Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Am DONE With Summer!

The entirety of my life, summer has been a lovely time of slower paced, more relaxed goodness.  I mean its like that during school, even when you add in some camps.  It was like that in college, even though I did 11 hours one summer, a wedding and 6 hours the next, and a job and 6 the last.  Summer classes themselves were always more relaxed than school year classes. It was like that working in childcare, even though we were year-round.  Summer was just fewer kids, fewer teachers, less of a definite schedule, more relaxed.  I mean, there are stressful days, for instance when it's your first day opening on your own as assistant director and the power is out in half the building and none of the a/cs are working and you have to wait for the city to open to tell them and they say they'll have to shut down all the power and tear open your parking lot to fix it and so you have to call every single parent and have them come get their kids or tell them they can't bring their kids because no electricity means no email and also you have to use your cell phone.  (Just go with that wreck of a sentence.)

My point is, even though it's usually hot enough to fry an egg on the cement, I usually enjoy the slow-paced-ness of summer.  But this summer didn't seem to get the memo.  I am currently in recover mode from the weeks I've been gone.  July has been like this:
July 4-14 I was on vacation and then helping at the TBCWEA's State Conference, surprise crashing with my cousins, and riding home with a stranger (long story there).
July 14-18 Attempting to recover physically and in the house (Robert was home for quite a few days when I was still gone.) while maintaining some semblance of a normal schedule and packing for camp.
July 19-20 Attending classes in the big city (another long story to be told another day).
July 21 Missing a class because we went to church and then left at 2 for camp.
July 21-26 Camp.  It was dirty and the food wasn't great and I think I got a spider bite, but it was fun.  Exhausting, but fun.
July 27 Attending another all-day class in the big city.
July 28 Got up early, packed a lunch, went to church, did the stuff I thought someone was doing for me while I was at camp but they didn't, winged a Sunday School lesson because the week before camp I used the last one in my book and I didn't exactly have time to find another curriculum, arranged for someone to wrap everything up in the sound booth because we had to leave exactly at noon, cut out of church exactly at noon, drove back to the big city for the last class.  The scheduling was a disaster and we ended up having extra time to kill before the class and it was just a big mess but it's done.
July 29 Resting, doing a whole lot of nothing, unloading a load of dishes (it barely made a dent), unpacking, putting things away all over the house, sorting camp laundry, washing and drying 4 loads.  I calculate about 7 loads left.  Not including the clothes we will dirty between now and those 7 being finished.  Or folding and putting away any of the laundry.  And I did an online class for the same I'm-not-ready-to-tell-ya'll-yet reason.  I've got 4 more of those.  And to make up for the one I missed because I couldn't be at it and camp at the same time.
July 30/Today I have a doctor's appointment at 1:30 because I'm pretty sure somewhere along the way I picked up an ear infection and I've been trying to ignore it but it hasn't gone away.  I've also started another load of laundry.

I'm so excited about how blank the August calendar is.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mother's Day, pt. 7

Part of me wants to hold out for part 7 being the post where I tell you how we got a baby because seven, Biblical numbers and all.  But that would be cheating part of the story.

Here's something I wrote a couple weeks after we had the biopsy results (with a little editing):

Anyways, our whole conversation led to this craziness in my head:

He's feeling discouraged and ready to give up.

I'm feeling discouraged but not ready to give up.

But I am in full retreat mode.

I feel like I fought a huge battle, took many casualties, got cut off from my supply line, and now I'm a little lost.

So, I'm in full retreat, trying to find my supply line, reinforcements, a safe place to rest, whatever will help me fight the next battle.

Because there will be a next battle.  That's what is most draining (for me and at this moment) about infertility.  There's no "fast" or "easy" way to go about having a baby now.  It's a battle every step of the way. 

I know that even when a child is conceived in the way God planned (which leads me to another thought... I wonder if Eve had any idea how far reaching her curse would be.  When God said childbearing would be painful from them on, did she know conceiving would be included? She did have to deal with one child killing another though...), everything is far from guaranteed to go well.  But it still makes me mad that
1 we paid for birth control for three years, one year of which I dealt with terrible side effects
2 for other people it is incredibly easy
3 for us it's not
4 we didn't know this 5 years ago.  I still would've married R, but I think we would have done a few things differently. 

