Friday, December 18, 2015

Infertility Update November and December

Hi everyone! I know my updates have been few and far between these past few months, and that is mostly because we don't have a ton of new things happening in the baby making department these days. I can only type so many posts about my ups and downs with infertility, and I don't want to bore you guys with that over and over. I'm sure by now you get the picture.

We are still tracking my cycle using Natural Family Planning methods. Now that we have tracked 2 cycles (we are tracking my 3rd currently), it is time to meet with our doctor again. This doctor is not an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) AKA he is not an infertility doctor. He is a family/OB doctor, but he is so passionate about natural family planning, and he has encouraged us to give this method a try. We are planning to meet with him towards the end of the month and see what he has to say about what we've tracked so far.

I don't want to go into a ton of detail on what how this method works, because if there's anyone who's reading and may want to give this a try, I want them to go to a professional and learn ALL of the details that go along with it, as every. single. detail. is important to use NFP successfully.  So that being said, I'll just briefly summarize. (Side note: If anyone is interested in trying NFP in lieu of birth control, or for any other reason, contact me! )

There are several types of Natural Family Planning Methods. We are using the Creighton Model, and this is basically where I track my cycle daily and write down what I see. My fertile and non-fertile days are measured by mucus and lack thereof. Yep, you read that one correctly... kinda wierd, but super interesting so far. Depending on the amount, color, consistency of mucus, and where I'm at in my cycle, that information together can be a good indicator as to whether or not I am ovulating, and you all know what needs to happen from there, so I won't go into detail about the rest! :)  So here's what we've found so far by tracking my cycles:

The past 3 months, I have had 30-35ish day cycles. THIS. IS. AWESOME!!!!! These are pretty normal length cycles, so for me to have 3 in a row is awesome! Previously I was having 38-40ish day cycles, which is pretty long, and they were inconsistent in length from month to month. The inconsistency is the main issue, because it's hard to predict ovulation if you really don't know if this month's cycle will be 28 or 45 days long.

 Here's what we've learned from our new doctor that we didn't necessarily know before: Its not actually a bad thing to have a really long cycle. A woman's cycle is split into 4 'phases'. I'm not a doctor and I don't know all the scientific lingo.... and I'm not going to try to, but I'll do my best to explain what I know: There are 4 phases to a woman's cycle, and here's what happens in each phase: 1. Period 2. Dry days 3. Ovulation 4. Dry days. The number of days for parts 1 and 2 of the cycle can vary, and that isn't necessarily a problem. What IS important is that ovulation and the days after are between 9 and 17 days. For most women, this part of the cycle usually stays within this range, and if it doesn't, there's probably an issue of some sort.

So by tracking my cycle/mucus in detail, we can figure out the timing of phases 3 and 4, and from there I can have a really good idea of when I'm ovulating (if I am ovulating), and when I will start my period. We're almost 3 months in so far, and not pregnant yet, but I'm not getting too down just yet, because I'm learning a lot, and I have a feeling that even if not now, this information will be really useful someday!

So for now we are going to keep tracking, and see what our doctor says at the end of the month. He will take a look at our charts and try to figure out if the thinks I am actually ovulating or not, and we'll go from there. Based on what I've seen so far on my charts, I'm wondering if I really am ovulating or not? I'm curious to see what the doctor thinks. If he thinks I'm not, hopefully he will have some ideas as to how we can make my body ovulate without a ton of fertility drugs and procedures. We are still really enjoying me not taking a ton of hormones every month, giving shots, etc. Not to say we won't ever do that again, but for now, we are thankful for life to be getting back to normal.

We have still not completely taken the idea of IVF off the table, but we do want to give NFP a fair chance before moving on. If NFP doesn't work after an undecided amount of time, we will look into IVF again, but for now, we're learning a lot, an aren't giving up! We would just really love to get pregnant naturally and not have to do anymore fertility treatments. This is our current prayer request. We also would really like for everyone to pray for peace and understanding. I have gotten to the point where I don't pray and ask God for a baby as much as I used to. Not because I've given up- trust me, I haven't, but because I am trying so hard to trust that God has a plan for us, and his plan is best. If he thinks we don't need to get pregnant right now, then he must have a better time in mind. I'm trying to have peace with that, although it's a daily struggle. So that's where we currently stand in our infertility journey.

I am hoping to write another update after our doctor's appointment at the end of the month. Once we meet with him, we will have a better idea of what our game plan is for 2016!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Infertility Update September and October 2015

Hi everyone! It's been a while since I've posted an update about our baby-making situation. So here's what we've been up to...

We took our trip to Mexico with my family at the end of September. We really had an awesome vacation! I'm going to do a separate post about Mexico, so once I do that, I'll let you all know. Since getting back from Mexico, I have been swamped with work for my two graduate school classes, and Lee has been busy with work and various projects around the house. The good news is, I only have 6 more weeks of school before I get a 4 week break from school... and after this semester, I will only have 2/5 of my MBA left to earn! Whoop whoop!!

Lee and I had originally planned to give IVF a try once we had taken all of the vacations we had planned for this year. Mexico was the last trip we planned to take, so we were thinking we would start this process sometime in October. During my last blog post, I mentioned that I was having second thoughts about IVF, and just really wasn't sure that it was the next step we should take. I prayed for guidance, and currently, we just don't feel called to start IVF. We aren't saying, "never", we're simply saying, "Not right now."

Fertility treatments are exhausting mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. After doing 6 IUIs back to back earlier this year, we just don't feel ready to try IVF. The thought of starting all of those hormones and doctors appointments is overwhelming... and to say it feels overwhelming is actually an understatement. After taking all of those hormones earlier this year, I still don't feel that I am 100% back to my normal self (I still have hot flashes, etc. which I never had prior to starting fertility treatments). IVF would require even more medication than the IUI's, and besides the medication, there are lots of ups and downs with the whole process. We're just not ready to go through all of that again.

