Friday, January 28, 2011

A quick Grandpa post.

Thank God I went with my brother last night and my parents stayed around until after we left.  My cousin came in about a half hour after all of us left, Grandpa announced that he had been in the hospital for three months (um, two weeks), she hadn't had the decency to come to visit him and he wanted her OUT!  He yelled for her to get out.  Leave.  Get out of there right now. 

She left in tears.

My uncle came over and hung out with Grandpa until 1 AM.  Wow. 

On a better note, Grandpa went into surgery to have a tube inserted into his lung(s) to drain the fluid off.  The fluid is being checked for the type of bacteria involved and they will treat him accordingly.  The doctor predicts that he will triumph over this just fine.  It will take time, but he should be fine.

See, I knew that. 

So, we need to continue to pray for him 'kay?  I fear that my poor cousin may be permanently damaged by this experience.  Yikes.

Smiles in my day:
-  Federal and state taxes are filed.  I would have had city done, but they don't have the online e-file system activated until February 1.  Rrrr.
-  I've assembled the chicken soup for tomorrow.  I bought a grocery roasted chicken (it was only a buck more than the raw version), went ahead and boned all the chicken and threw the bits into a pot to make stock out of.  I let it cook for a few hours and strained it three different times.  I think it will be a lovely addition to my pot of soup. I have rolls rising and I'm looking forward to a delicious meal tomorrow.
-  K- got her bonus words right on her spelling test.  They just started bonus words this week and she was rather excited for them.  (January and winter.)

Have a good weekend!

In, out, up and down.

My grandfather is in the hospital.  He has been in there for about a week and a half with pneumonia.  Of course, I didn't find delightful details of his inpatient stay until just last night and this afternoon. 

He wasn't accepting visitors, so I haven't gone to see him.  Grandpa is the kind of guy who can and will kick people out. 

With that out of the way, Mom was telling me last night about, "When he coded, can you believe that they cracked his ribs?" 

"He coded -- what?"

"Oh, yes.  He coded.  Didn't I tell you that?  Well, I think that it is horrible that they broke two ribs when they were giving him CPR."

"Mom, that is a risk you take.  It's common."


She calls me today to tell me that when I get a moment in the very near future, I really should go see Grandpa.  I was talking about Hubs working and the time I could go and she says, "Well, remember that you can see him from 4-6 or from 7:30 - 9." 

"He's in ICU?"

"Oh, yes.  I didn't tell you?  He's been there since Friday night in the middle of the night."

"Um, another detail that you neglected to mention."

A detail to know?  Mom calls me every night and sometimes more than once.

I called my sister to see if she wanted me to come retrieve her from the bumpkin land that she lives in and she was otherwise obligated.  I wasn't going there myself, so I called my brother Dumpy.  (A childhood nickname.)  I knew that he would go and I wanted to hook up with someone.  If I was going to get kicked out, I didn't want to go myself. 

We hooked up, went over and started to navigate the hospital. 

I should add that we have two major hospitals in town.  The one I know like the back of my hand.  I can navigate that place with my eyes closed.  The hospital that Grandpa is in is not so good on the navigationally challenged.

I'm navigationally challenged.  Hubs is surprised I haven't gotten lost in the driveway.

Apparently, my brother suffers from the same challenge. 

We came in from the parking deck, my brother hits the elevator button to go up and it hit me.  "Um, why are we standing at this elevator to go up when this isn't even the hospital yet?"

He started laughing.  "I was just testing you, of course."  He was laughing because we hadn't even gotten to the hospital yet before the navigational deficit kicked in.

"We have to cross the bridge, which is right there, to be able to go to the hospital."  He laughed again.  This would be a good trip.

We need the third floor.  Got on the elevator, it dropped us off on the third floor but the problem was, that was maternity.  Grandpa's got issues, but nothing that can be solved by the maternity ward.  We went back to the elevator and Dump noticed a sign that said "ICU 1."  We went down to the first floor, started navigating and the signs changed.  It wasn't just labeled ICU, but about three extra letters ahead of that.  We finally ended up winding down many back halls and got to a room that just said ICU. 

That wasn't what we needed, though.  Grandpa's on the third floor.  We've been to the third floor. 

Dump called, Mom told him where to go and it turns out that the ICU is a stacked department only accessible by this one back hall down in the middle of nowhere.  You have to go down to go up.  We got to go to the third floor only to find out that Grandpa had been taken to have a CAT scan done of his lungs just minutes before.  We had 15 minutes before visiting hours were over.  Drat.

