My sister Cora is getting married August 22nd and since I am the maid-of-honour (I refuse to call myself a matron), I was responsible for throwing them an awesome wedding shower. Not to be too vain or anything, but gosh I did good.

I found all my inspiration from Pinterest (obviously) and I executed it with perfection. The party was held at my mom's house, which was the ideal backdrop for a camping themed party.

Instead of a guestbook we had them sign Jenga pieces
I had a few games to play and had amazing prizes for the winners.

Giant memory
Prize table
We also played the shoe game, just for some entertainment. It was a total hit, like always.

I think that one of my favourite decorations/food was the trail mix bar. It turned out even better than I had hoped.

Ah, it was perfection. Wouldn't you agree?

The food was also pretty great and I tried my hardest to stick with a camping theme while also making it tasty and easy to put together. I think I succeeded.

So much deliciousness.

The shower went beautifully and everyone loved it and had fun. All the planning and work that I put into it was totally worth it.

Now to get back to other wedding prep!

Time for another goal check-in!

1. Take a CPR/First Aid course Done! I had to take one for my volunteer work and I really enjoyed it.
2. Put $2,000 extra on the mortgage
3. Read 30 books I've read 27, which is a huge jump from 3 at the end of March. Go me!
4. Go on a canoe camping trip Not yet, but it is booked for the middle of July
5. Run my 3rd 5k I haven't even started running yet...
6. Take a class (such as pottery, dancing, etc) with Dan We just completed a West Coast Swing dance class and loved it so much, we've signed up for another!
7. Finish bedroom makeover Not done yet but the furniture is!
8. Fix flower gardens I still have 2 left to deal with but I'm waiting until next Spring to tackle them. I did 4 huge ones though, so I'm calling this done for this year.
9. Build back patio
10. Read a Shakespeare book
11. Clean out car
12. Get wedding and engagement rings soldered together We have found a place who will do it, but are still contemplating whether we want to go ahead and do it or not.
13. Learn to knit mittens
14. Get a membership at a library Done!
15. Practice piano once a week Definitely not doing this faithfully, I need to step up my game.

I'm still a little slow on the get go but I'm hoping that by my next check-in I'll be able to cross more off. I finished 3 more over the last three months and have made good progress with some others. I'm also aware that some of these won't get done this year, but that's okay. 

How is everyone else doing with their goals? Vicky, I know you made some!

So remember how we have been building our own bedroom furniture? We started with the bed and are totally in love with how it turned out. Then we moved on to the side tables and were thrilled with how they tied into the bed, while adding a level of brightness to the room with the white paint. Next up, the dresser! Except for this one didn't go quite as quickly as the previous items of furniture. As in, we were living with this dresser set up for quite some time. Even after the room was finished being painted and we moved the bed back in, our clothes stayed in the other room on the futon for 3 more months. Talk about inconvenient.

We finally finished the dresser the beginning of June and have been enjoying it ever since.

Our problem with the dresser came from not having much time to work on it. Whenever I say "we" worked on the dresser or "we" made the furniture, I'm really saying Dan. He was the brains behind the operation and he did 99.9% of the work as well. He has been crazy busy with work the last 6 months so he didn't have a lot of free time to spend on the dresser. But slowly, very slowly, it came together. (Excuse the crappy iPhone pics)

We didn't realize how incredibly huge it was until we maneuvered it into our bedroom. And then the real size hit us. IT IS HUGE! But there was nothing we could do about it at this point, unless we wanted to start over again, which we didn't. So we just have a huge dresser.

I did help considerably with the painting, which was my contribution to the project. And I kept him company while building the rest of it. That is why I still feel comfortable saying "we" built it.

The drawers are huge and fit all of our clothing easily. With our old set, we used two dressers to fit all of our clothes but were hoping to go down to one dresser with this new set. The plan was to get rid of clothes but instead, we just built a bigger dresser. I still want to go through everything though and minimize.

We used these plans for the Madison Dresser from Ana White's blog and then tweaked them to suit us. That's the way we like to roll, use plans for guidelines only.

The bedroom is really coming together and I love the flow of the furniture with the colours of the wall and bedspread. Basically, I'm totally in love with how things are looking so far. We are still a little ways from completion but we are making good and steady progress. Next up, some decorating!

What do you think of our dresser? Do you love it?

I'm having a hard time lately. Like I mentioned in my last post, the 5 year mark of trying has hit me really hard. As in, I all of a sudden feel in a panic to get a baby. I don't want to wait an indefinite amount of time before it's my turn. I want one now. Heck, if I'm being really honest, I wanted one yesterday. Or 5 years ago.

I hate how infertility steals so much from me. It steals a lot of joy from life. It's hard to be patient and content in ones circumstances when they aren't the circumstances I was planning for. It's hard to remain hopeful when nothing has ever worked. It's hard to be happy for others when my heart is breaking inside. 

I've also been dealing with feelings of guilt lately. It's my body that is failing us. It's my eggs that seem to have issues. It's my uterus that can't seem to hang on to a pregnancy. It's my emotions that are off the wall. It's all my fault. Which I know isn't entirely true. And I know no one is blaming me. But it's how I've been feeling nonetheless.

The wait is absolutely killing me today. Five years feels like too long to wait. And another five may kill me. In fact, another year may do it. How much more can I emotionally take? What will be my breaking point? When will I say "enough is enough"? When should we give up? 

Everything is too much today. I can't handle today.

