Monday, 30 September 2013

Dream Home Search

Recently we've been spending loads of time looking at apartments, lofts and houses to potentially buy if we ever decide that we're serious about moving and get our place on the market. It's not easy, because although I'm the type of person who can see potential in any living space I'm also in love with my current home and am reluctant to move if it means compromising.

I like to walk through empty spaces and imagine myself as a future me and the things I would be doing in them. There was the bathroom yesterday with enough space in it for a sofa and I saw myself surrounded by candles soaking in the luxurious tub. There was also the terrace with the view of the alps, in my mind I had already hung a hammock and installed an outdoor fireplace. On winter mornings I could sip my tea while gazing out and thinking about the vastness of those peaks and feel a part of this wonderful universe. There was the loft with its own separate office space where I could set up an intense art/craft/office/meditation room... I even thought about how I could rent the space from myself, set up a business and deduct the rental from my taxes.  I find it amusing that I think of all these things cause not only do I never light candles when taking a bath, I also don't regularly drink tea and currently don't have plans to start a business. I fantasise about other versions of me that I imagine the spaces could unlock. 

My current home has unlocked new versions of me in the past five years: my kitchen and living room have made me a gourmet cook and celebrated hostess.  My patch of cement outside the front door has made me an urban gardener.  My tiny itty bitty office has developed a blogger, animated filmmaker, quilter, seamstress, scrapbooker, knitter and toy maker and has unlocked new crafts and hobbies that I didn't even know I was capable of. My staircase and various Ikea furniture have turned me into a carpenter and handyman and other home-owning disasters helped me become an electrician and plumber as well.  This home has also been the one that has cradled me throughout the biggest change in my adult life of becoming a parent... And being a stay-at-home mum means it has been there for me even more-so.

What do I want in a new home? Well, the more places I see the more confused I am and somehow at the same time the clearer my vision.  Here's a list of what I've figured out so far and some examples:

-I want enough space to have a space for everything and everything in its place. Though I declutter regularly there's still a need for order and that comes with having enough storage to keep what you do need hidden away.

-I want a real bedroom for Sera as well as myself.  Currently I am sleeping on the open upstairs landing of our loft and Sera is in a tiny space that we separated with plasterboard walls. It's big enough for now but probably won't fit a single bed and there isn't too much space to play. Though there's no siblings in the cards I'd hope that Sera's room would be big enough to accommodate two, just in case.  The next house we live in should really be the one we're going to be living in for the next 10-15 years. I'd also like a bit of privacy when we have guests. 

-And speaking of guests I've got them sleeping on a twin air actress in the middle of the living room when they come. Considering my living room is also my lounge, office, kitchen and entryway and is pretty much the exact size of the air mattress you can see how that might not work too well. 

-I'd like a bathroom for at least each level of the house. Potty training and pregnancy have both taught me about the need for easy access to a bathroom. It would be wonderful to have an old fashioned tub and some glamorous curtains incorporated in some way.  I automatically reject any home without the possibility of a tub somewhere.

-I want a bit of outdoor space to call my own where we can catch some vitamin D and do some more urban gardening. It can be a garden, terrace, balcony, whatever. Ideally it would be big enough to setup a wading pool in the hotter months. 

-I want a third bedroom so that I can use it as an office/craft room/guest room/meditation room. I want it to be the cleverest and most multi-tasking room of the house and my own personal sanctuary (sounds selfish huh?)

-an amazing kitchen would be next on the list with huge entertaining possibilities. I love preparing food for people and entertaining and even though I manage in my current kitchen I'd just adore something more functional and stylish.

-the most important room of the house would of course be the living room/den. I want height and light and all of my books and nick knacks prominently on display.  It's the room where we will spend most of our time and therefore should be the biggest and most functional.

