Friday, December 28, 2012

IC treatment plan

So I finished reading through two books on IC.  The Better Bladder Book & IC Naturally.  I took lots of notes & looked at what applied to me & came up with a treatment plan.  I'm sure I will make adjustments along the way & possibly add on some more things as I go, but this is where I'm at right now.

For some time now I've been taking silica & vitamin D each morning.  I originally was taking silica for hemorrhoids that I acquired during labor & delivery of my son.  I had healed them up in the past & then they came back once again.  But now I read that it's also good for the healing of the lining of the bladder, so I will continue taking it.  Vitamin D was also important in some aspect to the treatment of IC, although I can't remember exactly what it was, so I will continue that as well.  And I recently added d-mannose to that as well (I used to take d-mannose quite some time in the past, but had stopped) to help prevent UTIs.  I also recently added on l-glutamine to help with my leaky gut. 

I am also following an IC diet as well as a gluten free diet.  I cannot believe how much better I feel gluten free, in so many ways.  One of the greatest things: those hemorrhoids I mentioned?  They are totally healing up since I gave up gluten!!  And there's lots of other positives going on with cutting gluten out of my diet.  I used to always think those anti-gluten people were a little crazy & now I'm turning into one of them!! 

Ok, so as of now I am adding MSM & buffered vitamin C.  MSM is supposed to help rebuild the lining of the bladder & vitamin C helps the MSM do this.  I cannot tolerate the normal vitamin C, so I am praying that I can tolerate the buffered form. 

I am also adding on Calcium citrate & magnesium taurate.  I can't remember exactly why these were recommended, but I know it was something that applied to me & these were the specific forms listed--the citrate & taurate. 

And I am also adding on Bromelain & Serrapeptase.  These are digestive enzymes.  I found these very fascinating.  If you take them with a meal they will help you digest the food you are eating.  BUT if you take them on an empty stomach they will digest scar tissue in the bladder.  This will help in the healing process of the bladder.  So this is what I'm doing, taking it first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.  I've never taken these before, so I'm actually going to start only the bromelain for a week & if I have no bad reactions I will then add on the serrapeptase & continue with the two of them together for about 2 years. I read that it usually takes a year to digest the scar tissue but in bad cases it can take up to 2 years.  So I'm planning to err on the safe side & do it for 2 years.  I'm praying I don't have a bad reaction to these & am able to carry out my plan.

I am also dipping my urine each morning with a pH strip & if it's acidic I drink water with baking soda or apple cider vinegar in it to help alkalize it.  And I'm keeping a journal of intake & output.  I find that when I'm writing down everything that goes into my mouth I stick to the IC diet much more strictly.  It's an unconcious thing I realized.  So I have deliberately experimented a few times & have had mixed results.  Sometimes I have pain & sometimes not.  Without looking at my journal I am able to recall that vinegar, Vitamin C is a problem, medium enchilada sauce is a problem, & green bell peppers are a problem.  At least I am able to see what does & does not bother me.  And I am praying that in time my bladder will be able to heal & I won't have to avoid so many foods. 

I have seen many people who go into complete remission or only have one or two things that they cannot eat/drink once the bladder heals, so I am hoping that is the case at some point.  At this point I am willing to do whatever it takes to remain pain free.  I know I saw someone online saying if they avoided gluten they could eat EVERYTHING else.  But if they consumed gluten they had to eliminate tons of things that are not allowed on the typical IC diet.  That person had said they would gladly eliminate ONE thing rather than a million others.  And while it appears difficult to avoid gluten, it does seem to get easier as you get more experience with it.  And I think I would have to agree, I would rather give up gluten & be able to eat everything else.  Especially when I'm learning that gluten free baking is actually really good.  I had gone into this thinking it was hopeless.  It's amazing how good it is & the fact that more people aren't aware of this fact.

And I still have to schedule an appointment with the urologist & get the results of the tests I had done.  I am assuming that if there was anything serious I would've already heard about it, but I will follow up for sure.  I am taking my time on this because I need my hubby to watch the toddler while I see the doctor & he's been really busy lately. 

I think that's all the updates I have for now..........

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turning the Table

So this morning I woke up feeling quite good.  I'm referring mostly to my frame of mind.  I feel like the Lord has given me a fighting spirit once again.  I have to admit I was feeling like my bladder issues were controlling my life.  And I was feeling mighty weary & tired & like giving up.  All I could see was the negative of it all.  Even in the fight I was focusing on the negatives, what I had to give up, what I could no longer do, etc.

But this morning I suddenly see that I have a choice.  I can allow my bladder to control my life or I can make an effort to control it instead.  I have turned the table & am ready for a good fight. 

I got myself some pH strips & am going to dip my urine each morning & aim to keep it slightly alkaline.  (For those who don't understand this, there are wounds in my bladder-assuming I do have interstitial cystitis-& acidic urine is the equivalent of pouring acid over an open wound--very painful indeed.)

I am once again keeping a food/voiding journal.  On the days I do have pain I can look back & see what I have eaten & drank & try to determine what I need to eliminate.  (I did this once in the past, when I was first diagnosed, about 2 years ago or so) 

I still also have to focus on healing my gut as well as my bladder.  A friend of mine has introduced me to the art of fermenting foods naturally with good probiotic bacteria.  I've been working on that & had my first serving last night (& again this morning).  They taste very acidic & I was worried they might hurt my bladder, but my friend says they are actually alkalinizing & I have no pain as of yet.  I am also really excited about giving these to my son since he has leaky gut & candida issues as well.  I also started taking l-glutamine.  It's an amino acid that is used to heal leaky guts. 

I'm still remaining gluten free.  I made myself a loaf of gluten free bread the other day.  I can actually live without bread  per se, but I wanted to start somewhere.  I will continue to explore from there.  But my hubby tasted it & even said it wasn't bad.  It does have a slightly different texture to it, but it really wasn't "bad".  Hopefully I can continue to do well in this regard.

As I sat & pondered this situation this morning I was reminded of a few years ago when a family member was very ill.  This is a person who refuses modern medicine & medications at all cost.  And yet he was in the hospital (for over a month I might add) & he was laying in the bed & actually requesting more morphine on a regular basis.  We were all terrified, thinking we were going to lose him forever.  But then suddenly he woke up it seemed & was ready to fight.  I don't know what happened to make the tables turn like that for him.  (I can't actually say that I know what did it for me this morning either) but we were so grateful to see it happen.  He made a choice to fight & control the situation instead of allowing the situation to control him.

This also makes me think of a book I read in the past about cancer treatment.  It was a whole bunch of alternative medicine doctors being interviewed for their thoughts on how to best treat cancer.  There was one doctor who insisted "you choose whatever you believe will cure you".  He believes that the biggest factor in the outcome is in your mind.  If you believe you will be healed then you will be & if you believe you're gonna die then you will.  I find that very fascinating & I think it's possibly true.  Although there might possibly be some cases that are just too far advanced for hope.  Or is there?  Is that only because the person believes it too far advanced?  I think often on this topic, it's very interesting to me.

Ok, I'm done rambling for now & I'm praying I continue in this frame of mind.  I'm hoping it's connected to the fermented foods I consumed last night.  :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Week Into The Gluten Free Life

So a week ago today I made the decision to go gluten free in an attempt to see if it's a contributing factor in my bladder issues (most likely IC, but having diagnostic tests done tomorrow to try to narrow down the possibilities). 

My hubby seems to strongly believe that this is NOT the problem & going gluten free is a waste of time (& money when it comes to buying new things that I need to survive this way of life).  I'm not sure WHY he feels that way, but he's mentioned it a few times now.

I have to admit that I don't strongly feel like this is definitely an answer to my problems.  But I'm so desperate for any improvement that I am willing to give this a try.  It's not gonna hurt me, so why not is the way I see it. 

My biggest issue is that I LOOOOOVE to bake.  Bread, cake, pie, cookie, you name it I bake it.  And I LOVE to bake it.  And of course I don't JUST bake, I also eat it too.  I am determined to try my best to bake decent gluten free items.  I know there are donuts that I sometimes buy at the health food that are gluten free & they are sooo good & I would never even know that they are gluten free if not for the huge label on the box.  So I think it's doable, I just have to learn how.  So that's a new project for me.  Especially since I HAVE to make a birthday cake for Jesus soon!!  Oh the pressure!!!  I'm sure I'll come up with something.  Worst case scenario I'll make a normal cake & just not eat any myself.

