27 June 2012

Ramshackle Orchestra

What I've been listening to a lot lately:  http://marshill.com/music/albums/hail-the-lamb

Ramshackle Orchestra is a Mars Hill Music group. Their new album "Hail the Lamb" is available for download for $3.00, or  you can listen to all three songs at the link above.

I've listened to these three songs (Lion of Judah, How Great Thou Art, and Holy, Holy, Holy) over and over and over again. I love the Irish folk genre sound of these songs. There's something about it that's cheerful.

Listen to this, and be happy!


Sharing Five: Random Fun

It seems like a lot of my posts have been heavy, lately. A lot of topics that aren't fun, light-hearted, and enjoyable. I need a break. Do you? Here are some things that make me smile, in the order of how they happen to occur to me at the moment.

1. Little furry animals. Specifically, these three, but also little furry animals in general. Aren't they cute?

Precious piggies. (L-R = Zoe, Zelma, & Zephyr)

It's entirely possible that I'm a little too tender-hearted when it comes to little fuzzy things. I love the chipmunks that live in our yard, while my husband wants them to stop digging holes. I call the mousetraps my husband keeps setting "death machines." (He's so good, though, he always makes sure I don't find whatever gets caught. I don't do well with killing little critters. Melt-down trigger!) I even had a conversation two mornings in a row with a squirrel that was climbing our brick exterior bedroom wall and sitting on our window sill, chirping. (Apparently, he didn't enjoy the conversation much, because he doesn't do that anymore.)

I have a Pinterest Board labeled "Cute." Here are a few of the pictures from it. Fuzzy animals, see?

2. Lying in bed, late at night, wide awake, listening to my darling husband snore like a congested lawn tractor breathe.

Now, I know that there are some people who can't deal with snoring, but I remember all too clearly the dozen plus years I would lie in bed at night wondering what it would be like to be married and be snuggled up to my husband instead of 9 feather pillows. I remember nights, lying awake, wondering how I'd manage to defend myself if someone broke in, or crying into a pillow in the darkness because of a heartache caused by my own selfishness or some guy's, or trying to imagine what life would be like in 5/10/20 years and who my husband would be, or hearing my mind spin with all the things that I had to do as a single woman living alone that would have been my husband's privilege and responsibility.

I remember those nights. Crystal clearly. Perhaps it's because I haven't yet been married a year, but I think it's more because I purposed to. I determined that I wasn't going to be a miserable person. Not single, and not married. I have known people who were miserable as single people. "I'll be happy when I'm in a relationship." They tended to be miserable as engaged people. "I'll be happy when we just get married and get all this waiting over with." Then, when they were miserable as married people, it wasn't that much of a surprise when they were miserable as divorced people, as well. I decided I wasn't going to be one of those people, holding themselves emotionally hostage. I enjoyed being single, with intention, and I looked forward to my engagement and marriage. I loved being engaged, with intention. I love being married. LOVE, love. <3

I guess it follows naturally that I love to lie in bed next to my dashingly handsome husband, listen to him breathe, and snuggle up to his warmth.

One other thing. About a week after we were married, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I couldn't hear him breathing. He was facing away from me, and in all probability, he was probably just breathing quietly. But, I couldn't hear him. And the way he was lying on his side, I couldn't see his body rise and fall with breath. It scared me. It scared me to think I was lying in bed with my brand new husband who might not be breathing, after all this waiting I did to finally get married, and we were just starting out, and I wouldn't even begin to know what to do, and what if he really was dead and I wouldn't even have any real memories of being married because we hadn't been married that long, and at this point I was kinda freaking out. Just a tad. So I reached over and tried to feel if he was breathing, and it woke him up and startled him. I can tell you I had never been so happy to be near a grumpy man in my life. It scared me just enough that when I lie there and he shifts position and goes into snore mode, I am happy to hear that sound. I thank God for that sound. I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for my husband.

Oh, and just to be clear, he's really not much of a snorer. His snoring isn't loud enough to be obnoxious. I'm a pretty deep sleeper, so if he snores while I sleep, I don't know it and it doesn't wake me. Most of the time he doesn't snore at all, but he does breathe deeply, and I love the sound of it. :) LOVE, love. <3

3. Reinterpretations of familiar icons. This one is from Pinterest, and because I don't have a tumblr account, I don't have any way of seeing the source. If you have it, tell me in the comments.

4. Genuine smiles. I can't help but smile when I see people smile and laugh in a genuine, heart-felt way. I came across this picture on Pinterest, and I just couldn't help but smile, so I pinned it to my "Giggles" board to help brighten some day in the future. 


5. Random stuff. Here are a few examples, also from my "Giggles" board. I don't have valid sources for any of these, so if you know them, tell me in the Comments. 

I think that's all for now. I hope you have a happy day!

