Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Baseball Boy

Logan's intensity and hard work are really paying off at the ball field. The kid is amazing! In a league where half the kids are still clueless about basic baseball rules, Logan is completely focused on every aspect of the game. He keeps track of every out and every run for both teams. He hustles (sometimes too fast) and backs up other players without being a ball hog. He loves the game but still has fun with his teammates. Last night he hit a grand slam, a two run homer and a single. It was awesome!

It's REALLY weird to be the completely nonathletic, non-competitive parent of the "best kid on the team." I mean, I am SO PROUD of Logan's hard work, but I honestly couldn't care less if he's one of the best or worst players. The ultra-competitive parents scowl at Gene and me and we have even been asked about our "secrets" to getting him so focused. HA!!! As if we send him to private lessons with the Chiefs' batting coach or something! The "secret" is that LOGAN goes out and hits ball after ball after ball. Either by himself or with (mostly) Gene or me. He's out there every single day. When he takes a break from playing the game, he's watching every move the big leaguers make so he can imitate them. Then he begs Gene to hit balls to him so he can practice catching.

I never in a million years would have thought Gene and I could produce an athletic child. I'm pretty sure Gene is enjoying every second of our little run of "fame"- as he should. I am enjoying the thought that the competitive parents are looking at these uncoordinated doofuses and wondering if Logan was adopted? Relax, folks, the kids are only 8. Your kid will most likely get the baseball scholarship over mine. None of them are going to make it to the Majors. I'm just thrilled my kid is capable of such focus and drive. Hopefully these things will serve him well in the future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quicky update

Well, all good things must come to an end. The neighbor kids were in the house last night. Sigh. Oh well, it was a fun few weeks. I think my kids are sort of outgrowing them anyway. Logan wants to play sports 24/7 and the neighbor boys want to play video games and with trucks. Kaylin and Little Girl are also expressing their different interests. They'll still play together regularly, just (hopefully) not every moment we're home and awake!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Working for the weekend

I agreed to cover my usual Friday/Saturday days off for a coworker so he could go to a wedding this upcoming weekend. However, the way our pay periods work, we couldn't just trade weekends. I had to take two Mondays off instead of his usual Monday/Tuesday "weekend." Actually, I chose Mondays hoping Meghan would be able to go to a zoo or birdwatching one of those days. Yesterday we went to Brookfield Zoo and had enough fun that I'm hoping the memory will carry me through the next 6 straight days of work followed by one day off.

It was a rainy Monday morning and I picked up Meghan on the way to drop the kids off at day camp. We figured Brookfield has plenty of indoor exhibits and the threat of rain would keep the masses away. We were right. It turned out to be a beautiful day (lower or mid-70s) with some occasional very light rain and small crowds. The majority of the animals were outside, or if they were inside, they were visible in their indoor exhibit. The only animals I remember not seeing that I wanted to see were the red river hogs. And really, that's not much of a disappointment when I work with 10 of them every day!

One of the most exciting parts of the day was on the drive. We were almost to the zoo and stopped at a very long light when each of us noticed a hawk on a light pole. We quickly realized we were looking at different birds of the same type. They had a very distinctive pattern on their heads and Meghan said "I think they're peregrines!" I didn't think peregrines were that large and made her look them up in my bird book. Sure enough, a pair of peregrine falcons! My first! I think Meghan's first, too, but regardless, we were very excited.

Back to the zoo... We toured around and saw a baby wombat, an active aardvark, the beautiful new bear and bison exhibit, baby roadrunners, a very playful baby sea lion, lots of active big and small cats, dolphins and even two kinds of walkingsticks. It seemed that everything was active on this cool, cloudy day. Our last stop was The Fragile Desert building. We will soon be getting rock hyrax at our zoo and wanted to check them out. Our goal was to check out hyrax "output" and check the rest of the exhibit for hiding areas, food, bedding, etc. We had just walked up to them when a keeper happened by. We introduced ourselves as keepers who would soon be getting hyrax and asked how they are to work with? "Oh, they're AWFUL!" She then gave us an extensive behind the scenes tour and we met several other keepers who gave pained looks and offered condolences at our "misfortune." I wrote down tons of stuff and got invaluable information. Most of their major problems seemed to be with breeding animals of opposite sexes. We're getting a bachelor group that's been together their whole lives so hopefully we'll get lucky and hyrax will be fun and wonderful and shoot love and rainbows from all their orifices.