I am planning to do this for 3 months & see where I'm at then.  And then to possibly at that time reintroduce gluten into my diet & see how I do.  In 1 week I can report that I feel less bloated, especially in the abdominal area.  For the first time in I can't even remember how long I don't have that horrible feeling of pressure pushing on my very sensitive bladder, which is a very good thing.  And I do notice one other thing--for the first time in I can't remember how long I can urinate freely without any hesitancy.  That is a glorious thing. 

If I see any other changes in the next 3 months I will most likely post blog updates.  It's mostly just my way of keeping a record of things, so I can refer back to it later on.  I'm certainly not looking for pity or sympathy.  In fact that's why I've tried to keep quiet about this issue for so many years.  But in the past couple of years it has escalated to a point where I feel I can't really hide it anymore.  It's interfering with my life to a level that can't be hid now.  And then there are times where I could try to hide it & make excuses, but I worry I might offend someone by doing so.  Actually strike that, it has already occurred.  I have offended people already by trying to hide my health issue & they misinterpret the situation & are offended.  Now I could certainly just not care about offending people, not care what they think, but these are people I care about & don't want them to think that I don't care about them.  So I am now trying to offer honest explanations (in as brief a way as possible, I don't want pity or sympathy either as I think I said already).  I still feel a good deal of guilt for affecting those around me due to this.  And I still feel embarrassment & some shame, although I can't really pinpoint why when I analyze the situation.  I just wish I could wake up & realize this was all a bad dream & over with once & for all. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

High Power Blenders

For some time I have wanted a high power blender, but since my son was born I have REALLY wanted one.  It has gone from a want to a necessity, at least with MY son.  I am sure there are plenty of people out there with kids who never touch a blender ever & don't understand what I'm talking about.

Before he was born I was wanting to make home made formula for him (because I am unable to breast feed), but it didn't work out.  Had it worked out a blender was a must & the better quality the blender, the better quality the final product.  But once he was just over a year old I started making him all sorts of healthy drinks.  My son definitely prefers to DRINK his calories than to EAT them.  And I know a lot of people love pediasure, but my son can't tolerate cow dairy (which it is made out of) but I also just don't like those type of nutrition drinks that are sold (all of them, not just the pediasure).  I believe we can make drinks that are far more healthy than those created by scientists on our own with a blender. 

The base drink for my son has changed a few times, but it's always some sort of milk (goat, rice, almond, etc, he can't tolerate cow) & I blend it with fruits, veggies, & supplements typically.  Not to mention the rice & almond milks I also make in the blender.

As for WHICH blender I wanted, that was always undecided, up until very recently.  I had sort of assumed I should go with the VitaMix simply because it's the original & it's been around for so long.  I've seen people online saying they've had their VitaMix for 20+ years with NO issues at all.  That's pretty awesome!

Of course there's also the BlendTec & I've seen an infomercial with Montel Williams (I think that's his name??) & there's the new Ninja one that I "think" is a competitor, but I could be wrong about that.  Peronsally I don't trust infomercials much.  And I also don't trust really new stuff, like the Ninja.  So for me the issue simply comes down to the VitaMix & the BlendTec.  I should add that I've heard really good things about the NutriBullet, BUT it's much too small for my needs. 

So I was still leaning towards the VitaMix & I had told hubby I wanted it for Christmas.  Then one day we were at Costco & BlendTec was there, doing demos.  I told hubby to ask the guy why you should choose a BlendTec over the VitaMix.  The guy said he didn't want to & wasn't going to bash a competitor, but he did mention the fact that the BlendTec was designed to fit under most kitchen cabinets & the VitaMix doesn't. 

As for things I had learned on my own in the past: the VitaMix has TWO jars, a dry jar & a wet jar.  Being that my kitchen is VERY small & we don't have a lot of storage space I have to admit I don't like that idea much.  The VitaMix has a "stick" (I can't remember what it's called.....a dowel??) that some people love & some people hate.  The BlendTec has preset buttons for specific things (ice cream/frozen yogurt, ice crush/milkshake, soups/syrups/fondues, sauces/dips/dressings/batters, whole juice, smoothie), although you don't HAVE to use them.  The VitaMix doesn't have preset buttons.  The advantage to having them is when you want to recreate something or when you want to tell someone else in the house how to make something you made.  So I see it as a benefit in my household since I am not the ONLY person using the blender & I often want to recreate something I already made.  There is also the simple fact that the BlendTec is less expensive than the VitaMix.

But the final decision maker for me & my hubby?  We like to watch this show on TV called "how I made my millions"  It shows how wealthy people got started & how it went from there.  It's very interesting, at least to us.  And guess who was on there?  Right after we saw the BlendTec demo at Costco?  Yep, how the BlendTec guy got started & got wealthy.  So what was the bottom line?  The BlendTec guy (I can't remember his name, sorry) had invented a blender jar unlike any other.  He patented his jar & began production & just as he was about to roll them out for sales he discovered that VitaMix already had the exact same jar out there.  Of course he sued VitaMix for patent infringement & he won & VitaMix paid him a ton of money for that.  But simply the fact that VitaMix would blatantly steal his patented idea like that really made me lose respect for VitaMix & when I mentioned it to my hubby he said he felt the exact same way. 

So yes, we are the proud owners of a BlendTec.  And we LOVE it & couldn't be more pleased.  I LOVE that it can liquidy & "juice" veggies & fruits.  It blends the rice down so well for the rice milk that I'm actually getting more milk out of my rice milk batches & I am sure the milk is better nutritionally for that reason. 

Since buying it (it's my Christmas gift, but I opened it early, LOL, couldn't wait!) I have started each morning with a smoothie for myself.  Our last blener, a Cuisinart, could never blend small amounts of things well.  So I was never able to just blend for myself personally like I can now.  I put in a little almond milk, a handful of blueberries (one of the very few fruits my bladder can tolerate), a banana, a green (I was doing spinach, but now doing broccoli), flax seeds & chia seeds, & sometimes I also add protein powder.  It's super yummy! 

Ramblings on gluten, IC, etc.......

So I am reading a new book about Interstitial Cystitis.  It's "The Better Bladder Book" by Wendy Cohan, RN.  It presents a lot of theories on the causes (& thereby the treatment of) IC.  This book is recommended highly by the IC network.  When I was first diagnosed with IC I had gone looking for a book on treating it naturally & bought two books.  One on the IC diet & one on treating it naturally.  That book theorized that IC is caused by a toxic body.  This theory makes sense to me, but none of the treatment (detoxes, etc) got me any relief.  And then I noticed that this book is NOT recommended by the IC network.  So I'm not sure what to think about that anymore. 

Just a month or two ago I was doing more research online (I do this periodically, most of the time finding nothing new) & found two new theories on IC.  One was that a gluten allergy or intolerance can cause it.  The other was that a parasite, the Schistosoma parasite, can burrow into the bladder wall & cause it.

As I'm reading this book I see the gluten connection explained in detail.  It does mention that a gluten issue can go on undetected for a very long time.  And it does say that prolonged bed wetting as a child (which I definitely had) is usually a sign of a food allergy or intolerance.  The biggest part of the gluten connection is the fact that gluten very simply causes inflammation in our bodies.  And if that inflammation occurs in the bladder you can have IC.  During an IC flare the lining of the bladder is inflamed & irritated, so this does make sense.  It is becoming an accepted fact that inflammation in & of itself is the link to many health problems & that diet is the biggest factor of inflammation. 

My first thought is that I've NEVER in my life suspected a gluten issue for myself.  But at this point I'm desperate & willing to try just about anything (as long as it isn't HARMFUL) to see if I can live my life pain-free.  So as of last Tuesday I went gluten-free.  The interesting thing is that in 4 days I dropped 3 lbs.  I feel like I'm no longer bloated.  Prior to getting pregnant I had lost weight on the South Beach Diet & was weighing 128 lbs.  But as I look back at photos of that time period I have to admit I think I was a bit TOO thin.  So since having my son my goal weight has been 135 lbs.  But I just haven't been able to get there.  The absolute lowest I've been is 138 lbs, but most of the time I am 140.  I don't think I'm fat at 140, but I do always feel a tad bloated & I feel like if I could get down to 135 I wouldn't feel that way.  So I am now 137 & feeling good, feeling like I'm not bloated.  But I digress, none of this is about weight at all, I just thought that was interesting that I did nothing aside from giving up gluten & 3 lbs just magically disappeared.

