Show Me the Money

Due to the state of Minnesota’s seeming unquenchable desire to do construction on roads that I need to drive on every single day, I’ve recently had to explore some new routes to and from work. Where I used to zip in on the freeway, I now take a slower drive down one of the most famous streets in my city, a street lined on both sides by grand homes and marked by a towering cathedral at the end.

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Every time I drive down this street, I shamelessly gawk at the amazing homes and find myself wondering things like “when, exactly, does a home shift from being a house to being a mansion?” and “who lives there? Like, no really, who lives there?

I am what my husband calls a “Nosy Parker” and so I find that what I really want is for each of these grand houses to have an informational sign in front of them that answers all of my questions, like how much is the mortgage payment on this sucker? And what is the electric bill? And do you hire a housekeeper like as a given? And how much money do you have to make and have to live in a place like this:

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(Currently on the market! Price recently reduced by $200,000! A steal at just over $1.4 million)

I also want to know even nosier things like: are you happy here? Do you think you are rich? Can you borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbors or is that weird and something you’d send your housekeeper to do? Can kids do sidewalk chalk on the sidewalks here or are children in neighborhoods like this both unseen and unheard?

Sometimes I day dream about being rich (these day dreams usually involve writing a best selling novel and then selling the movie rights and then getting to meet Idris Elba nobody is as handsome as my husband) and being able to shop for houses like this. But I know, in a fundamental sort of way, that I’ll never really live on a block like this and I’m okay with that. I love my neighborhood and the sounds of kids shrieking and playing in my backyard.

But, still. Don’t you ever just wonder what financial life looks like on the fanciest block in your town?

Me and My Boobs: The Opposite of a Love Story (Plus a giveaway!)

(Please note this is a sponsored post but the words,opinions and give away are all mine, mine, mine)

I can still clearly remember my first bra: it was a soft cotton number with a small pink rose in the middle. I was in the fourth grade and it was probably the only bra I’ve ever had that didn’t have an underwire.

I was one of the first girls in my elementary school class to need a bra and I’ve always been a bit of a prodigy in the boob growth department. I was a solid D cup by ninth grade, which is was during the short-lived era of the bodysuit as a popular shirt option, so I basically spent most of high school with my arms folded over my chest. It was not a great look.

In college, my bra size crept up enough that I couldn’t shop at Victoria’s Secret any more (her secret is that she apparently hates girls with big boobies) and I entered the era of only being able to find bras in the matronly section of the department store, usually on racks labelled “minimizers” or “maximum support”. There is nothing sexy or cute about a bra that promises “extra side support” or “promotes cooling”.

I’m in my mid-thirties, done having babies, and have come to accept that fact that my bra size, currently sitting at an G or H cup, is likely not going to creep back down to the lower parts of the alphabet on its own.

So, yeah, I’m contemplating a breast reduction surgery.

Earlier this year I wrote a piece about plastic surgery on The Stir and since that piece I’ve been thinking more seriously about whether a breast reduction might be right for me. So, when I recently got the opportunity to interview Dr. Brian Reedy, a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast and body work, I knew I want to hit him up with some of my lingering questions.

One of the first things I wanted to know is how do you know if you are a good candidate for breast reduction. Dr. Reedy explained that there a number of factors to consider, but “in a nutshell, if your breasts feel too large for your frame, you are likely a candidate.” He went on to note that for a lot of women like me, large breasts can be associated with physical problems like poor posture, neck and back pain, rashes underneath the breast and deep groves in the skin from bras carrying a heavy load.

Enjoy that image, every dude with a big boob fetish.

Given that a breast reduction is “as much art as science”, Dr. Reedy recommends that women interested in the procedure consult with several doctors until they find one that they are comfortable with and that they request to see many before and after pictures to get a sense of what kind of work the doctor does. You can click here to see a gallery of before and afters from Dr. Reedy’s practice. Please note this is going to show you pictures of actual boobs, so NSFW … unless your work is super cool with boobs.

Please note this is also the only time I’ll ever likely include links to naked breasts on this blog, so sorry to disappoint any perverts who accidentally wandered on to this site.

