Monday, October 7, 2013

Summer, where have you gone?

As I peeked out my door I saw the grass was green and the skies were blue. The birds were calling me to come out and play. But I couldn't  . . . because I had things to do. 

Now fall is in full swing, and the leaves are beginning to turn.  When I opened my windows this morning I took in a great big breath of the crisp, cool air.  It gently caressed my face and filled my home with that wonderful feeling of freshness. Some people are rejuvinated with spring, but autumn puts me in the mood to bake, rake leaves, decorate, and get ready to settle in for winter.
I really want to make taffy apples today!  But I can't . . . because I have things to do.

Each time I come down to my sewing studio, I walk by a carefully selected stack of wonderful autumn fabrics - teasing me to come play.  I had planned on making a Halloween quilt for myself, my daughter, and daughter-in-law.  But I didn't . . .  because I had things to do.

The good news is, I did manage to enjoy the summer a bit, planting gardens, attending county fair (where I was awarded 5 blue ribbons, thank you very much!), birthday parties, barbecues, car shows, and a quilt convention.

 My husband and I even managed to take a 3 day trip to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Only a few days away, but it was a much needed break.  We try to go back each year to where we were married. 

I designed 15 adorable children's clothing patterns.  Well, the actual garments, I'm still saving up for the software to digitally draw the pattern pieces.
I had a professional photo shoot of Ellie wearing the finished garments.  It was amazing, and turned out better than I could have hoped for!  I am in the process of redesigning my blog graphics and setting up my store.  I am always trying to get "just one more" outfit done before my granddaughter Ellie moves to Tennessee. 

Mom's spinal stenosis is progressing, and we are to the point where she almost refuses to try to walk. Every day is a battle to try to have her walk at least a little, for fear that her leg muscles will weaken and she will not have the strength to get up out of the chair and transfer.  If that happens I am afraid she will no longer be able to stay at home.  I do have help in the mornings, but it is still a 7-day-a week job, with phone calls starting as early as 5 in the morning.  Dementia has set in, off and on, and for some reason she feels the need to call me pretty much all day long, starting bright and early! 

I feel so bad that I have neglected my blog for so long, but I realized that the only way I was going to keep my sanity and hopefully my health during this time in my life was to only do the absolutely necessary things to get through each day.  I do manage to do a little knitting and crochet almost daily. One afternoon a week, for 2 hours, I get together with a group of ladies at a local church who meet for a knit/crochet club.  Most of them are experienced knitters and crocheters, and this is a Godsend for me.  I have been trying to learn to follow patterns for 20 years to knit retro look cardigan sweaters, and I might just do it yet!!! 

I truly hope that all of you who I have had the pleasure of meeting in blogland will stay with me through this difficult time in my life.  If we make it through the holidays with Mom at home I will have really accomplished something.  I have accepted the fact that this won't last much longer, and most likely it won't be long until she needs to go to a facility that is better able to meet her needs.  

Until then, I will try my hardest to drop in more often to say hello and give you updates on what I have been up to! Please, all of my dear friends, have a wonderful fall. Remember, each day is a gift and you should make the most of it. 

Don't let "Having things to do" prevent you from enjoying each and every day.   

Friday, April 19, 2013


I'm sure a few have wondered if I have disappeared off the face of the earth.  It sure feel like it.  I have been really busy, that's for sure. For the past two years I have been trying to restart my pattern business, and little by little I have created quilts, dolls, and children's clothing, just waiting for me to write patterns and get into PDF documents.  Yuk.  I hate that part.  Worse than writing a term paper. Several people have told me to "Just get going on it" and they are right.  I'm trying, really I am. I just have other things that are taking priority right now. The days and weeks are flying by, it's just crazy!
If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I am taking care of my mom.  My goal has been to keep her at home instead of the nursing home.  

Let me just say right now that we are very fortunate to have one of the nation's top rated nursing homes in my town, just 90 seconds away from my home by car, and it is wonderful. We have experienced other nursing homes over the past five years and this one is an absolute blessing.  

