Saturday, August 16, 2014

IF THE SHOE FITS...


Summer is nearly over. Sad as that is, fashionistas everywhere find solace in the upcoming frenzy of New York Fashion Week. September, according to one Vogue editor, is when "we put away our flip flops and start thinking about heels again."

I love high heels, but only if they meet one crucial requirement: THEY MUST BE COMFORTABLE! Long gone are the days when I was willing to suffer for beauty. This past July I was a judge at the world famous Miss Texas Pageant. Knowing the glamorous nature of the pageant world, I went in search of my perfect high heel: a 4 inch platform pump. I found a pair I loved at the Coach outlet, but it only came in black. Not a very exciting color, but at least it was a neutral and fit my budget. I wore my new shoes all six nights of the pageant. While pleased with their comfort level, I didn't earn many style points. Playing it safe rarely does. Enter Anthony Ciccarelli, founder of High Pheels.


Anthony Ciccarelli

Anthony, too, was a judge at the pageant. I soon learned of his ingenious invention: changeable shoe covers that didn't look like changeable shoe covers. We all know what slip covers look like on sofas, right? Pretty obvious. That was my first thought when Anthony explained his business to me. After seeing the product, however, and trying them on my own comfy shoes, I was absolutely sold! They didn't look like slip covers at all. What it looked like was my wardrobe had gained five new pairs of shoes!!!


My black Coach heels 



I tried the popular Peacock cover first. I stepped into my pumps and surveyed my feet from every angle. The shoes truly looked like they'd been manufactured this way! Next, I tried the pink, the red, and the white. Then my favorite of all: the Newsprint cover. Holy cow! Anthony's invention had revolutionized the expression "If the shoe fits, buy it in every color!"




While my new friend did provide a way for me to be fashion-forward without breaking the bank, he unwittingly created a different problem in my life. With all these new shoes, I feel like I need some new outfits to go with them. Shhh....don't tell my husband! 

Check out Anthony's website at: highpheels.com or like him on Facebook! 





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Fight With Anorexia, Part 2: The Support Team



I wouldn’t wish Anorexia Nervosa on my worst enemy. It can never be cured, only managed. If not managed, it kills. Simple as that. Get food into your child or else…

Anorexia's self-imposed starvation has a terrible affect on the mental state of its victims. Anorexics are paranoid (everyone is trying to make them fat), delusional (imagining fat on their bodies where there isn’t any), combative (“you can’t make me eat”), and obsessive compulsive (ritualized eating involving a minute number of “acceptable” foods).

Our 14 year-old daughter, Caylin, is an anorexic. Thankfully, we recognized it early on. As detailed in part one of this series, we had difficulty obtaining specialized medical care. Through prayer, we found the Maudsley approach, which is home-based and has the highest success rate (98%) of all eating disorder treatment programs. The Maudsley formula is simple enough: refeed your child at home. Carrying this out isn’t simple at all, however!  It requires a support team and a willingness on the part of the parents to go through Hell and back over and over and over.

If you decide to follow Maudsley, you will have to form your own support network, very much like in-house treatment programs. Our team consists of the following:

  1. Medical doctor. You must have a baseline physical examination and blood work before you start. We caught Caylin's anorexia early on before any damage to her organs could set in. (If your child’s organs are compromised, hospitalization is NOT a choice!) Caylin has blood drawn every week, which is reviewed by our doctor. This is a pain in the neck, but it's critical if you’re going to treat at home.  Cardiac arrest is a very real possibility for anorexics. Weekly blood work keeps you on top of this threat. In addition, your doctor may have to prescribe medication to help with the anxiety that comes with anorexia. This will be a collaborative decision between you, your counselor, and your doctor.

