Monday, June 30, 2008

Ten Things About Me/Us

First, an announcement: I'm getting old.
Symptoms: I turned the big ol' 3-5 a few months back. I had to downgrade the resolution on my laptop so I don't squint all the time. I *cannot* get used to using only ONE space after periods when typing so I have truly become the epitome of "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". I force my kids to drink from a lowly water fountain because I remember when "you could buy a bottle of water for .50 and I refuse to pay $3.00 for it now" (plus if the garden hose, transporting water from the WELL, that filled the horse's water trough, was good enough for me...). And a morning at the zoo totally tuckers me out. (But that might actually reflect on another aspect of my life, saved for a bit later.)
Solution: Do what you can with what you have. If you're old, make accommodations as best as you can and deal with the rest as is.

I have so much to update you on that this could be a two or three parter. I'll try to shorten it to mostly highlights...but I'll warn you that it's truly very hard for me to say something without the back-story!! If you want to know more about any of the topics, feel free to email me or ask in the comments. I am good about answering questions. :)

1. My aforementioned sinus pressure tales could be a really long, really sad anecdote about the incompetence of the medical system in the US but I'm sure you've already heard too many of those. So I'll shorten the tale to one sentence: I've found a 'work-around', for the most part, on my own, after spending gobs of [time and money and more pain and energy and worry] asking doctors to figure it out for me.

2. We had a lovely Flag Day celebration with our local homeschool group. The kids learned about the Olympic flag and the American flag, discussed flag symbols, created their own flags, participated in a flag parade (around the subdivision) and played a Memory-type game with flags from many different countries. The memory game was a great idea though if you have very small children, I'd suggest a smaller sampling of flags - maybe ten flags - to start with and go up from there. This would be a great game for this weekend and easy to make yourself by printing them on the computer (just google various country flags) - you can even cover them in contact paper to make a game that lasts longer than a weekend! :) It would be neat to put magnets on the back of them when you're done to display on the fridge. You never just might lead to an impromptu study on Japan, which might lead to building a volcano model, which might lead to a documentary on Mount St. Helens, which might lead to drawing a map of California (or a road trip to CA!), which might lead to discovering the funny city of Ukiah, CA, which might lead to finding this site which tells of a Haiku festival in Ukiah (that's haiku spelled backwards), which might lead to just having to make some haikus of your own...and haiku takes you right back to Japan again, but to explore maybe their culture instead of their landscape. ;) Ahhhh...unschooling at its finest.

3. I found *THE* neatest thing online the other day. Librivox is a community of volunteers who audio record themselves reading books to store in a digital (mp3 and such) formats. These are all public domain books (books published before 1923) so Harry Potter isn't there but there are so many classics (and poems) that are! I love this idea and I'm soooo happy it's out there. Even if you don't want to volunteer, check out your favorite poem or story - download the audio version for free on their site. Little Women, The Road Not Taken, Shakespeare, Moby Dick and even the Bible are just a very small sampling of audio recordings available. Lend your hand...err, the project (it's actually very simple and if you have a microphone for your computer, it can be totally accomplished with freeware programs too!). :)

4. I held the Creative Activities position for our MOPS group last year. While I enjoyed the creative outlet and really did like it, it ended up being a bad year for me with the new baby and all my unforeseen back/rib issues. So I decided to slow things up a bit and do Publicity this year. Basically, I update the website (I can obviously handle that...teehee), handle flyers and a display for MOPS Sunday (when we do our big plug for moms in the church to join/help our group) and do the monthly newsletter. When Matthew was a baby, several of us in the local La Leche League meetings decided to start a playgroup. After it got rolling, I put together a monthly newsletter and *really* *loved* doing it. So I'm very excited about doing it for MOPS this year. I was originally going to do it along with the lady who did the position last year but she emailed today and said that she feels pulled to do Creative Activities this year. So it looks like we traded positions and will be picking each others brains.

