Friday, January 8, 2021

Life Line Screening Is A Life Saver

After my father passed away in 2008, I started thinking more about my own health. My brother had suffered from a stroke the year before, and both my mother and sister had a history of blood clots. When I shared my concerns with my mother, she told me about 
Life Line Screening, a testing service that provides screenings for early detection to prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke. We learned that a Life Line Screening team would be in our area that month and booked the next available appointment. I was only 48 at the time, but with my family history of stroke, blood clots, and a grandfather who died from a ruptured aorta, I knew how important it was to be proactive in maintaining my heart health. 

I was surprised at how affordable, easy, and painless the entire process was when we had the tests! My physician had never mentioned Life Line Screening to me at the time since I was only 48. But I discovered that most insurance companies do not cover the cost of carotid artery ultrasound tests for asymptomatic people until symptoms of stroke or heart attack occur. By then, it is often too late. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, 655,000 Americans die each year from heart disease---that's roughly 1 in every 4 deaths. The American Heart Association claims that 80% of cardiac events are preventable with early detection and lifestyle changes. This is why it's essential to take advantage of the invaluable prevention service that Life Line Screening provides.


Age 50 and above 


Family history of stroke or heart disease


High blood pressure


High cholesterol

The Life Line screening process is amazingly convenient and efficient. No prescription or health insurance is necessary, and appointments can easily be made over the phone or online. Testing facilities are available all over the U.S., with screenings hosted mainly by churches, libraries, town halls, and fraternal organizations near your home. The Life Line teams usually consist of 2 sonographers (ultrasound technicians), 2 medical assistants, and a nurse practitioner. The process is entirely painless and non-invasive with the use of an ultrasound wand (a diagnostic tool that creates visual images for the detection of plaque in the arteries). Unlike an x-ray, the ultrasound has zero radiation exposure. These same tests can be very costly if performed in a hospital since many are not covered by insurance if they are asymptomatic or do not fall into the high-risk category for cardiovascular disease. 

The screening process takes roughly 60-90 minutes (my appointments have never taken longer than an hour), and results are read by a doctor before the detailed report is mailed to you (usually within 2-3 weeks). Copies are also provided for your physician so that you can discuss the results and plan the best course of action for living a healthy lifestyle. However, if a Life Line technician discovers a life-threatening condition, such as an aneurysm on the brink of rupturing, they will send the client to the ER. Also, if a serious issue is detected in the test results, such as Atrial Fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) that need immediate attention, a Life Line representative will contact the patient rather than have them wait several weeks for the mailed results. 


1. Ultrasound. This is the main package they offer---5 screenings for only $149. The tests include: 

    *An ultrasound of the carotid arteries to search for plaque blockages (these are fatty blockages that build up in the arteries and prevent proper blood flow to the brain).

   *An ultrasound of the abdominal aorta (the largest artery in the body) to look for an aneurysm or damage to the aorta---such as ballooning, stretching, or tearing, which can cause extensive bleeding and potential death.

   *A Peripheral Arterial Disease screening to check the circulatory condition. If blood vessels are narrow from plaque build-up, the blood flow to the limbs is reduced considerably, affecting the arteries in the legs and the blood flow to the heart, brain, arms, kidney, and stomach. 

   *Check for Arterial Fibrillation to search for irregular heart rhythms. If the heart isn't beating properly, blood pools in the heart and causes clotting. These clots are then pumped out of the heart and can travel into the brain, putting the patient at high risk for a stroke, heart failure, and other heart complications. 

    *The Osteoporosis Test is used to detect bone density. As we age, our bones become more porous and lose mass, making them susceptible to fractures.

2. Finger-Stick Blood Test. A quick stick test is done with a tiny needle to prick the finger for a drop of blood to check cholesterol, thyroid function, vitamin D, glucose levels, and more.

3. Limited EKG (Electrocardiogram). This is a partial test that uses adhesive patches attached to the skin to monitor arterial fibrillation.

In addition to these tests, Life Line Screening also provides a take-home kit to detect colorectal cancer, something every person over the age of 50 should consider being screened for. 

I've been getting annual Life Line Screening tests for 13 years now, so when they contacted me about sharing information on their screening services, I didn't hesitate. After all, who doesn't want peace of mind when it comes to their health? Remember, you can't see or feel arterial blockages in the early stages. Ultrasound screening is the best preventative for detecting these blockages. Convenient, affordable, reliable, and painless, these tests are a no-brainer for preventing cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Now more than ever, with COVID-19 numbers on the rise, people who are already at high risk or have pre-existing cardiovascular disease need to be carefully monitoring their health, and Life Life Screening is the answer. 

