Saturday, 20 June 2015

catch up

It has been far too long. After that detailed post on my health, this will be a big jumble, but that's how it goes.

With the elimination diet, all I noticed troubling me was milk, so I added back everything else. But then after a week or so I started feeling chokey again, so I started over. I didn't cut coffee, cocoa, or corn this time, and it went a lot easier. After a few days I noticed that I felt so much better all over. But then I made a birthday cake, and some other incidents, and I ended up with bronchitis. Went to the doctor after several days of gasping for breath, and got steroids and an inhaler.

Long story short, I've decided that wheat makes me ache in my joints and also makes my coughing/sinuses worse. Milk just upsets my stomach a bit.

Taryn's allergy doctor retired in December, being about 80 yrs old, but her partner kept all existing patients. I asked about getting tested and was told no new patients on our (military) insurance. The only other allergist on the network is plumb on the other end of NWA's long, skinny metroplex. I got an appointment there, and finally went Wednesday.

They decided to do the children's test, which has groups of the most common allergens and is tested on the arms. Well. The "control" prick of straight histamine didn't cause a reaction, and the only thing that did within the test time was ragweed, which is only in season August/September. So I'm thinking it isn't working and should be redone. They were going to do more pricks on my upper arm, but my mouth and chin started itching so they didn't. She prescribed Singulair and told me to come back in Sept. THEN, as I got in the car to leave, suddenly two more spots got red on my arm. I called to ask what was where, so I could tell what caused the reactions. Wheat was small, and slightly larger was peanuts. Oh, dear. As you may know, peanut butter is one of the 4 food groups in our house.

So, while I still have my doubts about the efficacy of the test, I will try a wheat and nut-free diet for a while and see what happens. And take the pills if I need to.

Wednesday night Bob didn't go to bed because he had a belly ache. At 4am Thursday I woke to the sound of him moaning in the bathroom. Now, he has had episodes before of gut pain so bad he passes out, and it usually goes away before long. So I dabbed him with a washcloth and generally got in the way until he finally woke Ruth up about 5. Then I nursed her while he groaned, pottied, and thrashed around on the bed. She was almost asleep when he shouted at me to DO something, so I called an ambulance.

In short, he has a kidney stone and gallstones, and we discovered the ambulance takes less than 15 minutes to arrive, and the folks at Springdale's Northwest Hospital aren't very compassionate towards moaning men.

I got Bob home just in time to collect Cedwryck and go back to town to have his ingrown toenail removed. That went well, but I am just tired of doctors for now. And just pain tired, as Ruth wouldn't go to sleep until 12:30 this morning, so that's 2 night short sleep. Bob is hurting pretty bad by turns, and doesn't want to eat anything. I gave him a "sure fire" home remedy of 1/4 c each olive oil and lemon juice. He says I poisoned him.The book says the stone will go in less than 24 hours.  We'll see.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Look what I did

 Okay, so I can't get the text above the pictures. hmm?
Anyway, I was web-surfing the other day and found this "blog"

The author there has many fun and interesting ideas/experiments etc. I browsed through and opened a dozen tabs of things that looked interesting and/or doable.

And THEN, I - I don't do crafts - me, did something!!! I had a package of Navy beans (which are white, by the way) and food coloring, so we did colored beans. It's very simple. 1 cup of beans, 15 drops food coloring, shake for 20 seconds (in a baggie or storage container); leave to dry on paper towel. That's it.
The children thought it was VERY interesting that I would do such a thing. They have had fun playing with the beans every day since.
I'm so proud of myself that I bought liquid starch to try the slime recipe soon.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

April 2015

For the past 2 years (approximately) I have had intermittent "difficulty swallowing." Combined with heartburn while pregnant, I supposed it was a sort of GERD, but when I described my symptoms to our pharmacist he looked rather puzzled and suggested I see a doctor. That's when I found out I was expecting Ruth, so it waited. My symptoms? Occasionally, at the beginning of a meal, I would suddenly feel full and rather like I was choking, with a distinct feeling of the food getting half-way down and hitting a burp that was half-way up, each blocking the other from going where it needed to go. My mouth would water and I just tried not to panic while waiting for something to give way. At least twice the only solution was to throw up.

