Monday, December 31, 2012

To Be Continued....

I would recap my very emotional Christmas trip to Phoenix, list some resolutions or wish you all a Happy New Year, but instead I will lay here in bed and succumb to the flu. 

What a way to end 2012.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

My NJ holiday celebration is today and preparations for both that and our flight to Phoenix tomorrow have begun. My raspberry swirl rolls are doing their second rise. The laundry is going. NJhusband has been tasked (but STILL hasn't done) with digging the suitcases out of the attic.  Eggs and turkey bacon will round out our brunch. Then we will sit around the tree, open presents and our stockings and spend the rest of the day lazing and playing with our new toys. Then the frantic packing will begin and the day will be topped off with smothering Orion with kisses and attention. I hate leaving my puppy boy!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I decorated our home, put up a tree and will host a Christmas Eve brunch before flying to my parents house in Phoenix on Christmas day, but I'm finding it hard to have the Christmas spirit this year.

I didn't want to fly to Phoenix this year. I should want to see my elderly grandmother. I should be excited to see my nephew for the first time. I should be happy to spend time in a place warm enough to swim outside on Christmas day. I want to WANT to be excited. Instead I'm filled with fear and anxiety.

The awful thing about my particular brand of anxiety is that if I was flying alone I would have no problem going. I'm not afraid to fly. Before I was married I traveled the world and took photographs. I just can't be around people I know, even NJhusband. My therapist says I need to let go of the idea that I need to be perfect at all times. I know she is right, but it is so ingrained into me that I don't even have the awareness that I'm doing it. She suspects it comes from my thoughts on being adopted. What is more perfect than a newborn baby, with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes, too new to have ever made a mistake? I wasn't wanted then (in my head), so how can I be wanted now, 33 years later with a few decades of wrongdoings under my belt. Certainly not practical thinking, but anxiety doesn't tend to hang out in the reality part of the brain.

I had hoped this year would bring NJhusband and I news of a baby, but it hasn't happened for us yet so 2012 seems like the ultimate in failure for me. Another spirit crasher.

I am too hard on myself, I know, another thing I pay a therapist to remind me of weekly. I wish I could bottle the feeling I get when I leave her office every Wednesday. For a few hours I feel hopeful and strong. I think that is a good sign though. I wasn't getting that feeling anymore with my former therapist, so at least I can acknowledge the progress.

In less than 48 hours I need to tap into my holiday spirit. I need to stand up to the anxiety so I can enjoy my family, the sun, a trip with my husband funded by my generous parents.

Nothing says holiday spirit like telling anxiety to go f*ck itself. LOL

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Conversation

Like most of the country, I have been glued to my TV these past few days watching Sandy Hook. I have watched the same footage over and over. I have listened to the reports, the speculation and a LOT of dialogue. Most of the conversation is about guns, which inevitably leads to the politics and calls for reform.  

I don't believe this is a gun control issue. This is a health care issue. The conversation needs to be about mental health and its surrounding stigmata.  

It isn't easy to get help for psychological disorders. Insurance coverage is often limited or non-existent and you risk alienation by your loved ones.  5 years ago when I decided to get help, I battled a family not supportive of therapy, a fear that my job would find out and limited number of providers. I had good insurance coverage at the time and called 9 doctors before I found someone who was covered by my insurance, accepting new patients and had a next available appointment sooner than 4 months out. At a very dark time in my life I was turned away by doctor after doctor and even once I found one, then spent months battling my insurance company over coverage regarding the dosage of meds my doctor was prescribing.  Telling NJhusband about my panic disorder while we were dating was one of the hardest things I have had to do. Feeling and navigating the reactions of his friends was a close second. Living with a behavioral disorder is hard enough. It doesn't need to be made any harder by the government, the insurance companies or society. 

When shootings happen, out of deference for the victims, we try not to focus on the man behind the gun. Maybe instead we could focus on him more before he gets to the point of seeking a gun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy - 6 Week Update

It was 6 weeks ago, but the effects of Sandy still linger on here in New Jersey.

- The grocery stores are all up and running again. My beloved Trader Joes by the waterfront finally was able to re-open 2 weeks ago.

- The gas restrictions have all been lifted and there is no longer a danger of any shortage.

- Orion's vet is still closed due to damage they sustained and will likely not open until sometime in January.

- My eye doctor had 7 feet of water in the office and has been closed since the hurricane. They are hoping to start seeing patients again next week.

- The trains are running on a very limited schedule. The main Hoboken terminal is still closed and I heard yesterday it may be 2 more months before its back to what it was. The other trains run only from 5am-10pm (more like 9:30). NJhusband says it's like having a strict curfew again. If you miss that last train, the cab fare from NYC-NJ is killer. If you can even find a cab driver willing to take you!

