Monday, December 3, 2012

Gabriella's Vintage Picnic Christening Party

I've been really terrible about updating this blog, it's been a crazy few months.  We've had a major sport injury that has sidelined my husband (a torn Achilles), a baby who is learning to crawl and a mom that is just trying to keep up.  Keeping things simple has certainly helped and I guess by not blogging, I'm keeping thing simple!   I did promise to put up photos of my daughter's christening party, which featured a gorgeous dessert table.  My cousin @Alyssa Hobson photographed the party for us, so if you pin any of the photos please be sure reference it back to this blog.  The party was vintage picnic themed and on an extreme budget, but I love the way it turned out, especially the dessert table.  I promise to post more soon - I have a few really cute DIY projects in the works for our home, and I really want to blog about them. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Gotta Have Faith

It has been two weeks since my last post and I have been incredibly busy!

Yep, I asked DH to fix a leaky toilet and we ended up with water shooting out of our wall.  Apparently, we should not be DIY any plumbing!  Thankfully the home warranty covered it, but it happened over a weekend, and we couldn't have the water on.  We packed up and spent two nights at my parents place until we could get a plumber out to fix it.

DH is Injured!
The very next day after our plumbing mishap, my husband tore his Achilles tendon playing adult soccer.  He had surgery and now he is safely tucked on the couch with his leg elevated.  He's on crutches and scooting around the house in a rolling desk chair or doing a crawl on the floor to hang with the baby.  He's out of work for 6 weeks on short term disability since he is in outside sales.  That's the only real source of any stress for me, is having to trim about $800 of expenses out of our monthly budget.  He also has a company looking at him for a new position - and we are hoping that this injury doesn't infere with that.

This past Sunday was my baby girls Christening and reception.  I have been planning and doing some DIY projects to put together a really cute party on a very tight budget.  I'll post pics soon of that. It was stressful pulling it all together on my own since my DH couldn't really help since he was on crutches.  But, I'm really really proud of how it turned out.

Work Work Work!!
I'm working like crazy, doing our marketing plans and FY 12 annual results.  On top of that, I've got another company interested in hiring me. It sounds like a good thing, but honestly I just don't have the bandwith to interview right now.

Like I said, I've been busy.  I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and that we're just due a few little dramas after having a really wonderful year last year.  After all, this time last year we were closing on our new house and pregnant after a 2 year infertility struggle.  So, what's a little injury, a busy work schedule, a plumbing problem really?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Project Lose the Baby Weight!

I recently heard that it takes 9 months to put the baby weight on so it should take at least 9 months to take it off.  We recently celebrated Baby G's 6 month birthday - and I naturally panicked.  3 more months and all that baby weight must be gone!  I have a little over 10 pounds left to lose to be to pre-pregnancy weight...and about 30  pounds to lose to be the size I'd really like to be!

So - it's official.  I'm on a diet/exercise program.  Good thing I didn't let my gym membership lapse!  I am not planning anything too complicated. Staying simple once again. No meal plans or anything. Just eat less and move more!

I realized that after the 6 month mark I don't have the obessive need to be with Baby G every second.  So, I made time for me.  My plan - Saturday, Sunday and Tuesdays I will be at the gym for at least an hour. 

I started this past weekend - Saturday and Sunday.  It's on!  My goal is to be down 10 pounds and at pre-pregnancy weight by Christmas! Wish me luck. 

Entertaining as a New Mom

My sister told me after I had my baby that I wasn't responsible for doing any hosting of family dinners until Baby G was at least a year old.   Now I know why.

Yes, this type-A, over ambitious, pinterset obsessed mommy decided to host a small dinner party on Saturday night.  And while it wasn't a total disaster, I do understand now what my sister was trying to tell me.  It's absolutely exhausting!

Pre-baby we lived in a very small 2 bedroom apartment and were never expected to entertain.  And after two years of struggling with infertilty, I'll admit it - we lost touch with our closest friends.  Afterall, they all had children and we were self concious about the fact that we didnt.  So, one of my goals when we moved into our new house was to entertain our friends more. I figured we would have "home court advantage" with the baby.  That I could set limits of when and how many friends we would invite over.  That I could keep it simple.  Afterall -that's the point of this blog right?