Much love,

26 June 2012

PCOS Part 2: Treatment

This is the second post in a series. Here is the link to Part 1.

It is estimated that 5 to 10% of women who are of child bearing age have PCOS. (Source) That means that if you don't have PCOS, you probably know someone who does, or multiple somebodies. Here are some of the normal symptoms (source, source, source, and I'm stopping there...) :
  • Infrequent, irregular, or absent menstrual cycles
  • Multiple small cysts on the ovaries, and sometimes elsewhere
  • Pelvic pain
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Fatigue
  • Mood Swings
  • Migraines
  • Infertility due to irregular or absent ovulation
  • Increased hair growth on face, neck, stomach, back, hands, and feet
  • Acne, oily skin, dandruff - often cystic acne
  • Weight gain/obesity - normally around the waist
  • Type II diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Thinning hair
  • Skin tags - usually on neck or armpit
  • Dark or thick skin located on the neck, arms, thighs, or breasts
  • Sleep apnea
  • Uterine (or other reproductive) cancer

If you don't have PCOS and know someone who does, read through that list once in awhile, then become a little more understanding, should she be fighting the ovarian demons, on some days.


I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease in November 2006, at my own request. I had been suffering from symptoms since my early-onset puberty, but no one had bothered to tell me that these symptoms weren't normal, nor had any attempt been made to pinpoint their cause. As my previous post relates, I took the information to the doctor, then asked her to determine if this was my diagnosis. It was.

The doctor was just as laid back about my treatment plan as she was about my diagnosis, so I basically told her what I had learned was the common treatment, and she wrote the prescriptions. Common for the treatment of PCOS is the diabetes medication metformin (generic of Glucophage), combined with a birth control pill of the doctor's choosing (or one the patient tolerates). I was prescribed 500 mg, twice daily, of metformin, and a birth control pill that was strong enough to regulate my periods. No one ever discussed this with me, not the doctor then. Not any of the doctors I've seen since then, until the doctor I have now.

As I mentioned in my last Dukan Diet post, I went to the doctor after some episodes of low-blood sugar, which had been caused by the combination of the low-carb diet and my metformin. I am neither diabetic, nor insulin-resistant. Since my 20+ pound weight loss, my body didn't need as much of the metformin. Yahoo! I'm on my way to being med-free!

Anywhere I have looked for information (an example) about PCOS, I have seen that there is no medically-proven "cure" for PCOS. There are varying schools of thought about its treatment, but no one says that you can be cured of it. What you see, over and over, though, is that the better your overall health and well-being, the more the symptoms recede. One study I recently read about said that as little as 5% weight loss could contribute to the significant lessening of symptoms. Keys to living with PCOS are acquiring and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating healthfully, and not smoking. All, pretty much common sense, right?
Possible Cures

Here's something else. There are some health professionals that believe there are 2 ways to get rid of PCOS. One, is to go through menopause, which changes your hormonal balance and ceases the menstrual cycle that adds to the cyclical nature of the illness. The other thing that "cures" PCOS in some instances, is a full-term pregnancy. (I doubt you'd find that listed as a "cure" anywhere, per se, though. I have only seen it mentioned in a few places.) In some cases, women who suffer from PCOS find that the hormone slate gets wiped clean by pregnancy, and they have a system reset. Some women fail to re-develop the same issues when their post-pregnancy hormone levels change.

Sadly enough, though, that doesn't mean that getting pregnant fixes everything. Women with PCOS may be twice to up to 5 times more likely to miscarry than the average population (depending on source, and definition), and PCOS causes infertility in some women.

American Pregnancy Association states that "Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage." I'm seeing 45% rate of miscarriage in PCOS women commonly quoted, but I'm not finding the source of that percentage anywhere. Wikipedia says 30-50% (source). I've seen people "quoting" that the rate could be as low as 9% if metformin is continued through the first trimester, but I can't find the source of that, either. Wikipedia cites a two-thirds lowered risk with use of metformin (source), but goes on to say that "a 2006 review of metformin treatment in pregnancy found insufficient evidence of safety, however, and did not recommend routine treatment with the drug." (source)

A list of common treatments for PCOS (source, source, source, and I'm stopping there):

  • Lose weight, eat healthfully, exercise regularly 
  • Quit smoking
  • Medication to lower insulin, combined with a fertility drug (if trying to conceive) or a birth control pill
  • Hormone therapy, either with a birth control pill or other medications or injections
  • Surgery such as ovarian drilling or an ovarian wedge resection (from what I can tell, neither is practiced regularly-- mostly used as a last-resort attempt when infertility is a factor)
Contrary to what you may have heard, even though you may not die from PCOS per se, you can die from what it causes. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., and when you add in the miscarriage rate? Most of the time PCOS is a pain. Sometimes, it's deadly. 

Who do you know that might benefit from a little more kindness, gentleness, and understanding?

