Monday, June 29, 2009

Acupuncture Week 2

When my acupuncturist, Jim, asked how I was doing, he didn't know what he was in for. I broke down in tears and shared my fears and frustrations with him. I feel so much better doing that. He not only acknowledged how difficult of a journey this has been for me but reminded me over and over throughout the appointment that our bodies do want to heal. They do want to be healthy. Taking an alternative, natural path often does take longer than when using pharmaceutical products because we are looking for the cause of the disease rather than just trying to treat it. Also, by getting to the root of the problem, others issues will be resolved. I feel encouraged.

He hooked me up to a machine that checks for imbalances in my body. I have made improvements since last week! My liver looks better. Also, he said my overall health is good which gives him confidence that I can survive this swollen knee and that we are on a good path. He muscle tested me for a Chinese herb known as Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan.

So, I keep going and keep working towards good health. I know it is in me. I just don't know the timeline for when it will be. But, it will come to be. That I am sure of and that is what gives me confidence to keep trying.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getaway Weekend

Last week Steve worked from home while completing an online class for work. It was nice having him home. Since he knew he was going to finish early on Friday, we decided to do a quick getaway weekend to Madison, WI which is about a two and a half hour drive from our home.

We dropped our dog Izzy off at her best friend Bella's house before taking off. I provide her with a raw homemade diet that varies from day to day, yet every time she goes to Bella's house, she runs for her food dish full of kibble like it candy. She even tried to open the plastic container they store Bella's food in! Geez.

We were in a hotel across the street from the state capitol that was within walking distance to everything. So, after getting settled we headed to the capitol. The kids were impressed.

Alexander wanted to head to the observation deck to take photos.

Then we went to eat.

Back at the hotel, Steve gave us some of his Johnny Depp looks. Impressive, huh?

Steve was not the only one with a new hat. We found a really cute hat shop where Sophia found a hat made by a local. Sophia liked that Madison has few chain stores in their downtown area and instead focuses on small businesses. It is cool when your eleven year old notices things like that. When we were walking back to the hotel on Friday night, I saw a path ahead of us that went off the beaten path and then hooked back up with the main path. As soon as I saw the path in front of us, I knew she was going to take this path. This is just how she is. She always follows her own path. She likes being an individual. It struck me as she took this alternate path that I am so glad we can give her the child led type of homeschooling we do where she is free to take paths that lead her in her own direction, yet she always know that she can join back on the safe, secure path if needed.
Alexander loved taking photos. He seems to notice architecture and appreciates it. We had lots of stairs and walking to do. Alexander always made sure to wait for me. I couldn't ask for a sweeter kid. He takes good care of his momma.

On Saturday morning Madison had their weekly farmer's market. It was great. Booths full of fresh food surrounded every side of the capitol building and there were tons of people. I love going to farmers markets and seeing people excited about good quality food. Plus, there were musicians playing on the street corners and bikers everywhere. It felt so comfortable.

One of my favorite parts of road trips is spending time in the car with Steve. He makes me laugh and I love when he sings.

Sadly the getaway ended early. Sophia developed a fever on Friday night and just needed to be home. As of Sunday, she is still running a fever. Today will be spent laying in bed with Sophia watching TV, talking, sleeping and cuddling. When Sophia is sick, she just wants her momma next to her. That's okay with me. I need a little down time myself.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Simplest Things

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

Sometimes I am certain that I freak my children out. They are both going through a lot of physical changes right now and I find myself constantly wanting to just look at them. I want to take in all the beautiful changes that are happening to them. I want to look into their eyes and connect with them and let them know that I am here for them even as they are becoming more independent. I want them to see in my eyes the beauty I see in them each time I look at them. They are both just so beautiful I can't keep my eyes off them!

Here is Sophia in her new birthday dress from Grandma JoVeta from her favorite online store Soul Flower.

And here is Alexander. The last few weeks he has started doing some fun things with his hair.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Acupunture Week 1

As many of you know, I have been fighting my left knee for some time. It flares-up often with pain and swelling. Overall, it has improved about 50% since I started working with my new alternative practitioner. So, to get rid of the remaining inflammation, he has suggested that I start working with an acupuncturist in his office, Jim. Jim has been working with us and knows my story and I feel comfortable with him which is now a "must" for me with any practitioner I work with.

