Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking To 2011

I’m loving the quietness of work this week. Most of my team is out, I have my music on, and occasionally work friends pop their head into my area for a refreshing holiday tete-a-tete. We whisper because it’s so quiet.

The holidays were festive and fanciful, but I felt not all there. This sense of sadness and loss (over one measly failed IVF cycle – I know) has left me shaken. One down, one to go. On the verge of tears is my perpetual state and I cannot say enough about Matt. Poor Matt, who is going through this too, and who holds me at night and lets me have my “And you know who I saw on Facebook who is pregnant now too?!” moments, has taken this – all of it – in stride. We are perfectly matched because I am brash and high-strung and can tumble from happiness to tears in .2 seconds and he is, simply, the most even-keeled, pleasant, and optimistic person I know. Nary in a bad mood, his goodness (to me, to others) doesn’t surprise me anymore. He says I color his life…and I suppose that is one way to put it. How very fortunate I am.

So it’s interesting to see this happy-go-lucky guy upset too. When we found out this cycle wasn’t going to work I cried and cried and later exclaimed, “Aren’t you going to cry too? Aren’t you upset?!!” and he informed he did cry – I guess I was too weepy to notice. He still says everything is going to work out, and still talks about us having children, but now adoption references sprinkle these conversations more and more. I say I’m scared because that process if far from easy, and so long, and expensive, and what if we aren’t chosen, and what if it always falls through for us, and …and…and. With resoluteness he holds my hand and says it will happen, and he makes me believe it.

They say this process and all its ugliness (the emotions, the money, the stress, the hormones) deepens the cracks in any marriage, but I have not experienced that. With Crohn’s, I feel wholly alone. Yes, he chides me when I eat something on the “no” list, or asks if I took my medication, but the pains that make me question if I’m leaving this blissful period of “remission” are only felt by me. Heck, it’s nice not to be alone in your misery. We both want children so badly so there is nothing but tenderness when anything baby is mentioned. (And the occasional groan as he submits eyebrow-raising baby names, from the likes of “Willard” to “Samson” – I kid you not. He has since lost his naming rights.)

It’s with this mishmash of emotions I look forward to 2011. I know we have it good (or at least that's what I tell myself every day to ward off the tears), but I’m hoping for resolution. And for greatness.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Letters on 22nd Street

I am officially in the holiday spirit. Last night Matt and I watched Love Actually (the Colin Firth vignette is my favorite) and then I saw this and it really made me smile:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And The Beat Goes On

"The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only "I am sorry for your loss." But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feeling of a tiny hand that is never held?"
~Laura Bush

I don’t want to be schmaltzy or melodramatic – and I never thought I’d have a Bush quotation on this blog! – but I thought Laura Bush’s comments in her recent memoir summed up – so accurately – how I feel. And I cry every time I read it.

Matt and I had such high hopes for our IVF cycle. I tried to temper my enthusiasm but didn’t sleep Thursday into Friday – the day of our egg retrieval – and was giddy on the drive to New Jersey. During my ultrasound before the procedure they saw 22 eggs – 14 of them ended up being viable and I jokingly said they better be “big and juicy” and the ultrasound tech and I laughed. Everyone I came into contact (oh, those poor nurses, the embryologist, the two anaesthesiologists) heard me chirping way about how this was my first time, and I had lots of eggs, and everything looks good, right?! And then there I was in the procedure room, in stir-ups, oxygen in my nose, an IV in my hand, and the doctor walks in and says, “I’m concerned about your estrogen levels; they are at 900 and they should be around 1500,” and then I was asleep.

I love anesthesia. Perhaps that’s an odd thing to say, but I love the peace of it. I’m never nauseous or groggy afterwards - just rested. I always try to pinpoint exactly when I go under – on Friday I said with verve, “I can still hear you!” and they responded “Not for long!” and that was the last thing I remembered. I woke up and they were helping me into a wheelchair, and then into the recovery bed, telling me they extracted 14 eggs and I was happy - even with low estrogen (which affects fertilization) I thought some of those had to fertilize and heck, let’s go get some lunch, which we did.

On Saturday they called to tell me eight of the eggs had successfully fertilized and they were freezing four. On Sunday they called and of the four remaining, three were still viable at the two-cell stage. It was then I started getting nervous: why haven’t they divided any further? But our ET was scheduled at 9:30 the following morning, and we left at 7:30 to beat the traffic through the city and I joked about how I was going to run Matt ragged while I was on bed rest and how – if this all worked – we wouldn’t tell our child they came from a stork, but a petri dish (we find this endlessly funny), and with that we crossed the Betsy Ross Bridge into Jersey.

I received a call when were five minutes away: our eggs have not split since yesterday, and they were still only two cells, and they were not likely to ever split again. Our transfer was canceled. On the phone with the embryologist I was almost chipper – or at least pleasant. I motioned for Matt to turn the car around, hung up, and then cried. I’m not going to say I have it awful, because I don’t. I’m not going to say how horrible my situation is, because I know it isn’t. But I will say I sobbed – big, loud snot-filled sobs full of anger and frustration and worry, and didn’t stop until we were ten minutes from home. At first we said we’d go to work to take our mind off it, but as I started crying – staring in my closet at work ensembles –we decided we’d spend the day at home, exchange our Christmas presents, and just be.

