Choosing to be an Optimist: Wendy’s Experience with Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)


(BPT) – This is the real-life experience of one individual’s experience living with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). This is not representative of all experiences. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Wendy built a career in human resources making sure employees had the information and support they needed to be successful in their roles. Almost 30 years later, Wendy is using that same passion for helping others to raise awareness of a rare liver disease called primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).

PBC is a progressive, cholestatic autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation and can lead to irreversible scarring of the liver. Over time, PBC progressively destroys liver bile ducts and can cause bile and toxins to build-up (cholestasis) which can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), and eventually liver failure.[i] It is also a disease that predominantly affects women.[ii]

Life with PBC for Wendy has had its challenges. She was always very active and kept busy, so never felt that anything was “off” with her health. It wasn’t until she had routine blood work done and had higher-than-normal liver enzymes that her doctor recommended she see a liver specialist, a hepatologist.

A liver biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of PBC and Wendy’s doctor started her on a treatment for PBC. But when her alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels did not improve, she decided to seek out a second opinion to get the answers she needed.

“It was important to me that my concerns were being heard by my doctor,” Wendy recalls. “I advocated for myself and found a new hepatologist — one that respected my needs and goals for managing PBC.”

Advances in PBC Research

For people living with PBC, there has been a significant unmet need for new treatment options, particularly for people who have an inadequate response to first-line treatment or are intolerant to treatment.[iii] However, research in PBC is continuing and there have been advancements in medicine that may help meet the current needs of people living with this disease.[i],[iv]

For Wendy, PBC treatment options are important, especially since she did not respond to initial treatment.

Moving Forward

While certain aspects of this progressive autoimmune disease have not allowed Wendy to continue with a traditional career path, she’s taken on a new role as the “CEO of her family.” And while she knows that life may never be “normal” with PBC, she is going to do everything she can to be as healthy as possible for her family.

Wendy hopes that by sharing her story, she can inspire others who are living with PBC to feel empowered to advocate for themselves and their liver health. “Although this disease may be challenging and life will be different, you can choose to be an optimist.”

Learn more about Iqirvo® (elafibranor) 80 mg tablets, including full Prescribing Information and Important Safety Information at

Wendy and her husband enjoying coffee outside on the patio.
Wendy is the mother of two kids who are now grown adults and has been married to her husband for almost 27 years.



-What is IQIRVO® used for?

IQIRVO is a prescription medicine used to treat primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in combination with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in adults who have not responded well to UDCA, or used alone in patients unable to tolerate UDCA.

IQIRVO is not recommended for use in people who have symptoms or signs of advanced liver disease. It is not known if taking IQIRVO will improve your chance of survival or prevent liver decompensation.

It is not known if IQIRVO is safe and effective in children under 18 years of age.

-What Warnings should I know about IQIRVO?

  • IQIRVO can cause muscle problems (myalgia, myopathy, rhabdomyolysis) and muscle pain that can be severe. Treatment with IQIRVO may cause muscle pain or worsen existing pain and can increase the level of an enzyme in your blood called creatine phosphokinase (CPK); both can be a sign of muscle damage. If there is new or worsening muscle pain, your healthcare provider may examine you and perform a blood test. Stop taking IQIRVO and call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms: severe muscle pain, unexplained soreness, unexplained muscle weakness, or dark, reddish urine.
  • IQIRVO may increase the risk of bone fractures. Tell your healthcare provider about any bone fractures, or if you develop pain, or have changes in your ability to move around.
  • IQIRVO may cause harm to an unborn baby when taken during pregnancy. Women taking IQIRVO who can become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment and for 3 weeks after the last dose of IQIRVO. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control methods that may be right for you. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • IQIRVO can cause liver problems and abnormal liver blood test results. Your healthcare provider should do tests before starting and during treatment with IQIRVO to check your liver function. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you experience any of the following during treatment with IQIRVO: swelling of your stomach-area (abdomen), yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes, black, tarry, or bloody stools, mental changes such as confusion, being sleepier than usual or harder to wake up, slurred speech, mood swings, or changes in personality, or coughing up or vomiting blood, or your vomit looks like coffee grounds. If you have severe stomach-area (abdomen) pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite or weight loss, new or worsening fatigue, weakness, fever and chills, light-headedness, or less frequent urination, tell your healthcare provider right away.
  • Some people taking IQIRVO had allergic reactions, which may include rash, trouble breathing, itching, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you experience any of these, stop taking IQIRVO, call your healthcare provider right away or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • IQIRVO can cause blockage of the bile duct and may increase your risk of gallstones. Call your healthcare provider right away if you develop pain in the upper right stomach area or yellowing of the skin.

