Friday, October 24, 2014

A turning point in my lupus hair loss: Getting a new 'do!

Hooray for change!

I took a much-anticipated trip to the hair salon last week, and I am so pleased with the results. It was as if my hair dresser found strands of hair I didn't even know I had! She gave me a brand new hair cut that left me feeling fun, fresh, and more confident about my looks. I hadn't realized how "shabby" I'd felt, until she cut my hair. I caught a glimpse of my new 'do in the mirror, and immediately thought, "There's the old me!!"

The trip wasn't uneventful, mind you. Mustering up the courage to actually let my hair dresser see the hair loss I'd been masking for months was tough. Even allowing the shampoo girl to handle my thinning locks made me a little nervous and very self-conscious. We had some tears. And then a few more. But we also had a few laughs, too. In the end, unpinning that permanent up do I've been wearing for months was actually a very cathartic experience.  I'm so glad I finally went, and kudos to my hair dresser for her patience, compassion, and sense of humor. She was so wonderful!

Because the first hair cut you get after hair loss can be so traumatic and emotional, I think the subject deserves a series of posts. I'm going to break up my most recent experience into three parts, and I'll call the series: "Before, During, and After: The First Cut after Hair Loss".

While I hope, with all my heart, that I don't have to reference these posts for my own purposes any time soon, I'll at least know I've documented the steps. If there is a next time, I won't have to waste precious time and energy trying to figure out how best to deal with it.

For me, mentally preparing for the Before, During and After is key. It gives me something to focus on and work toward while my loss is happening. It also allows me to manage my expectations once I get up the courage to actually go to the salon. And finally, it lets me embrace my new 'do, whatever the outcome. If it's great, I enjoy every minute of it. If it's a transitional cut, I remember that hair grows. And life goes on.

I will admit that this bout of hair loss, while not the worst one I've experienced by any means, left me feeling quite deflated. Maybe it was having a milestone birthday at the same time. Maybe it was seeing a few more age spots and wrinkles than the last time I had significant hair loss. Or maybe I was just more self-conscious with the girls around, secretly hoping that I wouldn't shock or disappoint them if my hair fell out to the point of no return. From wherever the fear stemmed, I write these posts to try and make that first hair cut after hair loss a little more palatable...for all of us!

Next week, look for the Before, During and After posts. I thought about video taping my trip to the salon...but reality TV star, I am not. I'm sure the tears would have been good for ratings, though!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Aching joints deserve a break...with one of these handy jar openers!

I'm not one for "gadgets", but this thing is fabulous. I went to open this jar of sauce last night, and it was stuck. I tried one way, then the other. And then I remembered my thoughtful sister had just given me this jar opener. It was magical! It opened with ease, and I couldn't believe how the top just popped right off. So here's my endorsement:

If you have sore joints, get one of these things. If you have swollen joints, get one of these. If you have weak wrists, bad knuckles, shaky hands, sensitive fingertips...get one of these!

Here's the link to one just like it on Amazon. For just under $8.00, I say order away! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Birthday party success - learning my lupus limits once again!

Okay. I'm not going to beat around the bush. I overdid it last week.

(But I had fun doing it!)

On Saturday, we threw Deirdre and Bernadette a joint birthday party for their friends. It was a Halloween theme, and my girls and I had a blast prepping for the celebration. Back in September, I'd suggested (though some might view it as pleading) to Dee and Bee to rethink their original plan of having a Frozen birthday party. I'm fine with Frozen...and I'm fine with Disney themed birthday parties...but the girls were already arguing about who would be Elsa, who wouldn't be Anna, and how many Olafs would be in attendance. So in an effort to redirect their energy toward productive party planning, I suggested we do a Halloween theme. They agreed, and off we went to Pinterest to find every Halloween party idea every conceived. (Bernie now looks over my shoulder, finds pictures she likes, and says, "Pin it, Mom, pin it!)

The good news with Pinterest is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. The bad news is that you're tempted to take that wheel and run with it. We actually did a pretty good job of culling through all of the ideas. We didn't choose anything that required fondant, a staples gun, or wood work. But the projects we did choose still took time, and once you complete one, and it turns out great, all you want to do is get to work on the next one!

