Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Little of This, A Little of That

I went to see a Josh Groban concert this week. This man is a musical genius. Does the fact that I love his voice make me a Grobanite? I cannot say enough good things about this concert and his music. Let’s be clear though---he’s pretty dorky. . . but in a good way. He was charming and charismatic and made you feel as if you were in a much more intimate venue than a stadium.

Which, by the way, the Bradley Center in Milwaukee is a great place to see a concert!! We live about an hour from either Milwaukee or Chicago and for some reason seem to attend most events in Chicago, so this is the first time I have ever seen a show at the Bradley Center. I will absolutely make it a point to head north from now on—it was a breeze to get there, we found close parking and the stadium was smaller than what we're used to in Chi-Town.

My friend Gina and I got a good chuckle out of this couple in front of us who were wearing. . . .wait for it. . . .earplugs!!!! Earplugs at a Josh Groban concert?!? Wha?!

I mean, it’s not like we were at a heavy metal show, for crying out loud. Is there a reason for this that maybe we don’t know about? Anyone? There wasn’t a head nod or a foot tap to be found and they sat in their seats while everyone else screamed and clapped for an encore performance. Looking at them brought back a memory of being unhappily married and I almost wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say, “Sweetie, Get. Out. Now. You two are clearly not having fun, either at this concert or with each other.”

I didn’t get many pictures; I don’t really like to be one of “those people” who is constantly messing with their phone or camera while not really enjoying the music because they are too busy fussing around to do so. You know what he looks like and you probably know his music. If not, please do yourself a favor and listen to Weeping, Awake, You Raise Me Up, and You Are Loved.

It felt good to get out of the house and do something. I have felt that ache in my bones lately. Turns out that commercial on television is right---Depression really does hurt. I know this sadness that I feel is situational and I know it will get better, so I keep trying to just put one foot forward and smile. And buy stuff online. Looks like Country and I will be attending Cirque du Soleil next week. (Hey, the tickets were 50% off as the show is almost over. Can you blame me?) I haven’t felt like doing much this summer, between feeling crummy from the injections, feeling crummy from the pregnancy and feeling crummy that I had a miscarriage, so it is a nice feeling to have something to look forward to.

One foot forward.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Looking back, when I started this blog, I never dreamed that somewhere down the road I'd be writing about the subject of infertility.  Trying for a baby was somewhere in the back of my mind; not yet a reality.  And yet, througout this past year and a half, I've felt comforted by speaking from my heart onto this blog and every once in awhile, seeing your kind words of encouragment.

After a year of struggling to get pregnant, and then almost six months of seeing a fertility specialist, still with no concrete answers of "Why?", countless appointments, tests, blood work, injections, and finally, artificial insemination, I was pregnant.  Finally.

And I am so heartbroken to say, that one month after I heard those sweet words of "Congratulations!!" from my doctor and nurse, that I have miscarried.

Seeing it on the screen makes it a bit more real.  As I type this, tears are streaming down my cheeks and there is a fogginess in my head. 

Did this really happen?

It seems like a nightmare; one that I know is not going to go away easily or soon.

Please hold us a little closer in your hearts right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Love it When We're Cruisin' Together

On Sunday, my brother Neil, Gina and their boys stopped by the house in Neil's newly restored Chevelle.  It's been a slow process to restore this car. . . .what's that saying?  When you have the time, you don't have the money and when you have the money, you don't have the time?  Not to mention, Neil and Gina have their hands full these days with the boys.

As I was out in the driveway taking pictures and talking with them, Gina said, "I bet this isn't quite what Neil had in mind when he set out to restore this car; driving around with the wife and kids."

Well, Gina, maybe that's not quite what he had in mind, back when he was younger and single.
  But I think it's even better.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer, So Far

It’s been rainy, cold and very non-summer like here in Northern Illinois. For someone who lives for the summer sunshine, I feel incredibly neglected of my Vitamin D.

I learned a very unfortunate lesson this year with my garden. I had a huge truckload of manure/compost delivered and I spread it everywhere, including on top of my garden soil. I had read a book about weed-less gardening and it suggested that you not rototill your garden as it “churns” up the weeds and allows them to get all of the sun/air/water that they need to grow. Instead, you’re supposed to mulch like crazy and let it be and you will have very few weeds. In my haste to spread the manure/compost, I somehow got a little confused. As in, this stuff is not mulch. It is rich. Very, very rich. And unfortunately for me, my little tomato plants that were started from seed didn’t stand a chance. After about a month of hoping and fussing that they’d take off, I had to accept the fact that they were not going to grow. And then, I had to break down and buy plants for my garden. I rarely buy vegetable plants. Every year, I start most everything from seed indoors or else put the seeds directly into the garden. It’s not that I’m opposed to buying plants; I just really love the satisfaction I feel dropping those seeds into tidy rows and loving them until they produce more food than we can eat. It’s a process for me; one I love dearly. The lady at the nursery where I bought the plants confirmed what I had suspected---too rich. So when I put the new plants in, I tried to scrape away as much of the manure/compost as I could so as not to “burn” them.

