Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday Confessional

Ever have some things on your mind that you just need to get off your chest and confess?  Well I sharing some of my confessions with y'all today!

I must confess:

If your blog isn't on Bloglovin' I probably am not going to read it

If you are a noreply-comment blogger, I am no longer searching out your blog to reply to one of your comments.  I love to connect with my readers so if you don't hear from me when you leave a comment chances are its because I don't have your email.

I love reading mom blogs. I have learned so much from y'all and am so grateful for you putting your knowledge and experiences out there!

Even though we have struggled with Infertility for over 6 years and it is my hearts biggest desire to be pregnant and have our child - labor scares the bejeezus out of me.

I actually don't like Starbucks Coffee, I think it tends to taste really bitter with an almost bitter taste to it.  I only drink it because of its convenience.  My favorite coffee was Seattle's Best - but after Starbucks bought them out, it's not as good.

Shredded coconut is a total turn off...I will not eat anything with it in there.  I just really dislike the texture.

Coconut water is even worse.  I tried a sample at Costco last year and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever tried.

I do like Coconut flavored items though, so I am not totally object to the whole food.

It irritates me so much when parents excuse their child's poor behavior because "they haven't had a nap" - even when they are 6 years old!!!!

I have started to de-clutter our home and have made several trips to the Goodwill to donate bags and bags of bath towels.  As we are in the "finishing" stages of our Master Bathroom Makeover, I have decided to purge all of our non-white towels.  That way all of our towels will be able to go in either Ellie's bathroom or our bathroom.

Speaking of de-cluttering, my closet is a mess!  Next week I am going to go through the whole thing and eliminate the items I no longer wear.  You're in luck too, because I am going to post them here on the blog to give you first dibs at buying the items before they go into our garage sale pile (and then to the Goodwill after that).

And finally, Ellie is my favorite.  I love her little voice, how she runs with knocked knees, her love of buses, cars and trains, how she loves to push her baby stroller around and how she thinks she is so sneaky when she finds a pacifier!

What are some things you want to confess?

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ellie's Second Birthday Wish List

Ellie's Second Birthday Wish List

I you can't tell by all the items on this list, we are going with a theme for Ellie's second birthday gifts, play kitchen supplies.

We are so lucky that Thomas dad is a hobby woodworker because he is building Ellie a custom play kitchen!!!  I have had the opportunity to get a few sneak peeks during the process and damn does it look good!

Most of the items shown are made by Hape, their products are made from sustainable materials and are Eco-friendly. The other items are Melissa and Doug.  I love that most of them are made out of wood, I have always been drawn to the non plastic play toys. I think they speak to my wannabe tree hugger self!!!

I mean first of all the mixer and coffee maker are just too adorable. The pots and pans are so life like and then there are all to food options! Like pantry basics, shishk kebabs, sandwiches, salad, and the chefs choice. 

I know that Ellie will get a kick out of all these items and play with them all the time. She loves to be in the way kitchen with me so I know she will enjoy them!

Do you have any favorite play kitchen items for your little? I'd love to know what they are, just leave them in the comments!

♥ Ashley

Linking up here 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Infertility: What to (NOT) Say

As someone who has been suffering from the disease of Infertility for over 6 years, I have heard a lot!  I wasn't so vocal about my disease in the beginning and am still working it into my daily life. Since adopting our daughter, Ellie, it has become much easier to talk about it.  I feel most comfortable discussing my journey here, on the internet, with you. I know that's pretty silly, right? I can sit here and share my feelings, thoughts, and emotions with the world (okay lets be real, with like the 10 committed readers I have) but have such a hard time actually talking about it.  I am not embarrassed of my disease by any means, it's just that I like to be a "strong" person.  But in reality, I am learning that hiding my emotions actually isn't a very "strong" character trait rather its the opposite.  It's cowardly. Then again I have my reasons, sometimes people are just Assholes and say the most unkind things and frankly I am tired of hearing them!! 

So today I thought I would help y'all out so that you don't come off like an Asshole to one of your friends or co-workers.  Because in actuality 1 in 8 couples suffer from Infertility and the odds are you are pretty close but they are suffering silently.  

Here are 5 things to NOT say:

1.  Don't tell them to relax. These comments actually cause more stress to the couple.

2. Don't tell them to "Stop trying, then if will happen". This is incredibly messed up because if you stop having sex then you are not going to be able to make a baby.

3.  Don't complain about your pregnancy.  Well you can, just not to them.  For the Infertile sometimes just being around a pregnant lady is a battle, watching your belly grow is a constant reminder of what they are unable to achieve.

4. Don't tell them about a friends success story with Infertility.  This does the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.  Each couples Infertility is unique and just because one thing worked for one couple doesn't mean that it will work for another.  And maybe they have already gone down that road without success.  It just reminds the Infertile that THEY are unable to conceive.

5.  Don't ask why they are not trying IVF.  Infertility treatments are expensive and most insurance companies do not cover these treatments. So all expenses are paid out of pocket by the couple.  Not to mention that not all IVF cycles are successful.

