31 January 2014

The No Confession Friday!


So, we're doing Confessional Friday with A Blonde Ambition a bit differently this week. Let's get to know each other a little better, shall we?

I'll go first!


 I'm Amanda!



This is Kyle.


We got married.

 We had a baby.

Her name is Mallory.

Don't be too concerned...

These two make sure things stay under control.
LT {husky/belgian sheepdog mix}

Schatzi {Shiloh Shepherd}

We currently call Palmer, Alaska home. Kyle is in the military and I stay home with Miss Mallory.  I'm a cancer survivor who only recently found the courage to share my story on this here blog ;) My hope is to show the world that life can and does go on after cancer--and that life can be a damn good one! Nice to meet you :)
You're turn!

30 January 2014

Mama & Mal go SHOPPING

Today is a great day. I have $50 GAPCASH burning a hole in my wallet and today is the day I can finally spend it!

Here are a few of the things I have my eye on for myself and Mallory.


1/2/3/4



1/2/3/4

Thank goodness we have a Gap store here in Alaska since GAPCASH can't be used online. I'm sticking with the color black, as always and picking up some skinny jeans and yet another cardigan.  I'm also snagging a pair of yoga pants since half of mine have some sort of hole in them. 

Unfortunately, GAPCASH can't be used on the new Paddington Bear Collection. Oh well, more money for Mama! ;)  How adorable are those floral jammies?!

I also plan to swing by Babies R' Us to see if I can find Mallory a different bathtub. The one we currently have doesn't provide enough support for her to recline without me holding her. Do you have a tub you love for your little one?

I know you have shopping plans... 
So, whatcha getting?

29 January 2014

A New Series: Coping Skills

There are plenty of resources out there regarding cancer prevention, cancer treatment, cancer statistics, cancer anything but very few offer real life advice. Ummm, that sucks!
What do I even do?!
How do I move on?
How can I feel "normal"again?
How do I not freak the f*@k out at the drop of a hat?
Is having fun possible?
When will I be able to breathe?
This just doesn't work in my schedule...

Totally uncharted territory, right?

I thought it may be a good idea to offer some of the tips and tricks I learned to cope with cancer. My plan is to do this over the next few weeks in three separate posts: diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.


  • breathe :  Yes you can,  promise. In through your nose (count to four), out through your mouth (count to four). When you feel your heart start racing again, remind yourself to breathe. Also, is your tongue relaxed? Trust me. Make it relax.
  • make a plan : Think super small scale here. ALWAYS have something to look forward to. For example; you probably have 9,674 doctor appointments coming up. Plan to do something after each and every one of them. Regardless of what type of appointment it is, make a plan. Go out to eat. Go to the park. Go see a movie. Meet a friend at the mall. Something. Anything. 
  • make a plan : Redundant much? ;) Now I'm talking a little bigger picture. Plan to get multiple opinions. Plan how and when to share the news of your diagnosis with family/friends/coworkers.  *my point here is to plan control anything you can because those things are going to be few and far between for a while*
  • come up with a daily stopping point : At the beginning, it can feel like you have a mile long list of phone calls, emails, appointments, scans and tests; create an end time for each day. For me, I figured since the doctors offices closed around 5pm, so did cancer. "Cancer time" ended at 5pm. No more cancer talk. No more cancer thoughts. Try to turn it off. You are still you, so ACT LIKE IT! Once your stopping point has come, go through the motions of "normal", even if you don't want to. Pretend. Fake it 'til you make it. (It's so so hard to not let thoughts of cancer consume you--but try. I know you won't be perfect at this, but try.)
  • let people "help you" :  People need to help you. They don't know what to do. They feel completely helpless and out of control (join the club, right?) By cooking you dinner, driving you to an appointment or calling 100 times a day they are "helping." They care about you! Whatever your friends and loved ones offer to do for you, let them! Let them feel as though they are helping. They need it. *My mom came up with a really good idea during my diagnosis/treatment. People were constantly saying "whatever you need..." &"how can I help?" [Of course the only thing we needed was to not have cancer haha] Mom suggested people send me gift cards to local restaurants. So, when I needed to eat but didn't have an appetite, I could flip through the gift cards and pick a place! We could either go out or send someone to pick up take out. It ended up being WONDERFUL for me during treatment and enabled our loved ones to help. *
  • change your thinking : Hospitals are no fun, agreed? Just days after I found out that I had cancer I spoke with a fellow survivor. He gave me many pieces of great advice, but one in particular stood out. He suggested I think of my time in the hospital as a vacation. [go with it, ok] While you are there you don't have to take care of yourself. Let them "pamper" you. You are their responsibility. So kick back and relax! Once I shifted my way of thinking about hospitals/doctors offices I chilled out a bit. Of course continue to be your own advocate while you're at the hospital.
  • stay away from google : For real. You do not want to read what the internet has to say about your illness. It's doom and gloom and crazy! Fun fact about cancer statistics: Lets say you were diagnosed on Friday with breast cancer. That Sunday on your way home from church you are killed in a car accident. You count as a breast cancer death! Bottom line is to ask YOUR DOCTOR any questions you have about your disease, not google.
  • go to your appointments : It's fight or flight time. Except flight isn't really an option.  You aren't hiding from this and you don't want to. 
  • talk to somebody : I don't care who you are; find somebody who is not emotionally attached to you to talk to about your situation. Period. Not negotiable. You need to talk. Schedule this NOW.

