Andrea's blog

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A New Normal: Graves Disease

If you've followed my Instagram stories recently, you know that I've been sick for several weeks. Here's the story of what's been going on:

It started just before Mother's Day with suddenly unexplainably sore muscles, achy joints and extreme fatigue that lasted for weeks. I was short of breath, light-headed and couldn't do anything other than lie in bed or on the couch. 

The whole week my mom was in town, I was in bed and asleep by 8:30 or 9pm from pure exhaustion and everything I did took SO MUCH energy out of me.

I literally, paintstakingly and at a snail's pace, moved from the couch to bed and back again for a solid week.  Every single joint was constantly throbbing and aching. 

Finally, just after Memorial Day, when my body hurt so bad I couldn't even hold the pages of a book open without pain, I went to see my doctor for a Mono test. My doctor decided to do several different blood tests since I didn't have a sore throat or fever.

When the results came back, it wasn't at all what I had expected. I had a vitamin B12 deficiency and my T4 thyroid hormone was overproducing. So, she ordered a B12 shot and a visit to an endocrinologist.  I had hoped the B12 shot would boost my energy some, and while I did have a day or two of *slight* improvement, it was still pretty awful and clear that my thyroid was the real problem.

While I waited to see the endocrinologist, my symptoms progressed. Hand tremors, rapid heartbeat, tingling hands and feet, trouble with word recall, nausea, and additional weight loss.  Simple tasks like writing checks (not to mention painting my signs) were extremely difficult, both painful and ridiculously wobbly.  Thank goodness for Ben and the kids who were very understanding and helpful while I was incapacitated.

By the grace of God, I was put on a high priority list and was able to get an appointment with the endocrinologist within a week.  My initial apppointment wasn't going to be until mid-August and I couldn't imagine this going on for that long untreated and feeling so awful!

After an ultrasound, several more blood tests, and a talk with the endocrinologist, she diagnosed me with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder that basically means my thyroid is working overtime.

So, now I'm learning a "new normal" including daily medication, Methimazole (10mg, 1x daily to stop overproduction of my thyroid hormones) and Propranolol (20mg 3x daily, to reduce my symptoms) that-so far-appears to be helping. One week on the meds and I have much more energy, very little pain, and I feel like I can finally, slowly, start building back muscle and endurance.

It may be a long and bumpy road as we figure this all out, and I'm trying to recognize and realize that it's not a quick fix, but I'm grateful it's least treatable, though unfortunately not curable.

Thank you to all who have checked on me, encouraged me and prayed for me!  I'm *hoping* the worst is over for me, but am trying to be realistic and be aware of possible complications along the way.

Tip: Don't Google experiences with Graves Disease...many of the extreme stories aren't encouraging and are downright scary.

(Propped up by a railing and Ben, a little bit of illness couldn't keep me from Chuy's)

But I'm ok, and it'll all be fine. God will get all of us through it. I might just have to slow down a little (or a lot).

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Got Cookies?

Ayla is selling Girl Scout cookies to raise money for her troop's trip to Savannah this spring (and she's very excited, as you can see). If you don't already have your own Girl Scout to purchase from, she'd be thrilled if you'd help her toward her goal of selling 300 boxes!


(A Message From Ayla)

I would love it if you ordered cookies from me!  We have a new cookie called Girl Scout S'mores!  I made a slide show that shows all of the different kinds of cookies!

  • Thin Mints   $4.00 a box
  • Tagalongs   $4.00 a box
  • Samoas      $4.00 a box
  • Savannah Smiles   $4.00 a box
  • Trefoils        $4.00 a box
  • Do-Si-Dos   $4.00 a box
  • Toffee-Tastic $5.00 a box
  • Girl Scout S'mores  $5.00 a box 
If you live near me, email what cookies you want and they will be delivered!
 
You can also order through my Digital Cookie Site if you need your cookies shipped to you, or would like to pay online (I can still deliver them):  https://digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/ayla475838
 
My goal is to sell 300 boxes so that I can earn money to go to Savannah with my girl scout troop this spring.
 
