Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A little bit of everything...

I worked my shift at the hospital on Christmas day, thankfully it was slow but I feel bad for those patients who had to stay over during the holidays. Little babies who have the rotten luck to be born having cancer or a heart defect, and others of all ages who have problems big enough to warrant hospital stays that can last for weeks sometimes. We occasionally joke in the lab that patient so-and so never seems to go home, but in reality it is no laughing matter, they have serious health difficulties. We do what we can and try to give them blue ribbon care and help them on their way to healing.

Having some chronic health issues myself, I can definitely relate. Then I thank my lucky stars that my problems allow me to live at home, and not end up in a hospital bed getting chemo, organ transplants, surgeries, or transfusions.

One of the best things to happen this year was that my son returned home from Japan, where he had been living for two years as a Christian missionary. He is on the left.

I was trying to figure out how to attempt an end of the year post about the most noteworthy happenings of 2012, but we'll see how I do. The one wonderful happening this year that outshines all the rest is the return of my son (in June) from his missionary work in Japan, where he lived for two years. I have a little get away later today and tomorrow for my wedding anniversary of 32 years, so I do need to get an small bag packed and finish some of the never ending laundry that multiplies by a factor of ten every single night! I did want to share some info about things that have definitely helped me manage my chronic skin and inflammation problems though, in case anybody else out there can benefit from this information...

I have a sweet friend who has a saying when something is vexing her or getting her down- she tells whatever is bothering her that she is "not going to let it win". I have another wonderful lady that I work with who has serious bone cancer. You would never know it because she lives her life in a manner that brings joy and inspiration to those around her. We love her all the more for it. I have amazing friends, a third one gave me good advice as well when I was having a hard day; 'There are some things you cannot change, but you can change how you react to them'. Good words for living from my stellar friends.

Epsom Salts and Hibiclens soap help when you are getting a skin infection. Available at any pharmacy, even Wal Mart.

Good tea for relaxing.
When you have a problem that stays with you like a health difficulty you can let it run (ruin) your life or you can go on living the way you want to, in spite of the problem. Yes, there are days when it gets you down, but having a positive outlook is a much better way to live than surviving on your own pity parties. The world is a beautiful place in spite of all it's problems and life is good even if you hurt at the end of every day! Dolce vita....
Shea butter-Get this lotion at Health food stores or order from Amazon on line.

For itching that can sometimes drive me insane I have wonderful relief from relaxing baths. When I feel I am getting a bit infected because I have been naughty and scratched too much I soak in epsom salts, use Hibiclens soap, and occasionally even use bleach or white vinegar in the tub. I have also been known to slather peroxide on my affected areas of skin. It stings like the devil and is not something that really should be recommended, but man, it stops the itches that threaten to drive me insane some nights. It's always worse at night, getting one night of uninterrupted sleep is a miracle most evenings. I also have been known to down a nice warm cup of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea.
Aromatherapy; relaxing pillow spray I found at Ulta.
 (I can't drink camomile which is supposed to be relaxing because of drug interaction with my other meds). I like pillow spray that has a relaxing effect and have also taken benadryl to help me sleep better. I hate sleeping pills with a passion and am actually afraid to take them for fear I won't wake up. Silly and irrational I guess, but they also leave me really groggy in the morning so sleeping pills are not really an option. My trusty Kindle reader is always by my bedside too, if I can occupy my mind away from the trouble it helps me cope and is much better than pacing the floor in your nighty at 2 am. Hugging my hubby and caressing my trusty little pups is also good comforting salve.

Oatmeal Bath, add it slowly to the water or you get lots of lumps.
Ask for this at the pharmacy counter. 
Available at many stores. They even have a version for babies.
Love this cream.
Other options for soothing baths, be it itches, sensitive, rashy, or swollen skin are Aveeno oatmeal bath and amazingly, a beer bath. In my opinion beer is good for just a few things and not for drinking! It has a vile smell and taste. It's good for soothing skin-one bottle in the bath and you have soft, soothed skin. I heard it was good as hair conditioner as well but have not tried that as all the beer I have goes into the tub or the cook pot for making yummy bratwurst. Enough ranting for now here are a few pics of the products that have saved my sanity lately when dealing with my own difficulties. For creams- especialy for sensitive and sore skin; Vanicream from a pharmacy (just ask them to order some for you), Aveeno ezema cream, DeVita-Shea Butter Brulee Tahitian Vanilla cream available at Sunflower Market or from Amazon, and my latest new found love for a cream- Nivea!
Shiner Bock bottle cap, Beer Baths to soothe the skin. Also tasty for cooking bratwurst, lol!

