Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Grilled Cheese and Mashed Potatoes!

Ok, so I am sort of trying to make it so that my baby girl can eat some super yummy classic kid foods without becoming America's newest gordita... You may remember my recent post about my new healthier way to make Mac 'n Cheese... well here's a couple more ideas! I can't claim the Grilled Cheese idea... that came from my friend Amanda. But it's awesome. And Cadence went berzerk over it. And to be honest, I try all of Cadence's food and I really liked it too. So yay Amanda! Here's what you do:

Baby Grilled Cheese

Butter your whole wheat bread with unsalted butter. Then put one slice down on the pan butter side down and spread pureed carrot baby food on the inside part... I did this pretty thick, like how you'd spread jelly. Then put a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of that (I used shredded because it breaks apart easier once melted, which means Cadence isn't as likely to choke on it.) Then add the top slice of bread and cook just like any other grilled cheese, flipping at the perfect time. =) I let it cool and then broke it apart into small pieces to give to Munchkin, and removed the crusts since she is somewhat gag and choke prone. I'll have to add a picture another time... she ate the whole thing up!

Baby Mashed Potatoes

Make your mashed potatoes in a normal way... and then rather than gravy or butter, add a couple of spoonfulls of pureed veggies. Cadence's favorite remains the zucchini and broccoli medley from Earth's Best, but you could probably use any veggie flavor. Then I added in a handful of cubed steamed butternut squash... these are conveniently sold in bags, pre-cubed and microwave steamable in the refrigerated produce section at Walmart for $2. Amazing! Warm the whole shebang up for a few seconds and then stir and serve! And really, I promise, pictures will be soon to come!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Mac 'n Cheese Solution!

I've figured it out! How to give munchkin her beloved mac 'n cheese in a healthy (er) way without having to (God forbid) cook from scratch. Who does that anyway??? Here's what you do.

Buy this new super awesome Veggie Pasta Mac 'n Cheese! How great is this? I can still buy my blue box!

Cook it as directed, using UNSALTED butter. When you go to add the cheese packet, only use about half of it. Then add 3-5 spoonfulls of this beauty:

Mix it up and serve to Munchkin, who will probably show you her appreciation like this:


Aren't you glad we solved that problem???

Call Nine-Whine-Whine

That's what my dad told me I should do last night. He's right. I'm a big time whiner at the moment. But I have good reason. Everything hurrrrrrts (insert whiney voice here for comedic effect)!

It started out with me waking up Tuesday morning with my right leg about to fall off. (Yes, I'm being dramatic.... duh) I had these weird shooting pains through my thigh muscles, but it wasn't the kind of thing where I could figure out where a knot or cramp was that was causing it. It was a painful mystery. But Tuesday evening Jonathon and I had child care time scheduled at our gym so that we could go to spin class together. Child care time is somewhat difficult to get at the time you want it for, so I didn't want to pass up this opportunity. So I went to spin! And quickly found that it hurt even worse to spin with my right leg. So I did what anyone in my situation would do... I biked with my left leg only. For the whole hour long class. So of course by the time I got home my left hip was all screwey. All of that added up to me not sleeping well, so I've been super exhausted and had some pretty nasty headaches as a result of lack of sleep. But all of that was mostly fading until yesterday when I made my dumbest move yet... I was driving home from retrieving my latest freecycle score, and Cadence was playing with a rattle in her car seat. She accidentally dropped her rattle and it rolled onto the seat behind me. This was, of course, the end of her little world as she knew it, so she began to scream. Being the awesome mommy that I am, I decided that I should probably fix the problem by, you know, getting the rattle for her. Obviously. So I placed my left hand firmly on the wheel, glanced backwards to make sure I know where the rattle was located, and then reached back for it with my right hand. While driving. As it turns out, our awesome Ford Edge has a lot of wonderful, super comfortable leg room. Which means that my super long swimmer arms just weren't super long enough. So in a moment of genius, I decided that if I just push back against the seat I'll be able to reach the rattle. (at this point, Cadence was basically over the loss of the rattle, but Mommy was determined to solve the no-longer-existant problem) So I push... and then I push a little harder... and then POP! Turns out the car is stronger than my shoulder. It wasn't an audible pop, just a feel-able one. Yes, feel-able is totally a word. I'm not sure what I did exactly, but it hurts. My shoulder is still usable. I can hold things like a baby or a box of books (yes, of COURSE you should try to clean out your storage closet after an incident like this!) but if I push in the right spots, I pretty much want to die, and I have a constant aching pain that has spread all the way up my neck to about my ear, and clear down through my hip. I also have sharp discomfort and joint stiffness through my elbow and into my fingers all as a result.