❤ Ayla

 

We'll have cookies in-hand and ready to deliver at the end of January. Thank you for supporting her and her troop!

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One Word 2017: FRIENDSHIP

I haven't ever participated in the "One Word" movement that many people do every new year.  My mother-in-law has done it for the past 6 years and talks often about her "word" and how it affects her attitude and actions. 

That said, as I look back on 2016, it's very clear that there was a theme tying together all the things we focused on throughout the past year--COMMUNITY:

Whether it was through church, our neighborhood, our extended families, sports teams, school groups, or our city -- we were heavily involved in doing all we could to cultivate community in our lives and God blessed us tremendously, widening our circle and giving us a ton of new people in our lives to love and care for.

In 2017, building on that connected feeling I've felt with the people around me, I hope to focus on fostering FRIENDSHIPS -- taking a few of those community relationships and turning them into deeper friendships.

 

Turning those acquaintances into true friendships, where we are able to share the good, the bad, the fun and the frustrating.

Here's to a year filled with friends!

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Back to My Roots - Ombre Hair

Back in November, I bit the bullet and covered my ombre & balayage hair with dark cherry red.  Though it was fun for a while, I didn't realize the intense upkeep needed to keep red hair bright and vibrant.  So it faded very quickly and I was left with a toned-down and reddish version of my balayage and ombre highlights...which was okay for a while.

It lasted several months, until I decided it was time to freshen things up and go back to my dark roots.  In a way, I went back to the ombre look I originally had done when I first started coloring my hair, but we did it "backwards".  Instead of coloring the ends of my hair, my hairstylist matched my natural haircolor and then painted the dark color from the roots down about 1/3 of of the way down my hair and blended it into my already light ends. 

Ombre Hair - Black to Caramel

I love the result--and when I look in the mirror now, it's funny how much more like "ME" it seems.  I guess I'll always be a dark-haired girl at my core.

Ombre Hair - Black to Caramel

Long Ombre Hair - Black to Caramel

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Breaking Busy

Coffee, birds and books this morning... I'm taking #breakingbusy to heart.

The book is called Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington - If you're an overwhelmed mom with a jam-packed calendar, you might want to give it a read. $8.99 on Kindle...you don't even have to go to the bookstore to get it!

Some, ok LOTS of people say YES to things they shouldn't out of guilt or obligation.  I hear it from people I talk to every single day.  If that's you, then you definitely should read this book. 

Me? I don't fall into that category.  I'm ok with saying no to things that don't match up with my schedule, talents and interests.  Just ask the room moms from the kids' classes over the past several years. 

However...I do have a way-too-full calendar of things I say YES to because they sound like good things, fun things, and important things.  I'm not finished with the book yet, but it is already helping me identify a better way to filter the opportunities that come my way to determine what's really *most* important and where I'm called to be at any given time (because that calling can change, you know!). 

Our lives have gotten all cluttered up with things that we think we  “should” do; so much so that we can’t figure out what the things are that we were meant to do.

Breaqking Busy by Alli Worthington

Here's to Breaking Busy and being more intentional with our time and energy...

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Generations Photo

Inspired by the photo below, my mom asked me to put together a Generations photo including my Grandmother (Alice), my mom (Audrey), me (Andrea) and my daughter (Ayla). 

Since we live in different areas of the world, we had non-matching backgrounds.  With a little bit of Photoshop magic, here's what I came up with:

We liked having the youngest and prettiest generation as the largest and clearest photo! :)

This was my first attempt at something like this, but I think with a little practice and a more solid background, it could be done really well.  Maybe at the next family get-together we'll do a more "professional" version--and maybe I'll put a little makeup on for that photo!