I'm sharing this information because I care about you, and I care about my family. I plan on being around for a long time to see my children and my grandchildren grow older. Please be proactive about your health---click on the link provided below to read more about Life Line Screening and to schedule an appointment at a facility in your area. You just might be saving your life! For more information, click here:


Friday, December 18, 2020

Fly On The Wall During A COVID Christmas

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, 4 bloggers are opening the "virtual" doors to their homes so that you can have a sneak peek at what goes on inside when only the nosy fly is watching. 

     I've been doing quite a bit of writing lately and wanted to share some links with you. I'm thrilled to share what I consider one of my funniest stories EVER---of course, it has to do with my hubs AND a recent plumbing disaster (gross but hilarious, I promise). Next, I had an article published in Covey Club about my anxiety during the pandemic and how my sweet little pug is getting me through it. Lastly, I am now a regular contributor to Alway Pets, and my most recent article matches the reader's horoscope with a variety of pets. You can find the links to all of these NEW articles here: 

"The Day I Learned My Husband Was A Crappy Plumber" on WRY TIMES 

"How A Rescue Dog Helped Me During The Pandemic" on COVEY CLUB 

"Best Pet Matches Foa All 12 Horoscope Signs" on ALWAYS PETS

     As many of you know after reading my last blog post, Tracing My Roots,  I have been knee-deep in family history and loving every minute of it. My husband Mac, however, has plenty to say about my research: 

ME: "This website is charging $300 for DNA kits that tell you what diseases you might be prone to."

MAC: "I'm prone to being stupid if I spend that kind of money on a kit."

ME "I can't believe how far back I'm finding my ancestors on this family tree!"

MAC: "Honey, you've gone so far back into your family tree that I wouldn't be surprised if you found a relative who was at The Last Supper."

MAC: " just sent me an email saying that my test results were inconclusive and that I have to do another test!"

ME: "Did they address your email to, 'Dear llama'......?"

ME: "Since you're adopted, I think it's important to find out your family roots so that we know what's in your gene pool."

MAC: "It's a cesspool, not a gene pool."

     As we prepare for the holidays, the fly on the wall has seen the hustle and bustle around here as I bake and wrap gifts. However, one bright spot in this lousy pandemic is that I was able to do ALL my shopping online, and in my pajamas, no less! The important thing though is that we are making our own kind of fun during these trying times, and the fly has witnessed it all.....

"Excuse me---you spent how much on Christmas decorations??"

"Sorry, but I had to---you know how our family is so steeped in tradition."

"More like steeped in stupidity."

 "Are you going to pick up a holiday turkey from Aldi's today?"

"No way, I hate that store. They only sell Faux-Turkeys there."

"I was a little nervous at our annual screening today when they put that ultrasound wand on my carotid artery. I was afraid of what they'd find."

"Not me. As soon as I heard the heartbeat on the ultrasound, I told the tech it sounded like my COVID baby was doing just fine."

"I still have some meds leftover from my last prescription. You can have them." 

"Your prescription is probably from 1868, but sure, I can go ahead and take it...." 

"My daughters must love me so much....."

"What brought that on?"

"They both texted me today and called me 'Hoebag'."

"And that's....a sign of love?"

"Sure! We have names for all six of us in the family: Hoebag, Dirtbag, Douchebag, Scumbag, Fleabag, and Barfbag."

"I don't even want to know which one of those names you gave me...."

     From our Hoe-Dirt-Douche-Scum-Flea-Barf Bag to yours, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay Save and MASK UP!!!

Click on these links for a peek into some other homes:


Baking In A Tornado        

Never Ever Give Up Hope   

Menopausal Mother         

Go Mama O.                

Friday, December 11, 2020

Tracing My Roots

Since I am still basically quarantining at home, I've done my best to keep busy during these last 9 months. I've cleaned out closets and drawers, redecorated my living room, created a new outdoor garden space, organized dozens of boxes of mementos that date back to 1975 (old letters, photos, trinkets, etc.) and have been writing regularly now for a new website called, "Always Pets." But my FAVORITE journey during this entire pandemic process has been tracing my family roots through

Twelve years ago, when my father was still alive, we spent an entire summer tracing his family tree. This was long before either of us knew how to use the internet, and I don't believe that even existed. My research was conducted from old boxes of photos and papers that my parents had saved, along with countless hours spent at the local library. My father had always believed his family was of German and Irish descent. Well, he was right about Germany, but it was such a thrill to show him that a large part of his ancestry was Scottish (with nary a drop of Irish blood). After my father died in 2008, I lost interest in tracing my roots. It just wasn't the same without his input and enthusiasm. 

