Bring on the finishes in 2017!

Ok guys, I’m excited. I’ve got several finishes to share with you. We’ll do them one at a time to make me feel more accomplished ūüôā

My first baby quilt of the year is for my friend Carolyn. She worked with me in Boston, and I miss her dearly. She’s also Mila’s godmother. She (not so) recently had a baby girl. I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back to Boston in the soon¬†so I can meet her little girl in person!

I made a¬†simple 4 inch square quilt… always a favorite of mine. I bought a fat quarter pack and then added a few other prints from my stash. I put a pink and white polka dot flannel on the back. So snuggly.

I have been wanting to do zigzag binding, but hadn’t done it because I really enjoy hand stitching. However, this quilt was the perfect opportunity to try it out since I was so behind- and I’m a total converter. I LOVE how it looks.

I also got new labels from¬†etsy. I put the label on the front corner (but I don’t love it there so you’ll see I put it on the back of my next quilt). I also think it should be a little bigger- thoughts?

-Erica

N-Acetylcysteine and Lupus

Despite my New Year’s Resolutions, my lupus has been more active lately.¬†I’ve been feeling very fatigued (although it’s hard to determine how much is due to being a working mama and how much is due to lupus). I’ve also had mouth sores, pericarditis and joint pains. My blood tests confirmed my suspicions and when I saw my rheumatologist she changed my medications and took me off of work for a week to rest. In addition to the plaquenil (which I always take) and the imuran, she added N-Acetylcysteine, otherwise known as NAC.

When I was in residency I remember using this to treat acetaminophen (tylenol) overdoses and also giving it to patients to protect their kidneys from contrast dye given with CT scans (although I don’t know if this has proven to actually be protective).

There was a small study published in 2012 where lupus patients treated with NAC had decreased disease activity and decreased fatigue after 3 months of treatment with 2.4-4.8g per day (um, that means I’m taking 8 pills a day!). There’s a larger, longer trial underway right now. I’m personally about 3 weeks into my own personal trial. So far I haven’t felt that much different, but it looks like it takes a few months to start to see the difference. So, I’ll keep you posted, fingers crossed!

– Erica

Love You To The Moon And Back

Yes! I have my first finish of 2017! And it’s only the 15th. ūüôā When we moved into our new place we got some awesome picture frames from Room and Board. I’ve been trying to figure out what to put in them and when I saw this cross stitch pattern I knew it had to go in one of them. ¬†I had a lot of fun working on it- in fact, the majority of it was done while sitting outside watching the kids ride up and down the block on their bikes and scooters.

There are 3 frames (yellow, green and orange) and they can be oriented in different directions.

I’m trying to figure out if I should make cross stitch patterns for the other two frames or if I should do something else, ideas?

-Erica

2017: Helping Lupus Through Healthy Lifestyle

It’s officially 2017: My house is quiet (which is a rare occurrence when living with a 2 year old and a 3 year old), and I’m enjoying ringing in the new year under a very cozy quilt. In fact, it’s the first quilt I ever made (circa junior high in the early 1990’s).

Thinking back on this past year, I realize it was a year filled with several endings and new beginnings. Some intentional and wanted, and others, not so much.

  • The most obvious was leaving Los Angeles and moving to Orange County. This was bittersweet as Jake and I started our married life in Los Angeles, and actually, started our life as a family there as well. We lived in a beautiful little neighborhood and loved that our area was actually walkable (which is rare in Los Angeles). However, things were just getting increasingly complicated as the kids started to grow, and our two bedroom unit was shrinking on us. We couldn’t commit to buying in a location that gave us more space but locked us into long commutes, so, in the end, we jumped ship. I had formed several close relationships with colleagues and quilting friends and it was hard to leave that behind. But luckily, I’m blessed with new, fun colleagues and a very social neighborhood with lots of families with young kids like us. Teegan has learned how to open the door by himself and has been known to run out of the house down the sidewalk to look for his friends.
  • The second major change for me is accepting that we are going to be a two kid family. It almost feels selfish to say that I’m sad we won’t be having anymore children (when we are completely blessed with two little miracles), but I can’t help but mourn the loss. We always wanted a third and were planning on another, but as I recovered from the first two pregnancies it started to sink in how sick I had actually been. I was hospitalized with both, had preterm labor with both, was on super high doses of medications causing me to have gestational diabetes and a tibial fracture. And thank goodness, my kidneys hung in through both. This past year I had another¬†miscarriage and almost immediately my blood sugars were in the diabetic range which was shocking to me since I wasn’t even on steroids at the time. So, after some real soul searching we ¬†decided it’s too risky for my health to carry another baby, so we’ve officially decided not to try/have another. ¬†I know it’s the right choice because I need to be healthy for my two magical children (and amazing husband), but it’s still hard to close this chapter.
  • But that leads me to the beginning of the next chapter, the one that 2017 is about: my health.
    • I’ve learned that stress directly affects my lupus symptoms (and lab values), so focusing on decreasing my stress is vital to my health. Not all people have such an obvious barometer of their stress levels. My biggest “de-stressor” is sewing. So, there are two things that I am doing to promote this: 1) just sewing (aka the house doesn’t have to be clean and I don’t have to cross everything off my to-do list first– because let’s face it, I live with a 2 and 3 year old, so that’s an impossible feat), and 2) I moved the sewing machine out of the office and into our bedroom because it’s my favorite room to be in, and it’s cozy. I don’t care if it’s weird to have a sewing table in your bedroom.
    • I also know that I’m clearly prone to becoming diabetic at some point in my life– two bouts of gestational diabetes definitely tells me that the odds are stacked against me. I used to exercise regularly, and loved it, but since kids it’s literally been nonexistent. So, it’s time to get back into it. I also have 3 vertebral compression fractures that occasionally cause me some pain so I’m starting by becoming engaged in my physical therapy program and walking. Nothing earth shattering, but regular and non-stressful. Plus, I’ve discovered audio books and so walking becomes extra amazing.
    • And the last thing to really promote my health and wellbeing is to consistently eat clean. By this I mean¬†a low inflammatory diet– no processed foods, no added sugars. I also avoid dairy and meat because they are known to be inflammatory in auto-immune diseases. I have a lot of food allergies which complicate things for me, so this also involves spending time¬†researching¬†and planning what will be best for me.

