Monthly Archives: January 2011

Coupon VICTORY!

Yesterday I used coupons for really the first time with any seriousness. It wasn’t a big amount, but it was fun and rewarding to get so much for so little! My savings:

Original Price:
Tampax package                 $6.99
Advil 24ct Tablets              $4.59
Pantene Shampoo (x2)     $6.99 x2 = $13.98
Total:                                       $25.56

I Paid:
Tampax package                 $6.99
.                                                – $1.00 in store sale
.                                                – $1.00 coupon                    = $4.99    (29% savings)
Advil 24ct Tablets              $4.59
.                                                – $4.59 coupon                     = $0          (100% savings)
Pantene Shampoo (x2)     $13.98
.                                                – 2/$7 sale
.                                                – $2.00 “register rewards” (used instantly)
.                                                – $3.00 coupon                    = $2.00   (86% savings)
Total:                                                                                              $6.99    (73% savings)

Totally worth it and lots of satisfaction in saving almost $20 on things we needed!

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More books

It’s another post about books! I know, you’re thrilled. But I just started the 2011 A-Z Challenge, I’m three books in, and the one I just finished almost made me cry, so now I have to write about it/them.

In the order I’ve tackled them, here’s what I’ve read so far:

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamist Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, Elissa Wall & Lisa Pulitzer

I’ve been on a polygamy kick recently. I love and am fascinated by sociology, studies of culture, of how we tick and how we interact, of what is “normal” to others versus “normal” to us. This fascination is why I love fantasy and science fiction: every (well-done) book is basically a big thought experiment in another “normal.” I firmly believe that getting outside of your normal is necessary to being a well-rounded and intelligent person, and I love books that take you there. This one is one of my rare non-fiction reads, and it will plunge you into a world outside your comfort zone.

This book is definitely biased, as is clear in the title’s use of language. But still, it is an insider view into a large polygamist sect in fairly modern times, and how difficult it can be to break free. The story is fascinating and appalling all at once, as Elissa tells us the story of her life, starting with her parents’ marriage (her mother is her father’s second wife) and coming up to present day after she testified against Warren Jeffs for his responsibility in her repeated rape. Elissa was born into the FLDS church and raised in polygamous families (yes, plural, her mother was “reassigned” to a new husband when her father was deemed incompetent by the prophet). She attended FLDS school, wore FLDS clothes, was brainwashed and indoctrinated with FLDS teaching, and at 15, since she was proving troublesome, was married to her first cousin. This is not a light read, but it is extremely detailed and fascinating, and it does have a fairly happy ending (as real-life stories so rarely do). I recommend it to those interested in the topic; if you’re not particularly interested there are definitely lighter reads out there that can still give you a glimpse into this intriguing lifestyle.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

This book and author were pointed out to me by the fabulous Corey when she did her book giveaway, and I secured my own copy when I wasn’t lucky enough to win one. (It’s OK. I have still won her give-aways. Twice. Only drawing(s) I’ve ever won!) The story is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Anna, who was conceived by her parents using science to ensure she would be a perfect genetic match for her older sister. Her sister, Kate, has a form of cancer that is aggressive and “learns” each treatment thrown at it, meaning that once you’ve used a treatment it will never work again. At this point in the book Kate is near death, not from the cancer, but from a kidney shutting down in response to the aggressive treatments it has had to endure. Anna sues for medical emancipation, meaning that she can make her own medical decisions instead of letting her parents decide for her, in order to avoid having to give up a kidney against her will. The book follows the family during the legal struggle and includes many flashbacks to give us background.

Each chapter of the book is told from a different character’s point of view, and I must say, I love that every character has their own font. The book is good, and definitely pulled me in. It was a page-turner and I went through it quickly. But boy is it high on melodrama! Reading the reviews, it seems Picoult’s books aren’t always this high on the melodrama, but this one screams “Lifetime Original Movie.” So if you go into it, go into it knowing that that’s what you’re getting into (complete with corny ending!). But if you don’t mind, and you want some engaging brain candy and/or are interested in the topic, then this is a good, enjoyable book that really does look at some hard questions. Things like, what obligation does Anna have to be a donor to Kate, given that she is the only one who can be but that being a donor is dangerous, painful, and has life-long implications? What happens when a baby, conceived for her cord blood, grows up? How can parents make medical decisions for their two children, when what is best for each is opposite? The ethical questions are fascinating, and are given a fair shake in this book.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

This book is fabulous. I’ll just start right there. Fabulous. I totally get why it is a New York Times Bestseller. It is appealing to almost everyone. There is no niche target audience here. It’s just good.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is told from the point of view of Enzo, a Shepherd-Poodle-Terrier-who-knows mix. I know, sounds like a corny concept. It makes a great book. And looking at reviews, people who aren’t animal-lovers agree. Which I get. Since the other major aspect of this is racecar driving, something I have absolutely zero interest in (really not a big sports fan at all, let alone car racing), and yet, in this book, it’s made fascinating.

