Albuquerque the Magazine Feature

Back in April, I got an email from Adam Baca, a reporter with Albuquerque the Magazine, asking if I would be interested in participating in a feature on some of Albuquerque's DIY bloggers.
Under normal circumstances, I would have been elated and jumped at the opportunity.  However, things still weren't "normal" at our house since my son got diagnosed this past February with Hashimoto's disease (click here to read the post).  By this time, Jacob's headache had gone away, but he was now having gastrointestinal issues, including severe stomach pains after he ate.  He felt so horrible and the pain was so intense, that most days, he could not go to school.  He was also still having a lot of lethargy and brain fog.

I was exhausted and essentially a frazzled nerve ending of a woman.  I was barely keeping up with normal life things, like paying bills and cleaning my house.  In fact, my sister, Kathy, who has been such a God-send to me during such a horrible time, had started coming over once a week to clean my house for me.  It was about all I could do to take care of my son, get my job done (with a lot of help from my wonderful coworkers), and get dinner on the table every night.  We were trying to figure out the cause of Jacob's stomach issues and were waiting for his appointment with the GI doctor, when I got the email from Adam.

I knew I had to call Adam back, and when I did, he said that they were doing a feature on some of Albuquerque's DIY bloggers for their June Home and Garden issue.  I told him that I had not been blogging for a really long time because my son had been very sick since January, that he still was not doing well, and I didn't know when I'd be able to get back to blogging.

Adam was very kind and told me to think about it and let him know.  I sent a text message to my niece, Amy, who works in advertising in New York. I told her about the ABQ the Mag offer of a feature.  She was going to be coming into town that weekend and she really encouraged me to go for it.  I was still reluctant because my primary concern was to get my son feeling well again, and I was just not in DIY or blogging mode, at all!

When I talked to Amy that weekend, I told her that I just didn't want anyone coming to my house taking pictures right now because of the horrible timing with Jacob.  She reassured me that they probably wouldn't and that they would probably just take pictures off of my blog.  After I thought about it, I decided that if I didn't do it, I would regret it.

I called Adam back the following Monday and told him that, of course, I would love to be a part of their feature on Albuquerque DIY bloggers. Then he told me that the article would consist of me doing a simple DIY project in five steps or less.  He asked if I had a project in mind?  When I initially spoke with him, I didn't even ask what was expected of me in the article, so I hadn't even been thinking of projects.  The first thing that popped into my head was the project that I had done to distress our leather club chair and ottoman.  It has been my most popular project on my blog.  I explained it to him and he said it would be perfect.

I wrote out the steps of the project and sent them to Adam.  Then, he told me that a photographer would be calling me within the next two to three weeks to come over to take pictures of me distressing the chair.  Oh-My-God!  So, they were coming to my house after all.

Kathy and I spent the day before the photo shoot giving my house a much needed cleaning.  I kept reminding myself that the photographer was coming to photograph my chair and not my whole house.  Don James, the magazine's Photo Director, was great and even though I was nervous, he put me at ease.  He didn't use any special equipment, he just had me go through the steps of me distressing the ottoman and asked me a lot of questions about what I was doing and my blog, while he took pictures.  It was all over in about half an hour, and I was left with my house being cleaner than it has been in months!

I was invited to the launch party for the magazine at the end of May and I asked Kathy to go with me, since she has been so kind and supportive with everything that has been going on with my son.  It was a very nice party and they served us some delicious cocktails and appetizers.  What I  was really hoping for though, was to meet some of the other featured bloggers, but I couldn't seem to to find any of them!
Each of the featured bloggers got a two page spread with a little write up about our blogs and the steps that we had written out about our projects on one page.
The second page had pictures of some of the steps with a picture of my finished distressed leather club chair.
It was a lot of fun (which I was in desperate need of!) and a very positive experience.  Thanks, Albuquerque the Magazine, for the opportunity and for acknowledging some of our cities bloggers!

