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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My lost battle against poison ivy AND fantastic treatments for acne and rosacea

As I shared in my last post, I have been battling against poison ivy since last week.  It has been an ugly (looking) battle but I thought I was winning, until my leg and foot began swelling up.  Do you know how hard it is to walk with a big, swollen leg?  A good reminder why knees are so important!  (Just try going up and down stairs a lot without bending your leg at all!)

On Monday, the back of my legs were oozing all sorts of nasty yellow looking stuff.  This is called "weeping" and had been happening for days.  But on Monday it was pouring down so often, that by late morning I thought I'd begin to weep - literally.  Instead of wasting time crying, I got online and did some searching. I read about people using a homeopathic remedy - Rhus Tox - to quickly stop the weeping.  Hmmm ...

Thankfully, a number of years ago I purchased this Homeopathic Remedies Kit.  It has served us well over the years.  I pulled out the vial of Rhus Tox 30c and took 3 pellets (tablets).  I ended up repeating the dose two more times during the day and after every time, the weeping lessened!  By the end of the day there was NO MORE oozing from my poison ivy covered skin!!  I WAS AMAZED!!  (This used up the rest of my Rhus Tox so I quickly ordered another vial.  I will never be without this stuff on hand again.)

But then my right leg began to swell.  From my upper thigh down to my toes.  (Swollen toes feel creepy!)  And much of the skin was red and hot to touch.  Sigh.  I was continuing with my high doses of vitamin C and Pantothenic acid (which greatly kept the itching down).  I added collodial silver to boost my immune system.  And I gave in and started taking Benedryl at night.  (Hate how that stuff can make me sleepy.)  But the swelling just didn't stop.  I finally had to admit to myself that I might have an infection that I needed help in treating.

Hiding in a box from Mama's nasty poison ivy

So today I went Urgent Care.  The doctor there was horrified when he saw my legs and I told him they actually looked better than they did.  He said I had the worst case of poison ivy he had ever treated in all his time working at that facility.  (OK - I stopped feeling like a wimp for going to the doctor for this.)

I ended up with a shot of a steroid and prescriptions for antibiotics and more steroids.  (I'll be greatly boosting up my probiotic intake as antibiotics don't always agree with my digestive system.)  I'm supposed to continue taking Benedryl.  And he told me to get some Zanfel, which is a poison ivy wash.

I ended up buying a generic brand of Zanfel and it is interesting.  It's like a paste that you rub on wet skin for about 3 minutes.  It feels so delightfully scratchy! Then you rinse with cool water.

So Lord willing, I'll be all healed up soon!

lots of watermelon growing in our garden - the chickens LOVE the rinds
Since the healing of skin is on my mind, I just wanted to recommend a line of face products that Tabby and I have found amazing for treating acne and rosacea.

For the past two years, I have gotten rosacea on my face during the winter.  Last year I cleared it up using essential oils.  (It took about 6 weeks.)  This winter, that treatment did not work at all.  I tried a couple other natural products, but to no avail.

At this time, Tabby was struggling with acne.  Actually, she had had it BAD for about a year.  All over her forehead, much of her face, shoulders and back.  I gave her lots of different natural products to try every few months.  But there was never much improvement.

This past spring, I started thinking back to many years ago, I used to use products by Paula's Choice.  (I had eventually stopped because I became obsessed with using only natural stuff.)  Paula Begoun, who created the line, has written and researched in the cosmetics world for decades.  She is known as "the Cosmetics Cop" because she scientifically studies so many products and rates them and reports the pros and cons for each.  She has published a number of books including Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me which rates many different make up lines and compiles lists of the best products.  As a result of her research, she also has created her own line of skin care products, known as Paula's Choice.

You can go to her website, and click on the tab at the top for "Beautipedia Reviews" to read summaries of her research many skin care lines.

After reading a lot of customer reviews, I decided to purchase the Paula's Choice kits for treating rosacea and extra-strength acne.  (There is also a "regular strength acne" kit here.)

The kits arrived and I gave Tabby her's.  We each remarked to each other the next morning that our skin was already feeling better and mine was looking better!  In fact, my rosacea was completely gone in only one week!  WOW!  And my skin looked so much better overall.

Tabby found that one of the products in the acne kit made her face really red and sting a bit.  So she backed off and (except for the cleanser which she used 2x a day) she only used the other things at night.  But within a few days, her skin was used to the products and she began using them all twice a day.

In about a month, almost all of Tabby's acne was GONE!  These days she occasionally gets a pimple but it goes away quickly.

Just hanging around - without lots of acne!

I can't tell you how impressed we are with Paula's Choice products!  Tabby especially wants other people to know about them and wanted me to post here about them - to help teens with acne.

All right.  I have been sitting here as long as I can stand it.  (Doctor's orders!  For real!  I'm propping my swollen foot.)  I just have to get up and do some other things now, swollen leg or not.

