Monthly Archives: April 2012

the non-iron maiden


haha, actually I feel like the low-iron non-maiden.  Here’s a round-about post for you,  starting with some digital scrapbooking, and ending with a list right out of your doctor’s files. 🙂

Last night I remembered these layouts that I made for Creative Memories a few years ago so dug them up to share with you:

This was inspired by my terribly crazy peppermint craving a few years ago.  I found myself rummaging around in my friends’ houses to see if they had any candy canes left over from Christmas.  I was drinking peppermint tea, then buying peppermint extract (for baking) and putting it in hot water to drink like a tea.  I chewed 5 (the brand name) peppermint gum all the time.  Then I discovered Mentos and chewed them constantly, along with red and white swirly candies.  Then I moved on to shampoos….not to eat or drink but to use…peppermint bubble bath, and CREAMS!  I would slather my hands (and feet) with peppermint cream then just breathe it in!  It seemed normal at first, but quickly turned abnormal and obsessive.  Ok, fairly quickly I started wondering what was wrong with me.  Eventually I went in for a checkup and did a lab test.  My doctor called during supper one evening to tell me that my file was flagged because my iron was so very low  ( I think at that point it was almost off the chart, like a minus 2).  I did a bit of reading and concluded that my craving for peppermint was because of the iron deficiency in my body.

Apparently, people with low iron can crave chewing ice, eating dirt, stuff like that.  I noticed that some of it seems to be in the chewing…like I really wanted to chew and crunch on the candy.  My friend’s little guy wanted to eat snow every time they went out.  When my iron levels came up, the craving went away.  Nowadays, when my iron has dipped again, I find the smell and taste of peppermint starts getting more and more tempting!

I thought I’d just mention a few symptoms here….just in case anyone else has had a few of these….I recommend getting your iron checked!!  I haven’t done great research, but I have read a little bit, and talked to a bunch of people who have also had these problems.  Here’s a little list I copied and pasted (from, then added a few of my own comments:

  • fatigue (tiredness!!)
  • decreased energy (increased sleeping)
  • hair loss  (why is my brush so full of hair!!)
  • weakness (do your arms ache when you wash your hair in the shower or put rollers in your hair?)
  • shortness of breath  (sometimes lying in bed, does it feel like breathing is a big effort?)
  • lightheadedness  (it doesn’t matter if you are a blonde or not)
  • palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly)
  • looking pale (pale lips, pull your bottom eyelid down, is it pink or pale yellowish?)
  • Symptoms of severe anemia may include:
    • chest pain, angina, or heart attack
    • dizziness
    • fainting or passing out
    • rapid heart rate
      • low blood pressure
      • rapid breathing
      • pale or cold skin (I’m taking this to also mean, feeling more chilly than usual?)

Ok, this is turning into a rather medical-sounding post (not like me at all) but I really think it’s worth it to have a glance, in case you or someone you know is expericing some of this.  Oh wait!! I just found this better list on another site! take a peek!:

“If you have 5 or more of the symtoms below, see your doctor: Also consider taking B-Complx vitamins

Depression     * Fatigue     * Listlessness, weakness, decreased work productivity     * Impaired learning and cognitive function     * ADD and ADHD type behavioral disturbances     * Developmental delay in infants and young children     * Poor memory     * Decreased attention span and increased distractibility     * Impaired reactivity and coordination     * Irritability     * Dizziness     * Appetite loss     * Cravings for non foods such as ice, dirt or clay     * Constipation     * Difficulty swallowing (because low iron may cause a thin membrane to grow across the esophagus)     * Joint soreness     * Night time leg cramps     * Asthma     * Sores on skin, or itching     * Poor wound healing     * Can cause excessive menstrual bleeding     * Hair loss (LOW IRON IS A FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED CAUSE OF HAIR LOSS)     * Headaches     * Sore or burning tongue     * Soreness in corners of the mouth     * Brittle, flat, or spoon shaped nails     * Longitudinal ridges on nails     * Heart palpitations on exertion     * Shortness of breath     * Cold extremities, with decreased resistance to cold and poor regulation of body temperature     * Tendency to recurrent infections     * Chronic bladder infections     * Anemia (hypo chromic, microcytic) paleness, weakness, drowsiness, fatigue     * Numbness & tingling     * Night sweats     * Fragile bones     * Growth impairment in children     * Eye soreness     * Vague gastrointestinal symptoms: belching, gas, nausea     * Vitiligo (light blotches on the skin)     * Swelling in the ankles     * Bluish tint to the whites of the eyes     * Visual disturbances     * Papilledema (swelling inside the eye)” (from

I highlighted some of the symptoms I was/am feeling.  I feel I have experience them all except APPETITE LOSS!!!  No way that has affected me, haha.  (boo hoo!)