You can check out the other Albuquerque bloggers that were featured on their web sites listed below!

Southwest Desert Gardening 
Paper Crane Wishes
Cooking for Halflings and Little Monsters
Delineate Your Dwelling
Blue Eye DIY
Good to Grow

Have a great day!

Dining Area Updates

Sorry about the crickets here on the blog.  I've been trying to get caught up on work for my real job.  The one that pays the bills, keeps a roof over our heads and food on the table.  Plus, we are trying to settle in to a summer routine. 

Thanks so much, to those of you who left me comments about my son, in my last post. After Jacob's headache finally went away, he developed some digestive issues that we're still dealing with.  I'll be giving you updates, from time to time, and also sharing some more about the changes that we've made since his diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease.

Today, I wanted to give you an update on our dining area.  Our living room and dining are open concept.  I had already gotten four of the dining chairs painted and the seats reupholstered that I shared in this post (I still have two more chairs to finish).
Since I had painted the chairs white, I wanted some contrast so I decided to paint the table a medium gray.
I mixed two paint colors together to come up with a custom color.  After I painted it, I let it dry for two days.  No one was allowed to put anything on it, which was the hardest part.

Then, I gave it three coats of satin polycrylic so that it's very durable.  This is essential in our house since we don't have an extra bedroom or living area, this table gets a lot of use.  Lately, it's been covered in Lego (Jurassic World, of course!).
Or, someone's doing artwork on it.
Which is really just fine with me, because we live in our house.  It is never perfect and it's usually a little messy (but it cleans up nice for parties ;) and we're comfortable here.  So, I guess, that's all that really matters.

I also happened to find some beautiful curtains at HomeGoods when I was returning something.  They're 96 inches long and were just $15.00 a panel (woo-hoo!) so I was able to get a pair for the dining room window and also for the sliding glass door.
The fabric looks very linen like and they have a beautiful, large scale blue medallion pattern that adds some color and life to this corner of the room.
When our rose bushes were in full bloom last month, I loved how the pink roses looked against the blue and white curtains.
I've already thought about changing out the gray fabric on the dining chairs to black and white, but I usually like to decorate the table with colorful patterns so, it will work for now.  They'll need to be changed soon enough so it's something I can do down the road.
Of course, it's always something and now the bamboo shade is wonky.  So, I need to fix that.  I've been wanting to change up the paint color on the walls to a light gray.  Since it's an open concept room though, that means painting the kitchen, dining area, living room (with vaulted ceilings) and two hallways so, it's not something I could tackle in a weekend.  I'd also like to replace the chandelier with something that's a little more clean lined.
Here's a before picture to remind you of what the space used to look like, very brown and beige.
We're enjoying how bright and fresh this space feels now.  It's amazing how some paint and new curtains can really make a big transformation.
I'm so glad you stopped by today.  Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great day.

More Than a Headache

I'll be sharing information on my son, who was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.  To those of you who've sent me emails or left comments about Jacob, thank you so much for your support.  I'll be back next time with something DIY related.

When my son came home sick from school on January 12th with a headache, I didn’t think too much about it.  Jacob had gotten headaches before, usually in the middle of the night, though.  He’d wake up and be in pretty intense pain.  We usually attributed it to the fact that didn't have enough water that day, and it was a dehydration headache.  I’d usually just give him a snack, some water and ibuprofen and he’d go back to sleep and the headache would go away.

This time though, his headache did not respond to ibuprofen.  This time, his headache did not go away.  He rated it at about a seven on a pain scale of one to ten.  He described it as a sharp stabbing pain.  It was always there. 

We wound up going back to the pediatrician’s office four times over the course of several weeks.  He saw his regular doctor twice and two other practitioners on other visits.  Their focus was neurological since what he was primarily presenting with was a headache.  We got used to the regular exams where the doctors would check Jacob’s pupils to see if they dilated, checked his reflexes, checked his balance, etc… They always said that neurologically he looked fine. 

