Archive for January, 2012

Progress on the Puppy Front

Posted on January 23, 2012. Filed under: Dog, Home, Newlywed |

In case you didn’t know, I’ve been begging Adam for a puppy since the beginning of time.

At first, we were poor, unmarried, and not living together. Not ideal for co-parenting a puppy. Then we were married, slightly less poor, but living in an apartment and still adjusting to marriage – still not a good environment for a burgeoning four-legged friend.

Now, we’re still married (happily ever after), we bought and live in a house, and if we can’t afford a puppy now when we’re both working and have no children, when can we?

I plan to read these books:

 

 and

We agreed that as much as I want to drop everything and GET a PUPPY TODAY, it’s better for us to wait until the spring or summer to bring our furry friend home. Neither one of us want to house-train a dog in the dead of winter. Taking a puppy outside in the middle of the night in below freezing temperatures is not my idea of a good time.

We narrowed our breed choice down to the Labradoodle.

Image from MontanaLabradoodles.com

Image from Labradoodle Puppies

Aren’t those the cutest faces you’ve ever seen? And a Labradoodle isn’t an official breed, so I use that term loosely. But… I will say it’s important to find a breeder who can show you the genealogy of your doodle. Inbreeding is rampant in labradoodles because they are so popular. People want to make a quick buck.

They are pretty energetic dogs and they are highly intelligent. Labradoodles need a lot of activity, but they are fine with some romping in the backyard and daily walks. We were thinking of getting a Brittany for the longest time, but I’m just afraid we can’t give a Brittany all the activity it needs. They are hunting dogs and are bred to be quick in the field. They run a lot. I read some forums where people ran their Brittanys – ran them– 2 hours a day. If I’m honest with myself, I know I won’t be able to do that. Ever.

Labradoodles are great because if you do your research and go through a good breeder, you can get exactly what you want in terms of coat, color, and temperament. I grew up with a dog and never once experienced any dog allergies until I reached my early twenties. A few years later, I still experience a runny nose and itchy eyes around dogs. Labradoodles are fairly hypoallergenic, but if you’re allergic to dog saliva there’s no helping you. Labradoodles come in small, medium, or standard size. We are leaning towards a medium Labradoodle. Adam really wants a bigger dog. The mediums tend to be around 20 inches high and weigh between 30-50 pounds. The standards are about 24 inches high and weigh around 65-90 pounds. That’s a big dog.

Speaking of big, it is huge that Adam is starting to think more seriously about getting a dog. For years he has always been such a Debbie Downer when I bring it up. Now, he thinks we may be able to get one this summer.

We visited with a breeder this weekend outside of Atlanta. We got to see a lot of her adolescent and adult dogs – all in different sizes with different coats. We could pet and feel and experience what different sizes and coats were like and make an informed decision about what we want. Luckily for us, she is expecting a litter of medium sized pups in apricot or caramel (our preference) in mid-May. We met the daddy, his mommy, and the maternal grandmother and grandfather. Seeing all of the fam and their personalities was great. We LOOOVED the dad’s personality! Unfortunately, the mom was at a guardian home, but we can meet her when it gets closer to picking out the puppy. She had some puppies there that are 4.5 weeks old – so cute – and some that are 8 weeks old and waiting for their new families. They had all been claimed which was too bad because Adam fell in love with a green-eyed redhead!

I was so surprised at how soft they were. And neither one of us had an allergic reaction, and there were about a dozen dogs around us for 2 hours! I cannot wait until mid-May! We are on a waiting list (put a deposit down and everything), so I hope we can get a pup out of this litter. The odds are in our favor! Watch out! There will be lots of puppy stories this summer if all goes well…

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The $700 Haircut my Health Insurance Paid For (and more…)

Posted on January 11, 2012. Filed under: Wellness |

This post may straddle the line of too much information, so if you don’t want to hear about my recent biopsy at the dermatologist, this is your warning to stop reading.

I share all of this in hopes that no one will take their seemingly good health for granted. I consider myself pretty darn healthy. I’m 25 years old. I’ve never had a major illness, surgery, and I don’t have any conditions such as diabetes or thyroid problems. I’ve never been overweight. I eat pretty well. I don’t consume too much caffeine. I have maybe 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks a week. I exercise 3-4 times a week. I don’t have horrible acne. And I apply SPF 15 to my face and neck every day. Now that you’ve read my medical history, you could assume that I’m a healthy young adult.

