Thursday, February 21, 2013

Worth the time...

As I was perusing Family Christian Stores a couple of weeks ago, the current issue of life:beautiful captured my attention. I picked it up, and noticed that a topic I had been studying was mentioned in one of the articles. Since I was having trouble finding practical information on the particular subject, I decided to part with $5 and buy the magazine. A couple of years ago I picked one up - mostly intrigued by the appeal of the cover - but wasn't so eager to put down the money, so I left the store without it. :-)
This week I was finally able to really spend some time with this beautiful piece of art. In addition to the variety of faith-building articles, decorating tips, tasty recipes, DIY ideas (with free online templates), and large photo spreads, it is like a vacation for the eyes. The spectrum of colors presented in the tastefully designed pages really take the reader away for awhile. I'm guessing it is maybe 10x13 in size, and is flat out easy to read. Best of all, in this 97 page issue, there is not one advertisement!

I don't subscribe to many magazines. In fact, I'll get Women's Day if it's free or nearly free (ever notice they put a monthly Scripture verse on page 2?), and maybe a hunting mag for the guys if there isn't much cost involved. Magazines are mostly filled with vanity, Hollywood gossip (trash), or ads these days, so it's really nice to find one that values the reader and offers a pleasing presentation that grabs ones senses.

life:beautiful is published quarterly and is $4.95 per issue or $18.95 per year. Let me know if you have enjoyed this magazine or would like to borrow my copy! :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Well, It's Official...


We are now contributors to Allen County's 2013 flu statistics.  In 13 years of being a momma, I've never had a doctor to diagnose my kids with influenza.  It felt kinda weird to go through all the hassle of an appointment (dragging two fevered, congested, weak kids out into freezing temps), a torturous (for Kaitlynn anyway) nasal swab, and a two hour pharmacy ordeal...just to make it official. 

If you've hung around this blog for a couple of years, you've probably read my dr's office horror stories, and thanks to my not-so-great, don't-ever-want-to-repeat experiences, I've pretty much made dr visits an absolute, only-if-you're dyin', last resort kind of thing.  Since Kaitlynn was entering her 73rd hour of fever, headache, etc., and Ryan was starting into his first day, I figured it was time to take a little action.  I was more afraid that what he had might be going into pneumonia (he had it last winter), and she was just wrung out from three days of misery.  Here's today's story...

When I called to make the appointment, the receptionist was laughing as she answered the phone, making it completely impossible for me to understand anything she said except the last part, "Can you hold?"  I figured by the utter incompetence that I had gotten the right number, so I held.  When she came back on the line, there was so much noise (sounded like a bunch of women laughing) that she couldn't hear anything I was saying.  She did apologize and said that "they" were being really loud...I'm guessing it was the medical assistants that sometimes hang out at the front desk.  I repeated everything to her, and she scheduled me.  Easy enough. 

We arrived about 20 minutes early in hopes that we would get out quickly, and we weren't disappointed.  It was interesting, though, that every time the receptionist answered the phone while I was at the desk, she was impossible to understand.  A few minutes later, a stoic employee came out to usher us to the first room where they do all the vitals and record symptoms.  Within just a bit, a woman who had at least eight hoop earrings in each ear and a humongo tatoo on her neck came to do the nasal swab.  She made the mistake of doing Ryan's first, which gave Kait the opportunity to see what was about to hit her.  Of course, Kait started weeping (which instantly rubs that office the wrong way...every time), and Kait gave a yell when the swab hit her brain (she says it felt like that,  By the time they moved us to the exam room, I could tell we were once again well-removed from the top ten favorite patient list.  

