Pink Fire Pointer November 2012

Blog Hop: May Arts + Little Yellow Bicycle

hello all my Little Yellow Bicycle fans! this week, LYB has been sharing ideas for how to use May Arts ribbons along with their Once Upon A Christmas collection. and to finish off the week with an abundance of inspiration, today, a few of the other LYB designers are treating you to a mini blog hop!
May Arts provided me with a gorgeous selection of ribbons to complete this project.  there were so many that coordinated with this collection that i had a really hard time narrowing down which ones would actually get used. do you ever have that problem?
i ended up choosing those that had a sweater-like texture to help mimic the texture of the sweater & yarn appearing in the photos. i'm completely smitten with the white lace ribbon trimmed with pompoms on one edge.  *swoon*  the new alphabet sticker from deja views have the perfect burlap texture, as well. just wait until you see what Vicki did with that same ribbon! oh my heavens, it's so cute!
anywho. for this little accent, i layered two of the fabric snowflake stickers together and tied them off with ribbon before embellishing with adhesive-backed jewel stickers and a stick pin loaded with small beads.
my daughter is hoping that Santa brings her a new Raggedy Ann baby doll like he's done every year since she was a baby.  it's her bestest friend and keeps her feeling safe and secure when her world feels unsteady. such a sweet thing to see how special this doll is to her.

okay. so are you ready to hop along? here's the hop list. now go forth, and be inspired!
Tania Willis  (you are here)
the bonus of this little hop is that May Arts is also treating you to the same inspiration. so, be sure to visit the Little Yellow Bicycle designers' blogs listed above and the May Arts blog for their list and leave a comment at each one for your chance to win gorgeous products to use on your own projects. (psst....LYB is giving away Once Upon a Christmas)

new plan of attack on RA

several of you have asked how my doctor's appointment went and what the new plan is moving forward with this battle against RA and the pain/inflammation that has a stronghold on my body.

i'm in the middle of the worst flare i've had yet. so it's time to grab this bull by the horns and get it under control before it does more permanent damage to my joints.

so, here it is....i have a new medicine added to my fistful of pills. an anti-inflammtory to take twice a day starting just as soon as i pick it up from the pharmacy.

we also decided on Orencia infusions every 4 weeks. in fact, within hours of my appointment, i got the call saying insurance approved the pre-authorization and my first infusion will be december 20. i have to do what's called a loading dose meaning three infusions close together--for this drug--every 2 weeks, but after those three are done i will only get the infusion once every 4 weeks. i'm very excited that it only takes 1 hour and not 2 to 3 like the Remicade did.

only downfall? i won't necessarily notice positive effects from the infusions immediately. bummeroonie.

being a papercrafts designer, where i make my living from the use of my hands, which at times lately is near impossible, i asked what else can i try to alleviate the pain and reduce the swelling. of course, i already knew: wrist splints or hand braces, ice, etc.

BUT...what i'm most excited about is the option to use a compounded ointment. they are having it made for me with 5 different medications compounded together that i can apply to my hands that will help keep me designing with less pain. cant remember the name of it right now. but am looking forward to the day that arrives on my doorstep.  i'm hoping the texture of it doesn't skeeve me out, because i have issues with the way lotions in general feel on my hands. it makes them feel dirty and i don't like the feeling at all. (yes, i weird. i own it.)

advances in medicine are such a beautiful thing. that, and being blessed to have good insurance to be able to take advantage of these treatment options.

so that's that.

thanks for asking, friends.

Gift Giving on A Budget: How to Make Birdseed Ornaments

it's time to put your hands to use to craft thoughtful gifts for family, friends and service workers this holiday season.

gifting something small to your nature-loving friends really couldn’t be easier than these little ornamental birdseed feeders! you can quickly mix up a batch of ornaments in 15 minutes, and craft the adorable feathered friend bird tags to adorn your gift wrap while the ornaments are set aside to dry.
while this craft doesn't take much time at all to pull together, be warned that dry time does take 24 – 48 hours depending on the humidity in your area, so be sure to plan accordingly for that part of the project.

it’s a very economical craft and perfect to give as favors during the holidays or your next celebration. it's also a super easy project for children to assist with. imagine the joy on their faces as they present them to grandparents &/or teachers telling them that they made them. :)

you can learn how to create your own from start to finish, including the gift wrap portion by visiting my tutorial on the Fiskars website: Birdseed Ornaments by Tania Willis

i have RA.

there. i said it.

i have RA.

what's RA, you ask? it's medical abbreviation for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

most of my close friends know this, some of my family knows this, and those that follow my updates on facebook may have caught the mention of it, especially over the past several months as i've been getting infusions of Remicade to battle this disease process.

of course, those of you who have been here to the blog for some time know i've been dealing with chronic pain for many years now. you might even know that they suspected RA after some bloodwork and x-rays were done during a second opinion appointment i had scheduled before committing fully to having a 3-level spinal fusion surgery.

