February 27, 2012

Diaper Genius: The Update

After reading my post about inadvertently washing a diaper, Ricky's grandma - Grand Ethel-in-law, if you will - sent me an email with these questions:

How come your diaper was still thoroughly soaked after being washed?
Didn't the spin-dry cycle work? 
If it did, and it STILL had that much weight, what did it weigh before spinning?! 
Maybe it holds even more than you thought.

Why did this never occur to me?!

While I don't know the answers to these questions, I do know that I'm pretty psyched that someone is actually reading my silly little blog. So for that - and for these questions - I thank you, Grand Ethel-in-law.

(Ricky admitted he only skims each post after I ask him 32 times, "Have you read my blog today, yet?" so he doesn't officially count as a reader.)


February 24, 2012

Git Yer Spurs On

Cowboy spurs?


Bone spurs.

That's right, friends. I am not the 26-year-old woman (girl? I don't feel like a woman, yet. Weird.) you think I am. I am actually a 94-year-old woman who wears surgical shoes and bakes fruit cakes that never get eaten. I have bone spurs... in my feet... and they hurt. Oh dear Lord, do they hurt.

Let's start at the beginning. I tend to stub my toes and fall a lot, and anytime this happens I feel excruciating pain in my big toes. Now, I've always been incredibly clumsy; so much so that Mother Ethel nicknamed me Grace when I was in high school. The joke in my family was that nobody understood how I managed to dance every Friday night (insert drill team officer salute and jump split here) yet I couldn't seem to walk without sustaining injury. I've always thought everyone had terrible pain in their feet so I never did anything about it. In hindsight, I have absolutely no idea why I thought that and it turns out you're not supposed to have that kind of pain. Who knew?

About a year and a half ago I had a life-changing conversation with Cousin Fred. I was talking about the pain in my feet and he assured me that a podiatrist could probably help the pain if not fix the problem altogether. WHAT?!

So I went to the place where I knew I would find the best podiatrist out there. Google. I am a firm believer that all of the best doctors have multiple great reviews on my favorite search engine, and this approach truly has not failed me yet. (You should meet my pediatrician; she's wonderful and fabulous and - you guessed it - we were united through Google.)

My search led me to a nearby podiatrist and I knew the moment we met he was legit. Let's just say he wears a thick gold chain (seriously) that has a giant gold medallion that looks like this:

Yep, that is the logo of podiatry caduceus. I love a doctor who proudly sports his specialty's symbol... around his neck... on a giant gold chain. Like I said - legit.

I had never been to the podiatrist before, and I was easily the youngest person in the waiting room by at least 42 years. Easily.

Fast forward through the paperwork, my chat with the nurse, and the official nice-to-meet-you-my-feet-hurt-so-expletive-bad introductory talk with the doctor (let's call him Dr. Medallion). After taking x-rays of each foot Dr. Medallion sat me down and informed me in no uncertain terms, "You have bone spurs from hell." Those were his actual words. Basically, I have been walking around for years with bone spurs growing on the bone of each big toe. Don't know what a bone spur is? Neither did I, other than knowing my 89-year-old Popeye had them on his heels a few years ago. If you have time Google it. They really aren't that exciting, though. Mainly just painful.

So Medallion tells me my best option long term is surgical removal, however with a new teaching job and a 4-month-old Little Ricky I opted for the short term solution - nail avulsion. I wouldn't Google that one. Definitely don't Google image it.

Since then I have been back roughly every 6 months to reevaluate the situation, however I was pregnant with the Bulldog for the last two visits (remember, we're poor planners) and apparently operating on pregnant women is frowned upon in the medical community unless absolutely necessary. Turns out bone spur removal is not absolutely necessary.

Recently the pain has returned, and with a vengeance. So my dear Mother Ethel-in-law kindly agreed to watch the kidlets so I could take a trip to see Dr. Medallion once again.

Now I haven't been to see Medallion since I turned 26 in August, so yesterday I was the youngest in the waiting room by only 41 years. I call that progress.

After confirming that yes, I still have bone spurs (duh.) and yes, my feet are still failing me miserably, it was time to finally (finally!) set a date for surgery. You know that feeling you get on Christmas morning? That's how I felt when Medallion said the time is now.