-You should not use IQIRVO if you:

  • Have advanced liver disease.
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. IQIRVO can harm your unborn baby. You should not become pregnant during treatment with IQIRVO.
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if IQIRVO passes into your breast milk. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you take IQIRVO.

-What are the side effects of IQIRVO?

The most common side effects of IQIRVO include weight gain, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, constipation, muscle pain, bone fractures, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), dry mouth, weight loss, and rash. These are not all of the possible side effects of IQIRVO. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

-What other medications might interact with IQIRVO?

Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. IQIRVO can affect the way certain medicines work. Certain medicines may affect the way IQIRVO works. If you take a bile acid binding resin, take IQIRVO at least 4 hours before or after you take your bile acid resin.

You are encouraged to report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at You may also report side effects to Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. at 1-855-463-5127.

Please click here for full Prescribing Information.

IQIRVO is a registered trademark of Genfit, S.A.

©2024 Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. All rights reserved. IQV-US-000434 June 2024

Sponsored by Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

[i] European Association for the Study of the Liver. EASL clinical practice guidelines: the diagnosis and management of patients with primary biliary cholangitis. J Hepatol. 2017;67(1):145-172.

[ii] Galoosian A, et al. 2020. Clinical updates in primary biliary cholangitis: trends, epidemiology, diagnostics, and new therapeutic approaches. J Clin Transl Hepatol. 8(1), pp. 49-60.

[iii] Huang YQ. Recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of primary biliary cholangitis. World J Hepatol. 2016 Nov 28;8(33):1419-1441. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v8.i33.1419. PMID: 27957241; PMCID: PMC5124714.

[iv] Medford A, Childs J, Little A, Chakraborty S, Baiocchi L, Alpini G, Glaser S. Emerging Therapeutic Strategies in The Fight Against Primary Biliary Cholangitis. J Clin Transl Hepatol. 2023 Aug 28;11(4):949-957. doi: 10.14218/JCTH.2022.00398. Epub 2023 Mar 16. PMID: 37408803; PMCID: PMC10318288.

8 tips to save on your next vacation to Myrtle Beach


(BPT) – Getting away from your routine to recharge, renew and reset on vacation is great for your mind, body and spirit. But are you worried about the dent it can put in your wallet? Relax! You don’t need to break your budget to take a vacation with your partner, family or friends. You just need some travel-savvy tips to stretch your dollar.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has long been celebrated as a vibrant coastal destination, and is also a holiday haven that offers incredible value for visitors. Visit Myrtle Beach has even put together a Budget-Savvy Traveler Guide with insider information on things like the best happy hours in the area, free attractions, deals on lodging — everything you need to know to stretch those vacay dollars. They really have your back. It makes you wish every destination had a guide like that, right?

Here are some of their best tips for a cost-effective getaway in Myrtle Beach:

Book directly with the hotel or resort

Third-party booking sites are popular, but many hotels and resorts offer the best rates and even exclusive deals when you book directly with them through their websites. You’re also more likely to get free upgrades, complimentary breakfast and points or discounts on future stays.

Consider flexible dates

If you aren’t locked into a certain time frame, open up your plans to include flexible dates. Late summer or off-peak times may offer better rates and smaller crowds, and midweek stays are often less expensive, too. Keep an eye out for last-minute deals on hotels and flights with an app like Hopper that can find great prices on hotels and flights and alert you it’s time to buy.

Look at discount airlines

Depending on your destination, you may find a discount carrier to get you there. Breeze Airways, Allegiant Airlines, Avelo Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and others can make travel affordable.

