Friday, July 31, 2009

A Visitor

Guess who decided to make a little visit yesterday? Rheumatoid Arthritis. I guess Rheumatoid Arthritis missed me since she has been away for a while and decided to come for a temporary visit. She came in quietly yesterday making my feet, fingers and back a little stiff and then decided to make more of an impression by evening and settled into my shoulder for a painful night.

I guess her visit will extend through today because I woke up to a shoulder that felt a little better but the rest of my body is really stiff. Fortunately Rheumatoid Arthritis hasn't decided to settle in my left knee. I haven't had any additional swelling! In fact, the swelling is still going down. Thank you Rheumatoid Arthritis for staying out of that area. My left knee has been working hard and deserves a break.

Generally after I have felt good for a period of time and then have a return visit from Rheumatoid Arthritis, I feel let down and emotional. Not this time. I sensed Rheumatoid Arthritis coming and feel differently about her visit this time. I know it is temporary. Something in my body is telling me that it is healing and to expect a few setbacks along the way, but not to give up. My job right now is keep believing and trusting in the healing that is happening.

So, since I have a visitor, I will sit back and enjoy some quiet time with her today. She can share some nice warm tea, some reading and the laughter I will hear as my children's friends arrive to play today. RA may come for a visit whenever she likes, but today she is going to play by my rules and realize that life is going to continue as usual.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Trustful Parenting"

Freedom to Learn , a blog at Psychology Today written by Peter Gray, has a three part post (more to come) about "trustful parenting" which starts with Trustful Parenting: Its Downfall and Potential Renaissance.

I have been reading Peter Gray's posts off and on for a while. What I love about his posts is the research he finds to support the importance of play in our children's lives. Since my children have never been to school, play has always been a huge part of our days.

Sophia would set up her PlayMobil using the entire living room. She would create different rooms in the PlayMobil house, different homes, different towns, etc. She made homes out of boxes, recyclables, scrap paper, clips of cloth, and more. Often the characters in her play would have very different lives than our own but it was fun for her to explore and live a different life through her toys. She also likes to become a part of the time period that fascinates her. For one and half years she wore only prairie dresses, boots and bonnets because that was the dress of Laura Ingalls Wilder. All of her play for that one and a half years revolved around pioneers. Then one day she was finished and moved on to the 1960's-70's and hippies. Her play and real life again revolved around this time period. Today, at 11 years old she is a writer. I believe much of her writing ability came from the time she was able to just be. To explore and see where it took her.

Here is Sophia at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Independence, KS. Sophia wanted to walk where Laura had walked.

Sophia's American Girl was originally a pioneer who became a protesting hippie. "Make love, not war."

Alexander always played differently than Sophia. For hours at a time he would draw out his own video game ideas and then explain each one to me in detail. He created wonderful Lego scenes with doors that would shut and lock, traps, and battery packs so his Lego's creations could move. He loves the problem solving that comes with building. Just yesterday, at 13, he wanted to make a wooden pistol like the one in the video game Red Fraction. He spent a few days drawing it out and making sure he had all the details and size he wanted, then he used graphite paper to transfer it onto the wood (something he learned in his wood carving class) and finally used his jigsaw to cut it out. He enjoys problem solving, making plans and drawing them out just like he does when he plays.

First he drew out the gun on paper.

Then on the wood.

Cuts it out.

And he has his own Red Faction gun.

I believe that part of being a "trustful parent" is trusting that your kids are learning, growing and becoming the type of person they are meant to be through play. At 13 and 11 years old when many kids their ages have stopped playing in order to follow busy schedules of music, sports, foreign languages, etc, Alexander and Sophia like to keep their schedule open enough that they can still play.....still imagine.