5. My old time readers should know but I haven't talked about this in a long time, for you newbies. I was diagnosed with MS in January 2006. (In my prologue (LOL), I mentioned tiredness - fatigue is the #1 complaint of people with MS). At the time, we were planning on having another baby and it wouldn't have done much good for me to be on medication for six months so I decided to wait. Well, I made it through the pregnancy very well. It's common for women with MS to have a great pregnancy (the disease sort of goes dormant) and then have a relapse between 3-6 months after delivery. I've done great - no relapses since my actual diagnosis. I've had some symptoms here and there but no acute took lots of prayers by us and family/friends but I was able to make the "at least one year of breastfeeding" that I felt was really important for Linnae. But she's weaned now and it's time for me to buck up and start the meds.
There is no cure for MS but the medication will reduce my risk of developing more lesions by 33%. 33% might not sound that great but when you realize that you're talking about lowering your chance of paralysis or similarly terrifying fates by 33%, you decide that it's worth the trouble. ;)
The medicine is a hard pill to swallow though. Actually, it's not a pill at's a self-inflicted (or husband-inflicted) shot, three times a week. And has the potential to make me feel pretty cruddy (flu-like) for a few months until my body gets used to it. I've come a long way from my days of hiding underneath the pediatrician's table, forcing nurses, much to my mother's chagrin, to pull me out for my immunizations. I remember that my first few lab pregnancy tests were a huge deal for me. In fact, I remember one nurse in particular saying, "Honey, you'd better HOPE you're not pregnant if this is how you react to needles!!" Then I went through infertility and lots of needles, then hyperemesis with pregnancy #1 (and more needles), then gallbladder attacks all through pregnancy #2 (and surgery to remove the gallbladder after pgcy...more needles), then gestational diabetes with #3 and #4 pgcys along with those four-times-daily needle blood sugar levels...and let's not talk about that 10 inch epidural needle I had three times (yeah, only badge of honor...teehee). After all of this, I'm a LOT better about needles than I was as a child; however, every time I see one come at me, my inner child wants to head for the nearest table and camp out under it for the rest of my life. So if you would send some prayers/positive thoughts my way on Thursday afternoon, that will be the day that I'm acquainted with my spiffy needle injecting device...and I'd appreciate some extra strength and courage that day.

6. Both Matthew and Rose have had separate classes at the Zoo in the past few weeks. I didn't get to attend either class with them but they seemed to have a really good time. Matthew's class was all about animal tracks - the kinds of footprints different animals leave and how to track animals in the woods. Rose's class was for the pre-K crowd and was more of an arts and crafts class. They sang animal songs and did some fingerplays and a few crafts. Nothing extraordinary but she did seem to really like it. Plus, she got to pet an OPOSSUM!! Pretty. Cool. (soooooooooo glad I wasn't there! I still shiver when Hubby tells the story of falling asleep in the tree while hunting to wake up with one staring him in the face. uuuuugh I would have been down that tree faster than a speeding bullet...or, on second thought, I probably would have just shot it, that is, if I actually shot things. shiver.)

7. My brother recommended a graphic novel (known to us old people as a "comic book" series bound together into a book) for Matthew. It's called Tintin and something he recently started reading himself. He already has our nephews hooked and if his own daughter was old enough to read, I bet she'd be loving it too. I picked up the first book of seven the other day at the library and it landed on the couch. Ten minutes later, I heard Matthew say to no one in particular, "What's this?" and for the next 45 minutes, all I saw was this:

He stopped only when I told him it was time for dinner, and went straight back to it. The following morning, he finished it up and asked for the second book. I was a bit shocked. He *does* have an affinity for Garfield and Peanuts strips (and even Dilbert) but Tintin was written by a Belgian. It has *gasp* pictures of men smoking cigars, for crying out loud! LOL It was published in various countries in Europe so some of the terminology used is unfamiliar to him, as well as 1954 lango. But he was, as you can see, thoroughly entranced. Apparently Steven Spielberg was also entranced by it as he's working on a Tintin movie, scheduled to film in September.

8. We had some friends in town early in June (miss you already Mike and Jen!!) (loved seeing you Christie and Ryan and R&D!) and then I had checkups with all of my doctors in a two week span, along with a few kid visits to the pediatrician. I then spent the next week seeing my primary dr and urgent care and ENT for my sinus issues. June flew past us.
(for you non-budding-astronomers, this is a picture of the June night sky)

9. July promises to be super busy as well. Hubby is on business travel for part of this week and then there is, of course, the holiday weekend. Next week, Grammy is on vacation while Matthew and Rose are attending VBS...but I'm sure we'll still find something to get us into trouble. The third week, my niece is staying with us and the kids have another, evening-style, VBS. The fourth week, my other niece in that family is staying with us. And Hubby will have some more traveling this month as well. Then it'll be crunch time for the August MOPS newsletter.
(I have no idea what this musical is about but the picture seemed to sum up July)