So, it's a tall order, especially for Milan where property generally starts at €3000 per square meter, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and eyes open for places that might be suitable.  For the meantime however, I'm perfectly happy in our cosy loft exactly as we are.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Check out more of my dream home inspiration on Pinterest!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Autoimmunity part 5 - limbo without the fun music and my new friend Hughes

I've been holding out on you, dear readers, on the latest instalment of the adventure that is my autoimmunity. I'm not one for cliff-hangers and hate when my shows break up for the summer so I decided not to give you half of a story without a resolution, but now that I have a resolution I figured you might like to hear the whole story.

Remember in July when I found out that I was stupidly taking medication for one problem which was completely contraindicated for the other? I had been taking the birth control pill for my polycistic ovaries but shouldn't have been because it increases blood clotting and I carry antiphospholipid antibodies. Then all through August I had fatigue and it got me thinking.... What else do those antibodies mean?

I did some net-research (never recommended by the way... Make sure you cross check anything you discovered on line with your doctor) and realised that maybe the fatigue and headaches and vision problems were never related to my connective tissue disease, maybe they were connected to the antiphospholipid antibodies and a clotting disorder called Hughes Syndrome, sticky blood or APS. Maybe I had had a stroke and not known it. Maybe when I blacked out in a health-food shop in Grenoble in May I had really had a mini stroke. Maybe when I lose balance it's because oxygen isn't getting to parts of my brain because I have blood clots!!!! Maybe I can't feel my arms and legs sometime for some neurological reason. Maybe I have the neurological manifestations like MS that APS can provoke.  Maybe maybe maybe. I thought maybe I'd talk to my immunologist before going crazy.

And he said maybe I was right. 

Now, if I was into cliffhangers this is where I would have left you on September 10th. Instead I'll tell you how the MRI went.

I think the hardest part of the MRI was waiting for it for the two weeks. I was very worried that I would feel claustrophobic in the tube or panic or move and they'd have to start over. I was worried that it would take a log time and what Sera would do in the waiting room. By the time we actually got to the waiting room I was really worked up and was yelling at Sera and hubby repeatedly. A kind nurse showed them to a room full of toys for Sera to play with.

I wore clothes with no buttons or zips so that I wouldn't have to take them off in the machine. They made me take them off anyways and that made me feel vulnerable and sad. I waited in a hospital gown outside the room on a cold metal chair while a couple of off-duty doctors gossipped across from where I was sitting. It made me feel vulnerable and sad.

The technician who put me in the machine was kind and I was ready to relax and try to use my meditation breathing techniques inside. I closed my eyes as the table set up. I was given headphones to 'protect my ears' but they were horrible and didn't help with the sound at all.  

The sound. The sound was insane for lack of a better word. Not scary but shockingly loud to the point of exaggeration. It seemed impossible to me that the sound I was hearing was just a consequence of the machine doing its work and not some joke by a sadist. It seemed completely ridiculous the randomness of the patterns of sound. Some people say it sounds like a jackhammer or drill, but it's quite a bit more guitar like than that. It's heavy-metal strumming. It's a concert with one instrument. It's random and on purpose. It's mathematical in the same way the universe is.

You may note that I had quite a profound voyage while pondering this sound inside the machine.

And then it was done. 

Having not moved a muscle for 35 minutes it took some time for me to get moving and to get off the table. As I was doing so I realised that one wall of the room was glass and behind it was he technician who was currently looking at the scans. I was suddenly embarrassed that I wasn't moving faster, that I needed the extra seconds to get my body moving.

I cried in the 'dressing room' which was actually a supply closet.  It may be that I was having a flashback to my post-partum experience (if you're interested I'll tell you about that someday) or just because I had two weeks of stress anticipation to get through and was relieved it had gone well and was over. I was so happy to get back to Sera and hubby playing happily in the real world.