In other weekend news, we celebrated Kaylin's birthday at my parents' house Saturday evening. It was sort of a last second idea, thrown together because Ben and Sarah and the kids would be home. It worked out nicely. The kids were thrilled to play with their cousins and even Grandpa and Grandma Kaiser were able to come. Kaylin made and decorated the 4 layer cake. I was in charge of getting the cakes out of the pans and I stink at it. Advice would be welcome! Kaylin got all kinds of cake decorating stuff for presents so I imagine many more cakes in the near future.

My dad got Kaylin a tent and Gene helped set it up on Sunday. The kids were determined to sleep in it Sunday night, but by midnight it had started raining. I woke at 2am to strong thunderstorms, but the kids (and all their stuff) were already inside in their beds. Apparently Kaylin was too short to put the cover on the tent so it was rained on all night and part of Monday. I didn't get home early enough to deal with the wet tent last night. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to towel out the standing water and it can sun dry and not mildew. It's a great tent and both kids love it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks Georgia O'Keeffe!

Several weeks ago my dad took the kids to the new north library branch. They checked out a bunch of books, including a large coffee table book on the works of Georgia O'Keeffe. Kaylin was very excited about that book and spent a lot of time looking through it. Gene and I had both flipped through it a bit and it seemed excellent. Kaylin was inspired to lay in the yard and paint close-ups of flowers. Gotta love that!

One evening the neighbor kids were over. The boys were playing basketball outside and the girls were looking at the O'Keeffe book. I was laughing to myself that Kaylin was forcing the little girl to appreciate art when I heard the girls giggling and giggling. What on earth? Turns out the book included a few nude photos O'Keeffe's photographer husband took. The photos were beautiful and artistic, not vile and pornographic, but they were still nudes and quite surprising to the little girls. I teased Kaylin a bit that if she continues to take art classes in college she'll most likely draw or paint nudes. I tried to minimize the shock and then we concentrated on another photo of O'Keeffe fully dressed, but with hairy armpits exposed. Ewwwww. I didn't take the book away because the few photos were not sexual or disgusting, they were beautiful representations of the human body. I explained that to the girls, acted like it was no big deal and they went back to looking at flower and cloud paintings.

It suddenly occurred to me that Little Girl's mom would NEVER understand what had just happened. She's excellent at "lipreading" but to get from her young daughter or even from me that the "naked pictures" were in an art book and not porn? I better write her a note explaining what happened! I was searching for pen and paper when I realized that the neighbor lady thinking her kid was looking at porn at our house wasn't such a bad thing. I left it alone and said nothing and wrote nothing. That was several weeks ago and the kids who for years have come over nearly every day and usually beat me into the house when I pull in from work have barely been over and never once in the house. At least not while I'm at home! Bwa ha ha ha ha! If thinking we allow our kids to look at porn or just carelessly leave it about the house is what it takes to give us some peace from those kids, so be it!

Back to the book... The next morning I saw Kaylin trying to cram the O'Keeffe book into her backpack to take to school. Absolutely not! "Why? I want to show my friends her art." Yes, darlin' and then the boys will get wind of the nude photos and they will tear apart the $$$ book, it will be confiscated and I'll have to make a special trip to the office to retrieve it and pay big bucks to the library to replace it. NO WAY that book is going to school! Fortunately, Kaylin saw the sense in that argument. I still made her show me the book every morning before school until we returned it to the library because I KNOW that exact chain of events would have happened, probably along with a suspension.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

School's out!

It was a busy final week of school, a busy weekend and I'm finally getting around to recapping it. I had basically given up all hope that my sinus headache would ever completely go away, but Tuesday, after 8 days of headache, it was just gone. No more neti pot or allergy meds. Easy come, easy go. Thank goodness!

Kaylin had a great first year of middle school. Her attitude was excellent, her drive was amazing, her grades were excellent. I was very disappointed in the school system for wasting the third quarter drilling the kids for state achievement tests, but sadly, when the bulk of the funding is based on test scores, what can they do? Kaylin was completely burned out by the end of the year, but after a rough third quarter she brought her grades back up and finished the year as the top math student and a top student overall. It was an absolutely shocking change from her lazy, disorganized 4th grade year and I'm very proud. I definitely think we made the right decision to keep her out of the gifted school and its huge amount of extra work and allow her to figure out on her own what she's capable of if she gives a little effort.

