Friday, August 31, 2012

Finishing the dragon pinata

The time had finally come to close up the pinata and attach a hanger.  This proved to be a bit more challenging than I anticipated. I learned that Mr. W had some zip ties lying around and that they would be nice and sturdy. Then he could connect that to whatever rope he's using to suspend the pinata. Using the exacto knife again I made two slots. I messed up the direction of the slot the first time, I want them to be parallel to the back of the dragon so they can go round the egg container spikes. Then I slide the first end of the zip tie in and instantly realized my problem.  Unlike sewing, I can't easily flip to the underside. How on earth would I get that tie back through the other slot?
After several attempts with long handled things, I decided I'd just cut the hole for adding the candy larger so I could fit my hand through.

MLH couldn't figure out what I was doing with my hand stuck inside his dragon pinata!
It worked though! I got the zip tie through both slots.
My plan here is that between the layers of paper mache, the cardboard of the wings, and then the egg carton, there will be enough support to keep the fastener in place to allow the children to have several go rounds of hitting the pinata.  That's been my biggest fear with this homemade pinata, that it won't be strong enough to hold up and the children will be disappointed.
Next I added the wings that MLH painted blue and green. I made a slit for the male end of the tie and then made two slits forming an X on the other side so that I could force the bulky female side through. Worked great.
Then I glued on the wings. I used Elmer's glue again and as soon as I did it I realized I ought to have gotten the hot glue gun out. I do not have time to stand around holding cardboard in place. I had MLH get a bag of brown rice out of the pantry to use as a flexible weight.  I repeated this technique with the first length of dragon spikes. 
Unfortunately the other one is missing. How many times did I say don't play with the wings and spikes for the pinata?  Too many to count, and yet here we are with parts missing.. Hopefully they will turn up before the party!

Update: The rest of the spikes turned up and we did one last set of painted egg carton to finish the ridge. The zip tie fit around the egg carton spikes.
 I did have a small problem with the zip tie, I put it in backward! Aagh! After all that work! But Mr. W simply twisted them so the closure would work properly.
 Then I added another zip tie for Mr. W to use to suspend the pinata from the rope.
 Here he is in his final state pre-dragon slaying.  That hind legs were glues on after Mr. W finally got him suspended.

Shield party favors

Another plan I had for all our left over moving boxes was to create cardboard shields for the children.  I figured this could be the craft for them to keep them occupied for part of the party. I used the sides of the medium sized moving boxes. Then I tried out a few different mock ups on paper to get the shape I wanted for the shields.  This is the template shape I settled upon.
Once I cut these out with a matte knife (remembering to change the blade before I started) they were ready to paint.
I used the same battleship grey paint as the castle.
After both sides were painted the cardboard magically became convex which I wasn't anticipating, but made them look even more shield like. Yay!
I used black webbing for the straps and fastened them with 15/32" Mini Anorak snaps, all of which I picked up at Joann's.

 I also bought some blue metallicy fabric to use as a table cloth for the medieval banquet.  It was 50% off $7.00 a yard so the price was right. I figure I can use this fabric in the future for costumes of some sort.
After all that effort though, Mr. W decided to use some more of Mr.McGroovey's rivets to put the staps on the shields. Mr. W poked a hole through both the fabric strap and the cardboard. I did 6" lengths and spaced the rivets 3" apart to allow for little boy arms to slide through. But after the test run of that it wasn't quite enough space. When I asked how long the straps ended up being Mr. W answered "the right amount" which isn't entirely helpful, but I'd guess it was more like 7-8" each.
Now we have assembled shields for the children to decorate! My Little Helper and I found bags of jewels for the children to glue on and they can also draw decorations on with markers. I considered making dragon silhouettes, but have run out of motivation for something so tedious.  I have an entire dragon cake I have to bake and assemble tomorrow!
I finished painting the castle yesterday afternoon. Can I just tell you how happy I am to have a garage in which to do all these projects?!  It is so nice to have!
"Take my picture inside the castle!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Building the castle walls (and stuffing the dragon)

Mr. W had a very busy weekend preparing for Our Little Helper's dragon birthday party. After we moved we decided to save all our cardboard moving boxes to use as a castle for the children to play in at the birthday party.  I had heard somewhere that you can buy plastic rivets for assembling boxes.  My internet search turned up Mr. McGroovy. Not only does he sell rivets, but he also has floor plans. I didn't think I needed those, I was able to come up with a general idea based upon the photos of castles on his website. The little rivets snap together fairly easily, but they have to be lined up just so.

