Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swine Flu?

A week ago Thursday I returned to work after taking two days off with sick kids. I told my boss I thought they weren't sick enough to have had swine flu and got to work. By the end of the day I was completely wiped out. Well, maybe that was because I spent the previous two days doing absolutely nothing. I spent Friday doing as little as possible and by bedtime felt sick. Saturday I had a fever and felt horrible. Sunday I woke up without a fever and forced myself to go to work. I made it until lunch before I went home with a fever and slept the rest of the afternoon/night. Monday and Tuesday I had no fever but felt really run down and was coughing horribly, to the point my back and shoulders ached. Wednesday morning I was so wiped out I called off work and once again slept all day. I forced myself to go back to work Thursday because I was scheduled to train a coworker. My cough was still the worst I can ever remember, but I was feeling much better overall. It's Saturday and though my cough has improved tremendously, it is still pretty bad. I'm still a little wheezy and a little more run down than usual. Swine flu? I have no idea. I kept forcing myself to stay away from the doctor by reading about my symptoms online and convincing myself that antibiotics would not help my virus. The green phlegm I was producing was a sign of the END of my illness, not necessarily pneumonia.

I'm on vacation this week because I needed to use up time before the end of the year. Gene and I had planned to do something without kids this weekend. The kids were all thrilled about getting to spend two nights at Grandpa and Grandma's house and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. Our original plans to go to Starved Rock fell through because I put off booking the Lodge due to illness and then they were booked. We're currently in Schaumburg. We shopped and ate at Fuddruckers last night. I have no idea what we'll do today and if we'll spend another night in Chicagoland or go home tonight. I feel pretty good and can control my cough enough to not completely alarm those around me :) Gene's all worried he's going to get my disease from sharing time in the car with me. He's shared the same house and bed with me from day one of my illness. Surely I can't still be highly contagious? No idea. I also have no idea what I have/had. It was incredibly much worse than a cold. It had to have been the flu. Must've been swine flu. And I'm still alive...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Litter Robot

The kids have been sick the past couple of days. With Gene's new job (redeployed inside Cat back in April) he doesn't have his past flexibility. We used to tag team sick days where I'd go in to work in the morning and he'd go in the afternoon. Now he's in charge of running tests on air flow (?) and he has to be present. I missed my first full days of work due to sick kids. I felt stressed and guilty about it. When I miss work my coworkers are really strained because obviously, caring for the animals can't wait until another day. It's almost like getting punished for showing up to work because you get all kinds of extra work added to your day. I thought about how many people I've covered over the years and got over my guilt.

Kaylin had a fever and sore throat and Logan had an awful cough and snot that makes me shudder to think about. So we were all home and bored out of our gourds, but I didn't want them to have too much fun because I don't want them to stay home unless they're REALLY sick. They weren't allowed to go outside or play with any bikes, go karts, etc. They weren't allowed to fight. The big thrill of our sick days was watching the cats use their new litter box.

Don't worry, it's not as disgusting as it sounds! We weren't watching them do their actual business. That would be impossible since their business is now done inside a giant orb. It was actually the cats' interactions with the giant orb that were hilarious.

Gene decided he was tired of scooping. He was tired of litter box stink. He was tired of having two stinky boxes and went searching for a solution. He found his solution on Gene purchased the Litter Robot. The Cadillac of litter boxes. The solution to all his woes. The most expensive pet supply ever! The Litter Robot arrived in a box large enough for both children to fit inside. It is gigantic. It is basically a large orb sitting on top of a large base. When the cat enters the orb to do his business, the Litter Robot senses his presence and cycles seven minutes later when the cat is safely gone. What happens is the entire orb rotates almost 365 degrees while sifting the litter. The clumps remain and when the orb rotates enough, the clumps fall into a sealed chamber in the base. The orb then rotates back to its original position with only clean litter. Each cycle takes maybe a minute.

What is interesting or funny about it? Well, when a cat approaches the Robot while it's cycling, it stops immediately. If the orb or the step to the orb is touched, all motion stops until ~10 seconds after the cat is gone. Tiger was so interested in the motion of this thing, he couldn't leave it alone. He just kept stopping it, letting it start and stopping it again. He totally had it figured out, but he couldn't stop playing with it. Then, when the cycle finally did complete, he'd jump right back inside so the cycle would start again in seven minutes. Over and over. Lather, rinse, repeat. Simon was interested, but watched the first few cycles from the safety of the pool table. Eventually, Simon got into the action. Now the one minute cycles were taking ten minutes to complete. It was funny! So yeah, we spent the better part of an afternoon watching the cats play with their new litter box. I'm ready to go back to work :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

DC- Wow.