When the dr (whom we really do like) finally walked in the door, the kids were really feeling rotten and wanting to go home and crawl into their beds.  After a little small talk, she pulled out Ryan's chart and said, "No flu for him."  She did a bit of a double take at the chart and said, "HOW much does he weigh?"  I tentatively said, "One hundred ninety-eight pounds."  Then I held my breath...preparing myself for one of those 'healthy kids don't weigh nearly that much at 13' speeches.  Instead she said, "Sure doesn't look like it."  I said, "Stand up, Ryan," and I think she was a little surprised that after he unfolded himself she had to look up to him.  :-)  Kaitlynn's flu test was positive, so she figured Ryan's was a false negative, and prescribed us Tamiflu and a decongestant. 
Pretty soon, stoic woman came back through the door and in a tone of voice I cannot convey in print pointedly said to me, "Your other two children have not been here in over a year, so you have to get them here.  You may just want to stop at the desk on your way out and get an appointment for tomorrow."  Um, really?  Like it's such a crime that we haven't had to visit the germ factory for more than a year? And I have to get them there because I'm breaking the law if I don't? you can hear the first-born coming out in me, can't you?  :-) With my sweetest smile, I replied, "Well, I guess we'll see what happens."  That's a pretty diplomatic answer, right?  Hehe...

We made it out of there in pretty decent time, but that wasn't the end of the process...oh, no.  Why on earth do pharmacies have to be so frustrating?  I decided to go to the Wal Mart that was close to the dr but across town from our home because they had a drive thru, it was cold out, and I had sick kids with me.  I sent the four prescriptions through the tube, and waited.  And waited. When a face finally appeared on the screen, I asked for them to give me a total with my insurance coverage figured in.  The nice lady told me that it would be 30 minutes before they could give me a total and one hour before the meds would be ready.  I had a couple of errands to run anyway, so that wasn't a problem.  Thirty minutes later, I called them to get a total.  I don't know why I do that, other than the fact that I'm laying out cash and I don't like surprises.  One time when Ryan was little one of his meds was, if I remember right, over $100.  I will never forget the "sticker shock" when I arrived at the register, and I've had an aversion to surprises ever since.  :-)  Anyway, when I called for the total, they informed me of the prices but said that they were unable to fill Kaitlynn's Tamiflu until Friday because they were out of it.  I ran back there and asked them to send me the script through the tube so I could check around while they finished the others.  I headed down to Rite Aid, and the kind pharmacist there told me they were also out.  I called the Wal Mart across town, and they said they had five boxes left, so I went back to pick up the ones that were ready, and while I was at it, I asked if that Wal Mart could just transfer it over to the other Wal Mart to save me having to wait a long time.  The lady said, "No, you took it."  I said, "I have it right here.  I can send it back to you,"  to which she replied, "Since it's already out of our system, we can't transfer it."  Really.  Wal Mart to Wal Mart.  Wow.  Ok. 

By this time, in spite of the heat being on high and full blast, the kids were shivering and miserable so I took them home and let Greg deal with the last prescription.  I am thankful that there wasn't like a regional Tamiflu shortage, and tonight they are tucked into bed with their prescribed meds in their systems killing flu bugs.  The whole thing (minus Greg's prescription trip) took 3 hours.  And to think, they were demanding that I do it all over again tomorrow.  Whew.

