Jun 26, 2007

Cookie Tossing

Matthew was sick last night. He started in around 8 pm when he emptied his stomach contents onto Bobby's lap, then the carpet, then into the toilet, then onto the tile floor, toilet again, and then twice into a bucket. By the 6th time Bobby was threatening me with a trip to the ER. I talked him out of it when he was able to hold down some water and Bunny Grahams around 11 pm. He never acted lethargic, was not running a fever and was acting like his normal self.

This morning he woke up a bit feverish, but acting normal and his stomach has been completely fine, so I am sure it was just a passing bug.

We have been a bit uneasy about kid-puke for about 4 years now... when Christopher was 5 some friends, the kids, and I had just returned from Six Flags. Christopher started acting funny on the drive home... he started being unusually lethargic, but after 12 hours in the sun we were ALL tired. The next clue was when he refused to eat anything, VERY unlike him, but again I blamed the day in the sun. That evening he started puking and running a fever, I figured maybe it was too many goodies, or too many roller coasters and let him sleep on the floor in front of the bathroom like he requested. The next morning he was still pale, lethargic and puking with fever but no diarrhea so I decided it was time to head to the ER for IV fluids.

When the fluids did not perk him up, they ordered an x-ray to find out why he only had vomiting, they worried about an obstructed bowel. When the x-ray was clean, the intern ordered an Cat Scan as a precaution. The radiologist came out and I remember his words exactly, "I think your son has an appendicitis, but I am not sure. I have consulted another radiologist, a specialist and a surgeon and we all agree we have NO clue what is wrong with him, honestly I have never seen images like these before but we all agree his appendix is larger than it should be". He went on to say that they were confused because Christopher did not appear to be in pain, did not exhibit any of the classic signs (retrocecal, psoas, obtruator, Rovsing's, or Blumberg's) these are tests like tapping of the knee or heel to see if the patient reacts. These are normally extremely accurate, so this is why everyone was confused. So the surgeon comes in and asks for permission to do exploratory surgery. I consent and they go in to find his appendix is in bad shape and there is foam all in his abdominal cavity. We figure we must have caught it early. His recovery went well, it took three days for him to leave the hospital and he was able to manage his pain on just Tylenol alone. He is also very proud of his 3 inch scar and shows it off to anyone who will look.

Anyways, to make a long story longer, since the appendix episode, Bobby tends to be a bit puke-shy, especially in the little ones who get sick out of the blue for no apparent reason and who toss their cookies more than 4 times (since the little one dehydrate easily). I don't blame daddy for being worried.


Update 4:00 pm

**Since writing this, Matthew started crying when I picked him up. I asked him to point to his owie and he had me kiss his right side of his belly near his belly button, so I have called the nurse at his pediatrician's office to see what they recommend. I am starting to feel the anxiety daddy felt last night and I am hoping it was a fluke thing.**

Update 11:00 pm

**The little faker is just fine and as soon as we got to the ER started acting like his normal self.**

Jun 25, 2007

My Own Wall of Shame: The Future Garden of Eden

Ok, since I sold the kids out on their messy room, it is time for me to confess a mess of my own, it's only fair.


We have a landscaping problem.




It all started out simply... in July '04 we bought our first home. Our 'yard' had nothing but weeds that we thought we could tame. The flower bed had silk flowers that we figured we could replace with a lush oasis of wildflowers, and it has a sprinkler system, with a timer! Soon we learned some things that made our hearts sink.


  • Our soil was made up primarily of sand, and we were lucky we could even get weeds to grow as ground cover.




  • Plants take a long time to mature.




  • Our sprinkler system was manufactured sometime before the birth of Christ, AND it was leaking.





From the time we purchased the home until last fall we tried everything from seeding and watering like crazy, planting a "tree" and shrubbery, to fertilizing, aerating, thatching, weed n' feeding, using round up, tilling, to finally throwing up our hands in disgust.

For the last two weeks I have been calling landscapers and arranging estimates. We have interviewed four landscapers, have one more coming on Wednesday and have received one estimate back for the total of around five thousand dollars. Some have given us a time line of having the work completed in anywhere from 3 weeks from now, to three MONTHS from now.

So without further adieu, I give you all my Yard of Shame.

~*~




This is a view of my front yard from the street... this is what all my neighbors see, this is my "curb appeal". Nice huh? Notice the lovely patches of dead grass. THAT is what type of grass grows when you don't have good top soil.

