Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's 10pm New Year's Eve and I'm writing just to stay awake. I'm thinking there's no way I'm going to make it to midnight, but I'm at least going to try. And then when I fall asleep the kids can wake me up at 11:59, I'll scream and celebrate and hit my bed at 12:02. Gene had big plans to go to a hockey game but both kids were adamantly against it. I love hockey but then started thinking about climbing up and down all those stairs in my cast and sort of had to side with the kids. They have a Jim Thome bobblehead night coming up in a couple of weeks so I think Gene's ok with putting off going to a game. (Why Thome at a hockey game? No idea.)

The new plan was to watch a movie On Demand, but the movie we wanted wasn't yet available and we couldn't agree on anything else. We're watching an American Pickers marathon on the History Channel instead. We played Hedbanz for a while, the kids made a pinata and now they're playing marbles. I've read about "crackers" in Harry Potter books and have been curious. I was thrilled to find some at Target and bought them. The crackers were my hockey game for the night. The kids were terrified of the pop. Well, the pop turned out to be extremely lame and not scary, but the lame pop was nothing compared to the lame crackers. We had 9 and not one worked the way it was supposed to. Each and every one had to be manually ripped open. The kids liked the prizes and the paper crowns ok, but the bad jokes were the best part. Overall, a disappointment they didn't "explode" their contents, but still fun.

We ate Avanti's and got stuff to make cookie monsters. It's been a fun night, but the later it gets, the grumpier we all get and the more the kids fight.

The kids' vacation has been amazingly relaxing. I'm sure it's because I'm hobbled and not forcing everyone to go, go, go and do as much as possible. Kaylin spent two days in a row doing almost nothing but curling up on the couch or in her bed reading. It was awesome. Logan's been playing way too many video games, but he's also spent lots of time playing football with the neighbor boys and playing on the floor with cars and marbles. Nobody besides me has been getting out of bed before 9. Gene and Kaylin were in bed until almost noon yesterday. We're all just being lazy and while it's not my usual way, it's been fun. I think it's going to be really tough to transition back to work and school.

Do I have a New Year's Resolution? I want to lose some weight and have an adventure, but mostly I just want my feet to get better. If that happens, I'm going hiking. In the mountains.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Hungry Rock, Take Two

I finally have a date set to go back to work! I need a permission note to return and my doc is on vacation this week, so I have an appointment on Monday to get clearance to return and will start back on Tuesday. I will likely spend my first few days back working part-days cutting diets and hopefully doing some other light stuff and then get back into my string. I keep laughing at myself because I'm just as excited about going back to work as I would be if I had a big vacation planned. Every time I think of it I get a little wave of happiness. Hopefully the happiness will last at least a little while!

Gene's been off work since last Wednesday and the kids have been off school since Thursday. We've had a wonderful time! Santa came Thursday morning and the kids have maximized their time with new toys and video games. Kaylin got the Playmobil school. It is currently taking up our kitchen table with its hugeness. The set is detailed down to Playmobil figure sized pads of paper. It's one of the best sets I've seen; even Logan likes playing with it. I think Logan's favorite present is a set of bases. They're white rubber, slightly raised and very heavy. He sets those things up everywhere and slides into them about a million times a day. I literally just replaced all of his outgrown school pants and jeans (ALL with ripped out knees) right before this break. It will be a miracle if any of his new jeans make it through this week with knees intact!

We've mostly been hanging around home together, playing with new toys and games and having fun. We left home Sunday morning and headed to Starved Rock to get away and spent the night at Grand Bear Lodge. Being at Starved Rock and being unable to hike drove me INSANE. There was a ton of fresh snow so the kids bundled up in all their gear and played in the snow on the picnic tables and then slid down the hills from the visitor center. We then drove around to a viewing area at the dam and spent some time watching eagles and watching a barge come through the locks. That was really fun and required very little walking. The waterpark resort is maybe half a mile from the main park entrance. We checked in at ~12:30 and were happy our room was ready. We were starving so headed over to the amusement park building to eat and play before the kids started swimming. The food was incredibly expensive and just barely edible, but that didn't get us down. The amusement park was open, but so understaffed I think there might have been one person running all the rides. Well, we just ate and all the rides spin or drop so that didn't get us down. We moved into our room. The deal was that Gene would take the kids to the waterpark right after the Bears game. Meanwhile, I took them to the arcade and we had a wonderful time. I couldn't swim this trip because I need my cast to walk and didn't want to even enter the water area because there are so many jets of water it would have been hard to keep my foot dry. I drove around and found a Subway for dinner while the kids swam and Gene played on his computer. I returned to the room, put everything away and figured I'd at least try to relieve Gene and watch the kids swim a while. They'd been at the waterpark a little over an hour and I assumed they'd want to stay MUCH longer. Nope. It was so freezing cold they were ready to be done.

