Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Miscellaneous Medical Mishmash for May

This blog is a bit of an online journal for me ... I like the labels and the links and the search function, so I can review past topics myself, regardless of if anyone else ends up reading them. A couple months ago I touched on some medical issues, and I have a couple other posts with "medical" as the label.  I almost wish there wasn't enough to talk about for a post this May ... but there has been stuff, and what can I say, the alliteration of the title was too much to waste.

Nothing major for me, but a couple of minor problems. I developed a rash under my arms. I know it's not really that visible in the picture above ... but it hurt! I figured that this was from sweat and friction from my frequent exercise. I would really try to change after each workout, but I often stop and shop on the way home from Zumba classes (while I'm already out and about) and then as I hit the elliptical several times a day ... shifting shirts doesn't always happen. I did a Google search of "underarm rash" and that did confirm that it was most likely moisture and rubbing related. It also made me VERY glad that's all I had, as there were some NASTY things out there! My little rash, I think I can handle this! Still, it was making movement a little miserable during dancing. One obvious solution would be to wear a tank top (no rubbing material, easier evaporation) but ... I just don't feel comfortable (mental, not physical). I did wear one a few times, on days I wasn't sure I could handle sleeves. 

I also invested in some Bodyglide, and then found a less expensive Gold Bond "Friction Defense" stick. So in addition to deodorant/antiperspirant under my arms, I'd apply a similar stick right there at the top of my underarm. Happily, it has helped. I'm no longer uncomfortable ... but I feel like there is a permanent "scar" if you will ... just a slight reddish shading that isn't fading. Oh well ... like I said, it's not like I wear tank tops anyway.

Back in March ... I mentioned having my IUD removed (after 10 years). While there was a bit of drama there (um ... we can't find it) it was ultimately taken out without trouble, and I had the Mirena inserted instead. On of the positive side-effects can be the reduction or elimination of monthly cycles. I'm thrilled to say that seems to be the case ... THRILLED! I really should have gone back in by now for a string check ... I'm bad at getting back in, it hasn't happened yet.

As May is coming to a close ... I'm struggling with a sore throat. While I guess it could be strep, it just doesn't feel like strep (no fever, fatigue, or mouth swelling like I usually get). I can actually SEE several sores on the rear roof of my mouth. It's so painful ... yet it's NOT keeping me from eating. It really seems like it should, right?

That's it for me ... but poor Hubs! We had several Meniere's attacks back in March. He has since gone to an ENT for for insight. He had an MRI, to rule out a brain tumor (it showed nothing, which is good I guess, unless it was a benign brain tumor that could have been removed and it would have solved the problems ... now we're back to just waiting for the next attack. It happened today BTW). It's miserable, but we've been part of a Meniere's support group on Facebook, and we can see just how much worse it can be! This makes us grateful that we've been able to deal ... but can make us nervous about the future too!

In addition to these dizzy/vertigo/nausea spells ... he also pinched a nerve in his neck. It's been causing him SO much pain. After suffering for several days, I encouraged him to hit Urgent Care (it was a weekend) and he got some muscle relaxers and a set of steroids. It seemed to help some (and steroids are also a course of treatment for the Meniere's issue as well! Double duty?) But just as Hubs was feeling better, he'd tweak it again. Some days he can hardly move, other days, he can work through it, but it's miserable. It's been a miserable May :(  He has an orthopedic appointment tomorrow. Hopefully we can get some help. 

Happily, no broken bones ... and #3's wrist hasn't had any problems. He played in a Spring basketball tournament shortly after he got the cast off. He played great, bouncing back from the break with no impact to his balling. I'd also mentioned a medical bill for #2 ... a basic physical that was coming in at over $200. I was able to work with insurance, and they were willing to work with me, and make a one time exception and pay the bill as if it had been in-network. Thanks Select Health! It does pay to make a call and ask ... and I'll be more careful in the future to make sure I am current on our policy and which doctors we can go to (even though it's SO confusing at times!). 

So there's our family medical recap of April and May ... I kindof hope that nothing much happens and I don't feel the need for another "medical" blog post for a while!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #148

Well ... that loss from last week didn't last. There was definitely a change this week ... ducky distraction! I mean, we had our six little guys, and that had been taking up my time already. But Friday morning, Momma duck and THIRTEEN babies walked by my window! Seriously, I've had a LOT of ducky time this past week.

