How to Clean Out Siri’s Ears.

So I’m a complete idiot.

As I told you yesterday, I spent a year trying to decode Siri’s ridiculous reminders – and it turns out, it was all my fault.

I realized why Siri couldn’t understand me just a few hours before reader Sheri commented the solution. So Sheri, I just want you to know that you’re way smarter than I am because you realized it in the time it took you to read the post, and it took me only 365 days to solve the puzzle.

If any of you remember from my Poo Emoji post (as Sheri did), I use a male Australian Siri. And, as it turns out, there are two ways to set up a male Australian Siri:

1) You can change the actual language of your phone to English (Australia), which is what I formerly did, or

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2) You can change the accent of Siri to Australian, which is what I should have done.

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(In my defense I don’t think these features were so clearly separated a year ago when I fell in love with my male Australian Siri.)

The difference is that option one actually changes the language of your phone to Australian English, which means that Siri was trying to listen to me with an Australian Accent (hence why he spelled “pajamas” “pyjamas” and how he somehow pulled the word “Mandaribba” from me saying “Neurosurgery.”) With option two, he’s listening with American English ears and just speaking back to me with an Australian accent.

I tested it by dictating a text message to my Mom in both options. I spoke quickly and clearly, and the only difference is that I said “Kids” with setting one, and “Children” with setting two:

Setting one – the wrong setting:

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Setting two – the correct setting, with 100% accuracy in listening:

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So there you go.

Unfortunately, this means I won’t have a follow-up post of insane reminders next year.

But fortunately, this means I will actually understand all of my reminders from now on, and will have to apologize to less of you for forgetting that I promised to Mandaribba your pyjamas in the mail.

The Delight of Paper.

So my neighbor Renee (of “Fall Craft During Labor!” fame) and I have been hanging out a lot – she had a baby, I had a wreck, we’re equally disabled, and so we sit and talk while our children entertain each other and her new baby sleeps on me (because we’ve bonded and all.)

It’s a good arrangement.

Something about hanging out with me, though, causes weird things to happen to people, and she’s had quite the bloggable moments in the past month or so. She told me that I was welcome to write about them, but only if she didn’t become a character on my blog that everyone thought was crazy.

So we’ll refer to Renee from here on out as Not-Crazy-Renee.

So, for Not-Crazy-Renee’s first tale, I share with you a transcription of a particularly desperate “I’m Having a Bad Day” Saturday morning text stream to me. For reference, Loulie is almost 5 (and Noah’s future wife, per Noah), and Jonas is 1.5. The day before, I had been at her house packaging a large Picture Birmingham note card order, and had left behind some trash in her trash can – trash that happened to ruin her Saturday morning…

It all started with the note card inserts that Jonas dug out of the trash last night. Loulie apparently became very attached to these cards – something I should have deduced based on the random, half-crumpled pile they were left in on my kitchen counter.

Which I of course, returned to the trash.

So this morning…

There was TOTAL AND UTTER DESPAIR that the cards were missing.

“My whole plan is ruined!!! My whole plan is ruined!!”

Okayyyyy…I didn’t know what this plan was but it’s obviously important. So I opened the trash can, and there they were right on top, still in a random, half-crumpled pile, but totally salvageable.

But seeing them (back) in the bin was totally traumatic, on par with finding the severed head of a beloved childhood pet in the trash heap.

I rationally suggested she just pull them out. But she was well beyond reason at that point, and the hysterics were spreading to my other children. So I told her to take it to her room until she was either a) no longer upset, or b) willing to do something about it. Because standing two feet from the trash can wailing was not an acceptable option.

So she went. And I guess I didn’t get enough sleep last night because…

She came back shortly after, attitude not adjusted…Started whining again…And I lost it.

“Go back to your room.”
(She began inching, whining, barely moving toward her room.)
“Go back to your room!”
(Her slow whiny slug’s pace did not get any faster.)
“GO BACK TO YOUR ROOM!!”
(Complete, bug eyed psycho mom mode now.)
I stood up…And start CHASING her back to her room, SHOUTING, “GO BACK TO YOUR ROOM!! RUN!!! RUN!!!”