My next post on this topic will be about living with PCOS.

Much love,

25 June 2012

Sewing with Lovey

So, my darling husband decided to go fishing with his friend yesterday afternoon, and I got to stay home and watch some Chuck Season 5 episodes and The Vow(which wasn't as good as I wanted it to be) and sew to my heart's content. Yay.

I had him drag my tub of fabric out so that I could see what I have to work with. I've had vague thoughts in the back of my head about what I have stashed away, and it was nice to see what's really there. Unfortunately, my living room is even more of a disaster area than it already had become during the last few sewing projects.

This is currently the top of my coffee table.
There were a few surprises in that tub. Most of the selections I remembered, or at least could place when I purchased them. Several of the options (heavy-weight, solid-colored twill) were purchased by someone else and given to me, but they're going to come in handy. There were a few whimsical patterns in colors I like, some of which I'd completely forgotten. There were a couple "what was I thinking?" moments, too. I don't do bland colors, for the most part. There was only one "khaki" twill (given to me, not purchased by me), and it won't be seen here.

One of the fabric selections I'd forgotten I had really struck my fancy. I remembered buying it at the Vero Beach Wal-mart, right before they pulled the entire fabric section out of the store. (Grrrrrr...) I don't remember what I had originally intended to do with it, though. I had purchased 4 yards of this, so it must've been for a tablecloth or something decorative. Since Independence Day is rapidly approaching, and since we're going to be hosting a BBQ get together the following weekend, I thought it would be fun to make use of this fabric.

I pulled up my "Sewing Projects" board on Pinterest, and began looking through the projects I'd thought I'd like to try. I kept seeing full, gathered and pleated skirts, and thought that would be a fun look for the BBQ.

Source via Pinterest
Source via Pinterest
Can't you just see me in June Cleaver mode, welcoming all of the festivity-goers to our lovely home? We're doing the same thing we did last year, which will involve tables groaning with food, 3 grills going, our 30' x 10' white tent, games being played on our brand spankin new regulation-sized horseshoe pits, bocce ball, and frisbee. Last year, we had right around 30 people, and it was a perfect day. The weather cooperated beautifully, and everyone ate until they popped.

We can't wait to do it again!

I fully intended to pull up one of the host of tutorials from my Pinterest finds to make this skirt, but none were quite what I wanted, so I just made it up as I went. Come to think of it, I should have documented this for posterity. Either that, or just so I could figure out what the stink I did to wind up with what I have as a finished project. My intent was a full, gathered skirt, with a fitted-ish waistband, that I could pull over (therefore, no zipper, buttons-and-placket, etc.). Something easy, and cute. Most importantly, I wanted it a modest length so that I could get out and play without worrying about accidentally giving anyone a show.

I'm one of those people who can kind of eyeball things and have an idea about how to make them happen. (Thanks, Daddy, for helping me develop that ability.) I thought I had worked the length out properly to wind up with a tea-length skirt. Apparently, I should have done more actual measuring than just thinking on that one. What I have, is a full, gathered skirt, with a fitted-ish waistband, that is floor-length. Oops. :)

Might-be finished product, on my bridal name
hanger from this Etsy shop.

I don't mind floor-length. I'm halfway considering doing some vertical gathers at the bottom, though, to shorten it a bit and give me some bunting-esque flair. I haven't decided, yet, though. The 4 inch waistband is a bit looser than I would prefer, but it does accomplish the more-important purpose of being something I can pull on. I could've made the elastic a tad tighter, but I really wanted to avoid getting it too tight and being miserable, so I'm guessing I won on that one, too. When my weight-loss is complete, I can always take in the waist.

I have several lovely aprons that have been given to me as gifts, but I decided that this skirt had enough going on that it needed something solid white, so I grabbed some leftover eyelet lace from a curtain project in Florida, and made an apron. I just need to finish attaching the pocket to it, and it'll be finished. It's very lightweight, and I think it'll be lovely as a hostess apron. I'll try to remember to get some pictures at the BBQ.

Much love, and happy sewing!

Source, via Pinterest.

Yes, I am one of those unfortunate souls to whom this applies... though fortunately, not ALL the time. Isn't my husband thrilled that it's not perpetual??

21 June 2012

My Dukan Diet: My Status and Intermediate Results

This is the third post in an ongoing series, and it intersects with the series on PCOS:
  1. My Dukan Diet: History
  2. My Dukan Diet: the Process
Something I'm happy to say: this diet process seems to work for me. Nothing else has. Thank you, my dear friend (Full Time Wife), for introducing me to the Dukan Diet.

I am in the process of losing 45 lbs. This is a picture of one pound of fat. Gross, eh? When I reach my goal, I will be at a weight I haven't been since high school. I think that's the first time I've admitted that to myself, and it's out here on the world wide internets for y'all to read. Typing this paragraph gave me a whole surge of negative thoughts, to which I won't give voice.

