Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kids Ugly Holiday Sweater

Unfortunately, I've been knocked down by the winter bug, during winter break! #awesome 
Anyway, I couldn't let Chanukah pass without sharing this, just in case any of you have a last minute party and want to dress up your littles.  

I promise, this was the easiest DIY project I have ever done!  And not only is it easy, it can be completely customized to your liking: t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater, any holiday, any saying, any picture, any colors: the possibilities are endless and it's all totally up to you!

My kids had Chanukah dress up day at their school and of course, I was just a little too last minute to find something coordinated, because, who doesn't send their three to school matching? So, DIY it was!

I found long sleeve shirts on Amazon, that wasn't without a challenge, but all was well in the end.  
I used Avery iron on transfer printable paper.  Just my personal opinion here-I don't love this product.  I've used it a few times in the past and am never pleased with it's durability. However, I haven't seen any other printable iron on paper, so when you want a cheap and easy customized shirt, it gets the job done.  Just don't be planning on your DIY shirt to be sticking around for years to come.  
I bought the iron on letters and puffy paint at JoAnn Fabric.   Tip: Look online for the products you want and you can search by store to be sure a local store has the products in stock when you go.  

Wash and iron the shirts, and then you're ready to go.  

For the iron on letters, you cut them out.  Now, only the actual letter has glue, so you don't have to cut out the letter exactly, however, spacing will get harder if you leave too much plastic surrounding the letter. 

 I was somewhat confused because the plastic is what actually gets the heat directly and I was afraid it would melt! So I tested a small piece on the inside of one of the shirts and happily discovered it definitely does not melt.  Just lay the letters right side up, and iron away.  The directions are pretty self explanatory, just lay out in the order you want, and iron for about 12 seconds on the actual letters, and then flip the shirt over and iron the back side for another 10 seconds.  

Let it cool before peeling the plastic away.  

For your transfer, you can either use a pre-designed template, or you can create your own.  You can do this through the Avery website, or I did mine on google docs.  The only confusing part, on either site, is that the image has to be reversed in order to be ironed on the correct way.  A lot of printers have this option of flipping the image, but mine did not.  I found this tutorial which explains simply how to flip the image in google docs.  It worked like a charm, and that's a lot coming from me! 

Unlike the iron on letters, because the entire sheet is an iron on, you have to cut this out as close to your image as possible or you'll have some white overhang and it just looks tacky.  Unfortunately I only discovered this after the first transfer.  Good thing I had plenty of puffy paint!

 Make sure to iron this on for a decent amount of time-I did it just like the iron on letters, but went over the front one more time.  You must cool completely or the transfer will break apart. 

Once it all cools, design with puffy paint.  

I just put these shirts through the wash and discovered that puffy paint doesn't stay on the iron on transfer, rather it only sticks to the fabric, so keep that in mind when decorating! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Munchies...

It's Chanukah time!!!
The first night was Saturday, so of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try out this fabulous  donut in a bag recipe!
This was the video that was going around on Facebook

I wanted to give this a shot, because what better way to usher in the holiday than with fresh, homemade donuts?  I'm so glad I tried it; although I will admit, I was skeptical.  What's awesome about this recipe is not only is it easy-think minimal steps, but the cleanup is seriously, like none other!

1 packet dry yeast
3 cups flour 
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 cup warm water (try to think warm, too hot water will kill the yeast-err on the side of caution)
11/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon brand (I used 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla instead)
zest of one lemon
2 cups strawberry jelly (make sure there aren't chunks of strawberries, maybe jam?)

Add the yeast, warm water, sugar, brandy/vanilla, lemon zest, oil, egg and flour into the gallon sized ziplock bag.  Close the bag and mix well with your hands for a few minutes. 

Let the dough rise in a bowl of very warm water for an hour. 

After an hour, the dough will have risen, and you should roll it out on a floured surface.  

Using a glass cup, or mug, cut out circles in the desired size.  

Once it's done, cover it up with a towel, and let rise for another thirty minutes.  

Using a deep dish pan, as opposed to the pot I always used to use, fill with oil, about two inches and boil.  If you have a thermometer, boil to 350, but if you don't have a thermometer, use the old water trick: when you splash water into the oil, it should sizzle-then you know it's ready.  

Drop five dough circles into the oil, and let fry for about one minute on each side.  Use a slotted spoon to cool on a cookie sheet covered with paper towel for extra oil absorbing.  If you want filled donuts, it's easier to buy a tip or a tool so you can fill with the jam, or custard, or cream. 