So what now?! Well, quite some time ago, a girlfriend of mine mentioned that she had a few friends who use various natural family planning (NFP) methods, and she was considering stopping her birth control and trying something more natural. When she had mentioned it I really didn't think much of it, because we were trying to get pregnant so I figured any type of birth control was irrelevant to us...But then a few months later a friend of a friend messaged me on Facebook and said that he and his wife had been reading my blog and they felt called to share some NFP information with me. I kind of blew it off because once again, I just really didn't think there's any way it could help me get pregnant.

After Lee and I decided that we just don't feel like IVF is the best choice for us right now, I looked into Natural Family Planning, and happened to find a doctor in the area who really encourages it. So I called him, and he really wasn't taking new patients for his family practice, but he is taking new OB patients. Well, he is not an OBGYN, just an OB, and obviously I'm not in the market for an OB doctor right now, but I explained the situation, and he said he would be happy to meet with me. So I met with him and went into detail about mine and Lee's experience, my cycles, our 6 IUIs, etc. and he said given our circumstances, he thinks we could potentially benefit from trying NFP. Of course he can't guarantee it working for us anymore than our fertility doctor could guarantee our IUIs, but Lee and I figure it's worth a try.

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a way to track your cycle and know how to identify fertile times. This method can be used to both achieve and avoid pregnancy without taking birth control pills. Here is the site I initially looked at before calling our new doctor.

Our new doctor referred me to a woman in town who teaches all about NFP. Lee and I are using the Creighton Model, and to summarize it very briefly, its a way of charting and tracking my cycle to learn to identify fertile and not fertile times, based on various biological markers. So I met with this woman and she went over the basics, and now I am charting my cycle, and meeting with her every two weeks to learn more about the process and talk about my charting progress. After charting two full cycles, then I'll go back to the doctor and he'll look at my charts to try to try to determining if I really am ovulating on my own, etc.

This whole process is pretty new to me, as I've only been charting for like 3 weeks, so I'm not going to go into much detail just yet. But check back at the end of November, and I'll fill you in a little more on how its working for us. The main bummer with switching our plan from IVF to NVP is more waiting. The waiting part is really tough... that's never going to change. Lee and I have been trying to start our family for 22 months... 22 times we have tried, and have not gotten pregnant. At this point, we figure the benefits of conceiving on our own far out weigh the disadvantage of waiting a few more months for our miracle, and for that reason, we are willing to give this a try. If it doesn't work for us, we will re-consider IVF. For now, I'm learning a lot, and it's nice not to have the added stress of fertility treatments.


Side note: If you search the Creighton Model, you probably won't find much information about how to actually track your cycle... you'll mostly find research explaining why families are successful with using this model. The woman who is teaching me to track my cycle explained that for people to use this method, doctors really prefer that they get training like I am, so that the tracking is done successfully. Otherwise, people may try it, but not use this method accurately, and then not get the results they want, and that would give NFP a bad name. This method has been proven to be extremely accurate when used correctly. Most of the time when people use this method, if they get opposite results its due to an error in their charting.




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Queso Spinach Dip



Queso Spinach Dip... My sister-in-law made this dip on the 4th of July and it was so yummy! I have tweaked it a bit to make it my own, and now I make it all the time. This week I am making it to take to work for food day. Here's how I make it:

Ingredients 

1 block Velveeta (2lb.)
1- 8 oz. block cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (add more or less depending how thick you like your dip)
1- 16 oz. jar salsa, choose the brand and heat level that you like 
1- 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach (If I can't find a 10 oz. box, I have bought the 1 lb. bag before and just used about half. A few more or less oz. of spinach won't make or break your dip.)

Start by cutting your Velveeta into chunks and put them in the Crock Pot. Do the same for your cream cheese. Dump your salsa and milk on top of your chunked cheeses. Take the paper wrapping off of your frozen spinach, but leave it in the cardboard box. Place the box of spinach on a plate and microwave for 2 minutes. Flip the box over and microwave for 2 more minutes. Next you need to drain your spinach. To do so, take the box out of the microwave and squeeze it over a sink to get all of the excess water out. (You may need to wait a minute or 2 to do this if your box is hot like mine normally is.) Once your spinach is drained, add it to your Crock Pot. Let your mixture cook on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, mix ingredients thoroughly and turn your heat setting to warm. If you leave your dip in the Crock Pot for several hours, it may thicken up. Add milk as needed to get to your preferred consistency. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Favorites 9/25/15



Today I'm linking up with the Momfessionals blog, A Little Bit of Everything blog, and Grace and Love blog to blog about some Friday Favorites!




ONE




My favorite things from this week include this new bag! I bought it a few weeks ago at Target, and I'm thinking it will be the perfect carry-on bag for our upcoming trip to Mexico. You can see it online here.


TWO


Toasted. Coconut. Oreos. Let that sink in for a second... YUM! I found these at our local grocery store this week and they are SO GOOD! I bought them with the intent to make some type of dessert creation using them, but I may just have to save that idea for next time, because this package of Oreos is going to be gone before too long!


Toasted Coconut Oreos





THREE

The Fall Festival is coming up soon here in my town, and I am so so excited for it. It always falls the first full week of October and it is HUGE. Lots and lots of food booths, games, rides, parades, etc. The main thing that I get excited about is the food (duh!). Some booths have normal festival foods such as corn dogs, funnel cakes, tenderloins, etc., but other booths have unique things like brain sandwiches, chicken fried bacon, and burgers that have donuts for a bun. Lee and I always go together a couple of times, and usually a group of girlfriends and I pick a night to get together and go as well: Fall, fried food, and friends... what more could I possibly ask for?
I couldn't find our pic from last year, but this one is from 2 years ago.
Some gfs and I waiting in line...probably for something fried :)





FOUR
Beach time!!


This is not a beach picture I took.. Its just one I found on Google, but I'm so excited to go on vacation! Before too long I'll be laying by the beach with a drink in my hand, and no work or homework in sight, and I just. can't. wait. We are going to Cancun to celebrate my brother's wedding, and most of my family is going, so it's going to be such a fun trip.


