Thursday, April 24, 2014

Save A Spoon! Tips for Parents

The Pillow Fort is an awesome
community for young people suffering
from chronic illness!
Parenting with chronic illness is the single most challenging undertaking of my life. I often want to give up... but my sons smiles, laughter, joy, and love have become my medicine. He exhausts me, but he is also what keeps me going. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... I didn't understand the true meaning of this word until I actually believed I would die from the direct effects of being a spoonie mom. Now, I am stronger than I ever was during my "healthy" period of life, and I know that if I believe in myself, I can do ANYTHING! 

However, I'm well aware of my limitations, and will do anything to save just a little bit of energy! In this post, I've compiled things you can do to reduce the tremendous toll that parenting takes on energy and pain levels, so you can save some "spoons" for later! 


Train your kids to help out around the house! If they can walk, they can help.  At first, it might take extra energy to teach them, but your patience will pay off in spoonie spades in the long run! Here are some ways younger kids can provide real help around the house:

Laundry. My son started helping me transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer when he was 2.  Now that he is almost 4, he knows how to sort lights and darks [we set up 3 baskets, and play laundry "basketball" to sort! He loves it].  He also knows how to fold towels and match socks.  He also puts his own clothes away! 

Dishes. Kids over age 3 can hand you dishes from dishwasher, and even put things away, like tupperware, pot lids, and spoons (hahaha.) No more bending over! Start with plastics; use your own judgement of your child's coordination when asking them to help with breakable dishes and plates; and of course, leave the knives for yourself!

Picking up.  This one is a no-brainer, but here are some tips to make it more fun, and "energy-efficient." From an early age, teach children where each toy/item belongs. Have a place for everything. That way, they'll begin to grasp the concept of "a place for everything, and everything in it's place," and when it's "cleanup time," you won't have to specify exactly where to put each plastic hamburger, toy car, and dress-up item! Again, it takes a little patience in the beginning, but its worth it! We have open-topped bins and large buckets, each a different color. I also use stickers; a car sticker for the "car" bin, a "superman" sticker for the action figures bin, and so on! As children learn to read, you can label the bins with a peel-off label, which can be modified as their interests and toys grow with them. 

See it on Pinterest
Plan before you play. Lay out a sheet BEFORE you pull out the legos/ rainbow loom/puzzles/lite-brite.  When they're done playing, pick up all four corners of the sheet, and pour them away in one simple step! Sure beats trying to pick them all up by hand, especially if you have joint pain! It's also awesome NOT to step on legos in the middle of the night, which, if you haven't experienced it, is on a pain level akin to childbirth. You can also buy an actual lego storage mat, which is basically a circular cloth with a string; store and play all-in-one!

Other messes. Lay out a plastic "highchair" mat, or plastic sheet, under the craft table before messy projects, or the dinner table, before messy meals. Instead of scrubbing and sweeping for an hour post-mess, pick up the plastic sheet, shake it out, and rinse! Ta Da!


I don't know about you, but when my body is "done" with the day, I don't have the energy to eat, let alone cook! One little problem... our children deserve great nutrition, every day. Darn them!  Ain't nobody got spoons for that!  Here are some tips: 

Add a nutritious boost to meals when you don't have time to make home-made meals. 

Freeze ice-cube trays with pureed vegetables (squash, avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, ect.) Store in gallon-size freezer bags.  When you're too busy to cook, drop cubes of frozen veggies in canned soup, spaghettios, taco meat, refried beans, stews, pasta sauce.. anything! Also great for picky kids (and spouses of course!)

Invest in a crockpot. Seriously. That is all.  Click here for my own personal collection of awesome crock-pot recipes! 

Feel good? Plan ahead.  If you're having a good day and do cook, make enough for 2 meals.  Freeze the 2nd portion for a night when you're not feeling so awesome! 

Quick and Healthy Meals.  "PFM Dip": Mash 1 avocado, and mix well with equal parts greek yogurt and plain hummus. Serve with gluten-free grain or corn chips. It literally takes 2 minutes to put together, and is delicious, full of protein, vitamins, fiber, calcium... what's not to love?
Toddlers love a "buffet." I got this tip from the book "Super Baby Food."  Don't cook! Take out a muffin tin, and fill each cup with a finger food... sunflower seeds, carrot sticks, apple slices, bits of cheese, chicken, yogurt, raisins, hummus, nut butters, grain crackers... anything! To make it a complete meal, be sure to include protein and veggies! Serve with milk. So easy. So fast! 

Got kids? Check out "Why Does Mommy Hurt? Helping Kids Cope with having a Parent or Caregiver with Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, or Autoimmune Disease." Now available!

**Check out my new blog especially for parents with chronic illness:

Want to Tweet this? Just copy and paste!: 
Energy saving tips for parents! "Save a Spoon!" #fibromyalgia #chronicpain #lupus #mecfs @parentswithpain

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nail Citi, Dulles Town Center; A Pedicure/Manicure Diamond in the Rough!

