Portland Oregon Radon In The Basement Causes Thyroid Problems

We bought a house in Portland, even after finding out that the average level of radon in our finished basement was 4 pCi/L. The lowest recorded in a 48 hour period was just over 1 pCi/L, while the highest recorded was over 6 pCi/L. And who knows if the crazy people who owned our house previously had the windows and doors open, therefore making our test inaccurate. We really need to do another test ourselves.

Anyway, at the time we wanted the house and didn’t think it was really a big deal. We aren’t going to hang out in the basement much anyway, just sometimes. And I am pretty sure radon isn’t being transmitted all over our house by the furnace system. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, and further enlighten me if I’m right.)

But the other day I was doing some major cleaning. I moved the refrigerator to get rid of thick layers of dust and found a tiny white pill. The elderly owners (who lived here since 1959) moved out in 2013 I believe. And the next people who bought the house lived here for one year – this makes us the third buyer. I would assume the pill was from our original, elderly home owners and not the young ones we bought the house from. And since the previous buyers left dog poop covered and pee soaked carpet, and never cleaned anything EVER, I was the first person in probably five years to clean under the refrigerator. The pill was definitely from one of the first home owners.

The tiny pill was labeled M on one side, and L 5 on the other. I found out it is levothyroxine. This drug is for thyroid problems. Thyroid problems are linked to radon. On the other hand, thyroid issues also happen completely randomly for many different reasons.

portland oregon radon linked to thyroid cancer

So, did the radon in this house cause one of the elderly homeowners to succumb to some kind of thyroid problem? One of our neighbors confirmed that the husband and wife went to a nursing home at the same time before the house was sold.

Great – another thing to keep me up at night. I guess we can spring for paying for the basement radon mitigation system and get more tests after that. I’m concerned for the kids. Daniel and I have already been exposed to enough radiation – it’s cool. But I need to find out what is going on here for our little ones since one is three years old, and the other is only nine months.


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Deceitful Well-Known Companies Who Are Email Spammers

Did you know that insurance companies like MetLife still think it’s okay to generate leads for new insurance customers through spam? I’ve had enough of just ignoring these types of emails that land in my junk mail folder on Gmail. Having my Gmail account since 2004, it’s really been around the block. And now, by looking at the fruitfulness of my spam folder, it’s very clear which companies hire the scum of the Internet to send out random spam which attempt to entice users to click the links inside. These days, emails are not just about random people looking for things I can’t even mention here. Many well known companies have shady employees without any moral direction, who are deliberately making a mess of their reputation. My first case here is Liberty Mutual. An insurance company trying to gain leads in deceitful ways, as usual.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.15.49 PM

The link in this email (http://ttdeipotent.com/UgmDUESChSHnhaJQuMnzN4/EWYwqszGuPblrCjNpaSxpH/JVgcdEImNIAmlhNcvCSXfyCM/IaMqcRlSIvhUbbw/vFLNG5WAHSv7ZCudqpPWkE6yEHCVJUJwPtGi6ejb/VpFNefiLzKCzMuAf) forwards to a real page and email campaign at Liberty Mutual:


Maybe Liberty Mutual has customers who can make money for referring customers. I don’t know and don’t have time to find out. But either way, you have to agree something is going on which is not good.

Next case is MetLife. I guess they have people doing the same thing, only for life insurance.

MET Life Insurance Email Spammers Scammers
MetLife is among the largest global providers of insuranceannuities, and employee benefit programs, with 90 million customers in over 60 countries.” Wow. To be so prestigious.. what a joke! The link in the email (http://equalpack.com/PRsIxujjhXHMxpkYc/yPUvTFixZIYmvyRZIW/PdDERcfEiQVaZrrHKXZ/RJVNLJaY4Zm-fYY5z_8lmLI_/MjBKOMcqkOELRFfbCbFrUSZG/xfIQseCklfuhahsNY/) goes here: https://www.metlife.com/campaign/life-insurance/simplified/index.html?WT.mc_id=ce089985&pagefrom=MLBN_LIS&dclid=CMOL6v7zicgCFQWAfgodF5YGyQ


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My Favorite Brand eeBoo for Activities and Crafts for Young Children


Colorful, very well illustrated crafts and activities for kids. Some of it’s so sweet you could just cry. You know the stuff. Sweet little squirrels, bunnies and foxes walking to the beach on the covers of sketchbooks. Growth charts with magical bears and dainty birthday cakes that say “I am five today!” and then you are sad that you didn’t have this since your child’s first birthday. Sigh.





