UPJ obstruction

I had my first kidney infection (in my right kidney) in July 2010. It was the most painful infection I’d ever experienced. I’d had many UTIs throughout adulthood, but the kidney infection was pretty horrible. I had another one a month later.

In 2012, I had another infection, but the pain never completely went away after the infection was gone. I suspected that maybe I had a kidney stone. A CT scan showed that I did, and it was 1 cm.

I had no insurance at the time, so I made an appointment at LSU Shreveport’s urology department. The plan was to put a stent in and come back and a week later for lithotipsy. But when the doctors were putting the stent in, they saw that it was actually a calcification located in the upper calyx of the right kidney. The doctor said it was likely something I was born with and had calcified due to the infections. “It is not in the collection system. It won’t cause any pain. It will never come out.”

But it was causing pain, or so I thought. I’ve had off and on pain since then. When I was able to get health insurance in March 2015, I brought it up to my primary doctor, who referred me to a urologist.

The urologist said the stone was in the collection system, but inside of a diverticulum (pouch). In June 2015, he placed a stent in my right ureter. The plan was to keep it in for 2 weeks, then go back in and cut out the stone. The stent caused horrible pain. I ended up in the emergency room because I couldn’t handle the pain. My urologist was in the hospital at the time and saw me in the ER. He moved my procedure up a week.

That procedure didn’t work. The urologist was able to see that the calcification was up “in the meat.” If he had tried to cut it out, he could’ve damaged the kidney.

The five weeks that followed was horrible. The pain was so bad.

My urologist couldn’t give me an answer about why the pain continued and had become an every day thing. He sent me for a CT with contrast. After looking at the results, he guessed that it was chronic inflammation.

In November 2015, I was diagnosed with a kidney infection by my primary. It was horrible.

In December, I thought I had another infection, but my urinalysis was clear. My primary sent me for an IVP, which is a series of xrays done while dye moves through the kidneys to the bladder.

Primary doctor just told me what I already knew when he saw the results… that I had a calcification in my upper calyx. I was completely discouraged. The pain was debilitating.

But then my urologist saw the xrays at my appointment on 12/22/15. He saw what he thinks is a UPJ obstruction. He showed my husband and me the xray. What we saw was that the right ureter had what looked like thread in it. The dye had pooled inside of the kidney and was coming out slowly through a very narrow opening.

On 12/30/15, I will have a renal scan. If it confirms that there is a UPJ obstruction, then we will discuss laparoscopic, robotic-assisted surgery.

Earn FREE gift cards

I wanted to share some ways to earn free gift cards!

* The first is the way I make the most gift cards per month: Swagbucks

With Swagbucks, you can earn swagbucks by searching, watching videos, doing surveys and running apps on your phone.

If you have an iPhone, download the Swagbucks app, as well as the Swagbucks TV Mobile and EntertaiNow apps. With the Swagbucks app, you can answer the daily poll, do special offers on your phone, as well as search. The TV apps allow you to watch videos for bucks.

If you have an Android phone, download all of the above apps, as well as IndyMusicTV, LifeStylz TV, MovieCli.ps and SportlyTV. If you use all of these apps, you can get 126 Swagbucks a day. If you choose to ONLY use the apps, you can easily make $40 in free Amazon gift cards a month. They have a variety of gift cards to choose from. The $5 Amazon gift cards are the best deal, and you can get five of those a month.

* Another way I earn free Amazon gift cards is with Bing Rewards. This is SUPER EASY and takes just a few minutes a day.

With Bing Rewards, you earn points for searching. When you use your mobile phone, you get 1 point for every two searches, up to 10 points. When you use your computer, you can earn 15-30 points a day. You get 1 point for every three searches on the computer. But it’s super easy! You don’t to struggle to figure out what to search for. Just use one of the suggested searches on their home page and then explore the related searches.

A tip for Bing… Be sure you go through the whole tour. You get points for doing that.

Instant Gift Card is similar to Swagbucks. You can watch videos, do special offers, search and do surveys. And like the name implies, you get your gift card instantly. Once you redeem (and you can even redeem $1 gift cards), the gift card code is right there for you to apply to your account.

* Check your bank for rewards. Our bank offers a rewards checking account. So get rewarded for doing nothing out of the ordinary. I redeemed $30 in Amazon gift cards last month.