I'm tired.  And I'm tired of fighting.  And I want to give up.  But I won't.  I will retreat, I will rest, then I will resupply, I will reconvene my troops, and I will re-enter the battle.  But I will never lay down arms.  (You'll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands!) 

So, I did retreat.  I took a good four months pretending infertility didn't exist.  Hiding out even when I was with people who loved me.  And then we came up with a plan.  A plan that made/makes perfect sense.  It takes into account what I want and what R is OK with and we made a budget and a plan

And now, it seems that plan could change. 

 We are still on the fence.  

We have narrowed down our choices from two to... a more specific two.  

I really don't know when part 8 will come out.  I know there will be a part 8.  I hold onto that with every fiber of my being.  To continue my analogy, we are still strategizing.  Counting our supplies.  Deciding where we stand and which way would be the best mode of attack.  My heart is torn  in both directions.  So we are trying to take it one blind step at a time and trust God will lead us.  That's hard.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mother's Day, pt. 6

It's hard for me to believe that, while we are still living this story, the details and chronology of it are already hard for me to keep straight.  That's part of why I decided to lay this bare on the blog.  Also, because people have already reached out in love and in commiserating grief.  Thank you.  

Here's where things start to move pretty fast.

As I was working a job that I absolutely loved and would do until I had babies to stay home with if 8 hours wasn't a ridiculously long commute, R was working a part-time power-washing job and looking for a ministerial job.  Because of some past events, I was a little reluctant but, deep down, I knew I was just fighting God's will.  (And if I stopped fighting, maybe I'd get a baby!)

Long story short (you are all laughing hysterically now), we moved to Podunk, West Texas.  R became Youth Minister at the First Baptist Church here.  He moved the beginning of August and I moved the beginning of September.  Sometime soon after I got here, we went to see a new Urologist.  Because we were eight hours from the old one.

He looked at the files and previous tests and said the next step is to do a biopsy.

A few months and about $3000 later (we have started a new Dave Ramsey snowball now and are down to one medical bill, student loans, and some savings! but we really don't worry too much about those pesky student loans right now...), the week before Thanksgiving, we found out that R is missing some cells that help produce the sperm.

And just like that we are down to two choices:

Sperm Donation



I went through some real anger about this.  I had given up a lot to move out here.  I had followed God's will and my husband's leading.  I did the right thing.  We were finally able to afford for me to stay home. We had great insurance benefits.  Where was my reward?! Where was my baby?!

One last part in the planned part of this series is coming soon.  But, like I said, we are still living this story.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mother's Day, pt. 5

We left off where I began to accept we were probably infertile.  

For a year, things went on about the same. 







I got promoted at work.  R did too.  We had everything but one credit card and our student loans paid off.  We had a sizable amount paid.  The new passion became buying a house. 

That next Christmas, we had a plan.  R was going to start a new job (less hours{by which I mean 40 rather than 60}, similar pay, benefits, weekends and holidays off) and we were going to buy a house (that needed a TON of work) and, since he would get benefits at his new job, if we had kids and we could get the finances in order, I could stay at home.  Things were going to fall into place.  This time, we had it figured out.


Through the politics that is the school system and the budget cuts made that year, R was out of a job before he started.

But after he left the old one.

Major decision: beg for old job back or look for a new one?

We decided he should look for a new one.

He got a part time job power-washing for some church friends and, while the hours sucked, with our finances finally in order, it worked.  He asked me if he could apply for ministry jobs.  I agreed but only for ones in Texas.  (You know, to stay close to family.  Did ya'll know Texas is a BIG state? For instance, one can live 8 hours {if you don't stop, mostly on the interstate, legal speeds upwards of 70 mph most of the way} from family and still live in the same state...) 

Somewhere in all this, R went to the doctor because he started having panic attacks (gee, why ever might that be?).  While he was there, he told the doctor about the fact that we were having trouble conceiving.  He came home and announced he was having a test done to determine fertility.  Part of me didn't want to know.  Most of me knew that knowing was the first step to moving forward.  

Sitting here at this desk, over a year later, I cannot describe the night I came home and R had the test results. 

No sperm.

At all.

Come back for more testing.

