Tuesday, December 27, 2011

As Crafty as I Wanna Be

I am not a big crafter, so making gifts for anyone on my Christmas list was a big accomplishment. After several tries, I made this subway art poster for Shawn. It's a favorite Avett Brothers lyric and, obviously, our last name. It's a 12 x 18 print and looks pretty cool.

I also made 12 x 18 prints for my brothers and their wives. For their posters, I used their old addresses. It took a lot of playing with and no fewer than 3 failed attempts, but I think that all the posters turned out pretty well. And it was fun to give a personalized piece of art to people for Christmas. The printing was inexpensive at Meijer and using coupons, I was able to get fairly nice frames from Michaels.

If you want to make your own, I followed this tutorial from I Am Momma. I did use her printing method the first time but had limited success using the engineer's blueprint so I ended up printing a plain old poster and using a frame. It's a different look, but still nice, I think.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm Better, Really

Hormones can really upend your life. I am FINALLY feeling mostly back to normal after the longest miscarriage experience ever.

It wasn't until my acupuncturist told me that, in fact, bleeding for 21 days is NOT normal that I went back to the doctor. I am really trying my hardest to live in a let-things-take-their-course way, especially when it comes to my reproductive health. Sometimes, though, it's good to have someone give you a nudge in the right direction when things are a bit off balance.

After a call to my doc's office to fill them in on what had been going on, they wanted me to come in right away for an ultrasound. The last time I had an ultrasound, there was a gorgeous little girl dancing around on the screen. This one was way less fun.

If I hadn't been crying, I might have thought it was pretty cool to see my lady parts on TV like that. My uterus was empty, which was sad, but also very good. Any remaining tissue would have had to been removed surgically, through a D&C. The tech pointed out my uterine scar from my c-section (grrrr), and the remaining corpus luteum (egg casing) from the miscarriage still on my ovary. The corpus luteum should go away on its own without intervention.

I also had my blood drawn by the sweetest nurse ever, who I cried upon relentlessly. She even showed me out the back door when I told her I didn't want to walk out through the waiting room. Bless her.

The results of the blood test showed that my hcg (the pregnancy hormone) level was still elevated which is probably part of the reason why I still felt pretty far gone. With time, probably more time than I'd like to give it, that will zero out and I'll go back to being a normal (?) woman.

I am glad to have the worst of this shit behind me. There were several days during late November and early December when I thought I might have slipped into the realm of clinical depression. The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness was unlike anything I've experienced and I talked to Shawn twice about the possibility of needing some professional help. Very scary and, I do believe, a clinically real hormone driven phenomenon. Surely the loss of the pregnancy was the catalyst for my blues, but I think the fact that my hormones had been whacked out coupled with dealing with continued bleeding kept me spiraling downward.

I am excited/terrified to try again to conceive. I am finally feeling back to normal and I kind of just want to drink wine and coffee and not worry that it might be hindering my reproductive ability. But I also really, really want to be with a baby again. So, I dunno. I guess I will try to trust my body on this one. After all, it kind of screwed things up last time, so it owes me one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Carrying On

Since my public has been hounding me to return to the blog, here I am. Sorry, Jen.

I have not felt like writing much for awhile. I started this space to chronicle Violet's life and my entry into motherhood. Lately, I haven't had much to say about motherhood.

And I haven't had much to say about motherhood because I'm infertile.

I really hate that word. I didn't want to read it anywhere let alone write in on the blog that was created to capture my life as a mother. And it still seems like the wrong word for me, because--hello--Violet.

But, look it up and you will see that, regardless of previous children, a couple is considered infertile after 12 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse that does not result in a live birth.

We are wrapping up month 15.

The first 6 months were almost fun since I knew at any moment I'd see two lines on a test and we'd get ready to do this awesome parenthood trip again. And two lines did appear. Violet and I made a save the date card and she told her Daddy on June 7th that I "had a baby in my tummy."