FIVE

Last, but not least.... Pumpkin Spice Cake Ball. I made these last week and they were so yummy! I made a whole batch of cake balls, but I only dipped about 10 of them in chocolate. The rest I put in the freezer, and will whip them out and dip them in chocolate next time I'm needing to throw together a quick dessert. You can find the recipe here.
Pumpkin Spice Oreos






Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls.... Yum!
This week, it is officially fall! Yay! As far as the weather goes, fall is my favorite season. Not only does fall bring cool weather and pretty colored leaves... It also brings pumpkin everything... Pumpkin flavored coffee, pumpkin spice Oreos, and pumpkin spice cake balls! Yep!! I went there. Usually strawberry and lemon are my two favorite flavors of cake balls to make, but now pumpkin is right up there with them. Here's how I made them:

Ingredients

1 loaf pumpkin bread*
3/4 can cream cheese icing
1 bag Ghirardelli White Chocolate Wafers
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Wax Paper

*I bought a Libby's brand box that made two loaves of pumpkin bread... I baked them both. Kept 1 a sliced it for breakfast all week, and used the other for the cake balls. You can use a break mix like I did, use your favorite homemade recipe, or just buy a loaf of soft pumpkin bread!
Pumpkin Pie Spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.


If you baked your pumpkin bread like I did, let it cool before using it. I baked my bread about 2 days in advance just to split up the work. Start by crumbling your bread up in a large mixing bowl. Once your bread is crumbled with no large chunks, add in about 1/2 of your icing and mix it all up. This will make your bread & icing mixture kind of gooey. Start by adding 1/2 of the icing can and mix it all up. You want your cake and icing to stick together and easily old into a ball shape, but you don't want it to be too gooey that it won't stay in a ball. So start with 1/2 of the can and add more if you need it. I used about 3/4 of an icing can.
Pumpkin Bread and icing mixture... messy but yummy!


Next, roll your cake and icing mixture into balls. Just a tad smaller than a ping pong ball. Once you have your balls formed, put them in a container and freeze them for about an hour.
Here's what my cake balls looked like after being frozen.


During about the last 5 minutes that your cake balls are freezing, melt your chocolate on about 30% power in a shallow bowl. I like to start by only melting about 1/4 of the chocolate at a time, that way the chocolate doesn't harden up on me before I have a chance to dip all of my cake balls.

Now that your chocolate is melted, remove your cake balls from the freezer. Stab them one at a time with a tooth pick, and dip in chocolate until covered. shake off any loose chocolate, and set your chocolate covered cake ball on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Before your chocolate dries onto the cake ball, sprinkle with just a tad of pumpkin pie spice. Let the chocolate harden on your cake balls, and then enjoy! This recipe will make about 30-35 cake balls.

Once my cake balls have all been dipped in chocolate, and the chocolate has dried, I like to keep mine in the fridge bc it keeps them a little more firm. They can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature, whichever you prefer.
Finished product! You could even put your cake ball on a sucker stick and make Pumpkin Spice Cake Pops!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Infertility Update- August 2015

Hi friends! I hope you all have had great summers! Lee and I certainly have. We've been busy these past couple of months!

June and July were busy for us! You can read about what we did during those months here and here.

August slowed down just a bit. At the beginning of the month, we went to Kansas City and enjoyed a weekend get away and saw Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean in concert. We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, and spent some time deep cleaning our house and getting ready for school to start back up.

As far as our infertility situation goes, we finished our 6th Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycle in June. All 6 of them were big fat negatives. We decided a break from all of the drugs, hormones, needles, and appointments. July was our first full month with no treatments. It was so nice. We were busy every weekend that month, and it was just really awesome to not have to miss work, rush home from weekend trips to go to appointments, give shots, or anything like that. I also had about a 31 day cycle, so that was really encouraging too! That was my first cycle of 2015 that hadn't been controlled by doctors and drugs, and it made me so happy to be somewhat regular.

Then August rolled around, and my body decided to be difficult again. This month my cycle was about 40 days long. So this means I'm back to irregular ovulation, which was our main reason for seeking fertility treatments in the first place.

We decided previously that after 6 IUIs, there's really no point in doing anymore... time to move on to something else. Next we plan to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), but we decided to put that on hold until after summer is over, and we are back from the trips we have planned. Lee nor I had never been to a destination wedding before 2015, but it just so happens this year we are going to 2! We already went to one in FL in July, and are planning to attend another in Mexico this fall. Once we get back from Mexico, we plan to call Dr. G and get the IVF process started.

Thinking about IVF has really had me going back and forth lately. Somedays I just really want to get started NOW because I want to get pregnant and experience all that goes along with it NOW. I so badly just want to be able to talk about baby names and have a real reason for doing so... I want to finally have a reason to clean out our extra bedroom and paint it and buy baby furniture and watch my belly grow, and talk about how Lee is going to be the most adorable daddy EVER. (Side note: Seriously... There's just no way God created and man so sweet, genuine, and patient and didn't intend for him to be a father.) I'm impatient and I want all of that to happen right now! The thought of all of this happening makes me really look forward to starting IVF.

Other days I think, "Why in the world would we even consider doing IVF?! What kind of crazy person does that to themselves??" After 6 emotional, painful, heartbreaking IUIs, why would I want to do that to myself again, at an even more intense level? More hormones, LOTS more needles to the stomach, more appointments, more money... what part of that sounds enjoyable? What if it fails? To think that we could do all of this yet again, and still not end up pregnant is so intimidating. Think of it this way: If you saved up and went to the dealership to buy a car, and they told you that you must pay first, and there's about a 70% chance you'll leave with one car. There's a small chance you could even leave with 2 or 3 cars, but there's a 30% chance that you'll leave with nothing... would you buy from that dealership?! No way! That's kinda how I feel with IVF. I'm excited because the success rate is much higher than IUI, but there's still a chance we could leave with nothing, and that is SO SCARY! Of course the thought of getting pregnant and having a precious baby to hold is motivating, but its easy to let past failures get in the way of thinking it could happen.