Through a strange chain of events, I found myself sitting front row at the David Copperfield show last night. The show was not something I particualarly wanted to do. I have little interest in magicians (or even illusionists) so the fact that the theater was at least 3/4 full of actual paying attendees made my excellent seating that much more ridiculous. And to add to the crazy, I also was taken backstage before the show to meet the man himself.

Ah, such a pleasure I have never experienced! (Rolls eyes.) There were eight of us backstage and we were lined up against a wall when The Man Himself burst into the room for all to admire. He made his way down the line, shaking hands and then stood before us and forced us to say how wonderful he is. I was in shock, but with only 8 of us in the room silence would have been inappropriate. Wow. Narcissist much? He was with us for maybe a minute and then we were escorted back to our seats.

At our seats we were treated to a large screen scrolling DC's many accomplishments such as "Only living magician to appear on postage stamps" and "Forbes Top 100 Highest Paid Entertainers list past 10 years." Then the lights went down, the smoke and spotlights started and we were treated to several minutes of video clips of every movie and television show that has made reference to David Copperfield. Again, I was kind of in shock...

Finally, DC appeared in all his glory. He made the entire audience stand and bow to him. I threw up in my mouth a little. The show finally started for real. I was surprised to find I enjoyed it! A car appeared from nowhere, a wadded tissue danced, was folded into a rose and then turned into a real rose, a ring was tied to the laces of a baby shoe in his back pocket, several audience members disappeared on stage and reappeared on the balcony seconds later. He did an extensive stunt with random numbers and facts shouted from audience members that showed up on a piece of paper, an audio tape and stamped license plates. My favorite part was when one of my group was pulled to the stage to hold a container with a live scorpion for a card trick in which the scorpion pulled the correct card from the deck.

My least favorite part was a video in the middle of the show of some stunt from years ago (DC still had a mullet haircut) in which he was escaping from a straight jacket while dangling upside-down over flaming spikes. Um, Dude. We just saw you 5 seconds ago. You obviously were successful and didn't die or get terribly injured. I have no problem with you taking a short break, but maybe switch the video to the Statue of Liberty disappearance or some other non-death-defying illusion.

Eh, I'm being too negative because I didn't like the man himself. It was a really fun show and despite not wanting to go in the first place and being kept up past my bedtime, I'm glad I went. It was definitely a new experience. I doubt I would ever pay to see an illusionist, but I've already stated that magic is not one of my interests. A strange, unexpected event in my life that probably would have been the pinnacle of someone else's existence. Too bad it was wasted on me :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

So much excitement

I think throughout my childhood my dad instilled in me an almost insane curiosity about events that make no sense to me. This only applies to a select few things that strike my fancy. For example, I would never attend a bridal or a fashion show, but when Mean Gene Okerlund opened his burger store in East Peoria, I knew I had to go. I've never been any kind of fan of wrestling, but I absolutely HAD to go check out the kind of people who attended this event. I needed to see how they were dressed and just had to see Mean Gene in real life. I did not wait in the two hour line for his autograph, but I did sit in the autograph tent and watch people of all ages, many costumed, get their photos taken with him. It was totally worth it!

A truly stupid tradition I have is to go out "shopping" on Black Friday before I go to work. I have no desire to actually buy anything, I just like to drive around and check out the parking lots. I love to walk into Kohls and see the line of people wrapped all the way around the store to check out. I love to see the middle-aged groups of sisters in matching pajamas shopping at Target. I love to see carts piled high with crap that no recipient will actually like, but man was it a deal! Eventually, I go to Michaels and use my 40% off your entire purchase coupon and buy stocking stuffers for the kids. Then I go to work and am happy to be at work rather than rushing to JC Penney for a free Mickey Mouse ornament or to Old Navy for a free $10 gift card if you purchase $50 worth of stuff. Whoopee.

I have worked Saturdays for years now. I always like going to Toyland at Farm and Fleet, but have never been able to go opening day. Since my days off changed this year I decided to give it a shot. I was ok with buying nothing today, I was just curious how busy it would actually be and how the crazies would behave being more or less confined to a few aisles of the store. I was not disappointed.

My first observation was that the usual large number of pickup trucks was replaced with minivans and SUVs. There were maybe 4 trucks in the packed lot. (And probably four very disappointed men that "their" store was being invaded by a crazy herd of women on this unfortunate day...) Carts were in such high demand that people were stalking the parking lot waiting for others to leave so they could snatch the cart. I overheard one woman brag to a friend that she didn't have a cart so she loaded her arms with as much as she could carry, paid and put it in her car and was now on her second round. I intentionally remained cartless. The aisles weren't nearly as bad as I would have thought. Other than the extremely busy game aisles, I was able to have each aisle pretty much to myself at some point of my visit. I arrived an hour after opening and the checkout lines were long. By the time I checked out I walked immediately to a waiting cashier. I did get some excellent deals on a couple of games and a large tub of K'nex. I also found myself a lightweight jacket nice and cheap. Yeah, I love Farm and Fleet. And I only got bumped by one shopping cart.

