you are not alone (national infertility awareness week).



Oh looky looky. It's National Infertility Awareness Week. Time for you to be aware of me again. Not that you aren't - you're here aren't you? - but let the gifts start rolling in. This is my week people and expect a few posts updating you on our journey through infertility, my thoughts on the matter, and a few ill timed jokes because I have limited amounts of tact.

It's interesting sitting here saying "Yah, I'm infertile" with two babies napping upstairs. Ok so maybe I don't look that infertile anymore... How about we say I'm more in infertility remission with just a hint of infertility PTSD. Does that work for everyone?

I definitely wouldn't say I'm infertile anymore only because we have our babies and we've moved on. The "move on" part sounds harsh but I can't figure out how to reword it so stay with me. It doesn't mean our family is done or complete or for sure growing in the future, but we could walk away now and never feel the sting of someone missing from our life. We have a few options if we want to up this party, but for now, we have peace.

Peace was missing for a long time and peace is what I ache for the most when friends, acquaintances, random beloved blog stalkers open up about their struggles. There is an amazing peace that you take for granted when you just know you can have children. Kind of like the peace you have sitting reading this that you are (most likely) healthy, with food in the fridge, and a roof over your head. You don't even realize the peace is there until it's gone.

When you struggle with infertility, the peaceful nature of life - that you can create life and live it and grow your family - evaporates and what's left is this hollow, fractured feeling like part of you is missing. And it is missing! Your children are missing. Your grandchildren are missing. Your future play dates and preschools and class parties are missing.

I look back at our lives during our infertility battle and I remember the unsettling feeling. The feeling like I was going to be alone with Chuck forever - and believe me, that was maybe the most terrifying thought of all (sorry, bad time for a joke. Is there a National Maturity Awareness Week?). You want to crawl out of your skin with anxiety and there is nothing anyone can do to speed up the process. There is no magic button to calm you or jump life ahead of this crappy time or at the very least, just tell you how it ends.

This year's awareness week theme is "You are Not Alone". But god it feels that way. I can say this: if you have 200 Facebook friends, odds are 25 of them are struggling with infertility too. You really are not alone.

And someday you will find your peace too.

We struggled through the muck and anguish of infertility for four years and in 20 months life changed ten fold, everything vanished, and just like that, our journey through hell is over.

You will find your peace. Someday. Somehow. My peace is an understanding that it was worth it. That they were worth waiting. You will find yours, that is my prayer for you.

Peace is out there. But for now, a lot of us are out there too. You are not alone. 

[monday meals mashup] April 20.



Hey-o all and happy Monday.

It's an easy meal plan this week for us. I love when these weeks happen. We have just the right amount of stuff on hand and carry over from last week that it's a total of 16 items we need from QFC to make this week's first train go (that includes these dinners, lunches and breakfast - WIN.) .

I love cheap, easy weeks like this. They make my miser heart sing.

Happy Meal Planning.


MONDAY: Blue Cheese Burgers. Oh heaven we are having burgers. It's 75 today, sunny, and the grill is just dying to be used. And we are just dying to have burgers. The secret to these burgers is adding enough to the ground beef to hide any meat taste (I'm a meat eating vegetarian) and making the carmelized onions. Beyond that, you do what you think is right with them.


Photo stolen with love from Martha.
TUESDAY: Cashew Chicken is back on the menu. I ended up sicker than I could handle last week and  this was the dinner that never got made. Here it is again.


Photo stolen with love from Premeditated Leftovers.
WEDNESDAY: Bacon and Cheddar Quiche. Nothing says "cleaning out the fridge" like making quiche. I add sautéed onions to this recipe. I'm sure you could add mushrooms too. And probably the kitchen sink as well. It's quiche for goodness sake.

Photo stolen with love from Gimme Some Oven.
THURSDAY: *Crockpot*Teriyaki Chicken. This is our new recipe for the week so wish us luck. It looks great and I'm in the market for a teriyaki recipe.

FRIDAY: Steak and Spaghetti. When I was little, we had this almost every Friday night. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm writing it down until it's already on the menu. Fridays are made for steak and spaghetti. For a little extra class, I start heating up the sauce (I use super fancy Prego Chunky Garden) on the stove mid afternoon (or in the crockpot all day on low). It completely changes the taste of the sauce and makes it just a little more than it usually is.



meet the learning tower, sam's partner in crime.

