Families, Health and BRCA

Well, if you know me you know I’m a person who isn’t too fond of the unknown when it comes to health and safety.

A few weeks ago during a normal doctors appointment the nurse practitioner found what she classified as  “lump” under my right arm. As I left the doctor’s office the panic of my family history started setting in. I called my husband on the drive home in tears because of the word “lump” and the innuendo it created for me due to my family history. The dirty truth is for me my mother and my grandmother both had breast cancer. So for me it isn’t a matter of if it’s a matter of when it will choose to show up. Being on the south side of 40, it seems as I get older I feel there is a bit of the Darth Vader music going on in the background of this particular scenario as both my family members were close to 40 when it started for them.

While I was at the appointment I was offered gene testing. At first I mentally said yes, absolutely 100% I want to know, (I really like absolute answers with health and safety)….and then I started wondering: did I really want to know? Hmm…there were alot of paths here if the answer was yes…. and there were even some if the answer was no because it only looked at two particular gene patterns. I talked a lot with my husband and my step mom about what all this meant and where it was leading.The medical staff kept saying that Angelina Jolie was so lucky with her choice. In the cloud of my confusion all I could really could think was a.) this is a $4500 test b.) do I really want to know c.) I’m not a movie star, I’m me: a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter – just me, nobody fancy – but alas we are both women and mom’s regardless of financial class, social status or jobs d.) what if the answer was yes, then I have to make a decision about what path to take.

With a visit to the Carol Milgard Breast Center I was given my annual 3D mammogram, as well as an ultrasound. There was nothing there, which was a relief – everyone agrees it could of been a various amount of factors which caused an inflammation. Stress does odd things to the body. The medical doctor offered me to speak with my doctor also about getting an MRI done to get greater detail. Given yet another tool in the fight against an invasive cancer I moved forward with more determination than I had before. This appointment helped me decide, even when your afraid of the answer – it is better to be proactive than reactive in a situation which can go from bad to worse at the snap of a finger.

Bottom line is this, my breasts and ovaries are body parts, they don’t define me as a woman. My husband 100% supports a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. (For that I am eternally grateful that I am married to a man who is as compassionate about woman’s issues and rights as I am). My family health history is what it is and can’t be changed. I’ve been lucky enough to give birth to beautiful twin girls who have blessed my life with clarity, compassion and unconditional love. My ovaries have served their purpose and my breasts can be replaced, so in the end I say take them if it means I get longer on the earth to watch my family and friends live, laugh and love. There’s too much left to do in life to not know the answer to if those genes exists in my body.

As I head out this morning to get the BRCA 1&2 results,  I’m thinking of all the thousands of other women who’ve gone before me to get their results. I share in their nerves and determination to have a choice over what happens to my future health. However, my heart goes out to those women who can’t have this test and may be faced without the choice of predetermination. My hope is soon this proactive test will be available to all women regardless of insurance coverage or financial cost.

 

St. Patrick’s Day: Inspiration to Go Green

Green is a popular color these days, and it’s not just reserved for St. Patrick’s Day.
Everything from cleaning products to home building materials is getting greener. People are becoming more conscious of saving energy, protecting, the environment and living sustainably. On March 17, think about making your skin green. We’re not talking about color; we’re referring to using sustainable, eco-friendly beauty products.

Green skin care involves using products made as naturally as possible.  Eco-friendly skin care products are good for both your skin and the environment. In fact, making chemical-free green beauty products can be simple to inexpensive. You can adopt eco-friendly practices for skin care that come right from your own kitchen.

The following body scrub is perfect for making your St. Patrick’s Day a Little Greener.

What you need:
Sea salt or granulated sugar
Sweet almond oil
Mint essential oil

How to make it
Fill a container with salt or sugar, and pour about half as much oil into the container. We recommend using about twice as much of the salt or sugar as the oil. Stir the mixture until it’s combined, and add as much essential oil as you wish. If you store the body scrub in a glass jar with a screw-on lid, it will last approximately seven days.

How to use it:
After cleansing your skin in the shower, apply a generous amount of the body scrub.
Using a gentle circular motion, lightly work the scrub into your skin. You can apply it to rough areas like your feet and knees or use it to softly buff away dead skin cells on your arms or torso. Your hands will end up soft and smooth after using the body scrub. After massaging it into your skin, rinse the body scrub off and pat yourself dry.

