Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another round of conferences

What a week! I can't write about the work-related stuff on a public forum, but I will say that I'm glad this week is over and that I only have one more week of work until our spring break vacation. I need a vacation. I'm counting on the piglets that are due at any moment to be born without complications, and that their cuteness will carry me through this week. No pressure, piggies :)

Monday I had my first doctor appointment since getting the horrible cast. I had previously only talked to a nurse about how long I'd have to wear it and she pretty much spit out a number "Um, six weeks?" I suppose I shouldn't have taken her as seriously as I did, but I was (no exaggeration) devastated to find out I'll have to wear the stupid thing at least 5 more weeks. I thought I was halfway through and found out I am almost starting over. The thing is heavy, hard to work in and ALWAYS soaking wet. I can't even imagine how it will look when the 8+ weeks are over. I think I will completely wear it out. Then I will blow it to bits.

I had parent teacher conferences Friday morning. Logan is very well behaved, but is having issues with spelling and reading. His teacher believes his problems could be due to his hearing loss and having trouble hearing the subtle differences in letter and especially vowel sounds. I'm in the process of finding a new pediatrician who "believes in" ear tubes, but it's been tough to make appointments around work and school. Also, I call and say my kid has an ear infection and they want to make an appt for two weeks from now! Uh, NO! TODAY! Then I end up at a prompt care and the whole process starts over. The school audiologist who has now seen Logan 3 times and done extensive testing believes he has no permanent hearing loss and just needs tubes. The former ped thinks he's too old for tubes. The new ped won't see him because we keep having to go to prompt care. AAAHHHHHH! I'm sure if we're ever actually seen it will still be 6 months before Logan gets in to see an ENT and he probably WILL outgrow his problem. Whew, I digress! Back to the conference... I agree with his teacher about the hearing problems, but I also think Logan is completely uninterested in reading. He can read, he just doesn't. It doesn't even occur to him to read. Mrs. S said that if she gives the class a paper and doesn't explain it, he'll come ask for help rather than read the directions. (Eye roll.) At home, he doesn't read street signs or business signs. Or if he does, he doesn't attempt to sound the words out, he just guesses what the words are by the first letter sound. Mrs. S recommended practicing reading and making math flash cards since he likes numbers. Seriously??? We spend obscene amounts of time on his 1st grade homework! Hours a week trying to get him to spell 12 words correctly. He hates it! If I force him to work on all this stuff he'll shut down completely and stop trying at all! At this point he's not in any danger of failing. I've been sort of working on his reading through spelling practice and he's shown some improvement in the past few weeks. For example, if his actual spelling word is "light" I'll also make him spell fight, right, flight, etc. It's the first time he's ever made that kind of connection, so hopefully some things will click and he'll start reading and spelling better.

Kaylin, on the other hand... Kaylin's having no trouble with concepts. Her test scores are at the top of her class. She's reading books way above her 4th grade level. Too bad she's so incredibly disorganized that her homework is consistently turned in late or lost forever. Mrs. M said that if she dumped Kaylin's desk and went through every text, folder and notebook, she would eventually find all of Kaylin's missing work and it would all be partially finished. Kaylin's a daydreamer and is so easily distracted by EVERYTHING that she takes forever to finish in-class assignments. Mrs. M thinks Kaylin is very artistic and imaginitive and creative, but she lives so deeply in her daydream fantasy world that she's not finishing her work. At least in a timely manner. Mrs M and I had a good laugh over the school contacting me at work and trying to convince me to have Kaylin tested for the gifted school. Mrs. M believes Kaylin is capable of doing the work for that school, but agreed it would be a horrible fit for her. I'll continue to work with Kaylin on organization, but as long as she's proving she's mastering (whatever) by doing well on tests, I can't pretend to care much about lowered report card grades due to missing or late assignments. I'd honestly rather have her drawing and making up stories and living in her fantasy world than worrying about turning in yet another perfect worksheet.