I think it can be easy to live with some of this stuff, and just never think “my iron must be low”!  It’s way easier to think “I’m going insane!”

I’ve finally figured out that anemia can cause many feelings/symptoms of depression. (I’m waving a flag here).  I’m not advocating self-diagnosing, but just want people to be aware of some of the symptoms in case you have had them w/o really paying attention…and so that you can go and talk to your doctor, get the easy blood-test and get it checked out!!  It seems that doctors vary as to how they treat it, and what are normal levels.  I’m still a bit confused as to the “numbers” and levels and to date, haven’t tried many remedies beyond iron pills…*sigh*…but I have the feeling I’m going to have to start trying some other options soon 😦

I hope this post has been helpful for you in some way.  I’d really like to read your comments and/or your own experiences with this low-iron stuff.  🙂

a bit of this and that…


There’s this joke that my friend Shannon told me (probably in 5th grade), about a…. a mouse and an elephant (or was it a lion?)…did I mention that I’m terrible about jokes?  All I can remember is the punchline, said in a small squeaky mouse voice…”I’ve been sick!”

Anyone know that joke?  It’s no joke, I have been sick, and not creating much….not doing much….today I dragged myself around a bit and did a few things.  Since everyone was out of the house for awhile today, I did a few things on the computer….I played around with changing this blog’s background.  I am very un-techno-savvy and so I was just trying things over and over….and finally got this background, using some of my own (previously created) designs….so I’ll leave it up for awhile until I figure something else out!  The other cool blog background was from WordPress.

I also did a digital layout with photos of my new nephew, isn’t he cute?  It’s the same digital kit as the one in the last post…

So, who knows when I’ll be feeling better??  Hopefully soon, still have to cook and do laundry once in a while though…. which I should be doing instead of posting here, but honestly….I never feel like doing housework, and almost always feel like playing with my computer!  🙂

have I mentioned My Scrapbook Art?? :)


I’m not bragging, really!  I’m just mentioning a site, get it? 😉  There’s this great newletter, or digital magazine called Home is Where the Art Is.  Every month they have a new, gorgeous, free digital kit for their subscribers. There are articles about digital scrapbooking, photography and even non-digital crafts. I have really enjoyed receiving it…and especially the free kits! Sometimes it’s 2 free kits a month!  I just wanted to let you know, because I wanted others to get these cool freebies too! If you sign up now, you’ll be in time to get next month’s….

Just so you can see what I mean, I’m posting the layout that I made for the Designer’s Challenge with this month’s free kit, called Be by Creashens.  What a cute kit, I love it!  The challenge was fun….3’s!  Everything on your layout was supposed to be in threes.  I started with 3 papers (2 wood-look and 1 picnic cloth), 3 bees was easy….but I squeezed my brain a bit for the 3 suns (and slightly altered a few things to make the “sun-pop”!  Anyways, it was a fun challenge.If digital scrapbooking is new to you and you’d like to know more about it, please contact me, I’d love to help you out!  When I first heard about it, I was sure I would never do it, I hated computers and felt totally helpless on one!  A few years ago I forced myself to try and wow! my new hobby was born!  I’ve been able to actually learn way more than I thought I ever could, and without too much effort (or else I just wouldn’t have done it!).  It’s a great option for people with small children, as you don’t make a mess with scissors, punches, glue and paper bits everywhere!

See my Home page here for my email to contact me.  I’d love to anwer any questions I can 🙂

a wedding and a pickle barrel


We attended a wedding over the weekend…a beautiful spring wedding….complete with soggy wet blizzard!  Our weather has been a bit crazy lately, with springy moments and quite a few blizzardy moments.  Oh well, we know spring is here, even if she’s a little bi-polar.  There were no pickle barrels at the wedding (just friends and good food!), but there is a Pickle Barrel sale on at my favorite digital shop, Pickleberrypop here !  You can mix and match kits for $1 each full of digital goodness!  Some of the ones I picked up today have a “mother” theme….remember that Mother’s Day is just around the corner! (I’m reminding myself).