And we didn’t lay in bed and wallow: we went out to lunch, mocked Oprah during her “Favorite Things” episode (we were particularly aghast one of her favorite things was a $120 can of popcorn and then $200 leggings – really?!), and made dinner. Work today has been harder: I could not smile or make chitchat through a holiday lunch. My head is heavy and I am exhausted. With one cycle in the bucket, we know we only have one left. We don’t know what this all means: will this always happen? How common is this? Can we change the protocol to combat this? What happened to my estrogen levels on that last day? Statistically, how viable are those four frozen eggs because it costs a hell of a lot of money to thaw them? I have so many questions but our appointment isn’t until January 7th. We are going to take the next month off. We first wanted to plow through – to be done with this whole process by early spring – but I’m tired and defeated. This process is dehumanizing: every other day I’m at the office, in line for an ultrasound, in line for blood work, legs spread, arm extended. My menstrual cycle has dictated our last six months. Every other afternoon I wait for the call with my blood results and next steps. Every other morning I drive the hour to the office. Every night and morning I take my oral medications, my shots. Hell, I’m beat.

Matt keeps saying we have each other, and I know that is so true, but that doesn’t stop me from every day wanting so much more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here Goes

It’s been a whirlwind week of doctor visits and medications, phone calls and directions. Tomorrow I will be going in for our egg retrieval / beginning of fertilization process. We have 15 viable follicles, which is excellent – given my age I responded well to the medication. For once, my body totally kicked ass!

I’m honestly much more anxious for this than my re-sectioning surgery last spring. Once that decision was made, I was at peace. We have so many hopes and “what if’s” this time around coupled with finite chances. I’m trying to temper my optimism because what if I wake up tomorrow and I learn my eggs are duds? Or many of my follicle sacks were empty? Or things aren’t fertilizing well? It’s hard to make yourself have low expectations – frankly, I think it’s a bit futile because I was eyeing cribs at Target this week and dreaming up nursery layouts, all in a hazy baby bubble in aisle 14.

What will be, will be. I know we’ll make it through it, whatever the outcome. It’s actually nice to go through this during the holiday season: High spirits? Hope and joy? Sounds just about right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scrambled Eggs

Last Monday night, when I got the go-ahead to begin my new round of meds I loaded my pen like I was told, attached a syringe, and plunged the thing into my belly.  Just like an insulin pen, you determine how much medication you want to dose out, dial the pen to that number, and then push.  Like the dutiful student I did this, but nothing moved.  "This thing isn't working!" I hollered at Matt.  You need to turn it, he said. Starting over, I removed the syringe and inserted it again.  Still didn't budge.  Then again two more times sticking it into a different part of my stomach flesh.  I don't think you're suppose to constantly remove a syringe and then re-insert it, but hell, I was tired and frustrated and a little more dimpling on my abdomen wasn't going to hurt a thing.  Finally Matt grabbed the pen out of my hands, inserted it, and well, turned and pushed down.  "Like this, K," he said, irritated (which says a lot because this boy does not get irritated).  Oh.  Okay.

And so we have begun our IVF medications.  Because of my questionable mental capacity, Matt now gives me my shots every morning and night.  "Get up, get up, get up, it's shot time!" I say as I nudge his back, already on my feet and dressed. I think Matt finds this particularly annoying as I get up a good hour before his alarm crows but I tell him, "This is how you become involved in the process!"  "Umf," he says.  He then scurries downstairs to the refrigerator for the meds and hands me an alcohol wipe as he attaches a syringe.  His eyes are still closed for most of this.

Every ultrasound tech I have says some variation of the same thing: "I don't know how they're gonna get to that right ovary!"  Apparently, the thing is practically ensconced in bowel and I'm known as the "Crohn's girl" at the office.  Actually, it's more like this: they stick the ultrasound wand in and then say, "'re the Crohn's girl aren't you?" as they fumble around to find the things and then say I'm "gassy" for the fifth consecutive time.  I relayed this to the doctor who told me to relax, the ovaries drop when they are full with follicles and anyway, they can sort of move things around in there when I'm on the table.  If worse comes to worse, they can go through your abdomen for the retrieval (they usually go through the vaginal wall which I think is just as unsavory).

I have 12 eggs that are or will be a viable size and several more that are too small (but I am hoping they catch up between now and the egg retrieval).  That's a good number but, of course, I wanted to push the envelope and get closer to 20.  Of the eggs extracted there is no way to tell at this point which ones will be - for the lack of a better term - grade A and actually fertilize. 

I return tomorrow for monitoring (blood work and an ultrasound) to see how those suckers are growing, but right now my egg retrieval (ER) may very well be this Friday or Saturday. My embryo transfer (ET) could be anytime from 2 - 5 days later, with two days of bed rest following.  By then it will almost be Christmas, and I'm thankful for the hoopla and distraction.  And, frankly, I'm sick of this baby-making business!  (As I'm sure you are too!)  Here goes! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot!