I would say that in the last ten years I have become much more skeptical of the way some healthcare providers operate.  It's not that I've personally had a terrible experience, but in observing medical offices, hospitals, and their staff at many levels, I realize that they 'system' is very institutionalized.  It's just a job for a lot of providers.  They aren't really concerned about the patient.  Don't get me wrong, I know this isn't true of everyone.  Many people in my family work in healthcare and they genuinely work from the heart.  They are passionate and compassionate, and it's like they were born with a healing touch.  Even if they aren't able to work physical miracles for their patients, they minister to the hurting and do their best to preserve the highest quality of life possible.  Some that I see becoming interested in medical field scare me, quite frankly.  I wouldn't want to be at their mercy!  :-)  But beyond that, it seems like the reach of government into healthcare has made people feel as though they are no longer in charge of their decisions.  I will never forget sitting in an office pouring over Ohio's recommended immunization list deciding which ones I was going to have them administer to my baby.  I felt like a complete freak, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to answer my questions about the immunizations.  I'm sure they're much happier with the moms who walk in, uncover the kiddo's arms and legs, and let them inject away!  It's not that I'm against immunizations or anything like that.  They have certainly saved society from all kinds of diseases.  But when we're giving 7th grade boys and girls immunizations for HPV, something is wrong, people!  By the way, none of my kids will ever see the end of that needle.  I can't imagine injecting them with a little bit of an STD so that they can be promiscuous and be protected from some of the consequences.  Unfortunately, that is the mentality of this culture. When one of my friends took her 7th grade boy to be immunized, she questioned the HPV and found out what it was for.  She was almost in disbelief, and refused it.  She was able to share with the nurse that certain behaviors would not be a part of her son's teen years.  The nurse didn't give her too much grief about it, but it sure opened my friend's eyes to what can be pushed upon us!  With the widespread use of Medicaid as the financial bait, the government finds it easy to get families to abide by their recommendations, whether or not they are necessary, beneficial to the child, or even morally acceptable.  Between our means and the insurance that we purchase each month, we don't have to feel coerced into this mold, and I balk at the way the system works these days.  I long for an old-fashioned doctor with old-fashioned values and modern medical expertise.  I'm sure there's one out there...

I know I'm being a little more than chatty.  It's part of being housebound for three days.  :-)  Now it's time for me to make my rounds pushing fluids and making sure fevers aren't completely out of control before I tuck myself in for the night. 

Drink o.j., take your vitamins, and stay healthy!  We tried!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scattered Thoughts on a Tuesday...

Although the calendar for this week is full and running over, I'm afforded a little time out of the saddle because of a feverish, coughing child who wasn't quite up to being in school today.  Of course, I'm sad for her that she feels bad, and I'm doing everything I can to help her recover quickly, but I'm also going to make good on the change of routine and enjoy it a little bit! 

There is nothing like the smell of a fresh pot of coffee to set the tone for a quiet, inside kind of day. The crackle of my wooden wick candle (a Christmas gift that I haven't been able to sit and enjoy) provides some contrast to the fierce winter wind that is giving us chills near zero today.  Had we been living in either of our two previous homes, I would have built a roaring fire in the woodburning fireplace.  We've debated installing a gas or electric model here, but somehow the substitute doesn't even seem to compare.  So...I'll enjoy the small flame and the crackle of my candle.

It's hard to believe that yesterday brought us fifty degree temps and bright sunshine.  Even though I was indoors, the open windows brought me a taste of spring and helped me forge through several totes of unused clothes in preparation for resale or donation.  If I'm not mistaken, I'm completely finished with all of the totes that I had put in the basement when we moved here!  I would be totally pumped, except that I still have an enormous closet upstairs that is full, and then that garage...oh my,  that garage!  Anyway, we'll get there. 

Along the lines of decluttering, I have a little struggle when it comes to purging.  I see value in the things that we no longer want or need, and so I want to receive a bit of a return on it through garage sale or consignment.  Sometimes, though, I just need the immediate sense of progress by getting rid of the clutter.  Yesterday I had to ask myself what would make me feel more accomplished: getting 25 cents out of an item, or donating it and having it gone?  I ended up sorting a box for children's consignment, a bag for a Craiglist bulk listing, and a box for the thrift store with itemized contents so that I could get a receipt.  I have never taken a receipt for this type of donation, but being a church employee and paying my own S.S. taxes makes it more of an incentive for me to document everything - especially if this is going to be a big donation year (crossing my fingers!). 

On a more personal note, for the last several weeks my mind has been heavily weighted with a burden to see God do something amazing.  I'm craving a personal revival. I know that it all depends on me.  God is ready.  He's waiting on me to become desperate before Him.  Less of me, more of Him.  That is my prayer.  It is so easy to become worldly without even realizing it, and God has been showing me inconsistencies in my life that may be small, yet have an impact on my Christan witness.  It's so freeing to just let go of anything that distracts me from ultimate fellowship with Him!  If you find yourself consumed by something...anything...that would distract you from your responsibilities as a Christ follower, I encourage you to re-evaluate your priorities (what is getting the biggest piece of your time and energy?), and ask God to order them for you.  One of the benefits of spiritual maturity is a trust that God has our best interest at heart.  He sees the big picture.  He knows what part of us needs to outlive us.  And He will be faithful to take our small contribution and multiply it a thousand times over. 

