Monday, October 12, 2015

A Talk On Loss and Hope

Last May, I was asked to give a short 5 minute talk at the Stake Relief Society Meeting on hope.  This was less than three months after my second miscarriage and there was nothing else I could possibly talk about except for them.  I wanted to share the talk here with my friends and family.  I think about those two babies every day of my life.  I also think daily about whether or not there will be anymore living babies born into our family.  This isn't our whole story, but a little glimpse.  October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, so it seemed fitting to share this now.

Hope is what led me to the missionaries 16 years ago and hope is what helped me know there was more to this life than I had known.  Hope has served me well in the years since.  Specifically, it has helped me much in the last year.  Early 2014, my husband and I learned we were expecting our 3rd child.  We felt much excitement and joy over this new baby.  We waited out that first trimester before telling too many people.  Then, at 12 weeks when we saw the baby on ultrasound and saw it moving around and heard the healthy heartbeat, we felt excited to share such wonderful news with everyone.  At 15 ½ weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night bleeding and in extreme pain.  I left immediately by myself, leaving my husband and our two sleeping children behind for the ER.  He joined me later when my good friend, who is also my Visiting Teacher, came over to stay with our kids.  An hour later, I was no longer pregnant.  I had miscarried and with that, I felt a hopelessness and despair I had never before known.  I felt betrayed by my body.  

Friends, family, ward members rallied around us and I truly learned what people mean when they say they have drawn strength from other people’s prayers and love in times of trial.  Four months later, we found out we were pregnant again.  I was a little nervous, of course, but my doctors felt so sure it wouldn’t happen again, especially considering I had two healthy pregnancies and deliveries before.  I did a somewhat new first trimester blood test where they test just my blood and can tell me the gender and some health risks for the baby.  Everything came back looking good and we found out we were having a baby girl!  I had been really worried those first 15 weeks, but we had an ultrasound that was after the time of the last miscarriage and the baby girl was doing great!  Measuring the right size, strong heart beat! I was still nervous, but I was feeling better physically with the first trimester over and emotionally having passed that last miscarriage’s date. 

I went in for an appointment at 17 ½ weeks and they couldn’t find the heartbeat.  So, after waiting an agonizing 45 minutes, they moved me into the ultrasound room and pulled her up.  There was no heartbeat and no movement.  I had miscarried again.  At that moment, I felt so lost and confused.  How could this be happening again? 

After getting someone to watch my children and calling my husband at work to tell him and ask him to meet me, I went immediately to the hospital where they did many tests on me and withdrew amniotic fluid also to test before inducing me.  It was a much more physically exhausting experience than the last miscarriage.  It took over 24 hours before I delivered the baby and placenta.  After two days in the hospital, they sent me home.  I don’t remember much about those days except that I know I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of crying.

We still don’t know what is causing me to miscarry and there’s a chance we never will. Through this continuing trial, I have renewed my hope, though.  One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi 2:25 “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”  I wasn’t feeling any joy at this time, but my hope was that I would again.  I knew that was God’s plan for me.  Not to have multiple late miscarriages, but to find a way to have joy in spite of them.  That scripture always makes me think of the Plan of Salvation, befittingly this plan is also known as the Plan of Happiness.  Following this plan, will always lead us to joy and happiness.  I know that if I hold up my end of the plan and endure to the end by reading my scriptures, praying, attending church and the temple, partaking of the sacrament, serving my family and others that God will lead me to joy and give me peace.  I don’t know if I’m going to be able to have any more children.  This is a trial I’m currently in the middle of.  Is our family here on Earth complete?  I don’t know the answer to that; I do know that my hope is not contingent on a particular answer to that question.  My hope lies in my Heavenly Father and that He will guide me and my family through this process, that He will give me strength to find joy in this life and in my family and finally, with peace.  I’ll leave you with one last favorite scripture that has helped soothe my soul through this trial and has given me hope that I will feel joy on the other side of it.  And maybe even find some joy during this time.  John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Playroom

Last year, Wes and I decided to redo the kid's bathroom.  We made it into a Very Hungry Caterpillar bathroom and it still brings us much joy.  So, this year, we decided to do another room.  We chose the playroom because it was very blah in there, but we had some major components ready to go, like the rug that I love very much.  Last summer, I bought this rug and I loved how much color and fun it had in it.  It's called Candy Dot.  Even the name is great!   (Maybe next year, we'll do an adult room.)

I don't really have any great before pictures.  Wes and I always seem to drop the ball on the before pics.  I looked through some old photos and found a few that will work well enough.  

 This one is from the Graham Cracker House Party we did last Christmas.  Clearly, the kids were not bothered by the modge podge of furniture and decorations.

Over Scarlett's right shoulder you can see into the playroom again.

Here's another angle with the curtains we had in here.  I loved these curtains, but they didn't go with the new look so they had to go.

I was looking through Pinterest one day (one of my favorite pastimes) and I came across a canvas painting from the You Are My Sunshine song.  It's a song I love, because my mom always sang it to me when I was little and I sing it to my kids even though they'd rather Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  I made my own version of the painting.  I'm not going to lie, the crooked writing kind of drives me crazy, but otherwise it turned out pretty cute.  We decided to make this song the inspiration for the playroom.  So, this is the artwork that started it all.

One of the first things I attacked was the Pottery Barn Kids table and chairs I bought off a local online classifieds ad.  Here is the best before pic we have.  

 I had already started refinishing it, but the chairs were a dark red and the whole table was a dark espresso (before I sanded the top off.)  It was definitely not going to work for our stormy sky/sunshine room.

