26 February 2014

FIVE YEARS


It is a wonderful day. Today,  February 26, 2014 marks five years cancer FREE! 

Cancer survivors take the liberty of choosing which date they celebrate their "cancerversary." Many pick the day they were diagnosed; not me. I chose the date that I gave myself my very last shot. I want to celebrate a good day in my cancer journey; the day treatment was OVER. :) 

My oncologist counts each year on January 26th, which is the anniversary of the surgery that removed all of my cancer.

I want you all to celebrate with me today! 

My challenge to you is this:

  • If you are having a good day; share it! Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Help someone load their groceries in the car. Leave a gift for your postal worker. Send a "just because" card. Make a donation. Call that person you've been meaning to catch up with. ANYTHING! Do something out of the ordinary and kind today. We have so much to be thankful for and you never know how your kindness can impact someone else. 
  • If you happen to be having a crappy day; change it! Treat yourself to a Pity Purchase; I give you permission. ;) Then, with a happy heart, go do something kind for someone else. 
  • Tell me about it! I want to hear about your act of kindness and/or your pity purchase. If you aren't comfortable sharing in the comments below shoot me an email {marrymintamanda@gmail.com} and let me know how you brightened someones day.

There is some very serious and very scary stuff in this world...

 I promise, that when it comes down to "it", life is all about the little things.

Appreciate your life today, please.

Now, go brighten someone's day!

Fun Fact: One year ago, on my 4th Cancerversary, Kyle and I found out I was pregnant :)

My sweet friend Chelsea brought me to tears this morning with this post. Please stop by her blog and say "hi." You won't regret it!

25 February 2014

Tips For Flying With A Baby

Hi again! I hope your Tuesday is going well so far. Mallory and I have some errands to run in Anchorage today but, not until she naps. Yesterday she was a mega grump after deciding she was too cool for her nap. Not today kiddo, not today.

About two weeks ago, Mallory and I flew to Houston, TX. Kyle wasn't able to go, so it was just me and her on an overnight flight from Alaska to Texas... 

I was a bit nervous flying for the first time with a baby. I wasn't sure how we would do, what we needed to bring, etc.
I even asked friends on Instagram for some advice!

Now that we've done it and lived to tell the tale; I wanted to share what worked for us! 


1. // Baby Carrier : This was essential! We didn't have anything but a Moby Wrap (which Mallory doesn't much care for now) until just a week before our trip. I purchased the Infantino Front 2 Back carrier for it's price point and we've been very happy with it! I wore her around the airports and even some during the flights. She enjoyed looking around and I enjoyed having hands. Win for both of us. 2. // Luggage : Check as much as possible so you don't have a ton of stuff to lug around. Your carseat (if you are traveling "infant in arms") and stroller are exception items, so you DO NOT have to pay to check them. For reference, we flew United. I kept our carrier and "diaper bag" with me, everything else went under the plane. $25 well spent!

3. // Modify your diaper bag : Normally I use this diaper bag, but I didn't on my trip. Instead I packed a large backpack full of both of our essentials. It was so easy to carry! Even when I was wearing both Mallory and the backpack, I still had both hands free. Pack your normal diaper bag items. Dress baby in a sleeper to make things easy. I would add a few more diapers than usual, two extra sleepers, 1-2 warmer blankets (our flights were chilly), and snacks for yourself! Note: I tossed this purse in the backpack to use in Houston as my diaper bag. Backpack at the mall wasn't really my style ;)

4. // What I wore : I wore jeans, my knock off Ugg boots, a plain long sleeve tee and cardigan like this one. All were strategically selected. Jeans so I didn't feel like a complete slob. Knock off Uggs because they are easy to take on an off at security (if it were warmer I definitely would have opted for flats.) Long sleep tee to be comfy and warm. The cardigan was oversized and flowy so it doubled as my nursing cover.

5. // Nursery : The airport here in Anchorage is relatively small but it had a wonderful nursery! I was able to sit in there with Mallory, nurse her, change her, let her kick and play without worrying about other people. The nursery even had a private bathroom with a changing table! Look around for a space like this in your airport!