Lastly,YOU CAN DO THIS! 

Cancer sucks. No arguing with that. It's absolutely terrifying. But you can handle it. 

If ANYONE ever wants to talk about dealing with cancer I'm ALWAYS available and I'd love to talk. 

email: marrymintamanda (at) gmail (dot) com

I will say this for the rest of my life: "One of the greatest blessings of being a cancer survivor is being able to help someone else cope with this shit-tastic disease." (I should make that more poetic, huh?)

I hope you're grabbing this Wednesday by the balls! ;)

In other news...Mallory rolled over today!


28 January 2014

Pretty in Pale

Hi friends! I had the privilege of being Katie's guest on her blog Pretty in Pale today. Katie is a fellow melanoma survivor who spends lots of time and energy doing advocacy work for skin cancer prevention and sun safety. Not only that but she is super sweet! She has been a great mentor as I've started this little blog of mine.


Swing by her blog to check her out!

Here is the link to my post: Meet Amanda from Marry Mint

*check back with me later on today for my lactation cookie recipe*

27 January 2014

"Fix My Face"

Oh Lordy, pulling myself together since Mallory was born has been impossible a challenge. In this case, "pulling myself together" means basic skincare and fixing my face to less resemble someone who just lost in a bar fight {I've always had some serious dark circle issues...}


I learned during my cancer treatment the psychological and emotional value of simply getting dressed and putting on some make up. It made me feel normal, rejuvenated and presentable. The same has held true since being at home with a baby full time. I feel so much better if I just take a couple of minutes for myself to fix my face.


HOWEVER, putting on makeup is a whole different ball game when you have a "nap time  time bomb" in the other room. You have to be very calculated about what products "matter" to you individually, because baby could wake up at any moment. (sounds serious, doesn't it?)




Of course everyone has different needs/concerns when it comes to makeup; mine happens to be my under eye area.  I always love to read what's working for someone else so I thought I'd show you the products that are currently in my rotation. Maybe you'll find something new to try!


But first...I'm not claiming to be a beauty guru or anything; my point is just to take some time for yourself. Whatever it is that makes you feel polished and put together, do it! Taking time for yourself is so so important! Whether you are a new mom or somebody going through a tough time, make time for YOU!




1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17


If i'm being honest, this only happens about 3 days a week right now . My goal is to try and do this 6 days a week. Ten minutes really isn't a long time and if it makes me feel good...


Do you have a quick "go-to" routine? What are your "must have" products to feel like you've pulled yourself together?


Hope your Monday doesn't suck ;)

25 January 2014

Baby Must Haves Part 2

Hope your Saturday is going just swimmingly ;) I have a hair appointment scheduled for 2pm today. A haircut always gets me wondering if there is a way to have somebody to come over to wash your hair regularly... I'd be all over that!

Anyway, let's talk baby gear



Last week I shared our list of Baby MUST Haves and thought it would be nice to follow up with our list of Baby "Nice to" Haves ;)


1.// Changing station: We set up the top of Mallory's dresser as her changing station. We use this changing pad and have a couple of cute little baskets that we keep stocked with diapers, wipes, (see which brands we use here) and creams. The Diaper Genie is kept nearby as well. We find that its convenient to have everything diaper related in one spot. Plus, Mal seems to have a blast on her changing table :)

2.// Bumbo: I seem to get the most "freedom" during the day when I put Mallory in her Bumbo. A lot of times she will sit in it for 10-15 minutes while I do dishes or cook dinner. Our pediatrician says this seat does nothing for their neck/head muscle development, so still do tummy time, but Mal appreciates (I think, maybe) being seated and having the ability to look around the room.

3.//  Car seat blanket: This may seem strange, but living in Alaska we've found there a a million different products out there designed to keep your baby warm while being transported to and from the car. We have found that many of them interfere with the basic function of the car seat; no thanks! So, our "go to" item has been something like this; a smaller, heavier weight blanket that is easily placed in baby's lap while they are strapped in their seat.

4.// Car mirror: We have this one. It has been so convenient to be able to just glance in my rear view mirror and check on Mallory; especially when it's just the two of us out running errands.

5.// Changing mat: Different than what you have at home, this is what you bring with you while you're out. Some of the public changing tables are NASTY! These are also nice even when your changing baby in the car...some of those diapers can be messy situations. My diaper bag came with a changing mat, but something like this would be perfect too.

6.// Books: Of course it takes a while for your little one to enjoy them, but reading with your baby from day 1 is wonderful! We have lots of little cardboard and touch and feel books. Like I said in her 3 month update Mallory is just now beginning to pay attention to book. The brighter the colors the better! Mallory also seems to be drawn to books where there are clear images of faces. Stock up! This is a fun way to bond with your child and can be the foundation of a great bed time routine.

7:// O'Ball Rattle: Bright, round, easy to hold and noisy. What more do they want? ;)

8:// Swing: We have the Snugabunny swing by Fisher-Price. Mallory used this quite a bit when she was a newborn then got away from it a bit during the "hold me every second of your life" phase, but she's now using it again. This serves a similar purpose as the Bumbo, allows me to get about 10-15 minutes of work done using two hands! WIN!

