Monday, April 30, 2012

My Grandma's Backyard

I’d like to introduce you to my Grandma’s backyard.  

Grandma is 90 years old.  She’s almost older than the dirt that nourishes her lovely garden.    

I was over at her place a few weekends back, for her 90th birthday, and as I watched my family enjoying each others company, it occurred to me that this place won’t be here forever.  All of these sights that I am so familiar with will one day be a memory.  This realization made me kind of sad, so I decided to capture her yard with my camera.

The garden.
This small patch on the side of the yard is a testament to Grandma’s green thumb.  As kids, we weren’t allowed anywhere near her garden.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that she invited me for a tour.  Already in her 80s by then, that tour of her 10’ by 3’ garden lasted a full fifteen minutes.  But I loved every moment of it. Her garden includes a fig tree and some giant cactus plants.  Figs and cactus?  It seemed so exotic to me when I was a kid.

The clothesline.
As a child, I luuuuuv'd this clothesline.   I wanted desperately to be allowed to play on this contraption.  I would’ve settled for helping to hang the clothes, but alas, I was never granted the opportunity.  This was probably a smart move on her part.

The side yard.
Truthfully, I didn’t even know this existed until I was an adult.  Back when I was a kid, I knew this was where the trashcans were kept, and that was enough for me.  In the big Backyard Tour of ’03, she showed me this area, and I fell in love with it.  I think she cuts the trees back every once in a while, so this picture doesn't do the area justice.

The potted plants.
I don’t know how she is able to keep so many plants alive at one time.  This is a mystery I’ll probably never unlock.

Grandpa's garage.
This place scared me as a kid, and it still scares me as an adult.  As children, we were prohibited from even approaching the steps leading to the garage.  Grandpa was a bit of a tough guy, so the threat of him catching me glancing that way was enough to keep me in my place.  To this day, if I need to get something from in there, I don't linger.

The excavation site.
Now that the great-grandkids have come along, Grandma is much more relaxed about the backyard.  I don’t know how the tradition began, but our boys love to dig the same hole in the same location, every visit.  For years it has been their favorite thing to do when we stop by.

The patio.
And finally, there’s the patio.  This place is the ultimate hangout for the entire family.  Thoughtfully equipped with television, bbq, and Budweiser sign, the vibe of this place says “come and take a load off”.  I can’t tell you how many family pictures I have with this patio as background.

And there you have it, cinder blocks and all.  I know, I know.  It's cluttered, mismatched, and somewhat disheveled.  It'll never make the cover of Home and Garden.  But I don't see the negatives.  This is the backyard of a 90 year old matriarch who loves to garden almost as much as she loves her family.  I see a backyard that is warm and inviting and lush.  A backyard filled with family and love and memories.

This is my Grandma’s backyard.

Friday, April 27, 2012

While Shopping for a Birthday Gift...

"Look P, isn't this cute?  It says 'Love'."

"No, Mom, it says 'Loser'."

I'm becoming my mother more and more, every day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Fascination with Fevers

L had a fever this week.  It started off the regular way, nothing dramatic.  Slowly, it ramped higher.  By the third day he was hitting 104, but I wasn’t too concerned.  M had hit 106 last month, and after lots of stress, xrays, and blood work, they sent us home with a prescription for chicken soup. 

So this month, when L’s fever hit its stride, I knew not to sweat it (ha, get it…a pun).  There was the brief moment of sheer panic on Day 5, when the thermometer read 107, but after a careful assessment of the situation , I decided the extreme temp was surely due to the thermal pjs and king size blanket he was wrapped in.  A quick adjustment to his surroundings brought the temp down to a manageable 105.8.

By Day 6, when his fever had climbed back up to 104 again, I decided to bite the bullet and take him to be seen.  I say “bite the bullet”, because half the time, I end up wasting both the doctor’s and my time with an unnecessary visit.

But this time my mother’s intuition was right on.  Flu!  When they came back with the positive swab results, I threw my hands up into the air and gave a hearty “Yessss!  He’s got the flu!!!”  It felt good to finally know my $125 was not being wasted on, “everything looks good, just take him home and give him plenty of fluids.”

One prescription of Tamiflu later (because the pneumococcal virus loves this kid’s lungs), and he was back at home gloating about not having to go to school for a few more days.

It doesn’t take much to get my mind going, and this fever triggered the NEED for me to know everything there is to know about fevers.  It’s not like this is the first high fever we’ve ever experienced.  My kids get high fevers annually.  But I decided that now was the time to get to the bottom of this mysterious phenomenon.

And here’s where the story becomes totally fascinating.

Picture this:  your brain has a thermostat in it, and it’s set to 98.6.  When the brain realizes there is an infection going on, it raises the set point, causing the temperature to climb higher.  That’s the time when you feel cold and want to cover up.  Once the battle is won and the set point gets dropped back down to 98.6, the body does its best to cool off quickly…and that’s why we sweat when the fever breaks!  I know, it rocked my world too.

