Monday, March 30, 2015

Post IUI #3 Update

We recently completed our 3rd IUI. If you want to read about it, you can do so here.. The first two IUI's did not result in pregnancy, so we tried for a 3rd time. You can read about our first IUI here, and our second IUI here. Our doctor recommended that after the 3rd IUI, sometime during our two week wait, we should meet with him and discuss our progress so far, and what our plan will be going forward if this cycle does not work. We met with him, and he basically gave us 3 options if we are interested in continuing treatment, assuming I'm not already pregnant:

1. Our first option is continue doing the IUI procedure, but this time switch from Clomid to a medication called Femara. With this option, we would still use the trigger shot, and of course the IUI. The main difference would be the medication I would take on days 3-7, and he said it is likely I would not have to use the estrogen pill this month, because the lining of the uterus thinning out is not a side effect of this drug. With this method, we have about the same chance of getting pregnant as the last three cycles, and that is about 15ish%, based on the number of people my age who get pregnant using this same treatment. This option is definitely attractive to us, because other than the medication at the beginning, we know what to expect and how it all works. For me, consistency is comforting. 

2. Our second option would be to continue with IUI, but use only injectable medications (instead of oral pills) at the beginning of the cycle, and then continue with the trigger shot + IUI. This obviously is a little intimidating, because Lee would be giving me shots for 8 to 10 days in a row with this plan, and so far, the injections that he has given me have been in the stomach. I don't think its anything he can't handle though, because he did a really great job with the trigger shot the last two months. Honestly, I think I have the easy side of this deal. I would much rather receive a shot than have to give one to someone else. Props to Lee for not being nervous, and doing an awesome job (especially considering this is not something he learned how to do when studying engineering! haha). After the shots, we would have blood work & ultrasounds. Next, Lee would give me the trigger shot, and then we'd do the IUI. This option is not ideal bc who wants to get a needle to the stomach 8-11 times in a two week period, but at the same time, is a little more enticing because it is a more aggressive medication, and it does give us greater odds of getting pregnant. (potentially a 20-25% chance each cycle)

3. The third option we can try is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). With this method, we would start the month with injectable medication, and then I would have an out-patient procedure to retrieve my eggs. The eggs would then be joined with Lee's sperm in a lab, and several days later the embryos would be put into my body in a procedure similar to the IUI. This route is much more invasive than the procedures we've been doing so far, but it has a much much higher chance of success, so it is definitely something we are considering. (50-70% chance of success, assuming we have 1-2 embryos to implant)

The good news that is even if this 3rd IUI is not successful, regardless of what treatment we choose to proceed with, I do not have to take Clomid anymore! After the emotional roller coaster I was on last month, I am so happy about this. Our doctor did say that although the injectable medications are undesirable for obvious reasons, most women do say that they feel better emotionally on these medications in comparison to when they took Clomid. This is a little bit of light in this long tunnel for both Lee and I! (Probably him more than me. I was annoyed with myself last month, so I can imagine it took every ounce of patience he had to be so patient and sweet to me.)

We of course are hoping that our 3rd IUI was successful, and we won't have to go one of these routes, but the reality is, that we need to decide on a "what-if" chance the 3rd IUI does not result in pregnancy. We will need to decide what route we might want to go, before we get the results of our pregnancy test, because if our pregnancy test is negative, we will start right in on our next cycle. Lee and I were both a little overwhelmed with all of the info given after our appointment. We decided we were going to talk more about it over the weekend, and maybe even make a list of some sort to visualize our options, and pray, pray, and pray some more and hope that God will give us some guidance on what would be the best next step for us. I will keep blogging as we have more information, and will be sure to keep you all updated. Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for all of your prayers.

As you know if you've been keeping up with my blog posts this past month, the first part of this cycle was pretty tough on me. I just felt really down and defeated, and I think a lot of that had to do with the amount of hormones I was taking. After the medication part of the cycle was over, I felt so much better! The IUI itself was the least painful one so far, and this two week wait has been a breeze compared to the last two. I think we're kind of getting the hang of this, and slowly but surely are learning to truly give our worries to God, and trust that His plan will someday make sense. After talking to our doctor and hearing about all of the other options we have, we are relieved to know that there are plenty of other things we can try, and even if this third Clomid + IUI cycle doesn't work for us. As I am nearing the end of my two week wait, I am not feeling any symptoms or changes with my body, and am assuming there is a good chance that I may not be pregnant this month. With that being said, Lee and I are not going to let that get us down! We are really encouraged by all of the love and support we've gotten from our family and all of our friends.

