Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Four Star Stay at Mission Hospital

The past few days have been quite dramatic. My l'il chicken hawk (18 months) came down with croup on Monday morning. Since I assumed croup was a just a harmless little viral infection/cough, and he seemed healthy despite his hoarse voice, I sent him off to the babysitter, knowing he was in good hands.

When I picked him up, he was really struggling; his breathing was very labored and loud. He also developed a 101 fever. I kick myself now, because we should have taken him to Kids Doc that night. But I thought we could ride it out until the next day. I was weary and knew that I had the other two kids to take care of. His breathing got scarier throughout the night though and I couldn't get him into the doctor's office until the next morning.

At our appointment, I could see the surprise/shock in the nurses' faces and they hurried him in to check his vitals. He received a breathing treatment and a steroid shot. He still had significant stridor after the treatment, so then we were told to go to the ER at Mission Hospital, with the warning of a possible admission. I felt dread at that prospect and fear too. I don't like hospitals and quickly assessed if maybe my husband could take my place, but realized I was it.

Luckily I had a big bag of baby gear in my car, so I headed over with the likely possibility I would be 'institutionalized' for the rest of the day or longer. That was the case. Poor baby. They gave him another two breathing treatments while he was there and he improved slightly and got a hyperactive high from them. The doctor was not comfortable sending us home, so she recommended us staying over night so he could be monitored and treated.

Luckily, Daddy-O came to meet us and help us get checked in and write down all the items I needed to make it through the night. Electronics, chargers, food, etc. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask for deodorant but I survived. It was the big guy's birthday ironically and I hadn't had time to buy him a cake, write a card or wrap his present. He ended up buying his own Baskin and Robbins Oreo ice cream cake that we all shared that night in the hospital room.

The l'il chicken hawk was so happy to have all the room to move around and the toys that Child Life brought over to him. They also gifted him with a handmade, fleecy blanket with heart stitching on it and a stuffed crab toy he could take home with him. They were so, so sweet and child-oriented!

Not only that, the nurses and docs in the pediatric ward were all so kind and gentle to us. My little dude loved them all! He kept hugging all of them and hamming it up with them. The staff continually asked if there was anything they could get for me and took their time explaining the process and procedures for my son's condition.

The other sweetheart heros of our stay was the Ronald McDonald House of Orange County. This morning, a kind woman from the organization stopped by our room and dropped off a comfort, care package for me with some very sweet words for us, wishing our son to get well soon. It included an OK! magazine, fuzzy socks, hair bands, toothbrush/paste, floss, coconut butter lotion and more. It helped to take my mind off my fears and worries and feel cared for during this scary time. 

I am so thankful for all of these caregivers during this frightening episode of croup and stridor. It comforts me to know that if something even more awful happened to our kids, that we would be in excellent hands. Even though it was a Four Star stay, I hope not to revisit there ever again! Also, I look forward to returning to work tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Barb's Day Off at the Big Irish Fair

Barb and her crew went to the Big Irish Fair at Irvine Lake Sunday. Here she is with Roxy and Hannah (their names today.)

3 swinging chicks about to get rowdy
Sunday was the only day I had leisure time the entire weekend - Irish Fair on Father's Day! Daddy-O wore his new olive green utility kilt and looked very studly. I LOVE a man in a kilt! If more men wore kilts, they would get a lot more action!

Kilts, kilts everywhere!
The Irish Fair was such a blast! Irvine Lake was the perfect place for this fun event. They had incredible bands like The Fenians and California Celts, as well as bagpipes, harps, herding dog competitions, Irish Wolfhounds, tasty fair food, cute shops and Irish folk dancing competitions. Beer was an important element to the afternoon too, not to mention hot guy people watching.

MY NEW FAVE BAND: CALIFORNIA CELTS!

Video Credit: California Celts at the Irish Fair 2012

One booth had a lot of cool merchandise in which the sales went to benefit POW/MIA (Prisoners of War/Missing in Action). A 19 year old Army sergeant named Bowe Bergdahl from Idaho was captured on June 30, 2009 and thought to be held in Pakistan and they are asking everyone to press congress to bring him home. Call 202.224.3121. Help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and your other social networks.

Bring Home Prisoner of War Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl!
I hope to take Barb out more often for leisure activities since she tends to be such a workaholic. Similarly, I've been trying to make a concerted effort to fit leisure and exercise into my work/home life too. Last week I did yoga, glute camp, took a core fusion class as well as a day of freestyle gym. On Friday I even took my mountain bike to work and rode it along the nearby trails on my lunch break. That pushed me out of my comfort zone but I was psyched to actually do it. So liberating!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

No More Riding the Cotton Pony!