~*~




This is my sweet little "overgrown weed" as my neighbors refer to it; we get a lot of razzing for this sweet little tree. My mother, who lives in Washington, has a yard full of trees that are probably all 15-20 years old. This little guy was a volunteer from her maple tree that she put in a pot and gave to me to take home. I drove this little tree 1400 miles home to Colorado and planted it with the help of Bobby. Bobby does not love it as much as I do, and he is not against ripping it out and putting a more mature tree in.

~*~




This picture shows you how tiny this tree really is in comparison to my neighbors trees. The sad thing is, the two neighbors on the same side of the street as us also have young trees. Theirs were the classic 1 1/2 inch diameter trees that one can usually find at a nursery, I expect our little maple to be the size of their trees in 3-5 more years.

~*~




This is my sad little flower bed. The saddest part is, you can barely see the difference between the Potentilla shrubs, and the tall weeds. However, the positive part of this picture is I have had the potentilla for 2-3 years and have not managed to kill it! This is impressive for me. Generations upon generations of talented gardening genes in my family, from my paternal and maternal sides, have all managed to skip over me. However, these messy little bushes are a vast improvement over silk flowers sticking out of bead-board.

~*~




This is my lovely sprinkler system (not the hose, though that would probably work better). It has a timer, but the previous owners said it did not work, and the timer is mounted in my basement behind my washer and dryer, so even if it DID work, we could not get to it. We also found out that the pipe broke sometime before we moved in and so we have been throwing money out the window each and every day as this thing leaks all over the place.

~*~



This is my backyard. It has no sprinkler system and no landscaping (unless you count weeds, overgrown ivy, holes from the dogs, or chewing damage from the dogs landscaping). The fence is thrice the age of the home and needs replaced badly, however we need to get our two neighbors to agree to do a couple things. The neighbor to the north of me would have to kill his ivy and replace his own fence that is putting weight on mine. Being he has 4-5x more fence than we do this is easier said than done. The neighbor to the west of me would have to replace a retaining wall that the previous owners of their house ripped out. The husband is deployed to Iraq and the wife barely speaks English so this is not happening either. Those two 2x4's you see are from a windstorm we had that caused the fence to partially collapse since about a quarter of my support fence posts are rotted at the base and broken.

~*~





This is a view of the west part of our fence and most of our backyard. Those pieces of plywood are nailed to the fence to cover the holes my dogs are creating to assist the neighbor dog in her escape to my back yard. This is also where my yard is sinking into the neighbor's yard, along with my support posts for my fence making it that much more unstable.

~*~



Anyways, if you wish to view the entire set of pictures, make sure to visit my Flickr set titled "Yard of Shame". [Opens in a new window]

Jun 22, 2007

iProb

iThink iHave an addiction to my iPod.

Today I spent hours uploading all my old music CDs onto my iPod and now have almost 1700 songs on there... as well as videos and Podcasts... almost 8GB total. I can listen to songs for over 5 days without hearing the same song twice.

I have a little bit of everything on there, from Alice Cooper, Disturbed, Tool, The Rolling Stones, Ani DiFranco, Zero Seven, Led Zeppelin, John Mayer, DMX, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Talking Heads, The Beatles, Shawn Mullins, ICP, Tori Amos... I think you get the point... my music is a little eclectic.

Anyways... My name is Heather and I have a problem.

When you give a toddler a purse...


So I use long-range walkie talkies to communicate with my kids when they go out to play, that way if I need to call them in for dinner I don't have to go out and yell or search or knock on doors. Sometimes the children will forget to put them away and sometimes we will get on a bad channel and you will hear static and interference. Well this afternoon I hear static and we are looking for the walkie talkies and not finding them anywhere.



Finally we find the source of the noise... it is inside an old purse Matthew decided to steal from me. Here are pictures of what we found inside the purse.




From top left to right is: The walkie talkie (and Austin's hand), the purse. Next row left to righ: The Stereo remote, the DVR remote, my cellphone, my laptop mouse, Austin & Christopher's laptop mouse, my keys, and Matthew's right foot with his left boot.



Matthew was so proud of himself and giggled at each item we pulled out of the purse. I was shocked at how much that little purse could actually hold!

Jun 18, 2007

The Great Escape

So I have been homeschooling Austin for the summer so he can pass his assessment test for math that he did not pass in May. They suggested summer school or a private tutor but neither option worked for our schedule or budget. Occasionally he will get stuck or frustrated or just tired of sitting so I will tell him to take a break so he can move his body. Well tonight, while I am chopping broccoli for dinner he starts crying for no reason. He says he is not frustrated or upset, he is just crying; so I send him on a run so he can clear his mind.