I hope you all are having a great week and staying away from poison ivy!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Poison Ivy "fun" and update on bedwetting experiment

If you're not allergic to poison ivy and/or don't have a child with wetting issues, then this post will probably not interest you.  But if so ... read on!

sunflowers in our garden

I'm sitting here in a perfectly quiet house.  (OK, the quiet was just shattered by one of Tabby's roosters outside the window - but that's OK!)  My family is at church and I don't know the last time I have been home alone.  I stayed home because well - I feel like a leper.  I have nasty oozing poison ivy all over the backs of my swollen legs..  No need to go and freak people out and drip all over the place!  :(

This disgusting stuff flared up a few days ago and I can not wait until it goes away.  I'm guessing I got it when I went into the woods to cut our goats some branches with leaves for a treat.  (They've cleared out everything they can reach on the trees in their area.)  Goats actually eat poison ivy - I wish we could let them loose on our whole property!

"You there!  Bring us shrubbery!"

Sundrop - she's about 2.5 weeks old now and sooooo cute!
As uncomfortable as this feels, and awful it feels to walk, I have to say it's only reached near torturous itching level a few times for which I am extremely thankful.  I believe that is from the treatments I am using:

1) I am taking high doses of Vitamin C (1000 mg) and Pantothenic acid (500 mg), every two hours.  (I read about this in my go-to health care book Be Your Own "Doctor": An Informative guide to Herbal Home Health Care by Rachel Weaver M.H.)

2) Bathing my legs twice a day in original blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.  (Soak for 10-15 minutes.)  This stuff helps dry it up, clears off the oils, and helps keep spreading down. 

3) When I bathe my legs - I use the hottest water I can stand.  Studies show that hot water can help alleviate itching for up to 3 hours, because the nerve network in the skin get so overloaded by the heat of the water.

4) Putting on a clay paste 2-3 times a day.   I mixed this up by using a half cup of bentonite clay, 8 drops of peppermint essential oil, and enough water mixed in to make a paste.  (Bentonite clay is fantastic for drawing out toxic stuff.)  Spread on thickly.  It feels SO good when I first put it on - peppermint is wonderfully cooling.  Then it starts to tighten as it dries and that feels good at first because it's like it's itching my skin for me.  I don't really like it as much when it's totally dried.  But, it's way more effective than the typical calamine lotion that is used for drying the oozing ("weeping") areas.  (I found out about this paste in Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems by Bill Gottlieb.)

One thing I wish I had was jewelweed.  This plant sounds like it heals poison ivy faster than any other treatment!  It is typically found in shady, moist areas near poison ivy.  (God gave us the antidote right by the culprit.)  I would like to try growing jewelweed to have on hand.

By the way, bentonite clay has so many good uses.  Among other things, I use it in both the toothpaste and deodorant I make.

tractor from my sister-in-law Nikki - it's just screaming for something to be planted at it's base!

This past spring, I wrote about a book I read entitled It's No Accident: Breakthrough Solutions to Your Child's Wetting, Constipation, UTI's, and Other Potty Problems by Steve J. Hodges, MD.  I was talking to a friend yesterday that said my mention of the book had helped her help her kids with this issue.  That reminded me I had never reported what happened with our "experiment."

As I had mentioned, my 6 year old son still struggles with wetting most night.  He HATES this.  The doctor that wrote this book said that almost all nighttime wetting problems are caused by constipation.  (And your child can still be constipated even if they are going once a day.)  So I shared some of the information I had read about with Hunter, and what the doctor recommended as a solution.  The easy stuff was high fiber foods, more water, more physical exercise.  The harder - a 3 month treatment of pediatric enemas for quicker results, or a much longer treatment of daily Miralax.

Hunter bravely choose the enemas.

When we started, I also started Solomon on enemas as he is never dry at night anymore.  (He used to have some dry nights, even as a baby, so I figured he must be constipated some.)  Only a few days into it, Solomon began screaming and crying at enema time.  So I immediately stopped them with him, and gave him a dose of Miralax every day for awhile.  Within days he had stopped wetting at naptime.  Wow.  (Nighttime hasn't happened yet, but he's still 2 and that's OK.)

Hunter endured daily enemas for the 1st month, every other day for the 2nd month, and twice a week for the 3rd month.  The result?  He's dry at night - occasionally.  Poor guy - he just cried about it when we wrapped up the 3 months.  BUT it was not a total failure - he has been happy with a couple other results.  He no longer frequently complains that his "waist hurts."  And, he no longer has "surprise daytime accidents."  So those are very big benefits.

Still though - why is he still wetting?  (It seems it happens after 3:00 a.m. and he is a deep sleeper.)  At this point I am wondering if it's just plain old genes.  Apparently in my husband's family, at least some of the kids were pretty late in being able to stay dry all night.  I need to go back and skim parts of the book to see if I've missed anything else.

I have come across some parent's swearing by Dr. Christopher's Kid-e-Dry incontinence formula.  (It's an herbal tincture.)  So we are trying that now.  No results yet.  I also bought some liquid calcium-magnesium, that other parents say their kids have to have or they wet.  I haven't tried that yet with Hunter, but will soon.

If nothing else, it won't last forever. 

rooster frequently fighting - now that will last forever ...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Book List - July AND Hunter's A/C unit, Solomon's snakes, and Tabby's chick!