So, I’m excited to show you my new sewing finishes and update you on how thing are going. I only have one measly finish in 2016. I’m hoping for maybe 12 this year???

What are your new years resolutions?

-erica

 

I couldn’t resist a cute photo of the fam. Teegan is mad-dogging the camera and he normally smiles ALL the time.

My Birthday Reminder System

 

I’m going to be doing a whole series of posts on organization, because, well…. I love being organized. If things aren’t orderly I can’t think clearly.

A few years ago Jake and I found ourself missing our friend’s and family’s birthdays. We wouldn’t remember until the day of, which is just too late if you have to send something by mail. Not to mention it just feels chaotic– and I like order.

I am a believer in setting up systems and automating things so that I don’t have to try and remember myself. Because, as far as birthdays go, that had already proven to not be working for me. I started to think about what I needed to make this work– and I realized that being reminded on the day of the¬†birthday would not be enough because on a busy day getting out to buy a card is usually not possible and then having it arrive that same day in the mail is completely impossible. So, I decided I wanted to be reminded of the birthday one week in advance to give me time to drop the card in the mail and then I wanted a second reminder on the actual birthday so that I could contact the birthday person personally. And after thinking about it even more, I decided one week was not enough to actually go out and buy a card and drop it in the mail (hello LA traffic!), so I decided I needed to buy all of my birthday cards at the beginning of the year.

So, this is how my system works:

1. I started by gathering all of the important birthdays of friends and family (specifically the ones I want to contact, send cards or send gifts). I have now included important anniversary dates of family members and even a few holidays (such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day).

2. I entered all the birthdays into iCal with an email reminder to send me an email 1 week before the event and again on the day of the event.

3. For the actual birthday cards, I went to Target and bought an expandable file with 12 pockets. I labeled each pocket with the month of the year and at the beginning of the year I put everyone’s birthday card in their respective month. I actually like to pick up random cute birthday cards during the year when I see them and just put them in a separate box, so sometimes I am almost done with birthday card shopping when the first of the year rolls around (it also helps prevent me from buying one cute card en masse and giving it to everyone when there isn’t a great selection).

4. So now, when I get the birthday reminder email I’m all set to go! I just go to my expandable file and take out the card and drop it in the mail. Voila, birthday cards are arriving on time! Also, if I need to give a gift, I’ve got a good 7 days to get out of my house and get something (or 2 days if I do Amazon Prime).

With a little up front organization, this has made birthdays much less stressful throughout the year. And I don’t have to buy belated birthday cards anymore!

– Erica

ps. When I see something that I notice would be a good gift for someone I add it to a list I keep on my phone. That way, when their birthday or Christmas arrives I already have a several gift ideas. This definitely decreases the stress at holiday time and ensures I buy gifts that feel more personable.

 

A Frozen Family

I’m coming back to the blogging world! Things have finally settled down and over the next few posts I’ll update you on all of our exciting changes.

We’ll start with Halloween 2016.

