How to Shop for a Mattress

K, so this title is a little misleading.  There should be a question mark after “Mattress.”  I don’t know how to shop for a mattress.  I need help.

Ever bought a mattress?

Ever bought one and wish you could jump on a plane, find the person who would create such a torture device and punch them in the eyeball?

When my hunky hubs and I got hitched we slept on either my old mattress or his old mattress for the first 2 ½ years.  His was older and kind of lumpy and mine was memory foam (which I loved but him not so much).

Plus, both mattresses were queen sized which really isn’t big enough for a former football playa and another person of any size bigger than a newborn baby.

Needless to say, we decided it was time for a “real” mattress.

We had visions (fantasies, really) of walking into our bedroom and seeing a beautiful, big bed calling softly, “Rick, Erica, you’re about to have the best night of sleep ever… Remember the Venetian Hotel in Vegas???  Remember how you slept beautifully all night and woke up feeling rejuvenated?  That’s about to happen again!”

No one warned us that mattress shopping is more frustrating than buying a car.  And just about as expensive.

We spent hours online researching brands and types of mattresses.  We went to mattress stores.  Huge, big rooms filled with nothing but mattresses.  If anything should help us figure this out, it should be huge, big rooms filled with nothing but mattresses.

Ever tried shopping at a store filled with beds while trying to keep 2 kids from jumping on them?

{Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.}

We talked to friends who had recently purchased mattresses… get a pillow top, get this brand, that brand, get a Sleep Number, don’t get a Sleep Number, get a Tempurpedic, get a Beautyrest… I thought my brain would explode.

We finally went to Macy’s, tried out a few mattresses (iffya know whatti mean) (j/k) (or am I?) and settled on a pillow top king-sized mattress.

It was delivered and we were SO EXCITED to finally experience a night of good sleep.  The mattress was the perfect combination of soft but firm.  Like the perfect parent.

But like the perfect parent, the perfect mattress is, too, a unicorn.

We had 90 days to return the mattress if we weren’t satisfied.  I’m preeetty sure that we decided there was a problem on day 91.

First we noticed our bed was beginning to look like a choppy ocean.  Flat-dip-flat-dip-flat.  We would get in the bed and both roll into our respective dips.  Not sexy.

The only thing that bed said to us was, “Hey, you picked me.  I’m all you got so let’s du dis.”  Apparently we purchased the My Cousin Vinny Mattress.

Rick was already talking about getting a new one.  WE JUST SPENT A SMALL FORTUNE ON THIS THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My back ached.  My shoulders hurt.  My neck was stiff.  How is this possible?

I was determined to make it work.  I researched the issue and discovered it’s common with pillow tops, especially king-sized pillow tops.  And the issue is so common that there’s business in creating products that will “fix” the dips.

Hey, I just spent all my money on this thing.  I don’t have $150 to fork over to you for a “fix”.

One blog I read said that the manufacturer will refund your money if the dips are greater than 2 inches.  How am I supposed to measure that?  Stick a ruler in the dip and try to line it up with the flat part?  I can assure you that the dips are greater than 2 inches.  But I’m not going to try to measure it.

Another blog I read said to stuff flat pillows under the mattress where the dips are.

So that’s where we are.

It worked for a little while.  But now it’s not working any longer.

As it stands, we will be buying another mattress soon.  Probably a Sleep Number.  Maybe.


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OrangeTheory. Period.

Over the past few years I’ve seen these OrangeTheory places popping up all over Atlanta.  Usually there’s also a certified sign tosser showing off her mad skills on the side of the road with an OrangeTheory sign outside the locations to cause wrecks attract customers.

I had no idea what OrangeTheory was until my neighbor, Moet, told me about it.

I thought maybe it was a new cult.  That’s the thought that always pops into my brain first when I see a new establishment but don’t know what it is… I think I’ve watched too much Dateline.  No, that’s not possible.

It sounded cool!  A group fitness gym that guides you through pre-set workouts with an instructor.  You show up, get a heart monitor, go into the fitness room, and get ready to work.

Full disclosure, I’m a female meathead.  I love working out.  I love challenging myself and beating other people internally competing against other people.  If the guy beside me does 30 pushups, I’ll do 50 and laugh.  If the chick beside me does 100 crunches, I’ll do 200 and laugh.  If it’s just me, I’ll work until I hurt and do 10 more and cry.  It’s how I relieve stress and center myself.  I’ve done power yoga, body building, step, weight lifting, boxing, tai chi, “normal” yoga, boot camp, running; you name it, I’ve done it.

