Monday, August 26, 2013

Stupid Foot, Part 94

I had an MRI on my foot a week ago Monday and found out that I tore a tendon.  Again.  And this time I have absolutely no clue about a specific incident that would have caused this fairly major injury.  It is extremely upsetting and frustrating to not understand how and why I am injuring myself.  Back in mid-July I had what felt like very tight calves and ankles in both legs/feet.  The right leg improved to completely better in a few days.  The left calf improved, but my entire left foot started to hurt more and more each day.  Several different tendons were inflamed and painful.  At one point I had a large lump on the bottom of my foot but it went away.  After about a week and a half the pain became unbearable and there was swelling on the outer side of my foot that prevented me from putting on a shoe.  That was July 30th.  I haven't been back to work since.

I have spent my month off trying to come to terms with the fact that it is time to start looking for another, less physically demanding career.  I've talked to my doctor, my bosses, friends, family and people in the career centers at ICC and ISU.  I have a call in to some lady at an employment agency.  I've revised my resume and am signed up for a career change class.  I'm signed up at several job posting sites and will add my resume soon.  I'm constantly googling different jobs and ideas.  It totally sucks.  I don't want to leave the zoo.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to make the best of a bad situation.  I'm enjoying my extra time with the kids and the pets.  This weekend we learned that Gage is a water dog.  We took him down to the river for the millionth time, but for some reason this time he LOVED playing in the water.  It was beyond cute to see him leaping along the edge, barking at the waves.  Then he played swim fetch for sticks over and over until we had to leave.  I wish I could take him more often, but the river is pretty disgusting and he will need a bath every time he goes in.

The kids started school and are glad to be back with friends.  Logan isn't much of a school lover in general, but he's enjoying having a locker and switching classes.  Since he isn't in band or other music, he has to take French.  He's not impressed, but I think it's great.  Kaylin is thrilled because she got into algebra.  She took a test at the end of last school year and the teacher said she did great, but she didn't know for sure if she was one of the "lucky ones" to place into the class until the first day this year.

I have a doctor appointment on Thursday and will find out whether I get to go back to work Sunday.  At this point it could go either way.  If I do go back it will almost certainly be in the boot and with restrictions.  My foot still hurts, but it's much better than it was...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wisconsin Dells

I've had another major setback with my feet, have been off work for more than 2 weeks and still don't know exactly what's going on.  I know I have tendonitis in several different tendons in my left foot and I'm in a lot of pain that's not improving much with rest and time.  I have an MRI scheduled Monday that will hopefully help figure out if something else is going on.  I've had cortisone shots, wraps, different meds and am back in the boot cast.  I'm making some tough decisions about work while getting a dose of reality about the current job market.  I'm having a rough month and haven't felt like writing about it.  I still don't.

The kids finished their final week of Camp Zone and I was surprised at how fine both were with summer being basically over.  They both loved camp, but are ready to go back to school.  They enjoyed their final week out of school by mostly staying inside.  Logan played video games with the neighbor boys and Kaylin hung out with Kira.  I couldn't get Columbus Day off work for our annual trip to Tanner's Orchard and the small town of Bradford, so we went ahead and did it this week.  We added the nearby town of Wyoming to our trip and the kids enjoyed the town's park so much we will probably have to go back.  On Columbus Day, the playground at Tanner's costs $10 to enter.  My kids are too big for the pony and barrel train rides so we haven't been to the playground for a couple of years.  Tuesday it was free and they actually had a good, nostalgic time playing on the old tractor tires and hay bales.  They were too big for most of the play structures and felt awkward trying to dodge the little kids, but it was fun.  I also got a photo of them on the same teeter-totter as when they were 1 and 3.  I will have to scan the old photo so I can do a side-by-side 10 years apart.  It's pretty cute.

We're currently in Wisconsin Dells.  We have stayed at Great Wolf Lodge many times over the years and decided to try Kalahari this time.  We stayed here once before when the kids were really little, but it has expanded a LOT in that time.  Kaylin doesn't like the crazy, scary water slides Kalahari is famous for and both kids prefer Great Wolf's huge wave pool.  Kalahari has an indoor theme park with go karts, mini golf, a ropes course, climbing wall, multiple rides and tons of other stuff including a huge arcade.  Great Wolf has a huge arcade.  However, there is an even bigger indoor theme park practically in their parking lot called Knuckleheads.  Everyone prefers Knuckleheads.  Kalahari has a more fun atmosphere with themed shops and restaurants, fountains and better looking d├ęcor.  Great Wolf is dated and worn-looking.  Kalahari has photo ops with baby tigers and coatis.  Well, that's sort of a deal breaker for me!  I can't tell you how much I hate this practice because these baby animals- no matter how endangered- are poorly bred FOR the photo ops, taken from their mother to be bottle fed- again for the photo ops, and then sent to spend the rest of their lives either breeding more babies for photo ops, stuck in a rescue facility or in questionable traveling shows that do ridiculous and reprehensible things such as breeding ligers.  It's a bad, bad practice I can't support.  I was sure everyone would be crazy for Kalahari and we'd come back over and over, but we probably won't.  We all want to try out the Wilderness Resort next time.  Kalahari is fun, but we can do better.