Things got markedly less fun when I started bleeding in June shortly after the two lines appeared. I got the gift of my first miscarriage on June 9th, my 33rd birthday. And then I started to worry.

I got really serious about making this happen. I knew the 12 month mark was coming and I since I knew we weren't infertile--hello, Violet--I knew we'd have conceived by then.

But 12 months came and there was no baby. We went on to the next step and had some preliminary tests run because, as the nurse at my ob-gyn's office was nice enough to point out ON my birthday WHILE I was having a miscarriage, I am closer to 35 than I am to 25.

The tests were normal. My hormone levels, my thyroid, anything that could be measured through a blood test was normal. I asked Shawn to be tested, too, and, because he is a sweet man and because he also wants more kids he agreed. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the doctor described his results as "perfect."

With the affordable testing done and no infertility coverage on our insurance, I decided to forgo the more invasive and expensive testing and went the natural route instead. In October, I started seeing an acupuncturist and taking Chinese herbs to help my get pregnant. Three cycles is how long I'd give it, I decided, before going forward with more exhaustive Western medical testing. Along with the herbs and acupuncture, I did fertility yoga, cut out coffee, didn't drink, and generally lived each day as a meditation on getting pregnant.

The good news is, I became pregnant on the first cycle. The bad news is, this pregnancy also ended in miscarriage. With the exception of losing my Dad, this miscarriage has been the most emotionally taxing time of my life.

I thought I lost the pregnancy very early, grieved, then realized I was still pregnant. I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best--an exhausting state in which to live--for several days until it definitively ended. The blood work showed poor progesterone levels, but whether that was the cause of the miscarriage or one of its effects is unknown.

It's been 12 days since the miscarriage began and it still isn't over. I feel like I am supposed to have moved on from this already, but my body hasn't even done that yet.

I'd like to carry on, enjoy the holidays, enjoy being Violet's Mommy again. I am feeling intermittently better but, by and large, still kind of like a basketcase.

***The other sucky thing about secondary infertility is that the pain it causes feels somehow a result of greediness. I AM lucky, blessed, amazingly wowed everyday by the one daughter I have. If anything, Violet makes me hyper-aware of how incredibly precious the gift of motherhood is.

I know there are people out there, some dear friends and family, who have gone through this taxing journey of trying to conceive that are not lucky enough to end a shitty day with a snuggle from their kid. I am not trying to compare my pain with theirs--it all sucks. I do feel like I understand infertility in a whole new way in light of the last year and that can only make me a better, more compassionate person.

Monday, September 26, 2011


With a vocabulary that is growing by leaps and bounds, and pronunciation skills that are improving daily, Violet's speech is getting very adult. She uses a lot of conversational conventions, like, "Do you want to use my toothpaste, or no?" and "Can I have just a smidge of brownie?"

While time is still fairly abstract, she definitely grasps the difference between now and later. She asked me if she could get a bathrobe of her own, and since I believe that, like dinnertime, robetime is sacrosanct in the Pierce home, I told her yes. She then asked if she'd be getting the robe "now or someday?" Smart kid and patient, too! Don't you worry, Violet, Mommy's gonna get you a cozy robe of your very own!

There are some words and concepts that still evade her. Similar to the way a non-native speaker will find concepts from their native language that cannot be expressed in English, Violet is forced to create her own words where the ones we give her are lacking. One of my favorites is

lasterday: noun, a day longer ago that the immediate day prior. Not to be confused with yesterday, which actually means yesterday. Used to recall any memorable event from the last 14 months. e.g. Remember lasterday when we went to the apple orchard with Jack and Charlie?

I saw a guy at a festival we went to this weekend wearing a shirt that read, 'Carpe Manana.' Lasterday, or wasterday, as it is properly pronounced, is kind of in line with Carpe Manana. It's just a laid back idea of time. Much like the word y'all, I can see a use for lasterday in my vocabulary. But, also like y'all, it just sounds stupid coming out of my mouth.

balleotard: noun; the stretchy pink outfit worn by ballet girls. A blending of the words ballet and leotard. Duh.