  1. Counselor. Choose this person carefully.  She will be in the trenches with you throughout this ordeal. You and your child must be able to connect with this person! If not, keep looking. We found a Christian counselor who did not have any experience treating eating disorders specifically. She did, however, have extensive experience with OCD’s.  She is compassionate, caring, and has thrown herself into our daughter’s treatment. Caylin sees her in-office twice a week. I don’t know what we’d do without her. She allows Caylin to call or text her whenever she’s having trouble coping, even if it’s evenings or weekends. Our counselor prays for us as well, which I view as a critical part of conquering this disease. Caylin has made great progress under her care.


  1. Nutritionist. We found a nutritionist at our local hospital who has experience treating eating disorders. We take Caylin to her weekly to retrain her mindset regarding healthy foods, and to help establish caloric goals.  I’ll be honest, Caylin does not like this part of our support network. Eye rolls are common, but we’re staying firm. She has to hear the right information on a regular basis from someone other than us.


  1. Pastor, friends, family. Anorexia has no religious boundaries. We just happen to be Christians and prayer is central to our functioning. However, if you are not religious, at least enlist the support of friends, family, and your child’s school.  Silence and embarrassment have no place in the treatment of anorexia.  This disease is going to take a toll on every member of your family. Don’t go it alone! Worried about gossips? Don’t be.  When you’re open about the disorder, it takes the wind right out of their sails.


  1. Books and Internet. I’m a researcher. There’s plenty of internet sites to help you navigate this horrible disease. Maudsleyparents.org is an excellent one. I also recommend Duke University’s book Off the C.U.F.F. to help you with the difficult task of refeeding your child (ordering information found in part one of this blog). Another book I highly recommend is Harriet Brown’s Brave Girl Eating. I read this book very early on, and it’s been a comfort and guide to me ever since.


Even with all these supports in place, anorexia is a long, tough road; a marathon, not a sprint. We’re still running the race with Caylin, but it's a race we have every intention of winning. 

Next installment: Miscellaneous tips to help you and your child conquer anorexia.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Fight With Anorexia, Part 1: The Diagnosis



I like to have fun. I like to think about fun. And as you can tell by past blogs, I like to write about fun. But sometimes life just isn’t fun. And it hasn’t been since October 2013 when my 14 year-old daughter, Caylin, was diagnosed with anorexia.

Over the last seven months I've thought several times about documenting this experience, if for no other reason than to help me process it. When I tried, though, I just couldn't relive the agony on paper. I literally could not type ONE WORD. We've come far enough in our journey now, where I think I can write about it. My hope is that it reaches those who need it. 

The Beginning

It started out innocently enough in July with Caylin deciding to “get in shape” at our local YMCA. At 5'4, she weighed 117 pounds, not overweight by any means. My husband's dad had died a few weeks before and we were still recovering from the funeral. Exercise, with its natural endorphins, seemed like a good idea for all of us. 

Fast forward to October. What had started out as a light, twice a week workout for Caylin, evolved into a seven day, self-imposed boot camp. Caylin was down to 107. At this point, the weight itself didn't set off alarm bells, but her weird behavior did: 

  • She kept a growing list of forbidden foods: butter, sugar, bread, meat.
  • She withdrew from her friends and her twin sister.
  • Her mood was dark, her temper short. 

           
Call it a mother’s instinct or a direct message from God, but I Googled anorexia on October 11.th  Caylin fit every criteria. And no one believed me. My husband said I was overreacting, my mother-in-law said she didn’t look too thin, even our family doctor thought she was just going through a phase and needed a pep talk. But I knew my daughter and something was very VERY wrong.

Fast forward to November: Weight 98 and a household thrown into complete chaos. Mealtimes were a battle zone. My once sweet daughter morphed into Mr. Hyde.  She regularly cursed at us, insisted on cooking for the family without eating any of it, ate grapes by the pound, collected pictures from cooking magazines, ate with baby-sized utensils, watched cooking shows over and over, and worst of all (unbeknownst to us) limited herself to 900 calories a day. She was starving to death before our eyes, and we didn't know what to do. We begged. We bribed. We pleaded. We threatened. Nothing worked. She hated us and the weight continued to melt off.

