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October 1, 2007

Happy 11th Birthday Alex!

We've decided not to do birthday parties after age 10, since Alex's birthday party last year nearly killed me.  Instead we're going to the Nickelodeon Hotel in a couple of weeks and tonight he invited a few friends to go to Froggers with us for dinner and then home for cake.  I think this makes him an official pre-teen. 

Patch helped me make Alex's cake Alex = cool dude

October 3, 2007

The boys have decided to be medieval knights for Halloween and we bought their costumes today.

Getting his armor on

October 4, 2007

Tonight was supposed to have been the start of our fall group camping trip.  As we packed during the day, we were watching the weather, which didn't look good.  We're camping at Fort De Soto, which is just south of St. Pete.  As we hit the road in the early evening, the rains came and we were dreading setting up camp not only in the rain, but after dark as well.  We called Mary Beth and asked if we could invade her home for the night so we could head on to the campground tomorrow and set up during a break in the weather.  She very graciously opened her home to us at the last minute.  They had some friends over when we got there, and we had a wonderful visit while all of the kids played.  What was sure to be a miserable evening turned out to be a great evening!  Thanks MB!

High and dry LOL

Patch showing off his bridge and his headstand

October 5, 2007

After a very nice cozy night's rest, we got to the campground just in time to join everyone at the pier for a boat ride to Egmont Key, where we explored an abandoned fort and where about 300 gopher tortoises reside.  About half of our group stayed at Egmont while the rest of us got back on the boat and went to a great snorkeling spot, where we found sea urchins, a huge conch, sand dollars, scallops and tons of fish.  We kept some of the big sand dollars as souvenirs, although the boys were upset that the sand dollars were going to die.  We swung back to the island to pick up the others and Patch and I did some shelling on the beach.  On the way home, we were accompanied by a huge pod of dolphin, complete with 2 tiny babies who kept poking their heads out of the water.  What a great adventure!

The weather cooperated for the rest of the day and we set up without incident and visited with the other five families in our group.  Poor Mark has a pool contractor's open house tomorrow in Inverness, so after he got us all set up, he went to stay at his Mom's tonight to be ready for that.  Just about as it got dark, the rains came back - in force!  The campground has a wonderful "day building" where everyone gathered with any games we could gather and we made a rainy camp night into a great game night.  However, once we were back in the camper and tucked in for bed, the storm got pretty serious, and I was really wishing Mark was here.  The winds were brutal, and I held my breath praying that the awning wouldn't blow away and take the side of the camper with it.  Fortunately, the camper held and we did manage to get some sleep.

My boys on the boat Alex saying hi to a gopher tortoise on the island

Climbing around the fort Patch has to get airborn!

These were all over the place - the trunk of a palm tree growing WITHIN the trunk of another plant Hunting for shells Poking at a jellyfish

Justin and Alex snorkeling Patch and Mark looking for sand dollars

Another child showing Patrick a sea urchin he found Patch, Alex and Justin enjoying the boat

Three of our dolphin friends Alex holding his first live sand dollar

Mark hunting sand dollars Alex with one of the huge purple sand dollars

The big purple sand dollars were covered in baby crabs! Justin, Alex and Patch

Patch had two stacked on top of each other and was being very gentle with them

October 6, 2007

Ah - this is why we love camping.  The weather cleared up and we just hung out with nature.  Almost all of the kids in our group are boys, and they've spent the day playing football.  I really feel for the others in our group who weathered the storm last night in tents.  Justin's family went into their car three times during the night to escape the heavy winds and rain.  Mark came back this afternoon and all is good.  :-)

October 7, 2007

We packed up and came home this morning, and while Mark and I were unpacking and washing, Alex had curled up on the couch with his favorite quilt.  Turns out he's got a fever.  :-(  We kept the kids out of school on Friday for the camping trip, and it looks like Alex will miss tomorrow as well.