We even got used to all of the questions about how he was doing in school?  Fine, he enjoys language arts and band.  How were his grades?  Great, he just got straight A’s.  Was there any bullying going on?  No, he has a group of friends he hangs out with and he’s well liked at school.  Have there been any signs of depression recently?  No, he has been very happy.  Absolutely no signs of being down or depressed.   

We never got used to all of the doctor’s either implying, or flat out stating, that maybe it was just a “psychiatric” headache.  I knew this wasn’t true.  Jacob was not the type of kid to make things up and he was not trying to avoid school. 

Once he got a shot of Toradol at the pediatrician’s office.  They explained to me that it was essentially like ibuprofen on steroids.  After he got it the doctor said he could return to school that day if his headache went away.  He immediately fell asleep in the car when we were driving home.  I was sure he was exhausted from having had a headache for so long, and also from the shot of Toradol. How did they expect him to go to school?

The shot wore off later that evening and Jacob’s headache came back, full force.  We had a follow up appointment scheduled the next day with his pediatrician, just in case it came back.  I was growing increasingly more concerned. It's just not normal to have a headache for so long.  I was also concerned that it was not responding to any medication except for the Toradol and Jacob was in constant pain.  I researched headaches on the internet frantically.  What was baffling was that Jacob’s headache did not meet any of the typical, or even the atypical, headache classifications (click here for information on headache classifications).

At the pediatrician’s office, one of the doctor’s diagnosed him with a rebound headache.  His doctor diagnosed him with a frontal lobe sinus infection.  It was always try this and wait X number of days and come back if it’s still not gone.  In the meantime, I knew Jacob was suffering.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s to always trust my gut when it comes to my kids.  I was certain that he did not have a sinus infection and I did not want to have to wait for a ten day course of antibiotics that I knew he did not need. 

During this time, I tried not to go to the worst, darkest corners of my mind.   But, when your kid has a headache for two weeks solid, you can’t help but worry about things like brain tumors and brain bleeds.  I also worried that maybe he had the beginning of some neurological disorder.   

I took Jacob to the urgent care, where the doctor ordered a CT scan without me even having to ask him for it.  I was relieved when the CT scan results came back normal. But the doctor said only an MRI would show more detail, such as a vascular problem.  Jacob’s sinuses were clear which ruled out a sinus infection. Again, he got diagnosed with a rebound headache and I was told not to give him any ibuprofen or Tylenol for five days.  If the headache still did not go away return to the pediatrician.

After all of the doctors asking and implying that maybe Jacob was depressed and us insisting that he wasn't.  Now, he was getting depressed from being sick for so long and from all of the doubt he had gotten from the doctors about whether his headache was real or not.  

 I went into his room one evening to tell him good night.  He looked so sad.  I was so heartbroken for my son.  I told him that I believed him.  I told him that I knew he had a headache.  I told him that I was going to help figure out what was causing it so that he could get better and we could go to Lego Land this summer.  I told him that he did not have to go through this alone. He just looked at me with his big, sad, hazel eyes and gave me the biggest, longest hug he has ever given me. I had to help my son.

After the five day wait, Jacob’s headache still had not gone away.  I was growing increasingly frantic with worry.  It was now close to three weeks that Jacob had had a headache.  He was also getting more and more lethargic and was sleeping up to 14 hours a night.  Because of his headache and lethargy, Jacob could not go to school.  I had picked up some of his schoolwork, but when I had him try to do it he broke down crying in frustration because he could not focus his attention on it to finish it.

I was terrified to leave him alone because I did not know what was wrong with him.  Would he have a seizure?  Would he have a stroke?  Would he just not wake up?  I work primarily from home, but I could not concentrate on my job and was falling behind on my work.  The mail was stacking up, bills were going unpaid, the house was a wreck.  I was a wreck.  I was so stressed and anxious that I couldn’t eat much and dropped five pounds in those three weeks.

