Top 5 Posts of 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, it seems like an appropriate time to tell you all THANK YOU.

Thank you for finding this honest little corner of the internet, and for sharing your hearts and your friendships with me.

Thank you for reading. For sharing your stories and opinions.

Thank you for spending yet another year with my sweet family as we experience the ups and downs of parenthood, adoption, relocating, and pregnancy after infertility.

I'm grateful you've made your way here.

Here are the Top 5 Posts from 2015 via This Family's Journey:

Announcing Pregnancy After Infertility
Pregnant After Infertility
TV Reporter Announces She's Leaving
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter for First Time
#1 Most Viewed Post of 2015:
Popular Recipe for Bagel Dip


Oh, What a Year!

Reflecting on 2015
In 2015, we:

Adopted our second daughter with 12-hours advanced notice

Made the decision for me to become a stay-at-home mom

Survived a long-distance marriage when my husband was transferred for work

Became an Aunt and Uncle when our niece Raegan was born

Listed our house for sale (hoping 2016 is a charm for a sale)

Moved to a new city

Found out we were pregnant the same week we moved

Bought a minivan

Finalized our daughter's adoption

Announced our pregnancy (surprise!) to family and friends

Learned Baby S #3 is a girl

Of course these are the highlights; there have been bumps and bruises and hard times along the way. But I suppose life would be less interesting without the occasional detour and curve ball thrown our way, right?!

What are your highlights from 2015? Share 'em in the comments below -- I'd love to celebrate them with you!


Christmas Photos: The Outtakes

Anyone who can get two gorgeous gals under the age of 2.5 to both look at a camera and smile simultaneously deserves some sort of an award.

These girls sure know how to keep me on my feet!
And while this collage is gorgeous and captures their bright smiles and personalities, here's an exclusive look at what you missed out on during our impromptu Christmas card photo shoot:
Merry Christmas -- from our family to yours!


A Holiday Tradition: Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal Recipe
One of our holiday traditions is a special brunch for our [little + growing] family.

Chris and I shuffle out of bed early in our PJs, brew some coffee and get busy while the rest of the house is quiet.

Since we've been married, we've gone all out for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Bacon, cookies, baked oatmeal, eggs...you name it, it's probably on our table.

If you're looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing dish for Christmas morning, I come bearing a gift:

The recipe for Baked Oatmeal
Recipe for Baked Oatmeal
1 1/3 Cup Oil
3 Eggs
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 1/4 Cups Milk
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
6 Cups Oatmeal
1 tsp. Salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan; bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Top with: whipped cream, fresh berries, chocolate chips, etc.

Oh, and by the way -- this can be prepared overnight! Make sure you refrigerate the pan and bake as normal in the morning!

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Life After A Miscarriage

We were pregnant at the same time.

I didn't know it, though, until she called me to break the news: "Our baby is gone."

My heart sank for Sara and her husband whom I love dearly.

The weeks that followed weren't easy for them: blood tests, ultrasounds and the sting of continued questioning about when they're going to have kids.

I asked if she'd be willing to share her insight about life after a miscarriage because I feel like it's something so few of us talk about.

Here's Sara in her own words...

Let's chat.    
Please stop asking me if I'm going to have kids or when I'm going to have kids. Don't assume I'm pregnant because I passed on having a beer.

I was pregnant, but now I'm not. 

Hearing those questions now is more painful. I didn't like them before. Now I hate them. Those are private questions...

Each mom's journey to motherhood is different, so let them travel that road with their loved ones without your outside thoughts.

I had the excitement, the fear and feelings of early pregnancy.

We told our parents, who both got excited for their first grandkid. And I swore them all to secrecy until the 1st trimester was over.

Then the spotting happened at 9-weeks.

I got concerned.

After calling a nurse for a second time I was asked to come in.

So I rushed to the office to have my first ultrasound. Excitement for an ultrasound and terror of what might be seen were streaking across my mind as I drove.

As it came up on the screen, I watched.

My gut told me it wasn't right...

Why wasn't the tech pointing out anything? 
Where was the heartbeat? 

The tech put my worries into words:

“There is no heartbeat," she said.

What? That was supposed to develop at 7-weeks.

My brain froze, I couldn't comprehend what she had said.

I met with the nurse, filled out some information and it finally hit me and the tears flooded out.

They let me have the room until I felt like I could walk out and head for a blood draw.  

I took the rest of the day off, and my husband did too.

Neither of us knew what to say, just trying to comprehend what had happened.

