Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Costumes

Josh and I have always done some sort of couples costume for Halloween.  Some years we have them planned out, only to change them at the last minute.  Our first Halloween, we had only been dating for a little over a month.  I was still in college, and our short-lived tradition was to rent a two story hotel room and have our party there.  


2006: Bonnie & Clyde

2007: Football Player & Referee.  We're cheesy and we like it.

When we got married, our parties changed.  College days were over and we packed my family into our little apartment, hovered over bowls of chili and mummy dogs.  We dressed up our dogs and sang karaoke.

2008: Brangelina.

In 2009, we purchased our fixer upper.  I was making the infamous chili while my dad and hubby were painting around me.  That was our first night in the house. 

2009: Classic Halloween..Zombie & Witch.  The angel on the end is my Gramma.

Last year, my plan was to do Romeo & Juliet from the Baz Luhrmann version of the movie.  I even bought the angel wings.  But Romeo's costume looked half-assed and so we ran out late at night to search for something.

2010: Snow White & Dopey

This year, I'm going to be Sophia from the Golden Girls.  My husband wouldn't go along with the act, so he and his brother are going to be Dale & Brennan from Stepbrothers.  I've got my Gramma's duster, I borrowed a wig from the Cancer Center, I bought huge glasses from the Dollar Store and I am ready to rock it.




Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Decor

I love decorating for Holidays.  I snapped a few pictures of my Halloween decor this year, nothing special but I like it.  :)  

The buffet in the dining room.

The mantle.

Closeup of the mantle.


Saturday, my "Zeesturs" came over to watch Halloween movies.   Here's a shot of our festive drinkware.  We also colored and ate junk food.  Yes, I am 26.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Money Saving/Earning Websites

I have been a member of online survey and point earning websites since college.  A lot of scammy ones have come and gone, but there are a few that have really paid off for me.  I don't dedicate much time to doing surveys any more, but still earn points on a daily basis.  You're not going to earn thousands of dollars, but my tips will help you when you are on a spending freeze and pinching every penny you have.  

Our current situation forced us to go over our budget with a fine-toothed comb to make ends meet.  We both agreed that we would have to go on a spending freeze, which involved no shopping, no lunch buying, and cooking at home instead of grabbing fast food when we're worn out.  I plan on sharing my tips, in hopes that they may help others, as well as motivate me to keep going!  Just because we can't afford to go shopping, doesn't mean we still don't "need" certain things, like shoes or dog food.  Below are some websites that have helped us with that "extra stuff" that just doesn't fit into the budget. (click each title to go to website.)


There are several ways to earn points through this website.  After signing up and filling out ALL of the "profiles", you will start to receive e-mails.  Make sure you check ALL of these e-mails, scroll to the bottom of each and click "Get Points".  It's usually an orange button.  This is the easiest (and FREE) way to earn points.  If it is not an offer that interests you, still click the button to earn your points!  You won't have to sign up for anything that you don't want to.  The points will add up faster than you think, and before you know it, you will be on your way to a $25 gift card.  

Now, if you ever do any online shopping, make sure you always check MyPoints to see if they are partnered.  Their partners are always changing, but Target, for example, is usually an option.  With the holidays coming up, this will save you a lot of time and stress.  Last year I did about 90% of my shopping through MyPoints and had a ton of points to show for it.  Each website will have a different point value...Shop A may offer 4 points per dollar spent, while Shop B may offer 10 points per dollar.  

Once you have enough points, you can redeem them for a gift card.  I have redeemed gift cards for Old Navy, Target, Walmart, Marshalls/TJ Maxx, and Panera Bread Co.  You can refer 5 friends per month and earn 25 points each if they sign up.  I have posted a signup link on my facebook for my friends who are reading :).



One of my favorite online retailers is no longer partnered with MyPoints, hopefully it's just temporary.  I have also used E-Bates for my online shopping.  Similar to MP, you earn a percentage of your purchase and then they send you a check when you choose to cash in.  Earlier this year, I purchased 2 Entertainment books for $20 total, and then E-Bates sent me a check for $7.  I plan on using this website with my holiday shopping to get the most bang for my buck.  Sign up by clicking on this link.



I have signed up for a lot of "discounted" shopping websites (HauteLook, BeyondtheRack, etc).  Their nice, but I haven't saved as much as I have with NoMoreRack.  They offer 8 deals a day, all deeply discounted.  And shipping is only $2!  When you refer friends, you earn points and can cash them in when they have free deals as part of their daily 8, or at any time through friendrack.  When you sign up, they give you a $10 gift card to use.  I hadn't used mine until recently, and had accumulated several $5 credits that were sent periodically.  I purchased 2 items, valued at $75.  With the discount plus credits, I paid $1 total.  ONE DOLLAR.  The credits were applied to shipping as well.  You're welcome.



This last website isn't a point earning opportunity.  Just a heck of a deal!  They offer 5 deals a day, similar to NMR.  Heavily discounted, cheap and sometimes free shipping.  Not much to say except go check it out!


I am not sponsored by any of these websites.  These are my personal experiences and opinions.






