Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Munchies...

I'm so excited to share this jackpot of a recipe with you-bonus, it's Monday, so you have all week to gather what you need and make this for dinner!  My kids gobbled this down, and it's back on the menu rotation this week!  It's healthy, wholesome, filling and oh so yummy.  And did I mention easy???  I have a new found love for my crock pot-now a days the crock pot is something like an olden day contraption, since everyone uses the Instant Pot-but I'm slow to integrate new technology into my life.  So, for now, crock pot it is! 

This was so easy-just dump a couple ingredients into the crock put and then make your toppings dish

I opted for some avocado, tomato, shredded lettuce and I added a honey ginger dressing.  

2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1 packet taco seasoning mix 
16oz jar salsa 
1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
juice from 2 small limes 

Place chicken in the crock pot, and then add taco seasoning, salsa, cilantro and lime.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours.

Remove chicken, shred, and add liquid from the crock pot until chicken is moistened to your liking-about 1/2-3/4 cup of liquid.  

Serve using tacos or tortillas (we used soft tortillas) and your choice of toppings. 

It doesn't get much easier than this!  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frozen Embryo Transfer #4

Yesterday was the big day-transfer #4!!!

When I was told my transfer time was 9am, with an arrival of 8:30, I knew I had to get to NYC the night before.  What I didn't know was that I wasn't going to make it on the road until 9:30pm, get stuck in about 40 minutes worth of traffic going over the George Washington bridge, and that I wouldn't get to sleep before 2am!  Part way, I thought I should have just stayed at home and woken up at 4am! 

But, I had ulterior motives-the local hospital oatmeal

I know I know, it's weird-but it's just so delicious, I seriously dream about it! And I knew if I came in the night before, I could have the early morning to myself, and could go and eat a nice, quiet breakfast! Which is exactly what I did-if you follow me on Instagram, you probably caught me talking about it!  

I made it back to my car, in the drizzle without a coat no less, around 8:10, and headed on my way.  I made sure to start drinking my water on the way. My rule of thumb, is that I should have drunk a whole Camelbak water bottle by the time of my arrival to ensure a full bladder, but this time, it was a good thing I didn't finish that water bottle!  

When I arrived, I made my way downstairs, which is where the OR is, and I noticed no one was there! The doors were wide open, which means no one was in the middle of a transfer. So I walked upstairs and was told someone would be coming down-I was the only transfer yesterday! Yay for personal attention!!! 

The nurse came down, I got changed, and she got me checked in. 
And then I waited.
And waited.
And I waited for 25 minutes, with a full bladder, until Dr. B walked in, almost half an hour late to my transfer! Now, I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, but not only do you have to have a full bladder for the transfer, but you have to remain laying down after the transfer-for 30 minutes! That makes for an extra hour of a full bladder!!! I also realized in this moment that we can stop wondering where Dovy gets his angry face and disgruntled personality-it's from me.
Dr. B walks in and asked me if I was recording, to which I responded in a straight face, "it's your punishment." 
PUNISHMENT!!! He gasped. 
"You're 25 minutes late and I have to pee!" 

Mike came in and gave me the embryology report: it's perfect, and 8 remain in the freezer. 

We discussed a few details, like meds and dates for testing, and then he said, "let's go!" 

The transfer went off without a hitch!

Something I appreciate and one reason why I could never change clinics is because of the personal attention I get and camaraderie.  The day, and any day, is always full of jokes, laughter and well wishes. So it was fitting that the embryologist and Dr. B have a "line" for confirming the catheter is clear of the embryo. 
I had to have Mike say it three times before I actually caught it on video!

And then of course, the obligatory selfie 

I got on 2/27 for a blood test to check my estrogen and progesterone levels, and then I have my pregnancy test on 3/6, but I'll be testing before!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Final FET #4 Update

I was originally supposed to have a monitoring appointment on Wednesday 2/15, but because I was planning on heading into NY on Friday for the weekend, we just arranged for monitoring to take place then.  Everything was good, my lining was great, and so was my blood.  I started antibiotics, steroids and progesterone that night.  

I had blood work on 2/20, my 30th birthday! 

I head to NY tonight for a 9am transfer #4 tomorrow morning! 
Follow along on Instagram and Facebook, as I'll be updating there tomorrow! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life Hack: Snack Shelf

I'm so excited to share this life hack with you, but please be sure not to confuse life hack with Pinterest worthy.  
Not every aspect can be made into a Pinterest spectacle-and this catch all closet is one of them!
This closet houses appliances, cookie decorating items, the cleaning bin, the holiday decorating bin, and our main pantry.  

