Monday, May 16, 2016

Pap Smears, Root Canals, and Family Photos

I think you can all understand what pap smears, root canals, and family photos all have in common right? No? then it's possible you haven't experienced all three or you would know. There are three main commonalities required for each.  1. Prep work 2. Endurance 3. Enjoying the fruits of your labor. Let me elaborate.

Prep Work
If you've got a pap smear scheduled this week I'm pretty sure you're going to take a few steps to prepare.  Including, but not limited to, shaving, waxing, trimming, additional cleaning.  You're going to wear your nicest, or least-stained undies (even though no-one, besides you, even sees them), you're going to do a little prep work for that glorious moment when your bare legs are sweating like crazy in those charming stirrups while your OB talks about the movie he saw last week. We've all heard the story about the woman who, intending to spray a deodorizing spray right before her pap smear, accidentally grabbed glitter spray.  Her ob was surely impressed with her preparation that year.

If you've got a root canal scheduled you've probably already endured the worst part, which was most likely an abscessed tooth.  If you've had an abscess you won't need help remembering how it started out as just a bit sore, and you flossed it because maybe something got stuck, then the pain increases to really sore and a little swollen.  If you're like me, it's at this point that you call the dentist because you've gotten past the point of tolerating it with 4 Ibuprofen every 4 hours, chewing on ice constantly and telling your kids, "yes, you will start another movie for them" for the 3rd time that day.  You've never been this excited for a dentist appointment in your life.  You will do anything, literally anything to get some laughing gas, and a shot.  Heck, I'll take 10 shots at this point if it will help with the non-stop throbbing that has become your tooth.  And that's when your dentist informs you that there's nothing he can do.  You have an abscess and all you get is a prescription for an antibiotic. No pain numbing shot, no pressure-releasing drilling, just waiting.   "In 2-3 days you'll feel better" He explains.  "2-3 days?" It's at that point when you look in the mirror and realize your cheek has swollen to three times it's size, you can no longer be recognized by family, and you cannot go out in public (as if you would anyways.) The dang dentist is no good to you now and you get to see an endodontist.   You start prepping for the big day by getting a million x-rays, and most likely, the first appointment where your roots are numbed and then pulverized by scrapping needles up and down.  The finger impressions you left on the armrest as you wait in anticipation of the impending "little pinch"  are just beginning to return to their original shape when it's time to come back and finish your little root canal. This was just the preparation. 

If you've got family photos on the docket you've likely spent hours prepping by pinning adorable families smiling perfectly, hours online shopping, more hours returning the items that didn't work, hours walking through the mall explaining to everyone that "I'm just browsing." while in actuality you're desperately searching for the perfect necklace, belt, hat, earrings, hair bow, dress, sweater, shoes for everyone in your entire family (which for our family of 7 is sooooooo exhausting) Not to mention stalking the weather forecast in hopes of no rain, no tornadoes, not too hot, not too cold.  I mean even Mother Nature needs to comply on your big day. You've tried on everything in your closet in different combinations, you've spray tanned, cut your boys' hair, "polished" shoes with a magic marker, ironed (for the first time in 2 years), took notes while watching make-up tutorials on you-tube. Tweezed the heck out of your brows.  These are going to be the best family photos ever, your preparation will not be in vain.  Everyone's going to be happy, healthy, excited, smiley, and looking beautiful in a flawless, not-overdone way right?

The doc comes in and I can't help thinking, "Why I can't give myself a pap smear?"  Can't they just bring in the kit, let me watch a short video on what-not-to-do, and come pick up the kit a few minutes later?  I'm sure it's not that hard.  But no.  They need to get the specimen themselves.  I honestly get so stressed about such silly things like, where to put my clothes, how fast do I need to get dressed because, heaven forbid, the doc raps on the door when I've got my panties around my ankles.  I don't know why it's that big of a deal but I whip off my clothes at lightning speed, fold them gingerly, hide them, clasp my paper gown fiercely and wait.  They obviously haven 't done any scientific research on the amount of time it takes to get undressed because I'm pretty sure I get naked in under 1 minute.  Then I wait about 15 minutes shifting back and forth on the paper, trying not to tear it with my bare buns.  You know what comes next, lay back, put your feet in the aforementioned stirrups or place your feet flat together with your knees apart.  Boy oh boy.  This is fun. Then there comes the "little pinch" again.  Well it's over now, you endured. 