We reviewed the risks of surgery, what to expect, blah blah blah. But when we started talking about the recovery, he mentioned what might be the greatest part of the whole deal - surgical shoes. After the surgery I will get to wear surgical shoes for 2-3 weeks. That's weeks, not days. I don't know why that is so funny to me, but I promise to take lots of pictures of myself going about my normal business wearing surgical shoes. The only sad part is that my surgery is two days after our anniversary, which means I will not get to wear my fancy kicks to our annual celebration dinner at III Forks. I'm sure Ricky will be thrilled.

Dr. Medallion wanted to make sure I was aware that I wouldn't be able to wear running shoes for about 6 weeks post surgery, which means I won't be able to go running during that time. I think that will be just fine, Doc. I am always looking for a  solid excuse not to work out. This could also be my opportunity to pretend I'm on The Biggest Loser and use this piece of gym equipment:

She looks like she's having such a good time! I want to have a good time.

I've never actually seen someone use this machine at my gym, but it's there. I just wish I had Bob Harper with me to yell, "Cycle those arms faster, girl!" 

(Side note: I would be a great contestant on The Biggest Loser. I watch it every week and imagine myself kicking ass and taking names on the ranch. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm large enough and apparently NBC is not looking for applicants who only have 15 pounds to lose. Dang.)

Anyway, surgery is set for March 16. Hooray for Dr. Medallion!!


February 22, 2012

Diaper Genie? Or Diaper Genius?


For whatever reason diapers seem to be a very popular topic for most new parents. And no, this is not a post educating you on diapers because that would be incredibly boring and a little too mommy-blogish for me. (I keep trying to convince myself this is not a mom blog. I'll let you know how that works out. And if that's what it turns into, well... let's just hope I'm like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls.)

Watch this immediately:
Click on the purple. It's a link, stupid.

So diapers.

A new mom or dad may ask, should I use cloth or disposable?

During my first pregnancy I researched cloth diapers extensively, and although I think they are probably the "better" choice (for the environment, your conscience, and apparently even your baby's ass) I ultimately decided I'm too lazy to clean 'em. Give me a Diaper Genie and disposable diapers and I am good to go. I actually felt guilty (guilty!) about using disposables for about 10 seconds, and then I remembered that I can always just lie about it when I'm talking to someone who might judge me. That thought helps me sleep at night.

By the way, kudos to mommies who do cloth diaper... I secretly (okay, not so secretly) want to be you. Seriously.

Since that decision almost 2 years ago, I have given little thought to the durability, dependability, and overall bad-A-ness of the disposable diaper.... until now.
Take a look at what I found while performing my favorite (psych) domestic wifely duty.

 Do you see what I see? Look a little closer.

Yes, that is what you think it is. A diaper... in my washing machine. Correction - a diaper that went through the entire heavy duty cycle on warm with an entire load of my children's clothing. Yep.

My first thought was simply, "Aw, hell." 

But then I got to thinking how truly fantastic it is that the diaper made it through! I always worry that I might drop the Bulldog into a running washing machine and her diaper will explode mid-cycle, leaving me with dirty clothes and a naked baby. Turns out I need not worry any longer.

After marveling at how clean the diaper was - I honestly have no idea what kind of diaper it was when it went into the washer, if ya know what I mean - I forced Ricky to marvel with me. I think he is ready to finally agree with me that the front loading washer and dryer were a brilliant purchase. The. Best. Purchase. Ever.

There I stood with a heavy, soaking wet (albeit clean) diaper, and I found myself in what we teachers like to call a teachable moment. Rather than waste such a moment, I channeled my inner Bill Nye and created a science experiment (I may or may not have Googled the scientific method because I forgot all of the steps).

Purpose/Question: How much liquid does a diaper really hold?

Research: I've been changing diapers for almost 2 years.

Hypothesis: A diaper holds a lot of pee.

Materials: You will need a dry diaper, a soaking wet diaper (preferably one that has endured an entire heavy duty wash cycle on warm), and a kitchen food scale.

Experiment: Throw that sucker into the washer - heavy duty on warm

Results:  According to my kitchen food scale, a dry, size 2 diaper weighs 0.7 ounces.