Here are some blurry, low quality travel photos :



She had a very long and serious chat with the McDonalds bag. 


Oh, I almost forgot! One of the most common pieces of advice I received was to nurse Mallory during take off an landing. The idea being that this helps to prevent the pressure change from hurting her ears. I did this on the first flight but she seemed completely un-phased by the pressure changes. She was asleep on the next flight and I left her that way. She was just fine :)

Also, people were generally very nice and helpful to me and Mallory. I was dreading "the look" from people as we boarded, but quite the opposite happened. People offered to help with my bag, one woman even said "if you need any help I'm a certified grandma!" Too sweet!

Do you have any advice to share for traveling with a baby?

24 February 2014

"Curly Hair Don't Care"

Does #curlyhairdontcare or #shorthairdontcare make sense to anyone? I see them all the time on Instagram and I...well, I don't know what they mean. 

Anyway, I have curly, coarse, frizzy, long hair. Good times...

tips on styling curly hair


Us curly headed compadres like to swap "secrets" on how to keep our mops under control, so I thought I'd publicly share what's working for me at the moment (yes, at the moment, my hair can change it's mind in the blink of an eye.)

via


Before I show you how I "manage" my mane, lets clear something up....

via           via
via
Ok. Glad I got that off my chest.

Although how beautiful are both of these women?! Holy moly!

GENERAL TIPS :

// Only shampoo your hair 2-3 times per week. Well, unless you get super nasty some how. Nobody likes to smell like spit up or the gym... But we can use dry shampoo too!

// Rotate how you style your hair. Admit it, I lost you for a second with that first tip. "But I HAVE to wet my hair each and every day!" No you don't. ;) ROTATE your 'do!

I wear my hair down on day one, bun on day two and a braid, sock bun or whatever looks presentable on day three.

// Find a good stylist and keep up with your trims! Curly hair gets nasty split ends especially since it is usually coarse. The kicker is...we can't see those split ends! Just get your hair trimmed every 6 weeks like you're supposed to and for the love of God find someone who knows curly hair!

via

// Conditioner is your best friend. Condition each and every time you shower and use a more stout conditioning/repair mask 1-2 times per week. I even use conditioner as my "anti-frizz" product, but more on that in a second.

// Wide tooth comb only. Run a wide tooth comb through your hair while you are conditioning in the shower. No brushes unless you are going for a Simba like look.

how to manage your curly hair

ROUTINE :

// one : Allow your hair to towel dry while you are getting dressed. After you are dressed take your hair out of the towel and kind of "un-mat" it using your fingers. Just give it a little shake.

It will look something like this:

natural curly hair


// two : Allow your hair to air dry while you are doing your make up (ten minutes.) Still no products at this point.

After you finish your make up, your hair will look something like this:

curly hair styling routine

// three : Apply conditioner ( I use about a quarter size ) to your hair from the nape of the neck to the ends. Top this with a few sprays of whatever "curl enhancing" product you are currently using. Now is when you either hit your hair with a diffuser or allow it to fully air dry. 

Fully dry:

curly hair care


// four : I don't know if it's because my hair is on the longer side, but it is a bit flat at my roots. So, I tease a bit. (gasp! Teasing curly hair?!) Don't worry, it's nothing crazy. I just grab about four sections around my crown, tease and finish with a little hair spray.

Finished:

curly hair styles

PRODUCTS :

// I'm not really married to any particular conditioner, curl enhancing spray or teasing brush. I usually just purchase whatever is on sale. The conditioning mask and hair spray products I use are amazing! I don't see myself switching anytime soon. The conditioning mask is Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque and the hair spray is L'Oreal Elnett Satin.


best products for your curly hair


What are some of your hair care tips and tricks?

SPILL!

PS. If you don't already know about Curly Hair Problems, you have to stop by their Tumblr. Too Funny!