* Also requiring no extra work is the Nielsen Mobile Panel. You download two apps to your phone. Neither affect your phone and you don’t even remember that they are on your phone. Once or twice a month, you will get an e-mail saying you’ve earned points. Then you can redeem those points for gift cards or other items. Read more about it here.

* And last, but certainly not least, is the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher!! Create an account with walmart.com and download the Wal-Mart app on your phone. Then scan in your Wal-Mart receipt after each shopping trip. Wal-Mart searches the local sales papers and gives you the difference in price back. In about 3 days, you’ll get an e-mail that tells you how much you will be getting back. You can add it to an e-gift card or you can put it on an American Express Bluebird prepaid card. The card is free. And from now until Feb. 28, 2015, when you add it to the Bluebird card, they give you DOUBLE the amount. The Wal-Mart Bucks, as they call it, can only be used at Wal-Mart. Sign up for your FREE Bluebird card here. You’ll get it in the mail.

Freezer meals

I’m learning that you can take almost any crock pot recipe and make it a freezer meal. By that, I mean, combine the ingredients now so you can just toss it all into the crock pot together later.

Here are some recipes I put in freezer Ziploc bags over the weekend. I wrote the cooking instructions on the outside of the bags.

Crock pot beef and broccoli

Balsamic and onion pot roast

Crock pot Ranch pork chops

Italian chicken marinade (this one is not for the crock pot, but great for grilling)

Crock pot pepper steak

For these recipes, I put the sauces in separate smaller freezer Ziploc bags and put them inside the larger bags with the meat.

Crock pot meatballs (See this recipe to make your own meatballs to freeze)

Crock pot orange chicken

Crock pot salsa chicken



I have been looking at menus on my desktop for a while now. I figured I may as well share them with you guys. 

These are menus from many months past. Some of them include some family events we had planned. So, excuse that.😉 Some menus are only halfway done. 

I will include some links to recipes, as well.








Now being that there are a TON of menus and recipes on here, I cannot bring myself to put them in order from first menu to the last. So here are links of recipes, in no particular order:

Loaded potato casserole

Easy Ravioli

Chicken taco chili

Crock pot cheeseburger soup

Spicy chicken rigatoni

Crock pot lemon chicken

Crock pot cheesy chicken spaghetti

Hawaiian sweet roll ham sandwiches

Baked Italian chicken

Slow cooker cabbage rolls

Easy pot roast

Smothered beef burritos

Cajun lasagna

Cheesy corn casserole

Balsamic and onion pot roast

Shrimp spaghetti

Chicken enchilada spaghetti

Crawfish rice dressing

Dr. Pepper roast

Stove Top meatloaf

Cream cheese chicken chili

Pizza tot casserole

Cheeseburger sliders

Beef and broccoli

Crock pot chicken Cacciatore

Bubble pizza

Crock pot cheesy chicken and rice

Baked paprika-parmesan chicken

Stuffed crawfish bread

Cheesy rice and beans

Crock pot lasagna

I’m sure I left out some recipes, or have added some that weren’t on any of the menus. Feel free to check out my Pinterest recipes board




A whole new lifestyle

We recently discovered that my son has some food allergies. After two RASTS tests (one on the back and the other a blood test), we learned that my son is allergic to wheat, eggs, cow’s milk, soybean and bananas.

He was pretty bummed about the cow’s milk and bananas. We have replaced cow’s milk with chocolate almond milk, and he seems to like it. He doesn’t care for the vanilla; says it tastes “weird.”

The other allergies mean that he now needs to follow a gluten-free diet, and I will be reading labels for dairy- and soy-free, as well.

I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed by this. Let’s face it. This means a complete lifestyle change. My husband and I decided that our whole family would make the changes.

This makes my job so much harder. Gone are the days where I can “easily” plan menus for an entire month. Now I have to learn all about the gluten-free alternatives.

I have to find room in the budget to purchase the pretty expensive gluten-free alternatives. But I know that God knew about this before I did, and He will provide.

And school is just around the corner. I will be busy finding meal ideas for my son’s lunch.

I guess now my blog turns into a chronicle of my journey into this new lifestyle. Maybe this will benefit someone else who gets the news and feels as overwhelmed.

A friend let me borrow Living Gluten-Free for Dummies. I was shocked to read about all of the problems people (with gluten-intolerance, celiac disease and wheat allergies) can experience.