I think a nice Christmas gift for Mother Nature is in order. Maybe she'll be nice to us next year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I'm a big couponer and LOVE a good deal. I try not to pay full price for anything, but I'm not extreme by any means. I don't frequent the resale stores or the Dollar Stores (there aren't any in my area anyway), but I do have a price book where I keep track of the cost of our grocery and household items so I know if a sale is truly a good sale and I do research purchase to make sure things are a good price. This time of year is GREAT for bargains and lately I've scored a few!

Around Cyber Monday Amazon was having a KILLER deal on Amazon for a Dyson. These rarely go on sale, so scoring one of these for $299 was amazeballs. I am still amazed at how my rugs look new again every time I use it.

 Some coupon queens think wearing brand name clothes is a waste and would never think of paying for a 
brand". I don't mind paying for a name if I know it's going to last or even if I just find something I LOVE. I buy clothes for myself so rarely, this is one area of our budget where I splurge a little sometimes, but I still try to look for good deals.

This year I splurged on some real Uggs for myself. I have a pair of brown boots similar to the Ugg style, but I have always coveted a pair of REAL Uggs. I finally broke down and got myself a classic black pair.

I'm a housewife and rarely get out of my PJs, but one of my New Years Resolutions for next year is going to be to try to step it up a bit for NJhusband. There is a difference between yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt and yoga pants with a fitted sweater. Way back in my High School softball days, I ripped a rotator cuff and had an unsuccessful repair surgery. My shoulder still gives me trouble and pulling shirts over my head is difficult, so I have become OBSESSED with cardigan sweaters. EVERY year my mom asks me what I want for Christmas and I always tell her cardigans. 

LOFT had a 50% off sale so I snagged these two for $22.25 each. Yay! 

I wear NJhusband's down vest a LOT. So much so that whenever he is home and wants to wear it I am bummed. I was paging through a Land's End catalog that came and fell in LOVE with this one. I waited and waited for a sale and finally they had a coupon code for 40% off one item. I paid $29.40 for this one and wear it ALL the time. 

Anyone else score any good deals in the past few months?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Even My Dog is in Therapy

I spent the better part of yesterday morning in therapy for my dog. For those keeping score, there are now 2 out of the 3 NJhousehold members currently in therapy for anxiety.

We are helping Orion work through some stranger anxiety and his issues walking. NJhusband is slightly more successful at taking him for a walk than I am. The last time I tried, Orion broke my finger. The trainer gave us some great tips and a LOT of homework and I think it will really help him.

I wish my own anxiety was getting better. I switched therapists a few months ago in hopes that it would help, but so far I haven't seen much improvement and it is discouraging. I find it difficult to be anywhere but in my house. I am able to go places alone, but if anyone else is with me, even NJhusband or my BFF I tend to panic. My panic mostly causes me to shake and get extremely nauseous, which escalates my panic because I have severe Emetophobia. I am completely terrified of vom, so much so that I haven't even done it since I was 10! That is some impressive mind over matter if you ask me!

NJhusband is amazingly supportive, but it takes its toll on him for sure. Imagine never being able to take your wife out to eat. Knowing that your presence with her in the grocery store causes her to feel ill. Having to constantly explain to your friends why your wife never goes out. I don't hide my anxiety or ask him to, but even if you try to explain it, people will never truly understand unless they have dealt with it themselves  I know his friends think he deserves better and I agree, but I feel powerless to change it.

I know I just need to keep with the program the new therapist is implementing. It is a completely different therapy than my previous and I feel myself connecting with her techniques more. Yet another lesson in patience for my impatient self.

I wonder if Orion gets annoyed at his anxiety. Maybe I should take up barking....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Disappointment #4

"It's only been 4 months".

Yes, it's true, it has only been 4 months since we started trying to conceive, but that is 4 times you get your hopes up, 4 times they are crushed, 4 times I have to tell my husband that we still aren't pregnant and 4 months of tears. It's 4 months of cramped fingers and toes from being crossed all the time. 4 months of crankiness from a lack of coffee and wine.

One of the hardest things about trying to conceive is the hyper awareness of pregnancy announcements all around you. My BFF just announced she is expecting on her first month trying and of course now William and Katherine.  It is truly one of the worst feelings in the world when someone else's happiness triggers your own sadness and feelings of inadequacy.

Every month that goes by I get more and more scared that this isn't going to happen for me. Scared that I'm getting older by the minute and my chances are dwindling. Scared of how my marriage will be affected if we can't have children. Disappointing NJhusband every month is truly the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to do. I am the strong one, he is the optimistic one. These are the roles we have always played, but I can see them lessening with every passing month and I don't know what they will evolve into after a few more disappointments.

Some days I just can't hold back the tears, and with the tears comes that wicked, wicked post-nasal drip. Way to kick me when I'm down.