Unfortunately, after I had sanded down the whole thing, restained it, and put on a polyurethane coat something horrible happened.  A mosquito flew into the polyurethane coat while it was still drying.  So, we had a Jurassic Park situation going on on top of our table.  We tried to pry the mosquito out but only a few big pieces broke off and the rest was firmly under the clear coating.  So, I re-sanded and re-stained and re-poly coated the whole table top.  

No bugs this time.  

I also painted the legs and chairs with graphite Annie Sloan chalk paint left over from the entry way coat hooks we made last year, distressed it a little, and dark waxed them.

Final product!

We tried a lot of wall samples to find the perfect storm gray for the playroom and we ended up going with "Storm" by Benjamin Moore...go figure.  I had made a very cute growth chart at a Relief Society night at church.  It was gray, though, which wasn't going to work so well with my new gray walls.  Not to mention, Desmond had gotten a hold of a pen and drawn all over it.  Luckily, there was an extra set of the vinyl lettering and numbers floating around from that night and she was kind enough to give it to me.  So, I sanded it down, stained it, and applied the new vinyl.  I also used a sharpie instead of paint for the lines to make them more accurate.  Here's the old one.

And here's the new one!

Wes took note of where the markings were on the old one and made sure they would be transferrable to the new one, so we wouldn't lose that info.

To go with our cloud theme, Wes made two cloud shelves.  I got the idea off Land of Nod.  They wanted $39 each for them, but Wes made them for free with materials we had on hand.  So, that was amazing!  Even the paint we already had.  

Here it is in a mid-stage.  I hand drew the clouds on the wood and then Wes used his miter saw to cut them out and nailed/glued everything together and then I painted it!

Final Product!  I love it!

Land of Nod also had a cloud cork board on their website that I loved.  Both kids come home from school with their beautiful artwork and this seemed like a perfect way to display it.  Unfortunately, the Land of Nod ones were tiny and expensive.  So, once again, we decided to make it ourselves.  We still came out ahead financially on this one, but there were a couple of attempts that didn't pan out.  In the end, the actual product was only $15, but the failed attempts added to that cost a little.  

I hand drew the cloud and here's Wes cutting it out.  It's upside down right now.  One side of this was white foam core board and the other side was cork board.  $16.99 at Michaels, even cheaper though since we used a 40% off coupon.

 These pictures show you the cork board side before we painted it.  How cute is Scarlett, by the way?

I am painting the cork board.  I wish I had more white washed it, maybe with white water color or something.  The heavy coat of white paint makes the cork board not as efficient.  I suppose if we ever want to redo it, that will be good information to remember.

Final Product!

With all of this pilfering of Land of Nod's ideas there are 3 things, we actually bought from them.  The rainbow clock in the above picture was from Land of Nod.  Santa brought that to the kids for Christmas.  I love how Santa caught our vision for the playroom!  We also bought the rug from Land of Nod.  The final item we bought, I debated forever over.  Then finally, they clearance it and cut the price in half.  That's when we decided to go for it.  This yellow ombre tent canopy.  The kids love it and I like to think of it as a ray of sunshine coming down.

Here's our amazing missionaries helping us put it up.  Elder Christensen is so tall, he could do it without ladder, just his long arms and legs.

 Here he is, attaching it.

 Elder Graves supervised and kept us entertained with his wit.  I really love those guys!

To add some more color into the room, Scarlett and I made a crayon art pic.  Here's Scarlett helping me glue the crayons on.  She was so impressive because I wanted the Crayola sign facing up on all of them and she was so careful to position them in just the right way.  She was a big helper during this whole art project.  She helped do some of the blow drying as well, but we didn't get pictures of that.

Final Product!

Also, during some of my Pinterest surfing, I found a cloud light that looked amazing.  I showed it to Wes not 100% sure if it was something I wanted to do.  It was more something I thought was really cool.  Well, Wes thought it was really, really cool.  We were definitely doing it.  

 We started out with a paper lantern and just glued quilt batting to it and made it fluffier and fluffier.  We added some crystal beads to it to make it look like rain was falling down.  I know it worked because Desmond pointed to them after I hung them and said "wain."  If Desmond's saying it, you know it's legit.  We also bought some cool led lights off Amazon that work with a remote.  They are great, the nighttime effect is so fun.  The kids love it!  Adults, too!

Final product!

I bought the curtains in the above picture from an Etsy dealer.  I probably could have made them if I set my mind to it, but after the pillow fiasco, I'm a little glad I just bought them.  Maybe I'll try curtains that long some other day.  They turned out great!  I was nervous buying them off Etsy since there's no real way to know quality, but she had good reviews and was very responsive in all conversations.  It was overall a good experience and I really love these curtains!

The final project was the pillow.  Oh, that pillow.  And those darn birds.  Those birds were the bane of my existence for a few days.  

I cut the birds out from felt, then hand stitched eyes and wings on with embroidery floss.  I also hand stitched the "power lines" on with embroidery floss.  Then, I hand stitched with regular sewing thread the birds on to the pillow.  Then, I machine sewed the pillow, stuffed it, and closed it up.  I used the leftover batting from the cloud project and came up a little too short in my opinion.  I sewed it shut anyway, but kind of wish I would have bought more batting and stuffed it a little more.

 Scarlett helped me with the placement of the birdies.

Final Product!

Here it is on the couch it was made for.  We bought this little loveseat for this room and we also bought a new light fixture for the room.

Here are the final pictures of the room with everything put together.  It was a fun family experience.  I don't know what I'm going to do in my free time anymore.  I guess clean the rest of the house that dwindled into disrepair during this little room overhaul.  ;)

The basket next to the tent is for books.  Scarlett loves her new playroom.  So does Desmond, but he was napping when most of these pictures in this blog were taken.  This was so much fun and now the room brings the whole family a lot of joy.