Thursday, March 27, 2014

#18 - Bloodwork (Part #1)

We're more than a quarter into 2014 now, so I figure it's time to get cracking on addressing some of my goals for the year.  Several from my 20 in 14 list are in-progress, but there are a couple I can write more about at this point.  Stay tuned for additional posts as I tackle the items on my list.

DISCLAIMER:  If you are a male and not my husband, it would behoove you to not read any further through this post.  It will contain a great bit of TMI, and I assure you, you'll be happier to turn away now.  You have been warned....

About a year ago, I gathered the nerve to establish myself as a patient with the local Women's Clinic.  My last appointment with a GYN had been in November 2012, and I'd married since then, so I knew I really needed to get this done.  Plus, my cycles have always been out of whack, and I wanted to figure out if there were any underlying medical conditions before attempting to conceive.

However, I totally didn't expect for there to be a six month waiting list for new patients!  Still new at work, I didn't have a good idea of my schedule six months out, so I decided to wait until the Fall and tried again.  Fortunately, the wait list shortened to four months by then, but it wasn't until February 2014 that I was able to finally get in.

The exam was unpleasant (as all are), and when the physician suggested hormonal contraceptives as a "fix" for my irregular cycles, I nearly jumped out of my skin with frustration.  Really, people?  THIS is how you "fix" things?  UGH.  ...Precisely why I loathe "women's health" practitioners to begin with.

After vehemently insisting that "birth control" wasn't for me, I convinced her to do a lab workup to see if anything was abnormal.  She also offered to do an (internal) ultrasound as a mechanism for ruling out polycystic ovaries.  The labs were done on-site before I left the appointment, and I agreed to schedule the ultrasound for sometime in the next few weeks.

A week later, I found out my CBC, TSH (thyroid), and testosterone levels were all within the normal range, but my prolactin was not.  The labs read a prolactin level of 40, where as normal is somewhere around 25-27.  The doctor wanted the test redone because sometimes stress (re: the exam) can throw it off.  I agreed to come in on a "stress free" day for a redo.

Of course, my impatience won out, and I returned to the lab the very next day.  (Is there ever a "stress free" day, anyway?)  The second round of tests came back and my prolactin dropped to 35, but was still higher than the normal range.  From there, the physician decided to refer me to an endocrinologist, for which the first open appointment will be in July or October.  (What the heck?!)  There was some discussion about having my levels "managed" by an in-house nurse practitioner, but that was taken off the table when the NP said she didn't know much about prolactin and wouldn't be able to do anything for me.

What is prolactin anyway?  According to the interwebs (we all know how reliable those can be), it's a hormone produced by the hypothalamus (in the brain) which has to do with lactation.  But I'm not pregnant or lactating, you say?  I know.  Weirdly, my online searches indicated an affect on menstruation, so maybe there is a tie to this whole situation after all.  I guess we'll have to see what the endo says in July.

Meanwhile, I did have that ultrasound, and the tech told me she didn't see anything abnormal at the time.  Sure enough, the doctor agreed, and so we're going with the assumption of no abnormalities regarding my ovaries.  There's one more thing off the table, I suppose.

And because we have already established my lack of patience, I decided to bite the bullet and move forward with using Pregnitude rather than waiting until after the appointment in July.  Jen (and several others she knows) used it successfully after just a month or two, so we shall see.  In any case, there's one thing crossed off my list for 2014 and that makes me very happy!


Update:  Click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Just Call Me Susie Homemaker

Alex went to Alabama with the baseball team this weekend, but I lucked into hosting an out-of-town guest, so I didn't have to spend the weekend alone.  Cha-ching!  A former coworker from Little Rock was in town for Spring Market, a fundraiser for the local Junior League.  She rented space for a booth and needed a place to stay while she was in the area.  I happily offered up our guest room, excited for the chance to have some company for a few days.

Since Tisha spent close to 30 hours at the event over the weekend, I had a lot of time to do things around the house on Saturday and Sunday.  I decided it would be a great time to try out a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that one of my blog friends (Thanks, Amy!) shared a few weeks ago.  Off I went to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon, with plans to stock up on some fresh fruits and veggies while picking up ingredients (borax, washing soda, and a laundry bar) for the detergent too.  It took three stores to find the laundry bar, but I was pretty excited to find everything and looked forward to trying it out on Sunday.

Saturday night, Tisha and I met at Waterfront Grill for dinner, and I told her all about our project for the next morning.  She was totally intrigued and insisted we try the recipe as soon as we got home.  I was a little worried about starting the project so late in the evening (8 pm), since the recipe called for letting the mix sit for 4 hours before whipping it to the proper consistency.  But, I couldn't resist either, so we went for it.  We stumbled across Stuck in Love via Netflix, which kept us occupied for just enough time that the mix could settle properly.