We know that with all of your love, prayers, and support, we can make it through any or all of the options listed above, if that's what God leads us to. You guys are all a great reminder for us to focus on our blessings (YOU all), rather than dwell on the tough times. So thank you to everyone who has been here for us. Your kind words and prayers really do matter, and we appreciate every single one of you! Thank you for reading my blog, and tune in over the next  few weeks to learn our results! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lee & Sara's European Adventure Part 3: Munich, Germany

After visiting Rome and Venice, we ventured over to Germany and spent a short time in Munich. Munich is in the state of Bavaria, and they are known for having great food. Rightfully so, because this was by far our favorite place to eat the whole trip. Unfortunately, the way our flights worked out, this was the city we got the least amount of time in.
The flight to Munich was both good and bad: it sucked because when we checked in for our flight,w e found out that baggage was not included in our ticket price, so we had to pay extra money to check our bags. The good news is, the flight did serve way better food than all the others, and Lee got a complimentary beer and snack. During this flight we also flew over a portion of the Alps, which was so beautiful. You can see them in the picture below. 

We arrived in Munich on the 28th, and this was the only real day we had to spend in Munich. When we got off the plane in Germany, the first thing we did after claiming our luggage was crab a German Bratwurst. The airport had this open area where they had a little festival set up of food and craft booths, so we figured this would be the prefect place to grab lunch.

Here is a picture of our first German Bratwurst outside the airport.

 When we left the airport, we took the subway to our hotel. We sat next to a German couple on the subway, and the man spoke really great English, and had spent a large amount of time in America! He was so friendly and helpful, and showed us where we should get on and off the train, and also gave us some helpful hints for touring Munich. At first we were a little creeped out because he was SO friendly, that it was almost creepy, but as it turns out, he really was just genuinely trying to help some clueless American tourists!

When we got off the subway, our hotel was super close to the stop, so we didn't have to do much walking with our luggage, which was really nice. We checked into our hotel room, dropped off our stuff, and set out to explore. We wanted to make the most of this afternoon/night since we knew it was the only real day we had to spend in Munich.

We knew for sure we wanted to eat supper at the Hofbrauhaus. This is a famous German beer hall, and several people suggested that if we come to Munich, that we visit this place. It is said that Hitler once held a few meetings there. This place was amazing and I'm so glad we went. The beer I had at this restaurant was by far the very best beer I've ever had...EVER. It was a little sweet, and crisp and refreshing. So refreshing, its crazy! Lee and I had heard several times that the Germans drink their beer warm, not cold like we do here in the US. We were kind of nervous about this, but as it turns out, that is not true at all. Don't get me wrong, the beer wasn't ice cold like it is when you order a Budweiser in an icy mug, but it was chilled, and very very good.

The strange thing about eating at a place like the Hofbrauhaus, is they don't have a hostess to seat you like most American restaurants do, and they don't have a lot of individual tables. If there is a table with 8 chairs, and a family of 6 is sitting there, it's not unusual for a random couple to sit down at the two empty seats. We weren't aware of this at first, so it took us a while to find a seat, but once we figured out how it worked, we scored a place to sit.

When we ordered our drinks, they came in HUGE 1 liter mugs. As much as I love a good beer, I knew there was no way I could drink a whole liter, so I asked the waiter if they had any smaller glasses. He said only in one type of beer, so that was my deciding factor on what to order.
Here is Lee at the Hofbrauhaus with his one liter beer. 
Here is me with my smaller beer. 

Whenever we ordered, Lee ordered a pig knuckle, and I ordered a German sausage with Au Gratin potatoes. When our food came out, mine looked amazing, but Lee's did not come out as a pig knuckle. He told the waiter, and the waiter took his plate back and brought him the right plate. We were both really glad he spoke up, because the pig knuckle was amazing, and totally worth the wait. 

This is a picture of my German Sausage, Au Gratin Potatoes, and the meal that Lee did not order. This sausage had such a good flavor, and the potatoes were one in a million. They were sliced tissue paper thin, and covered in a creamy cheese sauce. If I ever go back to Munich, I definitely plan on ordering this exact same meal again, because it was definitely worth repeating. 

here is a picture of the pig knuckle + potato that Lee got. It was heavenly. 

At the restaurant, there was an upstairs and a downstairs. The downstairs was pretty full, so we found a place to sit upstairs. We didn't get one here, but one of the things they were serving was Bavarian Pretzels. As you can see, the pretzels were HUGE.

After we finished our dinner, there was some musical entertainment. These men played music and did a performance using whips. It was interesting to say the least! 

Once we left the restaurant, we decided just to walk around the city and enjoy our evening. Since we were in Europe around Christmas time, we got to see some of the most beautiful Christmas decor. In the city square there was a HUGE Christmas Tree decorated. Below you can see a picture of it, and to emphasize how huge it was, you can see Lee standing next to the trunk. 

