Thankful – 5/29/2014

For my in-laws. They love my husband and my son so much, it blankets us when we visit them. I am so thankful for their part in our lives and how they smother us with love whenever we see them. Our roots have grown firmly in the foundation they started.

For old friends. Old is always relative term with me. I think it describes how well our souls see each other rather than a length of time, but I love picking up with friends I haven’t seen in a while as if it was just yesterday that we talked. And they truly get you. This happened on our trip and I am so thankful to have these people in my life.

For friends I’ve only met a few times. But have changed my life. Because I simply cannot properly express the feeling that comes with walking into a church with a person you’ve only just met, but “known” for years, and have them point to a specific place and say “This is where I would come to pray for you and for your son, before he was even born.” 

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“I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Immanuel (God with you); My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me. Others feel closer to Me when their lives are filled with good things. They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the door to My Presence.

I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation.”

– p. 156, Jesus Calling, Young.

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A lot can grow in a week

We just got back from our first trip back to California since living on the East coast.  Sometimes it feels like I never even lived there. and this trip was proof of it.  The whole trip just seemed like a vaguely familiar dream.  I knew those highways, restaurants, flowers and mountains. People were more or less the same and conversations caught back up as if I never left. The scenery was gorgeous, the driving was a price to pay for it, and in a way, it felt like I never left.  But it has been about 10 months since I’ve been away and a new place is where I belong now.  This trip was a weird reminder that ‘home’ for me will always be a moving target.  I sink my claws in when I move to a place, but leaving and getting used to a new adventure isn’t as hard as I anticipate.  At least, it wasn’t this time.

Anyway.

You know you have a gardening problem when the first thing you do upon arriving at your house after a week away is to run to the backyard and see how your garden is doing! So much can change in a week! I think this is why I love gardening.  Tangible results. My husband says I’m in to all things fertility related (such as NFP, infertility, etc.) and I guess my garden is no exception.

I made some little pictures here to update where we’re at growing wise. I love to look back at these at the end of the season and remember how small those tomato plants started out! Hopefully the labeling will help me remember what’s what!

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I made three 12x4ft.  garden beds in total.  I basically have a full on farm back here! If you recall, I dug up about a 14 ft. diameter bed of bulbs to place beds #2 and #3. About a week before we left on our trip, I finally dug up the surrounding bulbs outside of the garden beds and planted grass using a lawn patch repair kit. From far away I think that the grass could qualify as “coming in nicely”, though if you’re up close it might tell a different story. I think from far away the circle is hardly visible anymore, right? Maybe? Stark contrast to what it was a few weeks ago.

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Not really when it was at its worst, but there is a glimpse of how many bulbs I had to dig up.

Though #1 was our “afterthought” its what I’ll start off with first.

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I planted the flowers you guys suggested along the fence, but none of them have come up yet. Its been a few months, so I’m not sure what happened. I even planted a “round two” two weeks after the first round didn’t take. Everything else seems to be growing. I had lavender and rosemary growing from seed where the squash is now, but none of it ever came up.  Much like the “oregano”, which never seemed to grow. I will probably just buy a plant and stick it in there. Everything else was from seed.

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The other side of the garden has some lavender working it out (behind the peas, not pictured) and some corn.  Our squirrels are little rascals, so only a few shoots are coming up, the ones that I think have survived the scavenging.  Anyway, it makes for an interesting growing pattern for sure!

Now onto #2.

MM_3Most of these are from seeds. Minus a few pickling cucumbers (I’ll have to thin, I’m sure) and the jalapenos.  My sad, sad jalapeño story is that I had them growing GREAT from seed indoors.  Fabulous. And then while hardening off, I saw a few leaves missing. I thought it was from placing them outside. I showed my husband one night when I moved them back indoors how many leaves were missing.  Well, when I woke up the next morning, the ENTIRE PLANTS were gone. All three of my jalapeño plants.  That’s when I realized how bad our mice problem was!!  So I went on a rampage to get rid of those suckers and I think we’re good now. But man, what little goobers.

Also, my master plan is to have jalapeños and tomatoes for salsa and cucumbers and dill for pickles, in case you were wondering if there was a method to my madness.

And the view from the back:

MM_6Yes, I am attempting more melons this year.  After last year’s miserable failure, I wasn’t going to, but then my husband requested them.  So, here’s to round two.

Now bed #3.

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I probably have too many tomatoes for my own good, but I thought mine had died, so I went out and bought an extra cherry and roma just to be safe.  And since it still looked like mine weren’t growing, I accepted two plants from a neighbor who had extra.  Then when I came back, mine suddenly caught up and look like contenders after all.  So that makes 7 total (I don’t think I labeled them all here). Maybe I’ll try pasta sauce this year? It hardly seems worth the time, so maybe I’ll stick with salsas.

