Tuesday, January 10, 2017

17 in 2017

Happy New Year! 

I figured since we are only a little over a week into the new year that I still have plenty of time to write out my goals for this year.  These are goals, not resolutions.  I feel that resolutions leave me with an overwhelming sense that if I do not succeed then I have failed in some way.  

Anyway, I have created a list of goals to accomplish this year.  
  1. Find a local church home
  2. Make a weekly menu
  3. Finish graduate school (MSHR)
  4. Hiking new places (e.g., Mt. LeConte, Abrams Falls)
  5. The Mossy Squirrel booth at a local festival/fair
  6. Participate in at least six 5K races
  7. Food crawl with the Mr.
  8. Be more diligent/consistent in blogging
  9. Ride in a hot air balloon
  10. Read books for leisure
  11. Attend a Musical (e.g., Wicked, The Lion King, etc.)
  12. Go somewhere new with the Mr.
  13. Daily time with God through prayer and devotion
  14. Volunteer more
  15. Work on my gardening skills (e.g., flowers, herbs, veggies)
  16. Buy a bicycle
  17. Do something with the Mr that he enjoys doing
I plan to update the blog (see #8) as I mark things off the list.  I believe that this is a do-able list, heck, even if I do not accomplish them all I can always add it to next year's list. I will be satisfied if I meet half of them. ha! 
If you want to join me in my venture, let me know.  I would love to see your list as well and be an encouragement to you too!

Well, I am off to fix dinner.  I am already ahead of the game and created a meal plan for this week: clean chicken enchiladas tonight. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Season of Waiting

I want to be real for a moment. 
I have been relatively quiet about this in the past 3ish years and have decided that I cannot keep it in any longer for fear of imploding, so I am writing about it.  Although I know several others who are in the same boat, this is my truth, my reality, my experience.
“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)
I have mentioned before that this verse has been a source of hope and comfort to me.  Matt and I have been trudging through a long valley and more times than not, have felt as if we’ve been crawling instead of walking.  No matter how down we may get we have never been alone.  The Lord has been carrying us towards the mountaintop that we know is in our future.  But for now, we are in a season of waiting.  Waiting for this weepy night to end.  Waiting for the joy that will come in the morning.
This is a snapshot of what the valley has looked like for us:

Mr. & I started trying for a family
Found out we were pregnant (7 weeks)
Miscarried (11 weeks)
Found out we were pregnant (2 weeks)
Miscarried (4 weeks)
Met with OBGYN to discuss infertility
March - October
Various rounds of Clomid or Femara without success
Met with Fertility Specialist in Winston-Salem, NC
Several vials of blood for various tests.
Metformin to help with possible PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Hysteroscopy to check for blocked fallopian tubes – found that my left tube was blocked and that I had a uterine septum.
Travelled to Greensboro, NC for a hysterscopic metroplasty to remove the uterine septum and a hysterscopic tubal cannulation to unblock left fallopian tube.  Should have a clean bill of health and I shouldn’t have any issues getting pregnant at this point.
March – July
No luck.  Started Femara along with Ovidrel injection.
No luck.  More aggressive treatment – Femara, Ovidrel alongside IUI (intrauterine insemination)
No luck.  Decided to add a more aggressive medication (Menopur) alongside the IUI.
My insurance required prior approval for the medications and with only a days’ notice (because fertility is all about very specific timing) the timing to get the Rx did not work out so we are at a standstill….until next month.

These are some things that I have noticed during our bout with infertility: 

It never fails, if I am 6 days late and go to the store to purchase a pregnancy test, I immediately start my period.  It’s like the purchase of the test stirs up the ovaries...and I am out $12.

Insurance companies suck.  Fertility treatments are expensive.  The medical insurance that I have should cover the majority of those expenses.

The overload of hormones wreaks havoc on your body.  I currently resemble the Marshmallow Man.  Lots of squishy places.  Unbecoming for sure.  I keep reminding myself – it is worth it.

I don’t like the injection part.  However, I think that the Mr. enjoys poking me with needles.  I will say he is very sweet and gentle.  I hardly feel a thing.

The twice-monthly drives to Asheville for follicle scans make for the perfect “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” time for those who I know are suffering through infertility as well.

Self-diagnosed PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)
When I started taking the Femara with the Ovidrel injection I noticed that I began having severe anxiety when I was away from family/home.  This has made the trips to Asheville quite stressful.  So stressful a couple of times I had to stop because I was physically sick.  I only feel this way when I am alone; which happens to be every trip, except one so far.