I do have a history of atypical moles, or dysplastic nevi, though. I had my first mole removed when I was 8 years old. What followed in the years after were regular biopsies that led to about 10 scars and a lot of emotional trauma. As a kid, I feared going to the dermatologist. I started resenting her as a person. The fact that she had absolutely no bedside manner didn’t win her any points with me. Almost every single one of my biopsies came back benign. I believed she was trying to make a buck and that’s why she kept removing things from me. There was one mole on my scalp when I was about 12 years old that came back atypical. They had to go back in, excise it, and get clean margins.

Despite that scare, I was fed up with the dermatologist. Frankly, I was embarrassed that I had to have 10 moles removed. I lied to some of my friends about a scar on my collarbone. I used the classic “burn from a curling iron” tale that people use for hickies. In reality, it was a scar from a mole biopsy. I inherited skin that instead of developing freckles from sun exposure, it develops small moles. They’re not big – thank goodness. They’re dark freckles that are less than a centimeter in diameter.

In January of 2011, I went to the dermatologist for the first time in about 10 years for a head to toe check-up. My mother noticed a mole on my scalp during all our wedding hoopla and was pressuring me to go. I knew she was right. I should go. Adam did some research and found a dermatologist we could both go to. My head to toe went well. She made a few notes and said all looked fine and there might be a few places we should keep an eye on.

In an effort to take better care of myself, I made sure to be vigilant about self skin exams and checked myself out about once a month. If something looked a little odd, I went to my first doctor: my husband, the pharmacist. I think I only did this twice and it was on moles that hadn’t changed. He told me they looked fine and I should make sure to have the dermatologist look at them at my next exam.

At the end of November, I was attempting one of those braids at my hairline when I noticed the mole on my scalp that my mother saw almost a year before. It was about a ½ inch back from my hairline above my left eye. I part my hair on the right, so I hardly ever see my scalp on the left side. Call it instinct, call it a gut feeling, call it divine intervention, I knew something was not right. Have you ever had that feeling when everything else pauses, you feel a punch in your gut, and you just know that something is wrong? I had that feeling standing in our bathroom looking in the mirror with a fistful of half-braided hair in my hand.

You see, I haven’t had this mole my whole life. It is so close to my hairline and I used to part my hair on the left that I know it developed from sun exposure. In a way, I’m lucky it was so close to my hairline or I wouldn’t have caught it. From the time that my mother saw it in the fall of 2010 to November 2011, it had grown. It had grown enough that I noticed it with my naked eye through my thick hair in our bathroom mirror. I asked Adam to look at it and from what he could tell; it displayed two of the ABCD rules of melanoma.

I called my dermatologist and asked for her first available appointment. I went on December 23rd and she went ahead and removed it to be safe. She said it didn’t look too concerning, but we should go ahead and take it off. Her Physician’s Assistant shaved it off without giving me any anesthesia. Yeah, I’m a bad arse. And I won’t lie. It hurt.

I got a phone call a week later. Good news: it wasn’t cancer. Bad news: it was very atypical. The nurse’s words, “The pathology report shows that the mole was very atypical. Actually, there were some cells that were particularly abnormal and we’d like for you to come back in and meet with our mole surgeon.”

Yikes. Thank God it wasn’t cancer, but it’s still very scary that it came back as a dysplastic nevi. I went one week later and met with the mole surgeon. I brought my mom with me this time. She was naturally worried and I knew she would ask him good questions. And let’s be honest, it’s always good to have mommy there when you feel nervous or uncomfortable. The surgeon told us that dysplastic nevi are rated on a scale of slightly atypical to severely atypical. All dysplastic nevi are pre-cancerous; they may never develop into cancer, but they are more likely to than other moles. My biopsied mole was moderately atypical, not severe and not slight, but in the middle. Because of that and my history of having previous dysplastic nevi, the surgeon excised it. He cut it out deeper and wider. I got internal and external stitches. They sent the second biopsy to the lab to make sure the diagnosis is the same as the initial pathology report and that there are clean margins on a microscopic level. Good news: it came back benign and margins are clean. I had a big bandage and a wrap around my head for a day. I was told no strenuous physical activity for a week – no running, no weights, no vacuuming, and no heavy lifting. Oh darn. Well, I was a little sad about no exercise. I do like to exercise, but at least I didn’t feel guilty for not doing it. I’ll tell you what; I did look forward to Adam doing a lot of the house cleaning.