One of the things that Dr. Reedy mentioned that I thought was interesting is that whether a woman is getting a reduction or an enhancement, the holy grail of final sizes is the full C, small D. The process of figuring what size I would end up with though is supposed to be collaborative between the patient and the doctor. An over-reduction can lead to breasts that are “flat” or “boxy” looking, neither of which sound like ideal adjectives to me. I’m not especially interested in going from “buxom” to “boxy”.

One of my other concerns in terms of considering plastic surgery is the aftermath. How long would I need to be out of work? When could I exercise and play with the kids again? What will the scar situation be like? And my poor nipples, what happens to the those guys?

According to Dr. Reedy, if I pursue the breast reduction, I can expect to be out of work for “four days to a week” and back to unlimited activity three weeks after surgery. He also notes that some scarring is to be expected after a reduction but that the doctor and patient should “collaborate to reduce the appearance of scars” with a post-surgery routine that could include different wound covers and ointment options. He also shared that although there is some risk of decreased nipple sensitivity, many patients report that their nipples are actually “more sensitive, in a good way” following surgery. So, I could get cuter bras and have more tingly bits? Um. Yes please!

While I am somewhat tempted by the idea of a “mommy makeover” ,which Dr. Reedy notes is an increasingly popular choice, I think I want to keep trying to up my activity level to get in better shape on my own first, as Dr. Reedy says that the ideal candidate is someone who is done having babies (CHECK!) and who is at a stable weight (um, not quite a check yet).

Now, given that I am still a nerdy grad student, I of course had to supplement my conversation with Dr. Reedy with some research on my own. In terms of findings, there were two major ones:

1. When looking up anything breast related, choose your Google terms wisely. Or else you will end up down some internet rabbit holes that, TRUST ME, you don’t want to go down.

2. Breast reduction surgery seems to rank highest in terms of plastic surgery procedures and patient satisfaction.

So, am I going to do it?

I don’t know yet. I do feel like a consultation with a plastic surgeon is in my future though.

Now, as a thank you for reading all the way through my boob related ditherings, I want to give you the chance to win a $50 gift card. All you need to do is leave a comment about your feelings about plastic surgery. Have you done it? Would you? What would you get done, if anything? Easy enough and I’ll choose a winner at on May 25th!

Things I have failed to cherish this week

At this point, I think it has been fairly well established that the phrase “cherish every moment” is the bane of all of us in the trenches of active parenting, especially when uttered by a grandmotherly type who is decades removed from the grind of daily parenting.

I count it as one of the blessing in my life that I am surrounded by a good community (both online and in my actual neighborhood) of other mothers who understand that I can both love my children so much that it is almost physically painful AND still want to ocassionaly set them on the curb with a “free to good home” sign around their adorable little necks.

M and E have both, so far, escaped the curb this week despite the following list of non-cherisable moments:

– I was enjoying a quiet moment of reading as the kids were playing in the backyard with the neighbor kids. My quiet was interrupted by the sound of hysterical crying. Miles had conked his face against the leg of another child and was experiencing his first bloody nose. I instantly went into “mom mode” and started comforting and trying to stop the bleeding as he cried. As he calmed down and the bleeding started to slow, he exhaled out of his nose and sprayed my one white shirt that didn’t already have stains with a fine mist of nose blood. Awesome.

– Evelyn has started replying with “Um, no, I don’t have to” when being told it is time to pick up toys. Spoiler alert: she is not correct about this.

– Three days after our first visit to a local ice cream shop, I was accused by my dear son of being “unfair” and “mean” for not letting him eat all the ice cream in his child sized cup.

For reference, the place we went for ice cream is a shop called Nelson’s and this is the child sized cup:

Nelsons004

No, I’m not kidding. That is the smallest size on the menu.

– Evelyn dropped a hard plastic toy on my foot, breaking one of my toes. The pain was staggering, the kind that takes your breath away and makes you feel, for a moment, like you might barf. In the immediate aftermath, Ev burst into hysterical tears at realizing she’d hurt me and Miles chose to use his most pedantic, know-it-all voice to say “You know, Mom, that this is probably your fault…” before I told him to zip it.