Finally I did something about it. The same day I had my ear mole removed, I talked to my doctor about this issue. She sent me for a Barium Swallow, which wasn't terribly unpleasant, and turned up a hiatal hernia and a "ring around" the esophagus. So they sent me up the river, er, I mean, for more tests.

The other day (2-3 weeks ago) I had an EGD. I was put to sleep, had a camera pushed down my throat, and several pictures and biopsies taken. A few days later I got a letter saying they had diagnosed me with "allergic esophagus" and that I probably had an unknown food allergy. The recommendation was for an allergy elimination diet to determine to what I am allergic.

I considered just going for testing at the allergy clinic, but according to what I read, the tests are most effective when coupled with the experience of the diet. Plus, going is expensive. Sooooo, I am on the diet. No eggs, milk (or dairy), wheat, soy, nuts, or fish. Those are the most frequent offenders. To be on the safe side, I've also cut out (most) corn - I still allow a bit of vinegar and dextrose - as well as coffee and chocolate (since those aren't any good without milk anyway). The idea is to rid the body of all traces of whatever is bothering it, then to eat a possible offender 2-3 times in a day and see if it causes a reaction.

Most folks say it takes 7-10 days to get relief of symptoms; I'm on day 12 now and it may be getting better. Being the unobservant person that I am, I want to make sure things are better before adding back in any of the possible offenders.  I am writing down my experiences each day. So far I have lost 11 lbs. If it were only possible to maintain such loss! I'd be at ideal weight in 3 months! But I doubt it's possible. Anyway, I wanted to say this has been different for me than previous attempts at dieting. Mainly, I suppose, because it is for medical reasons and not for losing weight. When I'm cutting calories, it's easy to get stressed out and go ahead and grab a chocolate, telling myself that I can get back on the path tomorrow (or even that I didn't eat some earlier, so it's still less than what I used to do). With the allergy elimination, though, the effect has to accumulate, so I knew if I cheated I would have to start over and go through it all again.

As you may imagine, this diet is quite restrictive. The hardest part is not being able to just pick something up and stick it in my mouth without thinking. I can't lick mixing bowls or take the extra bit from Daniel's plate, or anything! I can't help but wonder if that's where the weight loss is coming from. But I have noticed a change in my stools, so I think there has been a change in my gut, which is a good thing, and probably helpful, too.

I did some creative shopping and managed to make snickerdoodles. I used a recipe from my mom, but with a few modifications. Instead of butter, I used applesauce with a touch of olive oil. Instead of flour, I used whole oat flour. Instead of eggs, I used flaxseed mixed with water. Instead of buttermilk, I used a bit of vinegar (I could have put in water, but the dough was thin already). I knew chilling would not stiffen the dough as if it had butter in it, so I just scooped it onto the cookie sheets and sprinkled sugar/cinnamon over the top. They turned out really great! Bob said he doesn't usually liked baked goods with applesauce, but he liked these. I also found an oatmeal cookie recipe where the only substitution I had to make was for the eggs. It was nice to have something sweet and munchable, but I don't pig out like I've done in the past.

I have noticed the last 2 days that I haven't felt so bloated and belchy and chokey. Today I was able to chug a glass of water without it going down in gulps. I can't remember when I last did that. So a couple of more days to be sure and then I'll have a glass of milk.

Forgot to mention that the fist 5 days I had a raging headache, was irritable and sweaty. I've had backache for at least 2 weeks but it was better today. I had been taking  Claratin for several months, but stopped that a couple of days ago as I'm very congested anyway. When I skipped it the first day of the diet I got very wheezy, but am not so now. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015


I'll try not to give a narrative, as I want to remember the facts!

Ruth lacks a week of 7 months, and her favorite pastime is standing up. SHe pulls up on everything and tries to walk by looking intently at her goal and flapping her arms.

