That time I tried the new Signature Collection from Readers.com

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Enter nearly any room in my house and you'll likely see a pair of reading glasses somewhere. Kitchen? Check. Bedroom? Check. In the study where I work? Of course. In the bathroom where even my magnifying mirror needs a bit of a boost? Yep.

I have lots of reading glasses because I need them for lots of reasons. I go through them so often — scratching, losing, or tiring of the style — that I buy only inexpensive ones, typically those that come in batches of four or more for a relatively low price.

So when Readers.com invited me to try out their new Signature Collection of handmade yet a smidgen higher priced readers free for review, it didn't take much...

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Shingles and shots: On the shingles virus and vaccine

Shingles and shots: On the shingles virus and vaccine

This post sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases through an unrestricted educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.

What you should know about shingles and getting vaccinated to prevent it

When conversations and considerations turn to vaccinations, immunizations for little ones is most often the focus. Or, for traveling folks, the shots necessary for globe-trotting trips might be what comes to mind.

The shingles vaccination rarely registers in the top shots grandmothers and others consider in relation to must-get vaccinations. Which is a shame considering that, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), one in three adults will get shingles in their lifetime. In the United States, shingles affects nearly one million people each year — roughly half of them are age 60 years and older.

Which means thousands of grandparents likely suffer the pains and problems associated with shingles.

My older sister happens to be one of those struggling with shingles. Becky, three years older than me, was ...

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Cookbook review: 100 Classic Gluten-Free Comfort Food Recipes

I've always been one to express my love to friends and family with food (among other things). Homemade cookies regularly in the cookie jar. Special treats for special folks on special days. Enjoying food crafts and activities with kids. Festive family occasions focus primarily on food.

Enter a grandchild with food allergies. Gluten issues, in particular. James, my bonus grandson courtesy his dad Patrick marrying my daughter Brianna, can't eat the majority of my long-time specialty goodies and holiday favorites. Figuring out how to express food-love to that kiddo has been a challenge. For the most part, food isn't what James and I share.

That's all about to change, courtesy 100 Classic Gluten-Free Comfort Food Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, which I recently received from publisher Robert Rose free for review. The 224-page cookbook takes the mystery out of making savory and sweet dishes without gluten! A lifesaver for this grandma and her gluten-free grandson.

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National Bullying Prevention Month: Resources for grandparents

National Bullying Prevention Month: Resources for grandparents

In recognition of October being National Bullying Prevention Month, my fellow GRANDparent Network members Leslie and Kay at Grandparents Link interviewed a couple kids on bullying. 

Take a look at their exclusive Frankly Kids: Bullying video (which they gave me permission to share):

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My MS anniversary, plus GRAND Social No. 253 link party for grandparents

My MS anniversary!

Twenty-five years ago today, on April 24, 1992, my daughters' elementary school held its annual school carnival. While the girls — Brianna in fourth grade, Megan second, and Andrea first — visited booths with their friends, Jim and I manned the cake walk.

It was a good night.

As we walked to the car to head home, my feet felt like they were asleep. Numb yet prickly feeling at the same time. I figured I'd just been standing too long. The numbness hadn't subsided by bedtime, so I slept with both feet propped on a pillow, thinking that might wake them up.

By morning, they were still numb. The numbness had moved up to my calves, in fact, and a weird and slightly painful sensation of walking on marbles accompanied each step I took.

The day after that, the numbness had reached my knees, the marbles were still underfoot. I called my doctor, who told me it's likely just stress and to relax and everything will be better.

It didn't get better. Each day it got worse. Each day I left messages for the doctor... whose nurse sympathetically relayed that the doctor didn't think there was cause to come in.

By the end of the week, the numbness reached my thighs. Jim called the poison control center, convinced I'd been poisoned by taking too much Sudafed during my recent cold. They convinced him otherwise. Still, my doctor didn't believe he needed to see me, had his nurse tell me to relax and use a heating pad to soothe back and/or stress issues that would surely go away.

By Sunday, May 10 — Mother's Day — I couldn't walk. I had to crawl up or down the steps of our then tri-level home. Instead of celebrating Mother's Day, Jim took me to the emergency room, literally carrying me through the door.

Thank God a better doctor than my regular physician was on call. He immediately ordered an MRI. By Wednesday, May 13, the MRI was read and the several lesions on it confirmed multiple sclerosis ("sclerosis" = lesion).

mri for msMy most recent MRI (2015)

At that time, one doctor told me I'd never walk again. Soon after, as my vision was failing, another...

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Ah-choo: Grandson under attack

When my girls were little — even when they were big — they never experienced allergy issues of any sort. Never. So I don't know what it's like to have a child with allergies. I don't ever really even consider allergies and such.

