No more dry skin itch

I have really dry skin, especially this time of year in early winter. The itch can be unbearable. At times, I have been known to scratch my legs until they bleed and still keep scratching. The itch just doesn’t stop. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different oils, lotions and creams; even prescriptions. Most just make my legs greasy but do nothing to lessen the itch.

I’ve tried gloves and mittens to cover my nails. I’ve cut (or bit) my nails super short. That didn’t help either. I just use something else to relieve the itch (a key, a pen cap, a barrette. It really doesn’t matter what. Just something to use to scratch).

I don’t endorse many products directly on this blog, but simply must share these. So far the best dry skin therapy I’ve tried before this year was Euracin. It’s expensive, but helps somewhat. It also takes awhile to soak in before relieving the itch. Still, it does help relieve the itch.

However, I found something even better this year. It’s also rather expensive, but not as much as Euracin. I found a sample tube in the organic section of the store and tried it right there. Wow! Instant relief! I got a large tube and dropped it in my cart.

My son also has dry skin but not as bad as mine. I found a large pump bottle with similar ingredients for him. I figured since his isn’t as bad as mine, he wouldn’t need as powerful cream. I was right. About 5 minutes after I put some on him today he said “Ahh, no more itchy legs”.

So, what are these wonderful products? The are made by JASON. The one I use is Aloe Vera 84% Hand & Body Lotion in 8oz tube. The one for my son is Aloe Vera 70% All Over Body Lotion in 16 ounce pump.

The pump is a little less expensive even though twice the size. Unfortunately, they are slightly different ingredients so the 70% doesn’t help me. It also has a lavender scent which I don’t care for but he doesn’t mind.

Thanksgiving, night skiing

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. We did. My husband went to the all hours gym for an hour of exercise while I made French Toast for breakfast with the kids.

We watched part of the big parade on TV but were disappointed. They hardly showed any of the parade. Instead it was mostly talk about the latest tv shows, Broadway musicals, singing (not part of the parade) and of course ads. We were expecting to see the parade, not a morning talk show which is what it wound up seeming like. You could catch glimpses of the parade behind them while they were talking. Ugh. I don’t think we will bother next year.

Some of the things they said during the parade really didn’t make sense to us. Things like it not being Thanksgiving without football or the parade. I’m sorry, but they have that definitely wrong. Thanksgiving was around long before football or parades. Sure, our popular American culture likes to do those on Thanksgiving, but many people don’t enjoy them and still enjoy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about being thankful to God for family, health, and the things around you first. What you chose to do to show it varies.

We went and had lunch with my mother in law. Then did a little work in the afternoon. When we got back home, my husband put some videos on for Karen and he took a nap. Richard wanted to go cross country skiing.

Richard and I went over to the University of Alaska ski trails. It was dark when we parked. There are lighted trails up on north campus, but we were down near Ballaine Lake where the trails are unlit. It was a beautiful night; the half moon shining bright gave enough light to cast tree shadows across the trail. The temperature was a relatively warm 10F.

This was his first time skiing on groomed trails. Previously he’d only been in our driveway and once on an ungroomed trail. Needless to say, he fall down a lot. We went up one trail until we came to a steep (but fairly short) downhill with a corner at the bottom and turned around. I don’t want him tackling a hill like that on his first real time out, plus I’m pretty unsteady on hills still too. Then we went back the other way until he wanted to turn around.

We had a great time. I saw a moose on our way back just off the trail. Richard did better and better. We were out about an hour on the trails. I can’t wait to go again. I’m not sure if we’ll go to the same place or try the lit trails.

Of all the times I’ve gone skiing, I’ve only skied during the day twice. All other times were at night and usually on unlit trails. I don’t like headlamps. Sure, they give a bright circle around you but ruin your night vision for seeing things outside the circle. I don’t think I would have seen the moose if I had a headlamp. I find you can actually see better without the lamp if the moon is out. Granted, you don’t get a lot of detail, but do you really need it once your skis are on unless you have a problem?