Travel with family and friends and consider splitting lodging

Vacationing with a group of friends or family is fun, first and foremost, but it also allows you to save money on lodging. Many resorts in Myrtle Beach offer multi-bedroom units with full kitchens and extra beds. These are perfect for larger groups, allowing you to split the cost while enjoying more space and amenities. You can also explore group discounts on accommodations and activities or consider a beach house vacation rental, which is far more cost-effective than booking multiple hotel rooms. Plus, you’ll have access to a full kitchen for meal prep. And about that kitchen…

Make use of the in-room kitchen

You don’t need to eat every meal out! When you get to your destination, zip to a nearby grocery store and stock up on coffee, yogurt, fruit, eggs, sliced meats and cheeses, snacks for the afternoon, or anything your group loves. Eating in for breakfast and lunch can save a significant amount of money, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Explore the local cuisine for happy hour and dinner and look out for special deals online!

Investigate lodging specials and packages

Before you book, check hotel and resort websites for special offers and packages that include extras like free nights, dining credits or tickets to attractions. Independent hotels, such as Brittain Resorts & Hotels or Vacation Myrtle Beach, often offer additional flexibility and special deals that you may not find with larger chains. And don’t forget to use every discount that’s available to you, including AAA, AARP or loyalty programs and points.

Take advantage of free attractions

In Myrtle Beach, the beach is the main attraction and it’s free! You can spend your days enjoying the sun, sand and surf without spending a dime. Also, look for local events and festivals like free concerts, fireworks and other family-friendly things to do. Does your family enjoy the great outdoors? Explore local parks, nature trails, and scenic spots that don’t charge an entrance fee. From parks and shopping areas to the Boardwalk, Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, and local gardens, many of Myrtle Beach’s popular attractions provide excellent value with free activities and events.

Find discounted attraction tickets

Before you go, look online for tickets for popular attractions. Booking ahead ensures you won’t be disappointed when you get there and find they’re sold out, but it also lets you find discounts and combo deals.

With these tips, you can enjoy a wonderful vacation without making too big a dent in your budget. For more information on what’s new in Myrtle Beach and to plan your next trip, head to

Give your aging wood deck a composite makeover


(BPT) – Of the more than 60 million decks in the U.S., it is estimated that 50% are “past their useful life” and in need of repair or replacement, according to a report by the North American Decking and Railing Association (NADRA). If yours is among them, consider this. As long as your substructure is in good shape, resurfacing the walking surface with high-performance composite can be a simple way to breathe new life into your deck, requiring about the same amount of time and energy as resurfacing with wood. And, you’ll never have to stain your deck again.

Composite decking, like Trex®, has gained popularity among today’s homeowners who relish not having to sand, stain or seal the surface every year and who appreciate the eco-friendly nature of the material, which is made from mostly recycled and reclaimed materials. Better yet, with a little know-how and a few standard tools, even a novice DIYer can install it.

Following are a few tips for taking your existing deck from wood to “wow” by resurfacing it with high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking:

Resurfacing is different than rebuilding — Unlike building a deck from the ground up, deck resurfacing involves removing and replacing the deck boards with new materials to give it a fresh, updated look. Think of it as a facelift for your deck! Installing composite decking will also extend the life of a deck with boards that are warrantied to last anywhere from 25-50 years or more.

A firm foundation is key — Before pulling up any boards, assess your deck’s foundation to ensure it is structurally sound. Start from the ground up by examining the footings, posts and joists. Pay close attention to the condition of the wood. Discolored or spongy wood indicates rot and should be replaced before proceeding. As long as the framing and substructure are intact, you’re good to go.

Use your resources — You don’t need to be a building expert to tackle a resurfacing project. Utilizing online design tools and cost calculators can help you with product selection and budgeting. There are also step-by-step videos, installation guides and how-to articles available to walk you through the process.

Resurfacing an aging or decaying wood deck with new composite decking is a doable DIY project that can be completed over the course of just a weekend or two. You get a brand-new deck for a lot less money than starting from scratch, and a lot less hassle through the years.