So, I was excited to try OrangeTheory with Moet and Candy.  We were all set for the 8:45 class Saturday morning.  I got up, got dressed in my cute little purple tank and white shorts, tied up my shoes and was off.  Moet drove cuz she just got a sweet new ride.

The class was pretty full.  I got signed in, got my heart monitor hooked up, and walked in the fitness room.  The room is broken into 3 sections: the treadmills, the rowing machines, and free weights.  Half the class started on the treadmills and the other half started on the weights/rowers.

I jumped on a treadmill.  One thing I noticed right away was that there were monitors positioned on the walls with everyone’s screen name listed in a square.  Your square is either in the green, orange, or red zone depending on how hard you’re working.  For every minute you spend in orange or red zones you get a point.   So that tells me instantly how hard I need to work to win challenge myself.

The half of the class that started on the treadmills spent about 25 minutes there.  It goes by really quickly.  You choose a base speed that you’re comfortable at, then the instructor will signal you to get ready to push yourself.  Your “push” speed is just a little faster to get your heart rate up.  Next is your “all out” speed.  This should make you very uncomfortable but you don’t stay there long.  For those of you who know the “lingo”, it’s interval training.

All was great.  I was in my groove, I was running comfortably on the treadmill, then I noticed something.  I’m terrified of falling off of a treadmill.  I’m convinced that at some point I’ll trip over my feet, go flying off the back, and possibly take out some unsuspecting people on my way down.  This was different.

Remember those white shorts I mentioned?  Well, I started my period.  In the middle of my workout.  Totally unprepared.  Remember that thing about sometimes hating my female form?  Ugh.  Usually I have a warning!!!  What tha face, body!?

So you know what I did?  Nothing.  I pretended like everything was normal.  Luckily, it wasn’t horribly noticeable.  We were all working hard and I wasn’t bending over at that point so it was ok.  Plus, if anyone had said something stupid I would have just yelled at them for being perverted and told management that I felt harassed.  #problemsolved

Who knows, I could be Facebook shamed soon.  If so, I’ll do what everyone else does and just deny it.

“Oh, no, that’s totally not me.  Can’t you tell that someone put my face on someone else’s body???”

But then I had to get off the treadmill.

After 25 minutes or so it was time to switch with the other half of the class.  This next 25 or so minutes was weights/rowing.  Trickier for me in my new predicament.  So I did what any self-respecting female who just started her period in the middle of a workout class would do… I stayed in the back of the group!

It definitely helped that the room was dimly lit.

We did squats (ugh… of course we would), lateral raises, and 100 meter row for as many sets as we could until the instructor signaled that it was time for us to go to the next set.  Then we did ab work and TRX band work, which I’d never done before but really liked.

The class is right at an hour long.  It was high energy, fun, and I felt like I got a really good workout in, despite my, um, condition.

I believe that as long as you are working on getting or staying fit, you should do whatever gets you motivated and keeps you moving.

In my opinion, OrangeTheory is perfect for those of you who may be just starting out or who need a group setting to keep you interested.  The format the always the same but the workout is always different.

Also, it’s not as “raw” as Crossfit, which can be intimidating and scary for some people (not to mention you can really hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing).

At the end of the class you get a summary of your workout emailed to you so you can see how hard you kicked ass.

OrangeTheory has various monthly membership packages or you can get class bundles.  If you aren’t ready to commit to a monthly membership just yet, you can get a pack of 10 classes just to see how it goes.

I’m a little weary of fitness fads but I think OrangeTheory has what it takes to stick around for a while.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!  But take a tampon, just in case. Unless you have a penis. You know what, bring one anyway.

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5 Lessons We Can All Learn From Pirates

In today’s edition of Tangent Tuesday, I give you:

Lessons We Can All Learn From Pirates

First, let me clarify: I mean “pirates” as in the romanticized Jack Sparrow-style pirates.  I do NOT mean the present-day-terroristic-murderous-“I de cap-tin now” type.  In my opinion, those pirates should be called something else.  Maybe “terrorists”.  Or “dead”.  I digress.

I’ve always been fascinated with pirates.  When my hubs and I got married I tried to convince him we needed to be married by a pirate at Treasure Island in Vegas.

He didn’t agree.

{My second choice was Elvis but he didn’t like that idea, either.  We did, however, get swindled out of $5 from a little person who I think tried to dress as Elvis… #lessonlearned}

Pirates were entrepreneurial rock stars before their time.