Instead, some things I should remind myself:
  • I have PCOS, which adversely affects most of my metabolic and hormonal functions. 
  • Not knowing I had PCOS until 2006, and then not knowing what to do about the weight gain associated with it after my diagnosis made it unreasonable for me to think I should have been able to do something productive about it. I tried and failed, because I didn't have all the facts. 
  • Calorie counting has not worked for me. I have proven this over, and over, and over again. Strict adherence to a number of calories does not work with my wounded metabolism.
  • Structured diets have not worked for me. I have proven this over and over. 
  • Exercise only works for me up to a point. I am big-boned. I am muscular. I need to not delude myself into thinking I can look like I have a different musculo-skeletal structure. My doctor confirms this.
  • The weight I am working toward is healthy for my height and structure, and it is reasonable to believe that, given the correct plan and execution, I can attain it and keep it. My doctor helped me set this goal. 
  • Healthy is the goal. 
I started the Dukan Diet in January.  I immediately began to see results, and in the first 3 months, dropped 22 pounds. I lost 22 lbs, at a rate of between 1.5 to 3 lbs per week, which is considered healthy weight loss. Now, this is not fast weight loss, nor was it easy. It was VERY simple, though. You just eat unrestricted quantities of protein or protein + vegetables (albeit specific proteins and vegetables, and depending on the day). I can do "unrestricted quantities" of good food. It does, however, get very boring. Like I said, not EASY, but simple.  

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech to a halt. The not-easy part is what hit me as I was starting month 4, mid-April. I hit a plateau, because I had arrived at a weight range I occupied successfully and happily for several years. My body is happy there. This is where my clothes fit. Not just the stretchy ones I bum around in-- the tailored ones I haven't even tried to wear in the last 3 years or so, since I've been a permanent telecommuter. It stopped being simple, because it was easier to be in that comfortable place than it was to keep pushing. At this point, several things happened at once.
  • I began to doubt myself. I doubted that I really needed to lose any more. After all, that would mean replacing my wardrobe, and I absolutely loathe shopping for clothes.  
  • I didn't have any energy. (More on this in a minute..)
  • I was TIRED of dieting all the time, missing out on date night dinners with my husband because it was too expensive and depressing to try to go out and get all meat (at some point, I'll probably say more about this). Eating at home is wonderful, but those special dinners mean something to me.
  • My darling husband was getting tired of me being tired of it all. 
  • We went on a trip, and I just didn't have the energy or time to prepare everything I needed for my diet before we left, so I took the weekend off, while we traveled.
  • My husband told me, on our trip, as we sipped the first glass of wine we'd had together in 4 months, how much he had missed that-- the feeling of sitting together, sipping wine, talking, and being on a date. It broke me. He has always said that he doesn't think I need to lose any weight, and only supports me doing what's healthy. 
When we got home, I struggled for a couple of weeks and managed to squeak out three more pounds of weight loss, so that I could hit the 25 pound mark, and we could enjoy our reward dinner together. It was really hard. For the first time, since starting this diet in January, it was really hard.

One night, I bottomed out. I felt lousy, and felt almost comatose by the time we finally ate something. I had had a good workout that morning, and had gone for a walk with a friend. I hadn't eaten much. It was a little scary to feel that low energy. The next day, I still didn't feel well. I went to a walk-in clinic. The doctor said my blood sugar was pretty low, and that I needed to follow-up with my primary care physician and in the mean time, eat every couple of hours.

Part of the standard treatment for PCOS, as I will be explaining in my next post in that series, is the prescription of a diabetes medication. It has a side benefit of helping with some of the metabolic and hormone shifts that occur in the average PCO woman. I had never had any trouble with blood sugar. I'm not diabetic (PCOS causes diabetes). I'm not insulin resistant (common in PCO women), either. So one of the methods of treating the disease was exposing me to a medication that helps control the rate at which sugar hits my blood stream. When you're not taking in any foods that contain sugar, any carbs (except the 2 TBS/day) which convert to sugar, any alcohol which acts like sugar, etc., and you're not someone who has trouble with sugar-- taking a pill that slows down your sugar metabolism under those circumstances can have an adverse effect. I went to the doctor.

My doctor's response to all of this was to cut my medication in half. Getting off medication is one of the reasons I'm losing weight. I want to be healthy. Healthy, and unmedicated. She did some blood tests on me, and she helped me evaluate and re-set my weight loss goal. She said that 10 pounds lighter than I originally planned was definitely achievable, and that it would be healthy for me. She also said that I shouldn't attempt to go lower than that, because of my bone and muscle structure. She said not to stop this diet, because it's working with my body, instead of against it. She said that we would need to reevaluate my medication as I continued losing weight, but that she was "really proud of me" for all I'm doing to get my health in order.

