Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sonic Boom Alarm clock review

Note: (I should probably add these in front of all my reviews)

I am not affiliated in any way with the company selling these items nor any companies making them. Nothing has been given to me in return for my review.



I bought two alarm clocks for my sons. The eldest is struggling with himself and his fiance getting up and not being late for work. Since he's never done well getting woken by an alarm clock, I thought this was a good solution. Since my 9 yr old is also struggling with getting up in the morning, and they were reasonably priced, I got a second one for him in the hopes to improve our mornings.

The buzzer is loud, but not sonic boom loud. But it's loud enough and irritating enough that it should be almost enough on it's own. Knowing just how much my eldest could sleep through though? It wouldn't be enough on its own.

BUT. The KEY piece of technology that makes this alarm clock awesome? Is that there is a little disk that's attached by cord to the alarm clock. You stick the disk under the mattress and it will SHAKE the bed when the alarm goes off. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Sadly, I still have to give this a mixed review. Don't get me wrong. So far everyone has RAVED about enjoying the vibrating alarm clock. But the problem is that they are enjoying the little 'massage' so much that they aren't getting out of bed - lol! And our first go with it with the 9 yr old? He woke up to the vibrations, enjoyed it. When it stopped vibrating, he fell back asleep. Um. Not exactly what I had hoped for.

But, I'm thinking my eldest is going to do better with it. Because it DOES wake you up. And he WANTS to get up and get to work on time. It's just that nothing usually would do the trick to wake him up. So far, so good. With the littlest, he didn't want to get up... so, being woken up wasn't a 'now I need to get out of bed' kind of thing. Which is understandable. I think at least what it does help for our morning routine is that he's at least not in the middle of a deep sleep when it's time for me to tell him to get up and get dressed and hopefully as he gets older I can expect him to become more responsible about doing it on his own.

Trying something old

One of the recommendations (next step) is to start doing something twice a week to cause you to sweat.

Right now the chronic fatigue is so severe that exercise isn't going to happen right now.

A sauna isn't practical and with my frugality goals, a fitness club just to get to use their facilities isn't going to happen either.

So, another option was to take a hot soak with Espon Salts.

OMG. Seriously? Why hadn't anyone ever suggested it to me before? It seems like an old wives tale or something that people quit doing back in the 1920's.

But, holy cow.

My calf pain was at an 8. My arm & chest pain was at a 5. And I had a 3 for upper back pain.

During that 20 minutes? My arm/chest and back pain was gone, completely. And my calf pain dropped to a 1. A 1! It doesn't drop that low when I take pain killers. And they never work as quickly as 20 minutes, ever.

18 hours later, I am still not in as much pain as I was before the bath. I will definitely be doing this again!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Roku review

OMG! This device is AWESOME.

Streaming to tv from Netflix has never been that challenging, but I wanted more than just Netflix. To me, netflix has very limited options and there is so much live streaming on the net, I just thought that there must be a better option.

When I got my Kindle, I test ran it with Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime and while I enjoyed streaming video to the Kindle, I really would have preferred watching a lot of it on my tv. I knew I could get some cables to hook my laptop to the tv for streaming. But either you would have cables hanging around to the laptop, or your up and down waking the laptop up (or turning off your screen saver). Or hopping up and down to pick the next show to watch. All of which meant that I didn't think I would enjoy working with it.

So, I researched online. And I found roku.com. I'd read a lot of reviews from other sites and asked around for opinions and heard only good things about it.

Within five minutes, I had it up and running, hooked up to facebook, my netflix account and was able to find custom content I wanted to watch on blip.tv (knitting podcasts). I haven't found all my favorite podcasts just yet. Nor have I figured out if I need to set some custom channels up (nor how to do it if I want to).

BUT I've used it long enough to know that it is EXACTLY what I wanted in a device.

It's wireless and using your home wifi connection to connect to your internet provider. It's a small box with a remote. You can flip through your channels and watch your home movies from your hard drive and flip through any of the streaming options including several free options. Pay for use options include Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. There are others that are pay per rental - like vudu and Flixster.

For a simple device, it's quite easy to set up and configure. I think it's the bomb.  It also seems really flexible. Since I'm debating switching to Amazon Prime, it carries an Amazon Prime app as well. So, so cool. It was under $50 and it was a great deal, in my opinion. Simpler and easier than setting up the wii or setting up Bluray players and much more flexible. It even allows you to search across multiple channels for the movie you'd like to watch.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas spending got a little out of hand.

I ended up having to take about 700 out of emergency savings to cover the overage. Which did not make me happy. Is it just me? Or is everything SO MUCH MORE expensive this year? I got a few deals and a few savings along the way.  I got $15 in Kmart rewards that expired on Christmas Eve that I've encouraged my son to use for his shopping, so they can have a pinch more for Christmas.