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The sea salt or sugar will exfoliate dry patches and reveal glowing, revitalized skin. The oil will soften your skin and seal in moisture, while the minty fragrance will invigorate you.

This St. Patrick’s Day, you can get a little greener and feel a little cleaner. Save money, save the environment and give this body scrub a shot. After all, if you can eat it, you know it’s safe for your skin, and this body scrub will help make your skin brighter than any pot of gold.

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Michelle Pinois a guest contributor to EcoMom and has provided this article using her knowledge from Skana Spa where she works. Skana is located in central NY at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. When Michelle isn’t working she enjoys spending her time relaxing, catching up on her favorite TV shows or baking a yummy desert she found on Pinterest!

Flu vs. Cold

Well it’s been an interesting 10 days in our household. What started out as a simple head cold for E turned into a long week of research, doctor’s visits and a game of “Can you guess this symptom?”

The largest difference between a cold and the flu is if you have the flu (in our families case) you have little to no appetite, body aches, headaches, watery eyes, exhaustion, high fever – everything becomes heightened from just a regular run of the mill cold. If you think you have the flu, it is recommended by our pediatrician and my personal doctor to get to a Dr. in the first 48 hours so they can give you Tamiflu – if you miss that 48 hours window, the Tamiflu will not help. We were told by Day 3 you just need to ride it out. The Tamiflu does not necessarily cure, it just shaves a day off the flu. Even if you received the flu shot, it is only 66.7% effective against the flu; it isn’t a fail safe – don’t assume if you have the flu shot you won’t get the flu (that was our greatest misconception as well).

During the week we heard all kinds of helpful treatments from friends and family, which most of them did help momentarily  -I wanted to share them incase you have a sick little one at home.

Thank you to The Aums Mommy who answered my frustrated tweet:  at bedtime rub Vicks on her feet and cover with socks to help with coughing, also rub on chest/neck and cover with bandana. For you, use Throat Coat Tea for your sore throat.  (which both did wonders!)

Thank you to the poor nurse who answered my frantic call when E’s temp hit 103, her advice: switch between Tylenol and Advil every other treatment – this allows the body to not get used to one type of medicine. It allows the ibuprofen and the acetaminophen to battle the fever together. Always go by the weight of the child, not by their age in order to keep from over dosing.

Auntie Marnie’s recommendation for ADULTS ONLY: To ease a sore throat, I gargle with 100 proof vodka. You can use 80 proof but it does not seem as effective.  Yes, it tastes terrible, yes it will burn your throat like crazy, but it works! The first day, I gargle 2-3 times a day with a half a shot of vodka each time.  My sore throat is usually gone within a day, but an additional gargle or two may be needed.  This is NOT recommended for children.

Thank you to Kendall for letting us know she has “a girlfriend who is taking all kinds of classes and one class the where growing cultures, cold, flu even MRSA and nothing killed them except for Lysol (wipes) and or bleach mix. Clorox did NOT kill it.” Good to know!

We used humidifier, hot showers, cool cloths, natural cough and cold medicine, non-natural cough and cold medicine, tea, hot cocoa, no dairy, homemade chicken soup, washed everything down with disinfectant, must have done 10 loads of laundry, cleaned every surface, washed toothbrushes, etc.. but in the end the flu won. We went to the ped who gave the twins a prescription for cough medicine and E a shot of something for her wheezing cough. I followed up with my Dr. who also gave me a prescription for cough medicine and 72 hours later we are s-l-o-w-l-y on the mend.

Long story short E had a cold, which turned into the flu, which she then gave to me and to Bunkie-dog, she gave it to K and now maybe just maybe the Hubs (who never gets sick) may slide by without it. Lesson learned: the flu is nothing to doubt. Just because you got the flu shot, doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. And when you ask a bunch of Mommies and Aunties for help – you get a village of amazing people to support you, thank you to everyone who volunteered ideas to help our littles and me, we appreciate all of you!

Take care of yourselves! Hugs!!

**disclaimer: I am not a Dr. I am a mother of twins, and these are remedies that worked for our family. Use any of them at your own discretion and risk.**

Potato Soup From Scratch

In September our daughter had been fighting off a series of illnesses for about a month and wasn’t getting any better. Driving home from the doctor she said, “MaMa I wish you’d make me some soup, I just know that would make me better. I don’t wanna be sick anymore. ” So I did and here is what I came up with on the fly…..