So clearly, I wasn't going to be able to sleep any better after that than I had been before. My oh-so-wise father recommended alcohol... way ahead of you pops. But about 5 hours after the beer (which, by the way, was an Oktoberfest brew, which means fall is coming, which makes me happy!) I was still in pain and still wide awake at 2am. So I went fishing in the medicine cabinet. Aha! The vicodin left over from my c-section should do the trick! So I popped my pill and went back to bed. Two more hours later, still wide awake and in just as much pain as before, (perhaps year old vicodin is not as effective as brand new vicodin... who knew?) I pulled out my phone and started playing Word Mole. Because that's almost as good as seeing a doctor. An hour after that I got up and went out to the couch. Sometimes you just need something different to sleep on. While I didn't fall asleep, I did manage to get a little bit more comfortable. Then my husband's alarm went off and I got up and showered with him and then decided it would be a stellar idea to blog about how I'm not sleeping and how completely ridiculous it is that I injured myself by getting a freaking rattle... it's 7:42 now and I still didn't sleep for even a minute. Cadence will probably wake up in the next hour or two. Should be an interesting day. I'll probably have to do what my dad recommended and call Nine-Whine-Whine to ask for a WHAAAAmbulance. Which is his not-so-subtle way of saying to quitcherbitchin and deal with it. And now that I've spewed out all of my complaints (for the time being of course. Let's not get too crazy here) in one blog, that's exactly what I plan to do.

I will stop complaining, try to get an hour or so of sleep, and then start my Friday off by watching this epic video to warm my heart with good cheer. The end.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thought Vomit Thursday

It's Wednesday, not Thursday, but my thoughts overfloweth so deal. 

  • My whole freaking body hurts and I have no idea why. I thought I was getting sick, but I seem to be fairly healthy... aside from the can't sleep, horrible headache, and body aching... so I don't get it. Probably an increase in caffeine intake would be the answer, right? Or perhaps alcohol? Or perhaps caffeine and alcohol? 
  • In case you were wondering, my finger mentioned in last week's TVT is still numb. Not as numb, but still numbish. 
  • Yesterday my baby bro was in that DC earthquake. In his 11th story apartment. Freaky freakin freak out. Oh and that hurricane is headed right to him next. Welcome to the big city, bro. 
  • Steve Jobs just resigned from Apple. You heard it here first. You're welcome. 
  • I am in serious need of a few good brews and some good hearty laughs. I have high hopes for the dinner outing scheduled tonight with a friend of ours... we'll see. 
  • I just watched a documentary called "The Lottery" and it got me all fired up about the state of our education system in America, and also made me want to start listing Cadence on the wait list for charter schools like, now. 
  • My husband's new job requires that he help airports prepare for oncoming disaster, so guess who is on standby to fly straight into hurricane territory tomorrow? Yep. I'm a little freaked out about it, but it should mostly just be exciting. I wish he were flying into Baltimore for a different reason, because I'd really love to tag along and visit my bro in his new digs and check some east coast states off my bucket list. Oh well. Next time. 
  • I thought I had a lot more thoughts... but my brain seems to have gone numb along with my fore finger. So you may end up with a TVT part 2 on actual TVT. Wouldn't that be lucky?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thought Vomit Thursday

Thought Vomit Thursdays now have an official button. It's basically awesome. My friend Nat is also basically awesome for inventing such a wonderful thing as Thought Vomit Thursdays. So in case you missed my blog introduction to TVTs, here's how it works: I tell you everything on my mind all at once. There are no rules. My first TVT was not formatted at all, which I felt added a comedic element to the vomit-ness, but also felt that it made it more difficult to read. So, this week, my thoughts are attacking you in the form of bullet points. Try to keep up.

