Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It’s the end of February and time to take a look at how I’m doing with my three goals for the year. So for better or worse, here goes:

Resolution # 1 - Loose the guilt and rediscover a hobby or two, and maybe even go on a date with my husband (i.e., The Good) 

Believe it or not, my husband and I left our daughter with an actual babysitter and hit the town for a night out earlier this month. It really happened! It wasn’t just an elaborate plan in my mind. Having time alone to remember why you like each other and why you decided to get married in the first place should never be underestimated.

I was concerned that Ellie would be sad we were leaving her. (It’s that crazy daycare guilt haunting me again.) But my husband and I agreed the timing was right and stayed the course. I’d talked with Ellie about Ms. L (a teacher from her school) coming over, and she was excited. I still hadn’t fully explained that when Ms. L arrived, we'd be leaving. When it was time to have that conversation I was nervous. As eager as I was to spend some quality time with my husband I doubly dreaded the thought of her being upset.

Here’s how it played out:

Me: “Ellie, Mommy and Daddy are going to go bye-bye for a while, and you’ll stay here with Ms. L.”

Ellie: “Good idea, Mommy.”

When we were walking out the door she endured our hugs and kisses and gave us a quick and nonchalant, “See ya later.”

It was as simple as that. She was as thrilled to get us out of the house as we were to go on a date. That evening we enjoyed a funny show and had a nice dinner, which we of course filled with conversation about Ellie. I’m thrilled to report my guilt about date night has greatly diminished, and I’ve already scheduled Ms. L for another night in March. Yay us!

Resolution # 2 – Shed some pounds and become a healthier momma (i.e., The Bad) 

This continues to be more difficult than it should. I accept that making healthy choices is a lifestyle change, and incorporating exercise into my daily routine is an ongoing battle. But the workout gods don’t seem to be on my side. It’s frustrating because in a 24 hour day, I’m only aiming for 30 minutes. I occasionally get a workout in, but I’m inconsistent. UGH! I get so disappointed in myself.

I’ve realized if I don’t exercise in the morning it’s not going to happen. So, earlier this month I revisited the nicest gym closest to my home. I accepted a free membership for a week to ensure I’ll be spending my money wisely if I commit to an actual membership. What’s embarrassing is the fact I haven’t made it there to give the one-week test run a try. Thank goodness there's no expiration date. Things happen; either my daughter’s up half the night coughing or my dog’s puking. The adage really is true: if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Last Tuesday morning, I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m.; the class at the gym I planned to try began at 5:15 a.m. (Crazy, right? My thoughts exactly, but if they hold the class I suppose people show up. I guess it’s doable.) Early to bed, early to rise; I was in bed by 10:00 p.m. My workout clothes and shoes were waiting for me in the bathroom, and I’d already ironed my clothes for work. Surprisingly, even Ellie was cooperating and had gone to her bed—amazing! I was on top of it, or so I thought. At about 3:30 a.m. we were startled awake from extremely loud shrieks and pounding sounds. At first we were unsure if the sounds were coming from inside or out. It sounded like our home was being attacked. Screech! Thump! Thump! Thump! It was truly frightening. Our dog, Shelby, a 90 pound lab-mix, went berserk; she couldn’t decide whether to growl or cry so she did a combination of both.  I ran to get Ellie. She was terrified and screaming, and Shelby continued to bark and whine. My husband was impressively on the job to handle the situation. In his underwear, he threw on a sweatshirt, slipped into his dress shoes, and grabbed a flashlight and a baseball bat. It was certainly a sight to behold, and if I’d been thinking clearly I would have taken pictures or grabbed the video camera. At the time I was too afraid. When my husband came back inside he explained the strong wind had blown our crawl space door open, and neighborhood cats had found their way underneath our house. He’d chased/coaxed the cats out and locked the door to our crawl space. (We later discovered that only one of the cats had actually escaped, and one was still trapped. But that’s another story.) We’re not sure whether these cats were fighting or involved in some kind of freakish mating ritual. Regardless, by the time things had settled down our queen-sized bed held our toddler, our dog, my husband and me. I only had about 25 minutes until my alarm would have gone off. Needless to say I bailed and reset it.

I don’t intend to just make excuses. The reality is I must dig deeper and find the willpower to overcome these types of obstacles in order to make taking care of me a priority.

Resolution # 3 – Develop and nurture some friendships (i.e., The Ugly)

I’m ashamed to admit I have done nothing to build or rekindle friendships. Lucky for me there’s 10 more months in the year, so there’s still time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Persistent Popsicle Princess

The scene takes place at about 7:45 p.m. in our living room. It’s just before bedtime, Ellie’s sporting cute, purple cupcake PJs, and she’s already brushed her teeth. A previously DVRed Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on TV and almost to the hotdog dance scene. We’re getting ready to select books for our nighttime stories.

Ellie: I need a snack. I wanna popsicle.

Mom: It’s too late for a popsicle. Would you like an apple?