My OBGYN and his nurse are absolutely amazing.  When I come into the office they are there to lift me up in the Spirit.  They do not equate anything they do to their own abilities; they give the recognition to The Lord.  They remind me that it is His timing, not ours.  They pray for me…and they cross their fingers. It is the praying that is more encouraging.

My local pharmacy has been absolutely amazing and very accommodating.  When they know my insurance does not cover the medication, they search for coupons and discounts they give me in an effort to make the medicine a little more affordable.

There are way too many people who are in the trenches of infertility.  It seems almost daily I learn of someone else who is struggling.  My heart aches for them.  The desire and the pain are very real.  I do not understand why anyone has to go through these types of things.  My prayer is that they will be blessed, but along the road, they will fine Peace and Comfort that only the Lord can provide.

So here we are, October 2016…a little over 4 years into this Season of Waiting.  I am not sure why the Lord wants us to wait but we will Trust in Him.  We have too.  The doctors do not have answers.  I do not have answers.  And to be quite honest, I am tired of tossing hay around in an effort to find the needle.   
Lord, here I am, heal my body.  If my body cannot be healed, Lord, please change the desire of my heart.

Monday, November 16, 2015

This Table

I have thought a lot about this table the past couple of days. It may look like any other old table you may find in a barn, shed or construction site. 

You see, growing up this table was a source of income for my family. Over the past 25+ years, this table has gone from job to job with my Daddy as he has created unique rock fireplaces, hearths, walls, ledges, walkways, mailboxes, etc. for his customers. This table is where Daddy chiseled on a rock so that it ...had the desired look to fit into the space he needed it to go. This table was a means by which my dad could provide for his family. When my brother was old enough, he followed in Dad’s footsteps and this table became a source of income for his family too. David would use this table to create the same type of masterpieces that he learned from watching dad all those years. While I was in high school, I worked in the summer with my dad and brother. I remember seeing this table at any of the rock job-sites. I spent a lot of time carrying rock and sweeping up those gibbled pieces of rock that Daddy and David had chiseled off. After David’s death, the table made its way back to daddy who still uses it to provide for his family. 

Currently, this table is sitting in my soon-to-be living room. Monday evening I walked into the house to check the progress and I saw this table. I was flooded with emotion and tears immediately began to fall. I was reminded of David, it was as if I could see him standing beside the table, chisel in one hand and hammer in the other and a goofy smile on his face. I was reminded of my summers spent working with Holland Masonry. I was reminded of how much my daddy loves his family. This table, like my daddy, has stood the test of time. Although it may be tattered, beat up, and a little wobbly, it is still strong, usable, and serves a purpose. I am so blessed to have a Daddy who can create such amazing works of art. I am so blessed that my parents raised us up to trust in the Lord, to be an example to those around us, and to have a servant’s heart. To me, this table represents so much more than just a work space. It represents my Dad who has worked long hard hours to provide for his family. It represents my brother, who was the second generation and was eager to learn and grow the business. It represents my family who reaped the benefits of the work done on this table.

I never would have thought a table would have provoked such emotion or thought as it has this week but I am glad that this table reminded me of the countless blessings in my life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Influenster's Uni VoxBox

A while back, I joined Influenster.  Influenster is a website you learn about new products and can review the products you already use on a daily basis.  Influenster will send out exclusive VoxBoxes to active members to test and review complimentary products.  All you have to do in return is share your opinion.  I am always game to try out something new (or something I wouldn’t necessarily purchase to begin with) for free in exchange for my review.  I was chosen to receive the Uni VoxBox.  Here’s a peek at what I received:

NYC New York Color Expert Last Lipstick

This lipstick was OK.  The color is way too bright for me so it’s not something I am going to use if at all to be honest. I did try it on for review purposes and it seemed to go on smoothly.  Since the color didn’t work for me, I can’t give an opinion on how long it lasts or anything like that as I washed it off.  I will not purchase this product in the future.

Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation
I was super excited about trying this product.  I have oily skin so I thought that the Stay Matte foundation would help keep the shine to a minimum.  Unfortunately, I felt as if this product caused my face to look oiler…how is that even possible?!  Also, my face felt like I had a mask on due to the heaviness of the foundation.  On a brighter note, I did like the texture and the smooth application.  I will not purchase this product in the future.

