Always, Katie: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Eve Party Outfit

Ethan's Granny always hosts her children and their children on Christmas Eve, and we exchange gifts and eat yummy food and catch up.  But because Ethan's dad had surgery a few months ago and is still in a wheelchair and Granny's house isn't wheelchair accessible, we offered to have everyone over to the new house this year. :-) We are so thankful for this house and how well it lends itself to entertaining!  This is what I wore that evening... Emerald green is my recent obsession (I know, getting on that bandwagon a little late) because it REALLY brings out the red in my hair.  I've also been experimenting with my makeup to emphasize my green eyes. :-)

  • Emerald Green Blouse - New York and Company (Outlet) - I love it so much I went back and got one in another color/pattern!
  • Black Slacks - I don't remember which of my three pairs this is... oops!
  • Footwear - soft Christmas socks made more sense than shoes, since we were staying in :-)
  • Jewelry - pearls from Ethan <3
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Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Not Judge or Alienate (or Invalidate the Feelings of) Your Infertile Friends at Christmas Time

I probably lost two friends today.  

I haven't clicked the "unfriend" button.  Yet.  I may.  I don't know.  But I certainly will never think of these two people in the same way again.

Last night, after this particular pin showed up multiple times in my Pinterest feed, I shared it on Facebook with this comment: "You know what the inverse of this is? Give you a hint: it's exacerbated by stuff like this. Do ya really need to spike the football?feeling left out."   

Now, maybe my comment wasn't the most patient or eloquent... but I thought I got my point (and my pain) across pretty clearly.  

Declaring loudly and proudly that folks cannot know or understand the TRUE awesomeness of Christmas unless they are parents is HURTFUL, and... I'd like to believe... it is INCORRECT.

That being said... the people that pinned this yesterday and have pinned it in the past, by and large, are really sweet, awesome people, who would never voluntarily hurt anybody.  I'm not angry or holding a grudge against them at all.  I'm sick of being hurt, but... I can forgive inadvertent injury.  These are not the people whose friendship I am mourning.  (In fact, one of them is a dear, dear friend who actively encourages, comforts, and lifts me up. Love you, woman!)

The reaction I got passive-aggressively from two people on Facebook, through pointed personal statuses and not directly on my post, was along the lines of "Everyone needs to stop being negative about Christmas.  Stop 'putting a damper on everyone that actually loves Christmas'.  Even if things aren't going the way you want them to, the real meaning of Christmas should make you happy.  Quit whining and ruining things for everyone else."  This status got a lot of agreement, especially from her retired pastor father.  Shocking lack of compassion from people of God.  One brave, lone woman chimed in that it was hard for some people, herself included... no response or compassion to her story, either.  Another status this morning... the gist of which was that her sister thinks she is wonderfully brave for handling her secondary infertility the way she does, and how secondary is painful too... yeah, that wasn't pointed at all. </sarcasm>

Infertility hurts.  All year long.  But Christmas brings a special kind of pain, especially (I think) for someone who loves Christmas and traditions and family as much as I do.  That's right, y'all... I LOVE Christmas!  Almost every aspect of it: from the weather, to the food, to the decorating, to the thoughtful hunt for the PERFECT gift for everyone on my list... I love it!  And I desperately want to share that love with my children.  And... I know secondary infertility must be awful... I have a lot of friends who are going through it, and I know they ache to give their kids siblings.  But, no, I don't honestly, in my gut, believe that that can compare to empty arms and empty wombs during the most kid-centric time of the year.  

But regardless, this is not the pain Olympics.  We don't have to compare notes on who hurts more, or handles the hurt better, or puts on a more convincing mask of "Christian" joy.  We just need to love, because that is what Christmas is about... LOVE born in human form.  While this is the most joyous time of year for many people, that joy can be joined SIMULTANEOUSLY by deep sadness.  Infertile couples don't have the monopoly on this.  Single folks who don't want to be single... people who have lost family or friends recently (or not so recently)... people who are estranged from their family or have painful memories of Christmases past... there are any number of people who have heartbreaking and very legitimate reasons to feel sad this time of year... to suggest that they should mask or just "stop" their sadness is unrealistic, cruel, and unloving.  

I would never ask anyone to not enjoy their holidays, or to refrain from posting the avalanche of kids-on-Christmas pictures I am already bracing myself for.  So please don't ask me to censor my pain, or judge my faith by that pain.  (If you haven't already, or need a refresher, please read this post about anxiety, depression and Christianity. It has resonated with a lot of depressed Christians on Pinterest, and some of it is applicable to this discussion, too.)

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Katie Tested, Kid (and Adult) Approved Christmas Party Recipes

Every year, Ethan's big group of best friends (+ spouses and kids) gets together for a big family Christmas party.  This is the only time through the year that some of us see some of the others, so it's always a really special time.  :-)  We hosted this year (yay!) and there were 12 adults, 12 kids (under 8, most under 5), and one very intimidated but sweet maltipoo.  It was noisy, busy, overwhelming and SO much FUN!  