After the abscess, enduring the root canal is amazing.  You're just so happy that the antibiotic did indeed work and you can now put this all behind you (with only an occasional glimpse at your horrifyingly ugly chipmunk-cheek-phone-selfies.)  The thought of that week will help the endurance of the root canal seem like a trip to the Caribbean.  Sure you have to get more x-rays, shots, you have to prop your mouth open for 3 hours, you have to endure the saliva oozing down your neck, but it's worth it.  Your nerves and roots will never cause you pain again.  "I LOVE YOU Dr. Gibby" will go through your mind the whole time you're laying there, especially if you got laughing gas.  

It's family photo day.  The clothes are laid out on your bed like little one dimensional bodies, the curling iron is hot, the hair spray handy, you've put in the work and your ready for anything.  You've got bribery fruit snacks and smarties in your purse, the location already in your gps, nothing can go wrong.  And then your son starts puking, your 5th grade son has somehow grown 3 inches over night and his pants are now capris.  Your husband is late, your toddler refused his nap and is exhausted and emotional.  You would be bawling too at this point if you had time to re-do your makeup but you don't.  So you pull it together.  And maybe yell a little, at everyone.  Since the baby won't let you put him down you downgrade your daughter's hair style.  Straight is just as cute as curled, right?  You give the puker Motrin and bribe him that if he will just fake it for 10 minutes he can go back to sleep very very soon.  You pick different pants for your son and you glare at your late husband to get dressed now.  This is just what you hoped for.  A happy family moment captured forever.  After a good self pep-talk in the bathroom mirror you apologize to your husband and hustle everyone out to the Suburban. You take a deep breath.  The children can smell fear, stress, and anxiety so you want to act cool, calm, collected.  "Let's have fun guys!" you cheerfully say through gritted teeth and you select "My House" by Flo-Rida on you-tube and crank it up - loud.  You've got to keep the toddler from falling asleep somehow. Your teenager rolls her eyes as you start getting in your groove.  Pointing to each kid for their "solo moment" you yell "Work It Babe!" right as you pull up to a red light and your husband does his best robot arms ever.  The windows go down and you get your 5th grader to do the "sprinkler" to the rocking beat.  Your toddler hits the "dab" and everyone starts laughing.  Even the puker.  Deep Breath.  This is going to be ok.  Once on location, someone may have stepped in bird poop, someone may have cried, someone may have pinched someone else, someone probably started climbing up on rocks that they were told to not get on and scraped their knee but, according to the photographer, "We got some great shots" so you trust in her Photoshop skills and hope for the best.

Enjoy The Fruits Of Your Labor

If I'm being honest the fruits of a pap-smear can be a little hard to conjure up.  But I'll be danged if I'm going to give up on my analogy that easy.  After googling, "why should I get a pap smear?" and "do women who get pap smears live longer?"  I've come up with a few pap smear "fruits" for you to relish. To begin with, there's the relief that it's over. Whew! You now have a whole two years to wait until your ob office starts leaving you robotic voicemail every week, for 6 weeks, until your voicemail gets full and your guilt takes over and you schedule your annual appointment again. Let's not overlook that fact that you also got to sit in the doc's office for a while, by yourself, to get caught up on instagram or the latest "People" magazine.  It was kind of nice those 20 minutes of peace, at least in hindsight it seemed kind of nice.  And after, you probably stopped and got a beverage as a reward for being so proactive in protecting your health.  See, three amazing pap smear fruits: relief, moment of peace, a beverage.

Fruits of a root canal are easy to see.  Say, "chipmunk cheeks" three times and you know what I mean.  Ice chomping, thrashing back and forth on the bathroom floor in pain,  holding heated rice bags to your cheek, calling your dentist at 3:00 a.m., all of these things bring back a lot of miserable memories and a root canal is the only solution. If it weren't financially prohibitive I would consider getting voluntary root canals on every tooth because thanks to laughing gas, "I LOVE Dr. Gibby!"

See those beautiful Christmas cards? that gallery wall? The Facebook update where everybody chirped in to say how cute your family is?  Fruits of the family photo right there.  For some reason all the crying and stepping in bird poop and spit up chocolate stained, turned inside out shirt moments all seem really funny now that the pics are printed.  They are the crazy journey that got you those beautiful photos that you will cherish forever.  All it takes is opening up your photo album and you're ready to start all over again. It was totally worth it.  