Dad: I’ll peel you an apple. 

Ellie: No! I wanna popsicle! (frowns) 

Dad: How about a banana?

Ellie: I don’t wanna foonana. I WANT A POPSICLE! I want red. Please! Please, Mommy! Please, Daddy! I wanna popsicle!

Mom: You’re not going to get a popsicle tonight. It’s almost bedtime. You may have an apple or a banana. 

Ellie: I WILL HAVE A POPSICLE! RED! (stomps foot and crosses her arms)

Dad: (with a much firmer tone) You’ll have nothing making demands and acting like that. You may have an apple or a banana.

Ellie: (fights tears) But I need a popsicle. I need a popsicle in my mouth. A red popsicle. PUH-LEASE!

Mom: (tries hard to keep from laughing) Would you like an apple or a banana?

Ellie: (sighs and looks defeated) Okay. I’ll have a foonana. 

Mom: I think I’d like to have an apple.

Dad: I’ll get it.
(Dad leaves and returns with a banana, an apple and a knife, and he hands an opened banana to Ellie.)

Ellie: Thank you, Daddy. (She smiles and takes one bite.) I don’t like foonanas anymore. I wanna popsicle. Please, Daddy! 

Dad: You may have a popsicle tomorrow… not tonight, but tomorrow. 

Ellie: I will have a popsicle tomorrow?

Mom: Yes. Tomorrow you may have a popsicle. Would you like to share my apple tonight?

Ellie: Thank you, Mommy.
(Mom and Ellie eat the apple.)

The scene changes to the next morning in our bedroom. Ellie has found her way to her parents’ bed at some point during the night. The time is now 7:03 a.m.

Mom: (smiles) Good morning.

Ellie: It’s tomorrow. I wanna popsicle now. A red one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Inside My Bag? Here's a Clue: The Contents Would Make MacGyver Envious

My husband constantly ridicules the size of my purse. He jokes and laughs until we’re traveling and need something, and I can usually pull it out within a minute or two … or okay, maybe five. I’ve always carried a large bag, but now that I have a two-year-old it's only magnified. I agree that it's huge and clunky and quite heavy, weighing in at a whopping 10.1 pounds. But it contains everything I may ever need. It's ridiculous, I suppose, but I justify it by thinking of myself as one prepared mommy, albeit with a sore shoulder.

In no particular order, here goes:
  • My day planner – It's old school I know, but don't judge. I still like to see a month at a time. I literally enjoy penciling in my appointments, and I'm not ashamed.
  • Wipes – I wish I’d known the many uses of wipes before having a child! Who knew?
  • Three diapers
  • One rice cake in a baggie
  • Travel utensils for Ellie
  • My wallet – Although I carry an enormous bag I don't carry a George Castaza wallet like a few of my friends. Ahem. You know who you are.
  • One small hairbrush
  • One small booklet of ocean life stickers—These work wonders for keeping a toddler entertained for about one minute and 15 seconds.
  • One mini Play-Doh (blue)
  • One small bottle of bubbles
  • My iPhone
  • One baggie of Goldfish Crackers
  • My keys
  • Floss
  • One Shout Wipe – It's been in there for a very long time so I’m pretty sure it's dried out by now. But I think I’ll keep it just in case.
  • One package of Boogie Wipes —These are a little on the pricey side, I know, but in public they save me from wrestling with my daughter to wipe her nose. So they're worth it. 
  • Four glass lens cleaners
  • One box of matches from Bottega in Birmingham
  • One Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer (lemongrass sage scent)
  • Two safety pins
  • Two sunscreen samples
  • Travel size Tylenol container that actually contains Excedrin Migraine (It's really the only way to go.)
  • One coupon for $2 off Pull-Ups —I'm debating whether or not these are actually worth it. 
  • One pair of fingernail clippers
  • Five band aids—Make that four; Ellie saw these and discovered a boo boo that needed immediate attention.
  • Burt's Bees' Cuticle Cream 
  • One sample of Neutrogena Moisturizer
  • One Swiss Army Knife— I've had this for years. And who knows when you'll need a toothpick, tweezers or pair of mini scissors?)
  • 11 tampons – I agree that this seems excessive, but if you've ever been without and had to beg, borrow or steal one it's best to have plenty of extras.
  • Two individual containers of unsweetened apple sauce
  • Two packs gum: one Orbit (sweet mint flavor) and one Extra Dessert Delights (key lime pie flavor)
  • One Mickey Mouse book
  • One small pack of M&Ms (This is my break-glass-in-case-of-emergency treat.)
  • One sample size of Starbucks cinnamon spice-flavored coffee
  • One Knox County School Coupon Book —I’m vowing yet again to utilize these throughout the year to keep from scrambling in August.
  • Two disposable bibs – I know I’m not saving the planet with these, but they’re a lifesaver when eating out.
  • One apple
  • One small bag of pretzels (These are leftover from Halloween and in the shape of pumpkins.)
  • Two ink pens (both black ink)
  • One Lubriderm hand lotion
  • One lip gloss (night iris) and one lipstick (guilt free) – I still rarely reapply after the morning despite my mother's best attempts throughout years.
  • Two pairs of sunglasses (Ellie’s and mine)
Well, that’s it. Organized or fanatical? You decide.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 Tips You Need To Know If You Also Have Gyno Prep OCD