We finally decided to spend our spring break in the Smokies. I found a Wilderness Resort (indoor waterpark) in Sevierville and booked a couple of nights there. Otherwise, I think we'll spend some time in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge doing touristy things. Gene wants to go to Dollywood. Me? Not so much. We've been there before and I sort of feel like it would be paying $200 to take the kids to a much smaller version of the State Fair. They'll just want to ride rides and won't care much about the other stuff. I think there are too many other ways to spend our $200 to bother with Dollywood. We'll see. I'm just bummed I'll still be wearing the stupid cast so won't be able to do the hiking in the national park I'd like to do. I'm sure Gene and the kids will be more than happy to skip that :) Whatever we end up doing, I know we won't be bored!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring

We spent most of our first day of spring NOT acquiring any more pets. We first went to Tractor Supply where they had lots of baby chicks, ducklings and bunnies. The bunnies were adorable and so small they could sit in your hand. It was actually tough for me to pass them up. Fortunately, by law we cannot have chickens or ducks, so that wasn't even an option. I would have chickens in a second if it was legal :) I'd also have ducks, but since we don't have a pond that wouldn't make sense.

Our next stop was the animal shelter to look at dogs. They had lots of crazy large barking dogs that leapt on their cages, begging to be taken out. I felt sad that most of them will likely never find homes. Not sad enough to take one on myself, though. The sweetest, calmest dog was a beautiful chocolate Lab that Logan fell in love with. Unfortunately, she was 10 years old. I don't want a puppy, but I'm hoping for a dog in the 1-4 years range that will give the kids many years of active play. If I wasn't looking mainly for the kids, I would have adopted "Missy" in an instant. She was wonderful. We checked out the puppies and cats for fun. The puppies were a scraggly bunch, none even cute enough to make me "wish" I could have a puppy. The cats on the other hand... I wanted about 10 of them!

We moved on to PetSmart where another shelter had several more large barking dogs. We quickly moved away from the dogs and went into the cat room where two more "surprise" dogs were waiting. "Nipsy" was a 6-yr-old female beagle. She was a total sweetheart and quiet. "Tubbs" was a 3 month old Basset/pointer mix. (yes, he was as cute and silly looking as you imagine.) We took both dogs out to "try them out." Nipsy made me remember how much beagles love to follow their noses. She didn't pay a lick of attention to any of us as we walked her around the store. I wasn't offended by her ignoring us, but I did think a lot about how many times the kids and neighbor kids open our front door on an average day. I could spend every moment of my life chasing this dog around the neighborhood. I'm so used to Labs and shepherds and how they either don't want to leave the yard (Brady and Gabby) or they come back on their own or at least when called (Evan.) I have no doubt Nipsy would be great with the kids and cats, but I have great doubts I'd be able to EASILY train her to come when called and not follow her nose to be flattened by a truck on Knoxville. Tubbs was young enough to be trained to not run outside and to come when called, but he was too young to be housebroken. Shockingly, Gene loved Tubbs. He was a great puppy, but we agreed we work too much to deal with a puppy right now.

And so the dog hunt continues. I wish I could find a dog like I found Simon. A proven, already trained, great with kids and cats, perfect for our family dog. I'm thinking that probably won't happen. I guess my biggest problem is that I want a Lab or shepherd that weighs 20 pounds.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring starts tomorrow!

Yesterday was beautiful, 60s and sunny. The kids were excited to play outside after we got home from work/school. They were playing ball and riding bikes in our driveway with the neighbor kids. Stupid Neighbor Dog was tearing around with the kids and Tiger was watching him from the front door. Tiger was getting really agitated because Stupid Dog kept running right in front of the glass storm door, taunting him. Little Neighbor Boy was inside playing with Logan's cars and decided to go out. He walked around Tiger, slightly pushing him out of the way. Just then, Stupid Dog went charging past at the same moment Little Boy opened the door. Tiger (who doesn't go outside) shot out the door and took off after that dog. It was hilarious! Tiger chased Stupid Dog into the other neighbors' back yard. Stupid Dog was scared to death of the widdle kitty. Tiger came strutting back into our yard, tail high and proud, having vanquished the beast. The kids and I were all about bawling with laughter, but Neighbor Dad wasn't too thrilled about his wimpy pup. Made my day!

I have a 4 day weekend to use up the last of my "extra" E-time. My only plan is to do as little as possible so I can wear the cast as little as possible. I'm sort of getting used to it, but Wednesday was tough. I realized it was my halfway point and could hardly stand the thought of wearing it another 3 weeks. It was a looooooong day at work. I can't ever remember wanting to be at work less. I somehow made it through.