 Also according to the scale, the washed, completely soaked diaper weighed 1 pound 2.7 ounces!! That  means that the dry diaper holds 26.7 times its own weight in liquid. That's a lot of pee. My hypothesis was... CORRECT.

Conclusion #1: If my child ever has a diaper that weighs 1 lb, 2.7 oz. we should probably change her more often.

Conclusion #2: Pampers beats cloth every time. Booyah. 

For the record, Ricky was horrified that I put the soaking diaper on the kitchen food scale...

At least I washed it first.


February 15, 2012

Call Me Cupid, Sweetheart

 Oh, St. Valentine... What a funny little holiday we celebrate in your honor.

Each year on February 14, people find themselves in one of the following three categories:

1. I love Valentine's Day! I love  chocolate! I love flowers! I love teddy bears! But most of all, I LOVE love! I can't wait to have a romantic celebration with my wittle snuggle boo boo (because people who love Valentine's Day also have really cute (stupid) names for each other). Note: If you are a newlywed or a 13-year-old girl you automatically fall into this category.

2. I hate Valentine's Day! It's a stupid day for happy people to brag about their perfect  boyfriend (or girlfriend, or marriage, or domestic partnership... whatever) and I can't take it anymore! If I see one more Facebook post of some jerk's perfect flowers I'm going to de-friend EVERYONE.  Every. Last. One of you. Note: You will often hear people in this category make comments like, "Huh, well... I bet she's miserable the other 364 days of the year."

3. It's a Hallmark Holiday. I will not pay $40 for flowers, $20 for chocolate and $3 for a card! This pathetic excuse of a "holiday" has one purpose, and that's for companies to make MONEY. That's right, folks! All that clever advertising has nothing to do with loving your spouse (girlfriend, domestic partner...) I mean, what kind of idiot buys a heart-shaped pizza?! What a bunch of suckers. Note: This is a really versatile group including people who are single, many who are in relationships, and intellectuals who think they are too cool for just about everything.

Notice the word that each category has in common? I. Such a short, yet powerful word. And if I'm being totally honest, the last few years I have had somewhat of an I, or me, mentality on this particular holiday. That's right - me, me, me.  

"Will Ricky buy me flowers? What about candy? I could use a new necklace. Doesn't he LOVE me?!"

I'm not particularly proud of my selfishness (ouch... that's always a hard word to swallow) on previous Valentine's Days, but in my defense I just want what every other girl in the world wants - to feel special. But this year I wanted to do things differently. This year I decided to turn the tables and make others feel special. I know, I know... it's a lesson we've been learning since when were little children - focus on giving rather than receiving and you will have a happy heart. Why did it take me until my 20's to really get it? 

 My plans to play Cupid began on February 13 with a trip to the grocery store. In my family, nothing says love like food. That's who we are, it's what we do... we eat. So while watching The Bachelor I baked red velvet cupcakes with Mimi icing. It's the most delicious icing you will ever eat - trust me. I will give you the recipe, but I honestly don't recommend making it without the strict guidance of Mother Ethel. The card doesn't fully explain what can only be referred to as special directions.... but we like it that way.

Mimi Icing

And no, I didn't know what oleo was either... I had to call Mother E from the store.
(It's butter.)

Here is a picture of the cupcakes
(which turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself).

Fast forward to 5:30 am on February 14 - the alarm goes off. I crept out of bed to make a surprise Valentine's breakfast for Ricky - eggs, bacon, and heart-shaped waffles. I knew how much he appreciated breakfast when he told me, "When I was in the shower I smelled bacon and I got really excited!"
Don't worry, it's fat free...

Little Ricky also enjoyed breakfast.

At 8:45 am I bundled up the kids and headed off on our Cupid mission. Our first stop was Sister Ethel's house. Sister Ethel is currently on bed rest while she cooks Baby Ethel (who is due in April) so I thought she needed a Valentine's surprise. She was so happy!! And for the record, she may be the cutest pregnant woman in the history of mankind.

A card to go with cupcakes

After leaving Sister E's house, we headed to Ricky's school to drop off more cupcakes. We stopped at Sonic for a Vanilla Diet Coke to go with the cupcakes. I texted him when we pulled up, and he was also so happy!! I haven't surprised Ricky at school with treats since we were engaged, and I forgot how much I love doing it. And for the record, he may be the cutest husband in the history of mankind.

