Friday, December 30, 2011

I Want to Get Rid of Christmas????

Yesterday morning Izzy and I decided to take a longer walk than usual.  The sun was strong and I couldn't bear to hurry back inside when the sun had been so gracious in being there for me.  On our longer route we ran into a neighbor whom I do not know.  She was taking down her outdoor Christmas decorations.  I said, "Good morning."  She responded, "I can't wait to get rid of Christmas.  I want everything back to normal." 

I remember feeling this exact same way years ago.  By the 28th of December I was ready to have everything put away and back to normal.  Something has changed over the years.  I am not in a hurry to get rid of Christmas.  I consider the whole week after Christmas to be part of the Christmas celebration, only simpler.  That week after Christmas everyone is relaxed.  There aren't anymore surprises or planning and everyone can relax and just be.  I have found myself snuggled with Sophia several evenings this week in front of the tree talking. 

Generally Christmas isn't completely put away until right before I head back to work mid January. With the colder days and nights, I enjoy the warmth the Christmas lights bring to a room.  Besides that, I just find that I enjoy bringing back regular life a little slower these days.  The holidays for me are a sign of slowing down and enjoying those around me.  I am in no hurry to get back to a life any different than that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From Bland to A Rainbow of Color

Twenty four years ago my soon to be father-in-law met me at JCPenney, where I was employed, during my 15 minute break.  He asked me to help him pick out dinnerware that he was giving as a Christmas gift to my brother-in-law and his wife.  I remember thinking they didn't have a lot of color in their house and decided to go with the most bland dinnerware I could find to be on the safe side. 

Well, guess what I got for Christmas that year?  Yep, the bland plates.  They are simple and pretty, but they have never been what I wanted for me.  However, I loved the intention that my father-in-law put into the gift and went ahead and added this set to my bridal registry.

Over the years I have enjoyed the plates for a few reasons.  1) They have held up well over 24 years. 2) They have always reminded me of the loving heart my father-in-law has for me.  But, each time that one of the kids or I would drop one I always said, "No worries.  This just means we are one step closer to new plates."

Well, that day has finally arrived.  For Christmas Steve bought me a few pieces and I added on with some money we received so that I now have lots of beautiful colors!

Blue, red, purple, orange, and green!

Aren't they beautiful?  I just love all the colors.  We don't have a complete set yet, but it will be fun to keep adding on and enjoying the rainbow of colors that these new plates bring to our meals. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Minimalist Shoe Experience will Continue

Last year for Christmas I received my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers.  When I opened them I was both excited and scared.  I was excited to implement all I had read about minimalist shoes and barefoot walking but also afraid that my my rheumatoid feet wouldn't be able to handle these expensive shoes that offered no support. 

As this photo shows my minimalist shoe/barefoot walking experiment was a success.  In less than one year I wore a hole in my first Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks.  At first I was disappointed that they wore out so quickly, but my husband reminded me that I also put a lot of miles on them in a short time.  (Yay for 2011 being a great year for my joints!)

Thanks to my generous husband Steve I received my second pair of Vibram KSO Trek's for Christmas this year.  I won't be able to wear them for many months due to the cold temperatures, but my feet are looking forward to spring already.

In the meantime, here is the new pair of winter boots I bought.  Thanks to Zappos I was able to order multiple pairs of boots and send them back free of shipping charges!

Each boot I returned either caused my toes to hurt or my foot to go numb.  Finally I found a pair that seems to meet my unique needs: my feet and ankles don't go numb, my toes don't hurt, there is plenty of toe room, they are waterproof, and they are very warm. (Temperatures in Chicago haven't been extreme yet but hopefully they will hold up to the challenge.) 

I am now the proud owner of my first pair of UGGS.  Although these boots don't allow for the freedom I have in my VFFs,  I felt attracted to them one day when my daughter's friend was visiting.  I saw her UGGs sitting by the door after I had just returned yet another set of boots.  I had a strong desire to put my foot into her boot.  (Shhhh.....please don't tell.)  They felt so warm and cozy I knew I had to find a pair for myself.  Mine of course are more outdoorsy and not quite as stylish but they are exactly what I need for my long winter walks with Izzy. 