For more expert advice and DIY resources, visit

How to savor summer with these deliciously sweet treats


(BPT) – Summer is all about having fun experiences and enjoying special moments with friends and family, so why not sweeten those memories with some extra tasty treats? Indulge in chocolate taste experiences that surprise and delight all summer long thanks to offerings from Chocolove that are crafted with only the best, most flavorful ingredients, free from artificial preservatives and Non-GMO Project Verified. Plus, Chocolove’s sourcing practices support a better future for cocoa farmers and their families, so that you can experience true joy with every bite and feel good about what you’re eating.

Keep your cool, decadently

Add an indulgent chill to your summer days and evenings with new, limited-edition Chocolove Dark Chocolate Gelato Pops — an elevated, gourmet version of a childhood classic made with high-quality Belgian dark chocolate. With 10 frozen chocolate treats in each box, the gelato pops are perfect for pool parties, barbecues and picnics. Get them while supplies last!


Enjoy s’more memories

For the most indulgent, elevated summer s’mores, start with high-quality chocolate crafted with expertise. Here are top Chocolove options for creating new memories with this trusted classic fireside treat:

  • Milk Chocolate — This creamy Belgian milk chocolate is crafted from a blend of Javanese and African cocoa beans, with 33% cocoa, that delivers sweetness, creaminess and caramel-like flavors that blend into a light cocoa finish.
  • 70% Strong Dark Chocolate — If you enjoy dark chocolate, you’ll love this strong, bittersweet Belgian dark chocolate with 70% cocoa for an exceptionally smooth experience with intense, well-rounded flavors.
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt in 72% Strong Dark Chocolate — The velvety allure of 72% strong dark chocolate combined with the subtle crunch of Hawaiian Alaea red sea salt will give your s’mores a unique quality worthy of any luau.
  • Salted Caramel in Dark Chocolate — Gourmet salted caramel filling and rich dark chocolate is a mouthwatering delight sandwiched between your favorite cracker and marshmallow.

Can’t get enough s’mores and without access to a fire pit? Have s’more by turning them into a pie with this fun Chocolove S’mores Pie recipe:

4 bars of Strong 70% Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
Pre-made graham cracker pie crust
2 egg whites (room temperature)
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by chopping Chocolove Strong 70% Dark Chocolate and adding it to a bowl.
Melt butter and cream in small sauce pan, stirring until well combined before pouring over the top of the chopped chocolate. Mix until smooth and fully melted.
Add chocolatey mixture to pie crust and smooth with spatula to create an even layer before refrigerating until solid and hardened.
Next, whisk 2 room temperature egg whites in standing mixer before adding 4 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Once fluffy and combined, spread over top of chocolate, then broil quickly in oven until golden.

Top your sundaes in style

You can create spectacular sundaes — or just top a bowl of your favorite ice cream — with these Chocolove options, transforming any everyday dessert into a memorable taste celebration.

  • Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate, made from dark semisweet Belgian chocolate with 55% cocoa, whole dry roasted Marcona almonds and sea salt, will satisfy the almond lovers in your household.
  • Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate features chunks of buttery sweet toffee, dry roasted Marcona almonds and smooth, creamy Belgian milk chocolate with 33% cocoa.

Refresh with fruity, tropical chocolate

  • Ruby Chocolate, which features a smooth taste complemented with natural berry fruitiness, and no added berries or food coloring, is a delightful summer confection. Made from select uncured cocoa beans, ruby chocolate retains its bright pink color, typical of ripe cocoa beans, along with high fruit flavors.
  • Or you can take the fruitiness up a notch with Chocolove’s Passion Fruit in Ruby Chocolate that artfully balances fruity ruby notes with the tropical sweet and tart flavor of pure passion fruit purée from the south of France.
  • Pro tip: These bars are even more refreshing if you keep them in your refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy.

You can find Chocolove at major retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Kroger, Walmart, Target, Sprouts, a variety of independent and natural retailers, Amazon, and at

These innovations will make your Games-watching experience gold medal worthy


(BPT) – What kind of fan of the Olympics are you? Love following specific sports, cheering favorite athletes, or just love taking in the spectacle and ambience of the host country? No matter what you love to watch, Xfinity has got you covered this year with a host of new features and functionality on X1 that will make your viewing experience unforgettable.

