Sunday, January 27, 2008

a long week over

It's been a long week, but it seems everything is getting better. The water pipe is still holding. Molo has accepted living here and has stopped vomiting and yowling all night. He sleeps quietly on our bed ALL NIGHT without waking anyone. (Tess isn't happy that he's on the bed, but tough, he's quiet!) Even the outside temperatures have significantly increased. It was wonderful at work yesterday to go from wearing several layers with Carhartt bibs and coat and toe warmers in my boots to basking in the sun with only a sweatshirt!

I'm looking forward to a calm, quiet weekend...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

outcome (hopefully...)

So Gene and I played hooky from work to fix the broken water pipe. We got the kids off to school and Gene went to Menard's for supplies while I stayed home and cleaned cat vomit. Molo puked right in front of the middle wheel on our bed frame so when I moved the bed out I tracked chunks all over the floor. Then I had to keep rolling and tracking chunks to get all the nasty off the wheel. It was a wonderful time.

Gene's next two hours would be 100 times more "wonderful." He donned several layers of clothes and a rainsuit and descended into the scummy, spiderwebby depths of the crawl space. Or in our case, the belly crawl space. Yuck. We had walkie talkies (yes, I'm serious) so he could communicate when he wanted me to turn on/off the water or bring him a tool or (yes, I'm serious) a cup to pee in. I think I did my job really well. I mean, it was a little annoying to have to keep getting up from my computer or book to play gofer.

But seriously, Gene dug his way to the broken pipe and managed to repair it with some kind of putty despite the fact that it was right against another pipe. He then had to stand in the hole of the crawl space for 40 minutes while the putty cured because he was too filthy to come out. He was covered head to toe in mud. Because of the placement of the pipe, it was impossible for him to use the recommended gloves with the putty so his hands are covered in it. It will NOT come off! His hands are going to HURT tomorrow after the hours of scrubbing and picking he's put in today.

When the 40 minutes were up, I turned the water back on and... There was no leak!!! He fixed it!!! For now, we won't have to have a contractor come in and rip out our floors and pay thousands of dollars! It's almost 7:30pm and it's holding. He used the same putty on a pipe under the kitchen a couple years ago and it's still holding. Fingers crossed...

wretched cat and house

I've always been a dog person. I love that dogs want to go everywhere I do. I've taken dogs hiking and swimming and to the park. I've sat at the computer for endless hours with dogs curled at my feet. Dogs are great!

Then I had kids. Dogs knocked down Kaylin when she was just learning to walk, prompting Gene to call 911 (she was fine.) Dogs chewed her toys and dirty diapers. Dogs licked her bottles and pacifiers. Dogs were eventually moved outside (to the huge yard with access to the heated/AC garage.) I felt terrible about that move, but kids come before pets.

Over the past several years I've been learning to appreciate (gasp) cats. Cats require so much less attention and care. Cats can easily be left for a short weekend trip without having to be boarded or cared for. Litter boxes are gross, but easier than hunting around the yard. Cats don't crave attention like dogs, but it's very enjoyable when they decide to spend time with you. Working with tigers for the past year sealed the deal- cats are the pet of choice for me.

That is, until a few days ago when Molo came to stay. Molo's a nice enough cat. He's not mean or a biter. He's a yowler and a puker. Our family is making him miserable. Especially the kids. And our cat Tess. And Gene. And me. Yeah, he pretty much hates us all. Molo hides most of the day while the kids are around and then keeps me up all night with his gagging and puking and then with his yowling and hissing at Tess. When I manage to fall back asleep, he leaps his fat butt onto my stomach and startles me awake. Molo is not happy here. If he continues to vomit I'm going to have to take him to the vet. Fortunately, he's not dehydrated and he's fat enough that he can go a few days without eating. Molo's only supposed to be here for a week, but I'm afraid it may end up being longer. Much longer. Hopefully we'll adjust to each other...