Thursday, we went to the International Crane Foundation for the first time as a family.  I absolutely love the place and have been there many times, but usually go alone.  Gene and Kaylin weren't too excited about the visit, but they ended up loving it.  How can you not love a zoo that is nothing but cranes?  Friday, we checked out the Timbavati Wildlife Park for the first time.  It took over an old Dells park (I think it was called Storybook Land) and is responsible for breeding the photo op tiger cubs.  The place is a giant craphole and I hope it fails.  I could write pages about how horrible this place is, but I'll stick to what I hated the most.  Number One would be the bird exhibits.  There was no barrier between the birds and humans other than the wire mesh covering the cages.  The cages weren't small, but they weren't very tall and birds that would normally be perched were on the ground without adequate cover for hiding.  There was a crow that completely enjoyed all the human interaction, but there were two eagles and a falcon that were obviously stressed.  The falcon was on the ground panting, but it was only 65F and it was in covered shade.  HORRIBLE!  The second thing I hated was the zebra/ostrich exhibit.  They had a huge yard, but were fed along the public fence line.  I was petting the zebras who were so used to it they didn't react and I even touched an ostrich.  This is just stupid and begging for a lawsuit when someone's kid gets bitten.  I then discovered that other than the big cat area and the primate/small carnivore area, most of the animals had no extra barriers to prevent the humans from touching them through the fence.  This can lead to transmission of disease both ways, unwanted bites, I could go on and on about why this whole zoo is a bad idea...  I will give them one praise- Their giraffe/camel feeding area was amazing and super fun.  You could buy a large Dixie cup full of carrot sticks for $4 and the 3 giraffes and 3 camels (separate yards, same feeding platform) were right there eating like piggies.  Even having worked with and having regularly hand-fed both giraffes and camels, I have to admit that was really fun.

I forgot to mention that the Timbavati tickets were included with our stay at Kalahari.  Also included were tickets to the Tommy Bartlett waterski show.  This show is something I would NEVER have considered doing without free tickets.  The general admission tickets for our family would have cost around $90.  And a waterski show sounds kind of stupid!  I have to admit that we all really liked it.  They did some amazing things and it was fun to watch.  Then, the second half of the show was jugglers and circus-type performers and was equally enjoyable.  I don't think I'd pay full price to go back, but if we got free tickets I'd probably go again.

This morning we're planning on swimming at the water park one last time, maybe hitting the indoor theme park again and then the kids REALLY want to go to the Deer Park.  I'm not normally much of a hot tub lover, but the heat and jets have helped my foot more than anything else I've tried, so I'm going back for more!  I don't know if we'll really go to the Deer Park, but it is something we all love.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kaylin's Birthday Party

It's August and I've been such a blog slacker that I never wrote about Kaylin's birthday party!  Kaylin's group of friends at day camp call themselves the Gooseberries.  She wanted a party with the Gooseberries and we discussed all kinds of options such as go karts at Kartville or painting ceramics at Fired Up.  I'm normally willing to shell out extra money to NOT have to host guests at my house, but these ideas were becoming incredibly expensive and the party length was nowhere near as long as Kaylin wanted.  I wasn't too thrilled with the thought of both an expensive activity and time at home.  We studied our options over and over and finally came up with the idea of having a "messy" theme party.

I will admit that the messy theme started out as a joke.  We were discussing different things the girls could do at our house and Kaylin said that Dad would freak over the mess.  I laughed and said that we might as well just go ahead and make the theme of the party "messy" and Dad would have to deal.  We then started coming up with all kinds of messy games to drive Daddy crazy and the joke started to sound really fun.  We moved our ideas from centered around Gene's chair and TV to outside and the perfect party was born.

Kaylin wanted a long party, but not a sleepover.  That seemed like a good tradeoff to me, but how do you keep 6 girls entertained for 5 hours?  Lots and lots of messy activities.  We had squirt guns, water balloons, sidewalk chalk, cans of shaving cream, bubbles, markers and a white plastic table cloth, pudding, whipped cream and 4 pounds of cooked spaghetti for the spaghetti fight.  I'm usually very against wasting food like that, but a spaghetti fight sounded too fun.  For dinner, we decided to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over our portable fire pit.  I was pretty surprised to find that out of all the messy activities, the gooey marshmallows were by far the worst.  Kaylin originally wanted to have a flour fight, but I was having terrible visions of furious moms cursing me for their daughters' heads full of flour-pasty hair.  I had to nix the flour fight.

We moved the kitchen table and chairs to the back patio and while Gene thought I was nuts, that was probably the best decision of the party.  The girls showed up and I was shocked at how long they sat at that table, talking and drawing with markers on the white plastic table cloth.  While they were all together and relatively quiet, I told them I didn't care how much of a mess they made, but there was one rule- Keep the spaghetti in the front yard so the dogs can't eat it!  I can only imagine how sick our two stupid dogs would be from eating 4 pounds of spaghetti!  They would probably die.

Speaking of dogs, Gage absolutely loved the party.  He loved the action and attention and allowed the girls to spray him in the face with the hose and decorate him with wrapping paper and bows.  Gage wanted to be where the girls were and had a blast.  Scout and the cats kept an eye on the party, but tried to stay out of the action.

Once the messy activities started, the rest of the party was nonstop crazy.  The spaghetti fight lasted all of about 2 minutes.  It was worth it, though.  The girls then tore around the front yard with water guns and a slip and slide and plenty of shaving cream.  Gene left and went to Walmart, so I was able to get the majority of the spaghetti mess cleaned up before he got home.  I used a rake and scoop shovel and cleaned it up zoo keeper style.  After a while the girls were all STARVING, so we let them roast hot dogs over the fire.  I was a little nervous about 6 crazy girls, 1 crazy boy and FIRE, but they were all great about it.  We had S'mores for dessert and I'm sure everyone ate plenty of marshmallows because marshmallow residue was all over EVERYTHING. 

Before we knew it, the party was over and everyone was heading home.  I think everyone had a great time.  I was even glad to have hosted.  We spent about an hour cleaning up and moving the table and chairs back inside.  The spaghetti left in the yard sort of dissipated over the next week or so and the rain took care of the rest of the mess.  It turned out to be a perfect party for Messy Kaylin's 13th birthday.