The book starts at the end of Enzo’s life, and then Enzo takes us on a recap of all he has witnessed. Enzo was brought home by Denny when he is just a puppy, and watches as Denny goes through life: finding a wife, having a daughter who he is devoted to, becoming a semi-professional driver. And then he watches as it is all torn apart, by fate, by others’ selfishness, by trickery and lies. Enzo is there for Denny through it all, with a unique and insightful look on everything as it happens. As one reviewer on Amazon says, “Bad things happen to good people in this novel, and then worse things, and soon you are so angry, so hurt, so tear-stained and concerned that you do not think for one second to step back and say, hey, wait, this is just a story! A shaggy dog story, at that!” This book Sucks. You. In.

It is fabulous. There is no way to describe it. No way to convey its power. All I can say is: read it.

(As I was reminded today by a client and friend, a warning (and semi-spoiler alert): a dog dies in this book. This is no real spoiler, as I said, the book starts at the end of the dog’s life. But still, if you have lost a dog recently and are still hurt by that loss, this book may be too painful to handle for now. But remember it. And when you’re ready, come back. Because Enzo’s view of death for a dog is a beautiful, if heart-wrenching, thing.)

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Guess what I just did?

That’s right. I got my fat butt off the couch and WENT FOR A RUN.

For the first time since…..high school? I believe it’s been at least 8 years since I went running.

EIGHT YEARS.

And I went today.

I freaking rock :-D

(OK, so it was just a mile. And it took a little over 15 minutes. But I also did a warm up and cool down! And besides, who cares? I flipping ran!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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Year in Review

OK, I’ve seen enough of these wrap up posts, and really enjoyed reading them, that I now feel the need to do my own.

2010 was the year I started blogging. Almost immediately I started using my blog to think things through, as my second post was a long delve into living with invisible illnesses, mine specifically, and the benefits my service dog gave (and gives) me. That post is bittersweet to read, and I remember the painful days at work I described, a good reminder that, unless something changes, I can’t keep going the way I was.

Later I blogged about going to the Vancouver Olympic Games. When I got back, I started my several-month-long search for a new phone.

Moving into March, I blogged a LOT as my world came crashing down and I realized I had to deal with my illnesses. I decided to walk 5,000 steps every day for a week.  I need to do this one again. Wonder where the pedometer went… I talked about some amusing yet shocking sexist comments I faced in my then male-dominated world.

I had a breakdown as I hit the point where I was barely able to function day-to-day and keep my full-time job. I remember feeling this way:

It feels like my mind is going to give out. It feels like it is going to shut off, and leave me rocking in place, unable to move or think or live.

And sometimes it feels like that might be an improvement.

I participated again in my first meme (which has sadly since been discontinued)! For another meme, I wrote about falling in love with my hubby. Still makes me smile! Shortly after that I formally decided to leave my job. Another meltdown ensued.

Due to a friend’s influence, I made one of the most humiliating confessions of my life.

I quit my job.

Read that one again. That was major.

Going into April, I managed to use Twilight to spur a serious discussion of depression. To counteract that, I shared some adorable videos of my puppy training. And then, because I’m a sharing kind of person, I made many happy by sharing my recipe for delicious enchiladas. Even though I can’t spell “enchiladas” without spell-check.

Toby travelled with my hubby and me to meet with my father, and there unleashed the mighty crab hunter within.

I wrote one of my favorite posts on leaving my job, and living with a chronic illness, the day before I left, in which I explained:

Saying to me, “I wish I could leave my job!” is kind of like saying to someone in a wheelchair “I wish I could sit down all day!” Not being able to successfully live a normal life is not something I am happy about or proud of.

Then,  in May, I was adjusting to not having a full-time job. And realizing that I could be happy. I want to go back and find that happiness, now that this is just my daily grind.

In June the depression came back. But on the upside, my hubby came to agility class, and took pictures and video for me, which are adorable.

During July I entered a struggle I’ve had ever since between happiness and society’s expectations. Society’s expectations have become more of mine. I need a higher purpose. And money would be nice. I also talked about how sometimes, the thought of getting better is too scary to face. How sometimes, while I hate being sick, I can’t make myself want to be better.

And, perhaps most importantly, I professed my undying love for my hubby while recounting our wedding dance. And then, in August, I told you about how an octopus shared our bed for one night of our honeymoon.

Ending August and heading into September, I blogged for National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I began to feel healed enough that I needed a purpose again, not just time to heal. I’m still here. I need a purpose..but I need it to be small enough that I can still survive and not relapse into the breakdown my full-time engineering brought on. I participated in my first Spin Cycle (which unfortunately ended soon after), sharing my religious journey. And I continued to flounder on what to do now.

Moving into October, I continued my fast food fast. I grieved for my old job. I looked (unsuccessfully) for someone to practice ASL with (anyone now?!)

In November I took a stand against the TSA. My frustration continued as I couldn’t define what I could expect from myself, given my illnesses.

December started with one of the cutest pictures ever. It led to some home-grown humor. And keeping with the theme, I delivered what I found to be a freaking hysterical story about boobs, but to nary a comment. *tear*

I’ve really enjoyed my 11 months of blogging, and am looking forward to continuing! I am so glad to have this record of my experiences. Thanks to all who come and comment!

 

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