Monday, February 28, 2011

No skin off my....oh, wait.

OK, so my post title implies that there is skin off my nose...thankfully that's not the case! But there IS skin off my back and side, thanks to my fabulous skin that always keeps me on my toes!

Seriously, my skin just won't let me catch a break. I went back to my new dermatologist today because a week or two ago, I started noticing that a couple of the moles that had been shaved off for biopsy a few months ago seemed to be growing back. I noticed some darker pigmentation within the light pinkish scars and knew I'd have to call up the good ole derm. She confirmed that she also thought the pigmentation was returning, which can't be tolerated in a melanoma patient. Fortunately, the biopsies on both of the sites had originally come back as only dysplastic (abnormal but not cancerous), so an extensive excision was not required. And she said that she has never seen a second biopsy come back as more severe than the first in this kind of case. So, I am not worried about that.

As a testament to how much I've gotten carved up in the derm's office in the past couple of years, I didn't even flinch when she said "we are going to have to punch these and put in some stitches." Punching is literally like taking a hole punch to your skin - pretty gross, actually. The area gets numbed with a few shots (not liquor shots, unfortunately), then the punch goes in and takes out a chunk around and below the problem area. Since it goes kind of deep, each punch requires about 3 stitches.

So...I now have stitches in two areas, which will turn into two new lovely scars in a few weeks. They both look like this:

This is the one on my left side. I know it's hard to tell what exactly you're looking at in this picture, but it's basically an extreme close-up of my left rib cage area. Note the very pink and angry skin in a strip over the incision...I HATE the medical tape that they use to put gauze over an incision. Taking it off is more painful than anything else in this entire process!

At least I'm already married. I clearly wouldn't be winning any hearts with this patchwork Frankenstein look I've got going!

Could I please swap skin with someone...preferably someone with naturally good skin that's darker than mine? Maybe Sofia Vergara would be up for that...heck, while I'm at it, I'd be OK with an entire-body swap with her!

But really, I am not that upset about all this. What's a few more scars, anyway? At least I am on top of my skin health with a doctor I really like and trust, ready to combat anything that pops up before it becomes a serious problem. Still, it's just frustrating...why did the stupid things have to start re-growing their pigment? Those scars were almost healed. Ugh. So, I went to the gym and did an hour and a half of extremely hard cardio, and it made me feel lots better (even though it made the stupid incisions bleed).

One good thing is that I have a really good weapon for when the stitches come out to keep the scars small and thin. My friend Jill Moorhead recommended this product to me when I had my melanoma surgery, and it works so well to reduce the redness and puffiness of scars (old or new). So I went to Walgreens and bought another bottle on my way home from the dermatologist today. Try it if you have an unsightly scar you'd like to reduce. It's pricier than Mederma or Neosporin scar care, but you get what you pay for!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Waiting for Superman - Watch This Movie!

I have wanted to watch this movie since I first started seeing the previews for it, but I just never made it out to the theater while it was running. Just seeing the previews made me get choked up, so I knew it was going to be very powerful to me. So I rented it recently on a lazy night at home. And what better time to watch it than during my good friend Mike Morath's campaign for DISD school board? For all the people out there who say they wish they could do something to help our children have brighter futures, Mike is a person who WILL truly do something. Check out his website here and my previous post about him here.

Everyone needs to see this documentary, whether you have children or not. It is incredibly powerful, and I guarantee it will touch you in some way. The kids featured in the film are mostly inner-city children whose local schools have been deemed "educational sinkholes." In other words, their schools have failed them. A staggering percentage of children in their schools will not graduate, and if they do, will be woefully unprepared for college (that is if they even go, which is unlikely in many of these areas).

One of the school districts that was examined in this film was sending kids to high school with no higher than a 1st to 3rd grade reading level. In another area, kids were more likely to know someone who had gone to prison than someone who had gone to college.

The producers interviewed the families of several children whose parents are trying to get them into a better school. The kids featured are from New York (the Bronx and Harlem), Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and even Silicon Valley (as an example that even in affluent areas, our public schools need help). During his interview, one 5th grade boy said that he wanted to get an education so he could move away from his neighborhood, so that his children could have it better than he had. How many of us ever had to consider issues that deep when we were in 5th grade? I know I didn't. In 5th grade, I had a wonderful teacher who made me excited to go to school every day, even though I was the new kid in town (thanks Mrs. Hawkins!). I was one of the lucky ones. But so many kids aren't fortunate enough to have that. They are faced with teachers who come into the classroom because it's a way to collect a paycheck. And so many of these kids truly desire a better education than they are getting...and they do deserve so much better.

