St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Autoimmune Disorder

If you haven't read about or have been following my illness and treatment, you can look back here for some more information:  Hope & A Beautiful Day 

It has now been 9 weeks since the medicines were prescribed to tackle my chronic liver inflammation, autoimmune in origin.   My liver enzymes have been going done, responding to the steroids and immuno-suppressant.  As of the 8 week interval of blood work, one liver enzyme that was originally in the 3000s is just closing in on the normal range, at 52 -- high end of that level is 49, so it's very close.  Overall, the side effects are not too bad, fairly manageable, but I do need to watch my sodium like crazy, caffeine and sugar, which just make me super hyper or unable to sleep;  I have only averaged about 4-5 hours of sleep per night because the steroid just prevents it somehow.  I nap.   My face is slightly swollen, but that too varies with sodium, I just really need to watch it vigilantly. 

I do exhaust much more easily, but at the same time, I've had energy like never's been missing for several years now, that's for sure.  

The weather has still been quite lovely throughout these weeks, making it easy to get to holiday gatherings and appointments, and all the blood work I've had to have done.  

I am hoping to hear from my doctor soon about lowering the steroid dose over the weeks when the levels are looking good.  Maybe after Christmas?  

Kindergarten, the new first grade.....

Very worthwhile article, long and pithy and packed with a lot of to think about:

"Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.”"

The New Preschool is Crushing our Kids

 Really what are we doing to our young children, 3 year olds that still need to be with mom?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Something Old, Something New

By this time of year I like to take inventory of what I really need and have used through the year,  or don't need, need to change, need to keep, need to toss.  Yes, the year's end....a new beginning awaits.   There are some resources, material items that we all use over and over again in our families;  like soaps, toiletries, food of course.  You know: stuff.  Stuff we DO need and use daily.

When the ads are overwhelmingly compelling and glamorous this time of year, and they scream out to you to buy me buy me buy me! shipping, reduced prices, use this code!.....well, sometimes I get snagged. BUT, I have learned my lesson from doing that spontaneous _buy me_ also.  

Since my theatrical days, I have had a soft spot for make-up.  I actually don't wear much at all, but when doing "drama" you do tend to over use the cosmetics.  So somehow, it's written in my DNA that I must look at new make-up, better make-up, all the time.  Chances are I purchase something, use it a couple times, and I'm not impressed, or realize, it's just not needed.  

So, there are beauty staples I have used nearly my entire life thus far.  Witch Hazel (Dickinson's brand) is one of them.  I have used it since my teen years. I use witch hazel on a cotton facial pad every morning and blot my face off.  That's it.  Then I moisturize with Mary Kay Timewise moisturizer for dry skin (I have used Timewise moisture since it came out, which must be at least 15 years ago) That's my morning "facial routine."  Yes, I know.  Not so glamorous, eh?  Sure, I belong to Arbonne, Melaleuca, and even Young Living, I've bought the best of them, like Elizabeth Arden toners, Estee Lauder toners...and you know what?  ...a waste of money.  Maybe it's good DNA or skin luck, but I do not really have one wrinkle.  Well, maybe one age 55 that's not too bad.  Nor do I have gray hair, yet anyway.  So, economically speaking, good ole witch hazel and a good moderately priced moisturizer works for me.

Then, makeup foundation.  Well, I've certainly been around the block with those.  I never really wore it for many years anyway -- but of course I tried all the big name brand ones, and in the last 15 years I've always come back to and continue to use Covergirl Advanced Radiance (in Buff Beige).  It is just perfect for my skin, peptides and calming agents, moisture, and not heavy, sheer and natural finish.  For about $10.99 at the drug store, it's another economical staple of mine.

