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9.03.2016

Get Faster Internet with Gigablast from Cox


(This post is in partnership with Cox California.) 

How important is fast, reliable internet service to you? This week I was invited down to the penthouse suite at the Pinnacle building in downtown San Diego to find out just how much Cox's new Gigablast internet speed can handle inside the Cox Smart Home. You might recognize the name Gigablast from Cox's well-known poignant television commercials.

My tour of the Cox Smart Home featured a variety of high-tech experiences:

  • Food blogger Whitney Bond making some delicious bites.
  • Professional violinist, Jason Yang giving a virtual violin lesson to some students across the globe via Skype.
  • Telemedicine via a demonstration of a virtual physical therapy module.
  • Gamer and college student Tyler Burnette playing on a customized PC with ultra hi-def graphics.
  • Meat slow cooking in a Char-Broil WiFi enabled smoker.
  • Smart Pet Feeder with a built in webcam and connected via Wi-Fi.
  • A virtual golf swing simulator and demo.
  • STEAM Education - A young student learning via virtual reality goggles about science and STEAM based interactive projects.
  • Cox HomeLife 
  • Cox Contour Smart TV







So pretty much every lifestyle that depends on fast reliable internet was represented and they were all simultaneously accessing Cox's highest speed internet, Gigablast. That's a lot of devices, consoles and appliances using the same data without a single interruption. I was surprised and seriously impressed by what I saw.

Gigablast, with it's 1 Gigabit of power per household, boasts impressive download speeds up to 100 times faster than the average broadband.
That's comparable to:
  • 1 next-gen video game in 3 minutes
  • 10 HD movies in 7 minutes
  • 100 itunes downloads in 3 seconds
  • 1,000 photos in 16 seconds
I'm intrigued by what Gigablast can do. We use internet for homeschool, work, and leisure. Our download speeds could use a boost and I'm wondering if we need an upgrade.



Gigablast is rolling out into Southern California (as well as some other areas where Cox is available). You can find out more about Gigablast and check availibity by clicking here.

9.02.2016

One Year After Finishing Chemo

Today marks the one year anniversary that our son finished his chemotherapy treatment for Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. He endured 26 rounds and a total of 47 individual doses.


It's hard to believe a year has gone by, a year of ups and downs just like any other. A year of healing and of moving forward. A year marked with so many new adventures and freedom from IV poles and hospital beds.


That last hospital stay was full of visits from our favorite nurses and doctors, family and a few pet therapy friends like this adorable King Charles Cavalier who was so snuggly.


His hair has grown so long in that year. We haven't cut it yet. He doesn't to ever want to cut it, but I suspect there will come a day when he will want it cut, until then, it grows out freely. It grew back darker and curly! This is him today.


Here's to another year cancer free and full of adventures!

8.29.2016

How We Discovered Our Son Had Cancer


In the late fall of 2014, we were approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas with the usual excited anticipation of our favorite time of the year. Little did we know that our son would soon be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the hospital recovering from surgery and getting his first dose of chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma.

It began as a simple nosebleed.

During a visit to Disneyland with his grandmother, he had one simple nosebleed. His grandmother and I attributed it to the dry November weather. I thought it was a little odd, since he didn't get nosebleeds very often, but I knew it was common in kids, so I didn't have cause for concern. Four days later, he would get another nose bleed, and four days after that another and another. The nose bleed, while not gushing, stayed sort of inside his nostril.

I knew after the 3rd nosebleed that something wasn't right and I needed to follow up. It wasn't until the nosebleed just sort took up residence in his nostril that I took him to urgent care. They didn't see anything too alarming, and recommended Luke see his PCP.  The following day, his primary care doctor also didn't think too much of it, but I have never been so thankful to have been referred to a specialist.

That's when the doctor found the mass.

Luke was referred to an ENT specialist who discovered a mass inside his upper sinus. He needed a CT scan to find out what exactly was going on. How big was it? Was it pushing on anything vital? I remember my mom calling and my recounting everything that needed to happen. But I don't remember being overly worried. I remember being vigilant to stay on top of whatever was going on. Watching for any more nosebleeds or symptoms.

He would have no other symptoms other than the nosebleed.

He didn't have pain. There were no headaches. A superficial blood clot had formed inside his nose and the mass (no one was calling a tumor yet) would push on it, causing it to descend into his nostril. Sometimes, when I think about it now, I thank God for that little blood clot. It was a visible symptom that I could be thinking about, dealing with, and alleviating. And it was a constant reminder that I was not in control and to surrender everything to God.

The CT scan showed a mass the size of a pinky finger resting horizontally behind the upper part of his nose (it touched his left sinus area, the tip of his left eye and the base of his skull. I only know the details because that's what the doctors told us later. I refused to look at scan pictures. At that point we didn't know if it was benign or malignant. Oh how I hate the word malignant.

When the doctor came in to that stark, blank room and said, with the gentlest voice, that the mass was indeed malignant, I went into denial for about an hour. I kept thinking it wasn't that bad. The surgeon would just remove the mass and that would be that. I was so wrong. Out in the lobby, My father-in-law had tears in his eyes. I blurted out loud "Why is everyone so sad?" and that's when it started to slowly sink in....

We would be in this for the long haul.

We spent the next days and weeks preparing for one of the hardest battles any child should ever have to endure. It got so much harder before it got better - A total of 10 months of treatment, doctors visits, scans, tests, procedures, chemotherapy, and hospital stays. But there was and still is so much hope. Hope is a balm to the soul. I am so pleased to tell you that Luke is off treatment and "cancer free" now. It has been almost one year since his final chemotherapy treatment!  I pray I never take these days for granted.

