Mother’s Day Dispatches From My Bed

I’ve created quite a nest for myself today, surrounded by magazines, phones, a computer and TV, while I rule the roost from my bed. It’s like bed rest without the power that accompanies a medical order. My goal for Mother’s Day was to read my backlog of magazines, when really I’ve only made it through some blogs on Feedly and a CB2 catalog that has been dogeared up by someone else in this house.

One unadvertised benefit of our awesome bed is that the headrest doubles as a drink holder/shelf. It’s a fantastic feature because it keeps your drink accessible without forcing you to lean over to reach the nightstand, causing your carefully constructed pile of pillows to fall out of position. It was perfect until today when one of the pillows nicked a half full glass of lemonade, dumping the contents everywhere. I jumped up, grabbed a towel, and began wiping when I sat down on the bed to reach the floor board in between the nightstand and bed. First I heard beeps, then a weird muffled sound in the house. Only after I looked accusingly at the TV did I realize that I had sat on the phone and had butt dialed the phone intercom system. My clean up was broadcast house-wide. Still more entertaining than the Kardashians.

This came while watching a Dodgers game where they showed a mom in the crowd who looked topless, super tan, and on display while her son tried to get her attention. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she was wearing a tube top and wasn’t topless, but I can’t be certain. She did make me think of Tom Papa’s take on hot moms:

The best news of Mother’s Day and the continuation of my love-hate with online quizzes: I am Lorelei Gilmore.

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It’s like Google turned over secret information on me because I LOVE Gilmore Girls. I even watched a few of the early episodes with Clover until someone in this house complained that I was hogging the Netflix spots. Rory’s high school graduation still makes me cry, especially her mention of how she inhabits two worlds – one of books and one of real life – because that is Clover, too.


Clover’s softball team lost in the playoffs yesterday due to a horrible call. I know, one call isn’t an entire game of play, but this one call really did cost them the game and it hurts so much more when your team wasn’t outplayed, but beat by a blind naccoleptic clustercuss umpire. And, it hurts so much more when the game is your child’s and not your own. This loss stung more than any I remember from my childhood. Clover didn’t say much, and as we drove away, she finally said that the worst of it was that she felt “especially bad” for one of her teammates. This girl was involved in the bad call play, and I thought that may be the reason Clover felt bad for her, but I was wrong. “It’s just that she’s always so positive and optimistic, and at the end, she was crying.”

Clover is a better person than I. That made my Mother’s Day.

Thingamajunkers and Other Flotsam

I have a love/mostly hate relationship with all of those Buzzfeed-esque quizzes. Which Frozen Character are You? What Color are You? What Font are You? And my favorite, How Lazy are You? What if you are too lazy to take the quiz? How can I share that super lazy status with my Facebook friends?

Still, the quizzes that suck me in, I feel have scientific accuracy.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 9.23.46 PMI got Mindy Kaling! Suck it, haters!

While I’m cutting and pasting and on the topic of apathy, this was the best gossip headline I’ve seen in a while (it’s the top one next to the teeny thumbnail):

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They’re famous, but not famous enough that we know their names, nor does the headline writer have time to do an image search to find out. I love it.

Instead of saying, “thingamajigger,” today, Rocket said, “thingamajunker,” which is really much better in some situations. I’m using it exclusively, now.

Speaking of Rocket, you know you’ve made a successful dinner when your child has to plug their nose to eat it. Mr. Dramatic was able to choke down the asparagus in a harrowing eight minute ordeal. He lived. Huzzah!

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5 Tips for Pain Relief: What to Do When Your Back Hurts

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 1.16.24 PMWhen I hurt my back in December, I asked the Internet what to do and the answer was nothing. Well, almost nothing as everyone seemed to say to alternative ice and hot, while taking it easy for a few days or weeks as it heals itself. Backs always heal themselves, the Internet said, but I found that wasn’t quite true. If you hurt your back, here’s my absolutely non-professional advice on what to do.

1. Put ice on it asap. I missed this step until it was too late. I hurt my back preparing for a holiday party, which meant there wasn’t time to sit down with an ice pack. That was a mistake, which was clear the next morning when I couldn’t move without crying.

2. Take ibuprofen. This I did, but I only took two, which my doctor later told me was too low a dose to really help. She had me up to four Advil twice a day.

3. Heat it up! My heating pad quickly became my best friend. The heat loosened my back up and helped with the pain.

4. Get to your doctor! The Internet insisted this was pointless because most back injuries heal themselves, but on day five, when things were getting worse and even the tiniest moves had me screaming in pain, I called the doctor, and my only regret is that I didn’t call sooner. Luckily I didn’t need x-rays or an MRI because my spine wasn’t bothered by manipulation, and my doctor could feel the tear in my back. Even I could feel the damage in my back with my hand. My doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant, Advil, a heat pack, and physical therapy.