We’ve developed a lot of routines in our family. It’s good for the littles (and for the grownups too). Every Friday night we make homemade pizza and watch a movie, nicely dubbed “Friday Pizza Movie Night”. ¬†The littles have only seen a few movies (Frozen, Sofia the First, and Little Bear) and the repetition doesn’t seem to bother anyone. By far, Frozen is the most watched of the three and Mila’s favorite character is Anna. So, naturally, when we started discussing Halloween costumes, she wanted to be Anna. And then very quickly decided that I should be Elsa, Jake should be Kristoff and Teegan should be Olaf. And that’s how our Frozen Family was born.

Childs Frozen Family

I’ve always had this dream of making homemade Halloween costumes for the kiddos, but reality makes that a bit unrealistic. I found Olaf, Anna and Elsa but couldn’t find a decent Kristoff costume. And surprisingly there aren’t any patterns for Kristoff costumes so I was forced to bring back some of my clothing sewing skills. ¬†I went to JoAnn Fabrics and bought some grey felt, fur trim and embroidery ribbon. ¬†And voila!

SMTD_Kristoff

Jake bought a wig and beanie hat online to complete the costume. I think I’m allergic to either the felt or the fur so after completing the costume it’s now been banished to the garage.

We met up with our neighbors (more to come about the big move we had this year) and went trick-or-treating together. Mila literally could not have run any faster from house to house, it was adorable.

SMTD_SolVistaKids

When we got home the kids opened all their candy and luckily for us they didn’t like much (or really any) of it. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the “candy graveyard” where they discarded all the pieces they didn’t like.

(In case you’re wondering how we make our pizza on¬†Friday Pizza Movie Night):¬†A¬†few years ago we started making homemade bread, and we consistently still always make our own homemade pizza dough using the recipe in this book. It’s SO easy and it is better than any other pizza dough we’ve had (including restaurants). The kids eat cheese pizza but I make a black bean olive pizza, so yummy. We use this dough whisk and this plastic tub. ¬†Seriously, try it.

-Erica

Yes, I’ve been MIA

Mila moved into a toddler bed and Teegan is mobile!

I know I’ve been MIA from here…. and I miss it. And I also really miss sewing — it just hasn’t happened. ¬†It’s hard to find balance when you are working full time. ¬†When I’m finally home with my family I don’t want to take any time away from the littles. And since we only have two bedrooms, Teegan takes his afternoon nap in our bedroom, which also happens to be where my sewing stuff is. ¬†And at night, after bedtime, well, let’s just say….. it’s usually my bedtime too.

It’s been about 9 months since I broke my leg and things are healing. It only bothers me once and awhile, and not enough to warrant much attention. I’m looking forward to figuring out how to add running back into my schedule (ha!).

I’m off all of the immunosuppressants for lupus and am only taking plaquenil (which I will take lifelong because it’s proven to protect the kidneys, I call it “Vitamin P”). ¬†And I don’t have any active lupus symptoms at this time- no cystitis, pericarditis, oral ulcers….. YAY!

AND my blood sugars finally returned to normal, which is so awesome. I was (self-admittedly) overly worried about it which was making me stressed out.

Mila hasn’t been eating well and has been complaining about tummy aches, so we are working with the doctors to try and figure out what is going on. And Teegan is delayed in some milestones, but he was born three weeks early, so I’m trying to not get too stressed out yet. But, I wouldn’t mind a few prayers for the littles and for me to stay strong.

So, that’s whats been going on around here. Hopefully I won’t continue to be such a stranger.

xo, Erica

 

 

Six Months!

It’s hard to believe that Teegan is already six months old. Everything has gone so incredibly fast this time. He’s not a little baby anymore! Teegan has such an easy going personality. He just wants someone to look at him so he can smile back. He definitely is a second child and unfortuntely is frequently waiting for attention becuase Mila tends to hog the limelight…

He just started sitting up for a few seconds at a time!

He just started sitting up for a few seconds at a time!

He had a lot of projectile spit up when he was first born. In fact, the first few weeks he would almost stop breathing because his spit up would come out of his nose and he couldn’t breathe. It was pretty scary. The ENT doctor scoped him and he was diagnosed with acid reflux. We recently switched to omeprazole and he is so much better. He eyes don’t water and he¬†doesn’t arch his back like he used to when he would get a bout of reflux. He’s also gobbling down his bottles voraciously and his growth has taken off.¬† This week we started some oatmeal cereal, which he devours. He’s not so sure about the pureed carrots or avocados yet…

I also can’t believe this is my 7th week back at work. I was really nervous for the transition this time, but it’s amazingly gone really well. I am working full time but am hopeful sometime in the next year I will go down to part time (2 full days, 3 half days). Being back has been really nice in unexpected ways. My patients are really happy to have me back and they are excited for my family. With everything that happend during and after my pregnancy, I also gained more experience and empathy about what it feels like to be a patient and have unknowns and fears about your health– which¬†definitely makes me a better doctor.

