Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1000 Pictures from June

Event #1: Erica's Bachelorette Party
First of all, if you don't know Erica, please allow me to introduce her to you.
This is Erica. Isn't she pretty?! :)
Erica lived in our garage apartment for a year when we were in Brenham. During that time, she and I became very sisters...and we have been ever since. I love this girl so much, and would just about anything for her.
Now you'll know who I'm talking about as several of these events involve her.

So, Erica's Bachelorette Party.
Being Erica's Matron of Honor, it was my joy and privilege to plan her bachelorette party. Here's what we did:
A little pre-bachelorette lingerie shower. Bra and panty cupcakes. Cute, huh?

Our next stop was Painting with a Twist. I was a little worried about this to be honest. If it was a dud of an idea I would have felt super old and lame and mom-ish in a group of young college girls, but thankfully it turned out to be pretty darn fun. You bring your own wine, your girlfriends and learn how to paint a masterpiece while chattin' it up.

I made the girls an apron with a rhinestone monogram. Erica's personal motto is, "If it doesn't have sparkles, I'd rather be naked," so the rhinestones were quite necessary.

The bride-to-be and budding artist.

I'm taller than her because she's sitting and I have on big shoes.

We had our doubts that we could really paint, but...Ta Da! Not bad, huh?

After that, we headed to San Antonio's Riverwalk for a late night dinner.
By the time dinner was over it was quite late, (and secretly, I was feeling my age) so we headed back to New Braunfels for...wait for it...a sleep over. Yes, it was my first sleep over in probably, oh, 10, 11 years. But, I had a ball. It was such a great group of girls, and like I said, I'd do just about anything for my Erica. ;)

Event #2: I started Tweeting! kidding. I'm on Twitter. Is this my gateway onto Facebook? Heavens, no! I've made vows about such things. But I do like to shout a bit of nonsense out into the world now and again, so if you're so inclined...give me a follow. @stephcease.

Okay. Do we have it in us for one more June Event?
Oh sure we do!

Event #3: Braelyn's 5th Birthday
Instead of doing lots of little gifts for Braelyn this year, I decided to pack up all remnants of her baby room and give her a new "big girl" room. And...I wanted to do it surprise make-over style. So, On Friday night before her party, she stayed with my mom and dad, which gave Casey and I the entire day to get her room ready. We didn't paint 'cause hopefully we'll be out of that apartment soon, otherwise I totally would have painted.


She likes to tape things to the wall.

And After:
Black-out curtains. 3 words about that...I'm A GENIUS!
And we put up a couple of bulletin boards to display artwork (and hopefully reign in the tape habit a bit.)

Here we have a flower canopy that she's had her eye on for quite some time, a new quilted bedspread, and a few fabric butterflies flying magically around her bed. (I know what you're asking. Did I make the fabric butterflies? 3 more words...No. Pottery Barn!)

And here's my favorite part, although the picture just does not do it justice, but we hung some wall shelves to display art, nick-nacks and special pictures.
I was a little nervous that she might not think a new room qualifies as a birthday gift. There was some serious potential for a birthday backfire, but I think she really loved it. Especially when she snuggled in her new bed and had the pink canopy draping all around her. She fancied herself quite the princess. ;)

About 20 minutes after the big bedroom was party time!

This year, it was a Hello Kitty Gymnastics Party.
4 Words...I'M A GENIUS AGAIN! This was the best party ever! I brought the cake, the birthday girl and some party favors. Then, I sat back and let the kids run and jump and swing and roll around to their hearts' content. They LOVED it!

My little girl is FIVE! How can that be?

Oh heart just melts at that smile.

Alright. That will do for tonight, I think.
Told ya...1000 pictures!
Oh, and for my sweet friends who shared the books they love with me...thank you SO much! They are on the list!
G' night, y'all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Closing a Chapter

Well, I was going to do a picture post about all the places I've been the last few months, but I forgot the thing that moves my pictures from my camera to my computer. I'm gonna try to get one tomorrow. So for tonight, I thought I'd share some news. It comes with no pictures. ;)

Remember this post, where I shared with you how my fertility meds make me feel crazy. Okay, well, after my 3 rounds of Femara, I took a month off. Then, because I'm nuts and really want a baby, I committed, loosely, to 3 months on Clomid. I say "loosely" because what I really committed to was to take it a month at a time. If month 1 went okay, then I'd go to month 2...and so on.

Month 1 went great, and by great I mean that I pretty much felt like myself the whole month, but did not get pregnant, so...great-ish, really.

Month 2 was a little less greatish than month 1. I felt my temper getting shorter, my moods getting swingier, and my sadness getting deeper, and of was unsuccessful to boot.