Both kids took long, hot showers and agreed they were done swimming for this trip. The waterpark was fun, but the cold water made it miserable. Wow. All I can say is that water must have been COLD. My kids swim until they're blue and then protest leaving. To not even want to TRY again? Brrrrrrrrr. We hung out in the room until 8pm when Gene took the kids to the hotel's showing of How to Train Your Dragon. Eight is way too late for me to go to a movie! I knew I'd be asleep in seconds so I just stayed at the room and read (and fell asleep within seconds.) They liked the movie and had a good time staying up late.

The plan for Monday was to swim all morning until we needed to check out and then hit the amusement park until we were ready to head home. Well, the kids didn't want to swim at all and the amusement park didn't open until 11. They wanted to go back to the arcade. We packed all our stuff and checked out of our room, hit the arcade for a while and left the resort around 10am. We drove around LaSalle-Peru just to see what it was like and then headed home. We stopped and picked up lunch in Chillicothe and were home shortly after noon. It was kind of a bust of a trip, but strangely- we all had a good time doing the things we did and were all perfectly happy being back at home. For anyone considering it- I do NOT recommend Grand Bear Lodge in the winter! It can be a great, fun place, but go in the summer when the barely heated pools are no big deal and the amusement park is actually staffed! Starved Rock, on the other hand, was absolutely beautiful with all that fresh snow and I would have LOVED to hike back into some of those canyons! It would have been amazing!

I hope to spend my final week off work playing with my kids and cleaning and decluttering the house. Today the Christmas decorations are coming down!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like

The past several days have been great! Logan returned to school on Friday following his adenoid/ear tube surgery Wednesday. Other than some weird pressure issues (this seems to be minor, but annoying) you would never know Logan had anything done. He's been tearing around with Kaylin and his cousins, doing great. The make-up work from missing two days of school was tough to finish with all of the family fun and the call of fresh snow and video games, but I think he finally completed everything. I would never in a million years take Logan out of school for a week of vacation with this teacher! We'd need another week just to make up her work. On a normal night he has more homework than Kaylin who is in middle school with 4 primary teachers! And this is all scheduled homework we get notice of on a handout at the beginning of the week, not stuff he's goofing around and failing to finish in class! Ugh.

Saturday was the Kaiser family Christmas. It was crazy-fun to get all of the kids together to tear around and destroy Grandma's house. There were 10 great-grandchildren ranging in age from ~9 months to 10 years. It. Was. Nuts. From the phone calls I've gotten I'm thinking Grandma may be reconsidering her role as Hostess of Major Events. Smart move, Grandma! I do not volunteer to play host to anything, but will gladly cut pies and bread or make finger jello and celery with peanut butter at YOUR house :)

Sunday was Christmas with my family. Again, there was plenty of mayhem with 5 kids running around, but nobody fell in the lake or fell down the stairs, so I'm thinking perhaps the jammed CD drive on the computer will be fixed and forgotten. One thing we noticed was that the kids don't seem nearly as eager to open presents as we were back in the day. All of them were perfectly fine with playing together for a couple of hours, eating dinner at a normal pace, playing some more while things were cleaned up... My brothers, Sarah and I were all remembering being so excited about presents we could barely eat. Being so impatient we whined and begged the adults to hurry. Feeling like we made a MAJOR score on those odd years we convinced the adults to do presents before food. Our kids love opening presents as much as we did, they just seem to have WAY more patience. My mom suggested that maybe it's because they have SO MUCH. Well, of course they do, but so did WE! I'm wondering if maybe the big treat now is being with each other? I might not be remembering correctly, but it sure does seem like as kids we took a LOT of trips to Champaign, St. Louis and even Cissna Park to visit my mom's sisters and our cousins. My dad's side of the family got together regularly and we saw our cousins (at least the ones who lived nearby) all the time. Perhaps with this generation's working women and busier lifestyles the kids aren't getting together as much as they used to and playing with cousins is more of a treat than presents? Just a guess because I know my kids are insanely excited about opening presents on Christmas morning!

