The Fletcher Foundation

October is Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness month.  I’ve shared the story of our miscarriage with our daughter before on this blog.  Every October I am somewhat surprised by the emotion that greets me.  As the expanse of social media has happened I am learning I am not alone.  I am learning it is okay and normal to tell people Noah is not my first and only.  He is my only living child.  I still don’t understand why there is such a stigma with miscarriages and acknowledging the children that have been lost.

I want to tell you about an amazing foundation started by a friend of mine and her husband.  Matt and Haley had a text book pregnancy with their first child and had no reason to expect anything different with their second pregnancy.  However, their second pregnancy was anything but text book and Fletcher was born too soon.

Matt and Haley took their experience and wanted to help others going through similar situations of pregnancy and infant loss.  They started the Fletcher Foundation in memory of their son.   The mission of the Fletcher Foundation is to bring hope to families who are grieving after a miscarriage or stillbirth, as well as provide financial assistance to those enduring financial burdens due to the loss of a child.  Our heart is to point mothers and families in a season of grief to joy and life after loss.

I get emotional every time I read their mission.  After my miscarriage I didn’t know what to do, what to think, what was okay to feel or not feel.  I didn’t know anyone who had had a miscarriage other then the recovery nurse who told me to do something fun and not sit at home after my D and C.  I was lost and sad.  To have an asset like the Fletcher Foundation to help me grieve would have been wonderful.   In addition to having resources available to help you grieve, they also want to help financially if there are medical bills uncovered by insurance.  We were blessed with great health insurance at the time of our loss and I am so thankful for that.  I’m not sure how it would have added to the stress of the situation to know I had medical bills to pay.

I love what Matt and Haley are doing through the Fletcher Foundation for so many reasons.  My main love of this is that they are providing help to a group of women and their families who are dealing with a situation that many do not understand or talk about.  It makes my heart happy to think that some one out there experiencing this loss will not have to walk through it alone because of the Fletcher Foundation. One little man and his presence is going to help so many people.  There is a purpose for everyone, those that live long lives, those that live just hours or minutes and those who don’t even make it to this world.

Make sure to check out The Fletcher Foundation online at: thefletcherfoundation.net or on Facebook at The Fletcher Foundation (Des Moines, Iowa).  As with most foundations they are dependent on donations from people to enable them to accomplish their mission so visit their site and consider making a donation to help a family going through a really tough time.

 

Strawberry Jam

First, let me say this is not a Paleo recipe.  I tried making no sugar jams last summer and did not like any of them.  Personal preference I guess.  I did use organic cane sugar instead of white sugar.  It’s what I had on hand as it’s what we use day to day.  I also cut back on the sugar a bit.

Second, all the credit for this amazing strawberry jam recipe goes to the Pioneer Woman.

 

We usually love to go and pick our own berries at one of the local farms but this year the farm we usually  pick at had closed.  I didn’t want to miss out on the strawberry season so I grabbed a box from a road side stand.

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Look at those beauties.  So fresh. So red. So delicious.  It was so hard to not eat them all before we made the jam.

For the summer my son has to do a list of things before he can have screen time.  One of those things is help someone in the family.  So he got recruited to help me with jam and we had a blast.  He helped cut all the strawberries.

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He loved the mashing of the strawberries.

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He help with every part.  He stirred the strawberries and the sugar together and when it was time to scoop it into the jars he did all the scooping.  IMG_6898

It was such a fun and easy project to do together.  It only took us about 2 hours total start to finish including the water bathing.  I love taking my favorite tastes of summer and preserving them to have to eat through out the winter.

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Never Too Old

I’m going to take a little trip down memory lane in this post. Life is constantly changing and while I super excited and inspired by the changes currently taking place, I think it’s good to remember where you have been.

30 years ago my family and I moved to a small town in Iowa.  26 years ago we moved into this house.  This house is beautiful inside and out.  Though she needs a bit of work in this particular picture. IMG_6142 (1)

I “grew up” in this house.  I say that even though we moved there either my freshman or sophomore year of high school.  It went through my teenage years with me.  And those were some years.  As I walked through the house one last time I was flooded with memories.

IMG_6472  The attic.  It was much nicer back in the day when it was my room. If those walls could talk.