  • Today Cadence ate an entire kids order of cheese ravioli at an awesome Italian restaurant we found in McKinney. The kid seems to just shovel the food in with no end in sight... apparently turning 1 makes you extra hungry.
  • Cadence turned ONE! My parents came out to join us in the celebration, and we had an awesome birthday party for her on Saturday. If you happen to live in North Texas, check out the Old Settler's Aquatic Center. We had the most wonderful pool party there, it was just the perfect location for babies and kids and adults alike. Brace yourself for the photos. 

This one isn't from the party itself, it's from the next morning when she got to play with all her new toys for the first time! She was so excited! (Sorry my pics uploaded out of order. oops.)

A few things that made the party extra awesome: I brought the mattress pad from our pack 'n play and put it on one of the picnic tables. BAM! Changing table. Super helpful for the 7 other babies that were at the party! We also brought our high chair that clips onto our table. I grabbed 2 wood blocks out of my teaching boxes from the kindergarten days and put them under the table so that the clips could appropriately latch onto the picnic table. It was so nice for Cadence to be able to sit somewhere comfortably and celebrate at table level with the rest of us! And the pool had a zero-depth entry area with spray fountains, which made playing with the babies PERFECT! 

  • In related party news, remember those 3 birthday cakes?

I baked and decorated them myself. But here's the issue. I used these beauties to ice the cakes: 

The problem? To use these things, you have to press on the nozzle with your finger. It's now been 6 DAYS since I decorated the cakes, and the aforementioned finger is still COMPLETELY NUMB! Ummm... is this a problem? What do I do? And why isn't there a user warning on the cans??? Oh well... it was worth it... right?
  • Cadence completed her first 2 week swim lesson session through the city of McKinney this morning! I'm a proud mama. We had a lot of fun having a scheduled activity planned each morning for 2 weeks, and Cadence has definitely developed a love for the water. However, the class was definitely lacking in the area of structure. The instructors tried to introduce a new skill each day, but considering that this class is supposed to be for babies 6 months to 2 years, most of the skills were too advanced, so we just bounced and splashed around for most of the time. They did have us circle up for a couple of songs to sing throughout the class, but in 8 half hour lessons, we only learned 3 songs. We had so much fun, but I just feel like there was so much more that they could have done! 

  • Apparently, our daughter's name is not only difficult to read, but also difficult to spell! I was unaware of these difficulties until the first time a receptionist in one of our doctor's offices called her Candace at about 2 weeks old, and since then I've been correcting and correcting and correcting.... so imagine my surprise when Cadence's birthday card arrives in the mail from her Great Grandmother spelled wrong! Here's why I'm willing to let it slide, despite the fact that it was misspelled in FOUR different places on the card, packaging, etc: she's 89 years old and blind. But there's no excuse for her swim lesson instructors who only had to copy her name from the registration form that I filled out for them! Seriously? 

  • Today I had the pleasure of going to the County Clerk to re-register our car. We realized this week that we had let the registration expire, so we were expecting to have to pay a penalty fee. I waited in a surprisingly short line for my turn. When I told the woman that the registration was expired, she asked me if we had gotten any tickets for it. I told her no. She said "you're lucky!" and after I signed a form that stated that I hadn't received any tickets with an expired registration, only charged me the regular registration fee! So, on the one hand, I'm psyched that we didn't have to pay a penalty fee... but on the other hand, I'm confused by this policy. She told me that if you get a ticket, you have to pay up to a 20% fine. So basically they're telling you that it's not illegal if you don't get caught. Awesome. 
  • You will maybe find it sad or else amusing to know that I make lists of my thoughts so that I don't forget what I wanted to vomit on Thought Vomit Thursday. How completely Type A is that? =)
  • And finally, I found this video hiding in a friend's blog and loved it and am re-sharing it! Enjoy and have a great week! 