And because we are human and want to help and be of comfort I will give you these 5 things TO say to your dear friends:

1. Do your research.  Read up on Infertility and if you are aware of their diagnosis then learn about that too.  This is so helpful as they won't have to feel like they need to educate you before you can have a conversation.

2. Act interested.  Each Infertility journey is unique.  For some it is easy to open up about their struggles whereas others find it more difficult.  If they are willing to open up to you then be present in the conversation.

3. Remember them on Mother's Day and Father's Day.  While these holidays focus on those who are already parents they can be difficult reminders to those who cannot be parents.   Remember them on these days, they will appreciate knowing you haven't forgotten.

4. Tell them about your pregnancy.  Just do this in a way that allows them to handle their initial reaction privately.  They are so happy for you, but often times are disappointed for themselves.

5. Remember them throughout the year.  Since there are no physical signs of Infertility (aside from a non-pregnant belly) remembering that your friend is struggling throughout the year and reaching out to them is a huge encouragement.  It helps them feel not so alone in their battle and that they're not forgotten.

Here's to not being an Asshole and actually accomplishing the comfort you're intending to give!!

Speaking of giving.  Thomas and I are in the process of beginning the adoption process again!! We are so excited to bring a new little bundle of joy home to our family, but we can't do it without you!!  Not only are Infertility treatments expensive but Adoption Costs are too! Before we can start the process we are hoping to raise $2,500.  About $1,000 will go toward updating our HomeStudy, which is a requirement for adoptions and the remaining $1,500 will go towards our re-enrollment Agency fees.  We have already raised $300 and anything helps.  To donate you can go to our GoFundMe page and we would also greatly appreciate you sharing our page via Facebook, Twitter, etc.  

We are also going to be having a garage sale this Spring/Summer so I am cleaning out my closet, Ellie's closet as well as some home items.  I want to offer them up here on the blog first.  So be on the lookout for a Shop the Farm post in the near future!!  All proceeds will go into our Adoption Fund!

In case you missed it:
Sunday I shared my Infertility Story
Monday I shared FAQs on Infertility
Tuesday Thomas shared his Infertility Story and Ellie's 23 monthdate
Wednesday common Acronyms of Infertility
Thursday Infertility around the World

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Infertility Around the World

Its still National Infertility Awareness Week and I want to bring as much awareness as I can to this disease, see previous posts here, here, here and here.  1 in 8 couples suffer from Infertility and the disease is so much more than physical.  There is emotional, relational, physical, and mental pain associated with the disease of Infertility.  Along with the inability to either get pregnant or have a viable pregnancy there is also the sense and feeling of loss.  The loss of having a child, the loss of growing your family the way you intended, the loss of those memories you could be making, and the loss of being a part of the "mom's club".  While Infertility is considered a disease most health insurance companies do not see it as a life threatening disease so most of them don't cover any of the costs for treatments.  That means that couples who desire to have children but need medical intervention to do so must pay out of pocket, and even then there is no guarantee that any of the treatments will result in a baby.

Infertility is not unique to the United States.  In fact it is a world wide disease and the number of sufferers if growing.  It is estimated that over 100 million couples world wide suffer from Infertility. There are several countries in Africa that are considered to be the "Infertility Belt" and it's most likely the culprits are from STDs and unsafe abortions. In Brazil a majority of the states do not offer Infertility services at government health clinics.  In the US, more than 7 million women seek Infertility treatments which are part of a multibillion-dollar fertility industry.  Infertility can also affect couples who have already had their own child(ren) and it's called Secondary Infertility, it is unknown why most cases happen but some could be from complications from previous pregnancies and deliveries. (source)

In the UK there is an option to go through NHS for funding Infertility treatments, not all procedures are covered and some areas within the UK do not accept NHS.  There is a bunch of criteria that  couples must meet to be approved and at what level. According to a study the following countries not only recognize Infertility as a disease but they have also made provisions for Infertility treatment to be covered through insurance:  Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. For example in Australia many of the Infertility treatments are eligible for Medicare rebates and some costs are covered by Private Insurance.  The good news is that there are 15 States in the US who mandate the option to cover Infertility Treatments: Arkansas (that explains the Duggars), California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana (ok Thomas we can move there), New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia.  I have to say that it is so encouraging to read and learn about these PRO-Infertility Treatment countries and states, I just hope the rest of our country and the world will get on board.

Infertility treatments are not widely available in developing countries or really available at all.  There are many arguments as to why this is, but the reality is that Infertility SUCKS no matter who you are or where you live. The emotional baggage, pain and suffering is the same.  This disease cannot be fully understood if you have never been victim to it.  And just because your neighbors have 8 kids doesn't mean that you should be denied your opportunity to have children.  

Sure some people are just not wired to have the desire for children but those of us who put our self worth into that notion are suffering the most unimaginable devastation.  My plea to all of you Fertiles out there - please do not take your children for granted and be mindful of who you are complaining to.