I got the results so much sooner than I expected. I went to the pool with Sera the next day because I finally felt like getting on with my life and My immunologist called just after I got home.  
The scans were clear.


for those of you who wonder what's going on in my head.
That's actually how I look in profile!
My doc and I have decided to start treatment for the antiphospholipid antibodies despite me not having had a traumatic event regardless. Having clear scans now doesn't mean I haven't had a transient ischemic attack in the past and doesn't mean I won't have one in the future.  It's unclear why some patients with APL (the anitibodies) have 'events' and why others don't. I guess I'm just lucky for now.  I don't currently have APS but do have APL so that's enough to take precautions.  I contacted someone at the Hughes Syndrome Foundation in the UK and they confirmed that I should be treating my disorder now as a preventative measure.  It means I will probably be on blood thinners for the rest of my life but on the upside those same blood thinners may help with my eyes and fatigue. The Hughes syndrome foundation claimed that it may help with my joint pains and digestive inflammation as well. 

I'm feeling wonderful because not only do I not have any damages but I am also on the road to feeling better with a new medical regime and diet.  No cliffhangers here.... Let's hope that we don't have to sit through another episode of 'autoimmunity' for a very long while.

For more information on APL and APS/Hughes Syndrome visit the Hughes Syndrome Foundation's fantastic website.

For more posts on autoimmunity click here.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

No-Poo and my other Baking Soda beauty Uses

Some of you might already have read my posts about no-(sham)poo which is an all natural way to clean your hair that I've been adhering to since June. The basic idea is to use baking soda instead of shampoo and apple cider vinegar instead of conditioner and to leave those icky chemicals in store-bought shampoos out of your hair, skin and shower. My hair is longer now than it ever has bee and thicker as well, so I'm sticking to my decision and saving a bundle in the process. I estimate that I'm saving roughly 15 euros a month by switching over to my new natural regime. Since I've recently started cooking with coconut oil I'm also going to try that in my hair as an intensive conditioning treatment soon and will let you know how it goes.

But enough about hair! I've become obsessed with baking soda! I've been adding it here and there to my beauty routine and have come to find that I use it everywhere!

Baking soda deep facial exfoliating (once-twice a week)

--replaces my Clinique 7 day scrub--
Wash your face as usual making sure to remove all makeup. In the palm of your hand combine some baking soda with a bit of water to make a thin paste. Rub this mixture all over your face and neck and then rub some more, adding water to rinse until there is no residue. There won't be any dull, dry skin left either and you will have a smooth and bright complexion. Moisturise as usual.

Baking Soda facial toner

--replaces my Clinique toner--
In a small spray bottle combine a teaspoon of baking soda and water and mist over face. Let dry. Moisturise as usual. (make sure to close your eyes!)

Baking Soda body exfoliation

--replaces my Sephora body scrubs--
Take a small container with 3 tablespoons of dry baking soda into the shower with you, careful not to get it wet. Rinse your entire body using your usual shower gel or soap if desired. Take a bit of dry baking soda into the palm of your hand and rub it on your wet skin working from the top to the bottom paying special attention to dry patches. Rinse completely off. 

This exfoliation is especially effective if you are planning to shave your legs. Use it before shaving and your legs will come out silky smooth.

Try out some of these uses and let me know how it goes! I know that I'm thrilled with the results and am so happy to be protecting the environment, my wallet and myself!

Read more:

No-poo week 2

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Hangar Bicocca - A Cultural Day Out In Milan

La Sequenza
On Saturday the family and I had a chance to go to the Bicocca Hanger to see some contemporary art.  I'd never been and have been trying to find some time to go for a while now so it was all very exciting.

Upon arriving you're greeted by Fausto Melotti's La Sequenza, an impressive sculpture which acts as a beautiful entryway to this hangar converted into art space.

The Visitors - photo courtesy of
The exhibit they have currently running in the first hall is called The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson.  My first impression was very mixed when I walked past the black curtains and into the artwork.  The nine lifesize video projections of musicians playing a composition together but each completely isolated from the other seemed very very intimate to me. The music was melancholic and the setting of each musician equally full of dispair.  The entire work last over an hour and unfortunately, Sera didn't take very well to the dark room and the projections, so I couldn't stay too long, but I think I'll return and soak up the entire experience. This exhibition runs until November 17th.

