Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas ornaments and the latest on my health.

Well, there is no denying it, the Christmas season is upon us! Oh, I know it's only the 19th of December, but Christmas is everywhere my fact, it's presence has been steadily increasing in the shops for over a month. Now Christmas decorations are up in the shopping centres and I've even heard Christmas carols being played. Whilst I do love Christmas, I must admit, that these days it instills a feeling of stress in me. For us mums, it is a crazy busy time of year. Most of the food planning and preparation, gift buying and wrapping, and house-preparing falls to us mothers.

Not to mention the sending of Christmas cards! Do other people still do that? I seem to be receiving less and less cards each year and every year lately I've been wondering if I should let that tradition go.  Still undecided for this year. Inevitably I always seem to get the guilts and throw my Christmas cards in the mail at the last minute, a few days before the mailman stops delivering for the holidays.

I've been making some ornaments commissioned by a friend from basketball. They are little Christmas trees made of wool appliqued onto cotton a cotton background. They're decorated with red and clear seed beads and topped with a golden embroidered star. I've then mounted them in a miniature embroidery hoop made by Sonia at Dandelyne ( I have 15 of these to make for this commission and I wonder if I'll be enthused enough to make a few more for myself after I've finished the order. My fickle creative brain may well have moved onto something else by then.
Work in progress: I do the applique and embroidery for several of these at a time.

The finished ornament. It measures just 5.5cm in diameter.   

My main focus over the last few weeks though, has not been Christmas, nor art/craft of any kind. I have been one hundred percent focused on my health. Yet another rheumatologist visit a few weeks ago saw me take away a diagnosis of UCTD (undifferentiated connective tissue disease) on the scleroderma spectrum. So that means I have an autoimmune disease that doesn't fit neatly into a well known "box" or diagnosable illness, but has symptoms overlapping a few autoimmune illnesses. Obviously my doctor thinks it is most like scleroderma, but I don't have enough symptoms or test results to make a definitive diagnosis at this stage.

So we wait and we watch. That's pretty much all she could offer me, other than treating individual symptoms as they arise (ie. commencing down the road to a cocktail of medications, and their side effects, which mask the illness but don't make any claim to cure or reverse it). This has been pretty overwhelming. This may sound odd, but it is good to know that someone finally acknowledges that there is something physically wrong with me and this chronic illness is not a figment of my imagination. I have something that can be monitored and measured, but not cured and perhaps barely treated, at least from an orthodox medical perspective. 

Basically it has made me stop in my tracks and wonder what on earth I can do to get off this autoimmune disease train I'm on that has me hurtling toward some very serious and somewhat scary health consequences. I've been reading masses of information and watching lots of interviews with doctors and other health professionals working in the field of functional medicine, trying to get some idea if I can change the course of my health.

When I opened up this book by Dr Susan Blum the other day it brought me to tears.

This is the dedication page that made me realise that I have to do everything I can to change the course of my health. 

That one line hit me hard: "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading".
I may not know exactly how to change the course of my autoimmune illness yet, but I am going to work my butt off trying to find out. I am determined not to accept my doctor's attitude that there is nothing I can do about it. Damn it, I am going to search and search and work and work to ensure that I don't end up where I've been heading. I have a life to live and a family to live for. I won't just accept that I am going to be "a sick person" for the rest of my life.

Of course, a steely determination is not enough on it's own, and I know there will be bumps in the road. But I will never give up my quest for wellness - despite the "best advice" of my rheumatologist and my GP.

I'll let you know how I go :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Birthdays, blessings and breathing through the rest.

It's been a crazy week as usual. My littlest boy's birthday was a very happy one. There was no huge party this year. Just a small family lunch on Sunday and yesterday (his actual birthday) he had a friend come after school. I had to go to basketball training with the eldest so hubby took the birthday boy and his mate bowling. Then we all went to the pub for dinner and home for ice cream cake and trying out the new scooter. At bed time he repeatedly thanked hubby and I for "the best birthday". As a parent that just makes my heart sing. He really is a beautiful kid.  Sure, I had to bite my tongue a few times when I'd normally scold him for not doing what I was asking him (like getting ready for school), or being over-the-top noisy and silly in the car, but hey, if you can't cut the kid a little slack on his birthday, then when can you? ;-) Seriously though, the birthdays of my kids are great days to reflect on what wonderful little beings they are, and what a gift they've been in our lives......even if they are EXHAUSTING at times!

In other news around here, we need a holiday. Especially my darling hubby. He works his bum off in a stressful job and he's pretty worn out right now. Thankfully he's got a week off in November. While it would be nice to go away somewhere, I really think what he needs is a week to just chill out at home and lay on the couch every day if he wants to.

