A Fresh Start

Yesterday my daughter started first grade. We are officially homeschooling.

Last year for kindergarten we did an online public school and it wasn’t a good fit for us. I called it homeschooling, but really, it was public school at home.

We have only schooled for two days and already the change is amazing! Both of us enjoyed our laid back and relaxed learning time. My daughter learned plenty in the past two days and actually enjoyed doing it.

The highlight of her first day? Studying the bible! Be still my heart.

She also enjoyed our read aloud, which was done on our sofa, complete with soft pillows and a cozy blanket.

Last year sucked the joy out of both of us. I never had the energy to write a blog post because I was just plain worn out. We just don’t trust restaurants and I cook every meal my daughter eats. So, between cooking all the time, cleaning, the online school and life in general, I was super frazzled.

And my daughter didn’t like learning last year either.

This morning, day two of our new journey, my daughter walked into the kitchen and exclaimed, “When are we going to start homeschool?!?!”  What a huge change!!!

This year is a fresh start. I have plunged deep into homeschool blogs, Pinterest boards, and curriculum reviews. I have printed and downloaded like a mad woman. I even purchased a laminator! It’s been so much fun preparing for teaching first grade (Again! I’m a former public school teacher. Once upon a time I taught first grade.)

Day one and day two are officially in the books. I can’t wait to see what the next 178 days of first grade holds for us! (My state’s requirements is 180 days of school under our homeschooling option.)

Maybe I’ll have the time to even blog more this year! 🙂

Until later, my friend.

Our Journey through Infertility

image I first wrote about our journey through infertility almost two years ago for my friend’s blog. For the past year we have journeyed again down the same road trying for baby number two- without success. This time around has been different. I know I can become pregnant. I’m busy chasing after a 28 month old. And I amazingly have cried only once over not being able to become pregnant with number two.

As I post this again, I’m in a better place. We’re praying that The Lord would reveal His will for our family. As the Psalms say, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

I’m hoping and praying that we will eventually go from one child to children (plural)! I’m reposting our journey because I need to. I need to remind myself of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. And to not lose hope and trust in the One who creates life.

Here’s our story (again) of infertility:

Infertility. Even now, my heartbeat is speeding up as I remember the crazy highs and lows of our journey. Tears come to my eyes as I vividly remember how my heart ached for a baby. First, let me introduce myself. I have been married for over nine years and two years into our marriage we decided we were ready to have a baby. Little did we know that years later we would be diagnosed as having “unexplained infertility.”

We tried to conceive on our own for about three and a half years before fearfully undergoing tons of invasive fertility tests. Everything checked out okay, we went on Clomid and didn’t have any success. When we first started Clomid, which is a medicine that helps women produce more eggs, I felt like a crazy person. It gave me tremendous highs and lows and I felt out of control emotionally. We lived on a calendar, counting days and waiting until the results of my blood test to let me know if my progesterone level was high enough. Most times it wasn’t, and the minute I found out, I would throw myself across the bed and cry. Sometimes, I would pour my heart out to God and other times I’d just lie there, cry, and feel sorry for myself. I often wondered why our love was not enough to make a baby. I was especially emotional when I would find out a friend or family member was pregnant. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them, it was just a stark reminder that I wasn’t pregnant. The slap in the face was when people complained about the aches and pains of pregnancy.

We went to a fertility specialist and underwent IUI’s (intrauterine insemination) throughout the course of a year. Talk about invasive! More Clomid, painful shots, uncomfortable ultrasounds, insemination, and then holding my breath for two weeks waiting to find out the results…negative. Always a negative pregnancy test. By the time we were halfway through our IUI’s, I was numb. I felt sad when I found out I wasn’t pregnant, but then, just like that, I started my meds again and we were trying again. I found it hard to talk about our infertility at times and at other times I was an open book. It just depended on my mood and where we were in our trying.

I found an e-mail I sent to my mother just before we started our last try. I had just found out I wasn’t pregnant and couldn’t bring myself to call her and tell her because I knew I would fall apart.

Here’s my e-mail:

Fertility update: I got my period this morning. I have bad cramps and can’t seem to get motivated to get out of the house. Emotionally, I’m ok. Not great but not bad. I was pretty sad last night and felt like I was mourning the absence of life in my womb. I normally get a teeny bit sad and then move on. I’ve become so numb to the negative pregnancy tests. I think it just hit me that I might not get pregnant. When I finally prayed and laid it down at Jesus’ feet, I felt so much better and lighter. We want God’s will for our lives, but I guess I always assumed I would eventually get pregnant. Anyway, R told me last night that he thinks we should try one last time, but that he is excited about starting the adoption process and that is on his heart. That was good for me to hear. God’s plan isn’t always easy, but I know He will sustain me. Thanks for praying for us! I start my meds on Sunday, so just like that we begin the fertility process again. I hope I didn’t sadden you with these details. It helped me to just get it out and talk (type!) about it. I wanted you to know, but I don’t feel like talking about it on the phone. It’s just easier this way for me. I don’t want to hear my mom’s voice and start crying. Love, E

We started to research adoption because we thought maybe the Lord was calling us to that. We were on our very last try and we were waiting for the dreaded monthly, when my husband insisted I take a pregnancy test so we could know and move on. I was so scared to take that test because it meant giving up. We weren’t going to try anymore. This was it. We were tired of the emotional roller coaster. I was tired of trying, tired of the doctor’s visits, tired of getting my hopes up only to have them crushed.