This book I'm reading now says to give up gluten for 3-6 weeks & see if it's made a difference in your bladder symptoms.  BUT I know I was recently reading a book (The 4-A Epidemic) that stated gluten must be removed for a minimum of 3 months & then reintroduced to see if there are gluten issues.  Now the 4-A epidemic has NOTHING to do with the bladder or IC, I was reading it for health issues related to my son, but I still think I should probably follow the 3 month period to really see if there's a difference or not. 

Additionally, there is no question that I have gut issues.  All these antibiotics for my entire life has really taken it's toll on my gut.  And I know that I have increased gut permeability (a leaky gut) & systemic candida issues.  So I am wondering if my issue with gluten is simply that my gut permeability is not what it should be & gluten is leaking through & going where it shouldn't go & my body isn't liking that??  I am trying hard to heal the leaky gut, but it's near impossible when I have to keep on taking antibiotics.  It's like a vicious cycle that I just can't get out of.  If that's the case though, I have to wonder if I was able to heal my gut if I would then be able to tolerate gluten?  I would think so, but I see an awful lot of people online saying that they have to choose between gluten free or a typical IC diet FOREVER.  The IC diet eliminates a ton of stuff.  There are TONS of things that I can't eat or drink now because of this.  So what these people are saying is that once the bladder heals they can then eat EVERYTHING BUT gluten, or they can eat gluten & have to eliminate all the other bladder irritating stuff.  I do wonder if these people have leaky guts & if they do if they have tried to heal them?  I have always wished I could spend my life just doing all sorts of research on all sorts of things.  A lot of medical things, such as this.  I would love to send out surverys like this or interview everyone with IC & see what I find in regard to this sort of stuff.  I know that of all the people who say they have gluten issues & are gluten free only a small percentage actually have celiac sprue disease.  So I have to wonder if the others simply have leaky guts??

As for the parasite cause, it did seem plausible to me I have to admit.  And the parasite is usually carried & transmitted by snails & slugs.  I have to admit I kept snails as pets as a little girl.  And as a young adult we found we had slugs living in our drinking water & we aren't sure how long that was going on for before we discovered it.  So between those two situations I think that's a possibility.  BUT so far I'm not seeing much info on this link.  I don't know how credible this theory really is.  And I know if I ask my regular doctor she's just gonna think I'm nuts.  I will probably discuss it with the naturopathic doctor when I go there.  I know someone who had told me in the past he could get me any prescription med I want or need because of someone they know.  So I asked him for the first time about the med for getting rid of this parasite, but he said he wasn't able to get me that one. 

Another huge issue that definitely contributes (if not causes) is stress & tension.  When I get stressed or when I'm in pain my whole pelvic area tenses up & it's like a vicious cycle of tension.  So the pain can cause the tension, but then tension continues the pain.  Stress can also begin the tension & then the tension can cause pain.  As I reflect back on my life I have to admit that nursing school was a tremendous stressor in my life.  And marrying into a blended family has been an incredible source of stress for me.  My stepkids have never wanted to accept me no matter how hard I have tried.  And sure, I can just not care & be stress free, but then my poor hubby is caught in the middle of it all.  It's a complicated situation & no matter how hard I try I can't win & it is definitely taking a toll on my health.  I am trying hard to learn how to RELAX (having a toddler also makes it hard to relax) & I go to sleep at night listening to a guided relaxation recording.  When I was a kid growing up I always had a really hard time sleeping.  When I was about 12 or 13 my mother had guided relaxation tapes for some reason (she never listened to them) & I started using them & they REALLY helped me fall asleep.  I don't know where those tapes ended up, but I never knew what they were called so I never knew how to get more.  As I started googling & searching I found that they are called "guided relaxation or guided imagery". 

I guess that's all the rambling I have for now.........

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ramblings: thorns, modern day medicine, etc

"even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God.  So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud." ~2 Corinthians 12:7

Whenever I read this passage I have to stop and wonder what Paul's thorn was......I know it isn't pertinent and that's why it isn't revealed, but I'm very curious by nature.  And then I also can't help but think of my own thorn per se.  It would undoubtedly be my bladder, no question about it.

As a little girl I recall suffering from bladder infections.  I can remember the pain well & the fear that goes along with it.  How long it would take to get a stream of urine started & then the pain of peeing razor blades would make me immediately clench & stop the flow.  And I would have to try again & on & on the cycle would go. 

I was also a bed-wetter for A LOT of years.  That may not sound so bad but the shame & embarrassment & fear that accompanied the bed-wetting issue was horrible.  I can't even put it into words, but I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  And never mind sleep overs or joining the girl scouts (that often had sleep overs).  None of that was doable in my childhood.

Oddly enough when I approached puberty both of those issues seemed to just vanish.  Of course I wasn't thrilled with the bleeding, cramping, sickness, emotions, etc that come along with puberty, BUT it was much better than the bladder infections & bed wetting I must say.

Fast forward to 2000.  I was 28.  I was going in for my yearly pap smear that day.  And that morning I found myself burning up in a sweat & I grabbed a thermometer & found that I had a fever of all things.  While I was at the doctor's office I mentioned it to her.  She said that it sounded like a bladder infection, that she had seen it happen many times.  She had me pee in a cup & dipped it & said I did, in fact, have an infection & she gave me a RX for antibiotics.  As I thought it over I did realize I was urinating more frequently & with more urgency than usual, but I had had no discomfort at all.  That was such a drastic difference from the bladder infections of my early childhood. 

As I recall the following year it happened again, the same way.  I had urgency & frequency, but no pain.  I was very grateful for the no pain part of it.  But I hated having to take antibiotics. 

I can't recall how long it went on yearly for, but then at some point it began to be every 6 months & at some point the pain did come. 

Then, in 2006, I was getting an infection EVERY SINGLE MONTH.  It was such a nightmare.  We had Kaiser at the time & they wouldn't help me.  They wouldn't even SEE me.  If I called they would insist they just needed to send a RX to the pharmacy & I could pick it up. 

Eventually it settled back down to the every 6 month routine.  In late 2007 we got new insurance, a PPO, & before I could decide on a doctor I had another UTI, a horrendous one, & I actually went to the ER during the night because the pain was so severe & I had no doctor to go to.  After that I found a doctor & I scheduled a physical (I had met him at work at my new job).  And before the day of the physical even arrived I had to call & schedule an urgent UTI appointment.  I got my antibiotics & over time they came to know me well, due to all my UTIs.  When I met with his wife (she was a NP at his office) she insisted I needed to take an antibiotic EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE for the rest of my life to keep from getting more UTIs.  This scared me to death, but when her husband came in the room he disregarded that idea completely.  I was quite thankful, but still wasn't getting to the root of the problem.  As time went on his wife (who I actually preferred over the husband) ended up only doing cosmetic procedures & didn't see patients anymore.  And I wasn't happy with the care my newborn son was receiving, so we decided to find a new doctor.

I also recall that during my pregnancy with Lil J I had a raging UTI.  My regular doctor (the one mentioned in the last paragraph) wouldn't help me, only telling me to deal with my OB.  And my OB's office didn't care much about the urgency of the situation.  I did finally give them a urine sample & they were supposed to call me with a RX.  But no one ever called.  I had an extra bottle of antibiotics on hand & checked & found they were safe during pregnancy & I started taking them & my symptoms improved.  When I finally called & asked they insisted I did NOT have a UTI & did not need antibiotics, so no antibiotics would be given.  Now I have to admit that a lot of time no one was actually checking.  It was like "ah she has these all the time, don't bother".......so this was the first time I was told that there was no infection BUT I highly doubt it was the first time that was the case.  Lots of time my symptoms didn't improve much, especially during those time when I was getting them every single month.  BUT on this occasion I didn't believe it, I was absolutely certain they were mistaken.

So we switched to a new doctor (recommended by a colleague of mine) & this doctor really wanted to help me.  Around 2010 I again had a several month stretch of UTIs EVERY SINGLE MONTH.  I remember he had a few ideas.  First he insisted I must have herpes.  I kept telling him I did NOT have herpes, but he insisted perhaps I just wasn't aware.  He said that it is well known that women infected with the herpes virus have chronic UTIs.  He did his blood test on me, for HSV 1 & 2 & it came back negative, no herpes.  I was a little appalled at how sad he seemed.  I know he was hoping to have found an answer, but I certainly didn't want to have herpes.  He then theorized that it might be something hormonal.  Perhaps I was approaching menopause early & things were out of whack & that was causing it.  But again he did blood work & that theory didn't pan out.  He then theorized that I must have interstitial cystitis.   This was the first time I had considered this possibility.  I did some homework & found there isn't much hope, certainly not for a cure anyways.  I learned about controlling it by diet & I did seem to see a change when I followed the diet.  But over time I was still getting UTIs even following the diet.  We loved this doctor, but I loved his PA even more & she ended up leaving & the staff at this office was unbelievably difficult to deal with.  So we finally decided to leave. 