Mark and I reap the benefits of a cuddly kid when Alex is sick

October 8, 2007

The campground we stayed at was full of ants, and we brought a bunch home in the camper.  While it was still parked in front of the house, we opened it up and put in a bug fogger today.  Of course, I turned on the fogger and got the heck out, and as I was walking away, I heard the smoke detector going off from the camper.  Mark came out to see what the sound was, and we agreed we'd better not go in to turn it off, so our poor neighbors got to hear our smoke detector going off from the camper.  Ah well - we all got a good laugh out of it.

October 9, 2007

It's Tuesday and Alex has had a fever since Sunday, with no other real symptoms, except being exhausted and generally miserable.  I took him to the doctor this morning and she did a strep culture, which was negative, but his lymph nodes are huge, and the doctor said to bring him back in a week if he's not better and they'd test him for mono.  They can't test him now because it takes a week for the antibodies to build up in the body enough to show up on a test.  Geeze.

Patrick and I went to the Scholastic Book Fair at school tonight, and for the first time I managed to spend less than $100 - I spent $98.  LOL  Books are the one thing I can't say no to.  :-)

Patrick's interest in whittling was rekindled on the camping trip.

Enjoying a gorgeous day

October 10, 2007

Alex still had a fever this morning, so I had his teacher send his homework home today.  Four days of fifth grade school work is a bunch of work!  His fever finally came down this afternoon and he perked up a little bit, so I'm very relieved.  I wanted to get him out of the house so we went out to eat dinner which did him a world of good. He's still tired, but his personality is showing again.  :-)  We went over his homework after dinner and he was completely overwhelmed.  We talked it over and agreed that he'd stay home tomorrow and we'd have a home schooling day to get him caught up.  If he went to school tomorrow, it would be futile because he'd be lost.  I sure hope this is the right decision!

October 11, 2007

OMG - what a day!  Alex and I spent the morning doing his school work (I say school work instead of home work because she also sent all of his class work).  He did a great job buckling down.  I had an appointment at 11:00 so I left him at home back on the couch.  Half way to my appointment, Alex called my cell phone crying and said he'd caught his pinkie toe on the door frame.  I told him those injuries really hurt and to put some ice on it.  An hour later when I got home it was red and swollen, but didn't look serious.  And besides, who hasn't done that to a pinkie toe?  We got back to his homework, and after about five hours of work, he was caught up.  He did great, and I'm glad we took the extra day to get it done.

He had football practice tonight, and he asked me to put something on his toe to keep it from touching the inside of his cleats.  I wrapped it up a bit and took him to football.  Mark is still out of town, so I had to drop Alex off, and then take Patrick to guitar.  I gave Alex's coach my cell phone number and told him about his toe, in case it got to really hurting.  Patch and I went home to get his guitar, and his friend, John, called and asked if Patrick could go to skate night with them tonight.  OK - switch gears.  Skate night is only two times a year and Patrick was really upset that I couldn't take him tonight (just couldn't fit that into my juggling tonight) so I let him miss guitar and go with John.

When I picked Alex up from football, the coach said, "His foot seems fine, but we were worried about his finger a while ago."  Huh?  Turns out he jammed his finger when he caught a ball.  He was limping also.  In the car, Alex said his toe hurt so I told him to take off his shoe - and lo and behold, about a quarter of his foot was purple and swollen.  And his finger hurts.  Juggle, juggle.  I called Mom and she was able to come to the house to wait for Patrick to come home while I took Alex to the urgent care clinic to get his foot x-rayed.  What the heck - we'll get the finger checked out while we're there, too.  Yes, I started feeling very foolish when the doctor questioned him about playing football tonight.  But it's huge and purple!  She x-rayed his foot and his finger, and nothing is broken, but she wanted him on crutches so his foot could heal faster.  They also splinted his finger.  He looked like he'd been in a car wreck!

October 12, 2007

Ahhhhhh - I had the house to myself today.  Alex went back to school, and decided he didn't need the crutches.  I agree - it does seem like overkill.  Mark is back home, and life is good again.  :-)

October 13, 2007

Becca came over bright and early this morning so we could set up for the community garage sale.  We had a great sale and got rid of most of our stuff, although we didn't make enough money to feel it was worth the effort.  I sold a bunch of stuff for mom, and she gave me the money to pay for Alex's medical bills!  LOL

Mark hurt his back this morning, and ended up in bed all day on muscle relaxers.  The poor guy is really miserable.  :-(

October 15, 2007

Mark spent all weekend laying down and nursing his back.  He was able to sit with Patrick and screw the hangers on his sword plaques, so his room is finally starting to look a little medieval.