I now look forward to seeing what improvements my family will notice once we are completely gluten-free.

So far, we’ve tried a few gluten-free products. Some chicken nuggets were a hit. Some pancake mix was NOT. I made the pancakes with vanilla almond milk. I think I will have to buy some goat’s milk for cooking. I used a coupon to buy an instant pancake mix (just add water), but it was gritty. My son picked out some chocolate chip cookies that were gluten-free (but not dairy), and he liked them a lot. I cannot remember the brand, because he threw the outside of the package away.

I did find a brand I think we will use very often: Enjoy Life. Their products are free from the top 8 allergens, which means they are perfect for my son. He had some of the snickerdoodle cookies and really liked them. I tried it, too, and they were good. I used some Swagbucks money to purchase some more snacks made by them. I also ordered this book: Gluten-Free Recipes for Kids: Fun Eats from Breakfast to Treats. It has good reviews, and I’m hoping we get a lot out of it.

He thinks I’m pretty.

My son and I had a conversation this morning. A simple conversation. But it has stuck with me all day. 

I was sitting at the table flat ironing my hair.

Boy: Why do you have to do that every day? 
Me: I don’t have to do it every day. I just want my hair to look pretty.
Boy: You look pretty when you don’t do that.

He had such a confused look on his face. He couldn’t comprehend why I thought it was not pretty before. 

I have wavy, frizzy hair. It never looks the least bit decent when drying on its own. My husband loves when I use the flat iron. He often says it’s “beautiful when it’s straight.”

He is not a fan of the way my hair looks naturally. Like i said, it’s curly/wavy and frizzy and just BIG. I often have it up in ponytails, which I’m sure he gets tired of seeing. Flat ironing takes too much time. I’m too lazy to do it as often as he would like.

But apparently my son doesn’t care what my hair looks like. He doesn’t care what I wear, either.

Kids are so genuine and innocent. They don’t care what I look like or what I’m wearing. All they care about is that I’m their mommy. And that apparently makes me pretty to them.

My daughter often compliments me. I can be in pjs, and she will say “I like your pretty dress,” which is often a shirt). 

She looks at me lovingly even when all of my baby hairs are curling up on top of my head like a thin layer of afro-likeness. She tells me she likes me.

My son is starting to think kissing is “yucky.” When he sees someone kiss on TV (even the simplest kiss on the cheek on a kid’s show), he says “ewwwww.” It made me sad. Then I asked him if he thought my kisses were “yucky.” His answer was a quick no. He still kisses me on the lips. Because I’m his mommy. I get as many hugs as I want. And tight hugs. He still will tell me he loves me in public.

I will be so sad when that stops.

In the meantime, a few things have come to mind since pondering our conversation today.

I wondered how I could keep him and his sister so innocent. Maybe I could be less vocal about my problems with my body. Maybe I could be more confident and happy with who I am and what I look like. Maybe I can encourage him to see women for their true beauty. 

How do I stop outside influence? I suppose I can’t keep him from hearing what others have to say. The best defense is a strong offense, right? And Husband and I will BRING IT at home. 

My son’s words also reminded me of how God sees us. He doesn’t see my messy hair or frumpy pajamas the way I do. He still thinks I’m pretty. He doesn’t care if I get overwhelmed; if I have a bad day; if I yell out of frustration; if that Pinterest recipe didn’t work out.

He loves me regardless. He thinks I’m beautiful. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

May I always remember that, so that I can relay that message successfully to my children. 

My favorite Pinterest recipes

I know it’s the middle of June, but I figured I’d put my menu-making skills to work anyway.

So upon the advice of a friend, I have created a board on Pinterest of recipes I’ve tried and approved for sharing.

Here is the menu I made for the rest of June, and you can find the recipes for these on my Pinterest board.

june 2013

So you’re looking at 4 chicken meals, four ground meat meals, two crawfish meals, two shrimp meals, two roasts, one pork chop meal and one meal with no meat at all.

The portions of meat depend on the size of your family. I can tell you that if you make the baked paprika parmesan chicken, you should double it unless you are only feeding one or two people. I cut the chicken into strips and nuggets, and it didn’t take nearly as long to bake as it says it will. So be sure to check the oven after about 20 minutes.

What I love about the cabbage rolls is that it’s a slow cooker meal and you don’t have to cook the ground meat beforehand.