Monday, October 17, 2011

Quotes

Today has not been a good day.  A lot of my energy has been spent playing games with the insurance company.  I'm a word nerd, so here are some quotes that help me move forward when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.  ~Nikolai Lenin


Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.  ~Author Unknown


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  ~Winston Churchill


As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.  ~Emmanuel


Some days there won't be a song in your heart.  Sing anyway.  ~Emory Austin


The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  ~C.C. Scott


Never, never, never give up.  ~Winston Churchill


You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt


If you're going through hell, keep going.  ~Winston Churchill


The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.  ~Mignon McLaughlin


When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt


A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water. ~Eleanor Roosevelt


You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. ~Unknown


When something bad happens you have three choices.  You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. ~Unknown








Friday, October 14, 2011

Window Shopping at Pottery Barn for Halloween

Pottery Barn is a little out of my price range these days, but a girl can dream right?  Here are my favorite picks for Halloween:







Thursday, October 13, 2011

Side Effects of Chemo & Updates

I am almost to the half way mark!  Next Wednesday will be my 6th chemotherapy treatment.  I had another PET scan to see my progress with ABVD & received good news!  The scan showed that all activity has resolved, with residual soft tissue in my chest where the 10cm tumor was.  I still have to finish all 12 ABVD treatments (whine) and radiation is still a possibility.  Still just trying to take things one day at a time.


My last treatment took more of a toll on me than the others.  I guess because the cancer is almost gone, so there are only "good" cells left to work on for the most part.  I found that my fatigue started taking over my Saturday as well.  Before I just had to worry about getting through Wednesday, Thursday & Friday of chemo week.  


We did the Light the Night Walk with a great "Team Sarah" turnout.  Thanks SAMC coworkers for coordinating the team & shirts!  <3  We raised a few thousand dollars, I don't remember the exact number (chemo brain--see below).


My sister, mom & I



Team Sarah


I also did Zumba to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  2 HOURS of it!  Sorry, no action shots :)

My friend Audrey & I.  We've been friends for 20 years!  She shaved her head to raise money for LLS.


Now on to the dreaded chemo side effects.  Some of them have gradually gotten worse and I fear they will continue to do so as treatments go on.  Come on January!

1. Chemo Brain--It's real.  Tonight I left a burner (on low) and didn't notice until I was putting the leftovers away.  I also forgot to make garlic bread to go with our pasta, which I had planned for two days.  If you know me, you know that I am a task master, planner, micro manager, mother hen, the person that holds it all together.  Now I feel like a feeble old lady who can't remember what she's said 5 minutes ago half the time.  I've been noticing that my hubby has been remembering more than me at times.  I sincerely don't remember when our new trash day is, apparently it's Thursday because he already put it to the curb.  And if you know my sweet husband, you know this is a big deal.  Lately, I have to re-read a string of text messages to remember what our conversation was about if more than a few minutes have passed.  For those reading, please don't be offended or get your feelings hurt if you've sent an unanswered e-mail or phone call.  I simply forget.

2. Fatigue--This one is a time stealer.  On chemo Wednesdays, I normally come home and sleep right into Thursday afternoon.  Which is followed by a nap that might last until Friday.  I love to sleep, don't get me wrong.  It's not a normal tired.  It's an emergent need to lay down and pass out, not something you can push through with a 5-Hour Energy drink.

3. And then there is the Insomnia--which is why I'm up writing this blog :)  Once the poison starts to work it's way out of my system, the steroids take over and sleep is an effort to obtain.  PITA.

4. Nausea--LUCKILY, I have not thrown up.  Nausea hasn't been too terrible, thanks to my meds.  But the general queasiness, especially on chemo day, is enough for me.  I usually eat breakfast, try to stomach a small bland snack during infusion, and that's it for the day.  I can't even look at the lunches they bring around without my stomach churning.  It's just a sandwich!  I have weird associations,  I guess.  

5. Heartburn/Indigestion--Chemotherapy is known to break down the lining of the stomach.  This can cause a burning sensation up to my throat, or stomach pains.  Prilosec had been doing the trick, but this round has been a little rougher.  

6. Mouth Pain--I  have not had mouth sores, thankfully.  But related to #5, chemo can also strip the mouth of the mucous membranes.  I relate the sensation to a constant state of that burning you get after eating too many Mike & Ike Hot Tamales.  Not horrendous, but annoying.  It was really bad after chemo #1, and it hurt to swallow water.  I've found that ice helps.

7. Hair Loss--It sucks.  I miss my hair.  I have a little more than peach fuzz on my head.  My eyebrows & eyelashes have hung on, though I can tell they are thinning.  However, I still have the pleasure of shaving my legs.  As Gma Jean would say, "Ain't that a bitch."

8. Food Restrictions--Things I miss: sushi, a medium rare steak, and salad.  The risk of bacteria is too dangerous for my pathetic immune system.  I basically have 2 days each cycle that I can sneak one of these treats when my WBC count is up.

9. Bone Pain--I get a Neulasta shot to help boost my white blood cells to prevent infection.  This causes the bone marrow to expand, thus causing bone pain.  It hasn't been too bad lately, thanks to a tip from another HL victim.  I've been taking Claritin, and for whatever reason I have very little pain now.  Before, I wouldn't be able to sleep through the night because of the pain.

10. Skin Changes--My skin is drier.  It calluses more easily.  And now I'm striped.  The Bleomycin can cause discoloration, so anywhere I've scratched (mostly during chemo #1 when I was still experiencing the itching symptom) is darker than the rest of me.  

That's about it.  So when you ask how I'm doing and I tell you that "I'm fine", this is what I really mean.  <3

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