My world fell apart.  

But it was still a very private fall.  

Few knew.  

The sadness, resentment, fear, and bittersweet hope all got stronger.

More testing sent us to a Urologist.

Who ordered more testing.

Still no sperm.


The dirty word.

There was really nothing more to know about it at this point and we just tried to absorb the hit while continuing with our lives.

We "came out" to our Sunday School group and slowly to our extended families.  

People were supportive and tried to say the right things.  

There are no right things to say.

Oddly, it wasn't the people who had experienced infertility that were the most comforting, but the ones who had experienced the death of a child (miscarriage, still birth, later in life). 

By now, RR was well into a pregnancy.  The Sunday School group had morphed to where we were the only ones without a baby. People were on their second and third children. My friends from high school and college were having babies.  Each announcement got harder and harder to hear.  Each "happy face" got harder and harder to put on.

I once threw my phone across the kitchen when I saw a picture of a high school friend's newborn.  (The second the phone left my hand, I regretted it.  It landed face down and I was scared to pick it up for a minute.  Thank you God for covering my in my stupidity and temper tantrum and for giving me the foresight to buy an Otter Box.)

Honestly, how I feel is dependent on so many factors that sometimes I don't even know what will make me sad/mad/smad.  Infertility truly is its own kind of grief.   There are still more twists and turns to our story, and I'm not done living it.  Look for part 6 soon.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mother's Day, pt. 4

We left on a suspenseful cliff hanger: was I pregnant?

I wasn't pregnant.  

I was so emotionally worn out and physically exhausted that I had a very uncharacteristic argument with a coworker.  A serious argument.  We considered not working together anymore.  Now, she's one of my best friends.  (I know, it seems like I have lots of those.  Right now, I'd say I have 3.  3 amazing friends I can tell just about anything and know they will still love me.  And they all live 8 hours away.  All 3 are very different and none of them know each other. But this story is across many years, so it may seem I have more friends than I do.  People come and go in life.  That's a free life lesson for you right there :) .)  My mom was convinced I'd had a miscarriage because I had such an emotional response to...well, everything.  At the time, that seemed totally logical.

But I could not blame hormones for my own craziness.  I had set myself up BIG TIME with hope and dreams and making plans and budgets and when it all came crashing down, I handled it rather poorly.   

It has taken lots of similar occasions (though none so drastic or dramatic) to make me see what happened.  In fact, it all just came to me now as I'm typing this novel.  I do some sort of backwards bargaining with God.  Somewhere, mostly unconsciously, I am thinking "what is the step I need to take so that God knows I trust Him and will reward me with a baby."  Like somehow, I can trick God into knowing I trust Him, and I do.  Except for with this whole baby thing.  I mean, its been years of disappointment on the baby front, so obviously, God can take care of me, but this baby thing?  That's on me.  But if I can trick God into thinking I trust Him, even with the baby thing, then all I have to do is figure out which step of faith I have to take in order to get the baby-reward. Right?  (I know all the right answers.  I know this is theologically crazy.  I know, I know.  But its there.)  (Also, even to me, the person having this train of thought, it seems a little sick and wrong to see a baby as a reward, as a prize.  I know that.  I'm just laying out all the crazy here.)  I'm going to continue the story now, but this comes up again...

I had been tracking my cycle for awhile when my annual came up.  I lied to my gyno and told her we were just letting it happen.  Which was what we had agreed the last time R and I talked, but I was beyond that.  She looked at my charts and did my exam and said things looked good.  Even though we never talked about it, I kind of think this is when R started to get serious about having a baby.  

Somewhere during all this time, for sure by this Christmas, it suddenly seemed that everyone was having a baby.  Our church in CS seems to go through cycles of everyone getting pregnant at once and then there's a lull.  By Christmas time, there were only two couples (that I can think of) in our core Sunday School group who didn't have a baby (some were still in utero) (or slightly older children).  With R always working, I was beginning to feel very alone.  And very sad.  And I started dreading baby showers, pregnancy announcements, and I started resenting anyone who complained about pregnancy or their children.  Didn't they know they had what I couldn't have? (Well, no, they didn't, because I put on a brave face and told nearly no one.)