It's still empty. Our "hail mary" cycle didn't work and we did not get pregnant. I felt like the cycle went really well and that I responded well to the meds, which got my hopes up really high. By the time I could start testing at home, I had myself convinced that it had worked and I was pregnant. So when I discovered that it hadn't worked, I was crushed. I took this unsuccessful cycle really hard. As in, I ate a bajillion cookies, cried a lot and watched Friends for a few days straight.

Another reason why I took this failed cycle so hard, was that it was the last chance at getting pregnant before we hit the 5 year mark of trying. We started trying in June 2010 and here we are, five years later, still with empty arms. It hurts so much. I can't even really explain how much it hurts. Unless you have been here, you cannot know.

So since I have done such a good job at over sharing our journey up to this point, I thought you only deserved to know what is going on. We are currently on a treatment break for the summer and are taking these three months to enjoy each other, enjoy the nice weather and do some serious thinking on what our next steps should be. I will continue to update you guys as I feel comfortable doing so, but in the meantime, we appreciate all thoughts and prayers sent our way! And if anyone sends cookies, I'd appreciate those too.

It's that time of the year again! When the weather is warmer and things start to grow and I become all delighted and share pictures with you weekly. Although depending on how things grow, I might skip a few weeks at the beginning here, so as not to bore you too much.

Last week and weekend were very productive in the planting department around our household and our yard is looking so much nicer thanks to it. My mom visited last week and she lovingly bought some flowers (and a pitchfork) for us. Isn't she the best?

Of course the day after we planted all these fabulous petunias, we had a frost. But never fear, I took care of them all and brought some in and then covered the rest. I didn't lose any, thank goodness.

She also bought me some herbs so that I could get my herb garden started. I took out one of my flower gardens for this purpose and Dan helped me border it with nice stones. We also planted some seeds so while we're waiting for those to grow, it's looking a little empty.

Since we were on a roll with the planting, we planted our vegetable garden too. I can't wait for little plants to start popping up so that it looks less like a giant dirt garden and more like food.

Our hanging herb garden is doing well too, considering I brought them in and overwintered them. I'm not sure if they will last the whole summer but for now they are good.

Rhubarb is producing well and I have been picking it for a couple weeks now. I'm also pretty excited about all the blossoms on our blueberry plants.

Basically, everything is looking great and giving me so much joy. But the thing that has given me the most pleasure over the last month? My new and improved flower gardens!

I really really really wish I had been smart enough to take before pictures, since they looked like crazy wild jungles before I attacked them. You can't really appreciate how good they look now, without seeing how bad they looked before. But I know and because of that, I am totally in love with them. They make such a huge difference in the appearance of the house.

As a bit of a sample of my crazy flower gardens, here is the last remaining garden that needs dealing with. It's getting a little late in the year so I'm thinking that it will be a job for next spring.

Ya I know, it's mostly weeds with some flowers thrown into the mix. Like I said, crazy jungle flower gardens.

So there you have it, a small sample of what's growing around here and how lovely and green everything is. I love this time of year so much!

Anyone else planting anything lately? Whether it be flowers or herbs or veggies?

I had a friend of mine who has gone through IVF write up this post for you guys. I hope that this helps you understand a little more what someone going through an IVF cycle experiences and what the procedure involves.

What is IVF?

IVF stands for In Vitro (= Latin for ”in glass”) Fertilization. What that means is you take sperm from a man, and put them in a petri dish with eggs from a woman, and the sperm fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs are called zygotes, and then they become embryos. The embryos are usually cultured (= keeping them warm in a dish) for a few days, and evaluated by an embryologist (who is a PhD, not an MD). In a typical IVF cycle, one (sometimes more than one) embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus. This usually happens around day 2-3, or day 5-6. The embryos that are not transferred can be vitrified, which basically means freezing really quickly to a really cold temperature, and then transferred back at a later date.

An IVF cycle starts out by stimulating the woman’s ovaries to produce a lot of follicles (little bubbles of fluid that house an egg). Most cycles, a woman only produces one follicle, but for this, you want lots. To do that, the woman is treated with a cocktail of medicines that is very variable. Usually, though, it consists of something to stimulate follicle growth (sometimes FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, which is what your pituitary gland produces normally) plus something that keeps her from ovulating too soon. 

During stimulation, the woman gets frequent ultrasounds, and sometimes bloodwork, to monitor the process. It’s important that she doesn’t produce too many follicles, because that can lead to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which results in fluid accumulation in the body and can be dangerous and even fatal. When the ovaries have a sufficient number of good-sized follicles (this number varies a lot, but approximately 10-20), she is given a medicine that induces ovulation. But before she ovulates, she is sedated and the eggs are removed using an ultrasound-guided needle that goes through the vaginal wall into the ovaries and retrieves the eggs from the follicles. The eggs are then put into a dish with the man’s sperm, unless the couple is doing ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). ICSI means that the best-looking sperm are identified, and one sperm is injected into each mature egg.

In some cases, the embryos can be tested for a specific known genetic mutation, or screened for genetic abnormalities. It’s also possible to use donor eggs, donor sperm, or even donor embryos. These techniques are not legal in all countries, however.

IVF is emotionally demanding for both partners, and physically demanding for the woman. It can also be very expensive. And unfortunately, IVF does not protect against ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Statistics and success rates are hard to define, since every clinic is different, and there are so many techniques being used. But the success rate is somewhere around 30% after one IVF cycle. Since the first IVF baby was born in 1979, it’s been a quickly developing field that has helped countless couples have children, and it’s a great option for couples struggling with infertility.