How to watch the Olympics

For the Paris Olympics, NBCUniversal will be giving you access to more live action and ways to watch than ever before. 5,000 hours of live coverage, 39 sports, 329 medal events … all spread across nine different networks, plus streaming on Peacock.

So how do you find what you want to watch among all these choices? Thankfully, Xfinity X1 makes it super easy. Just say “Olympics” into your voice remote and be taken to a comprehensive destination that brings together everything airing across NBC’s broadcast and cable networks and streaming on Peacock into one place.

The destination is also packed with features and functionality that enable you to enjoy the Games on your terms, no matter what type of viewer you are. Here’s how.

Know your faves? Customize your viewing

In just a few clicks, you can select your favorite sports and create a customized Olympics hub so you can effortlessly find the live coverage you care about most. You’ll also get a personalized playlist of highlights, updated in real-time as all the action from your selected sports unfolds in Paris. Or opt to get notifications to your mobile device, so you never miss a moment, even when on the go.

Olympics superfan? Never miss a minute with the interactive schedule

X1’s interactive daily schedule will give you a comprehensive guide to everything happening live at a given time … no matter where it’s airing. You can scan through everything, or filter by a specific sport. It will even give you a glimpse into upcoming live events, and you can set reminders or schedule DVR recordings so you won’t miss a moment.

Need the best possible viewing experience? Enhanced 4K makes you feel like you’re sitting in the stands

With X1, you can enjoy USA Network’s coverage of the Olympic Games in a 4K viewing experience you can’t get anywhere else. It’s made possible by combining the latest and greatest video, audio and network technology that together delivers the most crystal-clear pictures, vivid colors and immersive audio … as close to live as you can get.

Busy, but want to stay in the know? You’ll love catch-up highlights

While you wish you could take a vacay just to watch the Games, you’ll have the next best thing with Catch-up Highlights on X1. You’ll be able to quickly jump to top moments in recorded primetime and daytime Olympic coverage on NBC, as well as basketball, soccer and golf.

Love the athlete stories? Get to know some of them on X1

Love learning about the extraordinary athletes striving for Gold? You can get to know all 16 Team Comcast Olympians and Paralympians in a new, full-screen interactive experience featuring stats and bios of each athlete, Xfinity-exclusive interviews, competition highlights and more.

Have Paris wanderlust? Be an armchair traveler

Some of the most celebrated landmarks in Paris — like the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles — will host Olympic events. You can revel in the beauty and spectacle of The Olympics through venue tours showcasing how events like beach volleyball, equestrian and tennis will come to life at these iconic sites.

Cut the cord? No problem — Peacock has you covered!

Peacock will be the U.S. streaming home of the Olympic Games this year. You’ll be able to stream every sport and event, including all 329 medal events, plus full-event replays, original programming and more, all accessible within one curated destination. Additionally, Peacock is introducing new interactive features to help you navigate all the action of the Games and make the most of your viewing experience:

  • Peacock Discovery Multiview. An industry-first four-view experience, Discovery Multiview will you navigate to the most important events, with real-time on-screen descriptions from NBCU’s Olympic experts informing you about what is at stake, such as a medal event, an elimination risk or a first-time Olympian.
  • Gold Zone. Streaming daily on Peacock starting July 27, Gold Zone will offer whip-around coverage of the Games, presenting you with the best and most compelling moments happening at any time. Plus, leveraging new technology called Peacock Live Actions, if you see an event of interest while watching Gold Zone, you can quickly jump into that live feed instead of staying with the Gold Zone coverage.
  • Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock. Harnessing the power of AI, this new feature lets you build a customized playlist featuring highlights of the events and sports you care about most. Each compilation will be narrated by an AI re-creation of award-winning announcer Al Michaels’ voice.

Helping Wishes take flight: How one pilot made a difference


(BPT) – When American Airlines Captain Matthew Asdel’s son was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago, Make-A-Wish® made it possible for him to go on a Disney cruise. His son, now 24, is working on becoming a pilot and hopes to join American Airlines one day.

Decades later, his 8-year-old granddaughter was also diagnosed with cancer and Make-A-Wish hosted a princess party for her. To show his appreciation for a cause near and dear to his heart, Asdel used his 32 years of experience as an American Airlines pilot to become a WishMaker®.