I slowly began to accept we were going to join the ranks of infertility.  I knew several families who had dealt with one type of infertility or another.  They all had children.  I know families who had formed through private adoption, through-an-agency adoption, foster-to-adopt adoption, miraculous pregnancy, and infertility treatments. These are people I know relatively well, people who I can (and have) ask (ed) questions.  (I know two families that did international adoption, but I don't know them well.)  I think God was telling me He had it covered...  I still have trouble believing that.  

So this is where we decide to go get tested, right?  NO! But that's coming, too.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mother's Day, pt. 3

Continuing in our infertility saga:

I knew I was regular so I figured there was nothing wrong with me and stuff just didn't go arbitrarily wrong with guys like it did girls and so I didn't talk with a doctor or anything. (Ah, naivete.   How I miss you sometimes.  Of course then, I'd be no closer to having a baby.  Not that I'm any closer now... Anyways...)

A few months after moving to CS, one of my best friends started planning her wedding.  We'll call her RR.  Right around the time we were going dress shopping, I started to think I might be pregnant.  (Keep in mind, I was pretty regular but I was still just going off of basically guess work and how I felt.)  I chose a dress that would work if it turned out I was pregnant and told her about it, but, once again, I was wrong.  

For some reason, though, that became a turning point for me.  Still going by purely guesswork, I started taking pregnancy tests every once in a while.  In my heart, I became a little obsessive.  Very soon after RR was married, she told me about a book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  RR has a thyroid condition and didn't want extra hormones messing her hormone balance up even more than normal and was going to try charting her cycle instead of taking medicine.  She knew hormonal birth control had screwed me up and knew I *kind of* wanted a baby so we talked about the book and she said she'd tell me when she turned it into the library so I could check it out.  

Before I even finished the book, I ordered it on Amazon.  Finally, less guesswork, I could actually know what was going on in my body, things made more sense.  (This book is awesome.  Charting is not for everyone, I totally get that.  If you can use hormonal birth control without going bat crap crazy, or if the hormonal birth control is what keeps you from going bat crap crazy, more power to you! But even if you never do the charting, etc. its a really awesome book to read just to know more about how your body works beyond the basic "sex ed.")  Copied some charts, bought a thermometer and started tracking.  Whenever people asked, I told them that we weren't trying, just not not trying.  I hid my obsession from just about everyone.  Even those who knew only knew bits and pieces. 

And I was starting to get a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong.  My charts looked good but nothing was happening.  And it had been over a year with nothing happening.  According to TCOYF, we were considered infertile.  But infertile is such a nasty word, and I wasn't ready to entertain that possibility.

That August, we made the monumental decision to move in with my parents so we could save money to buy a house.  We loved our apartment, but we wanted to own our own home and, while we were getting by just fine, we were never quite able to put aside money for a house.  (We had been doing Dave Ramsey for some time and our snowball was getting pretty small.  Or big. I don't know.  We were close to having stuff paid off.)  

The weekend of the move, my mom, conveniently, was out of state.  I was feeling funny, A few days late (umm...stress anyone?) but I hadn't had a temperature spike, so I decided to test anyways (because what if?!?!?).  And there was a faint second line.  R, of course, was at work.  And it was not a job I could call him at.  I took it to a friend and had her look.  She saw the line, too.  I showed it to a couple friends and family members.  I took a second, digital test.  It was negative.  Confused, I sent an email to a random-through-the-blogosphere-friend (who I lost touch with after moving in with my parents because NO INTERNET), who had dealt with infertility, about it. She said the blue dye tests (which the first one was) has a propensity to give false positives.  WHAT?! I had been told my whole life that if the stick had two lines, you were pregnant.  How could that be wrong?  Now I NEEDED TO KNOW.  My brain was busy running scenarios, debating the pros and cons of moving in with my parents pregnant. And I kind of thought, really? Now?  This messes up the plan.  But oh my word, a baby, I really want a baby.  

Cliff hanger, right?  Spoilers: If this had been true, I'd have a 2 year old now.  I don't.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mother's Day, pt 2

Here's the theme of my life: I had a plan and God changed it.  