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


If there is one thing I have learned about Infertility (and pregnancies for that matter) is that there are a heck of a lot of acronyms floating around.  Some of them are fairly easy to figure out once you have learned some of the lingo about the disease of Infertility but others I'm still trying to figure out what they mean after 6 years of this battle.

I came across this page which took the mystery away.  I thought I would share some of my more commonly used ones and ones that I have heard/read about as well.

2WW  - the 2 Week Wait has got to be one of the longest times in an Infertile's life.  Its the 2 weeks after ovulation that you have to wait before you can take a pregnancy test.

AF - Aunt Flo or otherwise known as your period or aka the Devil of Infertility

BBT - Basal Body Temperature, this is what you test for every morning to see if your are ovulating.  It takes a while to get into the habit and to understand your readings but many women have found it to be helpful.

BFN - Big Fat Negative on those pregnancy tests...I have seen way too many of those (over 30)

BFP - Big Fat Positive on those pregnancy tests .... I have seen a few of these but there has never been a positive outcome - miscarriage.

CD - Cycle Day, on average a woman's cycle is 28 days referencing the CD will help you to pinpoint where you are in your cycle.

DH - Dear Husband

DPO - Days Post Ovulation basically how many days after ovulation you are before a BFP or BFN

HCG - Human Chorionic Gonadotropin a drug used to cause ovulation but also present during pregnancy

HSG - Hysterosalpingogram a procedure where dye is injected into the uterus to see its flow into the fallopian tubes via xray

IF - the disease of Infertility

OV - Ovulation

PI - Primary Infertility are those who suffer from Infertility and have no children

SI - Secondary Infertility are those who suffer from Infertility after they have already conceived and birthed a child(ren)

TTC - Trying To Conceive 

So hopefully this will help you to understand a little bit more of our language when talking about the disease of Infertility.

♥ Ashley

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

His Perspective

Infertility is a disease that affects both males and females.  A majority of the blogs I read are written by women (ok all of them are) and that means that we mostly get the woman's side of infertility. Men suffer too but they don't get to share their story as often and generally I believe their struggle is different than women's. 

Today I am so pleased to have my husband here on the blog! I have to admit this is his first "appearance" and I am so happy that he was willing to share his side of the story with you all! You can read my story here and here and more on infertility here
We did a little Q&A:

What thoughts and feelings did you have during our first year and a half of trying to get pregnant with no success?

Initially when we started struggling to get pregnant I tried to stay extremely positive to maintain strength in the hope of getting pregnant and trying to be that emotional rock for my wife.  As the number of unsuccessful months continued to grow my positivity started to wean and was replaced with constant doubt as we were very strategic on counting ovulation dates and cycles.  Dealing with the struggle and constant failure took its toll as months turned into a year without any success and I knew it was time to get professional help. Thanks to Ashley’s determination and drive I gave all my support to finding a successful solution.

When you first learned about our infertility what were your thoughts?

After hearing that infertility was the major cause in our constant failure of trying to get pregnant, I was devastated.  When you fail as an individual you feel inadequate, and I felt like in many ways I was letting down the person I loved most, my wife. In the age of instant gratification you want a quit fix to all problems (minor or major), and I expected this to be true with infertility and over the coming months and years I would be proven very wrong.

What was the most shocking information you learned?

That many ridiculous medical procedures are covered by almost all insurance companies but infertility is not.  This resulted in a shocking amount of medical bills in constant hope of getting pregnant with zero medical coverage.

What was the hardest part leading up to our first miscarriage?

The hardest part was the constant failure and feeling of being an inadequate partner that could not provide the one thing your spouse wanted, and that was a family.

What strategies did you use to cope with our first loss?

After the loss of our first child I tried to remain busy filling my mind with whatever side tracking mental distraction that would keep me from dealing with this hardship.  I would also go running or work out on the farm to keep my mind from wandering into the world of infertility.  

How invested were you in our next few round of infertility after our miscarriage and when we went the IUI route?

When we started the next round of infertility treatment I was still burdened by the loss of our first child.  My positivity had been drained and my mind set was to be as supportive as possible to my wife but deep down I had constant doubt this was just another means of failure.  When moving on to IUI treatment you feel with modern medicine and technological advancement that it is going to be an instant success, but it was not.  It was very difficult seeing my partner going through constant physical treatment and knowing you can do very little to determine the outcome.  In my mind I made small sacrifices like stopping the consumption of soda and alcohol during IUI, which in comparison to what my wife had to endure is like those sitting at home watching war overseas versus being on the frontlines. 

What has been the most challenging part of our infertility for you?

The most challenging part of our infertility journey is having to watch my partner endure constant failure and pain without any means of solving the problem.  It is instinctual as a human being to be a problem solver, and when you cannot it shakes your self-worth.  I tried even in the darkest days and most trying circumstances to remain that rock for my wife and listen when she just wants to be heard and engage when searching for understanding.