An attitude of gratitude

Asdel is no stranger to giving back to the community. Every week, he volunteers to network, mentor and support kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds in Dallas-Fort Worth.

However, Asdel recently had the opportunity to give back to Make-A-Wish by piloting the Wish Flight. He and the entire American Airlines flight crew donated their time to a charter flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Orlando, Florida, helping 27 wish families join a one-of-a-kind flight experience to fulfill their wish to go to Walt Disney World® Resort.

“It was such a wonderful opportunity to give back to this organization, which has blessed my family so much,” said Asdel. “It was like coming back full circle.”

Like many WishMakers, Asdel understands firsthand how these wishes can transform the lives of children facing critical illnesses and also give their families a way to smile again, given his experience with his son’s cancer.

“I’ve been there. I know how much they’ve been through,” he said. “Not just the patient, of course, but also the siblings that go through so much and the parents trying to juggle family and hospital visits all at the same time. It takes a lot to make it this far, and it’s just a huge victory for all of them.”

How Wish Flight helps transform lives

The flight Asdel piloted was a special collaboration between American Airlines, Make-A-Wish and Disney to celebrate World Wish Month™. Wish Flight was full of unforgettable experiences, beginning with a preflight celebration at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, complete with a breakfast bar and a special send-off by WishMakers who make wishes possible.

Once they arrived in Orlando, the Wish Flight team enjoyed a welcome reception at Give Kids The World Village, a whimsical nonprofit resort, where the wish kids and their families stayed for six days and five nights as part of their wish trip.

These wishes wouldn’t be possible without the help of WishMakers like Asdel. From individual donors to corporate partners like American Airlines, WishMakers are everywhere.

Because of WishMakers, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 585,000 wishes to children worldwide, but it needs more to ensure that every eligible child receives their wish.

You don’t have to be a pilot to help this cause. Anyone can be a WishMaker, and there are countless ways to donate your time, talent or treasure.

Want to make wishes come true? Make-A-Wish and American invite you to make a difference in the lives of wish kids. To learn how to make wishes come true and become a WishMaker, visit

Ready for school? Here’s your ultimate back-to-school toolkit


(BPT) – No matter how old your child is, the back-to-school transition is always exciting, busy and sometimes stressful. Moving from less scheduled summer days to a regular routine takes planning, as well as the best available tools.

To ease your family’s transition, here are some useful tips and tricks to have in your toolkit from Five Star®, makers of school supplies built to last all year long, including notebooks, folders, academic planners and the Five Star Study App to help your child get back into the school groove.

Evaluate daily schedules

Look back at last year to remember what was successful — and less effective — about your previous routine, so you can make improvements heading into the new school year.

Were mornings always rushed? Build a cushion of time each day by getting everyone up 15-20 minutes earlier. Consider adjusting bedtimes so your kids will not be sacrificing too much of their much-needed sleep. You could also make time every evening to set out tomorrow’s clothes, pack lunches and fill backpacks to save time each morning. As your kids grow older, they may be ready to take on one of these responsibilities themselves.

Did you have too many activities after school, making it harder to get schoolwork done? Limit these activities, perhaps establishing a day or two that are always left open for a bit of breathing room during the week.

Use the best tech tools to aid schoolwork

Technology is a regular part of students’ school days at younger ages, providing opportunity to utilize digital tools to enhance study habits and simplify homework organization.

In time for back-to-school, Five Star has expanded the compatibility of their free study app to pair with Five Star wide ruled notebooks, composition books and filler paper, making it ideal for younger students. This means students in their first days of kindergarten, all the way through college graduation, can benefit from combining paper learning with digital tools to enhance their academic experience.

Handwritten notes are generally accepted as helpful to improve retention, and the Five Star Study App makes it easier for students to take their handwritten notes from Five Star compatible notetaking products and instantly create digital flashcards to study anywhere, anytime. This helps your students organize — and avoid losing — important information on handouts from their classes, making them easily accessible anytime, so they can study during the drive to school, while waiting for siblings at after-school activities and more.

