Friday, April 20, 2007

It's in the Numbers

This might be a long one. Are you settled in for a bit of a saga? Here it goes: M and I bought a new bed when I was preggo with R (8 years ago.) We had been sleeping in a double bed, but when I was six months pregnant, there just wasn't room for me and my ever-expanding belly, the two regular and one body pillows that I slept with, and M. So, we got a bed. A big bed. A king-sized bed (California King, actually -- it's shorter in width, but longer in length than a regular king-sized bed.) We loved the bed and it loved us.

However, every night for those eight years (and even before, now that I think of it) M has complained about aches and pains about 10 minutes after getting in bed. I always thought that he mentioned them then because all was quiet and he realized that he had some pain. Some nights he needed Tylenol, some nights he didn't. He still slept okay, though. I, on the other hand, didn't have any pains when I got in bed, but often had lower back pain in the morning. When we both got up, we were like an old couple, hobbling around for awhile before we really got going. If M went upstairs to get the boys, he took the stairs very slowly.

We realized that we are too young to be acting like old folks, so M researched different beds for us and had it down to two kinds: the NASA created temperpedic foam beds and the air-mattress-like sleep number bed. We were always skeptical that the foam beds would last very long with heavy people like us, but we heard great things about them. The sleep number also got rave reviews by friends that had them.

So, last February when we were visiting my sister in California, M and I went to the Sleep Number store at the local outside, beautiful, I-wish-we-had-one-here-and-the-great-weather-to-go-with-it mall. All of the sales people were wearing pajamas in the store -- strange, but kind of cute. They have this process to determine your number.

M went first and layed down on the test bed (with a paper towel placed carefully under his head to protect him (and others) from germs, bugs, and whatnot.) The salesperson took him "all the way down to One" and then "brought him back up slowly" to where it seemed comfortable. M's number was 50 and he was in heaven. He didn't want to get up. Now, he had been in the bed long enough for the pain to set in, so I was pretty happy that he was so happy. Then it was my turn. She asked me how I slept, and I showed her how I sleep on my side. She took me all the way down to one. Going down to one felt like I was sinking into the bed. It was strange! Then she brought me back up to where I felt like the small of my back was supported enough (since that was my problem spot.) My number was 55. I was surprised that our numbers were so close together because generally M likes softer beds than I do. His number is firmer than mine, but not by much. The sales lady explained that even if we had the same number, it wouldn't feel the same to both of us because you set the number while you're in the bed and his body density is different than mine. I kind of get that.

Anyway, while the found our numbers, they took "pictures" of the pressure points of our bodies in the bed and compared a "before" (at the 100 number) to the "after" (at our sleep number). You could tell that the "before" had heavier pressure points and the sleep number "after" dispersed the pressure across our whole bodies. These "pictures" looked like a heat sensor-type picture.

So, we left the store and discussed it and slept on it a night (pun intended!) and decided to go for it (especially since it comes with a 30-day free trial). We ordered went back to the store and placed the order. "So you need any pillows?" she said, "Nope, we're set." we replied. We were able to order it in Cal and have the bed delivered to our house in the Midwest from the local dealer in the next town over. We were so excited to get our new bed. M's pain worsened on our old mattress, probably because he knew he'd be getting a better bed.

It arrived and we slept on it that first night. M was in heaven and I was just okay. After the third night on the bed, M woke up and bounded up the stairs (really) and was as happy as a clam in the morning, exclaiming that he felt more rested than he has in a decade.

I, on the other had stil had a bit of back pain and now even had some neck pain. We remembered that the sales person said to lower the number by five if we needed more support, so I lowered my number to 45 in the hopes that I would be as happy as M. OHMYGOODNESS I WAS NOT HAPPY. I woke up throughout the night in pain -- my knees hurt, my neck hurt, my shoulders hurt, my arms hurt, and my lower back hurt. How could all of this hurt from one night in a bed???? For goodness sakes, how can my arms hurt?? I couldn't believe the pain I was in and how tired I was. I did realized that I'm more of a stomach sleeper than a side sleeper and thought maybe this had something to do with it. M was distraught -- he was truly a new man and wanted me to be just as happy with the bed as he was. I wanted to be just as happy with the bed as he was! So, M got on the phone and called our salesperson, who was very helpful. She agreed that the problem was that I was a "cross side stomach sleeper" and we are the hardest to fit in the bed. (Great!) But, she did recommend a new pillow for me -- one that had to be purchased at a Sleep Number store because they're made especially for the way I sleep. She also suggested that we call the 800# and get our 30 days extended to 60 days of free trial, which M did.