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Dear Florida, we’re finally breaking up.

Florida means “flowery land” and that simply is not true. The nicest flower I’ve ever found here was in the Florida Keys while photographing my first destination wedding. It was a plumeria, which is in my top five favorite flowers just because its second name is frangipani, and it was likely planted by the hotel staff. Any other flowers you come across here have also been plotted by landscapers. When I’ve been in fields taking photos of sweet families or expecting bellies, the only flowers have been weathered weeds surrounded by fire ants, which then crawled between my toes and began their attack. In any other remote parts of Florida I’ve been to, there’s nothing but bushes and standing water. A flowery land Florida is not.

The only flower I truly enjoyed was one I smelled more than I ever saw in person. I remember it making its presence known during a few motorcycle rides with Daniel during summer — I could smell orange blossoms in the air. On those nights it was somehow really cool in the air, not humid and hot, so that really beautiful scent traveled far and followed us closely. And I remember smelling those blossoms when we trespassed into a swimming pool at night while the moon was full and beaming. So I do have those fluttery Florida moments in my memory, but my little heart is in another state right now, and her name is Oregon. Oregon doesn’t really mean anything for certain, especially something that isn’t true, and I like that.

The origin of the state name is uncertain, but “Oregon” might have been derived from a 1715 French map which refers to the Wisconsin River as “Ouaricon-sint.”

Another opinion is that the name “Oregon” stems from an English army officer’s proposal for a trip in 1765, in which he refers to “the River called by the Indians Ouragon.” Oregon was admitted as the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.

That last fact is really interesting since I was originally going to be moving there on February 13 so my first official day there would be Valentine’s Day — Oregon’s very stately birthday! Since my last update at the end of September a lot happened:

  1. We told our janky landlord we were leaving and moved all of our belongings to a storage unit.
  2. We temporarily moved into my in-law’s home.
  3. Daniel found a job in Portland.
  4. He had to tell his company and friends of the past ten years that he was leaving.
  5. (I still need to meet with my friends before I go, it’s been hard to organize that so far. I’ve been sick, pregnant, sick again, recovering from surgery, etc)
  6. We found a house to rent in the Creston Kenilworth neighborhood.
  7. I had someone from TaskRabbit drive to the house and take pictures of it to see if she thought it was okay to rent without us ever seeing it.
  8. Daniel went on a road trip in his truck across the USA with our very good friend at the end of November, they even made it to the Grand Canyon right at sunrise.
  9. Then he arrived at our mystery house and began to make it a home by single-handedly hauling and crafting IKEA furniture on the weekends.
  10. I spent those weeks being hugely pregnant and sad that he was going to be gone until the first week of January.
  11. He had to bravely immerse himself into a new company, into new people and a barrel of unknowns.
  12. His mom and I had crazy 7 AM yard sales which to me really felt like cleansing rituals and we got rid of many things.
  13. Daniel completely surprised me by showing up at my bedroom door on Christmas Eve just before midnight after flying all day. I am actually still in awe and it’s almost February.
  14. He was here with me for the weeks leading to the birth of our second beautiful son, Gavin Connor.
  15. I got myself out of the hospital bed on the same night of my surgery and went home two days later. On the night I got up, my nurse told me it was her birthday when she helped me to the bathroom at midnight. I felt bad.
  16. Daniel put all of our belongings from the storage unit into a single shipping container which is making its way across the USA as I type.
  17. We sold my car since we only need one vehicle there.
  18. And then Daniel went back to Portland a week ago.

