An Alarming Rate

I started showing a couple of weeks ago, right before my birthday.  Fortunately, it’s winter, so it’s been easy to hide underneath sweaters.  And God Bless leggings.  Fashion is on my side.  Here is a picture from Saturday, February 22nd.

That there is a bump under those maternity jeans.
That there is a bump under those maternity jeans.

On Sunday, I could have sworn I was bigger than the day before.  Katie remarked, “Wow!  You’re really carrying low!”  And today, Monday, it became completely obvious to complete strangers that I am totally and completely pregnant.

Lilly has always known.
Lilly has always known.

Could also be the box of Samoas a Girl Scout made me buy.

The Difference Between Our Last Hike and the Next Hike





A lot can happen between two birthdays.  On Eric’s birthday, November 10th, we got the green light for IUI.  On my birthday, today, February 13th, we’re announcing that we’re just about 16 weeks pregnant.

YAY!  That means a due date (or as I like to think of it, 20 day window) of August 4th.

I’m sure many people have figured this out, seeing as how we posted our story and then followed up with pretty much nothing.  Sorry about that!  We have known since November 22nd that the IUI was successful.  But we felt that we couldn’t be too careful, so we kept our secret as long as we could.  We did tell our families over Christmas at 8 weeks, which I was nervous about because 8 weeks is early to share for someone with a history of miscarriage.  But there was no way I could pretend to drink that much holiday wine, beer, and booze for so many days without someone catching on.

The weeks went by, and I never felt sick, never felt tired, never had to miss work.  I also didn’t look pregnant (ok, maybe a little, but that also could have been Christmas cookies and my new love for doughnuts).  Having already established that I drink gin & tonics, it was easy to drink soda water with lime when out with friends.  I kept on going to yoga and I kept on skiing.

I also had to take Crinone, Estrace, Folgard, Levothyroxine, and a prenatal to support our pregnancy.  I’ve since weaned off the progesterone and estrogen, but will remain on the Folgard (for MTHFR) and Levothyroxine (for thyroid), and of course, prenatal vitamins, for the duration of pregnancy.

We’ve had several appointments and everything about the baby is right on track.  We’ve had 4 or 5 ultrasounds (side benefit of fertility clinics!) and seen our bean waving at us, doing backflips, and beating his or her miniscule heart.  The doctor has assured us we have no reason to worry.


So now, finally, we can write our baby blog.  Eric and I are absolutely thrilled.  We think Lilly knows, too.  She lays her head on my belly sometimes and I can tell she is protective and maybe a bit nervous.  We are looking forward to the next few months of preparation, adventure, and rest.  I promise I’ll be better about writing now that I’m not keeping any secrets!

Potato Soup, Better the Next Day

I usually grocery shop on the weekends as I can just find the most time on Sundays. However, going to the store during the week is extremely gratifying.  No crowds!  All those Manager’s Specials!  But this past weekend, we went to Steamboat Springs to ski, hot tub, and play euchre with the Floods and the Taylors.  After the five-hour trip up (weather, traffic) and four-hour trip down (weather, traffic) I just didn’t feel like hitting up King Soopers.  So, Eric is in for some real treats this week, food-wise!

I knew I had two lonely potatoes in the pantry (which I never buy, but did when Eric went through a Paleo phase in January).  I though I would make some potato soup.  Years ago a friend gave me a basic recipe involving potatoes, carrots, and corn in a broth of chicken stock and fat free cream cheese.  I had those ingredients, so I proceeded.  But why stop there?  I also tossed in the celery tops I save specifically for soup-making purposes.  And a few broccoli trees I brought home last week from the school cafeteria (I can’t stand it when kids waste food!)  There might have been a couple of cauliflower pieces as well.  It simmered nicely with salt and pepper.  I served it with the remaining 1/2 oz of cheddar cheese in the fridge as well as some fresh-ish dill from a potato salad I’d made a couple of weeks ago.  Overall, the soup was a little better than OK.  (Sometimes the “surprise” in Refrigerator Surprise is that it’s not actually all that fantastic.)

potato soup and bacon tomato grilled cheese

There were two servings left over, so Eric and I both had potato soup for lunch today.  And it was so much better!  I know many soups and stews do taste better the following day, and this one served as a reminder that it’s true.  A coworker of Eric’s even asked for the recipe.  (Ha!)  Anyhow, at least I don’t have to look at those two sad potatoes anymore.

It’s Almost February, so Merry Christmas!

So first of all, I deeply apologize for any time I might have said, “How hard is it to update a blog?!” or “What’s with people that start blogs and then never write on (in?) them?!”  I swear, every night I think about it…and then fold laundry.  Or cut coupons.  Or watch The Biggest Loser while drinking a milkshake.  (That’s for another post.)

