Last Tuesday, I returned the walker to the doctor for ever and ever, amen. I'm now sporting a leopard-spotted cane and I am awesome. The doctor sort of freaked me out at my appointment because he was so surprised by my nerve pain he wouldn't let me leave. He was probably in the room with me for 40 minutes asking the same questions over and over. I was really thinking maybe things were worse than I thought. Well, I've improved a lot over the past several days. I still have some nerve pain, but it's steadily improving. I'm still using the cane, but I can walk around the house without it.
I had a coupon for 25% off my entire purchase at Michaels and I wanted to get the kids some stocking stuffers. I figured I knew where I was going and Michaels isn't a huge store. I could handle it. Not. Friday morning I took my first solo shopping trip since the surgery. Well, Michaels changed their entire store around and I had to walk more than expected. Ouch! At least I got my shopping done and won't have to go back on Black Friday. But- lesson learned; I'll stay away from the big stores for a while longer.
Thursday was Logan's 10th birthday AND his parent-teacher conference. My baby is in double digits, sniff, sniff. Logan was very excited and took cupcakes to school and got his favorite pizza for dinner and Sweet CeCe's for dessert. He wasn't happy about going to school on his birthday, but he had a good day anyway. I was a little nervous about the conference because I've dealt with this teacher before and she came off as not being very interested or caring. Ha! She's one of those teachers who values a good boy. She kept me there the entire 15 minutes, going on and on about how well-behaved and helpful Logan is compared to the typical boys. I was sort of torn between "Yeah! My kid's good!" and "Why do you teach if you can only stand the perfectly behaved children?" I know, I know... I want all teachers to be fantastic and take the time to understand each individual child and actually care. Teachers aren't paid enough, blah, blah. Well, the good ones aren't in it for the money!
The kids are off school today (Monday) so we came to Wisconsin Dells for their long weekend. I wanted to be cleared by my doctor to take this trip, so I didn't book a room at Great Wolf Lodge until after my appointment on Tuesday. Yikes! I almost blew it! Fortunately, I had a good coupon for the room. Unfortunately, all of the cheap rooms were taken. We have this ridiculously huge room with a king size bed and living area on the lower floor, and a loft with a queen sized bed upstairs. We also have a fireplace and a balcony. And three TVs. And the biggest hotel bathroom I've ever seen! We brought the wheelchair, but we're not terribly far from the pool or the restaurants so I've been able to walk most of the time. I can't swim because I can't be barefoot on the concrete, but it's been wonderful to be out of the house, even if I'm mostly still reading and watching TV.
We got Logan the birthday party package, and even though he's almost too old for it, he's really enjoyed the trip being all about him. Our room door is decorated and he got a pizza and salad meal, a cake, a build-a-bear type stuffed animal, candy, arcade tokens, a birthday button, bag, disposable camera and strangely, a scrapbook. Uhhh... I guess they had to do something with the scrapbooks that didn't sell in the gift shop? Just what every 10-year-old boy wants! Anyway, we've all been having a great time. Yesterday we ate at a restaurant where a train delivered our food. It was absolutely pouring rain all day so we then went to an indoor amusement park where Gene and the kids rode bumper cars, go carts and many other rides while I played some arcade games. They had an amazing ropes course where the kids were harnessed and walked across tightropes and all kinds of stepping stones in the air and other obstacles. They both loved it. They've also spent countless hours swimming and in the arcade at our hotel. Logan has probably ridden the glass elevator hundreds of times now. He has to come check in with Gene or me every 15 minutes, but he goes up and down over and over and over. I'm shocked they haven't kicked him off or come to talk to us about it.
This trip was also planned around my birthday and my big birthday adventure was going up to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to bird. It's about an hour drive, so I left a little before 6am so I'd arrive around sunrise. It's an absolutely gigantic reserve, and as I drove in, flocks and flocks of sandhill cranes were flying out. I went to the observation platform first (a short walk on a flat trail) and there were still hundreds and hundreds of cranes hanging around. I then went to the visitor center and found hundreds more. The refuge is supposed to be a major stopover for ducks and other migrating waterfowl, but I was either in the wrong place in the reserve (this place covers miles and miles) or else I was too late in the year, because I only saw a few Canada geese and mallards. I drove 45 minutes back to the other pools known for waterfowl migration and both were nearly empty except for a pair of whooping cranes so close to my car I didn't even need binoculars! The water in the lake they were in was drawn way down and they could wade "ankle deep" through the entire area. It was neat to see them so close, but of course they quickly flew much farther away. I also saw a few bald eagles, a harrier and lots more sandhill cranes, geese and mallards. I had been hoping to find crossbills and redpolls, but the ONLY small birds I found were American tree sparrows. On the long drive from the visitor center to the pools with the whooping cranes, I stopped for every small bird I saw. I saw hundreds, perhaps thousands, and every single one was an American tree sparrow. Whoop. Around 10am, it started pouring rain, so I headed back to the resort. It was a good trip with the thousands of sandhill cranes and the great look at the whoopers, but I was hoping to see 50 different species and I saw maybe 10. Oh well, cranes are always wonderful :)
This morning the kids want to swim in the waterpark one last time. I imagine we'll stop at the cheese store on the way out of town. The goal is to get home in time to pick up Scout the wiener dog from his weekend of boarding before the vet's office closes. I got two wonderful nights of sleeping without a dog, but I must miss him a lot because last night I dreamed about dogs all night long. It's been a great weekend. Hopefully we'll have a safe and uneventful drive home.