The story only continues as I leave Florida in two weeks on February 6. I’ll be in the air at 6:30 AM with Daniel’s mom, a one month old Gavin, and a feisty two year old Liam. It means we are getting up at 4 AM with suitcases full of baby clothes, kiddie cups and bowls, whatever is left of the diaper supply, the same few pajamas I’ve worn everyday for the last two months, a box of Annie’s strawberry bunnies and Liam’s second favorite thing besides those bunnies: hickory BBQ potato chips.

The day I leave marks 11 years and 11 months of living in Florida. Although we fell in love with Portland (and truly, with Oregon) during our fifth wedding anniversary vacation this past July, of course my heart feels tattered when I think about the day I’ll be leaving Florida. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this place. I came here a month after I turned 19, on the tails of two romances, one which was ending and one which was beginning. Oh, to be a silly young girl. I think I always felt in my teen years that the way to find happiness was A) being in love and B) escaping wherever it is that you are. I look back at myself then and the time that I left home and it seems like a strange blur. I didn’t realize that I would be leaving my parents and only seeing them a handful of times from that moment on. I guess I didn’t know if I would be going back home or not. And I didn’t realize that I would learn so much about myself and life, yet be stuck in a perpetual daydream until I found Daniel. Even when I found him, it took me much too long to get the big picture. Luckily in 2008 I did find that picture, in the wildest of colors, and my life truly began. So even though a lot of my time in Florida was thrown into a black hole, I did find my true love here, and now we have two little true lovies of our own in Liam and Gavin.

I am sure we will be back here to see our friends again and to visit the places that made our story whole along the way. I am so excited to start our new adventure in Oregon, a life I know will be so much fuller and bold than anything we could have had here. But there was something romantic to me about Florida in the beginning, something unknown and a place that I knew would give me more opportunities and luck than I had where I grew up. It did do that, and I won’t forget what it all has meant to me, even though I lost track of some parts of me along the way. So Florida, I do owe many things to you. You gave me the blossom of my life, while my parents gave me the roots. My life until I found Daniel was merely a stem. Our almost six years of being married has been the time when the flower opened to the sun.

Now my next adventure will send those infinite petals soaring into the cool breeze which always follows us.


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Quick Update Before Chipotle Bowls

I have a lot to say but we’re about to make a run to Chipotle and that is more important to me at the moment. I’ll be 25 weeks tomorrow and feeling pretty tired as usual, but today was actually kind of normal! I actually dried and straightened my hair. wp_20140930_19_31_59_pro


Also today was Day 2 of potty training Liam. His #2 didn’t make it into the toilet today but he did pee once in it. The potty is slowly becoming his friend. I showed Liam his new underwear too so hopefully we will be in those soon, at least during the day. This is my number one goal right now to make sure he is potty trained before baby comes. It even feels weird to say trained, as if he is an animal. I just want him to use the potty.  ;) Finally, last night was his third or maybe fourth night in his big boy bed. He has been so wonderful and loves the bed. It has been amazing to have him walk into our room in the morning and surprise us with a big “Hiiiii!” Things are happening!



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24 Weeks Pregnant, We’re Getting There!

I am writing this during Liam’s nap and he should be waking up soon. Why am I writing this instead of doing things I need to do? It’s a combination of procrastination and pregnancy. I have felt so tired in the past few days but have continued to stay up late at night. (I like that extra time with D before we finally go to sleep!) I have one more wedding to finish editing which is going painfully slowly since I am so tired and it’s hard to focus. Besides what’s going on in October, I won’t have anything else photography related to do. I will take it easy throughout November and December and see when our little guy will need to be delivered. It might be the end of December. I definitely don’t think it will be January for this baby.

Besides feeling tired, I just feel sick a lot. As in, not really hungry and kind of nauseous. I imagine what it would be like to take care of Liam on a rutabaga farm in 1921, watching over him while pregnant, covered in dirt and rutabaga leaves. Sweating. How could I manage all of that while feeling like this? Or maybe if I worked at a rutabaga farm, I’d be so well conditioned from day-to-day life that I’d be just fine. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so blah all of the time!

