Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Five

TGIF!!!!!! Even though this was a short week it felt long.  I dislike that!  But I like the fact that not only is it Friday but I'm about to start a long weekend/staycation.  I'm picking Rachel up at the airport tonight and she'll be here until Wed.  We have SO many fun things planned.  It is unusually hot in Boston right now and we are ready to enjoy the heat while visiting all the tourist spots, going to the NKTOB/Boys To Men/98 Degrees concert, and going to Fenway for a tour and then to see the Red Sox beat play the Rangers.  Woo hoo!!!  So excited.






1.  For all you FRIENDS lovers out there you have to watch this video.  It is an exact remake by Elon students on the campus.  I love my college.  So proud to be a graduate of this amazing school!!

 2.  Speaking of Elon. . . I ordered my brick.  I am pretty happy that they are doing this again.  Ever since I was a student there I've always wanted my name on one of the famous Elon bricks!  Can't wait to go back and visit so I can find it (once it is done).


Here it is! This is the panoramic pic Brian Williams snapped from the platform during his #ElonGrad address. #Elon

3.  Oh and STILL speaking of Elon. . . Brian Williams was the graduation speaker there last weekend.  His son graduated so it only made sense right!?  It is crazy to me how Elon is so much more "famous" now b/c when I went there nobody had ever heard of it!  Now everyone knows it and always has something nice to say about it.  He took a panoramic photo on his iPhone during his speech and then said he would email it everyone.  Lol!


 
4.  Don't worry new topic.  My brother Scott says I can add "plumber" to my resume since I successfully bought and installed a new toilet seat all.by.myself!!!  Mine broke and I really didn't feel like dealing w/ my landlord so I just went to Home Depot and bought one (w/ Scott's help over the phone - he works in a plumbing supply place so he is my go-to for this)!


5.  My neurologist said to eat high fat foods when taking my new oral med Tecfidera.  Since I always follow doctor's orders I got pancakes from the McD's drive through today.  I was just getting a sweet tea but then saw those and thought I would try them.  They were pretty good for fast food pancakes!  Day 4 of new med and all is going well.  No more flushing since day 1 and feeling ok overall.  Happy!!!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  I know I will!!






Thursday, May 30, 2013

May Cara Box

For the 2nd month in a row I participated in the "Cara Box" exchange that Kaitlyn from Wifessionals organizes.  To check out my April Cara Box go here.

This month the theme was "Let's Get Regional" so we had to send things that were related to where we live.  Fun theme right!?

I was matched with Holli from Holli's Hoots and Hollers to give.  She lives in Dallas.  I was matched with Laura from Simply Me, The Way I See It to receive.  She lives in Dallas too.  Weird right?!  Even weirder is that Laura is real life friends w/ my blog friend (and now real life friend) Rachel.  Small world!!

So here is the Boston "stuff" I sent to Holli:

I love the cover of this issue of Boston magazine and I thought it was perfect to include in the package in light of how much Boston has been in national news lately!  Of course I had to include some Red Sox stuff and Dunkin Donuts coffee for making ice coffee in that big cup.  Cape Cod chips are a fun local snack too!

Laura is the sweetest and really went above and beyond with my Texas gifts!  The coral thing in the background in a beautiful infinity scarf that I am in LOVE with!!!  She also sent a necklace and earrings and said that all 3 of those things reminded her of a TX sunset.  Love how she thought outside of the box on that one!!

She also included some goodies - candy, jam and ketchup! Lol!  I look forward to checking out the Texas recipes too.  I love everything.  It was so fun to open.

(But don't get me started on the ordeal of picking it up at UPS.  Ugh!  So frustrating!  It was worth it though)!

Thank you so much Laura.  You are so thoughtful and I really appreciate the gifts and note!

Here is a better picture of the beautiful scarf.  I wore it to Peyton and Ella's dance recital!

I won't be participating in the Cara Box exchange in June.  I have a busy month with Rachel visiting for 5 days and then a trip to CA for a vacation and wedding.  If you want to participate head over to Kaitlyn's blog and sign up.  It is a great way to get to know other bloggers!



Cara Box







Wednesday, May 29, 2013

World MS Day And An Update

Today is World MS Day.  In honor of this day I thought I would share an update about me and my MS.  I realize it has been awhile since I've done a "health" update which I guess means things have been pretty good.

May also happens to be the month when I have my annual MRI.  A few weeks ago I had an MRI of my brain and neck both with and without contrast.  It takes about an hour so it is a good thing the MRI doesn't really bother me.  