I don't go for artistic subtlety in my clip art.

Yesterday I got Matt to say we can have another dog if we can’t have a child. True – I was crying and I think he wanted me to shut-up before the Eagles game – but I’ll take what I can get. (And I don’t think I’ll want another dog, but I like to threaten him with it, as in, “All you do is code! All day and all night! Well, if you want to code all day long then I can adopt another dog!”) True, one thing has nothing to do with the other, but I don’t work like that.

Our last IUI result was negative, which of course was expected but I still secretly hope nonetheless. I protect myself by making jokes, brushing off the possibility of pregnancy, but every ting down below makes me stop. And hope. Usually I don’t change my habits after an IUI – if I want to lift a heavy bag I lift it. If I want to drag my bajunk-a-junk on a short jog, I do it. This time I didn’t do any motions that straining my mid-section but, alas, it didn’t work. The upside? At least Matt carried my laundry downstairs.

I’ve been doing well with everything until this week. This week it all hit me: the cost, all the injectables, and what I’m putting my body through. I learned that getting $1,000 worth of meds free was getting three days of meds for free. I need a 10 day supply. Things like that make you suck in your gut and never exhale.

I spent two hours on Wednesday on infertility forums looking for cheap meds sold by women who got pregnant, or who stopped trying. The price differential is staggering, but I didn’t feel comfortable buying who-knows-what and taking that risk. I’m sure that will change a couple months down the road and this becomes old hat. Although, of course, I hope it never does.

An inordinate amount of stress and pain in infertility derives from the cost of it. It’s with this in mind that I want to disclose the money factor – the crux of this insurmountable mountain – that has taken my breath away (oh, and I WISH in the good way!).

My infertility practice has “affordable” rates. The cost of full-stimulation IVF (sans meds and all the extras, and there can be a lot of extras) is $6,500. The practices down the street from me are $10,000. That is why I drive. Anesthesia is separate and comes to $550. The medications are anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 per stimulation cycle (the cycle when they extract your follicles, or, eggs). So, one cycle of IVF, for me, is a cool 10K. That doesn’t include if they find out the sperm cannot penetrate the egg and they have to perform ICSI, which is the intracytoplasmic sperm injection of eggs, at a cost of about $1,100. If I am fortunate and have frozen fertilized eggs, each subsequent cycle with those eggs will be about $3,000 for the medical procedure. At the end of this year my insurance will no longer cover my myriad of monitoring ultrasounds and blood work, and I will have to buy a “package” of 16 services for $1,300. This will hopefully be stretched to last two cycles.

So, you can see, even oodles of money will only get you so far. We refuse to go into debt so we will spend what we have and then – it’s over. We then start saving for adoption. And I type that so easily: “we refuse to go into debt” but how tempting will it be – if it doesn’t work – to say, just one more cycle? One more try because this could be it? And that’s what terrifies me. The emotional tug and pull. I can only hope – if we are not successful – that I am so tired of the poking and prodding, the needles, the driving, that I am at peace with saying, “No more.”

We are not spendthrifts, but when I look at all of this I wonder why we didn’t further alter our spending habits this past year – how can you not? If we didn’t go on our two mini-vacays and I stopped buying that stupid aged Parmesan, and I didn’t go to the gym, and banned Target, could we have saved almost another $5,000? $10,000? Matt reminds me that’s no way to live, which is why we’re starting our budget after the holidays. So come January 1 if you see me buying those heirloom tomatoes or the organic coffee, or good god just heading into Target, give me a good strong slapping so I'll come to my senses. I'll thank you for it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gobble Gobble

"Give me some turkey, human."

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving and you enjoyed your stuffing, or filling, or dressing, or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods.  Since we hosted our very first Thanksgiving, there was much preparation underway.  Here's a pictorial of the build-up to the feast:

Matt declared that no one shall be cold at our holiday get-together.  And I think he just really likes blowing insulation.  Here he is looking like an alien (I like that in a man).

While he was busy insulating our house I prepared by eating these pumpkin cheesecake bars.  I took my job very seriously.

OK: now we're getting down to business.  Matt just unwrapped our turkey and is fondling it.

He looks confused as to what to do next.  It took him like 10 minutes to find with bag with the gizzards and such.  (Turkeys are a new thing for us.)

Then the turkey had to get a bath.  We decided on Alton Brown's (recipe below) turkey recipe and brined that sucker overnight.  Here it is sitting in it's bath of ginger, allspice, veggie broth, and other yummies. 

While Matt's bathing beauty was soaking, I made some spiced pecans in the microwave.  Super quick and super delicious (recipe below).

Cue the Hallelujah chorus!  The turkey is magnificent!

"Yeah; I made that."

Action shot of Matt trying to figure out how to cut a turkey.  My mom finally had to intercede.

Time to eat!