This time I just did research online, looking at patient ratings, & chose a new doctor.  So far we've been VERY happy with this doctor.  The staff isn't perfect, but they are reasonable & have been easy to deal with.  And I really like the doctor herself.  So I've been in there several months in a row now with UTI symptoms.  When I call & say I think I have a UTI & need to be seen I am automatically scheduled with the PA.  Now no offense, she's a very nice lady, but my first time going there I met with the Doctor herself & I REALLY like her & just like the way she thinks better than the PA does.  And I feel like she is my actual doctor so I want to make the decison with her.  And I just get the feeling she has more experience & knowledge than the PA does.  So I scheduled an appointment with my doctor to discuss this.  Now in these past months when they dip my urine it shows WBCs, blood, pus, all indicative of an infection.  BUT when they send the urine out to be cultured (to see what germs will grow in a petri dish) all but the most recent didn't grow anything.  So my doctor understands my concern.  And now I am urinating visible blood, which I never have before.  It seems to me that my condition (whatever it may be) is getting more & more severe over time.  And it is REALLY affecting my quality of life at this point.  I often thank God that I am a stay at home mom, because I honestly don't think I could hold a job with this condition at this point in my life. 

I had asked my last doctor for a referral to a urologist, but he said it really wasn't necessary.  I prayed about this appointment today before I went.  (On a sidenote, it was during a time of prayer for my condition that I felt like the Lord was nudging me to push for a definitive diagnosis, not just an educated guess)  My doctor really listened to me & definitely agreed that I need to see a urologist. 

Based on my knowledge as a nurse (& some research) the possibilities appear to be: bladder stones, bladder tumors (could be either malignant or benign), or interstitial cystitis.  I would actually hope for a stone because it seems to me that it could be gotten rid of & then life could resume to normalcy.  I really hope it's not a tumor, even a benign tumor can cause some serious damage to the bladder.  And bladder cancer doesn't usually have a good prognosis. 

And if it is actually interstitial cystitis then I will continue to educate myself as best I can & see a naturopathic doctor I know & see what advice she has for me & do my best to manage it.  Looking back I can see now that even though I thought I had really cleaned up my diet & was following an IC diet there were a lot of hidden triggers still remaining in my diet.  And there were some things in my diet that I didn't even realize were triggers, I just now learned.  And then I also need to really stop & think.  The whole acid/alkaline deal just doesn't seem to come naturally for me.  The night this last problem began I ate chicken chili & cornbread for dinner.  Seemed harmless to me but thinking about it afterward I guess chili probably is acidic.  I need to think more & be more careful I guess.  And it's also more than just a matter of pH.  I was following some blogs & info that was geared for an alkaline diet, which is what I need to keep the painful acid out of my bladder.  But then I realized that some of that info was NOT IC friendly.  For example, lemons.  Lemons are citrus & seem acidic to me, but after being digested, metabolized, etc they are actually alkaline.  So I was putting lemon & honey in my tea on a regular basis.  Now that I take a closer look at IC specific diet info I see that ALL citrus, lemons included, are totally not ok. 

One theory I have had, but have yet to see anyone else mention it, is that during an IC flare the bladder is more prone to infection.  So sometimes I have pain & no infection.  And it seems to go on for some time & I end up at the doctor's office every month.  And then at some point it does actually become an infection.  So I think the flare itself (inflamation & irritation in the bladder lining) makes the bladder more prone to infection if there is bacteria present that it would otherwise be able to resist.  That's just my theory based on my experience.

So, getting back to the my doctor appointment today.  She ordered a CT of abdomen with & without contrast (she commented that it will also allow visualization of the pancreas, which is good since my father passed away from pancreatic cancer), a renal ultrasound (both with & without a full bladder) & a urogram (I believe this test looks at the function of the bladder; for example, does the bladder empty properly & completely, etc when urinating).  So I have scheduled the CT & US for mid-December.  I am still waiting for authorization for the urogram.  And once all those tests are completed I will schedule an appointment with the urologist.  AND my doc wants me to stop by the office on Monday & give a urine sample, just to see what it looks like after all these rounds of antibiotics are done (I finished the current round yesterday). 

I think we're going to have an insurance change at the end of the year, so I hope that doesn't cause any issues or delays for any of this.  It will be a switch to a PPO, so there should be more freedom than with our current HMO.

I need to start up the probiotics once again.  One of the urine cultures grew nothing but candida.  :(   I know I have a major systemic candida problem in my body due to years & years of antibiotics.  I have tried so hard to not take them, but can't seem to find a way around it.  I know that they can cause horrible things, including cancer, to my body.  And they are the reason my poor son also struggles with candida.  If my own body didn't have beneficical gut flora during pregnancy how on earth could I have passed any on to him like I was supposed to?  The only thing I had & did pass on was candida.    :(   

Alright, I guess I'm done rambling for now..................I am curious to see if I will actually get a straight answer after all these tests are complete......will they actually be able to determine WHY this is happening to me????  I sure hope so & I pray so, but I have to admit I have very little faith in the modern day medical system.

In the end, no matter what this turns out to be & how this story pans out, I know that God is in charge & God knows what is best.......what is best for EVERYONE.......for me, for my son, for my husband, etc.  I can have peace no matter how this situation turns out for that reason alone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Vote?

First, allow me to say that "I" did not author this.  My pastor, Jack Hibbs, wrote this & encouraged us to share it.  I am, however, in full agreement with him and it is my hope that you will take a moment of your time to read this BEFORE voting day, which is fast approaching us.

Why Vote?
by Pastor Jack Hibbs

"Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God.  God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics."--Charles Finney, 19th century American revivalist and evangelist.

As an American and native Californian, I grew up being taught to honor the flag and to defend my country.  My father grew up on a large farm on the plains of South Dakota and later became a U.S. Marine.  My mother was an orphaned, Hawaiian born Portuguese from Oahu who witnessed her territory become the 50th state in the Union.  That mixture bred within me a deep love and respect for America.  It was instilled within me that, when I turned eighteen, one of the ways I would do my part to protect and preserve my country was by voting.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who said, "The ballot is stronger than the bullet."  I believe that and the world believes this too.  Many nations and peoples desire to achieve what we have made our custom.  Rather than violent overthrows and bloody coups, Americans step into a small unassuming booth, draw a curtain and by casting their vote, fire a shot that can still be heard around the world.  For over two hundred and thirty years, Americans have been engaged in the longest running and most peaceful revolution called 'the American vote'.

My freedoms are the most important things I possess and am willing to fight for.  Freedom is so dear to me that I want to insure that my children and grandchildren have the very same freedoms our Founding Fathers and generations before secured for me.  Voting is how our nation remains secure.  But what concerns me today are not the political pundits, ranting liberals or the media conflagration that saturates our websites and television.  What deeply concerns me is the lack of knowledge, understanding and apathy that describes the Christian today.  This disengagement among Christians from their culture is eerily similar to the time of Hitler's advance.  The church at that time, for the most part, was silent and too polite to stand against tyrannical tendencies.  By doing so, they sacrificed their convictions on the altar of tolerance and manners.  The German church, along with the churches of Europe, kept up their attendance, sang their worship songs and read their Bibles, yet failed terribly to stop one man's satanic march of Nazism.  Keep in mind that while the churches were large and well attended, approximately eleven million people (mostly Jews, many Christians and tens of thousands of homosexuals) were carted off to death camps in the name of political correctness.  The church had become miserably irrelevant by not shining its light nor sounding the trumpet.  Could this same historical apathy be strangling the heart of the church today?