8 baking potoats

1/3 cup flour

1 stick butter

6 cups of milk

1/4 cup sour cream

Salt, Pepper and Paparkia to taste

Grease the potatos with olive oil and bake on 400 for about 1 hour. Once finished cut them in half and dump the insides into a bowl, salt and pepper to taste. (Save the skins and bake them off to crips as well to make a nice snack later.) In a soup pot, melt the stick of butter (careful not to burn) and put about 2 tbs in the bowl of potatos. To the soup pot witht he butter add the flour to make a roux – BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN!! As the roux thickens, add 1 cup of milk allow to thicken and then add the remaining 3 cups. Let this warm through, but don’t boil as you will scald the milk and butter. Add the potato mixture and heat through. After it has heated through, use an immersion blender to mix everything together throughuly. This will create a thick soup base.Add the remaining milk until the soup reaches the thickness you care for. Ensure you heat it all the way throug.

Garnish with bacon, chives, cheese, sour cream or serve with croutons, toast or crackers.

She started getting better about a week later…I don’t think it healed her, but it helped our weary souls. Food has away of equalizing physical and emotional health. Be well.

Review: Gluten Free Lifestyle: A Health Guide, Shopping & Home Tips, 66 Easy Recipes

I have read quite a few of these gluten-free (GF)  cookbooks and books in the last few years. Several years back my step-mom was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. At first I thought it was very confusing and I was worried every time she came over to eat. I would stress and strain at the grocer trying to figure out what she could eat. At the time, grocers didn’t really make it that easy to purchase box-ready GF products. My Mom did a great job of debunking myths and providing resources to learn more about being GF and the issues with gluten in our everyday diet.

While providing 66 simply delicious recipes, this book goes way beyond that by teaching meal planning and providing tips and hints for shopping and transitioning to being gluten-free. It discusses the grains which are allowed and not allowed, and provides an intensive and all-inclusive Food Guide, as well as recipes and external resources for continued research on gluten and being gluten-free. This guide is a must have if your new to being gluten-free or are in search of adding to your gluten-free cookbooks.  Whether you have wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease or just want a healthier lifestyle; this guide should be on your kitchen counter for repeated use.

There are so many baked goods recipes in this book; it’s going to make our next family gathering easy as pie. No more will there be anxiety and struggles to figure out what to buy and not buy – the book delivers a handy guide to take to the store to use as a tool.  Filled with advice on baking without gluten, filling your pantry, making pasta and tips/resources for living gluten-free – Gluten Free Lifestyle has to be on your kitchen counter for repeated use! This book really shows a true understanding of what it means to be gluten-free and that being so, doesn’t mean food has no flavor, it’s just wheat-less.

http://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Lifestyle-Shopping-ebook/dp/B0069XF8X6/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1350476358&sr=8-7&keywords=gluten+free+lifestyle

 

Women’s Health: Should You Get Screened for Ovarian Cancer?

This is such an important topic and should be shared with everyone. Thanks for writing about it!! Great post! Reblogged to http://www.ecomom22.com

LadyRomp

A new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of national experts, says that most women should not get routinely screened for the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women: ovarian cancer.

Why? It turns out that regular screenings do not reduce the number of deaths from ovarian cancer in the general population, and can actually do more harm than good, according to the findings of a 13-year study which followed 78,216 women, half of whom were screened annually.

Although the task force made the same recommendation in 2004, many women are still screened on an annual basis, hoping that it will catch ovarian cancer early on and potentially save their lives. After all, the American Cancer Society estimates about 15,500 women will die of ovarian cancer this year.

“Too many women are dying needlessly from ovarian cancer,” says radiologist Margaret Cuomo, MD, author of the…

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Extra Help on a Busy Day

As a busy Mom I have learned that time is the most valuable commodity you have, and there is little to be spared when you have a busy schedule. Whether you work, home school, stay at home, work from home, trying to help your kids with homework – whatever your path is, enough can never be said for using the tools of your home to make your day easier. Sometimes I think we forget about these and end up spending time doing something, which could be done by a machine and give us a few spare precious minutes to be using somewhere else.