9:// Car seat "toys": We have something like these guys on Mal's seat. We call them her friends lol. They have bright colors, move around and rattle. She loves them, however her friends have been known to get on Mama's nerves ;) [this is another something that your baby probably won't appreciate right away]

10:// a semi sane mom!: Mom. You have to make time for yourself! Even if it is just 5 minutes each day; that time is so important to recharge. A person can only tolerate so much poop, pee, spit up and crying before its time for a little break. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I find that taking a quick shower, putting on jeans and a touch of make up can make me feel like a whole new person (even if this doesn't happen until Kyle gets home from work and can watch the baby.) And honestly, it doesn't even happen every day but its a goal: shower daily and get dressed. Baby steps people. Baby steps. [I plan on showing my "fix yo face" routine in the next couple of days. It's nothing fancy but it does prevent me from looking like a walker. Any Walking Dead fans out there?]


Note: One of the biggest suggestions I have for anyone who is in the process of creating a registry is to keep in the back of your mind that your baby may not like what everyone else's baby seems to like. Just be flexible and open minded about things.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
.

23 January 2014

Football Food



Today I'm linking up with Kaitlyn and Brittany to share some of our favorite game day recipes. Definitely check out their blogs if you are hosting a Super Bowl party for tons of recipe ideas!

Living in Alaska we have some serious price mark up concerns. One of the items that are significantly more expensive here are chips. You know those $2 bags of chips that every grocery story carries in the lower 48? Yeah, not here. A bag of chips costs us no less than $5!! That being said, when we buy chips we mean business. These are our two favorite dip recipes to go with our stupidly expensive chips:

Side note: Neither of these recipes are my own. GASP! Look, my cooking has come a long way since I got married. By that I mean I'm now at the point where I can sufficiently follow a recipe. If I add my own spices...well, I think I'm just the sh*t. The first recipe I learned from one of my best friends Ashlie.  I went to her apartment in college to watch a football game and she served this. I'm not sure if its actually called CRACK dip, but that's what Kyle and I call it...if you make it you'll understand. The second recipe...I have no idea where that one came from. Probably somewhere in the depths of google.  'Sausage Dip' is another name made up by me and Kyle since we can't remember the name of that one either. What I do know is that its really really good.

ENJOY!
you may want to double this one...trust me!




Of course no football game, or sporting event for that matter, is complete without beer. Kyle has kind of turned into a bit of a "beer snot." He likes to experiment but gravitates towards brown ales. [Right now Kyle has Moose Drool in the fridge.] I on the other hand am stuck in college and drink Bud Light maybe that's why I think Kyle is a beer snot.

What are some of your 'go to' game day recipes?

Happy Thursday everyone! :)

21 January 2014

An Enemy Who Comes With Perks

Hi again everyone! I hope your Monday night was better than ours...

At 3am we were woken up by our carbon monoxide detector. Kyle and I zipped around the house to make sure we weren't dumb and lit our house on fire or something. Nothing. So, we did what any logical adult would do and called our mommies (since they can help us from thousands of miles away, right?).... Long story short, we actually had to call the fire department only for them to come out and tell us there was no carbon monoxide leak just something wrong with the detector in our master bedroom. COOL. Now I have a cranky baby and a sleepy mama... 

Anyway, lets talk about another cancer perk or two shall we? I mentioned a social perk here and a lifestyle/personal perk here. Now its time to be completely shallow, materialistic and self centered! 
Can I get an AMEN?!



I'm sure many of you have heard of the "cancer card." This is the trusty excuse for anything and everything when you have cancer. "Oh, i'm sorry professor. I just couldn't finish that paper you gave us all semester to write. I have cancer." Boom. Cancer card. "No, I can't help you move out of your apartment this weekend, I don't want to I have cancer." "I just can't stand in this long line. I'm not well. After all, I do have cancer." The possibilities are endless!

At first I was hesitant about using my illness [I really hate calling it that, but I will roll with it for now] to get away with things or appear weak. However, I quickly realized that cancer really does suck (I know. Welcome to planet earth Amanda.) and if I have to have cancer darn it, i'm going to suck every good thing I can from it. 

*Cancer card CAN be used by anyone who is number 1, 2, 3 or 4.* Because I said so. And I'm pretty sure Kyle still likes to use my cancer card almost five years later...

Ok, so the cancer card turned out to be a bit of a slippery slope for me. 

It's no secret that I like love to shop. This love grew leaps and bounds during my cancer treatment. Something bad/scary/stressful was happening, I'd shop. I felt crappy. Shop. I wanted to, I'd shop. If I'm being completely honest when I was shopping I forgot about cancer for the most part. Lame, but true. I was happy at the mall, regardless of what was going on medically.

This led me to coining the term "pity purchase." Survivors will thank me for this, caregivers, not so much.



You get a pity purchase with scans. You get a pity purchase with good news. You get a pity purchase with bad news. You get a pity purchase with stressful cancer situations. See what I did there? A pity purchase is your new way for justifying either purchases for yourself or soliciting gifts from others, whichever is more your style. I like both ;) 

The key here is to not actually feel sorry for yourself. If it is a situation where you could have felt sorry for yourself but didn't [well, not for long anyway] get yourself something nice!