Snacks aren't provided in school for my kiddos, and for FIVE years now, we've gone through the daily morning struggle of packing snacks.  Packing snacks for one kid is manageable, packing snacks for two kids is stressful and tiresome, but packing snacks for three kids is more than one can handle!  I would budget in about 20 minutes in the evening or morning to pack their snacks, and it was just a major time suck.  

I came up with the idea to add a dedicated snack shelf into my closet.  It served two purposes: of course, I needed a place to store the snacks anyway, but my main goal was to use it as a tool to teach the kids how to pack their snacks themselves.  The snacks are organized into the following bins:  fruit, granola type snacks, crackers, cookies, chips, and dessert.  I used these bins to store all the items-I had these from before, so I wasn't going to invest in buying new containers just to fit my new space, but I do wish they were taller so they could hold more.  #nexttime 

When organizing with a desire to include the kiddos, you have to organize according to their level.  Moshe reads, but Dovy and Hannah do not-however they are able to recognize pictures.  Each bin has a picture so they can identify the contents of each bin.  This bin pictured, is obviously everyone's favorite bin.  At first, I was nervous to include this within everyone's reach, and I was asked several times if a brownie was an acceptable form of breakfast.  But, I really do believe everything is teachable to our kids, so I kept the dessert bin there.  It's rare now that the kids attempt to eat from that bin without being told it's allowed.  

Now, for a peak at my favorite snacks that fill those bins!

My kids go in phases, sometimes it's fruit cups, other times it's applesauce, and now we're back into the applesauce pouches.  

This bin includes our favorite Blueberry Belvitas , Trader Joe's cereal bars, graham crackers, granola pouches, and fig bars.  

In this bin I include crackers like Trader Joes wheat thins, Ritz crackers, pretzels, and anything cracker related.  

I do allow my kids to eat "junkier" items in moderation throughout the day, but that's a post for another day.  This bin houses junk like sweet snack items.  Some of what I'll include in this bin are vanilla wafers, letter cookies, butter cookies, mini chocolate chip cookies, these "pop tarts" and oh em gee I can't resist them when they're in there!  

I also have a bin that houses more of the chip snack items.  Some items we love are Terra chips , Trader Joes Rocket Cheese Crackers are so good, and sometimes I buy corn chips and party mix. 

The practicality of this shelf goes beyond saving me time in the morning.  It gives me a place to store the snacks, it allows my children a way to be independent and get snacks themselves-which is not only good for me, but it's also a necessary skill for them.  We can talk about responsibility and making good choices. It also has saved me so much time which also helps my kids: I have more time to focus on them in the morning and I'm not as rushed and stressed.  

Organizing the snack shelf is almost like a Sunday meal prep day-except I do it about bi-weekly, or once a month.  When a particular item is running low, I'll re-buy and then spend one evening bagging all the new snacks into sandwich size baggies.  I will admit I've felt badly about all the baggies we use, however Dr. Husband reminded me that our system is probably better than pre-packaged individual snacks because our kids don't eat a full serving anyway-and what's awesome is when snacks come back half eaten, or not eaten at all, I just drop them into their respective bins and they're good to use another day!  A single serving snack, once it's open it either goes into a baggie to stay fresh, or it gets thrown out half eaten.  Our snacks do last quite awhile and I can't stress enough how simple and easy it is to grab one back from each bin in the morning and just throw it into their bag.  

If you're struggling with your daily snack and lunch packing, try this out and let me know!

You can read about my fresh fruit and vegetable snack plan HERE   

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Munchies...

With all my traveling, and #commitment to tradition, I needed to find something new and exciting to bring to Dr. B's staff last week. 
Well, truth is, while I'm not currently sticking to any diet other than the see food eat food diet, I made what I was craving. 
The only problem with cheesecake, is that I have a serious phobia of my springform pan. I can never figure out how to close it properly, it drips out all over my oven, and that is just bad news bears.  
But, for those of you that either share my fears, or are just intimidated by cheesecake, mini cheesecakes, specifically these oreo mini cheesecakes that are made in a muffin tin, are your answer! 
These were to die for, and as it is, super easy, but there's a dupe that makes it even easier if you're in a rush and just want to impress.

