Friday, August 27, 2010

Good News

PHEW! My appointment with the neurosurgeon went very well. Much better than expected. To be honest, he said he wasn't sure why my regular doctor scared the bejeezies out of me the way he did. Yes, I have a ruptured disk, but he's confident some good ol' fashioned physical therapy will take care of that. As for all the other issues. Yes, they're issues, but nothing to be alarmed about.  The thing is, we were alarmed. My doctor told me things looked "bad" and he was sure I'd need surgery. When in all reality, it appears the dude didn't really know what he was talking about. So, Andy and I have spent the last two weeks nervous and anxious for my appointment with the neurosurgeon. We were prepared for the worst, but of course, hoping for the best. To say the least, the news today came as a huge relief. I'll begin physical therapy sometime next week and go from there. The issue with my sacrum is actually a condition called spina bifida occulta. Trust me, it's not as frightening as it sounds. Basically, when I was just a wee fetus a couple of my vertebrae and my sacrum didn't form exactly as they should have. No biggie. It's really not a big deal.

There it is. After two weeks of holding our breath, Andy and I can finally breathe. My sweet husband took half the day off work today (his birthday) so he could accompany me to my appointment in Jackson. That may not seem like a huge deal to anyone else, but if you know Andy you know he NEVER takes time off work. EVER. He never said it, but I know he knew just how scared I was and didn't want me to possibly receive bad news on my own. The past two weeks, he's lifted kids and groceries, got me water and ibuprofen after he was already snug in bed and reminded me over and over to "take it easy." But most importantly, he and our friend Isaac gave me a beautiful priesthood blessing. It brings me great comfort and peace, especially during experiences like this, to have the priesthood in my home. To have a husband who is worthy to hold that office and to have sweet children who so reverently fold their arms and bow their heads as their Daddy performs such an important task. I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fun Food

I try to make our dinner meal plan a month in advance. It's really not as tough as it sounds, especially since we have a few "set" meals: Taco Tuesday, leftovers on Wednesdays, Pizza Pieday (Friday). Anyway, I've done my best to include the kids in the meal planning and allow them to choose a few meals a month. Last week they chose Sloppy Joes. I decided to take it one step further and came up with these:

SLOPPY JOE CARS! This was a big hit with both kids, although Jax wouldn't eat his. He didn't want to ruin the car. I finally convinced him to eat the meat out of the car, but had to give him a separate plate of vegetables and cheese.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Just My Luck

I'm a pretty lucky person. I just have good luck. I was that kid who always won the cakewalk at the school carnival. As an adult, I tend to win contests/drawings. It just happens that way. But, when it comes to my body, I have bad, bad luck. I always have bizarre things going on with me. A femur tumor? Really? Six wisdom teeth? Not surprised. An ovary fused to my uterus? Just par for the course. Strange, strange, strange. Well. my recent medical issue is no exception.

I've been having severe lower back pain for about five months now. It constantly hurts, but some days are tolerable, others I can barely get out of bed. The only time it doesn't hurt is when I exercise (I know, seems counterintuitive). After months of just dealing with it I finally started going to a chiropractor. After three adjustments a week for more than a month and no change, Andy and I thought it best to go to the doctor. So I did. After going over my symptoms he ordered an MRI. Here's what it showed:

-I have a ruptured disc in my lower back
-I have an extra disc which has thrown my back all out of whack.
-My sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of your spinal column) is in two pieces. It's supposed to be one.
-There are some "growths" on my spine they want to take a look at

So there you have it. Weird, right? I meet with a neurosurgeon next week to discuss the best course of action. Many doctors will recommend physical therapy for a ruptured disc, but in some cases surgery is necessary. Obviously, the major concern is the effect the ruptured disc and extra disc are having on my nerves. If a ruptured disc goes untreated for long enough it could lead to severe nerve damage. If the neurosurgeon does choose surgery, the good news is that a discectomy is a fairly common, minimally-invasive procedure with a short recovery time. But who knows if he'll want to go in and take care of the other issues, or go in at all. We could speculate right now, but at this point we'll just wait and see. Andy and I are just grateful I decided to go to the doctor, and that we have great insurance. Thank goodness he works for the government!

My appointment is Thursday (which happens to be Andy's birthday). In the meantime, I'm not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds (yeah, good luck with that) or exercise. The doctor prescribed some serious meds, but I don't think they're necessary. I'll just stick with good ol' ibuprofen. Ava is good to remind me to take ibuprofen every morning and gets stern with me when I pick up Jax. And she's ALWAYS sure to tattle to Daddy when I do something I'm not supposed to. I should be grateful she's looking out for me, but I'm more just annoyed she's such a little stickler for the rules. In all other areas of life, I appreciate how good she is about following the rules... except when she's making sure I'm the one to follow them!

A Friend All His Own

Jax's friends have always been Ava's friends. That's just part of being the little brother. He tags along when his big sister and her friends play and by default, her friends become his friends too. Not to mention, we've never lived anywhere where there have been many kids Jax's age. But thank goodness for our new little town. There are an abundance of little people here all Jax's age. But he and this little guy, Eli have become great little buddies. They met in nursery our first Sunday here and the rest is history. Jax even tells us, "Eli my very best buddy."

