Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you ready for some football?

 It was amazing to feel the cool air when I opened the windows this morning.  It reminded me that Fall, my favorite season, is approaching.  What's not to love?  Falling leaves, lower temps, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, new TV shows, and of course, football season!

Still searching for the perfect football snack.  I'm all ears for recipes & ideas!

We are gearing up for the Broncos to return to Nashville for the second year in a row.  Yes, we're the ones that sit in the season ticket holders section of the stadium and cheer for the away team.  I have my Champ Bailey jersey dusted off and ready to go.  After all, we did have a BFF moment at the Denver Int'l Airport.  Last year, my hubby spotted Champ walking through our concourse, while we were waiting to board a flight home to Nashville.  Right away, I bolted over to him but couldn't catch him before he walked into the men's restroom.  Did I then give up and walk back over to our gate? Heck no.  I waited until he came out of the restroom and then asked him ever-so-sweetly if he would take a quick photo with my husband, the mega fan.  He was a super nice guy and said "yes" without any hesitation.  You'd better believe this photo is hanging in Hubby's office!

I'm usually not a big fan of remixes but this one is fantastic.  Forget "Black & Yellow"....it's all about "Blue & Orange"!  Enjoy!


I'm off to work on my strategy for this year's fantasy football season.  Believe it or not, I am the reigning league champ.  Go Team Awesome!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Our IVF Journey

Our journey towards starting a family has been one heck of a rollercoaster. Due to Cystic Fibrosis, IVF is our only option for getting pregnant.

In-Vitro Fertilization 101

  • A woman is given fertility hormone injections that stimulate her ovaries to produce as many mature eggs as possible (instead of the usual one per monthly cycle). 
  • The eggs are retrieved using a suction needle inserted into the ovary. 
  • The eggs are fertilized by combining them with sperm in a culture dish. 
  • The best-quality embryos are transferred into a woman’s uterus. 
  • If all goes well, a normal pregnancy is the result. 

Our first fresh IVF cycle was exactly 1 year ago. I would love to say that it was easy, but it was far from it. I became very hyperstimulated and produced a whopping 36 eggs. Unfortunately, because of the large number, the quality suffered...of the 36, only 9 fertilized (via ICSI). From those, only 5 remained viable on transfer day. So, 2 were transferred and 3 were frozen for a future cycle. Two weeks following the transfer, we took a blood pregnancy test, where we learned that the cycle was unsuccessful.

Then, in December 2010, we began the injections for a frozen cycle. This round was much smoother. Since the embryos were already fertilized, they simply needed to be transferred. I felt great through the entire cycle. When transfer day arrived, 2 of the 3 frozen embryos were viable after thawing. So, both were transferred. Two weeks later, we were over-the-moon excited to find out that we were pregnant. My due date would be October 13. But, at 10 weeks, I suffered a miscarriage and had a D&C on March 8. Until now, I had chosen to keep quiet to most. I feared that even well-meant words would hurt. I could not bear to hear "Don't worry, you're young. You've got plenty of time to try again". I didn't want to try again. I wanted our baby to still be with us. I was still too in shock to completely share my feelings. I only felt that I could talk freely with God. But, even in my quiet time with God, my words were not always kind. I often spoke in bitterness and anguish. My only comfort was believing that our angel baby was in heaven watching over us.

Our Dr. suggested waiting at least one month after the D&C before beginning another fresh cycle. For us, we thought it would be best to take a longer break, to recover physically & emotionally. So, we agreed that we would start again in August. Today was cycle day 8 for our 3rd IVF attempt. There are several prerequisites before beginning each cycle -- various ultrasounds and blood tests. Because of the D&C, a hydrosonogram was one of my prerequisites for this cycle. In this test, saline is injected into the uterine cavity causing it to expand, so that the uterus can be examined via ultrasound. It checks for anything in the uterus that could prevent implantation or prevent a pregnancy from being carried to term. I went in for this test at 9 a.m. this morning. Unfortunately, they found uterine polyps and am scheduled for a hysteroscopy and D&C on Thursday morning to remove them. They will be sent to a pathology lab for examination to ensure that the cells are benign. Today's hydrosonogram results have caused our current IVF cycle to be cancelled. The Dr. advised us that we could begin another cycle 1 month after the surgery. So, we'll see how the next couple of months unfold.

To date, we are topping out at over $40,000 paid out of pocket towards just the chance at starting a family. 

All I can do is remind myself daily that life in Christ does not mean immunity from difficulties, but it offers peace in difficulties. It doesn’t mean that victory is always visible, but it is always God’s plan. One day, we will be blessed with the child that we've been praying for.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ooh-la-la...Angel Food Cake

I'm in a baking mood and wanted to share my favorite recipe for Angel Food Cake.  It was passed down to me from Hubby's Great-Grandma.  Enjoy!