(No one paid me to endorse any products, these are all products I buy for myself.)
May the New Year bring you peace, joy, and prosperity!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Having Fun with American Gothic

I'm taking a break from Christmas stuff, even though I still need to post pics from our gingerbread men cookie making adventure.

American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood

 "American Gothic" is a familiar and iconic piece of 20th century art painted in 1930 by Grant Wood. At first glance it is recognizable and conjures up images of a hard working mid-western couple with lots of chores in their lives but maybe not many reasons to rejoice. It is a bit of a harsh rendition of the characters, especially of the woman. It has become an icon of American popular culture to parody this picture.

While searching for a bit of background information about this painting, I discovered that the artist himself said he saw the house and wanted to imagine the type of people that lived in that sort of house. That is what he painted. The house, evidently, is located in Eldon, Iowa. The artist used his sister an a model for the woman and his dentist as the inspiration for the man and it is supposed to depict a man and his spinster daughter, not a couple, which was news to me.

Iowans were not too pleased at being painted in this way when the painting first came out, and one farmers wife even threatened to bite off Wood's ear because she was so offended by the painting. The artist assured them he was not making a statement particularly about Iowa farmers but feathers had already been ruffled by then. The painting won a $300.00 prize for being a comical depiction and the Art Institute of Chicago purchased it. The original "American Gothic" can still be seen there today.

Christmas American Gothic 

I had some fun finding parodies of this famous painting, enjoy!

Mexican American Gothic
Barbie American Gothic

Buffy American Gothic              
Royal American Gothic
Zombie American Gothic                                                                                           

Modern Art American Gothic

Monday, December 17, 2012

Buon Natale!

 Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly.  ~Andy Rooney

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.  ~Washington Irving


 Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.  ~Peg Bracken


Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.

The world's alive with Christmas joy!
Come join the merry throng.
You'll find upon your lips a smile,
Within your heart a song. 
 (N.B. Lybarger) 

Peace on Earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day. ~Helen Steiner Rice

Good news from heaven the angels bring. Glad tidings to the Earth they sing: To us this day a child is given. To crown us with the joy of heaven. ~Martin Luther
  Christmas is a glorious time of the year, simple in origin, deep in meaning, beautiful in tradition and custom, rich in memories, and charitable in spirit. - Thomas S. Monson
  Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It is magnificent and beautiful." - Gordon B. Hinckley
O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared
And the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, o night divine

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
                            It is the night of our dear Savior's birth                                
Long lay the world
In sin and error-pining
Till he appeared
And the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks
A new and glorious morn
                                                    Fall on your knees                                                          
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, o night divine

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nutcracker Memories...

When I hear the sounds of the Nutcracker Ballet, it puts me in a holiday mood. I suppose most little girls, dream of flitting and twirling around on the stage with a puffy pink tutu on, I did when I was young. Mom even took us to ballet lessons and I have a worn out little pink tutu, with silver sparkles on it, in my cedar chest from way back when. I took my daughter to dancing lessons when she was about 4 years old and she, in turn, has taken her daughter to dancing lessons as well.

In college I took a P.E. class of ballet my very first semester, but by then I had lost all my grace and talent (if I ever had any), even though I was a petite 100 lbs. I must have been a clodhopper because I got a measly C in that class. So ended my dancing dreams (not really)...... I was looking forward to becoming a scientist, anyway!

I've been a flute player for many years and I fondly remember playing "Dance of the Reed Flutes" from the ballet in school talent shows. That is my earliest memory of Nutcracker things. In high school, we had an extraordinary instrumental music teacher who had trained at the Julliard music school in NYC. One Christmas he took the students on a field trip to Carnegie Hall to see the Nutcracker Ballet. I was smitten! We rode a school bus there and had seats in the nose bleed balcony section, but what a marvelous life experience it was! It was incredible and wonderful. Many thanks to Robert Leive, my music teacher who was really dedicated to his students and helped us polish our talents; for four wonderful years full of concert band, marching band, jazz band, pit orchestra for plays, and helping me grow as a musician and a person.

I have had the joy of taking my spouse and children, daughter-in-law, and once even my granddaughter to the ballet here where I live now. One year we were so close to the stage it was very exciting to experience the ballet up close and personal. I love going but it seems if we go every year without fail, it get to be old hat, and some of the wonder is gone from the experience, so we go every few years. That way, next time we attend it will be a freshly anticipated experience and will be that much more magical!

Here I've shared two excerpts... "Dance of the Reed Flutes", with Clara as part of the dance and "Mother Buffoon and her clown children" (sometimes known as Mother Ginger).

                                                            Merry Christmas!