So here are two pictures of the finished product:

It's the coolest thing!  We tried it on a load of sheets and towels this morning, and I'm pretty sure it did the job just fine.  I can't wait to do the math on how much the batch actually cost.  According to the original recipe, it averages to something like $1.75 for almost 200 loads of laundry.  You can't beat that!

With my Sunday project complete earlier than planned, I decided to embrace my inner wifeyness by spending the day cooking up a couple of meals for the freezer.  I made a batch of tortellini, which I was able to package into three individual-size containers, and one larger container that I popped in the freezer.  Then, I made two batches of gumbo, packaged into four freezer containers too.  This will be great for evenings when I have to work late or Alex is out of town.  Per Alex's request, I also made a batch of chicken salad for lunch sandwiches during the week.

After all of that, I settled in for a lovely evening indulging in what may perhaps be my newest Netflix addiction, Orange is the New Black.  Ever heard of it?  The kitties were unimpressed, obviously.

That's all for now.  Here's to the start of yet another work week...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just for ME: A Creative Date Night Idea

Some of you may know, my birthday was last week (27, whoop whoop!) and as holidays go, birthdays are always my favorite.  Well, except for this year because I was home alone and didn't get any cake (until, like, 4 days later...and only because my parents felt bad for me).  #HusbandFail?  I did appreciate the many messages, texts, and phone calls, though...especially the two-hour call that made me feel not quite so alone for the evening.

To his credit, Alex did plan a date night out for us a few days before my actual birthday (and the gifts - tickets to see my favorite band in Dallas this summer - were not too shabby, either).  We tend to take turns with date nights and don't typically tell the other person what's in store for the night, so I had no idea that I inadvertently ruined part of his well-intended plan.  Come to think about it, that sounds awfully reminiscent of our first "date."

Creative dates are kind of our "thing," so Alex boasted for days before our date that he had come up with something pretty unique.  Day of, he spent the afternoon mowing the yard and freshening things up around the house.  When I got home from work, he said it was too early to leave for dinner and asked if I would play a game of ladder golf in the yard with him before we left.  I was in a khaki skirt and feeling sort of achy, so thinking the yard work had got him in the mood for outdoor games, I deflected by encouraging him to bring the game with him to work the next day, saying his buddies would play with him before the baseball game that evening.  He tried again to convince me to play, but didn't push too hard so I let it go.  (I promise this is relevant to my story, so keep reading please.)

So anyway, we went out to dinner at a local hole-in-the-wall burger joint called Magic Grill.  It was nothing fancy, but dinner together was enjoyable as always.  Afterwards, we had dessert at another local hangout - Eskamoe's Frozen Custard (fun fact - this place appeared in an episode of A&E's Duck Dynasty).  On the way home, Alex said...well, can you guess the theme of tonight's date?  I racked my brain and all my guesses were pretty weak so I gave up and let him explain.

He said, "It was dinner just for you...LME (my initials)."




L-M-E?  Ladder golf - Magic grill - Eskamoe's.  Ohhhhhh...I got it!

I'm pretty sure I never would have guessed it, but looking back I think he did a great job of exercising those creativity skills.  Unfortunately, I ruined the first part of his plan (hence the title, "Just for ME") and felt terrible about it afterwards.  I really need to learn to be more spontaneous, don't I?  Oops.

I have to give him credit for putting together something totally different than I ever would have imagined.  Making date nights unique really goes a long way in having fun together and keeping things special.  I guess the ball's in my court now for something creative next time around.  Ya think he'll notice if we do progressive dinner via Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Eskamoe's (A-B-E)?  ;-)

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Horse on the Loose (Part II)

For Part I, click here.

At this point we realize something is very wrong.  Thoughts start going through our heads to the effect of:  Where is the horse?  How did he get out?  Did someone take him?  How long has he been gone?

The five of us immediately split up, two going toward the back of the barn, two toward the front, and Brandon jumped in his truck to start circling the area.  It didn't take 10 minutes for us to meet back up with no horse in sight.

At this point, the three of us girls told the guys we had the presentation under control, and urged them to team up and keep looking.  We knew the school would be arriving anytime and didn't want to give off the impression that we were unprepared.

The guys took off in Brandon's truck, and began making calls to notify the police and other local officials.  On their way out, the guys ran into a local sheriff deputy who'd come by the barn to see if anyone had a horse missing.  The deputy told the guys the horse was spotted half a mile away, so off they went in hope of locating him.

When the guys made it out to where the deputy told them, there was no horse in sight.  They spent the next two hours tracking the horse, getting updates from local authorities each time the horse was spotted.  Calls were coming into the department left and right about this horse.

