Sunday, March 30, 2008

Post-Vacation Sucker Punch

I'm sick, people. I'm very, very sick. I'm sick in the head is what I am.

Jonathan came down with a crazy-bad head cold during the last three days of our Florida trip. He was a trooper, doing Busch Gardens by day, but walking into our hotel room each dinnertime with an announcement of, "I'm tired. I don't feel good. I'm going to bed." And he burrowed under the covers 3.5 seconds later, not to emerge until the following day. By our last day in Florida, there was a slight burning in my chest - which is a good sign of, um, nothing good.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with Jonathan handing me his dirty tissues for 3 days straight, tissues he is apparently incapable of disposing of himself despite my 3-step instructional tutorial I freely offered every chance I got.

"First, honey, you wrap up the boogers in the tissue. No, YOU do it, they're YOUR boogers. Then, sweety, you throw the tissue away. No, not on my lap, in the trash can. And Boo, you need to wash your hands. Yes, you do. Yes. You do. Please. Please?"

But as we all know, it is written in the fine print that mothers are obligated to handle all bodily functions no matter how gooey, and so I stuffed my backpack with 8,283 tissues and followed Jonathan around, ready to prevent as much projectile mucous-sharing as I could.

I was talking a bit with Kelly about penance. To punish myself for my shameless bragging that I was in a warm place when most of you weren't (excepting Joanne, who had the foresight to simply move to said warm place rather than continually moan about wanting to live in said warm place - what a concept!), I did a bit of jogging to flog myself for it. I do not like to jog. I especially do not like to jog at 10:30 am when it is already so humid in Florida that breathing is like sticking your face into a sauna the size of a ziplock bag. But the road was flat and my running shoes were packed (Whatever was I thinking?) and I had to find a way to stop the osmotic absorption of nine restaurant dinners into my thigh tissue, so I laced my sneakers and took off.

But Kelly kindly pointed out (too late) that penance is not usually necessary as karma will inevitably take care of things. Thanks, Kelly, thanks for the timeliness of your message. Really.

So here I am, propped up in front of my computer, only because if I have to lay prone for one more second I fear my back muscles will contort beyond the point of no return, wrapped in the biggest comforter I could find, with a scarf wrapped around my neck, a box of tissues (my third) at the ready, a steady stream of hot tea (thanks to sweet Jonathan who fills my cup and asks, "Can I get anything for you? A sandwich?"), and doing shots of anything I can find in Rob's homemade pharmacy which promises relief anywhere in the upper half of my body. Usually I am fairly openly hostile about Rob's love for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, insisting most things need to run their course and his body would heal itself if he'd just let it. But not today. When I woke at 4am, sure I had pneumonia and obsessing about how drowning in my own mucus will be such a horrible way to die, I suddenly became willing to drink or swallow anything with "relief" written on the label and tasting like toxic-cherry-bubble gum-waste. And how's that working for me you ask? Well, I now have an acid stomach, which does, believe or not, sometimes take my focus off the feeling that my sinus cavities are about to do an Old Faithful any minute now.

I don't know if it's being in a house of boys that does it, but the bedside manner 'round here is just so-so, with Brady asking, "Oh, you're sick?" despite my incessant moaning from the couch region of the house, and Rob telling me to "Go lay down!" like I'm a dog or something. He does do a pretty amazing infomercial for all the OTC drugs we have in our house, most of which I've never seen much less used myself. I wonder if we put him on youtube he'll get royalties or something? "Side effects may include severe dizziness, abdominal bleeding, divorce papers served by your wife's cutthroat attorney, and uncontrollable wheezing. Ask your doctor if MucusBeGone is right for you."

And, of course, there's the especially nasty karmic sting that we always get sick on weekends, when we're given the unattractive choice between suffering (and panicking during my late-night irrational bouts of "I think I'm going to die. Rob." nudge nudge "No really, I think I'm dying. I'm drowning in my own phlegm. I think my lungs are filling up. Rob." nudge nudge poke) and paying three thousand times more to see a doctor who's surely not covered by any insurance plan within a hundred-mile radius and who will give you that look that says, "Ya, you and every other hypochondriac in here is doing to die this very minute," followed by, "I think it's a virus, go home and go to bed and if you get any worse between now and Monday (but we all know miraculous recoveries are pre-scheduled for 8am on Monday mornings), call an ambulance or something. That'll be 3 gazillion dollars, please."