So, this morning I started the first of my weekly appointments with Jim. The appointment was about two hours which included lots of questions, a scan of my meridians to see where there are imbalances in the body and then the acupuncture. Tomorrow I will also start a month long cleansing program. My liver has been a concern for every alternative practitioner I have seen and was even showing some abnormalities during my last few months on medication. Jim feels this may be contributing to my knee's inability to heal 100%. I feel really optimistic about this next stage in my treatment!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two of My Favorite Men

I once heard that we choose the parents we were meant to have. Well, if that is true, I need to give myself a huge pat on the back for choosing such terrific parents. I feel like I am a lucky gal! On this Father's Day I have a dad that I love 100% and I have been fortunate to always feel that love returned me to equally. Growing up, Dad always knew when something was wrong with me and I could always count on him to come to me when I was down or crying. He would just hug me and leave it up to me if I wanted to explain more or not. He always seemed to trust that we would learn from our mistakes and rather than get anger with us (well, he did sometimes but he is only human) he would sit and discuss the problem with us. He turned the situation into a learning experience because really, how do we learn if we don't make mistakes?

My dad has always had a rocking chair that is reserved just for him.

I have always admired my dad's gift of putting himself in another person's shoes. It has been my attempt to make this a strength of my own also (I still have some work to do).

Living 700 miles apart, I don't get to see my dad as often as I would like but I always know he feels my love and vise versa.

When we visit Kansas, we stay at my dad's house. His house is my safe place while traveling. I know that at his house, I will always be given a mouth watering meal that fits completely within my diet restrictions. When I first began following a restrictive diet, it was new to all of us. However, my dad and his wife (and my friend) Carol searched the Internet and together found wonderful tasting recipes for us during our visits. Usually, we try to eat at their place before heading out to others. It isn't that others don't try to feed us according to diet also, but my dad is a perfectionist when it comes to following my diet. He will lay all the ingredients out for me to look over before he starts cooking and if anything is wrong, he goes searching for an alternative. I can't tell you how much this kind of support has meant to me!

So, not only have I been lucky to have one exceptional male model in my life, but then I went on to marry another. Not only is Steve my best friend and strongest supporter, but he is an awesome dad. He has supported and embraced new idea after new idea that I have brought into our family. Like my dad, he has strong values and a good heart. Rather than get angry with our kids, he has always tried to help them through the experience. Plus, he is just fun! When the kids were little they used to tell me, "We like you when we are hurt or want to snuggle but we like dad when we want to play." It is true. He has as much fun playing with them as they do him. When Alexander was little he would wait for Steve to get home from work and as soon as he walked in he said, "Go get your rough pants on." That meant get out of your work clothes and into something comfortable we can wrestle in.

Steve always makes our life fun. Whether he is planning a route at a new forest preserve, a day of exploring in the city, playing music or just cracking us up at home, he is always fun. He adds fun and adventure to our life. This has always attracted me to him and is such a beautiful gift that he gives our children.

We recorded an episode of Chuck and then realized we needed 3-D glasses. Steve called around until he could find a pair for each of us.

Happy Father's Day to Dad and Steve. Also, to my two older brothers, Mike and Danny who are also about as awesome as you can get in the dad category. And to my brother-in-laws Earl, Darrin, and David who have been wonderful additions to our family and to the lives of all my nieces and nephews.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Epigenetics and Our Health

I found this awesome video on Youtube. According to this concept our mind has incredible control over our health. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cosmetics, Food and Health

While investigating natural cures for rheumatoid arthritis over the years, I have been fortunate to learn about other areas of my life that may be creating havoc with my health such as the food we eat, the cosmetics we use and the cleaning supplies we use to clean our house. Through this research I have been able to make changes that not only affect me but also my entire family.

First I read about the hormones and pesticides in our food systems and we have changed from grocery meat, veggies, milk and eggs to food purchased from farmers we know. Farmers who are making conscientious choices to provide food that is safer for our bodies and the environment.

We have learned about the chemicals that are in everyday products like soap, deodorant, dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc and have switched to products we feel eliminate these chemicals and make them safe to use in our home. Also, we make a few of our own cleaning solutions.

I would never describe myself as a "high-maintenance" gal, but I am not ready to give up my cosmetics either. (I have already given up hair coloring!) Although I am probably on the more natural side of fixing myself up, I do enjoy doing my hair and putting on make-up. However, after reading numerous articles about the dangers hidden in cosmetics and knowing that I have a daughter not to far from possibly wanting to use these same cosmetics herself, I knew I had to do some experimenting myself.

Luckily, there is a group that helps take some of the guess work out of this game. The Environmental Working Group has a site that focuses just on cosmetics called Skin Deep. Here you can type in a product name or what you are looking for such as "eyeliner" and a list of products will show up with a number attached to it. The number signifies the danger it presents to you along with information about whether or not the company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics or not, the ingredients that cause danger, whether or not they test on animals, and more.

