28 May 2014

Finding A Good Dermatologist

Over the years, I've certainly seen my fair share of dermatologists. Changing dermatologists is likely one of the most stressful parts of moving around for me. It takes a while to build a mutual trust, especially when there is a personal history of skin cancer. Usually, around the time I get comfortable with a dermatologist is when it's time to pick up and move again (all assuming I find a good fit right off the bat and don't have to doctor shop.) Because of my experience in hopping from place to place and consequently, doctor to doctor, I thought I'd share some of the things I look for when meeting a dermatologist for the first time.  

good dermatologist

|| Are they listening to me? Like really listening. A "gut feeling" is why my original melanoma was diagnosed. No, I'm not a doctor, but I do know my body and expect my dermatologist to at least listen and acknowledge my questions/concerns. In the same breath however, I need them to hear me when I say I'm anxious! I would have them remove all of my skin if that were a possibility! So, I also need them to reign me in a bit.

|| Are they using their eyes and hands to examine my skin? This was a tip I learned from my oncologist at MD Anderson. The dermatologist needs to cover every inch of my skin with not only their eyes, but with their hands as well. Skin cancers can present as tiny flesh colored bumps under the skin that can only be discovered by touch.

|| In addition to their eyes and hands, are they employing other tools to get a better look at any atypical moles? I like to see the (careful I'm about to get super technical here) handheld magnifying glass like thingy. As it was explained to me this gives a more clear look at borders, color, etc.

|| It probably goes without saying that I look for a dermatologist with a skin cancer specialty and/or extensive experience with melanoma, not a med spa dermatologist.

|| What is their personal style as a physician? Are they conservative? Aggressive? Are they going to take everything off or do they like to just wait and see? At this point in the game, I like a healthy balance of the two styles. It's ok to "watch" some spots, but by all means, if the doctor doesn't like it take. it. off

|| Is their lab in house, or do they send their pathology elsewhere? This is really more of a luxury than anything, but certainly something to consider as it impacts your wait time. If I have a mole removed and the lab is in the dermatologist's office, I may only have to wait a day or so. If I have a mole removed and it needs to be sent out to a lab, that could take over a week! Waiting on pathology results is nerve wracking yo!

|| How accessible are they to me? If I wake up one morning and decide I have a mole that has changed or something and I want to be seen...how long is that going to take? Will I be seen quickly? Can I email the dermatologist with questions? Accessibility is so so important to me!

As Skin Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, I hope you have seen a dermatologist, or at least have plans to. With skin cancer it is so so soo important to be safe in the sun, aware of your skin and proactive with your health!

Do you have a dermatologist you love?

What are some of the things you look for in a dermatologist?

26 May 2014

Our Weekend || One For The Books

Happy Memorial Day to you! Not only do I hope you have taken a moment to really reflect and feel grateful, but I hope you've celebrated! Honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the greatest country on earth and know that we are free because there are still people who are willing to do so. 

Kyle, Mallory and I had a fantastic weekend full of playing outside, markets, restaurants, fishing and camping! We already have an Alaska camping bucket list in the works! 

[ It was touch and go here for a bit as to whether we would even be able to breathe outside. There is a 100,000+ acre wildfire south of us that is sending tons of thick smoke our way. ]

We tried not one, but two new restaurants in Anchorage this weekend. Both are places we intend to visit again! If you are ever in Anchorage make sure you check out Brown Bag Sandwich Co. and Fat Ptarmigan.

 Mallory is so much fun to eat with these days! She certainly enjoys commotion and people watching. :)

We had a school project to do for one of my little cousins. That little guy there is "Flat Stanley" and he had to accompany us on some Alaskan activities this weekend. We took him to the Anchorage Market & Festival and to lunch with us before sending him on his way to my Grandma's house in Colorado. 

Mallory thought snacking on rocks while supervising Dad was an excellent idea...until she got caught! So funny! 

In other news, Kyle now affectionately calls Mal "bear bait"....after she had a snack in the form of breast milk and squeeze pouch, he thought she was sure to send the bears our way. 

 Her first fishing trip was on the Little Susitna for King Salmon. Not too shabby. In our measly overnight camping trip we were able to see a busy little beaver, a moose, and bald eagles galore!

Bedtime tent activities included blocks, the dogs and books. We were so impressed with how Mallory handled camping. She was great!

What did you do this weekend?


Before you go, make sure you stop by and check out a new favorite blog of mine, Love & Waffles

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23 May 2014

Sunshine Award

My friend Lindsay from The Newlywed Notebook nominated me for the Sunshine Award!! It is so flattering when you learn that someone really does enjoy reading what you have to say write...you know, someone other than your parents. ;)

These awards are kind of like chain mail in the blogging world and I have so much fun doing Q&A posts, so lets knock this baby out :)

Rules of the Sunshine Award 

|| Post 11 random facts about yourself.
|| Answer 11 questions for the blogger who nominated you.
|| Nominate 11 bloggers to receive the award.
|| Write your own 11 questions for them to answer.
|| Notify them that you have nominated them.