Anyhow . . .  please let me just tell you a little bit of what has been going on. They say it is good to vent, and here I go. I hope you will forgive my rambling, I think it is a very healing thing for me to share this with all of you. And PLEASE understand, this post isn't to whine and complain and tell you how hard I have worked, but to enlighten those of you who haven't yet experienced this situation, so you can appreciate those who are caring for others. I feel it has been a privilege to care for Mom.  She took wonderful care of me, and I am happy to do the same for her.

My mom has battled cancer, arthritis, and has survived losing both my dad and her mother within 3-1/2 days of each other. She also has severe osteoporsis, and has had four or five falls over the last few years resulting in bone fractures. She has spinal stenosis, which has also been progressing over the past four or five years.  

Being the only child in town, I have been pretty much managing her affairs and seeing to her needs during this last five years.  As time has progressed, so has my level of involvement. What started off as going shopping, seeing to her meals, doing laundry, and driving her to appointments has progressed to giving her showers, seeing to all her personal hygiene, taking over her financial affairs, writing bills, managing appointments, and all aspects of running her home. 

Busy, busy, busy!!! Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, running two households can get to be a little tricky! So when am I going to find time to work on the patterns?  Hmmmmm.

Now, sadly, we are at the point where she can no longer do anything for herself.  Thankfully, my sister quit her job and came to live with Mom to give me a break last year. Other than me filling in so she could get out of the house or go home for extended weekends, she took care of everything.  It was a much needed break, and I greatly appreciate her putting her life on hold for us. She ended up staying much longer than she planned, but finally a couple months ago she returned home. She was amazing, and my hat is off to her for being there  24/7.  It is a different situation when you are caring for a demanding toddler, because you are the mom and you can say now be nice, sit still, have patience, and tell them because I'm the mom, that's why! When you are dealing with a demanding elder it is a different story. You can't speak to an adult the way you would a child, and sometimes they don't realize how demanding or crabby they might be, and it is frustrating.  Mom has been in and out of the nursing home for rehab for strengthening after falls, and each trip home has been harder and harder. She still wants to be home, and after everything she has been through I am determined to keep her there until it is no longer possible. Of course I am crossing my fingers, praying, and wishing for renewed strength and a little more time at home. 
This post is my gift to all of you caretakers, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and those grandparents who are raising or helping raise grandchildren. Taking care of people is one of the noblest and most heartfelt things you can do.  I do believe there is a special place in Heaven for all of us. 

I thought it was difficult taking care of Mom over the last several years, but now I realize that was not nearly as difficult as it could be, and will be.  She could barely stand with help, and has been transported by wheelchair to bed, bathroom, and to her favorite blue chair.  I can't begin to tell you about the aches and pains and muscle strains trying to lift her, and let's not even get started about my poor knees, who are on the way out!! There is a LOT of bending involved in dressing someone, you just wouldn't believe it till you did it!   I would literally plop onto the couch with exhaustion when I got home at night. 

She cannot be left alone at all, and I am managing with the help of a wonderful daughter-in-law and family friend, and my son who lives with my mom.  My husband has even spent the night, and has gone to her home early mornings to fill in during the 1-1/2 hour time frame that my son has left for work and my morning helpers arrive.  I would get to Mom's early afternoon and stay till she is in bed, around nine or so, seven days a week.  Even when someone else is there taking care of her, she constantly calls me for various reasons.  I think it just reassures her to hear my voice. Oddly, every time she is in the hospital or nursing home she seems to get more frequent spells of confusion, resembling dementia.  Once she is home it goes away.  A little forgetfulness and confusion, but much less.

I once walked into her hospital room where she was staying after a fall. She was alone in her room, sitting in a wheelchair, chanting my phone number.  She was confused, but somehow must have felt that if she could reach me she would be safe.  It broke my heart, and actually brings me to tears just writing about it. My Aunt Diane, her sister, says I am her lifeline. 

It is  both physically and emotionally draining caring for people.  I have realized in my conversations with people that there are so many of you out there taking care of family members, or perhaps as a job. Trying to get her to stand up, coaxing her to try to take one step, taking ten minutes to get her situated in bed, just to have her inform you she needs to go to the bathroom again, is exhausting. Seeing the blank stare that is beginning to replace the sparkle in her  bright blue eyes is heart wrenching.  

