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Spa Weekend for My Sister's 50th Birthday

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I've just returned from being away enjoying a spa weekend with my 4 sisters (Monika {birthday girl}, Fiona {from Montreal}, Alison and Margaret {twins & the babies}. My second sister (Monika) celebrated her 50th birthday on April 19th and her wish was to have a spa weekend with all of her sisters. So with much planning, we agreed on the past weekend.

We spaaed at Langdon Hall & Spa:


Had dinner at the Napa Grille:


And, stayed at Homewood Suites:


We were originally planning on staying at Langdon Hall to get the whole spa experience but they wanted $1000 PER PERSON PER NIGHT!!!

That was too rich for us so we each got two spa treatments and then spent our money elsewhere.

I had an Indian Head Massage:

Originating in India, this invigorating yet relaxing scalp massage helps relieve tension and stress through friction, clawing and striking movements using sesame oil. Starting with the shoulder and neck area, the therapist will then move up and over the scalp and face area and finish with chakra holding to create peace. 45 mins

And, Reflexology:

Reflex points in the feet that relate to zones throughout the body are manipulated through acupressure to help release blockages, create balance and assist in healing. 55 mins

The Indian Head Massage was great once the pain was done (shoulder blade area) but I don't think the reflexology worked as she said that I would feel great for the next 3 days (i.e., no pain) but my left knee was aching within half an hour after leaving her. She also said I would sleep great that night and I did (11 p.m. to 8:45 a.m.). It was also interesting that when she was massaging my feet, the painful parts related directly to the parts of my body that suffer the most pain, i.e. lower back and left knee. I said it was sort of like a tarot reading with my feet instead of cards! So that was kind of cool!

We also got to use the sauna (too hot for me), the steam room (they make me cough so I didn't use it) and the hot tub (pretty nice, not too hot) while we were there. After we were all done our treatments, we walked around the property for about 20 minutes. It was really nice.

From there, we went to the hotel to check in. Here's what our accommodations looked like:


Pretty nice for only $64 per person per night, isn't it? The hotel also had a pool but I never got a chance to use it (although my sisters did) because I slept in on Sunday morning. And, after breakfast, someone (a child, I'm thinking) pooped in it and the pool was closed for the rest of the day.

After we checked in and got settled, we went to dinner. I got to drive because I drive an SUV (an Envoy) and it seats 5 people with more comfort than my sisters' vehicles.

We shared a couple of appetizers - Gourmet Cheese Fritters (panko breaded trio of Canadian brie, 5yr. Old cheddar and pepper jack cheese, spicy marinara and lemon preserve dipping sauces (I didn't have any)

and, Grilled Flat Bread (Shiitake mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, pesto sauce & fine herbs) - really yummy

And, then for the main course, I had Chicken Caprese (grilled pesto brushed breast of chicken, beefsteak tomato and buffalo mozzarella slices, balsamic vinegar reduction, herb roasted mini potatoes, seasonal vegetable) - it was good but after having a bite of my sister's entree, I wish I had ordered it instead because it was wonderful (Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a maple glaze and apple compote).

And, then the restaurant presented a slice of chocolate cake to the birthday girl (Monika) and everyone sang Happy Birthday to her. None of the rest of us ordered dessert because my 3rd sister (Alison) had warned us that she had made and brought brownies and sparklers to be enjoyed back at the hotel.

On the way back to the hotel, the birthday girl and the two youngest sisters started talking about how great it would be to go dancing now. My third sister (Fiona) and I wanted no part of it because we were so tired.

We got back to the hotel and went to our rooms. Within a few minutes, Alison arrived at our door with a container of brownies with a sparkler lit on them singing Happy Birthday and once in the room proceeded to give each of us a sparkler and lit them as they were doled out. And, then the smoke alarm went off! Big scrambles to get the sparklers to go out and Alison called the front desk to say we didn't need anyone coming up because we had just burnt our popcorn and were now airing out the room - LOL! But once the alarm desisted, Alison (she's so nervy) lit the final sparkler and held it close to the open window and we sang Happy Birthday to Monika again and while we were singing, there was a group of people outside the window who joined in, which was kind of cool! (and we didn't set off the smoke alarm again).

After the brownies were eaten, Monika and the two youngest sisters (Alison & Margaret) adjourned to their room to dance to the music on Margaret's iPhone. And, Fiona and I stayed behind to read and then sleep. I lasted for about a page and an half before I zonked out. I have no idea how long Fiona lasted since she was on the pull-out in the living room.