My father and his brothers in the late 1940s

When my mother passed away eight years later, she left me a treasure trove of old family pictures, letters, and documents. Boxes and boxes, in fact. There was so much information that I became overwhelmed and shoved them to the back corner of my closet, where they have stayed until now. While doing my pandemic house purge, I came across the dusty boxes, and after lifting the first cardboard flap, it was like opening a portal to a past. 

Mom, senior year
high school

I've always been fascinated with history, but when I read my mother's faint handwriting on the backs of the old black and white photos, I felt the familiar thrill of discovery and knew I had to get back to my roots. 

I joined, took the DNA test, and was excited about the results. As suspected, I am primarily of German, Scottish and English descent. But then I discovered a little Sweden and Norway mixed in my DNA. I didn't see that coming! A small fraction of blood from Wales and France, but much smaller than I had previously believed.

My grandmother, great-grandmother, an aunt,
and great-great-grandmother (maternal side)

The information doesn't stop there. I was able to trace my Scottish paternal ancestors all the way back to 1445 and found many from my English maternal side dating back to the mid-1500s. I already had some of the background information on file from my previous research and from documents my father had kept. For instance, I'm related to Robert Livingston, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and also to Gen. George Custer. I'm not too proud of that last one, but it was fascinating to see how my maiden last name Kester evolved from Von Kuster, Koster, Custer, and Kuster. On my mother's side, I have descendants that were French Huguenots, and oddly enough, a grandmother from Salem in the late 1600s who was accused of witchcraft (but later acquitted), which might explain where some of my great-grandfather's weird psychic tendencies came from, as well as my own.

My paternal grandmother (toddler), great-grandfather, great-great-grandmother and 3x-great-grandmother

I've also enjoyed discovering tons of old ancestry photos on the site as well as documents, maps, and even pictures of the weathered headstones of my relatives' graves. Even more fun---many of my distant cousins on contacted me after my DNA results came in, and it has been fascinating to see how we are all connected!

My grandmother (paternal side) with her father-in-law on the beach. Yes, that is her bathing suit!

It feels good to step back in time--it takes my mind off this terribly bleak year of the plague. But most of all, I can feel my father smiling down on me for continuing the search we started so many years ago. And it's incredibly comforting to see how we are ALL truly connected to one another on this amazing planet. 

***I have hundreds and hundreds of photos, but here are some of my favorites. Enjoy this step back in time with me!    


Gilbert Livingston, 6th great-grandfather (paternal side)

Henry Livingston, 5th great-grandfather(paternal side)

Cornelia Beekman, 5th great-grandfather (paternal side)

George Boyd, 3rd great-grandfather (paternal side)

Elizabeth Livingston, 3rd great-grandmother (paternal side)


                Assorted great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles (maternal side) I Love their goofiness!

Adeline Eaton, 2nd great-grandmother (maternal side)

George Ober, 2nd great-grandfather (maternal side)

     Sidney Ober, my ultra funny great-grandfather (maternal side) who was also a photographer.

                      Marion Ober, my grandmother (maternal side) as a little girl

                   Robert Syrett, my grandfather (maternal side) as a young man

My grandparents William Kester and Mae Anna Jones (paternal side)


Ida Walkup, great-grandmother
(paternal side) We should all be like Ida!

           The family roots never end, and I am enjoying this journey every step of the way. This one is for you, Daddy!                  


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

5 Tips on How an EliteBaby Baby Diaper Bag Backpack Can Help With A Fuss-Free Road Trip

     Today on the blog I have some terrific information about traveling with a baby. Yes, I know many of you are beyond the baby-raising stage in life but I'm guessing you might have young grandchildren by now. And perhaps you're thinking of a safe, holiday vacation with your family that includes a road trip. Or maybe you're looking for a unique holiday gift to give to the new parents in your family. If so, EliteBaby has the perfect solution! 

Tips on How an EliteBaby Baby Diaper Bag Backpack Can Help With A Fuss-Free Road Trip

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put our overseas vacation plans on hold for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean that the whole family shouldn’t go out for an exciting—and safe—adventure. After all, a trusted family car can be just as comfortable as an airplane ride. And with no surprise, there are a ton of places you all can visit and enjoy in the good ole U.S. of A.

But wait, you may say, “there’s another ‘minor’ change in your collective lives that needs to be considered too” – the eight-month-old bundle of joy that has become the apple of everyone’s eye.  