Shop curly hair products I love using the widget below!

 

20 February 2014

Boys Behind The Blog

Mal Smiles


1. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

     If I could transplant Alaska half way between Cincinnati, Ohio and Cary, North Carolina that would be ideal. The proximity to family would allow Amanda to take a break, but would more importantly, facilitate gratuitous amounts of outdoor activities.

[gee, I sure hope he didn't choke on those big words...]

2. Sand or Snow?

     umm... we live in Alaska! You decide.

3. What winter olympic sport would you rock at?

     Bobsled. I always considered myself a professional water-slider and I feel like Bobsledding isn't much different than a trip to the ole water park.

4. You're cooking a romantic dinner- what's your go-to dish?

     Olive Garden take out? (p.s it can easily be transferred into personal cooking dishes if you are looking to pass it off as your own, however, avoid using the Olive Garden salad dressing! It is a dead give away.)


5. Fill in the blank: This year I gave my wife a ______ for Valentines Day.

     Bottle of EAU SO FRESH perfume (which is NOT pronounce EWW SO FRESH.) I'm not going to lie, I read her wish-list post, took a picture of it, showed said picture to a perfume employee, and voilĂ , Valentines Day shopping complete.

[perfume employee lol]

There you have it, a blog post written by Kyle...

Thanks to Mal from Mal Smiles for hosting! 

See you tomorrow! Same place, you bring the beer since it'll be FRIDAY!

19 February 2014

Mallory's 4 Month Update

This can't be real. Four Months. Nope. Don't believe you.

Regardless, she had her 4 month check up this morning. She's doing GREAT! Growing and thriving! Makes this mama so very happy. :)

Here are her stats:

// weight : 14 lbs [60%]
// length : 25 in [92%]
// head circumference : 41 cm [53%]


Mallory is wearing size 3-6 month clothing, although some 3 month items are too short and size 2 diapers. 

This month she rolled over for the first time and really began babbling/squeeling/laughing! Her voice is the sweetest sound in the whole world.

Her motor skills are coming right along as well, lots of swatting, grabbing and pulling.

Moms, does each month keep getting better and better? We are just having so much fun and I'm loving every second of motherhood!

Baby Gear: 

Note: this isn't an all inclusive list, just items that stick out as having been used frequently and weren't mentioned in the past.

Check here for more baby gear: month onemonth twomonth threemust haves , and nice to haves.

one // two // three // four



Ok, so our four month photo shoot may have gotten a little out of hand...



Can you believe my mother in law made this tutu and headband for Mallory?! 

The tutu is adjustable, so prepare to see it again ;)

Gotta run! My Birchbox just arrived!

Happy Wednesday!

18 February 2014

True Life: I'm an introvert

I'd be lying if I said I haven't been accused of not liking people or being shy. 

(Kyle said "you're not shy, you just mind your own business." True!)

Let me explain... 

funny truths only an introvert understands


During college I had the opportunity to take the Myers Briggs assessment. I learned that I fall more on the introverted side of the personality trait continuum. [By learned I really mean confirmed.]

Here are my results: "INFP- Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible and accepting unless a value is threatened."

I find this to be pretty spot on!

Generally speaking, an introvert is characterized by their internal focus. They don't usually gravitate toward external stimulation. Quiet and calm settings tend to be more ideal. 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to explore a few trends surrounding more introverted personality types. 

Since, you know, it's hard for us to explain this shit to your face. ;)

introvert
http://animatedcookiepeople.deviantart.com/art/Introvert-325550177
// introvert does not mean shy : Sure, plenty of people are shy and that's completely fine. Shyness however does not explain introversion. Shy people avoid social situations out of anxiety/fear whereas introverts avoid social situations because, well, they want to.

quiet introvert


// going out with friends is not relaxing : phew! There. I said it.  After an evening having dinner and drinks with friends I'M TIRED and need a break!  I really did have fun! BUT, I spend energy being social whereas most extroverts actually draw energy from social situations.

quiet introvert


// the entertaining issue : Maybe you've noticed your introverted friend doesn't invite you to their house very often. This isn't because they don't like you or their house is ghetto---it's because they want the freedom to be "done" socializing on their own terms. It's really tough to get up and leave your own home once you've spent all of your social energy for the day...