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I was blessed to have my best friend live next door to me for a while. I used to sit on this window seat and she’d sit on her couch by the window and we’d talk on the phone.
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Then there is this beautiful staircase where many a family picture was taken.  I remember putting my wedding dress on and walking down to show my family.  The archway that welcomed so many as they walked in our front door.  The room where I had my first kiss with the man I would end up marrying.IMG_6481

 

And the last picture I have for you.  The kitchen that Adam and I remolded a bit together.  Again, as in my other posts more Adam than me.  But I did chip off all of the plaster covering the brick wall.  I love exposed brick.

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Why am I sharing this walk down memory lane with you? Well about a 3 months ago my parents sold this house.  And it got me thinking about the past, the future, change and living your dreams.

They have always been adventurous, my parents.  My dad maybe more so then my mom.  Though,  in spite of dealing with anxiety/depression issues due to a genetic disorder she is a carrier of, she has always been up for whatever adventure he could dream up.  She may want to let her fear and anxiety keep her from these adventures but she doesn’t.  She puts her trust in God and goes.  My dad has always had a dream of living in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana and so at 77 and 72 they are working at making this dream come true and that inspires me.

What dreams have you been putting on the back burner?  What have you wanted to do forever but have thought impossible?  What is holding you back from achieving your dreams?

My parents have taught me a lot over my 42 years but one of the best lessons is don’t let fear hold you back.  It can be crippling.  I’ve seen my mom work through it time and time again.  Be brave! Be bold! Have faith and go for it.  You are never too old to make your dreams come true!

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Infertility Sucks

I promised a Friday post with our story of infertility.  I’m a day late.  Between helping my parents pack and move and preparing to do a couple overnight shifts I totally lost track of what day it was.

Some stats first.  1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility.  Think about your work place. Think about your church. Think about your card club.  Think about your fill in the blank.  You probably know a couple who is struggling and you don’t even realize it.  Infertility is a disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected sex.  This includes getting pregnant and staying pregnant.  The average cost of one cycle of IVF is $12,400.  The average cost of an infant adoption in the United States $34,093.

I shared our story in a post I did a while ago called This.  But because it is National Infertility Awareness Week I wanted to share it again.  This time sharing more of the raw emotions that come with infertility.   I’m just going to lay it out there and be honest and speak from the heart.   I don’t think infertility and the feelings a woman/couple goes through is talked about enough.  I think people have heard of it and probably have heard or maybe even know couples who are or have struggled.

I had a plan and I thought it was one God was in on.  Get married, have a bunch of kiddos and be a stay at home mom.  Not the plan.  Not even remotely close.  I got married but the bunch of kiddos never came and I’ve never really been a stay at home anything other than a very short time I’ll mention later.

For most of our early married life I really thought it would happen.  I bought a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  I learned way more from that book than I really ever wanted to know about my body, but I put in to practice everything I could.  We saw my primary doctor and tried oral medications.  I took my temperature.  I charted everything.  We used ovulation predictor kits.  I stood on my head.  I exercised but not too much.  I quit my job for a while to try to reduce stress.  I tried to switch my husband to boxers.  No hot tubs for him either.   I prayed everyday.  I had surgery to remove the endometriosis.  I went on medications for 3 months at a time to try to keep it away.  Then we’d try for 6 months to a year again.  Still nothing happened.

How I felt:

  1.  There must be something wrong with me.  There was physically.  I suffered from endometriosis.  But more than that.  I must be odd or weird or emotionally stunted. I don’t know how to explain this one.  I just felt like something must not be right if I couldn’t have children.
  2. God must know that I would be a horrible mother and that’s why it’s not happening.
  3. I must have done something in my past to cause this.  I made a huge mistake somewhere and this is my punishment.  I don’t deserve to have a child.
  4. Why do all those people who don’t even want the kids they have keep getting pregnant and I’m over here begging God and it’s not happening?
  5. Angry and frustrated. What am I doing wrong?  I can’t afford to adopt.  I can’t afford fertility treatments.  Why won’t this just work naturally?
  6. Bitter and jealous of women who could just look at their husband and get pregnant.
  7. Shame – Some self inflicted .  Some from the way others looked at you when you explained you were trying but it just wasn’t happening.
  8. Like a failure – this should be so easy and yet it’s not.
  9. Like a liar – always coming up with some excuse of why we didn’t have kids rather than deal with the looks and the well meaning unsolicited advice from people when you told them the truth.
  10. Faithless – my faith must not be enough.  I must have some doubt somewhere otherwise God would be answering.
  11. Alone.  I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the same thing I was.