The Seven Heavenly Palaces
Another of the permanent exhibitions can be found inside by passing through the first hall to the back of the hangar. Anselm Kiefer's The Seven Heavenly Palaces is a huge installation of reinforced concrete towers ranging from 14 to 18 meters each. As soon as you enter the vast hall you are stunned into silence. It is bleak, desolate and very very impressive.  Sera refused to climb down from her stroller. It was probably a good thing as some of the towers don't look very stable at all! I suppose she felt the sensations that the artist was transmitting as well.

We rounded off the morning by playing in the Hangar's kids centre which boasts a large collection of art supplies, art books and organised activities for kids over four and then ate a lovely and delicious brunch at the Dopolavoro Bicocca. The plates are ordered a-la-carte but juice and american coffee are included. It's a lovely setting for lunch.

Overal a wonderful day out and we will certainly return for future exhibitions (and I'll sneak back to see the Visitors.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Paleo-AIP progress

Well, I've been following (or almost following) a strict Paleo-AutoImmune Protocol diet for the past two weeks and I thought I'd give you an update on how it's going.

For a full list of the foods permitted and not permitted on the diet have a look here.

First, I would like to list the things in the AIP diet that I haven't managed to cut out as of yet, but am intending to in the near-future. The reasons why I haven't eliminated them yet vary, but mostly it's because I am taking things at a pace that feels right for me and have found in the past that I am more successful at change (diet or otherwise) if I follow my instincts completely. The forbidden foods I have eaten in the past weeks are:

  • chocolate
  • red peppers (if only because I made these wonderful stuffed peppers and have yet to finish them all... my last hooorah!)
  • wine (it's Italy... this will be the last to go and the first to return)
  • goats and sheep's cheeses 
  • potatoes
  • sugar
  • coffee
  • NSAIDs (aspirin)
Of course with a list this long of foods I'm still eating you'd be surprised to hear that I have had any changes at all in my symptoms, but I assure you I have.  In the past I would eat my food and then almost immediately have brain-fog, sleepiness, crankiness and heavy bloating in my abdomen (especially gluten heavy meals like pasta). These symptoms have disappeared. I am also experiencing less hunger and nausea in between meals. It's funny, I never even realised that that weird sensation I was having between meals happened until it stopped happening.  So I think the diet is working on an intestinal level.  

I haven't had much relief from the arthritis or the fatigue as of yet, but working with my Immunologist we're doing some more tests and research to see if I'm going to need to change my medications. I've started taking Plaquenil again (after many years off of it) and that should start to help with the more debilitating symptoms soon as well.

I'm loving Mickey Trescott's cookbook as a guide! The weekly meal plans are awsome and take so much thinking out of prep and shopping. What a wonderful resource!  I have been surprised on many occasions how good the food is! I can't get enough of the cauliflower 'rice' and am enjoying my mini hamburgers for breakfast every morning.  I have had to adjust portions and sizes for my own consumption levels but otherwise the food is great!  I've even prepared two dinner parties since I've started with the diet and everyone was thrilled with the cooking. Nobody missed grains, gluten, dairy or anything else!

This time around, I'm also not missing gluten at all. It's a relief because my past tries at a gluten-free life saw me consuming tones of rice, corn and potato and nothing with any real nutrients.  I'm going to keep going and am aiming to be fully on the program by the end of the month.  

I'm also learning a lot from this experience. Having any type of diet really amkes you think about food in general... where is it coming from? Do I want to put this in my body? Can I afford to put this in my body? Maybe these are questions everyone should be learning to ask themselves.

PS I don't like smoked herring.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Hot-Stuff stuffed red peppers

--This recipe is Gluten Free and Paleo friendly--

Here's what you'll need:

500g spicy round peppers
2 cloves of garlic
large pinch of sea salt

250ml white wine
250ml white wine vinegar
2 Bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped black olives
200g canned tuna

Wash the peppers.  It's best to prepare hot peppers with protected hands so I put on some household gloves at this point. With a small, sharp knife cut around the stem and empty out the insides, making sure to remove any seeds with the help of a teaspoon.