Gene and the kids have work/school through Wednesday and then we're all off until January 3rd (the day I will HOPEFULLY be returning to work!!!!) This will likely be the last time for a few months we'll all have time off together so we're hoping to go somewhere for a couple of days. The issue is my foot and that I can't be on it. The other issue is our perfect option would be a water park resort, but we don't have custom swim plugs for Logan's freshly tubed ears. Hmmmm. What can we do in driving distance where I don't have to walk or do stairs and doesn't involve swimming? Um, not a lot that I can think of! I'm going to call the ENT office today and see what they say about over the counter ear plugs and whether Logan should be swimming so soon after his tube placement. If that works out, great! If not, I have no idea and am open to suggestions.

My foot is getting better. I still don't put weight on it if I'm not wearing my cast. Around the house or short walking distances I don't use crutches. If I'm going to be walking a lot I still use one, but mostly because my left leg is so weak from being completely off it for 5 weeks, not because it hurts my foot to walk. My plan is to use my remaining time off work to somehow equally rest my foot, but also slowly work myself back into being on my feet for extended periods. I probably won't go immediately back into doing my usual physical job on my feet for 8 hours straight, but will work part days and maybe do light work like cutting diets for a while and work myself back into full duty. Hopefully that process will take like 3 days, lol.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Logan's surgery

Logan had his ear tubes/adenoid removal surgery today. It was at the surgery center just down the street from our house. We arrived at 7am, supposedly to fill out paperwork. Um, I signed 2 or 3 things, all while standing at the reception desk and that was it. The paperwork took about a minute or so and then we sat and watched the Today show until 8am when Logan was finally called back. We went to another room and got Logan changed into a gown, filled out more paperwork and I was sent back to the waiting room. I'm not sure why, but I was surprised to find out Logan needed to be intubated and have an IV for this surgery. After all, it only "maybe" took 15 minutes. But I guess, duh, how would they keep him masked down when they were doing the adenoid portion?

Anyway, after about 20 minutes in the waiting room, the doc came out and told me everything went well. He said Logan's adenoids were so large he was surprised he could breathe through his nose. WOW! Logan doesn't even snore. In recovery I asked him if he ever had trouble breathing through his nose and he said no. I suppose the adenoids were probably contributing heavily to his ear issues, so I'm glad they're gone. The doc said someone would come get me in the next 15-30 minutes when Logan was ready to go to recovery.

A full hour later... They wheeled the gurney to the recovery room and my poor boy looked puny and pitiful. He was incredibly nauseous so stayed in recovery MUCH longer than we hoped. He never actually vomited, but clutched the little pink basin to his chest the entire time. He looked terrible. The anesthesiologist was awesome with kids and had all kinds of tricks to ease the nausea. Logan finally begged the nurse to let him go home. She allowed him to get dressed but said she wanted him to walk around a little before he left. He jumped out of the chair, walked in a circle and WHAM! the nausea hit again full force and he was back in the chair clutching his stomach. Awesome Doc returned with some more tricks and Logan was able to leave. We got home a few minutes after 11am.

I picked up Logan's prescriptions and went through the Steak 'n Shake drive thru. I was a little nervous about him eating a cheeseburger, fries and a shake when his stomach was so shaky, but that was what he wanted and he chowed down every bite. Fortunately, he felt much better after eating. Despite his sore throat (supposedly from the tube, not the adenoid removal) he's eating and drinking and shouting at the Mario game and talking nonstop. He's a little bit cranky, but otherwise I think he'll be just fine. Right now he's furious with me because I won't let him go play with the neighbor kids.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Learning to Cook

Kaylin has been really interested in cooking lately. She wants to make meals and wants to do the work by herself as much as possible. Cool! A dream come true for me! I still do the "oven work" because she's so short it's hard for her to reach in and pull something out safely, but she does most of the prep work, menu planning, etc. She's been making some more "complicated" things like green bean casserole, but right now we're mostly working on easy stovetop things like pasta and eggs.

Last night we got home a little late. Gene was out with his friends and Logan had a lot of homework. Kaylin wanted to make dinner but I wanted her to do something easy. Score! We found a bag of frozen ravioli. Kaylin boiled the water and carefully added the ravioli. She likes to experiment so she added a few pieces of spaghetti and a few other noodles. I was busy with Logan so wasn't paying attention. The ravioli only needed to boil a few minutes. Kaylin drained it no problem and called Logan in for his partially cooked piece of spaghetti.