We didn't really have enough of the large wardrobe boxes and we weren't about to go out searching for more boxes in order to have the appliance boxes so we improvised with the large moving boxes. We went back and forth on the best arrangement for the boxes, this was our result.
I was expecting to pay a ton for spray paint cans, but Mr. W had the brilliant idea to purchase a paint sprayer. He figures there will be plenty of painting the exterior of this house in his future so it was a worthwhile investment to him. I thought it was a great idea.
He primed it first.
Then added a top coat of battleship grey.
Now I will have the task of painting all the mortar lines. Yesterday MLH and I ran a bunch of errands for his birthday (as well as someone else's upcoming birthday that I have to plan.) I purchased black poster paint and now just need the motivation to go outside and begin.  I'm thinking Baby Boy's nap time is the right time to do it.
We also went to the Scottish Country Shop to purchase little Welsh flags to decorate the 4 corner towers of the castle.  Both the Scottish and Welsh flag feature a dragon and I got the idea when we were at the Highland Games.  I thought the cost of $3 a flag was worth the time saved for me to go to the fabric store and sew my own flags and somehow get a dragon image on them.
The other thing MLH and I got on our errands was more prizes for the dragon shaped pinata.  We went to the Learning Palace which caters to school teachers.  I got another tub of these knight figures.  I think they are great because they go with our theme, but it occurred to me that they also will look like the dragon ate a bunch of knights.  Somehow I think the little boys may find that funny.

We also have a giant pile of saltwater taffy from our recent trip to the coast.
And we finally found some dragon stickers.
I think this is a good mix of treats and prizes.
 I poked a hole with an exacto knife into they back of the dragon.  It took a little while before I could hear the balloon inside snap and then deflate pulling itself free from the paper mache. Happily the pinata remained intact! I cut out a small rectangle big enough to get the knights inside.
MLH enjoyed filling up the pinata, he's so excited for his birthday! And it is finally right around the corner!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting the whole gang back together

Since I am on a forced break due to cysts this month, I decided it was time to resume my acupuncture treatments.  Yes, I'm getting my whole trying to conceive team back together again!
I really, really like my acupuncture person. He is very soft spoken, while at the same time is so enthusiastic about what he does.  And he either reviewed his notes before I came in for my appointment or he has a really good memory.  I was surprised how much of my IF history was right there in his head after 2 and a half years, meanwhile I have doctors who can't remember a thing when I see them once a month for months on end!
We spoke at length about where I am now in my journey and then I hopped up on the table to begin. Acupuncture doesn't hurt, but I forgot how that first prick does hurt! I'm not sure if it just my body needing to get used to it or rather all the toxins finally finding a release.  Today's treatment was a needle on each foot, on eon each ankle, one on my left hand, one on my right wrist, one on the top of my head, and 5 inside each ear.  I'm not sure where the ear connects to but, that is a lot of needles for such a tiny space!
He turns a heat lamp on over my feet because I am always cold in my appendages and turns on the space heater and dims the lights. Yes, it is August, but my feet are always freezing cold. I lay like that for probably half an hour and then he removed the needles, I flipped over and he inserted another 5 needles into the small of my back. Many times I am so comfortable and warm that I can fall asleep. And I am NOT a napper.
I'm glad I am adding this back into my regimen. If I am able to achieve pregnancy again I think I'll continue acupuncture treatments through my pregnancy.  I understand it can help with morning sickness and eventually inducing labor.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