Below you can see just some of the party touches we went with (you can see my full pinterest party board here) and here are the lessons I learned along the way:

1) Call in recruits when you need them:

It was right about Wednesday of last week when I decided that I was going to need some help. I'd woken up with a swollen pointer finger and thumb (my paper cutting digits!) for three mornings in a row, and it was obvious that I had to call it quits on the cut-outs. So I asked my sister if she could send over my 10-year niece, the party prepper of all party preppers, to help. She (and my sister, who can never resist a creative craft), came to the rescue on Thursday evening, and we finished up every last goodie bag and pumpkin cut out. It was fun to work together, and I woke up Friday morning without a swollen joint in sight. I felt 100% going into the party, which is always a good way to greet 20 princesses who show up at your door, in costume!

2) Stop when you've had enough:

I had a few things on our list that we just couldn't get to, and I had to be okay with it. One of the last things I was going to make was this awesome tri-colored spooky Halloween bundt cake that I'd been planning for weeks. But once we got to Thursday evening, it was obvious that choices needed to be made. I knew that buying a cake would eliminate a ton of time and energy (not to mention another round of kitchen clean up), so I opted for a pre-made Costco sheet cake special, and it turned out great. It was the best compromise I made for the entire party, and I felt really good about recognizing my limits, and finding a good, time-saving, joint sparing solution.

3) Let the kids help (a.k.a. don't be a perfectionist!):

Almost every party touch we used allowed the kids to contribute in some way or another. They glued googly eyes to ghosts, hole punched hanging bats, painted candy corn, stuffed goody bags, cut Frankenstein's stitches, scoured the yard for "witch's broomsticks", and shopped for every prize, cookie, and decoration we bought. It was REALLY fun to do it together...and I let them cut, glue, color, and trace everything. There were outlines that weren't quite straight, eyes that were more than crooked, and cut-out mice that were placed in places a mouse would NEVER be, but we just went with it. They were really proud of their participation, and I certainly wouldn't have done it, had they not be as willing or able. I even think they might be up for another Halloween birthday party next year. (Although at ages 4 and 6, I'm not counting on it!)

Tangerine pumpkins, candy corn bark, caramel apple cups, pumpkin spice puppy chow

Pin the face on the pumpkin AND Pumpkin bowling
Witch's Broom Favors

Candy Corn Count AND Name that pumpkin!

One happy birthday girl!
Another happy party girl!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pillfold House - Funny where the #pillorganizer name shows up!

£350 pw fees apply

1 bedroom flat

Pillfold House, Old Paradise Street, London, SE1

Furnishing: Furnished or unfurnished, landlord is flexible
Added on Rightmove: 18 September 2014 (2 days ago)
Atkinson McLeod is pleased to offer to the market this gorgeous 1 double bedroom new built apartment. Situated just behind the Albert Embankment and just a stone throw away from the river and Westminster. 

I couldn't resist sharing this rental property listing with you. It came up on my Google alerts for "pillfold", and it made me smile. Looks like there are "Pillfolds" for sale everywhere! Here's the link, in the event that you are indeed interested in the Pillfold House, but the property appears to have been scooped up already. I guess all pillfolds are hot commodities!

I promise to return next week with a couple of good posts. This has been such a busy two weeks for me - given the girls' birthdays, their dual party this weekend, and a gift show last weekend. But I'll be fully recovered by next week, and I look forward to telling you all about it in detail. Talk soon and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Another birthday for Deirdre. Six years and counting...

The first full week in October is always a busy one in the Gorman household!

As you know, Bernadette turned 4 on Monday, and I pleased to say that Deirdre turns 6 today. Woohoo!! Here she is as a wee one:

And here she is today. Could she really be this grown up?! 