Place the wine, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper in a large pot and bring it to the boil.  As soon as it does throw int he cleaned peppers and cook for 5-6 minutes until relatively softened but still holding their shape and crunch. Drian the pepper and place on kitchen towles with the top down for several hours until completely dry... you can even leave them like this overnight.

To prepare the filling place the tuna, capers, black olives, garlic and a dash of olive oil in a blender and blend it all up for a few seconds until the mix seems uniform and almost a paste, but stop before the tuna loses all of its fibers.

With a small spoon fill each pepper one by one and place them, filling side up, in your sterilized mason canning jars. Fill the jars until just under the lid with the peppers and then with olive oil until there is no air in the jars and the peppers are completely submirged. Seal the jars.

These jars can keep up to one year in a cool dark place... but I challenge you to resist them for that long!

Buon appetito!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Quick cute anything bags

I stopped by a fabric shop today after meeting up with a friend, to pick up some cotton to make a few anything bags for Sera's school. Aren't these prints adorable? The crowns are so subtle and unexpected and I love love love the heart shaped flowers.

An anything bag is essentially a draw-string laundry bag, but could really be used for anything at all! All thats required is imagination! The school asked for two of these, I'm suppose one is for clean clothes and the other for laundry to be washed. So well, their 'anything' is laundry.

They aren't finished very well, and could have been a bit neater but they are super quick and cute and the end result surely meets the intended purpose. I did manage to do a bit more cutting on Sera's memory quilt at the same time but haven't shot any photos lately so I'll wait before I give you guys an update.  It is a nice contrast, however, to be able to start and finish small projects like this one in just under an hour.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Strong, brave and humble

Just wanted to share a bit of wisdom that touched me today.

Also thought that some of you might be interested in a new 21day meditation cycle that started today over on the mentors channel with Deva Premal and Miten . It's sure to be interesting and hopefully will bring some clarity and peace of mind.  I haven't done my day one yet, but will carve some 'me' time out for myself tonight before bed.

Be strong, be brave, be humble and be back tomorrow!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Yoga at home with kids

I'm lucky to be a stay at home mum and to have loads of time to spend with Sera, on the housework, crafting, cooking, blogging, filmmaking or taking care of myself. Unfortunately, sometimes these activities can't be multi-tasked.

Other times they can!

I often visit online yoga websites so that I can get in a practice when I feel to it. There are some really wonderful sites out there that even offer free lessons such as so with those and searches on youtube I'm spoilt for choice.  It's not the same as going for a lesson, but I haven't managed to work something regular into my schedule yet.

Today Sera and I shared our practice. Its a chance to teach her something special as well as take care of myself a little bit.  Look how wonderful her downward dog is!

I love that whenever she sees me pull the mat out she tells me 'I wanna do yogiees!'. It's too sweet!

PS. Isn't she rocking my retro leotard from the early 80's? She's such a fashionista!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Is the AIP paleo diet for me?

About two years ago my homoeopath suggested I go gluten-free as his MORA machine picked up an intolerance. I had had the slew of tests for Celiac disease repeatedly and they had all come up clear but he had me do a few genetic tests as well and it seems I carry the HLA-DQB1 *03:01, *03:02 markers that show a predisposition to the disease. Clearly, if someone has this sort of predisposition they do what they can to avoid it right?

Well, sometimes they don't. To prove to you how much of an idiot I am I will just tell you what I had for dinner last* night... Yes that's right. It's Italy and I had pasta.

I have gone gluten free on and off in the past few years but I feel like I've been off the diet more than I'm on it. A friend asked me the other day why I don't follow the diet if I know that eating gluten is slowly making me sick (gluten has also been proven a huge trigger for autoimmune diseases) and I tried to explain to her that I feel as if its the same reasons why smokers continue to smoke. Smokers enjoy smoking and I enjoy eating pasta but its deeper than that. Really addicted smokers have a psychological barrier to overcome if they really want to quit. They have to give up their identity and self-image as a 'smoker'.  I will have to give up my self-image as being normal and free to eat what I want.

