Unusual Sighting

On Friday morning, while the fog was finally starting to lift, Elly started barking like mad. After opening the screen door to tell her to be quiet, my eyes glanced out to the open field behind us. I literally had to do a double take at what I saw. There were two sandhill cranes in the field!

I thought it was pretty cool, so grabbed the camera and headed out there. Grahm, being the fearless child he is, wanted so bad to go out there and pet them because he thought they were geese. Isabelle, although she didn't seem scared, was perfectly content to stay in the yard. Seeing as how the cranes were 3 to 4 feet tall, I preferred having the kids keep a distance between themselves and the cranes.

I called Chris all excited and only got a lukewarm response from him. He has seen them when he's out duck hunting, so I suppose it's really no big deal to him. But I was amazed! They came back again this morning though, so I'm curious if they'll show up again anymore.

They sure are pretty!


Open House

Last night was Isabelle's open house for school. We went and got her folder that has some stuff she has to draw for school on Tuesday, paid her milk money, pur her extra pair of clothes and water bottle in her bin, and talked with a couple of Chris' old teachers (yes, Isabelle is going to the same school Chris went to). I don't know who is more excited now: me or Isabelle.

Despite what the picture looks like, Isabelle really is excited to be starting school soon. She was smiling really nice but I hadn't turned the camera on yet, and as soon as I did her smile was gone. And she was a little distracted with people walking around.

It's hard to believe my little baby girl will be starting 4K on Tuesday. She's growing up too quickly! I am so excited to hear all about her first day of school, and every day after too. I thought I would take her to the store with me later today to pick out some fabric for her blanket for rest time so she feels a little more involved, and also so that I know she will like the fabric. I feel like there is so many things that have to get done before Tuesday: make her blanket, buy some food for her lunches (but first figure out what I'm going to make her for her lunches), read and sign some papers and watch some video, and have Isabelle color her worksheets. Sounds like my weekend is going to be busy!


Spaghetti and meatball recipe too good not to share

*I have lost my USB connector for my camera, so I am unable to upload any pictures from my camera to the computer. As soon as we buy a new one (because I've given up searching), I'll have some more posts.*

So, Chris made some really great spaghetti the other day. It was so good that I wanted to share the recipe with you! (He usually just makes things up as he goes along, so I can't ever share the recipe since I don't know what and how much he puts in.)

That morning, we had decided we would have spaghetti for dinner. By lunchtime, Chris suggested we put some venison in it for some extra flavor. And then in the mail, I received the Kraft Food & Family Magazine. After looking through it, they had a meatball recipe that sounded pretty good! We've never made meatballs before and I thought it would be something the kids would eat. We also made their Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce, which is at the end of the recipe.

Although Chris did add a few extra spices, I don't think he added too much to change the flavor. And let me tell you, it was fantastic! It was such a cheap meal to make too: $1 for the sauce, $1 for the noodles, the venison was free from hunting, and the stuffing I've had in the pantry since Thanksgiving (and had a "best-by" date that ended at the end of the week...perfect timing!). I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we did!


Any suggestions?

So, Chris' co-worker that makes the most amazing salsa in the world and gives us jars of it quite frequently, also gives us other items from her garden. (She is so nice!) Well, she gave Chris some potatoes the other day and I'm having a hard time thinking of something to make with them besides mashed potatoes and boy scout potatoes. If anyone has any good potato recipes, please let me know! It just can't be potato salad...I hate potato salad.


Yoplait Whips! Review and Giveaway (CLOSED)

Congratulations to Janet for winning the Yoplait Whips! Summer Cool Down package! Her number was picked by Random.org. Thanks to everyone for entering!

A little info from the sponsor:
Surprisingly, the delicious taste of Yoplait Whips! can also be enjoyed as a frozen treat! Simply place your favorite Whips! yogurt cup in the freezer overnight and you will have a chilled yogurt indulgence that you don't have to get from the ice-cream truck or at the parlor. So this summer, before you hit the beach, park or your own backyard, don't forget to stock your freezer with Yoplait Whips! (We suggest removing the Yoplait Whips! from the freezer for 5-10 minutes before enjoying).