Yesterday, I took her for her followup doctor's appointment. I told him of how she seems to be worsening. He did a few motor coordination and muscle tests, and asked more questions. He suspects Parkinsons disease. I am kicking myself thinking I should have noticed the symptoms and connected the dots.  You see, my husband also has Parkinsons.  He is still in the early stages, but there is some progression.  I am aware that the time will come when I will once again be a caretaker, but maybe this time for him. Then again, who knows what the future holds, maybe him for me. I do know that once Mom can no longer stand on her own I can no longer keep her home. It will be a sad day, but it is inevitable.  Until then, I guess my purpose in life is to care for others.  This really won't be hard.  I have always been a nurturing person.  First my four children, and the grandchildren, and now Mom. 

I still plan on launching my pattern business to supplement our income once my husband can no longer work. It is taking so much longer than I imagined, but I have to do what is the most important thing first, which is taking care of Mom.
Last week Rose, our family friend who is one of the two people helping me, called to tell me that Mom could not get up out of her chair and needed to go the bathroom. I ran over to her house, and once I was there I realized something was very wrong. She was weak and shaky and didn't look well at all.  We called for an ambulance to transport her to the ER.  They said all her levels were fine, but admitted her for observation. Her doctor recommended rehab, once again. So back to the nursing home we go. They are still using a lift instead of letting her try to stand on her own, she is just that weak.  If she gets strong enough, and I can get her in and out of her chair to take her to the bathroom and get her in bed I can take her home -  even if just for a little while.  I am praying she will improve, because I am just not ready to call it quits.  

I would like to thank each and every one of you caretakers out there. I know of several of you whom I have met through blogging. Please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for all you do for those in need, on behalf of those who may not be able to express their gratitude.  

Whether caretaking is a job, or if you are helping a family member, friend, or handicapped child, I know that it is one of the hardest jobs there is.  I see so many of you around me now. I guess now my eyes are opened and I am noticing more. Everywhere I look I am seeing elderly people with caretakers. I am amazed at what great lengths you go to to care for others.  I appreciate your kind words, your warm encouraging smiles, your gentle touch, and your patience.  I see the appreciation upon the faces of those being cared for, and I am brought to tears nearly every day visiting in the nursing home and seeing all you angels on earth making a difference in someone's life.  

Sadly, my mom is starting to go in and out of dementia. She really does not seem to understand the great lengths people are going to in order to care for her.  

Sometimes I look into those blue eyes and I know that she might not realize how hard I have worked to care for her, but I hope she somehow feels deep down in her soul that someone loves her very much, and will be here for her, no matter what.    

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Well I'm excited . . .

I'm  really excited to tell you that  I have been featured in the February 2013 issue of Art Doll Quarterly magazine.  I created six dolls in honor of my great aunts, from "downhome" as we called it.  I call them the Garden Club Gals.  In the article I write about the dolls, how each lady has a different position in the club, and what their duties are.  Every single doll has her own personality.  It's just kind of fun and silly.

 My grandma and grandad on my dad's side were southerners, coming from Kentucky and southern Illinois, Hillsboro area.  I know southern Illinois doesn't sound very southern, but believe me, when I was on the farms and in the small town visiting the relatives, the accents were definitely there and the lifestyle was southern. 
Oh, how I loved being there. I should have known right then and there that I belong in the south, probably on a farm or a very rural small town. While there, I learned to ride a horse. I also learned to drive a motorcycle.  I went fishing in a trout pond, and I played in a corn silo.   I still remember going to the barn to visit Uncle Paul while he was milking cows. He asked me if I liked milk, and nodding my head up and down I assured him I loved milk. As I got a little closer to take a better look he pointed the udders at me, squirting me with the warm milk. I squealed as loud as the nearby baby pigs as I ran away. Once I was at a safe distance, I stopped and looked back. He was perched on his little stool, bent over as he resumed his work. I could hear him softly chuckling as the streams of milk hit the bucket. What a character.  On my 15th birthday, in a cute little beauty shop in town, I had my ears pierced. Yet another memory. I wish I could remember what the name of the shop was and exactly how it looked. I'm picturing a cute little pink shop, something like I would see on the Andy Griffith show or like the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias.  

