Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Body is a Garden

When I was at the chiropractor the other day, I read a beautiful pamphlet from the acupuncturist in his office explaining our body as a garden. Like a garden, we need to make sure our body is balanced with the right fertilizers, water, and sun. And, we must till and weed out any undesirable elements within our garden. The goal isn't to provide our body with "quick fixes" but instead to learn the tools and knowledge that will give our bodies a lifetime of nourishment.

Tuesday I saw my chiropractor. I don't even know if calling him a "chiropractor" does justice to all the alternative stuff he does. Adjustments on my body is really a small part of everything he does with me. He also finds homeopathy treatments that work best for my individual body, he helps me find supplements that my body is lacking in, he works with me to find foods that are acting as toxins in my body, he isn't afraid to watch me cry as I share my frustrations of having rheumatoid arthritis and he helps me accept that my mind/emotions all contribute to my overall feel of the day. I feel like he is one of the gardeners that is helping me rebalance my energies and weed out anything that is causing my body a delay in healing.

Just as when I see my naturopath, I feel so much hope after seeing my chiropractor which is so different than when I went for visits with my rheumatologist. After visits with him I felt worn out and defeated, even on good visits. I never felt like an individual. When I would say the weather bothered me he would reply back with something like, "Well, research doesn't show that weather really affects people with RA." Okay, well for me it does. I didn't feel listened to and therefore didn't feel I had a hand in my own healing except by taking my medications daily.

With my naturopath and chiropractor, I feel like they are putting control back into MY hands. They are willing to help me build a beautiful garden, but ultimately it is up to me to make the changes that will nourish the garden and make it bloom. I like having that control. I like knowing that my thoughts and actions play a huge part in providing a bountiful harvest for my health. Although I sometimes fight the food choices I need to make, my body knows how much better I feel when I choose foods that nourish rather than add toxicity my body. When I eat right, think positive, exercise my body and give it plenty of good sunshine, I feel like I am sprouting and becoming the person I am meant to be. It feels good!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Things I am most proud of in my life:
~The parenting choices my husband and I have made for raising our children
~The educational philosophies we have adopted for educating our children in freedom
~My husband and the relationship we continue to build on after almost 21 years together
~My ability to trust in my husband, my children, my body and life in general

We had a stressful weekend dealing with issues new to our family. The good news? By talking, sharing and respecting each other, we learned from this experience and grew tighter as a family.

Yesterday evening, Sophia, who survives on family togetherness, suggested we get out of the house and enjoy nature. She knew this would further tie us together and give us time to let the the negativity of the weekend leave us so we could concentrate on what matters most to us in life - each other!

We are very fortunate to have a beautiful downtown area within five miles of our house. So, on this beautiful evening, we walked, we held hands, we laughed, and we felt complete again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Signing and Sleepover

Last night Sophia and Alexander attended the book signing of Erin Hunter for the second year in a row. Erin Hunter writes The Warriors series of books about clans of warrior cats. The books have brought lots of imaginary play to both kids and their friends in the last year and a half. So, this was quite the treat!

This year Sophia and five of her friends left our house in squeals of excitement with another homeschooling mom around 5:00PM. They headed to Noodles & Co. for dinner and then to our local bookstore for a short but entertaining talk with Erin Hunter and then several hours of waiting to have books signed. Alexander and a good friend skipped dinner out with the giggling girls and instead met up with them at the bookstore with my husband.

By 10PM everyone was home - six girls and two boys! The girls have been crashed out since around 3ish when I told them I couldn't keep waking up. Every word that came out of their mouths must have been hilarious because it was laughter all night. The boys must have fallen asleep somewhere between 1:30-2:30 when I snoozed for a bit.

Hopefully they will sleep late enough that everyone is well rested for the day. Once everyone is up this morning, the girls will begin practicing for an American Girl play they are performing in May while the boys begin work on the background. For me, I am exhausted. I did a little dozing before getting the girls to sleep and then our dog Izzy couldn't sleep so I have been up with her since around 2:30. She kept coming in whimpering and moved the gate that was supposed to stop her from getting downstairs. In the dark I attempted to save a box of cheese crackers. Oh boy, Izzy has never had anything so yummy!

It's all worth it though. I can't think of too many things I enjoy more than listening to my children enjoying time with their friends. There will always be time to catch up on sleep, right?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Have You Noticed This On Blogs?