Maybe it's time? 

Ive been doing research and i think that the reason why i may have come back to gluten in the past was because a gluten-free diet isn't for me. I just ended up eating loads of gluten free pasta and still feeling hungry. I hadn't changed my diet, I had simply removed one ingredient.  It always make me feel deprived cause the flavour wasn't there and I was trying to pretend it was. Eventually I would just cave in and eat an entire pizza.

Perhaps I need something Even more extreme than eliminating gluten to allow my body the rest it needs and to get used to not having that level of energy provided by carbohydrates.  I've become very interested in the autoimmune protocol paleo diet instead of just gluten free... It's the elimination of all grains without substitution coupled with the elimination of all foods that cause inflammation and allergic reactions in the body.  It sounds terrifying, but I'm thinking of giving it a shot.

I'm going to use this article, which you can find on the awsome PaleoMom site, as a guide in this new change and see if it helps me to feel any better. Then when I start to slowly introduce foods back into my system ill be able to feel what they're doing to me. I may even keep a food diary, which I've never done. I'm going to approach avoiding the foods they suggest to avoid the same way I approached quitting smoking myself eleven years ago. In the same way I said to myself 'just don't have a cigarette' ill have to say 'just don't order the pasta'.

Some reasons why I'm hoping the autoimmune protocol paleo diet may work for me:

-cutting out gluten means reducing the risk of having Celiac disease down the line
-avoiding nightshade foods and gluten should reduce swelling in my joints
-PCOS has recently been linked to forms of diabetes and insulin intolerance... carbohydrates  raise blood glucose levels and this diet eliminates all carbs
-research has shown that people with my blood type (0-) are at optimum health following a hunter-gatherers type diet of only meat and vegetables, but no grains
-removing these foods may help with my ulcerative colitis and bloating/pain after eating
-maybe forcing myself to eat more meat will help with my energy and iron levels.

Sounds like a pretty optimistic list!

I bought The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott online to help me with the new diet. It's in PDF format and so far really nice to look at and explains a lot.

I also bought some paleo-friendly (but not AIP friendly... one step at a time) flaxseed flour and had a really filling lunch by basically just mixing 2 tablespoons up with water, herbs and spices and then cooking it in a frypan with oiliveoil in the exact same way you would cook a scrambled egg.... It looked like a burger (being dark brown in colour) but was very delicious and even Sera loved it! "More flassseeed pleeeeeease!"

*by last night I mean the night before I first wrote this post... several days ago.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Project Life!

How did I only find out about Becky Higgins' Project Life line of scrap booking products today? I'm so excited!

I'm not a scrapbooker (I know, hard to believe cause there are very few crafts I don't dabble in) but I'm about to become a lazy scrapbooker thanks to Project Life. Here's what it's all about (copied and pasted from their about page):
Project Life® is a solution-based approach to scrapbooking that was created to simplify the process in order to allow you more time to enjoy life! It requires no glue, no scissors, no tools, and no skills of any kind. The design of our products takes the guess work out of layout design so that you can focus on recording your everyday moments through your photos and journaling. The simple design is stylish and makes it possible for you to complete more pages in less time.
What it consists of is a binder and photo sleeves, just like an old photo album (remember those, before photos were no longer something you could touch?) and a kit of pre-printed and themed or coordinated card stock cards which you can place in with your photos and scraps mixing and matching.  When I saw this post about setting up for photographing Project Life albums I fell in love with the concept.  It will also fulfil my need to do something about the guilt I feel for not having printed a single photo or album for Sera since she was 4 months old (too much knitting, quilting, animating and other pressing responsibilities).

I ordered the kit you see above (Honey Edition) as well as a black chevron binder (cause we all know I still love chevrons) and 60 sleeves. From what I can tell most people do a spread per week, but that's pretty unrealistic in terms of my time so I'm going to aim for one per month if not one per season.