I had such wonderful visits, and absolutely loved all the aunts, my grandma's sisters.  They had such a huge influence on me. I saw first-hand the quilting and sewing and canning and baking - all the activities so common to women from that generation.   My grandma had six sisters and one brother.  Actually while researching I discovered she had another brother, Reed, who I had never heard of.  I am assuming he died young.  

My grandma was Ina.  Ina Pearl Littrell. She was born and raised in the beautiful southeastern Kentucky. I have named chickens and dolls after her and all of these women.  I'm not sure if they would have been happy about that or not!!  Her sisters were Mary, Audrey, Willa, Lillian, Myrtle Lee, and she had a brother named Paul, who married Leona.  My brother, Joseph Paul, was named after my grandad, Joseph, and Uncle Paul.  I remember Uncle Paul and his dry sense of humor.  He always had a twinkle in his blue eyes and looked like he was ready to break into a smile, which always left me wondering just what he was up to.   

I felt so at home in the small town and farms we stayed at, perhaps partly because I had family there. You see, somehow my grandparents ended up in southern Illinois, which is a stones throw from the area in Kentucky where she was born. My dad's parents moved to Wisconsin right before he and his sister were born. Times were hard and there was a huge automobile factory here offering steady employment and benefits. He and Aunt Betty were raised here.  At 17 years of age, my dad joined the navy and was stationed in San Francisco, where he met my mom. They married and started their family there, and my older brother, Joey, was born. When he was about a year old they had an earthquake, which frightened my dad to death. He told my mom to pack everything up. Off they went to Wisconsin. His sister, Aunt Betty had 5 boys, but since she married a handsome naval officer and lived out of state, we never had any relatives here except for my grandparents.  So I grew up with absolutely no relatives around, which I guess seemed normal since I didn't know any different. I guess I felt like I had roots downhome, and that was where I belonged.
I remember how Aunt Myrt and Uncle Dale had a bowling alley and antique store on the main street in the small town.  Aunt Lillian's son, Harold Dean, was the mayor.  (In the south you use two names). I felt so important being related to royalty!
My mom recalls the local newspaper printing a little article about the relatives from Wisconsin visiting one summer. Now that's what I call a small town. She also recalls the first time she met my grandmother's mom.  She was a little tiny Ma Kettle like dynamo, and within one minute of being introduced, she excused herself, picked up a shotgun and shot at some crows she had just noticed in her garden.  My mom was a bit taken aback, being a city girl.  
I created these dolls in honor of the aunts.  They are whimsical and silly.  I hope the pictures do them justice. I gave them each bloomers and a full slip.  No proper lady would be without a slip, right   You should see the bloomers. 

I added extra stuffing into the back of the bloomers to give the aunts a little extra cush for comfort.  Actually none of them were really chubby, but it was cute.  Come to think of it Aunt Myrt was a plump, sweet, lovable little thing.   
  I added a little extra stuffing in the bosoms for a more mature look.
I used vintage reproduction fabrics and linens for the coats to have a fresh, fun, yet vintage feel.  The article goes into a little more detail.  I am on pages 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.  I really hope you get a chance to pop in a Barnes and Noble or some place that carries the magazine so you can take a peek.  I am so excited about it, and am really happy to pay tribute to these wonderful women who had such an influence on me. 

One of my sons and his family are very seriously considering moving to southern Tennessee, really just south of where my grandma is from.  We are  considering trying to find a tiny little cottage or build a little log cabin near them to visit, and maybe spend some of the winter months.  How funny that I might end up so near to where it all began.  Full circle really.  Maybe I am meant to live in the south after all.  Anyone out there from Tennessee, or nearby?  Thanks so much for stopping by to visit, I am always so happy to see you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Well, you're just not going to believe it.  Remember my weight was 145 at my last post?  Are you ready for this?  It is, this morning . . . . . drum roll . . . . . 146.5.

