Wednesday, April 27, 2016

National Infertility Week

This week is National Infertility Awareness week and I would be completely remiss not to speak to it. Infertility is recently much more talked about in the media, but it still is a situation that many battle silently.  With it comes shame, heartbreak/ache and insecurity, but I have found that talking about it does make it easier and many times invites solidarity.

If you have read the blog for any length of time, you know that we went through IVF to have our girls.  Before we were even married, Eric and I started having tests and knew we would face some difficulties.  Somehow I had this premonition that my greatest aspiration in life, becoming a Mother, would also be my hardest battle.  In some ways this was good because I was mentally prepared for what was ahead, but it still didn't make the process easy.

After 1.5 years of trying ourselves and 2 unsuccessful rounds of IUI, we decided to jump-start the process in May 2014 and proceed with IVF.  We also wanted to give ourselves the best odds possible so we did chromosomal screening, DNA testing and decided to do the retrieval, wait two months for the transfer while I recovered and our embryos sat on ice, and then proceed.

Finally, in October 2014, we were ready for transfer.  When I took the picture below, I just remember that everything was happening so suddenly.  After months of preparation, we got there and the nurse walked in to get us and I just remember thinking that I needed to take a quick picture because this would be our last moment as a family of two (I didn't even have time to take a good picture- this one had to do).

Our embryologist showed us our babies.  We had decided in advance to go for twins.

 I spent the three days following transfer in bed.  I would literally only get up to go to the bathroom.  My mom came into town to take care of me and I can say with absolute certainty that I knew at that time that I was pregnant.  Again, my optimism kicking in, but going through this process knowing/having convinced myself that it would work, kept it from being so painful.

About a week later, I cheated and started taking daily pregnancy tests (even though they tell you not to).  These results confirmed what I already knew- it had worked.

Based on my hormone levels, the nurses were guessing that I was pregnant with twins too!  Our suspicions were confirmed not long after.

This was about two weeks before the girls were born and I am not even sure how I am standing upright anymore...

And finally, on May 7th, 2015, all of our years of fighting paid off with the birth of our girls.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is a VERY simplified version of what we went through and I do not in any way want to make less of this process.  It was painful both mentally and physically.  There were more doctors visits than I can count, hundreds (literally) of shots, tens of thousands of dollars spent, countless procedures and tears shed, but at the end of the day, it worked and there is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful.  There is also not a day that goes by that I do not stop and think about people still going through the process or that will be.  In the weeks following pregnancy,  I suffered with some serious guilt that we had "gotten off so easy", when in reality, nothing was easy about what we went through.  Infertility has affected Eric and I for life.

So, I encourage you to talk about it if you are going through this.  There is something about knowing/realizing that you are not alone in this struggle that does make it better.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Mom's Banana Bread

Growing up, my mom never cut any corners when it came to cooking/baking.  Every night we had a balanced dinner on the table and Sundays always included a from scratch dessert.  One of my favorite things to this day that she would make is her banana bread.  While baking any bread from scratch may seem intimidating, this recipe is about as easy as it gets.  I can see now why she made it so often. It also freezes really well, so I almost always make two loaves at a time. Now that I am starting to have a little time free to dip my toes back into cooking and baking, this bread has become a staple in our house especially seeing as how the girls love it so much.

This is a dump it all in the mixer and let it go kind of recipe.  I start with adding the sugar and softened butter to the mixer and let it combine.

Next, I drop in the eggs.  I do not pre-mix these- I literally crack them and drop them in.

Up next is the bananas.  You can see the ripeness of the bananas that I used below.  Again, I just break these up into large 2" chunks and drop them in as the mixer is going.

Then I sift all my dry ingredients together and slowly add them to the wet ingredients in the mixer.  After the dry ingredients are added is when you would add pecans if you like and your vanilla.

Meanwhile, I prepare my loaf pans with cooking spray.  This Baker's Joy is a flour and oil mix that makes life so much easier than having to actually grease and then flour your pans.

The final step is to pour it into your loaf pans, let rest for 20 minutes and then pop into the oven.

I have a convection oven so I pulled these about five minutes short of the cooking time listed below. I always check with a toothpick first.

I think Banana Bread is the girls favorite thing.  In the loaves above, I cut the sugar a bit since these are for the girls.  They did not seem to mind...

I couldn't even get Noelle to look at me.  She was to focused on her food!

These photos are so nostalgic for me because back in the day, I would make banana bread for the twins that I used to nanny for.

Now they are in middle school...

Mom's Banana Bread
(for two loaves)

1 c. butter softened
2 c. sugar
4 beaten eggs
6 large bananas
4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda
1 c. pecans (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar.  Fold in eggs.  Mix in bananas
Sift dry ingredients and add.  Add vanilla and nuts if desired.
Pour into greased loaf pan.
Let stand for 20 minutes.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool on rack immediately after removing from oven.


Friday, April 8, 2016

The (no longer creepy) Basement

Since I have been teasing the basement remodel for weeks now, I thought that I would just jump to the chase and do the reveal.  Up first though, our motivation for this remodel.  In past posts, I talked about moving our laundry room to the basement in what was then thought of as the first step in starting our kitchen remodel.  In October 2015 when we found out we were pregnant, our priorities quickly switched from the kitchen remodel to doing an addition in our basement.  We had two finished bedrooms in our basement and a good sized TV room, but the bedrooms were separated by a large (scary) unfinished space.  With our upstairs guest bedroom now needing to be converted to a baby room, we knew that we needed to make the basement a space for our guests, which meant that adding a bathroom downstairs was in order.

