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Monday, May 28, 2012

Is 41 still Forty and Fabulous?

This past week, I didn't feel so "40 and Fabulous..."  I'm beginning to think I need to change the name of my cheesy blog name.

It started on Thursday.  I had made two appointments for the afternoon.  The first one was to see a gastroenterlogy doctor.  The second was to get my haircut and colored at an upscale salon that I won at a fundraiser event.

I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 7 years ago, and it was determined that I was allergic to wheat and gluten.  My life drastically changed from that point on.  Since I have never been on any type of diet my whole life, it was a big life change for me.  I would always tell my friends that I could never be on any type of carb or Akins Diet, since I eat pasta and bread daily.  So, this was really sucky.  After I was officially diagnosed, I cried for days.  I joined a support group for people with Celiac Disease and cried there too.  It was really hard.

Seven years ago when you got diagnosed with Celiac Disease, many people and even doctors didn't even know what to do with someone like me.  I went to the primary doctor that I had at the time, and told him I wanted him to test me for Celiac.  I told him of my symptoms, and he went ahead with the blood test, but told me at the time that he didn't think I had it.  When the test came back borderline, I had to get an endoscopy, which is then they take pictures of your small intestines.  It was then that I was diagnosed, and my primary doctor was again, surprised.  The gastroenterolist I went to told me I have Celiac Disease, and that was about that.  I found that I had to educate myself about my disease, and was really given no guidance.  I found the support group to be very valuable, and Dr. Peter Green, in New York City, mailed me a little book.  In it, were products that were gluten-free.  At this time, the labeling law was not yet in effect, so I had to educate myself on what ingredients could be wheat or gluten.  For example, I never bought anything with "Natural Flavorings," because natural flavorings could have flour in it.  It was so frustrating and it take me months to figure out.  Grocery shopping was stressful.  Eating was no longer fun.  And going out to eat was torture. 

Years later, the labeling law became in effect.  At the bottom of the ingredient list, it will now list if a product contains milk, wheat, eggs or nuts.  I still have to read carefully, because gluten is not included, but it helps a lot.

So, after I became diagnosed, I was finding that my yearly visit to my gastroenterlogist was a waste of time.  I went one year after, and I sat in his office, and he asked me a bunch of questions.  I found that I knew more about Celiac Disease than my doctor.  It was a waste of time and money to go back.  That was 6 years ago.

Now, years after having Celiac, and wondering what it has done to  my body all these years (I believe I have been Celiac since late high school, but was diagnosed with IBS), I made an appointment to see another gastroenterlogist.  This doctor was friendly, knowledgeable, and listened and answered all my questions.  After leaving, I have appointments for a Bone Density Test, a colonoscopy, a endoscopy, and some sort of test on my bowels.  All because I'm over 40.  Yup, because I'm 40 and Fabulous. 

Since I took the afternoon from work off to go to this appointment, I made a hair appointment for 4:00 at an upscale salon that I have never been to.  I won a raffle for a hair cut at this salon, and decided to get my hair colored too.  I'm starting to get lots of gray.  She cut my hair (was an inch really that much, ouch, I should had said half an inch, ooops...) and when she was all done with the hair cut and coloring, she remarked that my grays were not matching to the color.  Basically she said that my grays are hard to color.  Now, I don't know if she just said that because she made a mistake, because I'm thinking all hair colors should cover the gray.  She told me the next time I come to her, she would use this other type of color on me, because THAT would work.  So, my hair is a lighter version of my natural color, but all the gray is still showing.  Because I'm 40 and fabulous and my grays are resilient.  I still have to investigate this, since I don't really believe that any type of color can't color the grays.  Since Thursday, I have been looking at all older people that color their hair, and all their hair is gray-free.  Is there such a thing as grays not being able to color??  I don't think I'll be going back to this hairdresser-  She's a drive away anyway, not anything local.