Well, I didn't consider allergies and such... until my bonus grandson Bud entered our world. Bud is allergic to gluten, nuts, animals, and all sorts of other stuff. So I am a bit more cognizant of the issue than pre-Bud.

Bud is not a blood relative, though, so perhaps allergies run in his family.

Bubby, on the other hand, is a blood relative, and allergies do not run in our family. So getting a text from Megan with the following photo — noting "allergy attack" as the explanation for my eldest grandson's miserable condition — floored me:

boy with allergies

So sad!

That's just the way it is for most kids in...

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My dad's obituary and the difference between big newspapers and small

My dad passed away Sunday evening. I got the call from my sister Debbie 20 seconds before the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos in Sunday's overtime game. I missed the field goal that put the win in the Chiefs' column.

Priorities.

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My last photo with Dad, October 27, 2016

My dad was unexpectedly diagnosed with a relatively obscure cancer — myelodysplastic syndrome — the very same week last January that my dog Lyla was diagnosed with her brain tumor. Lyla passed a month later. It took my dad 10 months longer.

Witnessing Dad's steady decline from a hearty, humor-loving 76-year-old to a shrinking (yet still humor-loving) 77-year-old sucked for family. Even more sucky for him, as he was fully cognizant, fully aware of his wasting away, especially as the wasting accelerated to runaway train speed near the end.

I'm filled with sorrow at Dad's death. But that's unexpectedly balanced by my joy he's out of pain and distress. I have no doubt he's in heaven. I'm especially thankful he had no doubt that's where he'd end up, once again loving on his beloved...

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Running for funds... and fun! Plus, GRAND Social No. 227 link party for grandparents

Running for funds... and fun!

When my daughters were in school, fundraising typically revolved around candy bars. Moms and dads, grandparents and other friends and family were encouraged to purchase a chocolate bar — or a boxful for the really enthusiastic supporters — to help cover the costs of school activities, sporting equipment, and so forth.

Kids nowadays (yeah, I sound like a grandma, don't I?) raise funds in a far more healthy manner. At least that's the case with my grandsons. The school both Bubby and Mac attend makes their students run for the money. Run laps, that is. And grandparents and others sponsor the children on a per lap basis or a lump sum, if preferred.

It's a far more healthy way of raising money for one's school. Far more healthy for the students as well as avid supporters.

Bubby and Mac ran for funds — and fun — last week. And racked up thirty-five plus laps each!

brothers fundraising run

Such accomplished little runners, those kiddos are. Thanks heavens Jim and I...

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Grandma takes a break

I like to think I'm superwoman, capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound... while juggling 361 duties with ease.

Sometimes life smacks me upside the head and tells me I'm a doofus for thinking such things.

Right now is one of those times, and I have no choice but to cry uncle admit I'm juggling more than I'm capable of at the moment.

One thing I'm juggling is caregiving duties for Jim, who — more than a month after his emergency foot surgery — is still on crutches, still has his PICC line for the mega antibiotics fighting the foot-damaging infection he had. Which means I'm still driving him to and from work, to and from doctor appointments, still administering his IV medication each evening, still handling absolutely everything around the house because he can't put any weight on his right foot if we want it to heal correctly. (Which we truly do want, despite the hassle.)

And now, as fate would have it, the "around the house" stuff I face includes something neither of us has ever had to do, thanks to the July 28 hailstorm from hell that hit our part of town. It spared our windows and roof, for the most part, but demolished every living thing in my yard, leaving pine needles and more everywhere.

hailstorm

Other than a huge helping hand from...

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Here and now: July 29, 2016

This is what's up in my life... and an answer to why I've not been posting much "real writing" here on the blog.

clock and book

On my mind...

How to cheer up Jim after learning yesterday he is "not yet ready for prime time" after his foot surgery, according to his podiatrist. Meaning, he still cannot bear weight on his right foot. Meaning, he has yet another week left using crutches. Meaning, he must still sleep downstairs, must still go in the back door at work where they have a handicapped ramp for him to...

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Picky PICC! Plus, GRAND Social No. 216 link party for grandparents

Picky PICC!

Heading into our fourth week of me playing caregiver to Jim after his foot surgery due to a horrendous infection that had put him pert near septic throughout his system, things are going quite well. For the most part. He's still using crutches and a walker, unable to bear weight on the right foot, but the swelling is down, a few stitches have been removed, the antibiotics I administer each evening in his PICC line are doing their job.

There was, though, a snag on Saturday that scared us both. As he went to bed Friday night (bed being relative, meaning the family-room-couch-converted-to-a-bed-til-he-can-walk-the-stairs-up-to-his-real-bed bed), Jim noticed some blood pooled under the plastic seal on his PICC line dressing, blood that hadn't been there a few hours earlier when I administered his daily dose of antibiotics. It seemed to have...

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