So as you can tell, even the waiting process can sometimes be a roller coaster. Ask me one day and I'll tell you we are ready and IVF is our next step, no doubt. Ask me another day and I might say that I'm so nervous about it, and i just really don't know if we should start fertility treatment again. Medically, it just makes sense that we try IVF if we want to get pregnant, but its not a 100% guarantee, and that can be scary.

After we had our last IUI, I really just hoped that we could be one of those crazy stories where our fertility treatments fail, but all the meds helped regulate my cycle, and we get pregnant on our own. Clearly, that is not our current situation.

My friend Elisha reminded me last month at The Nest*, that God can change your circumstances in an instant. Doctors can try all they want, but life can only be created when God is ready. He doesn't need a regular cycle, he doesn't need the perfect size follicles before the IUI, he doesn't need any of it. He is bigger than all of that, and he can (and will) create life at the perfect time, whether that be naturally or with the help of fertility treatment. I'm trying so hard to remind myself of this.

Overall, no fertility treatments this summer has been a nice break for Lee and I, and we have enjoyed our time together traveling and spending time with friends and family. Although we have this infertility roller coaster going on, we are trucking along! We know we have so much to be thankful for, and we know that God has a plan for us. Sometimes its just hard to figure out what that plan might be, especially for impatient people like me!

So for now we are putting up fall decor and buying everything pumpkin  enjoying these last few days of summer, planning and packing for our trip to Mexico, and after that, I guess we'll call Dr. G and get this ball rolling.  If any of you are interested in praying for us, we would love that you pray specifically for guidance. We would love for God to give us some guidance in deciding if IVF really is the next best step for us. In the meantime, if there is anything we can be praying about for you, please let us know!

*Side note: Any of my friends living in the Southern Illinois area should definitely reach out to Elisha from Waiting for Baby Bird, and talk to her about attending her faith based support group. She hosts it once a month, so it's not a huge time commitment, and its so so enjoyable! I have been going for several months now, and really love the ladies I've met in this group! Nothing beats good food, an encouraging message, and some girl time with women who totally relate to the struggle of infertility. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Grilled Chicken Linguine Alfredo

Chicken, cheese, bacon, noodles, bread.... What more could you possible ask for? 

Lee is a huge fan of pasta... I could make it 3 or 4 nights a week and I really don't think he would get tired of it. His favorite meal is lasagna, and I do love lasagna, but I like to switch things up every now and then, and replace the red sauce with Alfredo. This week I made Alfredo with linguine noodles and grilled chicken, and it was de-lish! Here's how I made it:

Ingredients
2 slices thick cut bacon
2/3 block of Asiago Cheese, shredded or grated
2 cups Italian blend cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 square of seasoned butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon of pesto
2 chicken breast
4 oz. linguine noodles


To start, decide how you want to cook your chicken. I grilled mine because I loved the flavor the grill gives the chicken, but you could bake yours or cook it in a skillet. I thawed my two chicken breast, and threw them on the grill (mine were plain, but you could season yours with garlic or Italian seasoning if you wanted). 

While my chicken was grilling, I made my sauce. To start your sauce, cook your two bacon slices in a large skillet on medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked through, remove the bacon from the pan, but leave the grease. Throw in your butter and let it melt. Then thrown in 1/2 of your Asiago cheese and mix it in with the butter and grease using a whisk. Once your cheese is melted and mixed in with the grease and butter, add 1 cup of Italian cheese and 1/4 cup of milk. Whisk it all together and then whisk in your flour.

At this point, bring a separate pan of water to a boil and throw in your noodles. I like linguine, but you could use any type of noodle you like. Cook the noodles to your preferred texture and drain the water.

While your noodles are boiling, check your chicken. About this time, mine was done and I brought it inside and just covered it in foil and set it aside. If its still cooking, finish your sauce and check it again later.

Back to your sauce:  Now add your garlic and pesto. Then add in the last of your milk (1/4 cup),  2nd half of your Asiago cheese, and your last cup of Italian cheese. The reason I don't just dump all of the cheeses and other ingredients in at once is because by putting in a little at a time, this helps me get my texture just right.Once you add your garlic and pesto, you can taste your sauce and see if you like the texture. If your sauce is too thick, add some more milk, or leave out some of the second round of cheese. If its too runny, add a little more flour and cheese.
I like my Alfredo pretty thick. This is what mine looks like when I make it. 


Once you get your sauce the texture you want, mix in your noodles. Chop up your grilled chicken and bacon into bite size pieces and stir the meat in as well. I do this all in the same skillet I made the sauce in.
Final product! 


Cook up some garlic bread, throw together a salad, and dinner is served! This recipe serves 4 adults as an entree, or 6-8 adults as a side.

*Note: By using all of the ingredients above, your sauce will be pretty thick. It will be more of a coating to your noodles rather than a runny sauce. Kind of like the Carbonara at Olive Garden... YUM! My favorite! 
Dinner is served! 




Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Favorites- 8/7/15




Today I'm linking up with the Momfessionals blog, A Little Bit of Everything blog, and Grace and Love blog to blog about some Friday Favorites!



ONE

These two people: My brother and my sister-in-law. BOTH of them have birthdays today!! Happy Birthday Jeremy and Mandy! It's crazy that Lee and I each have one biological sibling and both of them have the same birthday! Lee and I both look up to them both so much. If we can be half the parents they are someday, our kids will be in good hands! I hope they both have the best day, because they more than deserve it.
My Sister-in-Law & I at the concert last weekend!


My brother, sister-in-law, Lee, and I at a concert back in May. 
TWO
Los Bravos Mexican Restaurant
Los Bravos... my favorite Mexican restaurant! I can't wait to eat here tonight with two of our BFF's. It seems like time with friends is hard to come by these days because everyone is busy with jobs, houses, families, and everything else that goes along with being a grown up, so I'm always excited to get some quality time with friends.




THREE
Kenny Chesney



Yep... Kenny Chesney... he's making the list two weeks in a row, because last Friday I was super excited to go to his concert, and this week I'm still talking about how AWESOME his concert was! Arrowhead Stadium was packed full for this concert and Kenny, Jason Aldean, Cole Swindel, Brantley Gilbert, and Old Dominion all put on one heck of a show!
My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, Lee, and I tailgating before the concert! 