So, am I still Forty and Fabulous??  My colon and bowels are a mess, and my gray hair supposedly can't be colored.  Yup, not feeling so fabulous this week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Friends Who Inspire

Last weekend, I went to Happenstance, a vintage, jewerly, art and furniture shop in the Art District in Saratoga Springs.  I have been dying to go, since looking at the pictures on Facebook of all Lorine's projects.  Lorine is the owner of the shop.  She is one of the most creative, free spirits I have met in a long time.  Walking into her cozy shop and seeing all of her projects was so awe inspiring.  Lorine finds old pieces of furniture, and re-creates these pieces.  Gracing the floors of her shop were  many benches with colorful fabrics, cabinets, and even a gossip chair.  I left her shop, purchasing a new bench for my newly remodeled living room, a creative wall planter that is hanging on  my outside fence, earrings, and a handmade fabric crayone holder t hat I bought my daughter, who was patiently waiting for me as I chatted with Lorine, and talking to myself about what I wanted to buy.  I drove  home, inspired by her bravery to do what she loves to do.  She had a vibrant energy, while showing me all of her projects.  She is at peace and happy with what she is doing.  That's inspiring.

I'm inspired by other friends:  Joanna, who owns Lipstick and Lashes, an award-winning make-up studio, that also includes a hair salon.  I visit Joanna's shop to get my kids their hair cut, my eyebrows waxing, and soon, my sister's wedding (we have Joanna doing our make-up)  She took a risk several years ago, by opening up her own business.  She is my hero too.  She is one of the sweetest people I know.

My friend, Meaghan and her husband, Kevin, own and operate The Whistling Tea Kettle.  It is one of the most beloved restaurants in the area, and it's just a good place to relax and eat.  I love that I have watched their business soar to the sky since they first opened up when I first met them.  And, I also love that they work hard on their gluten-free menu and sometimes I get to be their taster for new products!!   It's a special place.  An unique place.  One that Meaghan and Kevin envisoned, and through hard work, their restaurant has become a major destination to our small village. 

All of these friends really inspire me.  They are brave, creative, strong, smart women.  Someday, I hope to follow in their footsteps, and release this creative, business-side part of me.  We all have some passions and talents that we enjoy doing, but when do we just say to ourselves, "OK, it's time to do this now."  Time to follow our dreams?  These friends of mine are NOW people- they acted on their dreams and just did it.  It wasn't easy, and while it might had taken years for them to decide to be NOW decision makers, they got to a point in their lives where NOW would be NOW.  I love that about them all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

33 years old

In our first home, in Vancouver
In today Sunday's  Times Union, there's an article about how, at the age of 33, it is supposed to be the best year of your life.  There's even a study to back it up.  So, it made me think of when I was 33 years old, was I thinking that?

At 33, I was married with a one year old.  We were living in Vancouver, Washington, very happy and content.  I turned 33 in October, and so 33 started off in a happy, "on the right track" sort of way.  In November of that year, we were faced with another major life decision.  My husband Tim was facing lay-offs at his semi-conductor plant, and the field was going through a major recession in 2003.  It was around this time that Tim decided to look for another job.  It was also at this time that I was looking at leaving the classroom, and pursuing a Reading Recovery job.  My friend Jen was also pursuing the same job in my district, and we thought it would be fun to go through the classes.  It is a very rigorous training, and our district actually trained teachers.  I decided to apply for one of the few Reading Recovery positions, and had an interview right around November.  It was a dream job;  I would be learning how to teach Reading to kids in this very specific way.

In front of our Vancouver home

In December, I remember going to my work Christmas party.  One of the teachers I worked with owned a pub with her husband, and the party was at this very informal and fun townie bar.  I remember dancing and drinking.  Another one of my teacher friend's noticed I was drinking and said, "Oh, you're not pregnant."  "Nope," I yelled back, as I probably was on my 5th drink.  I remember we left our son, Riley, with a babysitter that night.  It was the first time we left him with a teenage babysitter, and not my friend Cindy.

Well, later that month, I found out I WAS pregnant, so I WAS drinking and pregnant.  I became pregnant with Maggie at 33.