Much love,

Next installment of this series, coming soon!

20 June 2012

Joyous in Pain, Blood, Guts, and Gore

WARNING: This post is not for those who are squeamish about the subject matter of female bodily function. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Here's an unrelated, random cutesy picture for you to
enjoy while all of the squeamish people leave the page
or move to the next post.
Post continues after the jump. I know, I hate those. It just seems kinder to put the blood & guts on the post page and off the main page...

Sharing Five: 6/20/12

I've decided this is a nice way to share some of the things that I appreciate, so you'll be seeing more "Sharing Five" posts.

  1. From Always Learning, "A President with Guts"-- a post with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt
  2. From Life in a Glass House, "Infertility, You Lost Again"-- I went to college with Gaby. I love her honesty and transparency. She has a beautiful heart. 
  3. From Raising Arrows, "Sisyphus, the Homemaker"-- all about keeping your heart in a worshipful state.
  4. From Raising Homemakers, "Quick Homemaking Tips"-- some interesting tips and tricks to keep  your home humming along.
  5. From Mars Hill Church, "A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in Marriage"-- I know some people who are dealing with tough issues right now. This story does my heart good. "I want blood for this." "You've got blood. Jesus died for this."
My 5 won't always be this sobering. It's just how it worked out this time. 

Much love,

18 June 2012

Modest Monday linkup with The Modest Mom

Today I'm linking up for the first time with The Modest Mom for her weekly linkup called Modest Mondays. This is what I wore to church Saturday evening. This is my most favoritest skirt, now. I've been wearing it and another one similar to it so much that my husband is surprised to see me in something else, some days. Well, ya hafta do laundry SOME time. :) I got both the skirt and the blouse at the Thrift Store down the road. As you can tell, I still have about 20 lbs left to lose, but I'm getting there.

Since my darling husband was going fishing with his buddy, John, for a Father's Day retreat, we went to the Saturday evening service. I have to admit, it was odd having the whole day yesterday to do with as I please. Our community group was off for Father's Day, and we'd already been to church. So, I spent the time sewing. I was a happy Lovey, let me tell you.

I've followed The Modest Mom Blog regularly for some months. Caroline has such a sweet spirit about her, and has brought some things to the front of my mind to reexamine to which I honestly hadn't given a second thought since high school. She has a store, as well, and I just ordered something from her last week. I can't wait to see how it fits. :)


One of the things I've thought a lot about is from this video she's used, and I've seen it on several other linked blogs as well. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to the first 8:46 minutes of this. (After that it gets a little repetitive, pieces of varying volume are spliced together, so I usually just listen to the beginning. I'd say listen to the whole thing at least once, though. It's worth it.)

One of the things that he says is that immodesty is an expression of arrogance. That makes complete sense to me, but I've never thought of it in those terms. I wrote that on a sticky note and stuck it to the shelf in my closet where I could see it every time I get dressed. It's really made me think. Who is going to see me today? If the UPS guy shows up at the door, will I be appropriately dressed to answer it? Where am I going to be, and what can I do to make myself safe for the men around me? What of my body can I share with my husband today, and only with him?

So, my thoughts have been different when I prepare for the day than they ever have in my life. I'm learning, even though this is a lesson I thought I had pretty well nailed down in my life previously.

What are you wearing today? Is it modest? Take a picture and link up with Caroline from The Modest Mom blog. :)

Much love,

15 June 2012

Book Report: What I've Been Reading

(A section of my bookshelves,
as they were in my living room in Florida.)
Every year, I set my reading goal. Depending on the season of my life, what types of chaos invade, etc, some years I hit my goal, and some years I don't. This year, the first full calendar year of married life, I have set my goal for my usual calm-year expectation of 60 books. Last year, I got nowhere near that. Then again, last year, I moved twice (once from Florida to South Carolina, and once from my apartment to my husband's home), got married long distance (multiple trips to and from Missouri), took a honeymoon, set up homemaking, and continued renovations on our home. It was not a calm year. There was no chance of me finding 60 books worth of reading time.

Since I don't know yet what kind of time married life will allow for my forays into pages, I just used my standard, and can adjust from there. I'm sure as babies come along and life shifts, I'll need to change that number downward over the course of years before I'm able to meet that goal consistently, again. We'll see. It's all one big adventure!

So this year, I've been boring with my reading selections so far. A handful of business/motivational/self-help type books, and a handful of novels, but mostly non-fiction health, wellness, and relationship books have made up the 23 I've completed so far. That puts me about 7 behind where I ought to be at the end of this month. Fortunately, I'm in the middle of several books, so if I can just wrap up a few of these, I should be in half-way decent shape.

It occurred to me that as part of this goal, I could write book reports on some of what I read, for blog posts. This post kicks off that (hopefully ongoing) feature series. My first book report in 2012 will be on The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast (Dragonslayer series by Jasper Fforde), both of which I read this week.