Play is very important, and kids should play as much as they can, after all
soon there will be work, subdivision bonds and bills. So let your kids be kids today!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Loving Guidance

As the RA in my knee continues to improve, I have been looking for some new things to write about on my blog that aren't RA themed. I figure that since my RA is giving me a break, I should also give it a break and move on to some of the other passions I have in life. (Hmm....has RA become a passion? Scary thought! It definitely has taken up a lot of my time and energy)

Just in time, I received a very complementary email from a friend whose parenting style I admire a lot. She has younger kids and had two questions for me, one of which I thought I would focus on today and the other in another post. Her question is, "What approach to discipline do you use with your kids? My guess is that you don't punish your children but instead provide loving guidance. I am always hoping to see you cover this aspect of your parenting approach on your blog but it has not come up yet so I thought I'd ask."

My friend is right. We don't punish our kids. Just as we feel we are facilitators in their education, we feel we have the same job in the choices they make in life. We attempt to treat them as individual human beings that have unique ways of figuring out the world.

Below are some things I have learned as a parent that have helped me to be a guide rather than a punisher:

~When Alexander was born I joined La Leche League. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I gain confidence in nursing but I also took from this group a very important lesson that has proved over and over to work. Trust your heart when it comes to your children. You know them better than anyone else. If a doctor, school, family/friend suggests something that doesn't feel right to you, listen to your heart. Just because something works for everyone else doesn't mean it is going to work for your family.

~Talk positive about your children. I try to do this often and both kids have told me more than once how happy it makes them feel to overhear me saying positive things about them in my discussions with peers. I can't tell you how many parents I run into that don't hesitate for a moment to share the negatives of their child. I always wonder how that same person would feel if her husband was sharing all of her negatives with others. I believe we live up to what others believe about us and so far my children cause very few problems.

~Listen to your children. Just because they are kids doesn't mean they don't have opinions and good thoughts. There have been many times when I made a decision that was later changed because I listened to my children and realized they did indeed have a better idea them me.

~Respect that children do have a sense of what is right for themselves. Alexander is what is considered a "late reader". As unschoolers, I don't have a problem with this because I see him learning and know that not everyone fits into the same time frame of learning. But, I approached him about maybe doing some reading practice together and he told me he just wasn't ready. I respected that and waited. When it was his time, it happened. He knew enough about himself to realize that other learning was going on that would be interrupted if we took time away for reading.

~We learn from our mistakes. My own parents were great at teaching me this lesson and I take a lot of how I was raised in how I approach this lesson. Rather than grounding the kids to their bedrooms or taking away their computers/video games, we choose to talk to our children when problems arise. Many times after talking we realize that due to their limited experiences in life, they haven't considered all the consequences of their actions and when we talk, they realize what could have come from their actions. Getting angry and sending them to their rooms isn't going to help them learn from the situation.

~Include your children. Children need to feel they are contributing to the success of a family. By allowing children the right to share in family decisions, share in chores and experience life with you, they tend to not get into a lot of trouble. Both Sophia and Alexander want good things for our family and strive to make choices that are good for our family and for themselves. Does that mean they won't ever get into trouble? We know trouble will come and would worry if it didn't. Learning about life takes trial and error. I am still learning and luckily my family doesn't banish me to my room, take my laptop or some other punishment when I make mistakes. They realize I too am human.
To find out how my kids view my parenting style I decided to go the source. I asked Alexander and Sophia what they think about my discipline style.

~They both agreed that I am understanding. They said I remember what it is like to be kid.

~They both mentioned that they like that I talk to them about everything and don't leave them in the dark.

~Alexander said he likes that I don't control them but let them know how I feel. His example was, "Once Sophia asked you if she could use a bad word and you told her that you couldn't stop her from saying the bad word because she is responsible for her own actions, but it isn't something you feel represents who Sophia is." (Sophia never did say the word she just wanted to know if she could.)

Ever since the kids were little I have asked them, "Are you being good to your body?" More than anything I want my kids to respect who they are. I want them to put nutritious foods into their bodies because they respect themselves and to make choices that are respectful to who they are. Their choices may not always be the same choice I would make but they also are not me. We learn from each other.