– During a very bad, no good, terrible night earlier this week, Miles was overly tired and bursting with attitude, including the moment where he, with eyes glistening with tears, informed me that “I don’t like bell peppers and you always serve me bell peppers and I don’t know why you do that to me!”. Two things of note here: He has always loved bell peppers and, despite me telling him he didn’t have to eat them, he finished all of his and part of his sister’s portion of bell peppers. Despite this fact, I am still “mean”.

– Ev came over to me, looked me in the eye and said “I’m pooping”. When asked if she’d like to do that on the potty, she matter-of-factly said “No. I’m not going to use the potty ever.”

– In one of the moments when he wasn’t mad at me this week, Miles was curled up on my lap as we watched TV. It was cozy until he farted on me and then tried to use a blanket to wave more of the smell to my nose.

Good thing I have these pictures to look at to remind me why I still like them:

Loves

Half-naked, dirty, tattoed baby on the porch.

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Progress!

A few posts ago, I shared my 37 by 37 list. And, lo!, I have made progress on it. Go me!

1. Improve our family’s net worth by $3700. This should be totally doable thanks to an extra check I’m expecting to arrive soon but making some mortgage payments.

Half way done with this one!

2. Read three books and seven magazines.

I just finished The Royal We and it was delightful. Highly recommend.

3. Do 37 minutes of yard clean up (blargh. I have the opposite of a green thumb but I can at least pull some weeds).

DONE

4. Swim 37 miles

I have completed 3% of this goal so far. Eeep.

5. Ride 370 miles on my bike

2% completed. BUT! The bike is freshly tuned up and I am looking forward to some longer rides very soon.

6. Walk/run 370 miles

7. Send three friends actual paper letters

8. Have 37 days without Diet Coke, my second biggest vice.

9. Add 37 rough draft pages to my dissertation

10. Blog 37 times (this totally counts as #1. Progress!)

10% done on this one!

11. Write 37 pages of fiction (on the story that I can’t shake)

12. In bed before 11:37 every night between now and my birthday. I tend to stay up too late for no real good reason. More sleep is always a good idea.

I have been doing this very consistently. Good job, self.

13. Take the kids swimming at least 3 times.

1 down and it was very fun. This one will be an easy one to accomplish.

14. Play tennis with Miles at least 3 times.

15. Eat breakfast at home 37. I have a bad skipping breakfast habit.

16. Bring lunch to work 37 times. I also have a bad buying lunch habit.

17. Purge 37 pieces of clothing from my overstuffed closet/drawers. I’m not willing to commit to a capsule wardrobe yet but I have clothes ranging in sizes from 14-24 and have some things that I am sure I haven’t worn in at least a year.

DONE! Man, I have a lot of clothes. I was chatting with a friend about our shared clearance problem. I really need to kick the “buy 5 crappy things on sale versus one nice thing for full price” habit.

18. Purge 3 pairs of shoes. This one will be harder than the clothing thing, I predict.

19. Go to the gym 37 times. We get a discount if we go 12 times in a month and I’ve never made it. C’mon self.

5% complete on this one.

20. Try 7 new dinner recipes. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut and I’d like to find a few new staple recipes.

21. Have 3 dates with Mr. Monkey. Even if they are just quick ones, I need to see more of his face without kids in between us.

We went out for dinner on Mother’s Day and it didn’t miss the kids at all.

22. Take 3 days off of work to work on the dissertation.

23. Submit at least 3 columns for my new gig at Inside Higher Ed.com

Done, and two have already run.

24. Spend 37 hours relaxing in my new hammock. Damn I love my hammock.

25. Make $37 on eBay or through my neighborhood garage sale site by selling stuff we don’t need/use. Use $37 to start savings accounts for the kids.

Pending pick up on some gently used jammies, I’ve made $9 on outgrown kids stuff on my neighborhood Facebook page. Not enough to get rich, but clearing out space and getting some money feels good.

26. Make a “summer fun” to-do list to better explore our new city.

27. Take Miles to a professional ballgame.

28. Plan one-on-one time with Ev for at least 3 times.

29. Coordinate a gift exchange with some of my neighborhood friends.

Done! And had over 30 friends sign up for it, which is delightful.

30. Go hiking

31. Help Miles learn to ride without training wheels

32. Learn to sew a simple dress for Evelyn.

33. Get over my fear of plaster walls and get three pictures hung in the house.

34. Sign up for a triathlon

I am very close to pulling the trigger on this one despite the fact that the run is 4 miles instead of 3.