Even in pain, he's a great Daddy!

October 16, 2007

I had a Pampered Chef party this morning, so I spent most of yesterday cleaning the house to within an inch of its life.  Mark now wants me to have a party once a month!  The party was a huge success and I got bunches of free stuff!  :-)  Now maybe I can relax for a couple of days.  I hope, I hope. 

October 18, 2007

Patrick had his physical today and is healthy as a horse.  His height and weight are perfect, and his asthma is pretty much a non-issue.  Woohoo!

The librarian at school is throwing a Harry Potter party for all of the kids at school who have read all seven Harry Potter books.  The deadline is fast approaching and Patrick has been reading like crazy to finish the seventh book in time.  There are only about 18 kids going to the party, so it's quite an accomplishment.  The kids take an AR (accelerated reader) test to prove they've read the books.  Patrick finished the book last night and took his test today at school.  After school he burst in the door singing "I'm going to the Harry Potter party!"  Then he ran into Mark's office and said, "Not a 90, not a 95, but 100%!"  I love that he's so excited about reading.  :-)

October 19, 2007

Alex's birthday trip is finally here!  After school we went to the Nickelodeon Hotel, which is right here in Orlando.  They have Nick themed suites, and ours is a Danny Phantom room.  The kids room has bunk beds, which Alex and Justin took, and Patch was thrilled to have the sleeper sofa.  This place is awesome!  The kids have already hit the pool and checked out the arcade.  They brought their Nintendo DS's, and they can link their DS's wirelessly and play a game together, so they were each in their beds, but still playing.  It was so funny - Mark and I were in our bed, and the room was quiet except for every once in a while when we'd hear all 3 kids burst into laughter.

The Danny Phantom room

October 20, 2007

We've had a super fun day today!  The kids switched between the pool, the arcade, and our room all day and were happy as clams.  Tonight we went to the hotel's Nick Life Family Show.  The audience is split into two groups and we root for either the blue or red team, and people are pulled from the audience to participate in fun little competitions.  Both Patrick and Mark were picked.  Patrick had to catapult balloons to another team member and whichever team got five balloons in their basket first won.  Mark was the "fisherman" catching salmon as the kids tossed them to him.  It was a hoot! 

Check out this water play structure!! Daddy "supervising" the kids.

Patrick loves swimming laps - that splash is him Watching the FSU/Miami game in our room

A hoops competition in the arcade Alex making a jump shot

Spongebob in the lagoon Spongebob's buddy, Patrick

Patrick on stage Introducing himself

setting the balloon in the catapult WHACK!

Mark introducing himself Mark's ready to catch the fish - looks like he's praying!

And Mark's team wins! The captain of the blue team (a young girl) got slimed when her team won!

October 21, 2007

After getting home from the hotel today, we were really ready for some nice normal non-exciting time.  Guess what - not gonna happen!  Ugh - we had much more excitement than we needed tonight.  While I was feeding the dogs, Dee Dee and Grendel got into a fight.  The difference this time was that I was right down by their faces with their food, and my arm got stuck in the middle.  Dee Dee got a hold of my right forearm and bit it several times.  I was screaming and somehow got away, and Mark came running in and tried to break up the fight.  I finally realized he wasn't having any luck, so I  up and grabbed Dee Dee and the fight was finally over.  Unfortunately, the kids saw the whole thing.  My arm was excruciating and I had completely lost my head.  Mark sent the boys to get Greg next door who came right over and told Mark to get me to the hospital.  While he was here, Mark and Greg had apparently discussed the situation and said that "Dee Dee has to go."  Then Greg ushered the kids to his house and Mark and I left.

At the hospital, my blood pressure was 206 over 125!  I was getting pretty panicky because my fingers were going numb, and had another scary moment when the doctor couldn't feel my pulse in my injured hand.  But my fingers pinked up when she pinched them, and she said the numbness was because the tissue was swollen in my arm which was compressing the nerves and tendons to my hand, and it would get better with time.  They took an x-ray and found no broken bones (whew) and irrigated the puncture wounds (I do NOT recommend having that done EVER!) and gave me pain pills and antibiotics and a splint.