Plus, they shine in the face of others. This was made plain tonight. Someone was entering the trail while we were leaving. He had a headlamp on. It kept getting in our eyes, temporarily blinding us. Did the person even acknowledge us? No. Did the person duck their head to get the light away from us? Again, no. I don’t think this person was being deliberately rude, I just don’t think he realized the problem his bright light was for us being accustomed to the moonlight.

Fitness update 2009 #18

Last week marked the one year anniversary of starting my fitness journey. While I’ve only kept off 10 pounds, that’s better than the past 4 years when I’ve gained 10 pounds a year. I learned a lot about myself. The biggest thing is that I need to be more consistent throughout the year. When I pay attention to diet and exercise I do well. Often I loose weight. We can even eat out and go on vacation. However, as soon as I stop paying attention and let the excuses take over, I’m in trouble.

I also learned that late summer and fall are my worst times for consistency. These are when the days of excuses start to add up into weeks or even months. This is when temptation is worst. In the winter, I am very tempted to be inconsistent because of SAD. However, because I anticipate it, I can cope. I have no good reason in the summer.

I’m excited today. My husband and I had a talk last night. He agrees we both need to start exercising regularly again. He wants to start getting up early to go to the gym. That seems to be best for him. Then he gets me and the kids up when he gets back. I want to start doing the exercise videos again. He also said I could start going to the gym with the kids in the care center again. Even better he said he would watch the kids if I went to water aerobics. I just can’t go Monday’s (our busiest day). That means I can go Wednesday evening and Friday (assuming they have Friday still). Yeah! I’ve really missed going.

We went grocery shopping over the weekend and bought plenty of healthy stuff. Unfortunately, my SAD is beginning to interfere with my motivation. I’m starting to feel very lazy and crave carbs. The past few nights we have had pasta and heavy sauces for dinner because of that. Not a good start.

Getting back into the fitness routine will be easy at first, but the trick is to keep the motivation up. I’ve been reading some of my fitness updates from the spring. I was doing well then despite the SAD. Hopefully, I’ll find something there to help me stay on track again. So far the biggest thing is to “Just Do It!”.

I can find lots of excuses to avoid exercise, I am tired, my husband was out on maintenance late and wants to rest, the kids are doing something distracting, I don’t have enough time. Sound familiar? I found that if I push myself to get started, I will be glad when I finish. If I give into excuses, it makes me frumpy.

Let me list some ways to combat those excuses. First being tired. I’m mostly tired because of the SAD. Exercise is proven to help that. The hardest part is just getting started. As I exercise, I gain enthusiasm to keep going. Exercise gives you energy as long as you don’t overdo it. It helps your body flush out built up toxins which cause the tiredness. It also gives endorphins which help you feel better.

My husband wants to rest and the kids doing something distracting are related. I need to let others around me know exercise is important. I can send the kids outside now that it’s warmed up to zero or they can play in their room. I can shut the sound off so not to disturb his rest.

Finally, I don’t have enough time. I like a full hour. My husband keeps telling me even half an hour is better than nothing. He’s right, it is. I just don’t like to feel rushed even though I have some good 20 minute exercise videos.

So am I going to call my 10 pound loss for the year a failure since I didn’t loose my goal amount? No. Am I frustrated about it? Definitely. Am I going to quit just because the past few months have been rough? No. I am going to acknowledge the setback but keep going. It’s only a failure if I let it get to me and quit. I can loose the weight. I am going to be glad it is a loss rather than a gain even if it’s less than hoped. After all, I’m 10 pounds closer to my ideal weight, therefore that’s 10 pounds less I still have to loose. If it took me at least 4 years to put on the extra weight,why did I expect to realistically loose it all in just 1 and keep it off?

The kitchen is being put back together slowly, but steady. I think there’s a large enough hole in the living room now to exercise. I don’t have time this morning though. Since it’s Wednesday, I’m going to take my husband up on his offer and go to water aerobics tonight.

Now that hopefully, I’m getting back into a routine again, I will post fitness updates more regularly. Hop little rabbit. Hop down the scale again!