Random Facts About Me 
1. I'm not a good sleeper. I need a cold, dark room with some white noise to stand a fighting chance at  getting some shut eye.
2. My big toes are massive. Like massive massive.
3. Once upon a time I worked at Abercrombie and Fitch.
4. I have asthma. Thanks cancer interferon! Lame.
5. I'm severely right handed. Can't do anything remotely coordinated with my left hand. 
6. Back in the day I was a soccer player. 
7.  and I've had two knee surgeries and a few broken bones as a result.
8. I was born in Princeton, NJ. 
9. I have a tattoo on my ribcage. 
10. Revenge and The Blacklist are two of my favorite TV shows lately. 
11. I'm an oldest child. 

The Questions 
one || What has been your favorite vacation so far?

I've only been on a couple of "vacations" since most of our trips are spent visiting family. Cruises are what's up though. :)

two || How many siblings do you have?

I have three younger sisters. 

three || Heels or flats?

Flats. I do like to wear heels...but flats. 

four || If you could own one exotic animal (not a typical pet) what would it be?

One of those little mini pigs! Or a penguin...

five || What is your favorite blog post you have written?

Hmm. I'd say the most gratifying post I've written was the one about my anxiety. 

six || What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when you’re rocking out in the car?

Country. Although you may catch me listening to Kyle's rap music every once in a while. ;)

seven || What’s one guilty pleasure?

I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Just pleasure, no guilt. 

eight || Why did you start your blog?

I wanted to offer a positive spin on cancer. When I was going through treatment I most frequently found that those who wrote about cancer did so in a negative/scary way, which was the opposite of what I needed. My hope in starting this blog was to show the world that life can go on and to provide someone, somewhere with a little inspiration!

nine || If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chicken & rice! 

ten || Are you an introvert or extrovert at heart?

I definitely lean introvert... but I don't think it's as simple as that. 

eleven || What’s one irrational fear you have? (hey, we all have them :) )

Shoot, I don't know. Depends when you ask LOL! At the moment I don't have one.
I nominate...

My questions to you are...

1. What is the story behind your blog's name?
2. If you are married, what song did you dance to at your wedding? If you aren't married, what song would you pick? If you are Kelsey, what is your favorite love song?
3. What is your most embarrassing story?
4. When do you feel the most confident?
5. What is something you are proud of?
6. What are your three favorite stores to shop? (online counts)
7. What is something you like to splurge on?
8. What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
9. What is the first blog you ever read?
10. What are some of your goals?
11. What is your go-to meal to cook?

I can't wait to read your answers! Make sure you let me know when they are up :)

Have a great weekend!

22 May 2014

Things Mallory is Loving Lately

The name of the game for lately Mal is noise. If it makes noise or she can use it to make noise, she'll love it! If it is noisy and feels good on her gums...commence baby squeals. 
1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9
Lets not for get pretzel bags, clothing tags and Mom's car keys...

21 May 2014

How To: make chemo suck less

Last month I shared some of the things I liked to keep in my hospital bag during chemotherapy. As you know, my melanoma treatment had two parts, one month of daily infusions at the hospital and eleven months of shots at home. I thought a good follow on post would be to share some tips and tricks for navigating chemo at home
Reminder :: I'm speaking in generalities here, since every cancer, every patient and every treatment can be different. 

|| Water Bottles || Keep water stashed everywhere! It is more important than ever to stay hydrated. This is two fold, you need to be hydrated for health reasons, but also to feel decent. 

|| Restaurant Gift Cards || When your friends and family offer to help, suggest they purchase random restaurant gift cards. Your appetite will likely be wildly unpredictable or non existent  Gift cards will work better than prepared meals, because who the hell knows what you will be in the mood for. The gift cards will give you a variety of options! Added bonus = you won't have to smell the food for an extended period of time. ;)

|| Bad Calories Are Better Than No Calories || Within reason, of course. Your body needs calories to function. If a day comes down to zero calories OR eating a small order of french fries from McDonalds, you go get the fries! Obviously, if you are eating french fries every single day as your only form of nutrition, then you should reevaluate. 
|| Reward Yourself || Set small goals for yourself. Sometimes getting through the day without going completely ape shit is a challenge. Small manageable goals are the name of the game folks. Wake up before noon. Eat two normal meals. Shave your legs. Anything goes! Reward yourself for meeting these goals.
|| Gratitude || I'm not just speaking to the spiritual kind (although you are alive and fighting...someone is to thank for that opportunity.) I'm talking about showing gratitude to those who are walking with you in this journey. Show them that they are appreciated! Not only do they need and deserve this, but it will help you to feel "normal."
|| Leave The House || This was one of my daily goals. I needed to leave the house in order to feel normal, even if I was just running up to the gas station or taking a drive, leaving the house was key. 