“But what’s the purpose of raising the body temperature?” you may ask (ok, so I’m the only one who asked).  Is the brain trying to burn those little germs to a crisp?  That’s debatable.  What’s not debatable is that the increase in temperature allows the white blood cells to be fruitful and multiply.  It also allows those little fighters to travel through your body faster!

Taking fever reducers impedes this neat little system, so remember that the next time you take your Tylenol.  That’s why doctors advise you to take your fever reducer only if you’re feeling cruddy.  It’s a trade-off.

While I was surfing around, totally engrossed by this topic, I found a site that said childhood fevers, particularly those that are high, help create a stronger constitution in adulthood.  They prime the body to respond efficiently and effectively in adulthood.  Which is why you don’t usually see adults with high fevers.  And when it does happen, it’s often symptomatic of something far more serious than a virus.

I couldn’t find the link to that last bit of trivia, so it’s basically unfounded at this point.  But I don’t care.  I’m going to run with it.  And then I’m going to proceed to misdiagnose myself with a deadly disease next time I have a high fever.  Because that’s how I roll.

Am I the only one who TOTALLY wants to become a doctor now?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Teaching Art, Part 2: Vincent Van Gogh

This month's Art Master was Van Gogh.  Here's the kindergarten project I completed:

You'll notice dotted lines are not my forte.

And here is M's masterpiece:

However, they are a kindergartener's dream come true.

Here's my 4th grade project:

If I didn't hate dotted lines before, I hate them now.

And L's masterpiece:

Kids are so much better at this stuff.

Monday, April 16, 2012

#1 Reason Why I Hate Blogger Today

I had this lovely post prepared for today.  It was Pulitzer-worthy, no joke.  (You'll have to trust me on this one.)

It was saved and scheduled, ready to go for a bright and early Monday morning unveiling.

But it needed one last edit.  (I like things perfect.)

Some how, some way, through a series of keystrokes still unbeknownst to me, I managed to delete the entire post.  Gone.

And then decided to auto-save.

Why, I ask, WHY would this application have an auto-save function built into it?  (This isn't the first time this has happened to me, which is probably why I'm unreasonably upset about this.)

I need a moment to count to ten.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another Cosmic Message?

So Easter was already a week ago, and everyone is probably sick to death of all the pastel-colored posts filled with pictures of babies and bunnies.  Which is why I won't be posting my Easter pictures any time soon.  Instead, my Easter wrap-up will consist of two pictures, which seem to sum up my life these days.

Hmmm, I bet they hid an egg in here.  This baby is mine!

Hand, meet Wasp's Nest.

Monday, April 9, 2012

As Answered by Real Kids

Have any of you seen this email floating around?

A 1st grade school teacher had twenty-six students in her class.  She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year olds, because the last one is a classic!

1.  Don't change horses
until they stop running.

2.  Strike while the
bug is close.

3.  It's always darkest before
Daylight Saving Time.

4.  Never underestimate the power of

5.  You can lead a horse to water but

6.  Don't bite the hand that
looks dirty.

7.  No news is

8.  A miss is as good as a

9.  You can't teach an old dog new

 10.  If you lie down with dogs, you'll
stink in the morning.

11.  Love all, trust

12.   The pen is mightier than the

13.  An idle mind is
the best way to relax.

14.  Where there's smoke there's

15.  Happy the bride who
gets all the presents.

16.  A penny saved is
not much.

17.  Two's company, three's
the Musketeers

18.  Don't put off till tomorrow what
you can put on to go to bed.

19.  Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and
you have to blow your nose.

20.  There are none so blind as
Stevie Wonder.

21.  Children should be seen and not
spanked or grounded.

22.  If at first you don't succeed
get new batteries.

23.  You get out of something only what you
see in the picture on the box.

24.  When the blind lead the blind
get out of the way.

25.  A bird in the hand
is going to poop on you.

26.  Better late than

Those are some amazing six year olds.

Ok, seriously.  There's no way those are genuine, unprompted answers from real six year olds.  How do I know this?  Because I'm an expert in six year olds.  Also because I asked my own six year old to finish these same proverbs, and his responses were neither adorable nor clever.  Granted, he's no genius, but he's also no dolt.

The closest he got to an entertaining answer was:  Never underestimate the power of "my shoe."

Better late than pregnant?  What six year old thinks "pregnant" when they hear the world "late"?

Since I also have a 4th grader and a 7th grader to try this out on, I did just that.  The 7th grader nailed most of them.  The 4th grader was a little more interesting, but still not as good as the (35 year old posing as a) 1st grader above.  Here are some of L's more entertaining responses.