After fighting for 6 years what advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of our infertility?

The advice I would give myself 6 years ago is to remain truly positive inside and out with complete understanding that circumstances are out of your hands and to remain patient. Also, to not let it take over your life in every way and continue to focus on building an amazing relationship with your wife. 

What advice do you have for other husbands about infertility?

My biggest advice is simply one word, listen.  It is instinctual as a human being and a man to try and fix every problem and by listening to your partner and yourself can allow a deeper of level of understanding and togetherness with your significant other. 

What advice do you have to share with other wives about infertility?

Guys including myself will internalize many of the struggles we are going through during this process and being invested by listening to his inner thoughts can be very helpful.

What is one thing that has kept you going during our infertility struggles?

The love for my wife, the growth of our family, and our daughter Ellie who has made me realize even through hardship and struggle you will be rewarded with something truly great.

I think it is so beneficial to hear from the men in our lives and to take to heart their feelings and thoughts on this topic. Because they are fighting this disease alongside us we need to work together. Often times our men are our rocks and we forget the toll that this journey takes on them. 

Thank you so much Thomas for sharing your heart today. I am so blessed that I get to fight this battle with you. Together we can beat this disease of infertility. 

♥ Ashley 

Linking up here

Monday, April 20, 2015

{monthdate} 23 months

I'm I can't believe that in one short month my sweet girl will be TWO!!! How did that happen??

I am seriously just loving this age right now. Ellie is turning into such a big girl and she is so much fun to hang out with everyday. 

We have kinda run into a little bit of the tantrum city already but they really aren't that bad. They tend to go away when we have a little distraction for her and are good to go once she starts giggling. Oh how I love that sound. I am sure that she gets upset at the usual toddler stuff, aka when she is told "no". Sometimes it's in the car when she asks for milk and we don't have any and others it's because she is doing something she isn't allowed to do.  Otherwise she is a happy, sweet, loving girl who is constantly giving hugs and kisses to us. I just love it when she runs up to me and give my legs a big huge squeeze. 

We have also entered into a little bit of stranger danger too. If someone comes on a little too strong she shies away and burries her head in my shoulder. Then takes a little time to warm up. I'm hoping it's just a stage because I love her outgoing friendly demeanor. 

Ellie is a daredevil and has been for a long time. I'm convinced she is determined to give me a heart attack with her wild ways. She is a climber, runs everywhere, and tries to hang on everything. Thankfully when she falls down she just gets right back up and tries it again, I'm sure this will be a very good character trait for when she gets older and is faced with hardships. 

Vocab has boomed this month. She is a little parrot at repeats so many words and also will point to things and identify them correctly. It blows my mind!! I don't think I can keep up with all her words now but I just love her little voice. Today she said "all done" instead of "ahhll" so I think she is starting to make connections. Her favorite pet of ours is Annabelle or "Ahbo" one of our goats and would prefer for her to tuck her in at night!!  She can now say all of our animals names and knows which is which. I can't remember if I wrote it down last month but she was saying "beebee car" and I thought she meant baby car but she is actually saying beep beep car. She has also started to verbally ask for milk "mus" and can put sentences together like: "more mus pees mama". It's just the best. I am so proud of her and I think her ability to communicate with us so well has really helped in the "tantrum" department (cross my fingers). 

Food is hit and miss. Some days she is all over something and the other she won't even look at it. Girlfriend is still a huge fan of the veggies: broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, and corn. Fruit she likes are basically apples and strawberries but only like a bite of each, she loves blueberries but they always make her butt red so we go sparingly with them.  Bread and rice are usually good bets as is mac'n'cheese. She likes ground meat and her favorite kind is sausage found on pizza - occasionally I can trick her with other meats saying is sausage but I think she is on to me. Ellie has finally discovered the world of treats and loves cookies (peanut butter ones from Safeway to be exact) and ice cream - vanilla. 

Sleep has continued to be a bit of a struggle. Nap time is usually pretty easy but she ends up in our bed most nights. It's a habit we are starting to change - though she has us pretty well trained. We're still working on finding a happy medium and are trying to at least keep her in her room through the night, but we aren't very consistent with it. She tends to go down pretty well without a fight its just the sleeping through the night that's our challenge. 

We've been under the weather the past week or so and I finally took Ellie into the doctor. Turns out she has conjunctivitis and a double ear infection. I knew about the conjunctivitis since I could see it but never would have guessed the double ear infection, baby girl hasn't complained at all (but that might have something to do with her nightime wake ups...)

Sweet Ellie Faith you bring so much joy to my life. Thank you for being the sweet and awesome little girl with such a great attitude. I love you to the moon and back a thousand times!! 