Ok, I'm done whining. For now. I'm going to go do head-stands on the couch in hopes of unplugging my left ear (which has been plugged since yesterday and is going to drive me ape-sh*t-mad anysecondnow), snort salt water ala neti-pot-style, down another gallon of my homemade concoction of cayenne pepper, honey, and apple cide vinegar, and continue telling Rob to stop talking to me like I'm a dog.

But I hope you, my lovely friends, are having a delightful, snot-free day and a good chuckle at my throw-down loss to karma and her bad-*ss peeps.

I deserve it, I guess.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Florida Days 5-7 or "Tampa Bay, Here We Come"

Jonathan and his feathered friend.

All-group ice cream break, an absolute necessity.

We met up with my sister's family who arrived on Sunday and will get high 80s all week. Which really isn't fair at all.

View from our hotel room. Oooh, aaaahhhhh.

Armando was riding in style.

Brady managed to jump into about 3/4 of the photos I took. It was his week's mission. It wasn't annoying at all. Really.


On Monday, the Batista family (my sis) joined us! We hit Busch Gardens for 2 days and spent some time at the pool. Unfortunately, the weather never really cooperated to do the beach thing again, as it actually got down to the 40s at night.

Please stop laughing. No, really. I can hear you. You have an evil laugh. It wasn't all that funny.

Busch Gardens was a blast and especially fun with so many of us. I rode the Sheikra again because, apparently, I have some sort of death wish or masochistic streak. All the way up to the 800-floor drop (slight exaggeration) I close my eyes and mutter things like, "This is stupid. Why am I doing this? This is stupid. Why am I doing this?" with a few "ohmygod"s in along with a few choice expletives while my brother cackles at my discomfort next to me. I did, obviously, survive, but I had to go lay down in the bougainvillae for a while afterward. Brady went on it a dozen times, eventually working his way up to the front row the crazy nut. This from a kid who only two years ago, wouldn't do scary rides at our county fair. My how far he's come.

And now we fly back to IL where a snowstorm is due in the next few days.

I can still hear you laughing. And it's really starting to irk me.

We say bye-bye to palm trees (not native), white sand (trucked in), and excellent seafood (over-fished waters) until next time and head back to the land of turtlenecks and pasty, white skin and seafood that tastes like mush.

Ah well.

Life is good.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Florida Day 4 or "Dolphins, Cousins, and Chocolate, Oh My!"

In Florida, sometimes dolphins come right up to your boat.

In Florida, we have cousins. From D.C.

In Florida, the Easter Bunny leaves a trail of chocolate from bed to living room, just like at home.

But in Florida, you have to swim to get to your chocolate eggs.

Which causes Brady to say, "Next year, I'm leaving traps for that darn rabbit."

Catching air on Easter morning is fun in Florida.

And I finally found a partner in seashell hunting. Brady's hooked.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Florida Day 3 or "Everything's Better in Florida"

Even a rainy day is better in Florida.

Last year, Panama. This year, Florida. Wonder where we'll color eggs next year?

Maybe, Just Maybe, it will be somewhere tropical.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Florida Day 2 in Pictures

A nice quiet day at the beach with a few (thousand) folks.A cheeseburger as big as your head for dinner.A game of euchre while we wait to be seated.A laugh or two or twenty with my main squeeze.

A pose by the pool.
And with my mum.
And with my brother (who's single and incredibly funny and does hilarious impressions).
Life is good.

Florida Day 1 or "Ooooh, Ahhhhhh"

The view from our back porch. Oooh, ahhhh.....
Jonathan has big pipes. Oooh ahhh....
Jonathan whooping up on his (single, employed, good- GREAT-with-kids) uncle Matt in a game of HORSE.
Brady, our documentarian, narrating a video tour of our rental house.

Poolside view from the living room. Oooh ahhhh....
Speaking of poolside... there's a lawn chair and a cup o'java with my name on it...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

We're leaving for a spring break trip to Florida in less than two hours, but because I'm soooo ultra-organized, here I am, blogging. Truth be told, I tend to procrastinate quite a bit when I'm prepping for a trip, and this time was no different. And then my procrastination bites me in the butt when unscheduled events decide to make an appearance just about the time I really really REALLY need to be packing. This time, a visitation for a 12 yr old boy (I didn't know the boy but I went to school with his poor mum) and a request for a haircut.