FOUR
These Chipotle Garlic Fish Tacos I made when we got home on Sunday... so good! Definitely a good, quick summer dinner idea. Check out my recipe from earlier this week.

Tilapia fish tacos... yum! 





FIVE

Italian Meatballs... another favorite from this week. Check out my recipe. They were so good, and super easy to make! 






Happy Friday, friends!! I hope you all have a great weekend!

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs... yum! 
On Monday this week, I made pasta and Italian meatballs. Pasta is Lee's favorite food, and I scored some huge brownie points with this recipe! I had never tried meatballs before, because I assumed they were a hassle to make, but guess what? They are so easy! Here's how I made them:


Ingredients
1 lb ground pork sausage (or if you prefer, use ground beef, turkey, or chicken)
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 heaping tablespoon of pesto
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (Or if you just use Italian sausage instead of plain sausage, you can omit the Italian seasoning)
1/4 cup shredded Italian Cheese for each 2 plates you serve

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees. Mix your sausage, bread crumbs, Parmesan, pesto, garlic, and Italian seasoning together in a bowl. Line your cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up (optional). Spray your foil with cooking spray. Form your sausage mixture into golf ball size meatballs, and place on your cookie sheet. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. This recipe makes 12 or so meatballs, depending how big or small you make them.

While my meatballs were baking, I boiled some pasta, drained it, and added pasta sauce to the noodles and cut some veggies for a salad. When Lee and I made our plates, we sprinkled some Italian cheese on top.  These meatballs take about 10 minutes to assemble, 20 minutes to bake. So in 30 minutes or less you can have dinner on the table. That sounds like a win to me!

Add caption

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chipotle Garlic Fish Tacos



Chipotle Garlic Fish Tacos... This is a great dinner to make on a busy week night, because they only take about 20 minutes to make! I know everyone knows how to make tacos, so this really isn't so much of a recipe...its more of a dinner idea. Lee and I made these last night and they were so good! Here's how we made them:

Ingredients
2 thawed fish fillets (Choose whatever kind of fish you like best! I love Tilapia, and Lee loves Salmon, so we thawed one of each)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used yellow, but any color will work)
3 chopped button mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
Chipotle Garlic Seasoning
Garlic Salt
2 flour tortillas
spinach leaves (or lettuce if you prefer)
salsa (optional)
guacamole (optional)

This makes enough for 2 large tacos, which is enough to serve 2 people, but can easily be doubled to serve 4.

To start, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. For easy clean-up, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lay your fish fillets out on the pan and sprinkle them with chipotle garlic seasoning. Once your oven is heated, bake them for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

While your fish fillets are baking, drizzle a skillet with extra virgin olive oil, and throw in your onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Sprinkle some garlic salt and chipotle garlic seasoning on them. I didn't measure my seasoning, but if I had to guess, I'd say I probably used about a teaspoon of Chipotle Garlic and a 1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Salt. Once the veggies are soft, remove your skillet from the heat.


These are the two seasonings I used on my tacos. The Chipotle & Roasted Garlic came from Schnuck's and the Garlic & Sea Salt grinder came from Aldi.




Once your fish and veggies are both cooked, then you can assemble your tacos. On my tortilla, I started by spreading guacamole all over the middle. Then I cut my fish fillet into bite size pieces and placed them in the tortilla. Layer on your shredded cheese, veggies from the skillet, drizzle on some salsa, and top with spinach leaves. Then roll up your taco an enjoy! We ate our tacos with a side of queso, salsa, and chips.

You can switch this up and use any kind of fish, and any kind of veggies! It's tasty, healthy-ish, and quick to make. What more could you want in a dinner? Enjoy, friends!








Here is a pic of my tilapia taco prior to adding my spinach on top. 



This one is Lee's salmon taco. He also added a few chopped tomatoes to his. 



Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Favorites- 7/31/15


Today I'm linking up with the Momfessionals blog, A Little Bit of Everything blog, and Grace and Love blog to blog about some Friday Favorites!


ONE
Faith


I love this quote! This week has had some ups and downs for me. Its just hard when I so badly want to become a mother and it just isn't happening! Sometimes I just need to remind myself that even though we haven't gotten pregnant yet, that doesn't mean that it never will! This week I am reminded to stay faithful, and trust that God has a plan. 



TWO


These boots! I know its not boot season yet, and we still have plenty of time to wear our sandals and flip flops, but I bought these boots this week. I ordered them from Nordstrom Rack for $13 and some change! Less than $14 for a pair of boots?! How could I pass that one up?? I'm pretty excited about getting these in the mail next week.




THREE
Kenny Chesney



Yep... Kenny Chesney... Can't wait to see him in concert this weekend! Not only am I excited for the concert, but I'm especially excited to have a weekend away with my hubby, my sister-in-law, and my brother-in-law! Love them!!


FOUR
This weather... I love a little summer heat here and there, but the weather these past two days has been amazing! Warm and sunny, but not super humid and sticky! If it could stay like this for the next 6 weeks or so, I would be thrilled!!




FIVE

Pizza Dip... So yummy! Check out my recipe that I posted this week. If you're getting together with friends this weekend, you should try out this dip! Once you cook your meat, you just dump all of the ingredients in your slow cooker! 




Happy Friday everyone!! I hope your weekends are wonderful! 


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pizza Dip

Pizza dip... this one is always a crowd favorite. Almost every time my family gets together, someone  requests that I make this. I like this dip because it is usually something that everyone likes, even the picky eaters.  Here's how I make it:


Ingredients
1 lb. Italian sausage (I have used both sweet and hot in the past- both are good!)
5 slices bacon
1 cup chopped pepperoni (about half of the normal 8 oz. bag)
36 oz. pizza sauce or marinara sauce
1 cup shredded Italian cheese (mozzarella or any Italian blend, but it should be something other than Parmesan)
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1-8 oz. container of grated Parmesan cheese (2 cups) 
1 heaping tablespoon of pesto
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
water if dip is too thick (optional)


Start by cooking your Italian sausage and drain any grease. Dump the cooked sausage into your slow cooker. 