Product Review: Reusable Menstrual Cup and Pads

I've become tired of traditional sanitary products; specifically super plus tampons in combination with pads with wings. My periods have become very heavy and everything leaks and becomes itchy and messy. I'm also slightly concerned about the potential toxins in tampons and how it effects my health.

Since I've been cloth diapering almost exclusively this past 18 months, I've become more comfortable using cloth, making my own wipes solution and reusable wipes. It's helped me see that there are alternatives to the mainstream norm. I like that I don't have to go to Target every other week to load up on more disposable diapers and wipes, thus saving me time and money, as well as it being more gentle on the l'il chicken hawk's skin.

I've decided I don't want to spend any more money on super plus and regular sized tampons in addition to pads and pantiliners. Also, Poise pads for my urinary stress incontinence. All these cotton products are taking over my bathroom cabinet! To be clear, I'm not gung-ho about this for the environment, I'm doing it exclusively my own selfish desires, although I'm sure Mother Nature appreciates it.

Now I've begun to take on my pesky menstrual cycle with more natural, long term solutions. I tried out Softcup with no luck; still some substantial leakage. So I went online and did some research on Amazon. I decided to try out the Moon Cup from Glad Rags (about $20). It's a reusable menstrual cup made of medical grade silicone material. I ordered Size A - for chicks who've had kids.

Moon Cup Reusable Menstrual Cup
I also ordered Glad Rags reusable cotton menstrual pads that come in a pack of 3 and have snap-on wings (about $20). At first thought, these both seem messy and disgusting but I'm actually VERY pleased with them. They are so much more ideal than the traditional norm. The pads are not itchy and uncomfortable at all. 

Glad Rags Reusable Menstrual Pads
My first period using these tools was last week and it went swimmingly. There was a wee bit of a learning curve and some leakage problems during the heavy days, but I've decided to stick with it. What I learned along the way, was that when you first insert it, it is best to pinch any air out, rotate it a little, pull outward a bit, then  push inward again to get the suction just right. I also needed to snip down the little nub part to almost nothing because it was irritating me.

It was almost fascinating to see how much blood I was actually collecting on my super heavy days. It was a lot! I could feel a puff of air (queafing) when it was getting full. I almost thought maybe the suction element helped hurry the period along quicker. Also, don't be too hasty when inserting. Maybe wet in under water first, because your tender exterior skin (clinical term: labia) might tear which really hurts for several days.

Once I got past the first few days of learning and leaking, it was so easy. I did yoga, office work and power walking with it in. It was all manageable and I started to forget all about it, like I do with tampons. During the last few days of my cycle when the flow was light, I just wore the reusable menstrual pads - one each day for two days. No bulkiness, itch, smell or discomfort. Quite a pleasant surprise. Cleaning them was easy - rinse in the sink in cold water and then wash in the washing machine, dry in the dryer.

My only concern is scaring my husband in any further with my 'alternative' lifestyle. I definitely have to shut the bathroom door as I'm learning to use these new tools. But then again, having a huge garbage can full of bundled up, toilet paper-wrapped cotton products and all the tampon and pad wrappers isn't that discreet. I just need to be able to clean out the Moon Cup and rinse out the pads more discreetly than letting them soak in the sink.

So, I'm on a happy Moon Cup adventure that I hope to be able to use for the last decade of my menstrual life. I am not going to be buying any more disposables - unless I'm going camping or swimming I think. We'll see how much I leak on the next cycle.

If you want to learn more about the Moon Cup, there are a ton of reviews and user tips on Amazon.com and online. It is so fascinating to read others' stories. It seems that there are a lot of Moon Cup users in the UK - they are happy to talk about their Moon Cup experiences online and they tend to be very entertaining. They are also quite chatty about in on Twitter. It's so funny to read some of the witty, off-the-wall posts.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Adventures in Urology

I've been visiting a lot of doctors lately. Why? Because I'm a hypochondriac and because I have new insurance with my new job so I feel obligated to get all my appointments out of the way. I'm really big into 'To Do Lists'. It's an obsessive compulsive trait I think.

My latest appointment has been to the urologist! Since having my first child in 2005, I've been plagued with urinary stress continence. Blame it on the 12 hour labor combined with almost 3 hours of active pushing and the 4th degree tear and forceps delivery. I haven't been the same ever since! But I've never had that good of control to begin with.
Stock Images Girl jumping on trampoline.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com
Jumping on a trampoline with stress incontinence is a recipe for disaster!





I haven't been able to tackle that little embarrassing medical problem though because all the doctors I spoke to said that I need to be done having kids before doing anything. "Keep doing those kegels!" Pah-lease - like that ever made any difference!