We flew to beautiful, sunny Tucson the week after Christmas.  Eric’s parents hosted us, Eric’s sister Laura and her husband Andy and adorable son Ethan in from Indianapolis, and Eric’s brother Paul and his wife Colleen in from Sun Valley.  We now comfortably fill both the Camry and the Accord when visiting Arizona.

The whole gang.  Ethan does have eyeballs, I promise.  It's just that his eyes were closed in the other group photo, too.
The whole gang. Ethan does have eyeballs, I promise. It’s just that his eyes were closed in the other group photo, too.

The days were spent hiking, going to the park, eating, and reading in the sunshine.  Oh, the sunshine was wonderful.  Better than wonderful.  Satiating.  The trip was an amazing way to relax and celebrate the new year!

Holleday Decorating

Welp, it’s that time of year again, time to find our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and hang the lights up outside.  So, after venturing to some sketchy thrift shops in Longmont for gag gifts, we found a Christmas Tree lot.  Amy starting walking towards the nice trees when I spotted the cheap ones laying on the ground with price tags on them.  And she found it – the best Holle Christmas tree for 2013!


The turkey from Thanksgiving weighed more than this amazing tree, but nonetheless, this is our tradition.  This tradition started as one of Amy and my first dates, where I went out with Amy and all her girlfriends to help find them a tree.  I stuck around to decorate and drink egg nog, and we have done the same thing every year since.  But now we just go to the lot on the corner.  Anywho, I managed to put up all the lights outside of the house and it looks nice.  Not Clark Griswold nice, but a couple hours of my time nice.

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All of this made possible by the fine folks in China, and Walmart, who create lights with a lifespan of less than one season.  The little ones aren’t blinking, Clark.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Eric and I flew to Chicago on Thanksgiving Day to stay with my brother and see my parents who were in from Cleveland.  We had a wonderful visit at David and Heidi’s beautiful home in Lake Zurich and spent the majority of the weekend chasing after our adorably handsome nephew.  There were no turkey mishaps, although after a few rounds of dominoes and and Great Lakes Christmas Ale, my dad did suggest something along the lines of “turkey twerking.”  Thank goodness we didn’t follow through with that.

Dad, can you stop looking at your grandson for one second?!
Dad, can you ever stop looking at your grandson?!

And what better place to spend Black Friday than Brunswick Zone?  In a typically Mihalik-esque move, my brother was the proud owner of an expired bowling Groupon.  So, we decided to head over and see what kind of deal we could strike (pun intended) with the bowling alley employees.  The 6 of us ended up with a lane for 2 hours and had a blast. Heidi fittingly bowled three strikes in a row…a Turkey.

Chili and Wax Party

Last Friday, we hosted a chili-eating and ski-waxing party at our house.  We watched ski porn and the 90s classic Aspen Extreme, chowed on chili AND Skyline chili dip, and waxed skis and snowboards to get ready for the season.  [“Skiing’s the easy part.”–TJ Burke.]  I figured out that I was in middle school when Aspen Extreme was released.  Another party guest said she was two.  Sometimes you feel old when you least expect it!  But overall, a very good time.

People commented on the chili, which we finished off tonight for dinner.  I don’t use a recipe for chili.  Meat, veggies (fresh and canned), beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, cumin, chili powder…that about does it.  But I tossed in a new liquid ingredient this time in order to make sure we had enough to go around, plus it gave the chili that extra kick.  Half a bottle of Blood Mary mix from the fridge from Lord knows when.  I’ll be doing that again!

Bloody Mary Chili
Bloody Mary Chili

Welcome Back

Welcome (Back) to Hollewood!  Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for (or perhaps never, ever thought about)…is this a baby blog?  The short answer is yes, someday, it will be.  The long answer is actually pretty long.

Eric and I started trying to have a baby after I finished graduate school (the 2nd time) in May 2012.  We had no reason to believe anything was amiss, and proceeded in the usual way.  In January 2013, we found out we were pregnant!  Unfortunately, our joy only lasted about three days before I realized I was miscarrying.  Miscarriages are actually quite common (ask around) and we didn’t think much of it.  I was only 6 weeks.

In May I thought I might be pregnant again, but wasn’t.  I went to the doctor, she ran some tests, and determined I was hypothyroid and put me on Levothyroxine.  Some miscarriages stem from issues with the mother’s thyroid, so this was a step in the right direction.  We decided to just live our life and see what happens.  I visited a physical therapist for Mayan Abdominal Massage and set up acupuncture appointments (thank you, livingsocial).  Also, we chose to run another marathon (#8 for me and #3 for Eric!) in the meantime.