Ethan and Charley... before Charley's little mind was blown by 12 kiddies! :-)
We always have a carry-in dinner, and this year Ethan and I provided the main course and a TON of desserts :-)  Since these recipes have all been tested by me, and approved by a bunch of adults and kids alike, I thought I'd share them with y'all.  In case you're still looking for yummy and easy things to bring along to your Christmas gatherings!

All of our yummy desserts on a fabulous Winterberry (by Pfaltzgraff) platter my Grammie gave me <3

Spicy Bacon Chicken - I found this recipe on Pinterest, and thought it looked amazing.  Somehow when I was making it for the first time (as a test-drive before the party), I forgot to add the brown sugar.  Don't ask me how that happens... it just does. ;-)  Anyway, it was still delicious, so when I made it for the party, I left it out again on purpose.  It's basically all "to taste" if you leave it out, too, which makes this a wonderfully simple thing to make!

Pinwheel Cookies - This is the first time ANYthing pinwheel-y has EVER turned out for me!  You have to be very... careful... and deliberate... and patient... while rolling the dough in the sprinkles, and while cutting the chilled roll.  Especially with the cutting part... if you hurry, you will squash the spiral and it will still look pretty, but in a very abstract art kind of way :-)

Mini Muffin Kiss Cookies - There's no link for this one because they're kind of a family variation on the most basic recipe known to man.  You know the cookies where you use refrigerated dough to make a cookie, then while they're cooling, you drop a Hershey's Kiss into the center?  We make ours in mini muffin pans (like this one ).  Mix it up, use whatever kind of frozen dough strikes your fancy, and any kind of bite-sized candy that would coordinate well.  Peanut butter cookies with a tiny Snickers?  Reese cups? Chocolate cookies with yummy, oozing milky ways?  Ooohhh yum!

** Okay, for these next two... you have a cookie press, right?  No?  You need one.  If you love baking, you will love the gazillion different things you can do with them.  If you hate baking, you will love that you can crank out (literally!) 12 dozen cookies in about an hour.  :-)  I have Wilton's highest model (about $40 regular-price, but on sale on Amazon now. Or, I used a 40% off coupon at Michaels), because I wore one of the lower models out.  Wore.It.Out.  But I used it a LOT, so if you're not looking for a big investment or don't know how much you'd use it, one of the entry-level models would be totally fine. By the time mine wore out, I definitely felt like I'd gotten my money's worth!  Anyway... Wilton has about a dozen different spritz cookie recipes, and a few savory cracker-type recipes you can make with them, too.  You need a cookie press!! **

Butter Spritz Cookies - Perfectly delicious, light cookies... perfect for dipping in tea (or as my cousin just taught me - fruit punch!)  They're buttery and crispy, and addictive.  Go crazy with them... add colored sugars or sprinkles before baking, or dip in melted chocolate and chopped nuts... add food coloring to the dough before you press them... whatever!  If you use three cookie sheets, you can have one in the oven, one cooling on the rack (you can remove cookies to another rack after about 2-3 minutes), and one that you're currently squirting cookies onto... you can get a good rotation going, and use each sheet about twice... most cookie sheets will hold about 2 dozen cookies.  DON'T try to use parchment, foil, or waxed paper.  The dough won't stick to it, but the baked cookies do come off the bare sheets very easily.  Just brush any crumbs or stray sprinkles into the sink and pop that sheet back into the rotation! :-)

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies - Another variety of spritz cookies from Wilton's site... I didn't have dark brown sugar, so I used light.  They ended up pretty mild, but everyone liked them.  I want to try them the way Wilton intended soon, though!  I piped melted white chocolate onto these, following the snowflake pattern from the cookie press disk, and on some of them, I added white/clear coarse sugar sprinkles.  Until my hand hurt and I got wimpy and quit.  This was about 20 dozen cookies into my baking spree, so I feel no shame ;-)

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies  - This is a recipe I made mostly for Ethan, who loves all things cherry :-)  The dark pink was close enough to Christmas red to add some pretty seasonal color to the plate, too!  I had trouble with the "slice and bake" aspect, so it was easier to treat it like just a tube of dough, pulling off chunks, rolling it in my hand and pressing it flat on the cookie sheet. 

Cheerios Treats - This is another recipe my family has made forever, and one that I occasionally have CRAZY intense cravings for!  It's a souped-up version of Rice Krispie treats, involving peanut butter and M&Ms... two things that make anything better! 

You need: 
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 (10.5 oz) bag of mini marshmallows
1/2 C peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, I use creamy)
5 C plain Cheerios.
1 C Milk Chocolate M&Ms (I grabbed a Christmas colored bag, of course!)