I think I walked nearly 8-miles that day with a friend and my mom.

I cancelled my weekend plans and stayed around our house to make sure I had the comfort of home.

My dog became my protector; she wouldn’t sit on me, just next to me and lay her head on my knee. She would only leave my side if I fell asleep.

Our support system of our parents and close friends was great. We made it through the worst of it very quickly.

But the weekly blood draws continued for the next five weeks, just dragging out the process and bruising my arms.

Now, I can say it is behind me physically. Emotionally it will always be there. 

But I will admit it; it happened.

It’s nothing to be hidden.

Up to 25 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriages.

As I have opened up about, I was shocked at the number of others who have gone through it.

Yes, we can try again.

But telling me that it’ll be easier next time -- that next time I’ll be better prepared or financially ready -- does not solve the hurt right now.

The journey to motherhood is not easy, and sometimes it is a route with potholes.

Please remember this, be courteous and choose your questions wisely.


What I Learned From Crying Over a Frozen Pizza

It was a long day today.

And if I'm being honest, it's been a long couple of weeks.

Tonight I popped a frozen pizza in the oven at 450 degrees; the timer buzzed 14-minutes later.

I opened the oven door, and smoke fogged up my glasses.

Burned to a crisp. 

I slammed the oven door, looked at my husband and tears started rolling down my cheeks.

"I can't even make a pizza without burning it." 

I wept. 

I couldn't understand.

I followed the instructions. I did everything the box told me to do. I did it right.

So it didn't make sense when it came out charred.

"I can't even make a pizza..." 
Having Faith Through Lie Trials and Burnt Pizza
Chris knew my crying had nothing to do with the wasted $6.00 frozen pizza sitting inside the oven.

Rather, it had everything to do with the stress piled onto our family right now -- the [many] things completely out of our control.

Can we all just take a minute to admit that sometimes life is messy?

That sometimes life throws us curve balls that are really, really stressful and terrifying in big ways?

Sometimes I feel like as much as we try to do things "right" -- and no matter how well we follow the instructions -- we can still end up feeling burned. We can still end up trying to make our way through thick smoke we never anticipated coming in the first place.

I don't know where you're at in life right now or if you're struggling to make sense of unexpected things happening around you.

But if life is messy and confusing and scary for you in this moment, please know you're not alone.

Trusting there is a purpose behind trials can be hard. Sometimes, it feels impossible.

But here's to blindly believing any curve balls tossed your way may direct your path to wherever you need to be...even if that means the drive-thru with ice cream for dinner instead of that $6.00 frozen pizza.


Infertility During the Holidays: A letter to you

Infertility is hard all the time.

But it's especially tough during the holidays.

During a time hallmarked with joy, gratitude and togetherness, it's easy to feel lost and alone.

For those of you trudging through the knee-deep trenches of infertile hell, I want you to know you're not alone:

Dear friends,

It's okay to be sad right now.

It's okay to be angry even though it's a so-called 'magical' time of year.

I know it's hard to smile when you dream of hanging and filling a stocking for the little one you've been dreaming about and waiting for.
I know it's impossible not to cry when you hang those ornaments on the Christmas tree and there are none that celebrate, "Baby's 1st Christmas" this year.

I know it's a stab in the heart when someone asks, "What do you want for Christmas this year?" and all you want is a family.

A gift that can't be unwrapped or placed neatly under a twinkling tree...

All you want is a family of your own.

I'm here to tell you I understand.

I know your heart.

I know you're trying to choose joy.

And I know how hard it is because deep down your heart is shattered into a million little pieces, and you're wondering when the brokenness of infertility will end.

But please don't let that brokenness defeat you.

Don't let infertility win. Don't let it steal the happy moments and treasured relationships in your life.

Because just like your heart, those relationships are fragile, too.

I know what you're going through -- that deep longing to become a parent.

And I'm here to remind you that you are not alone.

You're never alone.

It's okay to be sad this Christmas.

And next Christmas.

And the one after that...

It's okay to wonder when it'll be your turn to start holiday traditions with the family you've been dreaming about.

I want to encourage you that it won't always be this way.
Infertility During the Holidays
Because life -- as bumpy and rough as it can be -- is made of miracles. 

There will be a light at the end of this tunnel and happiness will find its way back to you again. 

Sometimes choosing joy is hard when we're in hard places.

I want you to know I'm thinking of you.

And that however you're feeling this time of year is okay.

Related content:
A Holiday Tradition
To the Mom Who Wanted Nothing For Christmas