Here’s a quick page that I liked…it’s totally done for you, all I did was add my photos and journalling and title.  It took about 10 minutes. It’s from Dee Bee Designs here .    I just want to encourage people that digital scrapbooking can be super fast and easy!!  Let others do all the fiddly work for you!

Thanks for snapping our photo, Will!  Here’s one for you, heh heh, of your son and “the girls”.  When I took the top photo, both of the kids were very stiff and awkward, it’s was so funny, but they stood there and let me take the photo!

(this one uses some of the other digital content other than the quickpage kit)

Oh, yes, the digi sale is only on from today to Wednesday.  Just so you know, I only promote this digital scrapbooking site because I like it, and that’s the only reason 🙂  Now I need to start working on some Mother’s Day stuff with my new digi content!

Color Inspiration at Grandma’s house


Spending Easter at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was good family time.  We love their house and the cozy things we find there.  Here are some shots and spring color inspiration:

Always a cheerful welcome at the red front door…

Love the old lath and plaster walls on this almost-100-year-old house, but there are few bits left showing now…

On my windowsill at Grandma’s house….I remember those insulator things from when I was little…

A tradition in my family=puzzles!

Grandma’s always knitting something….too bad I never learned how!  Little kids love playing with the balls of yarn.

Lovely, lovely old doorknob!  Looks like the entrance to a wonderful place…

totally crazy roadtrip tow truck trip


Posting about road trips yesterday helped me recall a really fun road trip story.  Totally one worth remembering (and posting about 🙂 ).

This story ends in a truly magical moment.  But first, the setup:

The story begins at a beach, a lovely hot beach with black sand on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.  It was just after the Christmas rush and we were vacationing there with many of our dear relatives.  After 3 days of sun and seafood, it was time to drive back up to the capital city.  We packed ourselves into 2 vehicles and started the drive back in the afternoon.  On the way, we came upon a big detour, complete with traffic jams and police vehicles.  Apparently there had been a huge explosion at a plant down the road aways, and traffic was now being directed up the “old road to the capital”.

The story:  At this point we started climbing a bit on the winding road.  We passed a car that was stopped (they had stopped in front of a farm and were apparently going up the driveway to get help) and Henry (who grew up in this country) said “Wow, this is sure a bad spot to have car trouble, especially when it’s getting dark!!”  I really really wished that he hadn’t said that.  A strange uneasiness gripped me.  I kid you not, ten minutes later our vehicle stalled and died.  Totally dead.  And it was getting dark.

We had been driving behind the other vehicle, so I fumbled around to find one of various cell phones to call Henry’s dad ahead of us to let him know that we were stopped.  The car was on an incline, but we choked right in front of the entrance to a farm or estate, so we were able to roll off the road a bit (no shoulders on this narrow, two way road).  Henry said that usually this was a very lonely road, with a bad reputation for thieves and hijackings.  Today there was a lot of traffic because of the detour.  I felt so much better…

And then, to really make me feel really panicky, the police show up.  I scramble to call and let Henry’s dad know that.  You may not understand the panic that you can feel about having the police show up unless you are a criminal or you have driven in Latin America.  Let’s just say it’s nothing like the feeling I get when I see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…..I’m afraid that corruption is rampant in Central/South America…

But wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles….they helped us out!!  I can’t remember the technical details of what was wrong with the vehicle, but it was NOT starting again and there was nothing we could do, so the friendly police officers hitched our vehicle to their pickup. (notice how close the speeding traffic was to us).   Notice in this next photo how one officer helped with the hitching, and the other stood guard on the other side of the road with a large gun.They could only give us a tow to a more level spot that was off the road, where we could wait for a tow truck.  My sister-in-law was taking all the photos, since the kids and I were not supposed to get out of the car….so no one would see the “foreigners”.Henry’s parents said that they had never seen police be so very helpful before.  Truly it was a miracle.

Here we are being pulled up the hill.

