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SIMPLICITY WITH EMILY’S MAMA, STEPHANIE COWAN

September 24, 2013

my Mama!) has been an elementary school teacher for 30+ years. She teaches third grade at an arts magnet school in Pensacola, Florida. Growing up, everything in our home had a place and every day had a routine we tried to stick to. I cherish that simplicity so much now. Her dedication to our family and what matters most is why I do what I do – and why those things are so special to me as well. I’m going to make my Mom blush, but one of my favorite things my Mom taught me is the value of tradition. Traditions create a sense of comfort, familiarity and security. My childhood was FULL of fun traditions and even now, when my family gets together, we keep those traditions alive. My favorite? It’s a toss up between candy bars for breakfast the day before school starts or back-to-school shopping at Hello Kitty for matching, personalized supplies. :) So, without further ado… my mom! My Mama loves cooking (that part of her DNA missed me, sadly), gardening and, of course, spending time with the most adorable grandson in the whole wide world. :) Images by Michael Newman Photography.

web_Cowan-025

Notes from Emily in pink…

EMILY LEY SIMPLIFIED DATEBOOK: Okay, so I admit she IS my daughter but this Datebook is the greatest thing ever invented! As a teacher, I can keep track of conferences, testing schedules and HOLIDAYS, as well as personal appointments, meal planning, and BRADY VISITS! Everything is all in one place and it can be easily thrown in my purse so I can have it with me at all times.  I’m always on top of things when I have my Datebook!

I’m blushing, Mama. :) My mom’s going to get an advanced copy of our brand new Simplified Planner™ soon!

TIGI CATWALK YOUR HIGHNESS ROOT BOOST SPRAY:  I have short hair and live in Florida.  The humidity can play havoc with my hair but this adds just enough lift without making my hair feel weighted down with product or cause my scalp to itch.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN: A few years ago my son gave me this for my birthday.  I love to cook and I use this pot for everything! You can use it on the stove-top and in the oven. It’s perfect for soups, pot roasts, and my-son-in law’s favorite lasagna sauce! I loved it so much I want back to Target and bought the smaller one to use as well.

I totally second this favorite!! My mom and dad gave me this white dutch oven for Christmas a few years ago and I use it every time I cook. LOVE. It’s super easy to clean.

DEHUMIDIFIER: As I’ve said we live in Florida and although the beaches are beautiful, I hate the humidity.  My husband purchased this without my knowledge.  When it first arrived I was skeptical but now I can’t live without it.  We keep our thermostat set at 78 and are saving on our electric bill every month.

Bryan and I followed suit with our dehumidifier. If you live in Florida, it’s amazing. It’s so humid down here this humidifier sucks the water right out of the air and into a bottom basin  It also protects things in our house from humidity damage. And when you run a paper shop from a home studio, well… you get the idea. :)

HOME GROWN HERBS: I feel so accomplished seeing my basil, parsley, chives, and rosemary growing on my back porch.  I do not have a green thumb, but boy can I grow herbs!  We pick up the plants at Lowes or our local farmers’ market, plant in pots, add a little water every week, and watch them grow. People are so impressed to see them growing as well as when I snip them to use in our favorite recipes or to add as a garnish. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, but don’t tell!

SCRUB DADDY:  Okay, stop laughing! I thought it was ridiculous too when I first saw it on Shark Tank, but now I love this thing.  Yes, it does all the things it says it does, but my favorite is that cheese and other sticky foods don’t stick to it. Everything washes right off. No more dirty scrubby sponges in the kitchen.

THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

SIMPLICITY with Gina Hafley

September 17, 2013

I’m so excited for our second SIMPLICITY feature featuring our very own Gina Hafley!

Emily Ley. I’m also a soon-to-be thirty year old (eeek!), who’s lived in three states over the last four years as we’ve followed my cute husband’s career. I enjoy traveling, a good cup of coffee or wine and a cute striped dress!  I love when my toes are in the sand, but most often than not, they are on or near a football field.  Image above is from North Photography captured at a friend’s wedding in Vermont. 