I'm thinking about trying this caramel again and hoping for better results since I have the proper tip. 
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or maybe some toppings-get creative!

I'm itching to make a donut bar like last year! Thankfully I have plans with friends to make some donuts!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hanukah Garland

If you've been around for awhile you know that I have a thing about decorating for Hanukah.  Growing up in a public school, with mostly non-Jews, I often felt left out.  My kids attend a Jewish school, so they squeal with delight when they see a Christmas tree!  So, fine, I'll admit it-the decorations are solely for my enjoyment.  
In fact, when I completed this project, Hannah walked out of the bedroom and gasped, "it looks like Christmas!" 
Ok, so maybe I need to reevaluate!  

Anyway, a couple months ago, Land of Nod sent out their Holiday magazine, and on the half page spread of Hanukah themed decorations, I saw a dreidle garland.  I can't find it on their website now, but I knew it wouldn't be hard to make, so I headed to JoAnn's website.  It all came together when I saw the white pom pom string, and I knew I would alternate that between my tri-colored garland.  

Felt colors of choice-I used dark blue, light blue and white  
Yarn/String-you need something to attach and hang the dreidles from
Scissors-fabric scissors are a must!!!
Hot glue
Tape/Hook-however you choose to hang the garland

I chose to make my garland with only dreidles using this image. 

 I then copied it into google docs and sized it, and then printed.  However, you could add in a Star of David, or a menorah, hearts maybe-totally up to you!  

I then cut it out and traced it onto the felt. 

 I just guessed, and started by making nine of each color.  

Again, you can make more or less depending on how full you want your garland to be.  

I then measured the pom pom garland as a way to measure my string, and then cut accordingly.  

I laid the three garlands on top of each other-leave room so you can work on each string comfortably.  Doing this makes sure the dreidles are in line with each other.  

Gluing got a little tricky and stumped me for a minute. At first, I thought I would just glue it from the top, but then I realized that wouldn't give it much support, and I would end up with a lot of glue on my carpet.  

So I flipped the dreidles upside down and wrong side facing up and glued along the top of the square. 

 Then I did zig zag glue as a way to add some extra support. 

Let it dry and hang-voila!

It adds such a beautiful backdrop! I might even consider adding more next year. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Mondays always seem to fly by! I think I have plenty of time to write my post, and then bam, it's 10pm and I'm so tempted to let another Monday Munchies pass me by! But, I've been pretty intentional about documenting my cooking and baking so I can share it with you all here! 

Dinner is always a big dilemma here, and I never know what my kids will agree to eat.  So I was rather surprised when Moshe asked me to make, "that thing we ate with jelly when Bubby and Zayde were here." I had no idea what he was talking about, but when he said we added jelly and sugar, I couldn't stop laughing:
Matzoh Brei! 
OY-he has obviously not lived through enough Passovers to know that we should limit matzoh eating for that one time of year! I don't know anyone who would request a matzoh dinner during the year! Even better-my kids have requested it as their lunch for school!  

1 box of the plan matzoh of your choice 
Toppings:sugar, jelly, cinnamon 

Run the matzoh sheets under water just to wet it, then break into pieces and place in the skillet-think mouth size!  

Mix 3 eggs and about 3/4-1 cup of milk-I don't like my matzoh brei overly eggy, so I use less eggs, you could definitely use more and that will create more "filler" with the matzoh.  

Pour the liquid into the skillet, and heat.  When you notice it's starting to cook, turn.  Once you notice the egg mixture is cooked-you're free to remove from the heat and eat.  If you like your matzoh crispier, continue cooking for longer. 

*I linked to a real recipe-it happens to have a much higher egg content than I make mine with, but after all, it's all about experience and figuring out which texture you like best! 

Top your matzoh brei with some sprinkled cinnamon, sugar and jelly flavor of your choice!

Ironically, a matzoh brei stand opened up in NYC!  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Consult...

AKA-this shit just got real. 

Let's talk about the differences between a frozen embryo transfer (FET) and invitro fertilization (IVF).  Invitro fertilization is the process of taking drugs to stimulation the production of several eggs.  Then, through a surgery, those eggs are retrieved (the retrieval) and then fertilized in a petri dish.  Sometimes people opt to fertilize through a process known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm ingection (ICSI) which is where the sperm is injected into the egg.  Others, opt for natural fertilization just by placing the egg and the sperm in a petri dish and letting nature take it's course. Anywho, that's how embryos are created-and then the transfer takes place, which is when the embryo is placed back into it's natural habitat-the uterus. 