Tool Number One:  Crock-pot

Never underestimate the use of a crock-pot. Lots of healthy dishes can be cooked in a crock-pot – it’s not your grandma’s beef stew anymore. This is something you can get up in the morning and in the time it takes to make coffee or tea – you can have dinner in and ready to go. For an extra hand, set out the plates, utensils and napkins next to it so when it’s time for dinner, all you do is dish it out. Just Google Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes and tons of options will show up:  http://busycooks.about.com/od/healthycrockpotrecipes/a/healthycrockpot.htm

Tool Number Two: Dishwasher

I bet everyone uses one, but did you think about the timing for using it? We load ours after dinner and then empty it in the morning. The reason is it allows loading throughout the day. Then I don’t go into the kitchen and feel overwhelmed by having to do dishes – or my house looks a mess with a stack of dishes. Also, have your littles load their dishes throughout the day (you can always adjust the placement later) or have them help unload – it allows them to feel helpful and it gives you a break.

Tool Number Three: Washer and Dryer

Yes don’t laugh, these are tools too. If you have as much laundry as I do, sometimes you forget you left a load in. Put loads in first thing in the morning and even right before you go to bed. Let the machine work while you sleep.  If you can, during the day make sure you have the time buzzer turned on both the washer and the dryer. Let your littles help unload the dryer and throw everything on the bed if they like – kids love this because the clothes are warm and it’s fun to make a big mess of clothes on the bed. Either way, ensure you keep your loads going throughout the day – fold at the end of the day and put everything away – this way you’re still getting the productivity of the machines and not having to stop every hour to fold.

Tool Number Four: Steam Mop

This has saved me a ton of time hauling around a bucket and mop. A steam mop can be purchased for about $50 at your local store. You can use it to scrub your floors during your normal cleaning, but it is also great at spot cleaning. If you don’t have a carpet steamer it also removes stains from carpet.

Tool Number Five: Bread maker

I strongly dislike looking in the cupboard and realizing I need to run to the store to get bread. Having invested in a bread maker is a great way to not only ensure I know what goes into my family’s food, but it keeps me from having to run yet another errand. Set it up to cook at night, so when you wake up you have fresh bread. Make a couple loaves ahead and freeze them. Make sure not to slice them before your freeze them as it breaks down the starch and doesn’t freeze well. Here are a few recipes:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Course/Bread-Recipes/Bread-Machine-Recipes

These tools are all different for each home, but the point is the same. Use the tools you have to make your daily life easier. Let your littles help out, it teaches them the value of your and their time – as well as the responsibilities of being a contributing family member. Then you have extra time to play with your kids, or hang with your partner – or just have a quiet moment to yourself.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  ~Confucius

These muffins look like an amazing way to start the day off!

Sweet Pea's Kitchen

I make blueberry muffins a lot during the summer months. Usually I make my favorite recipe, but sometimes a recipe comes along that just makes me want to run into the kitchen and bake. That is exactly what happened with I saw the recipe for Blueberry Doughnut Muffins over on My Baking Addiction. Just the name itself made my mouth water! Tender muffins bursting with plump blueberries and double dipped in a sugary lemon glaze goodness. I can’t wait to try these with raspberries or blackberries…who knows, maybe I will get crazy and try a triple berry blend! 😉 These rich muffins were such a hit with my family, I know I will be making them over and over again.

One Year Ago:Triple Berry Pie       

Two Years Ago: Blueberry Muffins 

Lemon Blueberry Doughnut Muffins

Printer Friendly Version

For the Muffins:
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup granulated…

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My First Bucket List

While reading some of the BLOGS I follow about their Bucket List updates, I was inspired to make my own. While I have never understood Bucket List; lately as I’ve gotten older I have been enlightened to the reality that there are about a million things I want to do personally, as well as with family and friends.

Prioritizing them has been helpful, but it’s also generated more activities I’m fascinated in. Having a Bucket List is in essence setting and achieving goals in life. It doesn’t have to have the morose overtone of “a list of activities to gain completion before death.” Realizing this is almost freeing in a way because you can put down the smallest of activities or the grandest of ideas in one list.

So, I did decide to create a first list, and it’s in no particular order. I say first because as I see from other writers this list will grow and change as I grow and change and complete tasks. My hope is that by writing these down, not only will I achieve them, but it will open up new learning experiences and generate new desires to accomplish more adventurous activities. Also, maybe as I grow older the list will become ordered, but for now it’s about recognizing the desire to do certain things and accomplishing them.