Sunday morning after breakfast, we all went back to Alison and Margaret's room and chatted until it was time to pack up and get out of there. Fiona had to catch a train at 1 p.m. to go home so Alison and Margaret left a little earlier than Monika and me to take her. Monika and I checked out and then went on a hike through an adjacent field. Monika told me that the spa weekend she had envisioned turned out exactly the way she wanted and she had a great time so that's good.

Since I hadn't had much alone time during the weekend, I pulled over and stopped on a road 5 minutes from my house so that I could read for awhile before going home because I knew my husband would be awake and waiting to hear about the weekend (and he was).

It was fun and I'm looking forward to my next spa weekend, perhaps next year when Fiona turns 50!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LESLIE_2B_LESS 5/2/2012 1:44AM

    What a fabulous weekend! I love it...especially you all setting off the fire alarms! Priceless!

Interesting treatments and something you can always remember. Family memories are always so special!

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SEATTLE58 5/1/2012 9:11PM

    Wow, how fun to be with your sisters for your one sister's birthday party! That's making good memories and you did so well with your eating too. I'm sure your sister really appreciated you all getting together for her! Oh my, that head massage and the foot reflex sound heavenly to me! So glad you could go and have fun along with some good R&R!

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LAURIE9404 5/1/2012 12:21PM

    That sounds like a wonderful Spa weekend! Those treatments you had are very interesting too. I've never heard of the Indian Head Massage before. It's so great that you can share those fun times with your sisters. So cool!!!

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Should I or Shouldn't I?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'm currently in the process of fundraising for this year's Arthritis Walk. I did the Walk last year and raised almost $2100 and decided to try to raise near that again this year but didn't know if I could do it again. Well, as of this morning, I've raised $1875 and then this afternoon, I received the following email from my location's organizer:

Hi Joanna,

I have been watching your phenomenal fund raising efforts. When last we emailed you thought perhaps you would not be able to rival last year's performance but wow you are moments away from $2000.00

Joanna -- an additional part of my role beyond planning the Walk details is to create awareness about the Walk and its people and purpose.

Would you please consider taking part in a newspaper article with me in your community?

Next steps would be with your approval I would use the story from your Walk webpage to create a news release. I would send the release to you for approval. From there I would send it to the appropriate editor to ask for support and coverage. The reporter may cut and paste the release as is or may follow up with you for further details and ideally a photo opportunity.

As you can see below my signature I have done this a few times and found great success.

Ideally I would like the article to run early May so the article has a spin of "a month from now" or "next month" Joanna will be .......

Thank you again for your efforts, I hope this is an opportunity that interests you.


Heather Pickles
Special Events Coordinator - Burlington Office
The Walk to Fight Arthritis - June 10th, 2012

And, here's what my page says for my arthritis story (thanks to TMANNY for some assistance on writing my story):

On Sunday, June 10th, I am participating in the Walk to Fight Arthritis. I am walking and raising donations to support nearly 4.5 million Canadians who live with the pain and disability caused by arthritis. Please consider donating to me and supporting this important cause.

In September 2004, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). When you tell people about it they say 'oh ya, my granddad has thatí or `I have that, too. Itís in my knees'. All they hear is the "arthritis" part. Unfortunately RA isnít that simple. Basically your body decides that your joints and organs are its enemy and goes to warÖitís more of a chemical war than a hand to hand combat, so itís like having acid poured on your joints and organs. Now imagine what that does to your body. Not only is there pain, but fatigue, fever and flu-like symptoms. The pain you learn to live with and can push through it to do your day-to-day stuff but the fatigue is the one that can really knock you down. This is a fatigue like none you have ever felt. Personally, I need at least 9 hours of sleep a night and 10 is even better.

The medications that are available do help a lot of people but there are many more they donít work for or they work for a while and then just quit. It took my doctor almost 5 years to find a medication regimen that works for me. This is where the Arthritis Society comes in as they help fund the research needed to create new and better medications. The main medicine Iím on now is whatís known as a biologic. I get it by IV four times a year. It takes about 5 hours to receive. It has lots of scary side effects like progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a rare brain infection, plus heart problems, serious infections, low blood cell counts and there are infusion reactions, too like hives, swelling, dizziness, blurred vision, drowsiness, headache, cough, wheezing, or having trouble breathing while receiving or after receiving it.

The other problem with a lot of meds especially biologics is the price. Theyíre very, very expensive. So you look at the medication choices and you think well maybe the meds are worse than the disease but then I think about the loss of mobility, the possible joint destruction, the possibility of becoming crippled, oh and the chance of deathÖ yes unfortunately RA can kill you. Now picture all of this in a child because kids can get RA too. Now decide do you want to help fight for a cure? Please help me in the fight of my life the fight to find a cure for RA and other autoimmune diseases.