We have a broken water pipe under the house. Gene managed to locate where it is last night and thinks he can fix it, but it will require him to either dig a "tunnel" through a mound of dirt while belly crawling in the disgusting crawl space or else rip up my brand new carpet and cut a hole in the floor of the playroom. Since he's pretty sure he can salvage the carpet, I think he's going to cut the hole in the floor. As long as the carpet's ok, this does sound like a much safer and better option. I called my boss last night and got the day off work to "help" him. (He wanted someone else here.) I'm sure it will be a lovely, fun-filled day listening to Gene complain about how much he hates this house and how he wants to move to an apartment. On the bright side, I will have time to move our bed so I can clean Molo's latest pile of puke! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Logan has a dream

Yesterday was Martin Luther King's birthday and Logan's teacher discussed Dr. King's dream speech with the four and five-year-olds. His "sunshine" (daily report) said that they then discussed their own "dreams."

Logan's dream?

"Batman. I want to be Batman."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Homework and Tigers

I really shouldn't complain about Kaylin's teacher and homework. She usually only assigns spelling and vocabulary words, with an occasional math worksheet or reading assignment thrown in. Homework rarely takes Kaylin longer than ten minutes and most nights she doesn't have any.

Lately, however, Mrs. G's been sending home these AWFUL sheets with a word search on one side and scrambled words on the other. I hate them because Kaylin hates them. They take her FOREVER to complete. She gets frustrated and bored and doesn't find them at all fun. I inevitably help her finish because I can't stay up late enough for her to finish by herself. Oh well, at least Mrs. G doesn't assign the STUPID coloring sheets Kaylin's 1st grade teacher so enjoyed... Coloring for homework? Pulleeeeeze!!!!

Yeah, I know, I've experienced NOTHING in the way of homework yet! I'm not looking forward to essays and reports and huge math assignments. At least my kids didn't go to my niece's preschool. Poor Sarah has to "help" three-yr-old Abbey make trees and collages and dioramas. What a Waste of Time!!!!

On to the tigers. I split the contents of a feather pillow into two paper lawn bags. I don't know how many ducks (yes, 100% duck feathers) died to fill this pillow, but I'm guessing about 12,000. One flattish rolled-up pillow contained the most unbelievable amount of feathers! Before they settled, the feathers filled HALF of each lawn bag. I bought two pillows, but decided that would be WAY too much mess to clean up afterward!

I took my lawn bags of feathers to the zoo on Monday (my day off) so I could spend as much time as I wanted watching the tigers and not have to worry about getting back to work. I placed the bags in the tiger yard and got ready outside with my video camera. Several of my coworkers came down to watch.

The tigers ran straight for the bags and ripped them open. When they pushed on the bags, feathers wafted out. When they grabbed the bags in their teeth and ran around the yard, feathers fell out in thick trails. Kyra finally dumped the contents of both bags and there were two huge mounds of feathers. It was HILARIOUS to watch and the tigers had a blast!

After about 15 minutes the humans were freezing and had to get back to work. The tigers and the tiger yard were both covered in feathers. It was a good time and definitely worth doing on my day off. I stayed a few more minutes but the tigers were ready to relax and lay in the feathers. My video is ok, but pretty shaky. I'm glad I took it.

This morning much of the tiger yard appeared to be covered in snow. I cleaned up the huge piles, but the trails and scattered feathers were frozen to the ground. I can't BELIEVE all the feathers came from one little pillow! I'm going to be cleaning feathers for weeks. Totally worth it :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

lofty goals

In the car the other day, Logan and I were discussing my job. He was teasing me about cleaning camel poop (he's majorly into the poop is funny stage) so I jokingly asked if he wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up. He very seriously replied "I'm going to work at the gas station."

This brought back memories of my teen years. One day my mom didn't realize my friend Tara was over and in the basement. I don't remember if it was report card day or what, but Mom came into the house hollering about my grades and my need for improvement. She went on for a while and finished with a screaming "Do you want to work at a gas station for the rest of your life?!?" Tara appeared practically bawling with laughter. Tara still occasionally teases me about WORKING AT A GAS STATION!!!

I was terribly curious why Logan was so positive he wanted to work at a gas station. His answer? Brownies. And candy. And slushies. Yeah. Maybe he'll get a discount!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

mmmm, veggies

Coinciding with the new year and not really a New Year's Resolution, I started a new diet. I am trying to control blood sugar and appetite (and just eat better,) but if I lose a few pounds in the process I won't complain.