To see a gallery of my family photos over the years and to read through a few tips I've rounded up over the years keep scrolling down.  Or click here.

Family Photo Tips - Plus My Family Photo Gallery

1. Take photos all the time.  Not only will you be happy you have all those moments captured, your kids will be well versed in family photo etiquette. aka look at the camera, pretend you're happy, hold still, take your fingers out of your nose.  You get the idea.  We definitely have had our bad moments....but I feel like my kids have been trained.  They know that the sooner they cooperate, the sooner we're done.  Sometimes the best photos turn out to be ones we didn't necessarily plan.  We just took the time to stop and take a few unplanned family pictures and they will be a treasure to our family forever. 

2. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  No amount of preparation will always guarantee a perfect family photo op.  But hungry, sleep deprived, sick children are a sure way to have a terrible experience. Make sure you have extra, back up clothes for the spit up that hit your sleeve the moment you picked up your baby.  Treats, bribery, threats, I'm all for them. A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to family photos. 
3. Find a way to laugh. True joy and laughter will deliver the best pictures.  Spank Daddy and chase him around a bit to make the kids giggle.  Do a somersault and tickle their toes.  Be the crazy fun mom that kids love to have around. 

4. Don't wait until you have the perfect outfits to get pictures taken.  Do I LOVE shopping my heart out to find the perfect coordinating outfits?  Yes.  But I can't always do that.  And I've found that I love the pictures that weren't so coordinated just as much as the ones that were.

5. Find a photographer who has your style.  Every photographer has a different style that they just naturally capture.  If you look through a photographers blog and you see only a couple of pics you like then you want to keep looking.  This photographer probably isn't your style.  If you love every single photo they took?  Book em.

If you want to read about more about funny family photo memories, go here.

Gallery of my family photos over the years. 

Since we were all dressed up anyway, we got a quick snap-shot at my brother's wedding. 

  One of my all-time favorites. 

Cade stepped in bird poop about 5 secs before this photo and was so so mad.  
But he still smiled....kind of. :) 
I love the colors in this one.

                                                        No, one's matching and it's ok
                Totally sucking-in, as hard as I could since I was 4 months pregnant with Crew. 

                                              I spent $0 dollars on clothes because we were
                                       wicked poor.  But I don't care.  Those faces are too cute!

        This photo is beyond precious to me.  It captures true JOY!
And relief that I'm no longer pregnant. 
And Cysie got into my bronzer and I didn't know it and my face shows it.  :)

So happy everyone looked at the camera.  So so happy.  
See it was totally worth it guys...right?

                                           Freezing our ear lobes off but smiling out of fear!

                                            My teeth aren't photo-shopped at all.  They really
                                            are florescent white.  lol


Thursday, May 12, 2016

If You're Having A Bad Day - Call My Sister

Look how cute my sis it.  Don't let her cuteness fool you....I've never met anyone with worse luck than Katie.  Her life is stranger than fiction.  Short story to illustrate:

Her kids missed the bus (a regular experience I must admit).  Of course it's raining and well you Moms know how it is.  If they're not too late, you can just drop the little nuggets off, watch them run with their "packpacks" bouncing on their running bums and dream sweet dreams of going home to some peace and quiet for the next 7ish hours  If they're not too late there's no need to check them in.

But, if they are too late then you have to find a parking space, walk in, give an apologetic smile to the secretary, fill out a "check in/out" form with an excuse i.e. "my kids and I struggle with time management".  It's a much bigger deal if you catch my drift.  So in order to avoid the whole check in scene as soon as they walked back through the door to announce they missed the bus she hopped to it.  "Get in the car! Hurry!" and ran vigorously to her new Sequoia, in pajama pants, with no shoes, no bra, in the rain.   She was motivated.

But, her kids were too late.

Once the "packpacks" were hung on their pegs, Katie went on her way.  With only Clarabelle, their new boston terrier puppy, to keep her company Katie hopped in and turned the ignition with exciting plans to shower, get dressed and get on with her vacuuming, dish washing, and clothes folding fun for the day.