The first few days were a little uncomfortable, but not too bad. I have a weird reaction to lidocaine. It makes me a little woozy and groggy. Once it wore off, I was still tired and my head started to hurt at the incision. I iced it, took Tylenol, and took it easy. The surgeon warned me that the swelling could travel down my forehead and give me a black eye. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem. I iced it like crazy the day of the procedure so I could avoid a black swollen eye. I pretty much carried on as usual after the first few days. I had to be very careful when washing my hair, but that’s about it.

Without staying on my soapbox too long, I share all of this because it is so important that we take care of ourselves. Sure, my mole wasn’t cancer. But it was a pre-cancerous lesion and because of my awareness I did not give that spot the chance of turning into something worse. Don’t be ignorant about your body. Don’t be stubborn if you don’t feel good or something isn’t as it should be. See a doctor. Check yourself out in the mirror more often. Look at your skin in the shower. Get your partner or a loved one to look at your back or your head. Ladies, give yourself breast exams every month. And if you get that gut feeling like I did, it’s usually right and you need to follow your instincts.

For more information on skin cancer prevention, visit these sites:

www.skincancer.org

www.cancer.org

www.mayclinic.com

www.melanoma.com

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12 Bullet Points on 2011

Posted on January 4, 2012. Filed under: Newlywed, Wellness |

• January – Rang in the New Year with Adam’s family in Florida

• February – I got a promotion at work

• March – Adam and I took a mini-trip to Savannah and started looking for a house

• April – Adam and I ran a 5K (my first) and we both finished under 30 minutes

• May – We went to a great Zac Brown Band concert with friends, traveled to Washington, DC to visit Adam’s twin brother, Adam got a promotion of sorts, and we went under contract on our house!

• June – closed on our house and started the pre move-in renovations: painting, blinds, and some deep cleaning

• July – went to a wedding, moved into our house, celebrated my 25th birthday and had about 20 friends over to our empty and box-ridden home, I went to Austin, TX for a conference where the highs were about 112 degrees every day. Ouch.

• August – went to another wedding and spent a weekend on Lake Burton with our friends

• September – had Adam’s brother and friend from high school stay with us, started some major yard work, and had a date night at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

• October – celebrated our 1 year anniversary in the Smokey Mountains. I went to Nashville with my sorority sisters, visited my brother while I was there and helped him propose to his fiancée. I started working from home 1 day per week, we kept doing lots of yard work

• November – went to Birmingham to help my formerly-pregnant-now-she’s-had-a-beautiful-baby-boy sorority sister get ready for her little baby. We got our gorgeous kitchen table and chairs from Adam’s parents, celebrated Thanksgiving and Adam & Ryan’s 28th birthdays with my family in Atlanta, kept going with home improvement projects like curtains and painting, and raked/blew approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 leaves in the yard

• December – went to several office holiday parties, participated in 2 white elephant exchanges (1 with my book club and the other with my sorority sisters), Christmas shopping, went to Florida to spend Christmas with Adam’s family. While there, we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and got trampled on by muggles pretending to be wizards. Going on December 26th is a bad idea. Now we just have to go back. Celebrated a late Christmas with my family on New Year’s Eve.

Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2012:

• Various weddings all over the western hemisphere in North Carolina, Maryland, and Grand Cayman

• My sorority’s anniversary celebration this spring. It will be one giant reunion

• Our California trip. It’s the first real vacation we’re taking since our honeymoon. We’re beyond excited!

• Hopefully getting a puppy! GASP!

• New opportunities at both of our jobs

• Slowing down a bit with house-related projects – it gets exhausting

• Visiting Adam’s family in Florida and DC

• Having Adam’s family visit us in Atlanta

• Making progress on acquiring furniture for our house

That’s about it. Summing 2011 up like that shows me how busy we really were. While 2011 was very good to us, we’re hoping 2012 will be mellow. We’re ready for a slow-down. Anybody make any resolutions? I did. I made mine back in November though. That’s how badly I need to work on my potty mouth, eating healthier, and slowing down (I do too much. It’s a problem.).

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