I'm hoping to be able to share my progress with all of you.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Magic Mornings Lamp

Sera, like many toddlers, is an early riser. On many a morning she calls out for mommy or daddy ready to play as early as 6:30am. One of her first questions of the day is often "is it morning now?" Inside I'm screaming 'no its not morning! It's the middle of my rem dream cycle you monster!!!' and all the while I'm smiling and taking goofy crusts out of my eyes and cooing 'yes honey, good morning to you!' 

It's not her fault she's up early. Between daylight savings and seasons constantly changing its no wonder she's confused, as soon as light hits her poorly installed blackout curtains she's up. Its about time she gets some morning sleep training (and mommy gets a few more minutes of sleep).How can we explain this new idea to Sera so she'll understand?  Cue Our very own brand-new homemade "magic mornings lamp".  

There are a few gadgets on the market that already provide this function. There's the gro-clock, bunny clocks, monkey clocks, even princess clocks... But I'd didn't really feel like spending 30euros on another 'baby' gadget with a very limited lifespan and I certainly didn't want to wait the weeks it would take for me to track a suitable model down here in Milan or to wait for delivery.  Instead I decided to go down the DIY route again and make one myself. Here's your how to...

What you'll need:

  • one electrical automatic lights timer. Ikea does a pack of 2 of these babies for under five euro!
  • one lamp. This can be a lamp you're already using in the room or something you have lying around the house or something new. I finally found a way to up cycle an old Ikea lamp I had in storage for a new and very worthy purpose.
To do:

Go ahead and set the timer to be off all day and on for the half-hour around when you want your child to wake. I chose to setup a separate lamp from the one we use in the evenings because that way I don't  have to play around with the settings of e timer every evening.  You can then show the lamp to your child and explain that mom and dad sleep until morning and sometimes when you wake its hard to tell if its morning or not.  With the new 'magic mornings lamp' she can know if its morning or not. If the lamp is off when she wakes, it's too early to call mom and dad, but she can play or read. If the lamp is on she can wake mom and dad.  The great thing is that you get to set the time the lamp turns on just by setting the timer.
The big question is will this work in the long run? I sure hope so. If you do try it as well let me know how it goes for you in your family.  Sweet dreams and magical mornings to you all!

PS I customised my lamp with the forest scene and birds using permanent markers directly on the glass. Get creative and upcycle!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

autoimmunity - part 4 - fatigue

The ongoing mystery as to how my body works was back to its old tricks this past weekend with a huge flare-up consisting mainly of swelling in my wrists, fingers and knees and more debilitating, severe fatigue.

Lying in bed with the sensation that someone had replaced my skin with those lead vests that you wear to protect your organs during x-rays, I had a lot of time to think about fatigue, energy, sleepiness and wakefulness and to try to remember to be grateful for my good days.

Now that I'm feeling a little better I thought I'd post a bit about it. 

I didn't know what fatigue even was until my sickness.  Sure I had been tired, lazy, wiped-out, exhausted, drowsy, hungover, floored, .lethargic and loads of other versions of tired but never fatigued.  I didn't realise that such a terrifying state of lack of energy even existed. You can be wide awake in your mind but your body, no matter how hard you try, is resisting any form of movement in an active and opposite way.  It's as if gravity suddenly has an 80% stronger pull on you or the ground/chair/bed have become magnetic and your bones and muscles are made up of iron. Then on top of  that there is a strange and foreign energy running up and down inside of your body at a frantic rate keeping your muscles, bones and tendons from doing as their told.

As in my case it can come on slowly, with warning signs like headaches and joint pain and swelling, or all of a sudden, regardless of how much you've slept and without warning. Then when it decides to go it can just vanish, leaving behind confusion, relief and the subtle residue of fear.

If you had seen me yesterday morning at around 8am you would have been shocked at the states was in. I was up, yes, because I had to look after Sera, but moving as slowly as a sloth (who I'm sure knows what fatigue means perfectly). 