well, they suspect no more. it's official. (has been for a year now)

to be honest, it feels weird that i've always been so willing to talk about medical struggles in hopes to help someone else through. because i really do believe that we are given situations in life to live through them, learn from them, and then share the victories in them--even though sometimes those victories might be hard to find. i can't tell you how many times i've been able to help another mom going through sensory struggles with their child or help them deal with a child with allergies, ear infections, childhood surgeries, etc. makes our experience and struggles worth it knowing we can make someone else's struggle easier to navigate.

but this? it's kinda been the elephant in the room every time i sit down to blog. you may have noticed that my blogging took a huge shift this year as i found myself only blogging about the creative side of my life, holding everything else back. why? i'm not sure exactly. thinking about it now though, i'm pretty sure it's because i've been guarding my spoons closely...and my emotions.

yes, those spoons. the spoons talked about in the essay "The Spoon Theory."

well, guarding spoons AND freaking out.

i wake up in pain, i wake up with stiffness and sometimes i wake up not even able to get out of bed without downing a fistful of medicines first and waiting for them to kick in. so i've guarded my time and energy *ahem* spoon expediture very, very closely this year and because i'm a busy mom who also works part-time outside the home AND freelances full-time from within the home, well, blogging just kinda fell to the bottom of the 'must accomplish' list.

so why am i freaking out along with guarding spoons? well. you see, i'm quite proficient in the use of google to help me find information and have always used it to feed my inquisitive mind....except for researching about rheumatoid arthritis. for some reason, i thought burying my head in the sand would make it all go away. ha. let me tell doesn't quite work that way. (uh, duh, tania)

so, one night, while battling insomnia, instead of looking for information to educate myself on RA (booooooring), i decided to try to find other bloggers, blogging about RA. i was looking for someone to give me humor through the pain. someone to help me know that i'm not the only thirty-something dealing with this level of pain day in and day out.

and i found that. i found, triple that!

i quickly bookmarked them on my kindle and spent the next week reading, and laughing, and crying over entry after entry. these people know exactly how i live and they articulate it so very clearly. awesomesauce.

that's until i realized that two of them hadn't updated in some time. somehow i missed that detail when i first discovered their blogs. it didn't take many clicks through other blogs in the RA community of sufferers to realize why.

complications of RA had taken their life. *insert holy freak-out moments here*

the reality of the disease hit me like a ton of bricks. ever since my mom died unexpectedly at age 50 it's been a sometimes crippling fear of mine.....dying young, that is. anywho. it was then that i got angry at anything and everything. every day i'd tell myself to pull my crap together and add the smile and just keep plugging along.

ever heard the phrase "fake it, until you make it?"  oh, let me tell you. i got good at faking it. real good.

i didn't even let on to my discovery turned disappointment to friends or family, but it didn't feel right to be hiding something that was affecting me so very deeply. so i confessed my heartache to them. explaining how "i am just having a hard time dealing with daily chronic pain and being only 35 years old but feeling like i'm 65. it's ripping me apart leaving a big gaping hole in my soul and affecting every part of my life. depressing, discouraging, blah, blah, blah."

i spent the next several months avoiding blogs about RA altogether, but still can't bring myself to delete them from my reader. someday soon, i'll need that humor again.

anywho. all that to say. this disease is NOT who i am. BUT, it's made me into somebody i don't even recognize somedays.

the reality is, it's my 'new normal'. it's a chronic condition where i know my limitations, but my brain just hasn't caught the memo yet and i often get frustrated with myself because of those limitations. hello, brain. pick up the pace and join me, would ya?

honestly, i just keep teeter-tottering between anger/self-hate/denial and acceptance.

i have bad days. whether that be emotionally or physically.

and that's all it is....just a bad day. i'm learning to realize that a bad day doesn't make me a bad person.

i've struggled with letting myself be vulnerable through this disease. i'm highly aware that there are many eyes watching me and i wouldn't want my shortcomings with this crutch in my life to taint anyone's perception of who i am and what i can and can't do because of my disability.  but i also realize that i am not my own savior and God's grace is a beautiful thing, whether the world decides to bestow grace on me or not.

some days, balancing all my responsibilities feels like i'm trying to balance on a unicycle, peddling with only one foot, while holding a towering stack of fine-china on my head. somehow, it all gets done---sometimes with more pain (and medication) than others. oftentimes with my husband picking up more of the slack than others.  (he's my superhero, always saving the day.)

i'm not ready to give up or give in to grip this disease currently has on my body. if there is one thing that i am, it's STUBBORN...and determined.

like i said, i used to talk a lot about my pain, but have just felt it best to be silent lately. but, as the flares get more intense and the medication changes continue to happen, it's becoming the norm in my life and is making itself clear that it isn't going anywhere any time soon so i might as well start talking about it and letting others see the beauty that can come out of a pile of rubbish.