|| Exercise || The first step here is to accept the fact that your former definition of excercise no longer applies. As long as your doctor says its ok, do something physical daily. My Schatzi was great for insisting that we go for a walk. You'll feel better, promise. ;) Thanks endorphins!

|| Sleep || Duh! You are literally poisoning your body. Not only are you exhausted, but your body needs sleep to heal. Do it! 

|| Listen || Listen to your doctor! Follow their instructions. Keep it simple, stupid. Also, listen to your body and communicate effectively and regularly with your doctor. This cancer treatment business is a team effort. 

|| Go Through The Motions || Above all else, fake it 'til you make it! Fake "normal." This is so very important to your mental health. Shower. Do your make up. Get dressed. Run errands. Whatever your normal is, do it if you can! 
Do you have any tips and tricks to add?
As always, I'd love to talk shop! Feel free to email me anytime :: MarryMintAmanda@gmail.com

20 May 2014

Mallory's 7 Month Update

I'm not sure how we got here, but suddenly our Mallory is SEVEN months old! 
We didn't have any doctor's appointments this month, so I don't have updated stats, but I'd guess she is at least a pound heavier than last month. 
We have a second tooth! Her bottom front teeth are in and she knows how to use them, OUCH!
Mal is FINALLY giving me 6 hour stretches of sleep at night!!! ... sometimes I think that introducing "real" food was a game changer with regard to sleep. She stays full longer. 
Things are going great in the baby led weaning/ breastfeeding department. Mallory is trying anything and everything she can. At this point it seems that she prefers savory foods to sweet foods. Kyle thinks that sharing a meal with her is a great way to suppress your appetite. Breast milk is still her primary source of nutrition. 

My little girl is wearing 9/12 month clothing! Although I just purchased a jacket in 18 months...I'm sorry, what?!
Some new developments this month are separation anxiety, reaching for mom, responding to her name (ish) and being quite social when around other children.
Mallory is just so much fun! At risk of sounding redundant, but this is my new favorite age ;) She interacts with us and is curious about everything
I have tons of updates to make to our favorite baby products, so be on the look out later this week for that. 
We are so fortunate to have been chosen to be her parents!
Hope you are having a good week so far. :)

15 May 2014

The FINAL Boys Behind the Blog

 Kyle was emailed these questions the day they were posted on Mal Smiles. When I asked him yesterday about his answers he claimed he "needed more notice" and the day before was "a tight deadline." So, I asked him the questions and typed as he answered. You should know that all answers were given in his "dumb hick" accent. 
1. What was your first job?

Grass cutter. I cut grass. ( I call bullshit. I think your first job was the army. Chores don't count. )

2. What is the biggest risk you've ever taken?

Uh, gettin' married. Havin' a baby. Jumpin' out of airplanes. 


3. What is one thing you can't live without?

Um I like beer 'n I like sports. 

Honestly, quiet time. ( sorry about your luck )

4. What is your least favorite food?

What is my least favorite food? I don't like grits, the human or breakfast kind. HA! ( Holy cow. Alllll class.)

5. If you could time travel, where/when would you go?

Goin' back, i'd go to the dinosaurs, goin' forward, space. ( Not sure he could have sounded less intelligent if he tried. )

He stuffed Totsie Rolls in his lips and again with the accent!
There you have it! The last time Kyle will ever, EVER be featured on this blog. You're welcome.
Kidding. He thinks he is a celebrity when he's on the blog HA! So, undoubtedly, he will be back. ;)

14 May 2014

When did making friends get weird?

I've always been the type of person who prefers having one or two close friends rather than a large group of them. I think thats kind of an introvert thing. Growing up, we moved around quite a bit, but I don't distinctly recall any particular anxiety about making friends. Between school and sports, friends just kind of happened. Then in college you have alcohol your roommates and potentially people you already knew prior to college to help the friend making process along. Making friends as a stay at home mom /"adult" is no joke! 

Where the heck do you meet people?! Not only do I have to get along with the "friend prospect" but I have to agree with how they parent their children. Wait, do I want to become friends with only other parents? I mean, parenting style would be taken out of the equation if they just didn't have kids, but would a non parent understand when I whip my boob out to nurse or leave because Mallory must nap? (Note :: Two of my very best friends not only don't have children but they aren't married. I'm not exclusive about marital/parent status, just sharing by brain vomit.) Do I want to be friends with wives of Kyle's coworkers? Eh. Mixing work/pleasure can get awkward, but we do instantly have something in common. Not to mention Kyle seems to be drawn to the single guys anyway. (I can hear both of our parent's thoughts reading that last sentence LOL!)