Throughout the course of filming, each of the children applied for acceptance into a public charter school in their area. The charter schools featured, including Harlem Success Academy and Kipp LA Prep, are high-performing schools with excellent teachers, leaders, and success rates. With hundreds of families vying for very few spots, a lottery system is employed to choose new students each year. One little girl was one of 767 students applying to fill 35 spots in the Harlem Success Academy. It killed me to see the kids at the lottery drawings, crossing their fingers - even crying - waiting for their name to be called. How terrible for the thousands of kids who do not win the lottery..."we're sorry, we know you want this chance at a better life, but there's simply not room for you to have it." They shouldn't have to enter to win the prize of a good education; our school systems should already be giving that to them.

If you are like me, you will walk away from this movie angry, inspired, and still hopeful. Watch the movie. Then do something to help, even if it's something as simple as spreading the word about this film. If we can get more people to truly care, we are taking a step in the right direction. Call a parent-teacher conference. Get involved in your school's PTA. Start caring about local school board elections. And check out for more ideas on how to help improve our schools.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

At-Home Hot Oil Treatment

Don't you hate that dry, itchy skin that just won't seem to go away during the winter months? I have notoriously horrible skin anyway - allergic to everything, prone to stress breakouts, sometimes dry, sometimes as oily and zitty as a teenager, and then there's the melanoma. Yeah, my skin basically sucks. Let's hope our kids get Jeff's pretty olive Italian skin...he DOESN'T. EVEN. WASH. HIS. FACE!!!! And he has zero zits. Ugh, no fair!

Anyway, I kind of got off topic there for a minute. What I was getting at was this: I don't know about you, but my winter dry skin is not limited to my body - my scalp and hair feel extra dry during the winter months, too. So a few days ago, I decided to do an at-home hot oil treatment to give my hair some life. I decided to go the DIY route, because 1. I was too lazy to go to the store to buy one and 2. I figured it would be way easier and cheaper to just make one at home. And it WAS easy! And it definitely made my hair feel so soft, silky, and rehydrated. My itchy scalp was happy, too.

If you want to try this treatment for yourself, all you need is: 3 Tablespoons olive oil, 3 Tablespoons canola oil, and 1 Tablespoon of your normal conditioner. Scramble these ingredients together in a small microwave-safe bowl, then heat for 30 seconds (or more if it doesn't seem hot enough...but don't burn yourself). Then just apply the treatment to your hair and scalp, taking time to massage it in so it coats every strand and soaks in well. Then wrap your head in a warm, slightly damp towel for 30 minutes. When the half-hour is up, rinse your hair thoroughly, then shampoo it. Even though you'll smell a bit like an Italian restaurant (because of the olive oil), you'll enjoy hair that's soft, silky, and moisturized!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Things I Love: Clarisonic Mia Face Brush

Time for another "Things I Love" post!

I am not a big beauty products person. Sure, I like a nice trip to Sephora to restock on my makeup faves, but I really don't wear a lot of makeup or try a ton of new products. My friend, Beverly, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that description...she knows EVERYTHING about every single beauty product out there. So when she told me about the best product she had purchased in months, I was intrigued. After listening to her glowing endorsement and reading a ton of positive reviews on Amazon and Sephora, I purchased this Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System for myself!

And wow, I am SO glad I made that purchase! It's like an electric toothbrush for your face. It removes makeup and gives your skin a gentle, exfoliating cleanse. I use it every night before bed. Just in the past few weeks, my skin has become softer, smoother, less oily/zitty, and less in need of makeup. I'd say that makes it a huge winner! It's a bit pricey, yes...but totally worth it in my opinion. It would make a great birthday gift...and don't forget that Mother's Day is coming up soon, too!

Check it out HERE at Sephora.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mike Morath for Dallas School Board

Worried about sending your kids to public school in Dallas?

Do something about it by voting in the Dallas School Board election coming up on May 14, 2011. A dear friend of ours, Mike Morath, has recently announced his campaign for this election.

Mike has already devoted his professional life to improving the lives of children through his work as President of Minute Menu, a federal reimbursement program dedicated to providing nutritious meals for children of low-income families. He is stepping away from his company to devote his time and energy to improving the Dallas public school system. He knows it’s a hard road, but he has some great ideas.

Spending more of our budget on teachers, the people directly in charge of our children’s education on a daily basis.

Empowering principals through professional development programs that show them how to be excellent leaders who employ excellent teachers.

Involving parents to a greater degree, encouraging them to take a more active role in their children’s education.

Don’t these sound like the types of goals we should be trying to achieve in our schools? Learn more about Mike Morath and his campaign for school board at and consider getting an “I Like Mike” yard sign for your house if you live in his district. I can’t wait for mine to arrive!