I'm probably the hungriest person I know. I'm seemingly always STARVING. I also tend to have some blood sugar issues (especially at work) where I get the shakes and the sweats and if I don't eat IMMEDIATELY I feel faint and sick. I then have a huge energy crash after I eat and have to drag myself around for an hour. Anyway, I've been reading about glycemic index and bad carbs and good carbs, blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I was having a difficult time with my online research because, well, it was just so boring...

On New Year's Day Gene and I were watching some Discovery Channel show about the world's fattest man and what he was doing to lose weight. He was on the verge of having very dangerous bariatric surgery when a doctor stepped in and talked him into trying a gimmicky American diet (he's Mexican.) I started laughing about "The Zone" and how I was completely positive it would help him lose 1000 pounds. Riiiight. Then I started listening about the diet (yes, this show was essentially an hour-long infomercial) and I got suckered in.

The diet is all about balancing carbs, proteins and fat. It focuses on replacing bad carbs (bread, potatoes and candy) with good carbs (veggies and fruit.) It also is all about controlling blood sugar and appetite by eating the right foods in the right combinations at the right times. Wow. Exactly what I was looking for. The best part about the diet is that you can't ruin it by cheating. If you go out to eat or to a party, you just resume the diet at your next meal and get the same benefits.

I bought a Zone book, read it and decided to give the diet a shot. My primary concern was how it would affect my IBS (irritable bowel.) I'd always been told to eat lots and lots of whole grains and try to get as much whole grain fiber as possible. I knew I'd be getting lots of fruit and veggie fiber, but WHOLE GRAIN FIBER was driven into my head. I was worried I'd be in agonizing pain! I was also worried about all the veggies because in the past veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower caused me more pain and diarrhea than a greasy burger and fries!

I started the diet the evening of January 2nd. The next day at work I was a little disappointed I was still hungry BEFORE break time and then again before lunch time. However, I just felt a little hungry, I wasn't sweating and shaking and chowing on everything in sight to relieve my hunger. I also had tons of energy after lunch. I continued the diet. The next night I realized the most exciting benefit of the diet- my irritable bowel pain was GONE. For the first time in 8 or 9 years I had NO abdominal pain!

I've only been on the diet for 10 days, but I haven't had any "blood sugar attacks." The only time I've had any IBS pain was the day Gene and I went to Ikea I ate a Philly steak sandwich and a few fries. I paid for that :) Otherwise, I've had NO issues with all the veggies! I'm far less bloated and gassy than I was when I was eating whole grains. I'm definitely convinced that eating mega-amounts of fruits and veggies and cutting out the grains works for me!!! I eat egg white omelettes for breakfast, soy hot dogs for lunch and fish for dinner (not exclusively, that's just an example.) I eat tons of fruits and veggies at all three meals, plus snacks, and eat almonds and cashews for my fat when I don't get enough from cheese or olive oil.

I haven't weighed myself, so I have no idea if I've lost any weight. I certainly haven't lost 10 pounds in 10 days or anything noticeable. I imagine I WILL lose some weight eventually because I can't possibly be consuming as many calories as before. Whatever. I love how I FEEL on this diet! I plan to keep it up. Oh, and I can cross off another of my 40 before 40 goals of eating the food pyramid daily requirement of fruits and veggies. Goal met and EXCEEDED!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

mucho assembly required

I'm in the middle of a four day weekend. Since Christmas Eve and NYE both fell on Monday-my usual day off- I get to take two other days off instead. I picked this Tuesday and Wednesday so I can get some stuff done around the house while the kids are in school.

My parents watched the kids on Sunday so Gene and I could go to Ikea. Logan has a tiny bedroom and I've been wanting to get him a low loft bed. It's not too close to the ceiling heat vent but there's still room for him to play underneath. I showed Logan a picture of the bed online and Kaylin LOVED it and wanted one too. Hmmm, well, they are pretty cheap and it would be fun for both kids to have the same bed. Right? Right?

Oh. My. Stupid. At the time I said "Yes" to Kaylin I was naturally assuming GENE would be the one to assemble the beds. After all, he's the one who enjoys using tools and building and fixing things.