Since moving to Alaska I would say I have made 3 ish of what I consider to be friends/enjoyable acquaintances. *high five* One I met through an Army spouse event I attended. One I met through blogging. And the third I met when she flagged me down in the neighborhood for looking under 75 years old and "normal." Yesterday, I met another girl in Target. We chatted for a while then she asked for my number. (See Kyle, I really should start going to Target daily. It's good for my social life.) I was more excited than a teenager being asked on a date LOL! 

I mean, really? Is this how it's done? When I came home yesterday and told Kyle about my Target friend he goes; "wait, so you just talked to a stranger? And she asked your for your number? Isn't that weird?" Well, how the hell else am I supposed to do this?! 

half of the people in this photo are my sisters :)
How do you make new friends? 
Wanna be my friend? (Jk! but for real...)
I'm honored to introduce you to Anne and her blog Love the Here and Now! Anne is a family gal who writes about her beautiful daughters and fantastic husband. She recently started her own linkup called Wednesday Wishes! I'd love for you to go check out her blog and join her link up. Today she is wishing to avoid skin cancer by vowing to be safer in the sun. 

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13 May 2014

"The Roll Up"

Bring. It. On.
Today, Kyle will be taking over. I spend a good bit of time poking fun at all the stupid shit funny things he says. Well. Today, the tables have turned. Kyle will be scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of the fleeting moments in which I accidentally say something less than intelligent or annoying. 
Take it away Kyle!
First off, men make short comments, which could be interpreted as "stupid" while women make long winded speeches.  

Yeah, so? I have to break it way down to make sure you understand. 

Things Amanda says that piss me off : 

K, that's not the prompt. This isn't online marriage counseling...

Say Amanda wants me to take the trash out, this is how she asks : "So, how was your day? How are you feeling? You tired? Are you busy? etc..." A series of random nonsense at the end of which she gets to the point and asks tells me to take the trash out.  THEN she gets pissed I wasn't paying attention to her aimless, wandering conversation!


She will ask my opinion about something knowing full well that she is just going to ignore my opinion. I don't need to "feel included." Just do what you want and don't ask me! You're going to do what you want any way.
"Just do what you want and don't ask me!"PERFECT.

Dumb stuff Amanda has said :

Across the street from the airport in Anchorage there is a small lake where a bunch of smaller bush planes take off and land. Early in the winter we were going to the airport and Amanda noticed the lake wasn't frozen. She said "maybe it's heated." HA! Yep. They heat lakes here in Alaska. 

Ugh, this is when having a bad memory sucks. Or she never says stupid shit. ;)

The material just isn't as plentiful when the tables are turned, huh? ;)
What does your husband/boyfriend have to add to this list? [Dad, this is your chance! After 25+ years of living with all women...]

PS. Kyle created the title for this post. ??

Voyage of the Mee Mee

08 May 2014

The Whole Family

It occurred to me the other day that I have yet to introduce you to our fifth family member. Of course you know me and Mallory. My husband Kyle has made and appearance here and there. I've even shared the story of my special relationship with Schatzi. But, you have yet to meet our "baby dog" LT. 
Kyle and I got LT when we were still just dating. Kyle named her after Bruce Willis' character in the movie Tears Of The Sun. Kyle has since lost any and all naming privileges. 

LT marches to the beat of her own drum and certainly has a feisty side. She is great at letting us know when she is feeling uncomfortable. We frequently joke that she is "an awkward dog." She loves to sleep almost as much as she loves to be outside. 

She is a belgian sheepdog/ siberian husky mix. Unlike her furry sister, LT is not to be trusted off leash and will take advantage of every opportunity to make new friends. She is always the life of the party when we visit the dog park.

People sometimes ask us who LT favors, me or Kyle. The answer is neither. She is Schatzi's dog. :) She thinks the sun shines from Schatzi's ass. Wherever Schatzi is, you'll be sure to find LT nearby. We are certain that Schatzi put in the most work in training LT. 

We could never fathom having fewer than two dogs ever again. It is truly amazing to watch the special bond these two dogs share. LT is so loving and affectionate. We are so excited to watch her build a relationship with Mallory. 

Our family has been blessed by the companionship of two incredible dogs. 

Tell me all about your pets furry family members! They are all so special. 

In the spirit of introductions, I'd like to introduce you to Allison! She blogs at Because I Said So where you will find a little bit of everything. I can honestly say I haven't been able to predict a blog post topic yet! Recently she wrote about this crazy picking trip with her dad and family holiday bloopers.  I hope you enjoy her blog as much as I have :)
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