Broadway Nails imPRESS Manicures

This product reminded me of the “Lee Press-on” nails from the late 80s and early 90s.  I wasn’t impressed at all and actually felt quite silly.  I only put a couple on and that was that. I will not purchase this product in the future.

Pilot Acroball Pure White Pen
I absolutely LOVE this pen!  It has a fine tip (which is the only type of pen I will use), easy to hold grip and writes so smoothly.  No clumps of ink or anything!  I will most definitely purchase this product in the future.  I have a feeling this will be a staple when it comes to office supplies.

Red Rose Real Tea Premium Water Enhancer
I try to drink only water (except for the cup of coffee, or three, I need in the morning).  Sometimes I get tired of “just water” so it’s nice to have something to add in it with a little extra flavor.  I’ve used several different brands of water flavor enhancers in the past but most of the time I do not bother with the “tea” flavors as I feel they taste a little wonky compared to the southern sweet tea.  After trying this product, it really wasn’t as bad as some that I’ve had.  I actually finished it all.  It was nice to have a tea flavor that did not have lemon in it.  I will probably buy this product in the future.

Playtex Sport Fresh Balance Tampons
In my opinion, a tampon is a tampon.  Now there are some brands that I prefer over another, but they all get the job accomplished.  The Playtex Sport fresh balance tampons were nothing special to be honest. One thing I did not like about them was that they are scented.  They smelled nice as far as the packaging, but scented tampons are not for me.  I will buy this product in the future – if there is a non-scented product; otherwise, I’ll stick with my regular brand.
Disclaimer:  I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meaningful Beauty Creme de Serum (Review)

I have never really thought about anti-aging products being that I feel I am still young.  However with my 32nd birthday around the corner, I may have a different opinion. Ha. 

Back to topic, anti-aging products haven’t been on my radar as I think growing old is simple a fact of life.  I think that gray hair and wrinkles are beautiful in their own way.  Although I wouldn't object to growing old gracefully, I don’t want to look 80 years old when still in my thirties.
Photo Credit
A couple weeks ago, I received an opportunity through Influenster to write a product review of Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty Crème de Serum.   The directions state to use once a day either in the morning or before bed at night.  I simply swapped out my normal morning moisturizing lotion and have been using the Meaningful Beauty Crème de Serum.   After using the product a couple weeks, I do not think that I look younger (I really don’t have wrinkles at this point…) but it does leave my skin soft and dewy looking.   I have used it with and without make-up.  I think that it leaves my skin looking as if it has a matte type finish, which I like.  I have oily skin so shine is something I despise.  The crème de serum is one of the five Meaningful Beauty products  The directions say it could take approximately 8 weeks to see a noticeable difference.  I wonder if I could tell a greater difference if I were to use all 5 products as suggested?  Regardless, I like this product and will continue to use it.

Disclosure: I was provided this product free of charge by in exchange for my review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

First Annual Friendsgiving

I have heard about Friendsgiving for a while now.  For the most part, the only times I have actually heard of it is when  people live too far away from home and for whatever reasons could not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. So they gathered their friends who were in a similar situation and had “Friendsgiving.”  Friends + Thanksgiving = Friendsgiving

I decided in the fall that I would love to host a Friendsgiving dinner with our friends, so that is exactly what we done.   I would make the turkey and asked that everyone bring their favorite Thanksgiving side dish.   Also, in the spirit of the season, I asked that everyone bring a non-perishable food item that could be donated to one of the local charities.  I had quite the haul of food to take and was so glad we could give back in this way.

Although I was given grief like none other (particularly from the male species), I had a blast preparing and decorating our home and yard for the occasion.   When you live in a small home and do not have a dining room table (that’s another story for another day), you must use all resources at hand; therefore, I set up the table in the yard.  They were covered with pretty tablecloths and fabric.  The centerpieces included mason jars filled with dried beans and a candle as well as glitzy fall pumpkins and gourds. 


The time changed the weekend before our dinner, so to create a little extra light, I strung up white Christmas lights in the trees.  Personally, I loved how it turned out.  Although, it may have looked a little honky while the sun was still up, it gave the appropriate fall glow when darkness fell.  Especially with the candles on the tables, I thought it looked super nice.  Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of everything lit up.  Boo. 

