Friday, August 31, 2012

Coupons & Freebies from August

Well, its the end of the month, so here is a recap of all my best deals!

Here are all my freebies that I got in the mail. 
It includes a 24 count box of K-cups that I won in a sweepstakes, a ton of magazines, a 30 day starter pack of Pro-Active, two pull-ups, a protein drink shaker, personalized sandwich containers for the kids, and two Pull-ups. 

This deal was done at Rite-Aid and Walgreens
I paid $9.78 for everything

Ariella and I got these together. 
We paid $7.44 for all of them (they are normally $6.99 each!)

Gotta love Coupon Doubler Day at Albertsons!
Paid $22.04 for everything (normally $84.40)
This deal was a great example of a weekly savings on groceries. By combining coupons, doubler coupons and sale prices, i was able to cut my bill by 73%!

Also able to get great deals on diapers! 
We use cloth (only disposables for road trips, camping, etc) but with deals like this, you could definitely make disposables more affordable!
Paid $12.84 for everything
(Normally $129.72)

August was a great month for deals. 
Walgreens and Rite-Aid are both changing their coupon policies tomorrow so we shall see how that goes. But good news, Dollar Tree is now accepting coupons!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Croup in the Middle of Summer?

Seriously! Who catches croup in the middle of summer when "croup season" is October - April? Apparently my kiddo is so awesome that he did!

On Saturday the 18th Xander spiked a fever of 103.2 in the evening and started having febrile seizures (twitching & shaking then going stiff). I gave him tylenol and sat up all night keeping an eye on him. Sunday morning he seemed to be okay and his temp hung out around 100-101 all day so I figured he was on the mend. That evening he started having a dry sounding cough and was up all night fussing in his sleep.

Monday he didn't want to eat and if I set him down he would just sit on the floor and not play. I kept trying to get him to nurse and checked his temp regularly (still around 100-101). Monday night (at 10:30 of course) his temp shot up to 104.5, 45 minutes after I had given him tylenol.

I called the doctor's office and the on-call nurse told me to rush him to the ER since he wasn't eating, had a temp that high, and was acting lethargic and weak.
In the waiting room
(so sweaty)

So off Xander and I went. I don't even want to talk about how horrible of an experience we had in the waiting room (I was brutally honest about it in our post visit survey), lets just say that 4 hours in the waiting room with a very sick infant was not enjoyable for anyone waiting there.

We finally got back to a room and they got a pulse-ox monitor on him. His oxygen level was 96% but by then his cough had turned into that horrible seal bark that is obviously croup. They gave him some medicine to lower his temp and some steroids for the croup and respiratory infection (viral) that he had. They gave him the steroids to make sure that he didn't get any sicker since his tracheomalacia was flaring up and makes him more susceptible to it turning into pneumonia.

We got home at 5:15 am Tuesday morning. Matt took Gabriella to work with him and a friend met him there and watched her all day for my sake (praise, Jesus!).

At our follow-up appt on Tuesday afternoon with Xander's doctor, he got another dose of steroids (a shot this time) because his pulse-ox had dropped down to 88%.
Waiting for the doctor. 

Chewing on a bottle of Pedialyte while we wait to make sure he didn't have a reaction to his steroid shot. 
(he looks so pale in this shot, it makes me so sad)

Wednesday we went to my mom's house so Gabriella could play with cousin James and I could take a nap with Xander. (thank you, mom!)

Gabriella dove at the couch next to my dad and hit her face on the cushion. She insisted that she needed a band-aid on her nose. 

Still looking so pasty and sick :(

Wednesday afternoon his fever broke and he broke out in a rash. I called the doctor and they had me bring him in to make sure everything was okay (due to all his crazy medical stuff)
When you have a rash, you have to go to the back door of the doctor's office and you follow these funny colored footprints down the hall to the door. Gabriella was pointing at them. 

A shot of his rash (and umbilical hernia)

Gabriella had the hugest meltdown at the doctor's office. The nurse was so nice and picked her up and hugged her and then brought her some snacks that she found in the break-room. We are so blessed with our doctor and her nurse!