NUMBERS: Weight was up 2.5 pounds, completely cancelling out last week's loss. Average was down just a but though (to 167.43). Average Intake was 2536. Average Daily Burn was 2949. This equaled an overage of 1276 calories for the week. 22,650 was the weekly step average. 40minWeights, 736 active minutes, 53.62 miles. FOOD: Not a good eating week (shocker!). More time at the computer (window watching duckies) and that does lead to some snacking. Also a little emotional eating attempting to make some basketball decisions for the boys. Only able to keep calories under 2000 one day, and only three deficit days. FITNESS: Got my hour of elliptical in five days, Zumba four days, one session of weights. Four days over 3000 burn, one day over 30k. Here's a weekly recap ...
  • Friday (0520): This morning we had Momma duck show up with 13 babies in tow! I didn't get much done today, just watching babies all day! I did manage my hour of elliptical (having gotten in some earlier) and did weights.
  • Saturday (0521): There was a neighborhood 5k, but due to stormy weather the 12-year old and I wimped out, although the 15 year old still ran it. Just 40min elliptical today, WAY over on calories in.
  • Sunday (0522): Just 20min elliptical today. Hubs went into work, so we didn't do our usual big breakfast. Low key dinner too, but I still went over calories.
  • Monday (0523): Back to the routine ... got in my elliptical and zumba. Stopped at stores on the way home. Spent some time out with the duckies, and in the evening we went out to Maga's house to see her new kittens. I'd done good eating, but then we had chocolate malt there.
  • Tuesday (0524): Our church was having the floors refinished, so Zumba was at the backup location. I stopped at a couple stores on the way home. Spent a lot of time out with the duckies, digging up the garden (it registered on my ChargeHR). 
  • Wednesday (0525): Just my usual hour of elliptical and Zumba, but over 30k today. Stopped at Sam's and Walmart after (also a quick pickup at Sears). The duckies had wandered yesterday, and fallen down a neighbor's window well. We were able to rescue them and get them back home, but I spent a lot of time out back blocking all the little holes in the fence. Just trying to keep them safe! Went to the elementary for #5's 4th grade program. Hubs had a derby today (and yesterday and tomorrow) and he's really been struggling with his pinched nerve.
  • Thursday (0526): Early morning awakening (4:30) to a frantic momma duck ... it was a cat! Hubs and I ran outside to scare it off and round up the ducklings. One baby is hurt, limping now :( I still hit Zumba and got in my hour of elliptical, but much of the day was spent watching the duckies to make sure they were okay.

Momma and babies ...

 T-Shirt from the neighborhood 5k
(the 15 year old ran it)

 Here's the gadget gang after Tuesday Zumba.

 Wednesday Zumba with MZL

 A little picture proof that I don't ALWAYS wear black ... :)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Closing Up Shop?

No, my blog isn't closing up shop. I am struggling with success on the weight-loss front but I plan on continuing posting my journey, such as it is. But when I heard Sports Authority was closing it's stores, I was surprised!  That's what I'll be talking about this Thrifty Thursday.

We have (had ... I'm already thinking past tense) a Sports Authority right close by. It was actually a Sports Chalet for several years prior,  before that company closed it last year. We were happy to hear that Sports Authority took over the building. It had only been open a few months!

I'm not a big Sports Authority shopper  ... nor Sports Chalet before that (I tend to stop at Big5, much to the scoffing and chagrin of Hubs). Everything just seems quite pricey at the specialty sports stores. Sports Authority is  known for their 20% off coupons ... but have you ever checked out the list of exclusions? EVERYTHING!  (I did a perturbed post about it on my family blog back in 2010  What a Racquet). Still, it was nice having it so close, just in case we needed something sports-y quickly. 

When the Sports Authority closing was first announced, and the sign went up, and the "Everything Must Go" emails went out ... I avoided the place like the plague. I LOVE deals, but crowds and chaos? Major anxiety triggers for me and not worth any savings. 

... when my Kmart was on the list of closing stores, I can't say I was surprised. Kmart has been closing select stores for almost a year now. When I discovered the FitStudio program back in Spring of 2014, I did start shopping at Kmart/Sears. I'd make a weekly shopping trip with my points, I started paying more attention to their surprise points and deals, and they would have a lot of great sales and savings. Over the last couple of years, a ton of our clothes, shoes, and other items came from Kmart. When the Fitstudio program folded (Farewell Fitstudio) a few months ago (Feb2016), my shopping trips slowed and almost stopped all together. So while I'm a bit bummed our Kmart is closing, it's not near the tragedy it would have been earlier, when the FitStudio program and my weekly shopping trips were in full swing.

I wasn't sure I'd dare stop in ... but I did. Here in the early days of the "Everything Must Go" I really wasn't very impressed. Kmart's usual sale prices were better than 20% the regular prices, which is what most things were. I had surprise points for $5 off a $20 purchase, so I did pick up a few things that were priced pretty good. I stopped again this last Monday (it's on my way home from Monday Zumba) and prices hadn't dropped any more yet (but I had another $5 off $20, and did find a few more things). Not sure how long until the store actually closes, and if prices will drop more ... I might stop again on another Monday, we'll see.