In my case, I have only done one IVF cycle, back in December of 2008. Some details are fuzzy, but I do remember my husband's surprise birthday party being during the two week wait, where I ended up getting pregnant with Moshe.  Since then, I've undergone four FETs.  Because the embryos are already created, it's a much easier, less involved process. All you have to physically accomplish is a good looking uterine lining.  For me, that hasn't been much of a problem; we did have some concern this last transfer, but it all worked out and things looked great at transfer time.  

Now, we're looking to stimulate egg production, retrieve as many as we can, and harvest some embryos!  This is where things can get complicated-it's up to Dr. B to create a protocol for me that he believes will lead to the best egg production.  I kid you not when I say, he closed his eyes, tapped his fingers, "I am thinking of a protocol for it!" 

I am waiting for a final protocol, with a calendar with all the dates included, and then I will share a timeline with you.  For now, I had my baseline on Tuesday of this week, levels look good-still very suppressed from the last rounds of medication, but I am on birth control until December 30th.  

Things to do
1. Schedule an endometrial biopsy 
2. Dr.H has to have a semen analysis 
3.  Dr. H has to have blood work     
4.  Medication has to be ordered
5.  Dr.H has to start taking his antioxidants 
6. Discuss results of my thyroid panel with Dr. B 

One of the biggest positives about going to a small, "mom and pop" doctor, is the individual care you receive.  He did my ultrasound, which revealed a wonky period due to my estrogen still being high from the injections, as well as some present follicles on my ovaries due to my PCOS.  We discussed that I'll be THIRTY in a few months, and "you're different now."  I prefer to think of myself as fine wine...

DIY Birthday card, wine glass, sown red buttons, "like a fine wine you only get better with age"

We also discussed a touchy subject-my weight.  I'll get into that on another post-but since April I've gained 20lbs, and it's best for the hormones to work when I'm at my ideal weight. While he's not forcing me to hold off on the cycle until I lose all the weight, he does want me to focus on losing what I can in the meantime.  I'm finding it much easier said than done since I seem to be a raging hormonal bitch these days who wants to eat anything in sight.  Just today he called me and we ended up discussing my thyroid.    My thyroid stimulating hormone came in on the higher end of normal-meaning I'm not officially, but I'm close to having hypothyroidism, so I start my low dose synthroid tomorrow morning.  He also said it will help my weight loss-here's to hoping, because I'm not so sure my thighs will ever divorce at this rate!  You can read more about hypothyroidism HEREHERE and HERE 

We also discussed PGD/PGS-and I confirmed that we will not be testing the embryos this cycle. The main reason is that it costs about $5,000 and while I believe in committing to the procedure because why not since you're already going through so much-I can't emotionally walk away from a cycle, and because of that, I have to say no to testing the embryos since we can't afford it right now.  On the other hand, being that I'm 29, it's not recommended for my age anyway, so even though I'm almost 30, I still have something working in my favor.  He also confirmed for me today that my AMH came back around 4, where they like to see about 2. He said to anticipate 12 eggs at retrieval. We then discussed how many to transfer and while he thinks 1 and I think 2-I said we'll just wait and see what we end up by transfer day. In 2008, I had six top quality embryos-I don't want to be unrealistically optimistic and think I'll have the same response this time. So, I'm being cautiously optimistic and I'm just hoping for two top quality embryos to transfer.
That's it.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Today I want to share with you a new cookie I came across, just in time for the holidays!  I made these a few times in the past few weeks and it's funny, I'm a chocolate girl-I want chocolate in all my desserts. But, people couldn't get enough of these ginger cookies!  They're just the right amount of spice to give you that kick, but so soft and chewy, like nothing you've ever had before.  And, it speaks volumes that I don't actually have any pictures! Of the three separate times I've baked and packaged them up, no pics! I'll use a stock picture instead!

Image result for ginger cookies

Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat your oven to 350, and let the margarine become room temperature. If you don't have time for that, just rub the stick of margarine between your hands for 30 seconds and that should do.

Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the egg. Add in the water and molasses.  I have never bought molasses before, and thankfully it was easy to find in my local grocery store. There are light and dark versions-I randomly picked up this one.  Add in the dry ingredients-it was recommended to sift, but I didn't because #lazy.

According the recipe, refrigeration time is not needed, but the dough seemed too soft to work with, so I put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Then, I rolled it into balls (walnut size is suggested) and then rolled it into a bowl with white sugar, then placed it on a greased cookie sheet.  Assuming you don't use a disposable cookie sheet, maybe don't grease, as per the recipe. Just now I'm discovering I mistakenly greased, it turned out fine, so use your discretion.

