thRegular readers already know about my daughter’s blog, I Pick Up Pennies. They probably also know about her 19th year, when she nearly died from a rare neurological disease.

Since then Abby has gone through a lot of physical and psychological torment. She spent a couple of years on disability due to a lack of jobs that meshed with the residual effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome. (The fact that she found not her “dream” job but the World’s Best Boss is miraculous.) Post-traumatic stress disorder and a mental health issue that’s finally been diagnosed as Bipolar II have made it hard to get through some days.

Her husband lost his job shortly before the wedding, and his own health issues have worsened to the point where he is now on disability. The two of them bought a house before they were really ready (i.e., before they had a big enough down payment) in order to take in his bankrupt parents.

A careless driver hit them and totaled the car that was supposed to have lasted them another four or five years. Home, car and other issues have continued to pop up (almost $17,000 in 2014 alone). In the past few years she has endured five miscarriages and is considering whether or not to try again.

So how’s she handling all this? With an astonishing perspective, if her current blog post is any indication.


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thAccording to Time magazine, “lose weight and get fit” is the most commonly busted New Year’s resolution. Shocking, huh?

But if 2015 is the year you absolutely, positively, seriously mean to get in shape, this week’s giveaway can help.

The 2015 Fitness Boost package contains a handful of items to support your goals. You still have to do the work, of course, but at least this will start you off with new stuff.


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thThis is an unsolicited, unreimbursed testimonial for the robotic vacuum cleaner known as the iRobot Roomba. When I first heard the words “robotic vacuum” years ago I made a rude noise with my lips. It sounded like a pricey toy more than a useful appliance.

But DF, that most frugal and practical of men, has owned one model or another for years. When I moved in with him I decided to learn how to use it.

And then I fell in love with a little self-propelled disc.

Roomba delights me when she’s not scaring me with just how much dust and crud she’s picked up on what looked like clean-enough floors. (Yes, our Roomba is female. She makes us think of the robot maid from “The Jetsons.”)

Given that I have asthma, it’s smart to keep the environment as dust-free as possible. But vacuuming frequently hasn’t generally been high on my to-do list, even though I knew it should have been.

Recently I realized my asthma attacks have all but disappeared since I came to live with DF. Initially I thought it was because I was so much happier. Now I think it’s mostly Roomba’s doing.


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thEven if you get a flu shot — and I think you should — you still run a chance of getting the flu. According to Consumer Reports, vaccination prevents the illness 80 percent of the time in adults younger than 65.

But a non-flu virus — including the common cold — can make you feel pretty crummy, too. The insult to such injury is the price tags on cold/flu nostrums.

That’s why I put together a cold and flu package giveaway each year. Judging from the numbers of comments the package always gets, you folks don’t like paying retail, either.


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thThyroid issues can wreak havoc with your health and well-being, causing problems like low energy, depression and weight gain. Seven years ago. I was crawling through the days, attributing my severe fatigue to the work-plus-university schedule. (Or maybe just a failure of will.)

Then a friend suggested I have my thyroid tested. Seems it wasn’t a question of willpower after all. Now a tiny daily pill takes care of things.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, women can get a free TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test at any Sam’s Club that has a pharmacy (about 600 locations nationwide).


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