I was pretty hysterical and couldn't stop crying, but once I had a pain pill, even though it still hurt like hell, I think the pill also calmed me down a bit and I was able to talk.  The poor doctor was explaining things to me, and I suddenly realized that before all of this happened, I had been feeding the snakes at home and the cage was open and at least one of the snakes was out.  I blurted this out to Mark, and the doctor looked at us, shook his head and said, "Do you live in a zoo?"

As soon as we got home, the kids came running in and gave me big hugs.  When things calmed down, I noticed Patrick was quietly crying, and when I looked at him, he said, "Are we going to have to kill Dee Dee?"  OMG - my heart broke!  Of course, I told him absolutely not, we just need to find a home that's right for her.  I think when he heard Mark and Greg saying she had to "go," he thought the worst, and the poor thing was thinking it the entire time we were gone.

Once everyone was in bed, I was wide awake (the nurse had given me a coke, which perked me right up) and so upset.  I couldn't do any of my usual time killers (Sudoku, computer or Palm games) without my right hand and I was too loopy to read, so I set up a jigsaw puzzle, and bawled my eyes out in between finding pieces.  This has been so upsetting from so many different angles I can't even begin to cope with it.

October 22, 2007

Last night Mark had called Sherry about where he should take me, so Justin had to go to bed not knowing how I was.  She told me he was horribly worried, so I decided to go to the bus stop this morning to let him see I'm okay.  He's the sweetest kid - I'm so glad he and Alex are friends.  Aside from the swelling, my arm doesn't really look that bad, since the wounds are all punctures, which are small on the surface.  I'm a little worried about Alex - he's been very quiet and clingy.  I'm not sure if it's because we have to give up Dee Dee or if it's because he saw me get bitten, or the whole thing, but I wish he'd talk about it.  Patrick is doing okay, no doubt because he had feared the worse, so anything is better than that.

I slept most of today, probably because of the pain pills.  Greg's friend called last night while the kids were over there and he said he might be willing to take Dee Dee.  He hunts and needs another hunting dog.  As much as I hate to admit it, I think that's probably the best thing.  She has been virtually impossible to train to follow "indoor" rules, and will be very happy outside chasing a scent.  I just feel awful that she's gotten so spoiled being inside and sleeping all cuddled up with us, and now she'll be going back to an outdoor pen with minimal human interaction.

October 25, 2007

Patrick came home from school today with the cutest story.  During class today, "Hedwig" (Harry Potter's owl) knocked on his classroom door.  (It was actually the school librarian dressed up like Hedwig.)  Hedwig flew into the room and delivered an invitation to the Harry Potter party next week.  Isn't that adorable!  Patrick loved it!!

An update on my arm - last night I slept through the night and didn't wake up when the pain pills wore off, and I was a new woman this morning!  Between getting a good night's sleep and not waking up groggy from pills, I was feeling great!  And my arm was showing a big improvement as well.  I could use my fingers a little bit (which is huge) and the pain was manageable with Advil.  And I noticed my house was filthy.  So I cleaned it.  A lot.  And by dinnertime I was in horrific pain and back on the damned pills.  I guess vacuuming and mopping isn't the best thing for a bad arm, not to mention cleaning the bathrooms and unpacking five boxes of Pampered Chef orders.    Okay, okay, lesson learned.

October 26, 2007

Now I'm just going insane.  I so overdid it yesterday and my arm is back to where it was two days after the injury.  The rest of me feels fine, but I can't do anything because of my arm and the effects of the pills - meaning I'm house bound because I can't drive.    I got out another jigsaw puzzle which took up most of the day, and took the kids to a neighborhood Halloween party this evening.  Mark ordered 20 yards of mulch which came today and he got started on hauling it around to where it needs to go.  Looks like a fun weekend ahead of us!