♥ Ashley

Linking up here

NIAW - the rundown

I went to a christian school my whole life.  Rarely did we ever talk about or learn about sex.  We were taught that sex is "bad" and leads to pregnancies (wanted or not). We really only learned about abstinence as the only option for practicing safe sex.  I got my other information from the media and never really knew that infertility was a real thing.  I mean if you just watch tv shows today the characters practically just have to look at each other and they get pregnant (Parenthood, Grimm, Secret Life, Nashville, etc).  

It's no wonder that the world of Infertility is so unknown and a mystery.  

The reality is, is that Infertility is real and the struggle is real.  I had no idea how many people are affected by this discouraging disease or that I would be a member of team infertility.  The problem is is that we fight our battle in secrecy (for whatever reason) which means that our friends, family and co-workers have no idea what we are facing and in turn we as a society don't get a good grasp on how many people are suffering.  Because we are fighting in silence our voice cannot be heard.  But each of our journeys are so personal and intimate its no surprise how quiet we are about it, the pain that goes with it can be unbearable at times.

So here is a quick rundown adapted from here.

1. Infertility can happen to anyone, generally if you have been having unprotected well timed sex for a year (if under 35) or 6 months (if over 35) with no pregnancy then Infertility might be the answer.

2. 30% of Infertility is considered to be female and 30% of Infertility is considered to be male.  The other 40% that is left unaccounted for can be a combination or unexplained. (yay! don't we all want to be presented with "we don't know why your body sucks!")

3. There are some risk factors that could lead to infertility: weight, age, STDs, endometriosis, smoking and alcohol.

4.  There are no signs or symptoms directly related to infertility.  But if your cycles are irregular having a doctor check might give some answers to your fertility.  Although if you have suffered from several miscarriages that could be a sign that your reproductive system isn't working appropriately.

5. Since Infertility isn't considered to be a life threatening disease most health insurance policies will not cover treatment/prevention/intervention.  So this means that all procedures, doctors appointments and medications need to be paid out of pocket by the patient (and these bills are not cheap).  Most initial doctor's visits run about $300 which may or may not include any bloodwork they wish to do.  Then there are ultrasounds that run around $250-$500 each, the medications anywhere from $50-$1,000+ and any other procedures to see how the reproductive system is working (I had an HSG scan that cost $1,200) now that is a whole lot of money and sometimes the patients are still presented with "unexplained infertility" so all that money out the window and still there is no explanation as to why your body is being such a bitch.

6. So after you are diagnosed with Infertility (explained or unexplained) there are some options for how to grow your family. From least invasive to most: a) medication such as Clomid to get you ovulating with blood work to check your levels and vaginal ultrasounds to see your how your follicles are responding to the medication. b) if option a was unsuccessful you could do it all over again but when the follicles are the ideal size get a shot of HCG to encourage ovulation within the next 24 hours. c) again with a and b but then after the HCG shot go in for an IUI (intrauterine insemination) d) if those three options didn't work then you can go the IVF route e) use of donor eggs, sperm or embryo. f) surrogacy. h) Adoption. And again I want to point out that all of these options are not covered by most health insurance policies so patients will be paying for this out of pocket and if you have had to go through options a, b, and c it is possible to have spent close to or more than $15,000 then if you go the IVF/donor route you can add on another $30,000. Adoption can be another long and emotional process full of its own set of highs and lows costs can range from $5,000 to over $35,000.

I just want to point out again that Infertility doesn't discriminate.  Anyone can suffer from it and the suffering is real, its emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual suffering and pain. Throw in a miscarriage or two and the seas get even rougher.  Chances are you know at least one person (probably more like 15) who has felt the woes of infertility.  They may be blessed with a success story, chosen to grow their family through adoption, or decided to live life without children. Be kind and remember the struggle is real, the disease is real.

basically what a negative test  feels like

♥ Ashley

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Are NOT Alone

A post on Sunday? I know its pretty rare around these parts but I feel called to dive into a theme this week.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW) and this year's theme is "You Are Not Alone", as an infertility fighter for over 6 years I cannot tell you how helpful it is to know that I am not the only one.  There is so much more research out there being done and with the internet and social media our voices are coming out and we are starting to be heard!!  Chances are that you know at least ONE person who is fighting infertility.  One in Eight couples are affected by this disease and so many are suffering silently.

Through the blogging world I have come across so many strong women who are sharing their struggles (and miracles) with infertility.  Being able to "talk" with them and share our stories, feelings, emotions, trials, and hurt has been so healing for myself.  Just knowing that there are other women out there going through a similar struggle and suffering losses along with me has given me a sense of community and strength.  Of course in a perfect world I wouldn't be a part of this community and infertility wouldn't exist. I believe that going through this disease has made me a stronger person and also a more empathetic person.

Today I want to share my story in a condensed form.  You can read the detailed version here.