Back in September, the Mr. had created a beautiful fall vignette for me.  It included pumpkins, hay bales, mums, Indian corn, corn stalks, a scarecrow and an old tin watering can.  He done an amazing job and I was so surprised when I came home.  He makes my heart happy.  Anyway, I thought this area would be the perfect spot for a photo booth!  I added the rustic sign I made and printed off some props (including pilgrim hats, a turkey leg, a turkey beak with snood, a piece of pie, etc.)  But due to the time change and the serious chill in the air, it wasn’t really utilized.  But that is totally understandable.  We did bring them inside and got a couple of photos in there.

As far as the food, it was all delicious and what a spread we had!  There was food in every corner of my kitchen it seemed.  Like I said, I made the turkey (almost 20lbs…thank the Lord for crock pots!) and everyone else brought a side dish. We had everything you could imagine; smoked chicken, hash brown casserole, broccoli casserole, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cream corn, mashed potatoes with gravy, deviled eggs, broccoli salad, stuffing, corn casserole, macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, layered pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, cookie and cream cookies, homemade caramel dip with apple slices and dulce de leche cake.  Gosh, I think that was everything.  No one left hungry that’s for certain.  We didn’t have hardly any leftovers either. 

Since we had such a selection of food I decided I would make food labels for each dish.  I knew that when it came to the casseroles, people would wonder what it was.  Now we all know that most casseroles have one of two toppings: crackers crumbles or cheese.  It can be hard to tell what type of casserole it is.  This is where the food labels came in super handy.   Or at least I thought so – the menfolk (and some ladies) looked at it as a way to pick on me.  But I did not care, it made perfect sense to me. Z  If one food gets a label, then they all do.  I break out in hives when there is a lack of consistency.

I believe that everyone had a great time from eating, playing corn hole, standing by the bonfire, the kids had fun fishing in the creek, playing in the yard, coloring, watching cartoons and roasting marshmallows.  Most of all I am glad that everyone seemed to have a great time fellowshipping together.

I cannot wait to do it again!

(Most of the photos are courtesy of my dear friend Kellye.  I was too busy and forgot to take them…..thanks Ked!)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Favorites

Well, it’s Black Friday.  I have never been one to get up super early and hit the door busters and such.  Don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying I haven’t done it or won’t do it again…I’m just saying that I am indifferent when it comes to Black Friday.  I generally go out on Black Friday (not before 10am-ish though) to window shop.  Heck, I may even make a purchase or two if the notion hits.  Personally, I would much rather do that any day than try beat a crowd of people (who are in a turkey stupor) to score a good deal. 

I haven’t decided what I am going to do today.  I really want to get my Christmas decorations up and since the Mr. is working and the weather is cooperating, that is probably what I will do.  I believe we will be going to visit with a couple friend of ours this evening before they head back to Florida.  Regardless, of what we do, I see coffee (maybe hot cocoa, too) and Christmas decorations in my very near future. 

ThinkThin / TOCCA / Stella & Dot / Macaroon Mug / Heldaa by G by GUESS
Here are 5 favorites I am loving this week:
  1. ThinkThin High Protein Bars. Thank you, Lindsay, for your wonderful review which made me go out, purchase and try for myself. Oh my gosh, they are so good. The Chocolate Fudge is really good, as is the Brownie Crunch.  
  2. TOCCA Crema Da Mano in Cleopatra. I received a sample via Birchbox and I love it. It feels amazing and smells wonderful. I will need a full size bottle of this stuff.  Please and thank you.
  3. Stella & Dot Serenity Earrings. I love how vibrant these earrings are. They add a whole new level to an “everyday” outfit. These are definitely one of my favorite pairs and they go with me when we go out of town always.
  4. Coffee and/or Hot Cocoa.  With the weather turning much colder, I have found myself consuming more coffee and hot cocoa to warm my innards.  Personally, I believe that a super cute mug makes drinking any hot beverage more fun!  Trust me, you should try it. 
  5. Heldaa Boots by G by GUESS. The Mr. picked out these boots while we were in Charleston on vacation. I was surprised at his sense of style.  They are so comfortable and go with everything!  Highly recommend.   
Just for good measure, I must add one more favorite…

6)    Hallmark Channel – Countdown to Christmas movies. Really, who doesn’t love a good snow-filled, cheesy romantic Christmas movie to get you in the spirit of the season??? I love watching these movies. They make me feel all giddy and glitzy. They are good for the soul, I say. If you do not like Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas you are either in denial or you are male.
** TELL ME - What are some things you are loving this week? **