1 1/2 cups crushed oreos made into crumbs 
4 tablespoons melted butter 

I placed about half a package of regular Oreos in a gallon zip lock bag and crushed with my hands. It was tedious and my crumbs were definitely not terribly crumb like, but it was easy.  In addition to a phobia of my springform, I also have a phobia of my food processor.  It would definitely be better to do this in a food processor, but if you're short on time, or don't have one, or just don't want to schlep it out, crushing by hand will do just fine! 

Melt the butter and combine with the crumbs and mix until combined. If you use a food processor your crumb and butter mixture will resemble coarse sand.  Then press 2 tablespoons into your lined cupcake tin.  I found that with larger crumbs, you don't need as much.  The original recipe calls for pressing the crumbs down with a 1/3 measuring cup, but mine is not round so I ended up just using my hands. 

Bake the crust for five minutes and allow to cool before filling.

Dupe: If you're pressed for time, or just a quick crowd pleaser, you can drop one Oreo in each muffin slot instead of making and baking a crust. I tried out both ways, and prefer taking the time to make a crust because it becomes crispier, has a richer taste because of the butter, but it also doesn't separate from the cheesecake when you bite into it!

Cheesecake filling:
16 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 eggs (add one at a time)
1/4 cup oreo crumbs plus some additional larger crushed oreos

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese for 2-3 minutes, then add the sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Beat the eggs in one at a time.  Turn off the mixer and add in the Oreo crumbs and larger pieces are Oreo and mix by hand until incorporated. 

Place 2-2.5 tablespoons of batter into each "cupcake" slot and add Oreo crumbs and a few large pieces of crushed Oreo if you please.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until you notice edges start to brown and middle appears to be more solidified.  

I was pressed for time and took a risk by putting the cheesecakes straight into the fridge for a few overs (what was my overnight) and they were just fine!  The original recipe calls for cooling to room temperature before chilling, and then once refrigerated, cover loosely.  Like I said, I put mine straight into the fridge, but I did lay a piece of foil on top.  

These were such a huge hit! 
If you want to show off your skills, this is definitely the recipe to try! 
I'd also think this could be modified for any cookie desired-nutter butter, a mint oreo, maybe a chocolate chip cookie!!!  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tear Stained Cheeks

Today marks one year since I found myself back at Dr. B's office.  
365 days
3 transfers 
4 embryos
1 fresh cycle
and 20 lbs have brought me to where I am today.  

I've had several hours, in fact I wonder how many days those hours have added up to, where I've faced this journey time and time again. 
Tear stained cheeks. 
Subsided by the time I walk through those doors. 

Tear stained cheeks during the ultrasound where I heard I should see something more. 
Tear stained cheeks when I read the words your beta hcg is 20,  and then subsequently it's less than 0.
Tear stained cheeks when the pregnancy tests were blank, day, after day, after day.  

I knew this day was coming, it loomed over me more than the due date I never had.
  Dr. B 3:00 pm I so giddily wrote; I don't  need to write appointments down anymore, they come so frequently. 
Tear stained cheeks. 

I've had time to pray, and time to think, and time to question, and time to be angry
Tear stained cheeks. 
Many, many, tear stained cheeks. 

Keep walking through the storm… your rainbow is waiting on the other side. 9 Quotes to Read When You Are Feeling Anxious:

Someone asked me recently what my bottom line is. 
A fourth baby

I don't always have tear stained cheeks, because I know a rainbow awaits the end of every storm.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Monday Monitoring...FET Prep

Monday rolled around and I found myself on an early morning drive back to New York.  Let's be real, for those of you who can't believe I "commute,"what mother gets 8 hours of uninterrupted time to listen to whatever non-kid music she wants, and talk to her friends?  #exactly 
Oh, and I forget that I get to eat some kind of food, uninterrupted, and all to myself.
It's all about the silver lining...

Something happened, something amazing. I won't go as far to say it's a miracle, but the longer I trudge through this, the more times I see a higher power at work.  I am going on my 4th transfer, all have been the same protocol.  The first transfer in April went off without a hitch!  The August transfer also seemed to be ok, but then the subsequent November transfer brought about lots of lining issues; an issue that we had never faced before, and we never had an answer as to why.  And then again during the fresh cycle, I had lining issues again.  But now, at my first monitoring appointment for this upcoming FET, my lining is already trilaminar.  
Same medicine, same dose, same protocol-but totally different outcome.  
Do you know why?
I sure do...
But it just goes to show you that sometimes, there aren't answers to why. 
Sometimes, we just fall on the wrong side of statistics, and there aren't answers to why.
Sometimes, things just work how they're supposed to, and there aren't answer to why. 