Much love, and happy reading!

My Best Friend(s): My Parents

(Beautiful picture, eh? My sister 
took it at my wedding.)

These two good-looking, blue-eyed, silver-haired people are my parents. Depending on which one of them people have met, I get told that I resemble either of them.

Because I have too much to say about both of them individually, I will dedicate a post to each of them, after this. 

My parents are great people. They really are. I'm not just saying that because they're my parents. As my parents they've taught me much about life. They taught me that true life is the one that lives into eternity, not the one that ends in death, here on earth. They brought me to knowledge of God, and taught me how to seek Him. They provided an amazing life throughout my childhood and adolescence. They prayed for me as I became an adult and moved out on my own, temporarily forsaking some of the truth they'd tried to instill in me. They loved me-- even as unlovable as I have been, sometimes-- unconditionally, and wholeheartedly. That love is humbling to me, because I know of many ways I broke their hearts over the years. Eventually, they gave me their friendships, each individually, in time. Then they blessed me.

I don't begin to know what to say to encapsulate all that my parents mean to me, all that they taught me in word and deed, and all that I know them to be. This sad attempt at a tribute is just the first, and I'll keep adding to it, augmenting with a post here and there, hoping to some day speak my heart.

I love you, Mumsy and Daddy. I thank God for you.

Much love.

My Dukan Diet: The Process

The Dukan Diet was formulated by Dr. Pierre Dukan in France. The website takes you through a questionnaire that requires multiple kinds of information in a quick, easy format. Its results take into account your height, weight, gender, age, family history, bone structure, etc. This information goes in, and the website tells you what your "true weight" is. True weight is a goal that should be reasonable, based on the criteria you provided.

The Dukan Diet is a four phase process. The idea is to help you kickstart weight loss, drop the weight, then not gain it back. Here are the phases:
  • Attack Phase - In the Attack Phase, you're permitted only proteins (meats & selected non-fat dairy), and a little oat bran each day. The length of the Attack Phase is determined within the website's algorithm that takes into account how easy it is for you to lose weight, the number of diets you've been on, etc. My original Attack Phase was 7 days. My mom's was 5. My dad's was 3. My best girl friend's was a whopping 12. This phase kicks your body into weight-loss gear.
  • Cruise Phase - The Cruise Phase adds vegetables back into your diet. (Not all vegetables, though.) Alternating days you get either a PP (Protein day, just like in the Attack Phase) or a PV (Attack day plus veggies) day. Every day you get a little oat bran, too. This phase takes the weight off slowly enough to not put your body into shock, but quickly enough that you don't lose heart.
  • Consolidation Phase - The Consolidation Phase begins when you reach your true weight (the website lays out how long they estimate it will take you to go through each phase), and lasts 5 days for each pound lost. This phase begins reintegrating foods back into your diet. You get bread, fruit and cheese, again. You get one celebration meal per week, then two, which include anything you want (including alcohol, dessert, fat, oil, pasta, whatever) but only one serving of each. No seconds. There are a few more expansions during this phase, too, but having not reached it, yet, I don't have them memorized. Consolidating the weight loss keeps your body at the established goal weight, while gradually reintegrating you into societal norms. At this point, it gets easier to eat out with friends, attend parties, etc, because your options open up, some.
  • Stabilization Phase - The Stabilization Phase begins when you've completed the consolidation phase. In this phase you are permitted to eat anything you like, six days per week. The rules are:  you do one day every week (preferably the same day, each week) of the Attack diet, to keep your body on track; you eat anything you like the other 6 days, but no second servings--take as much as you want in the first serving, but don't go back; and you never take an elevator or escalator again. (In theory, anyway. I've found that some places it's awfully hard to avoid.) This phase continues indefinitely, and serves to keep you at your established, consolidated new normal weight. 
While you're working through this, you are to walk every day. Nothing more strenuous is encouraged. You are to eat your oat bran (1 1/2  to 3 tablespoons, depending on phase) every day. You are to never take an elevator or escalator, ever again. (Like I said earlier, in theory...)

So this is my super-abbreviated rundown of the Dukan Diet. My doctor is in favor of it for me, because it's working to get my health in order, while nothing else has. You need to talk to your doctor before you attempt it. I'm not a licensed medical practitioner, nor do I provide health or weight loss advice. All I do is make observations about the efficacy of what I do for my own body.  

More soon on how things are going for me...

Much love.

Please Vote For My Friends!

My dear friend and her husband (Brock & Nellie) created this video for the Union Pacific Railroad commercial competition. It's really cute, and her voice, as always is beautiful and clear as a bell, while fun and playful. He put intense quantities of work into all the details on this one-minute video, which lives up to his usual standards of excellence. More of his amazing work can be found at his website, brockoli.com.