A couple items I can't get away from due to sensitivity is mascara and eye liner.  I am so fair, my eye do need some kind of definition, so lining lightly is helpful.  I have very sensitive eyes, so anything that isn't waterproof, or waterproof and easy on the eyes, causes a flare up of allergic conjunctivitis.  We can not have that.  So, I have found that Clinique's waterproof Brush On cream eyeliner works best for me.  I use to use the Smokey Gray color until is was discontinued, now I use the regular black, but go lightly on it.  I also use Clinique's High Impact mascara in black; it's just plush enough, and well not waterproof, it certainly stays put no matter what and no sensitivity.  These are two items I just have to go with and I'm glad to do so, as they aren't astronomically priced and easy to find.  I will add I like Clinique's Different lipstick's also  (Guava Stain) as they are flavor and fragrance free.  I don't really like to taste or smell my lipstick while I'm wearing it. :)

That brings me to skin care.  So, I do have some favorite, some more pricey, some not so much.  One such pricey skin care line is Arbonne's  Re9 Advanced Skincare  - I do love the lemony cleanser -- and I love the moisture from the FC5 line; the night time moisture with strawberry and kiwi cells.  It is so refreshing.

But, while I have these items and certainly use them, I also have a favorite milky cleanser from Avon.  It is the Avon Elements Nourishing Cleanser.  It is so comforting on my difficult skin right now, due to steroids and immunosuppressant drug use (my autoimmune treatment).   So I am all about self-care, comfort and calming down sensitivities.

Later, I will share my practical items, office resources and things that have made daily life easier, while working, schooling and staying in touch with friends and family. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

I'm not sure when or exactly how it happened that I came across and began my admiration and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe in my youth, but it did happen.  When I was wed 28 years ago, my husband's gift to me was a huge beautifully framed image or Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has continued to hang in our dining room all these years.  Our Lady's story, with Juan Diego is certainly worth reading, watching, researching.  And if you are a non-believer in the Blessed Virgin and honor that Catholicism and some other faiths uphold, I ask you approach this with an open heart and mind.  Maybe the recent National Geographic article will help you into further understanding.   How the Virgin Mary became the World's Most Powerful Woman.  

And then, there's this episode of the popular PBS TV series:  Wishbone, in which the little dog Wishbone himself, portrays the part of Juan Diego, who the Blessed Mother appeared to.   It was titled:  Viva Wishbone!,  and aired Nov. 23, 1995.  How well I remember it!  I was quite delighted and surprised at the same time that this topic of the Blessed Mother, and one the very famous apparitions appeared on national TV!  You can the episode here at YouTube:  

May Our Lady bless you with her continued prayers on behalf of mankind......
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Season of Waiting and Anticipation

The weather God has given us: 
As we entered into Advent, our weather has been unseasonably warmer than usual for this time of year.  I am not complaining!  There has been sunshine in more abundance, and that does one of my children a great deal of good as he battles Seasonal Affective Disorder and it begins to creep its way in around late November and peaks to a negative frenzy around mid January. Medication helped him last winter when it was at its worst.  He continues the medication and  I am hoping with some more therapeutic helps (supplements, exercise and sun lamp therapy + counseling to talk his way through it with a professional), in place for him that this winter he will not succumb to it quite as dramatically as last winter.  

A personal note:
I continue to improve regarding my autoimmune liver problem.  My blood work is looking better, the levels coming down to where they should be.  I continue the medications with little side-effects other than insomnia and occasionally when I don't watch my sodium (like at Thanksgiving), I swell a bit in the face.  But it leaves quickly once I watch my sodium and eat more potassium rich foods.  Seems to balance it all out.  I am grateful for western medicine at this point because I can not imagine how I'd be doing without it! 

On the home school front: 
Our home school is moving right along and we are nearing the end of our first semester; I already have many first semester assignments in and ready to go to our own consultant in January. We have made good progress.  I am ever so grateful for home education and the ability to meet with my children personally and help guide them and instruct them and help them with their studies.  It is a mantra I will chant over and over in my lifetime; that I was able to have this special time of formation with my own children and really be fully engaged and involved in their very formation. The discussions we have are priceless and such treasures .....over history, literature, sciences and religion....even on the hardest days it makes my heart swell with joy that this can be.   That my children can be deep and pithy and well read.  

Waiting and Anticipating:
And so, amid regular daily life and family goings-on, we prepare, and wait and anticipate the glorious event of the Nativity of Christ .....praying, lighting the Advent wreath, reading the scriptures and seasonal literature....decorating and adding a bit more light here and there to give way to a warm and welcoming environment around us, as we wait for the Christmas Eve vigil that marks our way to Christmas day....

May you reap the glow of this season and enjoy a beautiful Christmas as it approaches....