Logan is cracking me up because he keeps referring to my parents as "seniors" and discussing different things seniors like to do. "Well, Pawpaw's a Senior, so he likes to eat at Steak and Shake." "Grandma's a Senior, so she doesn't want to ride her bike up and down the street." He gets really confused when I start laughing because he's so serious about it. He'll point out some little old lady in the store and label her a Senior- just like Grandma. I think he just likes using the new word, but I'm enjoying it immensely :)

I have an appointment at the bank and then I think I'll take the kids down to Tractor Supply. They're having chick and bunny days, with lots of live baby chicks, ducklings and bunnies that can be petted. Peep, peep, peep, peep.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spelling champ

Logan passed his spelling test! He even got an A! He misspelled "draw," spelling it d-r-i-e. Um... Seriously, he must have spelled draw correctly 100 times throughout the week. Oh well. His teacher didn't even recognize which word he misspelled, mistaking it for "dry." I was surprised she didn't mark his actual "dry" wrong since the y looked more like an x. I suppose she took pity on him since it was by far his best spelling test in ages. He practiced just as much the week before and missed 5 of 12 words.

I had just come from Wal-Mart before picking the kids up and bought Logan a much needed new pair of school uniform pants. Mind you, the pants were NEEDED due to holey knees and high water length on his old pants, but WANTED? I think not! I suppose they weren't exactly UNwanted since Logan was the one complaining about the ripped-out knee of the pants he was wearing, but sort of on the same excitement level as the shampoo and bread I also bought.

Anyway, as I admitted in the previous post, we had a large (expensive) Lego bribe riding on this test. However, it was for 100% and he missed a word. There was no way I was going through with the original reward, but I wanted to do something to keep him on track and excited about doing well on his spelling tests. We were pulling out of the school lot as he was telling me about his test. I had the bag with the pants on the seat next to me so I grabbed them and said "Great job! I got you a new pair of pants as your reward!" and flung the pants into his lap. I was kidding, of course, but Logan and Kaylin started laughing wildly at his lame-o prize. By the time we got home Logan was quite proud of his prize pants. I had been thinking of maybe going out for ice cream or something to celebrate his spelling A, but he was plenty satisfied with the pants. Sometimes my terrible sense of humor pays off :) Logan needs some new socks. Maybe next week I'll have the socks with me "just in case" he does well on his next spelling test!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kids and work and dogs

I keep waiting and expecting something in Logan's brain to snap with the same "duh" response he had when he learned to tie shoes. The problem is, it isn't happening. The kid is horrible at spelling. We practice and practice his 12 words. One moment, he'll repeatedly spell "warm" correctly. An hour later, he'll spell it w-e-i-h-m. It's so frustrating for all of us. I made him an embarrassingly huge Lego bribe. If he gets 100% on his next two spelling tests, I'll buy him a large Lego set he's been eyeing for months. He really wants the Lego set! He's practicing like crazy. He has spelled every word right dozens of times. I won't be at all surprised if he fails the spelling test today. Ugh. I don't know what to do. We've tried having him write the words, we've tried the phonics approach, we've tried rote memorization. Nope, nope and nope. The correct spelling doesn't stick in his head no matter what!

I'm a bit disgusted at Kaylin's drama club teacher. First semester's show was cancelled for no apparent reason. It was scheduled but then just kind of swept under the rug with no explanation of why there wasn't one. This semester's show is scheduled for the book fair family night next week. I asked what she's doing? Singing 3 songs- one with the whole group, one only girls and one only boys. WHAT? Did I get it wrong? Is music club performing at family night? Nope. Drama club. Um, what do you guys do at drama club? Have fun. Ok, as long as it's fun... Oh, and one of the songs she's singing contains the lyrics "Happiness is finding a pencil." They could at least sing something that's not ridiculously stupid!

The kids' school is accepting stuff for their annual garage sale starting Monday. I'm going to go crazy and try to donate as much stuff as possible and clear some junk out of this house! That is my big plan for the weekend. Wooooooooo!

I finished my second full week of wearing the cast at work. I guess I'm getting used to it, but it's pretty awful. I finally got the guts to call the podiatrist's office and find out how long I have to wear the thing. At least 6 weeks! I don't even have a check-up appointment until March 21st. I still haven't figured out how to keep it dry at work. I bust through garbage bags in no time. Gene brought me some waterproof shoe covers he uses at work but they break through quickly as well. By the end of the day I have a sopping wet foot securely wrapped in a knee-high plastic tube. I'm also completely exhausted from dragging the extra weight around.