Eric bravely manned up and went and got his sperm tested over the summer at the urging of some of our friends who have also gone down this road.  His soldiers are mostly fine, but some of them aren’t swimmin’ too good.  Still, he’s not shooting blanks.  That’s not the problem.

In August I was certain I was pregnant again, but tests showed that I wasn’t.  I’m not much of a hypochondriac, worrier, or overly emotional person, but I began to think something was wrong.  We are so healthy.  Why was it taking us more than a year to conceive?  Our marathon was September 14th, and we scheduled an appointment at the fertility clinic for shortly after.  Incidentally, running a marathon has nothing to do with anything, for me.  I’ve been running for 11 years and I run slowly and injury-free.

We entered the fertility clinic consultation appointment as fairly typical clients:  young 30s, active, healthy.  Our doctor recommended a usual course of treatment:  “super-sperm” vitamins for Eric, blood work and ultrasounds for me.  But something I said about my cycle (I don’t need to be too graphic here) intrigued the doctor and he immediately ordered me to have a hysteroscopy (NOT a hysterectomy!  No removals) and a detailed ultrasound with saline.  He was sure I had fibroids.  I don’t.  Oh, and those saline procedures…painful.  Very.  I cried.

Blood work revealed I tested positive for MTHFR, a fairly common genetic disorder that has to do with folic acid (which we all know is responsible for promoting baby brain growth).  But not a sole culprit of infertility.  Another medicine:  Folgard.

November.  Back to the fertility clinic to meet with the doctor and discuss our options.  He also gave us some news that was nice to hear in person rather than over the phone from a nurse.  As it turns out, my eggs are old.  32 years old!  Beard of Zeus!  Yet, it’s true.  And my eggs, they’re not as plentiful as they once were.  The doctor tells us our best bet will be…IVF.   [IVF=In Vitro Fertilization; sperm meets egg in a petri dish, fertilized eggs get implanted in the uterus.]  We can try IUI, but it won’t give us our best chance.  [IUI=Intrauterine Insemination; basically a glorified turkey baster.]  Or we can keep trying at home, but if I do get pregnant, what if something happens again and we don’t know about the pregnancy right from the very beginning?  The odds are pretty slim we can create a viable baby on our own.

The cost difference between IUI and IVF is about $20,000.  Yep.  Twenty. Thousand. Dollars.  So, we’re probably going to go with the economy package first.  I mean, I don’t throw away wrinkly five-cent jalapenos.  Of course we’ll go the discount route when trying to have a baby.  So that’s the story of why this still isn’t a baby blog, but kind of is.  I’ll update when there’s updates.  Otherwise, Eric and I are just fine.  It seems that we know a statistically impossible number of couples dealing with fertility issues, so we don’t feel alone.  We’re very hopeful.

Welcome to Hollewood

Welcome to Hollewood!  I’ve been meaning to start a blog for awhile now.  In my mind, our blog would serve two purposes.  The first is documenting my culinary adventures of Refrigerator Surprise.  The second is a baby blog…except we don’t have a baby.  Yet.  More on that later.

Refrigerator Surprise started on Valentine’s Day 2013.  I hadn’t been to the grocery store in ages, but it was a holiday so I wanted to make something better than Annie’s Mac & Cheese for Eric.  I threw together quite a random array of ingredients from the pantry and the fridge.  Pasta, chicken stock, fat free cream cheese, kielbasa from a few nights prior, and some jalapenos that were awfully wrinkly.  There were probably some other interesting surprises in there too.  The crazy thing was, Eric LOVED it.

Before we were married, I wasn’t much of a cook.  I was busy, broke, and not usually home for dinner.  After we tied the knot, I started using recipes.  I remembered them and would cook from memory.  If I was missing an ingredient, I could substitute and the dish would still turn out OK (or sometimes better).  Somewhere along the line, I stopped using recipes for weeknight dinners.  It seemed that anything I threw together tasted pretty good.

Oh yeah.  I also have an obsession with not throwing food away.  I love recycling leftovers, sometimes two or three times.  Pork tenderloin on the grill night one becomes spicy pork quesadillas night two becomes spicy pork on a salad for lunch day three.  People tell me that fruits and vegetables go bad.  I prefer the phrase, “less fresh,” and guess what?  The aforementioned wrinkly jalapenos still taste like jalapenos.  When you cook fruits and veggies they get limp anyway, so does it really matter if they’re snap-fresh when you toss them in the pan?

So that’s the backstory on Refrigerator Surprise.  I solemnly swear that nothing I’ve made has ever made me or Eric sick.  When I post photos of food, I’ll let you know what’s in it and how I made it.  Stay tuned for the next post on why this is also a baby blog…sort of.