Next, fry up your bacon, remove it from the grease and chop it up. Dump it into your slow cooker as well. 

Starting with the marinara sauce, put the rest of your ingredients in the slow cooker one by one and mix them all up.  If your dip is a little thicker than you'd like, its okay to add a little bit of water. I usually put about 2 tablespoons of water in each of my marinara sauce jars and shake them up to get any excess sauce off the jar and dump all of that into my Crock Pot. 

Keep your slow cooker on low for about 2 hours, or until the cream cheese melts and the dip mixes together evenly. After that, change your heat setting to warm. 

This dip is hearty and filling, and so so good! You can mix and match it with other meats, or even add your favorite veggies. 

My favorite thing to serve Pizza Dip with is garlic bread, but it is also great with bagel chips or crackers. Enjoy! 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Up Wednesday- July 2015






Hi everyone! Happy July! I haven't blogged much this month, as I haven't had any fertility treatment news to share, but overall it has been a great month! I decided instead of writing a few paragraphs about our month, it would be more fun to link up with Mix and Match Mama and answer the What's Up Wednesday questions.



What we're eating this week:
Over the weekend we got together with family and I made my Pizza Dip!! YUM! This dip is so good! Check back tomorrow for my recipe :) 
mmm... so yummy! 

What I'm reminiscing about:
This month I have been reminiscing about my study abroad adventures in Spain, back in 2011. This was by far my favorite collegiate experience... so amazing. Facebook gives me a daily notification about what I posted on each day in the past, so all of my Spain pictures and statuses have been showing up this month. It is hard to believe I was in Spain this time 4 years ago... I remember like it was yesterday! 
Love these people! 


What I'm loving:
Not having any homework this half of the summer! I am currently in graduate school seeking my Master's in Business Administration. I finished my first summer class, and was signed up for another class for the 2nd half of the summer, but decided I was school-ed out for the time being, and didn't have the focus to cram in another class, so... I dropped the course. I'll start back up in the fall, but for now, it is oh-so-nice to have a break from homework and studying!

What we've been up to:
VACATION!! woo hoo! We just got back last week from our Florida vacation. We went for a friend's wedding, and also got to spend a few days at Disney World. This trip was a busy one, but was so much fun!
Family vacation at Disney World


What I'm dreading:
Starting classes again at the end of August...some days its just hard to work all day and then come home and find the motivation to study. The bright side is that I only have 3 more semesters to go, and then I'll be finished with school forever! (BTW, I know that going to graduate school is a great opportunity, so this is definitely one of those #firstworldproblems situations.)

What I'm working on:
New decor for our dining room! We have lived in our house for a little over 2 years, but I never really hung anything on our dining room walls, so now I'm finally getting around to doing that.

What I'm excited about:
Since our last fertility treatment, I had a semi-normal cycle of 31 days! This is really really great, especially because this was all on my own with no fertility drugs! God is so good! I'm hoping my cycles will stay that way, and not get super long like they did prior to starting fertility treatments. That's my current prayer request.

What I'm watching/reading:
I just caught up on the season finale of The Bachelorette last night (so happy that Kaitlyn picked Shawn), and I'm currently reading Nobody's Cuter Than You. Mix and Match Mama also suggested this book on her blog, and I ordered this copy for me and one of my bff's! Its book about friendship, and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's an easy read, and totally relate-able. 


What I'm listening to:
Currently listening to Lee laugh his booty off watching the Jimmy Fallon show. I have to agree with him... the Jimmy Fallon/Tom Cruise lip sync was hilarious! 

What I'm wearing:
I recently bought these purple Under Armour shorts, and I've been living in them when I come home from work! They are so comfy! I also have two similar pairs in blue and black, and they are equally as comfortable. Definitely my fav comfy shorts! 

What I'm doing this weekend:
Catching a concert with my hubby, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law! 
Kenny Chesney, here we come! 

What I'm looking forward to next month:
Going boating! The river here has risen so high, we haven't gotten to take our boat out in July at all. So we are hoping the rain will finally slow down, and we will be able to use our boat a few weekends in August.

What else is new:
Not a whole lot! As I mentioned in my last blog post, we are taking a break from fertility treatments this summer. We did 6 IUIs earlier this year, and none of them resulted in pregnancy. Our doctor has recommended that our next step be IVF. We are definitely interested in going that route, but have decided to give ourselves a break for the summer. Once we get back from our trip to Mexico this fall, we will call our doctor and get the ball rolling. 

In the meantime, I did have some blood work done at my last doctor's appointment, which showed I had very low levels of Vitamin D. So now I am taking Vitamin D supplements daily, and will go back for more blood work at the end of August to check my vitamin levels again. Other than that, we are just enjoying our summer with no fertility drugs and no doctors appointments. So far it has been nice and relaxing, and I am so thankful for that!

What will I miss most about summer?
Definitely going to miss not having to do homework the absolute most! But also I'm going to miss the warm, sunny days spent boating. There's just something so relaxing about being out on the water, hanging with my fav person, enjoying the sunshine, and forgetting about life's problems for a few hours. 

Thanks for reading, friends! I appreciate all of your love, prayers, and support so far this year. Please let me know if there is anything that I can be praying about for you!!





Thursday, July 9, 2015

Post-IUI #6 Update

As you all know, during the month of June we had our 6th IUI. We did not get pregnant this month, so Lee and I decided now would be a good time to take a break. So far, this break has been nice. I really think it is just what Lee and I have needed. We are planning to pursue other options after a few months off.