I'm enjoying the warmer weather that we've been having this week. I've been trying to get the dog out for a walk each day, depending on my energy levels. I always feel better when I do - usually there are consequences though. I pay for a twenty minute walk for the rest of the day, and sometimes half of the next day, but I still long to get out there in the sunshine for a short while. It's great to just breathe fresh air and I enjoy looking at all the flowers in the gardens of our neighbourhood. How I miss those days when I took for granted that I could lace up my shoes and go for a run, enjoying the feeling of a strong body and the elation of exhaustion that comes from exercising hard. That feeling of knowing that recovery was certain and I'd be up for more the next day. I still miss it. And even though it's been 8 long years and I've largely come to terms with chronic illness, there are still days when the mourning for my old life swells up and washes over me.

But this is where I'm at and I choose, as always to focus on my blessings. I only have to look around me to know that I am an incredibly lucky girl. I still seek healing and answers about my health every day. 

Tomorrow I'm off to see my rheumatologist again to discuss the latest round of tests (heart, lung, and blood) I've had - to find out if my worsening health is fibromyalgia related or something more. We've been trying to track down what's going on since early this year, but as always, there's lots of signs and clues but nothing conclusive. While I don't like the sound of some of the potential diagnoses that have been suggested, if it is one of those nastier autoimmune conditions (scleroderma or lupus) then I need to know. The consequences of letting something like that go undiagnosed and untreated can be pretty frightening. 

As those with chronic health problems will know, nothing happens quickly in this process. Getting appointments with the various specialists can take months, so extreme patience is required, as well as a steady nerve not to let your mind run away with worst case scenarios. 

So we shall see what tomorrow brings, but for now, I'd better get on with what's right in front of me, and that's two loads of washing that need hanging out. School pick-up time will be here before I know it........and I've just realised I've got nothing to feed them after school so I'd better get off the ipad and get moving! See you soon. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mummy days and art play.

So my return to blogging has been a bit intermittent, but that's the way life is these days, so we'll just go with it. I've been busy playing nurse to my eldest son who has been sick. He had two days off school last week and I made sure he had a complete weekend off sport too. He's running on empty for a couple of months. He first came down with some sort of upper respiratory bug 2 months ago, and despite a course of antibiotics and other natural things to boost his immunity, he just hasn't been able to shake it. The latest manifestation of the illness is a sinus, on doctor's orders he has had 4 days of serious rest, combined with antibiotics. We're to go back to the doc on Tuesday to assess whether a second course is needed. I honestly think he just needed to stop for a bit. He's growing at a phenomenal rate (he's 12 years and 9 months old and now measures just over 6 foot tall!), he's in his first year of high school, he plays domestic basketball and rep basketball.......the boy is putting out a lot of energy and I think his immune system has faltered. Hopefully, if we can knock this sinus thing over, we can build his immunity back up for the last term of year 7 and the start of a new year of rep basketball. 

Anyhooooo, all this means that I've had less time for creative stuff but I always manage to sneak a little bit in :) 

So here's a piece of pastel artwork I've recently completed. 

I have been learning pastel pencil techniques via Colin Bradley Art, and this is one of the projects on his website. I'm really pleased with how it has turned out. Now I can't wait to try my next pastel piece.......this time I want to use more of my new pan pastels. I used them for some of the background in this piece and I think I'm going to LOVE them! 

I'll go into more detail about my recently discovered love for the medium of pastels in another post, but I can honestly say I think they are meant for me. I just love the way they blend and layer. I like the way they can be used in the style of realism all the way to a dreamy "painterly" style. I love that they are a drawing-type of need to use a tool (eg. paintbrush) to apply them - with the exception of panpastels, which are applied with a number of sponge like tools. I've got a long, long way to go but I hope to practise with pastels and become more and more proficient with them throughout the year to come. I think 2015 will be my year of pastels!! Exciting things to come. 

It's my little guy's birthday this week, so I'm guessing I won't get much time for blogging or art. My creative play this week will be making him a birthday card :) So happy to celebrate having that cute kid in my life for 11 years.....I can't imagine life without him. See you soon. xo

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It started with choc chip biscuits.

Yesterday I posted this photo on Instagram: 