5-Minute Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

  • 1 (16 ounce) package pound cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, on low speed, combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Press onto bottom of 15x10-inch jellyroll pan.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on low until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then remaining 2 eggs, pumpkin, remaining 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, and salt; mix well.
  3. Pour over crust; sprinkle with nuts. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill; cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator. 

 Easy Microwaved Spiced Nuts
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups pecan halves


  1. Melt butter in a 4 quart glass casserole dish in the microwave. Stir in the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir in the nuts so they are well coated. Microwave for 4 to 5 additional minutes on high, stirring every minute. Spread cooked nuts out onto parchment or waxed paper to cool. 


 Alton Brown's Terrific Turkey


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey  

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving week! Anything that involves carb-loading and a shortened work week is right up my alley.

This year I’m hosting Thanksgiving for a small group and am making the turkey. I never made a turkey but I’m a relatively adept cook so I didn’t think it would be an issue. Then my mom sends me this email about gravy (remember – we eat meat but not frequently so any talk about “gizzards” and “necks” raises a few eyebrows):

“You don't need a special recipe, just put the neck, wing tips, gizzard, (all this stuff is in a paper pouch in the cavity where the head was) and any fat trimmings in water to cover with a bit of onion, garlic, and celery and simmer covered until neck meat shreds off the bones. Drain the broth, discard everything else, but pull the neck meat off the bones and add to the broth and refrigerate, any fat that solidifies on top can be discarded.”

I forwarded this email to Matt saying, “Ummm....I’m not doing this. Your job!!!” That’s essentially how I get out of doing unsavory things, like boiling turkey tidbits. We are also brining our turkey as I will NOT STAND for dry white meat. I watched an Alton Brown video no less than three times on his technique and I think we’re up to the challenge.

In addition to the wonderful gluttony that is turkey week, I got a call today from the clinical coordinator at my fertility practice. If I participate in a mini-clinical trial I get $1000 worth of free meds and a $100 gift card. The drug company running the trial simply wants the follicle sack and proteins that are extracted with my eggs (I refer to this as “goop” and it is usually discarded anyway). They want to analyze women’s’ goop to see if they can ascertain better quality egg sacks from others. It only requires one extra appointment on my end for consent and nothing else – not bad! For $1000 of meds they can have all the goopity goop they want! That will be a nice discount on meds as they run from about $3,000 to $4,000 per extraction. Also, Matt can now put this extra money toward my Christmas present. JUST KIDDING!

I’m getting excited about IVF. This will probably last until the second day of the cycle when I realize I have to give myself multiple stomach-fat shots a day, but I think even a (delusional) positive attitude can only help. I’ve just had some really quiet, beautiful moments in the last couple of weeks – with friends, on a long walk with the dog – that have infused me. And when that doesn’t work I just eat some chocolate.

I hope you’re feeling well and you have a wonderful holiday, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Going the Distance

Driving back to the office, the city ahead.
23W to 202N to 76E to 676E to 95N to 73E. That is my route to the fertility practice. Through a national park, into Philadelphia and then out, and then over the Betsy Ross Bridge to New Jersey. The ride is a solid hour on the weekends with no traffic and up to an hour and 45 minutes amidst the morning rush. And each month, in tandem with my treatments, I accelerate and break, accelerate and break until I am there.

I drive for a good doctor and above all, a good price. I am priced out of a fertility practice around the corner in Philadelphia’s tony Main Line area. Matt and I have been preparing for this: all our money – our meager nest egg, scrutinized by me again and again – will go toward IVF. And for this I know we are fortunate.

The practice I frequent is always busy, always moving new women and more women, but all with the same problem. At first I was overwhelmed because there is a protocol for everything: a blood line and times to meet the blood run. Ultrasound sheets. IVF and Non-IVF call-back sheets. Call-backs listing Estradol, Progesterone, LH and FSH. The endocrinologist, the techs, the billing department. All the injectables: HCG, Lupron, Braville and it goes on and on. The nurses’ names: Carol and Karen, Jackie and Jacelyn, Diane and Deandra. And then there is me: “Kathryn H.?” They call my name.

I spent the last six months getting to know the practice. I’ve had two months of monitoring, four IUI’s, and if my count is correct, I’ve made at least 30 blood runs. And in the fertility game, I’m a neophyte. A newbie. Six months is nothing and I haven’t been even had IVF. So many woman have moved from one practice to another, with disappointment after disappointment in tow, wants and yearnings that never cease. That is not for me. Fertility treatments become your morning, noon, and night – and I have a little, quaint life – a husband, a dog - I want to get back to.

And that’s what I told our doctor during our IVF consult yesterday. I want to be aggressive because I don’t know if I want to be here six months from now. We will be going all-in, and with my age, she hopes to harvest 15-20 eggs, and if we’re very lucky, maybe 12 of those will fertilize. Every IVF cycle requires four mature, fertilized eggs and they pick the best two to place in my uterus. And then the others are frozen and we wait. That is a good scenario. They may harvest only two, or perhaps no eggs will be viable, but it’s time to try.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing the journey.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Potato Soup

Here's a classic potato soup for a blustery day. Don't forget all the fixins: cheddar cheese, scallions, and crumbled bacon. Is there anything better than soup, salad, and bread?

