Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016 Organization

As it turns out folks, real life is hard.  I wouldn't say I expected it to be "easy" when I got out of school.  But when I was ploughing through massive text book readings and had 5 big papers due and 3 major exams, I couldn't imagine being done school as being harder or busier.  Well... I'm just going to go ahead and say something I don't often say: I was WRONG.

Working nearly full time (part time as a floor nurse and part time as an instructor of the care aid [ie: nurse's aid] course) is hard.  Trying to maintain a marriage with a farmer (who also tends to be pretty busy, even in winter contrary to popular belief) when you are gone for 12 hours at a time (plus driving time) to work is hard.  There are some days when the only communication Brett and I get are a quick text at 3PM saying "Hey how's it going?  I am just finally sitting down for lunch."  And then because of Murphy's law and the fact that I am sitting down to attempt to eat, I will inevitably get a call from EMS saying they're five minutes out with a patient.  That all being said, who would have thought not getting lunch until 3PM could actually be kind of fun?  ER nursing can be pretty awesome.

With all that business, it is really important to keep our time organized.  Our house may be a disaster and in desperate need of tidying and vacuuming, but our time has to be organized.  Naturally, tools are required for such a big job.  For me, I have always needed a paper planner.  Some people can just keep stuff in their head or in their phone, these people are not me.  Over the years I have tried a number of different paper planners, and have landed on two that I really feel are a cut above.  Enter Emily Ley's Simplified Planner and Kate Spade's 17-month Large Agenda.

For 2015 I used the Kate Spade agenda and for 2016 I am using the Simplified Planner weekly edition.  As a direct comparison these two planners are fairly similar.  Both have three days per page and start the month with a full month view.  Both use really wonderful paper.  Both lay flat.

What I like about the simplified planner is that each day is split in half (long way down the page) between lines for what you are doing and check boxes for to do's.  The simplified planner also has a menu planning section for each day.

On the other hand, I like how the rings of the Kate Spade planner are enclosed inside the book style spine.

All in all, I don't think I could ever stray from the Simplified Planner.  It really is just too perfect.  That being said, it is a lot easier to get your hands on the Kate Spade planner (I've seen them all over the place).  Simplified Planner can be found at a number of stores around the US, and a few in Canada (check their website), but they sell out fast.  For instance, I waited on my computer for the website to open at 8AM on the launch day of the 2016 simplified planner and the happy stripe version sold out before I could even get it in my cart.  But guys, it is worth it!

The only thing I will do differently for 2017 is purchase the daily version of the simplified planner (which has one page per day).

Now for you phone only planners.  I found the paper-planner-only life just wasn't working for us because my darling husband just wouldn't look at my darn planner!  No matter where I left it in our house.  So, I downloaded the Cozi calendar app.  I particularly like this app because it magically links my phone to Brett's so when I update the calendar on my phone, it automatically updates his as well.  Its pretty slick.

So, if you don't have a planner already for 2016 and are wanting one, now is the time!  It isn't too late!

Are you done with my cheesy/nerdy love of day planners yet?  Yes?  Well, let me just finish with: paper planners can change your life, for real.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

grace, hope and moving on in 2016

I'm not one to sit around at year's end and make resolutions for the year to come or generally dwell on the year past.  

2015 was a different year for me, a harder year than any I have faced.

I've always strived to be an open book, both in my day to day life and on this blog.  If someone asks me something, I answer with the truth, I don't pretend like things are different than the reality.

At the end of April, we lost my Baba.  Despite he fact that it is 100% natural to say good bye to your 92 year old grandmother, this was a hard time for our family.  But we could deal.  Our grief would subside and life would go on.  This is the natural way of the world after all.

A little over two weeks after Baba's funeral, I heard Brett answer his cell in the other room and I could tell immediately by his tone that something bad had happened.  "Your dad crashed his bike", he reported to me.  Five words, each one syllable.  Those five words were about to change my life forever.  As far as motorcycle crashes go, we couldn't have asked for much better.  Dad broke his leg, collar bone, crushed his ankle, dislocated his shoulder.  But was alive.  What we didn't anticipate was what a toll the recovery would take on a man who is so used to being active.  But again, we could deal.  We could all rally around him, he would recover (and has recovered), and we were (and are) all so grateful.

Around the same time, Brett and I started trying to get pregnant.  We were so hopeful in the beginning.  We were both young and healthy (as far as we knew), surely it wouldn't take long.

The negatives didn't crush me in the beginning.  June and July were happy months.  We celebrated weddings, our 2nd anniversary, and started planning our big trip to Europe.

In August I was late.  Two tests later, I had two faint positives and so much hope and excitement.  Because they were faint, I decided to test again the next morning before telling Brett.  Another faint positive the next morning.  I couldn't wait any longer, so I called Brett (who was in the combine... of course).  We were so hopeful.  Until I started to bleed a little.  I made an appointment with my doctor, who fit me in right away.  After a blood draw to test my HCG (pregnancy hormone), it was determined that my levels were too low for this to be considered a viable pregnancy.  Something had happened in my body to keep that little egg from implanting, and so I had lost our pregnancy at about 4 weeks.

Those were the bad months.  August, September, October, November, December all passed in a fog really.  Each "failed" cycle led to me sobbing, Brett feeling helpless.  Nothing makes you feel more alone than this.  Because miscarriage and infertility are things you're supposed to sweep under the rug.  Pretend like it isn't happening.  They're topics you whisper about to only your closest friends.

Why do we do this to ourselves??  Why do we feel like miscarrying or having various conditions leading to infertility are things to hide, to be ashamed of?

This is the reason for my 9 month absence.  I felt I couldn't come back to this space and post about a craft or recipe and pretend like I was fine, pretend like I was happy with how my life was playing out at that moment.  Because I wasn't fine and I most definitely wasn't happy.  Suddenly, I couldn't deal any more.  So I withdrew, both from this space and the people closest to me.  I was too scared to be vulnerable, to really lay out what has been on my heart.

Part of me feels silly, writing about this when we've only been trying for nine months.  People try for years and get less answers than we have gotten.  But in this nine months I've realized, this is something we need to talk about.  We need to talk about it for the girl just starting on this journey, for the girl crying on her living room floor at 2AM when period came yet again, for those who are withdrawing from their friends and family because they feel like they can't talk about this.

I don't know what 2016 will bring for us.  I don't know what options we will need to use to grow our family, or if we will end up needing any at all.  I hope we will receive some answers as we begin to meet with specialists in the coming months.  I hope to greet you all with a lot of honesty.  I don't want this to become an "infertility blog" or for this to be a regularly occurring topic - because its not all that our life is, but it may be something that comes up from time to time.

Overall, I hope to greet the challenges of 2016 with a lot more grace than those of 2015. 

I look to 2016 with both hesitation and excitement.  I am nervous that we may get answers that I don't want to hear.  But we also may get a miracle.  

If you too are struggling with trying to conceive, know that you are prayed for.  I hope that you get all that you are dreaming of.  But I also hope that you give yourself grace in the interim, and allow yourself to talk about it.  There is so much relief and freedom in honesty.

"I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection"  Emily Ley.

"'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord 'plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'"  Jeremiah 29:11.

*It is my hope that this post will be taken for what it is: not us asking for advice, but rather a sharing of part of mine and Brett's story, and a way to put the stigma of miscarriage and infertility to bed.