Moments after he leaves, I hear outside noises, they are louder than they should be so I figure Austin must have left the door open in his haste, but then it strikes me... I don't see the baby. I run outside and start yelling for him, Bobby joins me and starts walking around. I run inside and Christopher and I start searching the house... he is no where to be found, he is not hiding, he is gone. I happen to glance out the window and I see Bobby running at top speed towards the busy street. About 1 1/2 blocks away is a street that goes from calm to busy during rush hour, and all I can think of is that my baby made it down there and has been injured.

As Bobby walked west, a man two houses down said he saw our TWO-YEAR-OLD walking alone towards the busy street and does nothing. So Bobby takes off running east yelling out Matthew's name. A retired police officer who lives 4 doors down hears this and sees Matthew and grabs him, startling him, but holding him until Bobby can get down there. Thank goodness for the old man, I am so thankful for his quick thinking.


Normally the front and back doors are dead bolted since Matthew can turn knobs but not unlock knobs or bolts, but just in case one of the children is outside through the front door and not the garage door, I have installed a knob cover on the front and back doors to prevent escaping again. I also don't know how he was able to get out the screen door without it banging behind him, but I guess somethings I will never know. As you can see, Matthew is not too thrilled about the new cover, but some things, like safety are much more important.

Jun 13, 2007

At a crossroads for education.

My oldest son has been accepted into a GREAT charter school for 6th grade (middle school). We are all very excited, and as an honor roll student for the last 2 years we have no concerns about his progression.

This brings me to my middle son. I applied for Christopher to be in two charter schools and he is #50 on the waiting list for the one, and I will know in 3 weeks where he is on the list for the other school. I am normally against homeschooling, but I am also against my child getting C's because in group time he is doing his work all by himself or in literacy he is doing the work on his own instead of following along on the board. (He actually got cards pulled and a call home because he read the instructions and did the paper on his own instead of doing it along with the class and disregarding the instructions since they were doing the worksheet differently). He is also highly emotional and will cry in class if he gets frustrated and has lost recess for it. His teacher for first and second grade was not the greatest, and he got good marks except for in behavior. His third grade teacher was excellent, but he got mostly C's because of behavior.

So with all that said, I think it is apparent keeping him in his current school for 4th grade is our last choice.

Our first choice is to get him into one of two charter schools.

We are on the fence about homeschooling him, or enrolling him in a virtual charter school (he would be schooled at home, but not "home schooled" as he would still be considered a public school student).

We still have a lot of decision making as I feel Christoper, who is already socially delayed, needs social interactions. I also do not have a degree in education and am not qualified to teach. I also know this would require a ton of patience and time management on my part. However on the flip side, no one knows my child as well as I do. My son is NOT doing well where he is now, and I will not force him into group work or make him sit in the same little desk all day long. I think kids need to be outside and run and play in order to work hard... and where a teacher would not be able to tell a frustrated student to go take a run, a homeschooling mom can tell her child to go take a run or to go outside and play, or offer a snack when she sees the child is getting overwhelmed.

Anyways, I am about 60% convinced. My husband is about 40% convinced, but we are both in agreement something has to change. PRAY he gets accepted into the charter school PLEASE!!

Jun 5, 2007

Wall of Shame update

Just realized I did not update that the children did finish cleaning today, and they were able to save their toys from the trash company. They ended up removing 5-7 trash bags full of junk, about 60 items that needed to be removed from their room because they did not belong in there and they honestly removed about 30-50% of the mass in their bedroom! It looks super nice and I promise I will try to put up good pictures soon!

GOOD JOB BOYS!!

Jun 4, 2007

Summer TV Blues

Wah wah wah, my DVR is so empty! I only like 4-6 summer shows and I feel like everything on the TiVo is either kids' shows, Dateline, or filler shows (Dog Whisperer, The Simpsons), but nothing good. I am really looking forward to CSI: Las Vegas in the fall, the cliffhanger they left us with made me so ANGRY!! I hate "to be continued..." type shows!

Summer TV Blues

Wah wah wah, my DVR is so empty! I only like 4-6 summer shows and I feel like everything on the TiVo is either kids' shows, Dateline, or filler shows (Dog Whisperer, The Simpsons), but nothing good. I am really looking forward to CSI: Las Vegas in the fall, the cliffhanger they left us with made me so ANGRY!! I hate "to be continued..." type shows!

Save Money on a New (to you) Car

When I was working for Goodwill as a CNA, one of the things I admired that the company did was accept unwanted vehicles as a donation, fixed them up and got them mechanically sound and then sold them at the auction with proceeds going to help fund programs for the developmentally disabled. Unfortunately, if you are in a different part of the country these auctions may be harder to find.