I think I did better for saving up for things when I had the envelop system in play.  I didn't use my checking or savings accounts. I cashed my paychecks and bought money orders. Whatever was left went into 'spending', 'Christmas', 'Emergency' and 'Vacation' envelopes.

I've tried earmarking my savings account... but even with a spreadsheet that said x$ went to y expenses, it just merges together. I did keep some of the money earmarked for Christmas in my checking account, but then in a couple of weeks before Christmas shopping started, I spent a little more on non-christmas stuff than I should have. Leaving me a little short. Add that everything added up faster than I expected and hence we ran a little short.

Hopefully tax refund will help with the recovery and rebuilding of the account, but I hate waiting for that. I'm fully expecting my car won't make it until Spring and I really wanted to use tax refund for a replacement.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pizza

So, I've cut clear back on all dairy products - no milk, no ice cream, no cheese, no cream cheese, etc. Which means that my once-a-week pizza just doesn't happen.

I was quite happy to see that the online Pizza ordering system allows you to order half the pizza (or more) with no cheese. What a great option. I could order extra cheese for my son's half of the pizza. Get the toppings I like with no cheese on my side.

Yeah. soooo not worth it.  Pizza just isn't pizza without yummy, gooey cheese. sigh. What a let down. I knew it wouldn't be 'as good'. But it just doesn't taste very good at all. :-(

MTHFR - under methylation, over methylation

So, one of the things I'm trying to do is slowly work up to the recommended supplementation for MTHFR. According to everything I've read so far, it's best to take it slow and not rush into things. I started really low with Methyl-B12; but since I'd taken it before - I only did that for a few days before going on to a full sublingual tablet a day.

When it was time to start samE, I took one tablet every other day (as the tablet is hard to divide with it's coating). No issues.

So, when it was time to start methyl folate, I started with a tablet a day. No symptoms for the first five days. Then - wham!

My heart was pounding, I was anxious, irritable, on edge. I just happened to have a dental procedure that very day - and they took my blood pressure. It was 140/110. Which is high for anyone. But sky-high for me. In fact, my doctor had specifically asked me to start adding more salt to my diet to try to bring my blood pressure up enough hoping it would help reduce my dizzy spells. These symptoms are apparently text book over-methylation symptoms.

I didn't have any niacin around (supposed to help bind the methyl folate) that night, but I picked some up the very next day so that I can carry it with me in case I have another episode.

I skipped the methyl folate for a couple of days, then I started taking 1/8th of a tablet daily. I spent a week at that dose, and am now at the 1/4th of a tablet a day.

I haven't had any episodes again, so I'm thinking that I'll stick with the 1/4th of a tablet for another week and add a different supplement this week.  Then I'll try a half tablet in a week. Add another supplement in the third week. Then maybe I'll try the whole tablet the week after that. I'm hoping the long, slow build up will help me with my symptoms and see if I can avoid the over methylation symptoms as well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Planning - two more weeks

Christmas shopping... eek!

Goals for the next two weeks:

1. Lunches to work
2. Not planning on putting money into savings this next two weeks, but also not take any money from the savings account either.
3. Try two new recopies with healthy options.
4. Work with doctor to try to get some test result copies sent to me to forward onto a new specialist.

Christmas-specific:

1. Get all the shopping finished without breaking the bank
2. Get the gifts wrapped BEFORE the 24th (instead of wrapping gifts at midnight Christmas Eve)
3. Plan for Christmas dinner and try to avoid over-doing the food prep. There's likely to either be 2 or 5 max of us for the meal, and I don't need to cook for ten like I usually do.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Netflix

So, I've gone beyond my initial free trial of Netflix and have paid for a month of programming. I almost cancelled it before the charge came, but got distracted and sure enough - like clockwork along comes the first month charge. And, I'm sure if one isn't careful - along comes the second month charge and so on. Which is exactly what most of those monthly plans count on.

I am really not finding much shows on Netflix that weren't also on Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. And when you do the math - it's the one of the most expensive options - it just doesn't seem like it until you do the math.

Netflix & Hulu Plus are both $7.99 a month, which is $95.88 annually

Amazon Prime is $79.00 annually.

The "instant queue" feature is much more user friendly and easier to find the items you've found in the past and wanted to make sure you get to watch in the future. I also find that the recommended shows which were based on your previously viewed choices were pretty good fits.

What I didn't like is that there isn't an advanced search. I want to be able to pick something like 'for kids' 'animated' and then put in something like 'lego' or 'turtles' or 'trains' and that just wasn't a feature built into their system.