My coworkers have been great about helping me out with certain things. I'm already short, but in the cast I can't stand on tip-toes to reach things. Climbing a ladder or step-stool is tough, so I've been getting help with that kind of stuff. I also am normally the person who picks up truckloads of hay for the Africa animals, but I can't climb the stacks in the hay barn or really even climb into the back of the pickup truck to stack the hay so others are going to have to do that for a while. Otherwise, I've been doing pretty much everything I normally do. Yesterday I was cleaning in the lion yard and looked down at the muddy cliff that is part of their dry moat containment system. Until 2 days ago it had been covered in snow. Now that the snow was gone I could see piles and piles of poop. It's one thing to ask someone who's standing next to you to help reach something from a cupboard. It's quite another to call someone over to climb down a steep, muddy hill to pick up poop. I decided to go for it. I triple bagged my cast and slowly made my way down the cliff, scooping up piles as I went. Fortunately, most of the poop was on the upper half of the hillside so I did not go all the way to the bottom. I scooped up one last pile and tried to make my way up the steep hill. I slipped further down. Crap! I was having horrible images of the fire department having to come save me from the hillside. I finally made my way back over to where I came down in the first place and somehow climbed out. I'll credit my childhood experience with Dead Man's Cliff at Oakwood Park and that cliff behind Jackie's house with my awesome escape. Next time maybe I'll rig myself a rope. Or not. What would be the adventure and challenge in that? Maybe my stupidity will make the paper. Lesson not learned.

Despite my discomfort and general hatred toward the cast, it does seem to be working. I really do think I'll avoid surgery if I keep it up. If I end up needing surgery after all this, I think I'll just quit work and get me a Hovaround electric wheelchair/scooter thingy. I'll drive it to the Grand Canyon. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

One last thing. The kids and I went to the shelter to look at dogs last weekend. I can't stop thinking about getting another dog. The kids talk about it nonstop. I know how much easier life will be without a dog! The cats provide tons of entertainment and are soooo much easier overall to care for. Still, they are not dogs. They do not tear up shoes and toys and clothes and require constant care. They don't need to be boarded when we go out of town. They are fine with having a "neverending" food bowl and don't need to be let outside to potty. They don't need constant attention and exercise and games of fetch with a nasty, slimy ball. They don't track mud all over the house and the kids don't step in their poop. (Vomit maybe, but never poop.) Cats are soooo much easier! But they are not dogs...

Side note: The dog we absolutely loved at the shelter was adopted by one of Kaylin's classmates! We will for sure not be getting a dog until after spring break, so we were thrilled that "Billy" the sweet, chubby beagle mix found a new home!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Break stuff

Sigh. I'm soooooooooooooooo incredibly sick of wearing this stupid cast! Early in my work week I thought about burning it in a bonfire when I'm done with it. By Thursday (my Friday) I was having fantasies about taking it to the shooting range, blowing it apart with bullets and then literally blowing the remains up with some kind of explosive. Maybe I can firebomb it with a big ole can of White Rain hairspray.

This morning I went to a medical supply store and a sporting goods store hoping to find something to waterproof the cast while I'm working. I've used garbage bags all week and they work ok until I kneel to clean out drains. The water that pools in the bottom of the bag then soaks into the "open" toe area and drenches my foot. I've spent some time in the bathroom drying my sock and my cast parts with the hand dryer. The hand dryer works pretty well, but I'd like a better option. The medical supply store had a $15 plastic bag that "might" last an entire day and the sports store had a waterproof bag meant for kayaking but the clerk said it would probably wear through very quickly, especially for the $30 price tag. My next stop will be the hardware store. Maybe they'll have some ideas. Or not...

Despite the cast, it was a great week working with rhinos. I used some of the things I learned in Ohio and the rhinos are (mostly) no longer pooping in their water tubs. That was the grossest, biggest pain to net 50+ pounds of poo out of EACH tub, then hose out the tub and bail the remaining water with a shovel. Not to mention the poor rhinos not having fresh water while there was poop in the tubs. Nasty! We also started putting the boys outside together after being stuck in the barn for several weeks. The weather's been fantastic. The animals have been happy to get outside and run around a little.

The kids have also been thrilled about the warmer weather and the longer days. Logan's been riding his bike every night. Kaylin had state tests all week so had no homework. They got to play outside every night after latchkey. I imagine it will be tough to get Kaylin inside to do homework in the next few weeks. Or probably the rest of the year.

Logan is having major issues with spelling. It's weird because Gene, Kaylin and I have always been natural spellers so I've never given a thought to having trouble with spelling. He is clueless about vowel sounds. Or if he does get them, he can't memorize that f-u-r is fur, rather than fir or fer. We practice and practice and practice. He just doesn't grasp it. I hope he'll be better as he becomes a better reader, but he is so uninterested in reading I don't know when that will be :)