I took the test and could not believe it when I saw the faintest second line. I screamed for my husband and he said he thought he saw a second line. Tears started streaming down our faces and I called the nurse. A few hours later a blood test confirmed that WE WERE PREGNANT!

We prayed and thanked God for this miracle baby. We longed for this for six years! I clung to this bible verse during the last year of trying to conceive and throughout my pregnancy:

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”
1st Samuel 1:27

Now that was true for me! We rejoiced that our prayers were answered.

On November 28, 2010, I gave birth to a beautiful, tiny, 5 lbs 6.8 oz baby girl named Sarah Grace and she is our joy, our precious gift from God. We named her Sarah, for like Sarah in the Bible, we waited a long time for our child. And Grace, because by the grace of God, we made it through our battle with infertility.

Do you have a friend or family member who is struggling with infertility? Ask her if she wants to talk about it. Respect her silence if that’s how she is dealing with it. Tell her you’ll pray for her. Love her. Hug her. Be there for her. Be a shoulder for her to cry on, because she needs one. But please don’t ignore it. I think loved ones don’t know how to deal with this and don’t know what to say. There’s really nothing you can say to ease the aching heart of a woman who’s trying to get pregnant and hasn’t. But I can tell you this, God is faithful and He will see you through it. He blessed me with a beautiful child and carried both my husband and me through this long and emotional trial called infertility.

Switching to a Big Girl Bed

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My baby has been slowly morphing into a toddler before my very eyes. It has been gradual… toddling, walking, running, talking, and amazing me with her knowledge, just to name a few. All of a sudden, I realized although SG will forever be my baby, I really should start calling her my toddler, instead of my baby. Here are a few of the things that have happened in just the past few months that confirmed I truly have a toddler.

In January, I put SG down for her normal nap. A few minutes later, I heard the most sickening thud and knew that SG had fallen out of her crib. The Huzz and I ran to her, and thankfully she was okay. But I wasn’t. I knew change was happening that day. I wasn’t ready, though. The Huzz quickly converted her crib to the “toddler bed”. Toddler bed? Ha! Only if we would’ve pre-ordered the toddler rails two years ago… (I wish we had!!!) It was just her crib without the front rails. SG is a wild sleeper and flip flops so I knew this wouldn’t work. We rushed to Babies R Us and bought her a little plastic Dora bed. It has rails and is super low to the ground. Perfect! At bedtime we talked about sleeping in a big girl bed and why she had to do it (because she tried to climb out of her crib and fell). I laid her down, walked out, and not even 60 seconds later, she opened her door, peered out, and smiled. And on and on we went for over an hour. Exhausting. Not fun. Now repeat this process every day for naps and bedtimes.

We tried everything, from bribery to consequences and nothing motivated SG to stay in bed. Out of desperation, I offered her money if she stayed in bed. To my surprise, she stayed glued in her bed! So I went to the bank and got a roll of quarters. Add a special toddler alarm clock I found online, and she stayed in bed until “the cow gets out of bed.” Bedtime was a snap…for about two weeks. Then she was bored with money and we were back to square one.

We struggled for a few more weeks and I thought I would end up bald. I wanted to pull my hair out twice a day for hours on end. The entire day would be great- except for naptime and bedtime. So, we stopped naptime. For less than a week. I. Was. Exhausted. I really count on naptime to get household chores down and even have a little down time. Mama needs baby girl to nap!!! A friend suggested “quiet time.” I tried it for a few days and it worked well. Then, the idea of a quiet time bucket popped into my brain. (Or did one of my sweet friends suggest it? Those days were a blur…I can’t remember!) We bought a big bright blue bucket at Target and I filled it with brand new toys and Color Wonder markers. SG was so excited to use her new stuff- but she could only use it during quiet time. Guess what? After 20-30 minutes of her coloring/reading/playing quietly in her bed, she fell asleep. And we’ve been doing that for a week now and it’s still working. My goal is to switch up the items in the bucket so SG won’t get bored and loose interest in quiet time. Which she now loves, by the way!

At Target in the dollar spot (don’t you just love that section?) I also found a little booklet full of motivation charts. I bought it at the same time I bought the quiet time bucket. Wouldn’t you know SG loves earning stickers and is thrilled to peel them off and stick them on her chart “all by myself.” I came up with 6 categories: Night Night (staying in bed at bedtime), Quiet Time, Morning Waiting for the Cow (the special alarm clock that tells her when she can get out of bed), Eat Breakfast, Eat Lunch, and Eat Dinner. This little chart has also helped motivate SG to eat her food. What a blessing!

It’s not all tough stuff, though. My girl is very sweet. She randomly runs up to me and gives me hugs. She gives kisses just because she wants to. She sings to me. We have tea parties together. She snuggles in my lap before naps and bedtime and I read her favorite books. She “reads” to me. We laugh together. She is my miracle baby and I treasure her beyond belief.

It’s a wonderful and hard time, these toddler years. SG is stretching her wings, growing up, finding her voice (literally!!!), and learning and testing her boundaries. I’m choosing today to dwell on the sweet times and deal with the hard moments as they arrive.

How did you get through the challenges of toddlerhood, my friend? How did you motivate your toddler to stay in bed while making the switch to a big kid bed?