Gabriella also got to color. Here is a shot of the "letter J" she wrote all by herself. 
(not too shabby for 2 1/2)

More rash :(

His rash turned out to be roseola. So home we went, praying he would heal up quick. 

Gabriella and I stopped for a treat on the way home. Here she is drinking her peach smoothie. She was pretty excited!

Friday he still had a bit of rash but he was obviously feeling much better. Getting his color back, eating again,  but still very wheezy. 

And a week later. Back to his old self! Praise Jesus!!

Xander sure has given us quite the run around with medical stuff, but he is such a wonderful blessing to us! We love him SO much!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Amazing Lasagna!

Last night I decided to make some lasagna with some goat cheese that I had been given by my sister-in-law, April's, mom. (she milks her own goats and makes the cheese at her house).

Here is the recipe that I made myself:

1 lb ground beef 93/7
1 lb ground turkey 93/7
3T Basil, separated
1 T + 1 tsp salt
1/2 T black pepper
1T dried minced onion
6 cloves minced garlic, separated
5 Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 eggs
2 cans tomato sauce (14 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups ricotta goat cheese
1/2 cup goat milk
2/3 cup grated mozzarella goat cheese
1 box Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles (I used Tinkyada brand)

In a large frying frying pan cook both pounds of meat until mostly cooked. Add 2 T basil, 1 T salt, 1/2 T black pepper, 1 T minced onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, all the diced tomatoes and both cans of tomato sauce. Stir well, then cover and let simmer.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions.

While noodles are cooking and meat mixture is simmering, get a medium sized bowl. Mix 2 eggs (beaten), all the ricotta cheese, 1 tsp salt, 1 T basil, 2 cloves minced garlic and enough goats milk to make the mixture spreadable (about 1/4-1/2 a cup).

When the noodles are done, put a single layer of them in an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. Top with a thin layer of meat mixture, followed by a thin layer of the ricotta mixture, and a sprinkle of the grated mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, followed by most of the remaining meat mixture (reserve a small amount of mostly liquid to drizzle over the top), all of the remaining ricotta mixture, and a sprinkle of mozzarella. Top with the last of the noodles, the remaining meat mixture and all the mozzarella.

Bake at 350 F for about 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

This lasagna turned out amazingly! We ate it with some fresh corn on the cob and are looking forward to the leftovers tonight. Matt said it is the best lasagna he's ever eaten and I have to agree. It is warm and hearty tasting, it reminds me of the skillet lasagna my mom made when we were kids. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Good Report

* This post will be raw and open about some of my health ups and downs. It may be graphic and deemed as an "over share". But I believe that sharing our experiences and testimonies, including the struggles and the triumphs, is the only way that we can truly be open and real with each other. And when we are open and real with each other, we can show the world that we as Christians are not perfect, but we are supporting each other along the way to becoming more like Jesus every day*

I spent my teenage years plagued by horrible PMS and other "girly" symptoms that no one really wanted to talk about. My menstrual cycle was horribly irregular and when I did start I became so sick that I would pass out, be sick to my stomach for hours, or be unable to function or even get off the floor. My emotions were all over the place, I felt aggressive and irritable most of the time.

In college things only got worse. I dreaded when my period would start because it would mean that I had to leave what I was doing immediately and go home because I had about one hour before I became horribly ill. I began to notice that none of my friends had the same problem.

When Matt and I were first married I went on birth control pills for a couple months. It was nice because for the first time in my life my periods were regular and manageable. I wasn't super sick and I could stay at work when I started. Then I started feeling super nauseated, my face got a weird rash and I cried all the time. We prayed about it and went off the pill, believing in God's timing for children. Everything went back to my "normal".

