The Loneliest Line

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Let me tell you a story about a little girl. When she was one, her mother gave her a homemade doll and she named it Amy. When she was four she had the first dream she could remember and in it she was a mom. When she was five, she claimed the closet under the stairs as a nursery and took care of a dozen dolls in some sort of super octo-mom game. In middle school, she aspired to grow up and have 10 (!) kids. As she got older, this dream obviously tempered and became a bit more realistic, but it remained constant. Someday she would be a mom, of that she was sure.

I'm sure you've figured out that that girl is me.

And this is my story to motherhood. It’s one that has felt isolating, lonely and at times hopeless. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to open up about this, but I know that if someone out there is going through the same thing we have, I would want them to know they aren’t alone. (and if I'm being honest, I wouldn't mind hearing that I'm not alone either)

This story doesn’t start with a sudden surprise or casual romantic "let's have a baby" moment. We've always been open to life, but when two people become one and then consider adding new little person, there is alot to consider. It wasn't until this year, with the business stable enough to support us and having moved closer to our families, that we felt that things were as close to “ready” as they’d ever be. We were a little scared and a little excited to see what might be in store for us. 

What was in store for us? Well, mostly countless negative pregnancy tests, long nights filled with tears and lots of doubt.

The first half of the year was fine, I mean, we were disappointed, but we also comforted ourselves with stats like “only 20% conceive in the first month, 75% in the first 6 months...” etc.

As summer turned to fall, every day someone else announced they were expecting. How lonely it is to watch others seem to effortlessly get what you pray for every night. What sort of despicable person cries in private instead of rejoicing about someone else’s happy news?

I do.

I feel guilty for overreacting when we've only tried for “x” months while other people try for years and have "real diagnosed infertility." After all, it’s not infertility until you’ve been trying for a year. We’re just two people who can’t seem to make a baby. Something that for many people happens accidentally.

As sisters, girlfriends, acquaintances, strangers announce their happy news, I tick off month after month of failure.

Failure. Failure. Failure.

It’s hard to stay hopeful every month as we wait for yet another single pink line.

That lonely line. 

People advise us “enjoy this time,” “ it’ll never be the same,” and "you're still so young." While I understand they want to help and that there really isn’t anything better that they could say, those are only small consolations.

We realize that instead of filling the coming months with a little life, we have unexpected time to plan trips and try really hard not to think about how we’d hoped to spend it instead. So here we are. We look forward to exciting adventures, enjoy our home, and love our life together, and yet still remember that last Christmas we thought we'd be in a different place by now. 

Then again, Mary probably thought she'd be in a different place when she gave birth to her child. Josef most likely didn't expect his family to get started the way it did. We make plans and imagine how things will be, only to learn that's not God's plan. 

God didn't come to fulfill our Pinterest dreams. He came to save our lives. Especially at this time of the year, we remember that. He never said He'd fulfill our expectations. He said He'd save us. And that, friends, He has done. All of my selfishness, failure, ingratitude, impatience, envy, and sin is gone. 

It is finished, done, amen. 

But even after that there is still a deep desire for a family. My heart longs for motherhood and to see Dave become a father. I remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that dream. It is good.

I am sure that God has created me with this dream and He hasn't given me this desire to torment me for He is a good God. I know this has and will teach and help me grow, but there will come a day when we will have children. We've learned that it won't happen the way we expected, but somehow, somewhere this story will contain little Russells and a set of very happy parents. 

And when we finally get to hold that little baby bear that we’ve prayed, hoped and cried for, it will be all the sweeter for the waiting.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
— Romans 5:3-5

p.s. I feel the need to say that I only share my story and pain, and none of this is meant to judge, devalue, or critique anyone else's path or experience. I would be happy to listen to your struggle, preferably over a mug of something hot. We all have hurts, this is mine.

House + Home: Newbie Plant Lady

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For the first four years of my adult life, post college, the extent of my house plants were a few sad looking succulents. I had other things on my mind and plants just weren't a priority. 