My husband, Thomas, and I were married August 8, 2008.  We knew that we wanted a family and talked about it while we were dating.  We discussed that we would like to be married a full year before having a child but at the same time were ready to start our family.  We started to seriously try in May 2009 and after nearly 9 months of no success we started to seek medical help.  Of course they won't really do much until its been 12 months so we had to wait until May 2010 until they would make any treatment decisions.  In July 2010 we decided to switch doctors.  Our new doctor had me go in for an HSG that showed my tubes were "clear".  Then a month later we started on Clomid.  We got pregnant on our 3 cycle with Clomid in October 2010. We were ecstatic but kept the good news to ourselves since we are pessimists. Then at 6 weeks I had severe lower abdominal cramping and bleeding.  At our doc appointment she let us know that my bloodwork had come back irregular and I was most likely going to miscarry.  At 8 weeks I had more cramping that let to me fainting from the pain and a visit to the doc the following day.  It was then we learned I had an ectopic pregnancy and my right fallopian tube had ruptured, requiring immediate surgery on December 6, 2010.  We were advised to wait 3 cycles before trying again.  After that we did three more cycles of Clomid with 2 IUIs that were unsuccessful. In December 2011 we started the adoption process. Then on March 5, 2012 I had our second miscarriage at 4 weeks and 3 days.  We continued trying while going through the adoption process.  On January 10, 2013 at 11pm I experience severe abdominal cramping similar to what was experienced in November 2010.  We called the doctor and she made room in her schedule for the following day.  After bloodwork and ultrasounds it was determined I had another ectopic pregnancy, which was weird because I didn't even know that I was 6 weeks pregnant.  Luckily since it was caught early on, there was no rupture but the baby was gone.  We waited the recommended 3 cycles and continued trying.  We brought our adopted daughter home in May 2013.  Then in September 2013 I took a pregnancy test.  It was positive!! But then I started bleeding.  I had bloodwork done and it can back very irregular and a week later all my pregnancy symptoms disappeared and I experienced severe lower back pain and according to my internet research that was a sign of miscarriage. At the end of October 2013 my pregnancy tests were negative. We have continued to try on our own since and each cycle I am presented with yet another negative pregnancy test.

The unfortunate thing about Infertility is that so many of us suffer and fight it alone.  It is not a topic I readily discuss with others but I am in the trenches of the battle every single day. I don't think that a day has passed since November 2010 that I haven't been overwhelmed with emotion about this fight.  I know that I am not alone and there are so many other women (and men) who are fighting this same battle.  I don't have all the answers, hell I don't think I have any answers, but I know the pain.  I feel it every single day.  One thing I believe is that if we make this conversation become commonplace and we talk about it openly and honestly we can bring awareness to this disease.  And maybe, just maybe, if we speak loud enough our voices will be heard.  Our pain will be realized and understood.  Our disease will be thought of as a health issue and Health Insurance companies will see the risk and cover our treatments.  I know that is wishful thinking but the only thing that makes our Battle of the Disease of Infertility is the sting that we have to PAY OUT OF POCKET for all of our fucking treatments and it ain't cheap ya'll.

So if you do one thing this week, I am asking you to be mindful when talking about growing a family or you can talk about your own personal journey with Infertility.  Let's raise awareness of this disease.  Let's come together and support each other.

♥ Ashley

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Things like Flowers

I don't know about you but flowers are my love language. I would take a bouquet of flowers over some piece of jewelry any day.   Having fresh flowers in the home always gives a sense of life and happiness. Whenever I look at them in the vase on the tables I can't help but smile. 

I don't get store bought flowers very often, while I love them there is something so much more rewarding when you know they came from your own garden. If you've been around here for a while you know my passion for being in the garden and growing both food and flowers. It's taken a while for my plants to get to the point where I feel like there are enough blooms that I can bring some inside. Lilacs are so beautiful and smell great. We have a couple of lilac trees/bushes on our property that needed some pruning, so we took advantage of the weather this weekend and saved many of the blooms while we were at it. 

This owl planter though!

Flowers on the kitchen windowsill and some fresh eggs from our girls!

Nothing beats flowers on the bedside table. 

I got out some of my favorite vases and started trimming and decorating with our bounty. I just love how the freshen up our home and bring that element of beauty you can't get anywhere else. 

Enough for the guest bathroom. 

And of course I have to share the beauty with Ellie in her room!

What are some of your favorite flowers to display?

♥ Ashley 

Linking up here

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

{Toddler Tuesday} Traveling Tips

We have had the opportunity to take Ellie on quite a few trips in her short life.  When she was just 3 days old we made the 6+ hour drive home from the hospital where she was born and she has continued to be a trooper.  Of course not all trips are rainbows and sunshine the whole time but I think that Ellie does great for a majority of the time.  Each time we travel we learn something new and I wanted to share some of our tips with ya'll.  

Life on the Parsons Farm

But first here are the trips we have taken so far

Road Trips:
Home from the Hospital
Tulip Fields (2014, 2015)
Whidbey Island

Airplane Trips:
Scotland and Ireland 
Disneyland (1/2, 3, 4)

I have to admit that we are incredibly blessed with a good traveler.  Ellie loves the car (90% of the time) and has a pretty easy going personality.

