Thursday, September 15, 2016

Birthday Season...

Birthdays in our house should really be called Birthseasons. With all three kiddos having their special day within a month, it makes for some serious partying.  And, some serious spending if I'm not careful.  My husband grew up with a birthday table- a small table filled with treats and goodies on the morning of your birthday.  I happen to like the idea, its an opportunity to gift the person with all sorts of small special tokens that remind them how much you care.  But, I'm not doing a table, I'll stick with a cute birthday bag #targetforthewin. 

I went with something a little different this year...I've seen all over Instagram the "one balloon," but they only make them in the sayings they make them in-they can't be customized. So, I took matters into my own hands....

Hannah was the first to celebrate

For the past couple years I bought confetti balloons from Paperscapes  on Etsy.  Their products are beautiful and their customer service is amazing. 

Of birthday is complete without donuts 

We went out to eat recently, and in a NYC restaurant someone's always celebrating!  At this particular place, instead of candles, they use a shooting sparkler. And while I haven't found quite that, yet, I knew my kids wouldn't be disappointed with sparklers. 

I'm not sure if she was more excited for the donuts or her gifts!

Hannah got some dress up shoes, a baby doll lunch accessory that included a cute divided tray with animal crackers, squeeze apple sauce and a few other food items that have already disappeared in our new house!

Next up, there was a scenery change as we celebrated Dovy's birthday on the same day!

I don't think Dovy was expecting to see this when he woke up...

Just look at his face!

But no one complains when donuts greet them on the breakfast table!

Dovy was much more excited about his sparklers than Hannah; their birthdays were the first time trying it out, so he was pretty darn excited!

And today, a little bit more than a month later, we had another birthday celebration 

If helium isn't a good option for balloon filling, just blow them up yourself and hang them from the ceiling!  Personal helium tanks can be expensive, and taking them somewhere to get filled isn't always an option.

I haven't talked much about our move, yet, but Moshe is flourishing and oh so happy, every day!

Just look at this face!

Moshe is my only child with a birthday that falls during the school year; so he gets to celebrate his birthday, on his birthday, in school with his friends.  My other two celebrate their half birthdays in school to make up for their summer birthday.

So, let's talk the one balloon trend shall we?

Pictures like this can be spotted all over Instagram and Pinterest 

Mylar Script Balloons!:

I knew I wanted a "one balloon" balloon, so I'd have to get creative! 
I ordered the letters I'd need to spell out each number (three, five and seven) from OhShinyPaperCo.  She was super quick to respond to my e-mails, which was very important because I thought of this idea pretty close to that date I'd need it, and she even rushed my order! I also ordered these mini glue dots. All you do is blow up the individual balloons according to instructions; the only thing I did differently was I taped down all the tiny tags that are meant to be where they are hung individually.  Once they're all blown up, you can assemble them to spell the word you want.  I then used the glue dots to attach the letters to each other.  I was skeptical, but the balloons are so light that the glue dots were able to hold them all together.  I even traveled with the balloons and they held up! 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Upcoming Plans...

When I got news that I was probably having another miscarriage, I swore up and down two things: that I would do a fresh cycle next, and that I would only use the remaining frozen embryo once it had undergone genetic testing.  But, then my miscarriage was confirmed, and I changed my tune a bit.

Let me explain...
I really want to do a fresh cycle.  You're probably all wondering why I'm so crazy to commit to something that will require several blood tests a week, many many trips back to New York and a lot of money, and a huge question mark at the end.  This is my logic-first and foremost, doing a fresh cycle will allow us the opportunity to do genetic testing on the new embryos, with the most bang for our buck, as it's $4,000 to test up to eight embryos and an extra $200 per embryo beyond eight.  So, I'd rather pay the money to test eight, than one.  Doing a fresh cycle will also allow me to hopefully add a couple healthy embryos to my stash, and although medically there isn't much of a difference between 29 and say 31, it just feels different.  It's been almost eight years since my last egg retrieval and I worry significantly that my reserve and quality have diminished.  However, I had my Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)  tested back in February.  This is a hormone that is believed to be indicative of the follicle reserve one has in their ovaries.  Mine came back at a good level, so there isn't reason to believe I'll have difficulty stimming again. It also looks like I'll fall right on the 50% abnormal embryo rate, if not higher depending on this next embryo, and I'm nervous that I have lower than normal embryo quality, which I fear may have gotten much worse over the past eight years.  Again, my doctor seems to think there's nothing to worry about, but clearly, he must have forgotten that fear consumes me on a somewhat regular basis.  
But, the bottom line is that at this point we can't afford the genetic testing. Our new insurance covers almost all of IVF, but it will not cover the testing since we don't have a specific disease we need to screen for.  So, a fresh cycle is out.

And for the same reason that a fresh cycle is out, so is testing the one remaining frozen embryo. I so wish I could test it, before I commit to taking hormones again, and monitoring appointments, and driving back and forth to New York, and arranging a transfer in the midst of all this with three children back at home.  But, it can't happen right now.  The bottom line is, I'm willing to take a risk on this last embryo to move me a little further along.  The two and a half months it takes me to prep give me comfort knowing I'm moving forward.  Now, it might be as if I'm running on a treadmill, not actually going somewhere, but I still feel as if I'm doing something.  It might fail, but it might not.  I hope I fall within the normal range of statistics, because that means this will be a healthy embryo. Not knowing the answer, but moving forward, is a risk I'm willing to take.  

So, I find myself here again....

I started taking birth control Monday night.  My protocol was e-mailed to me this afternoon, insurance coverage is being arranged and my medication is being ordered. 

And just like that, hope fills me and the hurt, and the pain, and the anger subside.