Yep.  That's right.  I gained a pound and a half.  Sigh.  I just don't know what to say.  That's why I have been dreading writing this post.  I kept hoping it would go back down, but nope!!!!!
I really have no explanation.  One thought that crossed my mind was that I was trying to eat all these different things that were proven to lower cholesterol.  Certain nuts, olive oil, on and on.  Perhaps I was adding extra calories in and not cutting back somewhere else?  That might explain it! 

I had the great idea to bake some oatmeal cookies, loaded with walnuts and dried cranberries. Of course I had to put at least a little bit of chocolate chips in them.  Instead of vegetable oil I substituted olive oil, which is also supposed to be good for high cholesterol.  It makes sense, right?  A good high fiber cookie.  I mean really, there ARE three cups of oats in the recipe.  They were mmmm, mmmm, good, and I was thinking that this was the best "diet" in the world.  They were healthy, and they filled me up. Well, a few cookies with a cup of coffee or Diet Coke did.  I thought it was helping to keep my appetite under control so I wasn't hungry, thus not being tempted to eat unhealthy foods. And yes, as I wrote that last sentence I do see the irony in eating cookies to prevent unhealthy food choices. Duh.  Apparently I'm not as smart as I thought I was!!! 

My husband has informed me that I was the ONLY one in the house eating the cookies, and that I have managed to eat pretty much every last one myself.  He and my son had a few, but the rest I put in the freezer because. . . well duh. . . everyone knows there is nothing better than homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies right out of the freezer, except maybe Girl Scout Thin Mints!  Ohmygosh don't even get me started.  I didn't even order any Girl Scout cookies, and when my daughter gave us a box  I instructed my husband to hide it in the pole barn out of my sight.   

Apparently eating almost 4 dozen cookies myself over the last week or so might have not been a great idea.  I swear, I had no idea I was the only one eating them.  This is why I NEVER buy junk food or Oreos or anything I  love, because I just keep going back for more.

The only other thing I can think of that might have made me gain weight is stress. They say stress can do it to you. My mom had yet another fall a little over a week ago, and again is in the nursing home for rehab.  Thank God she didn't break anything this time. She was so sore and stiff there was no way we could have managed her at home, and the doctor recommended a little physical therapy. That whole ordeal, from the phone call telling me of the fall to the day spent in the ER to the admission to the nursing home was really stressful.  Seeing her in such pain was awful.  

To top it off, my little sister, my only sister, who has been here to help with mom after her last fall, was going to be returning home.  Just knowing she was leaving was so sad, and thinking about it would bring me to tears every time I thought of it.  We are so close.  She is so much fun.  We laugh at the same things, finish each other's sentences, frequently say the exact same words or sentences at the exact same time, and even think of the other person about one second before they call on the phone.  
We have always talked on the phone every day, but this was even better! She was here for the family birthday parties, special occasions, and barbecues.  It was so nice.  I am so sad that she is gone.  I am so happy for her to get her life back though.  Sniff.  Sniff.

I told you I would let you all know how I was doing with my weight and healthy lifestyle, so there it is. The ugly, awful truth.  But let's look on the bright side.  I have begun taking fish oil, red yeast rice, and becoming very aware of certain foods that have health benefits. 
I've discovered Greek yogurt has an amazing amount of protein and also probiotics for stomach health. It tastes sour, but I add the cinnamon that I am supposed to take daily, squirt in a little honey we purchase from our friendly neighborhood beekeeper, and just tell myself I am improving my health with every bite. Just in case you didn't know, protein builds muscle, and the more muscle you have the more efficiently you burn fat. Also, protein makes you feel fuller longer.  So it's a win-win situation! Who knows, I may even learn to like it! I could always add fruit, but I really want to get in those two teaspoons of cinnamon.  I guess I don't even have to tell you I would prefer cinnamon toast with sugar and butter!

I am exercising more. I have gotten on that old treadmill much more often, and even pulled out my Yoga Booty Ballet and Zumba CDs.   I am starting to do a little bit of working out with my five pound weights.  When I go to the nursing home to sit with mom, which is about five hours a day total since she doesn't like being there and is lonely, I always grab a big ol' orange from the snack tray instead of junk food which is right alongside the fruit.  Well, ok, I do take an occasional mini Oreo snack pack, but for the most part just the orange.  Instead of eating a regular baked potato with sour cream and butter, I bake a sweet potato and sprinkle cinnamon and a tiny bit of brown sugar on it.  It's so much better for you and tastes like pumpkin pie.