Trailblazers, rebels, and party animals.  No!  Not Mark Zuckerberg or Axl Rose.  I’m talking about PIRATES!

“Finders Keepers!” 

Pirates were opportunists.  They pillaged from the seas.  They saw a security weak spot and took advantage of it.  I’m not saying we should go steal everyone’s shat.  I’m saying take advantage of opportunities!   Seize that golden ship before it sails away!  Then save 10%, give 10%, and buy lots of Louboutins with the rest.

Long hair don’t care! 

Do you think they cared what people thought?  No. “Well, Long Beard told Captain Morgan that Red Beard had a serious case of body odor.” Red Beard would have made both of them walk the plank fo sho.  How’s that for caring.

Do you think pirates would have adhered to a dress code?  Balls, no!  “Hey, uh, Mr. Blackbeard, I need to speak with you about the length of your beard.”  Mr. Blackbeard would definitely toss that poor rule enforcer off the side of the ole ship.

{But for a sec, imagine that you are an HR Manager for a Pirate ship… that would be hur-lar-ree-us.}  

If they wanted a red beard, they had a red beard.  If they wanted a black beard, they had a black beard.  If they wanted shells in their hair, they threw a shell in it.

They each had a personal brand. 

Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn didn’t start that fad.  Pirates did.  They had clever yet descriptive names, unique costumes (though I’m sure they weren’t costumes back then, just clothes but whatever).  They even had cool lingo. So cool that there is an entire day dedicated to talking like them.

They are proof we can work from paradise.

Pirates were the first to prove you could be productive while working from home. On the beach. Or even IN THE OCEAN.  Haven’t we all dreamed of packing up and moving to paradise?  Maybe working remotely or opening a beach bar… or an airbrush T-Shirt shack… Oh, not the shack?  Yeah, me either.

They encouraged drinking on the job. 

What’s there not to like about that one???  You know that, hands down, if you’re comparing jobs with someone, the person who is allowed to drink on the job will ALWAYS win.  Talk about an employee perk.  I’m 100% certain I would be a much happier employee with a little rum in my whatever it is I’m drinking.  Or eating.  Or, heck, just give me the bottle of rum.

So there you have it.  I love pirates (the fun, Disney kind).  And I’m pretty sure you do now, too.

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Why God Created Spiders

It’s a fact: spiders bring people together.

Last Saturday my dear friend Annie P. and I embarked on a whirlwind adventure.  We signed up for an improv class at Whole World Theater!

My lovely mom drove an hour to watch our babies so my hubs could study for his Boards re-certification and I could learn how to be spontaneously funny.

By the time the class started it seemed we had already lived through an entire improv comedy sketch.
It started at 3pm and was about 20 minutes away so of course I left an hour early BECAUSE I WAS SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!  AP lives close to the theater so I swung by to pick her up.  Our first hurdle: getting her in my vehicle.

{Wow, I just sounded like a creepy serial killer.}

E’s Yukon: “Command, please.”
E: “Call Anne on mobile.”
E’s Yukon: “Calling Lauren Nieman.”

Ugh.  I’ll just send a text.  Dam Bluetooth technology.

Soon she was in my car and we were on our way.  YAY!!!!!

I’ve been to this theater many times but the last time was about 10 years ago.  My memory was a little rusty.  Apparently, Anne’s was, too.  So we may have driven past it a few times… what?

Eventually we found our intended location and parked conveniently in the lot beside the building.  We excitedly made our way inside (that’s what he said) the theater.  Before we could say anything, the girl at the front desk was mid-freak-out.

There was an S-P-I-D-E-R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I have 2 phobias.  Pretty serious ones.  One so bad it may land me in the psych ward.  However, spiders aren’t one of them.  Luckily, Annie P doesn’t have a spider phobia either.  And she stepped up big time.

{For one, she has a much better line of sight than I do.  I couldn’t see over the counter.}

Annie P saves the day.  I thought the girl behind the counter (well, at this point she was across the room) was going to kiss her.  Unfortunately, she didn’t.  But I think there will forever be an unbreakable bond between that girl and Anne.

This one instance wouldn’t prove that spiders create forever friends.  However, two cases of such bonds may prove more than just a coincidence.

About a month ago a co-worker whom I hadn’t yet met came to my office to ask a question.  I stood up to shake his hand and while I was speaking to him I noticed a small spider on his shoulder.  Without thinking, I gently brushed it off and said, “Not that you need me to brush your shoulders off, but you had a small spider on your shirt.”