* Notes from Emily in pink. :)

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara Most days, I’m running out of the house to the EL Shop or to tackle an errand, with my hair in a pony-hail, athletic gear on my body and an au natural face.  I very rarely wear “full” make-up these days.  But, when I do…or when I’m quickly leaving the house, I almost always put on a little mascara.  And, this, my friends is the best!  I add a few strokes to my eyelashes and I’m ready to go!  Quick, simple, and I look a little more alive!

Amazon PrimeThis one sounds a little silly, I admit.  Especially since I don’t have a child (one day) or a demanding corporate job (been there, done that).  But, I love Amazon Prime.  There I said it. For $79 a year, Amazon Prime members receive free two-day shipping and $3.99 overnight shipping.  And, Amazon sells anything and everything.  Seriously.  Those delicious nut crackers, Amazon has them for half the price at the grocery store.  A pair of shoes for the husband, who HATES going to the mall. Yep, we’ve done that too.  Books, coffee, closet organizers, face moisturizer, printer ink…the list goes on!  It’s amazing what you can order with one little click, and how fast it arrives at your doorstep.

* Emily: Can I just say how much I love this one. When Brady was first born and I desperately needed face wash, I used my Amazon Prime account to have it delivered to my door. I was so afraid to leave my house with a newborn and Bryan was traveling for work (yes, he travelled 3 days a week every week for the first year of B’s life). Insanity.

Loft Sunwashed TeesThese are the best!  Short Sleeve, long sleeve, stripe or solid.  So many choices, and I think I have a few of each!  These tees are SO soft and fit just perfectly.  I wear them during the day with leggings or jean shorts, and at night, I throw on skinny jeans and a statement necklace for a dinner out.  One simple tee.  So many options. These make getting dressed and out the door a breeze!

Nike Training AppGetting my day started usually requires two things: watching Good Morning America and a good workout!  The endorphins, the stress release, whatever a workout does, it does my body and mind good! I like to switch up my workout, but I always come back to this nifty little Nike Training App on my iPhone.  It’s like having a personal trainer, but totally free! Pick your goal, level and workout…and then ready to sweat!

Gina’s Skinny Recipes–  I love sitting down together as a family (or, just the two of us right now) and eating dinner at our dining room table.  But to get to that, means I must cook—and though it’s something I enjoy, I very much need some guidance.  Enter this site. (And no, it’s not me. :) ) The recipes are simple, require very few ingredients and are healthy.  It doesn’t get better than that!  And, everything I’ve made has been so yummy!  A few of my favorites for an appetizer, entrée and pasta.

Bose Mobile SpeakerThis is actually one of my husband’s “toys”—but I think I use it more than him, so I’m adding it to my list! :)  I find myself using this amazing wireless, Bluetooth connecting speaker all the time!  It’s constantly on while I work at my computer. BUT, and maybe most useful, I tend to take it with me to make some of the dreaded household tasks a little more enjoyable.  A little Luke Bryan goes a long way when cleaning, putting away laundry or weeding!

* Emily: This post would not be complete if I didn’t tell you how excited I am for you all to get to know Gina more. She’s my right-hand-gal and an amazing friend. AND, HAPPY ONE YEAR, Gina!!!!! Gina has been working with me for a year now and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate her. Here’s to another awesome year, G! xo

THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

Infertility. It is well with my soul.

March 15, 2013

I just got home from Making Things Happen 2013 in Chapel Hill. I have so many things to say and write and process from that amazing conference and 100+ amazing men and women who filled my heart to its brim for two days, but I’ll save that for another day.

Today is a hard day. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I had a very emotional morning. To be honest, it was ridiculously emotional. Out of a movie emotional. I’ve never told my full story, this part of it, here on my blog, but with an inbox full of encouragement and stories and love, I feel like God is telling me that someone needs to hear this. My story is far from finished, but here goes from start to middle.