I wanted to marry young (check), have kids pretty young, probably 3 but maybe 2.  For sure I wanted to at least be started before 30, if not nearly done by then.  That's how my mom and grandmother did it.  My grandparents were relatively young when I was little and were able to do stuff with me and play and I wanted that for my kids.  Plus, there are so many statistics about how much worse your chances for blah, blah, blah are after 30.  So if I was gonna be done or close to by 30, I needed to start having kids around 24, just to give myself plenty of cushion and all.

When we got married, we were both still in college so I didn't want to get pregnant right away.  Plus I knew marriage would be a learning curve and I wanted to give us awhile to be "us" before babies.  That's the way things are supposed to work, right?  So, about 6 months before we got married I went in for an annual and talked to the doctor and left with a prescription for birth control.  Cuz that's what people do. I started taking the pills and became progressively crazier.  We all blamed it on my 18 hour semester and impending wedding, but part of me knew it was the pills.  (Um, I had morning sickness.  Pretty sure crazy school and wedding plans don't give you morning sickness.)

Finished the semester, got married, took summer school, took a 17 hour semester, lived in a terrible run down apartment, was sick all the time, and somewhere very close to a year after I started taking the pill, I called the wonderful, amazing, can't say enough good things about this doctor or her nurses or her office staff, doctor I had in Belton.  (I seriously still miss that doctor and clinic today.  I wonder if the entire staff of that clinic would consider moving to West Texas?) By the time they answered, I was bawling.  I. was. a. mess.  The receptionist knew I lived around the corner (small office, I was sick A LOT while we lived in that apartment) and told me to come in and they would work me in.  I had myself back under control until the doctor walked into the room.  I told her that I was acting crazy, knew I was acting crazy, but could not stop myself and it had been progressively worse since I started taking birth control.  But I wasn't ready to have kids yet, I mean, I still had student teaching to get through, and R was gonna be in school even longer.  She talked through a couple options and put me on an entirely different (still medicinal) form of birth control, the theory being that it was less hormones going through my whole system and would help.

And it did.  I felt like myself again.  (Except for those two solid months I spent on prednisone trying to breathe...)

Once, after being on one medicine or another that cancels out birth control, I thought I might be pregnant.  But it was a tiny hope and not yet embedded in my heart.  I was wrong, anyways.

We moved out of that apartment, I finished student teaching, I spent a summer away from R finishing the credits I needed to graduate, I graduated, and it became my duty to support us while R finished school.  (Which didn't work out too well but that is a whole different messy story.)

Around the same time that I started this blog, after we'd been married two years, kind of scared to hear his answer, I asked R if I could go off birth control.  Like, completely.  Part of it was that this new birth control was beginning to build up in my system and I was beginning to feel a little crazy again.  Part of it was I wanted a baby of my own.  But it was still some small, vague desire.  We decided that he was only a couple months away from graduating and (like we actually knew what we meant when we said this) we wouldn't be trying to have a baby but we wouldn't be not trying.

R graduated and we moved back to CS.  Near family and friends and the church that still holds our heart.  A church full of children and families and pregnant women.  And I started working at a childcare center.  Full of babies.  And we joined a Sunday School class.  Full of people just slightly older than us.  And I became really good friends with someone who'd had a baby at 18.

I spent each month with mixed feelings of hope and dread.  And each month that I wasn't pregnant, the hope that I would be grew stronger and the dread that I would be lessened.  Then, suddenly, it morphed.  Instead of dreading being pregnant, I started to dread not being pregnant.  But this was all pretty much locked up in me.  People knew I wanted a baby, but they didn't know how much.

I think this is kind of indicative of me.  It may seem that I will share anything with anyone, but for the most part, I keep the deep stuff hidden.  I babble on about our house and crafts and stupid things I do and books and tv shows and trekking up a mountain to get to the sound booth and disastrous attempts to be a modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I talked very little about my Aunt Sandy dying or about infertility or about the hurtful thing so and so said.  I'm like a babbling brook that comes up out of a hidden artesian spring.  

This? This is just the beginning of the story.  Stay tuned.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Like a Bee

Remember when I said July was gonna be really busy?

Busy like a bee?

Actually, the bee part is new.

Also, remember when I said that I had written posts about our infertility story? But that I was waiting on the OK from some people before I posted them (or maybe I didn't tell you that part...I can't seem to find the post where I did...)?