Grandma Liz's Angel Food Cake
  • 1 c Softasilk (Cake Flour)
  • 1 c Sifted Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 c Egg Whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 c Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Flavoring (optional)
Sift flour & powdered sugar.  Measure into large mixing bowl: egg whites, cream of tartar & salt.  Beat with mixer until foamy.  Gradually add sugar 2 Tbsp at a time.  Beat until it holds stiff peaks.  Fold in flavorings.  Sift flour/powdered sugar mixture gradually over whites.  Fold in gently just until mixture disappears.  Pour batter in ungreased 10 inch tube pan.  Cut through batter with knife (around the circle).  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  Invert on funnel & hang until cold.

CF = Big Words

It felt amazing to sleep 'til 11 a.m. today.  We needed to catch up on sleep after a whirlwind of a month -- a tougher than usual CF appointment, tons of traveling & losing Grandma B. 

Hubby had his 3-month appointment at the Vanderbilt Cystic Fibrosis clinic.  We were very pleased with his PFTs, as his FEV1 was 80%!  But, we learned that he has developed CF-related diabetes.  We will visit an endocrinologist in mid-September to find out what the next steps will be.

Also, we found out that he had previously cultured Mycobaterium Avium Complex (MAC).  This stopped us in our tracks simply because we had not heard of it.  The Dr. did not seem too concerned and will wait to see how the August culture comes back.  We're anxious for the results, but have been informed that it could take up to 6 weeks.  If MAC is still present, they will require dual antibiotic therapy.  Azithromycin is one of the common antibiotics prescribed to treat MAC.  However, this can be challenging, especially for CF patients, like my husband, who are already taking a prophylactic dose of this drug.  So, he was advised to stop taking it until we know more about MAC, to avoid the chance of becoming resistant.

Because Hubby travels so much for his job, they have switched out one of his meds, Tobramycin (TOBI), with Cayston.  TOBI normally takes him 30-40 minutes twice a day, whereas Cayston will only take 5 minutes three times a day.    Both are inhaled medications that fight Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  TOBI has worked great, as he has not cultured Pseudo in over 2 years.  Hoping & praying that Cayston will work just as well.

In case you may be unfamiliar with CF, here is the low-down...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hello World!

You know what?  It's a fine time to start a blog.  With family & friends scattered across the nation, it seems fitting to have a place for everyone to get the low-down on my latest happenings.  Now more than ever, I'm beyond excited to share my many adventures with you, whether it's a recent home renovation or craft project, travel snapshots, or a glimpse into our journey towards starting a family.  

We just returned from a wonderful trip to California.  The first portion of our trip was spent at Hotel Del Coronado.  Can you say FABULOUS?  My, what a gorgeous property.  We enjoyed dinners on the beach, a sailing regatta, private reception at SeaWorld and a guided tour through La Jolla, topped off with a fun afternoon of shopping.  Hubby was in meetings during the day, so that was my time to explore Coronado.  When the conference ended on Thursday, we headed up to Anaheim for a few days at Disneyland.  We had an early anniversary dinner at Napa Rose on Thursday night.  Top notch service, food & wine.  They spoiled us, for sure.  We took Disneyland by storm on Friday and had a blast.

Most of Saturday was spent at a taping of Let's Make a Deal.  We came dressed in our finest costumes from the roaring 20's.  I was a flapper girl and Hubby was a gangster.  Unfortunately, we didn't get selected as contestants on the show but we danced 'til we dropped (literally).  We were absolutely exhausted after the show but it was such a fun experience.

Now, it's Saturday night and we are dressed to the nine's.  We had dinner at CUT Beverly Hills by Wolfgang Puck.  Hands down, it was the BEST meal of my life.  No joke, I'm still dreaming of the phenomenal food.  It was our first time having Kobe beef.  As someone who normally doesn't care for steak, I was floored at how absolutely incredible it was.  One of those meals where you savor each bite and hope that your plate refills itself.  This restaurant is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which was the hotel where "Pretty Woman" was filmed.  On Sunday, we drove around LA and found famous filming locations from our favorite tv shows and movies.  I was over-the-moon excited to find the house in "Father of the Bride", my all-time favorite movie.

Other fun ones were Claire & Phil's house from Modern Family and the house used in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video.  In the evening, we visited the Griffith Observatory and had amazing views of the city, as well as the famous Hollywood sign.  We enjoyed a relaxing night on the patio at Chateau Marmont for dinner on Sunday night.  Finally, on Monday morning, we woke up bright and early to head to CBS studios for a taping of The Price Is Right -- my favorite game show.  We had the time of our lives and happened to be there on the 1st episode of the 40th season -- so much fun!  Be sure to tune in on September 19 when our episode will air!

Unfortunately, we had to take a detour home from Los Angeles to spend a few days in Denver to attend the funeral of Hubby's grandmother.  We were able to spend a few extra days with family, following the funeral.  It was nice to look back on the wonderful memories of Grandma B.  She was an amazing lady and will be missed so much.  

Heaven has gained another angel, no doubt