From the back side:

MM_5Only the cilantro was from seed here.  Everything else I tried to grow inside failed miserably, so I just bought everything else on super sale one day. The broccoli looked so pitiful I didn’t think it would make it, so I planted them all close together. Although somethings munching on them, they actually are all almost thriving (whereas two of the romaine’s already died) and now planted entirely too close (I think). I guess we’ll see what happens from here.  The spinach isn’t growing well at all, so I don’t expect it to last much longer, but hopefully the rest make it.  We’re having salad tonight, as a matter of fact! I harvested right after this picture.

Finally, if you remember, there was a dilapidated bench that was sitting in the back there in the far left corner of the yard.

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We had a dead tree removed there earlier this winter so now there is a nice plant to sit and some old roots under that soil, which is rumored to be a great place to have a garden.

ImageAfter the bulb fiasco, I have been too lazy to dig this all up, but I just randomly planted some winter squash back there, and it actually came up.

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This would be a great place for them to spread out and grow if they actually make it, so I’m hoping they stick with it (and I remember to water them!).

Sub-fertility and (slowly) learning to embrace my square peg

I’ve hesitated writing this post for so long because it never seems to come out quite right.  I fumble with the words again and again and my pride doesn’t want to put it out for people to read, imperfectly, because it comes from such a tender part of my heart that I’m afraid to expose it to ridicule.  I remember reading posts similar to what I’m probably about to write when I was primarily infertile and there was probably not a post I understood less.  But YOU already have your child! Why are you still whining!

But the fact is, I’m still sub-fertile.  And I’m still learning to live with that.  

I wish I was better about writing when the days are great because then I wouldn’t look so consumed with this subject.  But I’m still not that great at writing about great days, bragging about happy events. I’ll leave that to others.

The raw truth is that around the turn of the year, the time coinciding with so much anger in my life, coincided with a year of cycles with no baby. I have so many reasons to have hope for our future, and I do, but that unfortunate anniversary played a part. I tried my best to ignore it and I really thought I was at a place where I had accepted that we had our child and that was it, whatever else come what may, but the reality of living with sub-fertility will always be with me.

Sometimes I think the infertility experience creates muscle memory that is really hard to shake. I thought that was just what was going on.  A year of cycles, yes, but that’s OK. I didn’t want to fall into a game of counting, charting, checking, stating, and drugs, because I know little ones come slow for us and I just want to enjoy what I have for once.  This beautiful post from the other day and this timely one from today speak perfectly to my overall feelings and perspective on all that I have now. 

The fact is that even while being completely grateful for what I have, the reality of being sub-fertile means my motherhood does look different from most women, especially most Catholic women. I was very unprepared for how to deal with that. Its not a given that I’ll have more children to raise. The solutions to my child’s behavior problems aren’t as simple as “Oh he’ll learn that when he has a sibling”.  I don’t have the fatigue that accompanies constant pregnancy, but I don’t need to feel guilty about having a hard time with “just one”.

As much as I wanted to ignore it, I really had to confront this constant murmuring that was going on in the background face on at the start of year and realize the my dreams that I have in my life need to be 100% my own because I can’t live a life that I think a “Catholic mother” is supposed to live.  I need to live the life that God is calling me to live right here and right now.

I’m sub-fertile and I’m not trying to fit my square ‘motherhood’ peg into a little circle anymore.  

There’s no use idealizing having a large family and what I would do if I just had more children because I would seriously be missing out on everything that God has planned for me and the son he has already graciously entrusted me. And the truth is all mothers have to figure this out for themselves.  Although so often we just want to fit in, following someone else’s idea of what a Catholic mom should look like, or what any mom should look like, doesn’t work when you’re talking about unique individuals, sub-fertile or not.

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There was a moment several months ago where I was having a heart to heart with Mary and I just asked her, was it really enough, just having Jesus? Were you really totally satisfied, or did you think things like what I think now, about wanting more children?

I really felt like her answer was loud and clear, piercing my heart, “Really, Jesus was enough for me.  Jesus is enough for everyone.”

Talk about getting the smack down from your mom.  But sometimes I need tough love.

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The fact was that today was a “reminder” day.  I was asked when we’re having more kids. I was let in on a friend’s imminent  pregnancy announcement and I continually learn humility from a son that “is a biter”, which, if I were the type of parent that took credit for all my child’s successes, would also mean I would have to take credit for his faults.  But, luckily for me, I’m not that type of parent. Whew. 

I am trying to listen to the little voices during my prayer time that point me towards things that I am called to do.  One of the things that has helped me combat my anger and frustration over what I can’t control is allowing myself to dream about what I can work towards.  And then set goals to make those things happen.

I am not called to have a large family right now. Maybe not ever, but certainly not now.

So what I am called to do?  Well, this is me, trying to find that square place to rest my square peg.  My little, perfectly square shaped Alison motherhood peg.