My original intention was to spread the posts out over a few weeks or months, but since they are all already written, I'm going to schedule them to post twice a week for the rest of the month.  I will definitely be checking in to read comments or fix problems but I doubt I will be writing much until the end of July.

So I'm off to finish laundry and go up to the church to get the songs and sermon on the projection software we use and edit the recording from last Sunday and then actually go to church tonight, but check back in next Tuesday for Mother's Day, pt. 2.

Also, I'm gonna write a post for my new website/business adventure (I'm sending you to the home page, click "Articles" to read what I'm writing today) and I'd love for you to check that out!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Framed Fabric

So I have been reading The View Along the Way for a couple months now.  I actually had a few things pinned from that blog and after reading those few posts, I was hooked! Kelly is a Southern, Christian lady with an awesome sense of humor and a penchant for decorating on the cheap-what is there not to love?!  So she and 9 other bloggers have been doing this whole Summer Ditto DIY Challenge thing.  And it seemed fun, but the last couple of challenges have seemed silly for me to do because I had no need for those things in my home.  Then, July's challenge came-framed fabric.  And this one? I've got this on in the bag! In fact, I did this one so well, I did it months ago!!!

Here's the thing, I have a lot of fabric on the walls at my house.  None of my walls are painted, yet.  It's the first house we've lived in since we were married that we'd be allowed to paint and I'm very excited to do it, but we have had some other, more pressing renos to do first.  Here's some examples of my fabric "art":

This is in my craft room.  I made it for  my college dorm-black and white toile-and am now using it in my craft room which is black and white with splashes of red and is very French country.
It was a plain corkboard.  First I spray painted the frame and push pins.  Then I covered the cork in fabric-I just stretched and stapled it to the front.   Then I stretched the ribbons and stapled them to the front.  Then I hot glued the trim to cover all the staples around the edges. Finally, I used the push pins to secure the ribbon at every cross and have been using it for about 8 years!

This is cheating  a little, but it's a cross stitch a friend made for me.  She had it framed and gave it to me as a wedding shower gift.

Not exactly framed, but Momma made this.  It's Styrofoam covered  in a cream quilted fabric and cris-crossed with  green, gold, and brown ribbons of various textures, colors, widths, etc.  It goes with the greens and browns in my bedroom.
My dining room table is an inherited antique.  It only has 5 chairs.  So, I put a bench against the wall and use it as the "chair" on one short side of my table.  To make it look more intentional and chair-like, I hung this "back."  Originally, I made these and two others that were blue and white checkered and hung them above my table, which was pushed against the wall at the time.  They are just empty fabric bolts (like the ones fabric is wrapped around at the store) covered in some batting and the fabric.  I "fussy cut" the fabric so there would be at least most of a scene featured on each one.  Then I cut batting about the right size.  I stapled the batting first and then I stapled the fabric.  Then, so they could be hung, I used picture wire and a series of staples to make a hanging wire.  The hardest part of the entire project was figuring out how to make the staples hold the picture wire.  Even so, it could not have taken me more than a couple hours.
This is the top of my dresser.  It makes me happy.  I use a pitcher and bowl that is white with a green design to hold my necklaces.  There's a pink depression glass bowl that holds my bracelets.  And a maroon basket-thingy that holds pendents.  Above, is a garage sale mirror that cost something like $25, a green cross my mom made in pottery class, two crosses made from broken transferware china (one pinkish and one green), and my earring holder.  The earring holder was actually a gift but I have since made a few as gifts.  Basically, you stretch hole-y fabric on a frame, staple it to the back, and hang the earrings through the holes.  This fabric is a green, blue, and pink floral print.  I've always used a solid color. 