They got shot

My kids got shot today. Don’t worry, it was the H1N1 flu shot. After talking with my husband, we decided to go ahead and get the kids vaccinated. Today was one of three clinics for kids and high risk adults. We had the option of the live nasal spray or the deadened shot. I let the kids decide since they were the ones who it would be given to. The nurse said both forms had the same recovery time and immune response. They both chose a shot.

We generally aren’t on the edge of medical advances. It’s best to wait and see how effective new treatments are. However, enough of these shots have now been given that we felt it was safe. We do not believe conspiracy theories that this is simply a government plan to help drug companies make money or that it’s not actually flu vaccine but something else in the shots. Also, the countries where mass vaccine has been administered have seen a dramatic drop in cases of H1N1.

While you may not get deadly sick from this flu, if you have the shot, you are helping to stop the spread by giving the virus one less place to live. If enough immune people are in place, the flu will have no where to go and therefore die off. Not only do I not want to get sick but I don’t want others to either. Also, unlike seasonal flu vaccines, this is specific to the H1N1 virus which is already prevalent. Seasonal flu vaccine is a guess as to which flu virus will be the most prevalent and therefore not always effective which is why we usually don’t get them.

I got flu in late January 1984 when I was a child. This was another nasty flu outbreak with over 57,000 deaths. I was very sick for 6 weeks including pneumonia. My mom got it from me and had to be in the hospital.

Today’s clinic was put on by the local public health center and the school district. Kids under 10 need to have a booster shot in 3 weeks. That’s the bad part. So far, no follow up clinics have been scheduled. Perhaps they are waiting to see how many will be needed.

What about boys’ clothes?

My son is growing fast. He’s outgrown just about all his clothes this fall. Last month, we went to WalMart to buy him some new clothes. I don’t like buying boy’s everyday clothes (especially pants) at thrift stores because they wear out so fast that by the second time around, they are almost threadbare already. One advantage of dressing plain, is that button up shirts are often in better condition than printed t-shirts at the thrift store, but the selection for boys is very limited. If I have to buy used clothes twice as often, it’s usually worth buying new instead so long as it isn’t too expensive.

Modesty is frequently associated with girls’ clothes. Making sure hems are long enough, shirts loose, and necklines high. Yet, modesty isn’t limited to them. Boys need to be modest too. I’m not just talking about avoiding running around without a shirt and skimpy shorts in the summer. I mean the clothes should be simple in design and not flashy with the latest logo emboldened across the front or back. (See my post from last fall about clothing or advertising.) They should be free from tears (within reason for play clothes). They shouldn’t draw unnecessary attention. Yet at the same time, as Christians, I want my family to avoid the trappings of fashion and appreciate a basic garment.

My son has surprisingly never liked jeans. He prefers slacks or sweat pants. However, slacks are hard to find without spending a lot more compared to jeans. I guess they are considered dress up clothes and charged accordingly. We lucked out and found some cargo pants at a good price and a pair of elastic waist slacks.

With winter coming on, he needed long sleeve shirts. However, most of them had writing on them to resemble sports shirts. I understand wanting to show team spirit for your favorite team, but these weren’t even for a real team. Just something the designer made up. Even the plaid and flannel shirts had these “team” designs. Ugh. We did finally find a few plain striped shirts on the clearance rack.

It was frustrating for us. He didn’t understand why he found plain shirts the last few years but had such a hard time this year. They had plain flannel shirts for men but not boys. He really wanted some flannel shirts. Even the sweat shirts all had designs on them this year. I can’t even say this is just a WalMart trend. Other stores also had a lack of basic, unadorned long sleeve shirts. I could have gotten dress shirts, but that’s not what we needed.

Many viewing modestly dressed families, mostly see it is for the women and girls. The men are assumed to wear clothes off the rack. Yes, the do. However, they are getting harder and harder to find at reasonable prices. Whereas, you can buy modest dresses at several places online for reasonable prices.

So I ask, where are the modest, boys’ clothes? Why does dressing neat and plain cost so much more than the latest printed junk? Is it just me? Am I the only one who see this as a problem?