Sicko Documentary

Last night Steve, Alexander and I watched the documentary Sicko by Michael Moore. Although I am not always sure how I feel about Michael Moore, the documentary had some interesting information and some things to think about. As homeschoolers that follow a philosophy known as unschooling (child led education) we are always happy when our children are inspired and want more information. Since Sicko focused a lot of the differences in health care between France and the United States, Alexander had some additional questions after the movie. (We paused the movie several times to discuss what we were hearing.)

Now that he knew some information about the health insurance in France, that college is free, and they have a great vacation plan, he wanted to know about the government in France. So, we looked it up, read together and went on to discuss the differences in the government of France compared to the United States building on some other issues we have been discussing lately. As soon as Alexander and I finished our discussion on the government similarities and differences, he ran downstairs to share his new knowledge with Steve. This then prompted them to do a comparison of the size of France compared to the United States. He then came to share his new knowledge (again) with me.

With an unschooling philosophy, we trust our children are naturally curious human beings and will want to know more. This is just one example of something that happens almost daily. A discussion we have, a TV show we watch, or a place we visit sparks new interests and natural learning. The difficult part for us is to make sure we act on that curiosity as it occurs so we can capture exactly what they want to know. It is fun too. I learn a lot in the process.

So, after flipping through channels and landing on the documentary Sicko, we were able to have an additional hour or so unplanned learning on government, health insurance, land size and much more.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reflective Morning

This morning with a little extra time and a quiet house, I have been looking over my blog and rereading some old posts. One post in particular caught my attention because it reminded me of my belief in the body to heal. In My Body Expects A Lot From Me I shared how when I put good things into my body and manage my stress levels that my body always rewards me with good health. The last two weeks I have been eating well, taking a lot of deep breaths and trying to enjoy the moment I am in. This has all paid off. I have been feeling well both mentally and physically. I believe the acupuncture treatments are helping but the treatments can't work without me wanting them to. I was reminded of the huge part I play in my recovery when my acupuncturist told me to come in if I had any problems before the next appointment. I told him I hoped that wouldn't happen and he said, "It is more up to you than me." It is up to me. I play a huge part in my recovery and although I had a weak moment last night and put something toxic into my body, I am making progress. I am moving ahead.

Another post I wrote early on in my blog was The Real Me Behind Meds and Hair Coloring. Rereading this post brought me back to the day I decided I wasn't going to take any more medications. Something deep within me just said, "This is the time. Do it." The thought of putting the medications (methotrexate and plaquenil) into my body that day made me feel nauseated and I knew that the time was right to do what I had wanted to do since the day I started medications and that was to STOP taking them.

I have been medication free since February 2008. This is huge for me. The experience has been the most difficult thing I have ever taken on in my life and also one of the best. I feel so proud of myself for my decisions and the strength I have had to keep going knowing the day would come when my body would heal. My naturopath always told me, "It took years of abuse for your body to get this way and it is going to take time for it to heal." We live in a society with quick fixes and to work at finding the cause of our illness takes time and patience, something we are not accustomed to. My patience has been tried over and over and I am still not as patient as I would like with RA, but the time is coming and the healing is happening. Even with stiff fingers and an upset stomach from the pizza, I can feel the energy in my body swirling around and bringing good things to me. Healing is taking over and winning!

Note to Self

Note to self (again). YOU CANNOT EAT PIZZA.

I have a real weakness when it comes to pizza. My diet can be super clean and I am feeling well and know better, but then I have a long day and all I can think of is pizza and a glass of wine. So, guess what we had last night? Yes. Pizza. Not even gluten free pizza.

So, this morning I woke up with stiff fingers and an upset stomach. It won't last longer than today. I know because I have put myself through this before. Unfortunately the lesson never seems to stick as long as it should. So, today will be a day of fruits and veggies as I try to clean out my system and remind it (again) that it feels better when I stay loyal to my diet.