Right now he's in school with Animation Mentor, expanding his already-considerable skills.

One of my favorite things he's done is this 5 second short entitled Braveballs. It's self-explanatory.

Makes me giggle every time! And if you look closely, frame by frame, he put INSANE amounts of detail in the background, the reflections, and facepaint.

So, go HERE and vote for Brock & Nellie's Union Pacific Railroad video submission!

Much love.

05 June 2012

My Best Friend(s): Aunt Polly

My Aunt Polly is one of my best friends. She was there for my birth, and for pretty much every major milestone of my life. She claims me as her daughter, when she gets a chance, but in recent years we're more friends than anything. I love her fiercely.

One of my guinea pigs modeling one of the crocheted pig slippers,
on the crocheted afghan, both courtesy of Aunt Polly.

She's an amazing woman. She and her beloved husband of several decades built their house, themselves, entirely, without going into debt. They live simply, but very well. They have 3 huge gardens, and live mostly off their land. They are excellent examples of stewardship, and I have learned a lot from them. I've learned that being content is very important. I have learned that quality workmanship makes things last longer, and that taking care of quality workmanship is vital for durability.

I have learned that you can choose to buy into the consumerism lies, or choose to invest your life elsewhere. I have learned that even when you have few material possessions, by choice or by circumstance, you always have enough to go around, to share with others. I've learned that when you're in need of comfort, you can always comfort others, and quite often, it comforts you, too. I have learned that even through debilitating illness, it's possible to keep your home with excellence and create a place that is peaceful and welcoming.

I have learned that home is VERY important. In the years between my parents move away from the Rockin Angel Ranch and my marriage, her home was "home" for me. Now, I'm married, and our home is "home" for me, but I still love to go to Aunt Polly's house. It's a place where I always find a haven of rest. Don't get me wrong; my parents have lived in some lovely homes, and where my momma is is always a beautiful, welcoming place. But, Aunt Polly's is an unmoving harbor. They don't move, and when I needed a place to return to, it was always available. (The running joke is that they haven't moved in thirty-some-odd years, but that they've lived at a dozen addresses. It seems the US Postal Service can't quite decide what the address ought to be, so about every 4 years or so, their address changes.)

She, like my mother, is an excellent Titus 2 woman, and has taught me, as directed in scripture to be a keeper at home and love my husband. I find myself modeling my home after the homes of these two women, more so than anything else.

Titus 2:3-5   ...the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Italics mine.)

She would dream with me of the day that God would bring my husband into my life, and she is still dreaming with me of the day when I have babies and bring them to her knee. She thinks that 5 ought to be enough for her, but if I want to have more, that'd be okay, too. Smile.

Aunt Polly is a soft, lovely woman. She's tall and stout, but her heart is so beautifully, refreshingly soft. She cries easily, and laughs just as readily. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and it's been broken many times. She taught me that vulnerability is good, and it's important, even when it opens you up to heartache. She taught me to seek healing of those hurts in the heart of God, not in worldly pursuits.

She taught me that it's okay to be soft, that I don't need to rebut with sarcasm or stinging wit, just because that's what others find easiest, or funniest. I used to be so hurt by the teasing of others, and in college made a real effort to learn how to wield sarcasm, weapon that it is, to wound back. I learned from Aunt Polly that I'm not the only one who doesn't find it fun to be teased and poked fun at, and that if others were honest about it, they don't like to be on the receiving end, either. Being harsh in return for harshness dealt you, even when it's couched in other terms, doesn't make you anything but mean. Soft sweetness and vulnerability do not make you devoid of a sense of humor, just as meanness doesn't make you funny.

Aunt Polly has a great sense of humor, and we laugh often together, sharing inside jokes the way old friends do.  When I leave her home, she cries, and as I pull away, I do, too, though never until I round the curve. I miss her terribly, when we're apart. We talk on the phone, and that bridges the gap, but from time to time, the distance gets too great, and I turn my heart toward her home, and my steps find their way there, again.

When I think of a woman of quiet strength and simple faith, I think of my Aunt Polly. She simply trusts Jesus, that it's all going to be all right in the end. I'm learning to walk in her steps, and I thank God often for the precious gift He has given me in her.

Much love,

Ovaries, Whiskers, and Fat Cells! Oh, My! (Part 1)

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), otherwise known as polycystic ovary disease, functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, ovarian hyperthecosis, sclerocystic ovary syndrome, and Stein-Leventhal syndrome. Thanks, Wikipedia.

(Personal note, I find the plush organs and cells 
and things to be extremely humorous.)