A few days after that I went for an appointment with my MS neurologist.  Would you believe it had been an ENTIRE YEAR since I had last seen him?  He couldn't and I don't think he was very happy!  Ha!  Actually I think he was just surprised b/c in the first few years of my diagnosis I saw him quite frequently b/c it seemed like there was always SOMETHING going on.  Finally my MS seems to have settled down (knock on wood).

My neurologist told me that my MRI looked great.  No changes!!!!!!  Woo Hoo!!!!!  That is what us MS'ers want to hear after an MRI.  Changes/new lesions are bad.  


So the reason I hadn't gone to see my neurologist for a year was mainly b/c I was doing ok and also b/c my health insurance changed at work and w/ my new plan I have a huge deductible and have to pay a percentage of all my visits until I "max out."  Well I don't have an extra $1,500 laying around so I put it off.  But I finally decided to bite the bullet and go b/c I wanted to switch to one of the new oral medications for treatment.

For those of you who don't know, for the past 4.5 years I've given myself an injection once a week.  Up until recently the only MS treatments where injections.  Not fun.  But you do what ya gotta do.  Until now. . . now there are new oral meds and they are working really well for people.  I passed on the first oral med that was released last year (for a number of reasons and if you really want to know feel free to ask in a comment - don't want to bore the rest of you).  


In March Tecfidera (formerly known as BG-12) joined the ranks of first-line, disease-modifying therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat MS.  The exciting thing about this medication is that it is not a new med.  It has been used since the 1990s in Germany for treatment of psoriasis which means we known some of the longer term effects (if any).  

So I took my first dose yesterday.  This treatment requires taking two pills per day - one in the morning and one in the evening.  For the first 7 days I am on a half dose to give my body a chance to adjust to the treatment.


This medication (like all/most medications) does have some potential side effects.  The two main ones are GI issues and flushing.  So it is recommended to take the medication w/ a full meal and high fat foods are better b/c it slows the absorption of the med.  This is a hard adjustment for me b/c I don't usually eat a big breakfast.  But for the time being I will eat w/ it b/c I certainly don't want to have a stomach ache from it (or worse if you know what I mean).

With the flushing people can take a baby aspirin or benadryl to help but I guess for most people it usually stops after a few weeks.  I did have some major flushing yesterday.  It was the weirdest thing.  About 4 hours after my morning dose my ears got really hot.  Then my arms turned bright red and looked sunburned.  They were so hot and itchy I couldn't stop scratching.  After about 20 minutes it was gone and I was fine.  I didn't notice anything at night (b/c I was probably sleeping when/if it happened).

For anyone reading this that is considering switching please feel free to ask me anything about it.  I'll give another general update in about a week when I switch over to the full dose.


Wow this post got really long!  On a more personal note. . . I want to thank all of you, my donors, for your generous donations over the years.  It is absolutely amazing to me the advances in treatment for MS in the {almost} 5 years since I've been diagnosed.  Think about it - people hearing the words, "You have MS" today will be given the option to take oral meds. . . NO MORE INJECTIONS!  How freaking cool is that!?  Take it from me, someone who have given herself injections for almost 5 years - it is pretty awesome!  

I just want everyone who has donated to MS to know that YOUR donation makes a difference.  This is a disease that can be cured.  I'm sure of it.  The research has led to so many treatment options that are saving peoples' lives.  People w/ MS are much "healthier" today then they were years ago and this is due to these amazing treatment options now available.  So please don't ever think that your donation doesn't make a difference - 5 bucks, 25, 100 - it doesn't matter.  Every single dollar helps.  So thank you.  Thank you for helping to change the course of my treatment.  Thank you for allowing me to swallow a pill instead of doing an injection.  It may not seem like a big deal but it is.  It is a HUGE deal.  Take it from me.

P.S. I'll be walking 50 miles for MS in September at the MS Challenge Walk.  Go here to view my personal fundraising page and make a donation.  I'm sure I've convinced you by now (if you made it this far)! 

P.P.S.  I AM NOT A DOCTOR.  PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE MAKING ANY MEDICATION/TREATMENT CHANGES.  THIS POST REPRESENTS MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND I'M NOT ADVISING THAT ANYONE ELSE CHANGE TREATMENTS W/O DISCUSSING IT WITH A DOCTOR FIRST!!!!!!












Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

I had a rather low key weekend.  It was good though.  Three day weekends are THE BEST!

I love that on Sunday night when you usually have that terrible feeling (come on I can't be the only one) you then remember that you get one more day off. . . so great!

 
Want to know what wasn't great?  The weather!  This is what the sky looked like at 4:30 PM during my drive home Friday night.  I've never seen anything like it.
 