Serious time: I know I'm making light of this topic but my point is an important one. You have to see and create positives in your situation. Start traditions. Create things  to look forward to that are a direct result of your medical circumstances. We have so little control over the disease. BUT, I believe you can control is your attitude. More on attitude another day...

Cancer people out there, are you guilty of swiping your cancer card? 

I hope you guys have a nice Tuesday! 

Will somebody catch a nap for me? I appreciate it ;)

20 January 2014

Mallory's 3 Month Update

Ummm, how has three months passed since Mal was born?! Each month I feel like she becomes more and more fun. She is such much more aware of the world around her and is really developing her own preferences.


Mallory loves to smile and has quite the sense of humor. I heard the beginnings of a laugh this month. What a beautiful sound.

She is really paying closer attention to her surroundings and notices when we aren't in a familiar place. Mal seems to enjoy studying new places and interacting with new people.

As far as clothing goes, she is mostly in 3 month sizes with a sprinkling of 6 month pieces. Diapers are still a size one, although given our recent blowout count, my bet is we will be sizing up very soon.

We haven't been to the doctor in nearly 3 weeks but at that visit she was 11 pounds and 21.5 inches long. If I had to guess I would say she is about 13 pounds and 22 inches now :) Her next check up is at 4 months!

This girl LOVES the bath. She likes splashing noises and seems to enjoy kicking 10x more when she's in the water. We are planning to do "swim lessons" with her this summer!

There really wasn't too much of a change this month in the breastfeeding department. It's still about 70% of the time without a shield, 20% with the shield and 10% from a bottle. FINE WITH ME!

You can check out our day to day "routine" here.




BABY GEAR (additions from months one and two)

- Mallory received this turtle projector/noise machine for Christmas and she loves it! I'm convinced it is the only reason we have any kind of productive napping going on.

- I purchased her the 0-6 month size MAM pacifiers since she was still using the newborn size and she took them right away!

- She almost always has this Oball toy with her during play time. She doesn't hold it yet, but she sure does like watching it.

- M is paying a bit more attention to some books. She seems to enjoy Goodnight Moon (sometimes), Go, Train, Go! (sometimes) and this soft book.

I think that's about it you guys. I'm so looking forward to seeing what developments this month brings! Each day keeps getting better and better...

I'm so thankful that I get to be Mallory's mom.

Have a great start to your week!


18 January 2014

Baby MUST Haves

Creating a baby registry can be an eye opening experience for first time parents; I know it was for us me.

"You need this."
 "No you don't."
 "Yes you do."

yadda yadda yadda

SO OVERWHELMING!


I thought I'd try something to really simplify things....

Let's say me, Kyle and Mallory are stranded on an island and I can only bring 10 items that are 100% essential for Mallory. [We are going to assume she continues to nurse.}




Ready?



1.\\ Diapers: We use Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive.

Registry tip: Try a small pack or two of a couple of different brands in a couple of different sizes to try out. Baby's skin sensitivity and well...how frequently poop ends up outside of the diaper is what is going to dictate your preference. I wouldn't stock up is what I'm trying to say.

2.\\Wipes: We like Pampers Sensitive.

Registry tip: Can't have too many of these. Go nuts!

3.\\Burp Cloths: Nothing fancy. We use these. If spitting up were an olympic sport Mal would be a gold medalist. Needless to say we go for the cloth that soaks up the most.

Registry tip:These are not only for spit up. You'll use them to clean just about any baby mess. I've even used them as a nursing cover in a pinch! Grab at least ten of these.

4.\\Sleepers: We go through 2-3 of these in a 24 hour period. Maybe its just Mal, but as she gets older she seems to require more frequent outfit changes. She's gross. Note: Kyle thinks these MUST have a zipper closure instead of snaps because "nobody has time for a million snaps!" We like these because they are warm. But, Kyle tends to reach for something like this.

Registry tip: Make sure you don't get too many of any given size; everyone is right, they won't fit your little one for long.  {I know I know. That meant nothing to me either. Give me a quantity please!} Newborn: five ish, 0-3 months: eight ish, 3 months: ten ish, etc...

5.//Plain onesies: Such as these. [Fun fact: did you know that Gerber owns the term "onesie"--everyone else has to refer to them as something else. ie. bodysuit]

Registry tip: Follow the same quantity guidelines as with the sleepers. Get a mix of both long and short sleeve.

6.//Socks: For now, the only ones that have fit her tiny feet are these from Target.

Registry tip: I say get enough to have two pairs per day, only because they always seem to lose one of those little boogers.

7.//Swaddle Blankets: Love these!

Registry tip: These are key. So versatile. Even if your little one doesn't like to be swaddled these can be used to cover the carseat, as a nursing cover, burp cloth, etc. Have at least 4 of these.

8.//Carseat: Duh. You can drive on this particular deserted island, ok? We have the Britax B-Safe.

Registry tip: Make sure you read safety reviews and obviously make the safest choice within your budget.

9.//Pacifiers: M exclusively uses MAM.

Registry tip: If your planning to use these with your child grab a nice sampling of brands/styles. They usually come in packs of two which is plenty to experiment with.

10.//Baby Shampoo: We aren't really picky about this yet. So far we've used Burts Bees and Aveeno.

Registry tip: Grab a sampling of the little travel sized bottles. This way you can decide what you like best. They don't bathe much at the beginning.