Another store closing it's doors is Hancock Fabrics. While I used to be quite the crafter and seamstress in days past ... I hadn't needed to go to a fabric store in forever. But then I had my recent re-interest in Pinterest in the past weeks and needed some ribbon to make my cute new hanging towels for my kitchen. So I actually DID hit them and grabbed some rolls of ribbon before they closed their doors.

 This cute basketball ribbon was one of my finds.
My 12-year-old actually commented that this is a cool kitchen towel :)

I always feel a little sad when a store closes it's doors. I wonder what happens to all the employees, and how the empty building affects shopping at the neighboring businesses. Of course, new and exciting companies often revamp the space ... we'll see what happens at these nearby locations.

With Sports Authority stores closing all over ... 
Did any of my fitness friends get any great deals?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Season Finales ~ Series Finales

Time for TV Tuesday! 
A Monthly Reflection on What We've Been Watching
Tis the season ... the season for season finales that is! As the school year wraps up, so does the majority of primetime television. I've been getting in my hour of elliptical most days, while I catch up on the television shows I've been following, my impetus for exercise on the elliptical ...

  • Grey's Anatomy: I still have to say Grey's Anatomy is still my favorite show. I like the drama, the relationships, the intense issues each episode. I was super sad last year, when Derek died, but didn't stop watching, as some fans said they would. As with a couple years ago, I really appreciated the background music. Covers of familiar songs ... it just really adds something for me. This was just a nice ending for the season :)
  • The Good Wife: This wasn't just a season finale, but a series finale. Did anyone else feel a little unsatisfied? Talk about an abrupt ending. Not a cliffhanger, but not a nice, happy, resolution either. I guess it was realistic. While I've enjoyed this series the past few years (I came in late, catching up on Amazon and then staying current) I'm fine with it ending too. Not emotionally attached anymore (unlike that moment when Will died ... ouch!)
  • Scandal: I've been wondering if I should just wait for this show to hit Netflix instead of catching it week to week. I think I could wait.  I'm not terribly attached, although it is one I do enjoy. This season was interesting with the comparisons to the current presidential politics (the former president's wife now running, a blustery, wealthy, businessman too). 
  • Nashville: I've heard this show just got the axe, that the season finale (haven't seen it yet) will be the series finale. While originally I loved this show, I have grown a little detached, so its ending is okay with me. I hope they wrap it up somehow.
  • The Voice: I never got into the show this season, but the 12-year old was a faithful watcher for a while. I'm not sure what happened to make him lose interest completely (NBA games at the same time?) It's the finale tonight ... but he says he doesn't care. I know American Idol had it's series finale this season too. I did watch it for several seasons there at the beginning ... but it had been a while for me since I'd paid it any attention.
I'd watched "How To Get Away With Murder" last season and really enjoyed it. I'd actually missed the initial airing and caught it when it hit Netflix and decided to continue watching as the new episodes aired, but this season? It got a little crazy and I stopped watching. I'm not sure if I'll even finish it. 

The Walking Dead finished up a while ago, and while I was a bit behind, I did manage to finish it up without any spoilers (Hubs is still a full season behind). There was another cross-over in characters there ... I must admit, I've always really liked Jeffery Dean Morgan and his various characters (Supernatural, Extant and this final season in "The Good Wife"). I'm NOT sure about this Walking Dead portrayal! 

... and as other shows are wrapping up, Game of Thrones starts up again. Hubs and I watch this together (upstairs, not while exercising) and are current. I've been a little frustrated with Game though ... there are just so many characters and separate storylines. It just moves so slowly! I did have to admit the whole "Hodor" thing got to me though! Hodor ...

As far as Movies in May ... Hubs took the boys to see the latest Captain America. I didn't go. I've just not been in a movie mood, and based on the previews, I  did NOT want to see this. I don't like conflict. I like both Captain America and Iron Man, I really didn't want to see a "civil war". I actually haven't even see "Age of Ultron" yet either, so ...  At home on DVD, #5 watched some of "McFarland USA" while at a friend's house, and wanted to see how it ended, so I grabbed it from the library. I didn't sit down and watch it, but just working in the kitchen while it was on, I think I saw most of it. It was a cute show. Hubs and I also had a DVD night (complete with his yummy popcorn) and rented "The Martian" from Redbox. While it was actually MY choice, I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. There was a lot of unexpected humor in it. 

The kids ... it's been every NBA game we can get (we do not have NBA TV anymore, so there are a couple that #4 hasn't been able to watch) and then streaming "Friends" for the millionth time (seriously, #3 was able to quote almost an entire episode). I almost miss the kid's interest in the cooking shows ... 

What are YOU watching?

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Re-Interest in Pintrest

I go through phases ... I guess we all do, right?  I can't remember when I first discovered Pinterest. I was late coming to the party, I was NOT one of the first. Those first few days were Pinterest heaven though. Spending SO much time on the computer pinning things, arranging boards, imagining all the great things I would make ...