Balleotards are a hot topic in my house right now. Violet wants to keep constant tabs on her balleotard; ideally she'd like to be wearing it. If she isn't wearing it, she wants to know the status of the costume. "Is my balleotard dirty or clean? Is it in the hamper or the washer? Is it dry YET?" She's napped in it, grocery shopped in it, lunched in it.

The current balleotard, which is wadded up on a dining room chair right now awaiting a stain stick, will be lucky to make it through the full 6 weeks of dance class. We may have to buy a second--I'm thinking black this time--if we decide to re-enroll for the second session. And enroll we likely will. Violet is in love with her class. She and Ruby are in class together and I can't get over how excited to participate Violet is. Having a friend makes a world of difference.

It seems like only lasterday that I was rescuing her from her scary swim teacher at the pool, and now she and her balleotard would run me over to get into the dance studio.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Say Cheese, Eat Cheese

The most awesome Mommy-Violet Days involve pretzles and cheese.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Catch-Up

Just like last summer, I am finding these warmer months are not great for my blog. Unlike last summer, I have a killer excuse for not posting anything. This summer we have been incredibly busy tending our garden. We are practically farmers, I tell you! Seriously, we have been burdened blessed with multiple pounds of zucchini each week.

We have eaten grilled zucchini, zucchini fries, zucchini pancakes (yuck), sauteed zucchini, zucchini casserole (mild yuck), chocolate chip zucchini cookies (yum), and chocolate zucchini bread (big yum, Violet calls this brownies!). We have also given tons away and it just keeps coming. I almost didn't want to leave to go on vacation because I was worried about who would tend the garden.

Almost. But we did, and oh, what a great beach vacation it was! Violet was a big fan of both the beach and the ocean and despite a bit of rain, we mostly great weather.

As if a family vacation at the beach wasn't enough fun, we went down with our dear friends, Jen, Mark, and Avery. Violet had a blast playing with 5-year-old Avery, and Avery displayed extended patience with her tag-a-long toddler shadow!

For me, the week was reminicent of the old days when Jen and I were roommates. Life with spouses and young kids gets so busy, it was wonderful to have a week of co-habitating with my bestie. I am always a big fan of sleepovers, and this one was perfect. Also, it was a great time to get to know Jen's new husband Mark better. I do not for a second take for granted how rad it is to have a family with whom we get along so well!

When we returned, the countdown was on to the first day of school. Shawn and I tried to make the most of his last week before school began. He had a lot of prep work that needed to be done in his classroom, but we still managed to take a day trip to Bloomington. We had a delicious lunch and then walked around campus for a couple of hours. I love Bloomington so much and it was great to be able to share it with Violet.

We are going to try to suck the most possible fun out of the remaining weeks of summer. I don't feel nearly finished with cookouts, swimming pools, or bike rides!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Add Water

Though I am not a very religious person, I do believe that summer is a gift from beyond and to waste it is a sin. So, we've been swimming. A lot.

After a cool and rainy spring, summer roared in with 90 degree temps during the first week of June and our threesome (Daddy's on summer break--YAY!) rose to the challenge of staying cool. We've hit IndyPark spraygrounds, city pools, sprinkler parks, friend's backyard pools, and filled our own inflatable kiddie-pool more than once.

In fact, we have been so diligent about cooling off using whatever means neccessary, Violet can barely see a hose without stripping. Seriously, Shawn and I have turned our backs on her for .2 seconds and found her naked as a jaybird turning the spicket. I am delighted that she isn't afflicted with body consciousness yet, but a bit concerned that our neighbors might be put off by our clear lack of modesty.

The temperatures cooled off this week and we have been enjoying the kind of sun-drenched, humidity-free days that lead people to southern California. What did the Beach Boys say about the Midwest farmer's daughters?