Let's be honest. I've been a mom for about fifteen minutes, so I only know what we've NEEDED thus far.

Ok, and obviously you NEED dozens of cute outfits and a well decorated nursery too. ;)

Happy nesting!

Moms, what were some of your MUST have baby items?

17 January 2014

Confessions

I't finally Friday! Thank goodness guys, because that means Kyle is home and i'm no longer on solo parenting duty. Phew! The kid is hard work!

It's that time of the week again where I tell you my deepest, darkest secrets. Link up with A Blonde Ambition if you have some things you want to get off your chest.

Ready? GO!

 I confess... 

1. Hi my name is Amanda and I'm a nail polish addict. My nails are never without polish. I own way too may colors and I just keep adding them... In fact, I always take my own polish to the salon when I have them done!

2. I have a pedicure appointment scheduled for tomorrow! {I know I know I know. Clearly I have no intentions of curing my addiction.} I'm playing a serious game of "pass the baby" tomorrow to sneak out and get my nails did. I'm taking Big Apple Red in honor of Valentines day. 

3. My daughter pooped at on the dinner table last night. Since Kyle was home, we figured it could be nice to eat dinner as a family AT THE TABLE. Crazy. I know. So we put Mal in her Bumbo seat. About five minutes later we hear the grunting followed by those sounds... Somebody needs to teach that girl some manners! 

4. I plan to log some serious TV time this weekend to catch up on my shows. Who watches Revenge? The Blacklist? PLL? Love a good lazy weekend!

5. I hired someone to shovel my driveway last week. Hey, I was alone with the baby. Poor little ol' me just couldn't. [For real. It takes me a good two hours to shovel the driveway. How do you ladies do it with a little one?]

Hope you have fun things planned for the weekend!

Finally, some photos of Mal for good measure ;) 





16 January 2014

Safety First

Here comes the part where the girl who had skin cancer gives the obligatory "sun safety" speech...
When I was going through treatment, posts like this were among the last things I wanted to see. For some reason they instilled a sense of guilt about having melanoma, like I did something to cause it. This post isn't meant for those who have skin cancer; you already know this. Its for our friends and family.

{So, if you are anything like me and have recently been diagnosed with skin cancer; you may want to skip this one.}

So, here's the skinny on how to be safer in the sun:


  • 10:00am-4:00pm is when you should try and find an indoor activity. This is when the UV index is typically the highest. [The Weather Channel iPhone app tells you your local UV index or you can look it up here. Read more about the UV index here.]
  • Your daily moisturizer should have SPF in it. I like this one for my face. I also use this in the summer and something like this in the winter for all over moisture.
  • Wear protective clothing! Put a hat on [your hair will appreciate skipping the UV damage too]. Sit under and umbrella/shade. Wear sunglasses. Sun Savvy is a great resource for stylish, protective clothing! Also, brands like Columbia  carry outdoor apparel with SPF!
  • Even though you are using a moisturizer with SPF your still need to apply sunscreen when you know you will be outside. 30+ SPF is ideal and make sure it is a broad spectrum sunscreen. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and broad spectrum means it is protecting against UVA and UVB sun rays. Skincancer.org has a great product finder resource to help you chose the most effective sunscreen. Learn more about sunscreen: on Mayo Clinic's site, WebMD and here.
  • Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapplied at least every two hours.
  • Ladies, most cosmetic companies offer their foundations with SPF in it. Purchase those instead. It is an easy switch! Examples: MACBare Escentuals, and Laura Mercier just to name a few.
  • Keep babies and children out of the sun! Damage done during childhood greatly impacts skin health later in life. Not to mention babies shouldn't wear sunscreen until they are at least 6 months of age meaning their vulnerable skin is even less protected. 
  • Do regular skin checks at home. Check everywhere....like EVERWHERE. Skin cancer doesn't care if its in an awkward location. [That means check your booty, genitals, scalp, mouth, eyelids, fingernails...everywhere.] You are looking for any changes. Check out this site to learn your ABCDE's.
  • See your dermatologist at least once a year! Of course if you have had a skin cancer before you and your derm are probably much closer than that...Anything that is sketchy/questionable/new/ugly/painful/different; have it checked out.
  • DO NOT TAN.  there i said it

There are tons of wonderful options if you are looking to get involved in skin cancer awareness/prevention/treatment! Katie, has a great blog called Pretty in Pale. She is a great melanoma activist involved in everything from research to fundraising and lobbying for tanning salon restrictions! The Melanoma Research Foundation always has opportunities for education and advocacy. I also really like AIM. And for my own personal interests ;) check out Md Anderson's Melanoma & Skin Center

Now that i've said all of that I want to make sure everyone knows that not all skin cancers are caused by sun/UV exposure. However, UV exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. 

Take care of your skin people! There are no do overs...
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or anything close to it. Please consult with your physician. 

Do you have any additional sun safety tips or tricks?

15 January 2014

Perspective

Let's say you've just heard those three special words, "you have cancer." You're sitting in some doctor's office and probably ask "what now?" Said doctor tells you, but you don't hear him. All you can do is sit there. "Really? Really?! My biggest issue last week was not studying for that psych exam; now I'm wondering about cancer?"

Biggest reality check EVER. Cancer puts things into perspective like you wouldn't believe. Suddenly you find yourself wishing, hoping and praying for other problems. Any other problem will do. Just not cancer.