However, if you are looking for an auto auction, Chicago readers are in luck. With vehicles available for test drive on Fridays and auctions every 2 weeks, it is easy to see how you can find a great vehicle for a low price. They also have a consignment program if you have a used vehicle you need auctioned off to the highest bidder. Check it out, this would be a great way to obtain a project car, a student car, a second car, or a very low priced first car.

*This is a sponsored post.

Save Money on a New (to you) Car

When I was working for Goodwill as a CNA, one of the things I admired that the company did was accept unwanted vehicles as a donation, fixed them up and got them mechanically sound and then sold them at the auction with proceeds going to help fund programs for the developmentally disabled. Unfortunately, if you are in a different part of the country these auctions may be harder to find.

However, if you are looking for an auto auction, Chicago readers are in luck. With vehicles available for test drive on Fridays and auctions every 2 weeks, it is easy to see how you can find a great vehicle for a low price. They also have a consignment program if you have a used vehicle you need auctioned off to the highest bidder. Check it out, this would be a great way to obtain a project car, a student car, a second car, or a very low priced first car.

*This is a sponsored post.

The Wall of Shame

This mom has finally snapped. I went into the older two boys' 'clean' room that they claimed they had just cleaned to put something away and could not fathom the amount of garbage I saw in their closet. Less than 2 weeks ago they had been told to clean their closet, so I know that had used that time to stuff more crap in their.

Here is a brief description of the items I saw in the closet that led up to my breakdown.... candy wrappers, school assignments, toothpaste sans lid, the remote control to my TV I have been looking for for months sans battery cover, my watch, a baby shoe, dirty underwear, my movies sans case, I think you get the point.

Rather than scream and yell and have the kids surface clean again without making a dent in the problem and having Austin do 10x the work of Christopher, I thought back to an article I had just read in Mothering Magazine about a mom who uses "fun ways" to motivate her kids and one of the games was "everything in the center of the room" where the mom and kids took everything that did not belong, move it to the center of the room and then put it away. Well, let me tell you... there was no singing or dancing and no kid cooperation moving stuff and no mom cooperation cleaning.

Without a word I started moving the bookshelf and using my euromop for the only thing it has ever been useful for.... raking crap. Next step was to take anything piled up on top of the dresser or sticking out of drawers to the growing heap I dubbed Mount Trashmore, next was the closet, where I keep plastic bins for every type of toy.... Lego's, Cars, Action Figures, Science Toys, etc, and if the toys were not put away, they went in the pile... would you believe that 100% of everything in their closet was not put away right, or even CLOSE to it? (I am not talking a few Lego's mixed in with action figures, I am talking a box designated for Action Figures with Lego's, candy wrappers, dirty socks, broken toys, Pokemon cards, and scraps of paper with a lid on it and "put away"). Can you imagine the satisfaction of hearing thousands of Lego's falling to the floor?? I could just feel my blood pressure dropping as each piece of trash was added to the pile.

I just wish I had taken some before pictures of their closet so you could see what I meant, but all that is included before are after pictures of what I did, as well as my little Shamelings as they hear the rules of the "game". Here are the rules I laid forth... They have 48 hours until trash day...anything left in Mount Trashmore will make it to the curb. They will not sleep in their room until they can get to their bed, we have a very large front room and sleeping bags that will work nicely for a camp-out. Anything broken, or from a fast food restaurant goes into the garbage, anything they don't play with gets packed up and donated, anything to be kept will be put in its designated basket. I will supervise the whole endeavor, I will not raise my voice, I will not punish, and I will not spank. Bathroom and drink/snack breaks will be earned. Nothing goes into the closet until I approve it to go in. And of course pictures go up on the internet, bad and eventually good.

[Click to Enlarge, Opens in a New Window]
This is Austin standing next to Mount Trashmore, notice how high it comes up to him.










Another picture of Austin next to Mount Trashmore.









The Shamelings, Austin and Christopher.









Mount Trashmore.









Mount Trashmore.








Mount Trashmore and their bed.









The bookshelf AFTER picture, as in After Mom removed the junk. That is the Euromop and their plastic storage tubs you see.









And that is the closet AFTER picture... after Mom removed all the crap.









Stay tuned for updates... we are on hour one and the boys have removed one large garbage bag of trash, one laundry basket full of clothes, one armful of books have been put away, one load of things that do not belong to them/in their room have been removed and they have almost earned their first break. Daddy came home briefly at lunch to view the mess, back me up, and help me move my laptop to "the Guard Tower" aka, the hallway directly outside their room so I can supervise 100% of the action while playing on Pogo.com.