>Hi everyone – hope it has been a great week. For me – busy as usual. Here’s what’s been on my mind:

1. MAC! After much anticipation, my MacBook Pro arrived!! I’m in love! I can’t believe how easy it was to set up (thank you hubby!) I had my software loaded and was already using it within minutes. The thing I love most is how quickly it starts up and loads programs. The old computer took forever. In the morning, I would have to turn it on – go make coffee – then come back click the icon to login – fix breakfast – then come back & click the firefox icon – go pour my coffee – and maybe then it would be ready. I also love the back lit keyboard & the fact that I didn’t have to wait for it to search for drivers when I plugged my printer into it for the first time. I just started printing (imagine that!) I did have to get used to the smaller screen (I went from a 15” to a 13”) but it is so easy to zoom with just a finger swipe, that I don’t even miss it anymore. I do have some keyboard complaints though – if anyone knows a solution, I will be forever grateful:
-First – how do you delete forward? On my PC, there were two options – the ‘backspace’ key deleted backwards & the ‘delete’ key deleted forwards. The Mac only has a ‘delete’ key & it deletes backwards only. Totally keeps messing me up!
-Second – how do you select a block of files? On my PC you clicked on the first file, then clicked+shift on the last file & all the files in between were selected. Cannot figure this out on the Mac.
I will say, that my two complaints are not deal breakers – definitely much happier with my Mac. Now if it lasts more than 2 years, I will be thrilled!

2. Waiting I feel like I wasted a lot of time this week waiting aound. Waiting at the dentist (again), waiting at the pediatrician’s office, waiting at my doctor’s office, waiting at the pharmacy… do you see a trend here? Well, just so you don’t think I have it out for the health profession, I also spent time waiting for the roofer to come, but I refuse to speak poorly about him since he promised to make it stop raining in my house.

3. Cats I have two & they are both old (17 & 18). The 18 year old (my little black kitty), is not doing well. She has thyroid issues and when I took her to the vet, her heart and kidneys were not healthy. She was emaciated at only 4lbs. We decided to try some medication. After just two weeks, I am so happy to announce that she has gained .6 of a lb, and her heart rate and kidney levels are back to normal. I realize that she is at the end of her lifespan, but it is just so hard letting go. I have had her since she was 4 weeks old. She was abandoned and I had to bottle feed her until she was big enough to eat food. We have been through a lot together. She goes back in two weeks for another checkup.

4. Book Update Another exciting week. My cover designer presented me with some rough comps based on the drawings that I had done myself (old cover). All I can say is WOW – she really nailed it. While my picture was cute, it definitely looked amateurish. We had a great conference call and things are moving along as scheduled for a July release date. Thank you Deana at BookStarter for bringing my vision to life (& no you cannot see the drafts….)

5. Having a Teen I have written a lot on this subject over the past few weeks. Somehow, with the blink of an eye, my first-born became a teen; leaving me – the mom who always felt somewhat confident about how to parent my young children, without a clue. Suddenly there were attitudes, cellphones, needs for independence & girlfriends (yikes!). Last night, in my attempt to adjust to having a teen, I let him walk (with a friend) to a carnival after dinner to meet some other friends (including above mentioned *gulp* girlfriend.) The carnival wasn’t far, but it was on a main road and it was at night. He had his phone, some money and his friends. I told him to be home by 8:30, as I did not want him walking home in the dark. It turned out all his other friends were allowed to stay out until 9:00. I was expecting an argument, but instead he just said, “OK.” He followed instructions and came home safely exactly at 8:30. Maybe this won’t be so difficult after all… yeah right!

One other thing I’ve been thinking about – the storms and tornadoes. Please keep all those affected in your thoughts and hearts. If you are able to help, The Red Cross is one of many organizations collecting donations. Thanks!

Hope everyone has a great weekend – see you next week (& hopefully sooner!)

Karen

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5 years ago, I knew what it felt like to have enough energy to take my kids to the park. I knew what if felt like to be able to play with my kids on the floor. I knew what it felt like to be able to move freely. 5 years ago, I knew what it felt like to be pain-free.

When my doctor first told me I had arthritis, I thought she was mistaken. Arthritis was for old people. I was only in my thirties. My pain was from overdoing it at tennis. I just wanted a referral for some physical therapy so I could be on my way.

She explained to me that I had “rheumatoid arthritis” or RA, a disease that is blind to age. RA is an autoimmune disease. Essentially, your body’s immune system believes your joints are “bad” & tries to destroy them. In addition, like most auto-immune diseases, RA causes exhaustion. Not just, ‘I’m tired because I need to sleep better at night exhaustion’ – I’m talking about ‘unable to function at 1:00 in the afternoon exhaustion.’

Over the last 3 years, I have tried more drugs then I can remember. I’ve had allergic reactions,  hair loss, weight gain, headaches, nausea, bruises, broken bones, fevers, insomnia and multiple infections. I’ve had to give myself weekly injections, go through regular blood draws to make sure my liver is functioning and deal with monthly IVs.

The drugs unfortunately, work by suppressing my immune system. I have had to keep myself as isolated as possible from anyone who appears sick, so as not to get sick myself. Not an easy task with my little one in preschool! I’ve had to stop and restart treatment several times now due to illness. If I am not able to stay on the drugs, I will soon be out of treatment options.