*Dr. Mercola has an article out today about the rising number of people with celiac disease.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tazo Ginger Tea

It has been suggested by my acupuncturist that I drink a cup of ginger tea each morning upon waking to aid in both the movement of my joints and in my digestion - both of which are issues for me. Although my kids both enjoy the taste of ginger, it isn't one of my favorites. I have tried several different brands of ginger tea and even brewed my own from fresh ginger without taste satisfaction. A few weeks ago, I noticed Tazo has an organic brand of ginger tea and decided to try it. LOVE it! The mixture of ginger, orange peel, green roobios, chamomile, lemon myrtle, fennel, licorice root and natural flavors with orange essence oil seem to be a perfect mixture for my taste buds. I have been drinking it several times during the day just because I crave the taste.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Change How You Dress?

When my knee started acting up some time ago, it caused me to start limping. As time went on and the limping continued, I felt less attractive. My husband regularly tells me this isn't true, but deep down this is how I feel. My insecurity with people looking at me (aka my limp) has changed the way I dress. Although I have always had more of a "mommy look" than a "sexy look", I realized that all the clothes that I have bought since my limp began have been less defining of my body. It just occurred to me the other day that maybe this is my way of making sure people don't look at me.

This idea came to me as I was walking into my appointment on Monday and saw my reflection in the mirror. I like the way I look. I feel like I have nice curves and overall I am happy with my body. But what I saw in the glass didn't show that off. Maybe as I am feeling better, I am ready to start having people look at me again and not feel like I need to hide. While this is sad to realize about myself, I am glad that I am coming back to a point where I feel attractive again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Acupuncture Week #5

Today was week number five of weekly acupuncture treatments. I feel like the treatments are working. The swelling is my knee is about down to half the size it was before treatments with little to no pain. Since I am responding well, we are going to every other week rather than weekly treatments.

Each visit Jim checks my meridians to see what is out of balance. My body is still dealing with digestive issues. So, he is working on that. I have developed a few cysts on my body over the last few months which he contributes to me not being able to digest fats/carbs in my diet. The acupuncture and Chinese herbs should help with that.

Overall, things are going well.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Reader

I have always known Sophia would have a love for reading. When she was about two years she wanted to hear Bedtime For Frances over and over. After every reading, the two of us would reenact the story and if I messed up on my part, she let me know. I remember when she was this age visualizing a day where she and I would spend the entire day side by side reading our own books and sharing the details. Yesterday was one of those lovely days. We both spent the majority of our day reading our own books. We took two walks yesterday, both which involved discussing our books. Lovely!

Although I love to write on my blog, Sophia is truly in love with writing. She writes in her journal, she stays up late at night writing stories, books and poems. She gets an idea and can't rest until she has it on paper! I love this about her.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Didn't Want That To Happen!

I have been eliminating eggs for at least 2-3 weeks now (or more, I can't remember). I decided to have two eggs for breakfast this morning. Within 10 minutes I felt a little nauseated and dizzy. I DON'T WANT EGGS TO BE A PROBLEM! I love eggs. I have a great source for farm fresh eggs and they have always been my easy meal or snack.

I am going to eliminate them again for a few weeks and then try again just to be sure. My mantra for the next few weeks shall be "Let eggs work for my body."

Good-bye Gluten Free Muffin

I have been gluten free/coffee free for almost five years now. However, I still hang out often at Starbucks with my husband or with homeschooling friends. I always get tea and if I am hungry, bring my own snack. So, when Starbucks started offering the gluten free Orange Valencia Cake Muffin, I was thrilled. It was a little pricey to buy every time, but such a treat to have when out. I guess the sales were low and it was decided it was too much of a sweet treat and is being replaced by a nut bar. My husband said the bars are good, but honestly, when I go out and spend money on something I haven't made myself, I want it to be sweet. When our electricity went out a week or so ago, the kids and I headed to Starbucks for a drink and muffin. It was a treat we don't usually give ourselves and it felt nice to know we could go somewhere other than a health food store to buy a treat. So, for me, I am disappointed that Starbucks will be eliminating the gluten free muffin. I am sure the bar is good, but I put enough of the nuts and berries together at home and will most likely just throw my own homemade snack in my purse before heading out.
To read more, click here.

Hey, I Don't Need to Use Caution with this Knee!

