Category Archives: packing

My New Packing List

When the boys were little, I began packing weeks in advance of trips. Whether we were traveling for two days or a week and whether our mode of transportation was by airplane or car (and especially when it was by car), my packing lists were extensive. They weren’t lists as much as they were evidence logs of my insanity.

Besides the obvious six billion necessities one needs to travel with babies and toddlers, my packing lists used to include oddities like a kneeler for the bath tub, a safety gate, waterproof mattress covers, and a step stool. Without these essential items, travel with my young, persnickety children simply would’ve been a nightmare.

I once packed a cooler with eight quarts of blueberry Kefir for a trip to Captiva Island because I was afraid the local grocery store wouldn’t sell it, and I didn’t want to be on the same island as Riley if there was no Kefir to be had.

There was also a very real period of time when we traveled with a tent. To be clear, we never went camping. We also traveled with a lamp. You heard me right. Not a night-light (although we packed that, too), but an actual lamp. Dylan’s sleeping arrangements when we were away from home were a wee bit complicated. At least we were entertaining to the TSA officers who inspected our luggage.

Needless to say, a few years make a big difference. Now that the boys are older, my packing lists are much shorter and vastly different. I don’t have to prepare months in advance and my anxiety is way slightly more manageable.

In fact, we’re getting ready for a spring break getaway, and I’ve made a new packing list of the essentials without which our family would not survive:

  • 2 laptop computers
  • 2 smartphones
  • 2 iPads
  • 2 iPods
  • 2 Kindle Fires
  • 1 GoPro
  • 1 Fitbit
  • the hot spot thingy that gives us WiFi when there is none
  • chargers for all aforementioned items
  • the plug tower thingy for the above-mentioned chargers

technology2Now that trips finally feel like vacations (sort of), the whole family can relax, rejuvenate, and unplug. Ha!

I’m as addicted to screens as the rest of my brood, but I’m also desperate to read something besides my Facebook news feed, so I’m also bringing:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “The Nest” by Cynthia Sweeney

My packing lists then and now speak volumes about the long and winding journey of raising kids, not to mention the fast pace of technology innovation. Case in point, another one of our indispensable travel items used to be a portable DVD player and DVD storage case. (That was so 2010).

The bulky and peculiar supplies of early motherhood are no longer a weight we have to carry – literally and figuratively – when we travel. God help us if the WiFi is too slow to stream YouTube videos, but at least we don’t need dry ice to transport Kefir.

The one travel item that will always cause me insomnia, anxiety, and heartache when I pack – no matter the age of my kids or the size of the cloud – is shoes. So many shoes, so little space.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever packed for a trip with your kids?

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Filed under packing, technology, travel, vacation

Bad Words (A List!)

I’m having a thyroid biopsy in about three hours.  It’s my second one.  The first one came back non-diagnostic, or in other words, result-less, which makes me want to say a bunch of bad words one after the other.

I’m driving to the appointment myself this time.  Mike drove last time, because I said “Hell, YES!” to a small dose of Xanax to ease my anxiety over having several small needles inserted in my neck.  This time, though, I’m fine.  I got this.  I know what to expect.  No big deal.  No drugs necessary.   That is, unless you count the glass of wine – or two – last night and the glass of wine – or two – I’m fantasizing about right now.

Any-who, I’ve found that making lists help keep me calm during times of elevated stress, like before my last colonoscopy when I made a list of all the reasons colonoscopies are so awesome and a list of all the ways I’ve turned into my mother.  (FYI, I’m wearing an apron…and not cooking…right now as I write this.)

Today, I could make a list of all the reasons thyroid biopsies suck or about the bazillion things I need to pack for my three-night trip to #Boston with Riley this weekend to go to a wedding with my folks.  (Yes, Crazy Packing Mama has reared her ugly head.)

In 36 hours, I’m taking Riley on an airplane.  To #Boston.  Where it’s cold (for Floridians, anyway).  Where he’ll have to wear long sleeves and long pants, some of which will have zippers, buttons, and collars, all of which he abhors.  Yes, that’s a strong word.  Yes, I meant it.   Oh, and a belt.  He’ll have to wear a belt. And a jacket.  Dear God.  It’s quite possible that I’m more anxious about dressing Riley this weekend than I am about the imminent attack on my neck.  And, p.s., there’s a separate truckload of anxiety that I haven’t even spoke of regarding my packing.  What the hell am I going to bring to Boston?

Deep breath.

I’ve been struck lately about how my boys are crazy sensitive about some “bad” words, yet they could give a rat’s ass about others, which inspired today’s anxiety-induced list.  I mean, seriously, if I say “stupid” or if God forbid I shush someone (I’ve totally done this, by the way), I’m in deep shit.