In late October, we applied for a building permit and it took two months to get approved (a story for another day), so construction started in January 2015 just after the holidays.  To say that this project took us awhile would be an understatement (we finished it in February 2016).  It was a project fraught with issues and unforeseen expenses, and there were many times that I just wanted to abandon it, but we persevered (or Eric did anyway- I was taking care of twins) and are happy to say that it has been completed- as confirmed by the Boulder County building permit department!

Let's start with the entrance to the new space.  In the former configuration, we had a TV room with a large fire proof door that served as the entrance to the unfinished area.  It made sense to remove that doorway and start our hallway into the new space from here.  Below shows this update- the door is gone and we now have a long hallway

One of the biggest hopes for this project was that our basement wouldn't feel like a basement. Basements creep me out.  I think this stems from growing up in New Mexico where basement do not exist.  My thought process was that if I was going to ask family/friends to sleep in a (creepy) basement, then it better be as bright and cheery as we can possibly make it.  With this in mind, all paint colors stayed light and we added TONS of can lights.

As you head down the hallway, and take the first turn to the right, there is now a good sized laundry room and a 3/4 bath just off this. May I just say that putting a slot sink in our laundry room was the greatest decision ever made.  I have never dealt with having to pre-soak so much dirty laundry in my life- thats twins for you I guess.

We were able to add some cute little storage nooks in this space that I love!  We still need to get our washer and dryer up on pedestals.  We may take a stab at building pedestals ourselves.

From the laundry, we have the bathroom entrance.

Again, tons of lighting.  In a relatively small space, we chose to forgo a cabinet vanity and instead go with a pedestal sink.   I did however search to find a sink that had significant surface area around the sink so that people can place there stuff on top of it while getting ready.

I am thrilled with the shower.  I feel like we have really honed our tiling skills at this point. 

Tiling the underside of the soffit was interesting, but that is one of the many perks of having an engineer for a husband.  They love figuring out stuff like this.

You'll notice that we chose to tile the entire addition.  I had at first imagined that we would carpet the hall, but there was no way we were going to find an exact match for our existing carpet and cost-wise, tile actually made a lot of sense.

If you refer back to the hall picture, the second doorway off to the right is our mechanical room. During this remodel, we put in a new furnace, air conditioner and water heater (these were the unforeseen expenses I referred to previously).  In addition, we have a water softener, whole house water filtration system, radon gas mitigation system and the sewage ejector basin.

Finally, Eric's poker room resides at the end of the hall.  This room is still in need of an overhaul- new windows, paint and flooring.  We will get to it someday.

So there you have it!  A basement that I do not feel guilty inviting guests to stay in.  In my next post, I will cover the work that we did ourselves and the work we hired out, as well as some of the lessons we learned along the way.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Ugh...  Lately I have been dealing with such guilt.  I think about it every night before I go to bed (it keeps me up) and it is one of the first things to cross my mind when I get up in the morning.
I'm talking about working mom guilt.

Growing up, my mom was a stay at home mom.  It was wonderful knowing that no matter how bad my school day was or that if I wasn't feeling well, my mom was always going to be there when I walked through the door to take care of me.  I can remember once when we were in the process of moving, my parents put us kids in daycare for ONE day to go house shopping.  The memories still haunt me for life- it was AWFUL (not really, truly awful- we were spoiled).  It was a good lesson in just how good we had it - a mom who literally had snacks ready and waiting for us as we walked off the school bus and a wonderful dinner on the table every night.  I always assumed I would have the same set up for my children.

As luck/situation would have it though, I have career.  Not just any career either.  I have a career that I love and dare say, I am good at.  It has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, continuously learn, and has funded making other dreams come true- ie. having children/going through IVF.  Do I want to give it up, no.  But, I also want to be the best mom that I can be and not feel guilty about the mom that I was later in life.

To this point, we have had the girls in a wonderful daycare.  I toured tons of facilities and also really thought about hiring a full-time nanny.  In the end, daycare won out and we have been thrilled to date with the "quality of service".  The girls seem to love it there and have learned so much.  But, I still have this nagging feeling that they are missing out by not getting day-to-day care by their mommy or daddy.

When the girls were first born, I took 3.5 month off of work to care for them (and I truly did not work- I devoted all my time and attention to them).

After that time, Eric took 2 months off to care for the girls; something pretty unheard of in the US, but a time that he relished.

My takeaway from that time at home was that I really love and missed work.  Now though, the girls are doing so much and changing every day.  I feel like I am missing so much- yesterday Noelle started waving and wanting to wash herself in the bath all in the same day. It doesn't help that they are also going through separation anxiety and cry whenever I leave them at daycare.  Just this morning, I dropped them off and kissed them goodbye and had to turn and close the door on them as they both were crawling toward me crying.  Cut to me tearing up on my way to work.  It is just so hard and I wonder, does it get any easier?

I feel like I have to figure something out, but I have no idea what that something is.  I do know that I cannot go on with this constant guilt.  Something has to give.  Lately in the news, there have been all these statistics published about successful individuals being raised by parents who both work.  My takeaway is that yeah, they may be successful, but on the other hand are these successful people angry or bitter toward their parents? Even more, do their parent regret raising their children this way?

For now, I think that I will stay put and wait for a sign to propel me in one direction or another (winning the lottery for instance, would be a welcome sign that I should be a stay at home mom).  Being a parent is tough on so many levels, but at the same time, I am so thrilled that these are my stresses.  Two years ago, my stress was the thought of never having children to have these worries about, and now I have two perfect girls!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Updates to Our Home

Just stopping in to draw your attention to the Our Home tab.  I made some updates this week if you are interested in checking it out.
Next week I plan to debut our basement remodel!