I made a comment like "Oh, you put some spaghetti in there?" Kaylin answered "Yeah, and I also put a few pennies in the pot." I freaked out. WHY would she put pennies in with our food??? GROSS! I told her I'd make myself a sandwich because I wasn't going to eat that! Kaylin was totally confused, but I was all "DUH! Pennies are filthy! And metal! I'm not eating something they've been cooked with!" Kaylin doubled over with laughter. "No Mom, not pennies, PENNES! You know, the pasta tubes?" Yeah. We laughed the rest of the night.

I'm trying my best to keep her interested in cooking. She really wants to experiment and change recipes and tweak them. She couldn't have a worse set of teachers! Gene is rigid in following instructions and more concerned with the mess than the product and I am clueless and uninterested. I have tried and tried over the years, but cooking just doesn't interest me. If Kaylin can be my personal chef the next few years that would be super. Kidding! Sort of...

Off topic, Logan's reading has progressed so far, so fast! The "click" I was waiting for in his brain finally happened. He reads out loud and only has trouble with big, strange words when he doesn't know the meaning. He's scoring much better on comprehension and he's even (gasp) reading for fun in bed at night! (I mean, it's only for a couple of minutes because he falls asleep so fast, but WoW!) The difference in his spelling is night and day. Practicing spelling used to be the most frustrating thing in the world because he would sound out the first letter, but nothing else. Every single word had to be memorized. It was terrible! Suddenly he gets it and can spell anything that is phonetically "normal." It's then easy to memorize a few weird words. He's also FINALLY able to read all of his homework instructions so can do most everything by himself.

And quickly, speaking of homework, I have complained endlessly about Logan's word searches. Kaylin brought home the ultimate last night. Sixty-three astronomy words. Seriously? This thing would have taken her HOURS to do on her own. Why? You better believe I helped her! She would have kept me up bawling about that thing until midnight. With both of us working together it still took nearly an hour. Gene even helped with the last several words when he got home. What a crazy waste of time!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Friends, family and coworkers have all assured me that my 10-year-old doesn't REALLY believe in Santa. She's faking because she doesn't want to hurt my feelings. She's faking because she's thinks she'll get more presents. She's faking because she WANTS to believe. Nope. Some girl Kaylin rides the bus with got locked out of her house today and came over here to use the phone. She's staying until her dad gets home from work ~5. She's in 6th grade and Kaylin sort of wants to impress her. Kaylin just told her she got the video game they're playing from Santa last year. Sigh. Fortunately, the girl either didn't hear or pretended to not hear.

Final Christmas Shopping

I dragged my gimpy self out of the house this morning and went to ToysRUs for attempt number two at buy one get one 50% off on the two Wii games we wanted to get the kids for Christmas. The first attempt was by Gene on Sunday and they were out of Donkey Kong Country. I figured (correctly) they'd be getting almost daily shipments so it was worth another try. The other game I wanted was Mario Super Sluggers, a baseball game Logan will likely love.

The obvious thing would be for us to give Kaylin the Donkey Kong game and Logan the baseball game. However, since the kids refuse to stop believing in Santa, these games will be their joint gift. They will come with a note from Santa stressing the importance of sharing. Santa might as well teach a lesson.

I then went to Dollar Tree for D batteries for what will likely win Worst Toy of 2010- the slimy bug maker. I read several reviews and all were poor, but this is the ONLY toy Logan wants and has talked about and asked for over and over. While there, I overheard an older man shopping with his adult daughter. It was his first time in a Dollar Tree and he could not BELIEVE that EVERYTHING was only a dollar. It was completely awesome listening to him grabbing everything in site, completely marveling over the bargains. I'm thinking Dollar Tree just gained a new customer. He won't just come to town for Tractor Supply anymore!

My foot is slowly improving, if only slightly. As long as I'm wearing the cast, I can put weight on my toe so can now toe touch while I use my crutches. That makes life MUCH easier! I can also stand in one place with a little weight on my left toe so I can actually do dishes or cook. So far, my "good foot" is holding up well to the extra stress. I'm still bored absolutely to death, but as I can do more with less pain, my attitude is improving.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My boring life

Well, I'm bored half to death. My foot isn't really any better and the thought of 4 more weeks off work is pretty much killing me. I am, however, in a much better mental state since talking to one of my friends from another zoo who missed a YEAR of work following a freak accident that nearly left her blind. She was in town last week and we met Thursday night for dinner and a nice long vent session. I think I needed to hear myself express all of my ridiculous concerns out loud to realize how silly I was being. She made me realize that as much as this injury sucks, it is giving me the gift of time. Time to de-stress and decompress and really think about what I need to change and how I can be a better and happier person at work. Time to calmly and logically deal with Logan's reading issues and time to take him to ear doctor appointments. Time off with my son during his surgery and recovery. Time off with my family over Christmas break.