 
 
People. Meet Tower.
 
Actually, meet Hower. Someone around here (I won't name names) doesn't say the T sound too well so this is the one and only, the beloved Hower. Hower Allison if we are being formal and Howard T. Allison if he is in trouble - which he is A.LOT.
 

The tower is the number one item in our house.

Take Sam's toys. Take his freaking bed. Take his diapers for all I care but do NOT take his tower. We cannot live without tower. Sam cannot live without tower. I can't imagine a life without it.



Tower came to us on a chilly November day when I had had about enough of 18 month old Sam (see above photo) pushing a chair around to be part of the kitchen action. Kitchen chairs are dangerous. They could tip, they did tip, and they forced me to parent and supervise him 150% of the time, which we all know I rarely do. Also, do not call CPS on me. I am a good mother(ish).

In a kitchen chair, you cannot run to answer the door.
You cannot go move the laundry to the dryer.
You cannot go to the bathroom no matter how much you need to.

Those things are just not the best for toddlers or at least, not for my toddler. Maybe your toddler is super gifted at chair balancing and I birthed a dud. Who knows. 


Tower is a blessed Pinterest project that is a huge, stinking WIN.

Here is a brief, Reader's Digest version of Tower's birth story:

Tower is a hybrid. The bottom is an IKEA stool. The top was built by Chuck in only one night of really anal craftsmanship. That means you could make this in like an hour. The directions we used are here. They can give you all the measurements, details, and how-tos that you could ever need. All I can give you is a ringing endorsement of Tower and how much your life and your kid needs this.


In addition to being able to put things in the toaster (j/k, do not send me to baby parent jail), Sam moves his tower fast as lightning. He figured out in about .2 seconds that tower meant freedom, independence, and an ability to be involved and help.


Here is Sam in his tower at 5:30 in the morning being super helpful with the coffee. What was not super helpful was the 5:30 wake up, but I've moved on from the horrors of Christmas morning.

I actually lied in that sentence. The wake up was at 4:55. The parental "give up" was at 5:30. This photo is like 5:45 when Chuck and I both wanted to die. On Christmas morning.


Topless Sam loves to cook and the Tower brings him into the action at a perfect height and keeps his balanced and safe. Plus his go-go Gadget sized arms (thanks Chuck, great genes) means he can reach his hands into everything I am doing and cooking.

(sometimes I have a love/hate thing with the tower, but mostly it's love. Except when it's not).

 
 Sam can easily take his phone calls in the kitchen because of Tower.


He can sneak candy from the pantry when I forget to lock it.
(shout out to my spaghetti-os)


He can dump cereal boxes that I've left out. Why? Because he can reach them with Tower.

Man, it doesn't sound like I love Tower, but really I do.

 
And all of Sam's guests love Tower too. Tower is the hottest toy on the block. Tower is Hansel. He's so hot right now. 


Bottom line is, if you have the means, I highly recommend investing the $30 and one evening to make a tower. The "real versions" of these things cost about $200 and to be honest, I like the look of this one a whole lot more.


And Sam likes the look I give him when he pulls the utensils out of the drawers and plays "more cheese" with them.

Tower is really truly our favorite. Sam colors at the counter, sorts his cooking supplies, eats his snacks, and is super involved in meal making around here - don't even get me started on all the value I see in having kids help cook (the organization, the reading, the math, the science, the patience...blah blah blah). Mostly, I see value in Sam being independent and a part of the action and Tower brings that to us.

Now go. Make one.

the truth in the perfect photo.


Isn't this such a great family picture?
100-something likes on Facebook and plenty of comments about how beautiful this photo is so I've gotten my validation on how amazing we look.  We are clearly doing things so right around here. What more is there?

Well, there's a little more. How abouts we talk about the truth with this picture and what I see when I look at it.

First. First, you have to know that I truly do love this picture. I love love love it. I love the people in it (I should, I made 2/3 of them), I love the colors, I love the setting. I will cherish it for my lifetime. I know it's not a fancy photoshoot photo, but it works for me.

It also really works for me that Kate is perfectly covering all my middle regions that maybe haven't weathered the 20 pounds of baby in 20 months storm as well as I would have liked...

But here's what else I love.
(Let's just dive right in.)