Baking time was said to be 8-10 minutes, however the cookies from my first batch came out too soft and many fell apart when I was transferring them. The second time, I baked them for 13 minutes and the end result was still soft and chewy, but not as delicate-which is a must when transportation is required.  

For those of you that enjoy, or like me-require baking in steps, the dough did fine in the refrigerator and the rule of thumb is cookie dough lasts for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.  

These would make the best holiday gift! I noticed Target had some beautiful Christmas ceramic dishes; what a nice, thoughtful, homemade holiday gift this could be!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Munchies...

One of the reasons I love this series I do is because it's a no-fuss way for me to keep track of my recipes. It's especially helpful as I share many special recipes from friends and family, like today.  

Today's recipe is one of our traditional thanksgiving foods.  I'm not sure how the recipe came about, but I know the first time I had it, I was hooked, and then insisted it be on the table at my Bubby's every time we visited.  Nowadays, I only think about it for Thanksgiving menu planning, but my kids enjoyed it so much I'm thinking it'll stick around and make it's way back to our table plenty of times in the upcoming months.  

What's great about this recipe is it's simple, easy, fast, and yet not over caloric, sweet and tangy and the perfect contrast to that spicy flavor that we all know oh too well during the holiday time. This would be the perfect appetizer served in a nice bowl with a sprig of mint, or in an individual pie shell as a dessert with a dollop of ice cream on top. For me, I'll take it as a sweet and tangy side.

Strawberry Rhubarb 
1 package of frozen strawberries 
1 package of frozen rhubarb 
1 package of strawberry jello (can also sub diet jello)
1 cup water

Combine all the ingredients into a pot and boil, then cool.  The jello won't set until it's been in the fridge, so don't be skeptical if at first, even once cooled, it doesn't look like a jello consistency-that will come!  

If you change up the jello flavor, I'd be curious to hear what you think!   

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just Keep Going...

I've been quiet on social media about my cycle since Thursday or Friday, I honestly can't remember.  
If you follow me on Instagram, and are addicted to watching Instastories like me, you know I posted a video of the results from my at home pregnancy test Thursday of Thanksgiving.  

Back when we began doing treatment in May of 2008, I was naive and only knew a few people who had gone through treatment.  I was the first of all my friends then and on one hand, living in that bubble worked well.  I had not a care in the world, failed cycles didn't bother me much, and quitting was not an option.  Because of my past, I wasn't prepared for this rude awakening of reality.  I have told a few people recently that I wish someone had just told me it might not work.  When we made it to our first Invitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle, I felt like I had paid my time, made it to IVF and things would be smooth sailing from then on out.  18 eggs retrieved, 16 mature, 15 fertilized, and 6 top quality embryos when all was said and done; with 5 frozen-I'm golden  I thought.  
Then came Moshe.
Then came Dovy.
Then came Hannah.

Almost 10 months ago, I stepped foot into Dr. B's office again, planning a transfer. 
What I naively thought would be simple has turned into
a miscarriage 
a chemical pregnancy
a failed cycle. 
10 months, 3 transfers, 4 embryos later, nothing. 

"I'm so sorry...that wasn't the news we were hoping for."

While I'm not in denial, it is hard to accept that those 4 embryos resulted in only heartbreak.  
They're from when I was 21-how could they be bad? But 50% of embryos are going to be abnormal; and as Dr. B reminded me, it's not just embryo quality that matters.  
And sometimes, the answer is just no. 

Sometimes the answer is no; but I'm not willing to accept that right now.  
So it's time to heed my own advice-just.keep.going. 

It might not work at first, but just keep going, it'll work eventually and all the heartbreak will be worth it. 
I've lost track of how many times I've told people that-knowing it was true, but secretly feeling like a fraud on the inside because I hadn't actually gone through heartbreak. 
But now I know. 

Deep Quote: She was brave and strong and broken all at once. – Anna Funder The post She Was Brave and Strong appeared first on Live Life Happy.:

Dr. B and I did an unofficial consult on Monday on the phone; I know I've sung his praises many times over the years, but at every turn, his sincerity and love keeps me grounded through this.  Trusting your medical professional is almost half if not more of the battle.  
As of now, the soonest I can do a fresh cycle, is January; I need to do a cycle of birth control first-beginning on the evening of the third night of my period precisely.  
I still haven't committed to that, and I still have some time before that third night is here...but when I told him I wasn't sure he exclaimed, "JUST DO IT!" 
I'll be sure to keep you posted on what we decide; and of course take you along for the ride with me.  Maybe I'll even get to Facebook live the transfer this time...