My First Bucket List (2012)

Watch our daughter’s graduate high school

Teach our daughter’s the importance to be in community service to help others

Make more Green Choices

Learn more about conservation

Master and complete my garden

Read daily to our daughters

Complete the NY Times Crossword Puzzle

Volunteer at the local Food Bank

Serve Thanksgiving Dinner at the Mission

Do more physically challenging family activities/trips

Take the twins hiking toMt.Rainier

Plan and go on a family camping trip

Fine tune photography skills

Consistently make time to workout and get in shape

Buy a little black dress

Travel to Canada

Travel to Tibet

Travel to the Redwood Forest, CA with the twins

Travel to Crater Lake

Travel to Sea World, CA

Spend more time with extended family

Travel back to Maui & Kauai

White water rafting

Learn to Windsurf

Learn Snorkle

Gain 500 BLOG followers

Travel back to see my God Parents

Take my family to see New Orleans & Biloxi

Train Bunkie-dog to run an obstacle course

Find a rescue puppy/dog for Bunkie to have a friend

Learn to Ski

Learn to Meditate

Complete a Hot Yoga Class

Obviously there is a large overtone which is travel. I have always been fascinated and felt most at home traveling. In retrospect I think this is because as a kid we were always moving, so until I met my husband I never really put down roots in one spot. While I love our home and I love our roots; it has allowed me to see that I have a strong desire to do world traveling.

Sometimes we don’t know what’s worth doing, until we actually say it, do it and then reflect upon it. I hope for me, this means growth and spending more time with family doing what some may consider crazy, but what I say is worthy of my First Bucket List.

 

Strawberry Season

I stopped by Tacoma Boys in Puyallup on Sunday morning, right after they opened.  I had heard from a few people that you could buy the previous days produce at half the price.  I was a bit nervous to ask, but walked in and asked the women at the front counter.  Boy did they have a deal to give!  I got 6 lbs of strawberries for $2.00 and 2 lbs of grapes for $2.00.  They had plenty more of both, I couldn’t be the person who took all of them, and it worked out well because an elderly lady came in with her husband looking for the same thing.  I asked her what she would be doing with hers and she said making jam for her grandkids!  This was exactly what I was headed to do as well.

I know there are about a hundred different recipes for Strawberry Freezer Jam, but after three years, I have fine-tuned ours to include less sugar and no pectin.  Some will say this is not truly jam, but it is better for us because it’s taste and consistency allows use over ice cream, waffles, on sandwiches, etc…

Below is the original recipe I started with given to me by a friend two years ago.

Original

4 cups Strawberries

2 cups Sugar

1 oz of Lemon Juice

Boil strawberries and sugar stir continually.  After it reaches a boil – continue to boil for ten minutes or until thickened.  Keep stirring and add lemon juice.  Refrigerate overnight to firm up.  Add to jars and freeze.

When this recipe is multiplied, it ends up with 8 cups of sugar and 4 ounces of lemon juice.  That is excessively too much sugar – it turns out wickedly sweet.  In addition to that, the amount of lemon juice required leaves it with a bitter after taste.  Altering it slightly allows for keeping the original taste of the strawberries with a hint of sugar and a small amount of lemon.  The most important component to the recipe is boiling.  The purpose of boiling the strawberries and sugar is to breakdown the sugar and turn it into simple syrup by combining it with the strawberries.  The Peters’ altered recipe for 6 lbs of strawberries (or 15 cups) is similar, but slightly less sugar and lemon juice and has some kid friendly components since our twins love to cook.

The Peters’ Strawberry Freezer Jam

15 cups Strawberries (about 6 lbs)

4 cups Sugar

Shy ½ cup of Lemon Juice

Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries then add to a bowl.  Have the kids get a potato masher and smash strawberries in a bowl until almost complete crushed.  Take those and add into a blender.  Pulse on Low/Puree until it is the desired consistency.  If your blender has a cup measurement, take this opportunity to measure each batch as it is added to the cooking pot.  Once all the strawberries have been added to the pot, begin to slowly boil and add sugar.  Stirring continually bring to a boil and allow boiling for ten minutes.  Keep stirring and add lemon juice to taste.  Cover and refrigerate overnight to thicken.  Add to jars and freeze.

Enjoy!