Then ... maybe months went by when I never even logged on. I might occasionally pin something, just to have it for some future moment of need, or check a recipe I knew I had on hand, but not a lot of time spent on my boards.

Just recently, I've had a re-interest in Pinterest. I've started looking up, and even TRYING some recipes. Yes ... I've been baking, that is NOT good for the weekly weigh-ins! A couple months ago, when Hubs was recommitting to exercise and eating better (another phase which is on hold for him with several Meniere's attacks and pinched nerve pain he's dealing with now) HE actually joined Pinterest and started keeping track of some food and fitness topics. 

Just like in my other social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) ... I have two Pinterest accounts. My original one, and then one set up for my JenB'sJourney, which focuses more on food/fitness (although I do share several boards with my main account). I think the only thing I've pinned lately are Zumba routines though. On my main account however, I've been pinning Birdhouses (I like birdhouses and have a little "birdhouse" garden), Ducks (as we have ducks!) and unfortunately a lot of desserts. I've actually tried out a few pins too!

I do plan on trying a few more of the recipes. I made chocolate chip cookies over the weekend (they were good), a simple chicken dish (just okay), churro waffles (the boys prefer Daddy's regular) ... I do like to "review" what I've tried. It's another board I have. Tried and Reviewed. I even have a "Pinterest" board, for all the funny Pinterest stuff.

 ... you can follow my JenB'sJourney or my family account  and I can follow you back, and see what you are up to. I do enjoy seeing what people are pinning, it gives me a little glimpse into what they are like, what interests them ... at least during a Pinterest phase. I also laugh a little at what Pinterest sends to ME thinking I might be interested in  ... 10 chocolate pins I might like? Seriously, I JUST got this email!

 I should probably go check out these recommendations ...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #147

After being up again last week, I had a great Friday. I kept calories in check and got oodles of exercise. Then Saturday happened ... and there were donuts. It was bad. Eating was definitely an issue this week.  Other than Friday, I just couldn't keep calories low. I did improve on the exercise a bit. And guess what? Logged a loss! Although crunching the numbers, I'm not sure I really earned it ...

NUMBERS: Weight came in at 165.7, which was 2.2 pounds lower than last week's weigh-in. The average though? Up ... 2.2 pounds exactly (to 168.7). I found that a bit ironic. I did cross over into the 170s after the weekend. Bad. Average intake was 2534. Average burn was 2899. An overage of 552 calories for the week. FOOD: I started so good on Friday, under 2000 calories, but it ended up being my only under day.  Saturday there were donuts. Just because there are donuts doesn't mean I have to eat donuts, but try telling that to my brain. And I pulled a "I've already screwed up today, so why don't you make popcorn" that evening. Then there were those Swig Sugar Cookies I posted about last week  ... still around and still a problem. Logically I know half the time I'm not even that hungry ... FITNESS: While I didn't hit 30k on any day this week, I did exceed 3000 calories (FitbitEstimate) on five days. I got in my hour of elliptical five days, six Zumba classes and did two sessions of weights. I also hit the bike a couple times. FAMILY: This was a pretty laid back week, not much going on. I noticed my bedtimes reflected this. There was duckie distraction, as we brought them outside more this week, letting them stay in the pen during the day.

  • Friday (0513): While it wasn't a good weigh-in for the morning, it was decent motivation for me. I kept calories in check and in addition to elliptical and Zumba (which I did on my own) I got in bike and weights!
  • Saturday (0514): Started off great hitting a Zumba class, but when I got home ... donuts. Thus the bad eating began. Uber over, and only 10min elliptical.
  • Sunday (0515): Just 10min on the elliptical felt so hard today. Eating was over with Sunday Circles in the morning, and a brisket dinner in the evening. Homemade oreos too ...
  • Monday (0516): Back to up early, easily got in my hour of elliptical. Zumba with Southziders and some shopping on the way home. Over on intake ... almost all completely empty calories.
  • Tuesday (0517): In addition to elliptical and Zumba, I hit the bike and mowed the front lawn. Almost kept calories under 2000 today, just not quite.
  • Wednesday (0518): #3 needed a ride to a morningside at 6:15, so although up early, it shifted my usual schedule. I didn't get in all my early elliptical but still managed my hour for the day. After Zumba, got steps shopping and putting groceries away. Had a quick basketball meeting over at the high school in the evening and picked up pizza for dinner on the way home.
  • Thursday (0519): Good start to the day with some early elliptical and then Zumba. A quick stop at Smiths after. Hubs and #3 did a derby in the evening. I made Swig cookies again, but did get in a little additional elliptical to end  the day.
 *** Five Photos from the Week ***

Every week I update the steps I receive from my #1 son (on a mission in Mexico). Here are the past couple weeks ... it was the first time I had hit the first place position in a while. I haven't lasted long there, as #4 son resumed the first place ranking ...