Yesterday morning I was on my blog and noticed several words double underlined. It wasn't something I had linked to which made me curious and I clicked on it. It took me to an advertisement. Within minutes after that, I received what looked like a warning that I had several viruses on my computer and was prompted to run a file to get rid of them. I INSTANT MESSAGED Steve who then did a "shareview" where he can gain control of my computer while he is at work and figure out my problems. (It is great when you have no interest in fixing your own computer problems!) He said the warning was a fake and if I had run the file, I could have received the virus. He then ran a scan to double check everything and I am happy to say that I am free of any viruses. I have tried finding the problem listed with Blogger but can't find anything and can't find how to report the problem. I have seen the same double underlined words on other blogs. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

Update: I guess we have somehow installed a spyware from Gamevance that is causing the problems. Not the easiest thing to get rid of. :(

Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting Plenty of Vitamin D

Spring has always been the most difficult season for flare-ups in my body. A good friend of mine who does LOTS of health related research suggested to me last year that a possible reason could be that by the time spring comes around, my Vitamin D storage has been depleted from the long winters here in Chicago. There is lots of information out there connecting RA inflammation and Vitamin D deficiency, including this article on Dr. Mercola's site. So, I took this information to the alternative practitioner I was seeing last summer and suggested I go on a Vitamin D supplement. So, with spring coming and me feeling better, I am hoping the Vitamin D contributed to this success.

Other ways I get Vitamin D:
*As a family we wear limited sunscreen. Not only does sunscreen contains lots of harmful chemicals to the body but also prevents Vitamin D from reaching the body.
*Expose my skin to early spring morning sunshine.
*Eat "pastured" eggs from trusted farmers. According to, "pastured" eggs contain three to six times as much Vitamin D as eggs raised in confinement.

How do you get your Vitamin D?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weird, Not Wrong!

I have had so many good days lately. It is almost weird. Weird because when you start feeling better it almost feels wrong because you are so used to not feeling that way. Lately when I wake up I almost can't believe I didn't experience pain in my knee overnight. Then when I am on walks, I look down and realize I am no longer limping and in fact walking at a fast pace. I even had to pass a slow walker on my way to work the other day. I just love it!

Spring tends to be the hardest season on my body with all the rain. However, I am seeing improvements daily. Yesterday we went on a long bike ride at a local forest preserve. It felt wonderful to not only soak up some Vitamin D but to also work my body hard. I felt so energized. Today, I am letting my knee have some time to rest as I don't want to overdo things, but I am already looking forward to the next family ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Seven Things I Love

Heather of Life, Gluten Free tagged me with a meme and the Kreativ Blogger award.

For the meme, list seven things you love, in no particular order and then tag seven others to do the same. Below is my list of my seven favorite things and then the seven bloggers that I have tagged to do the same.

1. I LOVE listening to my husband and son crack each other up with their funny jokes.
2. I LOVE the first cup of tea in the morning.
3. I LOVE days that I forget about health problems and just enjoy being me. Those
days are increasing!!!
4. I LOVE gluten free (but not dairy free) pumpkin roll.
5. I LOVE laying in bed late at night hearing Alexander and Sophia hanging out in
Alexander's room whispering and giggling late into the night.
6. I LOVE when Steve comes home from work and comes up behind me to kiss and hug
me. After 20 years I still feel tingly.
7. I LOVE hanging out for hours talking to my sister Stacey.

I am passing along this award to the following:
Melissa at Hope Floats

Karen at FabGrandma

Sophia at Sophia & Stuff

Jen at Bumblebee

Thanks Heather for including me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Morning Reflections

Our dog Izzy provides me lots of time to reflect on life as we make our walks together each and every morning. This morning as she started pulling away from me, I immediately pulled back on her leash. I have been through lots of dog training classes and have been "trained" to give her commands, block her or stop walking rather than pulling on her leash. The reason? By pulling on her leash I am teaching her to listen to the leash, rather than me. By giving her commands and teaching her moves, I am respecting her and teaching her to respect me by listening to me rather than the leash.

By pulling back on Izzy's leash today, I wanted immediate results. I didn't want to take the time to stop and work on commands with her, even though I believe in the long run I will be happier and so will she. I think many things in life are like this. We want immediate results rather than putting in the work that will last a lifetime and bring so many other good results.

Many times with our children we make 100% of the decisions for them. What they will eat, when they will shower, how long they will study, what they will study, what time they will go to sleep and wake up, etc, etc. It can be easier for us to make the choices for them - to have control over their leashes. However, taking the time to discuss with them what they want to do with their lives takes time and patience and often not immediate results. In the long run though, when they are respected rather than having their leashes pulled, they learn to control their own time, to respect others and to feel proud of themselves.

The same is true for medications. When we hurt we want it to go away immediately and medicate ourselves rather than taking the time to figure out what is causing the hurt. We want to pull the leash on our pain and make it stop. Often the medications do work for a while and in some cases for good, but often, the body starts pulling again with the same old pains or new ones. Then we either have to take stronger medications or we have to take the time to work with our body and respect it's natural healing ability. When we learn to work with our body and listen to it rather than continually pulling the leash, it will respond in a way that will give us a lifetime of good health.