Letter to Anyone Contemplating Suicide:   

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Today I'm sharing with you a baking task I have now managed to cross off my to-do list!  Making 5lbs of challah dough!  This is a ritual commonly observed by Jewish women in preparation for the Sabbath.  When one makes 5lbs of dough, the separate a piece off and say a blessing over the dough.  The reason there's a blessing is because we are taking a simple act, making bread, and connecting it to G-d, turning it into a holy act.  I've made plenty of challah dough in my years, but I've been too intimated by the 5lb label.  But I thought it would be a nice ritual to welcome in the first Shabbos spent in our new home.  Better yet, I lived to tell about it, and I can't wait to do it again! 

Challah This recipe is from a Kosher Palette cook book, I just can't remember which one and I can't find a link!
1/2 cup warm water 
4 (1/2 oz) packages of active dry yeast 
1 tabelspoon sugar 
7 large eggs 
2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
7 teaspoons salt 
4 cups boiling water 
1 (5 lb) bag of flour 
1 large egg, lightly beaten
toppings: poppy seed, sesame seed, cinnamon and sugar, honey 

When making bread, you have to start with what is called guessed it...a starter! It's essentially where you test your yeast out to make sure it will enable the dough to rise. This step, is the most crucial part of the entire process, and requires a bit of attention to a few details. None of this is hard, but this is where it can easily get messed up and ruin the entire batch. So pay attention! 

Combine the warm water, tablespoon of sugar, and the yeast into a small bowl. Warm water can be described as room temperature to a little bit warmer than that.  If you make the water too hot, it will kill the yeast.  If you're not sure about the temperature, colder is a better bet.  I always add some sugar to my starter, even if the recipe doesn't call for it.  I also agitate the water just a bit, and let it sit, undisturbed for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes you should see the yeast bubbling. If you don't see yeast action, your yeast is a no-go! Another tip is to keep your kitchen warm to foster yeast development. I always turn my oven on to 350 and keep it running the entire time I'm making dough.  
In an 8-quart bowl, crack the 7 eggs, and mix.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of sugar, oil, salt and boiling water.  I use water from a hot water pot-at this point, you don't need to be worried about "killing" anything!  Mix with a wooden spoon.  I also didn't measure my bowls! I am limited on large bowls, so I just use the 2 largest ones I had-a large mixing bowl and the mixing bowl that belongs to the mixer, and it all worked out fine!  

Displaying IMG_2618.JPG

About 10 minutes later, after the yeast is proofed/"alive" add it to the eggs.  Add in the sugar and oil mixture made previously.  Stir, and begin adding the flour.  Plan to add all the flour over the course of 3 additions. Just mix well with a wooden spoon until it's incorporated before adding more flour.  

Kneading the dough is the most physically challenging part.  Sprinkle flour onto your surface and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.  I definitely did not manage to knead that long and my dough was fine.  Be aware-your dough is meant to be sticky at this point!  I leave my dough as sticky as I can because too much flour will make it too dry.  The way I measure is based on how it sticks to my hand-if I have to wipe it off, it's too sticky and needs more flour.  However, if I can use dough to stick it off, than it's "stickiness" is just right!  I then spray the dough with cooking oil which prevents it from sticking to the side of the bowl(s).  Even though the dough is now in one large ball, if you used two bowls, separate it into two, otherwise if will quickly overflow from the one bowl. Cover the bowl(s) with a damp cloth and place near a warm place in your kitchen, like an oven.  

Let the dough raise for 2-3 hours. I usually end up doing 3 hours, it just allows me to get more things done.  Remove the dough, separate out to make a blessing, and then separate the dough into challahs.  This recipe will make 6 or 7 challahs. You can decide how big or small you want your challahs, if you want rolls, or you just want to give some dough to your kids to play around with and make their own shapes of challah! Braid accordingly, and then place in the pan, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.  Brush the raised challah with a beaten egg and if you prefer toppings, now is the time to add.  I did everything topping and honey topping this time. 

Bake for about 30 minutes at 350!  

Displaying IMG_2631.JPG

There are so many different ways to braid challah!!!

Challah: How to Braid Bread | Pavlova Sundays:  

And check out this video for all sorts of different braiding methods!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Back to School

Already for well over a month, we've been seeing Back to School!  But on the east cost, we just went back to school this week! I have to admit, when I saw all the other school posts it was nice to still relish in the goodness that is summer.  

However, I won't lie, I was so happy to see September 7 creep up on the calendar.  Just before, the kids excitedly checked out their new school.  

For those of you that don't have the most beautiful handwriting like me, check out this awesome printable.  It's so convenient, and looks good even without a frame!  I also found this link which will be great for the last day of school so we can all cry over how much our babies have grown over the year.  

We're at a new school this year, thanks to our move.  I'm also on a new journey as a mommy now, which I'll talk about a lot more soon!  This was the first time I've ever taken my kids to school, since I've always been working.  

On one hand my kids were relieved I'd be their "driver" this year, but on the other hand, I'm sure many of you can relate to that creating a bit of a challenging situation.  

Transitions are much harder when the parent is around.  However we're working on transitioning and I'm happy to say they are all doing so well and are so happy.  

The night before school started, I posted this picture on Instagram.  

Several of you asked where the hooks are from, what the folders are on top and what I plan on using them for.  These hooks are from Anthropologie.  They're on the pricier side, but because of their location, it was important they fit the industrial look-you'll see what I mean when I take you around our new digs.  The folders up top are actually these clear chart folders typically found in a doctors office.  It's simple, yet modern twist. I plan on using it to hold any specific kid related paperwork, such as homework, projects, slips, forms, notes, etc.  The kids are currently housing this mini supply kit there.  

How have your kids been adjusting to school?

Blogging tips