Stangely enough, everything else seems to be coming in just fine.  Are tomato plants tender?

Hello little radish.

We love fresh basil in salads and of course, pesto.  I found this pretty purple basil plant at a Farmer's Market in Michigan and had to bring her home.  I'm excited to make basil-infused vinegar for salad dressings.  Yum.

What do you get when you have lots of rain, cool temps and lots of manure?  Mushrooms!  They are everywhere.

The "Cedar Grove" in all it's glory.

And some tid-bits of Mother Nature. 

 My most favorite rummage sale starts today.  I look forward to this sale all year long.  Seriously.  It is run by a Boy Scout troop and held in a church parking lot.  When I see those huge white tents go up, my heart starts to race.  Then, usually on Tuesday the trucks arrive.  Huge, massive trucks full of treasures.  You see, a very affluent neighborhood has a neighborhood garage sale and everything that’s left gets donated to this sale.  Thursday is opening day.  Sometimes I’ve gone after work on the first day, sometimes not.  Usually my plan is this:  there is so much stuff crammed onto the tables that on Thursday, the first day, it can be extremely overwhelming.  I find that the best time for me to go is on Friday after work.  By then, they only have Friday night and Saturday morning left and they are anxious to move things out, so they start selling brown paper bags for $10 and everything you can fit into that bag is yours.  That may sound like a lot, but you can fit a ton of stuff if you know how to cram it all in there.   This sale is a little different for me in that I really go for the clothing.  Usually, at any given rummage sale, I don’t even bother looking at clothes, but at this sale, it is a guarantee that I will come home with 2-3 bags full of Gap, Express, Banana Republic, J. Crew, and various other brands of clothing.  Last year I also found a McCoy planter that when I looked it up online, I found selling on Ebay for about $40.  Score!!  And also, by Friday night, a lot of stuff has been sold but there are almost always still unopened boxes underneath the tables!!  So, I start digging and filling my bag with as much as I can.  I'm in trouble.  This is not very conducive to my purging of "stuff."  Ah, stuff.  I love stuff.  I guess the beauty of buying 98% of my clothing used is that I can pretty much have an entire "new" wardrobe on a pretty regular basis.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to the grind. I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. Did you get to spend some time with your family and friends? Maybe grill out, run through a sprinkler, and try something new? I hope so.

Country and I packed up the dogs and headed to Michigan to the barn house for the weekend.

It was grey and gloomy the entire time we were there. But we tried to sneak in some walks and gardening in between storms.

Have you ever tried to weed a garden bed that is practically a pond? No? It’s great fun.

In classic Melanie –style, I took one thousand eight hundred and twenty three pictures of the dogs.

And I have not one good picture of any of the people that we spent the weekend with. You’ll have to use your imagination as to what they might look like.

Oh wait, I lied. Here’s one of Country’s sister’s hands chopping an onion. See how blazingly speedy she chops that onion? So fast I couldn’t even get a good picture. Or maybe it’s that I am still learning aperture, etc. so often my pictures turn out like these. But really she cuts those onions so quickly!!

Said sister with said onions made the best. damn. French onion soup I have ever had in my life. I ate two bowls and wanted more. And more.

Justice ran and ran through the field. Then ran some more.

Tripp was on his own agenda; eat grass, walk three feet, eat grass. Maybe moo a little bit.

But after two nights, we were ready to come home and sleep in our own beds. We knew it was going to be beautiful yesterday and didn’t want to end up driving home in horrendous traffic while it was gorgeous outside, so we headed home late Sunday night. After dinner, of course.

We awoke to glorious sunshine. I worked in the gardens all day long. I live for this time of year.

And then in the early evening, we headed over to my parent’s house for a little BBQ action, which is exactly what I needed. I’ve been throwing myself a pity party because our first month of fertility treatment resulted in a big fat negative. I know, I know, it’s only the first month of meds. But it was the 15th time we’ve tried. 15. It’s been a long time to ache for something so badly. Anyway, I really want one of these:

Is he not the sweetest thing? This is Leo. As in Leonardo. He’s my brother’s youngest son and even though we’re not in Georgia, he’s a peach through and through.

Yes, I did change the subject and I think the transition was quite nice.

And remember this little man?