Three hours (and a very late lunch) later, one final call came in - a car driving West on I-20 saw the horse near the interstate, pulled over, and was able to get a hold of him.  Meanwhile, the guys drove up and down I-20 trying to locate the horse, as they were told he was between certain exits, but it was unclear in which direction.  Another interstate driver flagged the guys down when they saw their trailer, asking if they were looking for the horse and then pointing them to the exact spot he'd been caught.

When they finally caught him, that dern horse was over 5 miles away!  Afterwards, Brandon said the horse was officially on house arrest and would not be getting out again anytime soon.  Haha.

I can just about imagine what that horse was thinking after the whole ordeal...


That's all, ya'll!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Horse on the Loose (Part I)

A few weeks ago, our organization hosted a two-day educational event called Ag Adventures for elementary students in northeast Louisiana.  The event was designed in a format for schools to spend two hours on site, with the first hour involving rotations through educational exhibits and presentations about agriculture and 4-H, and the second hour divided between our outdoor mini-farm and time for a picnic lunch.

Though I know nothing about livestock, I have somehow been roped into working the mini-farm area at this event (and two other big events we have) every year.  Something about it being an opportunity to learn... Anyway, there were three women and two men stationed at the mini-farm, and of course the men did most of the legwork with borrowing the animals and transporting them to the barn.  Us ladies got to do the easty stuff like put up educational posters/signs, and collecting the 4-H livestock project books to show the kids.

We each agreed to take turns talking about one particular animal for each of the groups.  Thanks to my mini-obsession with baby chicks at our last event, I agreed to talk about chickens, while the others chose pigs, goats, horses, or beef cattle.  It's worth mentioning that I also drug myself out of bed following a fever-filled night on the first day of this event.

Our first day was smooth sailing, except for some uncomfortably cold temperatures.  On Day 2, I was a bit late to arrive because I wasn't quite sure about my health, and I also had a slow morning following some blood work I had previously scheduled (re: #18 on 20 in 14).  When we all headed out (from our warm indoor staging area) to prep for the school groups, I happened to notice the horse we had on Day 1 was no longer in its pen.  Little did I expect my off the cuff comment to have such an impact on our day...

"We're missing an animal." - Me

"Nah, the heifer is tied up over there (pointing to a different area of the barn). -Jim, a coworker

"No, the horse.  Did Brandon take him home overnight?" - Me

"What?  He's not in the pen?" - As Jim turns to look toward the horse pen

*Brandon, the horse owner, walks up, carrying supplies*

"Brandon, where's your horse?" - Jim

*Flustered* "What?  He's not in the pen?" - Brandon


Want to know what happened next?   Come back for Part II tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not Your Average Party Gras

I really wish I would have posted this earlier, but I think it's still interesting if not timely.  Carnival season is still on my mind even though it ended a week ago.  When most people think of Mardi Gras, certain images come to mind.

Maybe this,


or this,


or this,


or maybe even this.


But, I bet few of you would imagine this:


This little known tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras is one that takes place outside of the tourist-filled crowded cities, in the small community of Church Point, LA.  (Side note:  I actually completed a 5-week French immersion program in this community's sister city of Point-de-l'Eglise, Nova Scotia, in Summer 2004).  The official name for this form of celebration is, "Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras," or "Fat Tuesday Run."  Recently featured by National Geographic, visiting this traditional celebration is definitely on my bucket list.  I hear it's pretty exciting, but sort of difficult to follow since the celebration isn't exactly stationary.  I encourage you to check out the NatGeo article, because the writers did a pretty good job of illustrating the story.  

So, who's in on checking it out with me sometime?  Come know you wanna!

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 5)

Not a ton of motivation for any type of significant post, and it happens to be Friday, so here we go!

Wednesday, I was all set to throw together a short post about my Ash Wednesday musings, but then I left Mass and spent the evening at baseball, and by the time I got home at 10 p.m., that obviously wasn't happening.  The abridged version goes a little something like this:  Growing up, we were always off of school/work on Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week.  These days it feels a bit sacrilegious to treat them as regular days.  But then again, it seemed a bit easier to spend the day fasting with work distractions instead of sitting at home eyeing the pantry and dwelling upon my commitment not to opening it.  Then...I got to Mass and the priest went on about how there are so many "holidays" on our standard calendars (days celebrating history, important people, etc), yet some of the holiest (and thus most important) days are left off of the calendar.  Welp, there went my previous sentiments...right out the window.  So yeah...tell me again why we have to keep regular schedules on Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week?

I'm still fighting that crud I mentioned before.  Poor Alex has been suffering with me and my coughing spasms all night for almost two weeks now.  Yesterday, he made me promise I'd "take care of it" by the time he returned from this weekend trip to Birmingham.  So, with a different doctor appointment scheduled for the afternoon, I decided to take a whole "sick" day, and see a doctor about the cold too.  $15 bucks and 30 minutes later, I was sent home with instructions to buy a bottle of Delsym and call back on Monday if I wanted something stronger.  Gee, thanks.