Tip #1: stocking up
We always make sure our diaper bag is stocked with lots of diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, thermometer, hair accessories, paci's, and snacks whenever we go out.  Up until she was a year old we also made sure to have bottled water, bottles, and lots of formula on hand, now that Ellie is drinking whole milk we bring a cooler with us and pack it with a few sippy cups of milk on ice.  

Tip #2: distractions
We have designated toys and books that are just for the car, so they are somewhat "special" and "new" to her.  In addition to these we also try to bring a few of her favorite toys of the moment (currently that is Mickey Mouse).  We also sing songs and have "conversations".  On the occasion that none of our tricks are working, I usually jump in the back seat with her and that seems to do the trick.  She gets lonely back there.

Tip #3: comfort
When flying we try to bring as little as we can (but still end up bringing way more than we need).  One of Ellie's blankets is a must and the other essential item is the Ergo carrier I have.  Its great for wearing her around the airport and the best for keeping her contained while we are actually flying.  I love the Ergo on the plane because I feel safe with her attached to me but I can also be hands free, Ellie is also so comfortable that she has slept during the majority of our flights.  When she is awake we try to keep her distracted in the seats for as long as possible before we start walking the aisle.  We bring books, coloring books and crayons, as well as quiet toys.  We have also found that uploading a few episodes of Daniel Tiger onto our laptop has also been a life saver.  On our last flight my MIL introduced Ellie to headphones and she was hooked! So now we don't have to worry about disturbing the other passengers on the plane with listening to DT over and over!! A stroller is another necessity, when you get tired of chasing your little one around or carrying them everywhere the stroller comes in so handy. Plus its great for pushing around your stuff too so you don't have to carry it all!

Tip #4: routine
I think that this might be the most important part of having successful travel with a toddler.  As I have mentioned before its important to have a plan and this relates to travel as well.  By having set clear expectations of behavior for your kiddo in their daily life, going on vacation shouldn't throw them through too much of a loop.  Now if you let your child wail and scream in the car while going to the grocery store then I am pretty sure you can expect the same behavior on a 14 hour road trip.  If your expectation is for your child to be calm and relaxed in the car (and you reinforce this behavior) then your road trip will be somewhat peaceful.  Kiddo's thrive on routine and are still learning about the world around them, you can't just expect them to react to certain situations in the same way that an adult does.  You have to train them and be consistent with that training.  It is never too late to start either. If you have a vacation coming up, start your training and prepping now!! If its a road trip start talking about, teaching and practicing ideal car riding behavior (this can also include the airplane).  I am confident that if your start practicing before the actual trip you will be more successful.

For us we have been practicing Co-sleeping from the first night with Ellie.  Then we learned that my dad was taking us on a 14 day road trip through Scotland and Ireland and we wanted to make sure that Ellie was prepared for this type of adventure. We still tried to get Ellie to sleep in her crib but also allowed co-sleeping since we knew that was probably going to be our only option while at the various hotels.  By having that be a norm we were all three used to the set up so sleep was actually pretty great.  We also made an effort to take longer car rides so that Ellie would be used to being in the car for longer periods of time, this also allowed her to fall asleep in the car for naps (another thing we were hoping to take advantage of for our trip).  We were going to do a lot of walking and sight seeing so I made sure to put Ellie in the Ergo carrier frequently so she would be used to this form of "transportation" and settle easily. By being mindful of the type of vacation we were going on we were able to prepare Ellie for what it was going to be like for the months leading up to it and we had a fabulous time!!

I do want to let you know that there have been times when Ellie's behavior has been less than desirable, like on our road trip to Whidbey Island (which I still need to blog about).  Girlfriend was awake in the car the whole ride up there and was not a fan of the car for a majority of the ride despite pulling all the tricks out of our sleeves.  Our saving grace was the Ferry ride where she got to get out and walk around the boat for a little bit.  Our lesson we learned is that if you don't have to be on a time schedule, then if all else fails get off the road and let them run (in a safe place, of course!).  Thankfully on our trip home she slept the whole way back - beautiful silence with the occasional snore is so wonderful!

So there you have it!  Some of my tips for traveling with a toddler!

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Love

I have mixed emotions that today is Friday.  I know that sounds terrible doesn't it?  This week Thomas has been on Spring Break and its been so fun having him home (even though I have been working) and today is his "last" day.  I know we have the weekend but its just not quite the same.  Ellie has been so blessed by her Dada being home. She has had two days home with him and is a complete and total Daddy's girl right now.  My heart just melts at their relationship and love for each other.  Thomas is just the best with her and I love watching him parent her and build her character.  We are such a great team and I love observing him with her and making decisions that are just like I would make, being on the same page discipline and parenting wise is so beneficial for Ellie since she gets consistency but also for our marriage because we are in sync with it too!!