April 1st we drove to Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and bought a 12 week old standard poodle. She is officially Naysha's dog, and is already house-broken, comes when called, sits on command (for Naysha) and is learning to heal, stand, fetch, and stay. She had been kept in a pen of shavings in a garage, so that makes the learning all the more impressive. She doesn't cry all night any more, but still wakes us up early in the morning.

Resurrection Day was a lot of fun. Riah and others got a Mario Bros chess set, and they are all learning how to play. Ced got a Knex roller coaster, and William got an Angry Bird flying swimmer. There were lots of books, water bottles, Bible covers....

We went to the Medieval Fair in Norman this year and got some new costume gear.

gotta go.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Just as I logged in to write, Google popped up a thing for me to search for a domain name and "connect instantly." So I searched for "In the olive grove" and it came up with various versions of "inCambridge" (.net, com, etc). It wanted me to buy a name, so I said no thanks, but why does it think "olive grove" sounds like "Cambridge?" (Insert smiley face that scratches its head.)

We have decided on a flooring for the living room. We may eventually cover the whole house with it; not sure exactly what Bob thinks about that, but that is my "plan." Practicality took precedence over ideals, and we picked out a decent-looking laminate that's only 99cents per square foot and has a 30 year warranty. Yes, real wood lasts a lifetime, but has to be nailed down, and with our circus (I mean, family) it would have to be refinished every year. The laminate will "float" over a thick pad that should absorb noise, moisture, shock, and temperature.

Having made that decision we are starting to trim the living room (window sills and such - of course the baseboard will wait until the floor is in). Bob plans to go tomorrow to a mill in Mulberry to pick up some cedar boards for that project. He kept wanting to buy some at Lowe's, but I finally convinced him to look at it, and a board that costs $8 at Lowe's is $2 at the mill. And when you're getting 30 of them, it's worth the trip (even if you have to dig the trailer out of the mud to use it for said trip).

Yesterday we spent all day in town. This was partly to allow the root killer we poured down the drain a chance to work, and partly to get stuff done. We went to Lowe's, Sam's, two parks, the allergy clinic, and an auction. At the auction we bought a gorgeous roll-top desk, for something like 20% of its original store price. It should replace our old red, sticker-covered, half refinished desk that we've had for 12-15 years (depending on if you believe Bob or me about when we got it). The red desk is very much like the red desk my parents have had my whole life, so in a way I hate to see it go, but the roll-top is definitely a step up.

This week Ruth got her two bottom teeth and learned to sit herself up. She is already showing signs of wanting to pull up, though she is very unsteady on her feet when we hold her in a standing position.

At Lowe's yesterday Daniel asked where we were going, and I said we were going outside (garden center). He looked upset, so I asked if he didn't want to go outside. He said, "No, because I am hungry. I am NOT tired." He is very good at talking about his feelings, and will often refuse to answer a question because "I'm mad!" If anyone cries he will ask them if they are fussy. He's doing this less now, but if I laughed at something he would ask "Are you funny?"

We also bought 2 maple trees. I hope they do well; I've always liked maples, and we need a couple of shade trees.

That will have to do for now. Typing makes my pinky sore. :) I think I need a new keyboard.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

drs and shops

I didn't say anything before, because I didn't know what to say about it, but:

Recently (I think it was before the quick trip to OK) I went to my doctor to discuss a mole that worried me. Its growth was recent, and it seemed to be growing, though I didn't have evidence to prove it. (I'd talked about taking a picture, but never did.) Then it started itching, which is a bad sign, so I made an appointment. I didn't know what the doc would do, if anything. She cut it out, right there in the office, and sent it to the lab. I wondered. I checked my online medical records. I waited. Then got a call that the pathology report "showed some changes" and I should see a dermatologist.

Monday, while I was shopping (more about that later), the dermatologist called and scheduled an appointment for today (Wednesday). So this morning I got up early (after staying up late and getting up 3 times with Ruth), skipped coffee, forgot vitamins, and drove to Springdale in dense fog. Naysha went with me to look after Ruth. Filled out paperwork and went back to the doctor. He asked if I had the report, and I said I though he had it. So they called my PCM, faxed over a consent form, and got the nurse to read the results to them over the phone. I think he said it was a "Dysplastic nevi," but on the mild side. He said it wasn't "pre-cancerous", but was considered a marker for melanoma, so I need to stay vigilant, but not worry.