I think there are many, many things in my life that I want immediate results with. However, by taking an alternative route with my health, my children's education and even in the way we train our dog, I am learning that patience and hard work do pay off. I have been off all rheumatoid arthritis medications for a year now. By going off the medications, I have learned so much about my own body and soul and developed a new respect for myself. I have homeschooled my children in a way that allows them to choose what, how, and when they will learn. This takes trusting my children and their natural curiosity 100 percent. The pay-off has been tremendous. I could not ask for two greater children that wake up each day excited about life. And, as our dog grows out of puppy hood and we spend more quality time with her, we find her listening to our commands and respecting us. Sometimes in the morning she really wants to bark at the dogs walking by our house but when I remind her "the kids are sleeping" she controls herself. We don't have to treat her harshly, just let her know what we expect so she can make good choices on her own.

Not "pulling on the leash" and expecting results without putting in the time and respect will always be a challenge for me, I know. However, the more I let go and learn to respect that which is also pulling from me, the happier I become.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Appointment

I had a great visit with the chiropractor/naturopath today. Although my barometric reading knee was giving me some problems today, it was less than other days and we both are seeing improvements. Whoo-hoo!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009

Easter 2009 was a little different than past years. This was the first year neither one of my kids believed in the Easter Bunny. The kids still went to bed early and we still "played" Easter Bunny, but the excitement of waking up super early wasn't there this year. Although I missed the "magic" of the season and feel fortunate they both believed for so long, it was nice to not have to be so careful in every step we made preparing for this day.

Alexander and Steve checking out the Far Side book from the Easter Bunny.

Steve helps Sophia with her new Lego kit from the Easter Bunny.

The completed Lego house.

This was our first year of eating out on Easter. We enjoyed it.

Our family!

Sophia, in her new Easter shirt and me.

We drove to Red Oak Nature Center. Izzy snuggled with Alexander on the ride over.

We started taking this annual Easter walk about 4-5 years ago.

Sophia, Izzy and I investigate this small cave together.

Sophia, Cathy and Alexander at Red Oak Nature Center.

The whole family. We had a great day of enjoying the warm weather, conversation and quiet time together.
I hope you enjoyed your day too!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Going in a Good Direction

At Izzy's last vet appointment, we were told she needs to do more exercises to stretch and strengthen her right hind leg. Although she isn't ready for ball throwing and playing with her best friend Bella, she does need to get up and move. More walking is high on the "to do" list. So, Izzy and I have been adding about 15 minutes or more to our regular walks in the morning.

As we were walking the other day, I thought about my own body and how walking is not only strengthening Izzy's knee, but also my knee and all the muscles surrounding it that are going to help keep the knee strong. I thought about how my chiropractor has suggested that my knee has learned a new pattern of not being worked and I have to retrain it. I thought about how my visualization skills are really improving and whenever I feel a pain or sorry for myself, I visualize the me I want to be and remember that "now" is only temporary.

My spirits have really improved the last two weeks. The swelling is staying down at a pretty regular basis. It has a little bit to go but is about 50% there. So, I feel good. I feel like things are headed in a good direction and I like that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Special Weekend With Hannah

Over the weekend we had visitors. My brother Danny, his beautiful wife Deborah and their adorable daughter Hannah were in town for a conference and took an extra day to spend with us! Since Hannah just turned three, we had a birthday celebration.

When Hannah's mom asked what type of cake she wanted she said, "Pink". We haven't colored a cake in years as we try to stay away from food colorings, so instead we experimented with natural colorings. We used beet juice to color this "pink" gluten free strawberry cake.

My older brother Danny has been a pest to me over the years, I have to admit, but there was always a soft side to him, even when we were kids. As a father, he is truly amazing. He is so patient with Hannah and really takes time to see her side of things.

Hannah opening her gift from us. We bought a few small PlayMobil sets. They were always Sophia's favorite toy, even now.

I LOVE watching Alexander play with young children. He has a special gift of being very patient with them and he always has them laughing. He reminds me of his own daddy. He is the same way.

Hannah had a little crush on Sophia. Really, how could you not? She is an older girl, she has two pink walls and a pink ceiling in her room with lots of other pink stuff. Sophia and Hannah hung out in Sophia's room for quite some time and in the morning, Hannah woke Sophia up so they could get started playing again.

By evening, Hannah was getting pretty silly. She decided to build a castle out of pillows and was a little frustrated with her cousin Joe (my nephew) for not sharing his last pillow and said, "Serious."

Living in Florida the last year, Hannah hasn't seen much snow. Although snow was the last thing we wanted to see again, we were happy that it came for her. The snow quickly melted after they left but pieces of her snowman still sit in the yard reminding us of her. What a special little girl!