A Jet-Setter's Guide: How to Fly with an Infant

Since my wonderful husband works for Southwest Airlines, we are blessed to have the ability to fly free! This is particularly wonderful since we have no family to speak of in Texas, so we take to the skies quite often. As in, Cadence turned one yesterday and she's already gone on 40 flights. So we fly a little.

With Daddy: 

Occasionally, we even fly with Southwest CEO, Gary Kelly!

Several friends have asked for travel advice from me when they are preparing to fly with an infant, and so I am finally writing this blog so that my information is all in one central location. Obviously, flight rules and regulations are always changing and no 2 babies are the same, so this is only what I have found to be the best things to work for Cadence under the current rules. Feel free to experiment with other ideas and let me know how your travels go! I'd love to update this blog post with new ideas!

So, here goes. In chronological (ish) order of your trip.

Cadence's First Flight, 8 weeks old

Have you seen those moms running through the airport looking completely overwhelmed and attempting to carry EVERYTHING they own for their screaming and stressed out baby? DON'T BE THAT MOMMY!!! Trust me when I say that LESS IS MORE! Your travel experience, time with your baby and stress levels will thank you for simplifying! Plus, unless you are taking your infant on a wilderness trek, odds are you can buy it when you get there if you forgot it. All that you need with you is enough stuff to survive the time in the airport and the plane ride.

Since we fly standby, we try to travel with only carry-on luggage. Yes, that is actually possible with a baby! However, more than once I've had to travel sans the aforementioned wonderful husband, in which case I usually check some luggage to lighten my load since getting through security is tougher with a little one in tow. This information is organized assuming that you will check luggage, since that's what normal people do.

When I travel, I take with me a large backpack, one rolling suitcase to check, boppy, stroller, and car seat. I check the rolling suitcase and car seat when I first get to the airport, leaving me with only a stroller to push with baby in it and a backpack on my back (I clip the boppy in to the outer part of the backpack).  If you have a diaper bag that you'd like to be able to use on your trip, empty the contents out and pack them in your backpack, since the backpack will carry a lot more stuff more easily. Pack the empty diaper bag in your checked suitcase. Don't take anything that you can't wear on your back or roll!

Here's what to put in your carry-on:

  • Breast Pump - If you will need to pump while you travel, be sure to carry on your pump. You don't want your pump in your checked luggage because of the risk of 1.  damage, 2. luggage being lost, and 3. A delayed flight or other circumstance and not being able to pump when you need to. If you need a breast pump with you, I would take a small rolling suitcase as a carry on item, and pack your pump in the carry on suitcase. The pump will take up most of the suitcase, but not all of it, so you'll have room for diapers, etc still. If a breast pump is not necessary for you, I suggest leaving the extra rolling suitcase at home and only carrying on a large backpack.
  • Infant front carrier, such as a Baby Bjorn, Ergo, Boba, or Infantino. I do NOT recommend a Moby Wrap. I love my Moby Wrap, but for the purposes of travel, it is so difficult to use. Definitely pack this carrier in your carry on luggage rather than using it to carry your baby through the airport. I'll tell you why in the part about getting through security. I like to have this for helping me hold Cadence while I go to the bathroom, if we have a long layover, etc. 
  • A complete change of clothes for Mommy including bra, panties, and jacket. I can't tell you how many times I've been spit up/thrown up/diaper leaked on while in flight. 
  • 2 complete changes of clothes for baby. In my opinion, it is easiest to have baby travel in footie pajamas so that you don't have to worry about socks, shirt, pants, etc. It's all in one. And the plane will probably be cold, so they'll be comfortable. If you're traveling to or from a very hot location, have them in a onesie with the pajamas ready to go on over it on the plane. 
  • 8 diapers and a small pack of wipes. 8 should be more than enough for a trip, and if needed I've used them to mop up baby puke, my soda that baby knocked over, etc. 
Airport changing tables are super fun!
  • Bottles: If you're bottle feeding, I recommend bringing one bottle in your carryon and rinsing it out and reusing it through the day. I know that's not normally what you would want to do, but for one day of travel it will be fine. If you are pumping, of course do the math and bring the right number of bottles for you to pump into that you'll need. I'd bring an extra in case there's a flight delay. 
  • If you're using formula, I recommend buying a smaller canister of formula or using a plastic formula dispenser in your carry on for the travel part and packing a big canister in your checked luggage for the rest of the trip. If you are using formula, if at all possible, pack your bottle empty and fill it with water on the other side of security to mix baby's bottle. It makes security SO much easier. 
  • Toys, books, etc to entertain baby if age appropriate
  • Solid foods: If your baby has started on solids, pack as much as you'll need for the day of travel in your carry on and the rest in your checked luggage. I always put the jars of pureed baby food and the spoons and bibs needed in a ziplock baggie. I recommend the baby food pouches rather than the glass or plastic containers, because the glass can break and the plastic easily cracks, and before you know it you've got baby food all over your luggage. 
  • BRING YOUR BOPPY OR NURSING PILLOW!!! This was the greatest discovery I made. I had outside clips on my backpack so I could clip it in to carry it on my back, and then once on the plane I put the boppy on my lap, laid baby on the boppy, and we could both travel comfortably the whole way. She could comfortably sleep, eat, lay there, etc and I didn't have to destroy my arm muscles trying to hold her while she did so. I have never ever had a flight attendant give me a hard time about this. 