We also walked saw the famous Glockenspiel, and you can see that picture below. We walked in and out of a few shops and bakeries, and finally stumbled upon this hole in the wall pub. This was definitely not a tourist spot, but I think it was fate that we ended up there. We talked to the bar tender and a local musician who was sitting at the bar, and they were so friendly, although their English was minimal. A little while later, another couple walked in speaking English, and they ended up sitting down next to us. 

The rest of the night was so much fun. We ended up drinking and talking with this Australian couple all night, and had a ball!! We shared so many stories, opinions, frustrations about the USA & Australia. This couple was so fun, and I wish we would've been able to spend more time with them during our visit in Europe. They were an engaged couple taking a trip similar to  Lee and I, except they were going to be gone from home for about a month. 

Here is Lee & I with Ryan and Gabrielle, our friends from down under. 

We stayed out partying with Gabrielle & Ryan much later than we had planned, but it was worth it because we had a great time. Probably not the most cultural experience we could've had in Germany, but we were really happy we got to meet those two. If we ever visit Australia, we will definitely call them and try to meet up again.

The next morning we got up early and got on the bus for our castle tour. This was such an awesome day. We started at the Linderhof Castle, and then onto the Neuschwanstein Castle. The Neuschwanstein was breath-takingly beautiful. This is the castle that inspired the Disney castle design, so you can see why it is so amazing. It is up in the mountains, and there is quite a hill to walk to get there.
Here is a picture of Lee in front of a waterfall on our walk up to the Nueschwanstein Castle. 

This is a view looking out from a castle window. 

Here is a side view of the castle. 

Another side view

On our way home from the Castle tour, we stopped and had some free time in this cute, tiny little German town. We walked through a couple of shops and looked around, and then we ended up at this cute, warm little diner that had an AMAZING dessert list. We went with an Apple Strudel, and it was divine, 

After we got back from our tour that night, we grabbed some dinner, took one last walk through Munich, and then headed back to our room. The next day we hopped on a plane and headed to Berlin! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Number 3

This month, we had our third IUI. If you want to read about the first two, you can find the first one here, and the second one here. Neither of the first two procedures resulted in pregnancy, so we decided to try for a third time. We started the cycle with me taking Clomid on cycle days 3-7. The past few months that I have taken Clomid, I (thankfully) have not noticed any major side effects, other than some headaches here and there. This month I took an increased dose, and definitely noticed a major difference. During the time I was taking the medication, I was very emotional, and had a hard time not crying at the mention of the word "baby". I was anxious about doing  the trigger shot and the estrogen pill the following week because I was already feeling so hormotional (Hormotional= hormonal + emotional. I learned this term from Elisha, and have definitely put it to use this month. haha),

At the beginning of the month, I wrote a post about how defeated I had felt the first several days of my cycle. I was definitely feeling the side effects of the the hormones this month. On Tuesday that week, my sister-in-law sent me a sweet edible arrangement and totally made my day. That night I prayed and asked God to help me to truly give up my worries to him, and to help me kick this bad attitude. On Wednesday I woke up in such a better mood! Much less emotional, and a lot more encouraged about this cycle than I have been. Although that overwhelming emotional feeling came back again later that week after my shot, it only lasted for a day or so, and then I felt pretty normal again. Now that that week has passed, I'm really feeling good about this cycle, and hoping, wishing, praying that March is our month.

After I finished the Clomid on cycle day 7, on day 10, I had an ultrasound and blood drawn. We got those results that afternoon, and the nurse said I should start an estrogen pill to help thicken the lining of my uterus. According to the nurse, Clomid can cause the lining of the uterus to be thin, so this issue is not uncommon. I started the additional pill that day and went back the very next day, on day 11, for another ultrasound and more blood work. After the second round of ultrasound + blood work, the nurse called back and let me know that the doctor would like for me to continue that estrogen pill for the next 3 days (cycle days 11-13). In addition to that pill, Lee would give me the trigger shot on the night of day 12, and we would have the IUI on the morning of cycle day 14.

The trigger shot again, went pretty smooth this time. Lee did an awesome job making it quick and as painless as possible. The IUI itself is never enjoyable, but the good news is the procedure goes pretty quick, and this one was by far the least painful. We got the really awesome nurse again this time and I was so relieved. She is one of those people that you meet and know that God really meant for her to have this job. She is such a good nurse because she has a way of making a not-so-fun situation a little more bearable, and doesn't make my pain or anxiety seem like an inconvenience.   Each time I tell myself that this could be the last IUI I ever have to have, and that is a pretty great feeling.