The climax:  The helpful policemen left us infront of a closed (abandoned??) shop (or something) on a rather lonely-looking piece of highway.  There was still traffic whizzing by once in a while, but it was getting really dark, and we had to wait for a tow truck to come from Antigua.  So we waited.  Darkness fell quickly.  All sorts of scary thoughts danced around in my head.  Really, you can’t understand unless you’ve been there!!  And the thing I’ll never forget is seeing my mother-in-law sitting out in the twilight with some large stones in her hands, singing and keeping watch over us!

There was a heart-stopping moment after we had been waiting in the dark for (almost) hours, when a black vehicle pulled into the “shoulder” in front of us.  As someone mentioned later, if they had wanted to help, they would’ve slowed beside us, rolled down the window and asked if we needed help.  It looked very suspicious…but who knows why, they paused, then drove off.

Finally finally the tow truck appeared.  (Did I mention that I was kept busy trying to keep 4 tired, sweaty, hungry kids from beating each other up inside the car this whole time?  We scrounged around and found some chocolate covered cookies to eat and some chip crumbs.)  And now for…..

The big excitement:  We had to RIDE ON THE TOW TRUCK!!  There was no where else to put everyone.  So the man said, “We’re really not supposed to do this…but oh well, hold on!”  I thought we’d be towed by the front wheels, but much to my surprise….We were being carried!  That’s me waving out the window!My other sister-in-law came up to my window and said “Is this enough excitement for you, Denna??!”I replied that I hadn’t been asking for excitement, I had just been pointing out that my life in Canada was pretty boring, not like life in Guatemala.  Really, it wasn’t my fault, I hadn’t been asking for it!!

Ready to roll!

We were off!!  Something I knew we’d never get to do in Canada: riding in our vehicle on top of a tow truck!! Only in Latin America!  What a bouncy ride!

I felt a bit bad later, when I found out how much everyone in the other vehicle worried about our safety when they saw how much we were jiggling around!  But we….had a blast!!

The magical moment:  We opened the sunroof and blasted the music as we looked up at the stars!  We were listening to the album “All things Bright and Beautiful” by Owl City….which turned out to be our theme music for our whole trip to Guatemala (a gift from our cousins in Texas on the way down).  We all enjoyed it, from the 5 year old, to the thirty-something and the forty-something year old…

As the CD player blasted out “Galaxies” Henry and I  leaned our heads back and watched the stars swirl around, as we held hands and listened to the kids singing along…it was a truly magical moment.

And it was a very bouncy, long ride!!  We had to drive right through Antigua, which has all cobblestone streets, so that was really really bouncy! And by that point, I had to go to the bathroom really really badly.  And Diego’s ear had begun to ache again (ear infection).  When we stopped at a gas station, we all hunkered down inside the car on top of the tow truck so no one would see that we were in there!  It was fun to drive through Guatemala city with all the lights and signage flashing past as we jolted along.  Eventually we stopped and our brother-in-law picked us up and took us to an aunt’s house, where we ended the night with pizza and cake!

I tried to take some photos from the back of the tow truck, but none of them turned out, and then my camera battery died.  I just have to imagine that moment of seeing thousands of stars and of feeling the earth spin (as we wound around corners), and then seeing old buildings and ancient ruins as we jerked down the cobblestone streets.  Not to mention the tight squeeze in those narrow roads as highly decorated buses scraped by us!  Ahh…what a moment!

Here’s a video of one of the songs that we were belting out as we bounced along….and it gives a good impression of our crazy road trip on the back of a tow truck!! enjoy, as I remember….

The video also goes along with my road trip post from yesterday….and yes! that’s the DeLorean from Back to the Future!

road trip: the best/worst of days…

road trip: the best/worst of days…

I look forward to road trips with my family…it’s something I usually enjoy.  But the day before yesterday was…different.

How is it possible to giddily join the singalong one moment, then in the next, feel like pounding your head repeatedly against the windshield?  Hmmm…I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at those feelings…. on an 8 hour drive in a minivan with 4 kids and 2 adults + loads of luggage, books, snacks, ipods, toys, papers, orange peels and apple cores….but I was a bit surprised anyways.  Like I said, usually things go fairly calmly.  But yesterday there was a certain edge to it all.  Maybe it was the 2 weeks of staying up later than usual at Grandpa’s house, or eating all those delicious meals (including dessert) that Grandma made for us.  Maybe it was the sadness of leaving them.  Maybe it was the thought of returning home and to school the next day.  Maybe it was the quantity of gummies and chocolates and jellybeans that were constantly being consumed in the van….