A brief browse through the internet shows plenty of stories about how fussy, and especially stressful, trips can be with newborns or infants. There’s just too much to consider and prepare for - as you with older children must know by now. But that shouldn’t keep you from a family road trip that gives everyone their much-needed rest and recreational fun after being cooped up inside the house. 

As we all know, pandemic restrictions are put into place for the safety and well-being of ourselves and those around us, but we all also know the work-from-home or online schooling setup can turn into a bit of a lackluster, repetitive cycle. So let’s reduce those burdens…  

Here are a few useful tips to make your journey through the great outdoors as fuss-free as possible with a baby in tow:

1.    Keep everything on hand

By “everything,” I mean everything that the baby may need. Diapers and wipes need to be at the top of your list to make sure your little one is clean, changed, and comfortable at all times during the ride. Bottles of formula or breast milk, some of your baby’s favorite toys, and a thermometer are all also extremely important to have on hand. All of these items and more need to be in one, easily retrievable place. 

For this, a versatile baby diaper bag backpack should do the trick. Why make things harder on yourself than they need to be? Not only is this piece of baby gear functional with numerous pockets included and spaces to fit everything you will need for your baby, but it’s also stylish and durable for when you need to go on a supply run or in this case, get out of the car to appreciate the outdoors.

2.    Don’t forget the car seat

If you are buying a new car seat for your baby, make sure it’s the right fit for the height and weight of your child. Also, a rearward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness is advisable for 6-month-old babies or younger. Those who are older than six months can be seated in either rearward-facing or forward-facing car seats, but still, ensure that it has an inbuilt harness. Test whether the straps are pulled tight enough for your child or not. If a finger’s width can fit between the strap and your baby’s body, that means you’re good to go!

3.    Include lots of breaks in your journey

According to experts, babies should not sleep in the car seat for too long. For 1-month-old babies and below, they shouldn’t be asleep for more than 30 minutes. Infants and toddlers can only be in the car seat for two hours before they need to take a break. So, when going on longer road trips remember to make pit stops so your baby can stretch, crawl, or simply sleep better in a secure and comfortable place. 

There is also the matter of changing diapers or breastfeeding, and neither task is recommended to be done inside a moving car. Also, keep in mind that if the baby is asleep when you reach your destination, bring them with you wherever you go even if it wakes them. It is simply much safer for the baby.

4.    Be with the baby

It’s not enough for the baby to be safe and secure in the car seat. In addition, one parent/guardian/older sibling should be sitting right next to them. This guarantees that the baby’s needs are taken care of as soon as they arise, whether it be hunger pangs, boredom, or a diaper change. Everyone’s stress levels can easily spike if there is a constantly fussing baby in a long-journeyed car ride, so make your life easier by meeting your baby’s needs immediately.

5.    Get there as quickly as possible

If your road trip has a final destination, it would be better not to go through the scenic route – literally. Instead, follow the straight line that connects point A to point B.

One good reason for this is simple: Long stretches of open road usually mean there isn’t easily found help nearby, such as gasoline stations, food establishments, convenience stores, or even worse, medical clinics.

Even after precautions are taken and preparations are made to make your trip as smooth as possible, there will most likely be some hiccups along the way. Just keep in mind that most hassles are easily solved with a clear mind and a calm demeanor…even when there’s a baby bawling at the back of the car.

For over five years, EliteBaby has been committed to providing innovative products to keep your baby safe and happy. As parents too, we strive to develop and implement solutions that make a parent's life easier and free from worry. We're so excited to see your family growing, and looking forward to helping you out along the way!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Straight Talk About Perimenopause From Author Heather Wright

Today on the blog I have Heather Wright, author of the new book, What's Happening To Me Now?!: The Facts Of Life As A Woman In Your 40s. This humorous book is a delight to read and a must-have for all my lady friends entering the "change of life." I love that Heather is able to incorporate humor into menopause, something I have been preaching here on the blog for years. 

Below you will find a brief synopsis of the book, a funny clip from the introduction, and the link to purchase the book. What are you waiting for? Grab your copy today!  


What's Happening to Me NOW?!: The Facts of Life, As a Woman in Your 40s. (Straight Talk About Perimenopause.)
Written by : Heather Wright
Illustrated by: Matylda McCormack-Sharp


It’s a short, comically illustrated book about perimenopause; light, accessible, honest, inclusive, and humorous. Why? Half the global population — that is one billion humans — suffers a hormonal upheaval starting in the late 30s or earlier for medical reasons, yet the subject is taboo! And 75% of them will experience life-affecting symptoms while carrying adult responsibilities. Almost no information exists to support ladies with disabilities. The choices made during this time can have a big impact on health and well-being both short and long term, making it essential to break this taboo. This book is intended as a helpful place to start. At least it's a place to get some laughter to ease through the uncomfortable bits. 

