so amazing to watch. And, just so beautiful. I love their patterns.

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This guy was beautiful. Look at that.  Look at those horns! I don’t even know how he holds his head up. 
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Erick said this guy looked a little evil and deranged and he was afraid he was going to peck at me.
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I got completely up close and personal with this camel.
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Well, hello there!
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This is my buddy. This is the one that let me pet him and ended up licking me.
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Here’s my buffalo friend getting ready to put his head in the car. Look at that cute beard.
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And, the cutest little wildcat in the park fell asleep.
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If you haven’t been to this place, you must check it out! It’s a fun day out and you can eat lunch at The Pink Cadillac Diner.

Roanoke Valley, Travel, USA, Virginia

The Virginia edition of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

June 7, 2015

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Today, we went to the safari park at Natural Bridge and found this cute little diner nearby, The Pink Cadillac Diner.

It’s everything you would think an old school diner would be – soda fountain, jukebox, malt milkshakes.  The only problem was that I wasn’t in the mood for greasy fried food, but I found a BLT on the menu. I didn’t really have high hopes for it, but it was everything you’d want — crisp bacon, fresh lettuce and juicy tomatoes. It was really tasty. Also, Erick enjoyed his burger and fries, and it wasn’t greasy. :)

While eating, we joked that it would be a perfect place for Guy Fieri to visit for his show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

Of course the kids didn’t really want to cooperate and take pictures in front of the cadillac, but I managed to get a couple.

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Does anyone have any other suggestions for places like this to go to within a reasonable driving distance?

What We’re Wearing:

I adore this little romper Cole is wearing and I’m already getting so sad that this summer will be their last time wearing these little one-piece outfits as they don’t make them beyond 24 months. And, these Sperry Topsiders have been great for Cole all spring and summer. They are leather, so they wipe down easily. They survived major grass stains after tromping around a wheat field last weekend.

Travel, USA, Virginia

Chateau Morissette

June 1, 2015

Now that the weather is so nice outside and we have crawled out of our virus-infested winter hole, I love to take advantage of this beautiful area of Virginia we live in. Some friends of ours were in town, so we took a trip to Floyd, Virginia to visit Chateau Morissette Winery.

We lucked out and found a gazebo after lunch and were able to keep the kids contained somewhat inside of it.

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Fashion

Spring Favorites

April 28, 2015

I have written about many heavy issues and bared my heart on this website. However, I’m going to happily jump over to a lighter side for a bit. I love fashion, so I’m going to spend more time on that if I can.

Here are some items on my wishlist for spring.

Row One: Dress | Bandeau Bikini | Peasant Dress
Row Two: TopRay-Ban Aviators | Bikini
Row Three: Sonix iPhone Case | Gemma bejeweled sandal | Halogen Denim Jacket
Row Four: Clutch | Romper | Joie Sandals

I snagged the denim jacket because I had been looking for one for a while and I really like this Halogen one. I recently ditched a cheap one I had. The Halogen is so soft and I love the color. It fits just right…not too short or too long. This is such a staple item, so I wanted to get it just right.

This peasant dress is so cute and only $32!  And, the bejeweled sandals by Sole Society are beautiful and a great knockoff to some by Marni.

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

You are not alone.

April 20, 2015

You are not

To the millions of people struggling with infertility,

You are not alone. I feel qualified to say that to you, after going through infertility and repeat pregnancy loss for eight long years. So many times, I started to feel alone, and even though the numbers dwindled, I would find a new group of women with whom to share my inner-most sorrow and find support.

I feel like there are many things I can’t say to you. I don’t want to be condescending. I don’t want to pander to you. I definitely haven’t forgotten my past and things definitely aren’t filtered through rose-colored glasses now.

I won’t tell you that God has a plan for you.

I won’t show you a photo of my kids and say “See?!? Look — it happened for me.”

I won’t tell you everything happens for a reason.

I won’t say, “Don’t give up.”

I won’t act like I have all the answers for you.

I won’t tell you that everything is going to be fine.

I won’t tell you any of those things, but I will tell you that you really aren’t alone. You might be in your personal sphere of friends, but you can connect in other ways with other people who will understand EXACTLY what you are going through.  It will be such a huge relief to you that someone — anyone — finally just gets it.

I first connected with a few friends that I knew had struggled.  Then, I sought out support online by posting in infertility forums and blogging. I found some of the most silly unhelpful people this way and I found some of my best friends. It’s just like “real life” — you’re not always going to like everyone in your class, that works with you, etc.  I looked for the good people and those that I connected with.

At first, I joined many IVF cycle groups online, but became increasingly left behind as they mostly succeeded rather quickly. I became disheartened, but continued searching out people like me — so I joined a repeat pregnancy loss group and a reproductive immunological issues group and I started a surrogacy group. At that point, there were only a handful of people left that had been waiting as long as me and had such a sordid history, but they were out there and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

I also connected with a group of about 8 ladies on an anonymous forum many years ago. We gelled so well that we eventually became known to one another by name and face and created our own private Facebook group. We have now met in person and meet up yearly. I feel so lucky to have these ladies in my life and can’t believe we met on a random forum. I feel like there’s a stigma associated with connecting online, but there are good, real people on the internet and there’s no shame in finding support any way you can.