A funny thing about feeling better. After a year and a half with a swollen knee, I now instinctively start to move it with caution and then realize that it isn't necessary. It is moving with ease and without pain!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gaming Talk

Alexander is a gamer. He loves his XBOX 360 and that he can play games online with close friends. I like it too. There are many times I will hear him cracking up at a joke one of his friends has made. I like that they can connect that way.

Alexander also has a friend that doesn't have XBOX so they play games online together. When they are playing the games, they also talk on the phone so they can discuss their strategy. It cracked me up last time Alexander was playing. He said his friend told him he would be right back and in the background he could hear his friend telling his mom all about the game. Alexander told me later that he liked that this friend also likes to tell his mom all about the games he plays.

Alexander gives me play by play details of the games he plays. I don't always understand everything he is talking about, but I am glad he likes to share this information with me. Without it, I would not get a complete feel for what the games he plays are about. But, by him explaining to me the details (there are lots) and occasionally sitting down with him and attempting to play a game, I am able to get a feel for what the games are really about and most importantly to me, how they affect him.

We always read the reviews to games together before he buys a new one. We discuss the pros and cons and he always wants my opinion on the game. I am not a gamer but what I like about Alexander is that he wants me to feel comfortable with the games he plays. There has only been one game that I was hesitant about and we waited. But, after reading more, the game seemed so perfect for Alexander and he bought it. I am glad he did.

I tend to believe there is a lot of educational value in "non educational" games. We have had numerous conversations based on video games. A few months back he was trying to decide if he wanted to buy property in one of his games. We discussed what the economy was like in the area and the similarities between our economy now. Events in his video games have sparked questions that required us to do more research where we both learned a lot of interesting information.

By telling me every detail of the games he plays (by choice of course!) I am given a wonderful gift. I am able to peek into my child's daily life and see what clicks for him. I feel honored that he wants to include me in this part of his life and hope that by listening I am letting him know that I hope this pattern always continues.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Accupuncture Week #4

My acupuncture treatment was good today. As of Friday night the swelling in my knee was down again and I was able to move around pretty easily. Today Jim continued to work on my left knee and also focused some attention on my left shoulder which went into a flare last night. The flare ups in my shoulders are always extremely painful but also very temporary. Generally within 24 hours they are gone. So besides the acupuncture, Jim massaged/manipulated the shoulder area before I left. OMG! It felt good. Also, I brought all my supplements in and had him muscle test them to make sure they are still a good match for me. We were able to combine a few into a new supplement and eliminate one. Overall, a good visit. If this week is good, then we will start spreading out the treatments!

My instructions for today are to make sure I use my knee. That shouldn't be difficult. We are going grocery shopping, taking Izzy to a vet appointment, taking a long walk with Izzy and a few other things. Then to make sure I have some down time I have a new book I am going to start reading to the kids today. Maybe I can even sneak in a nap. I love afternoon naps!

Sending healing thoughts to each of you today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Simplest Things

"I find relaxation, enjoyment, and healing in the simplest things in life."
- Louise Hay

Last night Sophia and I had a "Practically Perfect" evening. We were dropped off at the door by Steve and Alexander for an evening of Mary Poppins. During the show Sophia would lean over and whisper, "This is so good." And it was. The show was unbelievable.

On Friday night Steve and I found ourselves without any kids. We went out for dinner and then I was able to go to his gig with him and hang out for a little while before picking up kids. Steve ended up playing longer than planned because he was having so much fun. I love that he is doing this. We all need time to do the things we truly love.

My weekend is turning out quite nicely. Not only have I been able to enjoy doing things with my family, but the swelling in my knee is down again. Not gone, but back down to where I am not limping and moving around is pretty easy. I call that a successful weekend. I hope you are enjoying your weekend too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Rest of the Story

In my last few posts I received comments from an anonymous person. Since his/her identity is a mystery, I don't have the luxury of responding to him/her personally to gather more information. With many people that follow my blog, I have been fortunate to have side conversations through private email where we have been able to learn from each other. Unfortunately I don't know this mystery person (or maybe I do) but I have appreciated that they seem to be on the same page as me. I too believe that in order to heal you have to release your "emotional baggage".

