July 21, 2016

Pokemon GO Is Sweeping the Nation - A Review

My character in Pokemon GO - Go Team Mystic!
My husband and I grew up playing Pokemon so we were super excited when Pokemon Go finally became available in America! We downloaded it the same day it came out!

At the beginning there were bugs and glitches, and even now, due to the release in other countries, there are still bugs and loading errors. It will take awhile before the game will continue to run smoothly as Niantic works on expanding their servers and the game continues to be released around the world.

What I love about this game is that it gets people to go outside! It encourages exercise by making you walk so you can hatch your eggs and find Pokemon to catch. It also encourages people to get out there and meet other people, usually looking for new friends who are on the same team as you so you can take down gyms together.

There are three teams in Pokemon GO and you can decide which on to join at level 5. They are Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor. Also known as Team Yellow, Team Blue, and Team Red. There is no known difference between teams that the moment. They appear to just be used to create competition for gyms.
My favorite Pokemon and
the only one I caught so far!

Pokemon vary by area so if you can find a local Facebook group for your state, it's great because people will tell you where you can find certain Pokemon. Otherwise you will have to hope for one that isn't local to hatch out of one of your eggs. You will need multiples of the same Pokemon as well in order to get candies to evolve it.

The game does lack a good how to play guide, but you can catch on pretty quick. Otherwise there are tons of articles and YouTube videos on the internet already with tips and tricks. This is really the only downside to the game. It would be great if there was a way to fast forward the evolution screen as well, but maybe in the future!

Here is some basic game play. You basically load up the game and walk around till a Pokemon appears. You tap on the Pokemon and a new screen loads with a poke' ball you can throw at it. There will be two circles around the Pokemon, a white one that stays the same and a colored one that grows and shrinks. The colored circle indicates how hard a Pokemon is to catch, green for easy, yellow for moderate, and red for hard. You want to hit within the colored circle to increase your chances of catching it, but if you hit within the white circle, you still have a chance as well. You will either catch the Pokemon, the Pokemon will jump out and you can try again, or the Pokemon will jump out and flee. You can increase your chances of catching Pokemon by feeding them berries before throwing your poke' ball as well.

Besides catching Pokemon, you will want to find Poke Stops (usually special landmarks or buildings, like park signs or churches) in order to get more poke balls, potions, raspberries, eggs, etc. This is the free way to increase your supply without spending money on the game. Once you reach level 5, the option of battling gyms becomes available and those are also spread out at as well.

The game is recommended for ages 10 and up, but I feel this is more of a teenager/adult game. For one, you need an apple or android phone in order to play, and two, you need to be able to travel on your own (Okay, so you can just catch Pokemon in your neighborhood, but it kind of defeats the point of collecting them all and battling gyms). The game was also geared more towards the generation that grew up with Pokemon, so the people you do see playing are mostly adults with a few teens here and there. Occasionally I see a child playing here and there, usually on a parent's phone.

Lately I have seen a lot of bad stuff in the news around Pokemon GO causing car accidents and people falling off cliffs. I hate that the game gets blamed for these stupid accidents because before the game loads there is a warning screen about paying attention to your surroundings. Even so, it is not the game's the fault, but the person who is playing the game. DO NOT PLAY POKEMON GO WHILE DRIVING! Or while doing any other action that requires your full attention, and make sure to look up from your phone when walking too, to avoid running into people and cars! Use common sense people!

Overall we love the game (when it runs smoothly) and are addicted! It has encouraged us to get out of the house and go see new places!

July 15, 2016

My Favorite Money Saving Apps

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.


Ibotta - This is a great coupon app. You can claim coupons on the app (listed by store). This can vary from taking a simple poll to watching a video. Next, you go shopping at the store and buy the items you selected. It will then ask you to verify the items, unless it is considered produce, by scanning the bar codes on them to match the coupon. Once you verify all your items, you then upload your receipt to the app. You will get a verification that your receipt has been approved within 24 hours. The only drawback is you have to have a $20 minimum balance in order to withdraw, but instead of gift cards, you also have the option of Paypal, which I love! Plus you can often find paper coupons that match the items in Ibotta and you end up getting double the savings! Ibotta is also expanding into retail stores like H&M where if you spend for example $30, they will give you $5 back. You can download the app here!

Checkout 51 - This app is a lot like Ibotta, but you don't have to verify the items you bought by scanning them and it works with any store, except for the coupons that are specifically marked for certain stores. You basically just upload your receipt and check which items were on it and they will verify it within 24 hours. Like Ibotta, you have to reach the $20 threshold before you can redeem your savings. They will mail you a check, unfortunately, there is no other option, so you will have to make a trip to the bank, but it is worth it in my opinion. Get this app here!

Target Cartwheel - I do almost all my shopping at Target, so this app is my best friend. Offers usually range from 5% to 50% off and they are now even adding some dollar amount coupons. There are limits on how many items you can save on though, usually up to 4, but sometimes they will let you go up to 20 (usually on clothing or clearance items). You can also use cartwheel with paper coupons, so it is another way to double up on savings. Plus if you have the Target Red Card, that's even more savings! I also always try to get the item when it is on sale as well, so I save even more. It requires good planning though if you want to be a super saver. Download the app here!