On Saturday I went to Peyton and Ella's dance recital.  This was the first time I was able to go since they started dancing.  The last 2 years I've been out of the country during Memorial Day weekend and missed it.
I love this picture of Ella puckering up in the mirror.  Too cute!

They both did such a great job!  Ella (in blue) had one dance.  She was so cute and knew all the moves unlike several little girls in her class.  Lol!  Peyton was in 2 dances - "I Have No Strings" (costume above) and "Ladybug Picnic."  She did such a good job.  She had the biggest smile on her face and looked like she was having so much fun.  It was nice to see b/c she tends to be shy!

Sunday I went to the Wrentham Outlets.  I had attempted to go on Sat but it was SO crowded and pouring rain.  So I left.  I went back on Sun and got there when they opened.  It was still crowded but not as bad.  I got a dress for a wedding I'm going to in a few weeks and a few other things.  Maybe I'll share some pics later this week!

My mom treated me to lunch at Cracker Barrel after shopping and it was so good!  The server sold me on the Sunday special chicken and when I couldn't think of what I wanted for my 2nd side she sold me on fresh strawberries.

On Monday I met my friend Kendall for lunch at PF Chang's.  I was so happy to see that they have added sangria (my favorite) to their menu.  Yum!  Oh and I would also like to point out that this is the first time I had alcohol all weekend.  Sometimes when I blog I feel like every picture is of a drink.  I really don't drink that much!  Haha!

I had lettuce wraps but dove in and forgot to take a picture.  Love those things.  Oh and this was my fortune.  I guess it doesn't say for who. . . it is safe to say there wasn't much love and affection going on in my apartment last night (unless you count the season premier of The Bachelorette)!



On Monday afternoon this motivated me out of my apartment to take a walk.  This is one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen.  Flags as far as you could seen on the Boston Common.  You may remember that this hill is the same hill that was the bane of my existence just last weekend during bootcamp.  Well this weekend it was just glorious.  Breathtaking really.

33,000 flags.  Wow!  It really was such a beautiful site.  I'm so glad I got off my butt and went to the Common.  I needed to walk to continue my training for the MS Challenge Walk but I have a hard time motivating.  This did the trick.  I took the T down to the Common and walked home.  My walk ended up being 6.25 miles.  I love walking through the city.  It makes the walk so much more interesting.

After walking through the Common and Public Gardens I made my way to Boylston Street.  The Arlington Street Church has this beautiful display along their fence.  All the cloths had messages of hope.  So simple yet so pretty.

Some of you have asked me if the Boston Marathon tragedy memorial is still there. . . it is.  It looks just as amazing as it did when I first saw it despite the rain.  The 4 crosses are still the central point and they are surrounded with so many tokens and messages.  I wonder how long they will leave it there?

It was such a beautiful day on Monday after two days of temps in the 40s/50s this was much appreciated.  It was such a great day to be outside.  I loved walking through the city.

Oh and just in case you needed proof that I really did walk 6.25 miles. . . my blister and another one was starting on the side of my big toe.  Ugh!  I dislike blisters.  Hoping to get my feet tough by the Challenge Walk.  50 miles and blister free?!  It could happen!

I hope you had a fabulous Memorial Day Weekend.  I know I did.  I have a love/hate relationship with 4 day work weeks.  They are short but you end up cramming 5 days of work into 4!  Oh well - just 4 days for me and then a 4 day weekend since I took Mon and Tues off next week for my staycation/Rachel's visit!!!!!



 











Friday, May 24, 2013

Mentoring Night At Fenway



Last night was Mentoring Night at Fenway Park.  Taylor and I have attended this annual event for MANY years now!  It is always a lot of fun but w/o fail pretty much every year it rains.  Last night we were lucky enough to leave before the rain started.  The game was SO slow.  We left at about 9:15 PM and it was only the 5th inning!  Then right after we left Cleveland scored a bunch of runs.  So we chose the right time to leave.  Haha.  It was so nice to see Taylor and catch up.  She is taking Driver's Ed which seems so crazy to me since when I met her she was only 10 and in the 5th grade!!!!!

So today I'm tired from being out last night.  This was the longest.week.ever.  Really it was.  Does anyone else feel that way when they know they have an extra day off coming up?  I always do before holidays and vacations!  So happy to have a 3 days weekend even thought the weather looks terrible.  Tomorrow is going to be in the 40s.  What!?

Oh and next Friday Rachel will be here!  Woo hoo!  Can't wait for her visit and my staycation!!!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Album "To Be Loved" from Michael Buble (Review)

Disclosure: I participated in this campaign for One2One Network and received a free copy of the album to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for certain incentives. However, all opinions stated are my own.