So I finally got my consult to see the urologist. She discussed the issue with me a little, then had me half undress for the dreaded exam. She had me lay back, sterilized my girly bits, inserted a catheter and proceeded to fill me up with a huge pitcher of water. Wow - talk about feeling 'full'! Then she told me to bear down, cough, cough again, bear down again... What do you think happened? I peed all over the place of course!

After the fun little exam and test, her facial expression and words said it all. It was a substantial leakage issue. She told me that it was a structural issue, and that no amount of kegels was going to make a difference. Which is exactly why I hadn't bothered to ever do those damn things in the first place. She wrote me a consult for physical therapy and then said if I still wasn't satisfied, she could do surgery on it. It all depends on my level of comfort about the leakage issue. How much leakage would you be comfortable with? Me? I want to be able to sneeze, laugh and exercise without leaving a big wet spot in my pants. I would rather not wear a big Depends pad every day in order to feel safe. Holy saddle Batman!

I haven't started the physical therapy yet, but I'll let you know how it goes when I do. It's bound to be entertaining, if not semi-perverted. I hope the therapist is cute, but not too cute, if you know what I mean.

Introducing my New Working Woman Barbie

Working woman Barbie and her BFF Trixie
Since my new "Working Woman Barbie" was delivered last week, my little Chickadees want to play with her non-stop. We've decided to call her 'Elle', ironically. Here she is in her new digs, our mega-mansion dollhouse, hanging with her new BFF, Trixie. She has a lot of work to do on her laptop as she absolutely loves to work - writing press releases are her main joys.

It's so funny to watch the girls pretend to go to work and I love playing with them. It's almost how I feel going to work - it's all pretend. "I've got important work to do, but I'm going to go have lunch with my friend now." They want to take her out of her work clothes and put her in her party clothes, but I keep telling them that she can only party on Friday nights because it's a work night; and she has a family to take care of.

I am loving my new Working Woman Barbie. Every working mom should have one!

Working Mom on the go!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reflections on My 20 Year High School Reunion

My 20 year high school reunion is fast approaching and I'm gearing up for it. It will be in Washington state, so I'll be flying up for it with the whole fam damily and I'm actually excited, yet slightly uninterested at the same time. Thinking about high school and my hometown gives me mixed emotions of happiness and melancholy. I'm glad I moved away, but I miss it too. I miss my friends, but I'm glad I've made new friends elsewhere in the country.

According to our Facebook Group that is set up for our reunion communication, it appears there is much less interest in the event than the committee anticipated and they continue to push for more RSVPs. One of my funny, athlete friends that I've known since grade school is friends with practically everyone across all groups/cliques, she responded to a post that the class president (who she despises) wrote. I found the thread to be very amusing.

Class President: Momentum has slowed a bit on adding members or getting emails...please take look again at the missing classmates document and add them to the Facebook group or email them the date and location of the reunion. Thanks!
Friend: Some "missing" classmates just don't care about the reunion, etc. They see and/or are in contact with who they want to be, already. Some are excited and looking forward to reunions, others don't bat an eye. Knowing our 20th is approaching, it would be easy for many to get a hold of people about it, they just don't want to, ya know.
Another response from a guy in our class:  I agree with [name withheld to protect the innocent]! To me, high school was a barrier to overcome before I could join the real world. I do not cling to memories from high school (good or bad). It was a part of my life that is in the past. I doubt that I will be joining in the festivities.
This is great! I love this response because it is so dead on. It's been 20 years, but it seems like the same tired clique wants to dominate over this event and assert their impotent powers over the masses. I'm happy that this former "nobody" stepped up and spoke his mind to say "you're just not that important to me".

For me, even though I wasn't really that significant or popular a person in my high school, I grew up in the same town my whole life. I knew a lot of the same people throughout school years. I made a few very close friends in high school that helped me blossom as a student and a person. I hung out with many different groups and went to many parties where everyone hung out. I just didn't feel like I totally fit in with some of the popular people because of my socioeconomic background, my dysfunctional family, my disinterest in academics, extracurricular sports, college prep activities and the inability to kiss anyone's ass.

However, I am very proud of the life I've built and how far I've actually gone in my life, on my own hard work and determination. It's not that I totally want to brag at the reunion by saying "HEY LOOK AT ME!", but I do want to show up with confidence and pride, showing that I AM someone and I did beat the statistics and vastly exceeded the low expectations people may have had for me. I did not end up getting knocked up, dropping out, getting hooked on drugs and marrying a loser - that is a success all in itself!

To the contrary, I graduated with a 'pretty good' GPA, served my country in the military, traveled, went on the get a bachelors and masters degrees, have progressed in my career, married a nice guy and have had three beautiful children. I haven't gotten involved with any questionable lifestyles or fallen too far off the tracks with character flaws or "bad choices", but I'm sure I could have very easily.