As she started driving, the red blinking gas gauge finally caught her attention and she remembered she was dangerously low on gas.  As the wipers whipped back and forth she could see a blurry sign up ahead "Flying J"  she coasted there and sighed with relief when she made it.  She started filling up her tank.  To keep the rain out, and Clara from making a run for it, she shut the door.  Just as she bent over to shake the remaining droplets of gas into her tank and return the pump she saw cute little Clarabelle perch onto the window sill and "click".  Clarabelle's paw stepped on the the "lock" button.  After a few moments of trying to get the puppy to accidentally hit the "unlock" button she realized it was useless.  

Let's re-cap shall we?  The rain was pouring down, Katie was bra-less, shoe-less, in soggy-bottomed pj pants at a gas station with her keys locked in her new SUV.  Her husband was hours away at work.  Her puppy, along with her phone were locked out of reach.  Without any other options, she tip-toed into the gas station with arms folded across her chest and asked the clerk for permission to borrow their phone.  Luckily her hubs answered and she found out that he is a genius.  "I taped a spare key to the back side of the license plate. Just borrow a screw driver, screw off the license plate, and you're good."  "Thanks babe!" She said as relief flooded her.

Once the plate was removed, the key un-taped, Katie returned the screw driver and happily opened the door to smell the worst smell ever.  Dog poop.  Poop trapped in a humid car with no ventilation,  their brand new car for that matter. 

I'm pretty sure you can see why my day never seems that bad after a good chat with Katie.

Did I greet a gas station clerk bra-less?  Did I tip-toe barefoot through the school today?  Did my puppy poop in my brand new SUV?  No? then I'm having a great day! I'm going to enjoy it. Hope you are having a great day too.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How To Survive Summer, For The Free Spirited Mom

I hate schedules.  They are a straight jacket to me.  I admire those moms whose schedules are engraved in their babies heartbeats and they religiously go to bed at 7:30, all year long.  But I am not like them.  I've spent plenty of years trying to be them and I've spent plenty of years feeling guilty that I can't.  I'm not saying either way is better.  And that's just the thing.  Being super scheduled isn't better for me.  And maybe not for you.  If your kids wake at 6:00 am to a well-rounded breakfast STOP reading immediately.  I will have no advice or humorous short story to amuse you that will benefit you.  This article is for us mom's whose children go to bed at 11:00p.m. one night and 8:00 p.m. the next.  This rambling is for the "free spirited mom."

Nothing short of dangerously high doses of benadryl, black-out curtains, and duct tape would get my kids to sleep at 8:00 during the summer.  They are too busy at gymnastics, baseball, basketball, dance, cheer, playing minecraft, jumping on the tramp with sprinklers to bother with bed-time.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I make at the beginning of summer.  I set ridiculous goals-impossible goals, meaningless goals, goals that do not make me a better person, do not make my kids happy, do not do anything but make me feel guilty and incapable as a mom.  Tell me I'm not the only one who makes up timed schedules that they want their life to look like.  You know something like this.....

7:00 a.m. everyone dressed, beds made, at breakfast table (to enjoy a delicious, well-balanced meal)
8:00 a.m. 2 pages of homework, 1 science, 1 math
9:00 a.m. do 1 hour of service for a needy neighbor
10:00 a.m. 45 minutes of vigorous exercise
10:45 a.m. silent reading (classics- no doubt)
12:00 apply for Summer school because this is for the birds and we all want to die!

By day three you can imagine what a failure I feel like.  This year I'm setting different types of goals so my kids don't hate me, I can leave the guilt in the gutter where it belongs, and I can actually feel less stressed about the upcoming summer.

Although my free spirit is claustrophobic to schedules I also don't want to spend the summer with my kids' hair in a snarl, watching cartoons, with bowls of curdled milk rotting on the tv stand.  I want to have fun, I want them to learn, I want my HOUSE TO BE CLEANISH (I'm still realistic yo!) and I want the fighting to not be out of control.  Here's what I'm hoping for. (No times will be assigned to anything because I'm just such a rebel.)

1. We will eat our meals together
Few things invigorate irritation in me more than making breakfast 6 different times.  I just can't handle getting the milk out again and again, and hearing the whining of "I'm starving!" five minutes after cleaning up the last meal.   You get the idea.  One kid got up early, ate cereal, then didn't want eggs but one kid woke up late, ate eggs now doesn't want lunch and I'm a slave to their bi-polar appetites all day eerrry day.  So I'm going to be firm on, eat now or wait!  I have to admit I'm a little nervous about sticking to this but I'm going to try.  By golly we are all going to sit at the table and eat (or watch each other eat) this summer!