The nurse came out at about 6:15 PM to let us know that he was out and had a dinner tray.  We could go back anytime.  When we did get back there, the doctor had given clearance to the family to visit as long and whenever they wanted.  Apparently, Grandpa does better when family is around. 

What's the scoop on Grandpa?  He's mostly cognitively intact.  Yes, he was trying to talk on the remote control on the TV, but he asked me about Hubs, K-, told me about how he loved my Christmas letter, the photo and we had long conversation about New York City.  He ate everything he had in front of him.  He was fumbly and fidgety.  The had him tied down in a don't-get-up vest.  His pulse oxygen kept bouncing, as well as his heart rate.  His blood pressure seemed reasonable.  They drained fluid from his lungs yesterday and gave him a sedative in order to perform the procedure.  It was after that that he went cognitively south.  They said that the bouncing oxygen to his brain hasn't helped.  They are giving him breathing treatments and suctioning his airway at that time to prevent him from gurgling.  He continues to develop fluid on his lungs, but the lungs themselves x-ray clear, so that's why they did the scan.  Given that I was given the one foot in call, I dropped what I was doing and went.  I'm glad that I did.  Grandpa, not one to typically do this at all, kept hugging me and telling me that he loved me.  I remember getting hugs as a kid, but I don't ever remember him telling me that he loved me.

My mom called to tell me that she had consulted a medical friend of hers.  The friend told my mother that my grandfathers condition is less than fantastic and that the likelihood of his coming out of this is very small.  She said that he allowed the pneumonia to go on far too long, gave her horrible doomsday type stuff . . .  I reminded my mom that her friend is a worse case scenario kind of person.  Poppy, my mom's dad, was always dying as I was growing up (seriously) and was not supposed to come out of the hospital more times than I can count.  I even had the staff call the priest to give last rites.  (Grandpa snapped out of it and died 4 months later.)  Still, I told my mom that according to what I saw tonight, I'm not saying that Grandpa is dying today or tomorrow.  I said that I could be wrong, but since I just saw death with my grandmother almost two months ago, I'm thinking that he looks way alive to me.  I'll take it. 

If you wouldn't mind belting out a prayer, that would be great. 

Smiles in my day:
-  Renee not thinking that Dump and I could navigate the hospital together.  It was a little sketchy, but we made it happen.  I also found out that my brother walks as obnoxiously fast as I do. 
-  Reader's Digest.  As poor as we were as kids, we always got the Reader's Digest.  For my birthday, my mom ordered the Reader's Digest for me.  We don't quite know why there was such a delay, but it just started arriving this month.  I miss it and its small book form.  I miss the informative articles and short bits of trivial information.  It's a nice memory from my childhood.
-  Being told by the 100 Book Challenge coordinator that I must be a one man band since the work that I'm doing on 100 BC was being done by 5 separate individuals last year.  It made me smile!
-  Calling Hubs about Grandpa today, scheduling with the neighbors for them to keep K- until Hubs got home and he was able to leave work early because of the situation.  It's nice to work at a place that is family friendly, friends that are happy to bail you out and a spouse who isn't afraid to ask to leave because his wife was called into the hospital. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cottage butts and a talk with a rodent.

Hello.  I'm caffeinated.  Do the best you can to keep up. 

When I went grocery shopping about a week and a half ago, I was walking through the meat department, saw these cute little hams and thought that it would be perfect for ham and bean soup.  I flipped it over to see how much.  $3.65.  A bargain!  My love is to go to the Honeybaked Ham to get their bean soup mix and a lovely ham bone.  Considering that is an investment of about $20.00 and that particular store is 25 minutes away, I'll take the tiny supermarket ham and the lovely dried bean mix that I bought in Amish Country.  I had to laugh when I read further on the label.  "Cottage butt."  Really?  Why would anyone ever think that would be an appetizing name? 

I'm happy to say that my Cottage Butt Soup turned out just fine.  I called my sister, the meat guru, to see if I should lob it in whole or cut it up into large hunks.  I told her that I had a cottage butt.  Then I cut into it and saw a wide swath of fat hunked in the middle.  Cottage butts are not the best cut of ham, says my sister who basically managed a supermarket meat department for years.  "Well, it was a little ham and I figured that it would do the trick."  "It's a soup ham, only good for what you are using it for, so leave the fat because your soup needs it anyhow."

I'll admit now that I cut about 1/2 the fat off that was exposed and that I could just easily chop off.  Squishy butt fat just didn't seem appetizing. 