Potato Soup
  • 8 (6-ounce) red potatoes
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup prechopped onion
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese (parm, romano, etc)
Optional toppings (bacon, scallions, cheddar cheese)

1. Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly.
2. While potatoes cook, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1 cup milk; add to pan with 3 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.
3. Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.
4. Discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and bacon.

Don't these nice people look like they're enjoying some soup on a chilly day?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I’m so happy to announce it here: Pink is pregnant. Yes, as in the singer. One more thing: damn her.

Matt and I have been talking about the jump to IVF, and have been wishy washy about whether to try a couple more rounds of IUI (artificial insemination) before we moved on. IUI is affordable. It’s easy – a few shots here and some pills there and wham bam thank you ma’am. He’s been hemming and hawing like a regular ol’ horse when it comes to IVF, but last night I opened an email from one of his family members about Thanksgiving, and it detailed five (five!) births with photos that occurred over the last year. It really was lovely, but we were watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and my laughs became sobs (and I think blubbery snorts, but frankly that’s a bit embarrassing).

We decided then and there that yes, it was time to bring out the big guns.

It’s little things like that, that get me: simply being around others' children, discovering a Facebook “friend” was pregnant (two minute cry) to sitting around a table with women who are talking about their children (and they all – all – have children). That warrants a couple more minutes on the woe-is-me-ometer. I even got mad at Celine Dion when she announced she was pregnant with twins. I know: I’m horrible. But I don’t hate any of these women – I’m just plain old envious. Women who say “it just happened” or “we weren’t even really trying” are a giant enigma to me: who is this breed of woman? What do they do that I don’t? How can I be like them?!?! I can only hope their fertility will rub off on me.

In December it will be 1 ½ years of trying. I don’t think I’ve ever tried so much or so long for anything: I mean, I’m an inherently lazy person. Recently I’ve found it hard to sit down and even watch a movie, so you would think this has been trying, and it has – but hasn’t. My doctor appointments are so routine to me. I also see the same two ultrasound techs and I love them as we gab and investigate what, exactly, is going on in there: we both giggled last week when she said it looks like I have a good egg reserve and I exclaimed, “Well; we gotta get those babies to HATCH!” This is all down as I’m naked waist-down and she has her, uh, instrument, in me. (I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have an ailment that didn’t require me to undress from the waist down. Doesn’t an allergist appointment sound pleasant? Or an ear, nose and throat doctor?)

One thing that does scare me is knowing that IVF may not work, and we have finite chances. Getting my monthly “negative” call after an IUI is one thing, but after you put all your eggs (HA! LITERALLY! God I kill myself sometimes.) in one basket – that must be the lowest low. I already thought-out a plan for Matt to execute if it is negative that I conveniently entitled, “Babies Are Stupid, Anyway.” It will involve Chinese take-out. Lindt chocolate, and some jewelry (I’ll leave the picking out for him, but lord knows I want it so bling-y and shiny that it blinds me from my sorrows). Just kidding. Well, mostly. You know me: I’ll probably just settle for the take-out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Funnel Cakes and Friends

I very fortunate to have people in my life who lift me up and say, "Kathryn - it will happen - one way or another."  From the wonderful ladies who read this blog to the girls I see in morning at the gym to my coworker, amidst her own struggle, whom I cry to monthly when I receive the "It's negative" call.  Thank you all.

I had one such friend for over for dinner on Friday, and no meal could have done this girl justice: she has listened to be bitch endlessly on work and health, and is one of the few people who makes work....well, doable.  She is also one of the funniest, brightest and most insightful people I know.  Oh, and she also accessorizes really well.  It goes without saying I had to make a yummy meal for this friend.

I thought long and hard about make-ahead meals because we were both getting to my place at the same time.  The only thing I could come up with lasagna, and I just wasn't feeling it.  That week Matt had harvested the last of our basil from the garden - a good two-hands full of summertime sweet and green leaves.  A new batch of pesto was born.

I cook with my dog and with music.  Matt (brilliantly) installed speakers in the kitchen this summer and now I sashay with my spoons.  Penny just waits for food.

I have learned the best pesto is made with roasted (in questionable amounts of olive oil) garlic.  The garlic mellows and an enticing sweetness is added to the dish.  And I admit: I plucked multiple cloves from the oil and ate them just like that.

Like a said, a lot of pesto was made.  And even though you'd think this batch was positively PUNGENT with garlic, I swear, it was, if garlic can be, mellow.  

I have no exact ratios: a large handful of basil, maybe a half cup of grated cheese (I used parm and romano), loads of garlic and, of course, the garlic-infused olive oil.  

To save time, I roasted bell peppers, grape tomatoes and zucchini with the garlic and mixed everything the night before, having only to make the pasta the day of.  I was a bit afraid things would get "mushy" but shrimp and roasted veggies are already mushy to begin with (right?), so I was good to go.