Around January, Tim and I decided that if I was offered the Reading Recovery job, we would stay in Vancouver.  Tim was interviewing for a job in our hometown, and our interviews were days apart.  Days apart, we were both offered new jobs.  I decided that we should move back to New York.  It was a major decision.  We were both very happy living in the Pacific Northwest.  But with Riley and another baby on the way, I thought living near family was more important, and Tim really wanted to move back to Saratoga.  At the time, I thought I had to follow what my husband wanted, and his job career, since he was the breadwinner.  Many times, I often wonder how life would had gone, if we didn't move.  It's hard not to look in the past, so I try not to.  But, I miss my colleagues and my old district- It was the best place to work.
I hated our furniture in that apartment- we were always on the floor

So, we moved in February, during the February break.  It was very stressful.

We found an apartment to rent in downtown Saratoga while we were shopping for a house.  The apartment was furnished, and it was the most uncomfortable furniture, considering I was pregnant.  But I loved walking the streets in downtown and getting to know my hometown once again.

Living near family and old friends was an adjustment.  I had been away for almost six years, and in these years, I changed a lot.  It really was a struggle for me to feel at home.  The saying, "Once you move away, you can't come back," held true for me.  I felt like I didn't belong.  I went through some depression and bad moods.

Before we moved to New York, we had booked a Mexican cruise in Western Mexico.  In April, we left Riley at my parent's, and flew to California to board our cruise.  It was a lot of traveling, a lot of time zones.  And I was almost 6 months pregnant (not planned to be pregnant on this trip).  I remember sleeping a lot on that cruise.  I felt so relaxed with Tim, and when I returned, I felt a lot better about life.

In April, we finally bought the house we are living in now:  a 1906 Victorian house in the village of Ballston Spa.  It was a total fixer upper.  Now, 8 years later, our house is finally received many of the renovations that we planned.  Tim has been working so hard in making our house what it is today.
Our house, before we bought it.  Looks so different!

Tim and Toga at our house, before move-in
Tim was working a swingshift at this time, and during all of his free time and weekends, he was traveling to the house to fix it up.  We were still renting our apartment until the end of July, so Tim could get the house ready.  Those first couple of months, he worked on painting, taking wall paper off, ripping carpet, redoing the wooden floors, and getting new carpet upstairs.  He did a lot of work.  It was hard for me, because he was never with us.  I felt like a single mom.  And, I was HUGE.  Maggie's due date was August 13th, and I was going to have a C-section, since the doctors estimated her to be 12 pounds.  I remember not being able to move or walk because I was so  huge.  And Riley was turning 2, and was active.

We finally moved into our house weeks before Maggie was born.  It was a relief  to have our furniture from our old house.

Maggie was born on Friday, August 13th at 9 pounds, 13ounces.  I remember feeling so much love and so relaxed being her mom.  With  Riley, I was nervous and never sure of what I was doing.

Maggie, a couple days old.
In our new house, weeks after Maggie's birth
Shortly after Maggie's birth, my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Shortly after that, my Grandma was diagnosed with colon cancer.  And then I turned 34.

So, I have to say, that 33 was an important year, since it marks the year I moved back to New York and when Maggie was born.  Was it my best year?  No.

My favorite years would have to be any of my college  years.  Life was so easy then.  Sure, I made the dumbest choices and wasn't too bright about decisions, but I grew confident in college and made lots of friends.  Life was good.

I also liked when I was 30.  We just moved to Portland, Oregon, and we had an apartment in downtown Portland.  I loved walking the streets of Portland, discovering the districts and being a city girl.

And of course, I loved 40, since I was living in Europe and discovered the world, myself and we grew tight as a family.

I can't say that any age I went through was bad...I think all the "bad" things that have happened to me have made me who I am today.  I appreciate things more.  I am wiser.

Age 33...hmmm.....can't say it was.  But it was an important year.
Riley, right before his 2nd birthday.