To this day, when I'm sitting in my oncologist's office waiting for scan results; I pray for different problems. I still wonder "what. the. fu**. How is this my reality?" I think back to a knee surgery or two that may have ended my soccer "career"... just take my whole leg off if you want! I remember a hurtful high school break up... I would do that again every single day. ANYTHING to not have this problem.

I've come to accept this new way of thinking as a blessing. I have a nice, new, more calm approach to life and I dig it! Other "problems" in life, really aren't so bad. Have to have a tooth pulled? No big deal. Power goes out for a night? Inconvenient. Extra long wait at the car dealer? Annoying.

In fact, I had to remind my husband of this just the other day. His car was totaled in a wreck. [He was not the driver. WHOOPS!] Kyle was not pleased. Ok, he was pissed. So I said "honeysugarbabysweetielovebug (i'm sorry about your car!) remember, there are times we have prayed for a problem like this." I think he heard what I was trying to say. We are all healthy and nobody was hurt. It was not cancer.

Here's the bottom line: There is nothing like the heart wrenching, paralyzing panic you feel when you have cancer. Very few other "problems" even come close.

[Honesty time: I still struggle with anxiety surrounding cancer; but I'm working on it. Lets talk about this another day, ok?]

My challenge to you is to try and adopt this new perspective for yourself. Next time you are stressed about something, ask yourself "is this a problem someone somewhere is praying for?" If it is, try to take a step back and relax. Who knows, maybe someone fighting a serious battle is inspired by your grace and poise. {At the very least you are avoiding an eye roll from this person.}




I feel I should be clear about something here; survivors WANT to hear about your problems. We want to hear about normal life. We still want you to complain to us. {Hey, I can relate to the furry of a fresh mani being ruined reaching for your car keys!}What we don't want is to hear normal problems presented as though they are the end of the world--that is when the eye roll comes into play. ;)

End ramble.

Hope your Wednesday was fab!

14 January 2014

A Day In The Life Of Mallory

When I was pregnant I scoured the internet trying to learn how to me a mom {I know. cute, right?}. I found lots of discussion about what a baby's routine/schedule "should" look like. Well, now that Mallory is here I thought I would share her routine.

{If you listen closely, you can hear me giggling to myself.}

About the only "routine" Mallory has had during her first two months of life has been: eat, sleep, pee/poop, scream, lay down and flail. Not in any particular order. Not at any particular time. Not in any particular location. BUT, they do happen daily, so we have that going for us.



Headband: TheCandiedBaby


Mallory will be 3 months old in a couple of days and we are just now having the slightest bit of consistency in our day. By consistency I mean she has done the same thing sorta kinda for the last, oh, I don't know...4 days.

Now, without further adieu, Mallory's day:

7:30-8:30am: wake up
8:30-11ish: eat, diaper change, play, read, talk
11-1:30ish: nap
1:30ish: eat, diaper change
1:30ish-2:30ish: tummy time, play [note: tummy time is not play for Mallory-she hates it]
2:30ish-6:00ish: try to be held as much as possible even if Mom has chores or errands to do, eat a couple of random times, take small 15 minute cat naps
6:00ish-7:00ish: bath [usually she eats then too]
7:00ish-8:00ish: snuggle/play
8:30ish: sometimes this is the beginning of her night, other times her night doesn't start until much later

Mallory pretty much eats every 3-4 hours around the clock.  At night she has recently gotten quite good at going right back to sleep after she nurses.  We keep the lights off and don't talk during nighttime feedings. While she naps during the day I do not go out of my way to be quite for her.

The moral of the story is; Mallory eats when she's hungry and sleeps when she's tired. That is our routine. Of course at some point in the not so distant future something a bit more rigid will be required. But for us, that time isn't now.

Alright guys, I'm off to watch miss Mal try and master putting her hand in her mouth. So funny!

Headband: CharlieCocos


Happy Tuesday :)

13 January 2014

Wish List

Is it appropriate to create a wish list less than a month after Christmas?


 I didn't think so.

Hope your Monday morning is as pleasant as can be.

12 January 2014

The Big "DTR"

Lets define the relationship, shall we? Ok, if you ventured over to my cancer chronicles page you may have gathered that i'm a bit nervous about tackling "cancer stuff" on my blog. I've gotta start somewhere, right? So here it goes...

my friend has cancer


When someone is diagnosed with cancer, everyone around them kind of takes on a role. Each of these roles has a title. You with me so far? Some of these titles are widely accepted among those in the cancer community; some I just made up. ;) [keep in mind this is coming from the perspective of the patient]

1. Survivor: ANYONE who has ever been told "you have cancer".

2. Patient: A survivor who's having a bad day.

3. Caregiver: ANGELS. These are the people who support, love and quite literally "take care of" the emotional and physical needs of the survivor. [attention patients! these people suffer more than you do. so, stop being an asshole and be a survivor...they'll be kind to you while you make that transition]

4. Friend For Life: This person is someone you already called a friend but who took it to a whole new level over the course of your cancer journey. This person is loyal, loving, distracting and unwavering.