At the end of Clomid-Month 2, Casey and I went to Vail, Colorado for the Acts29 Pators' Retreat. We had a fantastic time. It was great to get away. It was great to be with friends (details still to come in the picture post), and it was great to have a little time to clear our heads. Mark Driscoll taught a session on marriage, and afterward all the couples were sent with box lunches to their rooms to talk about what they had just heard. So, Casey and I happily obliged and had a lovely picnic on our balcony. All of a sudden, in that perfect Colorado weather my heart got so heavy. All I could think about was that in a few short days I would take my 3rd round of Clomid and it promised to be harder than the 2nd.

And the panicked debate in my heart began:
Don't take another round! You're so tired. might get pregnant!
Probably not.
But you might!...There's a chance. More of a chance than if you don't take it.
But I hate feeling this way!
If you don't take it, then you're giving up.

And on and on.

So Casey and I talked it through.
We prayed.
We decided to be done.
We're done trying so hard.
We're giving our hearts and minds (and my body) some rest.

So, what does that mean? For one, no more meds! The decision was brutal, but once it was made I was so relieved. In no time at all, I started feeling like my old self again, and I've just felt better and better. A weight has been lifted and the pressure and urgency to become pregnant is gone. Ok, well, gone-ish.

When we got home from Vail, I started doing some research online about PCOS, and I found some women who had reported reversing some of their symptoms with diet and exercise. I figured, while this is certainly no magic cure for me, it can't hurt me. So, for the past few weeks I have been making some life changes. My diet... I've cut out refined sugars, I'm trying to stick to whole grains, eat more fruits, veggies, nuts, drink more know...all the stuff we know to do, but try to get around. (Unfortunately, the one thing I haven't quite kicked is my diet Dr. Pepper habit. :( I have cut back, but honestly, if I can't have sugar, then that basically leaves water! What?! Only water?...come on! Shoot me!)

Also, I've been getting my rear in the gym. My brilliant friend, Brandi told me about the iPhone app C25K (Couch to 5K) and I LOVE IT! Have I ever mentioned that I HATE running! Loathe it! But, this program has you alternate walking and running and gradually gets you to running the full 5k. To my complete surprise, I am really enjoying it.

So...I've cut out my meds, started eating healthy, started exercising and I feel fantastic! I have more energy, I'm more productive, I'm more content and I'm more able to enjoy the blessings the Lord has given me. We're not not trying to get pregnant, but we're not going to disrupt the family we do have in hope of a family we don't have. Without the meds, I'm freer to see and appreciate the story that God has for us, whatever that means.

When I see big families having fun together or siblings snuggling or newborn I cry? Um...sometimes. A lil' bit. Not gonna lie. The hope is still there. The desire is still there. But, it's not burdensome. No, in fact, it takes me to Jesus. Every time I feel that sting, my soul searches for Jesus. It's involuntary. Before, it wasn't. I just realized that. Man!...The Lord has been training my heart without my knowledge. He is so clever! I guess that's why we have to go through things like this, 'cause we are just too dumb and self-reliant to turn to Him otherwise.


So that's the deal with that. One chapter closed. Another one just beginning. God is a fantastic writer, is He not?! Is there a more beautiful story out there than the story of God? No, there isn't. So, it behooves me to turn the page with hope and joy and great anticipation at what He will do.

P.S. To those struggling with infertility, let me just say that I am not suggesting that you should stop taking your meds. I have just reached the end of that journey, but it was a journey I had to take. In the past 3 years I have taken a total of 8 rounds of fertility drugs. Eight. I became pregnant on only one of those rounds and it ended in miscarriage. We came to the conclusion that the medicine, for us, seems to hurt more than help. For other women I know, it hasn't been so disruptive and has helped them to become pregnant and have children. So please know, I'm not making a judgment on the medicine itself, just sharing that my time with it is over.

Friday, July 8, 2011

If You Would Be So Kind...

Would you mind telling me some of the Christian (non-fiction) books that have encouraged you, challenged you, and/or blessed you the most?

Some of mine include:
- Desiring God - Piper
- Reforming Marriage - Wilson
- The Praying Life - Miller
- Treasuring God in our Traditions - N. Piper

I would love to hear yours! Trying to get a list going for the Christ Community Ladies' Book Club.

Also...Where have I been?
I know.
Things have been even crazier than normal.
We're off to camp in Wichita Falls on Sunday, and as I have no real responsibilities while I'm there other than playing with B and trying not to die of heat exhaustion, there should be a little time in there for blogging. I have a lot to report on.

See you at camp! And send me those book titles!!! Please!!!!