 

When One2One Network offered me the opportunity to review "To Be Loved" by Michael BublĂ© I didn't even have to think about it.  I immediately replied "yes!"  I love Michael and have a lot of his music on my iPod.  I was really excited to hear he was releasing a new album with 4 new songs and an additional 10 classics.  I've now had the chance to listen to the entire album several times and I really like it!

This album has classics we all know and love like "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "You've Got A Friend In Me."  Another classic, "Something Stupid" done by Nancy and Frank Sinatra is on this album and Michael sings it with Reese Witherspoon.  I adore her and thought she was fabulous as June Carter in Walk the Line.  She sounds great singing this song too.

For original music on this album I think my favorite is "It's a Beautiful Day".  I think the reason I love it is b/c it sounds so upbeat and cheery but if you listen to the words you realize it is about a breakup!  The message is basically that life can be good after a breakup.  Love it!

Listening to Michael BublĂ© sing just makes me happy.  It really doesn't matter what he sings about.  His sound is great and this album does not disappoint.  

I suggest you make your way to iTunes to download it right now!

To Be Loved

Release Date: April 23, 2013

1. You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It's A Beautiful Day
3. To Love Somebody
4. Who's Lovin You
5. Something Stupid featuring Reese Witherspoon
6. Come Dance With Me
7. Close Your Eyes
8. After All featuring Bryan Adams
9. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You with Naturally 7
10. To Be Loved
11. You've Got A Friend In Me
12. Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You) featuring The Puppini Sisters
13. I Got It Easy
14. Young At Heart

  


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ultimate Bootcamp Is No Joke


This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a free Ultimate Bootcamp class for bloggers on the Boston Common.  It was organized by Blog and Tweet Boston.  Anyone who knows we well knows I don't really like working out.  I don't like to run.  Oh and I don't like the gym either.

So why the heck did I sign up for this class?  I figured it would give me something to blog about. . . just kidding.  I wanted to see if I could do it.  I wanted to see if I would like it.

For those of you who are not familiar with "bootcamp" it is a 1 hour small group workout.  The instructor/personal trainer takes your through a series of exercises working out your entire body.  No two classes are the same.  Oh and it is no joke.  It is definitely a good workout.  Believe me.  I know since I am just now walking w/o wincing in pain.


This hill may look small and innocent but it is an evil hill.  Try running up it after doing 3 sets of squats, squat jumps, push ups, crunches, and many other exercises that I can't remember the names of.  My heartrate was up and my breathing was heavy.  This was a good workout.


Jill did a great job at giving modifications to people (um me) who needed them.  It was very helpful seeing that I am not in good shape and some of the other participants workout regularly.  Even though the participants were at varying levels of fitness the class flowed along nicely and I never felt "bad" about not being able to keep up.  I worked at my level and that was fine.

So how am I feeling now?  Well finally, 3 days later, I can walk up and down stairs w/o being in complete pain.  On Sunday every time Peyton said, "I'll race you."  I thought to myself ok but I couldn't beat you even if I wanted to right now!  Like really it was that bad.  I haven't been that sore since after day 2 of the Challenge Walk (and that was after walking 40 miles I might add).  So yeah this workout is good.  Now please realize that I am VERY out of shape as I have not worked out in quite some time (like over a year) other than walking.

Would I do it again?  YES!  I know even I'm surprised.  It was kinda fun.  I like doing workouts where there is someone telling me what to do.  I'm not good at going to the gym on my own.  I need direction and instruction (and motivation).  I think Ultimate Bootcamp would give me all that.

Could I actually commit to 4 classes a week for 4 weeks right now?  Um no.  But only b/c my schedule is crazy for the month of June w/ 2 vacations.  After that it will be way too hot.  MS and heat don't mix so I will not be able to do outdoor summer workouts.  But I do plan to keep this in mind for the fall.  (And if I forget all of you can remind me that I said this.  Haha!)


Here we are after the workout.  Proof that we all survived.  Actually some of these bloggers are in really good shape!  I was impressed!!

It was a fun experience and I'm glad I tried Ultimate Bootcamp.  If you get a chance to take a class I would definitely recommend it.  If you go to the Ultimate Bootcamp website you will see a spot on the right hand side where you can get a free class.  I think that is a great way to see if you like it before signing up for a 4 week session.

Thanks to Jen and Kerrie from Blog and Tweet Boston for organizing.  Thanks to Jill for kicking my butt! :)



Have you ever participated in bootcamp?