My only problem is that I really work better under pressure. The fewer time constraints I have, the less I accomplish. That was probably the thing I disliked the most about not working outside of home. I am still totally dependant on crutches, so I can't be on my "good foot" (formerly my bad foot) for long periods. Also, my shoulders ache from the crutches. I need to accomplish SOMETHING at home during my time off!

The kids got their mid-term grades. Kaylin kept up her As. Logan brought up his Cs in Reading and Language Arts to Bs! His nightly reading practice is paying off! I've really noticed how much his spelling has improved as he becomes a better reader. That's what I assumed would happen last year, but I guess his reading never improved enough. I've said it before, but I think he really just needed to be told there was a problem and that knowledge gave him the kick he needed to improve on his own. He needed to understand the school work was actually important. He didn't care before. He cares now.

We got 4 or 5 inches of snow Friday night and the kids have been thrilled. They played outside until 9pm Friday and were up early Saturday and back outside. PawPaw picked them up at noon and took them sledding. This morning they were out in the freezing cold playing some more. Then the neighbor kids joined them and now all 5 kids have been inside for the past two hours. Gene told them they needed to get out of the living room and be quiet for the Bears game that started at noon, but the girls are by the window playing DS and the boys have a hockey rink set up in the middle of the floor, with flying sticks and yelling and balls everywhere. Littlest Boy is standing directly behind a goal and I'm waiting for him to get smacked in the face with a stick. I guess that's a positive aspect of being in the cast and on crutches- Gene can get his bloody little body bundled into snow pants and boots and carry him bawling home to mama. Great, all three boys have now started playing tackle hockey, wrestling on the ground. At least sticks aren't involved.

I guess I'll pay bills and balance my checkbook. Maybe I'll take a photo and have Christmas cards made or maybe I'll skip it this year. Dunno.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Logan's ears

Yay! Logan's ENT appointment went very well! He's scheduled to have ear tube and adenoid removal surgery on December 15th. I'm thrilled to get the surgery in this calendar year when we've already met some of our huge insurance deductible. Before seeing the doctor, Logan saw the audiologist and had his hearing tested. She said he has no inner ear damage and therefore none of his hearing loss is permanent. Hooray for that! She also said his ear drums in both ears aren't vibrating at all so his hearing is pretty bad right now, especially in situations like school where there's a lot of background noise when the teacher is talking. That's also possibly why I hadn't noticed the increasingly bad hearing at home because without all the "clutter noise" he seems to hear me just fine.

The doctor surprised me speechless with the adenoid surgery. I had obviously expected ear tubes, but since I don't know what adenoids are or what they do, I hadn't considered their removal. Logan's not a big mouth breather or snorer; it wasn't something I'd thought of. Anyway, he said adenoids work as a "sewer" for the eustachian tubes, keeping the tubes filled with fluid. In kids Logan's age removing the adenoids almost always helps noticeably with the ear problems. Ok. The doc picked up on my surprise and went on about how we could wait and see and do the adenoids later, but I assured him I was just surprised and needed time to process the news. I most certainly DO want them removed if it will help Logan hear better!

Meanwhile, a nurse at the office scared me straight about my torn tendon! She went on and on about a similar problem she had last year, but her tendon (probably the same one) completely ruptured. She had multiple surgeries that included removing tendon from another part of her body and transplanting it to her foot. She also had much of her foot and ankle rebuilt with metal plates. YIKES! My foot hasn't touched the ground since hearing that horrible story! I will be a good girl and use crutches and bear no weight on my foot!

My good news about my foot was that I complained to my doc about how awful my air cast is when I am just sitting in my chair. I told him I understand my foot needs to be stabilized, but it hurts worse with the 10 pound cast dragging it sideways (due to gravity) and isn't there something LIGHTER I can wear while I'm sitting around doing nothing? (The air cast is a walking boot with a thick sole and goes up to my knee- good for working in, bad for sitting around with your feet up!) He gave me a very lightweight surgical shoe. Yippee! It's like going from steel toed hip waders to flip-flops! Soooooooo much more comfortable!