// text messaging and emails are from the heavens : I know, I know Dad--"why don't you just pick up the phone and call?!" Having the freedom to respond when we're ready and socialize/connect with less pressure is SO NICE! I think introverts are probably the worst at screening phone calls, ducking and diving when we spot someone we know in public or pretending we aren't home when the doorbell rings. We need social prep time! And shoot, if I'm feelin' it I may just pick up the phone and call. ;)  But maybe later, k?

quiet introvert phone
http://ragecollection.com/34286

// the interactive audience : *cringe* I can think of very few things I enjoy less than a show where audience interaction is required. No, I don't want to talk in front of a large group of people for the sake of "flow" or engagement. UGH!

quiet introvert

// constantly angry or sad : That look on our face... yeah, it's always like that. Nothing's wrong. Swear.

introvert facial expression



// confession : ok fine! Sometimes I'm just pretending to read a book or listen to music so everyone will just leave me alone.

introvert quiet


// eating lunch or going to the movies : Sometimes it's nice to do these things... alone. It's not sad! We are really enjoying ourselves :)

I want to stress that I believe introversion/extroversion is not a cut and dry personality trait but rather as individuals we fall somewhere on a continuum. So, of course I'm speaking in generalities.

That's it for now!

For the record: At my core, I do love people, especially when I can help them!

Have you hugged an introvert today?

No? Good!

We appreciate it ;)

Proud and Prints

Hi there! If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you have already seen this like a billion times, but I'm pretty darn proud of myself so I'm sharin' here too!

I was featured on MD Anderson's blog Cancerwise today! 

I first shared Schatzi's story on my blog here and it happened to catch the eye of my very own hospital. After we cleaned it up a bit, they published it!

Here's the link : {click here}

To say that this is an honor would be an understatement! I'm thrilled not only to share my experiences but to give back, even in a small way, to MD Anderson. If my writing can reach just one person and help them through a tough time in their lives then... well, I'm just honored. 


__________

In other news, St. Patrick's Day is coming up so I switched out our Valentine's Day prints to these:


Help yourselves! Just right click to download whichever images you'd like. They are 8x10. 




white background

white background

16 February 2014

Now What? {Coping Skills: Part 3}

In case you missed the beginning of this series, you can find Part 1 {here} and Part 2 {here

Ok, your treatment is over. Congratulations! You're awesome-- but we already knew that.

For me, this was the beginning of what in a lot of ways was the hard part. For the first time in over a year; I was doing nothing. No shots. No drugs. Just waiting and praying until the next scans. 

It's tough! 



How do you function in your new reality? How can you not be overcome with worry and anxiety? Will anyone ever understand? I can't just pretend cancer didn't happen... Everyone thinks I'm fine now, but it doesn't feel that way.

This portion of the series with probably be the most dynamic and revisited as time goes on and I get better at this whole "thing."

Here we go:

1. get to know yourself : Yes, you are absolutely the same "you" as before, but you're different now in many ways. You're perspective on things has changed. Maybe your patiences has changed. Are you missing body parts that were there before? New scars? Physical affects of your treatment? Your sense of humor? Your temper? Your values? I don't know. Take the time to notice these changes. They are important and valuable.

2. slow down : Your peers, friends, co-workers and family may expect you to get right back at it. It may feel as though life was on "pause" and you're just supposed to hit "play" and move on. You do not have to expect that from yourself. Your world has been rocked! You may want/need different things now; take your time easing back into things. This ties in with number one... Manage your own expectations!

3. continue your follow up care : It may be tempting to skip appointments after a while. You're tired of worrying or maybe you just don't want to go there again. Do what your doctor says!
You didn't do all that work for nothing.