Before I bought the Roku, I was almost certain that I was going to go with Amazon Prime because the Amazon Prime service is the simplest to use on the Kindle. But with Roku, the vast majority of my watching will definitely be on the two tv's we have. Which means that Amazon Prime loses the advantage that they built into their device. To be honest I have a hard time with devices/software that likes to pin you down like that (my primary reason I don't like Apple products). But, with the device being free and the Amazon Prime being the lower cost option of the three services I've investigated... it seemed like the winner regardless of usability.

I might still go with Amazon Prime in the end, but I want to keep Netflix long enough to try on the Roku. Since it's a monthly service... I can keep it one more month, use it on the Roku - then switch to Amazon Prime. The only issue with that is that I'm not eligible for a second free trial month... so if I spend the annual fee, I'm not going to be able to cancel during the first month and get 11 months refunded. But, I do know how well it works with our other devices and am certain that since Roku includes Amazon Prime as a selling point in it's channel options, that it should work equally well on the device.

Weeks 10 & 11 - progress




1. Basic Steps, continuing
a. Take lunch to work MET
b. Roku has arrived - will be testing after Christmas MET.
c. $200 into savings FAILED - I actually had started off putting $400 into savings. But then had some unexpected expenses (dental work) which required pulling $550 out of savings to cover. So, down $150. But it's still better than I was before
d. Try at least one (hopefully two) new recipes that are healthy alternatives to prepared, frozen dinners FAILED  - things got hectic, and this really didn't work for me.

2. Move the revolving list to Google Calendar - chores to be done and when - easier to set up tasks in Google FAILED  - this didn't work as well either. Need to find another tool that might work better for me.

3. Keep learning more about MTHFR, add an additional supplement to my list to take. MET - though supplement #3 methylfolate ended up being a bit too strong... so I'm cutting it down to take smaller amounts.

4. Install the window insulation as planned last week MET - and the house is MUCH warmer and I've noticed the furnace running a lot less often. For as warm as it is outside? The furnace was still running almost non-stop before and now isn't. Hoping this helps financially!

5. Break my shopping trip into two stops. FAILED - sigh. Things had gotten pretty busy. I do want to start doing this, but it might take until after the Holiday's when things are less hectic for me to start dealing with trying to plan better on my shopping trips.

All in all? Not a great two weeks... but I do think that it's something I can still feel pretty good about accomplishing what I did. It could have been much worse.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Window Insulation in position

The most drafty spot was absolutely in the living room by the sliding glass door. Right now the plastic is like an over-inflated balloon... the plastic is taught from the pressure from the air seeping through the door frame. We put the plastic up and left the house for a cub scout meeting which lasted one hour. In that hour the living room temperature went up four degrees. AND it's not that cold out right now AND the wind is NOT coming from the South (it's really REALLY cold here during a South wind). But the room got a ton warmer just that fast. Which I hope means that my furnace isn't going to be running non-stop all winter. I'm very pleased and that's before I even see the financial benefits. I'm just happy the apartment is warmer.

For the record - I only have two windows - one in each of the bedrooms; and a sliding glass door in the living room. I had to buy a window kit made for sliding glass doors for the living room. And then I bought a kit for oversized windows... one kit was enough to do three windows, so I'll hang onto the extra for next winter. Total cost? $18.00

Sunday, December 02, 2012

MTHFR - next steps

So far....

I've eliminated colabolamin B12 injections and stopped all alcohol intake.

I've added methylcobalamin B12, samE, and methyl Folate.

I've been pretty forgetful about taking my supplements... so I've got a 7-day pill box that is going to work with me to help me during the week. I'm putting the methyl B12 into my purse... and hopefully between the two, I'll be better at remembering.

***

In addition, I've found a doctor of chiropractic medicine that practices in another state, but does skype consultations and specializes in nutritional therapy as well as the most complex cases. She's come highly recommended. I've just finished filling out a 20-ish page form that asks a million and one questions about anything one can imagine. What I like about this - is that it's detailed enough to dig into the things that I might not include on a typical symptom list. But that might be part of the puzzle.

With my regular doctor, if I list off ALL the symptoms - his eyes start to glaze over about mid-point and then he'll pick ONE symptom and only one symptom... and that's what he'll focus on trying to treat. While I get why... the problem is that the symptom he'll randomly select will usually be one of the ones that I'm the least concerned about. So, I've gotten to the point where I only list off the two or three symptoms that are bothering me the most when I go in... so that he'll focus on what I want him to focus on. And of course, he has no memory (with hundreds of other patients) of the whole list of symptoms. When he reviews his files - he mostly just looks at the test results, which look so normal - he doesn't understand why I might have any concerns about my health - sigh.

The new doctor is starting off with the conception that I've been chronically, severely ill - and that she's hoping to help me find a way to manage my illness and try to feel better.  I have high hopes, even if it is early days.