Alex and his friend playing football in front of the "mountain" Patrick is a night (partial costume), Alex is a football player (surprise) and Steven (our neighbor - in the middle) is a soldier

Mark asked Alex to teach him how to do Sudoku

October 27, 2007

Ahhh - when I woke up this morning, my arm was much better and I didn't need a pain pill all day.  I learned my lesson and took it easy all day, which was very hard with Mark outside working his tail off with the mulch.  I did help him lay some landscape fabric, but that's all I did that involved my arm, and it paid off.  Hopefully, it'll be uphill from here.  By this afternoon, I had full use of my hand, no more pins and needles in my fingers, and I can move my wrist completely.  Woohoo!  One of the punctures is looking a bit icky, but I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor on Monday so we'll see if it's anything to worry about then.  Oh - and I can type today - which is why you're reading this.  ;-)

Alex had an amazing football game this morning.  He was playing his friend, Harry's, team and a couple of times they did end up head to head.  Alex juked his way out of a gazillion tackles, caught an interception and made a touchdown.  :-)

October 29, 2007

I had my arm looked at this morning and the doctor said it's coming along fine.  I was a little concerned because I'm still having some joint pain in my wrist, and she said that's to be expected given where one of the punctures is, and just give it time.

After school, Greg's friend, Doug, came by to meet Dee Dee.  This has been so hard because all we knew was that Doug was coming by sometime today to meet her, and if  he wants her, he might go ahead and take her right then.  So we really haven't known how to prepare ourselves.  It worked out perfectly.  He's obviously a dog person, and she was right by him the entire time he was here.  He said he'd love to have her, and told us quite a bit about how he keeps his dogs (Dee Dee will be #11!), and it sounds like she'll be very well cared for, although she will be in an outside pen.  She's on a ten-day home quarantine (the hospital had to report the bite), which will be over on Wednesday.  Instead of informing the county that she's moved and having him have to meet them on day ten (to make sure she hasn't died of rabies, despite having her shots), he'll come by Wednesday afternoon and take her with him then.  So we get two more days with her, and can properly prepare our hearts. 

October 30, 2007

The seventh, and last, Harry Potter book was released this summer, so the librarian at the school held a Harry Potter trivia party for all of the students at the school who have read, and passed AR tests on, all seven books.  Out of 850 students in the school, only 19 students have read all of them, and I'm very proud to say that Patrick is one of those 19!  The party was incredible.  Everyone came dressed up as some character from Harry Potter - most of the boys did Harry Potter, of course, and most of the girls did Hermoine.  One of the moms dressed up like Professor Trelawny, and it was priceless!  Each student sat on a stool, put on the sorting hat, and drew from a cauldron to determine which House they were sorted into.  Patrick ended up in Slytherin - ack!  The kids divided up into teams based on House and had a trivia contest.  The Slytherin team came in second place.  It was tons of fun!

Patrick getting sorted Patrick's on the left and had just pushed his buzzer

Is that Harry or Patrick? A witch and his little wizard

October 31, 2007


I was able to spend some time in Patrick's classroom this afternoon while the kids measured pumpkins in several different ways and cleaned out the seeds and counted them.  I haven't been in the classroom yet this year, so it was great to be around all the kids again.  Several students recognized me and gave me big hugs.  :-)

Doug came by this afternoon and picked up Dee Dee.  He was very kind and spent some time with us telling us a little more about what her life will be like.  He seemed to realize completely what we were going through and was very sensitive, especially to the boys.  It was very hard to watch them drive away, but fortunately we jumped right into Halloween preparations which helped a lot.

The kids didn't stray far from their personalities for their costumes this year - Alex was a football player and Patrick was a knight.  The neighbors were all asking Alex where his costume was.  LOL  We had a huge group of families, and it's so nice now that the kids are older - I chatted with the other parents while the kids did their trick or treating.  Our friends brought their huge chocolate lab, Bingo, and had put these pathetic bunny ears on him - it was hilarious! When we got back home, Alex got out one of the snakes and wrapped it around his arm and passed out candy that way.  It was sweet when the little ones would come to the door - if they got upset he would immediately back away so they wouldn't be scared.

Like any other day.  LOL

Bingo the bunny Our pumpkin creations