Prep a 9x13 pan with lots of non-stick spray.  Grab a piece of waxed paper or foil, and spray a little on that, too, and have it near the pan.  Melt the margarine over medium-high heat in a big pot (non-stick is preferable).  Stir in marshmallows until melted and smooth.  Add peanut butter, stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  Add Cheerios, tossing GENTLY to coat all of the cereal.  Then, GENTLY (getting the theme?) fold in the M&Ms until they're evenly distributed. Turn the whole contents of the pot out into the waiting 9x13, smoothe it out with your spoon as best you can.  Use the greased foil to scrape off the mixture clinging to the spoon, and to press the treats evenly into the pan.  Let cool for a little while (half-hour should be enough) before cutting. :-)

Let me know if you try any of these recipes, or if you have any questions :-)  
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PS: Disclosure: Amazon links above are affiliate links.  I will get paid if you buy anything after clicking a link on my blog :-)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Exciting Medical Update

During my little unintentional blogcation, I had THREE doctor's appointments that just filled me with giddy, bouncy relief :-)


Since my RE, Dr. G., thinks we're pretty close to being ready to start on IVF, he referred me to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist (MFM), who happens to be another Dr. G.  He wanted her to be familiar with our case and my history so she would be ready to jump in the minute I have a bun in the oven.  Our agenda was basically to figure out which of my doctors would be handling which part of my care (which I know sounds funny, but there is some overlap in the specialties)... we really liked the dietician (which is shocking - most of the ones I've seen have annoyed the daylights out of me) and LOVED the doctor!  

The most complicated (but probably most typical) plan would have been for Dr. G, the RE to do our IVF and monitor me for the first trimester before handing me off to my regular ob/gyn and the MFM who would kind of co-manage the rest of the pregancy, with the MFM taking the lead right up until delivery, which would be handled by the ob/gyn. In the meantime, between bouncing back and forth from the MFM and ob/gyn, I would also be having frequent appointments with the endocrinologist to keep my insulin pump settings fine-tuned.  That's a lotta docs.  But it turns out, the MFM is totally comfortable managing my diabetes (which is fairly common, but not what the RE made us think would happen at first)... and I'm not even her first type 1 with IVF!!  So, for 9ish months, I will get to skip the endo's office.  WooHoo!  But then the even awesomer news is... she is one of the very, very rare MFMs who ALSO DELIVERS HER PATIENTS' BABIES!!  So I can also avoid the redundant appointments with my general ob/gyn! 

THE ENDOCRINOLOGIST (aka... the doc diabetics dread).

I saw my new endocrinologist, Dr. K., for a one-month follow-up from my first appointment.  He downloaded the information from my insulin pump and was pretty pleased with what he saw.  He made some minor adjustments and was ready to send me on my way when he asked if I had any more questions.  I hesitantly asked if we could do another hemaglobin A1C test (A1C).  I told him I knew it was a three-month average, and that my previous laissez-faire management would still be reflected, but that I thought that if I could see it come down just a little bit, it might be the motivation I needed to keep pushing myself.  He kind of smiled indulgently and had the MA stick my finger for a test.

He came back in the exam room about five minutes later holding a sheet of paper and scowling at it.  He asked what I was hoping for, and I answered "7.8" which would have been a .5 reduction from the A1C of just a month ago, and .1 lower than my all-time record low.  His scowl started to crack and I realized he was pretty excited about my news when he said, "Well, it's not quite a 7.8... how about 6.8?"

Then I started crying and he told me not to dehydrate on him.  :-)  We had a fun little moment of celebrating in the office, and he gave Ethan and me the all-clear to get pregnant. I think he was shocked, but genuinely very, very happy for us. :-) Which is nice... it's nice to have a doctor who seems to be rooting for you.


My RE wanted to do an ultrasound to get a better look at the large cyst that was seen during my CT scan and HSG, before deciding on a surgery plan.  It turned out to have been a functional cyst that resolved on its own, and there were no others in the vicinity of my tubes.  Some of my hormones had come down just a little bit, too... enough that he didn't see any reason to rush into surgery.  So my tubes can stay where they are, and my ovaries can remain undrilled!  It's kind of silly... one of the (smaller) reasons I'm excited about this is that drilled ovaries are really, really ugly.  And I KNOW nobody would ever know the difference, but... somehow it still would've been sad and really scary to have parts of my ovaries destroyed! Plus, we're saving the time, cost, pain, and risk of surgery... wooHOO!!  

So... that's my medical update from the last couple of months, I think.  All in all, super-encouraging!!  With these couple of hurdles out of the way, IVF is now just a matter of scheduling and finances! :-)
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One of Those List-Type Blog Posts


So it's been, like, 6 weeks... oops.  There's a whole bunch of stuff I have been meaning to blog about, but I have this really paradoxical reaction to a long list of blog topics.  You'd think it would make me really happy and relaxed, because - hey! - I don't have to wrack my brain for things to write about!  But no... it overwhelms me and I just put it ALL off until "later." 

So in the last 6 weeks... let's see...
  • I had a couple of very encouraging doctor's appointments.
  • We went to Disney World.
  • We bought the house (yep - it's official!).
  • We moved in.  
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with most of the sides of our family.
  • We painted 3 out of the 5 rooms we want to paint.
  • We decorated most of the downstairs for Christmas.
  • We hosted our first party in the new house.
  • I got my official internship placement and have the first part of it all planned out.
Now... maybe now that that's all out there, I'll be able to motivate myself to write on all/most/some of it :-)

Missed y'all!
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