Violet is even taking her first big-kid, i.e. not in a parent's arms, swim lessons. The class runs 8 sessions, M-Th, and is a BIG DEAL for our shy Violet. Since she hasn't been in any kind of daycare setting, this is little V's first experience going with an instructor and class without a primary caregiver. She did swimmingly the first day, cried on the second day (photos below), refused to go in on the third day, and has rocked it every day since. We have two more sessions and I am actually considering enrolling her for another 8. She is such a surprise to me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Tomorrow Violet turns 3. Just like her 1st and 2nd birthdays, I have put together a little photo montage of the last year. The photos are set to what is currently Violet's second favorite song (the Darth Vader theme just gave the whole thing a kind of creepy feeling)!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I know that it is finally springtime in Indiana because people have stopped moaning about the snow and started complaining about the rain.

In fairness, it has been pretty soggy, but, April Showers=May Flowers, right? And, I am spoiled now that I am working 12 hours a week. When the sun has popped its head out for intermittent hours here and there, and I've been able to catch it. Violet and I dash out the door when the light starts to stream in the window. We take a rag to wipe off the swing, carry out a bag full of chalk to decorate the sidewalks, and wear Hello Kitty rain boots to stomp the wet off the puddles. You'd be surprised how much spring you can fit into a two hour break in the clouds!

Violet has changed so much since November when we had to head in for the winter. She now can peddle her tricycle on her own fairly well and, more importantly, turn it to avoid oncoming cars and ditches. She is beginning to understand the rules of outdoor games like tag, too. She loves digging for worms, and proudly carries around her "wormy c'llection" whenever we do yard work. Violet has been helping quite a bit in the garden, not just finding worms but also watering the broccoli and pepper seedlings she planted in yogurt cups whenever they need a drink. I hope they produce something edible in a few months, because she is expecting big things from those little guys!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 Days, 4 Nights

At 6am Friday morning, I'll be taking off for L.A. and a long weekend with two of my best and oldest friends. I'll be travelling sans the other Pierces. I have very conflicted feelings about this.

On the one hand, I am clearly excited for this trip. It has been 5 years since the three of us took a trip together and I have no doubt I will laugh almost continuously. Also, we are going to Southern California, so it's going to be really nice. An overnight to Santa Barbara County and some wine tastings are also on the calendar. So, yeah, I'm not conflicted about the company I'll be keeping or the itinerary for the trip. It's who won't be there.

Violet will be 3 in two months. She is such a big kid these days in so many ways. But she is still a baby. She is enough of a baby that she doesn't understand when I tell her that this weekend, her Daddy will be the one putting her to bed. She still has no concept of time. A promise of a Popsicle after dinner, even when dinner is about over, can cause a major meltdown.

I really didn't set out to be an "attachment parent." I don't think either Shawn or I knew what that was when Violet was born. But the more we followed our instincts, the longer we nursed, the more we listened to Violet and ignored the experts, the more attached we got. And I wouldn't change anything about the parenting decisions we have made. Ok, maybe I wouldn't give her nutrient void rice cereal as her first food. But, on the whole, I think we're doing well for her and ourselves.

But being securely attached means that we haven't gone anywhere overnight as a couple without Violet. She's never had a night without one of her parents being with her. And our solo excursions have been pretty limited as well. Leading up to this weekend, I've been away from Violet 3 non-consecutive nights. I think Shawn's total is about the same. So four nights away, really far away, is a huge deal in my journey as a mom.

I think I am ready. I hope Violet is.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Farewell to a Friend

On Friday morning, the mobile vet is coming to our house to put Scout to sleep. Right now, she is resting in my car, parked in the cold garage. The car is the only place where she can escape the anxiety that turns her into a trembling mess more often than not these days.