We discussed trying Neupogen again, but decided to, "let it go" this time since all the times I did get pregnant, I had not used neupogen.  We also decided to thaw one embryo since I have a good track record: 4/5 transfers resulted in pregnancy, however the success of the last 2 pregnancies was out of our control.  So, I compromised.  I'll transfer one now, and if it fails, two go in next time.  I am all for twins, I know I could handle twins, but I'm coming off of a very stressful, anxiety ridden year-I don't need to necessarily invite an extra anxiety filled situation right now.  So, one embryo it is. Estimated date of transfer: February 22 

For now, I continue 5 units of Lupron nightly, and Monday night I took .1 mL of estrogen, and I will take .2 mL tomorrow, Thursday night.  And come hell or high water, or more like snow and ice, I will travel back to New York Friday morning.  Dr. B and I spoke tonight, and we do have a backup plan in case it's impossible to make it, but fingers crossed! But truthfully, I'm so relieved the weather might throw a kink in the plans at this point in the game as oppose to three weeks ago when I was in the middle of stimming-that would have been a real problem.  

Employée Motivation Quotes- Quotes Of The Day  11 Pics:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Munchies...

 This week I'm sharing my new fave challah recipe with you.  You can check out this recipe, but I promise, this is easier, faster, tastier and kills it in the looks department, like I can't get over it every time if comes out of the oven!  And it tastes pretty darn good!  
I didn't realize until later in life, like high school, that non Jews are into HOLLA bread, but if you don't have the religious need for challah, rather you want some holla french toast, I promise you, this is your recipe! What is really, really, really fabulous, is that this recipe only uses 4 cups of flour-so it's perfect for small mixers, small ovens, and small freezers!  

2 teaspoons instant yeast 
1 cup warm water
4 cups flour 
1/4+1 teaspoon cup sugar 
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 yolk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Egg wash and toppings:
1 egg
Optional toppings: cinnamon and sugar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything topping 

The first step in making any dough is making a starter from your yeast.  This is how you check to see if your yeast is good, otherwise, your dough won't rise. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, water and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  I've found that warm water is best-cold will work, but hot will kill the yeast.  I also add some sugar (even if it's not called for in the recipe).  I let this sit for 10 minutes and then I check in; if it's bubbling, it's good yeast! Otherwise, toss and start 

In an electric mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt.  Add the eggs, yolk and oil and mix to combine.  Then, add in the yeast mixture.  Use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough for 6-8 minutes on a low speed.  

Once the dough looks like it's holding a solid shape, use an oil spray, like PAM, and lightly spray on all surfaces of the dough so it does not stick to the bowl.  Cover with a towel and keep in a warm place.  I like to run my oven while letting my dough rise.  The dough should rise, and double in size, over the course of 11/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has doubled, you can make it into the sizes and shapes that you desire.  Round, braided, rolls, or ninja turtles like my kids desire.  Once you're finished shaping your challahs, spray your baking pan and place your challah in, cover for about another hour to allow for additional rising time.  

Once the challah has completely risen, make an egg wash of one egg, and brush it over the challah.  You can then top, or not, with whatever you choose.  I like cinnamon and sugar, but for those who prefer a more savory topping, an everything topping of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and minced garlic might do the trick. You could also leave it just egg washed, and enjoy it plain.  

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are browned.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

FET Prep

On Monday I made my way back to New York-it was my first time back since my retrieval.  I had the usual blood and ultrasound and a lovely meeting with Dr. B.  
I started my estrogen shots Tuesday night, .05 and then again on Friday with .1.  I also dropped my Lupron to 5 units on Tuesday night as well.  

My levels looked good, a have a small cyst on an ovary, but that's not a big deal.  My period came and has now gone-it was heavier than I remember my recent periods being, so we're hoping the lining looks like it's developing solidly on Monday so we don't have to clean it out.  However, if it does look funny, he'll clean it out, and we'll determine then if we need to do any additional imaging before the transfer.  If you don't remember, my endometrial biopsy showed polyp fragments.  At the past three transfers, I've had trilaminar lining.  That is what the lining needs to be in order to be receptive to implantation, so we don't think there's an underlying issue. However, if the lining looks funny, we'll dig deeper before doing a transfer.  This is all TBD as of Monday.  

So, we're exactly where we need to be, for now.  

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