Eli's family moved here just a few months before us (also from Utah) so we've all bonded over our new, very different home. The dads are both nerdy engineers, and the moms are both crafty. It's like it was meant to be :) Ava has made a few little friends too, who get this, ARE GIRLS! Crazy, I know! Anywhere we've ever lived there has been an overabundance of boys Ava's age and I just happen to become great friends with a mom who has a boy. But here, there are girls. And several of them. Who know that such a small little town would be full of so many fun friends?!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Knew This Day Would Come

Ava and Jax are great little helpers! Monday is our deep-cleaning day and they actually fight over who helped me the most. It's pretty sweet. Until someone throws a dirty sponge at someone else. That's not sweet. That's gross. Anyway, they especially love to help me fold laundry. Ava is a great little folder. Jax is more of a wadder, but he's trying. As we folded whites the other day, Ava came across one of my bras and naturally, did what any normal little girl would do:

First THIS:

Then, THIS:

She thought this one was especially hilarious because I had just taught them the day before in preschool about flies' and bees' eyes. She was buzzing around the living room, "I'm a fly. I'm a fly."

We had to put it away once Jax asked if he could wear the bra. I'll admit, I played with the idea for a moment simply for the go-to photo to show his future dates. But, I thought better of it (plus, I already have plenty of embarrassing pics of him).  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Savings Machine

Surprisingly, groceries in our little town are super expensive. Four dollars for a gallon of milk says it all. Our first month here, our grocery bill was double what it was in Utah. Crazy! So, in an effort to save money, I've been a coupon clipping, savings-blog-following machine. I even have a binder, separated into more than 30 sections where I keep track of all my coupons. Initially, I was a little overwhelmed but excited. As a matter of fact, Andy thought my excitement a little weird. Until this happened:

All of this totaled more than $60. What did I pay? NOTHING! This was all FREE!

I've had similar shopping trips since then, but I felt most successful after this week when I got our family more than $750 worth of food groceries for about $200. In one shopping trip alone I got $98 worth of groceries (including 12 boxes of General Mills Cereal and eight boxes of Nature Valley granola bars, among other things) for $23. We've got our meals set for the next six weeks or so. I will have to go back to the store to get milk and fruit (I've been making our bread), but during my shopping trips I earned $15 off my next purchase so I'll be able to use that for those things. I would like to whittle our shopping budget down even more over the next few months, but this is a good start, especially considering grocery prices here. For now though, we've got enough cereal, granola bars, yogurt, frozen vegetables and cheese to get us through the next year (or so it seems).

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Jax has been very interested as of late in my belly. More specifically, the nine months he spent in there. He often talks about when he lived in my belly or how, "when I come out your belly I was a Baby Jax." Today, on the way to Church we were having this same conversation when Ava said, "Jax, when you were in Mama's belly I called you Baby June. I wanted you to be a girl. But you came out a boy." Then, after a brief pause she announced, "Better than nothin'." She's so honest.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I wanted to blog this mainly because I don't want to forget it, but had to share too.

As Jax sat on the potty yesterday I sat on the bathroom floor, my back against the door. Jax said to me, "Mommy, you don't sit on the floor. It's dirty." I say this to him everytime we're in a public bathroom, but he obviously didn't realize it didn't apply to our home bathroom. Anyway, I said, "Oh, it's dirty?" "Yes, I get a wipe and clean it. I clean my bathroom floor." "Buddy, that would be very helpful, thank you." "It make you happy, Mama?" "Yes, it would make me very happy." "Then I do it. I like to make you happy."

How sweet is that?! Had he not been sitting bare-butt on the potty going #2 I would have scooped him up and given him a big hug!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Another Weekend

Andy's never had weekends off. Well, atleast he's never had them off in our almost eight years of marriage. I guess as a teacher he technically had weekends "off" but in all actuality he spent them grading, planning lessons, etc. And in our time at both UofA and BYU he spent his weekends doing some hardcore homework and studying.

But now, he has weekends off. He has a regular 9-5 job. Which is great. But even better, because he works for the Corp of Engineers, much of his work is classified which means he can't bring work home. Nice.

So, for the first time in nearly eight years I have my husband all to myself on weekends. Well, WE have him all to OURselves. We haven't really done anything fancy since we moved here to celebrate having him home on the weekends, but we do make sure to enjoy our time with him. This weekend was no exception. As is the norm here in our tiny little river town, it was a hot and humid one this weekend. So, we took the kids down to the good ol' splashpad. This time though, Mommy and Daddy were smart and wore our bathing suits too. We weren't just going to sit and melt while the kids got in on all the cool water action. No way.

This one should make the Kleinman boys proud

Like father like son

Looking at the Mississippi. See all that greenery over there? That's Louisiana. The nearest city to us is actually IN La. We really do live RIGHT on the Ol' Mississip.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


No, I'm not sending Ava to preschool. We're doing it at home. That's right, Homeschool Preschool. We had considered sending her to a preschool, but it's ridiculously expensive and Ava said she would prefer I just teach her. Since I'm strongly considering homeschooling her next year (kindergarten) I was fine with the request and am looking at it as a learning/preparation period for what could come next year.

