Friday, February 28, 2014

Health Challenges

There have been major changes regarding my health.  About a month ago, I thought I had a mild bladder infection.  I went through the stereotypical routine of drinking lots of water and cranberry juice and didn't pay much attention to it.  It seemed to be gone, and then I'd notice it again.  Life was extremely busy.  Before I knew it, three weeks had passed!  I finally got tested for infection, and the result was negative.  That's when I was pretty sure it was a new side effect of the medication (hydroxychloroquine - generic for plaquenil) I started last summer.  My previous medication (methotrexate) lasted 4 years before significant issues, so I was really hoping for a long reprieve.  I dropped my dosage down to half, and the side effect noticeably improved.

Last Friday, I saw my autoimmune doctor.  She said I could either try a new medication with a new set of challenges or try changing my diet and keep taking my current medication at half dosage.  She was definitely leaning toward the diet change.  I felt like I'd been handed a death sentence!  Food is one of my greatest joys.  It's why I've always struggled with being overweight.  All my favorite foods and most of what we eat wouldn't be allowed.  I was kind of depressed but decided to try it.  The next day, the annoying side effect of my medication drove me crazy even at half dosage.  I went completely off it and spent the weekend researching recipes.  It was VERY stressful!  Sunday and Monday, I had a headache that wouldn't go away due to withdrawal.  Monday was the worst.  My head felt SO off!  I spent most of the day in bed, occasionally getting up for short periods to use the restroom, get a drink, or work on a grocery list.

Even though I've been off my medication for six days, I'm still greatly struggling with discomfort from the side effect.  I would appreciate prayers in this regard, that there isn't any permanent damage or something more serious going on.  I am struggling with other fears - that the diet change won't be enough, and I'll have to go through the challenges of a new medication . . . or that my arthritis will come back full force.  When I wasn't taking anything, my arthritis got to the point where I was almost completely immobilized.

Overall, I'm feeling OK.  As soon as I went off the medication, I noticed an increase in stiffness in my joints (especially my feet), but it's livable.  The diet change is also livable.  I've had to do some experimenting, but I managed to find a few recipes for each meal of the day that are "edible."  Lol!  I'll probably do another post about my diet.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cracking Walnuts

The last time my brother came over for a game night, he and Kylen had walnut cracking competitions!  They would each select a walnut and one would take both nuts in his hand and squeeze them together in his fist.  Whichever nut stayed whole was the winner.  Great game for a group of guys!

Kylen Taking a Turn


Ryan Initialing His Nut

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

I've had some major changes going on related to my health, but I wanted to do a few belated posts before giving an update.  As I mentioned, our Valentine's Day was pretty relaxed due to me being sick.  The highlight was my brother making a surprise stop at our house!  He dropped off a balloon, candy and card.  I thought that was SO sweet, and it definitely brightened our day.  Poor boy, I shooed him out the door quickly since I wasn't feeling good, but he called afterwards for a little chat.

Hubby gave me a box of chocolates in a delicious variety of flavors, something we all enjoyed!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

A very happy Valentine's Day to all my friends and family!

I'm sipping hot tea and occasionally blowing my nose.  Fine time to be sick!  We're having a light day of school - just math and music - and watching cartoons on netflix.  Hubby will bring takeout for dinner, and we'll open our cards in the evening.  Hopefully, I'll feel up to making our traditional special dessert before the weekend is over.  :-)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Crystal Tree

I finally took out the tree my cousin gave me a year (or two?) ago.   What a fun little activity!  I could NOT stop taking pictures; the colors were SO beautiful.  It's fully grown in half a day, but you can see progress in just a few hours.  Kylen accidentally spilled some of the solution on the counter, so it didn't grow as "bushy" as in the picture on the front of the box.  It might have turned out better this way!  I loved the final result and would be interested in doing this again.  I've seen a few other themes - a snowman and Christmas tree.  These would make fun, educational, and inexpensive gifts.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Strawberry Heart

I was using up some leftover chocolate to dip strawberries and came across one that was a definite heart shape.  Yes, strawberries often have a slight heart shape, but I've never seen one where the shape jumped out at me like this.  I split it with my true love when he got home from work.  =)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creation Vs Evolution Debate

We enjoyed watching this debate last night between Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis CEO, and Bill Nye, the Science Guy.  It generated a lot of discussion, especially between Greg and Kylen.  Seemed like we were pausing every 10-15 minutes to talk about what we heard, what we believe, and whether the points made were valid.  I believe it's important for children to thoroughly understand the arguments on both sides of controversial issues in order to defend their own beliefs intelligently.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Strawberry (Pink) Milk

I think of pink milk as the ultimate Valentine's Day drink, but I don't care for the strawberry milk sold in stores.  One time, I stirred in a few drops of dye and sugar.  It was OK but not really what I was looking for.  Recently, I found a recipe for homemade strawberry milk that is quite good.  You're actually making strawberry syrup, which can be used for pancakes or waffles.  It's so Valentiney, I had a delightful time making . . . and drinking it!

Start with 2 1/2 cups of strawberries.  Since it's the middle of winter, I purchased frozen organic berries and let them thaw for an hour in a bowl on the counter.  It's fine if they are still partially frozen.

Combine 1 1/4 cups water and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a saucepan over med-high heat; stir until sugar is dissolved.  Mix strawberries in, and bring to a boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until strawberries are mushy, about 10 minutes.  Let cool a bit.
I loved the colors!  Bubbling cranberry red with pink foam.  And the strawberry aromas wafting up!  Yum!

Strain liquid into a container and refrigerate.  I got just under two cups of syrup, which is perfect for a half gallon of milk.  Stir in 1 cup of syrup for every four cups milk or 4 tbsp for each cup (more or less depending on desired sweetness).
Such a beautiful color!

Here is the recipe in a more succinct form:

Strawberry Milk
Makes about 2 cups syrup.  Figure 1 cup syrup to 4 cups milk, 4 cups to 1 gallon, 1/4 cup syrup to 1 cup milk.

1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups strawberries, quartered (frozen fine)
Whole milk

Combine water and sugar in saucepan over med-high heat; stir until sugar is dissolved.  Mix strawberries in and bring to boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until strawberries are mushy, about 10 minutes.  Let cool a bit.  Strain liquid into a container (sieve or mesh strainer).  Use a spoon to press down on the berries and get most of the liquid out.  I used a mesh strainer sitting atop our 4-cup measuring cup.  You can eat the pulp.  Refrigerate.