I love that that's not Kate's head. Ok it is Kate's head - I didn't hire a stunt baby - but it's not the head from the original picture. The next picture in the rapid fire shutter clicks was when she finally looked up so I just moved her head on over into this one. Cheating? Oh yeah, for sure, 100%. But aren't most photos posted online cheats? At least I'm telling you this one has been rigged.

Shall we continue down the circle of trust rabbit hole?
We shall.

Chuck is locking Sam on his lap with a fatherly grip to keep him from running out of the picture because Sam is definitely almost two years old. He's really good at it right now. Basically, Sam believes pictures steal his soul so he won't take posed ones. To get this "perfect" photo, our friend Mike is playing peek-a-boo like his life depended on it. Clearly, Mike nailed it.

And finally, for really, real, honest, truth about this photo: I'm about 2.5 mimosas into brunch to self medicate from the day before. Um. Please. Judgy wudgy was a bear and also a stay at home Mom with two under two.

I had had one of those days with the children. Not so much the "children" in the plural sense as much as the elder child. He's almost two and he's having his moments. And I'm having my moments learning how to navigate this stage. Low point was locking myself in my room for a self-imposed time out from Sam that Friday morning.

Actually that might have been a high point because sometimes you just have to walk away. Sometimes you just cannot change one more poopy diaper with a rolling toddler, get your hands covered in you know what, and be fine with it. Sometimes, you aren't fine with it. Sometimes, that's the last straw. This was one of those times. I had had enough of toddler boy for the morning.

Fe was on her way over to dye Easter eggs so she walked in to find my bedroom door shut and Sam sitting in front of it with an arrangement of stuffed animals and books he had brought down as peace offerings. I heard her walk in and say "Sam, where's your Mom?" So I calmly (nope) poked my head out of the door and said "She's not speaking to him".

Fe and Sam had a great time dying eggs together and I had a great time calming down, watching Katie nap, and taking a vacation from toddler land.

Some days are just like that.

I don't know how such a tiny person can make you so crazy, but it happens and it's the pits. No one wants to be the worst version of themselves and especially not in front of their kid, which I guess is why I put myself in timeout.

And why I was self medicating the next day, having a good laugh with my friends - who all have two year olds - and remembering that bad days are normal, timeouts are normal, and it's not all peaches and cream everyday.

That's why I love this photo. What this photo shows is the opposite of how everything felt so I'll treasure the make believe in this picture. Someday, I won't need a skin belly human shield. Someday, Katie will look at the camera every time. Someday, Sam won't need to be wrestled into a photo. And someday, I won't be taking timeouts from them because they won't be home long enough to make me this crazy.

Until then, this is my perfect photo of my perfect life with my perfect family no matter how unperfect it can be sometimes.

[monday meals mashup] April 13th.

The sick leave policy for Moms is crap.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we need a union. These working conditions are deplorable, and going downhill daily. Management keeps upping my workload but I'm not seeing any additional (or any) compensation for my work.

And now, now I'm forced to work when I'm sick.

Ridiculous conditions. Also, why couldn't I have gotten Sam's black plague last week when he was sick too? We could have laid on the couch together. Watched "Frozen" 17 times together. Eaten popsicles TO-GETH-ER. But no, now I have healthy Sam running around and he's all "play with me", "entertain me", "be a parent to me". So demanding.

AND on top of it all, we still need to eat for the week.

Someday I'll get to just be sick in bed. I'm assuming that'll be around 2030.


As always, my hope when posting our meals is to help you find yours. Meal planning saves us every night and keeps dinner time stress free, which is exactly how I like meal time to be. I'm enough stress for all of us. We don't need to add "well, what do you want to eat?" on top of that.

Monday: Pasta Soup. Again. Right, remember how this was accidentally ruined during disaster week earlier this month? All the correct ingredients have been bought and this will be perfect for Susie's sick day dinner. {recipe card below}

Photo stolen with love from The Chic Site.
Tuesday: Balsamic Pot Roast in the crock pot. Love this recipe and the tang of the balsamic and soy sauce. We will be having mashed potatoes and asparagus with this. It'll probably be the last cold rainy day for a while so this may be our final pot roast until Fall.


Photo stolen with love from Rachel Schultz.
Wednesday: Oven Fajitas. I'm so excited for this dinner. My friend brought these to us right after Kate was born and they received my highest rating of bomb.com (yup I still say that). The homemade taco seasoning is fantastic and I will be making a large batch of that to have on hand from now on. See ya later taco seasoning packets.