5. Kyle: That person who just won't give up. Even though you aren't very nice to them and don't even really talk to them, they still check in and are truly invested in your well being. [try and marry this person if possible]

6. Everybody else: CANCER PERK ALERT! Cancer allows you to "trim the fat"  from your relationships. That person who came out of the woodwork to post on Facebook how "I just can't believe you have cancer! I can't stop crying." [oh please] Or the person who kinda sticks with you at the beginning but once treatment really gets rolling they are "busy" or just kind of disappear. I personally don't have any #5's in my life anymore--thanks cancer :)

So, who are you?

Well,  I'm off to a friend's baby shower this afternoon. She's having her first baby girl, so naturally I'm giving the little one a few headbands [shhh, don't tell her.]

Have a relaxing Sunday!

11 January 2014

Story time!

Lets talk about breastfeeding shall we?


my baby won't latch


I want to start by saying that I truly don't care or pass judgement about what other parents feed their their babies. Whether it's formula or breast milk or a little of both, its fine by me as long as its done with love.

Early in pregnancy I learned what Kyle's preferences were... Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "What are your thoughts about feeding the baby?" (Way too vague. I know I know.)
Kyle: "Don't we have to feed her? What do you mean?"
Me: "Really? We feed the dogs don't we? Breastfeed or formula feed?"
Kyle: " I don't know. What do you think?" (Standard Kyle answer which is code for either "I don't give a sh**" or "I'm clueless".)
Me: "American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months. There are lots of health benefits for me and M plus its really nice bonding."
Kyle: "Yeah. Plus, isn't formula really expensive?"

END

So we decided to breastfeed...or give a whirl anyway. Over the course of my pregnancy breastfeeding became something I was pretty passionate about. I did a lot of reading and we even met with a lactation consultant before Mallory was born to ask questions and learn a much as possible beforehand.

Then Mallory was born premature. This is frequently a game changer for breastfeeding since the "suck, swallow, breathe" reflex can be fairly uncoordinated and getting early nutrition is extra important for premature babies.

As soon as she was born she was very interested in feeding. We did immediate skin to skin and she played around at the breast. All very promising.

skin to skin

skin to skin

skin to skin


When we got up to the Mother Baby floor Mallory still had not latched so we asked for a breast pump for me to get the colostrum going. We ended up having the give her colostrum using a tiny syringe. All this time I was putting her to the breast as often as I could. She was trying so hard but could not figure out how to latch.

Guys. It is heart wrenching to watch your new born child scream out of both hunger and frustration. Throw in killer hormones, nasty blood pressure medicine and a nurse who was pushing formula...miserable. I had already made my wishes to breastfeed very clear to the staff so I was not pleased that less than 12 hours after my daughter was born they were suggesting I give her formula.

Thank goodness I knew that it typically takes 2-4 days for milk to come in and that colostrum is plenty nutritious to sustain the baby. I figured as long as I had a pump, was producing colostrum and Mallory was taking it from the syringe we could stick it out. But let me say this was not easy! Had Kyle not been so helpful with cleaning the pump and searching for every last teeny tiny drop; I don't know that I could have handled it.

My milk came in after we got home on the 4th day. We were still feeding her expressed breast milk with little syringes, our finger and tubing all while still offering her the breast as much as possible. Such. A. Production. The nurses in Mother Baby told us to continue this technique at home since it most closely mimicked actually feeding at the breast.

syringe feedings

We learned at her 5 day follow up with her pediatrician that this was actually bad advice for a premature baby. We should have been giving her the expressed milk the easiest way for Mallory to drink it (aka. bottle). She needed to gain weight since she was right at that magic 10% loss mark.

[Note: I worked with lactation consultants while we were in the hospital and through her pediatricians office. They provided reassurance that we were doing the right thing to achieve our breast feeding goal and were confident that Mallory would "get it"; she just needed time.]

So, for the next two ish weeks we fed Mallory expressed breast milk from a bottle (we like these) around the clock. Again, I was offering her the breast each time she fed. After her pediatrician confirmed that her weight was where it needed to be we began introducing the nipple shield.

baby rolls
Rolls on rolls! It was rewarding to watch my baby gain weight!

She did well with the shield pretty quickly, so it became a split system for several weeks. We were feeding her during the day from the breast using a shield and at night using the bottle. I HATED the nipple shield. It was so awkward and frustrating for me to use! I couldn't really nurse in public because I essentially had to take my shirt off to use it. I felt like I needed 7 hands. The nipple shield was the source of many tears for me.

We started slowly taking the bottle out of the equation as she got better with the nipple shield and eventually we were feeding exclusively from the breast using the shield. [We wanted to keep the bottle in play to some extent because ideally Kyle would be able to feed her at night when he got home from work so we would give it to her every now and then just as a reminder.]

After another appointment with a lactation consultant where we learned again how to teach her to latch at the breast without the shield, we began weening the shield. Sometimes I'd start the feeding with the shield, then remove it once the milk let down. Other times I would have her try and latch on her own (based on her mood). We again, fed with the shield at night and tried as best as we could to do without it during the day.

Now, at 11 weeks old, Mallory feeds at the breast without the nipple shield! She will have the occasional spell where she just loses her mind and I have to use the shield to get her started, but that has only happened once in the past ten days. I try and give her a bottle of expressed milk once a day so I still pump quite a bit.