October has been pleasantly boring, with almost nothing blogworthy. Oh, I did not get a cortisone shot in my foot! Yeah! It has improved slightly so the podiatrist just gave me another round of painkillers. Phew. My dad gave each of the kids $5 to spend at Wal-Mart last night. Kaylin came home with a small toy. Logan bought a bag of candy and a pineapple. Yep, a pineapple. Now he wants it for lunch. Um, what do I do with it? Guess I'll Google how to cut it...

Friday, October 9, 2009

How the Touch 'n Brush has changed my life!

Let's see... Some of the amazing claims of the Touch 'n Brush are less mess and less waste of toothpaste. I have NEVER spent so much time cleaning toothpaste as I have in the past week. The TNB is always coated with paste. Also, it dispenses "the perfect amount of toothpaste which just happens to be about 4 times as much as the kids normally use and twice as much as I would use. This results in toothpaste all over the sink and countertop. I don't like the Touch 'n Brush. It has not improved my life at all. Yep, it has my my life more difficult. Poor, poor Susy. ;)

Today Gene and I went shopping for Logan's birthday present. Logan originally asked for this huge remote controlled dinosaur that cost ~$150 at Target. The ages on the box were 3-10 but it looked like it was definitely more suited to the younger kids. I tried to convince myself that it would be fun to scare the cats, but I just kept coming back to the conclusion it would be a huge waste of money. He'd play with it a couple of days, figure out all the tricks and be done.

Gene's been wanting to get him a go kart ever since we went to Wisconsin Dells. Gene found a used NASCAR themed kart online and even called and inquired. I was very against a gas powered kart for a 7-yr-old- too loud, too fast and too expensive for gas. I started looking into battery powered karts and found one made by Razor that had good customer reviews and cost about the same as a Power Wheels toy vehicle. (He plays with our neighbor's Barbie Jeep Power Wheels every chance he gets.) We argued back and forth and finally decided there would be absolutely nothing he would like more than the go kart and that this would be that "once in a childhood" awesome birthday present.

Anyway, I shopped extensively online, but we decided to try a couple of sporting goods stores today. We stopped at Dunham's this morning and found the slightly better dune buggy model kart on clearance for $70 less than I found it anywhere online. It was also $30 more than the model we wanted to buy. We decided to try Dick's before we made our final decision. Dick's had battery scooters but no go karts. Gene finally convinced me that inflatable tires and suspension, as well as a safer-looking body were worth the extra thirty bucks. We headed back to Dunham's and bought the dune buggy.

We opened the (HUGE) box to find the kart fully assembled with a charged battery! There was absolutely nowhere we could hide this kart or box so we decided to go ahead and give it to him early. His excitement was AWESOME! He drove up and down the street a zillion times and then Kaylin did and the two older neighbor kids. Gene took it for a spin. Then the kids all took turns. It's a great, fun toy I think will get a ton of use.

Kaylin has taken over the box and is turning it into a house. I'm sure it will cause Gene no end of stress to have Kaylin's house in the middle of the living room :) The cats love the huge box.

I have three weeks until my vacation. As usual, I have no idea what I'm going to do. My new option I thought of today was going somewhere by myself. I could really go anywhere and do something I want to do. I'll have to give it a lot more thought... Right now I'm just focused on the fear that I may have to get a cortisone shot in the bottom of my foot on Thursday. I've heard they're incredibly painful, but I don't know anyone who's had one in their foot. Yikes!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

As seen on TV

If our television is on and Gene isn't watching baseball, football or racing, it is usually tuned to the children's channel Nickelodeon. The kids rarely just sit and watch tv, but it's often on in the background. I've worked from birth to convince them that tv advertisements are rarely truthful and that everything advertised is made to look much, much better than it actually is. This has worked for the most part. They rarely want specific toys just because they've seen them on tv. Food is a little bit different, but at least they eat it!

Some of our recent purchases due to heavy advertisement are Reese's Puffs cereal, Fruit by the Foot, Danimals Crush Cups and Fruit Roll Ups with wacky fortunes. The cereal is fantastically delicious and no more expensive than any other kiddie cereal. I can usually get good deals on Fruit by the Foot at Big Lots. Fruit Roll Ups are the same price at Wal-Mart whether they have tongue tattoos or fortunes or peel out stars. The fortunes turned out to be hard to read (and really stupid) so Logan got over those with one box. The biggest rip-off were the Danimals Crush Cups- single serve yogurt in crushable cups so you don't need a spoon. Crush Cups are way overpriced and the fact we still have 2 out of 4 in the fridge from 3 weeks ago indicates they aren't all that tasty.