Fitness update 2009 #17, frustration

I’m getting winter frustration. It’s cold outside, the house is a mess, and I haven’t had any real exercise all week. I couldn’t wait for this stage of our remodeling to begin. Now that the floor is down, I can’t wait for it to end and everything go back to normal.

I wish I had some exciting news this week, but no. My monthly didn’t come a few weeks ago. I tested today and it was negative. Not sure what’s up with that.

My weight has stayed the same the past few weeks. Up from this summer but lower than last winter. I haven’t done much real exercise, which is probably why. Also, we started eating out again, especially this month with the kitchen all taken apart in my house. Last night we put the stove back in place so we were able to cook again even if we do have all the pots, cookware, and even pantry stuff in the living room still. (He even gave me the night off by cooking dinner and taking care of the kids while I went to get the milk. Unfortunately, she wasn’t home so we couldn’t have a chat.)

I’ve been extra tired this week. We all had the stomach flu last weekend. I’m still a little down from that. Then the stress of getting the kitchen ready for the new floor. Well, that went in on Thursday with no problems. Now we just need to get everything put back together. Plus, the uncertainty over missing my monthly didn’t help. Mid-November means we’re having only 5 and a half hours of daylight assuming it’s clear. That’s enough to make anyone tired.

I really need to start doing something regularly for exercise. Combine the darkness with nearly record sub-zero temperatures this week to keep everyone inside. I haven’t even been splitting wood since we stated working on the kitchen floor. We bought heating oil because there was no place to put the wood inside.

I could use the Turbo Jam exercise videos if my kitchen wasn’t all in the living room. There’s literally 2 paths in the living room with tools, kitchen stuff, and cabinets everywhere else. So until then (hopefully by the end of the week), I don’t have a good place at home to work out.

We’re starting to drive each other crazy. The kids are bursting with energy and stuck inside. I’m tired and loosing patience. Exercise is the solution to all of these. The weather is supposed to warm up to zero mid-week. Then we can get outside again for a little exercise. Maybe the living room will also be cleared to the point that I can do TurboJam while they play outside. I’d take everyone to the gym if I wasn’t worried about getting sick.

So in a nutshell, my fitness is on hold until the weather warms up or kitchen is all back where it belongs so I can use the living room again. Rather frustrating, but probably worth it in the long run. This kitchen floor is something we’ve been looking forward to for years.

Misc updates

We’ve been busy lately with projects. Right now they’re at the hardware store getting parts and picking up the boxes of flooring from Floorcraft. Soon the new floor will be in the house, even if it’s not properly installed yet. I’m excited!

The only thing left for me to pick out are the table legs and that’s because it wasn’t until today that hubby decided we were replacing them. Now you know where I’ll be tomorrow. Hmmm, can I sneak in new cabinet handles while I’m there? Probably not.

The kitchen is now in the living room except the stove and table top, which will be removed Wednesday. Yesterday we moved the sink counter and cabinets. I did the dishes in the bath tub last night and expect to do so again for the rest of the week. Today the guys finished removing the old flooring and started bracing the weak spots. Tomorrow they should finish that. Since we have the refrigerator out, we will paint the wall behind it. We also want to insulate the wall behind where the sink cabinets were since that’s always cool in the winter. The installer will be here Thursday and Friday. We still haven’t decided on replacing the counter tops or not.

When we removed the cabinets last night we found a few forgotten treasures. There was a huge wrench (probably for working on the drain pipes), a jar of silver polish, a very old lid, a plastic bib from McDonalds, and a paper bag from Pay & Save (which went out of business about 20 years ago!).

Richard earned his soccer table today! We don’t have the proper ball for it though, but one we have works. Right now it’s in the kitchen, but will be moved to his bedroom later. Not sure what his next reward will be, probably lessons of some sort.

I tried to make butter from the cream in my jar yesterday but I must have too much milk in it because it didn’t work. Oh well, it will still be great for mashed potatoes and hot chocolate. I’ll have to be more careful when skimming to get just cream.

We had a large dump of snow at our house. In town they didn’t get as much. Now the skies have cleared and the temperature has dropped like a rock. It’s -14F here now and still getting colder. It’s not supposed to get above zero all week. That’s pretty typical of this time of year: a big snowfall followed by a big cold air mass.