I was diagnosed in 2006, and it was both a relief and a trauma for me. It was a relief because I FINALLY had some explanation for all the stuff that was weird about me. It was a trauma because "now" I was diseased. Gasp. Wail. Oh, the woe! Sob. Sniffle... Yeah. That. Truth be told, nothing had changed. I wasn't suddenly afflicted. I had been for a long, long time. I just didn't know it. It was still tough to wrap my brain around the diagnosis though. But, NOW I could do something about it.

As for the relief, here are some of the symptoms that, while seemingly unrelated, were suddenly explained by this diagnosis:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Horrendous cramps, PMS, etc (worse than any of my friends, and I'm not a lightweight when it comes to pain..)
  • Oh, yeah, speaking of weight, though not light... Weight gain. And difficulty losing it. 
  • Migraines (sure, my mom gets them, so maybe they're hereditary, but who knew my ovaries could have anything to do with them?)
  • Hirsutism. Or whiskers. Yeah, those pesky things that even 4 years of electrology didn't even slightly help, and one of the primary reasons I got made fun of in high school.  I remember the comments and sneers, even to this day, and long for a retort. Still haven't thought of one, almost 20 years later. Still stings-- being ridiculed for something I really couldn't figure out how to control. To this day, I spend about an hour a day plucking facial hair. Ya. Hoo. It turns out, it's a good thing I'm not a lightweight in the pain department. Some people can't handle plucking. Or electrology. 
  • Cystic Acne. Another thing that doesn't make you popular, and another thing that it turns out I couldn't have controlled, no matter how hard I tried. At 32, I still have it (though admittedly to a much lesser degree than what plagued me in high school, junior high, and, oh, yes, ELEMENTARY school)... Because I still deal with it, I find it extremely humorous when someone compliments me on my skin. I do have amazing skin care, supplements, and make-up products now, though, which makes a HUGE difference in what people see. That, and I'm a hermit. If they don't see me, they don't see my whiskers and zits. 
Random Senior Picture, just for the fun of it. 
Some of the other things PCOS causes, but I have yet to develop (and therefore have yet to be made fun of for having):

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke (which already runs in the family)
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Insulin Resistance, leading in many cases to Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Infertility
Back to me. Because that's how this post is going to roll.. There are varying studies that show a link between early development/puberty and PCOS, but nothing that shows causality, at least that I've come across-- whether one causes the other, or vice versa. It just seems that those of us who developed freakishly early (something even adults made rude comments to me about, when I was in elementary school... no question where the KIDS get it, if grownups are jerks... It's called acne. Deal with it. Yes, I know I'm in 2nd grade. Yes, I do need to be wearing a bra. Jerk. Glad I didn't respond that way, then. I was more confused by the comments and questions than anything, then. Now it makes me mad that people could be that insensitive to a little kid.) also often get the added bonus of having psycho ovaries. Woohoo! (Yes, I know that was a really long parenthetical rant, and you probably had to go back to the beginning of the sentence to figure it out. I'm sorry.)

Let me explain to you how I got the diagnosis in the first place. I was living in Arlington, VA, and read a magazine article that was talking about reproductive health. It had an inset box that showed symptoms and potential causes of the symptoms. I looked at one of the sections and said, "Wait a minute. I think that's me." It had never occurred to me that these things might have a link, much less a cause, unified or otherwise. It was just normal for me. I didn't know it wasn't normal for everyone. I didn't know that other people didn't fight with all of this stuff, well, except the period misery, perhaps. I knew there were other girls who didn't have that trouble, but I figured it was just a continuum of misery, of sorts, and that I just landed at a different place on the continuum. Apparently, it had never occurred to my doctor to look for a cause. 

So I researched. Everything I could get my hands on about PCOS went with me, back to Leawood, KS to the doctor group I had been seeing for 12-15 years or so. I laid it all out for the doctor, with everything that matched my medical history and symptomology highlighted, and asked her to see if this was a valid diagnosis. She basically shrugged and said she could order an ultrasound to find out. Turns out it was. Turns out, they had the equipment in the office, and it also turns out that I could've had this diagnosis for a long time, as well as a treatment plan. 

The doctor gave the diagnosis, and I explained to her that my research showed that normal treatment for PCOS was a combination of metformin (generic of Glucophage-- a diabetes medication, off-label use) and low-dose birth control pills. Another shrug, and the prescription pad came out. 

I've never, in the 6 years since my diagnosis, had a doctor sit down with me and educate me about this disease, or its treatment. For the most part, it seems I've known more about it than the doctors. Sad, eh? I say seems, because the doctors act like they don't know the answers when they ask me questions about PCOS and I tell them about the studies on PCOS women, treatment, etc., as well as my own experiences. Perhaps they do know, but it takes less time and effort to talk about it when they see I've done my homework. Of course, I've taken the time to educate myself, so there's that. 

This post is getting extremely long, so I believe I will make this a series. Part 2 (about treatment/cure), coming soon. Part 3 will probably be about living with PCOS and what it means for ongoing health/life issues.

Much Love,