I thought it was only right to add MORE cheese to the already cheese-laden pesto dish.  Because that's just what I do.

I marketed the get-together as a "Harvest Party" - the only thing harvesty about this summertime meal was my fake leaves and gourds strewn about the table.  But, hey, I tried.  And aren't these two dears?  Yes, I really like them both.

I put Matt in charge of dessert and he came up with funnel cakes.  I was awe-struck with his genius and I think Danita was just as smitten.  Oh, this one sorts of looks like an intestine, no?  Thought it was a bit apt.

I debated over whether to include this photo because I look damn freaky, but thought it really just encapsulated the mood of the evening.  And my serpent tongue.

Did I mention we ate three of these babies?  It's sad but true.  Another friend was supposed to come for the evening but had romantic plans with her boyfriend.  When she found out we were having funnel cakes it presented a big quandary for her: long-planned big night out with said boyfriend, or funnel cake with us freaks?  She chose the former, and I think it's fair to state Matt, Danita and I would say she chose wrong.

So, here are the tips: always roast your garlic for fabulous pesto.  I buy a container of pre-peeled cloves at my local produce place.  It's great for us lazy folk.  Pre-peeled garlic is also great for mojo de ajo, Matt's favorite Mexican accompaniment (great on fish, veggies, anything).  It's a good thing we both adore garlic and don't mind morning garlic burps. (Yes - this stuff really sticks, uh, with 'ya.)

Matt's Funnel Cakes (really from
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the eggs and the milk. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture, and beat with a mixer until smooth. The consistency should be thin enough to run through a small kitchen funnel. Test it, and if it is too thick beat in a little more milk; if too thin, beat in a bit more flour.
  3. In an eight inch skillet, heat the oil to 360 degrees F (182 degrees C).
  4. Put your finger over the bottom opening of the funnel, and fill the funnel with a generous 1/2 cup of the batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Fry until golden brown. Use tongs and wide spatula to turn the cake over carefully. Fry the second side one minute. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with sifted confectioners' sugar. 
 One last thing: don't look at the caloric content of this dish.  That just ruins all the fun.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In the Dark

And so I've begun my life as a mole...

Matthew has been scurrying around the house throughout the afternoon, down to the basement, up from the basement, “Is the light off?” he yells, and I roll my eyes and say, “YES!” like I'm told. He is doing electrical work, and I've learned, that trumps my housework. Every time I go to vacuum the soft hum of the house deadens, and again, the power is out. It is now night and I have candles lit around the room and will type as long as the computer battery allows. It goes without saying: I am sick of electrical work. I am sick of that nerd-boy running up and down with his (really, MY) miner's flashlight. In reality, I just want to watch television. In reality, I cannot go three hours without electricity.

That's not to say I'm not in complete awe that Matt can do this. Like, his installing a new shower light this afternoon? I would just have used the dingy bulb and fixture that was there...forever. But, I think, in fairness, the power should go back on when daylight is lost. And he should listen to his wife.

Our circuits are screwy, so when he's working in, say, the upstairs master bath, the living room and half the kitchen will also be out. Invariably, the internet is always out. Invariably, whatever room I was in loses electricity. Invariably, I grow bitchy.

But I'd like to acknowledge I have some pioneer prowess in me: I cooked our dinner, pea soup, by manually lighting our gas stove. I think it says a lot that I am proud of this quasi achievement. I am not into the outdoors or roughing it, but I want to be. A new Eastern Mountain Sports superstore opened near us and I have no reason to go in, but I want to. Upright kayaks sandwich it's sliding doors and, even to my staunchly suburbanite self, create an allure I can't quite shake.

I want to hike, but I want a hot shower afterward. I want to camp out, but head to a hotel for the night after s'mores are eaten. I want to fish, but not eat my catch. I want to buy thick wool socks and hiking boots, but not actually wear them.

My idea of camping involves a total of one night, luxurious air mattresses, flushing toilets, showers, and Doritos and chocolate. When I was younger my parents sent me to Girl Scout camp every summer in the Pocono Mountains. My time there included none of things. You guessed it: I hated it. There were spiders everywhere. We pooped in latrines infested with flies and they were so foul that breathing solely through your mouth was your only saving grace. There were no lights, and I remember having to navigate my way to them, and through the woods, with just my flashlight at three in the morning. This was a very brave thing to do for a 11-year-old girl, but I was even more terrified of waking my grouchy tent-mates (it was even harder to navigate the social norms of adolescence).

Which brings us back to today. The power is still out. Do you know how quiet a house gets with no power? No fridge on. No electrical equipment, even off, receiving power? It's, well, lovely and creepy at the same time. There's a stillness that's haunting and....and wait. The power just went back on. Holy hell, the power just went back on.  Well....I guess my work is down here.  A click here, a click there and I'll post this bad boy.  Now, if you'll excuse me, some inconsequential, mindless television program must be watched.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Okay, okay, let's get this out of the way: this soup does not photograph well.  I looks like a pile of mush; I get it.  Trust me when I say this: this is the most delicious pile of mush you will eat this year.  Er....or this week.  Whatever; it's damn good.

