Friday, March 28, 2014

This is Texas

When I hear ice pellets hitting the windows (especially at night), I know it isn't really ice, it is June bugs. We have been overwhelmed with June bugs lately. Well, a little while ago those taps on the window really were ice. The ice fell fast and hard, then suddenly stopped. Because of the high temperatures (75+ F) the ice melted right away, the sun came out, and you'd never be able to tell we had a hail storm.

Somewhat Random Purchase

I first saw a Shirley pillow like this in Italy last Fall. A bunch of random things came together after our Thailand trip and I ended up buying it from I was all excited when it finally arrived today. Ross says Shirley and Stanley (his Stegasaurus) can mate and make woolly dinosaur babies.

Like me Shirley loves cake, and unfortunately I'm soft and squishy like Shirley.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Signs of Spring

The real signal of Spring here in Texas is the appearance of bluebonnets. I've been spotting the bluebonnets sprouting up over the last two weeks. The hillsides aren't covered yet, but they will be soon.
Bluebonnets 2010
Every Spring I worry about Gingie. This year I was worried because Austin had a freeze while we were in Thailand and Gingie was outside. Well, no worries, Gingie is alive and sprouting a full month before he did last year!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Menstrual Cups: My Journey to Goldilocks

I've been thinking about doing this post for a long time. It's a post with TMI, but a post that might help someone, somewhere.

A couple of years ago I started having trouble finding o.b. ultra tampons. I don't know how many stores I drove to. Nothing else seemed to be able to handle the deluge that was the second day of my period. I drove to so many stores it was ridiculous. I had my parents in on the search. I still regret the day I found a box but didn't have the patience to wait in line to pay for it. Ross searched on the internet and discovered that o.b. stopped making ultra tampons. Boxes were selling on ebay for 75$ apiece! Now what was I going to do?

I had a brief encounter with the Instead Softcup. Not for me--and that's a whole other story.

I came across menstrual cups and did some research on a Menstrual Cup website, which was super helpful. I bought the Diva Cup because they sell it on Amazon and I had some Amazon money. I talked to a coworker about it and she ordered one too. I was excited to try something new. Turns out that the Diva was perfect for her, but not so much for me.

The Diva Cup worked okay, but it didn't have the capacity I so desperately needed. I hastily bought a Yuuki Cup on ebay. While the Yuuki worked better for me than the Diva, I still had issues with leakage and the holes seemed to get clogged easily. I read online about enlarging the holes. First I tried with a tiny drill bit, then I went so far as to buy a punch and I punched the holes larger.

I found that I also had two other problems: 1: my cervix points to the left and 2: I have a dangly cervix. Dealing with the first problem was easy--I just had to make sure my cervix was in the cup when I inserted it. I just sweep/stir around the cup and if I can feel my cervix I know I missed and I reposition the cup. Although the Diva and Yuuki weren't perfect I was transformed by my experience and wasn't willing to go back to tampons. I forged on in search of my goldilocks cup--I bought a Lunette.

The holes on the Lunette are larger than on the other cups I owned, and seemed to solve that problem. And I had learned how to deal with my left-tilting cervix so that wasn't a problem anymore. My problem was capacity--I was still having a deluge one day a month.  It seems my cervix is long and it dangles and takes up room in the menstrual cup. A bell-shaped, rather than a pointy-bottomed cup is supposed to help with this. I bought yet another cup, the Fleurcup. Queque the sounds of angels: I found my goldilocks cup.

On deluge day I still have to empty the cup every 2 hours--but not for 24 hours. Menstrual cups have made my life easier. People like to write these horror-story posts about how they "lost the cup up there" or "wrestled with their vagina" to get a cup in/out. I don't have that kind of story. I had some problems with leakage and capacity, but if I had actually done a little more research/not gone crazy buying cups I would have found my perfect cup sooner.