Here's to 2012 being a year of less foot pain and lots and lots of walking outdoors!    

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stay At Home Day

I feel like I am constantly trying to balance the needs of my daughter who requires a lot of time outside of the house with my needs to spend a lot of time at home.  I finished teaching classes last week and was looking forward to a relaxing week at home with Steve.  However, the week has turned out to be a lot busier than I planned driving the kids to meet friends and running errands with them.  (Not my errands, I had everything finished by Monday morning.) Today we are going to see a movie early in the day and then the rest of the day is what momma needs - a stay at home in your pjs day.  I can't wait.  We are planning on listening to Christmas music while we bake cookies and then eating all of them today.

Cookies recipes we used:
Flourless Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies - these were high in sugar but tasted so yummy.
Thumbprint Cookies - these are my favorites.  I could eat these all day.  Oops....I did!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm so Smart: My Response to Raynaud's disease

Winter and morning walks are not a good combination for Raynaud's disease.  However, the many benefits of getting outside everyday and moving outweigh the side effects.   The other morning I was out for my walk with Izzy.  I was dressed in layers and had on my warm winter gloves.  However, about half way through the walk I could feel the tips of my fingers getting really cold.  Rather than go into a panic which sometimes happens when they get this cold, a super smart idea came to me, "use your body."  I took off my gloves and placed my hands on my warm stomach.  Of course my stomach wasn't too pleased at first but within a few minutes my hands were toasty again and I was able to put my gloves back on and head home without a problem.  Thank you stomach for staying so warm and helping my fingers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Rheumatoid Arthritis Journey – A Year in Review - Health Central

2011 has been a year of success for my rheumatoid arthritis and me. Shortly before the year began I came out of a more than two year whole body flare and things just seem to continue getting better.

To read the rest of this post and other great posts on rheumatoid arthritis, please visit Health Central.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Interruptions of Life

I love jumping into a bed that has been made, even if I have to make it five minutes before bedtime.  When my kids when younger, making the bed was always a slow process.  They would see me making the bed and jump onto the bed requesting I either wrestle with them or throw pillows on them and wrap them in a blanket as if they were a hotdog.  Now, the kids will often help me make my bed but we have sweet Izzy to deal with.  As soon as I start making the bed she runs up the stairs and jumps on the bed looking for a little petting.  If I attempt to get her off the bed, she thinks I want to play with her and gets a little crazy.

It is times like this that I remind myself that one day our house will be quiet.  Alexander and Sophia will have moved on and out of the house and Izzy will have left this world.  These are the good times.  The inconveniences that come with life are really the things that make life worth living.  Stopping to enjoy these little interruptions are the very things that make me happy.

Show Us Your Hands

RA Guy is putting together a collage of hands.  Check out his post Show Us Your Hands to see how you can contribute.  I will be sending mine later today.  I need to clean my fingernails first.  :)

I Fail as a Woman Shopper

There are days I feel that I fail as a woman.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Alexander and Sophia wanted to go to the mall to do some shopping for their dad and friends.  I HATE shopping and I especially HATE shopping at the mall.  I have always been this way, but it has intensified over the years. 

We left the house feeling happy and I reminded myself over and over to just relax and enjoy the moment.  Sophia loves to shop and she wants me to experience it with her.  How awesome is that?  The first hour went well and I think we were all enjoying ourselves.  I don't know what happened after that first hour but something snapped in me and I just couldn't handle being in the mall any longer.  Maybe it was the bright lights or maybe it was the loud music that changed from store to store, or maybe it was that after an hour it seemed like we were walking in circles not sure where to go next. It could have even been the constant badgering by the kiosk workers to buy their products.  (Alexander said, "Mom, think of them as bums in Chicago.  Just look straight ahead and keep walking.")  Anyhow, I felt completely worn out and claustrophobic.  I hate these moments because all I want to do is get out of the mall.  It doesn't help to remind myself to calm down and enjoy the moment because my need to escape becomes stronger than any other need. I am no longer any help to Sophia and she really wanted my input. 