For the second year now, my amazing husband John, is running the Arthritis Foundation’s 5K Jingle Bell Run this December; not just for me, but for the millions of adults and children who suffer from this debilitating disease every day.

Like many diseases, there have been great strides made in research, but no cure. Last year, thanks to the generosity of our family & friends we raised over $500. This year, we want to raise even more.

If you would like to help “Team Toz” this year either by running/walking with Team Toz, or with a donation, check out our team web page. We thank you so much for your support!!

Team Toz’s Home Page – Malvern – Dec 12
Team Toz’s Home Page – Newtown – Dec 11

Also – if you would like to understand the story behind the “spoons” & get a glimpse into ‘a day in the life of ‘ check out this article – a must read if you or someone you care about suffers from a chronic disease.

The Spoon Theory

>After finishing my Project Linus blanket, I came to the realization that knitting and arthritis were an impossible fit. It saddened me that I was no longer able to knit, especially because I felt such a strong connection to Project Linus, and wanted to keep contributing to this awesome cause. Knitting had been a big part of my life for so many years; it was difficult for me to admit defeat. My other unfinished projects, that I started “pre-RA” would have to remain unfinished.

This past summer, as I have for the past three summers, I welcomed an Occupational Therapy student into my home to observe and offer adaptations to help me with my daily tasks. We began talking about how I miss knitting and she immediately became excited and said, “I’ll teach you how to crochet! It is so much easier on your hands!”

“Won’t happen,” I immediately replied. My grandmother had tried and failed to teach me more times than I could count. I never understood it, I could knit elaborate sweaters with my eyes closed, but when it came to crochet, I never made it past a single chain. I always blamed it on the fact that I was left-handed. Plus, how could I possibly crochet? That needle was even smaller than knitting needles. Surely, my hands would not be able to handle that sort of grip.

The next week, my student showed up with crochet needles and yarn. She showed me the basic chain stitch, which I had easily mastered many times. She then tried to explain the ‘single crochet’. As expected, when I tried the pull through the stitch, the entire chain came off the needle. It was hopeless. She patiently explained it again, showing me how to hold my work with one hand, while my pulling the needle through with my other hand. Something so simple, that I had never thought of, because in knitting you don’t hold your work, you hold the needles. We moved on to the ‘double crochet’ & everything started making sense.

I know that for those of you who do not knit or crochet, I have completely lost you…. The point is, that someone finally taught me how to crochet and I love it!!! Not only that, the grip is completely different and so much easier on my hands. Thank you Leslie!

I had planned on jumping right into a blanket for Project Linus, when my friend Kris posted on Facebook about an organization called ‘Operation Gratitude.’ They were looking for people to knit or crochet scarves to send in military care packages overseas. I knew immediately I had to crochet a scarf for the people who risk their lives every day to protect my family and my country.


I’m not going to lie… I started my scarf over three times. It took me a while to get the hang of where the row started & ended (again, something I never had to think about with knitting.) But once I finally figured it all out, there was no stopping me. I was able to crochet, virtually pain free for 20 minutes or longer every night until I finished just last week.

I’m now working on a second scarf and plan to alternate between blankets and scarves to donate for as long as my hands will allow.

If you’d like to learn more about the carepackages sent to our service men and women, visit www.operationgratitude.com

>Crafts for A Cause

September 13, 2010

>Helping others is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. In the book I am writing, the main character devotes her time to promoting literacy through charity work. Everyday, there are opportunities available for each of us to perform our own Mitzvah. As we enter the holiday season, please keep in mind those in need, as well as those who sacrifice their own lives to protect us.

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My Grandmother could knit an entire sweater in a single day. We used to visit with my Grandmother every Sunday. She had a closet at the front of her small apartment with games to keep my brother and I from getting bored, but I was always more interested in what she was making – an afghan, a scarf, clothes for my dolls. There was always something interesting in the works.

Finally, when I was in fourth grade, my Grandmother gave me my first set of knitting needles. They were metallic pink. I remember her patiently showing me how to form the stitches, one after another. She wanted me to start with something simple, I insisted on making a sweater. Knitting quickly became my favorite hobby. In my attic, lie bags of sweaters I have made over the years; they are tattered, stained, and no longer in style, yet I cannot seem to part with them.

Shortly after my youngest son was born, he came down with meningitis and was hospitalized for nearly two weeks. Those days were some of the worst I have experienced to date. A couple of days into our stay, a nurse brought us two beautiful baby blankets, hand-crafted and donated by an organization called “Project Linus.”

I was so touched that people I never met would take the time to quilt, knit and crochet these beautiful blankets to brighten up a child’s stark hospital room. I knew it was time to put my knitting skills to good use.

Unfortunately, my arthritic hands were not so willing, and I was only able to knit in 10- minute increments every few weeks, sometimes months. Nevertheless, I was determined, and eventually, I did finally finish my blanket for “Project Linus.”

It may not seem like much, but the blankets we received in the hospital were truly a sign of hope for us. I knew from the moment we received them, I needed to pay it forward .

If you are interested in learning more about Project Linus, please visit their website http://www.projectlinus.org/ Even a few minutes a day can make a difference!

Watch for part 2 on this topic later this week & as promised an excerpt from my book!!