HA.  I'm waaay too much of  perfectionist for that.  So, I ran around like a crazy lady on Saturday. I cleaned the whole house, made a completely homemade dinner, bought flowers and did centerpieces, set up the back patio, made a playlist on the iPad and got baby and momma all dressed up.  The friends we invited over had a 4 month old and a 4 year old.  They certainly were not expecting all of this effort - but I felt completely compelled to make everything perfect.

Why? Oh, I'm not sure. Blame pinterest, blame my mother's perfect hostess abilities, whatever. The point is...I am not making this mistake again. Sure, it was nice to see friends...but it would have been easier and much more fun to have met them at a pizza parlor or park.  I won't be trying to entertain again at home until Baby G is at least 2!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post Baby Date Night (or afternoon)

We finally did it!  We went on our very first date since the baby was born. She's almost 6 months old, and we've gone literally everywhere with her in tow since she was born.  Yesterday she got dropped off at grandma's house and we went to a late lunch and movie.  We dined al fresco sharing flatbread pizza and salads with a lovely glass of Chardonnay.   It was nice to spend sometime together.  We saw a movie too (Bourne Legacy). 

2 hours into the movie I started to get anxious about BabyG's bedtime.  We got out of the movie around 6:40 and headed to grandma's house to pick her up.  Now - my mom watches her 3 days a week, so I wasn't nervous about her watching her yesterday.  Yet, of course - there was an incident.  BabyG started throwing up about an hour before we picked her up.  So, when we walked in, she was crying, rubbing her eyes and looked so sad.  But once she saw us, she calmed down and started smiling and laughing. 

I guess it's to be expected.  Babies just seem to know when you are taking time for yourself and pick that moment to have a meltdown.   Everyone must have that story of their kid getting sick on date night right?

However, we've realized that in order to keep our relationship strong it really is important to take the time together without her.  Time together to be a couple instead of a very tired mommy and overwhelmed daddy.  So, we are going to try again in a few weeks.  We aren't quite ready for the weekly date night, but we are getting there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Does Infertility Make You A Different Parent?

"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out".  Ah, that famously funny quote from Bill Cosby.

It's one that my husband and I joked about for years.  We talked about how tough and strict parents we were going to be.  We joked about how we would tell our kids that we could just "make another one" if they acted up.   All in jest and joking of course, but at it's core there was the feeling that we would have fun getting pregnant, and that of course it wouldn't be hard at all.   And, that those little buggers better act right, because we were going to raise them old school.

Well, that was before our battle with infertility.  Now, when I look at her the first thing I think is that she is a miracle.  Yes, every baby is a miracle  - but our natural pregnancy after 2 years of infertility truly felt like a miracle.

And it makes me wonder, do parents who have been blessed to bring a baby into this world after struggling with infertility parent differently?  I try to stay balanced. I don't worry too much about germs - I don't wash everything in triplicate in super hot water and when she drops a toy on the ground I give it back without disinfecting them.  But then I let her sleep with me when she cries in the middle of the night, something I swore I'd never do.

So - I'd love to know what you think - does infertility make you a different type of parent?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Suck it Science - my infertility journey

When I told my husband that one day we would tell our daughter about how much money and time we spent trying to have her, he told me not to.  He said that it wasn't something she needed to know about.

I wholeheartedly disagree, and it got me thinking.  Why is it that infertility something we are supposed to be quiet about?  Either people are too embarrassed to talk about it because it involves sex (GASP!) or they are afraid that people will be unsympathetic.  After all, I had my moments during our journey where I heard the nasty stereotypes, comments and general crap from insensitive family members, friends and even strangers.  I've read nasty comments on any online story about infertility.

The harshest things insensitive people say?

1) Infertile women were too selfish and career obsessed to get pregnant younger and now are using the medical intervention to turn back the clock.
2) That infertility is natures way of saying you shouldn't have kids
3) That any couple struggling should "just adopt" as there are millions of orphans in the world.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: until you are faced with infertility, you have absolutely no right to judge.  It is literally one of the most heartbreaking things any person could go through.  And yet, in the infertility journey, you end up reading the most inspiring stories.  Yes, inspiring. 