Advice people gave us/questions people asked us:

  1. Just relax.  It will happen.
  2. Drink some wine before intercourse to relax you.
  3. Do you know how to make a baby?  Has anyone explained it to you?
  4. Everything happens for a reason.  Maybe it’s just not meant to be.
  5. Have you considered adoption?
  6. Have you prayed about it?
  7. Maybe it’s just not God’s will for you.
  8. I understand what you are going through.  It took me a couple of months to get pregnant the first time too.

By the time we hit 10-11 years of marriage I finally began to accept the fact that I would not be a mother through the normal methods.  I grieved.  It was a loss of a dream.  A desire of my heart.  I gave up.  I cried Uncle. I surrendered. Whatever you want to call it.

I’m sure you are wondering, don’t you have a kid?  You just posted about him.  I do have a kid.  He’s a miracle.  A conversation at a baseball game between a good friend of mine and the woman who would become a dear friend and my supervisor.  That conversation almost didn’t happen because one of them was going to skip the game but decided against it at the last moment.  A random conversation with a provider at the clinic where I worked, that led to a complete fertility work up.  An amazing doctor/employer who was willing to do IVF even though I had just given my 2 weeks notice.  A very determined doctor who wanted me to have a New York baby to bring back to the Midwest with me. An enormous amount of shots.  A pregnancy and a miscarriage.   Wonderful friends and coworkers to walk through that with us.  A crisis of faith.  Another cycle of IVF with no pregnancy.  A month break and then back for an embryo transfer.  And this one took.  A viable pregnancy.  And then the heart beat.  And then seeing movement.  Shear terror at 14  weeks.  A gush of bright red blood.  Oh no – another miscarriage. Panic and a trip to the emergency room to be reassured and told it was just a burst blood vessel and the effects of being on blood thinner.  Then on April 5,2008 he arrived and he was perfect.

We only had that one kiddo.  I am super thankful for him.  God answered and gave me the desire of my heart.  Just not in my timing or preferred method.  We’ve continued to struggle with infertility.  10 more years of hoping every month but it not happening as the physical struggles continue for me.

I often wonder if God had told me back when I was a 19 year old newlywed what exactly his plan for me to become a mother was, would I have been patient?  Or would I have tried to rush his plan?  Would I be the person I am today?   The person that 13+ years of infertility made me to be.

There is a verse in the bible I came across after my kid was born.  I had probably heard it before but it hit me different this time when I read it.   It’s 2nd Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God.”

I talk about our journey with infertility because it needs to be talked about and because  of this verse.  I know that there are many women who are going through this and feel so alone. Women who are physically unable to have children and IVF or adoption is their only option.  Women who are frustrated at the cost of IVF and adoption. I want people to know they aren’t alone.   Your journey may not be IVF. Your journey might be adoption, foster/adoption through your state, embryo adoption or a surrogate.  Every journey to motherhood is different.  For us it was IVF.  For two couples we know it was adoption through the foster care system.

I also want to talk about our infertility story for those who haven’t experienced empty wombs or empty arms.  Be sensitive.  Support not advice.  A hug goes a long way.  If you have a friend or a family member who is struggling with infertility and really want a picture into what they are going through watch a documentary on Netflix called One More Shot.  It follows a couple from start to finish on their struggle to have a family.

That is our story.  Thanks for reading!

 

Cooking Night

I have a 10 year old son.  I want him to grow up independent and able to take care of himself.  Cook for himself, make his own doctors appointment (eventually), get a job, be responsible.  I think that’s every mother’s hope for their kids.

I decided to start a cooking night with him.  My kid is an only child.  Not by choice but by circumstances beyond our control.  I know there is a stereotype about only children out there but my kid is pretty well adjusted.  Plays well with others, shares, loves being around other people,(adult and kids) is sensitive and understands others moods.

That being said I started to notice that I was the one with the issues.  I’m a helper.  I like to do for others and I was always doing stuff for him.  Stuff he was able to do or could very easily learn to do.   He’d say,  “I’m hungry”, and I’d go and get him a snack.  So he got to the point where he would just holler “mom, can you get me a snack please?” from upstairs and I’d get it and bring it to him.  He’d be in the living room and ask me for something  and I’d quit what I was doing go get it for him.   I rarely made him do anything.  I was teaching him to rely on others to get what he needed.