Seems like the PCM could have called him for his opinion and just relayed it to me, rather than refer me to them for an office visit. Oh, well.

It just so happened that I saw an ad in the paper yesterday for clinical trials for a new acne product, and it happens to be run by this same dermatologist's office. So I signed Taryn up to be screened to see if she's bad enough to qualify.

This week is a Rhea Lana sale. Children's consignment, done every couple of months. That's where I was Monday, with all the girls and Daniel. We got Taryn's allergy shots, went to Sam's, then to the sale, where Taryn locked the keys in the van. Bob took the boys to change the oil in the car (free changes for life at the lot where Zach bought it) and was at an auction when we discovered the key problem. So he came to rescue us, about a 40 minute drive across Sunset/412 in evening rush hour traffic, but wasn't too put out since the auction was unbearable anyway.

At the sale I found 8 dresses and 4 pajamas for Ruth, 4 dresses and 3 tops for Ella, 4 pair pants for Cedwryck, a dozen books, an Exersaucer for Ruth (she loved it! - stood in it and cackled the whole time we were waiting for Bob), and a Fisher Price barn for Daniel. I was going to save it for a gift, but he saw it and was insistent on having it. All for $148.

Today, as the Dr wasn't far from the sale, we went back. Got a couple of pants for Riah, some toys for Ruth, and 5 brand new card games; less than $20.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

quick trip

Saturday night I learned that my favorite cousin on my mom's side was in Oklahoma visiting my aunt who had had hip replacement. Since I hadn't seen this cousin in about 18 years, I immediately started scheming.
The long and short is that we left home after breakfast Monday morning, drove 4 hours (with only 1 stop for lunch) to my parents' house, where we stretched and visited for 30 minutes. My sister arrived, and she, Bob, T, N, Ruth, and I got back in the car for the 30ish minute drive to Aunt's house.

In short, it was worth it. Cousin had her 18 month old with her. We visited for about 2 hours, then back to mom and dad's, where BIL and nephews joined us for supper. Played chicken foot dominoes after supper, then sister's family left and the children went to bed.

Had a nice chat with dad, then we went to bed.

They had to work today - Tuesday - so we made our own breakfast, straightened up a bit, and came back home. Had to drive through rain and dense fog on the way home, but it was warmer than it has been, so no ice.

I feel really good about the trip. Cousin connected easily, and I felt closer to sis than I have in a long time. I'm writing as quickly as possible because Ruth is waiting to go to bed. Also I think it's appropriate to the topic of a mad dash down the hill to Ok. :)

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Just when I was getting back to the blog, we rearranged furniture and disconnected the computer. but it was not for naught. :)

The living room/addition has been drywalled, taped, mudded, and painted - primer and two coats of white. While we were at it, I also re-painted the hall, most of the dining room, and painted the rest of the dining room for the first time - 3 coats over the paneling. So we are now gleaming white everywhere, and back to the new normal.

Bob also installed some light fixtures, but I don't know if they show up in the pictures.

mostly after. we have ceiling fans now, too.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Yes, more house construction!

Bob's friend the professional drywaller needed some help with a job he was doing (tearing down a rock fireplace), so asked Bob to trade work. Bob helped him 2 days, and then he came over here and helped with our drywall/sheetrock. We've had the sheets up for quite a while, and Bob had started covering the screws recently, but the last few days work has proceeded at an immense rate. In preparation for the mess, we unplugged the computers and moved them away from walls, so I haven't been on a computer since, oh, Tuesday? Anyway, they got everything tapes and mudded, and textured the ceiling of both dining and living room Saturday morning. Tomorrow they will texture the walls.

And after that we get to try to clean the mess. Oh, the mess! And start painting while we have the furniture moved and covered.

Last night Ruth decided not to go to bed. She just was awake, playing and talking, until 1:15. So I got in bed, and then she woke up at 2. And 4, and 6, and 7:30. So my two cups of coffee are barely keeping my eyes open today.