These women (and men) are strong and unrelenting in their desire to have a baby.  Stories of surrogates, those amazing women who are willing to go through 9 months of pregnancy to give that beautiful baby to another couple.  Stories about men who agreed to donor sperm in order to have a family with their wives, and women who did the same with donor eggs. 

I'm not embarrassed. I'm willing to talk to anyone about our infertility journey.  Why?  Because when I was in the middle of it, despondent and feeling all alone, I unknowingly had two or three people in my life who had a similar struggle. Some were even in our extended family.  But, as is typical with infertility - nobody talked about it.  So how was I to know?

So, yeah, I'm not embarrassed.  My name is Natalie - and I was diagnosed with "unexplained infertility".  I was ovulating a little late, but that was it.  My husband's sperm count was perfect. 

My treatment plans included Laproscopy, Clomid and timed intercourse, Clomid and Interuterine Insemination (IUI), Injectionables + IUI, and finally IVF and FET (frozen embroyo transfer). 

All along at every stage - the doctors told me, everything looked perfect.  That this was "it" for sure.   After our IVF failed, and our FET resulted in chemical pregnancy, we decided to take a break.  We had been trying for over 2 years.   And, while looking for a house and not "trying" - we got pregnant all on our own.

Of course, that's the simple story.  Mistakes were absolutely made along the way.  In the beginning of all of our testing the tech that did my hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray test that examines the inside of uterus and fallopian tubes and the surrounding area) told me that my tubes were blocked.   Cue freak out.  My husband practically had to carry my hysterical ass to the car after that appointment.  That moved us to a laproscopic surgery where they were going to 'look around" and see if that was actually the case and if they were blocked, they were going give me a tubal ligation so that we could successfully do IVF down the road.  The 2 hour surgery ended up taking 45 minutes because there was absolutely nothing blocking my tubes.  It wasn't until later that I read online that fallopian tubes can "spasm" during the HSG test and that will look like a blocked tube on the X-ray. 

So - like I said, it's a complicated journey.  And I have a lot of advice on the topic.   So stay tuned.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dreams come true.

My whole life I have dreamed about meeting the perfect man and watching him play in my yard with me kids. Last night and again this morning - that dream actually came true. With the weather perfect at 75 degrees, we laid out a blanket in our backyard and spent the evening playing with our little girl. Laying there watching my husband blow bubbles for her and play with her toes - I couldn't quite believe it. After all, we struggled for 2 years to get pregnant. And the first 5 months of her life have felt like a whirlwind of diapers, feedings and far to little sleep.

Now, it seems possible to relax for a few minutes together as a family. And to have fun. So this morning as I sit on our back patio, drinking coffee and watching my little girl sway in her swing, I realize that not only do dreams come true, but reality is way sweeter!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Simple Recipe - Summery Pesto

I planted my very first herb garden this summer at our new house.  I have a black thumb and have killed literally every plant I have ever gotten my hands on.  But, by some miracle, my herbs are still alive.  Not only that - they are thriving!  So, we have on hand a TON of fresh basil.  When I got sick of the tomato caprese salads and tomato and basil sauce, I decided to try pesto.

The great thing about pesto is that it seems so fancy, yet it is so very simple.

Simple Summer Pesto

2  fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, toasted baguettes or freeze.

Of course, my baby girl freaked out when I started up the food processor, so mine didn't go exactly as planned in the recipe.  Everything got tossed in at once (except for the olive oil) and pulsed very quickly.  Added the olive oil and voila - Simple Summer Pesto.  I'll be serving some pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes along side my herb marinated Pork Tenderloin.  Pictures up tonight.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Recipe - Key Lime Cheesecake

Since Sunday's and Tuesdays are really the only two days that I have time to cook - my plan is to try a new recipe and share it here!  Tonight we are heading over to my parents house for dinner (my little brother is making the trek from North Beach to cook for us).  After being inspired by Pinterest, I decided on  trying my hand at a dessert.  So, today's recipe is for Key Lime Cheesecake.