I'm not ready to quit, I'm not willing to see what may be the writing on the wall and I have three miracles as proof that it's not time yet. 

Just. Keep. Going. I said...
And now it's my turn... 

Inspirational Quotes for when Life Just Sucks - Sometimes life gets you down. These quotes will help you stay positive! Click to read or pin for later!:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Munchies...

I've been on a bit of a cookie kick lately; hey, they're a simple crowd pleaser!  
I was on the hunt of a different cookie, one that would catch people off guard, which is exactly what this cookie did.  I'm all over any cookie that requires real butter-any of you ever typically bake with non-dairy alternatives, but then use the real deal? Mind blown, it's so delicious! I now look for recipes that call for butter, which uh, hello....let me present to you:

Brown Butter Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies  (this is essentially the vanilla version of the regular crinkle cookies)
10 tablespoons of butter, sliced 
2 1/2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup sugar 
1/4 cup light brown sugar 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan until it begins to foam.  Continuously whisk or swirl the pan of butter for 2-3 minutes until it turns into a deeper yellow color.  Sidenote-I never saw a change in color I don't think. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.

Whisk the baking powder, flour, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl.  

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the sugars and butter on medium speed.  Add in the vanilla and eggs, mixing just until smooth.  Reduce the speech and add in the flour mixture until it's just incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  

Fill a shallow bowl with the powdered sugar and divide the cookie dough into tablespoon sized balls and then roll it in the powdered sugar.  Place it on the lined pan, 2 inches apart.  

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set. Mine needed a few extra minutes! 


Friday, November 25, 2016

My experience with Neupogen

When I first started treatment almost 10 months ago, there was a lady also cycling then and she mentioned that she would be trying neupogen to increase her chances of success-beyond her, I've yet to meet anyone else who has used neupogen.  So I want to dedicate a post all to my experience, how it works, and side effects.  

For starters, this medication isn't cheap! I was told I would need two doses-the first one four days prior to the transfer, and then another one the day before. Each dose is  $300, so after all is said and done, expect to pay about $720.  I was told it was not covered by insurance, however I was pleasantly surprised, and I ended up only paying a $45 co-pay.  I never spoke with insurance, just the pharmacy and I have no idea why I was told it wasn't covered initially and then it was, mistake or not, I got lucky! 

Neupogen is classically given to patients undergoing chemotherapy to help increase white blood cell production.  Some common side effects are fever, bone or muscle pain, headache, nosebleeds, and more. When I mentioned these to my doctor he told me he had only had one patient complain of flu like symptoms.  In chemo patients the neupogen is delivered by an injection and therefore enters the blood stream.  In this case, it was injected straight into the uterus and therefore does not directly enter the blood stream, so side effects are much less common.  

My first dose of Neupogen was slightly complicated, but overall the administration went ok.  That was done on Monday, and throughout the week I kept commenting that I felt pretty bloated or crampy and I hand't ever felt like that before any other transfer. But, as we all know, past experiences don't dictate future experiences and this time, it could within reason to have more side effects.  My second dose was on Thursday, the day before the transfer, and that went much smoother.  The reason the first attempt was challenging was because I had already started my vaginal suppositories and that was blocking Dr. B's view of the cervix.  I made the executive decision not to put it in the night before, ensuring a clear view the next morning.  In less than a minute, the injection was done and I was on my way.  

Now, there's no way to know why I had a horrible day and night following the second neupogen injection.  I don't know if it was random, or related to the neupogen.  Throughout the day I had horrible constant back pain.  I also developed a headache later in the afternoon.  By 9pm I was exhausted and fell asleep around 11pm.  Around 3am I woke up with such intense stomach pain I have never felt before.  I wasn't nauseous and didn't feel like I needed to go to the bathroom, but I was in tears, and couldn't get comfortable.  At this time, I called my husband to ask him what he thought, but he didn't answer.  #Iwonderwhy I actually contemplated calling my doctor because I was so afraid I was experiencing some freak side effect!  I decided that if I didn't feel better around 7am, I would call him and hope I could get to them before they thawed the embryo and I would go to the hospital instead of the transfer. I ended up falling asleep around 5am, and woke up at 7am to get ready for the day.  I felt a lot better, but still had nagging stomach pain. 