My Little Helper and I made a lot of progress on the dragon pinata for his birthday. The site I used as a starting point for the pinata suggested priming over the paper mache so that not as much paint would be needed to cover up the newsprint.  I'm not sure if I actually needed this step since we would be doing a traditional tissue paper fringe, but I thought it couldn't hurt to do it since I had a tiny bit of spray primer left over from my desk project.  Since it was nearly 100 degrees out the primer dried really quickly.
Then we were able to move on to fringing it, or putting on it's skin according to MLH.  This was the part I was really dreading.  I knew it would be tedious and time consuming.  I bought several packets of the perfect shade of blue tissue paper at CPWM for $1.95 each and I only ended up using not even an entire packet. Awesome! I cut the tissue paper into 2"w strips and then fringed in about 1".  I started at the tip of the tail so my fringe strips would over lap each other
. I put the glue mostly on the pinata itself rather than on top of the previous layer of fringe because I didn't want it to get all gunked up.
Along the spine of the dragon I measured and marked out where the dragon's spikes would go so that I wasn't wasting my fringing and tissue papering efforts.  This is also the area where I anticipate we will make the opening for getting the candy and prizes inside as well as attaching the hanger.
Fringing was tedious, but I got really into it and kept going after bedtime and finished it up today.  I was thrilled that Mr. W was so happy with the way it was turning out.  He thinks it looks awesome too.  MLH is behaving so grateful and appreciative.  He kept coming into the kitchen to check on my work saying, "Wow!" or "Awesome!" or "This is SO cool!"  It certainly makes the effort worth it.  At one point before bed he came back down to give me an extra hug and a kiss and thanked me for his pinata.  What a sweet boy!
Today as I was finishing up with the tissue paper, I sent MLH and Mr. W upstairs to the playroom to paint the wings and spikes.

The wings I made out of a used mailing envelope and the spikes are the inside dividers from and egg carton. MLH was inspired to use an egg carton for the spikes based on a large paper mache dragon at his old preschool.  I love his imagination and memory! Originally MLH very specifically wanted green spikes, blue on the top of the wings and green on the bottom of the wings.  But at some point during the actual painting process he decided that some of the spikes should be blue too.  Not sure how all that will come together. This was the first time that I let him use this paint set that his Grammy W sent as a gift at least two years ago. At the time I was like, "What was she thinking?!" But at nearly 5 years old I think it is a great gift.  The paint pots have a little indentation to hold the paint brush.  Pretty nice!
I had considered filling the head cavity with candy too or opening up the head cavity to make a giant mouth from which the fire would cascade, but in the end decided it would be easier to just tissue paper over the whole thing and cover the last bit up with the metallic grass MLH picked out for the flames and one last piece of fringed tissue.
 As I type this I realize that he needs some sharp teeth too. MLH and I both agreed that our dragon pinata would need googly eyes.
So we're not done yet, but I'm feeling really good about how quickly this part came together. It is a lot of work, Mr. W asked me if I was sure we wanted to have the children bust it open at the party. I think that may be the funnest part, but yeah, each child will probably only get ONE homemade birthday pinata out of  Momma!

Friday, August 17, 2012


Why am I not surprised that cycle #13 would be cancelled? I just had a feeling this cycle would be somehow jinxed: poor response to the meds, another BFN, perhaps a chemical pregnancy.  I didn't really have it on my radar that last cycle's drugs would have created cysts and that this cycle would be over before it even started.
My lining was still really thick which she said didn't worry her since this is only CD1 for me. I had two 18mms on my right ovary, which were the 10mms when I triggered, and on the left the 17mm had become a 30mm cyst. So no drugs for me this cycle.  My RE wasn't in the office today so the other doctor I met with said that normally she would prescribe birth control pills to supress my estogen levels to shrink the cysts so I could come back in 3 weeks to start a new cycle.  I can decline the BCP and wait for my body to regulate itself, but I should expect a longer than normal cycle. No BCP would be my preference, but she still needed to see what my E2 levels were; if they were high she would have to prescribe the BCP whether I wanted it or not.
I just got the call that my cysts aren't producing any estrogen so I can wait and let nature run it's course with these cysts.  I definitely won't be going to the Ds' wedding in Spain next June.  Sigh!

Diversions and looking ahead

After my BFN I decided I couldn't wait another day to go to the beach to commemorate my dad's life. I called my mom to see if she could switch around her schedule and since she was able to we all headed down to Hug Point.  This isn't the beach where we spread my dad's ashes, but the trail to the beach is much shorter here so it is preferable while Baby Boy not being entirely independent and neither boy really being able to carry his own weight (or at the very least sand toys.)

It was a beautiful day at the Oregon Coast! So beautiful in fact that I undressed down to my swim suit!  That almost never happens here! The boys had a great time playing in the sand and building sand castles with my mom.