35. Complete the Point to LaPointe race.

36. Dye my hair a different color, just to see.

Friday Dance Party

It is Friday and there is almost nobody else in my office with me, which means that I am dorking out and doing some chair dancing to my personal list of booty wiggling songs.

Please release your best white man’s overbite and join me in some Friday dancy dance time.

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Note, this one is NSFW or kids and, if you are my age (36) will give you almost instant flashbacks to being in college.

Come for the funny, dance to the catchy

Period.

So, do to some hormonal wackiness, I generally only average one, maaaybe two, periods a year (the fact that I was able to get pregnant twice is still awfully surprising). This is apparently less than ideal, cancer wise, so my doctor gave me some medicine and some instructions to ride the cotton pony at least six times a year.

After avoiding it for several months, I finally gave in and took the medicine and now I’m sitting on the couch with cramps starting and a bag of salty chips by my side. A St. Jude’s commercial just came on and tried to kill me with all the tears. I barely survived going to my son’s first grade concert tonight. The kids. Damn it, the kids were so cute and singing so loudly and Miles is still missing is front teeth and…and…and…

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Periods are bullshit, is what I’m saying.

Jinx

After almost two months in limbo, there is a 90% chance I will finally get approval from my school’s research board to start my dissertation research. This is both very exciting (yay, I can finally start) and a little sad (boo, now I have no good reason to keep on reading books for fun instead of working on the diss). I am a little afraid to type this as I fear jinxing myself, but given that I promised not to give my research subjects syphilis or make them pretend to be prison guards I will certainly get through IRB eventually.

I originally wanted to be done with school by August and now there is really no chance that will happen, so the new goal is December 2015 graduation (if I walk). It is really starting to feel like there is an end in sight. I really will be Dr. Monkey someday.

I can’t wait to start giving people unfounded medical advice after assuring them that “Well, I *am* a doctor…”

36 for 37

In 96 days, I am turning 37, which is such an uneventful, non-milestone age to turn that I had to double check myself twice before I started writing this to make sure I wasn’t already 37.

The only thing noteworthy about being 37 is that it is the last year when I can describe myself as being in my “mid 30s” versus my “late 30s”. It is a little thing, but I’ll take it. I’m actually looking forward to my 37th year being fairly uneventful, minus (hopefully) finishing graduate school. I don’t want any major life changes in the cornerstone areas of my life: no new babies, no new job, no new house, no new husband.

But a birthday is a birthday and I do like to have a reason to look forward to things (I enjoy anticipation and planning) so I’ve decided to give myself a list of 36 things to check off before my birthday:

1. Improve our family’s net worth by $3700. This should be totally doable thanks to an extra check I’m expecting to arrive soon but making some mortgage payments.

2. Read three books and seven magazines.

3. Do 37 minutes of yard clean up (blargh. I have the opposite of a green thumb but I can at least pull some weeds).

4. Swim 37 miles

5. Ride 370 miles on my bike

6. Walk/run 370 miles

7. Send three friends actual paper letters

8. Have 37 days without Diet Coke, my second biggest vice.

9. Add 37 rough draft pages to my dissertation

10. Blog 37 times (this totally counts as #1. Progress!)

11. Write 37 pages of fiction (on the story that I can’t shake)

12. In bed before 11:37 every night between now and my birthday. I tend to stay up too late for no real good reason. More sleep is always a good idea.

13. Take the kids swimming at least 3 times.

14. Play tennis with Miles at least 3 times.

15. Eat breakfast at home 37. I have a bad skipping breakfast habit.

16. Bring lunch to work 37 times. I also have a bad buying lunch habit.

17. Purge 37 pieces of clothing from my overstuffed closet/drawers. I’m not willing to commit to a capsule wardrobe yet but I have clothes ranging in sizes from 14-24 and have some things that I am sure I haven’t worn in at least a year.

18. Purge 3 pairs of shoes. This one will be harder than the clothing thing, I predict.

19. Go to the gym 37 times. We get a discount if we go 12 times in a month and I’ve never made it. C’mon self.

20. Try 7 new dinner recipes. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut and I’d like to find a few new staple recipes.