My Fitbit Family ...
Interesting to compare the placement with the steps.
It just depends on how everyone else does that week too!

Here's Hubs prepping the brisket ... started it Saturday. 
Low and slow and 19 hours later, Sunday dinner.
Mashed taters and Brazilian cheese rolls too.

#5 out getting the ducklings dinner ... worms! Sometimes we'll just drop everything and spend an hour or more outside letting them forage, while we dig up the garden looking for goodies.  Distracted by duckies! It's been happening a lot lately!

This past week I posted about my trip to Walgreens
I did end up going back and getting basketballs. 
Never can have to many basketballs at our house!

 Fitbit Feedback for Thursday ...
 I really felt like I needed to get one more green spike in my day.
So I did.

So there it is ... another week, another weigh-in, another weekly recap.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Achievemint Update ... Update

Getting PAID for healthy habits? Sign me up! Back when I first discovered Achievemint in 2013, there were a number of reward programs, and I was participating in them all. Over the years, many of the programs have transformed or ended all together.  I always recommended Achievemint to any of my family and friends who had a Fitbit (other trackers and apps work too) because it was so easy. Just sign up, link your Achievemint account to your tracker ... and forget about it. Follow emailed updates, or check in occasionally online, and at some point, you'll reach your reward. Request your redemption (wait a bit) and walla ... $$. 

... and things are shifting again!
Check out my most recent post about Achievemint's Evolution  (August 1, 2017)

I've done a number of blog posts about my Achievemint Experience (Achievemint UpdateFitness Reward Followups, Another Achievemint Update ). So why another post from me? Because there are new changes, and as I notice people checking out my older entries and I wanted to include the most recent information. 

A couple of days ago ... I received an email from Achievemint. Just a form letter, but as far as I know (I've asked around with family and friends) no one else has received it, and it's not on their site (or mentioned on their Facebook or Twitter) so I thought I'd put it out there! GREAT info ...

Hello, motivation. Goodbye, reward limits.

Hello Jen,
We heard your frustration with not being able to earn additional rewards on AchieveMint once you hit your limit. Staying healthy is an ongoing process and we wanted AchieveMint to reflect that. That’s why there’s no limit to the amount of rewards that you can earn now -- it also allows even more members to participate and we hope it keeps you engaged and motivated. We’ve also improved our payout system to ensure prompt reward redemption.
Here’s how our new points system works:
• Earn up to up to 80 points a day for the daily amount of tracked activity you do (biking, walking, running, swimming and other forms of exercise).
• Earn up to 6 points per day for the activities you do fewer times a day (like logging your meals, recording your weight, or taking your blood pressure).
• We now pay you $10 for every 10,000 points you earn, instead of making you wait to accrue 25,000 points before you earn $25.
• You might notice that you earn points more slowly. This allows us to let you earn unlimited rewards and stay motivated to keep doing healthy activities as part of your daily lifestyle. So, we think that’s a good thing.
• In addition, we’re adding new programs that offer extra opportunities for you to earn cash or rewards on top of your baseline AchieveMint points. Stay tuned for more information about contributing to clinical studies through our new AchieveMint Studies product!
• Points expire one year from the date they are earned.

We’re also introducing the newest version of our AchieveMint app for iOS. It’s a convenient way to integrate with Apple Health, earn points faster and get on-the-go updates.
Your friends at AchieveMint

I'd received over $100 in payouts from Achievemint before I received a nice email saying I'd hit their threshold and I wasn't able to earn any more rewards.  I never disconnected my Fitbit or other apps (MFP, Instagram/Twitter), and I guess I was still earning points, even though it wasn't toward a payout. When I received the email above, I logged into my account and had enough points to redeem a reward! I've requested it ... and now I'm waiting, and my remaining points are progressing toward earning again ...

As the email above stated ... Achievemint has adjusted how activities earn. I don't remember exactly what earned how much before, but I do know these amounts are a bit less, but you can still earn almost 100 per day. I weigh in everyday (on my Fitbit Aria, linked to my Fitbit account), my Fitbit records my sleep,  I enter food on MFP and Fitbit counts my steps and active minutes. I also post on Instagram/Twitter daily, and get a little kickback from that. Here's a snapshot of my recent account activity ...

I did add the Achievemint app to my iphone. There are so many apps Achievemint accepts data from, so be sure to check out what is available and make sure you are linked up!

Sign up with this link and get 250 points to start you off!

So ... any other Achievement people receive the email I did? As I AM the go-to girl, I did hear back from family that some accounts still say "you have reached the reward threshold" but I did a quick email to the company asking about this (and got a very fast response too! Thanks Achievemint!) saying that this is temporary, that everyone is earning toward a reward at this point and that should be updated in the next couple weeks. So earn away! I'll update when I receive my most recent reward! ;)

**I received my email about my awards on Friday, June 10, so it took under a month. It's a GiftRocket card, which can be applied to your bank account or credit card. The bank transfer takes a couple of days ... 