It took me over two full minutes to get down the staircase.  If I had to stand I needed to use both hands, placed strategically and pull myself up from a seat. Showering was out of the question because of that crazy energy running around me and my low blood pressure so I just had a coffee and stayed perfectly still unless I had to move. I put on cartoons for the kiddie and didn't feel guilty at all (well, a little bit guilty, but that's how I always am).  When a friend popped by at 9:30 I had to tell her that I couldn't have a coffee with her (after finally making it to answer the door). Then, all of a sudden at 10:30 it was gone! I was better.

And this morning when I woke up I felt fine as well.

I spend a lot of energy trying to find answers to what triggers the fatigue and flare ups and I do my best to try to avoid them, but I have also spent quite a bit of time trying to learn how to accept them and let to of the stress my mind causes mean top of my bad days... I find that when my body is at its very worst, my mind goes off and worries about the future, feels angry that I have this challenge in my life and feels like a failure for not having 'resolved' it by now (though I have been told on many occasions that there is no cure, only treatment). Since I can't control the sickness I can at least try to control how I feel about it and that may make things a little better.

I am grateful today to have energy and vitality to play with my daughter, see a friend and cook a healthy meal for my family tonight. I am grateful to be working on my memory quilt, to be able to continue to do my crafting projects and to be able to work on my short film.  I am grateful that my recent x-rays have resulted in no deterioration to my finger, wrist, ankle or feet joints. 

I am also grateful to be able to be writing this post for you today. I have spent a lot of the past 13 years hiding my sickness from the people around me.  Of course, I don't want to burden anyone with my problems, we all have them, and I'm not throwing myself a pity party, I'm the first to say how lucky I am and have been. But I still think the reason I don't normally share is part of my life with anyone is a combination of shame, fear, denial and anger.  I want everyone to perceive me as strong and the sickness makes me feel weak. I am afraid of being judged, but more so of what the significance of my sickness means to my future and the people around me. I am in denial of the disease (hey! I've already made a step in the right direction, calling it a disease instead of a sickness or illness) and I figure if no one knows that I am struggling with it, it will go away, or won't be true.  And I'm angry.... So so so angry at times. 

Perhaps I can find strength instead by learning how to accept my weaknesses. Perhaps I can be brave while facing my fears. Perhaps I can learn to accept this disease and in doing so live with it in harmony and perhaps, instead of anger I can learn about compassion and gratitude from all of this.  Surely, at the end of this journey I will be changed because of it, perhaps it is my choice as to how.

My joints are still swollen today, and I take that as one of the warning signs, so I'm going easy on myself in the next few days. I'm hoping that the fatigue won't return again for some time. Wish me luck!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Thank you 10Q

The other day while catching up with a friend just back from holidays she asked me what my new years' resolutions were.  She claims that September makes more sense as the start of the new year than January ever did. Schools get back in swing, the weather starts to get cooler and the lazy days of summer are gone. Even the harvest gets underway as farmers start preparing for winter.  Plus, wineries all over Italy start the vendemmia; plucking the ripe juicy grapes from the vine to start the process of turning them into this year's wine.

What my friend didn't know was that it is also the season leading up to the start of the Herbrew calendar year and Jewish New Years for those very reasons (the harvest, not the wine). September is definitely the start of my new year as well.

In that regard...

For some years now I have been subscribed to a web service called 10Q. Here's their about blurb:

10 Days. 10 Questions.Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It's your 10Q. When you're finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection. Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that too.Next year the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that. Do you 10Q? You should.
Some of the questions are geared towards having you analyse your life and the past year with an eye towards gratitude and appreciation, the rest have you ponder the year to come.  On the 10th day the answers are sealed in a vault for 12 months and you tend to forget them pretty quickly.  When they come back to you it can be extremely enlightening! I've found it a very powerful self-analysis  tool.  You can even login and check back on previous years' responses to see how much your spirit, and you have changed over the years.   The first year I wrote my answers I was pregnant with Sera so you can imagine what has changed since then!

The 10Q service starts this Wednesday, September 4th. Sign up now to get daily reminders to answer your questions.

10Q: Reflect. React. Renew. Life's Biggest Questions. Answered By You.