A year later, after three surgeries (gallbladder removal, appendectomy, and removal of my right Fallopian tube) I had put on 40 pounds that I couldn't lose no matter how much I exercised. I also hadn't had a period in 4 months so I decided to call my doctor. She did some blood work and an ultrasound. The diagnosis came in: PCOS with absolutely no healthy tissue on my ovaries which meant infertility 

I was devastated. I went home and cried for weeks. I woke up crying in the middle of the night and broke down constantly during the day. I researched PCOS and it only got worse. My rates for diabetes, insulin resistance, uterine cancer, etc. were suddenly skyrocketed and there was nothing I could do about it. PCOS seemed like a death sentence to me. The symptoms list included: weight gain, obesity, hair growth, ovarian cysts, acne, dandruff, oily skin, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. The long term concerns were uterine cancer, cancer of the endometrium, diabetes, high blood pressure, skin color changes, etc. My blood work had showed that my testosterone levels were well above the normal range, which explained why I always felt so competitive and aggressive. And my insulin level barely registered, showing that I was insulin resistant.

Matt and I made some moderate diet changes and got pregnant with Gabriella a year and a few month later. After she was born and my cycle started up it was finally in a pattern, but the pain and sickness that I got from it still was unbearable. My doctor prescribed a heavy duty anti-inflammatory to take during it and it started helping immensely.

By the time Gabriella turned one I was having terrible pains in my lower stomach a lot of the time. I went back to my doctor and she did another ultrasound. It showed that I had scar tissue adhered to my ascending colon. Plus all of my PCOS symptoms were in full swing since I was done breastfeeding and my hormones were all over the place. My doctor strongly encouraged us to try and get pregnant again since pregnancy seemed to help me feel so much better.

I did a TON of research and Matt and I made a HUGE dietary change. We went grain free, gluten free, dairy free and legume free. It was really hard at first but after two weeks we both felt so good physically that we couldn't believe it! I was sleeping better, feeling healthier, had twice as much energy as before, and feeling "stable" with my health. We conceived Xander 6 weeks later.

Here I am at my check-up

I just went to the doctor for my annual check-up last week. We did basic blood work (blood work to check hormone levels while you are breastfeeding are terribly inaccurate) and everything came back great. I am happy to report that my doctor repeatedly told me how great I was doing and how thin I was (I am 35 pounds down from when I started seeing her). All of my PCOS symptoms are being managed with our diet (I am currently gluten and dairy free, and we only eat legumes that are compatible with my blood type) and exercise. I am feeling really good and my hormones are finally feeling back on track.

The only bad news is that my scar tissue is so adhered to my ascending colon that she was able to feel it with her bare hands. She said it feels like a hard lump in my stomach. There isn't much to be done about that because surgery to remove adhesion and scar tissue usually causes more problems than it fixes. So we will just be praying that my colon never becomes completely blocked off by it (in which case they would have to go in and remove a section of my colon, yikes!). I also just have to eat small amounts very frequently and as soon as it starts hurting me get a heating pad, lie down with it on my stomach and start massaging it to try and get things to "move along". I still have to keep an eye on my blood sugar regularly and watch that I am exercising and eating enough, but I have taken great steps towards  increasing my life expectancy and decreasing my "medical statistical" chances of getting various types of cancer.

I am so thankful that my health has improved so much in the last couple years. I am also thankful that I finally know what in the world is wrong with my body, and through asking questions, having a great doctor, doing a ton of research and having a great support system of family & friends; I feel equipped with Jesus to take control of my situation and be proactive to be as healthy as I can and not just sitting around and moping about things.

My friend, Emily Agnew, has been a HUGE encouragement to me on taking back your health when the medical community just gives you labels. God designed us to be so much more than just a sick pile of bones on the couch. Her blog, is full of encouraging thoughts and stories.

It is my prayer that by reading this post, you may be encouraged to pursue the good in all things medical and in your health. Getting support systems around you that include friends, family and doctors is key. If you have any other questions about PCOS or why the diet changes that we made were so helpful with the symptoms of it, please let me know.

Disclaimer* I am not a medical professional and I have no formal medical training. If you think you may have PCOS or other medical problems, please consult your doctor before making any major life changes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life Lately

Life has been pretty crazy lately, as it always seems to be. Here are a few random pictures of things that we have been up to between doctor's appointments, a yard sale, and couponing!

Ariella has stayed the night one night each of the last two weeks. Gabriella (and we) really enjoys having her around and snuck out of bed last night to snuggle on the couch with her. 