I don’t like complaining so this feels like the first time I’ve vented about how I feel in months. It felt kind of good.  ;)  It also feels good to write random things and do a search to see if “day to day” needed hyphens or not. I tend to forget that back when I wrote more, I was just better at writing. Smarter. Sometimes my brain feels mushy these days. But I do think once I have the baby and get back to my normal self, the mushiness should resolve pretty quickly. I will still need to continue writing though and learning about hyphens, or I might turn to soup again anyway.


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Amazon Prime Review: The Easy Life for Mom, Prime Boxes At My Door

I became a member of Amazon Prime in 2005, just months after getting an Amazon credit card from Chase. It started as a mostly harmless way to cure the first world problem of not wanting to wait a week for a package. That taste of two-day shipping luxury quickly turned into a total dependency. Becoming a first time parent really accelerated my use of Amazon Prime. In those first few months, I figured out that joining Amazon Mom and getting a subscription for diapers was the best thing since two hours of non-interrupted sleep. The companion to my diaper subscription soon became the Bounty paper towel subscription. Then the Charmin Basic toilet paper subscription. Enter Quaker Granola Bars on the scene, baby wipes, baby food pouches and more. Sometimes my Amazon boxes are so big, my son uses them to play inside of and we have complete Prime Cities made with multiple boxes. I even started getting dog food delivered so I can save the trip to the pet store and carrying the huge bag across the parking lot. (I said this was first world.)

The amount of money I have saved is phenomenal. Purchasing a big case of just about anything from Amazon is such a smart move. My son was an Enfamil Gentle-ease-er and if I had purchased it one tub at a time, or even the two-packs, I would have wasted so much money. In the end I did waste some money because the subscription didn’t come soon enough and I had to run out to the store a few times, but that was my fault, not Amazon’s.

When I do run out to go shopping at the local grocery store, Target or any other establishments, my visits are more enjoyable. There’s no pressure that this is my chance to get everything. They’re also faster and less of a “big deal” because shopping with children can be stressful and unpredictable. Knowing I don’t have to get a huge package of towels or diapers makes things so much nicer. I can focus on the food or other things I need.

The UPS delivery drivers must have my house in their “Favorites” list on their GPS. I might as well open our house to be a location for Amazon Locker.

Amazon, why are you so amazing? Sadly, you are killing so much local business. But you have made my life so much better. How am I to choose the right thing to do? The answer is, I just can’t think about it. I want my boxes. I have my sanity and I collect more time at home with my little one.


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WordPress Item Not Updated Error, How To Fix

If you are trying to update your categories and slugs, and the error “Item Not Updated” comes up, there is only one reason why. You are trying to give a category slug the same exact title and format as one of your existing post tags. Category slugs cannot be the phrase as any of your tags for posts. For example, if you have a tag called,


You’ll need to make a category slug like this instead,


Just change your words around a bit and you’ll get around the mysterious “Item Not Updated” error on WordPress with ease. I am thinking they will add a note along with that error some day which actually explains why it’s denying your changes.


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Thumbtack.com Review: A Social Service Marketplace, Wins and Woes

I have been a member of a website called Thumbtack since the summer of 2011. I am using their service to find leads as a family and wedding photographer. Today I felt like it was time to put my opinion into the hat of Thumbtack reviews. At first I wondered if the site was legitimate and carefully began to explore my options. The site seemed to be pretty quiet and had a few bugs but it started to grow very fast. Over time the site has improved in so many ways and they really have things streamlined now. For example, you no longer have to email them to receive a refund for a quote that was never viewed. It all happens automatically and the site as a whole is really a breeze to use. Their support has always been fast, no matter what. And as far as traffic (getting in a lot of leads), now they really have that down as well. For one, their Google rank is very high because Thumbtack users are encouraged to place special links to Thumbtack’s website on their own websites, which equals major SEO flow. And step two: there are ads for Thumbtack all over Google (and I am assuming elsewhere too) and because of that you will receive many quotes per day, at least in my experience. The amount of quotes coming in is just overflowing compared to a couple of years ago. So you’d think you would have a lot of luck because of that? Sadly, not really.