Violet and I took her for a short walk today. We all enjoyed the cool, fresh, air and Scout's enthusiasm over going for a walk hasn't dampened despite her 15 years. She walked through deep puddles getting her underbelly wet and sniffed the recently revealed grass for signs of other dogs. She was so perky on the walk, in fact, I once again doubted whether or not euthenasia is the right decision right now. But when we got home, the panting and scratching and searching resumed right where it had left off. I know that the kind, responsible, choice is to let her go while there are still good moments. If I wait until she is constanly miserable, I will have waited too long.

So during the next few days, we'll take our walks. Violet will feed Scouty extra treats. We will enjoy the mild February weather outside as much as we can. I may buy Scout a Big Mac. Some extra ear scratches will definitely be in order. And then I'll cry for a long time while I say goodbye to my furry firstborn.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We Have Panties

On Saturday, the 22nd of January, 2011, Violet pooped on the potty, and received her long awaited Dora underwear and chocolate chips. Like a mantra, during every poopy diaper change for almost a year, we have chanted about the exciting day when Violet pooped on the potty and got the grand prize, Dora underwear and chocolate chips. That glorious underwear and chocolate chip day has come and it was worth the wait.

I am so proud of Violet, I could shout it from the rooftops! 'MY BABY IS WEARING UNDERWEAR--NOT A DIAPER! SHE IS REFINED AND BRILLIANT!'

Of course there have been accidents. That's why it is called potty training. But the accidents are few and usually my fault. Like a pants pooping when I am in the shower--who could blame her? And she's learning quickly. Yesterday when I was finished drying my hair, Violet called me down to show me that she had deuced on the big toilet all by herself! I think she was finally ready. And a little friendly competition from her best friend/arch-rival/closest cousin, Charlie, surely didn't hurt the process. Thanks, Cha!

So, while I loved cloth diapering, I can say I did not shed a tear when I washed those stinkers for the last time. When Violet finishes on the potty--usually after requesting a moment or two of 'quivacy'--she shouts, "Mommy, I knew I can do it!" We rush in to praise and ogle and say goodbye to her work as we flush it away. And I am proud.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Horse That Launched a Room Renovation

Meet Trigger. No, he's not one of Sarah Palin's children, though I can see how the name might confuse people. He's the spring-loaded, Radio Flyer, bouncing horse who inspired Shawn and I to turn our rarely used 4th bedroom into a playroom last weekend. When Santa dropped Trigger at our house on Christmas Eve, he knew that the horse would need to find a permanent home somewhere other than on our main floor living area.

Our pie in the sky playroom would be a finished basement room, but since a couple of gallons of paint are way cheaper than drywalling a humid basement, we decided that we'd go upstairs for now. Violet's bedroom--a good sized room, might I add--is already packed full of toys. So we scrapped our office/guest bedroom/catch all crap room and devoted it to Violet. Now she has an office for her very important work. One wall got the chalkboard treatment and the other three walls took on a robin-egg blue. Shawn and I may love the chalkboard more than Violet does, but on the whole, the girl is thrilled with her playroom. She's had a lot of fun showing her "pwaywoom" to her cousins and her friend Avery. Hopefully, having one room devoted to toys will prevent us from having anymore parades like this one:

The parade in the photo was the result of 4 kids left unattended upstairs at our house during a potluck dinner last week. The kiddos took every single toy out of Violet's bedroom and closet, and then packed our hallway--the parade route, I assume--with said toys. We had a good laugh when they finally called us up to see the spectacle, and since we were planning on moving most of those toys into the new playroom after we finished it up over the weekend, so cleaning up the hallway was a cinch.

The thing about having a devoted play space for a two year old is that it is the playmates, not the room, that make it fun. Duh. Violet's imagination is getting so big and pretending is SO much more fun when you have someone else to dream with you. So, for now, Shawn and I will be spending a lot of time playing in our spare bedroom with Vi. But that's cool. I can't overstate how nice it is to NOT have a 35 lb rocking horse next to my fireplace anymore. Oh, and walking out of the playroom and closing the door on 3 dozen stuffed toys scattered all over the floor ain't too bad either!