When I arrived at the transfer I spoke to the nurse, and she said people have complained of a headache.  When I mentioned how much pain and cramping I seemed to be having Dr. B seemed genuinely concerned and insisted I would get the Progesterone in Oil (PIO) before I left to help calm the uterus.  Although, when the nurse went to give me the PIO shot, she mentioned that my shots are way too low on my butt, as oppose to near my hip, and because a nerve runs there, that could have been why I was experiencing back pain. Since that PIO shot, I've had no back pain!  My cramping has also completely quieted down.  

If I were to give suggestions to anyone going through this: I would say to make sure you stay hydrated and eat well on the days of your injection; make sure to drink plenty of water and possibly take some preventative Tylenol-just be sure to confirm with your doctor!  If I should have to go through this again, it will be interested to compare symptoms, if they're are any.  

Please pass this post along to anyone who is planning on using neupogen before a transfer, or let me know if you have any questions!  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Today's Monday Munchie is a soft, chewy, yummy, drool worthy cookie.  But let me back up-I'm a huge chocolate fan, so when I tell you what the recipe is, this is so not like me.  I also have become a fan of using real butter in recipes that are not going to be eaten at meat meals.  If that last sentence confuses you, read this. 

A few months ago, my mother in law gave us a big bag of raisins.  To some of you, that might seem like a great, kid-friendly, healthy snack. But to those of us whose kids have undergone dental work, raisins are like tiny little devils! Dried fruit is a big no-no for kids teeth because it's filled with sugar and gets stuck! So I let my kids eat a few handfuls, and then I confiscated politely took it away, never to be seen again...well, until today! I had been promising them for months at this point that we'd make oatmeal raisin cookies. What better of an excuse than a big bag of raisins?!? None I tell ya! 

I randomly searched and picked the first recipe that came up. 
Unfortunately, my camera was on manual focus, but I didn't know this-all I knew was every picture was coming out blurry! Thankfully we figured it out in time for a final picture!

1 cup butter, softned 
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats 

In your mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. One at a time, beat in the eggs and then the vanilla.  

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and then slowly add it into the butter mixture.  

Add in the oats, cover and chill for at least one hour, then drop walnut sized balls of dough two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I needed about 12) in a preheated oven of 350 degrees. 

Seems simple enough right? But, here's where we get serious! These cookies just seemed like they were missing a little something.  I started thinking, and then it finally clicked-any good oatmeal raisin cookie needs a glaze! So...

2 cups powdered sugar 
3 tablespoons milk

I didn't find that to be enough milk, so I added more, slowly, until the powdered sugar became a thick, yet spreadable glaze. You don't want it so thick it's clumpy, but you also don't want it so thin it runs off the cookie! I spread it with a spoon and was able to put on as much as I wanted. However, part of the beauty of this cookie is being able to the formation of the cookie, so I would scrape the glaze around the cookie and then off as need be to allow that texture to show through.  

Everyone raved about these cookies; next time I end up with a bag of raisins, I know what I'll be baking!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Transfer #5

On Friday, November 18, 2016, our last embryo was was thawed and transfered. 

I am moved to tears as I think about that chapter coming to a close. 
When the embryologist came in and announced, I have thawed the last embryo...I think it was a surreal moment for all of us in the room. I don't think anyone thought the thawing of my last embryo would have been such a solemn event. 
Let's hope this is a good one, he said. 

I arrived, by myself, around 9:40am for a 10:00 transfer. A few minutes later, they had me changing in the dressing room.  Unfortunately I just discovered I was too late to save the images from my instastory.  #damn 
But, I just want to say, I have every pair of transfer socks!
Anyway, I then moved into the room where we signed papers, discussed the beautiful embryo, and then we made our way to the transfer room. 

You're supposed to have a full bladder at the time of the transfer because the bladder helps the uterus show up on the ultrasound, which helps with placement.  Again, through the cervix and uterus a catheter goes, and then the embryo with fluid is injected.

 It's hard to follow on the screen, but you can almost feel the tension in the room...

Afterwards I was wheeled into recovery where I had to stay for 30 minutes. Then, I got my first progesterone in oil shot, more on that later, and they wanted me to stay for another 30 minutes. 
At this time, since I was post 30 minutes of the transfer, I hopped off the bed to go to the bathroom, but wasn't able to climb back on because it was too high, so the nurse came down and saw my feet sticking out at the bottom of the curtain and then accused me of trying to escape like a little child.  #whoops 

I was able to leave around 11:30 to head back to Baltimore and made it with just an hour to spare before Shabbos. I have blood work on Wednesday to check my estrogen and progesterone levels, and then my pregnancy test is Monday November 28.  Dealing with a two week wait over a holiday weekend is never good, since you don't want to be wallowing in self pity when you have family over.  Therefore, I'll refrain from testing until the last minute, I hope... 