This wasn't really about losing weight anyhow, but lowering my cholesterol.  Who knows, maybe I actually have improved my cholesterol levels.  I just wouldn't know because I haven't been tested yet.  

I'm not giving up.   

I will renew my efforts.
I will NOT make another batch of cookies.  
I will step up the exercise.
I'll try to eat that awful yogurt in-between meals so I won't be as hungry.
I'll try not to be so stressed and overwhelmed about Mom coming home next week.  
I will try to ask for help from others to get me through.  
I will not sneak into the pole barn and try to find those Thin Mints. 
I want to thank all of you for your very kind and supportive comments.  There are many comments I have not published because some of you have shared some very personal things with me. These comments have been very helpful.  Clearly, I am not alone in this overweight, overwhelmed, menopausal, high stress, high cholesterol life.   I consider myself very fortunate to have met so many wonderful blogging friends. Your good wishes and compassion never cease to amaze me. Thank you for all your uplifting comments and suggestions.  Have a wonderful week. I'll let you know how I am doing soon. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Six more weeks!!!

Six more weeks.  It will be spring, maybe.  (You never know in Wisconsin). We will be getting close to Easter. There will be warmer breezes, and maybe even a few tulips braving the cold to give us hope that spring is just around the corner. I really don't mind winter. I actually love staying home on a really cold, snowy day, with the fire going and a big pot of soup or chili simmering.  And sewing.

Another thing that will have to happen in six more weeks is a new blood test.  I got back my results from my lipid panel yesterday, and all I can say is Rats!!! Darn it!!!!  It wasn't pretty.  I knew it was a little high, as it has been the past few years, but I felt that was due to the extra weight.  Last year it was 230, but now it came in at 251. Yikes.  And I have actually lost a few pounds over the last year.  I would love to post nothing but happy, wonderful things about my happy, wonderful life all the time, but as we all know, everyone has challenges and difficulties.  I will never pretend to be anything but who I am. This is just a little, teeny, tiny, dark cloud on my horizon.  But that's ok, I'll turn this  negative into a positive. . . and perhaps inspire someone else to take a second look at their lifestyle.  

I am one of those people who is always waiting  to lose those last ten or twenty pounds.  "Once I lose my weight I'll feel better.  I will finally be able to fit in all those clothes I have been saving. I'll feel like exercising more because I will be lighter and stronger and won't feel so blah."  The list goes on and on.  Always starting the next Monday with a new resolve to be healthier.  I truly did believe I would somehow lose those dreaded pounds. Now it looks like I really have to, or go on a medication.  Oh, I know, I know, tons of people are on meds for high cholesterol - including my mom.  I also know that with every med you take there are potential side effects, and I would rather not take a medicine if I don't have to.  Of course, if I need it, I'll take it. I need thryoid meds so I take them.  When I have my every-other-month ear or sinus infection, I take antibiotics. Simple.  
I have never had a weight issue, except when pregnant.  With the first pregnancy I stopped weighing a week before giving birth and I had already gained 51 pounds. I was literally eating for two - two adults that is! The second baby was just 20 months later so I didn't gain quite as much, probably due to running around after baby #1. The third baby, 2-1/2 years after that, well, I think I only gained about 32 pounds. Finally, 4 years later with baby #4, I only gained 26 pounds and looked like one of those cute pregnant women who only gained weight in the front.  It was great.  Hardly any weight to lose after the baby, and nursing took care of that little bit! Gosh, I was pregnant for about 8 years! It was well worth it though.

Years later, my doctor put me on Paxil.  I have struggled with anxiety issues all my life I suspect. I think my dad and grandma also did, so some of it is probably genetic.  I imagine having 4 kids in 8 years, although wonderful, contributed a little bit of stress. 

I actually wanted about 6 or 8 kids. 
I wanted to be one of those women who lived on a farm out in the country and survive year round with food from my bountiful gardens, canning and freezing the surplus for winter, making my own bread, raising chickens for my own eggs. I would hang clothes on the line, cook from scratch, make handmade quilts and dolls and clothing for my children, create handmade gifts for Christmas and birthdays.  Maybe I'm just a little crazy. I guess I shouldn't have watched so much Little House on The Prairie.