Then I went to basketball with J last night one of the other mums said "Well, where are they?" I was caught a bit off guard so I asked what she was talking about.
"The choc chip biscuits! You can't post pics like that online and then not bring us some!" It was said in a joking tone, so I laughed along a bit. I said maybe I'll bring some along to the next training session. But then came the barb. She rolled her eyes, looked at another mum standing next to me and said "Ok then. You know some of us have been at work all day" and laughed. 
I was a bit taken aback but laughed and said jokingly, "yeah, because I stay at home all day and do nothing, right?" 
 But, I have to admit, it stung a little. People look down on you when you don't work outside the home. They think you're lazy. They think you just swan around and do nothing - paint your nails and go on coffee dates. I've written a couple of posts ago about how happy I am to be a stay at home mum, and how it is working for our family, and how we'll keep doing it as long as possible. But I still feel like I have to justify my status to other mothers. Why are we so hard on other women? We all have choices. Unlike the mother who confronted me last night, I choose to forgo annual overseas holidays, girls weekends away, designer clothes, jewellery, manicures, monthly visits to the hair salon for trendy cuts and colours.......and all sorts of luxuries that many other mums choose to have. I choose to live a quiet, simple life. I choose to put my health above my pay packet. I choose to clean my own house and do my own washing and ironing.  I try not to judge working mums for their choices (I've been a working mum and I understand the juggle) but it seems like people think it's fine to judge the stay at home mum. 
I know in my heart that this is the right choice for our family. So why do I feel defensive when other mother's question my choice? We need to give each other a break.....we're all doing the best we can in our circumstances. We make our choices based on what we value most in life. My choices confirm that I value my husband, my boys and my health above any material possession. That's what matters most to me. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I've missed blogging.

About 6 months ago, I decided that I wasn't going to blog anymore. A bloggy friend had expressed concerns about people downloading pics of her kids from her blog and quite frankly it creeped me out. So I set my blog to private and decided that I wasn't going to put my family out there for the public to see.

But in these last couple of months I've really missed my blog. I've missed the connections you make through the blog community. It's different to other online ways of connecting. It's different to Facebook and Instagram. It's less about endless pictures (although I love the pictures on blog posts) with brief captions and it's more about writing, and about telling the stories of the pictures.

Having said all that, I'm going to make blogging a part of my life again. I have edited my previous posts to remove my children's names and identifying information, and I think that in the future my blogging about my family will be very limited. I can scrapbook their stories for them to see and for only our family to share. They don't need all that stuff out there online. I'm sure little bits and pieces about family life will show up from time to time, because that's what my life life. But I plan to be more selective about what I share. My kids are coming to an age when they don't want me blurting their every move on social media or on my blog and I respect that. There are lots of you who know my kids names - you are my friends in real life or online, but I won't be posting those details here on my blog any more.

You can expect to see me writing about me - my creativity through art and craft; my role as a mother, wife and homemaker; and my ponderings about life and the big wide world. I don't need a million followers. I truthfully don't care if I have any followers. I just want to blog for me, and if what I write is of interest to others then that's fine. Maybe we have something in common.
I've carefully considered the pros and the cons and to be honest, I think I can find a balance.

So that's where I'm at. I know lots of people out there who've given up blogging in favour of "easier" social media, but I also see a few people drifting back towards blogging. I've missed it and I'm glad to be back.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The housewife diaries.

I have to record the sense of contentment I have right now. I am about 8 months into my role as a full time homemaker/SAHM and I have never been happier. I get a great sense of satisfaction over seeing things get done around my home. Things that are beyond just the bare minimum. Things like a spotlessly clean bathroom, regularly vacuumed floors, dinner on the table pretty much every night, washing that is, for the most part, reasonably up to date. Just mundane, domestic achievements, but they really make me so happy.
I also love being around for school drop off and school pickup. Being available for all after school activities and sporting commitments. Being here if one of my kids is sick and needs a day off. Being home in the school holidays. I love it. I feel so much more in control. I feel like I'm giving my family a gift. If feel that by taking care of them, I'm demonstrating how much I love them. For heavens sake, who would've thought I'd be making my husbands lunch every day?? Not me. But I do, and I don't mind a bit. He doesn't expect me to do it just because I'm a housewife. I do it because it helps him and it makes him feel taken care of. It lets him rest in the evening, when he is exhausted and needs to rest. I love taking care of him. He loves being taken care of. It's working for us. I know to some families the idea of a wife who stays home and takes care of the family might seem old fashioned, but I don't care. I love it. I've never been happier, and to be honest, neither have my three boys. I think it's something we'll keep doing for as long as we can, financially speaking. Sure, we live modestly and forego certain luxuries, but it is SO worth it for OUR family right now. 

 Above: the slow cooker has been simmering away all day, the veggies are ready to be cooked. All is well in our kitchen and our home <3 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A painting day - immersing myself in creativity :)

I've had the most lovely day in my little art room!  I decided to pull out a painting I started last year but never finished, to see if I could bring it to life. Oh joy of joys, 4 hours later I think it's done. (I always give my work a day or two after I think it's finished, so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes and 'tweak' it if needed). This is an acrylic painting done on an 8 x10" canvas. For my next painting I'd like to try something a bit bigger - at least a 12 x 12" canvas and I'm really yearning to paint flowers. Stay tuned to see what becomes of that plan :) 
Thanks for stopping by today. Much love to you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unblogged pics of my artwork from last year.