***Update November 17, 2016. Hit my 10k. Redeemed and received my reward the next day

****Update March 23, 2017.  I hit my 10,000 and redeemed my award and received it the SAME DAY! Paypal has been added as a reward payout option.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Kindle Unlimited Experience

I've been a Kindle girl for a few years now. Hubs had purchased a Kindle Fire to try, but it wasn't until I added the Kindle app to my iphone that I really discovered digital  ... and became a convert. While I've always loved to read, I had a hard time having books on hand when I found a spare moment. Not a problem any more! I have hundreds of books just waiting for me in my Kindle Cloud (granted, many of these have been free or very inexpensive offerings I've heard about from Pixal of Ink or BookBub ... and often you get what you pay for. But then again, I've been very happy with a ton of these free offerings). I also have a list a mile long of titles available from my library, and I use GoodReads to find even more recommendations (and keep track of what I have read). Since converting to Kindle, my reading repertoire has expanded almost infinitely!

So, while I adore Amazon and I covet my Kindle ... when I heard about Kindle Unlimited, I scoffed a bit. $10 a month? I admit it, I'm cheap, and I have a hard time justifying buying books, especially when I have so many free ones at my fingertips. We have AmazonPrime, and with that, I could borrow a book from Kindle's Lending Library (which I assumed was the same content as Kindle Unlimited ... this is actually incorrect I discovered) so I had access to some of those books anyway (and I have been dutifully borrowing my book a month, even though I dislike reading it on my Kindle device instead of my phone). For the most part, Kindle Unlimited does NOT have the new, latest and greatest stuff (while it advertises best sellers like Hunger Games and Harry Potter as part of the plan, those are older, and I've already read them, hasn't everyone?) so it never even tempted me at all.

Then I read AngelFall ... I'd picked up this for free back in 2013 and finally got around to reading it. I enjoyed it and looked up the sequels (and this is WHY many authors/Amazon offer free  books, to hopefully get you hooked and make you pay to finish the series *Ü*) The sequels were $4-5 each (at the time, prices change and they are just $2 as I post this), and I noticed they were part of KindleUnlimited. I figured if I read both of them, and another book or two, it would be worth a $10 payment (if I just did it for a month). But even better, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial, so, I signed up. And started reading ... I wanted to get my monies worth (even if it was free *Ü*). 

21 books later, I was pretty darn pleased with my 30-day KindleUnlimited free trial. I was happy with the quality of the content and loved being able to access the books from my Iphone (not just my Kindle device). One very pleasant surprise was the audio options. I've just recently adapted to audio and many of the books included in Unlimited had free narration as well. I LOVE this read-along feature Amazon offers (being able to see the book in print and have the narration as well). I started wearing my headphones everywhere, to get the most "reading" in during my trial.

As my month came to a close, while I did enjoy Kindle Unlimited, it just isn't worth a month-to-month $10 fee for me. As mentioned above, I have oodles of books ready to read. I have created a list, tracking books on KindleUnlimited that I would be interested in (sequels to those I picked up for free, those with audio options, or just ones with good reviews that have caught me eye) and maybe I'll actually pay for another month here and there ... we'll see.

That said ... I do always worry about the hassle of canceling a free trial. This was a snap. I just accessed my Amazon account online, went to the "Digital Content" section, and followed the "Manage Your Digital Subscriptions" link. I watched my date, and ended my free trial the day before I would have been charged. Amazon still allowed me access to the content through the next day ... although it did end at 12:00 Eastern Time (I'd planned on a little bit more reading before bed but POOF, my borrowed books were gone!)

Addressing the "Unlimited" portion of the plan ... you ARE limited to ten books at a time. Why do they call it unlimited if there are limits? But seriously, 10 books at a time is fine. You will need to manually return (using the "Manage Your Digital Devices" link) books to allow you to download more.

I'm back to borrowing from my library, and reading the books I already have in my Kindle Cloud. Plenty of content there to keep me busy for a while! But thanks Amazon for the free trial! I just wasn't quite able to finish up the final book (book3) in the Clone Chronicles ... I figured I'd just borrow it as my May Kindle Prime book. But that is how I found out that because a book is part of Kindle Unlimited, it is NOT necessarily part of Amazon's Lending Library.  Lucky for me, I had downloaded the book to an extra Ipod I had ... one with the wifi turned off ...  so I actually still have it on my device for the moment (as long as I don't bring it back online until I'm done!)

Have you heard of Kindle Unlimited? Your thoughts on the program?
My GoodReads Profile.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #146

Well I must admit, I was disappointed when I stepped on the scale this morning. Up again? I was SO determined to turn it around and I tried this week. I really tried! And it was a pretty good week ... or so I thought until I examined the numbers. Okay, maybe I didn't do that great after all (and I really blew it yesterday, the day before weigh-in). There were some improvements though ...