2.We will leave the house every day
I don't know why I need this but I do.  If I'm forced to leave the house even to just go to the bank I have a better day.  If I have a better day, so do my kids.  I'm going to have a list of places to go in the rare occasion that we actually don't really have to go anywhere.  Then we will go to the park to eat lunch, we will go to the library to browse magazines, we will leave the house.  It's the only way to motivate me to get dressed, do my hair and makeup and look like a civilized person.  If I know I don't have to go anywhere I stay in my jammies, work a lot, or read a lot, and forget to eat or feed my children.  I'm weird, I know.  That's why I have to leave the house so I can pretend that I'm not as weird as I really am. 

3.  I will have time alone
I have 5 kids.  I don't know if you can understand how many requests that is per day but let me just say, it's a lot.  They all need a lot of love, time, food, pieces of paper, socks, reassurance, rides, money for the movie, toilet paper, Popsicles.  That comic with the little kids fingers stuffed under the bathroom door that says, "they will find you" is so true.  And that is where the true FEAR OF SUMMER lies.  We have no time for ourselves.  I don't really think I need that much time to myself, just a little.  I need to re-group sometimes.  I need to sit down sometimes.  I need to think sometimes.  So I'm going to set a timer for 30 minutes each day that is mine, and mine alone.  Maybe I'll need more than 30 minutes but I'm hoping that my kids can stay alive by themselves for 30 minutes each day without me this summer so I can be a better me.

That's it.

Is part of me wanting to keep going?  To add a few more goals?  Kind of.  Part of me really really wants to add 4. don't swear at your kids 5. take them lots of fun places 6. deep clean one room everyday 7. read four books together 8.  sleep out on the tramp.

But I'm not gonna.  We might do some of those things (don't count on the sleeping outside one...I'm scared of the dark. I need dead bolts in my life) we might do them all, but I'm not hinging my need-to-feel successful this summer on typed schedules.  I'm going to love my free-spirited self and enjoy this summer with very few goals.

Are you a rock star summer Mom?  What's worked for you? This list isn't set in stone so maybe you have the magic solution all us "free spirited" moms need.  If so, do share...


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sitting On My Own Blanket

I had to watch a "Ted Talk" to get the nerve to start this post.  LOL, ok really it was a serious of famous rich people giving mini quotes of "never give up!" and I felt inspired enough or guilty enough that my nap wasn't going well because I kept tossing and turning thinking "you have not even tried".  "You basically just give excuses for why it won't work".  And by try I mean writing.  I've had the inkling to start writing for a while now.  And by while, I mean about 22 years.  Even as I type each letter, the fear of rejection is sitting on my lap whistling a tune.  I've got so many excuses about why I can't; I could probably fill my first book with a run-on sentence full of layers of self-doubt.  What should I even write about?  People won't relate, people will write me hate mail because it's so bad.  I imagine myself wiping mascara off my cheeks while reading pages of mean comments amidst two empty bags of party size Cheetos and multiple extra large Symphony bar wrappers.  

Have you ever sat at the fireworks and needed just a little more blanket to keep the chills from inching over your arms?  You pull slightly at the edge to gain some footage but someone else is sitting on it.  And you pulled again, this time with more force and realized that the blanket is lodged and whoever is sitting on it is not giving way and you almost give up.  "You don't need more blanket that bad" you console yourself.  Then you realize that you are the one who is sitting on the blanket.  You are the only one who is in the way of getting more warmth and happiness during this breezy independence night.  That's me.  I'm sitting on my own blanket.  My own weight is a lot heavier than I thought.  I can't get it out from under myself.

It's stupid once you write it down.  Ridiculous.  Just rock to the other side or roll over.  It's not that hard now is it? So here I am I'm just diving over and ripping that blanket free.  And I'm hoping I can encourage some of you new friends along the way.  Whatever you are holding back on. just stop.  STOP reading right now.  Walk away from the computer desk, phone, tablet, and get a piece of paper and pen.  Write down what it is you want to do and start today!  Let me know what it is in the comment section and we can encourage one another along the way.