Why, oh why, can't I be a woman that loves shopping or at least a woman that can tolerate more than an hour at the mall? I want to enjoy these moments with my daughter and not turn it into a situation about myself. I say this knowing I have to return to the mall one more time this week.  AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Please let it go quickly!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Rainy Walk

This morning said it was 41 degrees F outside at 6:00AM when I headed out for my walk.  Temps like this are warm enough for my Vibram Five Fingers.  However, when I looked out the window it was sprinkling.  About 3/4 of a mile into my walk, the sprinkles turned into full rain.  I was so glad I chose my waterproof Thinsulated Merrell boots rather than my VFF this morning.  (Shhhh....don't tell my VFF I said that!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Future

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Alan Kay

Warm Enough for VFF

The temperature outside is up today from 10 a few days ago to 35 this morning.  Sorry insulated winter boots, but today's walk was with my Vibram Five Fingers.  Ah, they feel so good!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Slowing Down During the Holidays: A Gift from Rheumatoid Arthritis

For me, the holidays are a time of slowing down. This is the time of the year when my classes come to stopping point and I have more time at home. The weather gets colder and I feel it is telling me to stay home where it is warm. I have no problem obeying. I figured out years...

To read the rest of this post and other great posts on rheumatoid arthritis, please visit Health Central.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Need for Positive on Blog

For some reason it is always unsettling to me when the last post on my blog is one that makes me sad.  The sides effects of Arava make me sad and have been weighing heavily on me lately.  Each time I come to my blog I see that post and it only makes the situation more frustrating for me. My blog is a place for me to share my experiences, good and bad, but I like coming to my blog and getting encouragement from the last post.  So, here are a few quotes that have inspired me lately:

Now is possibly the time to move forward with your dream so see this as a big adventure and enjoy it.  All will be well. ~My Mom

Nothing is more empowering than when you become inspiring to yourself. ~ MovNat
That's funny, an RA sushi restaurant  ~  Sophia, in response to a sushi restaurant we saw yesterday named RA Sushi _______(I can't remember the rest of the name).  Funny that we can't look at the letters R and A together without thinking of rheumatoid arthritis.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Side Effects of Arava???

Shortly after switching from Methotrexate to Arava, I had a few things happen that I haven't experienced in years.  First, I developed a nasty rash on my face.  From my early teen years until I went gluten free eight years ago, a rash appeared on my face every fall and stayed until spring.  Nothing seemed to help.  Once I went gluten free, I never experienced the facial rash again, until a few months ago.  Fortunately the rash has once again disappeared.  (Perhaps there is gluten in the Arava which would also explain the pain I have had in my feet and the swelling in my wrist.  Hmmm....something to check into.)

The other thing from my past that returned was a wart.  My body has always had an attraction to warts for some reason.  Sounds lovely doesn't it?  Deformities, nodules, rashes, and warts - quite attractive.  A friend suggested that maybe the Arava weakened my immune system and allowed these things from the past to return.  Anyhow, I contacted my naturopath and she suggested putting castor oil on my wart each night and wrapping a banage around it.  It is almost completely gone!  I love when home remedies work.   

Arava has also brought a lot of hair shedding which I am not happy about at all.  I did look back through my blog and found that when I started back on methotrexate I had a lot of hair shedding too and it eventually slowed down.  I am hoping the same thing happens with Arava. 

One more weird thing that has happened since switching meds is that the rash from Enbrel has returned at the injection site.  Not only that, I keep getting bruises around the injection site.  I know, I am sounding more and more attractive all the time. Deformities, nodules, warts, rashes, and bruises!  Oh my!  That's fine, my beautiful smile makes up for it, right?