NUMBERS: Up .7 from last week, average was up too (.44 to 166.5). My average intake was 2207, which while still over what I'd like (under 2000) was my lowest in weeks, since February in fact. My average daily burn was 2879, which is my highest weekly average this year. So that's good. Crunching the numbers, I had a weekly deficit of -1663.  I haven't had a deficit in weeks (since the beginning on March).  My average steps were 22259. 40min weights, 789 active minutes, 59.08 miles. FOOD: I really tried to keep things in check this week, and other than yesterday (when I binged on a big box of milk duds and a few other items) I did pretty good. Stayed under the 2000 calorie goal three days. Still a lot of room for improvement on the eating. FITNESS: I had one 30k day this week, I did have a couple in April, but they have been few and far between. I was able to hit a daily calorie burn of 3000+ four days this week (per Fitbit). I got my hour of elliptical in six days this week, five Zumba classes, and I did do a session of weights. FAMILY: Mother's Day this past week. Hubs really struggling with a pinched nerve, a few basketball games ... been baking this week, which doesn't help with the eating at all!

Here's a quick look at the day to day ...
  • Friday (0506): Good day. I got in a Friday Zumba class, did my hour of elliptical, and did WEIGHTS! Kept eating in check ... even with making cookies!
  • Saturday (0507): Busy day, although we had the day off of basketball. I hit a few stores and went out to my folks. Mother's Day for my mom, I gave her a Roku box and PlayOnPlus subscription and spent a couple hours there teacher her how to use it all. Updated her iphone and organized apps too. Did fit in my hour of elliptical, and kept calories in check.
  • Sunday (0508): Mother's Day. I received breakfast in bed, and we got to talk to our missionary. Did go over a bit on calories (RedRobin dinner and made homemade Swig cookies), and only got in two 10min sessions on the elliptical. 
  • Monday (0509): Back at it! Up early, an hour of elliptical and got good stats at Zumba. Some shopping, blogging, and catching up on housework.  Stayed busy and kept calories in check. Late basketball game in the evening for #3.
  • Tuesday (0510): Another full day. An hour of elliptical, good Zumba class, and I mowed the lawn. Went to watch #5's basketball double header in the evening. Barely kept calories at goal.
  • Wednesday (0511): 30k day! Elliptical, Zumba and whenever I go shopping I get in extra steps (Sams/Walmart and putting groceries away). Planted some flowers, and went and watched #2 in a basketball game in the evening. A little over on calories ... should NOT have bought potato chips today!
  • Thursday (0512): Dragging a bit today. Hard to push through Zumba. Broke up my hour of elliptical into several small sessions. Worked on basketball video and did some blogging ... I tend to snack when sitting at the computer. WAY over on calories today ... and then I made cookies, and ate cookies :(  
*** Five Photos from the Week ***
Mother's Day ... a few of my favorite things.

... and a Skype call from our Mexico missionary.

... outdoor time with the ducklings (and #3)

...  made a batch on Sunday, and another batch last night.

My new shirt ... I first mentioned it in a previous blog post, and I DID end up ordering it. It just describes me so perfectly. In fact, here in the picture I'm donning my headphones and audiobook, as I do now when I go to the boy's basketball games. I'm not sure if that counts as re-entering society.

Check back next week ... hopefully I'll improve some of my stats, and shift the scale in the other direction.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Basketballs, Big Bottles and Red Noses

It's  been a while since I've done a Thrifty Thursday post, 
After Zumba today, I figured I stop at Walgreens, as it's right on the way home (yes, I'm a sweaty mess, but if I don't go while I'm already out and about, I won't go). In the weekly ad, I noticed they had some basketballs for $10 each. My boys go though basketballs! I'd also received an email to add a coupon (7000 points/$7 earned on a $20 purchase), so it would be a pretty good deal. I was also thinking I'd pick up a Red Nose while at Walgreens. Have you heard of Red Nose Day? It's aimed at raising money and awareness for poverty stricken kids. It's coming up May26. I purchased a red nose (I actually grabbed three of them) and was given three Red Box vouchers as a thank you!

The Red Nose cost $1 (all proceeds going to kids in poverty) 
Redbox rental worth $1 ... 
That's a decent deal, right?

So sadly, I didn't get any basketballs, I couldn't see any on the shelf, although when I checked online at home, it said the store had some in stock. Unfortunately, the basketballs were in store only, but while online I found some other deals ... I ended up placing an order for $60 (good prices/free shipping) and then got $10 off for using Visa Checkout. I also got over 22,000 in points ($22+ on a future purchase). Deal!