So here is my advice if you want to buy a cup:

  1. Figure out/measure the height of your cervix while you are on your period.
  2. Visit to find out all about cups and look at size and capacity charts to determine what will work best for you. Go by actual dimensions and capacity need, not what works for most people or what is most easily available. Disregard size recommendations based on age, virginity, or whether you have had children.
  3. Ignore what the directions say that come with the cup. A menstrual cup doesn't sit below the cervix, it settles around the cervix. There is no need to spin a menstrual cup. Insert and remove the cup however works best for you.
  4. If the first cup you buy doesn't work immediately, don't give up. Get through the learning curve--there definitely is one--and then really think about what you'd like in your next cup before you give up or buy another cup.
There are some advantages to using cups:
  1. You don't necessarily need different sizes/capacities for different days of your period.
  2. No string hanging out.
  3. You only have to pack one thing when you travel, not a whole box.
  4. You can wear the cup before your period starts to avoid a surprise.
  5. You can swim, do yoga, trapeze, whatever you want with a cup.
  6. No waste.
  7. No more running out of supplies--so no more trips to buy more.
  8. Some cups have measuring lines so you can actually measure how much blood you are losing.
  9. No risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  10. They don't dry you out like tampons do.
  11. They don't stink like tampons.
If you are skeeved out by the whole idea or it isn't for you I understand. I'm skeeved out by reusable pads and they definitely aren't for me, my deluge, and my love of travel.

Fleurcup: my goldilocks cup.
Today I came across this indigogo campaign and I'm going to donate. Please consider donating so that a girl  in Kenya can have a cup and go to school. Thanks.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or email me. I'm finally done with this long post.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shoe Dichotomy

I have a shoe obsession, yet I love being barefoot. I love sexy wedges, but don't wear mine much. I have nice tennies, but would much rather work out barefoot. I'm all for the barefoot shoe movement, and now I have a pair of my own thanks to some Amazon money (Thanks Ainsmar!).

I got a pair of Merrell Vapor Glove running shoes even though I never run. I wore them for the first time last week on an outing to Ikea and the outlet mall. I could feel rocks and stuff through the shoe, but I survived. After a few hours my feet were sore and my right ankle hurt. I was expecting some soreness as I got used to them. I've been wearing them since and I haven't had any problems. These shoes are so lightweight and comfortable that I forget I'm wearing them--and I don't automatically kick them off as soon as I enter the house--like I do with all my other shoes.

I know Ross would prefer it if I wore heels all the time, but these are so comfy!

Bangkok at Night

I'm winding up the photos from Thailand with these night shots of the Bangkok skyline that Ross took. Yes, Ross!

I enjoyed Thailand. I didn't really like Bangkok-it's just big and smelly and smoggy. The tigers were the best part. If I go to Thailand again I'd like to visit the Northern part.

I don't know where we will go next, but I'm stoked about New Zealand 2016. I want to celebrate my real birthday bungee jumping, caving, swimming with dolphins, or soaking in hot springs. I don't know why, I'm just attracted to New Zealand.

Prairie Dog?

So we saw this prairie dog in Chinatown in Bangkok. Ross stopped because he saw a policeman taking a photo of something with his cell phone. Yeah, this is so strange, and so wrong. And yes, he's wearing a Hello Kitty hat. Totally bizarre.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wat Traimit and Chinatown

We went to Wat Traimit to see the largest solid gold Buddha. He was big and shiny. The temple was really neat. Then we walked to Chinatown and just wandered around a lot.

There were a lot of medical shops in Chinatown. I took photos of dried lizards, snakes, and these dried sea horses.

Ross watched some guys play Chinese chess.

We ate some street food in Chinatown. This was our chef. We had fried noodles, with a fried egg on top--smothered in chicken, vegetables, and gravy.

Ruins of Ayutthaya

We visited two areas of Ayutthaya with ruins. We saw the famous Buddha head that is cradled by the roots of a tree.
We saw many, many Buddhas. Many of them were missing their heads or other parts. When invaders came in they tried to destroy the Buddhas. Why can't people just get along? I did not pose with any of the Buddhas. I think it is disrespectful. We saw one lady posing behind a headless/armless Buddha--putting her head in arms in place. That's tacky.

Seeing the ruins at sunset was spectacular.