Words and Phrases My Kids Think Are Bad

  1. Stupid
  2. Dumb
  3. Idiot
  4. Hate
  5. Baby (variations include Stupid Baby, Princess Baby, and Pink Princess Baby)
  6. I don’t care.
  7. Shut up.
  8. Shush
  9. Suck (on its own and/or preceded and/or followed by any other word)
  10. Tattletale

Mostly, I agree that these are all bad words, especially Pink Princess Baby.  That one’s just plain horrific.  It’s just funny to me that my kids don’t flinch, giggle, or care to repeat when I (accidentally, of course) say something like, “oh shit,” “crap balls,” or worse.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two bad word exceptions we have in our family: (1) We can say stupid in reference to traffic lights.  I don’t know why, it just is.  For instance,  “Turn green, you stupid red light!” is sanctioned and encouraged, especially if we’re running late (and I hate to be late).  Any and all other references to stupid, however, are effed up and totally unacceptable, and (2) At Zoo Miami, we can say ass as long as we’re within twenty feet of the Somali Wild Ass.

There really is a wild ass at the zoo.

Are there bad words your kids go ape shit about?

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Filed under anxiety, list, packing, thyroid, Uncategorized

Five, Four, Three

Nothing gets my adrenaline flowing, heart pumping, and anxiety surging like a good old-fashioned health scare.  During the holidays.  A week before my tenth anniversary getaway.  When I’m frantically putting holiday cards in the mail, wrapping and shipping gifts, obsessively shopping for a bathing suit that makes me look five ten pounds thinner (haven’t found it yet!), and prepping the house for my parents’ 12 day visit, including the five days when Mike and I will be away.

A week ago, my doctor informed me that the ultrasound on my thyroid showed a solid mass on the right side.  She went on to say that it’s common, it’s small, don’t worry, these masses are almost never malignant…but all I heard was solid mass.  Solid.  Mass.

What happened next probably won’t surprise you.  I panicked.  The past week has been long and exhausting, but I have some answers and some peace of mind.  My anxiety level is still high, but some of that might be due to (1) packing (must pack light…must have options!) and (2) guilt (my boys will never survive five nights without me…they’ll never forgive me…I’m a rotten, selfish mother…you get the idea).

Here are some thoughts on my thyroid (and a few other things):

I overreact when it comes to my health.  I’m helpless to stop the Crazy train that leaves the station when something appears to be wrong, but I also know that waiting, putting off, and ignoring can be bad, too.  There must be a balance – a way to feel concerned but calm – but I haven’t found it.

I’m loved.  Within 24 hours of hearing the words “solid” and “mass,” I had a list of a dozen endocrinologists I could call.  My friends and family went above and beyond to help me.  (Grateful Mama!)

Speaking of endocrinologists, they are a tough bunch with which to get an appointment.  On my first round of calls, the soonest appointment I could get was January 17, 2013.  (That’s next year!)

It’s just as hard for me to ask for a favor as it is for me to take a compliment.  My friend’s father is an endocrinologist.  Calling her to see if his office could get me an appointment quickly (before my trip and, perhaps more importantly, before I imploded from anxiety) was really hard for me to do.  Really hard.  I hope if something like this ever happens again, I’ll know that I’m worthy of such a favor.  I also hope I’ll have the chance to someday pay it forward.

I have good doctors (and health insurance).  I’ll never forget sitting in the gynecological oncologist’s office seven years ago and being told that the cancer from a molar pregnancy was 100% curable as long as it was treated quickly.  If not, the cancer in the uterus could jump to the liver, lungs or brain.  (I sometimes forget how scary that experience was.)  I couldn’t help but think about how some women – without the quality of care I had – might have suffered a much worse outcome in the same situation.

At 10:30 this Monday morning, I sat across from a highly regarded endocrinologist and got the care and reassurance I needed about my thyroid.

Lots of people – especially women – have cysts and/or solid nodules on their thyroids.  Most of them are insignificant.  Thyroid cancer is possible, but it’s rare.  It’s also curable if caught early.  I have a small solid mass on my thyroid.  Maybe it’s been there for ten years.  Maybe it’s been there for ten days.  In three months, I’ll have a repeat ultrasound to check for changes in shape or size.  If it grows, they’ll consider a needle aspiration biopsy, but for now it’s too small to be of medical concern.

Speaking of which, I saw my hematologist this morning (another day, another doctor’s appointment).  Good news here, folks.  My platelets have stabilized so I can wait four months until they draw blood again and reminded me that my body chemistry is a little bit crazy…just like me.  We talked briefly about my thyroid situation and then about my recent colonoscopy.  I told him the one I had in October was clean.  “But there was a polyp the first time, right?” he asked.  “Yes,” I said.  “And colon cancer runs in your family?” he asked.  “Yes, on both sides,” I said.  “You really need to stay on top of that,” he said.  “I know,” I said.  “Once your body makes a polyp, you become a polyp-maker,” he said.

I am, indeed, a polyp-maker, and a nodule-maker, too.  In five years, I’ll have another colonoscopy.  In four months, I’ll head back to the hematologist.  In three months, I’ll have an ultrasound of my thyroid.  In five days, I’ll set sail on a cruise, and if I’m lucky fortunate, all I’ll worry about is how much I miss my boys.

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Filed under anxiety, Grateful Mama, guilt, health, molar pregnancy, packing