  • The scoop on strollers: The first few times I flew with Cadence I didn't take the stroller, and I think it was a mistake. Life was so much easier when I started taking the stroller along! However, I took our nice Chicco stroller and somewhere around flight #28 it came off the plane with the basket broken off and non-repairable. So choose your travel stroller carefully. The airlines are not liable for any damage to your stroller or car seat if you choose to bring them. Consider yourself warned. If you take a stroller along, I would keep baby in it until you board the plane. When you get to your gate, go to the counter and ask for a gate check tag for the stroller. Then when you're boarding the plane, you'll leave the stroller right outside the plane door and pick it up in the same place after landing. Also, see my Security section for info on strollers and TSA. 
  • Car seats: If your baby is younger than 2 years old they can fly for free on your lap. They are called a "Lap Child." If you want them to stay in their car seat, you have to buy a separate full price ticket for baby to have a seat to put the car seat on. I will mention, in the event of an emergency, your baby and you both are MUCH safer if baby is in a car seat in their own seat. When they are on your lap and unrestrained, they essentially become a human airbag for you, and you will likely smash your baby... but I also know that airline tickets are expensive and airborne emergencies are somewhat rare, so I will leave that decision to you. However, many airlines will allow you to travel with your baby as a free lap child and if there is a seat on the plane that is not being used, they'll let you have the empty seat for the car seat. If there ends up being no space they'll come get your car seat from you on the plane and gate check it for you. I personally don't mess with any of this, because it's just one more thing to deal with getting through security, so I check my car seat at the ticket counter when I check my checked luggage in and pick it up at baggage claim upon arrival. 
  • If you are flying with a "lap child" rather than buying a ticket for your baby, it is required by law that you have a COPY (don't bring the original) of baby's birth certificate. Don't forget this or you'll have no choice but to either skip your trip or purchase a full price ticket for baby. 
  • Bring a small receiving blanket in your carry on- I lay this on the ground and let Cadence play on our longer layovers, cover her up if it's chilly, or use it as an emergency burp cloth if necessary in flight. 
Playing at the airport, 9months old
 6months old
That pretty well covers what should go in your carry on luggage. I will not cover what should go in your checked luggage, because I think it's pretty self-explanitory... everything else!

Checking in and Security:

When you arrive at the airport, take all your stuff and baby to the ticket counter. Check any luggage you wish, and your car seat if you don't plan to use it on the plane. Point out to the agent that you are traveling with a lap child (if applicable), sometimes they don't notice the baby, especially if she's in the stroller behind the counter and out of sight. They'll ask for the birth certificate and attach a baby boarding pass to yours. Then head to.... dun dun dun.... SECURITY. This is, in my opinion, the hardest part about traveling with a baby. Here are a few things to know in advance:

  • You have to hold the baby in your arms to walk through security. They can't be in a stroller, car seat, front carrier... nothing. This is why I recommend a stroller, it's the easiest way to get through security and be able to easily set baby back in on the other side while you re-organize your things. If you use a Moby Wrap, you have to completely unwrap the Moby and hold baby, then get through and try to re-wrap the Moby and put baby in while still holding her. Not fun. 
  • FOOD IS allowed through security, just not liquids. So you can bring along snacks for baby, or for yourself. No problem. =)
  • Wear flip flops or slides. You have to remove your shoes... this can get tricky to deal with taking off and putting back on. Since you have to hold baby through security, free hands are not a luxury you'll have. 
  • If baby is wearing baby shoes they might make you remove them... again, I recommend footie pajamas! **UPDATED**: As of late 2012, TSA policy has changed to allow children under age 12 to keep their shoes on while going through security. 
  • Have your liquids in a zip lock baggie ready to pull out easily. This includes sunscreen, diaper rash cream, etc. Nothing is allowed to have more than 3oz. 
  • If your baby's bottle(s) are full, you'll have to pull them out of the bag and put them in the tub separately to "declare" them. Depending on the airport and the TSA agent you get, they may do a secondary screening on your bottle. They'll ask you to remove the lid of your bottles and then they'll hold a test strip over the top of the bottle. It never touches the milk and doesn't hurt anything. They will likely do this regardless of it being pumped milk, whole milk, mixed formula... it doesn't matter what it is. 
  • If you are carrying on a breast pump, they will most likely have to do a secondary test on it where they stick a little wipe in it to make sure it's not a weapon of mass destruction. Apparently they look slightly bomb-ish on the scanner. This secondary test is essentially nothing, but just calculate the extra stop at security into your master plan for how early you want to arrive at the airport. 
  • Any car seats, strollers, etc. have to go through the security scan. If it fits through on the conveyor belt, send it through. It's much faster and easier than going through a secondary scan! The hardest part about this is holding baby while folding the stroller and then hoisting it up onto the belt with one hand. This is where it's nice to have a fantastic husband in tow!
  • If they ask you to take the baby through the new "back scatter" ask for the pat down instead. Usually they'll leave you alone since you have a baby with you, but I wouldn't take baby through the back scatter if I were you. 
On the Plane:

  • I would try to sit towards the back of the plane. If you're flying Southwest, or another airline where everyone picks their own seats, there tends to be more open space towards the back. The drone of the engine is also louder, which lulls baby to sleep and also drowns out the crying sounds if baby isn't happy. Try to sit on the aisle so you can make your escape if necessary. 
  • The down side of sitting at the back: on most planes, the rear restroom doesn't have a changing table. The front one does. In my opinion, the hike to the front is worth it. 
  • As soon as you take your seat, pull out your nursing cover or bottle and get ready to feed baby. Make sure you're feeding baby during take off and while the plane is climbing upwards and again on the descent and landing. It helps their ears pop and keeps them happy.  If baby is riding in a car seat and does not drink a bottle, give them a pacifier for take off and landing instead.
  • If you're in need of water for a formula bottle, catch a flight attendant before take off and ask for a water that's unrefrigerated for the bottle. They'll usually give it to you right then instead of making you wait, so you can mix a bottle and have it ready for take off. 
Shameless Southwest Plug:

Errrr.... this is not a good way to fly with baby. We were just joking, of course.

One Last Thing on Airports...
If you go to pick up your checked luggage and find your car seat has broken in pieces... an option not often advertised is that a lot of car rental companies will rent out car seats. Obviously not the top choice, but an option to know about!

And Finally, A Word on Hotel Stays:
If your travels require that you stay in a hotel, I have a few suggestions. Many hotels offer roll-away cribs for free or only $10-$15. I would ask for one. If they don't have them, if baby doesn't roll yet, you can put baby on the second bed, or if baby is already rolling, lay them on the ground on top of a blanket. In my opinion, traveling with a pack 'n play or other portable bed is a giant pain... I wouldn't do it.

 Cadence enjoying our hotel in Seattle, 7 months old

I use the stroller as a makeshift highchair while we travel. Cadence eats just fine and is able to sit at the tables at restaurants, etc with us. Also, since hotel rooms aren't made to be baby friendly, if you are traveling alone, I suggest setting baby up on a blanket outside the bathroom with the door open while you shower. This way you can continue to supervise while you get clean!