This chapter has brought about three children, it was filled with hope and thoughts about the future, but it also came with a lot of heartbreak and uncertainty, especially as we await the result of this cycle.  I have made so many friendships through this journey, and as hard as it is at times, I wouldn't change it for the world. 
While this journey is not over, it has certainly brought us to a crossroads, and only time will tell which path we'll take and where, and when we'll emerge. 

So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfilment. Rom 8:25   Richard Rohr writes, “IF YOU ARE NOT trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait—you will run—or more likely you will “explain.” Not necessarily a true explanation, but any explanation is better than scary liminal space. Anything to flee from this terrible “cloud of unknowing.”  CLICK THE IMAGE TO KEEP READING:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A cervix and a magnet

Walk into a bar...
I kid, I kid-this isn't a joke, rather the story of my day at my monitoring appointment. 

I made it into the doctor just around 9:30. It doesn't seem to matter when I leave, traffic and pit stops always inevitably have me arriving then.  A tad too late in my opinion, but all was well that day.

I mentioned I was going to be trying this experimental (to the reproductive endocrinology field) drug called neupogen.  I was initially told it wasn't covered by my insurance and it would be around $720 for two vials, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that with a $45 co-pay, it was covered! #winning 
My doctor thinks that's a good sign, I just think it means I have more money for the next cycle. #alwaysapessimist 

Anyway, the way it works is just like an intrauterine insemination (IUI) a speculum + a catheter allows, what should be, easy access to through the cervix into the uterus.  The medicine can then injected into the uterus.  Sounds classic Aaryn style, it wasn't.  It took quite a bit of adjusting the speculum to even attempt the catheter, and after a few apologies, some sweating and some awkward comments-it was over.  Besides the pain of the speculum troubles, it was fine.  Although I've been kind of crampy off and on since.
But that's now where the fun ends...
Just as we were about done, my doctor cries out, "oh shit!"
The nurses response was, "don't SAY that!"
Umm, everything ok down there?
Sorry, I just accidentally nicked your cervix and I'm applying pressure.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw on my instastory I posted about a souvenir I came home with.  

 Displaying IMG_4513.JPG 
Can you guess what it is?

The story is this was given to my doctor by a pharmaceutical company, and it has been sitting on his desk since last year.  Maybe he decided to do some spring  winter cleaning, and after we laughed about this, I got to bring it home with me, "for your kids." It is a magnet after all.  

Of course I had to ask my kids what they thought it was 


And the answer is: a sperm with a yarmulke and a menorah.

Funny Pictures Of The Day – 36 Pics:

A cervix and a magnet

Walk into a bar...
I kid, I kid-this isn't a joke, rather the story of my day at my monitoring appointment. 

I made it into the doctor just around 9:30. It doesn't seem to matter when I leave, traffic and pit stops always inevitably have me arriving then.  A tad too late in my opinion, but all was well that day.

I mentioned I was going to be trying this experimental (to the reproductive endocrinology field) drug called neupogen.  I was initially told it wasn't covered by my insurance and it would be around $720 for two vials, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that with a $45 co-pay, it was covered! #winning 
My doctor thinks that's a good sign, I just think it means I have more money for the next cycle. #alwaysapessimist 

Anyway, the way it works is just like an intrauterine insemination (IUI) a speculum + a catheter allows, what should be, easy access to through the cervix into the uterus.  The medicine can then injected into the uterus.  Sounds classic Aaryn style, it wasn't.  It took quite a bit of adjusting the speculum to even attempt the catheter, and after a few apologies, some sweating and some awkward comments-it was over.  Besides the pain of the speculum troubles, it was fine.  Although I've been kind of crampy off and on since.
But that's now where the fun ends...
Just as we were about done, my doctor cries out, "oh shit!"
The nurses response was, "don't SAY that!"
Umm, everything ok down there?
Sorry, I just accidentally nicked your cervix and I'm applying pressure.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw on my instastory I posted about a souvenir I came home with.  

 Displaying IMG_4513.JPG 
Can you guess what it is?

The story is this was given to my doctor by a pharmaceutical company, and it has been sitting on his desk since last year.  Maybe he decided to do some spring  winter cleaning, and after we laughed about this, I got to bring it home with me, "for your kids." It is a magnet after all.  

Of course I had to ask my kids what they thought it was 


And the answer is: a sperm with a yarmulke and a menorah.