4. keep talking : Yep. That person I suggested in Part 1 & Part 2...keep them around. [I still see a counselor.]

5. be reasonable : It's easy to get caught up in obsessing about cancer and not ever having it again. Your runny nose probably isn't because you have cancer. The cut on your leg that appeared after you shaved...probably not cancer. The 3pm headache you got after skipping your morning coffee also probably isn't cancer. I'm not laughing at you. These are real thoughts. Just do your best to try and keep them in check. I find that saying them out loud to someone helps me to realize that I'm not being reasonable. (of course, you can always just call your doctor and have them tell you themselves)

That's about all I've got for you so far...

I've mentioned this before, but I want to be honest with you and say I still struggle with anxiety.

It's hard to be cancer free. The emotional and psychological roller coaster that happened after cancer has been my greatest struggle...

But look; I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter and I'm still here :)

ATTENTION CAREGIVERS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS: Please do not tell your survivor that you're sure "everything's fine." Our reality is that it might not be...it wasn't once before. Maybe tell us "we'll deal with whatever together" or something along those lines instead. :)


15 February 2014

Wrap It Up

We're home!

I really can't believe how great Mallory was on this trip. She was so flexible and handled the schedule changes so well!

Very impressed kid!

We stayed so busy during the past 4 days! Next time I will definitely schedule an extra day into our trip. Didn't even come close to hitting all of the restaurants and stores I intended too.

But I certainly didn't fail ;)

Mallory's Pity Purchases: 

1/2/3/4/5/6/7

How Mallory spent her time....



Deep in conversation with the McDonalds bag. 


 Wearing her hospital passport.


Sleeping.


 Smiling and playing.


 Hanging out with her Papa and Granny. [4 generations in this photo!]

Clearly I was going for a "grunge" look... ew!


I really only held her when she was eating or screaming. 


Did I say sleeping?


Oh, and more sleeping.

My Pity Purchases:



1/2
* The watch was a gifted Pity Purchase from Kyle. He called it a Pity Purchase/Early Anniversary Gift combo. Not sure how I feel about those two being combined simply because of the language. Does he pity himself for muscling through another year... ;) Kidding! LOVE the watch!
*The striped shirt I'm wearing in the above photo was also purchased in Houston at TJMAXX.

How I spent my time when I wasn't sprinting through the Galleria or browsing the shops in Rice Village...





Should help me lose the baby weight, right?

You can find more pictures from our trip on Instagram!

_____

On a heavier note:

I've shared my thoughts on perspective previously, but I wanted to share the reminders I received during my trip.
There were two:

First, I had been dealing with a nasty cold up until we left for Houston. Fever. Headache. Congestion. Fatigue. Just gross. I felt crappy! It wasn't until we had been in the hospital for a few hours that it dawned on me; I could be spreading this cold to someone here. The cold that was a nuisance to me could literally kill them because treatment is causing their white blood cell count to be so depleted. And here I was bitching about a cold. A COLD! [I did not sit in any waiting rooms. We waited in the hall and washed/sanitized constantly.]

The second instance happened as we were leaving the appointment with my oncologist. I had just received my wonderful news and we were elated! As we approached the elevator to go back to our room a man about my father's age joined us. He was crying. Sobbing. He walked over to the wall, paced for a moment before resting his head against the wall. It brought us right back down to earth. I'm not saying I feel guilty for my good news, I'm saying that with this disease someone somewhere is always having a bad day. All I could do is place my hand on his shoulder as we exited the elevator and pray for him. This has been weighing heavily on my mind. Even as a fellow survivor/patient/whatever he was, I "get" how he feels...and there was still nothing I could do to make it better.

Just food for thought. If any of you thought over the past week thought that it must be difficult for me; "being so young, with a brand new baby to travel only to find out whether or not my cancer has returned"-----well, somebody always has it worse.

_____

I'll leave you with some pretty flowers and see you tomorrow with the final installment of my Coping Skills Series!


HAPPY SATURDAY!
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