Shopkick - This is a really simple app to have on your phone and I load it every time I go to the mall. You get "kicks" (points) for just walking into stores and also for scanning select items in stores. When you reach 500 kicks you can redeem a $2 gift card to a store of your choice or you can choose to save up to redeem a bigger amount (I shop at Target all the time so I usually just claim the $2 Target gift card when I reach the 500 kicks and the cashier will just scan your phone in Target. So far it has worked every time!). Get the app here!

Fetch Rewards This app is like Ibotta and Checkout 51, but better! All you do is upload your receipt. No picking out items beforehand. The app will see if any of the items you bought match the brands they are partnered with and award you points if they do! It is a lot less work for you and you can use the points you earn to redeem gift cards to your favorite stores! Download the app here and use my referral code: DU3PQ to get 1,500 points for free!

RetailMeNot - I was a little hesitant to add this to my list, but since I do use it, I feel obligated to share it. The reason why I hesitate is because I have worked in retail and I see so many people bring this app up to me and say "I have a 30% coupon" and then when they hand it to me the code does not work because it is online only or expired. This app does not guarantee you will save anything on your shopping trip because coupons are added by complete strangers. Also, always read the entirety of the coupon before trying to redeem it, often it will say online only and give the date ranges, so you don't waste your time at checkout.

Besides all of that, this is a great app, but I only use it if I happen to be out shopping, just to check and see if there are any coupons. I do not plan my trips around this app. I personally have not had any issues using the coupons I found, but that is probably because I always read them before bringing them to check out. However, if one does not end up working one of these days, I will totally understand. You can check out RetailMeNot here.

July 8, 2016

What Happens at the Nuchal Translucency Screening?

You will probably get sick of me saying this at the beginning of every post I make, but I just want you to be aware that every doctor is different and so every appointment might vary from what I experience. These posts just give you an idea of what might happen.

The Nuchal Translucency Screening (NT screening) is an optional ultrasound and blood test that has to be done between 11 and 14 weeks (some cut it off as early as 13 weeks). The purpose of this test is to check for chromosomal abnormalities, though a lot choose to do it just to get the ultrasound. We also chose to do this test mainly for the ultrasound, but also because if something was obviously wrong, we would like to know ahead of time.

I had my NT screening at 12 weeks and 3 days. The first thing that happens is you are taken into a room to talk with a genetic counselor, this lasts for about 30 minutes.

The counselor started by explaining what the test does and how they can tell if there might be a chromosomal abnormality this early on. For example, a sign for down syndrome might be a flat nose, but she even said this could just be because the baby has a smaller nose and doesn't necessarily mean baby will have down syndrome (It was obvious in the ultrasound that our baby has a pointed nose, so we were pretty relieved to see that!).

Then she moved onto our family history, looking for things that could be passed down. Luckily none of us knew anyone in our families with birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities. Other things they look for is cancer or heart attacks at a young age in your family (under age 50), and if cystic fibrosis is present in either family. This lets them know if they should be looking for anything specific during the test. So it's a good idea to ask your parents if they know anything about their family's health history before going to this appointment.

For cystic fibrosis, the only way to test is by doing an amniocentesis, which we were not interested in. Cystic fibrosis isn't present in our family at all and we asked her the risks, it was like like a 1 in 25 chance for European decent. I'm half Chinese, and she said it's less for Asian decent, but she didn't know the number off hand but guessed 1 in 50 chance. The only way for cystic fibrosis to happen though would be if both parents were carriers of the disease. Basically, we felt our chances were low and amniocentesis comes with the risk of miscarriage, so we didn't feel it was worth looking into.

After the talk, we finally moved into the ultrasound room! This was the part we were really excited about. Our room was really nice, there was a TV mounted on the wall so we could watch the ultrasound! The ultrasound tech had me lie down on your classic hospital bed and tuck a towel in my pants, around my bikini line to prevent my pants from getting the gel on them. I just had to lift my shirt up a bit and we were ready to go.

For the ultrasound, they gave us a 45-minute window, but we were done in about 33 minutes. We were worried we would have to come back again since the tech was having a hard time getting baby to lie on its back. Baby just kept moving around. Halfway through she had me get up so I could use the bathroom (I had a really full bladder, so I was relieved!). My husband asked if the baby was measuring on track while I was in the bathroom, and it was so we will be keeping our due date for now.

One of our sonograms!
We then tried again, but the baby was now napping, luckily they have short sleep/wake cycles! After moving from side to side a few times and some fake coughing, we finally got baby to lie on its back so she could get good pictures for proper measurements! She was also able to get the heart rate since baby finally decided to lie still, 171, which she said is normal.

After the ultrasound, I regret not making my husband video the ultrasound because I just want to watch our baby all over again, so I plan to make him do it at the next one! We did get some photos (sonograms) afterward to keep though. I can't stop staring at them!