Photo stolen with love from Martha.
Thursday: Cashew Chicken. A lovely Martha recipe that is fantastic. It's fast and presents well - my kind of dinner.

Photo stolen with love from Martha.

Friday: Skillet Macaroni and Cheese. This is our new recipe for the week. You have to try at least one new dinner a week or you get in a rut. The whole recipe is made on the stove top with just a minute in the oven to crisp up the top. Sounds interesting. We'll give it a go.

And that's the game.
Happy meal planning.

photo dump friday AND how I caught Sam's puke.

Oh hello Friday, you gorgeous calendar day.

Tell me, folks, what is the rule on day drinking during nap time? Full disclosure. I am alone. It is almost happy hour. It is Friday (oops I already said that so humor me). Weigh in on this one.

I'm just asking because it has be a heckuva week around here and I would like to celebrate making it to Friday afternoon AKA that time in the week where the better parent comes home and takes care of all child needs for two straight days. It's a weekly holiday.

We are going on Day 6 of Sick Toddler Prison around here and so far, Sam is the only one with the plague. He's a sad little friend right now but he's making the best of it. He definitely has a flair for the dramatics (he get it from his Momma) so I appreciate all his sick day behaviors.

We did manage to make a few trips out this week to help with sanity but also to force a morning nap on sick Sam, who is no match for the car at 10 am. Fun story about one of our trips out: I ended up carrying Sam's vomit around Fred Meyer in my hands.

More?

Ok. So his medicine of choice right now is hot chocolate. Were you expecting Tylenol? Please. He's more likely to eat a vegetable than take Tylenol. We bundled up for a trip down to Fred Meyer mostly to force him into a morning nap but also to get his Hot Chocolate. He will be on a 12-step "Hot'da" program next week, fo sho.

We got in to Fred's and made it to the Hot'Da stand, also known as Starbucks to anyone other than Sam. With his drug in hand, we wandered the store because WHAT ELSE DID WE HAVE TO DO? This was day 5 of Toddler Prison and we needed a fresh set of walls.

The bakery department still gives out free cookies to kids (did you know this? I didn't until Chuck's Mom told me...it's been a helpful bribe to know about). We passed the bakery department and Sam about throws himself out of the cart for a cookie. It was our lucky day and they actually had donuts for the kids. Boom.

Sam has eaten about 7 bites of food total this week so I was pretty jazzed that he wanted the donut. I would not be too jazzed in about 3 minutes.

We somehow ended up in the middle of the store when my greatest nightmare was realized. Ryan Reynolds was there to make me his wife but I was still married to Chuck. Nope, other nightmare: Sam starts puking.

With Katie in her front pack, I dove hands open to catch the donut, hot chocolate, apple juice, and I think strawberries from breakfast. Win, because nothing hit the floor. No one was going to have to clean my kids vomit out of the cereal aisle.

Lose. What do I do now?

I have a sick toddler saying "Puke. Done. Home." And a sleeping angel baby tethered to my chest. Oh and a cart. I started making my way back toward the bakery. I don't know why, but I did. I figured if I passed some angelic grandmother figure as I was walking I would beg for help. Those ladies are everywhere all the time EXCEPT when you have puke in your hands and you're steering a shopping cart with your forearms.

We got to the bakery area and I spotted the soda machine at the deli. I dumped the puke in the garbage and used the water to clean us up.

"Done. Puke. Home."
Excellent idea Sam since we both smell awful and we are officially "that family".

And that is my case for day drinking on a Friday during nap time. Too bad I won't because I really wish I could/would. It's been a week.

Happy Friday.

Sam's Easter outfit.

And an Easter nap in our bed. At noon. While watching TV. Even as a baby he never just fell asleep, I can't believe he did this. Sign one that he was sicker than normal. 

This has nothing to do with our week but this pic of Sunshine Boy is perfection. Chuck's Dad sent it up from our trip to their house a few weeks ago. Pure happiness.

Following his Easter nap was this random nap on Monday. So that's two random naps in his life. Kid is siiiiiick.

I don't know what that Easter book did to him but it was a major uh oh and is now in triage.

Sick selfies.