The key, my doctor said, was to make sure my back healed properly or else this could easily turn into a chronic problem.

5. Get physical therapy. This part could be skipped if you have an exercise plan, but physical therapy had two key components that helped tremendously: a massage and electrical stimulation. My appointments began with a massage to loosen the muscles on both sides of my spine, and spinal pressure to keep my backbone from stiffening. After that, I did my exercises, then I ended with heating pads and electrical stimulation to help strengthen my back muscles.

I was in physical therapy for three weeks, ending one month after my injury. I was still in tons of pain, but I had improved a lot, and was told I could try to get back on the treadmill, but only for a short amount of time and I had to walk slowly. Each morning I sat with the heating pad for 20 minutes before I was loose enough to shower and gently try a few of my exercises. Walking on the treadmill hurt, thus I put that off for another week or two.

The magical six-week mark came and went and I wasn’t better. The Internet said most back injuries go away in 6-8 weeks, but that wasn’t the case for me. I was still taking Advil, still doing my exercises, still being incredibly careful, and still reliant on my heating pad. Discouragement was setting in until I read the best advice the Internet had to offer. It was a government document, but after it read nothing like an American government document, I realized it was from Scotland. The bottom line was to get off your butt and move. The document said that if you wait to return to work or activities until your back is 100% better, then your back will never be 100% better. Your back heals though movement, not through rest. Of course, taking it easy is important right after the injury, but after that, backs need to move. This was my a-ha moment. This was my permission to push past the pain from stiffness and once I did, I found my back improved fast.

Now I am three months out from my injury, and while not 100%, I’m definitely about 97% and climbing. I still use the heating pad a few times a week to stay loose and do my exercises about the same, while finally getting back to full speed on the treadmill. I make sure not to stay in any position, especially seated, for too long, and I take breaks to get up, walk, and stretch. Tearing a muscle is intensely painful and it made me feel like a 90-year-old in need of a walker. Truly, 90 years could probably walk faster than I could at the time. This morning, I bent down under the counter on the backside of our kitchen island to pull out a heavy juicer. It was a simple act, but there was no way that I could have done it a month ago.

P.S. I am not a doctor, even though I lied once on a magazine subscription and used Dr. as an honorific. I wrote this because back in December, I never saw anything that encouraged me to go to the doctor or was honest that it’s a long haul back to healthy.

My Craigslist Soul Mate

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I’m not Julie, but I kinda am. Dog stalking is a hard habit to break.

How to Quickly Erase Dirt From a Free Range Childhood

This post is sponsored by P&G. Save on NEW Gain Flings and Tide Pods at Target. Text CLEAN to Target (827438) for mobile coupons*.

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We don’t have one of those printed family manifestos popular on Pinterest, but if we did, here’s a snapshot of what it would say:

  • Screens should be limited
  • Kids should get bored
  • Kids should get themselves out of boredom
  • Kids should have time to explore their own curiosity.

It’s simple enough. Now that they’re older, they get 20 minutes of screen time a day, and very luckily, little to no homework, which means much of their afternoons and evenings are spent outside playing made up games.

Here’s the downsides:

  • Their rooms are often a mess (books, LEGO are everywhere)
  • Their faces and hair are always a mess
  • Their feet are an awful mess
  • Their clothes looked lived in (and I mean that in a bad way).

Despite living on a hillside where the kids climb and run around, the real mess is created at school. It’s not your typical school with a black top and paved walkways. Instead, it has trees, loads of dirt, and old style play structures that make me a little nervous. This is what the hippie school looks like on an average day:

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This is why my second grader still keeps *two* changes of clothes in his cubby. He’s been known to get dirty, change his clothes, then get right back into the same puddle or mess, thrashing a second outfit. It’s such a mess, it’s an all caps, four letter word: MESS. Dirt is surprisingly hard to get out and it makes their clothes smell like they were buried deep underground. Seriously, dirt smells bad. It’s not the fresh dirt smell after a day of gardening. This is the stink of a challenge.

Here is what one day looks like up close:

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The solution to the ugliness is found in this pretty package:

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Throw the earthy smelling clothes into the washer with a Tide Pod or Gain Fling from P&G, and a little bit later, we have this:

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Let them roll in the dirt, trudge through the mud, and slide down the hill on nothing but their rear end because the mess will be erased with ease. A free range childhood doesn’t mean disaster for clothes. Before we were sent samples of the Tide Pods and Gain Flings, I used to spray, scrub, then toss in with hot water and a prayer. No more, thank you very much, which was especially helpful after I hurt my back and would subsequently avoid doing laundry because of all the lifting and pouring. My back is better, but the simple, effective method stays. These laundry gems may be small and pretty, but they pack a powerful punch thanks to their combination of detergent, brightener, and stain remover all in a single pack. With them, I finally beat the dirt!