He’s turning in to such a. . . . . toddler? Little boy? I’m not sure what I’d say about Ryan because he is not quite 16 months but sometimes seems so much older than that. As in, he’s been speaking in complete sentences for so long now that it seems silly to think that he ever babbled. And A-B-C’s? Fahgettaboudit.

These two sweet little boys have changed every family gathering for the better.


I am thankful for them and my family and for all of the troops that make it possible for me to head off for the weekend and take one thousand eight hundred and twenty three pictures of my dogs and then return home and have a great night with my family.

And a special shout out to my dear friend Heather who is a nurse in the service and probably one of the bravest people I know. Thank you for all you have done for this country.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My heart has been a little tender this week, thinking about all of the people who lost their homes from the tornados and storms. Here I was, feeling pretty darn good about myself for being featured on one of my favorite sites, Better After, and there are so many people out there that have lost everything. Their pictures. Maybe a wedding dress, grandma’s ring. A lifetime of treasures. Perhaps a pet. Hopefully not a family member or friend.

With that being said, I chose not to post anything house related this week.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, friends. Squeeze everyone a little tighter this weekend.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Power of Paint

Whenever Country goes out of town, I usually get really inspired and do something dramatic around the house.  It's fun for me to take on some projects and then surprise him when he gets home.

So, I've had these pine dressers from IKEA, circa 1997 or so.  For years I've thought I should just take the plunge and paint them to update them a bit.  Then one day while browsing through Hobby Lobby, I was stopped in my tracks by this awesome storage type unit that had each drawer painted a different neutral color and then distressed.  I loved the piece, but had no use for it and well, the quality left something to be desired.  But, inspiration striked and I thought my set would look great with a paint treatment.

Here's the before of the taller dresser:

So, here's the how-to.  Since I was alone, I dragged each piece of furniture into the living room and onto a tarp.  A few months ago, I learned my lesson the hard way that the key to painting IKEA furniture, no matter what type of wood it is made of, is to prime it with oil-based primer first.  Yes, this stuff stinks to high heaven, but it works.

Then I rummaged around through my paint collection  cans and found a bunch of neutral colors.  I am in the habit of picking up the "OOPS" cans and samples of paint from Home Depot, so I had everything I needed already.  I painted each drawer a different color and then on both pieces, painted the top and sides in greige.

I didn't take pictures of the next step since I didn't have a free hand, but I just got out the palm sander and went to town distressing.  Then, I took a little glaze and added some black paint and brushed it on.  With paper towels and rags, I wiped it off to give it that aged look.  Here's the little piece:

And the larger dresser:

Since I had all of the furniture out of the room except the bed, I decided to paint the bedroom a fresh new color.  I was a little tired of the brown and blue.  No before pic on that one--I'm too lazy to scan one in.  But here's the after--the color is Ryegrass from Behr.  I also picked up some new bedding.  Actually, just new sheets.  I found the Waverly coverlet for $5 and the greenish duvet cover, which Tripp is laying on, for $2 at Salvation Army!!

And then, because it wasn't quite enough to just paint the furniture and bedroom, I added another project to the list.  The staircase.

Let's talk about the staircase for a minute.  This is what it looked like when I bought the house:

I'm not a big fan of carpet on stairs.  I'm not a big fan of carpet in general.  So, away it went.  The railing did nothing for me as well.  Bye bye.

And so it sat like this for years.  As in, six years.  There was also this pine paneled wall:

First I stained the treads over the course of the weekend.  Then I used the oil-based primer to prime the risers and the pine wall and then painted it all in a soft cream color.  Here's the after:

Big difference, huh?  Ah, the power of paint.  And a weekend.
I started those pesky hormone shots a week ago. So far, so good. Emotionally, I feel fine. Physically, it’s another story. This feeling of complete and utter exhaustion is something I’m not used to, so I think it’s all part of The Universe’s Mommy Boot Camp. You know, so I’m good and ready to feel tired for the next 18 years. Let’s just say that the couch and I have been best friends all week.

The hardest part was actually working up the courage to give myself the first shot. I stood there, fat pinched, needle in hand. . . . . . psyching myself up. “I can do this. I can do this.” Country showed his support by saying, “JUST DO IT!” And, 3-2-1, I did it. Pretty painless. . . .until about 10 minutes later when I felt like my abdomen had been stung by the Queen Bee.

The ultrasounds have been fascinating. We can see my ovaries and the follicles that are growing on the monitor. I can’t even imagine what it will (hopefully) be like someday to see a baby on that screen!! As for now, I have been responding quite well to the medication. Those little follies are doing their thing and growing 1-2 mm a day.