While we were at it, I also couldn't help but try a more modern version--since this is how most people look at photos these days. :)

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Seeing Red

I get bored every once in a while.  Changing my hair color is easier (and causes much less turmoil) than changing other things in my life--not that other things need to change, they don't!   In the past few weeks, I was feeling restless and a little bit adventurous. It was time for a change. 

After a couple of years with caramel ombre & balayage highlights, with some extra light strands this past summer, I thought maybe I'd try something dark with a tint of red for a while.

My inspiration colors of "chocolate cherry" and "cherry cola" hair pictures took over my Pinterest Hair board for a while:

Chocolate Cherry Hair Color

It's definitely a big change!

It's taking some getting used to...but I think it'll be kind of fun and moody for a little while.

So far though...I'm not loving how it looks when it's naturally curly.  :(  (No photos of that fuzzy mess yet...) Maybe that means I'll need to fix my hair more often? 

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Hanging Around: ENO DoubleNest & 9ft Atlas Straps

Look what showed up this weekend!

Ayla used some birthday money that has been burning a hole in her money envelope for months and Ben and I bought a "family" ENO hammock so we could ALL enjoy hanging around...

The straps and included carabiners make them really easy to put them up, and thankfully, we have three trees in our yard that work perfectly to hang the two hammocks next to each other.  The set of 9ft straps also allow us to *just* reach across the diagonal of those trees too for better "adult" hammock-ing. 

Unfortunately, Ayla and Paxton didn't stay this peaceful for long.  When I went out to check on them, I found that Ayla had thrown berries in the air to make it "rain", which landed in Paxton's hammock, where he promptly--though inadvertently--stomped them and squished them all over the orange fabric as he wiggled around. 

Stained.  Instantly.  We should've bought black...

After a couple of washes (super-gentle hand-wash cold cycle!), the stains have faded, but they're still there.  They'll serve as a reminder that kids can't always handle "nice" things -- and "Nothing gold can stay."  

Thankfully, it wasn't torn--which really WOULD have been tragic.

And Ayla does LOVE her hammock.  She said she could "swing and rest and read and look at the trees ALL day long!"  With the gorgeous fall weather we've been getting, she just might.

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Girl Scouts Badge Work: Digital Photography

Each of the moms in Ayla's girl scout troop take turns heading up a badge and running a meeting during the year.  Monday night was my night! We tackled the Digital Photography Badge.  

First we talked about the different kind of cameras: Point & Shoot, SLR & Mobile Devices

We talked about the diffferent settings: Automatic, Portrait, Sport, Landscape, Macro, Night, & Video

We discussed what makes a good photo and I gave them my 10 Tips for Taking Better Photos:

  1. Take LOTS of photos
  2. Change your perspective.
  3. Zoom In AND Out
  4. Turn off your flash.
  5. Check your background.
  6. Use the Rule of Thirds.
  7. Position your subjects.
  8. Read your camera's manual.
  9. Tell the story.

Then they headed out on assignment.  Each group was supposed to take 5 photos:

  • Portrait
  • Group of People
  • Detail
  • Landscape
  • Action

They seemed to have a lot of fun and we managed to cram a lot into one short meeting.  If we'd had more time, we would have spent some time editing and creating a project with our pictures, but we DID talk about all the cool things you can do with digital photography.

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Ghostly

Our neighborhood is starting to get their Halloween decorations out, so Ayla and Paxton have been asking again and again if we could decorate too. Last night, we made it happen.  We limit our Halloween decorating to the playroom and the front porch, though I'm sure they wish we had a huge and elaborate yard setup like many of our neighbors do.  I don't have quite that kind of commitment when we only get about 5 trick-or-treaters at our house. :)

So, for a few weeks, we have a pumpkin mantle...

And happy kids...(this accidental photo turned out to be nice and spooky!)

We've had a couple of crisp fall-like days this year...but today we're back up in the 80's and wearing shorts with the air conditioning on. :(  We'll just be thankful the air conditioning is working though!  The motor died out a couple of weeks ago, and Ben was able to replace a couple of parts and get it working again.  He's awfully handy...

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