Our final stop on Cupid's mission  may have been the most special stop of the day. We went to see Popeye. My grandpa (who we lovingly call Popeye) has lived alone for the last 20 years. You see, his beautiful wife - my beautiful grandmother, Mimi - passed away from ALS at 62 years old. She was too young, and it was too soon, but I take comfort in knowing she is with God. He recently moved in with Mother Ethel and Step-Fred, so I thought he would make the perfect Valentine! 

Guess what happened when we showed up with cupcakes and a Valentine's card? He was so happy!! And when I told him the icing was Mimi's recipe, the tears in his eyes and the smile on his face let me know just how happy he truly was. And for the record, he may be the cutest Popeye in the history of mankind.
After lunch and putting the kids down for a nap, I spent the afternoon cleaning house and preparing for a special Valentine's dinner. What did I buy? A heart-shaped pizza. Yep. How clever of me to buy a heart on Valentine's Day!

I also bought lots of goodies for chocolate fondue - marshmallows, pretzels, strawberries, and bananas. On a whim, I decided to make homemade peanut butter balls because, well... I love peanut butter. Throw in a bottle of champagne and I was ready to surprise Ricky (who thought we were having leftovers for dinner).

Much to my surprise, Ricky called at 4:30 pm saying he was on his way home. WHAT?! He wasn't supposed to be home until at least 8 pm! So when he walked in the door, instead of seeing a cooked heart-shaped pizza and warm chocolate fondue, he saw an empty fondue pot and an unopened bag of marshmallows. I almost (almost) got upset - my final surprise was ruined! But then I remembered... he came home early. And for a coach's wife that is always good news.

The funniest part was that he tried to surprise me with steaks and lobster tails! We decided to eat the pizza for dinner, have the steak tonight, and save the fondue for Friday night. So really, we're having a Valentine's week!

Also fat free.

All in all, it was a wonderful Valentine's Day, and I am happy to report that playing Cupid was the perfect way to spend the day!

So friends, regardless of which Valentine's category you fall into, I think it's important to remember what Valentine's Day should be about. It should be about telling those around you that you love them, they are special, and you're happy to be apart if their lives. Seems simple, right? Yet all too often, we set high expectations for ourselves and/or those around us and we end the day feeling disappointed or let down. Because let's be honest, deep down every girl (and yes, even some boys) want the fairy tale. Unfortunately, fairy tales aren't real. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. However, what I have learned in 3 short years of marriage to Ricky is that love is about making your own fairy tale. Here are a  few of the things Ricky does all year in our fairy tale... cue the cheesy music.

1. He works hard. Teaching and coaching requires a lot of time and energy, and he works tirelessly and selflessly for his students and players. His hard work is what allows me to stay home with Littly Ricky and the Bulldog, and that makes me a very lucky girl.

2.  He helps me cook... and clean... and give baths... and change diapers... and rock crying babies... and pick up dog poop... and all of the other daily things required to run a house and raise children. We're a team, and I think we make pretty damn good one.

3. He laughs when I get mad. At first I get even more mad, and then I eventually start laughing, too, and before you know it I forget why I was mad in the first place.

4. He loves our children. I mean, really loves them. Nothing in the whole world melts my heart more than watching him chase Little Ricky around the house or snuggle with the Bulldog while she sleeps.

(This is not the complete list. But it's time to feed my child so I gotta wrap it up.)

Yes, I still love flowers and cards and chocolate. But most of all I love my husband, and I would take him all year long over Valentine's Day any day. We are not perfect - far from it - but together we have found a way to make our imperfect life, well... perfect.


P.S. Here's a picture of my newest Valentine...

February 13, 2012

The Baby (Monitor) Blues

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, something truly terrible happened.

Our fabulous baby monitor that I have come to love stopped working. Now, I know what you're thinking - how hard could it be to replace a pair of white walkie talkies? Well, my friends, this baby monitor is (was) not yo' mama's monitor. The choices in baby monitors these days are truly fantastic - digital video, anyone? - and that's exactly what mine is (was).

Before I continue, let's explore what it's like to buy anything for a child these days. I know my mommy friends will sympathize.