My opinion comes from a photographer’s point of view. While many requests are simply for head shots (which I don’t do any longer), and while others are brides and grooms who want six+ hour weddings at multiple locations for under $500 (insert sad face here, because I am definitely looking for wedding clients who want good work) you will meet some truly awesome and special clients from time to time. I think since I am in photography that it’s harder to create a match. I suspect in other fields it may be easier to book jobs more often. I have only had eight jobs from the site since 2011 but they have all been great experiences. You can view my Thumbtack profile by clicking here.

Despite the low number of jobs, I’ve always tried my best to connect with more clients. In the past few months I even became a little lead happy. I dished out a lot of my money for people to view my quotes (mostly for weddings) and they never replied to me. I did about seven in one day once, and nothing happened. They all viewed my message but that was it. They didn’t even say thank you. Out of nearly one hundred transactions in my entire Thumbtack history, only about three have ever sent me a short note if they were completely set on not choosing me. It starts to get you down because you at least want an acknowledgement that they appreciate that you wrote to them. It’s almost as if they are just comparing prices, testing the water, and jumping ship without saying a word. I take so much time out of my day to go through these and send out messages. I am not sure if some of them understand we are paying to be able to talk to them and receive their information. I am not just complaining over the fact no one is sending me love notes with hearts, I am just a little sensitive about effort without results. Dollars in the wind.

Thumbtack has a page about what makes a winning quote. But winning quotes don’t always equal a match. I feel like my messages are upbeat and informative. I customize each message according to what the person wants. I truly think in the end they do not reply to me because my price is not low enough. I will be using Thumbtack a lot less seriously from now on. It is probably better suited for other types of services, but in the end everyone wants a good deal with just about anything I guess. But when business owners are paying for equipment, insurance, licenses, and with their own time, some just don’t get it. Especially with photography because our job continues when we get back to our home or office. But enough of my venting. I am very happy with Thumbtack’s service still and I really have enjoyed collecting some great reviews there. I just have to wait for those diamonds in the rough to come by.

My business page on Facebook is located at http://facebook.com/lovelightlens Stop by to like the page and I will return the favor. Good luck out there as you find leads for your business.

UPDATE: February 28, 2014 – Today I am officially done with buying Thumbtack credits. My review of the entire Thumbtack experience is now completed below.

Over the past month, I decided to give Thumbtack another serious chance. This was decided after talking with so many awesome people through this blog post and using the great methods mentioned. Still, I have spent money again to only have bidders view my quote and never get back to me. I thought I landed a good job a week ago, but the person keeps stalling now to complete the service. Once again, everything has been overly time consuming. Waiting for the diamonds in the rough, as I wrote in my post back in August, is just taking too much time and effort. I want to have time for it, but I have to just admit to myself that I don’t have that time anymore. I’ll now stick with local advertising in my city and start some Google Ads (an avenue I haven’t attempted since 2011). At least then I won’t have to deal with the Thumbtack control panel and the way the entire Thumbtack process allows potential customers to forget about us way too easily. My absolute and final conclusion?

1. When customers fill out a request on Thumbtack, there should be a lot more *required* fields asking for information about what they need. No more vague and half-empty descriptions! Then the ‘Ask a Question’ feature would hardly even be needed. Service pros will see exactly what time something is needed, for how long, where the service is needed, etc. This would allow service pros to feel less like we are being so limited with our questions. We need all info, up front, so our time is not wasted.

1. Thumbtack should require service-seekers to pay for submitting a job request. It should no longer be free. It’s not fair that our side is so serious, while the other side is so indifferent to our efforts. I suggest that if the customer does not find the right service pro that their money be returned to them. That could make the incentive to pay more tempting and get serious customers in our lead alerts. If Thumbtack became so popular by being free to use, isn’t it time to give something back to the service professionals?

Please continue to share your thoughts in the comments below if you have any ideas on how to generate leads for your business. We all need to hear them and work on this together. Your posts, time and effort are very appreciated!


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