I am a Christian. I believe in prayer. And I believe in full disclosure. The devil wants us to be ashamed, to hide our problems, to cover them up. Caylin’s life was in peril (anorexia kills twenty percent of its victims.) It was no time for secrecy or pride. We reached out to our friends, our pastor, our physician, Caylin’s teachers….anyone we could think of who could pray for her and offer us advice. 

Now before you go bashing on me for not seeking specialized medical treatment, we tried. We live in central Nebraska, five hours from the nearest in-house treatment center in Denver. We were willing to take her, but they weren’t willing to take us, because they didn’t work with our insurance company. We offered to put up a cash retainer. The answer was still no. Our only option was to apply for Blue Cross (a company they would accept) and wait until January for Obama Care to kick in when BC couldn't deny us coverage based on a preexisting condition. 

In the meantime, I did some research. Caylin's blood needed to be monitored every week, particularly potassium levels. Our local doctor, now fully on board with us, ordered and reviewed the tests every week to make sure she wasn't going into organ failure. There's only one cure for anorexia, and that's eating. We needed to get food into our child and fast.

The second week in November, God sent us the next gift in Caylin's treatment: Off the C.U.F.F. from the Duke University Medical Center. This is a priceless resource for parents. It follows the Maudsley approach to eating disorders. The program is home-based and has the highest success rate (98%) of all treatments available. If you have a child with anorexia, ordering Off the C.U.F.F. is your starting place:

Duke Eating Disorders Program
Box 3842
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

TEL: (919) 684-5712
FAX: (919) 681-7347

Cost: $35.

Next Installment: Forming Caylin's support team.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mr. Selfridge Episode 3....A Whole Lot of Chocolate Going On



I didn’t know when I tuned into Episode 3 of Mr. Selfridge that I was going to get a lesson in all things Belgian.

For those geographically challenged, Belgium is located right across the English channel, smack next door to Germany. A French, Dutch, and slightly German speaking country, Belgium has a figurehead monarch, namely King Philippe.


 “King who?” you say.  I know, I know.  If it’s not Kate and Will, who cares, right? But monarchies still abound in the world, and Belgium has a crowned head who happens to look a lot like the Dos Equis guy:

King Phillipe
Dos Equis Guy



And let’s not forget the most important part of Belgium: waffles and chocolate, mostly chocolate. What a hoot it was to watch Miss Mardle inhaling chocolate all night, then getting hit on by the chocolatier. They say good things come to those who wait, and Josie, my dear, you've been waiting long enough. If the Belgian Willy Wonka wants you, I say go for it!

Elsewhere in Mr. Selfridge, the mood continues to darken as employee after employee signs up for military service from which they’re unlikely to return. Frank Edwards knows the score. Unfortunately, he’s the press, and the press is being censored.

Alas, not much else going on this episode:
  • Henri’s up to some subterfuge involving money.
  • Harry’s still sucking up to Rose
  • Lord Loxley is still being a jerk, but don’t worry…Lady Mae’s got her ancient maid spying on him now.
  • Kitty still has the hots for George.
  • Victor almost enlists, then decides not to at the dying wish of his uncle. (This is a huge decision for him, as cowardice in this time period is viewed worse than death.)

Kind of slow moving this week, but still a good way to spend Sunday night. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some chocolate. Can't imagine WHY I'm craving it.... 



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Welcome Back Mr. Selfridge

Season Two of Mr. Selfridge is off to a great start! I wonder if the producers took a page from Harry's book after lackluster Season One: “Writers, up your game or you’re out!”


Season Two, set five years later in 1913, has bloomed in all ways possible:

Visually, we have COLOR! The costumes are gorgeous. The hair is gorgeous. The makeup is gorgeous. And not just for the upper classes. Working gals, your time has come!