Anyway, Gene and I had a wonderful shopping day. We went to both Chicagoland Ikea stores and bought two beds, a new desk for Kaylin's room, a new kiddie table and some stools, other various crap and some cheap clearance crap for zoo animal enrichment. Grand total? Just over $500. I Heart Ikea!!! ONE similar bed at the stores around Peoria was over $600. (Yes, I'm sure it's much better quality, but I really don't care if my great-grandchildren use it and it will be much easier to donate the Ikea beds to Goodwill when the kids outgrow them...)

The kids were literally bouncing off the walls with excitement over all the new stuff! It was almost bedtime so Gene quickly assembled the kiddie table and stools. Kaylin happily informed me that the new table has room for FIVE stools so we'll need to buy one more for Baby Neighbor Kid before next summer when he'll be old enough to join his brother and sister at our house. Wow. Perfect buy. (Sob)

Caught up in the excitement, I promised the kids that "I" would assemble their new beds so they could sleep in them the following night. Yep, I'm crazy-stupid. Monday morning I dropped Logan off at school and did my usual grocery trip. I returned home, put everything away and was ready to start my assembly project at 10am. I opened the first box of a billion pieces and got to work, matching various pieces of wood to the illustrations. I finished Logan's bed around 3pm. Other than taking short breaks to eat and one 20 minute sanity break on the computer, I worked continuously on the beds until I finished Kaylin's around 7pm. Gene and the kids were only home an hour of that time (at which time I COULD see the end) or else I probably would have screamed at them nonstop.

I HATE assembling things! This isn't something new I learned about myself yesterday. I know perfectly well I don't have the patience or attention span to sit and put things together! Wow. I was FOUL upon completion of those beds :) Fortunately, the kids were sooooo happy and excited to have their new beds they instantly changed my bad attitude. They spent their hour before bedtime running back and forth to both bedrooms, climbing on and under both beds. I guess it was worth it... They do love those beds!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

parent teacher conference, take two

Yippee skippy, yesterday was Logan's parent teacher conference. Sure, he's only in preschool, but after Kaylin's I wasn't really looking forward to it. Logan has the same teacher as last year. She's very young but takes her job VERY seriously. At our last conference we discussed Logan smacking her in the face. Fortunately, I was far more concerned about it than she was- she said he was very frustrated about something and he hit her. YIKES, but she called it a one-time incident and totally blew it off. This time she had nothing but good things to say. Phew!

Mrs. T went on and on about how helpful Logan is at cleanup time and how she wishes the other parents would teach their kids to pick up after themselves. I just smiled and pretended to be a good parent while laughing to myself about my poor OCD husband and son who can't tolerate messes. Gene gets 100% of the credit for passing on that (uh) useful gene :)

My boy's ready for kindergarten and the conference lasted only 10 minutes. Not bad...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

HAPPY New Year!

Last night as I was going over my jury duty paperwork I realized I was summoned not just for jury duty, but for GRAND jury duty. Rather than serving for a few days, I could possibly get selected to serve NINETY days. NO THANKS!!!! This made me very nervous because I had no idea how the process worked. I didn't know if I'd have to turn up once a week for three months or what. So I spent the night freaking out...

This morning I dragged the kids into the subzero cold to their first day back to school/Y daycamp, dropped them off and headed downtown to the courthouse. I made my way to the jury room and watched Today for 20 minutes until the Guy in Charge started yakking about "What it means to be a Grand Juror." What it boiled down to was he wanted 16 volunteers. He got 9 or 10 and then threatened the rest of us with having a judge come down and select the rest. Fortunately, a few more people volunteered and he decided that was enough for now and that he'd try to nab some more out of the following week's Petit Jury pool. The rest of us were dismissed and told our $15 checks would be in the mail next week :)

That was it. I don't have to call or go back in or anything. I got to my car at 10am and called work. They already had scheduled a part-timer to work for me since no one knew when I'd be done. I was VERY happy when my boss told me I didn't need to come in today! I went to Target and Barnes and Noble BY MYSELF!!!! Now I'm going to spend the afternoon BY MYSELF and try to force myself to de-crapify my bedroom. Yeah. Good luck to me.