It's gotten pretty boring around here so we've taken to other forms of entertainment, like baby head in the giant mouth.

We are babysitting Fe's cat Newman for a while during her house remodel. It's gonna be a long Spring for Newmie.

I thought I heard a ruckus in Kate's room so on a hunch, I turned on the monitor. It's like he knew he'd been caught.

Because the five minute drive to Target is just too far.

Our Target run was for paint and apparently, a forehead sticker. We had a dandy, messy time followed by a much needed popsicle bath.

Sam plays in his room for about 20 minutes post nap and I love it. It's all fun and games until he tips his chair over, gets trapped, and I lose my break time. That's really what matters, right? Me and my feelings.

Pretend puking in the toilet. He learned A LOT from morning sickness.

Just so you know I have another kid and she was here this week.

About ten minutes before the puke in hand event.....What's that saying? A puke in the hand is worth two in the bush and a mother-of-the-year award?

Modeling her first nan-made object. I think Aunt Nan should probably hire this model and/or make some sort of baby hand bag line. This is a tad large for her.

Have you ever felt more judged in your life? Judge Judy over here can be so critical.

She is especially judgy of Sam's new "sleep with the lights on" policy. Fine by me as long as he sleeps.

Throwing in the towel and curling up in Sister's vibrating chair.

Only Sam would get claustrophobic in a blanket fort and need an emergency removal.

And that's our week.
Let's hope for a more adventurous weekend but not so adventurous that anyone pukes in a grocery store.


oh baby girl, three months old.



We had such a good baby with Sam and we knew we were lucky. We did not take happy baby Sam for granted. BUT we also knew that we had paid a boat load of money to get that good baby so it made sense. You get what you pay for and we got a Cadillac first born.

And then I got pregnant with Kate. My free pregnancy was not an easy 39 weeks. It was a rough go. But, again, you get what you pay for and I paid for free so I got an interesting run. This is how it works right?

Ok so settle in for Baby Kate cuz she gonna be a doozy.

OR she is so low key, mellow, and laid back that she makes Sam look like a Pinto.

Sweet Baby Kate, we don't quite know what to make of you. You started sleeping through the night at four weeks old and a bad night for you is one wake up. But usually, you like your 11 hours and you like them consecutive, uninterrupted. We did nothing different between you and Sam, you are just a sleeper. God bless you.

Once you got over your PM fussiness/"I hate 8-10pm", you settled into life like a walk in the park. You either sleep in the car or stare peacefully out the window. You like going on errands. You like our adventures. You just sort of go with the flow that we've got going on around here.

You could live every minute of the day in some sort of baby wearing device and good thing I have a few laying around here and even more on the way. You also could live every minute of every day with fabric in your mouth to chew on.

That reminds me.

Please start taking a bottle. I know, I know, beggars are not choosers. You do everything else pretty darn right so I guess I'll stay chained to you until the time comes if this is your major quirk. It's not my favorite quirk, but you're my favorite quirk so I'll take it.

We sure do love you, Miss Katie Lin.

Family.
(also, Chuck and Sam's eyes...are you kidding me?)


Katie's first hike. Also Susie's first hike. Kidding. Felt that way. This foursome hiked down to Snoqualmie Falls for PK's birthday. Kate stared at the trees on the way down and fell asleep just before the falls. Classic Kate.

I don't know which she loves more, Daddy or her hands.

She kind of has a thing for me so this is a pretty typical face when someone else holds her without her express written consent. Judgy wudgy was a bear.

It's not that she needs to lose arm privileges but she likes being snug as a bug. She enjoys a double swaddle at night for full cocoon status.

Literally the happiest girl.

Ended the month stepping into cloth diapers with her. She looks even cuter in cloth.

Pretty typical life moment for Kate. Just laying on the floor, wondering where everyone went, and kicking it until we go back to get her.

Convicted fabric chewer.


St. Patrick's Day outfit.


This was her first day wearing tights. Clearly we have a lot to work on with "lady like" sitting.

Our daytime crew.

Her face.

Earning little sister bonus points by playing Legos with Brother.

Mid-day nap on Grandma.

Chit chatting with Grandpa.
Easter happiness.
What? More pictures. MOM!



With Dad Dad. Same look on their faces. PK and PK (princess Kate).

Happiest Baby on the Block.



Happy 3 Months, Baby Kate.
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