Thus began the best, most impressive heeby-jeeby freak-out dance I’d ever witnessed from a grown-ass man.  From that day on, he randomly appears and smiles at me.  He rarely says much.  Just stares and smiles.  It’s like he’s now indebted to me forever for saving his life from a 1 centimeter-sized spider.

See?  Spiders DO bring people together.  Even if it is awkward and weird.

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Don’t Wake the Day Dreamer

Every once in a while (probably four times a day) I catch myself day dreaming.  {The rest of my day is spent not realizing I’m in a dream-like state in the daytime}.  What do I think of when I’m lost in day dreams?  Funny you should ask:

What if Joan Jett never cracked the music business and had to get a “real” job?  Would she eventually concede to the norms of society and wear cardigans and drive a minivan and volunteer to be the team mom for her kids’ soccer teams?  What would her job be?  Would she work at a bank?  Or would she be exactly as she is now and just not care?  Would she bust up in her kids’ school wearing chains, tats, and feathered hair?  Gosh, I hope so.

What if unicorns were real?  Would they use their horns as a defense mechanism?  Would they try to stab people with it?  That would be a bad dose of reality.

Doc: So, what brings you in to the ER today?  I’m going to assume it’s that gaping hole in your abdomen.

Me: I got stabbed by a unicorn.

Doc: Huh.  I thought unicorns were nice.

Me: Yeah.  Me, too.

Would you gain magical powers if you were stabbed by a unicorn and survived?  That might make it worth the pain…

What if the custom used for naming babies and pets was to allow kids to pick the name?  My little sister would be David Cholesterol.  My son’s name would be Flame.  My niece’s name would be Little Baby.  Our female Lab’s name would be Mr. Farty Pants.

If you notice I’m deep in thought, please interrupt me.  Because chances are, I’m not solving for Global Warming or the world’s energy crisis.  I’m considering a world in which dragons are the main mode of transportation.

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Mom’s Life Lessons

my beautiful mom and me

my beautiful mom and me

It’s a fact, I have the BEST mom.

I was lucky to have had a childhood filled with love.  All families are crazy.  That’s what makes them family.  But I can honestly say that throughout my entire childhood my mom put her family above everything else, crazy and all.

When I became a mom I had never really been around a baby before, at least not enough to know what it would be like to raise one.  I should have been terrified.  But I wasn’t.  I felt prepared.  I felt like a pro.  And that is ONLY because I had the best teacher in the world.

Without realizing it, I’d just graduated from Vicki’s Mom School.  Looking back, here’s what I learned:

LAUGH (cuz she’s going to)

Always laugh.  Laugh at yourself, laugh with your kids, watch funny movies, find the fun and funny in the tough situations.  Growing up, if I was acting a fool and tripped, first she made sure I was ok then she laughed (ok, there may have been a time or two that the order was switched).  And I laughed.  We were too busy laughing to be embarrassed.

JUST TRY (then try again)

I wasn’t the best at anything growing up.  I wasn’t a star athlete or the most popular.  I failed at some things that I really wanted to excel at.  There were times I studied so much I barely slept and still didn’t do well on a test.  But, no matter what, my mom always told me that as long as I did MY best I succeeded.  Work harder to do better next time.  When I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in the 7th grade, she took me to gymnastics and cheer camp.  And I realize now that she lived that philosophy as a mom.  She always did her best and every decision she made and action she took as a mom was out of love for us.


I used to get so AGGRAVATED when she would tell me to go fix my hair or iron my clothes or put on makeup.  But it only takes one bad picture to see what she meant.  It was her way of saying “always have on clean underwear”.

BE YOURSELF (just don’t get tattoos)

I can’t tell you how often I was sent to the office in high school for my choice of clothing.  I wasn’t showin’ my hoo-ha or anything (I don’t think).  But I pushed the limits.  And she let me.  My mom let me express myself.  Piercings, she didn’t bat an eye.  Crazy hair colors, she didn’t care.  Buuuuut I learned that she isn’t a fan of my many tats.  Limit.  Found.  She still loves me, though.


But if I did (and I have), she’d still love me.


She didn’t expect us to be treated better than anyone else but she sure as HELL wasn’t going to allow us to be treated worse.  If injustice was afoot, Vicki was on it.  A few teachers will probably never forget her.  Beverly Goldberg would have been her BFF, for sure.

She was a single mom.  She worked fulltime.  She had 2 kids who were involved in sports and activities.  My mom was there for us 100% of the time.  We weren’t raised by baby sitters or grandparents or the chain-smoking neighbor with rollers in her hair.  I don’t know how she did it.  But I am so, so grateful.

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