My review:
Until now, I had never thought to freeze yogurt. And even after I had gotten two cups of the Orange Creme yogurt and put them in the freezer, I was still a little skeptical about how well it would freeze and taste. Surprisingly, it was quite good!

I decided to try it two different ways: one right out of the cup from the freezer and another in a popsicle mold. For the dual popsicle mold, I ended up putting the yogurt on the inside of the popsicle mold surrounded by juice so that there would be a creamy center in the popsicle. Next time I plan to do it the other way around so that there will be more yogurt instead of juice. Of course, I think it would be yummy to make a whole popsicle out of yogurt too.

Despite being frozen, the yogurt was still full of flavor. It was pretty neat since it kind of had the texture of sherbet but creamier. I was a little impatient and didn't let it sit out the whole 5 minutes though, but Belle and Grahm were still able to scoop some out (with only a little difficulty). It stayed frozen the whole time and didn't get runny at the bottom.

The kids love yogurt, so it's nice to have another use for it. By freezing the Whips!, we are able to have a cold, healthy treat during the summer months (or anytime) that is a better alternative to ice cream. I will definitely be freezing them again and think I will try the Chocolate Mousse next.

Try it:
There is a downloadable coupon for $0.60 off three Yoplait Whips! here.

Or if you sign-up for Betty Crocker's newsletter, you will receive a free coupon for Yoplait Whips! (Unfortunately, the free coupon is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Tennessee.)

Win it:
Yoplait and My Blog Spark would like to give one of my readers a "Summer Cool Down" gift bag of their own! It consists of a soft-sided cooler tote, three popsicle molds, a coupon for a free Yoplait Whips!, and 12 color-changing spoons.

Required entry:
*Go to the Yoplait website and leave a comment telling me what flavor of their Whips! you would pick to freeze.

Extra entries (to be done only after submitting the required entry):
*Leave a comment telling me which Yoplait product is your favorite and your favorite flavor. (1 entry)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog linking back to me and Yoplait and leave a comment telling me you did so. (2 entries)

*Email three friends about this giveaway and CC me in the email and leave a comment telling me you did so. (2 entries)

*Contest rules: Giveaway only open to residents of the U.S. Giveaway ends on 11:59 pm on August 20, 2009. All entries must be posted in the comment section of my blog for them to count. Make sure you either leave your email address in the comment or have it visible in your profile so that I have a way to contact you if you win. For the entries that count twice, make sure you leave two comments. Otherwise, it will only count once. You may do all four entries, but only once. You cannot come back every day and leave a comment.*

I was provided with this gift bag, information, and product from Yoplait and My Blog Spark in exchange for an honest review.


Out in the Sun

Yesterday I ventured out to the park with my mom and the kids. I figured since my mom is here, I may as well take advantage of her as much as I can! She's already been doing the laundry, dishes, babysitting, and some cooking...why not have her come to the park as well? She was able to watch Casey while I watched the other two run around. (Now, Casey isn't a hard baby to watch, but with my bad back I'm trying to avoid picking him up as much as possible until I'm better.) It was nice to get out and enjoy the sun and spend some time with the kids. Belle and Grahm have such a fun time together. And Casey is getting better at trying to walk. He was kind of making his way around the park bench. His fear of the grass is probably what has finally pushed his start button to get walking. (That child absolutely cannot stand the grass. It's really quite amusing to see the disgust he has in his face whenever his hands touch the grass.) My mom went to go visit my brother and his family today for a couple days (so Chris' mom is coming over in the mornings to help out with the kids), and then will be back for another day here and then will go back home. It has been so nice having her here to help with everything. Now the normal life will resume where dishes sit in the sink and laundry waits in the dryer until I get around to folding it. And then it waits in the closet until I get around to ironing it. (I should really take a picture of the stack of clothes that need to be ironed...you would be impressed!)


I love our small town

I really do. Where else can you get a concerned physical therapist that wants you to call him at home when you get back from the ER and a doctor that takes 45 minutes out of his lunch hour to discuss your MRI results together? I really love our small town.