We've made it twice in as many weeks.  Tell your significant other to pick up a loaf of bread (be sure to specify what a French baguette is as I know some folks - cough, cough - might bring home a lump of sourdough). 

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • chicken broth - 1 carton
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
  • croutons or cheese for topping (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Place the cauliflower on a cookie sheet (or two). Drizzle with oil and season with nutmeg, garlic, salt, and pepper: toss to coat.
  3. Roast the cauliflower until tender and starting to crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook and stir until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to coat. Slowly pour the chicken broth and milk and half and half into the pan. Mix with a wire whisk until all of the flour is dissolved. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously until it thickens, then reduce heat to low. Stir in the sherry and the roasted cauliflower. Blend most (I like to leave some whole florets) in a food processor blender to thicken the soup.  Serve with bread or croutons and a sprinkling of cheese.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Bundt Cake

This evening I took a picture of this slice of cake. I would have photographed the whole cake, but I ate it. That's just what I do. I cannot be trusted with cake.

When Matt saw there was only one slice left, but was going out to play basketball with his brother, he weighed (fo' real, y'all) the slice of cake to MAKE CERTAIN I did not touch it and eat a single crumb. I thought this was particularly cruel because we had just bought the kitchen scale last week, and this (THIS!) was not what I had intended. My own kitchen gadgets betray me.

The slice of cake is sitting in the kitchen as I type this. I've realized I'm capable of lustful thoughts for desserts, and this concerns me as it's the only thing that has gotten my blood boilin' recently. But you would be this desperate if you had this cake. It's a wonderful cake for many reasons, one of them being it takes five minutes to make because it's not from scratch. I'm not a terribly adept baker, so Betty Crocker often helps an old girl out. I also like this cake because it's delicious: much more so even the next day as it gets fudgier and moister. Positively delightful with a tall, cold glass of milk. Swoon.

Moist (as all heck) Chocolate Bundt Cake
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 3.5 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (aka 2 cups) sour cream (I know, I know...but it's soooo worth it!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup veggie oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips - your call)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Beat all ingredients (except chocolate chips) until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into bundt pan. Bake for 50 miutes to 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Foodie Delights

I've been taking delight in the little culinary details found in my kitchen.

I picked up these gorgeous globes (uh, aka heirloom cherry tomatoes) at the market last week.

I got this huge bunch of dill at my cheapy produce place, too. I put the pistol and mortar in the photo only to "be artsy". And yes, I know it's more silly than artsy.

Our newly organized spice cabinet! Finally (FINALLY!) put all those yummy Indian spices in jars.

I'm including this because it's hanging on our frig, which is in the kitchen. It was a purposely goofy photo we took last year at Matt's work dinner. Not purposely goofy? Me holding the mask upside down. And I thought I was being all clever at the time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Parrrty Time!

The get-together on Friday night was just like this.  Obviously, except for the party hats...

I'm writing this with the assumption that no one from my neighborhood will ever find this blog.  Now let's begin.

On Friday Matt and I attended our first neighborhood get-together.  They hold these little shindigs from October to June and yearly an invite is placed in our mailbox.  And yearly we decline to participate.  Well, until this year.  I figured we can't be hermits any longer, and heck, maybe I'll meet someone and they'll be my new link to a fabulous job.  Or willing to watch our dog when we're away.  Not that I'm all selfish: I was also curious.  I wanted to get the "what's what" on folks in this neighborhood.

Matt and I are both introverts.  I don't particularly like large groups, and often just sit back and observe.  When at work functions or anything else that is, well, forced, I can put on a great extrovert show.  Especially when three-plus glasses of wine are involved. 

First things first: we were, on average, 35 years younger than the other party-goers.  To be fair, a number of young families with small kids couldn't make it, so that skewed the numbers a bit.  Next thing: someone made a buffalo chicken cheese dip, and so help me god, it was the most delicious bowl of globbity goop I ever ate.  Third: only a handful of women ate my damn dip, so you bet I'm not pleased.  Fourth: the man who hosted collects penguins.  In stuffed form, plastic form, metal form: you name it.  I'm still determining what to make of this knowledge.  And lastly, do you recall when I mentioned our beyotchy neighbor?  Oh yes...she was there.  And I sat next to her.

During the course of the night, through this testy neighbor, I learned several of our neighbors had PhD's, she countered my comment that Matt was a programmer with that her son-in-law is the director of IT at a very large, well-known company, and she stated for the fifth time that "you have quite the yard to take care of....".  I pretty much determined she was the matriarch of this bunch, and ruled with snide comments and a fabulously-manicured lawn.  Matt doesn't think ill of anyone, but even he admitted: Pat is one sneaky biznitch (fine, my words, but the lad really did say, "She's nice but with undercurrents of insincerity."  He has a way with words, doesn't he?)  But this is what Pat doesn't know: two of us can play that game.