So, for the last few years I have been experimenting with cosmetics. When I am in need of a new product, I first go to the Skin Deep site and research the products with the lowest numbers. So far, I have been very pleased with everything I have bought. The prices have been good and my face never itches or gets dried out as I experienced with other cosmetics and facial creams.

I am currently using Tropical Traditions moisturizer for my face. It is wonderful! I have always had dry skin. But since using this product and adding fish oil to my daily supplements, this problem has gone away. Plus, they often have "buy one get one free" deals so you can stock up.

For cosmetics I have tried Aubrey Organics which was decent for blush and powder but takes a lot of experimenting with to find the right colors. Their lipstick goes on like a gloss and is very soothing to the lips. I have also used Larenim products which is a mineral based cosmetic. Their eye shadow is wonderful and they have a ton of colors to choose from. Also, if you email them about your color tone, hair color, eye color, etc they will send back suggested colors to try. I also like their mascara. This week I decided to give Honeybee Gardens a try. Sometime this week I am getting eyeliner, mascara and nail polish for my toes. I am excited!

I do want to warn you though to check back with Skin Deep each time you buy new products because I found with Aubrey Organics that originally their numbers were low but something must have been added later because their numbers went up on the danger side for hair products. It is still low, but something must have changed. Also, just because a product is sold in a health food store, doesn't mean that it is going to have a low number on Skin Deep. I was surprised to find that we were spending extra money on some products at Whole Foods that showed up having some dangers I wasn't comfortable with.

What about you? Have you made similar changes? What worked for you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Many Lives

Recently I finished reading Jewel by Brett Lott after attempting about four times to read it. I just couldn't get into it. But, I am glad I finally did. Jewel and her story have stuck with me since I finished the book.

Jewel didn't have an easy life. She was orphaned at age 11, sent to live with a grandmother that was wealthy but had no love to give and was soon shipped off to a girls home/school. She was fortunate to marry Lester who she loved and he loved her back. Together they had six children. The last one being born with Downs Syndrome and Jewel was told her daughter would live to be only two years old.

Jewel took all these difficulties in her life and used them to make herself stronger. She knew she wanted her children to have a momma that loved and supported them, she knew she would do whatever it took to save her baby and she also knew that she had to make sacrifices in order to make all this happen. Not only did Jewel have determination, but she knew where she wanted to be and was willing to do the work to get there.

Jewel often spoke about the different lives she had. A new life started for her when she was orphaned, another when she married Lester and then another when Brenda Kay, her Down's Syndrome baby was born. Later a new life started again when she moved from Mississippi to Los Angeles to find help for her daughter.

Lately I have been thinking about the different lives I have lead as an adult. My life has definitely been easy in comparison to Jewel's life. One of my lives started when I married Steve. Another life when I had children. A new life started for me when we moved away from Kansas and all my family/support to somewhere I knew nothing about. A more recent life has been the one with rheumatoid arthritis. Actually, I think I have had two lives with RA. The first one was when I was diagnosed and started on medications. The second life was in February 2008 when I went off all medications. I feel like this last life has allowed me to really focus on my life as a whole but in doing so has also separated my life. While trying to heal, I have been analyzing every aspect of my life which has created a tunnel in my life where I feel like I have needed to separate my life into categories rather than it all being interconnected. I have never felt that way before.

This morning I was thinking about how originally I made one blog which included everything about me. I felt like my life was so interconnected that it was impossible to separate it into blogs based on topic. I knew it would eliminate readers who were looking to read only on a specific topic, but that wasn't why I started blogging. It was more just to share my thoughts with myself and whoever else was interested. Then I started a blog on unschooling and kept my personal blog more about RA, almost like I needed to keep them separate - to focus on them separately.

That feeling is changing. I am beginning to see my life merging back into one. I feel this newness coming into my life. I don't know what it is but I sense it and I am excited by it. I feel like RA is going to be a part of it, but it isn't going to be my focus in this life. It is going to play a minor role. Maybe that is why I am excited. I am feeling strength and motivation to move into new areas of my life and not focus on just RA.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

21 Years!

Today Steve and I celebrate 21 years of married life together.

The secret? Lots of hard work and always evolving together. We have both grown tremendously in 21 years but have made it a goal to keep talking, sharing and having fun together. Plus, I think we both consider ourselves lucky to have the other one!

To see our wedding photo, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Cure For Arthritis Blog

There are certain bloggers that you just love receiving comments from and waking up to see they have a new post in your Google Reader. Reasons to be Cheerful 1, 2, 3 is one of those people. In her first blog, she shares the ups and downs of life. In her new blog, A Journey to Cure Arthritis, she plans to blog about her experiences while following Barbara Allan's book Conquering Arthritis. I can't wait to read about her new experiences in finding a cure for arthritis.