However, once we moved into, renovated, and decorated our new home, I realized how much I love having green around me. So when fall came and I was making my to do lists, "get more plants" was written down amongst other things such as "organize the basement" and "hang art."

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I had put my 3 dying succulents outside for the summer. When I found them at the end of the summer, one had bit the dust and the other two were thriving. I brought those two in and they seem to have a new lease on life. I keep those on my kitchen window sill because I know they need lots of sun, they are dessert plants after all. (what's a dessert plant? lol-ing over here about misspelling "desert" as "dessert," so I'm just going to leave it and hope it gives you a good chuckle too.)

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Anyway, since that's about how systematic my plant regime was and I had added close to ten plants to my home, I realized I was going to need to clean up my act. So far this is what I've started doing and it's been working:

  • Set a day once a week to take care of your plant babies. Set an alarm on your phone. Make sure it's a time that you're usually home and free to do 15 minutes of plant care.
  • When you alarm goes off, water everything the way it needs. Even if a plant doesn't need water that often, at least you know you watered it "2 Tuesday ago" rather than "sometime during the fall."
  • Something that really helped me understand how to treat each plant was learning what their native climate would have been like. A succulent belongs in the desert, a fiddle leaf fig in the jungle, and so on. Obviously my house is neither of those things, but I can try and treat them as closely to that as possible.
  • Know when to buy fake. I have little wall shelves I wanted succulents in, but I knew there just wasn't enough light for them to survive. Faux plants are so lifelike these days, I bet no one can tell. 
  • Make sure someone waters your plants when you leave on vacation. I forgot this one while in Austria and came back to a few sad plant buddies.
  • Finally, remember that a potted plant you bought for $13 has already lasted longer than a cut flower bouquet that costs the same amount of money. Don't feel too guilty if it takes you a while to learn how to keep them alive. It's ok!
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I would give you a list of my plants, but I honestly don't know what most of them are. That's what happens when you buy plants based on how cute they are and don't pay attention to what they're called. 

Happy Growing!

House + Home: Sandhill Session

To celebrate finally finishing (!) up our year of renovating, furnishing, and decorating the new house we decided a little photo shoot was in order. 

I had some friends recommend Rachael a couple months ago. Finally with the need for Christmas card pictures looming, I sent her a quick message and she got back within hours. Her style and mine mesh beautifully, so it was an easy decision to work with her.

I'm extremely tempted to be insufferable and post all 50 plus pictures, but I'm going to try really hard to keep it to my favorites. I just can't get over how much I love love love them.

My vision was for a cozy, cuddly, coffee-filled shoot that reflected how much we love our new home and the land around it.

The day was drizzly and a little chilly, in other words, perfectly November and the right day for cuddles.

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We would have been remiss if we left the Christmas tree farm out of the pictures. It lies directly across the street from us and we view it as an extension of our front yard. We've made friends with the farmer and adore going for walks through the trees.

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We left the drizzle behind and cozied up inside with some coffee and kittens.

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November Fog

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November it the pearl-gray month

the changeling between

warm crimson October

and,

cold white December

the month when the leaves fall, in slow drifting whirls,

and the shapes of the trees are revealed

when the earth imperceptibly wakes

and stretches her bare limbs

and

displays her stubborn

unconquerable strength

before she settles uneasily into winter

November is secret and silent

Alison Uttley –

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Fall Apple Picking (like you do.)

Couple of weeks ago, back in October, we needed an outdoor activity so it seemed only fitting that we head to an orchard.

It was the last perfect weekend, with weather warm enough for tees and jeans. The apples were Jonagolds and delicious. 

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I think we each ate four apples each and left with slight stomach aches. 

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Those apples are all peeled and cut in the freezer waiting to be turned into apple crisp for this winter. They're like little treasures from a beautiful day stored up for a cold day.