Now we are in the two week wait to having a pregnancy test. In the meantime, we are planning to meet with our doctor later this month to discuss our progress thus far. We will talk to our doctor about what our options are going forward if this round of treatments do not result in pregnancy, and we will also ask him about what to expect if this month is successful.

Having a plan always makes me feel more at ease, so we are looking forward to meeting with our doctor and seeing what he has to say. Also, it will break up our two week wait a little bit, so that will be nice. Currently we are simply praying to ask that God bless us with pregnancy this month, and would love for you to pray for that as well. I will write another post after we meet with our doctor, and again a few weeks later once we have our results. Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog. Lee and I appreciate all of your love, support, and prayers.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

This breakfast casserole is super easy to make, and is always a big hit on food days at my office! The best thing about it is you can make it up the night before, and just pop it in the oven in the morning. It would also be great for breakfast when you have a houseful on the weekend!
Bread, egg, cheese, sausage, & bacon... what more could you want in a breakfast?!
Here's how I made it:

1 can crescent roll dough
garlic salt
12 eggs
3 tablespoons of milk
1/4 cup green onions
1/2 pound sausage (or any meat you like- you could use bacon, ham, ground turkey, or leave the meat out and make it a vegetarian dish)
2 cups shredded cheese (I use Colby-Jack)
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

I also had some bacon left over from my Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Peppers, so I also included 2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces, but this is optional. 

To start, spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. Next, roll out your crescent roll dough into the pan. Press the edges together so there are no cracks. The bottom of your pan should be covered in a rectangle layer of dough.  Sprinkle garlic salt over the dough (or whatever seasoning you prefer).

Fry up your ground sausage in a skillet on the stove and drain your grease. While the sausage is cooking, beat 12 eggs in a medium size mixing bowl and mix in 3 table spoons of milk. Dump your ground sausage into the egg mixture. Pour your egg mixture over the top of your crescent roll layer, and make sure the sausage is evenly distributed.

Chop about 1/4 cup of green onions, and sprinkle them onto your egg mixture. (At this point, I also sprinkled my chopped bacon on top, and I put the lid on my container and stuck it in the fridge for the night. Then the next morning I woke up and baked this before work. You can do that, or you can just pop it right in the oven to eat that same day.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked thoroughly. Remove dish from oven and cover with 2 cups shredded cheese. Place back into oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!!
Here is a picture of my final product! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Peppers

Now that warm weather is here, Lee & I  have been grilling like crazy. This is one of my favorite side dishes/appetizers to make when we are grilling out. Cheese stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon...anything with bacon and cheese is going to be amazing, but add in some peppers, and you've got a prize-winning concoction. I love making these peppers because I do like some spice here and there, but they can easily be made with sweet peppers if your family doesn't do spicy. I usually do a few jalapeños and a few sweet peppers all at once. Here's how to make them:

In this picture I used a jalapeño pepper, but the recipe is also really good with mini bell peppers. The bell peppers are sweet, not spicy, unlike like the jalapeños.

3 jalapeños*
3 mini bell peppers (any color is fine)*
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 block)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I have used colby-jack before, but the cheddar really is better)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
about a 1/2 pound of bacon strips, uncooked**
8-12 toothpicks (optional)
Aluminum foil

*The amount of peppers you will need to use up all of the filling will vary depending on the size of your peppers, but this recipe makes about a dozen stuffed peppers.
**Use any kind of bacon you like, but I do not recommend using thick cut bacon because this will take much longer to bake.

Start by  preheating your oven to 400 degrees and lining a baking sheet with foil. This will make for easy clean up. Slice the stem off of your peppers. Next, slice them in half long ways and pull out all of the seeds.

In a small mixing bowl, combine your onion powder, garlic salt, cream cheese, and shredded cheese. I use my hands to mix these ingredients together.

Next, use your fingers and press a small amount of the cheese mixture into each pepper. Make sure the pepper is full, but not over-flowing. Once your peppers are stuffed, wrap them in bacon. You may need to cut some of the bacon slices to fit the smaller peppers. If you want, you can stab them with toothpicks to make the bacon stay in place. I have made them several times with and without toothpicks, and they have turned out fine both ways.
I like to line my cookie sheet with aluminum foil because it makes an easy way to dispose of the bacon grease afterwards. Just fold up the foil and dump it in the trash! 

Place your peppers on your baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the bacon looks cooked through. I usually set a timer and check my peppers every 15 minutes, because depending on the size of the peppers, they may cook quicker, or could take a little longer.


Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Each year, someone in my family hosts a St. Patrick's Day party. My maiden name is McBride, and the McBride side of the family really loves to celebrate our heritage, mostly by drinking green beer and making all kinds of green food. Who doesn't love good food, green beer, and great company? This year, for our annual St. Patty's Day party, I decided to make three things to bring: 

1. Spinach Dip This is one of my favorite dips. I love making it to take places because its quick and easy to make,  can be made up in advance, and is always a party favorite. It's especially great if you have any vegetarians in your group, and is naturally green, so perfect for St. Patrick's Day! 

2. Chocolate Chip Toffee Cheesecake Bars- I know that's a mouthful, but its worth it. These cheesecake cookies are literally heaven on earth, and I easily colored them green for the occasion. 

3. Leprechaun Bait- This is the first time I've made this, but I've seen similar versions on both Facebook and Pinterest so I figured I'd give them a shot. This was a pretty simple recipe, and could be easily changed for any holiday! Add red and pink M&M's for Valentine's day, or red and green M&M's for Reindeer Bait, pastel M&M's for Easter Bunny Bait, or add Reese's Pieces or fall colored M&M's to make it a Halloween dessert! 

My grandparents hosted the party this year, and it was a great day. The weather was nice so we all got to be outside, and we showered my Grandma with a little birthday love by us girls all going to get pedicures. We spent the rest of the day having green food and drinks, and hanging out. Life doesn't get much better than fun times with family. 
Girl Selfie! Here we have a pic of some of the ladies in my family. Up top we have my gma
& my s-mom, and on the bottom we have my great grandma, my sister in law, and myself.
You can see that we are all decked out in our green St. Patty's Day gear! :) 

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Wow! Long name, but 100% amazing. This is one of my very favorite desserts to make. I made it last year for my own birthday and we had my family over to cook out. Mothers day is usually the week after my birthday, and I asked my mother-in-law & sister-in-law what I could bring for Mother's Day and they said more cheesecake bars!! So we ate this dessert two weeks in a row, and have had it several times since then. I made it this weekend for my family's St. Patrick's Day party, and colored the cheesecake part green. I initially found this recipe from Joyously Domestic via Pinterest, and have adapted it a bit to make it my own. Here's how I made it:


Cheesecake mixture: 
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 8-oz. cream cheese, room temperature
*I also like to use parchment paper for this recipe. 

Cookie portion: 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips 

2/3 cup Heath Toffee bits

Green food coloring if you're making these for St. Patrick's Day

To start, preheat oven to 385 degrees. Mix together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and vanilla.  I used my KitchenAid Mixer for this, and it save me a lot of work. next dump in your egg and mix thouroughly, then stir in your flour and baking soda. Last, dump in your chocolate chips and toffee pieces. 

Divide mixture in half. Line a 13x9 pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Then spread half of the mixture into the pan. I use my handss to do this.  Set aside.

For the cheesecake portion, microwave your cream cheese for 1 minute on 50% power, then put in mixing bowl and mix together the cream cheese and white sugar until fully blended. I used my mixer again for this part  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix until smooth. Stir in a couple drops food coloring if you want to color your cheesecake filling.  I

Pour the cheesecake mixture over your cookie dough, and make sure your cookie is mostly all covered with the cheesecake filling. Then, use your hands and flatten out your remaining cookie on top. I did this by grabbing handfuls at a time, flattening htem out into circles and laying them on top. It's okay if some of your cheesecake is exposed. You want to have the cheesecake mostly covered with cookie, but it doesn't have to be 100%.

Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until the bars are cooked through and your cookie is light brown. 

Once your cheesecake bars are cooled, remove the parchment paper and place your cookie back in the 13x9 pan. Cut into squares. Store refrigerated. 

Normally the filling is white, but this time I colored it green in honor of St. Patty's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kerri's Spinach Dip

This recipe came from my sweet Kansas friend, Kerri. When Lee and I lived in Kansas right after college, Kerri and I worked together, and she would always bring this amazing spin dip for our food days, and lucky for me, she shared the recipe! I like making this recipe when I am hosting a party, because it can be made a day or two in advance, and will be ready to go the day of the party! Here's how I make it:

Kerri's Spin Dip Ingredients

2 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach
1 pkg. dry vegetable soup mix (without noodles)
1/2 c. water
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 c. (8 oz.) chive dip (this is basically just sour cream w/chives, and is found in the dairy section next to the sour cream)
5-6 drops hot sauce 

To defrost spinach, place packages in microwave.  Micro on High 4 minutes, turning pkgs over after half the time.  Let stand 5 min.  Drain thoroughly.  Set aside.

Place soup mix & water in small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Micro on High 1 minute.  Let stand, covered, until vegetables are re-hydrated.

Place cream cheese in large bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute at 50%  power to soften.  Mix in re-hydrated soup mix, drained spinach, sour cream and hot sauce.