Jonathan had been asking for a haircut for days, but in my distracted ADD-addled way, I kept forgetting. He'd ask at inopportune moments like when we were driving down the road or leaving for somewhere or just as my eyelids grew heavy toward slumber, so I'd put him off with a "remind me tomorrow" postponement.

Well, last night, he begged. I'd just begun settling in after an emotional and long visitation, when Jonathan flopped his mop of hair in front of me. "See, Mom? I'll be hot in Florida!" And then he continued. "See, Mom? My hair will be in my eyes when I swim!" He forged on. "See, Mom? It's TOO LONG." (For the record, a week ago, when I suggested a haircut, it was not too long.) And he made some pleading faces at me, full-out desperation.
His hair has been getting a bit unruly lately and his head seems to be allergic to combs, too. As I combed it last night, he groaned about the comb touching his scalp. It seems when HE combs his hair, he goes only for the ends. He likened it to getting something under your fingernails - "Your body isn't used to having something touch there, so it feels bad. That's how my head feels!" he said, as he ouch-ouch-ouched his way through the most gentle combing I could manage.

I got to work. When I cut Rob's hair, I charge "one shopping spree" in hopes he'll see the financial benefit in going to a barber. But for Jonathan I only charged a couple of hugs.

Here's proof that I was midway to pajama land when he begged me to cut his hair. Those are pajama pants I'm sporting with my newly-purchased top. It's a new fashion statement I'm starting in the cornfields. Sort of a glam-mom-meets-afternoon-naps look. How's it workin' for me?
It'd been a while since anyone had seen Jonathan's neck. Isn't it a great neck?
And those ears! Who knew? He's got great ears. We haven't seen them since sometime in early 2007.
The pile of hair on the floor freaked me out a bit. Rob swept it up and there was so much it looked like a very hairy cat had died on my kitchen floor. And the amount was astounding. I have thin, fine hair, so it's an odd thing to feel envy for a pile of hair clippings on the floor. But I did.

Jonathan was a little freaked out when I was finished. And he kept complaining that he was c-c-c-cold without his shaggy mane to cover his head.

But soon enough he began to like his new, airy head. Now he's all set for swimming in Florida.

And even though it took a try or two...

He did finally pay up. In full.

Happy Spring Everyone! Will post from Florida if I'm not too busy sunning myself, drinking coffee on the beach, hunting for seashells, or screaming on the Sheikra (AGAIN) at Busch Gardens.

In other words, see you when I get back, good people.


Monday, March 17, 2008

My Small Dog is Too Big

You remember I told you my dog Duchess got a new bed? After perusing all the drab, dull, uninspired doggie beds whenever I was out shopping, I finally happened upon this pillow at World Market. I loved the pillow instantly but it's too big for my couch. A dog bed it became.

Duchess loves to snuggle on it by the woodburning stove, where she sometimes gets so hot she pants. But she won't move away. She loves her bed too much. She'll suffer heat stroke before she'll move away from her bed. Life is good for Duchess on her new, cozy pillow. And it's fashionable too.

There's just one problem.

This: It seems she is a tad too big for her bed. The other day I found her flopped over the edge like this.

Doesn't look very comfortable.
When I sleep like that, I have neck cramps for days.

Dutch, Honey, you alright?

You don't look so good.

You need a little pink pill? Mama's here for you, poochie, Mama's here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An Update and a Science Lesson (or six)

Wow, 20 comments. Not only is that a personal blog record, but it was so uplifting to receive your comments in my inbox, one by one. They made me smile each time, and I needed that - boy did I need that. And thank you to those who sent emails, too - I will be responding, soon!
To add a little more, Jonathan came down with a high fever - on the day of the farm closing, naturally. So while he was fever'ing on the couch, Rob had to rearrange several appointments to come home and take him to the doc while I ran off to the closing that was to take 10 minutes but, naturally, took three hours. Oh, and all the while, Brady had to wait for me to pick him up from school - two hours late. (Oops)

So here's the news for now.

I'm part-owner of a farm.
I'm also the secretary of the Family Corporation. Please address all future correspondence as such. Ahem.

Brady is 99% certain he will come home to unschool next year.
Keep sending those great "got yer back, grrrl" vibes, because my thin skin is taking a beating on this one. And we haven't even told many folks yet. Aye.