Bryan and I got married in 2008. We knew we wanted to have children early and often talked about how excited we were to be a Mom and a Dad. Bryan was so excited to be a Daddy. I’ll never forget riding in his truck from our first trip to Disney World when we were dating. We were driving from Orlando to Tampa. And he talked for so long about how excited he was to coach t-ball, attend recitals and make pancakes. He lit up when he told me about this. He told me about the kind of Daddy he wanted to be and I told him about the kind of Mommy I wanted to be one day. It was, and is, my biggest goal in life. I think that was the night we both knew we would get married someday.

About six months after we got married, after our first trip to New York together, we started trying. With no real clue what lied ahead, we started planning and dreaming and focusing on growing our family. Now, if you are a boy and reading this, please note that I am an open book and you might not want to read further about ovaries and cramps and weird girly things. Or, if you can handle it, keep going :)

Around December, about 7 months into our journey, I started having a lot of random pain / cramps during the day. Because we’d had no luck for 7 months I went to my doctor. She ran a few tests and, because of the history of Endometriosis in my family sent us to a fertility specialist to look into the situation. I had an HSG done (where they check to see if your tubes are open) in January which revealed a fully blocked left tube. In fact, my doctor was concerned with “how blocked” it was and scheduled a pretty immediate laparoscopic surgery to remove, what he thought would be severe Endometriosis.

My Mom and Dad couldn’t be here (I thought this was pretty routine, so I told them it was ok for them to stay in Pensacola) but I remember my Mom sending me a special ring that my great-grandmother (and namesake) had given to her. She wrote me a sweet card thats framed in my house – about fear and prayer and God’s provision over the outcome of the surgery. I assumed we’d have the surgery and move on with our attempts to have a baby.

The surgery was short. When I woke up, Bryan was standing over me with tears in his eyes and a funny look on his face. The doctor had discovered a small amount of Endometriosis, but the blocked tube they saw was actually a broken tube – that led to no ovary on my left side. Somehow, I was either born without a left ovary or damaged and lost it as a child. Neither of us were quite sure what this meant but we obviously assumed the worst. We met with our doctor a day or so later and he lifted our spirits. Apparently women with one ovary can still have children as long as the other is functional – which mine is.

Off we went on our merry way to continue trying for a baby. After a few months of no luck, our doctor prescribed Clomid to me (which I not-so-fondly like to refer to as the MOST AWFUL DRUG EVER). I gained 5lbs every month I was on it. It made me sick. It made me angry. It made me have hot flashes. It was terrible. I stopped taking it after two months, ten pounds and a lot of tears. We gave up and forgot about it all, vowing to start again a few months later. Because my cycles were very irregular, I took Provera to start my next cycle. It’s a 10-pill drug cycle that you take once daily to induce your next cycle. I took 1 pill and got nervous that I should probably take a silly pregnancy test even though I KNEW I wasn’t pregnant (and satisfy my odd craving for Twizzlers).

Ten minutes later, I dug the test back out of the trash can. I hadn’t seen two pink lines next to each other, rather one blue line on one end of the stick and one blue line on the other. Of course, because I knew I wasn’t pregnant, Id purchased the cheapest CVS-brand tests and wasn’t sure how to read them.

Pregnant.

I was pregnant.

With Brady Ley. I sat on the floor, stunned and cried. I called my doctor before even telling my husband who was at work at the time, in an absolute panic about the 1 Provera pill I’d taken. He calmed my fears and I took a digital test to be sure.

Pregnant.

I was pregnant.

I was really pregnant.

Tears, high fives, more tears, screams, etc, etc, etc. I’ve never seen my husband so happy. Well, until 9 months later.

My pregnancy with Brady was a story all itself. And so was his birth. In the back of my mind, I knew we’d CONQUERED IT. I praised the Lord every day that we hadn’t had to go the route of the BIG GUNS – IUI, IVF and every other crazy amazing thing that we can do now to have babies, the 1 in 6 couples that has to face infertility in its smallest or largest forms.