I found Key Limes at my local Safeway, and everything I've ever heard about Key Lime Pie, is that it's the limes, the limes, the limes that make it so good!!

Easy Key Lime Cheesecake

what you need

3 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup  sugar

1 tsp.  grated lime zest

1/4 cup key lime juice
3 eggs

1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)

Whipped Cream topping

Make It

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar, peel, juice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended. 
POUR into crust.

BAKE 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Top with whipped topping just before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

21 Creative Consequences | iMOM

21 Creative Consequences | iMOM

Being the Perfect Woman

When I was dreaming about being a mom, I always pictured myself with a little boy.  Momma's little guy, ready to play sports, dig in the dirt, climb trees and be tough.  So, when the ultrasound tech said "it's a female", I'm not ashamed to admit it, I started sobbing.  I just didn't know if I could handle raising a little girl.  After all, I was one and I knew all that came with girls.  The hormones and the rolling eyes.  The boys.  Oh god, the boys.  And the mean girls.  Oh, hell. What was I going to do??

I refused to buy anything pink.  I painted Gabriella's room yellow with teal accents.  I refused to buy newborn dresses and hair bows.  I told my sister "HELL NO" when she offered up her daughter's pricess dresses.   I am determined to not raise a princess.   I started reading this article about how most 6 year old girls want to be sexy.

"Across-the-board, girls chose the "sexy" doll most often. The results were significant in two categories: 68 percent of the girls said the doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said she was more popular than the non-sexy doll.

"It's very possible that girls wanted to look like the sexy doll because they believe sexiness leads to popularity, which comes with many social advantages," explained lead researcher Christy Starr, who was particularly surprised at how many 6- to 7-year-old girls chose the sexualized doll as their ideal self."

Time magazine's article on this study pointed out that "Interestingly, media consumption did not seem to play a role in the doll they picked. But a mother’s self-image did. Those girls with moms who reported self-objectifying tendencies, like worrying about their clothes and appearance many times a day, were more likely to pick the sexy doll."  Read more:

It's my job as her mother to make sure she has a positive self image.  Not anyone else. I'm determined to make sure to tell her often that she is smart, kind, strong and funny.   How do I do that? By watching how I talk about myself and other women.  

The world is a big scary place for a little girl. And I have to teach her about being a strong, independant woman really is.  Women these days are so pressured to be everything.  Martha Stewart meets Kim Kardashian meets Hillary Clinton.  The perfect hostess, party planner, gourmet cook, athlete, model, celebrity, fashionista.  Frankly, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

This past weekend I took her for her first photo shoot.  Now, with a little girl this pretty - teaching her that looks aren't everything shouldn't be too tough - right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

For Her, For Me

In 2006, after I got married, I felt let down. The party, the details, the world that I had been living in for 2 years was over...and there I was, a old married lady.   So depressed and yet obsessed with my own wedding, I took my 10 years of corporate event knowledge - grabbed one of my best friends and hastily started a wedding planning business - Simply Sparkling Events.   We kept those day jobs, and even though it was hard working almost 7 days a week - we were good at wedding planning, it was fun and creative.  And hard.  Dealing with other people's weddings, difficult mothers, even more difficult maid of honors, drunk best men - ugh.  That could be  blog all on it's own.

In any case, in 2009 my husband and I decided to get pregnant.  Knowing that I couldn't possibly juggle a full time job, a part-time business and motherhood, I told my best friend and business partner I was out of the wedding planning game.

2 years later, after months of tears, doctor appointments and words like "unexplained infertility", "IVF" and "IUI" - we still weren't pregnant. I had given up on my business for nothing, my day job was getting unbearable and my marriage was showing signs of strain. 

I started seriously thinking about what my life would be like without children.  Would I stay living in the suburbs?  Should I start another business? What could possibly fill that hole in my heart where my love for my child would be.

Then, a miracle.  2 years, and over $10,000 later - in the month that we were "taking off, we got pregnant.    And now, I'm the proud mother of my beautiful baby girl, Gabriella.

This blog is for her, for me and for all those women struggling right now with feeling that emptiness that infertility brings into your life.  And, oh yeah  - some event planning too.