Well, Chris' aunt Barb was kind enough to take me to the doctor yesterday so I could find out my MRI results. She even went in with me because I was really nervous (thanks, Barb!). So, come to find out, I have two ruptured discs...the L4-5 and L5-S1. In the L4-5 I have a 6 mm protusion (which is quite a lot considering there is very little space in there to begin with) indenting the ventral aspect of the thecal sac. (Can you tell I'm writing what's on the paper?) And the L5-S1 has a tear and a 4 mm disc protusion to the left neural foramina. So, the tear is what caused my extreme pain on Friday because of stuff leaking out and touching my nerves. The game plan is to continue physical therapy and to take some steroid medication for the inflammation. In about a week I should be able to do some lifting (finally!), but I won't be fully healed for another 6-8 weeks though. The doctor said that if things get bad then I may need to get a cortizone shot. And then the neurosurgeon would then decide if surgery would be necessary. I'm hoping the physical therapy will be all I need. So, that's where we are at with that. Now I can move on from my back and get back to posting pictures of the kiddos soon.


birthday number 4

Our baby girl turned four yesterday. And in just another month, she'll be starting preschool. It's hard to believe she's old enough to be in school already. She is getting so excited for it though. We had a small and laid back party because Chris' grandma (Little Mimi) had a funeral yesterday as well. Everyone was in a mellow mood and I was in no shape to handle a party anyway. Isabelle did get her presents and cake, so she was plenty happy. But I just feel bad that I wasn't able to be at the funeral (due to my back issues) because Mimi was a wonderful woman with a very welcoming heart and it would have been nice to hear the ceremony. So while it was a happy day with Belle turning four, it was also a sad day. We've been having too many of those lately, so hopefully we'll only have good days from here on out for quite a while now.

The Whole Story

So, I've been getting asked a lot about what exactly happened to my back, and I thought I'd write a more descriptive post detailing what happened. Near the end of my pregnancy with Grahm in 2007, my back hurt whenever I would sit on the floor. I had to constantly adjust myself if I ever sat on the floor when I played with Belle. Eventually, I had to stop doing that because it hurt too much.

The pain went away eventually and then started back up when I was pregnant with Casey in 2008. I figured it was just the extra strain I put on my back from being pregnant, so I was more careful this time around. Unfortunately, one morning after getting out of the shower, I fell to the floor in so much pain and was unable to get up. I went to physical therapy, bought one of those belly support bands, and walked. It really helped and I was feeling a lot better by the time Casey was born in August.

Now, fast forward to this year. My back was actually feeling pretty great, but I just had very little flexibility. I could deal with that. My back was hurting back in February, but I just went back to the exercises and it helped. And unfortunately, that let us know that my back problems don't just appear when I'm pregnant, like they had in the past. They were starting to happen during every day life.

Over the fourth of July weekend, I slept with Isabelle on the futon up at the cottage for two nights. After the first night, I was a little sore but the pain went away by the afternoon. I don't know if I slept funny or if I was laying on a bar or what happened, but when I woke up the second day I felt awful! And to make it worse, we went to a parade that morning and then had a long car ride home. So when all that mixed together, I was feeling pretty crummy by the end of the day. I tried working on the exercises that had worked the previous year, but they were not working this time around. So, I went back to the physical therapist's office and they were trying different exercises with me that were actually working.

But last Wednesday, without thinking, I jumped up off the couch because Casey was crawling toward a small sticker on the floor and I didn't want him putting it in his mouth. Doing that strained my back again and I had to start all over with my exercises at physical therapy. But nothing was helping and I felt like I was getting worse. On Friday morning, I woke up with an extremely stiff back and was having a hard time even being able to carry Casey. After breakfast, I closed my door, put a show on for the kids, and sat Casey on the floor so I could lay down. But once I laid down, I wasn't able to get back up without excrutiating pain. My lower back kept having spasms and it wouldn't stop.

I went to the physical therapist who then told me to go to the ER because of all the pain I was in. After giving me some pain medication, the ER set me up for an appointment to have an MRI done Tuesday (today). Tomorrow my doctor is taking time out of his lunch to meet with me about the results. Hopefully it's an easy fix and nothing that requires surgery.