Ways to connect:

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I wrote this to kick off National Infertility Awareness Week 2015 in conjunction with RESOLVE.  Learn more about infertility.

Baby Fashion, Ellis & Cole

Easter

April 8, 2015

We had a great Easter this year because we were all healthy for once! We have been sick constantly since C & E started day care in December. We really enjoyed going to church and to brunch with family afterwards. Here are some photos:

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I love this photo. I laugh every time I see it. It’s typical of many of our photos.
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Their outfit details:

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy, Surrogacy

“Synthetic” Children

March 16, 2015

Once again, infertility patients are the subject of harsh judgment and ridicule.  This time from an unlikely source — a pair of gay men who are globally acclaimed fashion designers.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana recently were quoted in The Telegraph saying,

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.” Dolce went on that procreation “must be an act of love”, saying: “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”

Say what?

Elton John blasted them on Instagram and he’s calling for a boycott of their brand.

We are talking about MY children — my real-life children — not a concept, not synthetic. Excuse me while I go all mama bear.

I’ve seen people write “Oh, who cares?” about these two buffoons.

I DO! This is not ok. I’m not ok with this. This is ignorance, hate and intolerance. I believe my anger is warranted when it’s righteous anger.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. It got personal. I wrote about this on my personal Facebook page last night and a “friend” agreed with D&G.  When we’re talking about strangers and internet trolls, I get mad, upset and indignant; but it’s another thing all together when it comes from a friend. It cuts to the core and it hurts.

This is a perfect example of why I do what I do. I advocate for infertility to try to counteract this kind of ignorance and intolerance, from famous people with a large voice to friends in my personal sphere. These kinds of ignorant comments indicate that we have a long way to go.

I have decided henceforth that I have a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY for intolerance and hate surrounding infertility treatment and my children. Rather than debate this endlessly on Facebook, I cut it off and unfriended two people. ZERO tolerance. I do my best to educate and have civil discourse, but there is a point of no return and I won’t waste my time unnecessarily.

I will be fighting for infertility advocacy, rights and education for my whole life.  This will never end.

I will do it for me, I will do it for others and most of all, I will do it for my children.

It pains me deeply to think that one day, someone will say something hateful to them about their conception and/or existence. That’s why I’ll keep fighting.  And, when it concerns my children, buckle up people, it’s gonna get bumpy.

First of all, I have a right to treat my disease. It really ends there. There is nothing unnatural about that. I have a diagnosed disease that affects my reproductive ability and I have a right to treat it. If you think that’s unnatural, then do you think heart surgery and chemo are unnatural? Does treating any medical condition suddenly become playing God?

Speaking of God, I personally believe my children are a blessing from God. He sent me an angel and her name is Nicole. One of my friends wrote this on my Facebook page yesterday,

“The basis of that argument assumes that we, as humans, can thwart God’s will for us…and we cannot. I don’t care how important you think you are, you are never more powerful than God. If it is not His will, He will stop it, no question. So to say that those babies aren’t from Him is ridiculous. They are proof of the existence of a loving God.”

D&G said procreation “must be an act of love.”  Are you kidding me? My children were loved for years before they were conceived or named. They were prayed over by many people. My husband and I desperately wanted a child to call our own and went through hell to get there — eight long years of treatments, injections, surgeries, losses and heartache beyond compare. Yet, I pressed on with hope, when my head couldn’t comprehend it, but my heart clung to it.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Many people have “oops” pregnancies.  Some women drink like they’re on fire and smoke like they’re trying to put it out while pregnant. Some children are born out of lust. Why the cheap shot at infertile couples who treat their disease and OBVIOUSLY really want a child?

The “rent a uterus” comment really struck a chord with me as gestational surrogacy is how we built our family. Our surrogate carried our babies because she wanted to help an infertile couple. It was not about money for her. This was an act of love. In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts of love that you could give or receive. And, even if it was a compensated surrogacy, so what? I’m thankful there are women, compensated or not, that will help infertile couples.

I assure you my children are not synthetic. They are indeed real. They are loved to the moon and back. They were conceived out of love.

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#BoycottDolceGabbana

Baby Fashion, Ellis & Cole

Little Loves

March 15, 2015

Here’s some new pics of the kids at a few days shy of 17 months. They are looking so grown-up and are so much fun. *cry*

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These lace high-tops. I die. I want some, too.

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Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

You Need a New Doctor

March 14, 2015

My friend and fellow advocate, Jennifer Rutner, has a new project called You Need a New Doctor, which shares real stories from real women surrounding infertility.  It’s downright ludicrous what some of us have had to endure from doctors, hospitals, office staff, nurses, etc.

We’re tired of it. Infertility is abhorrent enough, doctors don’t need to make it worse.

We’re sharing what’s happened behind the curtain.

I’ve submitted several stories and I’m thankful to have had a really great fertility practice and reproductive endocrinologist, but I haven’t fared as well with hospitals and OBs.

Jen says, “Our diseases our real. The ways in which our medical care has been mishandled is real. The neglect is real. And, it’s not our fault. Yes, we need to continue to speak up. But, I think we also need to start insisting. And, people – doctors – need to start listening.”

Please pop over to You Need a New Doctor, follow along, read some horrifying/heart breaking/hilarious stories about the absolute nonsense medical professionals say to women with infertility. Even better, submit a story!