Logan tends to be much more influenced by advertising than Kaylin. He truly enjoys commercials and likes to quote them or even reenact them. Infomercial products are the worst. They play certain commercials so often on Nick that you can't help picking up on the ads. Last year it was Bendaroos. Kaylin and Logan banded together in their desperate desire for the waxy pipecleaner toys. My dad got them a box to share for Christmas and they both loved them and played with them for hours. Bendaroos are way overpriced, but I'll admit I was surprised at how well they worked and how much the kids enjoyed them. We still have an entire wall of Bendaroo creations by the front door that peel off the wall leaving no residue :)

The latest over advertised product has been a mystery to me. It's an ugly, overpriced toothpaste dispenser called the Touch 'n Brush. Once again, the kids have banded together in their fervent desire to own something Seen on TV. The problem? This piece of plastic crap costs $19.99 plus $8 shipping. No. We'll wait for it to show up in stores. Meanwhile, the kids continue to be in awe of the junky thing, assuring me that when we get ours, they'll brush their teeth 97 times a day and will no longer complain about brushing and will happily brush and even get each other's toothbrushes because now the horrendous chore of squeezing a bit of paste onto your brush will be replaced by a slight push and the perfect amount of paste automatically dispensed onto your brush every time! Oh yes children, I'm sure it will revolutionize our lives!

Yesterday we all went to Wal-Mart. We shopped for groceries, school uniform pants and Halloween costumes. On our way to check out, there it was... In all its junky plastic beauty, the Touch 'n Brush! The kids couldn't have been more excited if SpongeBob Squarepants was in line in front of us. Please, please, please. Ack! Still $20. But at least no huge shipping charge... Fine. But you WILL brush your teeth at least morning and night and not fight about getting toothbrushes and you will like and use this thing. Yes, yes, yes!!!

They took turns holding the box on the way home. While Gene and I were putting away groceries, they figured out how to put toothpaste in and hang the thing (suction cups on the mirror) all by themselves. Then they started a long afternoon of brushing every time they thought about it. They made the neighbor kids come over and see it. When the commercial came on tv they ran back to use it and brush yet again. Excitement all around! By bedtime and the last brush of the day, Kaylin was beginning to admit it dispensed more paste than she liked. Logan was still gung-ho about its awesomeness.

I'll give it today and then the lesson can begin. Bwa ha ha ha. Oh, no, you guys PROMISED you'd brush before school without complaining. Logan, you PROMISED you'd get toothbrushes for both of you EVERY night. Hee hee. It was a horrible waste of money, but I'm gonna milk it anyway.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I've been waiting and waiting for weeks to find out what kind of deal Disney will be having for January. Last year we got buy 4 get 3 nights free plus a $200 gift card. Most of this fall through Christmas week they have free dining. In previous years we've gotten ticket upgrades. This year? Buy 5 nights, get 2 free. Big whoop. That's maybe a $150 savings off my entire trip. The ticket upgrades before the recession hit were a better deal! For the moment anyway, we will not be going to Disney World in early 2010. Gene wants to go to San Diego for a few days and then drive up to Disneyland for a few days. That sounds great, but I don't want to make that flight in winter ever again! Last time we ended up stuck at Ohare in a blizzard for three days. No thanks! We're also considering going to Orlando and doing non-Disney stuff such as Universal Studios, Sea World and driving to a beach (that's not a tiny strip located directly next to a nuclear power plant.) A couple of years ago Logan was set on going to Texas. Maybe we could do that?

Also, I have vacation time I need to use before January. I couldn't get an entire week off when Gene and the kids are off for two weeks at Christmas. I couldn't get the 2nd week of November which includes Logan's birthday. I couldn't get any full week in October. I finally opted for the first week in November (which for me actually starts on Friday, October 30th.) I figured I could pull the kids out of school that Friday and we could go somewhere for a 3-day weekend so Gene wouldn't have to take any extra time off. Well. I wasn't thinking about Halloween and the fact that Kaylin REALLY, REALLY wants to go to her classroom party. Ugh! That severely limits our options if we don't leave town until 3:30pm. I can't do the next weekend because I have to go back to work Sunday and can't get that day off. Anyone have any ideas where we could go? Preferably not a waterpark hotel?

Ack. Better stop writing and get ready for work. I have to go in early so I can leave early for yet another podiatrist appointment. Last time I was the youngest person in the packed waiting room by easily 30 years. And if it hadn't been for the driver/caregivers in the crowd it probably would have been 40 or 50 years :) My foot hurt horribly and I was terrified I was going to have to give up my seat. Fortunately, a group of 3 was called back to a room right before the next person arrived. The youngster got to sit. Yes, my life is hard, lol.