So, should I or shouldn't I?

P.S. This is not a solicitation for donations.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CATHOLICCORGI 4/24/2012 6:52AM

    Go for it, Joanna!
My co-workers grandaughter is 8... she has Downs Syndrome AND RAD! As an adult, I can comprehend havign this disease and living with it. Hailey does not quite grasp it, but she is always cheerful and always smiling. How I pray to be more like she is!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DEDICATED2HIM 4/21/2012 5:28PM

    hi Joanna,
YES, please do the arthritis walk on behalf of those of us who are sidelined this year! I was so excited to do the walk in May (in my area) and had to kiss those dreams good bye because of health issues. Go for it girl! and let me know how I can sponsor you...If the info is in the blog, forgive me....I'm going back to look.

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GAELA-I-CAN 4/21/2012 3:03PM

    Hi. You are definitely an angel. I have been unemployed since Nov., so I have no money to give you, but I can send you thanks and prayers. I am HLAB27 positive
. I have been on medication since I was forty. In Oct. I WAS diagnosed with renal failure, and I had to go off the meds. than I lost my job and I had no money to go to the doc to find any meds that I could take without damaging my kidneys any further. So here I am in constant pain, and I must go back to work. What a delema. Well I do thank you and look to you as a source of inspiration. emoticon emoticon

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March is Autoimmune Awareness Month

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month. Please share this graphic to help people understand the effect of autoimmune conditions such as RAD (rheumatoid autoimmune disease) on the body.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIMMYWIZZIE1 3/13/2012 8:04PM


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ELISOS 3/13/2012 1:51PM

    Thank you!!

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SEATTLE58 3/13/2012 10:53AM

    Thanks! emoticon

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NYKIMMIE 3/13/2012 9:13AM


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CATHOLICCORGI 3/13/2012 8:19AM


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Countdown to the 5% Spring Challenge - Assignment 5

Monday, March 12, 2012

Current Weight: 219 pounds
Target Weight: 208 pounds
By When: May 12, 2012

Daily Calorie Requirements:

Calories Eaten: Eat between 1,290 - 1,640 calories per day
Calories Burned: Burn 1040 calories per week
Weight Progress: Go from 229 to 209 by 05/12/2012

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEATTLE58 3/12/2012 10:39AM

    Good for you in making this commitment! It really is a mind over matter, isn't it?! emoticon emoticon

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

I just finished a novel called The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes where the main character has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). So, I sent the following email to the author:

Good afternoon.

I just finished reading The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by you and it was the first novel that I've ever read by you. I was intrigued to see that the main character has RA as I do as well. Recently, the Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior (rawarrior.com) has spearheaded possibly changing the name of RA to Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease (RAD) because as long as "arthritis" is part of the name, people aren't going to understand that we don't have what their grandparents have. Here's the blog about it in case you're interested:


If you're swayed and if you have characters in future novels with RA, perhaps you could use the proposed name (RAD) instead of RA. Just a thought.

I'm looking forward to reading more by you.

I hope you are having a good and pain-free day.


And, here is her response:

Joanna, thanks for writing. You probably know that I also have RA. I love the idea of this name change. it's much more appropriate. I'll do a little more reading on the RA warrior site to see how I feel about it after educating myself to the pros and cons. Doubt I'll ever write another character with RA, but I do have a public forum through my blog and FB page and am happy to soeak up publicly once I've explored the issue a bit further.

Thanks for the heads up!


Cool, eh?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELISOS 3/13/2012 3:38PM

    emoticon emoticon

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SEATTLE58 3/9/2012 3:11PM

    Yes, very cool, so glad that you could suggest that! emoticon

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DEDICATED2HIM 3/9/2012 1:06PM

    Hi Joanna,
Great blog....good for you to approach the author of the book! It sounds like one I would like to read. I'll have to check it out...
BTW I LOVE your back ground and color choices for your page...Beautiful...
Come Spring, Quickly!

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SERENEMOM71 3/9/2012 12:52PM

  I believe that people might understand the disease a little better if it was RAD instead of RA. People think it is like OA and it takes a lot of explaining to educate them. If the word autoimmune was already in the name of the disease, it would be so much easier. Take it from the word of this tired "old" RN who would like help from the very beginning when educating family/friends about the illness! emoticon

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CAPTHAMMER 3/8/2012 2:59PM

    I hadn't yet heard of this proposal but I also highly agree with the value of the change.

I was first diagnosed at age 18. Like you mention, when told I had Rheumatoid Arthritis I assumed it would be like the sore joints my Grandmother complained about. If it had been more clearly defined to me as an autoimmune disease I might have been more aware of potential health issues down the road.

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