Off we went to the store 20 miles away to buy a pillow -- a $50 pillow, mind you. A $50 pillow that is made out of hard foam and is flat -- totally different from my squishy, soft, down pillow that I scrunch up into a ball to fit right under my neck. I tried eight different pillows. They even measured my neck (very short) and shoulder width (not too wide) to find the pillow that would fit my body with my sleep position. Mind you, I was in tons of neck and shoulder pain from that fateful #45 night two nights before. But, this one pillow (that was recommended by this fancy little cardboard wheel thing that the salesperson spun around) did seem to be the most comfortable, even though I didn't really like it that much. We bought it (also with a 30-day free trial). I had some trepidations at using that pillow because it doesn't squish at all. I sleep on my stomach with my left arm under the pillow and my head on the pillow on top of my arm. It didn't feel any better the next day. It didn't feel any better the second morning. On the third morning it didn't hurt quite so much and on the fourth morning it was a little better. Finally, on the fifth morning, I was a new woman (oh, how I waited for that day!) No pain, lots of good sleep, and I jumped out of bed. Yahoo. Alleluia!

Now we're both sleeping great, but there's one thing that kind of bothers us about the bed -- it's made of two big airchambers that are connected in the middle by foam. Sometimes it feels like you're climbing up over a mountain to get to the other side. So, things like snuggling and spooning are a bit tricky. We have to get on one side or the other or else one of us is on the foam (these are the things that you don't get to try out in a store.)

On Saturday morning, M and I were discussing the bed. We had 10 more days of our 60 day free-trial and that darn NASA foam bed was teasing M in his head. He really wanted to give that bed a try. I thought it made sense too, if there was a way to do it over night. And there is. There are a bunch of hotels that feature the temperpedic beds and we found one near an outlet mall that I've been wanting to go back to so I could buy shoes. M jumped up and booked a room for Saturday night, I called the kennel and they could take Mackinac, and we told the boys to pack their swim suits and pjs -- we were going on a mini-vacation. The boys were psyched!

We went to the mall and got me three pairs of shoes, and everybody else in the family got a pair too. We spent $32 on "snacks" at the Harry and David store (I got wayyyy carried away there!) and we drooled over the LeCruset cookware and gasped at the extorbernant "outlet" prices.

Then, off to the hotel. By the way, the hotel also had a really cool pool area that we had a blast in. We go into the room and lay on the beds (the boys had twin temperpedic beds too) and they felt pretty comfy. Then I laid down next to the boys and read to them for half an hour and my back started to hurt. Hmmmm, that's no good.

M and I both had a rough night. We both woke up like old people, with pains here and there. We looked at each other with a big grin...we love our bed at home! We're both so glad that we crossed that NASA bed off of our list -- we made the right purchase decision and have no regrets. Thank goodness!

Now, as a reward for reading that long story, here are some pictures of the kids playing in the fun pool at the hotel:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spring Haiku

I was reading all of the Haiku entries at Chris' blog (Notes from the Trenches) and decided that I wanted to write one. I'd love to be able to write one praising Springtime, like this one:

Spring time is here now
Daffodils, tulips, and more
Rising from the ground

or even one like this one

The sun is now warm
Shining on me all day long
How I love the sun

or maybe this one

Beautiful weather
Bike riding, kite flying, Yes!
Spring time warms my face

But instead, I can only write:

Daffodils drooping
Bowing down to the cold dirt
Snow in April? Yuck

Okay, the snow has just melted because we had a high of 40 degrees today, but the daffodils have melted as well.

By the way, the photo credit for this one goes to T (who doesn't understand why he can't have a digital camera of his own.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pinewood Derby

We had a super busy weekend one week last month that I haven't blogged about. Friday night was the Cub Scout's pinewood derby (which M was in charge of) and Saturday morning was the Hockey Banquet (which M was also in charge of). He's a very busy man! I'll write about the hockey banquet another time; this blog is dedicated to the pinewood derby on Friday night, in which R competed.

M was the Pinewood Derby chairman for the pack this year, which meant that he had to organize the whole thing -- reserve the track, set the date, get the rules and pinewood derby kits to everyone in the pack (representing about 25 boys in 4 dens), and MC the night's events. Of course, he also helped R with his car. You all may remember R's car from
last year when he designed the cool shark car. This year he designed a spider car -- a black car with a green spider web on it. R sketched it out on paper and then on the block of wood and (with M's help) cut it out with a variety of saws. R also did all of the sanding and painting on the car. Too much sanding, if you ask R.