Anyways, things just felt a lot…more crazy than usual. The worst part: someone in the very back seat was especially whiny.  And there were more fights about nothing than usual.  And there were more coats and jackets thrown about everywhere.  And there were more “gadgets” to fight over who’s turn it was to play…and there were more calls of “mama, mama, she/he did….”

But at the same time, there were beautiful expanses of prairie to watch.  I love the prairies.  There were flocks of Canadian geese returning from their winter abroad.  There was melting snow in yellow fields. There were deep blue shiny icy ponds crusted in white snow.  There was wonderful music to accompany the huge, awesome sunset.  There were moments of such amazing wonderfulness, when I thought, this is it!  This is the perfect moment, and how can life get any better than this?  Feeling that you are isolated from the world, just watching the gorgeous natural landscapes flash by the window, while you are safe and warm and snug, with your husband and kids close by, singing along with your favorite music and the smell of  McD’s ketchup and Hershey’s kisses wafting up from the paper bags, and everyone content and together….

Ok, I just love those moments.  Those ones.

We listen to a lot of fun music on our road trips. A mix of practically everything: salsa, classical, bachata, ballads, Spanish, swing, electronica, Italian, Gospel, techno, and from everyone from  Frankie, Gypsy Kings, the 2 Luises, la Jaci, Buble, to Elvis in a UFO.  And once in awhile we listened to a story.

This trip had more than the usual number of “stops”.  There was the regular gas station one.  Then later, while I was drifting off into dreamland, one of our tires blew out.  So that meant a quick tire-change on the gusty almost-freezing shoulder of the highway.  Then later, a quick stop to help the smallest one relieve herself by the side of the road (I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically through the whole process)…then later another stop, this one was a “don’t make me stop this car!” type (really quite effective). The last stop was to pick up deliciously greasy food to eat in the van, I always enjoy that!  Especially when no one dumps their drink or hamburger  in their (or someone else’s) lap.  Without honestly meaning to, I ate up almost all the fries in about 3 minutes….funny how that happens.  Oh, and I can’t not mention that no one upchucked anything!  That was the really great part!

I guess it all works together to create part of a family’s history.  Kind of like that cliche (but true) saying “Life is made up of moments”. I haven’t forgotten my “moments” memories of road trips with my family, when it was dark outside and we were all singing together, even Dad, and keeping an eye out for deer and other wildlife to (not) cross the road.  And that same feeling of happiness, snugness, and togetherness.

Something I love/hate about a roadtrip is obsessively snapping photos from the window of our moving vehicle.  I just can’t seem to help myself; I feel cranky if I don’t (“look at that wonderful shot I missed!”) and cranky if I do (“look at that wonderful shot I messed up!”)  I love driving through the prairies, and I love to try and get photos of it, though mine never seem to do justice to the gorgeous subtleties in color…

Anyways, here are a bunch of photos I took on our trip.  Our windshield was very dirty, with lots of bird droppings, and I wouldn’t open the window, because it was so cold!  These have been touched up a bit, and I must say, I wasn’t as disappointed as I usually am with my (moving & thru a windshield) photographic tries…

I love the geese, but wasn’t fast enough to capture any in flight…there is one in the above photo, surprise!  I did get a photo of this mass of seagulls instead…I love looking at all the towns along the way.And then there was our little mishap:uh oh! Henry had it fixed really quick, though.the river valleys are beautiful, especially with their light dusting of snow..Buffalo Pound….(these photos aren’t in order, as this is fairly close to Moose Jaw)Another sight we see in spring:the water was really this blue, I loved the contrast with the almost Oreo-brown-and-white of the fields…

Here’s the only (?) mountain in Saskatchewan (heehee), Blackstrap Mountain (man-made with a ski lift)…see it?this is where we stopped for a “potty-stop”….so this wasn’t taken through a window…

as Dean Martin crooned yesterday during the sunset of our trip….”Memories are made of this….”

Ok, ok, after playing around with my photos, and posting about it all here, the headaches and teeth-grinding moments of the trip have really faded out of my memory…..when’s our next road trip? 🙂