But you DO NOT have to live in his district, or even in Dallas, to help! Spread the word about Mike on your blogs, Twitter, e-mail, and Facebook. You can also support Mike’s campaign with donations. See his site for details on how to donate, and make sure to “Like” his Facebook page – Mike Morath for Dallas School Board.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Six Degrees Post - Lemon Custard Bars

I posted a new delicious dessert on Six Degrees of Supperation today. These Lemon Custard Bars are easy and delicious - go check them out here!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Few Good Books

I may have mentioned this before, but I LOVE to read! I don't discriminate, either...I read a wide variety of genres - historical fiction, chick lit, mystery/crime, memoirs, and pretty much anything in between.

Here are a few books I've read over the past couple of months. They are all VERY different from one another, so there's something for everyone.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

This book was fascinating and powerful. It's about a brain condition called Left Neglect that I had never heard of before reading this book. The short summary: A busy, career-oriented woman (wife and mother of 2) doesn't have time for anything to deviate from her perfectly planned schedule. When an accident leaves her with a traumatic brain injury, she is forced to reconsider what is important in her life. The author is a Harvard trained neuroscientist, so she really knows her stuff. She writes about brain disorders/injuries - her other book is Still Alice, which is about Alzheimers. I want to read it but think it will be very sad, especially because my grandma has Alzheimers. This book is fast-paced and very interesting, but it also makes you stop and think about your life. What if something tragic happened and you would never be the same again? Would you look back and regret spending time and energy on things that didn't truly matter?

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

This is a fun book about three young women on a journey to India in the 1920s. One is going over there to marry a man she hardly knows. One is following her best friend with hopes of big adventure and romance. One is returning to the place where her parents died when she was young. I enjoy books set in other eras and other countries - and this one had both!

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

This historical fiction book was incredibly fascinating to me, since I had never read ANYTHING on this subject ever before. It takes place in Hawaii in the late 1800s/early 1900s, when the island of Moloka'i was used as a leper colony. A little girl is torn away from her family when it is discovered that she has leprosy. She is banished to the island to grow up without knowing if she will ever see her family again. The book follows her life, and I couldn't put it down. I read it in one day! The book just had so many interesting aspects - a different era, an exotic location, and a little-known disease, all woven into a picture of what life was like in this remote location during the early 20th century.

Also, not sure if I ever mentioned it on the blog, but one of the best books I've read in YEARS, if not EVER, is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

I read it over a year ago at this point, but I still think about it. Read it. You will love it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Things I Love: Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie Packs

Here's another post for the "Things I Love" category:
Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie Packs.

These things are genius! The small size makes them more convenient for single servings...that way you don't have to open a whole pack and risk the leftovers turning brown and gross. They are the perfect size to spread on a sandwich or have a little chip-and-dip snack. Who needs mayo and mustard when you can have a turkey, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on wheat? Delicious! I know both Tom Thumb and Kroger carry these, and I am sure a lot of other places do, too.

Uhhmm...Snow, Snow Baby?!

Everyone loves a one-upper, right? Well, looks like Texas weather is honing its one-upping skills this week. Three days of temps in the teens and a solid sheet of ice over everything? Oh yeah? Well, how about 5-6 inches of snow on top of that?

Yep, for the second year in a row, we have snow, and lots of it! This time it's on Super Bowl weekend...when the Super Bowl is HERE! Guess we wanted to make sure the Steelers and the Packers didn't get homesick.

Here is what our front porch looks like today - scroll down to yesterday's post to see the icy version of this same shot:

And here are some more pics Jeff took when he ventured out this morning (WISH I could have gone out...but sadly my walking boot does not double as a snow boot).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

It's TOO COLD in Dallas right now...we are having a very uncharacteristic cold spell right now, with temps well below freezing (in the teens with wind chills in the single digits and below zero)! Since Tuesday morning, every outdoor surface has looked like this:

Which is exactly why I've only left the house once in 3 days! The slick surfaces plus my bum ankle and walking boot do not make for a fun journey outside! Jeff had to hold both my hands yesterday to help me get to the car without an epic fall on our slippery stairs and driveway.

Oh yeah, by the way, this is what I've been wearing for the last 2 weeks - I haven't blogged about it yet:

I sprained my ankle really badly in a Zumba class at my gym...ugh, loser! I should have taken pics of it when I first did it - the swelling was huge and the whole side of my foot was black and purple. I can hopefully start physical therapy next week and get it back to normal as quickly as possible. I guess it's a good thing I am not working on a contract job right now...not sure how well I would fare walking across icy parking lots! So this week, I've just been hanging out at home with Bella, who protects herself from the cold by sleeping in a tiny rolled-up ball, like this:

Notice how she has her arm over her eyes to block out the light - what a diva!

I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying some days off from school and work! Stay safe on the roads!