Download the free Five Star Study App in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and learn more at

Discover the best study times

Every child (and family) is different, so experiment with times and places that are best for your child to complete schoolwork. Consider dividing assignments, working on their toughest subjects when they’re at their sharpest and saving less challenging schoolwork for times of day when they seem more distracted.

If your child is a morning person, set aside study time while you’re getting breakfast ready. If they’re hungry and tired right after school, save homework for after they’ve had a snack or meal. Fortunately, the Five Star Study App opens up more possibilities for studying anytime, even when you’re on the go.

Teach children how to plan

Establish a calendar (on paper or digital, whatever works best for your child) to track school events, assignments and tests. Encourage your child to review their calendar each week or whenever their teachers provide information about upcoming assignments, making sure the most important or time-consuming tasks stand out visually.

For major projects, show your child how to divide them into smaller steps to avoid last-minute panic the day before they’re due — and put those steps on the calendar, too. An academic planner like the Five Star Student Planner can help keep track of these smaller steps and with its Study App compatibility provides the best of paper and digital organization.

Helping kids learn to plan ahead and break up larger assignments into more manageable chunks are valuable techniques that will carry them through many years of their educational journey.

Do a dress rehearsal

Especially for younger children, transitions can be stressful. Explain how your routine will change, and do some practice runs by starting the new schedule a few days ahead. This will give everyone (yourself included!) a chance to adjust.

No matter what the school year ahead will bring, taking time to get ready now, and using the best tools available, will help everyone have a more fun, fulfilling and successful year ahead.

5 simple steps to transform your bathroom into a summer spa-like sanctuary


(BPT) – When faced with long, activity-filled summer days, do you find yourself retreating to the bathroom to get some peace and breathing room away from the kids, roommates and the stress of daily life? Everyone can relate to that. Your bathroom is your refuge, so why not give it some love and create a space where you can truly enjoy the luxury of a moment alone? With just a few upgrades, you can create a personal space to indulge your senses, escape the world’s stresses and turn your bathroom into a wellness sanctuary.

Here’s some inspiration for you to level up your bathroom with personal touches that pamper you and transform your bathroom into the ultimate private escape, from the bathroom experts at TOTO.

Add a bidet seat. Bidets are one of the hottest home improvement trends of the year and you don’t have to add an extra appliance to your bathroom to get the experience. The TOTO WASHLET is a bidet seat that takes less than 30 minutes to install (seriously, it’s totally DIY) and simply attaches to your toilet, replacing your existing toilet seat and transforming your everyday routine into a relaxing spa-like experience. With a heated seat, warm, aerated water for cleansing and a customizable warm-air dryer, it offers a more refreshing, comfortable and cleaner experience than using toilet paper while sitting on a cold toilet seat. TOTO WASHLETS are also available at a range of price points and feature sets so every homeowner or renter can create their perfect bathroom retreat within their desired budget. This includes the new WASHLET S7A, which offers the very latest in TOTO’s technology and design.

Splurge on luxurious towels and robes. When’s the last time you upgraded yours? Plush, fluffy towels and robes are a must in a good spa — why not in your own bathroom? And don’t forget about installing a towel warmer! Even in the summer, getting out of the shower or bath can be jarring. A heated towel is a simple way to elevate the everyday experience with a touch of indulgence.

Swap out your showerhead. If your shower feels more like a fire hose, it’s time to make a change. A rainfall showerhead creates a gentle, even flow of water that simulates rainfall. It’s a soothing way to start or end the day. TOTO’s Modern Series Aero Rain Shower 12″ provides a luxurious shower experience thanks to Aero-Jet™ Technology, which injects air into each droplet of water.

Create a calming environment. Bring in natural elements like wood, stone, bamboo and even greenery to add a grounding sense of tranquility to your bathroom — just what you want after a long day. Be sure to clear countertops of clutter like makeup, lotions, razors and toothbrushes, which can be mentally overstimulating and negatively impact your mood. Reduce visual clutter with hidden storage. Vanities with ample space and drawers, recessed cabinets, and even niches in the shower can help to create a seamlessly blended design.