So now we’re just enjoying life as a family of four. I have my “parejita” (little pair) as my patients like to say.

-Erica

 

 

 

Knit Breastfeeding Poncho Tutorial

NursingPoncho1

When Mila was born I made my own traditional nursing cover, and¬†I was also given a nice one as a gift. However, in practice, these nursing covers posed many challenges- if Mila wiggled or if it was windy the cover would move and expose me. And let’s not forget that it didn’t cover my back, so if I was wearing a top that I had to lift, then I would expose my back to everyone. And have you seen what a cotton nursing cover looks like after it has been stuffed in a diaper bag for a few weeks/months? Just a little wrinkly….

Before Teegan was born, I  ran across several different variations of nursing ponchos made out of jersey knit on Etsy and I instantly fell in love.

Nursing with Mila was never easy because I didn’t make a lot of milk (because of¬†lupus), but I managed to breastfeed her until she was 10 months old and I found out I was pregnant with Teegan. Unfortunately, when Teegan was born, my lupus was much more active and my body was in general a lot sicker, and I didn’t make any milk AT ALL. I pumped and pumped and cried and cried, but eventually realized that it wasn’t going to happen. Teegan wouldn’t even be here if I hadn’t taken so many medications to keep my lupus controlled, and so, it wasn’t that surprising that my body was tired and just couldn’t do anymore. And then when I broke my leg I realized it might have been a blessing in surprise because my body needed the calcium to heal.

I’ve been able to gift some of my breastfeeding ponchos to friends who recently had babies. And you never know, maybe I’ll get to use one if we have a #3 someday.

Look at that precious baby!

Look at that precious baby!

So, here’s how I made my new nursing poncho:

Most jersey/knit fabric is 57-62 inches wide (as compared to your standard quilting fabric that is 44 inches wide), which makes it about 30 inches wide when folded selvedge to selvedge. ¬†I recommend getting a lighter weight jersey, especially if you live in a warm climate, because your baby may be under this material for a considerable amount of time while nursing and we don’t want him to overheat.

1. Buy 1 yard of your favorite jersey/knit material.

2. Lay out your yard of jersey material on the floor folded right sides together, with selvedge edge to selvedge edge. The cut sides should be about 30 inches and the folded side should be 36 inches.

3. For an average/tall size woman, cut your jersey at 31 inches (if you are petite I would recommend cutting it around 29 inches, but remember you can always go shorter- you can’t go longer).

NursingCover14. On the right side mark 15 inches up from the folded edge and place a pin. Continue to pin the material together from this mark out to the selvedges.

NursingCover25. Sew a 1/2 inch seam where you have placed your pins (from the selvedge edge to your 15 inch mark). Turn the poncho right side out and you have a nursing cover that stays put!

YES, there is only one seam to sew to make this poncho! And because of the nature of jersey you don’t have to finish the other seams. This might be one of the easiest things you ever make.

HAPPY NURSING!

– Erica

 

Too Fast

I was recently reminded of how long it had been since I blogged, so this is a little update of what’s been going on!

Time is going way too fast. I can’t believe my maternity leave is coming to an end. Teegan just turned four months and he has dramatically changed in the past few weeks. He’s grabbing at everything, kicking up a storm in his baths, and even belly laughing! This is the time when things really start to get fun. Don’t get me wrong- he was a cute newborn- but it’s so exciting to start to see his personality and see his different moods!

Teegan

Unfortunately he hasn’t really mastered the sleeping through the night thing but I’m hoping he will magically figure it out since I’m going back to work, right??

My sister, niece and my mom recently came out for spring break. It has been spring all winter long here in LA, but it was a big change for them. We had lots of adventures including the LA Zoo (one of my favorite places), Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, the Science Museum at Exposition Park and a beach day in Malibu. It was really fun to see Mila interact with her older cousin.

The carousel at the Los Angeles Zoo

The carousel at the Los Angeles Zoo

Aquarium1

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

 

Petting the sharks at the Aquarium

Petting the sharks at the Aquarium

Cousins

Feeding Teegan

Feeding Teegan

Malibu Pier

The Science Museum at Exposition Park

The Science Museum at Exposition Park

My leg is better. I still get some pain if I do the elliptical (so I’ve put it on hold for now) but otherwise can pretty much walk as much as I want. I haven’t dared to try running again yet. I think that will be a ways off.

My fasting blood sugars are improved but some of my post meal sugars are still a little high if I’m not really careful about carbohydrates. I’m trying to stay hopeful that things may still improve over time.

My lupus is still more active than baseline but seems to be settling down. I think as time goes on this will keep getting better.

I’ve made a few things but haven’t seemed to get my act together to take pictures of them— so that’s my goal before I go back to work!

And here’s my little family of four….

LB_Family

– Erica