While at the store, I found my big bottle jug again! 
I picked up mine at Big Lots a couple months ago. I've LOVED it. I love my water ice cold, and before, with whatever water bottle I was using, I'd either put too much ice, and then run out of drinkable water during Zumba class, or I wouldn't put enough ice in, and my water wouldn't be cold enough (I know, first world problems, right?) For $5.99, I figured I'd pick up a backup in blue. Good to have a backup, and I've offered my awesome water bottle to my boys as they go play basketball (and often run out of water, especially on double header games). They always turned me down though, not wanting to take my big PINK water bottle for some reason.

I've had a lot of people ask me about my water bottle, so now I can steer them to Walgreens as a possible option. It is on Amazon too, but for much more $$! I do get teased about it too ... saying I must get quite the arm workout carrying it into class. It's true ... but I love it, and love having the water around to drink when I get home too.  My son has teased me that my car thinks it is a small child ... also true, as when I place it on the passenger seat, it will set off the seat belt alarm.

So, I feel like I had a some successful savings (and spending) this Thrifty Thursday. 
Even if I didn't end up getting the basketballs ...

And while we're on the subject of Walgreens ... I did have over 20,000 points ($20) I could have used, but you can't spend and earn points on the same purchase. I guess I could have used my points to cover my in-store purchase, but if you let your points pile up, they do earn a bit more in credit (I like to hit the high of $50). I have my Fitbit tracker attached to my Walgreens Balance Rewards account, so I'm earning about $2 a month with that (and it accumulates). Then I add some points with purchases ... Hubs stopped at the store a bit ago to fill a couple prescriptions and didn't give them our account #. Silly husband! We could have received 200 points with his filled medications. While I was online today, I grabbed the receipt and entered the information and walla ...

Now back to the beginning of this blog post ... Red Nose Day
Have you heard of it before? I think the whole red nose approach is a cute and clever way to get people involved in the cause. I'll be watching the media to see if it pops up on my newsfeeds. I do have to say, as I was posing for my picture ... it was REALLY hard to breathe with that thing on! *Ü*

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #145

To anyone wondering about my blog ... I sure haven't had much success in the weight department in a while. But I do keep posting my weekly-weigh in, as I need the accountability and the record for myself, even if I'm not being an example or inspiration to anyone else. This last week was especially bad ...

NUMBERS: Official weigh-in was up 1.9. And I have to admit, I stepped on the scale more than once and took the lower reading even at that. Average was also up, not by a lot (.15), but up (to 166.06). Average intake was 2679, average daily burn was 2632. An overage of 4044 calories for the week. No strength minutes, 507 active minutes. 39.02 miles. Step average 17593 for the week. FOOD: I actually got ONE day under 2000 calories, but then one day WAY over (what got into me on Thursday? Besides a LOT of food ...) Only managed a deficit one day. FITNESS: Got in my hour of elliptical four out of the seven days. Only three Zumba classes this week (I just wimped out on Monday's class, no good reason for skipping). No bike, treadmill or weights. FAMILY: It was an absolutely insane weekend (basketball tournament, Pammy party, WestraWaffles), but the week wasn't as busy as it has been lately. Here's a quick recap ...
  • Friday (0429): Hubs home for the day. Pulled the kids from school for a passport appointment. basketball games in the evening. Only got in 30min elliptical for the day.
  • Saturday (0430): BUSY day! FIVE back to back basketball games starting at 8:00 in the morning, then a huge family party for my MIL, then spending the evening with family flown in from Seattle. No time for exercise today! Of course I can still overeat ...
  • Sunday (0501): Tried to tidy the house as family was coming over for breakfast, then later we headed out to family for our monthly gathering (my side). I did do 10min on the elliptical, just to finish up the episode I'd started Friday. Actually kept calories in check today though ...
  • Monday (0502): Tired from the weekend, so I skipped Zumba. Still did manage my hour of elliptical. Went to watch a basketball game in the evening.
  • Tuesday (0503): I was in charge of the Zumba class today (so no skipping out) and I got in my hour of elliptical. Had a bit of duckie time while prepping dinner (chicken and rice) and dessert (lemon jello cake). Hubs and #3 did a derby.
  • Wednesday (0504): Got in my hour of elliptical and Zumba, with shopping steps afterward. #2 had a basketball game and #3 and #5 and Maga came to watch with me.
  • Thursday (0505): Hour of elliptical and Zumba. I knew we were going out to dinner in the evening, but I wasn't able to reign in the eating during the day, so I was WAY over after the evening meal!
Pictures of the Week ...

 Party Setup. Chocolate fountain and tons of treats!

 Full family photo

Just one duckling hatched ... had to spend quality time with him.

 ... until we adopted some additional friends.
Still mallard ducklings, but a black breed mutation.

 Watching basketball on Wednesday.

I'm REALLY going to try harder next week on the eating ... except there is Mother's Day ...
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