Bang Pa In

On a sweltering day we visited Bang Pa In, the King's Summer Palace.
There were many topiaries  shaped like animals.
We really liked the Chinese Mansion. Built of teak, it was nice and cool inside. I was super impressed with a camel bone carving that was displayed in the mansion. Photographs were not allowed in that area. I wanted a postcard--but dumb people didn't have one. I can't even find a photo of it online.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Star Meat

What is STAR backwards? Yeah....That's star meat.
The tails were disgusting. The whole thing was disgusting. Flies everywhere. I didn't try it. If I'm ever in prison camp, and I'm desperate, I'll eat rat. Otherwise, no.

These barbecued quail were so gross. Flies climbing on them. And I saw a grasshopper in one of them.

Apparently that morning the hotel staff was cooking cicada and some people tried it. We missed it. That's something I would have tried.

Thailand, Spelunking

We had a second free day--a break from the tour group. I wanted to go see some famous waterfalls, but decided a day of rest was in order. After breakfast with our new buddies Renee and Rose we chilled.  Rose doesn't like boat rides, and since the only way to leave the hotel was on a speed boat they opted to also have a day of rest. Then we ran into them on the way to the cave close to the hotel.

We took a lovely walk to the back of the property, paid our entry fees, then followed our guides up, up, up a set of stairs to the cave entrance. At the top of the stairs we were instructed to "Sit Down!" After a brief rest our guides led us through the caves.

None of the photos do the cave justice. The cave was cool, but very humid. Water was dripping in some areas. The girls pointed out different rock formations that looked like certain a monkey or crocodile teeth. The younger girl kept singing "wash yo heeee-aa," which was so cute. (She meant watch your head.)

Bats call the cave home and we saw many of them. They were large--much larger than the Mexican Free Tail bats we have here in Austin.

Here is Rose posing with our two adorable guides. Ross wanted to take them home. He's a sucker for little girls. I know that might sound creepy, but sometimes he just wishes he had a daughter.

Here is a video that shows the bats.

Garage Insulation Part 2, The Door

So the second part of the insulation plan was putting styrofoam in the garage door panels.
Here are the 8 foam boards on top of dad's car. We taped the boards together and strapped them to the car. We didn't drive over 40 miles per hour because we didn't want the boards to flip up.
Here is dad cutting the boards to the correct height. While he was doing that I glued two cut boards together.
Dad did most of the liquid nail squiggles on the garage door and shoved the boards into place. I trimmed the boards if they needed to be a little narrower. The boards snapped into place and we decided we didn't need to add screws to hold the foam in.
Here are three panels with the insulation in place. We did all 16 panels and covered the windows. I can tell a difference now. I think our cars will be a lot more comfortable now and my laundry soap will stay liquid.

Now Ross and I need to cover that hole in the ceiling.

Thailand: River Resort Paradise

We had to take a boat to get to our riverside hotel. It was like a little piece of paradise. Each step revealed a new, sweet smell--in contrast to Bangkok.

The hotel had extensive grounds that included an herbal garden, many jack fruit trees, pineapples, a diversity of flowers, citrus trees, and lots of wildlife too.

Thailand: Floating Market and Fruit List

So March 1st was a bunch of tourist traps, including a coconut sugar place and the floating market. Our crappy tour guide didn't do a good job explaining what was going on. We took a speed boat from one end of the floating market to the other. We ended up shopping by walking along the market rather than floating by--which would have been cool. Lunch wasn't provided, so we got a bunch of little things from street vendors. It was all good except the mango smoothie--the mango wasn't ripe.
Ross was thrilled that we found a vendor with Khanom Thuay--a coconut milk custard. It was yummy.

So this boat was at the first place we "shopped." I bought some mango from the vendor.

We ate a lot of fruit on our trip including: mangosteen, mango, coconut, ladyfinger bananas, fried bananas, guava, dragon fruit, longan, lychee, pineapple (lots and lots of pineapple), cantaloupe, watermelon, durian (in cookie form), pomegranate (fresh squeezed juice), rose apple, orange (juice), raisins, papaya, and rambutan.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Critter Spotting: Thailand

So we saw lots of critters in Thailand including: cats, dogs, a rat, whatever this boar-looking thing is, peacocks, cranes, herons, a water monitor, a bunny, a duck, chickens, pigs, water buffalo, tigers, bats, lizards, geckos, cows, a turkey, goats, elephants, deer, fish, eel (in a fish tank), baby bears, lots of butterflies, other hoof stock, and lots of other birds and insects.