I've realised that due to the fact that I hardly posted on my blog last year, I haven't shared very much of my creative output for a long time. So I'm going to put it all out there......most of these are just photos of my work which I've posted on Instagram. I've worked in acrylic, coloured pencil and pastel. And I've experimented with a tight, realistic style, as well as a looser, more painterly style. I've painted people, plants and fruit. The one thing that was consistent through all of these pieces - I've enjoyed every single second of creating them :)

I'm sure there's been a few more pieces in there......if I can think of any more, I'll add them in later. Of course these are just the finished pieces. I have oodles of doodles and sketches that never make it as finished pieces. There are a few pieces that have been left untouched for so long, I'm not sure if I'll get back to them. Like this one: 

 It's great to look back at all the different mediums and styles. I learn so much every time I sit down to play with my art supplies. 

Lately I've been playing with art journaling in pen and watercolours. I've also been doing some lettering and some fun, whimsical style doodles. I might take photos of some of that work sometime.....I'm still a little shy about that style as it's very new to me. I don't really have a "style" of my own. Maybe someday when I "grow up" I'll settle on a signature style, but for now, I'm just enjoying learning and playing. What's your favourite art style or medium, as an artist or as an art viewer? I'd love to know. xo 

Artful learning - playing with watercolours.

Today I had a play with some watercolour paints. Quite frankly, watercolour has always scared me somewhat. It is so unpredictable! It runs free and is difficult to constrain. It blends of its own accord. It creates colours that I wasn't planning on. But you know what? That is also what excites me about it! Do I have any idea what I'm doing?  No. Will I keep experimenting with watercolours to see what I can create? You betcha! 
Any time spent making art, even just playing and practising with my supplies is just pure joy. The clock disappears, and so does the pantry (which for some reason calls me incessantly when I'm doing housework!) I get lost in what I'm doing. Art is definitely my happy place.                                                


My art making place, my little study/studio, has undergone an upgrade recently with my clever hubby installing overhead cupboards above the bench. It's quite handy being married to an electrician, as he kindly installed some lights underneath the cupboards so I have perfect light on my workspace. My studio is in a period of transformation to reflect my return to home this year. As I'm here more often I have a little more time to escape into my studio to create. It might only be 10 minutes here, half an hour there, or if I'm feeling really indulgent, a whole morning!! What I do know is that I'm a much happier person being at home. I'm more balanced, I'm less stressed, I'm not feeling creatively stifled like I used to and I'm taking better care of myself. Because of this I'm also taking better care of my family, and as a result everyone is happier and less stressed. 

My dream is to some day make a living, or at least a some income, from my art - if for no other reason than to feed my habit for purchasing more supplies. As I focus on creating something each and everyday, my creative confidence grows a little more. After all, you can only gather inspiration from others for a certain period of time. At some point you have to step away for the iPad/laptop/art book, pick up your supplies and create. I'm working on it. 
Thanks for stopping by today. xo 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hello 2014! And lessons learned in 2013.

2013 was a really tough year. I'm not going to go into every detail because it doesn't serve a purpose to record all that negativity in a public place. Instead I'll talk about the lessons that 2013 taught me.

The major thing I've learned is that it's ok to sometimes stand up for yourself. I have always been a peacemaker. I have tried to avoid conflict in my adult life. I have tolerated behaviour from other people that I find negative and hurtful, just to avoid upsetting others and causing conflict. I have tried to be the bigger person. I have tried to practise kindness, forgiveness and tolerance. While these things sound lovely and admirable, I have, in the process, allowed myself become a doormat. And it has hurt my soul. I read a quote recently that said something like "You need to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn't step over a puddle for you".

So I have decided to do that. This doesn't mean that I will become intolerant and unforgiving, quick to anger and unkind. It just means that if someone repeatedly treats me in a way that I feel is hurtful or disrespectful I will no longer pretend that I am ok with that. And if that person can't recognise and respect how I feel then there is no room for that person in my life at this time. I am all for forgiveness and reconciliation. The door is always open, but only if I'm going to be treated with kindness and respect. There is not just one person in my life who this applies to.....there are a few. After recognising that this is so damaging to my health and wellbeing I've decided to draw a line in the sand and say "enough".

2014 is going to be a year focused on my beautiful family, my home, my health and my soul. Life is such a precious gift. I want to savour it all. I want to really live in the moment, to focus on the gifts in my life and to share the abundance of love I've received. I know that I'm a bit of a dork. I come across as a bit cheesy and a bit of a dreamer, but as I move into my late 30s, I'm completely comfortable with that. If my gushy words or cheesy sentiments make people cringe then that's ok - they can move on to another blog, Facebook friend, Instagram friend etc. I'm not going to censor the authentic me in order to try to please the world. I am who I am, and I like me. So let's step forth into 2014 with open arms and hopeful hearts <3

Sent from my iPad