 










 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Peyton Sleeps Over

This weekend Peyton slept over my house.  It should never be called a "sleep" over b/c there is very little actual sleep.  But I digress.  It is always a lot of fun to spend one-on-one time with either Peyton or Ella and this weekend was no different.  Hope you are ready for a picture overload! (FYI Peyton still had her curly "dance" hair from professional picture night).

Saturday I picked Peyton up and asked her if she wanted to pick a restaurant nearby (near her town) or if she wanted to go back to Boston and walk to a place near my apartment.  She picked option 2.  Would you believe I forgot my iPhone at my apartment when we went to dinner!? Shocking I know but don't worry I made up for it the rest of the weekend.  So we went to dinner then the the Charles River to feed the ducks  and play on the playground burn off some energy and ended the night with ice cream!




Sunday Peyton was up at 6:30 AM and ready to go.  "I want to get dressed.  When can we get dressed?  When can we go do fun stuff?"  I held her off for an hour with a couple tv shows and then we were off.  We walked to breakfast at a diner in my neighborhood, then took a quick stop at Target for sunglasses for Peyton (we got Ella a pair too) and then spent the day at the Boston Common.  A Swan Boat ride, a balloon hat, a picnic lunch, a ride on the merry-go-round, visiting the swans and more were on the agenda!












It was such a beautiful day in Boston.  We had such a nice time.  Peyton loved doing everything and wanted to do it all over and over! I kept her to one ride on the Swan Boats and one ride on the merry-go-round with a promise of coming back for a future visit.  Oh and she begged to "ride the subway" but I told her next time (it was easier to drive since I had to bring her home after).

Peyton at 5 1/2 is a lot of fun to be around.  She talks A LOT and the majority of her talking consists of asking questions.  I forgot just how exhausting that is.  Ha!

"Jodi why did you park here? Is this your parking space? Do you always park in this space? What if someone else parked in your space. . . ?"

"Why do you go in this door? Do you always go in this door or only when you get your mail? Who is that package for? Do you know him?"

"Why are you driving in this lane? Can you drive fast on the highway? Why did you move over to a different lane? Are we on the highway? Are we getting off that exit?"

"Why is the swan sitting on the nest? Are there eggs under there? Will she get up?"

"Do ducks have teeth? Do geese have teeth? Will they bite us?"

"Can we go on the merry-go-round now? Can we have lunch yet? Can we have a snack? Can we blow up the beach ball?"

That my friends is just a sampling of the questions.  She really did ask me questions all weekend long.  It is too funny to see how their brains work.


We met up at an ice cream shop for the "exchange" and Ella really liked her new sunglasses that Peyton picked out!  And since we were there we had to get some ice cream!  Warm weather weekends are the BEST!!!! 


Linking up with Leeann for Monday Morning Gossip. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

How To Make Your iPhone Battery Last Longer


I've got some information that will change your life.  Yes it is that good.  Don't you hate when you are only halfway through the day and your iPhone battery is already at 50%?  Well recently I was having problems with my iPhone battery dying before the day was even close to over and that was just not going to work for me.
So I made an appointment with my BFFs at the Genius Bar and I learned something that nobody had ever told me before.  How is this even possible?  I've had an iPhone since the beginning of iPhones and nobody ever told me this important info that would greatly prolong my iPhone battery?!  Well now that I know this little secret I'm going to share it with all of you.  It is your lucky day!!

 On your screen find your "settings" app.  Mine is the gray one - top row.  Open it.

 Now click on "notifications."

Now you want to look at the items under "In Notification Center."  All of the things listed in this section are basically open on your iPhone.  They are running in the background even when you aren't using them b/c they are set to send you notifications, alerts, etc.  By closing the majority of them (since you really don't need most of them open at all times) you will increase your battery life.


I had already closed the majority of mine but I put Words With Friends back so I could show you what to do (by the way the guy at the Genius Bar told me Words With Friends when "open" is a huge battery drain - who knew!)

Open the app you would like to close - in this case Words With Friends.

As you can see all of the "alerts" are on.  This is bad b/c it means the app is constantly searching for alerts and using battery power to do so.

You will need to go through and click "off" for everything.  You will also need to select "none" under "Alert Style."  Your screen should look like this when you are done.


Now you will notice when you go back to your "Notifications" screen that Words With Friends is not listed under "Not In Notification Center."  You will need to go through and close each app that you do not want/need alerts.

As you can see in the photo above I left 7 "open" b/c they are things that I want to get alters for - like phone, text, calendar, etc.  I did not leave my email open b/c I just check that as needed.

I've noticed such a big difference in the battery life of my iPhone since doing this.  It is great.  I suggest you take a look into your settings and see if you can make any changes.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Good Luck!!