So far the month of August has been cooler than June.  But that doesn't mean it still isn't plenty hot and humid.  Perfect for Hunter's recent air conditioning invention.  He recently took a styrofoam cooler, a fan, and ice packs, set them into a box with vents cut out, and turned it on.  To my surprise the thing cooled the air around it by 9 degrees in only minutes!

Solomon made something too.  Pasta snakes.  (LOL - he is very proud of them though it seems a little funny to post it after Hunter's project.)  Solomon picked the project off Pinterest and I bought some cheap pasta.  He strung them on pipe cleaners and we added googly eyes and a tongue.  That pasta was the best purchase I've made in a long time!  It kept him busy for hours doing all sorts of things with it. 

One of Tabby's Silkie Bantam hens sat on an egg that hatched.  Such a cute little fuzz ball:

I've been reading some books I don't think I'll ever finish this summer.  But here are two that I completed last month:

Large Family Logistics: The Art & Science of Managing the Large Family by Kim Brenneman - With only 3 children living in our home (and 2 in heaven) I don't consider us to be a "large family."  But I love reading things written by the moms of a large brood.  These moms are usually so organized and have tasks streamlined so well that I can almost always find useful hints for our household.  (And great tips for dealing with children's issues too.)  I started reading this particular book during one of Lilly's hospital stays.  I never finished it and after she died, I just didn't want to pick up the book.  But earlier this summer, I decided we needed to implement some new routines around here in several areas, and I decided to read this book through for help.  I made notes as I read and ended up with quite a bit of helpful stuff that I am still putting into action.  Yay!

It is SOOOO nice to have an older child read to a younger one
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston - I came across this book shortly after I finished the Feng Shui book I shared about last month.  I am not sure why I like reading about organizing and all that so much - but I have for as long as I remember.  This book had some interesting things to say and I'm glad I read it.  But for cleaning out - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo remains my favorite book. 

I recently cleared out my clothes following the KonMari method.  I just love the special way of folding clothes I learned from the Life Changing Magic book.  My dresser drawers are so satisfying to look at now.  (Ha- I sound like such a geek.)  I even made some drawer dividers out of cardboard.  Of course I had to embellish them so I covered them with some wrapping paper I've had sitting around for years.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi - I read this book to Hunter, but thought I'd include it here.  I didn't know until a decade or so ago, that Pinocchio didn't start with the Disney movie and fluffy Disney books.  The original book was published in the 1880s and, no surprise, has some big differences.  This book was a wild story and I got just as caught up in "what will happen next?" as Hunter.  Some of the situations were too ridiculous for my taste, but the character studies that the book is full of made for some great conversations.  Unlike so many of today's stories, in this book (and in many older stories) when a character makes a bad choice - the consequences are swift and harsh.  Skipping school, disobeying parents, laziness, lying, get quick rich schemes - Pinocchio learns a lot of hard lessons due to his bad choices.  But thankfully he learns from them and in the end, has developed excellent character.

Solomon's first time of feeding ducks
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." - Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Eye of Tabby: photography for the week of August 2

Photography from Tabby - I find myself getting curious to see what she'll come up with each week now.  This week I thought rocks?!  I would not have thought of taking a picture of rocks.  But now I see, even rocks can look interesting.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lilly Memorial Project: Library book donation

Yesterday, my children and I went to the Chatham County Library for a Lilly Memorial Project book donation.  We donated 5 library books in honor of Lilly's 5th birthday, last month.

Solomon was sleeping in my arms when I took this picture of Tabby and Hunter outside the library

Each of my children and I selected a book to donate.  I wrote a letter explaining about the books and we gave everything to our favorite librarian. I also made labels to put inside the book covers:

Here are the books we donated:

Here is an excerpt from my letter to our librarian:

1.  Tabby picked Silver Days - it is a book we both enjoyed reading and is the 2nd book in the Journey to America Saga.  The library has books 1 and 3 in the series so we knew you needed this one, which was Tabby’s favorite of the three. [Read my post about this book here.]

2.  My pick is I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy - a complete stranger mailed this book to me after Lilly died.  It was a very helpful book for me to read and I know many other “angel parents” who found this book healing. [Read my post about this book here.]

3.  Solomon picked Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm - you all have several of the “Otis” books (about a tractor).  My boys enjoyed them so much we ended up buying all of them.  They were excited when we found out about the Tractor Mac series.  Perhaps some other little boys coming to the library will enjoy this book too.

4.  Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World - you know who picked this one!  Hunter said the library needed a children’s book on Tesla.  This is one of his very favorite books.

5.  Far Flutterby - a copy of this book was sent to us in memory of Lilly by another mom who’s son lived 2 years with Trisomy 18.  My children and I love  this book.  It reminds us how special every child is. [Read my post about this book here.]

Right across from the librarians desk is the new book display area.  One of the books on it was Bella's Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation by Rick and Karen Santorum.  Bella is now 7 years old and has Trisomy 18.  (I received a copy of this book for my birthday and hope to read it soon.)  How special to see this book on our donation day!