On January 27th, we took Jacob back to the pediatrician.  She wanted to refer him for an MRI and to the neurologist.  I had made a list to give to her with information about Jacob’s headache and how it was presenting.  That morning before the appointment, I had called and asked her to order blood work before we came in, but she said she was not sure what to order since his CT scan was normal.  We asked her again, to order blood work at the appointment but she wanted to defer it to the neurologist.

I scheduled the neurology appointment as soon as we got home.  He could not get in until April 30th!  How was he supposed to wait for three months in the condition he was in to see the specialist?  In the meantime, we were waiting around for prior authorization from the insurance company to approve his MRI.
I was talking to a friend the next day.  She asked if maybe he had mono?  I hadn’t even thought about this and called the pediatrician’s office and requested she order blood work to check Jacob for the Epstein Barr virus.  I was relieved when the nurse called back and said she would order it, along with several other tests.  Thank God!  Someone was finally doing some testing so now we might have the answers we were so desperate for.  I was praying that it was something as simple as mono.

All of Jacob’s blood work results came back “normal”.  I never thought that I would be disappointed that my son's test for mono came back negative.  Again, we were stumped, and I was so worried about him that his dad and I decided to just take him to the ER.

At the ER, they did much of the same blood work that his pediatrician had ordered and the routine physical and neurological evaluations.  They also did an MRI.  Again, his blood work came back normal.  We were immensely relieved when the doctor told us that the MRI results were normal.  Fantastic!  But, we still had no answers and Jacob still had a headache.  I asked what we were supposed to do now?  They got in touch with the neurologist that Jacob was schedule to see at the end of April.  He recommended we give Jacob vitamin B complex.  But, it could take up to ten days to work.  Hurry up and wait.  Again.

The day after we went to the ER, I was starting to question my sanity.  Was there really nothing wrong with him?  Was it all just “psychiatric” and I’m feeding into it?  Was I babying him?  Was I being an overprotective mother?   I decided to get Jacob up earlier.  He had been sleeping until about 11 or 12 each day because he was so exhausted.  I got him up at 9:00 that morning.  He went into the living room and sat down on the couch to watch TV.  It didn’t take long before he fell back to sleep and was out cold.  No.  I knew I was not crazy.  I knew that there was something seriously wrong with my son, and I knew we had to figure out what it was.

There is no more hopeless or desperate feeling in the world than seeing your child sick and suffering and not being able to help him.

I had a phone appointment set up with Jacob’s pediatrician.  She was stumped and not sure what to do at this point.  The weeks of stress and worry had caught up with me, and I broke down crying on the phone.  I told her that I thought not enough was being done to help Jacob.  Not enough was being done to figure out what was wrong with him.  She recommended that I seek out alternative treatments for Jacob, like acupuncture and cranial sacral massage. I told her that I would do anything, try anything, to help my son.

I work with an occupational therapist who does cranial sacral massage so, I contacted her and scheduled an appointment for Jacob the following day.  She asked whether they had done an endocrine screen.  I told her I thought so, but I would check.  When I got home.  I looked up Jacob’s blood work results.  His endocrine screen consisted of his FT4 and TSH thyroid hormones.  They were both within “normal” limits, but his FT4 was low so I Googled it and found information that said just because someone’s thyroid levels were within normal limits it didn’t mean that it was optimal for that person.  I felt like I was on to something.  Plus, my sister Michelle, had recently gotten diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my mom had also gotten diagnosed with it later in life, and my niece, Kimberly also has it.

We had a family get together that weekend and as soon as we got there, I told them that I suspected it was Jacob’s thyroid.  Michelle said she was wondering the same thing because she had a headache with the onset of her hypothyroidism.  Kimberly told me about Hypothyroid Mom’s website (click here for link) and that most doctors only order TSH and FT4 for a thyroid screen, but there are a lot of other tests that they should be ordering.  Later that evening, she sent me the link to this post (click here for link). I was excited that we finally might be close to figuring out what was causing Jacob to be so sick and get him the treatment he needed.