Me and Xander waiting at the hospital for his Upper GI test. He is such a good little trooper!

Barely 7 months old and already pulling himself up onto things constantly!
A couple nights ago I had the kids in the bathtub and Xander had pulled himself up by holding onto the tub ledge (its about 3 inches wide). I had my hand on his elbow so that he didn't slip and fall. He bent his knees, squealed and lunged out of the tub. The only reason that he didn't hit the floor was because his little hip bones barely caught on the tub ledge in the split second it took me to react and grab his arm. So there he was, cute little tooshie and feet up in the air and his head about 6 inches off the bathroom floor. I said, "whoa, bud!" Gabriella laughed and said, "That was crazy!"

Matt gave Xander a piece of licorice to snack on
(something only a daddy would give to a 6 month old)
This picture really shows off the bones in his forehead :(

Such a little snuggle bug!
She loves her stuffed doggy Woof-Woof

Making good use of our double stroller!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

La Pine State Park

Normally we go camping at the coast every summer but this year we decided to try somewhere new. So we headed off to Bend & La Pine State Park. My parents and Jonathan, April and James headed up on Friday and spent the night. We left early Saturday morning (after a wild birthday party and sleep over at my sister in law's house!) and met them at 10:30. We had a quick snack and then went to the High Desert Museum.

Outside the entrance with the buck statue. 

Looking at the giant snapping turtle swimming in its tank


Caught in a giant web!

Just some family outhouse time :)

My two favorite guys looking at the otters

Chief Jonny

Mom playing Indian drum

They had a couple rooms that were just for kids. There were tons of things that they could play with and learn about. 

After the museum we drove through Bend and checked out the Deschutes Brewery.

Trying some free samples

Then it was back to camp for some dinner and snacks. Here's dad and Jonathan enjoying some down time. Dad always enjoys reading his western books and here Jonathan is feeding the little ground squirrel (James named him "Chubby Cheeks") that had a home under our picnic table. 

Sunday morning we were up early and excited to head to the Lava Tube!
I didn't realize how far down it was. Here is Matt, Xander, mom and Gabriella walking down the long stairs into the tube. 

The four of us about halfway through. 

Having fun taking pictures in the dark!

Here we are. We all made it to the end. James was a trooper and walked the whole way in. My mom piggybacked him about half way out. Gabriella probably walked about 1/3 of the way in. I carried her the rest of the time in the backpack and Matt had Xander in the Moby wrap the whole time. 

We had to crawl the last little bit to get to the end signs and take a picture. Matt was doing some crazy maneuvering to keep him and the little Roo from bonking their heads. What a good daddy! 

Me and my mom!

Resting after our trek out and having some snacks in the back of grampa's truck. 

James loving his jerky stick in his awesome Air Jordan hat!

Jonathan, April and James headed back home afterwards and we headed into Sun River (to explore and find me an Oregonian for coupons!)
Gabriella fell asleep before we even left the parking lot of the Lava Tube

Waiting for some ice cream!

Enjoying her ice cream cone and her new favorite way to sit in a chair.

Daddy let her drive on the camp road when we got back. She was swerving the car on purpose and laughing her head off! So adorable!!

Playing around in our cabin before bed. 
Normally we tent camp every year (two years of me being prego and one with a 3 1/2 month old. But this year we were worried about Xander's tracheomalacia so we got a cabin to stay in. Oh my, it was wonderful! And we got super spoiled!)

Making s'mores. 
If its organic spinach and organic chocolate then its healthy, right?

Monday morning we got packed up and then started our long trek home.  

Me and my driving buddy, Big Dora. 

Being silly in the car after lunch at diamond Lake

Giant chair in Union Creek

We stopped for ice cream at Beckie's. Here I am eating and feeding Xander. Multi-tasking to eat ice cream is always awesome!

Gabriella with her rainbow ice cream

Huckleberry ice cream with daddy


We had a super fun time camping. I love my family and I love spending time with all of us and all the kids and just being goofy together. I couldn't have asked for a better family!