So, we started "preschool" last week. I had the opportunity to chat with/correspond with several friends who homeschool and all gave me great ideas regarding age-appropriate curriculum and activities. Basically, they all said the same thing, at this age you don't need to sit a child down and "teach" as they would in a public school setting. Rather, teach by example, activity and interest. Keeping this in mind, I did have some specific goals (which I went over with Ava). First of all, helping Ava learn to read. She's already doing this quite well on her own, but obviously, still needs some help and direction. That being said, we do a letter of the week. We go over all the sounds that letter makes and Ava practices writing each letter. She's had all her capital letters down since she was three, but we're working hard on the lowercase letters. This also helps Jax with letter recognition and sounds. In addition to our set letter work, I've decided it best to have a theme each day, that also corresponds with our letter of the week.

Last week, we started Preschool with the letter "A" (obviously). Our first day, our theme was ART. So, I read the kids several children's stories I found at the library about art, artists, etc (Bridget's Beret by Tom Lichtenheld and Art School by Tomie dePaola were Ava and Jax's faves). Then, we looked online at different works by famous artists: Mona Lisa (da Vinci), Georgia O'Keefe's flowers, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, The Ballet Class by Degas, etc. This was a great activity for both kids because we could discuss what they liked about the pictures, why certain colors were used, what colors they liked best, etc. Ava, of course, loved Degas's ballet paintings, while Jax liked how messy Pollock's paintings looked. Then, I gave the kids each their own paint set and several pieces of paper and asked them to create a "splatter paint" like Jackson Pollock and a flower like Georgia O'Keefe. They loved creating and I loved watching what they created. About 20 pieces of paper and 45 minutes later, my counter covered in art work, they were done.

As the art dried, I gave Jax some letter A's to trace with his fingers, pencil and crayons as Ava and I practices her lowercase letter. I had never noticed until that moment just how very much like me she is. She's a perfectionist and gets easily flustered when she doesn't do something perfectly the first time. Several times I just had to urge her to take a break from her paper and come back to it when she was ready. Sure enough, each time she did and by the end she was writing her little a's like a pro!

We only did two days of preschool last week, our second we learned about ants: all their parts, why they bite, different kinds, etc. and even went on a bug walk, complete with bug-catching kids.

As I expected, the kids have received our little at-home preschool with open arms. Each day, they ask if it's preschool day. And Ava has given me several ideas of things she'd like to learn about when we get to a certain letter. I'm so grateful both of my kids love to learn. They're eager and dilligent, so much like their dad!

This preschool "year" will play a large role when it comes time to make the decision to homeschool Ava or send her to public school. Until then, we'll just enjoy our time together. I'll occasionally post updates here of fun things we've done and the progress the kids have made... that's mainly for the grandparents :)

Monday, August 2, 2010


One of my favorite blogs is hosting a giveaway for a Silhouette Machine. Oh my heck, I'm in love! Most people want it because it can cut vinyl, but since I already have a HUGE heavy-duty vinyl machine that doesn't appeal to me. It's all the paper crafts that I'm so excited about. I get an extra entry in the giveaway for blogging about it, but if I don't win and you'd like to buy me a present to console me then I have the perfect idea! ;) Check it out.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Look What We Found

On our way home from our bike ride/tennis playing last night we found this:

A teeny little froggy. She (Ava is SURE she was a girl) was hopping on the sidewalk as if it wanted to be picked up and mangled by two kids! So, we did just that. After chasing it around for a few minutes I finally caught the little sucker and then handed her over to Ava, who was ready to take the frog home and make her her pet. Jax got a turn and was so excited he dropped Sally (Ava named her) before I could get a picture of him with her. But don't worry, Ava quickly collected her and was sure not to let her go. As a matter of fact, she held on to Sally so tightly that the little frog nearly lost her life. Fortunately, Andy and I saw she was on the brink and encouraged Ava to let Sally go so she could find her family. Lucky break, frog.

*By the way, those are not tears on Ava's cheek. It's sweat. We live in a humid, sweaty place... and she had been riding her bike for 45 minutes. However, that is chocolate near the corner of her mouth.

Summer Dress

All Ava wants to wear are dresses. That IS what princesses wear, of course. She has a few casual dresses, but most are only for Church. So, I've been hard at work making dresses for the little miss. She has a few stipulations that I must abide by when constructing said dresses:

1. They MUST be twirly
2. They MUST have sleeves
3. They MUST have pink or flowers or fruit on them (her words, not mine)
4. Did I mention they MUST be twirly

That being said, I put together this little number for Ava-Ave.

I started with a $3 tank top from target, added the skirt portion and some makeshift sleeves. Not too shabby. There's a few things I'll do differently next time around, starting with making the sleeves a little wider. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Most importantly, Ava L-O-V-E-S it!
She had JUST picked this tomato from her garden.