That night, I read up on a lot of the symptoms of hypothyroidism on Hypothyroid Mom's website.  Cold intolerance is one of them, and I remembered that this past December, when we were out walking Bocce.  Jacob had complained of his face and even his teeth being cold.  It was a particularly cold day so I just attributed it to that.

The next day, I called the pediatrician's office to see if I could get Jacob in.  His pediatrician was out and I decided that I would just take him to the urgent care so that they could do the blood work there.  In Hypothyroid Mom's blog post that I read, it said to ask for a "full thyroid screen"  so, that's what I asked the CNP that we saw for, assuming it would include all of the testing I had seen on the blog post.

She was reluctant to even repeat the blood work since Jacob had just had it done recently and everything was "normal".  I asked the nurse which tests they were going to do, thinking that it would be all of the tests in Hypothyroid Mom's blog post.  The nurse said they were testing his FT4 and TSH.  I was kicking myself because I hadn't written down all of the blood tests.  I quickly looked up the post on my phone and asked the nurse if we could also check his FT3, thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies and antithyroid thyroglobulin.  She said she had already drawn the blood but would send the CNP back in to discuss it with us.

Again, the CNP was reluctant to order the additional blood work saying that these weren't usually ordered unless the FT4 or TSH were abnormal.  Jacob's dad had also come to that appointment.  We were both on the verge of tears as we told her that our son had had a headache for three weeks solid with no relief.  That he was sleeping up to 14 hours a day, was extremely fatigued and about his cold sensitivity.  We told her that we were desperate to find out what was going on with him.  She said she would check with the nurse to see if she had drawn enough blood to do the testing that we were requesting.  The nurse said that they were able to do it.  I thought how ironic it was that we had to beg for simple blood work, when they had been so quick to order CT scans and MRI's which are so much more costly.
We have access to our medical records online so, I waited anxiously, that night, for the blood work results to come back.  The first one to come back was the FT3 and it was normal.  That was a let down, since I was sure, at this point, that it was Jacob's thyroid that was causing him to be sick.  The next thing that came in was his TPO antibodies.  They were elevated.  I quickly Googled this and saw that what he had was Hashimoto's disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disease (click here for information about Hashimoto's).

I was so relieved that we finally had a diagnosis so that Jacob could get the treatment he needed.  Little did I know that this was the just beginning of a very long, very difficult journey for all of us.

If you read this whole post, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  I actually rewrote this post from an even longer version.  I tried to make it concise, but it was a long hard road just getting a diagnosis, and to try to summarize what Jacob went through during that time, just didn't feel right to me.

DIY Scarf to No Sew Pillow Cover

It's been a really long year, and I can't believe that it's almost June, and we're almost half way through. This year has been stressful, intense, heavy and just plain hard with Jacob being sick for most of it.  I am so glad that he is finally starting to feel better and it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders.  It is so hard to focus on anything else when your child is sick.  Of course, I am still so behind on just EVERYTHING.  I'm really looking forward to just relaxing, enjoying life and spending some time on more frivolous things, like throw pillows, which is what this post is really all about!

I was inspired by the pink roses in our back yard and thought that pink would look good with the new blue and white John Robshaw pillows that I splurged on awhile back on Etsy.  Plus, you know how I love to change the pillows on my couches every five minutes.

So, let me show you how easy it was to turn a favorite scarf into a no sew pillow cover.

I spread my scarf out on the floor and centered the pillow on it.
I folded over the short sides.

I picked up the long ends and...
tied it into a knot.
 I spread open the ends so that I could tuck them under the fabric on the sides.
I wasn't sure how it would hold together, but we've been using it like a regular pillow and it hasn't come apart.  I think your home should make you happy, and the cheerful color combo of pink, gray, blue and white really lifts my spirits.  
Have you done any easy DIY projects lately?  I'd love to hear what you've been up to.

Thanks for dropping by today!