I like this dip best with Wheat Thins, but it is also good with tortilla chips, French bread cubes, and carrot or celery sticks.

I think this dip is actually a lot better when it is made 24+ hours prior to when you're going to eat it. At first when you mix it up, the spinach can be a little bit slimey, but after about a day, the texture improves, and flavors mix together better. I always make this at least a whole day in advance and let it sit covered in the fridge until I'm ready to serve it. Once you get the dip out to serve, you may want to mix it up with a fork to break up any cream cheese chunks.

Given the color of the dip, this is one of the items I'm taking to my family's annual St. Patty's Day party! Since the party is early Saturday afternoon, I made this dip early Friday morning and had it ready to go for Saturday! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leprechaun Bait

Every year, someone in my family hosts a St. Patrick's Day party. My grandma's birthday is in March, so we usually make it a joint birthday/St. Patty's day party. Who doesn't love green beer, good food, and great company?! This year, for our annual St. Patty's Day party, I decided to make Leprechaun Bait. 

This is the first time I've made this, but I've seen similar versions on both Facebook and Pinterest so I figured I'd give them a shot. This was a pretty simple recipe, and could be easily changed for any holiday! Add red & green M&M's for Reindeer Bait, pastel M&M's for Easter Bunny Bait, add Reese Pieces for a Halloween dessert, or add any color M&M's to match whatever party you're hosting! Here's how I made it: 

4 cups corn Chex cereal
1 cup pretzels (I used Goldfish)
1 bag microwave popcorn
1 cup M&M's
3/4 package white Almond Bark

Side note: You can use any type of pretzels you like, but I love using Goldfish pretzels because they don't break and get crumbly as easy as pretzel sticks or twists. 

To start, pop your popcorn according to the instructions. I used Movie Theater Butter style popcorn, and I thought this tasted really good with the white chocolate because it was a sweet & salty combo. After you pop your popcorn, then measure out and dump your Chex, pretzels, and popcorn into a large bowl and mix well. 

Next, melt your chocolate in the microwave. I have a glass Pyrex measuring cup that I used to melt my chocolate in. It has a spout on it,and made pouring the chocolate simple and mess free. Once your chocolate is melted, pour it over your mixture and stir until the all of the mixture is lightly covered in chocolate. 

Then, line two cookie sheets with wax paper and spread out your mixture to dry. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle on your M&M's, distributing them evenly between both cookie sheets, and throw on your sprinkles. 

Once your party mix is dry, break apart and store in an air tight container. 

Here is a close up of what my Leprechaun Bait looked like. Yummy!! 

I made this for my family's St. Patrick's Day party last weekend, and again on St. Patty's Day for our work food day. When I made it the second time, I ran out of almond bark, so I used half almond bark and half green melting chocolate wafers. This added more green to the mix, and it still tasted great!
This is what the mix looked like with both green and white chocolate melted on top.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Post IUI #2 Update

A couple of weeks ago, Lee and I had our second IUI, and it did not result in pregnancy. We are now starting our third cycle, and should have the 3rd IUI within the next couple of weeks. This past week and a half have honestly just been really devastating. After getting a negative pregnancy test, we move right into the next cycle, and on day 3 I start taking Clomid.

Our doctor recommended I increase my Clomid dose from 2 to 3 pills each night for 5 nights.This is a hormone pill to help the body prepare for ovulation. The last time he increased my dose I didn't notice much of a difference, but this time around I've noticed a major difference. These past few days have really just been miserable, and I told Lee last night that if this month didn't work, that I think we need a break from fertility drugs/treatments. I have been over-the-top hormotional (hormonal + emotional, haha).

Yesterday and today I have been beginning to wonder if God has forgotten me. I can't think of a time in life where I felt more heart-broken and defeated. I've spent time complaining about how unfair life is, when I really should be rejoicing for what is going good in my life, because I have so much to be thankful for.

Last night I had the worst night of sleep that I can remember in a long time. I tossed and turned all night, got up every hour or so, and just felt really anxious and restless. Today I woke up exhausted, and thinking about how awful the day was going to be, and have pretty much had that crappy attitude all day.

This afternoon, a delivery man walks into my office and says, "Sara, I have a delivery for you. There's a card on front. Someone must really be thinking about you." The delivery was an edible arrangement from my sister-in-law. The card reminded me that she is thinking of me and praying for me everyday, and that she loves me.

This instantly brought me to tears, because it reminded me of two things:

1. This one thing in my life may not be going right, but I have so much still to be thankful for. How lucky am I to have such thoughtful friends and family, who genuinely care about and pray for our struggle?! My sister-in-law hasn't exactly had the greatest start to her month with a knee injury leaving her in pain, and on crutches, yet she is spending her time praying for and thinking of me. Maybe I should take that same approach, and stop feeling so sorry for myself.