Introduction Chapter:


There you are, lying with your legs spread eagle, your exposed lady parts swinging in the brisk air of your lovely obstetrician’s office for an annual exam, when BANG! The word is casually released like an advanced nuke dropped from the B-2 stealth bomber... perimenopause. Okay, breathe. All women go through it. But this idea of “going through puberty backward” (go on, whisper it...menopause) is, t a b o o. We simply don’t want to talk about it! Or we whisper together, exposing ourselves to grapevine-style misinformation. There was an array of perfectly reasonable looking books and articles on the market; but nothing like what I wanted. I was searching for a short, sweet, and humorous explanation of what the hell was going on with my body, and if there was anything I could immediately do about it. You know, now that we can finally admit that we aren’t 29-years-and-holding. I’d like to tell you that your doctor could guide you through it all. (Just wait until you find out what little data that esteemed character is operating on.) I’m not going to sugar coat this; there may be perplexing years ahead. This book cannot answer all of your questions. Hint: There aren’t always answers. It is not a substitute for medical advice or clinical research (as 
if there were much of that available, ladies). My humble aim is that you may be better positioned to find an approach that works for you, or at least that we share some good old-fashioned laughter to ease the uncomfortable bits.


Heather Wright is a Canadian located in the San Francisco Bay 
Area and is a first-time author. She has enjoyed terrific careers that 
use her fancy Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Fine 
Arts too. She has done odd things like get her name on a toner patent 
for Xerox and led a significant historical clock restoration project for 
Queen’s University. Yet her only real credentials for writing this book 
are her enviable gender (female) and age (in her 40s). She wrote this 
book because, for goodness sake, someone had to. 

Instagram: @whatshappeningtomenow

Purchase Link (Amazon):

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fly On The Wall In A Month Of Birthdays

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, there are three of us bravely sharing what's been going on behind closed doors in the month of October. For us, it's been all about birthdays---as much celebrating as one can do during a pandemic. Normally our family would go out to dinner together or take a mini weekend vacation up the coast, but the pandemic had different plans for us this year, so we celebrated at home. Together. And isn't that truly what birthdays are all about--sharing the special day with the ones you love most? 

     My daughter-in-law, my baby granddaughter, and I all share October birthdays, so we've been celebrating pretty much every weekend. But that's not the only reason for our recent celebrations; we have some very exciting news to share: MY SON AND HIS WIFE ANNOUNCED THAT THEY ARE EXPECTING  THEIR FIRST BABY IN MAY!!! This will be my third grandchild and I am over the moon with joy right now!! This is by far the best thing to come out of 2020----news that we have waited so long to hear. 

     Other than writing articles for a few websites here and there, I've spent the past month gutting my closets. Isn't that what everyone is doing during their self-imposed quarantines? I've found stuff in boxes that I have not laid eyes on in 40+ years and oh my.....the things I found. Letters, postcards, jewelry, t-shirts, diaries, photos, comics, stuffed animals, pressed flowers, cassette tapes, buttons, hair clips, old perfume bottles---all remnants of the early '70s and '80s. Seeing this stuff made me feel old as hell but it also reminded me of the good life I've had. Definitely some struggles along the way and plenty of heartbreak, but those rough patches made me who I am today. I have very few regrets, which tells me that despite the mistakes I made, they were meant to be made to get me to this point in my life. I recall my old writing coach in college telling me that I couldn't write well until I had lived.
Marcia Circa 1979 (19 years old)

 I've also been delving into my roots via My family tree is getting pretty full, and I'm having a lot of fun tracing ancestors all the way back to 1445! In a future blog post, I'll share some of my old family photos dating back to the 1800s, but for now, I'm going to leave you with a few snapshots of our birthday month. 

Grandbaby's #2 Birthday

My granddaughters

Husby found his infant hat

My daughter returning back to school to teach in full PPE

Haven't seen my youngest son in a while because COVID. So we text...a lot. 

My granddaughter pulling me into her selfie.

Precious grandbaby loves her new Frozen dress

Family birthday party on the beach. Am I lucky or what??

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? My latest article, "Grandparenting During Covid-19: I Gave Up My Social Life For My Family And I Have Zero Regrets" is up on Family Project:


Click on these links for a peek into some other homes:


Baking In A Tornado        

Never Ever Give Up Hope   



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