PHEW! Lots of work and learning for both myself and Mallory but it was definitely worth it for us. I love nursing her :)

TIPS
  1. Do your research! For being so natural, breastfeeding isn't always easy.
  2. Make your wishes clear to your family/support system. They will be the key to you being successful in reaching your breast feeding goal. [Shout out to my mom, mother in law and Kyle for helping me through this mess;) ]
  3. Be your own advocate. This goes hand in hand with doing your research. 
  4. Invest in a good pump. I have the Ameda Purely Yours pump because it is what my insurance company provided to me at no cost. Had I known I was going to end up pumping so much I would have purchased something higher quality. (Update: I ended up purchasing the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and LOVE it!)
  5. Stay hydrated. This is so important when it comes to keeping up your supply. Things can get crazy. This is a good way for your spouse to help you. They can ensure you have a full water bottle wherever you are feeding the baby.
  6. RELAX! I truly believe your baby senses when you're stressed/upset and it's contagious. Take a second and enjoy the process of feeding your baby, however that may look. 


Did you struggle to breastfeed? OH, do you give your child a vitamin D supplement?

10 January 2014

Confessional Friday

Happy Friday everyone! Welcome back! I'm sitting here while the baby naps trying to convince myself to go shovel the driveway, but my hot coffee and indoor chores just sound SO much better. I don't know if you all know this, but it's cold in Alaska.  Today i'm linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Leslie from A Blonde Ambition for Confessional Friday!

I confess...

1. I want dreads. Like yesterday. BAD. Every time I get my hair done, my stylist asks me, with a hopeful smirk if today is the day.

2.  I have new car fever. Unfortunately, my husband's car was recently totaled so we are purchasing him a new SUV within the next month. Do ya think he'll be interested in my Prius so I can get the new car?

3. I made breakfast casserole for dinner last night and intend to eat it for all three meals today. Am I a lazy cook or was it just really good?

4. Currently my pants and shirt are covered in spit up and I have no plans to change my clothes. [If I changed every time I got puked on I would run out of clothes by the end of the day. Mal is gross.]

5. Each day I get closer and closer to writing the owner/CEO of Panera, Chik-fil-A, T.J. Maxx, Home Goods, and Victoria's Secret (to name a few) and asking why in the world they don't have stores in Alaska! I mean, come on. We have electricity, running water and people who want to shop. Really!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope your weekend is fantastic :)


09 January 2014

Mallory Two Month Update



Mallory got to meet even more family members this month! My dad and two of my three sisters all came to visit us. This girl certainly isn't short on love!

This month Mallory improved even more with her nursing. She is breast feeding with the nipple shield about 70% of the time, 20% of the time without and 10% with a bottle just so she remembers how to do it. I'm absolutely thrilled with this progress. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a point in the beginning where I thought I would end up exclusively pumping.

Mallory's two month appointment is actually a couple of days after she turns two month's so I will include her stats with the next update. She certainly is growing though! In all 0-3 and 3 month clothing. 

We are really enjoying the beginning of the non gas related smiles. She sure does light up the room :)

She is starting to warm up to bath time. I have been putting a space heater in the bathroom with us and just getting in with her. She nurses while I wash her then we just kind of sit and play/talk until she's ready to get out. The getting out part is still a little rocky, but I think we are on to something...



BABY GEAR

- Mallory wears these plain onesies in both long and short sleeve all day everyday either under her clothes or by itself [unless her dad dresses her then, who knows!]. They seem to keep her warm and act as a nice barrier for the constant spit up.

- The constant spit up means Mal is almost always sporting a bib.

- Now that life has kind of gone back to "normal", we are out and about more. We have the Britax B-Safe carseat and the BOB Revolution SE stroller. We are extremely happy with them both! Can't wait for the weather to be nicer in Alaska so we can start going for runs together. Only draw back to this stroller is that there is not a cup holder for Mom. Where am I supposed to put my coffee water?!

- I'm really enjoying my Kate Spade diaper bag. Thats not to say that I have figured out what exactly belongs in a diaper bag...trial by error so far haha


When did your little one start showing interest in books? What are some of your favorites?

Mallory One Month Update




Where do I even begin?! To say that life has changed in a million different ways would be a gross understatement. Mallory has brought so much joy into our world! Having a little one at home brings out depths of your character you didn't know existed. What a pleasure its been watching her grow and learn each day! Phew. I wonder how God choses who gets to be the parents of each individual child...whatever the case is, I'm honored. 

Mallory still isn't the best at breastfeeding. She gets my breast milk from a bottle but has also started nursing at the breast using the nipple shield. We still have a ways to go but I'm amazed at the progress she has made in just one short month. 

She is still wearing all newborn sized clothing however I think she really could fit into the 0-3 month sizes now.



BABY GEAR: 
- We are using the Aden and Anais swaddling blankets CONSTANTLY! This is one chilly baby. I also find I use them as burp cloths in a pinch.

-Mallory enjoys her MAM pacifiers. These are pretty much the only ones she will take at this point. 

-Kyle and our moms have been using this cute BOON drying rack to store pump parts and  Dr. Brown bottles in between feedings. 

-Mallory wears Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive diapers. We haven't had too many issues with blow outs and they aren't harsh on her skin. She did have a small diaper rash this month and this stuff did the trick!

Again, I can't even begin to say how grateful I am to have had both my mom and Kyle's mom here with us. We really just had to take care of Mallory and chew our food, what a gift!

What are some of your "must have" baby items?





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