The baby gear market is a truly fascinating thing. When I was pregnant with Little Ricky I remember walking into Babies R Us to register. I took one look at the entire wall that is devoted to pacifiers and bottles, started sobbing (yes, seriously) and walked right out. How on earth could one tiny person possibly need so much stuff? And how do I possibly choose?

So what do I do when I find myself in an unmanageable situation? I enlist the help of Mother Ethel.

I explained to her that I could not register alone, so she willingly joined me on the next trip. After seeing aisle after aisle of anything-and-everything-your-new-baby-could-need, she agreed that visiting a baby superstore to register felt more like maneuvering a mine field. Ever the optimist, she assured me we would somehow plow through all of the baby *expletive* until we registered for everything we actually needed (and yes, we needed the wipe warmer. It is fantastic and amazing, and although many people said it's a waste of money it's NOT. It's just not.)

The problem with baby stores is the sheer amount of choices. There are at least 37 choices for everything!  Don't believe me? Take a field trip to Babies R Us; I promise it will blow your mind. Along the way, Mother E talked about what baby shopping was like in the good ol' days. Mothers would go buy the crib, because there was only one choice. Similarly, mothers bought the highchair, the car seat, and the stroller... because there was only one choice! What I wouldn't give to go back to simpler times.

Three hours later, we left the store exhausted, yet triumphant. We finished! We actually finished! Hooray for Mother Ethel!

*Side note: Ricky was more than willing to help me register, but he quickly pointed out that if I didn't know what to get, he definitely wouldn't know. In hindsight, I wonder if this was his way of avoiding the baby superstore. Well played, Mr. Ricardo.*

As if there isn't enough to buy for your new bundle of joy, each item choice comes with a subconscious message (and by that I mean completely conscious marketing ploy) that if you don't buy the very best one you are intentionally trying to harm your child. If you don't buy the top of the line item, your child will grow up as an insecure child who will undoubtedly turn into a dysfunctional adult. Sound dramatic? Tell that to the saleswoman who insisted "The higher the coil count in a crib mattress, the better your child's physical strength and bone growth. You want the best for your child, don't you?" Sorry lady, I will never pay $300 for a crib mattress. Never. I settled for the middle-of-the-line mattress and guess what? No skeletal deformities in either child (so far). Booyah!

The point of the story is to show that choosing things to buy for your baby is an often overwhelming task, so the idea of having to research and then go purchase a new baby monitor made me cringe.

There I was... monitorless and unsure of what to do next. Ricky and I decided the Bulldog would sleep in our room again until we found a new monitor. The rule in our house is that a new baby can stay in our room until he or she is sleeping through the night, because who really wants to walk all the way across the house to soothe a crying baby at 3 am? Not this girl. So after ousting Little Ricky from our bedroom at 10 weeks and the Bulldog at 12, I wasn't particularly thrilled for her to rejoin us at 16 weeks old.

(Please don't misunderstand my need for a baby-less bedroom as cold or unloving. Honestly, I need a LOT of sleep myself, and  all of the cute little noises babies make when they're asleep aren't so cute when they're keeping me awake. Ricky, however, remains unaffected. He managed to sleep through me screaming during labor contractions at 2 am (yes, seriously) so a few baby grunts and sighs are nothing to this guy. It makes me truly jealous.) 

So anyway, The Greatest Digital Video Monitor Ever Made was a gift from a friend, and to be quite honest it never really occurred to me what a baby monitor costs. When I was pregnant I knew it was a gift that was coming, so Mother Ethel and I completely skipped the monitor aisle when we registered. When the monitor died recently, I started researching new ones online. I was hoping to find a decent video monitor for a decent price, but let me just tell you, $180 is NOT a decent price. That's about how much they cost, and that's not even the most expensive one! Ridiculous.

Being the money-conscious mama that I am, I looked at the basic audio monitors, but they just aren't the same. There's something fun about being able to watch your child on a tiny little screen while they sleep or play in their room (and now that I'm typing this out, yes - I do realize how creepy that sounds). Okay, so I'm creepy. That's fine. I want  the video.

Realizing that a new video monitor was probably not in the family budget, I vowed to fix the broken monitor. I tried everything. I pressed each and every button... I took the batteries out... I put them back in... I tried a new wall plug. Guess what worked? Nothing.