truth is...i want to blog again, uninhibited by this thing that never got talked about, ya know.

if you've made it this far, bless your heart!  thank you for reading. thank you for encouraging me. thank you for the messages checking on me. and thank you for your prayers.
(painfully swollen RA hands)

i know, that i know, that i know this could be SO very much worse.
  • yes i live in pain all day every day, BUT i can still get out of bed every day.
  • yes the joints in my hands swell up like balloons, BUT i can still use them to make a living.
  • yes i have to use a handicap parking sticker to make shopping trips a little easier, BUT i can still drive myself and shop without a mobility device. 
  • yes, crafting isn't as easy as it used to be, BUT i can still craft. (so very thankful for that!)
  • yes, it feels like my life has taken an unexpected detour, BUT i'm not on permanently disability.
i could go on for days about how much worse i could be, but that doesn't make the reality of the struggle easier.

anywho. many of you that have known about my infusions have offered prayers and entertainment during those times i was sitting through hours of treatment.  i appreciate that. 

after 7 infusions with no problems, i suddenly starting having infusion reactions the last two times i was infused with Remicade, so it's no longer an option. i'm super disapointed because it was giving me my life back in so many ways. so tomorrow's hurdle, when i meet with the Rheumatologist, is to discuss alternative options....primarily to decide between Orencia (infusions) and Humira (injections).

now that i got all that off my chest..........let the mixture of everyday life blogging and creative blogging resume! :)

Silhouette Wood Frame Advent Calendar Limited Edition 2012

i was so excited when the email came through my inbox from Silhouette asking me if i'd like to play with the Silhouette Limited Edition Advent Calendar for 2012. it took me 2 seconds flat to make that decision....i mean, come on. that's a no-brainer! you may remember the one i altered last year--it became quite the popular re-pin on Pinterest. :)

(edited to add: Silhouette has told me that if you enter the code: BLACK at checkout, you'll recieve a 40% discount on your own Wood Frame Advent Calendar. YAY Silhouette!  my readers thank you for that! )

funny enough, i reached for Cosmo Cricket's 2012 Christmas collection (Jolly Days), SRM Stickers, and my Fiskars punches yet again.  what can i say, those companies never disappoint and i really dig their style.
the Silhouette Limited Edition Wood Frame Advent Calendar is such a stylish countdown to Christmas. but, it doesn't only have to be for Christmas.  i can see this being used as a countdown to a trip to Disney, or a birthday or anniversary....or even just to display some of your favorite photos. can't you?
the solid wood frame comes already painted white with wires already attached. you also get a free download card loaded with 20 shapes to help you create your advent calendar. you have full creative control over what this calendar looks like! just use your Silhouette and your favorite paper to customize the calendar in your own style.
this is one of those frames that will be so very useable even after the holidays. i plan on packing the little envelopes away with my Christmas decorations, then repurposing the frame with everyday photos printed from instagram and having it hang in my home all year long.
anywho. i had such a fun time altering it. it's pretty well known that i have a love affair with SRM Stickers. if you didn't know, i used to design for them and they pretty much stocked me up for life with a very generous supply. but, even if i didn't have gobs of these things, i'd be adding them to my shopping basket any chance i could get, i love them that much!  they have stickers for every ocassion and they are clear so they look more like a rub-on. i'll take that over frustrating rub-ons anyday. :)
of course, i also had to get some good use out of my Fiskars punches.  i *adore* the Christmas seasonal punches. i've used them on gobs of projects the last two weeks and i'll be sharing those over the next two weeks with you. my favorite is the snowflake punch on envelope 23. i used it on several envelopes and punched it from glittered cardstock, but the sparkle is hard to relay in photos.

the easiest way to complete one of these projects is to grab a single collection and pull a few sheets of coordinating cardstock and just START.  then treat each envelope individually.  if you look closely, there is nothing stellar about each envelope on it's own. it's the sum of them all together that give this project the wow factor. just repeat colors, repeat embellishments, a little sparkle dispersed randomly in the way of glittered cardstock and adhesive backed rhinestones, some mild distressing, and sticker sentiments.
all in all, this project came together, including time to cut the shapes, in just about 3 hours. and yes, that includes interruptions (always).  really, really, so simple, and makes quite a powerful statement. and what i love most about this year's version is that it only used 3 sheets of cardstock, but still, because of the substantial size of the frame (guessing 18" x 24") it still packs a powerful punch.  compared to last year's version that used 35+ sheets of cardstock. 

psssttt......if you don't already have a Silhouette Cameo, there is a GREAT cyber monday deal at enter the code: SCMN6 to get $70 off instantly! 

and here's clickable links to all the products i've used to create this calendar.

(full disclosure: while i was not paid to create this blog post, just simply provided with the wood frame calendar, this post does contain affiliate links.)