Our nation was founded upon a Judeo-Christian worldview derived from the Bible.  For those who are Christians, the Bible is to be our guide in this upcoming election.  Today, many Christians are saying that they cannot vote for Barak Obama because of his polytheistic leanings, lack of leadership and the fact that the nation has changed for the worse.  Other Christians will say they cannot vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon.  But wait a minute.  Since when did God call us to only vote for a Christian?  Was Nebuchadnezzar Jewish when he helped the Jews in Babylon?  No.  Was Cyrus Jewish when he helped the Jews in Persia?  No.  Jesus Christ is LORD, and He alone is King of Kings.  Have we forgotten that we are to do and act righteously?  Voting is the right thing to do!  Our vote reveals our belief system, but sitting out this election will reveal something more--disobedience.  "Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

Let me first say that I am a monarchist--I believe in a ruling and reigning King and I am awaiting His return any day now.  But until He comes, I am to pray and vote for righteousness.  Thus, I will ask you, fellow Christians, to apply the following litmus test to the two candidates in this election as I am.  I like to call it the "Trinity of Truth" test:
*First, God says that He is the Creator and Inventor of natural marriage between a man and a woman.  Thus, as a Christian, I must vote for the candidate that has a voting record that is the closest to the biblical worldview of defending traditional marriage if I am going to be in agreement with God.
*Second, God says that He is the Creator and Defender of life.  He holds every one of us responsible for protecting defenseless pre-born children.  Thus, as a Christian, I must vote for the candidate that has a voting record that is the closest to the biblical worldview of Pro-Life if I am going to be in agreement with God. 
*Third, God says that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Jews, Jerusalem and Israel's right to their land.  Thus, as a Christian, I must vote for the candidate that has a voting record that is the closest to the biblical worldview of supporting Israel if I am going to be in agreement with God.

There you have it.  Because I am a Christian and I understand my Bible, I will be voting for Mitt Romney in this election rather than Barak Obama.  This is because Romney's voting record, along wiht the Republican platform, comes closest to the biblical worldview of the Bible.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cake finale....part 1





This is a pic of the final cake I made for my cake decorating class.  I actually took this pic at my class before I left......just in case it were to slip & slide & get messed up in the car on the way home LOL.  Thankfully it made it home in perfect condition though.  My preparations were a bit rushed & I didn't have a clear vision of how I wanted my cake to look as I prepared my homework to take to class.  So I'm a little disappointed in the cake for that reason.

I wanted to do a color I hadn't yet done for the roses.  So I chose purple.  For the text I needed to add "piping gel" to the icing & I only had it in blue.  So I had to do my text in blue.  I had thought about doing my roses in blue, BUT I thought to myself that there are no blue roses in real life, so I scrapped that idea & stuck with the purple roses.  And then because I didn't have a clear vision the extra decorating frosting I didn't even color.  I really didn't know if I was going to need it or want.  I had no idea how to do the rest of it prior to going to class.  That's all the beading you see as the bottom border & side of the cake.  I still think it looks nice in white, but would've looked even nicer I think if the color of the roses, text, & beading had all tied in together.

I now went ahead & got piping gel in more colors, so I shouldn't have that issue again. 

For my birthday last month I got money from my hubby, mother, & mother in law.  I did buy something for my son & something for both me & my son & a CD I have been wanting for a very long time.  But the rest of the money was all spent on cake stuff.  I was able to buy a caddy to store all my tools, which is VERY nice.  And then I bought an assortment of small things that will make cake making & decorating easier.  My goal is always to work with the least amount of tools as possible.  I don't like having lots of stuff for anything in life, really, not just the cake hobby.  But all of what I got is very useful & small enough to store away easily. 

I cannot wait to make my next cake.  I already know how I want to decorate it--well, most of it, still not sure on the borders, etc.  I am hopeful it's going to turn out great.  :)  And I think Lil J will love it too.

I can't wait to take the 2nd class.  I asked the teacher when she would be teaching it on a Saturday so I can take it.  She said she thinks she will be in January or February, so I guess I have to wait until then.  She is doing the 3rd class on a Saturday in November, but I still don't think I want to do that class.  It's about fondant & gum paste.  And while I like the look of that, I don't really enjoy eating it.  And an even bigger reason is all the gadgets that are needed to work with fondant.  I dread the cost of all that & having to find room to store it all.  I would really prefer to just limit myself to buttercream & royal icing decorating I think.  Now I never say never in life so I'm willing to say that I might change my mind.  And I know that the 2nd class does teach ONE fondant (or maybe gum paste? I'm not even clear on what the difference is between the two) flower in the class.  So I know there's a possibility that in that class I will absolutely love doing that & want to learn more about fondant & gum paste.  But I'm really hoping I don't. 

I guess that's all for now.......until the next cake then.............

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook






FOR TODAY:  Thursday, October 25, 2012

Outside my window...  It's been beautiful lately, today is currently in the low 60s but we are supposed to have a high of low 80s.  But overall it's been very tolerable & very beautiful & very "fall-ish"

I am thinking...  about the upcoming election & how & why so many people don't think for themselves & see how deceptive the world & govt, etc are these days......WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!

I am thankful...  for the discernment & wisdom that the Lord does allow me

In the kitchen...  made my homework cake for my class this Saturday, still need to frost it

I am wearing...  jeans that I LOVE & a grey v-neck top with a pale pink cami underneath

I am working on...  backing up & printing out photos......such a tremendous job, I've gotten sooooo behind on it all; also trying to get all saved emails out of my old account so I can delete that account once & for all

I am going...  to do my final cake decorating class this Saturday--I'm both excited  nervous

From the learning rooms.....  still doing daily Bible study & reading lessons with Lil J; I need to pull out that preschool book once again & see if he's interested now

I am reading...  Farmer Boy from the Little House on The Prairie series & my Bible

I am hoping... to be able to take the next cake decorating class soon

I am looking forward to...  Weddings & Birthdays & Thanksgiving in the month of November....it's a busy busy month for us this year

I am learning.........  to be a better wife--focusing even more lately on intentionally blessing my husband in new ways

Around the house...  last week I was suffering horribly from an IC flare so only got the bare minimum cleaning done....this week I got the bare minimum done (laundry, sweep, vaccum, dust, bathrooms, kitchen) plus I mopped the tiles & cleaned the wood floors & cleaned all the windows (it's a lot of windows in my house!!) inside & out.  I'm hoping to shampoo the carpets next week.

I am pondering...  why some people have to be so intentionally hurtful everytime I let my guard down & why I can't just remember to keep my guard up in the first place

A favorite quote for today...  "true nobility isn't about being better than anyone else; it's about being better than you used to be"

One of my favorite things...  decorating cakes!  and I already know (& am sooo excited) about how I'm going to decorate the next one (after the one I'm doing in class)

A few plans for the rest of the week:  my park days today was cancelled, not much else this week, Lil J goes swimming on Saturday morning, there's a car show on Saturday too, & I have my cake class on Saturday as well.  Church on Sunday & I'm hoping to be able to go buy a couple more pairs of jeans this weekend too.  I was already super short on jeans, & then one of them wore out completely so now I'm trying to get enough to survive for a few more years. 

I am praying for: my stepkids, my mom, for restored relationships, for salvation for many &good health as well.  for healing from IC. for healing for my hubby's throat.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

3 1/2 year update on Lil J

Looking back it appears that my last update was at 37 months.  He's now 42 months.  His weight is still 34 lbs.  His height is still around the same also, around 38" tall.  I recall that at his 3 year well check the doctor said that this is totally normal.  The physical growth sort of stalls out & the mental growth really takes off at this time.

I decided to skip size 4T pants.  He is currently still in the 3T pants that I purchased last fall & this year I bought 5T pants.  I'm hoping it works out.  When these pants get too short I will move him over & I do expect that the 5T will be a tad too long at that time, but I can roll them up for a little while & I do think it will save us money.  Hopefully it works out.

I decided to go ahead & do a blog update because I see him advancing so much mentally these days.  He is able to really think things through & make guesses if he isn't sure of the answer.  He communicates himself really well.  He is able to explain what he wants/needs very well these days.

Beginning in September we started attending church on Wednesday nights as well as Sunday mornings.  He's doing really well with this change.  He used to only go happily when he knew whoever was teaching his class.  But now he doesn't even care who is or isn't there.  He's very happy to be there.  The 3 year olds are split into 3 classrooms on Sundays & two of those classrooms are combined on Wednesdays.  Add to that the fact that there are 3 Sunday services & I am quite sure he must be with kids he doesn't know from Sundays on Wednesdays, but so far he doesn't seem to care.  I do hope that there are at least some kids that he knows, for his sake.  He is still doing really well with his memory verses at church.  He is always a little resistant when it's time for a new one, but each time I seem to find a way to make memorizing it fun.  So far I haven't yet repeated a method for doing this.  It's been a different approach each time & each time it has worked well.

At the beginning of September I also started working on a preschool workbook with Lil J but he wasn't ready yet.  This particular book required a lot of writing on the student's part & he really wasn't ready for that nor was he interested in it.  So far I cannot tell if he is left or right handed.  I am a lefty & hubby is a righty, so it really could go either way.  There are clearly periods of time where he favors his left hand for a while when eating & playing, etc.  But there are also times where he uses his right hand a lot.  I really don't want to persuade him either way.  And Lil J really hasn't shown much interest in writing in general, up until VERY recently.  He is now writing with his finger on the throw rug in the bathroom when he's sitting on the potty.  And he tries to write in the dirt when he's playing outside, usually with a stick.  So I think pretty soon I'll pull that book out again & give it another shot.  I don't want to push him, but if he WANTS to do it then I want to encourage that. 