2. The second thing I am reminded of is God has not forgotten me, nor has he forsaken me. The past couple of days I have been praying that God help me find peace with this process, and that he help me to give up my worries to him. I have emailed and became friends with three other women who have blogged or are blogging about their infertility situation, and emailed one friend who I knew from high school who I had a feeling struggled with infertility. What was the one thing that all 4 women said helped them to cope with their stress? Give your worries to God, and trust that He has a plan. I have been praying for God to help me with this, but did I really mean it? Have I really been ready to turn my worries over to him and actually trust that His plan is best?  I really don't think I have. Its easy to say the prayer, but to truly mean it, and be ready for that is something completely different.

So today I am reminded that no matter how dark this journey may seem, God is here, has not forgotten us, He has equipped Lee and I with great friends and family to support us through these tough times. I don't know what God has in store for us, but what I do know is that I need to trust Him so I can find out. So for the rest of this cycle, especially during our two week wait, I am going to pray simply that God help me to truly give my worries up to Him, and trust that his plan is best, and He will deliver. I would appreciate for you to pray for the same! Today is a good day to remind someone how much you love them and that they are not forgotten. You might just turn their week around like Steph did for me!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thank you all!

For the past couple of months, I have mostly been sharing my blog with close friends and family. This week, I decided to share it on Facebook. I was really nervous about doing this for several reasons. The main one being that I was afraid people would read my blog and think I was really weird for putting so much personal information out there, especially something like this. I really wanted to share mine and Lee's story, though, because reading or hearing about other people's stories really helped me. Creating this blog has been a great outlet, and I'm having a lot of fun learning about what goes into creating a website, especially since I have zero experience with web design. It is fun to blog about food and travel, because those are two of my favorite things, and a blog is an easy way to keep everyone updated on our baby making progress.

Once I posted my blog on Facebook, I received so many encouraging texts, blog comments, and Facebook comments and messages. This means the world to me. For each and every person who has prayed for Lee and I: thank you! We appreciate each and every prayer and know that God is hearing them.

In addition to all of the encouragement, I also received 8 messages/comments from women who are either experiencing infertility currently, have overcome infertility, or have a friend or family member who has gone through this & all shared with me their stories. This is AMAZING and exactly the reason I wanted to start a blog! Infertility can sometimes feel lonely, scary, and defeating. It doesn't have to though! Of course I would never ever wish this on anyone, but knowing that someone has once felt the same thing that I'm feeling, or has been successful with this type of treatment is really comforting and encouraging. To the ladies who shared stories with me: thank you! Your words really do matter to me, and I'm so thankful for your love and care.

I will keep blogging my favorite recipes and stories about our travels, and once we have new news, I'll be sure to keep you all posted on our baby progress. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your positive, encouraging words.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

A while back I shared with you guys my Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe. This is one of my favorite dips, and when we have some left-over, Lee and I like to use the leftovers and make it into pizza! Here's how I make it:

1 pizza crust
leftover buffalo chicken dip
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Frank's Buffalo Sauce to drizzle
Ranch dressing to dip

Start by pre-heating your oven to whatever temperature your crust tells you to cook it on. My favorite pizza crust to use for homemade pizza is very similar to Imo's Pizza crust, and I buy it at Schnuck's.

If you don't have a Schnuck's in your area, use any type of pizza crust. It can be homemade, dough found in your biscuit section, or a pre-made crust. All will work! Just be sure to follow the baking instructions that come with your pizza crust.

Start by drizzling buffalo sauce on your crust.

Take your left over buffalo chicken dip and spread a thin layer all over your pizza crust. I like a thin layer of chicken because I use a thin pizza crust. You can pile yours on as thick as you want!

Cover your pizza w mozzarella cheese.

If you use homemade or canned pizza dough, bake at whatever temp your dough calls for until your dough is fully cooked, and cheese is melted. If you are like me and you use a pre-made crust, bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until your pizza crust is crispy at the bottom, and your cheese is melted up top.