At the end of October we joined a dairy co-op. That means we pay a fee to own a “share” of a dairy cow. In exchange, each share gets a gallon of real milk a week. We have one share.

Now, this costs about twice what milk does in stores. Still, it’s worth it right now for us. I know where the milk is coming from. I know we have a steady supply.

My husband says we’re doing this for the kids. The kids are learning milk doesn’t grow on refrigerator shelves or in the store. The woman who actually has the cows even said they could come help sometimes with the milking.

We can do lots of different things with this milk. Since it has the cream, we can make whipped cream, sour cream, butter (and real buttermilk). I now have a pint jar of real cream. I haven’t tried adding any to recipes yet. However, when skimming the cream today, I made hot chocolate and each mug got a bit. Yumm.

Recently I’ve become uneasy with homogenization. That’s the process where basically milk is ruptured until it is all the same consistency and no longer separates. Cream floats to the top in natural milk. I wish you could get milk that has been pasteurized but not homogenized. However, with huge dairies, that isn’t very practical. Some customers would get more skim and others more cream unless it was kept stirred. This dairy co-op seems a good alternative.

The milk comes in gallon jugs (she’s switching to gallon glass jars, but hasn’t given us one yet). Last night when my husband picked it up, it was still slightly warm from the cow even. I put it carefully in our refrigerator. This afternoon, I took it out and skimmed off about an inch of cream from the milk.

Last week was the first milk I’ve ever skimmed. I didn’t quite know what I was doing. We have a flat serving spoon and I gently scooped some from the top of the jar until it wasn’t as thick coming up. This week, I let it sit longer before skimming and had a definite line I could skim down to the milk. Practice makes perfect. My cream jar is now full, so I’ll use this mixed cream. Now that I have a better idea what I’m doing it will be easier to get just cream off.

Even after skimming off the top cream, the milk is pretty rich. We like it. Recipes that call for milk and butter will use less butter. We just need to gently shake the milk to mix it a bit before using each time.

After searching the internet, I’ve found a good demonstration for making butter. I’d like to make sour cream too. One quick way is to combine buttermilk (one recipe said lemon juice, another vinegar) with cream to make sour cream or you can just leave the covered raw cream out to sour overnight. We’ll try the butter tomorrow. Should be interesting to see if it turns out and how much we end up with.

Yogurt idea: 1-3 tbs yogurt + 1 qt raw milk, leave in oven with light on overnight in glass dish

Book idea: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

The Great Sock Hunt

Hmmm. No clean kids’ socks. I know it’s time to do laundry, but only 2 pair are in the basket. Where’s the others?

And so begins The Great Sock Hunt and Laundry Roundup today.

Behind the door. Under the bed. Under the sofa. Hey, this is a great way to teach prepositions đŸ˜† !

There’s one hiding behind the chair! Do I even want to know why this one is by the toilet? Aha! Under his bike helmet. Quick, before they hide again! Under the dresser. On the shelf. Under the rug in the corner is a herd of socks!

Shhh, a pair of nightgowns are behind the dresser. There’s a pair of pants beside the bed! A shirt was peeking out behind the bed. Grab it! There’s another one under the chair!

Did we catch them all? Not quite. There’s another shirt hiding by the bed.

Whew! Ok, everybody into the washer.

Yikes! One sock escaped under the refrigerator. Sorry, it’ll just have to go in with the next load and be lonely.

OT headcovering

I’ve been sick this weekend. Blah. That gave me time to read and ponder. Among other things, when reading Isaiah, I came to a passage that struck me as a condemnation of a woman’s uncovered head and nudity.

Isaiah 47:2-3

Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks [hair], make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

So the argument some make that headcovering and modest dress were just something cultural in the New Testament simply isn’t true. There are other places in the Old Testament that headcovering is mentioned. Even back in Genesis 24:65, Rebekka covered her head when she saw Issac. Song of Solomon 5:7 mentions watchmen beating a woman and taking away her veil. No, it started before Corinth and still holds true.