Not-Crazy-Renee later described her facial expression, as she yelled for her child to run, as this:

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You can totally relate to Not-Crazy Renee, right? I certainly can.

So. Since the whole paper disaster was my fault, and we were having them and some other people over later that afternoon for a football party, I felt like this was my opportunity to make it up to Loulie (and more importantly to Not-Crazy-Renee.) I could give Loulie a new paper product – a NEW and IMPROVED paper product that actually had to do with her, and she could play with those.

So, I dug back into my mind from my dweeby childhood, when my favorite game to play was office and I hosted an office spend-the-night party every year for my birthday (I have no idea why I grew up to become an accountant). And I created something for the children that my Mom used to make for me and my friends: personalized checkbooks.

Then I decided to take it a step further and also make them prescription pads – to contribute to a proper game of doctor.

(But not until after I checked to make sure I couldn’t be arrested for making fake prescription pads.)

I found/made prescription and check templates and added the kid’s names and fake addresses on the template and printed them out. (I was going to use real addresses but I know kids. And I knew these pieces of paper would get scattered all over the state of Alabama. And people didn’t need to know their addresses. And also I figured if the doctor’s address was “Second Star to the North”, I was less likely to get arrested for prescription forgery.)

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Then I had an excuse to use my paper cutter – always a good day.

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Also, the pile of mess was very satisfying.

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After cutting and lining up loose checks and, separately, prescriptions for each child coming over, I poured glue on a piece of paper, then dipped the top edge into the glue until it was well coated. This, friends, is how you make a notepad.

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Then, to make sure that they dried in an appropriate notepad-ish fashion, I put them in a heavy book overnight (Teacher’s Edition Textbooks work perfectly.)

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(Also note the glue-catching paper on the floor below them. An important part of the process.)

Later, Chris asked me, “Where’d you learn how to make a notepad? Pinterest?”

“FROM MY CHILDHOOD, BABY. My Mom was better than Pinterest!”

The next morning, I had a beautiful stack of prescription pads and checks.

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(To give the pads a little stiffness, I cut and added Manila folder to the back of each pad. A completely unnecessary step and also they didn’t line up right with the checks, so I should’ve just let the children have limp checkbooks.)

I had told Noah the night before that I was making a surprise for him and all his friends for the football party, but the next morning when I showed him the beautiful paperwork I did on his behalf, he was mad.

“That’s not fun at all! You said you were making something FUN!”

Naturally, I had a not-crazy-Renee moment on the boy and told him he WOULD have fun or he could FORGET ever having fun again.

But later that afternoon, on his own accord, he ended up being the one to enjoy the note pads the most. So Not-Crazy moments do some good, after all.

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In fact, he’s still giving me prescriptions daily for all of my various ailments. This one is a prescription for…my eyes.

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SERIOUSLY PEOPLE IT’S FOR MY EYES. Geez.

Since Noah enjoyed them so much, he asked me if I could please make him Police Officer Traffic Tickets for his Batman Birthday Party, and I was happy to oblige. I made this new template up late the night before his party,

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And then gave him a ticket to show him how to properly use it.

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And he loved it. But not as much as I loved all of my prescriptions for my eyes.

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If you would like to geekify your own children, I uploaded my templates for you. They’d make free and easy last minute stocking stuffers, and you can add your own children’s names to the checks and prescriptions with any photo editing software (although I’m not promising to be available for technical support at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve.) To download them in .jpg, click here:

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To download them in .pdf, click here.

Just don’t throw any of the used ones away – or you, too, might have a Not-Crazy-Renee moment.

On Not Being Mostly Dead.

Being skewered, electrocuted, burned, suctioned, and scraped.

It’s what saved my life, or at least what gave me my life back.

Ten days ago, I couldn’t lift my arms without excruciating pain, I couldn’t pick up anything heavier than a couple pounds without my shoulders screaming at me, I had several nights where I didn’t sleep because there was literally no comfortable position, I had radiating pain all the way down my arms and to my fingertips, and I had been in nearly nonstop pain for four weeks.

As of today, I can hold my camera for an extended period of time, I can lift other moderately-sized things (but not the laundry basket. I may never be able to lift a laundry basket again. I need laundry service for life I’m sure of it.), I can sleep in multiple positions without too much pain, and most importantly, I can run. And it feels so amazing.