Heartbroken and no closer to a solution, I tabled the problem for two weeks. But this past Saturday I decided I could no longer take the precious nighttime baby noises. I started back at square one. I Googled... I eBayed... I Craig's listed... and I looked at every baby website ever created. Turns out, the video monitors were still expensive two weeks later. Dang.

So I vowed to fix the broken monitor... again. And I tried everything.... again. Except... wait... What is that button? That button right there on the side camera? It must be new. It wasn't there two weeks ago when I tried everything to fix it the first time. Let me share a picture of the switch that magically appeared on the monitor:

The camera was off. Yep.

The crazy thing is, when I turned it on, it worked!

I know what you're thinking to yourself... Didn't Ashley go to college? Aren't people who go to college supposed to be at least kind of smart? Not only did I go to college, folks, I have my Master's degree. Yes, seriously. Good thing I almost spent $180 on a new monitor.

Alas, the Bulldog is now back in her room at night with a working monitor and I am a happy, well-rested, lady again.

 When I called mother Ethel to tell her the conclusion of the baby monitor drama, she ever-so-optimistically said, "I actually think you're really smart. Most people would have bought a new one and probably wouldn't have been able to fix it like you did."

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom.

Speaking of conversations with Mother Ethel, I feel the need to share this particular gem that was about - you guessed it - baby monitors.

Mother Ethel: "Do you really need a baby monitor? I never had one when you all were babies."

Me: "But what if she cries? Wait, how did you hear us if we cried at night without a baby monitor?"

Mother Ethel: "We could hear you through the screen door if you needed us."

Me: "The screen door? You used a screen door in place of a baby monitor?"

Mother Ethel: "No, the the screen door was to keep the cats out. That way we could still check on you without worrying about cats in the crib."

And that, everyone, is why I love my mother.


February 9, 2012

7 Reasons Why You Will Love My Blog

A few weeks ago I had a "Lucy moment" that can only be described as an epiphany. I wanted to - nay! - needed to write a blog! But why? Because I love 'em. Happy blogs make my heart smile; sad blogs are better than counseling (and they're free); zen blogs force me to go all feng shui up in here. Yet everytime I read someone else's blog I think to myself, "I could do this. I should do this."

So I sprung my new idea on David...
                 To which he responded, "Ohhhh, Lucy." 
                            And in that moment I knew blogging was a fabulous idea. 

Seeing as writing that first post is pretty damn intimidating, I decided to go with the Top 7 Reasons Why You Will Love My Blog instead. Read your hearts out, friends.

1. I will share my "Lucy moments" with you in (almost) real time, as well as pictures of David's reaction to said moments whenever possible.

2. Cute baby pictures. I can't help it. I love the faces of my children. Sue me. I will also do my best include pictures of David smiling like Chandler Bing in unnatural poses (the family portrait from Stepbrothers comes to mind).

3. I have a tendency to be incredibly awkward with strangers. I am perfectly fine in social situations with people I know, but throw me into a conversation with a 17-year-old cashier at Walgreen's and I'm ridiculous. I've learned to embrace these moments and find the humor in them afterward. I promise you will read about these episodes and afterwards feel really good about your own social skills.

4. If you want to read other fantastic blogs but you don't want to search on your own, I will add links to my personal favorites. You're welcome, lazy.

5. There's no real purpose. I'm just writing for fun. After making the decision to start a blog, I couldn't decide what direction to go. I have decided that rather than choosing one specific topic I am going to just write about whatever the hell I want! So it might be funny one day and sappy the next, but it will always (hopefully) be entertaining.

6. From this point forward, I will refer to my husband and children as Ricky, Little Ricky, and The Bulldog. Refer to the Cast & Crew tab for a proper explanation. While there you will also meet the Ethels and the Freds.

7. I drink. Not often and not heavily; it's not in a "she-binge-drinks-all-weekend-and-I'm-concerned" sort of way, or "it's 10-am-why-do-you-smell-like-whiskey" kind of way. Rather, it's more of an "occasionally-give-her-a-couple-cocktails-and-she's-a-blast" classy way. Let's face it - people who drink (occasionally) have funny stories. And after spending the last two-and-a-half years either pregnant or nursing, I think Mama deserves a drink (occasionally)!

(Yep. I said it. TTYL.)