Note: Since this post was originally written, Cadence has grown up into a 2 year old, and we have welcomed our second baby, Ryland, into our family. I have flown with both of them, on my own, and have a whole new set of recommendations for flying with 2, but that will be coming (hopefully sometime soon) in a separate post. In the mean time, if you have specific questions, please feel free to post them in the comments and I'll try to answer them as best as I can!

Disclaimer: While my husband is an employee of Southwest, neither him or myself represent Southwest or any other airline in any way on this blog. This is simply a compilation of ideas I have gleaned from experience, and while Southwest may agree with many of my ideas or recommendations, they have not read, approved, or contributed to this post in any way. Please be sure to call the customer service number of your airline for specific questions needing an official response.
Happy Travels!

Monday, August 8, 2011

How I Got My Brand New Eyes

14 days ago I had laser eye surgery to correct my vision. My eyes were crazy weird so normal LASIK wasn't a good option for me, so instead I had a procedure called PRK. I'm no doctor or anything, so I'm not going to write a blog about the scientific side of the PRK procedure. If you want that stuff you can read it here on wikipedia. I'm just going to tell you about what it's like to be on the receiving end of such a procedure.

First you go in for a consultation appointment. They do lots of eye tests and ask you lots of questions about what you see that make you feel slightly stupid. Then they dilate your eyes. For the record I hate having my eyes dilated. It seems to take me forever to recover. Then they look at all their charts and pictures of your eyes and say one of 4 things to you: 1)Yay! You're a good candidate for LASIK! Wanna have it today? 2)You're not really a safe candidate for LASIK but you're a good candidate for PRK. Wanna have it today? 3)You aren't a good candidate. or 4) You're a good candidate for eye surgery but your eyes scanned differently on each side and they're uneven so it's hard to tell if you're a better candidate for LASIK or PRK and there are lots of freaky risks in doing the wrong one, so go home and go another 3 weeks without your contacts (which apparently skew the results). Wear only your glasses in the middle of the hot crazy summer when all you want is your sunglasses and come back and we'll re-scan your eyes and decide then which operation you should have.

Guess which one they told me?

So I waited another 3 weeks and went back in and they re-scanned my eyes and decided that I should have PRK. Then they scheduled me for an operation 45 minutes later and sent us off on a Walgreens errand to fill prescriptions and come back.

At Walgreens we discovered that one of the prescriptions that they require for us to fill is not covered by our insurance (apparently a lot of insurance companies don't cover it, so be prepared) and it doesn't have a generic brand, so we paid $110 out of pocket for a tiny little bottle of eye drop antibiotics. I have no idea what life would have been like without them, but I am convincing myself that they were worth every penny. We also picked up a prescription for a steroid eye drop that's an anti inflammatory, a box of artificial tears and a couple bottles of chewable vitamin C tablets. Here's what else we should have picked up while we were there (maybe this will help someone): Extra strength tylenol, ibuprofen, and 2 or 3 more boxes of artificial tears. They have to be the kind that come in individual vials and are preservative free, not in a big bottle with preservatives. Also, you should know that they're going to give you a prescription for vicodin too, but they can't give it to you till after the procedure, so someone will be heading back to the pharmacy again on your behalf. You won't be able to go, because you'll be home recovering.

Then we went back to the doctors office and got ready. They did another test on my eyes where they take a bunch of detailed pictures of your eyes. Then they take you back by the operation rooms. Our place had the operating rooms behind glass windows so people could watch if they wanted. Everything happening to your eyes is displayed on big TV monitors. There was a guy ahead of me that I could have watched, but they told me they strongly discouraged me from watching right before my own procedure, so we got to sit in the "relaxation room." They had some sweet recliners in there. Then like 8 minutes later it was my turn.

So in I went. They had me lay back in the chair. Then they dumped a ton of eye drops into my eyes to numb them. Then they stuck these plastic things in my eyes to hold my eyelids open during the procedure. Getting these things in was a little uncomfortable. The first eye was easy but the second one didn't want to cooperate and couldn't quite sit right for a few moments so I of course was stressing because it was uncomfortable. Then it finally settled in right.