She's so grown up, in fact, that she'll be helping me at the Pillbag show this weekend at St. Louis Church in Alexandria, VA. Saturday, October 11th marks their annual Community Fair, complete with a gift and craft show where you'll find Deirdre and me behind of colorful array of pink-lined pillbags! In addition to the marketplace where many vendors will be set up, there will be plenty of stuff for the kids to do: Rides, Games, Food from 5 Guys Famous Burgers, authentic Pupusas, Beverages, Ice Cream, Popcorn, Face Painting, Pumpkin Decorating, Crafts, Gifts and so much more! Almost makes it impossible to miss, eh? 

Here's where we'll be. Make sure you stop by and say hello!

WHAT: St. Louis Community Fair

WHERE: St. Louis Catholic Church
2901 Popkins Lane
Alexandria, VA  22306

WHEN: Saturday, Oct 11th, from 11am - 3pm

See you there!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bernie turns 4 today! Pillbag sale in her honor!

It's hard to believe my baby girl Bernadette turns four today!

I swear she was small enough to fit in a laundry basket (like so) just a few days ago. But, oh, how time flies.
Here she is now, all grown up. (And below, looking REALLY grown up!) 

In honor of Bernadette's fabulous 4th birthday, let's have a pillbag sale! Take $4 off (that's a 10% savings off a pillfold!) any purchase on during her entire birthday week (now through Sunday, Oct 12th). Just be sure to enter the code "FOURFORFALL" during checkout. She'll be so excited you ordered in her honor! (Her favorites are the Zoe and the Amelia - FYI!) 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lupus fatigue: How to respond when your kids have heard it a thousand times

This summer, the girls and I were creatures of habit. Every other weekday, we'd drive over to the pool around 11am. We'd swim a little, eat a little, and swim a little more. Then around 1:30, the girls would head to the showers, and then we'd leave the pool just in time for our 2pm babysitter...and my mid-afternoon nap. Because we did this all summer long, we truly had it down to a science. Between 1:54 and 2:06pm, you could always find us in the car, headed for home.

During that short car ride home, I would inevitably feel my fatigue set in. Chalk it up to the warm car, the exertion of energy during the past 3 hours, or the fact that it was simply time for me to sleep, I would always utter something like, "Girls, I am TI - erd" (phonetically written, of course, for accurate pronunciation!) about half way home.

One afternoon, Deirdre, feeling a little more prickly than usual, responded to my comment by saying, "Mom, you're always tired" in a slightly accusatory tone.


Double Hmm.

I thought about what she said, and in the next 30 seconds, I reviewed my choices:

1) I could get defensive. I could fire back by saying that I am not always tired. I could elaborate, listing all of the times that I am clearly not tired at in the morning when she wakes me up and we go down for breakfast, or when we play for three hours at the pool, or when we do fun stuff at night, or when I take her out to dinner, or practice gymnastics, or go to the park. I could force her to see just how un-tired I really am, making her think twice about her comment.


2) I could feel guilty. I could convince myself that I am always tired, and that my fatigue really infringes on my children's happiness. I could tell myself that my afternoon nap is having adverse effects on my kids, and criticize myself for using an afternoon babysitter every day. I could pretend that having a chronic illness and raising kids is absolutely, positively impossible.
(Oh, what nasty things guilt can do...)


3) I could take a moment to collect myself, identify why she said what she did, and realize that there's a pretty logical reason behind it. In essence, I could call her out, in a nice, loving, mom kind-of-way.

Opting for number three, here's what I did:

I said something like,  "Oh, sissy, you're right, I AM always tired...on the ride home from the pool! It's 2:00pm, which is my nap time. Good thing we go to the pool early in the day, so we have plenty of time to play, eat, and swim, all when I'm not feeling tired at all. Good thing, right?"

And she said, "Yeah. That IS right!  So now you can take a quick nap, and then maybe we can all go back to the pool tonight. Daddy can even come. Want to eat dinner there?"

Then she paused, and said, "Mommy, I love you."


Now, while I don't always think things through so clearly, and #3 isn't always the best way to respond, this time, I felt it was the right thing to do. The situation also made me a little more aware of what I was saying and when. After all, I didn't even realize I was saying that I was tired each time! The girls are about as understanding of my naps as possible, so if it helps that I skip voicing my thoughts now and then, so be it!