We are still doing reading lessons & daily Bible study.  He really enjoys those, especially the reading lessons.  Whenever he sees a word that he doesn't know his answer is "pownten" (rhyming with fountain).  I have no idea where this comes from.  He is now really thinking hard on words he doesn't know & he often makes an attempt now, even if it's not quite right.  But still occasionally I get the "pownten" answer, especially with a word he has never seen before. 

I also have the letter sounds & words that he has learned written out & posted on the refrigerator.  That way he can look at them & practice them anytime he wants.  I had originally been also putting the sentences he learns on this paper, but it quickly became too long.  So for now I'm just going to put letters & words.

He is definitely showing more interest in books, which I am very happy about.  He likes to sit & look at them.  He spends a lot of time looking at the pictures.  And he often tries to imitate faces or body positions that he sees in the pictures.  He often makes up his own story based on the pictures & he tells it to me.  I really enjoy when he does this & of course that seems to make him want to do it all the more.  He REALLY loves being able to make people laugh.  Everytime we go to Costco he asks to look at the books.  They usually have something he is interested in & they are usually less than $10, so I usually buy him one.  We go every two weeks usually, so I guess that's about 2 new books per month.  When it comes to educational things, like books, I don't mind spending the money & less than $20 per month really isn't so bad.

He also still really loves his cars & trucks.  He has a lot of hot wheels & some bigger vehicles as well.  It seems that each time I have to go to the doctor & I need medicine I end up buying him a new car of some sort at the pharmacy while we're waiting for the prescription.  Of course I'm still praying for the day that I can find a way to heal my IC & no longer need medicine so frequently.  I guess we all have thorns in our life & this surely seems to be mine.  The antibiotics are causing lots of other health issues for me as the end result.  It's a horrible domino effect it seems.  And I know that antibiotics can cause cancer.  That is ultimately my biggest fear.  But I try to remind myself that no matter what, even if I get cancer, & even if I die from cancer, God is still with me.  The glory is still God's.

Ok, I've wandered off topic.........Lil J also enjoys playing outside & going for walks.  Thankfully the weather is starting to cool down to where we can go for walks once again.  And he is still doing weekly swimming lessons.  His instructor that he's used to has either changed his schedule or is no longer there.  He cried about having a woman he doesn't know teaching him for a couple of minutes but then he calmed down & was fine.  And this woman was doing things slightly different, most of it being for the better I think.  So I am pleased that he will be able to have a different instructor & experience a slightly different approach to learning things. 

I think that's about all the updates I have for now............until next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook

 



FOR TODAY: Monday, October 15, 2012

Outside my window...  For the past couple of weeks it has been GLORIOUS, 70s-low 80s.....and now it's back up in the 90s & supposed to stay here all week  :(   I can't wait for the heat wave to officially be over & done with.

I am thinking... about life, how things you weren't paying attention to as a child shaping who you are today & what you expect from others.  I think about what a good example my mother demonstrated to me on how to be a wife: to take care of the home & children.  And how that's what I automatically think a mother/wife should be.  Fortunately my mother in law seems to have been the same way as my mother, so my hubby is pleased.  Because just as my view of mother/wife was being shaped by my mother, so was his by his own mother.  I have always been extremely fascinated with what shapes people & makes them who they are.

I am thankful... I am thankful I was able to see the doctor today.  Another IC flare with a UTI to boot!  And my doc said that was the absolute worst urine dip she's seen in her entire career.  :(   I'm not happy to hear that, but at least it justifies how much pain I was in all weekend. 

In the kitchen...  Haven't made anything today, my busy Monday of laundry & house cleaning & I'm not feeling well......but I'm getting hungry, so I gotta go make myself something soon

I am wearing... denim shorts & a blue tank top

I am working on... trying to find some borax (they don't sell it at rite aid) so I can make home made slime for my Lil J to play with.

I am going... grocery shopping tomorrow, although I did my ralph's trip today because there was no more milk for my stepson.  tomorrow I will go to whole foods, costco, & trader joes.  And maybe target to look for borax..........

From the learning rooms.....  Still daily Bible study & reading lessons for Lil J.  He is starting to show an interest in writing, so I think pretty soon I'm gonna pull out that pre-school workbook once again & see if he's interested or not.  Lil J is still doing weekly swimming lessons as well.

I am reading...  daily Bible reading & am now on the first book in the Little House book collection (Little House in the Big Woods I think it's called).....I got them for myself for my birthday.  I read them once as a kid & LOVED them.  Oh how I dream of being able to live in those days.  I am thrilled to be able to read them again.  And I can read them again out loud when Lil J is a few years older & he can read them for himself a few years after that. 

I am hoping...  this heat wave ends......for good

I am looking forward to... making a new cake, soon I hope

I am learning......... how to work with royal icing, making cake decorations out of it

Around the house...  lots of cleaning today, still gotta do some outdoor cleaning & a thorough kitchen cleaning later on this week

I am pondering...  on how to decorate my next cake......or whether or not I even have time this week to make a cake........I do have to make cup cakes for my stepdaughter's birthday for sure, so I don't know if I'll have time to do a cake also

A favorite quote for today... "a mother's work is never done" so very true..........

One of my favorite things...  chocolate, I wish it wasn't so, but it is......maybe I should make a CHOCOLATE cake, that's a rarity in my home because my hubby doesn't like chocolate, but since I'm making SO MANY cakes these days making ONE that he can't eat can't be all that bad.......right??

A few plans for the rest of the week: grocery shopping on Tuesday, church on Wednesday, park day with friends on Thursday & making cupcakes on Friday

I am praying for: hubby's throat, my bladder, lots of family & friends

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Latest cake

Today I made a simple yellow cake from scratch & topped it with buttercream icing. Just some simple drop flowers on this one.

Royal icing

I haven't yet signed up for the royal icing class. But I wanted to play around with it a little bit ahead of time. I can only do better in my class if I already have some experience I figure. I only made a half batch of the recipe, because it doesn't keep. You have to work quickly & use it up before it dries on you. I still plan to do more experimenting with it, but today I tried making some carrots (to top carrot cake cupcakes with) & some leaves.

Once completely dry, these can be stored for months. So I can use them on future projects when the need arises.

For my first attempt I think I did pretty well, especially considering I just made these up, wasn't following any instructions on how to do these.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sizing

I suppose our current system of clothing sizing was intended to simplify the system/situation. But personally I find it confusing. And although I often joke that I'm the "world's worst googler" & that I'm "google challenged", I cannot seem to find info that explains sizing & departments adequately.

For myself, I know that I am a size 8. However, due to vanity sizing, I am never able to walk into a store & grab a size 8 & be done with it. I am usually a 4, although sometimes I'm a 6. I dream of vanity sizing being banished & life being made simpler. That would be bliss.

However, the cause of this blog is not myself actually. Today we bought Lil J's fall/winter shirts. I bought his pants back in August, because they usually sell out fast. But we didn't get the shirts & sweatshirt until today because I've never had an issue with them selling out.

Back in August I bought size 5T pants for Lil J. They're big for now, but he'll be in them before long.

I remember when Lil J was a baby & wearing baby clothes. I kept wondering at what point the baby sizes end? And then what would come next?? At some point I realized that 24 months is typically the last of the baby sizing (although I do remember seeing some 36 month clothing once) & what comes next is toddler sizes, which go from 2T-5T. I still wonder if 24 month & 2T are actually the same size or not?? I suppose I'll probably never really know....

So now that Lil J is at the end of toddler sizing I'm trying to figure out what's next. Today we went to a new department & bought XS shirts. I would assume that this is the "boys" department but I can see that he'll outgrow these sizes in the next couple of years & he certainly won't be in "men's" yet at that time. My guess would be that there is a "little boy" department & a "big boy" department, but that's just a guess. I really have no clue & I can't find any information or explanations online. I know in girls sizing during the teen years you shop in the "juniors" department....do boys have a junior department as well?? I'm guessing its infant to toddler to little boys to big boys to juniors to men's but that's truly just a guess, I honestly don't know. And if there are actually TWO separate boy departments, then what on earth are the proper names for said departments??? It's a big mystery to me.