Scriptually (is that a word?), we have a storyline that finally goes deeper than Harry’s insatiable libido. This season’s show actually offers a plotline worthy of the DVR space it’s taking up. World War I is approaching, ethnic tensions are mounting (watch out, Victor), women are on the career fast track, and a true villain has emerged in the form of Lord Loxley.

I am loving all the changes that five years has brought to our favorite department store. In business terms, let me give you the growth chart:

Upward Trend

Agnes Towler: Now head of display, she’s fresh off her Parisian training and being put to the test with a storewide empire theme. Love interest, Henri, is back. Time will tell if the writers can put some sizzle into it this go-round.


George Towler: This scarecrow finally got his brain! Now manager of “Internal Distribution” (moving boxes around the store), he’s the new boss of the loading dock. Gone is the confused patsy filling blue trucks with stolen merchandise.  It's five years later and he’s assertive, alert, and running a tight ship. Wow.

Miss Mardle: Josie's now a woman of "independent means" thanks to the generosity of her dead brother. I love how she showed off her new wealth to Roger in the guise of “I’d like your advice on how to handle becoming an instant millionaire.” Awesome!  No one will ever forget what a dirt bag Roger was to her in Season One. IN YOUR FACE, GROVE! Josie’s only showing up to work because she wants to, not because she has to. Enjoy going home to Fertile Myrtle, Roger. Ha!

You go, girl!
Kitty Hawkins: Now head of cosmetics, this girl can sell snow to an Eskimo. She’s street smart and able to handle the likes of the lecherous Frank Edwards. However, any liking I had of her in Episode 1 disappeared in Episode 2 with her nasty remarks to Victor regarding his Italian heritage. She's a slippery one. We'll see how she develops this season.

Victor Calliano: Speaking of… Victor is now head of the Palm Court. He still has a thing for Agnes, but this storyline is so Ross/Rachel, I find it hard to stay awake. I hope the writers ditch this direction soon.

Rose Selfridge: I don’t know what to think of Rose this season. She’s conventional one minute, playing the supportive wife for public appearance sake. Yet, she's controversial the next in her friendship with soft porn writer and nightclub owner, Delphine Day. She’s trying to be a good mother to Gordon (anyone else cringe at the sex talk she tried to give him at the breakfast table?), but she left her young daughters back in America under the care of Harry’s aging mother.  Historically, we know Rose is going to die in five years from the Spanish Flu, so the writers don't have much time to make her character interesting. She’s a gold mine of possibility. Get with it!

Falling Off A Cliff

Roger Grove: You got yours mister! I so love it that he’s overwhelmed by the very wife and children he dumped Josie for. He’s tired, sloppy, and about to lose his job. Thanks to the wonderful Mr. Crabb (and he IS wonderful! I want him for my grandpa…), Roger is slowly pulling himself together.

Frank Edwards: WORM. ‘Nuf said.

Henri LeClaire: We know he hit the skids in New York with this girlfriend and his career. We know he’s now living in a London ghetto unemployed. He did clean up nicely in Episode 2, and he was helpful and charming to Agnes, so for now we’ll withhold judgment.

Walking the Fence

Lady Mae: Such a great storyline in the evil, conniving husband returning to London to make everyone's life miserable. Who better suited to squash this guy than Lady Mae? Sadly, however, she's lost much of the energy and spark she had in Season One. This may be due to the fact that she is, in real life, pregnant with her first child. I only just found this out. I went back and rewatched the video, and you can see the signs of exhaustion. I’ll cut Lady Mae some slack this season, but let's hope some of her wicked resourcefulness emerges as she fights for her lifestyle and her title.


Harry: Eh….  Herein is the most underutilized talent on this show. Ari Gold and Harry Selfridge aren’t so unalike, so why can’t the writers give Jeremy Piven something he can sink his teeth into? He is the title character after all. Perplexing.

Welcome back, Mr. Selfridge! A+ for improvement!