Then they turn on a crazy insane bright light. Honestly, having to stare into the bright light was the worst part of the whole thing. While you're staring into the bright light the doctor sticks his finger in your eye and basically sloughs the top of your eye ball. This is a really weird experience, because your brain is telling you to freak out because you see something in your eye, but you can't feel anything and you can't blink. It's sort of an out of body experience in a way. After that they turn down the bright light (thank God!) and then the laser does its thing. This part is easier to deal with  because the light is turned down. All you have to do is make sure you stare at the red dot in front of you. The laser is kind of creepy and alien-ish looking so you don't really want to look at the red dot because you want to check out all the crazy things happening around you instead. Also, on my first eye, I could smell my eye burning from the laser so that freaked me out. When the laser is done, they flood your eye with something REALLLLLY cold. It feels good at first, but then it starts to give you a brain freeze headache. Then they pop a contact lens on your eye to protect you like a bandaid. All done!

Then they move to your other eye and stick that stupid bright light on it. In my opinion, the bright light is harder to handle on the second eye because the first eye is sort of incapacitated at the time. Maybe my left eye is just more sensitive to light. Either way, I actually started moaning and was like "it's too bright!" to the doctor. It's seriously really hard to handle. But then he finishes his part with the finger stuck in your eye and turns the light down again and it's all good from there. By the time they had me stand up and walk out of the operating room I had probably been in there a grand total of 5 minutes. The operation itself takes about 30 seconds per eye.

I'm definitely glad I didn't watch the guy before me, because Jon said it was fascinating from a scientific standpoint, but it looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie and was definitely freaky.

Then they give you some pretty sweet sunglasses and send you home, where you are supposed to sleep for at least 4 hours straight right away. I laid in bed trying to sleep with my eyes closed and resting for probably 6 hours and couldn't seem to sleep. Also, it's weird because you really can't see anything. I kept feeling like I needed to put my glasses on. You have to put eye drops in your eyes at least once an hour when ever you're awake, and alternate tylenol and advil. I didn't feel any pain at first, it just felt like how it feels at the end of the day when you're ready to take your contacts out. A little dry and your eyes are tired.

I woke up around 2am that first night totally freaking out with my first experience with the real pain. It is a weird stabbing pain that feels like you need to rip a bad pair of contacts out right away. Or like there's rocks in your eye. I only had it in my left eye, thankfully. I put in a bazillion drops and took tylenol and vicodin. Then I resorted to my "emergency only" drops that they gave me. That finally helped and calmed me down and I went back to sleep. After that my pain levels were manageable and overall it was pretty easy. The next day I had a follow up appointment and they said I looked good. I still couldn't see much of anything yet. On the 4th day Jon returned to work and I was responsible for baby Cadence once again. I was really nervous about this. My friend Kylie offered to come over and play with Cadence for a few hours so I could rest my eyes, and I think that was a really good decision. The day went a lot better than expected, but the break was much needed. On the 6th day I had another follow up. They tested my vision and it had improved to 20/40, so I was cleared to drive. I can't remember the last time I had 20/40 vision without contacts or glasses. It's so cool. They also took my contacts out. This meant that I would be a lot more comfortable and I would see my vision increase a lot faster, but that my protective bandage wasn't there anymore, so I had to be even more careful with my eyes. By one week my vision was to 20/20. I'm on day 14 now, and my vision is great. I have a little bit of fuzziness every once in a while, but they said that that will probably go away in a month or two. I also have some headaches and "tired eyes," but nothing compared to before. My biggest symptom now is light sensitivity. My favorite sunglasses from before aren't dark enough, so I'm still wearing the ones from the doctor until I can find another cute pair that's dark enough.

Overall, I would say that it was a pretty good experience, and I am overwhelmingly pleased with the results. I would definitely recommend looking into laser eye surgery to ANYONE! So far, it's been the best decision we made!

On our way to the operation, my last picture ever in glasses! 

Right after we got home, recovering in my awesome shades.