I had my annual gynecological exam last week. And even though the doctor, nurses, their sisters, uncles and friends and I’m pretty sure a few people who were just walking by watched me push out a baby two years ago, visiting the gynecologist still causes me a crazy amount of anxiety. My husband doesn't understand this and has joked that I "get fancier for the doctor than [I] do for [him]." I'm patiently biding my time for his turn to get to bend over for a prostate exam.

Those who know me well may have heard my paper towel gyno story. For those who don't know see tip #10 for a better idea. I'm pretty sure that experience caused my gyno apprehension. I believe your gyno visit goal is to get in and out with what you need without being the one who is discussed over lunch. I advise this knowing I’ve been the topic of that conversation, and I pray there's never a repeat.

Here's my list of dos and don'ts for your next annual visit:

1.) Never schedule your appointment after 11am. The later in the day you wait the greater your risk of a faux pas.

2.) Treat or give yourself a pedicure the day before. Note: if you wait too late in the day you risk sheet marks, and if you wait until the morning your shoes may ruin your handiwork.

3.) Choose your clothes the night before, including bra, panties, socks, etc. Be sure every article you select fits properly. You definitely don't want to stress over skin indentions from items that are too tight. Note: trouser socks are especially dangerous and also increase your risk of sweaty feet. Note: avoid trouser socks at all cost on the day of your exam.

4.) Don't eat asparagus the day before your visit. You'd hate for your urine sample to smell funny.

5.) If you don’t wax, you’ll want to wake up early to allow extra time for a perfect shave. Everyone will be glad you did.

6.) Of course you'll wear deodorant, but don't overdue it. You don't want unnecessary white residue on your armpits when you have to lift them during the breast exam. And if you think you need extra deo on the day of your appointment you might want to rethink what you're wearing on a daily basis.

7.) I used to pack a washcloth in a baggie to be able to give everything a good once over before the actual exam. My current gyno's office provides those towelettes in the bathrooms and exam rooms. This saves me from having to think about it, but it also shows that some women need the reminder. If you're unsure whether your office supplies the wipes do yourself a favor and take your own.

8.) Decide your shoes carefully. I have a friend who wore some really cute, leather knee boots to her exam. This was the first time she’d worn them, and she wore them without tights. At first thought, this was a smart move (See #9), but when it came time for her to get undressed she realized the boots were stuck. God love her. She had no choice but to sit on the edge of the table with those boots dangling over the side. You can bet at lunch that day every person working in the office received hilarious commentary and pictured her in the stirrups with those knee boots.

9.) It really goes without saying, but if you'd even consider wearing hose or tights to your visit you need much more help than I can provide. If you don't have an option and must wear hose to work, make your appointment the first one of the day, pack your hose and put them on after the exam. Or better yet, take a sick day, and enjoy a great lunch and shopping after your appointment. You’ll most definitely earn it!

10.) When you’re in the exam room, and the nurse tells you to get undressed the doctor will be right in, you’ll want to rush like a speed demon to remove your clothes. You don’t want to have to say “Wait, please,” or (God forbid) have the doctor open the door without knocking while you’re standing there half-naked. But I beg of you to resist this urge and take time to ensure you’ve been left appropriate coverage, i.e., gown, large sheet, etc.

This is something I wish I’d known about a decade ago. I had an appointment with a new gyno and had to endure a dreadfully long wait before my name was called. The nurse was in an obvious rush trying to catch up and forgot to place the appropriate items on the examining table. I was later told there was supposed to be a small paper coverlet for my breasts and a larger one for overall coverage. I undressed in a flash, walked over to the table and unfolded what was the equivalent of a Bounty-sized paper towel. There was nothing else. I kid you not. If I hadn't have been completely out of birth control pills and desperately needing a refill on my prescription I would have run out of there and never looked back. If this happened to me today I would either get dressed again, open the door and ask what the deal was or wrap the covering on the actual table around me toga-style. Instead, I was young and less creative so I sat shamefully, legs-crossed on the table, and placed the Bounty over me diagonally, attempting to cover my nipples and the top of my pubic area. When the doctor walked in, my chest and neck were bright red and burning up, my heart was racing and I was shaking my crossed leg like I was high on cocaine. Of course the doctor realized the mistake, ordered the nurse to get me the large paper sheet and turned to face the door until she returned. Ultimately, I got my prescription along with plenty of free samples and never graced that practice with my face ever again.

I encourage you to remember my story and these tips for your next visit. I promise you’ll thank me for it in the long run.