Oh, speaking of coffee, we tried a new brand, and it is without question my favorite (unflavored) coffee. We got the Peru version at Sam's club for a lot cheaper than on the website. It has a complex but very smooth flavor, with no bitterness or bite. I hope it's something they continue to sell.

That's all I got for now.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

the end of an era?

Well, as three of my 100+ "friends" noticed, I recently quit Facebook. I figured I had enough other ways to waste time online. :D Really, it had got so frustrating, trying to see what people actually had to say. On the final straw day, I had a news feed that consisted of the most recent hour, and then a jump to 2 or 3 days previous. And anyway, even if I could somehow convince the algorithm that I want to see every single thing that every one of my friends originally write, but none of the shared "photos" (most of which are simply text saved as jpeg to make it more sharable) or comments that they make on non-friends' posts, it still wouldn't do me any good because people don't share useful information anyway. And if I try to enter into an actual discussion, or provide an alternative point of view, they just delete or block or unfriend me.  So there.

In other news, the children keep getting older and cuter. And I get more forgetful and Bob gets more tired and painful.

Today I drove my 15 pack, rear-wheel drive, diesel powered van uphill on ice. In the dark. It took a little longer than it should have, but at no point did it go backwards.

Taryn is 16, still no license (but soon!) and is going to the Mennonite youth group. She went through (is still in?) a Bill Gaither music video watching stage, and decided to get more serious about her music. We've started her on piano lessons, and she is even going through the 4th grade English book with Naysha in case she decides to follow Bill's advice and go to college. Well, it's a start.

Naysha is sad because she is only 12 and Taryn is growing away again. But she is beginning to take on the world in her own way. She is studious, hardworking, and dedicated to the task at hand. She's started teaching Elijah his letters and thinks teaching is a possible career choice.

Riah is as himself as ever. He's grown a lot, and has been eating constantly so that we fear another spurt. His heart won't take many more growth spurts before requiring surgery.

Cedwryck has matured a lot since losing Gena dog last year. He's also focused on getting a puppy. He and Naysha watch dog training videos, measure the prospective  yard, and read and watch videos on breed characteristics.

Ella may be softening a bit.

William has learned his alphabet, but made no headway with reading. He still knows his times tables to 12 and is working on division, having mastered carrying and borrowing. A few nights ago as they were settling in to bed, Elijah asked William the time, then an addition problem. Then he told me, "William is my calculator." He still likes puzzles, too, but like most smart people, doesn't like to have to work at things.

Elijah is starting to grow up. At 5, he still has many traits of a 3-year old. He is very affectionate and tender-hearted. He is making an effort at schoolwork, but when Bob tried to get him to write the number 2, he would make it perfect 10 times, and then just make some completely random mark on the paper and declare he couldn't do it! So I sent him to puzzles and blocks for a few days. He is great friends with Daniel, and anybody else who will play with him. He cannot think what to do by himself.

Daniel is still Mister Personality. He wakes up every night and goes to the girls' room, and announces happily the next morning that he slept with Naysha. He insists on being sung to every night, selecting his favorites from our hymn book. He's developed tremendously with his language, but still needs work with some pronunciations (says t for c most of the time, though he has no trouble with c in general) and assigns gender-specific pronouns willy-nilly. He also doesn't quite get past tense, and will say "I did throw" instead of "I threw" and "I am" instead of "I will." He often sounds like an ESL speaker.

Ruth is a joy. She rarely fusses, and is affectionate, vocal, and mobile. She has said "mama" distinctly several times, and sings to herself (or along with others) frequently.

I have quit ice cream in a desperate attempt to lose some weight. I won't do anything crazy while breastfeeding, but am looking into severe diets for afterwards. My size has gone from inconvenient to downright embarrassing. But I still feel alive and in touch and healthy mentally and emotionally. Well, the mind does slip some when given only 5 hours of sleep per night, but I manage to wake up happy and hopeful rather than otherwise.

So now we are all caught up, maybe I can get on with blogging.