Logan had a rough start to 2nd grade and was having an especially hard time with reading. His teacher scared me at his first conference with words like intervention. I freaked out for a couple of weeks before realizing my kid just didn't realize reading is important. I sat him down, told him how important reading actually is and in no time he was up to level. Suddenly everything clicked. Rather than spending HOURS memorizing spelling words, spelling just made sense. We'd go over his spelling list ONCE on the way to school Friday morning and other than the occasional tricky word, he easily got them right. Spelling and reading went from completely frustrating and hugely time consuming to nearly effortless. What a relief! Logan got the "Most Improved Reader" award in his class. I couldn't be more proud!

Summer baseball started this week. This is Logan's final year of Coach Pitch and he's loving it. He takes his baseball VERY seriously, is very focused and aware of all the rules. He knows how to cover other players and knows where to throw the ball. One of the other moms came up to us at Saturday's practice and complimented us on Logan's focus. She played softball her whole life and was working with her son to get him focused, etc. How did we do it? Um, HE did it. I seriously doubt you can teach your kid to love rules. Logan loves baseball and practices constantly. If he's not playing, he's watching games and observing what the pros do so he can imitate it. Gene and I just hope that all his practice and love of the game somehow make up for his extreme genetic disadvantage. :)

Kaylin's in her 2nd session of ceramics. This class is her perfect mix of art and mess. She loves it. I sort of hope that next session she goes back to drawing or tries painting because she is allowed to make unlimited stuff. I think two sessions worth of ceramic cups and pitchers and tiles and puzzles and STUFF will be plenty for a while! Or maybe she can get volume out of her system and work on quality over quantity?

Camp Zone starts today and I still have to label all the sun block and hand sanitizer and beach towels and extra outfits and pack the backpacks. Ugh. I also have to fill out the in case of emergency paperwork. I better get on it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The neti pot

I have had a sinus headache since Sunday. It was so bad on Tuesday I almost didn't make it through my workday and then called off work on Wednesday and went to the doctor. I didn't have a cold or allergies and wasn't having the copious nasal discharge I've had with the only other sinus infection I've had, but my ears were all stuffed up and my sinuses were so painful it hurt if I lightly brushed my face. My teeth hurt. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given antibiotics, prescription nasal spray and told to get allergy medicine and saline nasal wash.

I hit Walgreens for my meds, easily found the allergy stuff and was shocked at the enormous selection of saline nasal washes. There were special bottles, sprays, neti pots... Hmmm, neti pots. I'm always intrigued by the gross. I've watched videos of people using them. Yep, the neti pot is my choice.

I got home and took my first doses of prescription meds and an allergy pill. I figured I'd put off the neti pot because it would probably just flush out the nasal spray that almost instantaneously relieved a huge amount of my sinus pressure. The headache never went away, but the extreme pressure was gone for a few hours. When I felt it building again, I figured it was time. I watched a few "how to" videos on youtube. Dis. Gus. Ting.

I mixed up my saline powder in lukewarm water, inserted the spout into my right nostril, tilted my head, gagged and nearly drowned gulping saline through my nose. Fantastic. I bought the darn thing, I'm giving it another go. This time I tilted my head far enough forward that throat drainage was impossible. I breathed through my mouth. The sensation isn't quite like vomiting, but it is equally unpleasant. But just for a second. Then it is just weird; you are pouring water into one nostril and having it come out the other. Then I repeated the process with the other nostril. Then I blew my nose and spit a bunch of post-nasal saline solution. And just when I thought I'd NEVER do that again, I realized the pressure was gone.

Thanks to the neti pot, I was able to work on Thursday. My headache was still annoyingly bad, but when the sinus pressure built up and I almost asked to go home around 2pm, I used the neti pot and was easily able to finish my day. I used it again before bed and slept all night.

This morning I still have a dull headache. I plan to use the neti pot whenever the pressure builds. I'm gonna take it easy this weekend and try to get rid of the headache, but at least I know I'll be able to accomplish all my usual weekend chores. The neti pot... I guess I'm a fan.