Since Thomas has been home, he has gotten a few things done around the house that have been on our to-do list for far too long. 5 years ago we had a barn built for our goats, its 10 x 12 and has two openings, a double door on the long side and a single opening on the short side.  We divided the barn in half on the inside, one side is storage while the other is the stall.  Unfortunately the way we have the barn positioned and the door open all the time for the goats to enter is facing the rain.  We have rubber mats on the floor but they don't cover the whole space and with the rain beating down for 5 years has taken its toll on the integrity of the flooring.  Our mini-horse also lives with the goats and has put a couple of holes in the floor that we have reinforced but have talked about cutting the door in half to make a dutch door to help with the amount of rain that comes in for about 2 1/2 years.  Thomas finally got that project done this week and has to be one of my most favorite text photo's he has sent me!! It feel so good to finally cross that off the list!  He also was able to dig out some stumps that have been hanging around our yard for the past 5 years as well.  When we first moved in our front yard had about 35 juniper bushes that we removed and replaced with grass and flower beds, but some of the stumps were left due to their location and they are finally gone!!


Thomas also is a high school tennis coach and Ellie and I went to one of his practices the other week.  Ellie had so much fun running around the courts, picking up and chasing the tennis balls, grabbing the racquet's and trying to hit the balls!  Oh my word it was adorable.  I feel so blessed to have this life where we can have these experiences with her.


I finally made the decision to open up a twitter account.  I am not sure why I waited so long.  I am still trying to figure it out and don't have too great of a presence on there yet.  I have a whopping 6 followers.  If you are interested in following along I would love to have you, you can find me at @lifeparsonsfarm, again I am still figuring out how it works so if you have any tips I would love to learn!


The other night was a rough one for Ellie.  She got up about 13 times and just wouldn't settle.  Then she only napped for about an hour that day.  I was anticipating a fairly rough evening but she fell asleep in the car on the way home and got another 40 minute or so nap.  When I looked back at her she had her ankles crossed and her arms up in praise...apparently the only way to sleep in the car.  She just looked so peaceful (and the car ride was to ;) )I had to get a photo.  I mean seriously.


Gardening is a huge passion of mine.  I don't really discriminate either, flower and plant gardening is just as fun and rewarding as vegetable/fruit gardening.  Like I mentioned above we did a huge overhaul on our front yard about 5 years ago where we put in several flower beds one of them is about 7 feet wide by 60 feet long.  I had no idea how much work that was going to be (or how many plants were going to be needed to fill it up) but I love it so much.  I learn more and more every year and it changes every year too.  The first two years we planted a ton of annuals, which was stupid because we just had to replace them the following year.  So now we have started investing in perennials in a majority of the space and then we have a few favorite annuals to fill in spaces.  I get so much enjoyment going out and looking at our flowers and reveling in all our hard work and dedication to make it beautiful.  We are one of the only houses on our street that actually has flowers in the yard and we get compliments all the time from the "walkers" when we are out working in it.  I have decided that I am going to try to take at least one picture a week of the garden to show its growth and change over the seasons, but in reality I would really like to do a Parsons Garden 365, we will see how well I do at that. But today is the first day, here is what our garden looked like this morning.  I love all the spring bulbs: daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, muscari and anemone. Do you like to garden? What is your favorite part?

Happy Happy Friday to ya'll have a great weekend!

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ellie's Second Birthday

It is so hard to believe that in just over a month my sweet girl will be TWO!!  

I have been gathering ideas for her party for a while but really have putting things together since January.  Its going to be a small get together but I am loving the theme!  I think its going to be so cute and a great way to capture Ellie's love of being outside and animals!

The inspiration for the whole party came from this cake.  I am going to attempt to make one similar but I am going to use my famous Strawberry Cake recipe (which I still have yet to share on here) and a homemade chocolate frosting.  I love how it looks like a tree trunk and the mushrooms around it are so cute.  It is going to look fab on my new cake stand too!

I used to not be a balloon person, but since bringing Ellie home and seeing her enjoyment of them I have converted.  I love the gold foil numbers that are available (in big and small) so you can bet your bottom there will be one of these.

After hours of browsing the various invitations websites I have finally narrowed it down to my final choice for her invites.  I made hers last year but just don't have that same creative vibe going this year (I think I was trying to keep myself busy from thinking about our last miscarriage and that baby's due date looming at May 17th) and I want to take a more leisurely route this year. Plus I can order through Ebates and get cash back on my purchase!

There are so many cute snack ideas out there and Ellie is currently in love with pretzels and strawberries.  I think these two snack ideas will be super easy to recreate and put on the table.  Twigs - seriously how genius!  And the little snack portion cups are so cute to put a variety of small foods into. Not to mention I am obsessed with paper straws and how perfect would the Birch Wood ones be for this party?

Finally I am so excited to get Ellie's banner out again this year.  I made it for her birthday last year and tried to go with a color that would be usable from year to far I think its doable!!

Make sure to check out all my other inspiration on my Pinterest board - go ahead and follow me while your at it too!!

Do you like planning parties? What are some of your favorite party themes?

♥ Ashley

linking up here