I think this is a danger for those of us who have only’s.  It’s so easy to just do it for them.  I don’t mind helping him out.  I think its a nice thing to do.  It hit me though that I was raising a child who was going to need me to make his doctor appointments at the age of 45.  That is not okay with me.  I was not raised that way.  I was raised to be independent and self sufficient.  Things needed to change for his benefit.

This is totally not the direction I was planning on taking with this post.  Maybe a I need to do a post on raising an only child sometime. This whole post was to share about Monday night cooking nights with my kid.  When I send him off to college I want him to know how to make food for himself among other things like laundry and how to make a bed.  I thought I would start with cooking.  Why cooking? I’m not sure.  I am not a great cook, but I enjoy it and we’ve had some really fun cooking nights.

We started with Easy Mac in the microwave.  We have done things like pancakes and french toast.  Salad and smoothies.  Last night we grilled steak and veggies.   I’ve started asking him what he wants to cook too.  Sometimes he has an idea but most times he’ll leave it up to me.   One night when I asked him what he wanted to learn to cook he asked, “can’t I just get a wife?” Seriously kid?  We have been able to incorporate what he is learning in school with measuring units. We talk about healthy eating and making good choices.  We talk a lot during our cooking nights and that is probably my favorite part.  I love spending time with him.

It’s been a great way to teach independence and confidence.   He gets his own snacks now (as he should) but he was also able to make himself dinner (Easy Mac) when his dad’s meeting ran long the other day.  I love seeing him grow and learn new things. I can’t wait to see where our cooking night takes us in the future.

 

Pattison State Park

I love hiking!  I love being in the woods.  I love being near water, whether a river, a lake or the ocean.  I love the smells and the sounds.  I love the peacefulness it brings to my soul.  Well, as much peacefulness as you can get while hiking with an energetic and loud 9 year old.

We made the best find yesterday at Pattison State Park.  It’s 20 minutes from our house.  We had hiked the High Manitou Falls a couple of times but had never checked out the other trails that the park has to offer. IMG_5063

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The trails are beautiful.  IMG_5089The trees are tall and cover you with a canopy of leaves providing the perfect amount of shade as you hike.  I can’t wait to go back in the autumn when the leaves are changing.  With all the oak and maple trees we spotted the colors are going to be amazing!

Almost the entire hike is right along the river.  I love the sounds of the river running as you walk through the trees!IMG_5140

 

We happened upon the most peaceful little beach.  It was the perfect place for my son to wade and throw rocks and for my husband and I to sit, talk and enjoy the quietness and beauty of the day.

We hiked to little Manitou Falls

IMG_5156and then back around the lake.  Yes, I said lake.  This park has EVERYTHING! Waterfalls, a river, great trails and a lake.  It even has a swimming beach on one side perfect for cooling off after an amazing hike!

The campground and the facilities at this state park are great too.  So, if you ever find yourself in Northern Wisconsin make sure you plan to spend a day or two at Pattison State Park!

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/pattison/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Picking @ Farm LoLa

I have a really fond childhood memory of going berry picking and it’s something I have always wanted to do with  my family!  This year I missed the pick your own strawberry season.  I also missed buying a large box of already picked strawberries from the guy who sells them on the side of the road.  Thankfully I have some left over strawberry jam from last year.

I was not going to miss pick your own raspberries season! I love raspberries and so does my family.  When I bring them home from the store they are gone almost before they are out of the bag. We are serious about our raspberries. But I  had no idea where to go. Thanks to a couple of my awesome coworkers I was introduced to Farm LoLa.  A great place, run by an amazing group of people.  I was so excited to take my husband and son there!

The atmosphere is lovely.  We could not have asked for a better night.  The temperature was perfect and the bugs were minimal.  The raspberry field is surrounded by forest.  We were greeted by the super friendly staff and one of their many chickens! The field of raspberries was beautiful.  My kid loved it and when he was done picking there was plenty of room in our row for him to run and play while he waited for us to finish.  They probably should have weighed him before we went in because I think he may have snacked on a few while he was picking.  The berries were perfect and so tasty.  I was thinking how wonderful it was going to be to have jam in the middle of February and my husband couldn’t wait to get home and have a scoop or two over a dish of ice cream.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Farm LoLa and came home with a box full of raspberries and a dozen eggs!  We will definitely be visiting Farm LoLa again!  Check them out on Facebook for picking times!