Close up of the earring hanger. Usually I have a couple more pairs of hoops on there and it's pretty full.  Here's  tip from me to you if you have one of these: Hang earrings with backs near the bottom and sides so they are easy to get off and use the top and middle for hoops and fishhook backed earrings!
It is impossible to get a good picture of my hallway!  It's too narrow to take good pictures of anything on the walls, but this may be my favorite wall arrangement in my house.  The white "window" is from a boutique called "Sisters." I got a gift certificate to there as a wedding shower gift and this was one of the purchases.  Next to it, is an old frame we found in this house when we moved it.  In the frame is a piece of an old quilt that was falling apart.  My mom cut the salvageable pieces from the quilt and we have used them for a few things.  The frame was really hard to staple into, so we ended up hot gluing the fabric.  Below the "window" is a frame my husband made out of salvaged wood.  I honestly have no idea why he made it, it must not have been for something specific because it was just laying around.  So I stretched a rectangle doily (I love the word "doily!") behind it, stapled carefully to so the staples went through the holes and not through the doily, added a hanger, and hung it on the wall!  The red thing is a door knocker from Kirkland's. Originally, it  had an amber door knob but 1) I didn't like the color and 2) the amber part was glued on and falling off, so I unbolted it and bolted on an antique door knob instead! The white rectangle is our thermostat. :) The circle is cream colored burlap stretched in an embroidery hoop.  It's hung by a twine loop and has twine tying the keys to the burlap.  The keys we bought at Lowes, hoping they'd work on our antique doors, but either 1)they are the two most popular keys and ours uses the third most popular, or (the more likely) 2)our door's locks are stuck from age and we need to take them apart and clean them for it to work.  (We will take off the hardware to strip years and years and layers and layers of paint off the doors and clean the hardware before putting it back on...eventually!)
But here is, at least in my opinion, the best framed fabric in my house.  It's on the long wall in my hallway so it is truly impossible to photograph well, but here are several pictures trying to show you what it's like:

The right side.

The left side and middle.

An attempt to use panorama to get it all in.  Besides the odd distortion, it kinda worked.

From the middle bedroom.

Also from the middle bedroom.

Most of the wall-from the bathroom.
Even though it photographs terribly, I have gotten more compliments on this wall in my house than anything else!  And, personally, I love it! It was fun and easy, but not quick.  First, I have to tell you that when we saw the house before we moved in, there was a giant "built in" wall of cabinets here.  It had been there for awhile, as evidenced by the paint lines-someone painted the house white (by which I mean all walls, ceilings, trims, doors, cabinets, etc. are all the same blindingly semi-gloss white-I know we need to paint but there have been more pressing issues!) and didn't move the cabinet.  So you can now see the paint lines because we moved the cabinet.  It was way too big for the hall-the doors couldn't even open all the way and it took up like a third of the hall's width.  There couldn't be a real door to the middle bedroom so it was this weird 70s vinyl slide thing (like in churches to divide up the fellowship hall, also, there still isn't a door ON the doorframe, but we do HAVE one...) It was dark and sucked the light and life out of the hall.  It didn't make sens because there is actually a closet in the bathroom and what really needed storage was the kitchen.  So we moved it to the utility room and it's our "pantry."  This left me with a fairly large wall space and this was my really cheap and fun way to fill it!

First, while I was at JoAnn's eight hours away from my current house, I laid out a bunch of embroidery hoops on the floor in the middle of the aisle until I had a shape I liked.  With coupons, etc. I seem to remember all of them costing right at $20-total.

Second, I was given a bunch of fabric by a friend who was cleaning out the samples at an interior design store.  Basically I got a whole bunch of expensive fabric, but only little pieces of each.  (Oh, and my mom gave me a bunch of doilies that trip.  I used one for the other wall hanging above, several for my dining room table runner, one for this project, and have a couple left over. I also got some from a garage sale somewhere in that mix.)

Third, I combined the two!

Just kidding.

Third, when I got home, I got some old, nasty, kinda creepy, yellowed Christmas paper out of the throwaway pile (we cleaned out the storeroom attached to our house).  I used painter's tape to cover the entire part of the wall I wanted to use to make the arrangement.  I ended up having two strips of wallpaper covering the wall from living room doorjamb to the corner by the middle room.  There really was no scientific reasoning for starting where I did vertically.  But I measured 12" down from the crown molding and made sure the top of my paper was 12" from the crown molding all the way across.  Here, I drew a picture for you:
Notice how everything but the floor is blindingly white?! :)
Fourth, I carefully took my newly made wall template down and taped it to the floor in my living room-the only place big enough to have the template all spread out.