We pray that this works and helps bring us what we have been hoping for...

Thursday, May 5, 2011


The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, blood work, ultrasounds, phone calls, doctor’s bills, and chaos. I’m learning the language of infertility. . . the codes, the abbreviations, the medicines. . . but despite all of the chaos, I’ve had a sort of peace with it all. A feeling that everything is going to be okay. I no longer feel the frenzy of month after month, trying to conceive only to be disappointed again and again.

At this morning’s appointment I was told I would be starting the medication tonight. I’m nervous. Fluttery. Hopeful. But a tiny whisper of fear is closing in. What if it doesn’t work? What if it does? How am I going to handle the wait to see if I’m pregnant? How am I going to handle the disappointment if it takes a few months? Am I ready to be a mom? Is Country ready to be a dad? What about his work situation? So many questions, so many unknowns.

I was on a phone call just a few minutes ago and when I hung up the phone, I heard my co-worker crying at her desk. She sat there, stunned. She was just told that her beautiful 27 year old cousin is probably going to die from pancreatic cancer.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ireland, Part 1

We’re home from our trip to Ireland, safe and sound. Wow, am I wiped out though. Time changes will do that to you. That and a terrible cold. Thank you recycled air.

I’m a little overwhelmed from this trip and honestly, not quite sure how to begin to describe the beauty of this little island country. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the landscape seemed to get greener as the week went on. Everyone laughed at me when I took a drink of water out of the tap and yelled, “The water even tastes green!”

So, yes, our flight(s) out there went off without a hitch. Our plane had screens built into the seats and they had a pretty decent selection of new release movies to watch. I watched Black Swan then took a couple of Benadryl and fell asleep. We landed at 7am and once we got our luggage, hopped on a shuttle over to the rental car place.

Have you ever been in a car that has the steering wheel on the passenger side? And then driven that car on the “wrong” side of the road? Through 7 or 10 “roundabouts,” trying to make your way out of the airport? At 7am, after hours of travel and Benadryl? Oh no, you haven’t?

I felt like we were in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, trying to get out of the roundabout. After the nice woman on the GPS said for the 5th time, “Enter Roundabout,” I had a fit of the giggles and couldn’t stop. Slap happy.

You don't realize how much driving is kind of an "automatic" thing until everything you ever thought about it was wrong.

We found the place where we were going to be staying but unfortunately couldn’t check in until 2 pm, so we went and had breakfast. Nothing special, just food in our bellies. Next we found a grocery store where Country and I proceeded to get into an argument over a pineapple. Don’t ask—I’m not even sure why we were fighting over a pineapple, but at that point everyone was tired and crabby and we just wanted to get unpacked and relax. I actually slept in the car for a couple of hours while it was parked right in front of a busy hotel and I was just too darn tired to even move the car. Finally, 2 o’clock came and we checked in.

We stayed in a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhouse.

The place was a decent size and it had a washing machine and a small fridge. We unpacked our groceries and then everyone tried to take a nap; some of us had better luck than others.

For dinner that night, we walked over to a local pub called Durty Nelly’s. We had fish and chips and it was fabulous. Something about their batter is different than here---it’s light and flaky and not so heavily breaded.  Now here's we need to talk about beer for a second.  You see, I am not a beer drinker.  Never have been and probably never will be (unless I move to Ireland.)  Before we left, several people told me that I must try the Guinness while there.  Yeah, okay, whatever.  But just for fun, I had a Guinness here in the states before we left so that I had a reference point.  It was just okay to me.  But WOW!  Guinness in Ireland is a whole 'nother story!  It is delicious!  Don't believe me?

The next day we got a late start (there is a 5 hour time difference) and jumped in the car. We headed to a tourist spot called the Cliffs of Moher. 

Beautiful, right?  Afterwards, we went to a town called Ennis and had some lunch (and also the best red berries tea I have ever had in my life.)

Wednesday we slept late again (well, considering the time difference, we actually woke early) and got out of the house at about 11 am.  Before we left for Ireland, I had purchased a book called The Backroads of Ireland or something like that.  We knew we wanted to head towards the coast and in the book there was a picture of an old stone mill on the way to Killinabaoy that we thought looked pretty cool.  Country drove us over there and when we got there, we realized that attached to the mill there was a house where someone obviously lived.  Oh, and a Private Property sign.  We were bummed out. . . .until Country talked to worker on a neighbor's roof that said the man who owned the mill was nice and we should go knock on the door.  And that he had a really, really big dog.

We ended up chatting with the owner, Dick, for a couple of hours and had coffee, tea and bisucts with him in the house!  To say he was a pleasure meeting would be a complete understatement.

More to come. . . .