Consider a soaking tub. Soaking tubs are a huge bathroom trend due to their therapeutic benefits, which include relieving irritated skin, improving blood circulation, relaxing tense muscles and reducing stress and anxiety. But wedging yourself into a tiny tub not deep enough to cover you is not exactly a spa-like experience. If you’re a bath person, investing in a luxurious tub could be an indulgent and appreciated way to level up your bathroom oasis. This may involve a professional remodel to replace your existing tub for a deeper, longer claw-foot tub or soaking tub like TOTO’s Aimes Soaking Tub. Enhance your soak with luxuriously scented candles, soothing bath salts or a bath bomb.

With these simple ideas, you can create the perfect oasis for when you just need an escape this summer.

5 Things You Need to Know About Fatty Liver Disease


(BPT) – For nearly 25% of Americans living with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a more serious condition is silently progressing. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is a dangerous form of fatty liver disease that occurs when the fat in the liver becomes toxic. If left unmanaged, NASH can cause severe liver damage. In fact, it’s reported that NASH could soon become the top driver of liver transplants in the United States; it is already the leading cause of liver transplants among women.

Despite the serious consequences of the disease, 90% of people living with NASH don’t know they have it — and most of those who do are not aware of their risk for progression because accurate information about the disease can be hard to find. If you’ve been told you have a fatty liver, you could have NASH and not know it, so it is important to learn about your risk before dangerous liver damage occurs. Make sure to consult your doctor to determine the best course of action for your health and keep reading below for five key facts about NASH.

#1 – NASH can cause scarring of the liver

Fatty liver disease happens in stages. If undetected and unmanaged for too long, the fat can become toxic, killing liver cells, and causing inflammation and scarring (fibrosis). The more scarring you have, the greater your risk of serious health issues like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and the need for a liver transplant. Uncontrolled NASH can also shorten your life expectancy. However, most people living with NASH don’t experience symptoms, even as liver damage is occurring. That’s why, to manage NASH, testing is key.

The progression of liver cancer

#2 – NASH is also known as MASH

As the names state, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are caused by the abnormal buildup of fat in your liver — not by alcohol use. In 2023, medical societies and global liver disease patient groups came together to rename the disease, with the goal of establishing an affirmative, non-stigmatizing name and diagnosis. Today, NASH is now also known as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis, or MASH.


#3 – NASH can be a silent disease — don’t wait to get tested

Because the symptoms of NASH can often go unnoticed, getting tested is a critical step to understanding the stage of the condition. The diagnosis process may not require a biopsy — instead, there are multiple noninvasive options to measure and monitor NASH, including blood-based tests, imaging, and scanning. If you do have NASH, your doctor should conduct regular monitoring to check if your liver has developed scarring. To understand more about this process, and the questions you can ask at your next appointment, download this doctor discussion guide.

Doctor writing a prescription for a patient.

#4 – NASH can impact more than just your liver

Learning that you have a chronic condition can be challenging in several ways, as navigating life with NASH goes beyond managing physical health. Studies show that it also impacts emotional wellbeing, daily activities, and personal relationships. Since individuals with NASH and their loved ones may not immediately recognize how the condition permeates various aspects of their lives, education plays a crucial role, empowering both those affected and their caregivers to feel confident knowing that they or their loved one is getting the testing and treatment they need. This caregiver guide from the advocacy group NASH kNOWledge provides steps people can take to care for themselves as they care for someone living with NASH.

Couple meeting with doctor online.

#5 – You have the power to help your liver

Living with NASH can be difficult, confusing, even overwhelming. The good news is, there are steps you can take today to slow or even reverse liver damage caused by NASH. This starts with a balanced diet, limited alcohol use, and regular, moderate-intensity exercise, which together may help manage your condition. Please consult your doctor to make sure you choose activities that are safe for you. While making these changes can feel challenging at times, support is available. If you feel like NASH is overwhelming or want to learn from others who may be going through similar experiences, check out the advocacy groups dedicated to helping people living with fatty liver and NASH like the ones below.

Logos for Fatty Liver Foundation,

If you’ve been told you have fatty liver, talk to your doctor to get tested for scarring. You can learn more about NASH by visiting

Sponsored by Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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