"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver...and purge them as gold and silver,
that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in rightousness."
Malachi 3:3

Thanks for sharing in this conversation and reading through my ramblings.  I'll try to update the family blog today in between working on the school yearbook.  Oh, the benefits of the internet!  :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Healthier Me

For those of you over the age of 35 (cause that's where it seemed to go, maybe you can relate.  I'm reaching the place in life where things just aren't like they used to be.  No sirrreee.  The face that was once smooth is now showing some wrinkles.  The skin is blotchy.  The under-eye circles are darker, and the left eye doesn't even want to open all the way.  The knees are a bit achy, and the lower back is randomly requesting ibuprofen.  These days, the turtle would definitely win the race against my metabolism.  In case this is starting to sound like a testimony meeting at your church, I'll move on.

Many of the aforementioned issues are a result of improper nutrition and a lack of exercise. I've never been much of a morning breakfast eater (love breakfast foods, just not, and many days my 20 minute lunch break is either grossly interrupted or not even attempted.  For most of the first half of the school year I would drink a Starbucks bottled frappe throughout the morning, and then have a Coke or Dr. Pepper for lunch with whatever I had packed for the day.  Some days I would bring soup, but more often than not, I would just pack snack type foods that were quick and easy to eat.  Lunches can be frustrating for me because I'm not a fan of processed frozen foods, and sandwiches get old.  I know there are a lot of great solutions, so I won't even continue to list excuses.  I just know that I felt horrible about my daily food/drink choices, and when I would get home I would be so hungry (even after all that sugar) and I would be oh so tired (thanks to all that sugar!).  I was just dragging myself along, trying to keep up with the speed of life - with zero energy.

In January, I decided that enough was enough.  I've never been one to diet, but I wanted to change habits simply to feel better and develop some disciplines for myself.  I wanted to get proactive with being healthier.  Don't get me wrong.  My being 80-100 lbs. overweight is not simply the result of sitting around with a bag of Cheetos in one hand, a Pepsi in the other, playing video games.  No way...but it is a result of improper planning, lack of exercise, and the apparent inability to say to to the bad foods and yes to things that are good for me. 

Progress: Two and a half weeks ago, I began my workweek with a new strategy -
  • No soft drinks during the school day
  • Vanilla yogurt mid-morning when I feel the first hunger pang
  • Coffee during the morning (yes, I use creamer; no, it isn't low fat)
  • A bowl of Special K cereal at lunch (I have to eat it all within 10 minutes or it becomes inedible - great trick I play on myself)  ;-)
  • An extra vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit in my lunch bag just in case
  • Occasionally an ounce or so of almonds (my husband's lifesaver in his recent weight loss)
  • Maybe another cup of coffee in the afternoon, or a Crystal Light On-The-Go in one of my cool cups
It is rare that I eat the almonds and the second yogurt, and I make sure that I eat before I feel really hungry.  I am amazed at how filling this combination is to me!  Without much effort, I've been eating less in the evenings (after a regular, hearty dinner), and waking up looking forward to my morning yogurt.  :-) Keep in mind that it isn't a weight loss program, but simply a change in eating habits.  And a practice in discipline.  My goal is to strengthen the muscle of self-control.

This month I want to extend my focus to include exercise and more water intake.  The two will go hand in hand for me. I'm not naturally a water lover, but if I'm sweating, I want some water!

Do you have some nutrition tips for someone who spends lots of time away from home?  I'd love to hear your suggestions! 

p.s. I've pulled out the moisturizer to help with those wrinkles and blotches, but have stopped short of using a toothpick to prop that droopy left eye...