And let's see, what else... I don't have ovarian cancer! That was another thing eating at me. I've been having some strange pains during ovulation, once so badly I vomited, so my doc ran a blood test that is pretty reliable in detecting ovarian cancer. The trouble with ovarian cancer is this - if you catch it early, it's reasonably curable. If you don't, it's fatal. By the time a doc can detect anything wrong during a regular exam, it is often tipped toward the 'too late' stage. NOT a fun thought. My friend Diane went to my doctor at the same time and had the same test - she got her results days later, so I was trying very hard not to read into the fact that it took 4 weeks to get my results. My doc wrote in nice, large scrawl - "No Ovarian Cancer!" - with a big old smiley face on it.
Oh, and another thing - my dog is on Pepcid AC.
I kid you not. She's been vomiting. Frequently. I called the vet. His suggestion? 5-10 mg of Pepcid AC at mealtime. So I'm feeding my doggie the little pink pill. She also got a new doggie bed - ain't she stylin'?
Jonathan's fever lasted 4 days, so it was a mixed blessing to be cooped up in the house. It was a good excuse to shut out the world for a few days, but too much down time just makes me think too much so every evening I'd go to the fitness center and work myself silly, trying to shake off some of my angst.
On day 3, though, he was feeling better enough to be off the couch, and we were antsy. I pulled out a pack of science experiment cards that I bought at the homeschooling conference and they were a big hit. They're made by Usborne, and all of the experiments we've tried so far called for items you likely have around the house. Jonathan selected his favorite six and we got busy. For hours!
(Wait... unschoolers do science experiments?!? Who knew?!)
First, we made crystals. Mix baking soda into hot water and fill two jars. Take a 12-inch length of wool yarn and set the ends in each jar, suspending the yarn over a plate. After a week, you'll have crystals! We saw some by the end of the night!
Then, we tested the power of water pressure. Insert inch-long pieces of straw through the bottom of the bottle as shown, then pour water into the top very quickly - the downward force of the water should make the bottle spin as it drains through the straws. Here's a suggestion - use a 2-litre bottle. The water bottle we used was too small and it only began to spin by the time all the water had drained. A bust.
Next came 'Jumping Pepper.' I was quite amused by this one. Pour a dusting of black pepper into a plastic container and put on the lid. Rub the lid with wool for 30-60 seconds. The pepper should 'jump' to the lid and stick.
Then, take a paper clip and touch the lid. The paper clip will repel the pepper and it will either fall or scoot away. Does anyone know why?
For our third experiment we made a pinhole projector. Cut a 2x4" rectangle into one end of a shoebox and cover it with waxed paper. Use a thumbtack to make a pinhole in the opposite end.

Next, cover the end of a strong flashlight with wax paper. Out of cardstock, cut a triangle that is slightly smaller than the end of the flashlight and color it dark green or dark blue. Tape it onto the end of the flashlight. Now - go into a dark room and hold the lit flashlight about 3 feet from the pinhole while you look through the wax papered rectangle. Notice the orientation of the triangle before you look through the projector - now notice the orientation of the triangle as you look through the projector. What happens?

Next - Balloon rockets!

Cut a piece of string, about 10 feet long, and string it through a drinking straw. (I had trouble with this until Jonathan had the brilliant idea to suck it through!) Tie each end to a chair and set the chairs far enough apart to make the string taut. Then, inflate a balloon (and try to do this without your head exploding - oofda) and hold the neck closed while your partner tapes the balloon to the straw, like this:

And let go!

Project #5 was 'Quacking Duck Vibrations.' Make a hole in the bottom of a plastic cup and run a string through it as shown, knotting it so it won't slip through. Then, grab a handful of wet paper towel and, while holding the cup with one hand, run the wet towel quickly over the string from top to bottom. Do you hear a noise? Does it sound like quacking? (We thought it sounded more like a moaning mutt, actually.)

And we saved the best for last. GOOP. My kids have probably made goop a time or two in museum classes, and I'd heard of it but never actually made it. So simple - so addictingly fun! Mix 2 cups cornstarch to 1 cup water.

Add a few drops of food coloring, then mix with your hands.

Jonathan had his hands in the goop for about an hour straight. He was mesmerized!

And now, just to ensure this post is all over the map, I found this while working on the last youtube upload. Evie, your kids will really want to come over and play now - we have a sith lord in training here. And they could be sith lords too!

Thanks again for your kind words, everyone. Y'all just made my day.