And don't get me started on shoe sizing!! Lil J has 2 size 11 shoes & a 12/13 size shoe. Based on adult sizes I know he's gonna max out these numbers & start over again at least once. But I have no clue where kids shoe sizes end & adults begin.....

Cupcakes

I recently had the opportunity to make cupcakes for hubby to take to a ministry he has been a part of recently. He had bought these guys dinner two weeks in a row so this next week we surprised them with cupcakes. To me cupcakes are easy, it's the challenge of a big cake that I love. But these were still fun. I especially love the color of the icing. These were just yellow cake from scratch with a buttercream icing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My latest cake!

My hubby loves a good spice cake. I've never made one before, but gave it a try today. This is a made from scratch spice cake with a non-dairy cream cheese filling, buttercream icing, & buttercream roses.

2 members of my family have dairy allergies so I specialize in non-dairy creations.

I need to still work on smoothing out my icing more. I was a bit too tired to spend enough time on it today, as Lil J is under the weather (first time in about a year).

But overall I thought this turned out ok. I really can't wait to take the next class. I'm hoping they'll have it on Saturdays in November or December so I can take it before the year ends.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Practice 2:

This is another practice cake. The roses are actually my attempt at what we are going to learn in the 4th class. This cake is not perfect but overall I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Practice 1:

This is a practice cake I made, sort of a mess, just a wide variety of piping techniques I learned, all crammed into one cake. The blue flower is one I made in class 3 on parchment paper. It was perfect & then I dropped it right before placing it on the cake, which smashed it a bit.

Class 3

The cupcakes we decorated. I forgot to take a pic of the flowers we also made, on parchment paper.

Class 1

The cookies we piped decorations on:

Let them eat cake!!

While creativity is usually not my strong point, I do have artistic ability & love it when I can channel it.

I am pretty decent at drawing.  Although I am good at drawing something that I can see, coming up with something out of my head to draw seems to require too much creativity for me.  I have no doubt that if I spent time working on this I'd be REALLY good at it.

I am pretty decent at singing & playing guitar.  I spend as much time as I can doing this.  That's usually an hour or so each week at this stage of my life. 

I have a strong desire to learn how to paint, specifically landscapes & seascapes.  Maybe someday I'll have the time & resources to actually pursue this.

I am also very passionate about cooking & especially baking.  For a long time now I have been VERY passionate about cake decorating.  And it's become even more of a passion now that I'm a mom.  I want to make great cakes for my son.  And I have to admit that I am far more creative when it comes to cake decorating than most other avenues in life.  And while I can see what I want in my mind so far I have not been successful at carrying it out in the cake decorating process. 

For Mother's Day this year my hubby gifted me a Wilton cake decorating class at Michael's.  I had originally signed up to do it in June, on 4 Saturdays.  But the first class was the day after my brother in law had unexpectedly & suddenly passed away.  So I delayed the class.  In July & August they weren't holding the class on Saturdays, which I needed, so hubby could watch Lil J while I took the class.  So now I'm finally doing it in September.  I have taken 3 of the 4 classes so far for this class.

In the first class we talked about cake baking basics & learned some basic piping techniques & carried them out on cookies.  Our homework was to bake a cake & make frosting & bring them separately to class to decorate in the second class. 

In the second class we frosted & decorated our cake.  We learned how to level & torte a cake as well.  We also learned an interesting technique where we take a picture of something & transfer it to the cake & fill it in using various piping methods.  It was pretty cool to learn because you can esentially put ANYTHING you want on a cake provided you can draw it or find a pic of it that is the size you want it to be.  To me that's a pretty valuable tool.  Somehow I didn't take a photo of this cake.  I was disappointed that my frosting wasn't as smooth as I would like on the cake, but the time constraints of the class made it hard for me.  This is something I've always struggled with & am hoping to improve by taking the class.  Our homework this time was to bake cupcakes & make frosting.

In the third class we learned to make some basic flowers & other piping techniques.  We decorated our cupcakes & made flowers on parchment paper.  When I signed up for the class I honestly had NO interest at all in learning about making flowers.  I really just wanted to learn some basics, mostly how to frost a cake WELL.  But I have to admit that I LOVED making the flowers.  I am now seriously wanting to take the 2nd class (there are 4 classes total, but the 3rd & 4th classes are about fondant, to my knowledge.  While I love the "look" of fondant I just don't like eating it.  And I know there's tons of gadgets involved, which make it a pricey hobby.  So I'd really rather just not take those classes.).

[On a side note: In this first class we do everything out of buttercream frosting.  In the second class, to my knowledge, we learn to make royal icing, which allows for more flower creations.  And, like I already said, the 3rd class is all about fondant & I "think" the 4th class combines buttercream, royal icing & fondant to pull it all together.] 

On the day of the 4th class (tomorrow) my niece is getting married & my son is the ring bearer.  So I am taking this class on October 27th, the 4th class of the next time she is teaching the class.  So I am working hard, taking advantage of my extra time, trying to get in a lot of practice.  My teacher says that you can take these classes & learn, but unless you spend a lot of time practicing you will never get really good at it.  So I want to practice as much as I can.  The homework for the next class is to take a cake & dried drop flowers (on parchment) & frosting & put it all together, plus more flowers (roses) we make in class learning new techniques that day.  I must admit that I have already tried my hand at the roses in the final class.  I think I did pretty decent, considering I did it on my own.  The book doesn't tell you everything, the teacher fills in a lot of info at the class itself.  I think they do this on purpose to keep people from just buying the book & learning on their own.  Also, when you buy the kit for the class it doesn't have the book in it.  The teacher gives you the book on the first day of class.  I think this is also to prevent people from just buying the kit & not taking the actual class.  But you can get the books on amazon & I'm sure other places as well.  Although, like I said before, you still won't have ALL the info you need, you still need the instructor for all the info to learn how to do it all. 

I'm trying to insert photos here of my work so far (with the exception of the first cake I did in class that I can't believe I didn't take a pic of).  It's not working yet, but I will keep trying........

Ok, I'm just gonna do the photos in separate blog posts, I can make it work that way.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Recommendation

At my church they feature a "book of the month" each month.  They offer the book for sale at the cost the church paid for them.  The church makes no profit on the sales of these books.  They are always sold for less than in a bookstore.  These are books that my pastor has read & wants to offer.  He often says he is trying to help us build up good libraries in our homes.

This month the "book of the month" is this one here.  I got it yesterday at church & read it today in less than an hour.  It's a REALLY short read, but a really good read.  I wish I could command everyone on the planet to read this book.  And I know A LOT of people say they don't like to read, or they don't have time to read, but this book is SO SHORT that that's simply not a good enough excuse & it's so good that it's totally worth investing the little time it takes to read it.

I cannot recommend it strongly enough.  I do hope you will read it.  If you do, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  :)

A rant on parenting & women in general.......

I know some men are hard on people, too.  But what I see most often in life is women, attacking each other & it manifests itself in a variety of ways.  But I just have to wonder WHY so many feel the need to be this way?  We don't walk in each other's shoes, we don't live each other's lives, so how can anyone be so harsh, so critical, so judgmental?  Why can't we all just accept that we really don't know it all & just love on one another & be more accepting?  Isn't that what Jesus would do?  Even though He actually does know it all!

I've seen it as a nurse for many many years now (which is a field that has females as the vast majority) & now as a mother I see plenty of it. 

I have recently had an incident in which another mother has decided that I have no control over my child.  And she believes that if I were to hand my child over to her that she could fix all my problems for me in that regard.

I just have to laugh to myself, quite honestly.  She is hardly ever around me or my child.  She apparently feels that me allowing my extremely active child (who takes after his father in this regard) to burn off his energy is displaying a lack of control over my child.  I have to just remind myself how ignorant she is proving herself to be & not allow myself to be offended by her ignorance.  Of course it's an effort to not be offended, especially when I take my job as a mother extremely seriously. 

What about the fact that if I don't encourage my child to burn off his energy that he doesn't sleep well & keeps me & hubby up at night?  Maybe lack of sleep is not a big deal to some, but it is to me & my hubby & it's also not healthy for my son to not be getting a good night's sleep on a regular basis.  What about the fact that there's FAR MORE to parenting than simply controlling behavior?  (A real pet peeve of mine: people who focus on controlling behavior rather than actually getting to the heart of the matter & focusing on what's really important.  And also the fact that focusing on controlling behavior is often done simply out of selfishness, not for the good of the child)  

Just a little rant & food for thought...........let's all show some love & compassion rather than think we are know-it-alls.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Decisions, decisions

Side Note: There's a lot going on in my life these days.  I have pulled out of Facebook for now, not sure if/when I'll be back.  I feel the need to draw closer to God & to my own family, without so many added distractions of other's & their families, during this time.  If you could please keep my family in your prayers it would be very much appreciated.  I was going to close my FB account completely, but that will also shut down a page I run, since I am the only administrator of the page.  So for now I'm just leaving my inactive account there to allow people access to that page.