So yeah, doctors.  I've had four appointments in the last three weeks, which means I am taking good notes for my eventual post regarding item #18 on "20 in 14."  There are some other items from the list (1, 6, 10...) that are also in progress so hopefully I'll be able to update on something before too long.

This is totally random and I don't think there are any boys reading this, so I am just going to go ahead and say it.  Did you know that a woman's body temperature rises for about a week or so before her her period, and then...wait for it...drops significantly the day before or day it starts?  I've been charting for 18 months now and for some reason I only recently realized this super nifty little indicator.  For a girl who has spent 15 years (wow, old much?!) having not the slightest clue when she would begin menstruating (could be 28 days, could be 80 - ya never know!), this is a BIG development in my life.  Thanks, NFP!  (And if you aren't charting for whatever reason, I highly encourage it...even if you are totally single and not at all thinking about babies.  Just knowing when to expect this "visitor" is enough to ring the bells in my book!)

I had full intentions of being completely productive from home today, but of course that didn't happen.  Instead of designing a March newsletter for work (because, hello...we're already a week into the month), I ended up spending the day fighting my phone and it's recently diagnosed seizure disorder (go with it, laugh!).  Those two doctor visits took up a chunk of time, and then I tried to knock out that whole expiring driver's license thing but failed miserably because WHO CARRIES CASH THESE DAYS??  Seriously, people, we are in the year 2014!  And now, it's nearly 5 p.m. and I'm sort of having this mini anxiety attack (blogging helps, yes?) about how today is the deadline to register for this national conference I need to attend, or else the price is going to jump by at least $100 bucks...sheesh.  (So hey, Dawn...text me...e-mail me...something! Are we going, or what??)

Anybody ever heard of Jamberry nails?  An acquaintance invited me to her Facebook party a few weeks ago and I was instantly intrigued, but didn't want to dish out the dough for something I'd never actually seen in person.  Her awesome consultant sent me some samples and I think I might be hooked.  I'm thinking about joining as a consultant ("pyramid scheme," as some affectionately call it) and then trying to convince all of you how Jamberry is awesome and you should buy them too.  Sounds fun, right?

And that brings me to the last item on this list...this here blog.  For several months I have been thinking about wanting to make some big changes around here, starting with the name.  I'll try to save more rambling for another day, but the jist of it is that I want to keep learning and growing as a blogger, and I feel like a name change is one step in that process.  As of bedtime last night, I finally have a couple of names that are actually feasible (because that was the biggest hurdle so far).  I'd like others' input though.  SO, how should I do this?  Put a poll on my page?  Send out e-mails?  Call up a couple of my IRL friends?  Part of me wants to keep the names a secret until I'm ready for the reveal, but it's in my nature to need confirmation from what's a girl to do?

Alright, that's it!  Sorry to be so wordy (and pictureless), but I had a lot to say and nothing to say all at the same time.  Funny how that works.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Very Important Day

I am so excited about today that I don't even know where to start.  No, it's nothing life- or earth-shattering, but March 4, 2014 is a very important day in my world.  Why?  Because... TODAY.IS.MARDI.GRAS.  Duh!

I may not live in south Louisiana at the moment...I may not be attending a parade, yelling "throw me something, mister," or dancing to the beat of jazz music...but by golly this girl is celebrating Mardi Gras, even if it is mostly in her heart and not out with thousands of her closest "friends."

On the other hand, I AM wearing a gold shirt with green and purple scarves intertwined around my neck.  I WILL eat a ginormous slice of king cake after dinner.  And you know what else, I will be remembering happier days of riding in the back of my daddy's boat trailer those years we had our very own family floats down in Pecan Island.  I'll remember the year I experienced my first and only "fancy" parade in New Orleans with an 'honorary Cajun' friend.  And most of all, I'll be daydreaming about how Cajuns are the only cultural group* I have yet to see throw an awesome party.

This time of year always gets me.  Where else do you find an entire state (almost) that shuts down for three+ days...just for the heck of a good time?  I mean, really.  There is no place like it.

Yes, I'm jealous of all those who get the week off (because the weirdos up here in north Louisiana, don't observe such frivolous things...).  You can take the girl out of Cajun Country, but you cannot take Cajun Country out of the girl.  Impossible.

So while all of you are knee deep in the trenches of that icy white stuff (heck, we're pretty damn cold here too), I'm going to sit here and smile about the beauty that is south Louisiana.  ...And maybe try to figure out how I can get "I'm Cajun" stamped on my driver's license before it expires in 8 days.  Because, as of yesterday:

'I'm a Cajun' available on licenses

Sign me, up people!

*Disclaimer:  I'm sure there are other cultural groups that throw some pretty phenomenal celebrations, but for the sake of this post I am going to go ahead and admit some personal bias here.  :)