We met with our doctor last week to discuss what those options might be. He said at this point, if IUI hasn't worked yet, there's a slim chance (10ish %) that it will in the future. We agreed that we really aren't interested in having anymore IUIs. We feel like we gave that process a fair shot, and tried a good amount of different medication combinations. We are ready to move on. Dr. Griffin thinks our next step for continuing fertility treatments should be In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF is a process in which I will take medication to encourage my ovaries to produce several follicles (eggs) that are large enough for fertilization. I will take the medication and have several ultrasounds to track the activity of my ovaries. Once I have several mature follicles, the doctor will do an egg retrieval. This is where I will go under anesthesia (still breathe on my own and all that, just basically be asleep), and he will go in and retrieve the mature eggs. Next, my eggs and Lee's sperm will be joined in a lab. Once they join, they will hopefully grow for about 5 days or so and become embryos. The embryos will then be placed back into my uterus, and I will take a pregnancy test several days later to see if they implanted. For those of you who are not familiar with the process of fertility treatments, you are probably thinking Octo-mom or Jon and Kate + 8. No worries- we are NOT going to have 6 or even 8 babies at once! Dr. Griffin said he would not feel comfortable placing more than two embryos in my uterus at once. That way, even if they both split and become twins (which is not super common), we would have 4 babies, MAX. Given our track record, we will be lucky if just one implants and we have one baby....but let's be real, we are not opposed to multiples at this point, and we will be happy with what God gives us!! Dr. Griffin has only had one set of triplets in his time as a doctor, and all other successes have been single babies or twins. He did say that we can choose to only place one embryo back into my uterus if we want, but Lee and I both agree that we would prefer two so our chances of success are higher. If more than 2 embryos survive the 5 day growth process, they would be frozen and we would use them later for future children, or additional tries if the first round does not work.

Wow... That is  LOT of information! Lee and I were both on information overload after our appointment, and you might be too after reading all of that. Once the time comes, I will try to do a separate blog post for each step of the process to make it seem less complicated.

So, when will that time come? We are thinking later this year. Lee and I have never been to a destination wedding, but as it turns out, we are going to two this year!! One in Florida this summer, and one in Mexico this fall. We have decided that we want to enjoy these trips with our families, enjoy the summer months without the added stress of appointments and medications, and that's what we're going to do, and have been doing!

Once our two trips are over, we will plan to start the IVF process, and hope to have it complete before the holidays come around....we all know how crazy that time of year is. To us, this seems like perfect timing, and we are happy to have a game plan again, but also are enjoying our time off.

I will write another blog post later this month about how July has been going without medication, what we've been up to, how my cycle has been, etc., but for now, I just wanted to make note of how our doctor's appointment went, and what our plan is. I like to use this blog not only as a way to update friends and family on how we are doing, but also kind of as a diary for me, to remember what we've done so far... a super public, not-private-at-all diary. :)

We are still praying that God allow us to grow in our faith during this time, and that he bless us with a child. Some of my goals over the next few months are to focus on enjoying time with friends and family, allow myself to fully trust God and his plan, and to not be anxious about the future. Those are our prayer requests for the time being. If there is anything I can pray for you about, please let me know!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

IUI #6 Results

Well friends, as you know, we gave the IUI process one last try in June. If you missed my last blog post, you can catch up here. We were really hoping this was going to be the month we finally could say we are expecting, but unfortunately, we are not.

I have gone back and forth for days about what to say in this blog post. This past week or so has been full of ups and downs, and I've really struggled to put my feelings into words this time around.

I've had a lot of ups and downs coming to terms with the fact that after 12 months of trying on our own, 6 IUI cycles, 5 different medications, and a whole lot of prayer, we still aren't pregnant. I am still faithful. I have no doubt that our time will come to be parents; I just can't imagine our future without a family of our own. The thing is, even though I know it will happen some day, some how, I just really want someday to be NOW.

Lee and I are at that age where a lot of our friends are having children. There is a flood of pregnancy announcements and baby pictures on my Facebook and Instagram news feeds. It seems like everyone's lives are moving forward in exciting ways... wedding, marriage, new home, new baby, new job, or some combination of those things. Everyone has something that they are working towards or currently celebrating, and I can't help but feel like Lee and I are "stuck" in this stage of life, where we've had the excitement of starting our marriage and making our home our own together. We are so ready to move forward to that next stage, but its just not happening for us.

My friend Elisha, from Waiting for Baby Bird reminded me last week that even though I feel "stuck", I am not. God is just setting the stage for what is to come. He can change our circumstances so quickly, and when he does, I will be able to look back on all of this and know that this experience has made me a better friend, wife, Christian, and maybe this experience will even make me a better mom someday.

Lee reminds me DAILY how lucky we are to be healthy, have jobs, have our home, friends and family nearby, more friends and family just a car ride away... I know how blessed we are, but I tend to forget those things so quickly when I'm thinking about what I don't have. I'm thankful for where we are and what we've overcome to get here. I need to continue to remind myself of all of this when I'm feeling down about not having a child.

For now, we are trying to stay positive and enjoy all of our blessings. We know that we have a lot to be thankful for, and a God who loves us and forgives us everyday. We know that he hears our prayers, our cries, and hears us rejoice. We yearn for the opportunity to become parents, and we will continue to seek that in the future.

We assume that our next step with fertility treatments will likely be In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), but we will find out for sure when we meet with our doctor for a follow up appointment at the end of this month. We have decided that regardless of what our doctor suggests, we are going to wait until at least the end of the summer or maybe later to do more fertility treatments. For now, we are going to take a break. Our hearts, minds, and bodies could use some time to heal, and we're going to do just that!

We are looking forward to spending our summer with friends and family, enjoying time with each other, and taking a trip or two! It will be nice to do all of this without worrying about traveling with medication, what time I need injections, or when I have to be at a doctor appointment. I think this will be a nice stress relief, and a great way for Lee and I both to embrace and enjoy all that we currently have to be thankful for. In fact, we just got home on Sunday evening after a weekend away and were talking about how awesome it was to spend our weekend outside enjoying the sunshine, and getting to see two of our three families. If there's anything that can cheer me up, its family, grilling, and sunshine!

I will keep blogging about our plans and progress, and hope that someday soon we will have good news to share with you all. In the meantime, we will keep praying that God allow us to become parents at the perfect time, and that he help us to find peace and patience in the meantime. We would love for you to pray for the same.






Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) #6

This month, we had our 6th IUI.  On day 3 of my cycle, I started with daily injections of a medication called Gonal-F. After 5 days of injections (day 8 of my cycle) I had an ultrasound and blood work to see how I was responding to the medication. The doctor recommended that I do two more nights of injections and come back two days later (day 10 of my cycle). On day 10 I had an ultrasound and blood work, which showed that I still wasn't quite ready to ovulate, so I did another 2 nights of injections, and came back for....you guessed it... another ultrasound and blood work on day 12. The ultrasound and blood work that day showed I was ready to ovulate, so that night Lee gave me the trigger shot (injection which forces ovulation), and 36 hours later, on cycle day 14, we had our 6th IUI. We are now in our two week wait, and because our IUI fell over a weekend, we won't actually have a pregnancy test until day 29 of my cycle.

This month was a little different than last month because not only did I have 9 nights of Gonal-F injections (last month I only did 6 nights), I also took a larger dose each day. So 9 nights of the Gonal-F plus the trigger shot (Ovidrel) means I had 10 days in a row of shots. This really didn't bother me too much hormonally, but I did end up with a pretty big bruise on the left side of my stomach. We alternated sides each night for the shots, but I guess that many days in a row just irritated my skin. Other than the bruise, no major issues this month, which is great!! 

As you know from my last blog post about infertility, we have decided that if IUI number 6 isn't successful, we are going to take a break from fertility drugs and treatments. We have learned a lot about ourselves and the process of getting pregnant during these past 6 cycles, and we're thankful for the knowledge we now have. However, we have decided if  cycle #6 is not a success, we are going to take a break from fertility drugs and treatments for a while. Emotionally, it has been tough getting 5 negatives in a row, on top of the 12 months of trying we did on our own before starting the IUIs. Physically it has also been tough, so if we get another negative, we'll be ready give our minds, hearts, and my body a break.

This month overall has gone really smooth. We are hoping that the extra medication helped us out, and that this is the month God intends for me to get pregnant. I had 5 follicles (eggs to be released) and my last ultrasound, so we are praying that at least one of them will take (Let's be real, I've been hoping for two all along haha). All jokes aside, we will take what God gives us, and at this point, we're simply praying that IUI number 6 is a success. We are now in the two week waiting period, and are hoping to have good news to share next time I post. In the meantime, we'd appreciate if you could pray that IUI number 6 results in a healthy pregnancy!

I came across these bible verses this week, and thought I'd share, ans they are both so appropriate

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

S'mores Pie

S'mores Pie 





S'mores Pie... one of the most magnificent desserts I think I've ever tasted... seriously! I LOVE. love. love anything s'mores!! Last fall, Lee built an awesome fire pit in our back yard. He worked so hard on it for several weekends in a row. Once he was finished, he was excited about how nice it turned out, and he was relieved to finally have it done....that's the difference between men and women, I guess, because I was most excited about having friends over and eating s'mores! HAHA.

So anyways... back to the S'mores Pie... This is not my original recipe. I found it on the Hershey's website. You can find a link to the original recipe here. How awesome is it that Hershey's has  TON of free recipes on their site featuring Hershey's chocolate products?! A little bit of heaven on earth, that's for sure. I followed the recipe pretty closely since it was my first time trying it, but I did make a few little changes. Below is how I made mine:

Ingredients
6 Hershey's  original candy bars
1/2 stick butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (or vanilla wafer crumbs)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 container marshmallow cream
1/2 teaspoon Crisco
Cooking spray

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Break up your Hershey's bars and set about 5 squares aside. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray.

For the crust, I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer, and it worked like a charm, as always. You could use a hand mixer too if you prefer. Mix your sugar and butter together in the mixer, then add in the egg and continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy. Next add in your flour, baking powder, and cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly.

I know that S'mores are made with graham crackers, but when I got my graham crackers out and started breaking them up, they smelt kinda like cardboard. I tasted them, and they also tasted like cardboard... I'm guessing this package had probably been sitting in my cabinet since last fall, so I threw them away. I didn't have any other graham crackers at home, so I just used Vanilla Wafers. They worked great, but I am planning to try the recipe with graham crackers next time. To break up my wafers, I put them in my chopper and crushed them up. I got one of these choppers for Christmas a few years ago, and used it so much that it wore out. Then, on black Friday, I ordered a new one from Wal-Mart for $5! It is worth every penny. If you don't already have one, you should get one. It will change your life.

Once you have your sugar, butter, egg, flour, baking powder, and cookie crumbs mixed together, they should be dough-y. Split your dough mixture in half. Set one half aside. Using your fingers, flatten out one half of dough on your pie pan.

Spread your whole jar of marshmallow cream over the bottom of your pie crust. This can be a little tricky because the marshmallow is so sticky, but using a plastic spatula helps. Make sure you get some marshmallow cream in the back edges of the pie.
I didn't quite get enough marshmallow cream along the bottom outside edge
of my pie. Next time I'm going to make sure to do that. 

Next, throw in your chocolate pieces (except for the 5 or so you set aside at the beginning). Try to distribute them as evenly as you can.




Finally, take the other half of your dough and form it into a ball. Next, spread it out on a sheet of wax paper and try to form it into about a 9 inch circle on the wax paper.

Pick up your wax paper with the dough on it, flip it over on the pie, and peel off the wax paper. Press the edges of your two crust layers together.


Bake the pie for about 20-30 minutes. Once your pie is cooked, turn off the oven and let your pie cool in the oven for about 5 minutes, then remove from the oven. Once your oven is turned off and your pie is cooling, put your Crisco and remaining chocolate in a bowl. Microwave on 50% power for about 20 seconds. Make sure you watch your chocolate, and heat it on low heat. I actually burnt mine up! Luckily, I had some Hershey kisses in the house, so I melted a handful of them with some more Crisco to make my drizzle. After your mixture is heated, stir it up and drizzle over the pie.


Enjoy your pie while its warm and the marshmallow is gooey!! If you have pie left over, cover it with plastic wrap. When you're ready for another piece, stick it in the microwave for about 20 seconds on 50% power, and it becomes gooey amazing-ness once again. The pie even tastes good cooled, but it is definitely better melted.  YUM!!