So I will be going to my 20 year high school reunion and treating it like an adventure. The people I went to school with and I have a shared history and I am genuinely interested in how everyone has developed and changed (good and bad). I know for a fact though that I'M LOOKING GOOD! Tee hee hee.

Read My Reunion Recap Here

Friday, June 1, 2012

Adventures in Nit Picking

Photo Credit: http://reference.medscape.com/features/slideshow/bedbugs-lice-mites



Wow - what a whirlwind it's been the past few weeks! Last Tuesday, when prepping the chickadees for school, I saw that my oldest daughter was madly scratching her head. Just the night before, her friend's dad told us their daughter had gotten lice. So, with an instant dread, I took a peek in her hair and lo and behold - LICE! Lots of them! The photo above looks very similar to what she had a few days after I found them in her hair. They must have crawled down the hair on her back to dine on her blood buffet.

Instantly I knew my day was going to be taking a whole new direction. No going to work, no school for the infested (which ended up being all of us except the little chicken hawk) and a lot of washing and combing. And I've been washing, spraying and combing ever since! We're going on ten days and all is looking well, but I've been hyper-vigilante up to now. I don't want the girls missing any more school and I don't want any more time away from work; not to mention having those disgusting creepy crawly critters taking over our scalps!

In case you're interested in the various natural/chemical treatments I've tried, I will give you a recap. The first day, I went and bought a box of RID, but I didn't want to use it on my oldest daughter if I didn't have to. My husband used it that first night. I eventually used it on my oldest daughter with the thick, long hair two days after naturally treating; this was only after the after school program site coordinator found a live louse in her hair on day 3 of infestation, her first day back at school. She had been checked for nits that morning in the nurse's office and they found nothing. I had really worked hard at combing those suckers out and trust me, they were comprehensive in their search!

Aside from that, I bought some natural products at Target and the Nit Nix lice comb purchased from our preschool ($20) helped in my lice massacre. Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender Castile Magic Soap to use as a lice shampoo as well as a repellent spray for after I've put the girls' hair up. (I bought a travel spray bottle, poured a little in, added a little olive oil, water and a few drops of tea tree oil.) I wasn't following any particular set of recipes/guidelines, just using as much information I learned in my online research and what I had available.
Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender Castile Magic Soap for homemade lice shampoo.

Add Dawn Dish Detergent to Magic Soap for lice shampoo.
I discovered that if I mixed my Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap with a little Dawn Pure Essentials Hypoallergenic dish detergent, it lathered up better and likely helped loosen the nits from the hair. After washing their hair rigorously with my homemade lice shampoo, I saturated their hair with Mane 'n Tail horse conditioner and left it in the hair. It helped make combing their hair with the lice comb easier as it slid right through the thick hair.
Leave Mane 'n Tail Conditioner in the hair
I'll spare you the gruesome details about all the nit picking, but suffice it to say that it was a disgusting, time-consuming chore! I kept a white washcloth on the counter in front of me to keep swiping the comb on and then a small cup of water/bleach to soak the comb in between each girl's treatment. The only other thing that would have made it more helpful is a headlamp to shine on their heads and a magnifying glass to see better. Also, it would have been nice to have some disposable gloves to wear on my hands.


Some other tactics I've used on them are to blow dry their hair on super high heat each time and once I even curled each strand of their hair on the highest setting to scald those little beasts to death. Warning: all of these tricks are very time consuming and may be a little bit of extreme overkill.  But also very therapeutic for the anxious mind, nonetheless.

After being aggressive in my lice hunt the first five days, I've started to ease up a bit, but I still plan on combing every day and washing our hair with my homemade lice shampoo every few days for up to 21 days. But until school is over for the year, I'm putting the girls' hair up high and tight every single day. Then spraying it with my homemade lavender lice repellant. I've eased up on the obsessive laundering too after reading that lice don't typically fall off your head onto your bedding, clothes, towels, etc. and survive to reattach itself to your hair later on. So far, so good.

My head has felt extremely itchy since I found lice in my daughters' hair. I found a few in there, but it is very psychosomatic. I never feel completely clean. I've tried all sorts of concoctions on my hair. The homemade lice shampoo from above, a Cetaphil treatment I read about online, RID and lots and lots of combing.

Cetaphil Soap as a natural treatment for lice.

Each time I comb, it seems as if I might have found a nit, but I'm not completely sure because it might be lint, a glob of conditioner or dandruff. So I go into super vigilante mode. It's NUTS! It is so much harder to comb out my own hair and check for nits because I can't see the back of my head. Last night, the hubs kindly helped me out with the nit picking and that was a relief.

I am praying we are on the home stretch in this lice battle. There is only a few weeks left of school and the combing should continue pretty much daily for those weeks to avoid any more nit hatching. In the mean time, anyone want to bring their child over to play?