I know what you're thinking: I'm pathetic.  I mean, Pat is in her twilight years and I should leave her and her velvet track-suited self alone.  But as she started bragging about her daughter's African safari and detailing her house in the Outer Banks, I thought one thing: Game's on, Pat!!!

Then I spoke with Harriott.  Harriott is even older than Pat and was the sweetest thing ever: she talked about her cat and gave me dish on an old pedophile neighbor who moved away.  When the host asked if I wanted more wine and I politely declined, Harriott piped up and said, "Kathryn is loaded!" and chuckled.  I never heard an 80-year-old talk like that - and I liked it!

Then there was Donna.  Donna is crazy.  There is really no getting around it.  She bounced around the room like a kangaroo on methamphetamine.  She's probably fifty but dresses twenty years younger.  Pat said she was the "character" of the group.  But I love her because she said I remind her of Jennifer Garner.  Now, I don't look a lick like Jennifer Garner, but boy do I love me some Donna.

Our hosts, Bob and Eileen, were very, very kind.  Bob, like several of the men, sat in the same area.  Come to think of it, the room was segregated with the women on one side, and the men watching the Phillies game on the other.  Except Matt; he sat with us lady folk.

I'm intrigued with Bob and Eileen because Eileen has about six inches and 75 pounds on Bob.  Now, I'm not one to talk: I've got more poundage than Matt, but they were taking this to new heights!  I loved it and thought it was a success for all us larger ladies.  Just as I was digging this, I noticed about 50 sets of penguin eyes staring at me.  Bob is obsessed with penguins.  Because I'm nosy, I asked why but he didn't really have an answer.  I guess he and the birds just connect.  
Now let's get this straight: I'm sure they had their fair share to say about us after we left.  Something along the lines of "those two big dopes sitting in the corner" sounds just about right.  We're hosting in February.  You bet your behind I'm already thinking about recipes.  Someone's gotta blow Pat outta the water.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipes A Cometh!

Yes...this is what you can look forward to...

My mother flat-out told me she's worried about my mental health.  My sister confirmed this the other day and said, "I think you just need to relax!"  Thanks you two.

I'd like everyone to know I am a happy, well-adjusted and fabulous woman.  To prove it, I'm going to post some equally fabu recipes I've made lately.  Earlier this week I made a healthy roasted cauliflower soup that made me go "Hurrah!" every time I took a slurp.  It was delish, and even better with a little grated peccorino romano on top. 

And then this past weekend Matt, Penny and I went apple picking.  We picked our hearts silly with Jonathan apples, Rome, and Golden Delicious.  I also drank cider until my stomach hurt, so a good weekend all in all.  But what's a girl to do with 20,000,000 pounds of apples?!  It's simple, really: make apple, brie, and arugula quesadillas.  Give me cheese, any cheese: the stinker the better, and I go crazy. 

And tomorrow night we're sashaying into our first neighborhood get together and I made pumpkin fluff (it took four ingredients and two minutes) and is delish with gingersnaps.  It's all about the presentation and I'm putting this dip in a hallowed out pumpkin because I'm festive like that.  Here's to hoping we don't embarrass ourselves....too much.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The highest highs and the lowest lows

When you are on hormone supplements you have highs and lows.  Very high highs and very low lows.  Take this weekend, for example.  We went apple picking, country drivin', and I unilaterally decided we will have a fabulous mosaic tile backsplash (I didn't get around to the project specifics, but I spent a good 30 minutes in the bowels of Lowes so I think that's making good progress).

Then, last night, Matt brought home the wrong bread.  I was making roasted cauliflower soup and had asked for a French baguette.  He brought me a short, stout sour-dough loaf.  I was enraged.

My rage can take on many manifestations, but this particular variety was: cry, scream, plea (for a new loaf), and yell some more.  I'm not proud of these moments.  My face gets puffy and red. Mascara runs down my neck.  And I am at my worst.

Someone else I know going through fertility treatments described the very same thing: crying, screaming, and a terrified husband holding his breath for the next rampage.  My descent started with bread, went to "You have NO idea; why don't you just GO AND PLAY SOME GOLF and live your EASY life!" and went to, "F--- kids!  I just want a goddamn PACK OF DOGS!"  I really said this.

That's not to say Matt is all good and no bad.  Boys, on a whole, can say supremely insensitive things and not even realize it.  Yesterday Matt said he will make a "sacrifice" and be "okay" with one child.  It was a relatively innocuous statement, but I was at my brink, and I was incensed.  "Boy, at this point, you WILL be ELATED with ONE child!  And you say you're sacrificing?!?!  You get to sit at home as I drive to all these doctor appointments and spread my legs!  You are STILL IN BED when I've been on the road for an hour!  So I'm SOOOO sorry you are sacrificing!"  Again, I really said this. 

Matt then went outside with our dog, and I cut up my cauliflower for the soup, alone.  Twenty minutes later he peaked through the front door, and there I was, sitting on the couch thumbing through a catalogue.  It was almost as if this was a normal Tuesday.  We then enjoyed our soup, and yes, even the bread.