Funny Pictures Of The Day – 36 Pics:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Transfer is a GO!

Nothing like a good spoiler alert eh?!? 
On Monday, Hannah and I returned to NY for my monitoring appointment.  I had to bring Hannah because she had a fever the day before, and since she wasn't 24 hours fever free, she couldn't attend school. However, lo and behold, she was still actually sick and an hour out from NY, she threw up, all over herself, in her car seat.  We had to take a a pit stop at a NJ rest area, and 20 minutes later we were back on our way.  I dropped her off by our former babysitter and then I headed to my appointment.  

I have since renamed ultrasound techs, sneaky bitches.  I know it's their job that they can't tell you any information but just laying there, watching their facial expressions and trying to interpret their requests of move this way, take a deep breath, hold it, and all that clicking! I thought for sure I was doomed.  
But, alas, my lining measured at a 9.  Which isn't as thick as it needs to be, but we were still one and a half weeks out, giving it plenty of time to continue to develop. Apparently there are ways to grade the lining, and from my understanding my lining is beginning to look like a triple line pattern, which is ideal for implantation.  It's funny, as time goes on, I become more and more aware of what goes into this process and how my body responds. In previous cycles, I never once asked or cared to know how thick my lining was or what it looks like! But, I guess as we become more and more involved in social media, we learn more and more about people and what they go through and then even in these cases, we begin to implement what we see into our own life. So, I asked how thick my lining was, which was when he threw in what it looked like, so now I'll have another detail to pay attention to from now on.  

I mentioned last week about the potential growth in my uterus.  It was not brought up this appointment so either it was just the picture from the ultrasound that made it appear there was a growth and there actually isn't, it doesn't look any worse, or it doesn't really matter if it's there or not at this point because my lining is developing nicely and that's all that matters at this point. 

Then it happened...
This is your last embryo...and then he suggested a relatively new experimental drug to the reproductive endocrinology field, neupogen.  Neupogen is typically used in patients that are receiving chemotherapy as a way to stimulate white blood cell growth. It is often used for women how have recurrent pregnancy loss due to immunological issues, but they also believe it can help increase egg quality and improve lining quality, which is why we're doing it. I have to purchase it as two doses, for more than $700, and it is injected into the uterus.  I'll have it done on Monday, and also the day before the transfer, Thursday.  I'll have to sleep over in NY Thursday night, but I'm determined to make this work!

Maybe the third time's a charm...

Positive quotes about strength, and motivational:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Even though we're well on our way to winter wonderland, it still feels very much like fall! So I don't think it's too bad I'm sharing a fall apple recipe; you'll thank me later!

Apple picking is usually a fall tradition in almost everyone's families; ours included.  We cannot eat any baked or cooked goods other than from a kosher venue or vendor, so eating the traditional apple picking goodies are out for us.  Which is why I used the fruits of our labor at my first attempt at apple fritters. The apple is a surprising little fruit, I always go for the chocolate dessert, but whenever I do end up being forced to eatung an apple dessert, I'm reminded just how delicious they really are.  At first I was skeptical, but these did not disappoint!

1 quart vegetable oil for frying 
11/2 cups flour 
1 tablespoon white sugar 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups apples-peeled, cored and chopped 
1 cup cinnamon sugar 

Heat the oil to 375 degrees. I don't have a thermometer for cooking.  When it comes to heating oil, I do the water test-flick some water onto the heating oil and if it sizzles, then it's ready. 

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then pour in the milk, eggs and oil and stir until blended. Then, add in the apples and mix.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and fry until brown on both sides, about five minutes.  I had difficulty dropping spoonfuls in because it fell off the spoon in more of a drizzle, and it wouldn't solidify into the proper shape. I think next time I'll use another spoon to help the batter move off of the spoon quicker.  The batter should really float in the oil, and eventually the bottoms will turn a respectable shade of brown that you'll recognize.  Use a slotted spoon to take them out of the oil.    This is definitely a necessity-you need your spoon to be large enough that it can safely remove it from the boiling oil! Place the freshly removed fritter onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and when cooled briefly, roll it in cinnamon sugar. Once it cools, cinnamon and sugar won't be able to stick to it, but you definitely need to give it time to cool!  

Eat while still warm! I lost count of how many I had that day.  
As I was making them, I remember telling my friend that I was skeptikal of how they would turn out, I'd be lucky if they were even somewhat close to tasting like a fritter; but I can say that when it came time to eat them, they were definitely all I dreamed an apple fritter would be. 

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