So for the past few days I've mostly been laying in bed with occassionaly walking around or sitting. Thankfully my mom has been around to help out with the kids, and Chris has been a tremendous help as well. He even did three loads of laundry! Now is that a great husband, or what? Chris' mom, grandparents, and aunt and uncle have all helped as well. It is so nice to have family around, especially when things like this happen.

I hope I answered everyone's questions. If not, feel free to either email me or leave a comment. Otherwise, I'll be sure to post about the MRI results tomorrow.


Bumkins Giveaway at Momma in Flip Flops

*Wow, third post today. Can you tell I've been doing nothing but laying in bed all day?*

So, I was looking at the Momma In Flip Flops website and saw that she has a giveaway for a Contour Diaper and Diaper Cover from Bumkins. I have always wanted to try cloth diapers, but I haven't wanted to spend the money to do so if it didn't work out for me. So, I thought I would enter her giveaway. (And for those of you who are expecting or who have little ones in diapers, head on over there and enter too!) But anyway, in order to enter, you have to list one thing you'd really like to try from the Bumkins website. After browsing around a bit, I came across the cutest Dr. Seuss shirts! Casey had gotten a Hop On Pop onesie from my mom when he was born, but I had no idea that they have t-shirts now too! Now, if anyone knows Grahm, he is a lover of Dr. Seuss books. It varies week to week. One week it will be The Cat in the Hat, and then another week it will be One Fish, Two Fish, and so on. Isabelle likes the books, but not nearly to the extent that Grahm does. Since the website says that the sizes run big, I'm thinking about requesting these for Grahm for Christmas. And if you sign up for their mailing list, you get 10% off your next order. Anyway, just wanted to pass along the giveaway for those that are interested!

A little ray of light on a crummy day

Thanks to Andrea over at Momma In Flip Flops and Sunsweet, I was a winner in their giveaway for a free Sunsweet product and a reusable shopping bag. I just got the package today, but due to my back pain, I won't be able to use the coupon yet as I'm unable to go to the store. I'm excited though to try something out. I was planning on getting their new PlumSmart juice (because I don't like prunes), but I've read so many things about kids liking prunes, that I think I may use the free coupon on a package of their bite-size prunes and let them try that. And when I'm not using the bag to go shopping with, it will be perfect for when we got to Chris' parents house to use the hot tub because it will fit all the towels and swimsuits in it and will replace the old tote I've been using. Getting the package in the mail today helped brighten my day a little bit!

Out of commission, yet again

*I'm still kind of out of it, so if this post doesn't make complete sense or I misspell a few words, that is why. Also, I feel nauseous, so I'm writing this with my eyes closed for the most part. Ugh, I hate this.*

For those that don't know, I re-injured my back on July 4th. I have been going to physical therapy the past couple of weeks, which had been helping. But a couple days ago, I was resting on the couch and got up suddenly to get a small toy away from Casey. Ever since then, it has been downhill. Yesterday morning the pain got so bad I could barely walk. I laid down, thinking that would help, but then I was unable to get back up...which is very similar to this time that happened. I was having awful back spasms that wouldn't stop. So, the physical therapist was able to squeeze me in for an earlier appointment that day. They called at 11 to let me know that the appointment was moved to 12:30, and it literally took me that long to get up the floor and to the car. He tried to help alleviate some of the pain, but it wasn't working so he had Chris take me to the ER. There, they gave me a couple doses of Dilaudid (which is 6 times stronger than morphine, if that gives you any indication of the kind of pain I was in). Right now I'm taking Hydrocone (I think), and I have an MRI scheduled for Tuesday morning. I'm hoping it's nothing really serious that will require surgery. I'll be laying in bed for the next few days, and my mom is driving over from Virginia to help out while Chris goes back to work. And to top it off, Chris' grandma (Little Mimi) passed away yesterday evening. In a way, it was nice that I was in the ER yesterday so that he could go and see her a few more times (she was just a couple floors up from where I was). I really don't know what I feel worse about right now...my back or the fact that we won't be having any more kids. We were planning on having a fourth baby, but after all the back problems I've been having, that won't be happening now. I cannot even begin to describe how devastated that makes me feel.