Best Birthday Ever, The Topper

So after riding elephants we went to eat on the River Kwai, which means River River--the way chai tea means tea tea. It was a tourist trap place, but the food was fine (although we didn't trust them when they said some of the stuff was beef.)

The story of the Burmese-Thai railroad is sad. The bridge over the the River Kwai is a reminder of the depressing story. We saw the bridge, we walked a little on the bridge, I was done. I did take this photo of a towering Guanyin statue at the Chinese Buddhist temple across the river.

On the drive back to Bangkok I was still pumped with adrenaline and declared it the best birthday ever. I said that if I could have cake it would just push everything over the top. When we got back to Bangkok I felt exhausted and filthy. We showered and then the doorbell rang--yes, the hotel room had a doorbell! Two giggly young men came in with a birthday cake, card, and little present. I almost cried. Here I was expecting to get a slice of cake from 7-11 or the bakery in the mall, and the hotel brought me my very own birthday cake to my room. That topped off the best birthday ever.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Best Birthday Ever, Elephant Riding

After the explosion of tigers we went and rode elephants. I'm glad we did it. It was just us, the elephant, and the elephant handler going through the jungle. Apparently while we were out on our walk two tour buses full of people came, rode, and went.

The coolest part was when the handler stopped to water the elephant. He gave her a bucket full of water, she sucked some up in her trunk then put it in her mouth and swallowed it. Then he just gave her the water hose and she shoved it into her mouth with her trunk and gulped down the water periodically.
I got to ride on the neck for a while. Elephants aren't soft. The skin is super thick and rough. The hairs are short and stiff.
Many of the elephants in the camp had pink spots that made them even cuter than just-grey elephants. In this photo the elephants were lining up to be fed by the tourists.

After our ride they gave us some watermelon and water. Oh, and we were totally suckered into buying a photo--of us in the water with the elephant. As part of the elephant-walking circuit they walk through the river. Sometimes the elephants suck up water and spray the tourists. Our elephant was nice and sprayed the water off to the side.

Garage Insulation Part 1, The Attic

As a break from Thailand I'll tell you about this week's project: the garage. My parents are here. My dad and I made a plan to insulate the garage. The point of the garage is to have a nice, comfortable car when you decide to leave the house.  Our garage gets too cold in the Winter and too hot in the Summer. When it is cold out my laundry soap gels up!
We bought some AttiCat insulation and brought it home with my dad's car.
The crazy hose and box comprise the blower machine. My dad fed the insulation into the blower and I waddled around the attic to spread out the insulation.
Here is how it looked at the end. Nice and fluffy--and pink, but the flash washed out the color.
Uh, at the very start I put my foot through the dry wall in the ceiling. I just wasn't thinking. Thankfully, just my leg went through.

It took us longer to go get the supplies and return the blower than it did to actually put in the insulation. I was only up in the attic for an hour. I sure did feel sore the next day though!

Now I just have to cover up the hole.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tiger Temple Part 6, The Largest Tigers

So we had an opportunity to pose with a four year old male tiger. The hands in this photo are because I decided to lean over. I wasn't going to touch his head, but they freaked (and rightly so). No matter how many times they gave us safety instructions I think my brain had melted with those baby tigers and I just wanted to cuddle 'em all.

So after our final posed photos they corralled us in with a rickety chain link fence and the crazy tiger man pictured above exercised the tigers. He yelled at them. He rode them. He chased them. He hung boxes over their heads to get them to jump. One tiger would jump off the rock structure in the middle of the water area down into the water. Sometimes the volunteers also wedged a stick with a dangling "toy" on the top of the mushroom structure. One tiger jumped up, grabbed at the toy, but it didn't budge. He ended up falling and smacking the packed dirt--on his side. It was loud and looked painful.

When the crazy tiger guy declared exercise time over the tigers ran out of the area and were led away.

We endured the blazing sun to walk along the sky path to see more tigers. They have 128 tigers in all. We did not see the 2 lions they have. They also now have two rescue baby moon bears. They have a lot of hoofstock and an aviary on the property as well. We heard the tigers roaring. That seemed to trigger the peacocks. We made our way back toward the exit and found Jackie. He loaded us up and took us on our next adventure.