I don't know where to pull the strength and faith from anymore. My reserves are dwindling.

This is hard.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Housewifery Things

I had some random leftover items from Thanksgiving I needed to use up. 1 orange, 2 apples, half a bag of dried cranberries and a bag of fresh cranberries. Immediately PIE popped into my head and I went to Pinterest to find a good recipe. I found this one and set to work. It was absolute TORTURE waiting until NJhusband came home from work and dinner was over before eating it. I don't think I ever ate my dinner so fast. One bite in and I was hooked. I actually said to NJhusband "it tastes like Christmas". SO so good. Definitely going on the family favorite list.

In other domestic news, Amazon had a KILLER deal on a Dyson around Cyber Monday. I didn't really NEED a new vacuum, but it was a great price and I knew eventually my 10+ year old model would crap out and I knew I wanted to replace it with a Dyson, so we took the plunge.

NJhusband just finished vacuuming the rugs and floors and my carpets have NEVER looked this good. Immediately I noticed a difference in how clean our carpets looked compared to when we used our old vacuum. They look brand new again. We had just vacuumed on Sunday with our old vacuum and I was amazed at what came out of our carpets just now with the Dyson. I honestly didn't think I needed a new vacuum and I was dead wrong. Everyone in the NJhousehold has allergies (including Orion!) and I think this is really going to help.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Swagbucks Obsession

We are a single income family. When the company I was working for last year folded, NJhusband and I decided that it would be best for us if I stayed home, focused on some new therapies for my anxiety and took some time off. Having this time has been an absolute blessing. Our plan has always been that I would be (hopefully!) a stay at home mom, so we just started out the process a bit early. 

After I got settled into a routine at home, I started looking for ways to earn myself some "mad" money from home. Things I have tried with various results are: surveys and product testing, mystery shopping, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Jingit, Viggle and Swagbucks (that's my referral link). I'll go into more detail on some of these others later, but my biggest money maker by far has been Swagbucks. I am obsessed! I did the majority of our Christmas shopping this year using Amazon gift cards I got from Swagbucks combined with our Discover card reward points that you can use on Amazon. It REALLY kept our holiday budget down. 

Basically by using Swagbucks you earn points that translate into gift cards. You can earn points by watching videos, searching the web, participating in the daily poll, and various other ways. There are a ton of options, but the best "bang for your buck"(at least right now) is a $5 Amazon gift card worth 450 points. I earn 3 or so of these gift cards a month. You can earn more with referrals, by signing up for every offer they have (and in turn getting lots of email spam) and doing surveys, but my method is a bit more relaxed. Here is what I do:

1) my biggest point earner is by using Swagbucks as my search engine. There is a toolbar you can download so that you can search right from that (this is what I do) or you could make Swagbucks your default page. You don't earn points for every search, but by using it as you would Google, you can earn points a few times a day just for doing something you would be doing anyway! 

2) Friend Swagbucks on Facebook and put their blog in your RSS feeder. Usually once or twice a day they put out a "secret code" that is worth free points. If you can put this into your Swagbucks page before it expires you get free points. Love that! If you are on Twitter, follow them as well and sign up for alerts. My phone dings when they tweet a new code so I don't miss any! 

3) Each day Swagbucks has a poll (worth 1 point), gives you a point for using the toolbar (if you installed it) and does something called NOSO (No Obligation Special Offers) (worth 2 points). If you take a minute to scroll through the offers and just keep clicking skip, you get points. I spend maybe 5 minutes in the morning, doing these 3 offers, watching a video ad or two on their main page (2-4 points) and doing some web searches and earn 10-25 points right there. A few more web searches throughout the day and some free codes and I usually can double that. 

4) Swagbucks TV. For every 10 videos you watch in 24 hours you get 3 points. I don't do this a ton, but if I know I'm sitting in front of the computer or if I'm just in the same room as my computer, I open up Swagbucks TV and run through some videos. This option is also good when you are SOOOO close to a reward and want to push yourself over the point limit. The videos aren't too long and usually you only have to watch the first 30 seconds or so to get the points. 

5) Swagbucks inbox. I don't do these too often, but sometimes they send you ways to earn more points to your Swagbucks inbox. The video ones are the best. You get points for just watching a short video and answering a question about the ad before the video. Easy peasy. Sometimes they send surveys, but I often don't qualify so it's kind of a waste of time (BUT if you do, the payout is BIG, so sometimes it's worth the gamble if I have time and patience). 

That's it! It all sounds a bit complicated, but I swear once you get into a rhythm it is super easy. I literally could NOT have kept to my holiday budget this year without my stash of Amazon giftcards I earned (Amazon lets you use unlimited gift card codes per order, so stack those $5 ones to your hearts content! 

Anyone else Swag too and have tips I missed??