2)  Strike while the
emperor is not looking.

4)  Never underestimate the power of
the dark side.

5)  You can lead a horse to water
but not to fire.

6)  Don't bite the hand that
your mother gave you.

7)  No news is

11)  Love all, trust
no one.

12)  The pen is mightier than the

13)  An idle mind is
the most boringest thing ever.

15)  Happy is the bride who
eats mint and chip ice cream.

17)  Two's company, three's

18)  Don't put off tomorrow what
your mother told you to do.

20)  There is none so blind as
a cat with cataracts.

21)  Children should be seen and not

26)  Better late than

This little exercise turned out to be kind of fun.  For me, that is.  Once L found out I thought his answers were funny, he got a little huffy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Beware the Power of Miralax

Miralax is a wonder tonic.

Irregular much?

This stuff works like magic.  I know this from almost personal experience.  You see, my son chooses to ignore the feelings inside him, and as a result, our toilet takes a beating once a week.  Tired of this ritual, I decided to do something about it.  Upping the vegetables in his diet didn't make a dent.  Forcing him to "go try" every night did nothing.

Time to pull out the big guns:  Miralax.

I know this stuff works, from experience with another son...yes, it runs in the family.  So Sunday night (which coincidentally was April Fool's), I put a half teaspoon in his milk and made him drink it with dinner.  Two hours later, like clockwork, Miralax worked it's magic, and all was better in the world.

Except for the poor toilet.  I gotta hand it to the bowl, it tried to flush, and from what we could see, it did.  At least well enough to give the semblance of flushing.  But flush, it hadn't.

It wasn't until 20 minutes later, after putting the kids to bed, and getting my fill of snuggles, that I walked downstairs to check my emails.

What greeted me was Waterworld.  From the very first step off the stairs, my foot hit water.  In a frenzied montage of images, my mind flashed to the toilet flush, then the sound of running water that had been knocking on my subconscious for the past twenty minutes, and then to the feeling of water squishing between my toes.  And I knew.  That I was stepping in toilet water.

As I did my best impersonation of a skimboard to get from the stairs to across the family room, down the hall, and into the bathroom, my fuzzy socks got puffier and puffier with toilet water.  By the time I got into the bathroom to turn off the water, I was standing in two-inch deep poop water.  So disgusting.

L was up watching tv while all this was going down, so he ran to get some towels (which had the equivalent impact of throwing a washcloth in a tub full of water), while I ran to the garage to get a mop and bucket.  And thus began cleanup.

When all was said and done, the downstairs bedroom, washroom, a/c closet, family room, office area, hallway, hall closet and I had all been doused by brown water (turns out that's a real term).  Resourceful that we are, we got the steam cleaner out and used it to soak up the mess.  But it seems, even our wet vac has standards.  It flat out quit on us.  Refused to suck up any more water after about 2 gallons. I don't blame it.

And that's where our story ends.  Sure, we're now in the middle of demolition to the entire downstairs area, and we're staying at my mom's because I'm too paranoid of the asbestos, but that's not nearly as exciting as the flood.

The moral of this story:  beware the power of Miralax.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Sordid Browser History

Has this ever happened to you?

It's lunchtime and you're innocently googling your local Thai restaurant (Exotic Thai), so that you can order ahead for you and your coworkers.  You type "Exotic Thai" and, as expected, a whole slew of matches are returned.  Makes sense, after all, it's a chain.  So you click on the first link.

And up pops up porn.  Lots and lots of porn.

"Cafe" is not code for "Nookie".
Did I mention you're doing this at work, on your company-provided computer?  Immediately, realizing "Exotic Thai" obviously means more than the local restaurant chain, you quickly click the Close button on the top right corner, and even more quickly, break a light sweat.  Mortified, you discover that the Exotic Thai link you clicked had a bug that popped about 30 more cascading windows of similar nature, in a lovely (and graphic) pattern across your screen?
This hasn't happened to you before?  Strange.

How about this one.  Have you ever been innocently googling the new blog that you recently RSS'd so that you can look up a post, and you type in "dirty hooker", because, well, that's the name of the blog.  The blog's header graphic is an image of something made of yarn, so of course, it's a play on words, right?  No big deal.  Until you forget about the double entendre and click thru on the wrong "dirty hooker" link.

Again, porn.

This hasn't happened to you either?  Interesting.  Ok, one more.  This has to have happened to you.

You're reading a very funny piece by an actual comedic writer (who also happens to blog) about how she sprained her dominant boob (yes, I said dominant boob).  In your haste to read the post, you mistakenly interpret it as a reference to America's Next Top Model.  Shocked to (falsely) discover that you are behind on your ANTM lingo, you immediately google "dominant boob" only to once again pull back a whole lot of nasty.

Still no?

Sometimes I'm as dumb as a potato.