M knew that the car would be fast because he had been studying the physics of pinewood derby cars all year (don't think that I'm kidding about's true.) M videotaped every step of the way so that he could show that it was all above board. Since M was in charge of the whole thing, he didn't want to be accused of doing the work himself and not R when R beat the pants off of the competition. He even went as far as building a track in the basement so that they could race different cars that they made (they made two this year, but only raced the fastest) to see which one was faster (testing two different theories on weight placement and wheel angle and alignment.) M explained to R that there was some risk in the design that they chose because the wheels were angled slightly (six degrees) which would make them faster, but could mean that the powder graphite might fall out at some point and they wouldn't turn as smoothly. After testing it over and over, they decided to go with the very-fast-but-slightly-risky car design,

The Friday night came for the big race and R and M were pumped up. I was in charge of taking pictures of all of the kids with their cars, which was fun. I did this while the kids waited in line for the official car inspection. Everybody was excited. R waited in line and passed inspection except for one thing: his car was too heavy by 2/10ths of an ounce. M anticipated this and was prepared to help R by drilling out some of the lead that he had melted (in a cast iron skillet) and poured in earlier in the week. I guess it's better to be slightly overweight than slightly underweight. The goal is to be spot-on 5 oz. Here is R's car being inspected with M and R watching intently:

After inspection, R led the flag salute. He's standing at the end of the track watching as a dad helps put the flag in the stand. Notice how casual R is, with his hands in his pockets.

Once R's car made weight, he gave it to the judges and couldn't touch it until his turn to race. Here are some of the cars wating to race:

He had to wait because he raced in the second heat. The first heat included the boys who got #1 and #2 last year. Both of these boys are in M's den and are R's friends. Each time they raced, the beat the other cars by two or three inches. They both did great in their heat and moved onto the finals (which would take place after R's heat.) R's heat was next and I think that I held my breath the whole first race (which isn't really that long because they go fast.) R carefully placed his car right in the center of his lane -- just like his dad taught him -- ensuring that his wheels didn't touch either side of the center raised track.
He ran down to the end of the track so he'd have a good look at the finish line.
Then the race started -- bam! He got first by at least a foot!! Twelve inches! The other races were won by two or three inches, but R's car was a good foot in front of the other cars. I looked at M and he had a strange look on his face -- proud, but a little embarassed. The next time R raced, the same thing happened -- he won by a foot. Again and again, it happened. No one really knew that he was doing so well because he didn't race every race (they had 8 boys in the heat, but only raced 4 cars at a time, so it was hard to keep track.) I was so excited!

Then came time for the finals. R raced against five other boys, three of them were from his den. Such excitement! R won his first race by about six inches; he also won his second race by about six inches. He won his third race by about four inches (do you see a trend here?) He won his fourth race by two inches. And then it happened....third place....third place....third place.... third place...he got 4 third places in a row. M and R knew there was a risk, and it happened...the graphite was gone from the wheels and the car slowed down. R was still excited because he got fourth place (about 15 places better than last year) but was disappointed because he didn't get a medal and didn't get to go to the "districts". I think that M was more disappointed than R, but he and R have talked and have decided that NEXT YEAR they will only angle the wheels by 3 degrees instead of 6 degrees! I'm convinced that if by the luck of the draw, R had competed in the first heat with the #1 and #2 racers, he would have knocked them into second and third -- or even out of the competition -- because R's car was so darn fast those first races. It was fun, anyway :> Below is R's den with the boys proudly displaying their trophies, ribbons, and cars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winter Again?

Remember that whole post about how Spring is here? Well, forget about it. We had a high of 36 and four inches of snow today. Give me a break!!

We had a very nice Easter despite the freezing (literally) cold weather. M's parents, brother and sister-in-law came over for a nice visit. We set the table with our china, crystal, and silver for a lovely table. M made the most delicious leg of lamb ever after marinading it all night in a wet rub of olive oil, garlic and rosemary. It was yum-oh! We also had roasted potatos, grilled asparagus (after being marinated in balsamic vinigar marinade), a cherry jello with mandarine oranges in it, and dinner rolls. It was simple and great. For dessert, we had strawberry cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles.

The kids went to bed and all of the adults prepared for the Easter Bunny to come (if you know what I mean) and played some pegs and jokers. M made his now famous french martinis and we all had a grand time. The only bummer was that M's youngest brother didn't make it -- he had all sorts of things come up that prevented him from coming.

Sunday morning we were up bright and early to make the 9:00 service. We got there in plenty of time to get good seats. The service was nice and had lots of music, including a trumpet and flute (which I love because it reminds me of the church I went to in California.) T got hypoglycemic because he had nothing to eat (I felt sooo horrible) and burst into tears saying, "I just don't feel good." He was shaking, nausous and felt hot. As soon as we got out of church, I gave him a banana and he felt much better immediately.

We all went to a lovely brunch where we all ate too much and had a great time. It was the same mansion on the lake that we had brunch at last year. Because of the snow, it wasn't quite as glorious as last year when it was sunny, but it was still beautiful.

It was great having family over for this nice holiday :>