21. Have 3 dates with Mr. Monkey. Even if they are just quick ones, I need to see more of his face without kids in between us.

22. Take 3 days off of work to work on the dissertation.

23. Submit at least 3 columns for my new gig at Inside Higher Ed.com

24. Spend 37 hours relaxing in my new hammock. Damn I love my hammock.

25. Make $37 on eBay or through my neighborhood garage sale site by selling stuff we don’t need/use. Use $37 to start savings accounts for the kids.

26. Make a “summer fun” to-do list to better explore our new city.

27. Take Miles to a professional ballgame.

28. Plan one-on-one time with Ev for at least 3 times.

29. Coordinate a gift exchange with some of my neighborhood friends.

30. Go hiking

31. Help Miles learn to ride without training wheels

32. Learn to sew a simple dress for Evelyn.

33. Get over my fear of plaster walls and get three pictures hung in the house.

34. Sign up for a triathlon

35. Complete the Point to LaPointe race.

36. Dye my hair a different color, just to see.

Tick tock….

Farewell to Grey Eye #1

A few weeks ago Miles and I took an amazing trip to Florida where we basked in the sun, went to Disney World and Universal Studios, and had fun at what is now perhaps my favorite hotel ever (I love you, Hyatt Grand Cypress). It was a great trip with one sad downside: the loss of Grey Eye the Snake.

snake

(Grey Eye pictured here in happier days, along with his sister Snakey the Cobra)

(My kids are REAL good at naming lovies, no?)

Grey Eye was the one lovey Miles chose to not only come on the trip but to ride in the prime backpack spot for the flight to Florida. Miles, who loves to fly and was happy to share all of the knowledge he has gained about plane crashes from the show Why Planes Crash with all of the passengers around us (whether they wanted to hear it or not), thought Grey Eye would enjoy the flight.

miles plane

What ended up happening, of course, is that Grey Eye came out of the backpack to enjoy the flight (and to allow me to make a truly terrible snakes on the plane joke) and ended up getting left behind on the plane. Miles was heartbroken when he realized at bedtime that Grey Eye was gone and I felt horribly guilty that I didn’t double-check for him before we got off the plane.

I filed a lost item report with the airline but it has been weeks now with no word and I find that I’m increasingly annoyed about the fact that, baring the unlikely return of Grey Eye, all of the other outcomes are completely unsatisfying to me:

1. The airline doesn’t actually look for the missing item, even though I sent the exact flight number and seat numbers where Grey Eye was left. Perhaps the lost item form is just an exercise they have you do to help move you through the grieving process.

2. A flight attendant found Grey Eye, a homemade stuffed snake found in a seat occupied by a small child, looked at it and chucked it in the trash.

3. Someone else found Grey Eye and decided to keep it, despite it being something clearly in the “lovey” category.

See? None of those are options that make me feel confident in the innate goodness of my fellow man. All of those options involve people being terrible in a small way, which is discouraging to think about too much.

What does comfort me is that Miles currently is going to bed at night with a lovely snake whose name happens to be Grey Eye #2.

miles snake

Grey Eye #2 arrived in the mail via a kind-hearted soul I’m friends with on Facebook who has some awesome crochet skills and a desire to make a six-year-old happy. Maybe people aren’t actually terrible.

Good Things, Big and Small

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This kid and I got to take a once in a lifetime trip together last week. There was sun and water and hammocks and it was basically perfect. I plan to write more about it soon but I already know that it is going to permanently have a high place on my list of best parenting experiences.

When we got home, the kiddo got busy losing some teeth. He had already lost two teeth on the bottom row, which was exciting to him but did not result in any adorable pictures for me because his adult teeth had already grown in behind them so there was never a cute gap tooth smile.

There is now:

Miles teeth

(I love this face).

Also on the list of things I am loving:

color

My grown up coloring book, colored with nice markers that I have no intention of sharing with my children. I’ve been coloring before bed lately and I find it soothing and relaxing. It seems to help keep the end of the day crazy away.

Tonight I shall color and then enjoy one of life’s best experiences: going to bed without an alarm clock set. I’m traveling for work and don’t have my first meeting until noon. I am going to sleep in like a boss.