Drizzle your pizza with extra buffalo sauce if you wish, and dip in ranch dressing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IUI #2 Results

In February, we did another round of fertility treatments. This month we did Clomid + a monitored cycle + intrauterine insemination (IUI). What that means, is I started the month taking a medication called Clomid to help my body prepare for ovulation. Next, my doctor monitored me for ovulation through ultrasounds and blood work. Between the two ultrasounds I took another hormone pill to help thicken the lining of my uterus, and once I was nearing the time of ovulation, my husband gave me a trigger shot to induce ovulation. 36 hours after the shot, we had an IUI done, and then wait two weeks for a pregnancy test. To read in more detail what this past month was like, check out my post about Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Number 2

This week marked the end of our two week wait. I had a pretty strong feeling going into this week that I was not pregnant, but I still did the blood test to confirm (which it did). I had my blood work done in the morning, and then I headed to work. By the time I got to work that day, I had already started my period. This confirmed my suspicions that I am not pregnant. The bad news is, I'm not pregnant, and this cycle did not work. There is a tiny bit of good news though, and that is my cycle was 27 days long this month. That is the most normal length cycle I've had in 15 months, so although not the news we were hoping for, we did at least make progress this month! I called my doctor's office and let them know that I started my period, and the nurse and I made a game plan for next month. 

March will be very similar to February: Clomid on cycle days 3-7, ultrasound and blood work on cycle day 10, and depending what the results are from the ultrasound and blood work, we will either schedule a second round of ultrasounds and blood work, or we will go ahead and schedule when Lee will give me the trigger shot, and when we will have the IUI done. After the IUI, we will schedule a pregnancy test for 2 weeks later. 

The only thing that will be different this month is we will increase my Clomid dose from 100 mg to 150 mg, and we will meet with our doctor for a consultation in between our two week wait. Lee and I haven't actually seen the doctor since early January, since the nurses in the office are the ones who do my ultrasounds, blood work, and IUI's. (On a side note: These nurses are rock stars, and they really can do it all! This process has definitely increased my appreciation for the nursing profession.) Anytime I have questions or we make updates to our plan, the nurses consult with the doctor, but usually it is a nurse who calls me back. So this time, Lee and I will actually meet with the doctor and talk about our progress so far, and make a plan going forward in case the 3rd IUI does not work, and talk about what to expect if the IUI is successful. Initially when we met with our doctor to talk about starting fertility treatments, he recommended that we start with IUI, but he does not typically recommend more than 3 cycles. So if this third cycle does not work, it is likely that we will change our treatment plan going forward. 

Of course Lee and I are disappointed that this month was not successful, especially since we added in the trigger shot, but we know that this is all part of God's plan. We know that we are at least another month closer to God's perfect timing of us getting pregnant, and are praying that March will be the month. I will be sure to keep you all posted on our progress. Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who has been praying for us. Lee and I appreciate each and every one of you. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Super Loaded Baked Potatoes

Some nights I come home after work and I already have dinner all planned out, but some nights I come home and have no idea what to cook. Usually when that happens, I ask Lee what sounds good. Last week I had some chicken cooking in the Crock Pot, but had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I asked Lee and he said I should shred it and make bbq chicken. Barbecue didn't really sound good to me. I was thinking that buffalo chicken casserole sounded good. Lee was trying to get over a sore throat and he didn't want anything spicy.  Since we couldn't agree, Lee suggested that we make loaded baked potatoes. That way we could each have what we wanted. He's so smart! On this night, we even used paper plates and kept dinner simple. Here's how we made them: 

1 lb. shredded, cooked chicken
6-8 potatoes
Your choice of sauce: Lee used bbq, I used Frank's Buffalo Sauce & ranch
Shredded cheese, we used colby-jack
Bacon bits, veggies, or any other topping that sounds good

To start, I used Mix and Match Mama's Perfect Chicken recipe. I cooked my chicken in chicken broth. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with a fork. This night, I cooked a full pound of chicken, but I only shredded enough chicken for our 2 potatoes. We ate the rest of the chicken as left overs on salads and quesadillas later in the week. If you are cooking for a larger family, this recipe makes enough chicken to load up 6-8 potatoes.

Next, we stabbed our potatoes with a fork and cooked them in the microwave. Our microwave has a Potato button, but we flip them over about half-way through cooking.

Once your potatoes are soft, put them on a plate and cut them in half. Butter your potato, and add your chicken. Then add your sauce, cheese, and any other ingredients that sound good to you.

I made a buffalo chicken bacon ranch potato, so I used butter, chicken, buffalo sauce, bacon bits & shredded cheese. Then I microwaved my potato for about 15 seconds to melt the cheese, and topped with ranch.

Lee had a bbq chicken potato, so he used butter, chicken, bbq sauce, and shredded cheese.

Enjoy! You can personalize this anyway you want. Some other potato ideas we have tried in the past: Mexican potato with chicken, queso, and salsa. Regular loaded potato with butter, bacon, cheese, sour cream, & green onions. Instead of cooking crock pot chicken, you can even use left-over ham, chicken, sausage, steak, etc, and use this as a way to get rid of your left-over meat or veggies, The options are endless!