On with my blog post:

I have been planning to homeschool my son since I was pregnant.  Even before I was pregnant, before I ever even imagined I would have a child of my own, I knew that if I ever did have a child that I would want to homeschool.  A private Christian school would be my next choice, with public school as my very last (& sort of 'over my dead body') option. 

I was looking into homeschooling since he was a little baby.  Everyone kept telling me "you have plenty of time, don't worry".  But my nature is to plan ahead.  I do not like waiting until the last minute to make a decision on pretty much anything in life.  And so I ignored those well-meaning warnings & continued looking around.

Some time ago, a year at least (maybe two?) I learned of a curriculum by Alpha Omega called The Weaver.  And I was totally sold.  I was sure that was the main curriculum I wanted to use to homeschool my son.  I love the idea of it--that it's a unit study type curriculum & all lessons tie into the same part of Bible the child is learning.  I really related to this because in nursing school (moreso in the LVN program than the RN program) they did this sort of thing.  Where in our main nursing lecture we were learning about a specific body system & in pharmacology we were learning about drugs used for issues with that particular system & in nutrition we learned about nutrition relating to that same system, etc.  And I found that it really helped to reinforce & put everything together better when learning that way. 

But in the past month or two I have begun to feel a bit unsettled with this decision.  I am subscribed to a few homeschooling groups/forums.  Some of them specific to Weaver.  And as I see the same issues come up over & over again & the same responses to them I have to start to question.  Now I know that nothing is perfect & there are going to be issues with ANY curriculum you use.  BUT I have to consider "myself" & I know myself well enough to know that I would not do well with these particular issues.  I used to see these issues & tell myself "if others are able to work around that then I can too", but now I'm finding myself wondering WHY I should settle for that & stress myself out about it when there are so many other options out there to choose from.  When I really don't HAVE to settle for that.

Now I must say that I feel very strongly that there are no bad curriculums.  Teachers & students vary so much in both teaching & learning that I think it's a wonderful blessing to have so many options to accomodate these variables.  Although I must also admit that I feel it's hard to decide which curriculum best fits both teacher & student.  I wish there was an easier way to narrow that down.  But I think it's also a bit like potty training--where you just have to dive in & start somewhere & then see what works & what doesn't & make adjustments along the way. 

I know myself very well & am very good at knowing what does & doesn't work for me.  I have to admit to myself that based on what I've learned about Weaver I don't think it will work for me, at least not peacefully.  It will add stress to my life, that I am sure of.  And is that what homeschooling is supposed to be like?  I just don't think so, not with so many options available.

So I've spent a lot of time in prayer & researching available curriculums in the past month or so.  There are soooo many & often they don't have enough details on their website to really decide what the advantage of using that curriculum over others is.  I've looked at a lot of reviews as well, although again just because it's great for someone else doesn't mean it will be great for ME.  So far I am feeling VERY strongly led to Sonlight.  But I know I still have 2-3 years before I have to officially begin with a curriculum so that decision is certainly not set in stone.

I like the overall layout of it, I LOVE that they offer a money back guarantee & reviews comment on phenomenal customer service with any issues or questions.  I've asked several people who are using it & they all cite the Biblical side of it as being phenomenal, which is a big plus in my book.  Although I've heard others (who aren't using it) criticize the Biblical aspect of it.  But just like anything else, that curriculum doesn't need to be the ONLY Bible learning the child is doing. 

I am saddened to say that I also asked on a Weaver forum, sharing my thoughts & feelings.  I am saddened because where I feel they should have accepted that Weaver is not possibly for EVERYONE, instead they basically just attacked Sonlight.  And some of the attacking was really unfair & unjustified in my opinion.  One of the attacks was that this person would never use Sonlight just because of the type of people that are on the Sonlight forum.  Now I've been on the internet for over a decade by now & very little shocks me anymore.  There are vicious people everywhere online.  And you certainly can't judge a company or curriculum based on that, at least in my opinion.

In addition to asking on the forums/groups, I've also emailed my small handful of friends that homeschool & certainly have more experience than myself at this point.  Experience counts for a lot in my opinion.  I got tremendous support from one of them, the others haven't replied as of yet. 

And so after saying all of that I still have to say I am undecided.  I might possibly end up changing my mind again & using Weaver after all.  Or I might use Sonlight.  Or I may find something else entirely & use that. 

I know there was some discussion in the news recently about making Kindergarten mandatory.  I need to look into that & find out if it is now or not.  If it's not I will probably skip Kindergarten & just start at first grade.  Unless I use Weaver--Weaver was the only reason I was planning to do K, because the K curriculum covers Gen 1-10 & 1st grade starts at Gen 11.  I certainly don't want to skip the whole creation & early Gen, so I'm sort of forced to do K if I use Weaver.  I would much prefer to skip K, & that is actually another reason I am questioning using Weaver.

Aaaaahhhhhh.......decisions........decisions............

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook







FOR TODAY:  Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Outside my window... We had a high of 90 today, still warm, but not nearly as hot as it has been & it should be dropping back into upper 80s from here on out, thank God; I am sooooo ready to turn off the a/c for good, hopefully once it drops down it won't spike back up that high again.

I am thinking...  about greed & how it can consume people; I know someone who is so focused on money & possessions at the moment that it is truly consuming them & destroying them

I am thankful...  for my simple life, material stuff can make things so complicated; I am grateful for the life the Lord has given me

In the kitchen...  leftover night tonight (a nice break for me!); made a batch of rice milk this morning-used to be Lil J's fave drink, but now he won't touch it!  But the almond milk is no longer going well with him, gotta keep working on this...................

I am wearing... blue tank top & denim shorts; I never seem to write these blog posts on day when I actually wear something cute

I am working on...  still working on finding a cure for my IC & chronic UTIs, struggling with a UTI currently  :(

I am going...  grocery shopping tomorrow most likely; as big of a chore as it is, it does bring me joy to shop for my family & plan meals & get out of the house for a few hours

From the learning rooms.....  still just daily Bible study & reading lessons for Lil J; next month I will start some preschool material with him; I'm working on my CEUs as my license is due for renewal this year

I am reading...  Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers.  I started & finished the first part, A Mother's Hope, in between these blog posts

I am hoping...  that my UTI resolves quickly & completely with no IC flares

I am looking forward to...  meeting up with a group of homeschooling moms at a local park later this week; I met with them quite a while back & then right after that my stepson moved in with us full time & it was a much bigger adjustment than I had anticipated & I wasn't able to continue meeting up with these ladies.  Last week I ran into them (here at my community pool) & we did some catching up & I am now in a position where time-wise I feel I can meet up with them weekly & I had been looking for a group to get Lil J involved in, so it's absolutely perfect

I am learning.........  that a child's spirit can be crushed easily; care must be taken in disciplining to do so without crushing

Around the house...  I'm slacking so far, but hope to get caught up; on Monday I just wasn't feeling up to it: I didn't work out & didn't clean the house although I did do the laundry & I went to the doctor & got my antibiotics.  Today I did clean the bathrooms, but that's all I got done.  I still need to dust & clean floors & clean the kitchen...........and weed the garden & hose down outside.........I have a feeling I won't get ALL of that accomplished by the end of the week unfortunately...........but I still gotta do it all again next week

I am pondering...  why is a relationship with Christ so simple & easy for some & so difficult, if not impossible, for others......When I met Christ I clung on as tight as I could & refused to let go.  Yet I look at the girl who went forward with me at the same time & others who I have seen come to Christ more recently tha I did & so many of them waiver &/or fall away completely.  I will never fully understand what makes that difference.  I wish I could so I could ensure that my child would cling as tightly as I did.  But no two people will ever be alike nor will they ever be in the exact same situation.

A favorite quote for today...  True nobility isn't about being better than anyone else; it's about being better than you used to be.

One of my favorite things...  getting lost in a good novel, it's been a long time since I've read a novel, so it's a nice reminder to how much I love it; so much better than any movie out there

A few plans for the rest of the week:  trying to get as much housework done as I can, meeting up with other homeschooling moms, taking Lil J to the community pool, taking Lil J to his swim lesson, taking Lil J to the doctor, & church

I am praying for:  my stepson