We were then sent to the lab, along with some paperwork, for the blood draw. Basically, you get your blood drawn as usual and they use it to fill in some dots on the paperwork, which will later be tested. I think this can be done differently since the genetic counselor said they might just prick my finger a few times, but when we went there, they actually drew some of my blood from my arm like they did for the pregnancy blood test, and then used a dropper to fill in the dots.

The appointment was then over and a few days later I got a call with my results. Our chances for down syndrome is 1 in 2,501, and for trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 they were 1 in 10,000. Basically very low, which is good to hear, so we won't be doing any of the more invasive and expensive tests.

July 1, 2016

What Happens at the First Prenatal Appointment?

Your first prenatal appointment usually occurs between 8 to 10 weeks based on your LMP (last menstrual period). Depending on where you live and your doctor, things might vary from what happened at my appointment (I live in Minnesota), so it's always best to ask your doctor in advance what to expect before going in if you are nervous or anxious.

When my husband and I arrived at my appointment, we were greeted by my OBGYN's assistant. She started by asking us some questions about our health history, and then of course when I had my last period. What I considered my last period was way back in February, so she plugged that into her computer and boom, I was all of a sudden 15 weeks. I didn't feel that was right since I have irregular cycles due to PCOS and I didn't get a positive test until April (trying every few days). She said my OBGYN will come in and we'll figure out the dating from there.

When my OBGYN entered the room, I explained to her that I didn't think I was that far along based on the notes I had. I had spotted near the end of March, so she put that in as my period instead and it corresponded with when I got the positive pregnancy test, putting me at 10 weeks. I didn't consider that a period since it only lasted one day, but I have PCOS, so I guess anything is possible! She then did a pelvic exam since apparently, you can verify how far along you are by how big your uterus is! This was quite uncomfortable and didn't result in much since I, unfortunately, have a tilted uterus, so in the end they will have to confirm the dating at the nuchal translucency screening, which is an ultrasound I'll get at 12 weeks to look for chromosomal abnormalities (it is optional, but then my first ultrasound would not be until 18-20 weeks for the anatomy scan, so we chose to do it).

After the uncomfortable pelvic exam, we had the amazing experience of hearing our baby's heartbeat! My OBGYN did warn us that it can be hard to find it with the Doppler this early and that having a tilted uterus might make it harder, but she found it! It made everything seem so real since up to that point we didn't have much proof that there was something growing in there!

She then asked us some more questions and then it was our turn to ask her questions. I don't remember what she all asked us, but it was mostly family history stuff. I do have a list of what I asked, so here were my questions and her responses:

  • Will PCOS affect my pregnancy in any way? 
    • My OBGYN said it increases the risk of gestational diabetes, but it's still only 20% (for those without PCOS or aren't overweight it's only 5%)
  • Can I take Dramamine? 
    • Yes! She also gave me a list of other safe medications, but glad I asked about this one since I noticed it wasn't on the list, probably because motion sickness is not as important as pain and allergy medication.
  • Would you recommend having a Doula?
    • My OBGYN is all for natural birth and said yes! The hospital provides one and I'll get a list of names in my 2nd Trimester folder if I'd like to get in touch with one sooner. She said it's always great to have an expert for support when you are in labor.
  • Do you recommend the blood test for finding out the gender and genetic testing?
    • This is the new hot thing on the Internet (you may have heard of the Harmony test or Panorama test), so I asked my OBGYN about it since you can find out the gender sooner (as early as 10 weeks!), however insurance doesn't usually cover it unless you are high risk or over 35, so it would cost around $500 out of pocket. Also, the false positive rate for down syndrome is 20% for women under 35, so she does not recommend it. My husband was no longer interested in it after hearing how high the false positive was and I lost interest at the cost!

      However, she recommended the nuchal translucency screening (NT screening), which is covered by insurance, and will give you the same genetic tests, but without knowing the gender. It has a lower false positive rate, and you get an ultrasound, so we decided to do that one! It has to be done between 11-14 weeks though, so if you want to do it, get it scheduled asap!
  • How much weight should I gain?
    • I am overweight, so she recommended 15-25 pounds for me. This will definitely vary depending on your current starting weight, so do not go by what was recommended for me, ask your doctor!

At the end of our appointment, she gave me a folder full of information. She explained that we will get one of these lovely packets for each trimester. It contained everything from safe medication to what not to eat/drink, and a lot of pamphlets promoting breastfeeding, also quite a few about smoking and how to quit (we don't smoke, so they probably just give everyone the same amount of information). 

We scheduled my next prenatal appointment for 4 weeks out (my ultrasound will be done at a different building, so they called us later to set up the NT screening) and all that was left was for me to pee in a cup (STD testing and bacteria testing) and then the appointment was over!

I just want to reiterate that what happens at your first appointment might vary from mine, but this gives you an idea of what might happen at yours. Feel free to comment about what happened at your first prenatal appointment! I'm sure other expecting mamas would love to hear your experiences!

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on MorgueFile.