She noticed that we were all three wearing blue today (not intentional) and took a few pictures of me with my boys. Nearly 5 year old boys are very fickle when it comes to photographs.
I love this photo because it was MLH's idea to have me bring his brother over to this driftwood log to pose with him. How sweet!

Hug Point has a little waterfall and these great caves.
After a few hours on the beach we headed into Cannon Beach so that my mom could buy the boys some sea shells and I wanted to go to Bruce's Candy Kitchen to get some saltwater taffy to fill the pinata.They were quite worn out on the drive home.

Then the next day decided to take an impromptu road trip to Seattle after my early morning beta. I wanted to decline the test, but the nurse told me they code it as a medical test not as fertility so it should be covered by my insurance. I still don't see the point since I got a negative HPT, but agreed to come in. Mr. W stayed in the car with the boys and afterward we dropped him off at work and headed north. I wanted to go up to meet a bumpies who were having a get together.I also wanted to hold our friends' ID twin girls and have a visit with Mrs. Z.

The first thing I did when we arrived into town was head to the Space Needle to kills some time before the get together. I thought we'd just walk around a little bit and take a few photos and have some lunch.  But My Little Helper decided he wasn't too scared to ride up it. I'm glad we did, the view was nice and the boys enjoyed the elevator ride.  I haven't been there in forever and would like to return when I have more time to see the Chihuly glass exhibit and what I assume is a Frank O. Gehry building.

Then we rushed over to Kirkland to meet new friends and got to play in the lake which was refreshing considering how hot it was!
We also saw some slugs being forced into manual labor at the farmer's market.  The "artist" calls this Trails of the Northwest.  She covers their tails with paint so that their slim trail becomes the art.

I had decided that it was too long of a drive to do all in one day so Mr. W booked us a room at the Olympic Hotel and the boys and I ordered room service for dinner since Baby Boy never napped.
The next morning we went to visit the Zs and hold some babies. Boy, does MLH want another baby! He has a special relationship with Baby R.
He talks about her all the time!Baby Boy was mildly interested in the babies too, and fortunately not at all jealous.

I got to hold Baby T and she fell asleep on me.  Several times during her catnap I had to mediate between the boys or chase Baby Boy upstairs and carry him, underarm, back down the stairs while still holding a sleeping baby. In this picture you can see me holding the baby while trying to remove Baby Boy from the dining room table
 It was really great practice for me for life with 3 children! It will be a challenge, but certainly do-able. And at this rate Baby Boy will be nearly 2 and a half when a new baby might arrive.
Then the boys and I headed to the Seattle Zoo to round out our diversions before heading home.
It was hot, and I was beginning to feel a little tired, but I think the boys enjoyed themselves, and Baby Boy took a nice nap in the stroller.

I had received a call on Wednesday that my beta was negative, unsurprisingly, and AF showed up last night when we returned from Seattle.  I have an apt this morning.  I'm not feeling  confident on how to proceed this cycle. Here are some options I'm considering:

  1. Shut the heck up and listen to my RE's opinion on how to proceed. (Only problem here is that he won't be in the office today, I'll see someone else)
  2. I have an entire vial of follistim left from last cycle. Use that and hope that it is enough to get me to having big enough follies this time too. If not I can easily get more at the pharmacy at the last minute.
  3. I have been lurking a ton on IF boards and have noticed that many people do a combo of Letrozole and Follistim.  Maybe this would be a good option for me too? It would certainly save some money.
  4. Continue with the same treatment as last cycle with ovidrel and TI. I would like to continue with this because it is the the only treatment considered 'acceptable' by the church. So this would really be like my Hail Mary cycle doing TI. One last attempt before I lose all my will power and move on to something else with better odds.
  5. Say forget what the church says and do IUI this cycle.  When we started ttc#3 we agreed that we would do 3 cycles of injectibles.  Since we only needed half the meds last cycle we might be willing to do a few more.

I don't know. I'm feeling desperate and overwhelmed. My low AMH is starting to really, really freak me out. I wish my RE were going to be there today.  Mr. W isn't very helpful in sorting through all this.  His opinion is more or less do whatever I feel comfortable with, he is down for whatever. The only firm thing I can extract from him is that we don't have any money for IVF; we need a new furnace.