As Brady got close to turning 1, we decided it was time to try for Baby #2. And here we are, 16 months later. My doctor tells us he has faith it will happen again soon and all logic points to the facts that 1) we’re capable, obviously and 2) God’s plan is perfect. Writing this out makes me feel silly.

And I think that’s why I’m writing this. For those of you who feel like that, and worse.

See, after three more rounds of unsuccesful Clomid, three rounds of unsuccesful Femara (much better than Clomid) and one newly unsuccesful round of an increased dosage of Femara and supplements for Bryan and I, I just about fell apart in the RDU airport this morning. I was three days late on our first round of increased Femara and supplements. We have “unexplained infertility” (the stupidest, most aggravating term ever) so we’re trying an array of things – IUI being next, after two more rounds of this. Femara is supposed to make your cycles very regular, inducing ovulation on Day 14 – which happened for me this month. One would expect an answer would be found on Day 28 one way or another. But when nothing happened on Day 28 while I was staying in Chapel Hill, I crossed my fingers and my toes. I know better than to get my hopes up. I’ve been disappointed over THIRTY times. Day 29. Nothing. Day 30 (today). Nothing. Then the cramps began while standing in the Starbucks line at RDU. I immediately felt the tears well up in my eyes. I was wearing a bright, flourescent pink pullover too.

So there I was, the flourescent crying girl at RDU today. I sat in a corner, all alone, and cried uncontrollably. I had a bad signal on my phone and couldn’t call anyone. And the only window around faced a loading tunnel. Beautiful. It made it worse. I just sobbed into my coffee. I noticed people around me looking at the silent sobbing flourescent girl, but I didn’t care. I planned to tell them I was crying because I had to leave my boyfriend in NC or something, just something that made more sense than… I CANT HAVE ANOTHER BABY.

I cried in the airport. I cried on the plane. I turned on the song It is well on my iPhone. And I just let the words wash over me. And cried some more. And by the way, I normally don’t cry much about this. I’ve learned better. I know to suck it up and try again. I know that there are more options. But this time… this time…. my heart felt broken. My hopes WERE up. I wanted to tell my husband this AFTERNOON that he was going to be a daddy again. I even knew which shirt I would buy at Carters today to iron the letters B-I-G B-R-O-T-H-E-R onto so Brady could tell my parents when we head home later this month.

It’s not fair. It’s just NOT.

And I think this is the part that hurts the most… this happens to so many women. There are women out there whose arms are EMPTY. (Thank you to my sweet friend, you know who you are, who emailed me today. Your email touched my heart in the BIGGEST WAY). There are women out there who DON’T know the feeling of having a little baby placed in their arms, all warm and pink and FULL of the best things God sends to this EARTH. And I do. I’ve been blessed once. And I feel so selfish asking God for another baby when my prayers have already been graciously answered once. Oh, it makes my heart ache. So many friends are going through this. All at different stages. So many friends have miscarried (Thank you LORD that’s never happened to me). So many friends have lost CHILDREN.

But God is so good. And if I never have another baby. If I never experience that feeling again, it’s ok. It is well with my soul. His grace is sufficient for me. This family I have is MORE than sufficient for me. And His power is made PERFECT in weakness.

I’m not writing to bring tears to anyones eyes, though I bet they are there. After reading this, I hope you go hug that girl who’s silently crying at the airport by herself. You never know what battle she’s fighting. Sarah Teeter, you are a God send and I’m so grateful you hugged me and let me cry and you shared that verse with me this morning.

It is well, friends. It will be okay. Really, it will. Because God is good and at the end of the day, His plan, whatever that may be, is better than ours. If you’re struggling with infertility, know that you are not alone. Know that it does get better one way or another and that the IMPOSSIBLE is POSSIBLE.

xo,

Emily

copyright 2018 emily ley