I share much on this blog about the feelings I experience with rheumatoid arthritis, but there is much that I keep private. I have had many experiences and changes that I share with only those close to me. That isn't going to change. However, I will say that the beginning of letting my emotional baggage go was also the beginning of my rheumatoid arthritis. My RA began when I was going through some very personal changes and lots of emotional baggage needed to be released. (Thank goodness for a supportive husband during this time!) For the last five and half years each of my treatments with alternative practitioners has also revolved around the emotional aspect of how this disease affects me. I have come a long ways in the last five years in this area and I am proud of myself. I have also accepted that the changes will only happen as quickly as the last change has had time to absorb and be truly realized.

I feel like I have been given a gift in life and that gift is that I can see life through "sunny glasses". I hope this never leaves me. I believe that you can work towards releasing the baggage while also seeing life in a positive light.

Thank you "anonymous" commenter for making me think the past few days. For giving me comments that have made me consider how much further I need to move forward and also how far I have come. As I shared these comments with a good friend, I was reminded of how many changes I have made over the years. Are all these changes and all the digging things I want to share on my blog? No. I share a lot, but a girl does have to have some of her own secrets.

This is a new day!

This is a new day!
-Louise Hay Daily Affirmation

After a week of some financial setbacks and a stubborn knee that decided to do some work in the reverse, I think I am almost back to feeling myself again. Thanks to everyone for your positive thoughts and words. They helped a lot.

Over the years of dealing with RA I have learned much about myself. Often when I am in the mist of a flare-up I will say to myself, "You haven't learned everything you need from this disease yet." I have it in my head that when I have learned all I need to learn from this experience, the pain and swelling will disappear and I will move on to a new learning experience. So, when I have several days of feeling good, I start believing I have learned everything I need from this disease. But, not yet. I have more to learn, more to do.

So, today is a new day! One thing I do know about myself is that I like to see life through sunny glasses and today will be no different. I need not think about the days that have passed but look forward to this new day and all that it has to bring me!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Acupuncture Week #3

My visit was without tears today. In fact, it was all about smiles today. Right off Jim noticed the swelling was down in my knee and I was walking with more ease. Yippee!!!!

He ran his machine again and found some large intestine imbalances which he contributed to my sore shoulders. He did his magic with the needles and I left feeling pretty good!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Come here. Touch my knee. Isn't it wonderful?"

Be thankful you are not at my house today because I keep making everyone look/touch my left knee because the swelling is going down!!!!! I don't want to jink it by saying anything too soon but it is looking so good that I can't help it!!! It is a little stiff when I first get up but then it quickly loosens up.

Note: My acupuncturist was so sweet. He had his office call me yesterday to make sure I was doing okay after my melt down on Monday. I see him again this Monday. I feel so happy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Simplest Things

"I find relaxation, enjoyment, and healing in the simplest things in life."
- Louise Hay

Do you ever just look at some of your friends and think, "How did I get so lucky to find you?"

Yesterday one of my best friends in the world and her two kids drove two and half hours to visit us. I always feel reflective after her visits because we talk about so much.

1) Karen and I have been on the same educational path with our children since the day we met. There are few people I meet in life that understand unschooling the same way I do and it is so nice to just sit and talk about our children and our philosophies freely.

2) Karen understands alternative health and has supported me over the years in my choices. I always look forward to sharing with her what I am currently trying and to hear about her new adventures.

3) I admire Karen and her ability to try new things. Her family just returned from a week long driving trip to Oregon. They camped out each night as they made their way to a Raw Food Fest.
During the trip her two kids came to her individually and thanked her for taking them on the trip. She is an amazing role model for them and me!

4) I like that during our last visit I was sharing stories about a friendship that has ended and after listening Karen said, "Why do you think she came into your life?" I love that! I love how she believes every person that comes into our life comes for a reason.

5) With almost every visit to our house her son says, "This was the best day of my life." Wow!