Outside the salon
I was born in Chantilly VA, and now live in Sterling.  As a working mother, with chronic illness, I have very little time and energy to do my nails. Thus, I have visited dozens of nail salons in the region. My favorite? Nail Citi, in Dulles Town Center.  Not only are the prices amazing, but the service is unmatched, the staff is phenomenal, and the nail art is beautiful!

Great Deals!
 The first time I went to Nail Citi, It was because the "fancy" nail salon in the mall was full.  It didn't look so awesome from the outside (retro neon sign, didn't scream "awesome" to me), but I was desperate. I
quickly overcame my reservations when I was greeted by at least 3 friendly staff persons, who quickly ushered me to the most comfortable massage chair I've ever sat in.  I *never* have to wait at this place!  It was a Wednesday evening, so I got a fabulous pedicure, for $25!  There "basic" pedicure beats most salons "spa" pedicure package, and includes extensive massage, attention to detail, and expert polish work.  The "basic" takes about 30 minutes, and is heaven! When I have time, and am need of stress relief, I go for the "spa" pedicure, which is out-of-this world.  The first time I received a spa pedicure, I was 9 months pregnant.  I went into labor the next morning, and I credit the fabulous, extensive massage that I received at Nail Citi!

I'm more of a pedicure girl, but on special occasions, I go for the manicure as well.  Their manicures last for weeks... they do an amazing job, so even nail-biters like myself can expect to have long-lasting, glossy, and beautiful nails!

Nail Art: 
Several of the technicians are also beautiful nail artists, you can get nail art for just a few extra dollars, and it's totally worth it.  Whenever I get a manicure, I get nail art.... and a day doesn't go by when random strangers stop my to comment on my beautiful nails!

Fun Nail Art!
Here are two shots of nail art that I've received (apologies for the blur; I was
A) using my one hand and
B) using my camera phone, which at the time, wasn't very high quality.

 The art below was for a formal Christmas party I attended; it is still the most beautiful french manicure I've ever received. The nail art lasted for an entire MONTH!

Beautiful french manicure with gemstone
The next time you're at Dulles Town Center and want to pamper yourself without spending a lot of money, go to Nail Citi! It's near Nordstroms and Sears, on the top level.

21100 Dulles Town Cir Ste 200 Sterling, VA 20166
(703) 421-7888

*Images from

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Best Nail Salon in #Loudoun and #nova @potomacfallsmom

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tags: nail salon, pedicure, manicure, dulles, northern virginia, spa, best nail salon, beauty 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Best of "Fill in the blank: You know you have [insert your chronic illness] when ______ "

You have to take a break in the middle of washing your hair.

You are overjoyed to finally go to bed... but still awake 1 hour later.

People give you advice like "Eat more blueberries"

You feel like you have a computer virus in your brain, because its so slow to respond!

You make a million plans when you feel good, then end up canceling all of them

Your pharmacist is on speed dial

When you become a human pinball, walking in and out of all the rooms in the house trying to figure out what you were looking for in the first place - AmyIrl (

You're a "Comfort One Shoes" reward member

You often find yourself walking in circles because you can't remember what you were about to do < Mandr2220,

You have more than 4 pillows on your bed (YOUR pillows.) Bonus for wedges, memory foam, or U-shaped!

You have more than 3 prescription bottles on your bedside table

You have to give yourself a awe-inspiring pep-talk just to get out of bed in the morning

When you finally get out of bed, you go lay on the couch

You can predict the weather better than meteorologists

You have no idea what you were about to say

You know you have fibromyalgia when your mind does not just wander, it sometimes leaves completely. < Madmarion,

You have no idea why you walked into that room...

You refuse to schedule anything before noon, unless its absolutely necessary

Your perfect Saturday night includes a heating pad, celebrex, and a comfy couch

You get a lot of strange looks, because when you try to talk, jibberish often replaces the clear, concise thought you had

You can watch a movie or read a book a million times.. and its always new!

A trip to the grocery store requires stretching in advance, mental preparation, and the endurance of a marathon runner.

You know you have fibro, when you love this post, but can't think of a good reply to post after reading it. -2592sc,

You understand what the word "struggle" truly means. 

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Funny! Best of "Fill in the blank: You know you have chronic illness when ___" #spoonie #mecfs  @potomacfallsmom

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or by entering your email in the "follow me" box above! 

**Check out my new blog especially for parents with chronic illness:, and my childrens book on chronic pain, Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Disease: "Why Does Mommy Hurt?" 

Thank you to my  twitter friends
@CourtneyPagh, @sweetpbnj, @georgelaryssa, @spoonieproblems (and anyone else I missed!); Fibromyalgia group, and And the Facebook groups:"CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME/ FIBROMYALGIA" , Pillow FIghters Club,
Autoimmune Mamas , and "Fibro Oh No!"