If you don't already know, September is childhood cancer

7.13.2016

Cats Are Givers, Really

Purina Cat Chow is partnering with me and several other bloggers for the "Nutrition to Build Better Lives' program.

We are totally cat people. And dog people. But for now, mostly cat people. When Luke was diagnosed with cancer and began his chemotherapy treatments, his oncologist strongly urged us to rehome our feline 4th family member because of the potential for germs. Because chemo lowers you body's ability to fight off germs, Luke was at a greater risk for acquiring an infection from touching or playing with the cat or even having him sleep in the same room in the house. Keeping our kitty was never in doubt and we came up with a compromise that let us keep our mighty orange tabby.

For nine long months Luke could not have the cat sleep in his room, could not snuggle with him at all, and if he touched him - he had to immediately wash his hands. The rest of the family was able to love on our cat as much as we could - but for Luke the cat was pretty much off limits.

This was sheer TORTURE for a little boy who adored his buddy "Kitty"so much.

You can imagine how Luke was overjoyed when his treatment was over and he could finally pick up, hold and snuggle his best bud. When he had his room made over last fall, the one request for his bed was that he have a bed big enough so that he could sleep on one side and the cat could sleep on the other. Having the freedom to play with the cat without restriction was one of the many ways Luke began to heal after treatment.



"Kitty" gives our family so much joy. And just as he gives us so much, our family wants to share how you can give back to every cat that is waiting for a forever home in shelters, humane societies and other welfare organizations. 

Seeking to provide cats who are waiting to be adopted healthy and nutrition rich cat food, Purina Cat Chow has started the "Nutrition Builds Better Lives" program.

Purina has a goal: Five million meals to shelter cats all over the country. And the best news you can help! During the month of July, for every bag of Purina Cat Chow you buy your cat, a meal will be donated to a cat in need. That's a win-win. It can be any size bag too! Healthy food for both your cat and a cat in desperate need of nutrition, so he/she can grow big and strong.




I didn't know that around 3.4 million United States cats are taken in by shelters and only half of those cats are adopted. I also didn't know that Purina has donated more than $845,000 in food, supplies and renovations to aid in the rescue, nutrition and adoption of cats in welfare organizations. That's so rad. Purina is working with Rescue Bank. 



The money you donate goes directly to this non-profit organization that operates like a food bank to gather and distribute quality pet food and other supplies throughout the U.S. Organizations are then able to use the savings from their food budgets for critical veterinary care to increase the adoption of healthy pets. 

We purchased Purina Cat Chow to give back. Our Kitty could smell it as I pulled it out of the grocery bag and devoured the cup we put down! 




You can purchase Purina Cat Chow at your local grocer and almost anywhere cat food is sold. If you would like to donate your Purina Cat Chow purchase, you can buy it via Amazon and have it sent to your local animal shelter - giving twice!

Connect With Purina and follow along with their Nutrition Builds Better Lives" initiative. And follow the #CatChowCares hashtag on your favorite social media platform!


Facebook: Purina Cat Chow
Twitter: @PurinaCatChow
Instagram: @PurinaCatChow 

Disclosure: Purina Cat Chow is partnering with me to participate in its ‘Nutrition to Build Better Lives’ program. As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services for the purpose of promoting Purina Cat Chow. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

6.16.2016

Caramel Root Beer Float Recipe

This post is sponsored by ALDI as part of Influencer Activation for Influence Central.





Since my fist shopping trip to ALDI, I've been back several times to shop for our family. We've enjoyed the incomparable savings that ALDI offers. I also love that I can feel good about picking up snacks like the SimplyNature® Organic Honey Teddy Grahams and the kids love them! I even decided to use them in the cool and creamy drink I made the kids. I thought that a sweet treat was in order to usher in summer.

Summertime is the perfect time to indulge in an occasional sweet treat like a root beer float. It was so easy to make this caramel root beer float using ingredients I purchased at my local ALDI store here in California.   

You need just two items to make a Caramel "Caribou" Root Beer Float:

Belmont Caramel Caribou Premium Ice Cream
Sudz Root Beer

Pour some root beer over 1-2 scoops of the ice cream and voila! You are set! If you want to send your caramel root beer float over the top, you can top it with this homemade root beer whipped cream and crushed grahams. 

Homemade Whipped Cream & Topping Ingredients:

1 cup of Baker's Corner Powdered Sugar
1 cup Countryside Creamery heavy whipping cream
Splash of Sudz Root Beer
1/8 tsp Stonemill Essentials Pure Almond Extract
SimplyNature® Kids Organic Honey Teddy Bear Graham Snack Packs 

To make the Almond Root Beer Whipped Cream:

Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 
and then add a splash of Sudz Root Beer.
Whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form. 
Scoop the whipped cream into a small plastic bag, cutting the bottom tip so you can pipe it on top of the caramel root beer float! 
Add crushed SimplyNature® Honey Teddy Graham Snack Packs on top. 

Drink and enjoy!






Here's a fun video of the Caramel Root Beer Float recipe on Youtube:




Other treats and snacks I purchased at ALDI that our family is loving:

Lunch Buddies Natural Applesauce
 PurAqua Fizzy Fruit Sparkling Water
Lunch Buddies Fruit & Veggie Snacks 
Southern Grove Dry Roasted Peanuts

While we obviously partake in occasional sweets in this house like the caramel root beer float recipe above, I love that our ALDI grocery list can include items that are good for you too like fresh organic produce, organic snacks, and food items without preservatives.

To connect with ALDI:
ALDI website: https://www.aldi.us