10. I'm spoiled. We went to the zoo today with friends. Yesterday's overcast upper 70's breezy beauuuuuuutiful day apparently fooled many of us and we all headed to the zoo today. It was sunny, 84 and not very breezy. Not horrible, indeed, but it was hotter than I prefer. There were GOBS of people there. On the way out, there was probably at least a half-mile line just to park vehicles. I had gotten a pretty good free spot and as someone decided to jam up traffic to wait for me to unload the stroller and get everyone packed into their car seats, I felt the pressure rising every second. I'm no novice at getting stuff shoved away but I got really stressed out when a quarter of a mile of cars started honking. I realize they were honking at the guy who stopped, and not me, but *I* was the one he was waiting on and it took me quite a while to de-stress from the situation.
I forget sometimes how spoiled I am, being a homeschooler. We usually visit the zoo in the cooler weather in the spring and fall, simply because of our own weather tastes, so we usually go when most other kids are in school during the week. But today, we met up with friends and were shoving the strollers through the Herpetarium with all the other kids who are trying to get the most bang for their summer buck, so to speak. If that was the only way I ever got to see the zoo, I'd be one of those moms who hates to go there too.
They did have a neat robotic, life-sized dinosaur exhibit. The exhibit was buried deep along the dreaded elephant trail. The trail itself is neat the first time or two...or maybe three times you do it. If you click on that link, you'll see a map of the trail and you can see it's a neat idea. The path winds you through South America, Africa, Asia and North America...on ten acres...and you see various animals relating to each section. For instance, in Africa, you see our two hippos (who were in really bad moods today). But this is where ideas and practicality don't mesh very well, in my opinion. It soon becomes the never-ending, can't-get-out-if-you-wanted-to trail. Especially when they're cleaning the elephant paddocks and the only animals to watch are the Sweaty Zookeepers. Or when you've been on the stinkin' trail at least a hundred times and *still* have yet to actually SEE the reported Black Rhino. There's no way to walk up, see there are no elephants and walk away to see the lions. This is a looooong winding trail that has a few other animals along it but when you reach the middle and decide that 'going to see the elephants' wasn't as big a priority as you initially thought, you're stuck on the trail anyway. No turning around, no short cuts. Yes, I am complaining...but with a purpose. You need the mood and the back story. Hot, tons of people, very long walk that you can't get out of, looking for reported 'dinosaur exhibit'. Rose, looking at yet another empty paddock, sighs and says, "It sure is a long way to walk to see those dinosaurs." I retorted, quick on my feet, "You DO have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?" My children looked at me oddly and said nothing. I continued in Ian Malcolm style, "Hello? Helloooooo?" Not even a giggle or a smirk for my really great reference to the best line in Jurrasic Park. Nada. Further proof that I'm old.
But I digress. Back to Dinos...
Somewhere between Africa and Asia, they placed the dinosaur exhibit. The dinos roared at us while moving their front legs and heads around and the Dilophosaurus even sprayed a mist of water, causing me to feel a tad bit sorry for Dennis Nedry. At the end of the exhibit, there was a cast of a dinosaur skeleton for the kids to 'dig up'. (Note what highly useful archaeological tools they handed my kids...and the great shape they're in! Matthew and Rose wanted to know where the trowels and "real tools" were).
Regardless of my spoiled state (and tongue-in-cheek complaining), I really do love our zoo. I know it's one of the best in the US and what's more - it's free! We also loved meeting up with our friends at the zoo, even if it was a short morning.

The 'spitting' dilophosaurus:

Fighting Hippos Mere Inches Away!


Katie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your sinus trouble. I used to have such bad sinuses that I would get vertigo. Using a neti pot really helped me (it's a strange teapot-like thing that you use to clean your nose...)

Hang in there with the shots!

So happy Matthew likes Tintin. I was about the same age when I started reading them!

The zoo looks like so much fun -- what a great field trip!

Kez said...

I hate visiting stuff when school holidays are on too - we usually stay home then and go visit when the hordes are back behind walls :)

Heather said...

Wow, all sorts of things. Didn't know about the MS, and I agree about the zoo, we only do fun going places stuff when others are in school. :) Love the pictures.

Heather said...

BTW My kids love graphic novels. It started with Calvin and Hobbes, which is as pro-unschooling as you can get:) (the kids are constantly reading it and pointing out things that work for unschooling), they also love Tintin, Bone, Thieves and Kings, Little Lulu, and Astro Boy.

Pattie said... sorry about the shots. You are a BRAVE WOMAN!!! And I totally agree w/the zoo. I have always thought it was great, and last summer cemented it. What other zoo actually has docents? I mean, really.