Now. It’s still a process and I still have ups and downs – and the one thing I still can’t do is sit upright with my feet on the ground for a long period of time. Such as yesterday, which started off completely exhilarating with a fantastic run and no pain, but ended in a good deal of pain and zero minutes of sleep after I had a two hour meeting. But sitting like that can be avoided more than you’d think, and overall, the trend is clearly toward less pain and more life, and my happiness level compared to a few weeks ago has skyrocketed.

And all because of being skewered, electrocuted, burned, suctioned, and scraped.

Not nearly enough people seem to know about the miraculous powers of Physical Therapy. I did, but only because of a couple prior running injuries. The miracles my PT had performed then, such as the time I hopped into his office on one foot while carefully balancing the other foot that was swollen to roughly the size of Australia and later walked out with zero swelling and hardly a limp, gave me confidence that he could help me get through this as well.

For the local people, my irreplaceable PT is Robert Funk at OnMark Physical Therapy in Moody. He’s a Muscle Miracle Worker and currently holds the title as My Favorite Person.

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I drive 20 minutes and go past multiple other Physical Therapy clinics to get to him because he’s the only one I would trust to skewer, electrocute, burn, suction, and scrape me.

Anyway.

Wrecks are funny – okay no they’re not funny at all. Wrecks are weird – you really have no idea how badly you’re hurt until a week or two later. I’m fairly certain that my brain only had a set number of receptors to process specific pains, and as we fixed the ones I identified, I just kept discovering new ones.

We started with my leg and neck, then moved on to my shoulders and arms. And, slowly, all of the body parts are starting to feel normal.

It’s a miracle I tell you.

But the methods to get to that miracle were nothing short of fascinating.

There’s electrocution, but probably most of you are familiar with that. The tens unit is strapped onto the most sore places to shock those muscles into submission. I find this process quite comforting and downright restful.

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The tens unit is paired with a heating pad that comes straight out of boiling water, which is also lovely – until the towels between me and the heating pad disintegrate.

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Thankfully, Robert’s assistants are always there, ready with fresh new towels.

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Next is the muscle scraping – a procedure called ASTYM that regenerates soft tissue – also relaxing and surprisingly effective.

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The suction cup is the newest tool in his arsenal, used to separate my soft tissues and help them heal. It kind of feels like being pleasantly pinched by rubber pliers.

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The massages are also quite fantastic, and always leave my sore shoulders and neck so, so happy.

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And then there are the needles. Also known as skewering, although I think perhaps I’ve been the only one using that term.

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I don’t mind needles. I never have. So when Robert asked if he could use the technique called Dry Needling on my tense muscles, I didn’t hesitate. Why not? Sticks and Stones can break my bones but needles can never hurt me.

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The actual insertion of said needles is undetectable. But when they do what they’re supposed to do and skewer the jammed muscle, it feels rather like a very pinpointed charley horse.

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You might also be interested to know that he uses his finger as a guide so that he (just barely) doesn’t stick the needle all the way through my leg. On my neck, he uses my shoulder blade to prevent puncturing a lung. He’s really quite thoughtful like that.

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But seriously. Those needles are stupendous. Just like a miracle covered in chocolate.

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Robert would find a lump in my neck or shoulders, stick a needle in it, and by the next day that lump was gone. He needled my shoulders four days in a row last week, and in one week, I went from nearly no pain-free arm movement to nearly complete pain-free arm movement, and from a sobbing, crying mess about my constant pain to an ecstatic, frenzied runner.

Since all of you are dying to watch, I had one of the technicians hold my phone one day for Periscope and saved the video just for you:

It’s downright fabulous to be in less pain, and I’m beyond happy to feel nearly normal most days, even though I’ve probably still got at least a few weeks to go in my therapy, and there are some things that are beyond even his ability to fix, like the damaged discs in my neck.

But life, oh life – it’s wonderful to have life again.

So if you have sore spots, please go get some holes poked in them. I promise you will feel like a new person.

Disclaimer: Although the diagrams are completely accurate, this post has not been approved by any medical professionals, including my physical therapist. But it should absolutely be considered professional, sound medical advice.