I also was not in a happy marraige, and I guess the combination of everything just set the stage for anxiety problems.   I did get to have four wonderful kids, and actually did spend my life crafting and creating and hanging clothes on the line.  I still make homemade bread and jam and eat from my garden.  I finally was able to have chickens!  I never did get the sheep to spin my own wool.  

So, now what?  Well, since I don't want to go on another drug, I will take matters into my own hands. I will give myself 6 weeks to try to bring the number down.  If I can't do it - well then I guess I will have to go on the meds. Honestly, if I was going to go on anything I would go on something for the anxiety, but I continue to struggle with it and try to find ways to handle it that don't require meds.  I think I am more afraid of getting off a med than being on it.  I don't want to be addicted and have to have something. Going off the Paxil was absolutely horrible for me.

I don't think I have a lot of weight to lose, but I am definitely heavier than I was.  I was very thin at times. I wasn't trying to be thin, I was just such a busy little thing I didn't sit still for long.  Here I am at my normal thin weight when I first married John, in 1998. I weighed 117.

I went on Paxil for the anxiety, and within a few years I was up to 189.  Wow.  I just calculated it to be 72 pounds. Yikes.  Here I am with my HaileyBelle at my highest weight. Looking at this picture it is hard to believe I gained that much, but I know I did.  And I felt absolutely awful, both physically and emotionally.  After being told I was now diabetic, my cholesterol was up, and all my joints were complaining carrying the extra weight, as well as having stomach issues and asthma, I made the decision to get off Paxil. The doctors and drug companies claimed Paxil did NOT cause weight gain, but clearly, for me it did. All I wanted to do was eat, and any efforts to lose weight were unsuccessful. 

Fast forward to today.  I weigh 145 right now, down 44 pounds from my all time high. I definitely could lose a little weight.  I don't care to be runway model thin, or hate the way I look.  I look alright.   I just can't wear some of the cute clothes I used to wear because I don't like the muffin top hanging over.  I also have Dunlap disease.  Have you heard of it?  That's when your belly done lapped over your pants!   Sorry, I couldn't resist. :) This picture was the party after Baby Ellie's baptism last month.

Starting today, I am going to eat a much healthier diet, and am searching for natural ways to reduce cholesterol. I have found a few I can incorporate right away. Cinnamon is supposed to bring down your cholesterol.  Of course I wonder what putting it on toast with lots of butter and sugar will do? Just kidding. :)  I'll put it in oatmeal, another good thing to eat to reduce cholesterol.  I'll try to eat the right foods and cut down on red meats and baked goods.  I will  exercise daily. A friend of mine went to a nutritionist who recommended red yeast  rice as a supplement instead of regular meds and she DID INDEED bring down her cholesterol. My only challenge is that whole grains, raw fruits and veggies, and fiber do not agree with my stomach, so it is going to be a bit tricky to find the right foods I can tolerate.  Even an apple can put me in misery, but maybe just eating a little at a time and gradually  increasing might work.

So here I go, and I am bringing you all along for the ride. If you want to get off that's quite alright, I would totally understand.  I am truly hoping that I can do this. I am also hoping that some of you out there might get your cholesterol checked, because you just never know what you might find out. I was really unaware of how high my levels were. You know the expression, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Well, I would like to prevent any further health problems.

 Do you want to hear something funny?  I have anxiety about so many things, dumb things, things that normal people wouldn't think twice about.  But the one thing that most people dread, getting blood drawn, or needles in general, doesn't bother me a bit.  You could take my blood every single day and I wouldn't even blink.  I just think that is so ironic.

So six more weeks.  I hope that I will have lost enough weight to bring down that cholesterol number.  I have a lot of people, and animals, depending on my being around for a while.  I encourage all of you reading this to keep up your yearly mammograms, paps, and physicals.  Find out what your numbers are, and if they need improvement - get busy!  I hope that you all will be able to encourage me and be my moral support as I start my new, healthier, lifestyle.