Fifth, I put my embroidery hoops on the template in various arrangements, trying to figure out what the heck I'd done in the store that I liked so much.  Take a picture in the store next time!!!  Anyways, I decided I'd like the arrangement better with a few squares thrown in, so I got the old blue and white checkered fabric covered fabric bolts that I hadn't hung on the wall in this house and added them to the mix.  Then, I got a little framed doily Momma had given me and a reclaimed wood square my husband had made (from the same wood as the frame from above, I don't know what he was experimenting with or for but it worked out well for me!) and threw them in, too.  Suddenly, it all came together!  I ended up with a left over smallish hoop (that got used in the wall vignette above, also) but I loved the shape I had going on.  It was symmetrical without being too formal, it was big and wide, and perfect!  I had covered the whole expanse of all with my template paper, so I knew if I was sure to center my design on the floor, it'd be centered on the wall.  I used rulers, levels, measuring tapes, etc. until I was sure the design was exactly centered.

Sixth, I took a picture (standing on the couch) of the design and then started tracing the shapes on the paper.  I labeled each shape with a number and then discreetly wrote the number on the inside of each hoop (where fabric would later cover.)

Seventh, I took my template back to the wall and hung it back up 12 inches from the crown molding.  I had taken great care to center the design on the paper, so when hanging it back up to cover the wall entirely, things were centered. To make sure things stayed exact when I took the template down, I wanted to hang the hoops empty first.  I wanted them empty so I could put the nail in the wall through the hoop.  So, I held each hoop up to its corresponding, numbered place on the wall and, when the hoop perfectly covered its spot on the template, I hammered a nail in to hold it there.  Its important to remember that since the hoops are circles, they will center themselves on any nail, so be precise with the nails.  This is why I wanted to put the nails in before I put fabric in the hoops.  I wanted to see what I was doing, rather than fight with the fabric.  Does this make sense?

Eight, I chose fabrics to hoop (and cover the rectangles).  I chose colors I used throughout my house but was rather...organic? about how I chose them.  I guess I mean to say I went with things that made sense but that I liked. I laid the fabric out on different hoops until fabrics near each other made sense and it all kinda...flowed.  I also had to be sure that the samples fit into the hoops I meant for them to go in.  The rectangles got covered with the only samples big enough to cover them, but the colors still worked.

Ninth, I kinda got chicken.  I loved the design but I could't commit to the fabrics.  So I hooped the fabrics but didn't cut them to size and kinda tucked the fabric around the rectangles.  Part of me just thought it was too eclectic to work.   But a couple friends and my mom loved it, so I took the plunge!  I made sure the design was just how I wanted it in the hoop and used pinking shears to cut the fabric.  (Actually, I seem to remember my mom doing this...)  I stapled the fabric to the rectangles over the old batting and fabric.  The doily was already framed and the square got no fabric.  We were careful to only take down one or two hoops at a time so we would put them back exactly where they'd been.

Tenth, I did some slight adjusting.  You can see in this picture below that there is a thermostat on the wall:
Also, you can see my finger...
When the house was built, it had a swamp cooler and two gas, floor heaters.  The thermostat that is a white rectangle in the other hall pictures is one we installed to replace an old circle one.  It controls the A/C/Heater unit that cools and heats the whole house.  But the two floor registers are still there.  In the living room, we took out the round thermostat entirely and the grate is covered by the couch and trunk .  In the hall, the grate is covered by a runner and the electrical wires are capped and in the wall, but I thought the thermostat was really cool so we left it hanging on the wall. I'd seen the round ones in old houses before, but the rectangle one was new to me and really cool.  So, when I'd made my template, I'd cut around it with an exacto knife so that I'd be sure my design was around it.  In my original design, the square and doily were switched, but it just seemed to crowd the thermostat too much so I swapped them out.  Now, you have this:

Yeah, that section of wall to the left that you think is that color because of a trick of light or the camera?  It's actually a different white.  There's no less than 3 shades of white on this one wall.  I told you it was bad!  And yes, that blue-based blinding white that's not a trick of the light on the left? That's the color that is EVERYWHERE!

A really cool design on wall in serious need of some paint and photographed by an inept photographer on a phone camera with no room to back away because it is a hallway!

Whew, that was long and involved and would have been so much better with real pictures instead of drawing and lots of words and better pictures when there actually were some!