As I said, the baby ham rocked it just fine.  When I got home, I pulled out the hunks and shredded them into bits, removing the squishy fat, then dumped it all back in.  I flipped in a few spices, some potato flakes to thicken it up and it was delicious! 

This morning as I was learning how to work with my cottage butt, I checked to see if we "had company" as K- would like to say.  Why yes, we had 6 squirrels at the feeding area.  Too bad that they were being pigs and not allowing the birds to enjoy.  They've decided to climb the pole now, so Hubs instructed me to open the door and clap my hands at them.  I did that and 5 of the 6 scurried off and away.  There was the 6th who hung out on top of the pole, in total defiance.  I started speaking to him, asking him if he really wanted me to come over there.  He just stood there on the top of the pole, chuckling to himself on the inside.  "She'll never come over here.  She's in her slippers and there is snow everywhere."  I surprised him and walked in the snow in my slippers to the pole.  You know what?  He didn't flinch.  Not a tiny bit!  So there I was, eye to eye with a rodent on top of the feeding pole figuring that now I was within about a foot and a half of him.  Certainly, he would be scared and run off. 

Uh, no.

"Why is it that I have to come here to speak with you?  Do you know that you aren't supposed to be on the pole?  Do you know that this is not your seed?" 

He stood there.  Then thoughts started coming through my mind.  Maybe this isn't a squirrel just used to humans.  Maybe the squirrel is going to jump off the pole and onto my face and begin gnawing my face off.  No doubt that one of my nosy interested neighbors would come to my rescue.  Certainly they would see all that was going on since they were watching every single move that we make enjoying our bird feeding area and all of the wildlife it attracts. 

After a minute or two of stern discussion, the squirrel slowly, and I mean slowly, made its way down the pole and stood on the ground eating the seed that had just been tossed out there for him 15 minutes prior. 

"I'll eat from the ground because you are standing right there, but seriously, would you want to eat from the ground when you have a perfectly good opportunity to eat from a dispenser and all of the seed is dry?  I'll be here right now, but as soon as you pull out of the driveway, I'll be back.  And no, I won't even wait for you to exit the street.  Thanks again for all the seed.  Keep it coming and don't buy any of that cheap millet stuff.  Keep up the good work and buy the stuff chocked full of sunflower seeds.  That's my favorite."

Smiles in my day:
-  I have two W-2's now!  I printed the mortgage interest statement online, but now I'm waiting for the bank interest statements.  Granted, it is probably under $50.00, but I claim all income and I'll hold on.  I did as much on Turbo Tax as I could do, so now I wait.
-  Homemade soup for dinner.  Yum.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tales from the Trenches: The idiot parent back tracks on math.

(Had to move my Tuesday Tales from the Trenches to Wednesday 'cause we had to recognize Hubs' birthday, of course!)

K- was doing very well in math.  They started working on shapes and volume in class and I ended up back sliding.  She was never a child that was thrilled with flash cards and it was a fight to get her to do them.

I gave her a break during break and during volume studies.  Whooo boy, could you tell.

:thunks to the forehead:

So, it's taken about 2 weeks of worksheets every night, but we've pulled her back around.  You know what?  She loves doing the worksheets.  Flashcards be gone! 

So, where have I found these delightful worksheets?  Here.  They have an addition worksheet generator that I use.  You plug the values into the chart, hit submit and it pops a worksheet up for you.  The neato thing?  You can hit the refresh button and it will flip you a new worksheet. 

They have subtraction worksheets, but not on a generator format.  That makes me sad, but it is a free resource and I'm glad to have it.

I've also gone through and printed their clock worksheets.  Much like the addition worksheets, they ask you a series of questions and then you hit submit.  K-'s class is working on up to the quarter hour.  They aren't to the 5 or 1 minute breakdown yet.  Still, a lovely thing to use. 

It pulled us out of our math rut.  Any educational finds that you have online that I could use for a 1st grader?

Smiles in my day:
-  1 W-2 in.  Just waiting on another.  And a mortgage interest statement.  Soon the taxes will be done.

My people trying to lift a car at COSI the other day.  Hubs reports that it was harder than he thought, but they did lift it a ways.
  -  Birthday cake for breakfast.  Why not?
-  K- has two bonus words for spelling.  She was just given them yesterday and she has the word "January" down.  (I made up a goofy song.)  She would have had "winter" but she forgot the 'e.'  She'll have it by Friday.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birthday greetings from your furry friend.

I just wanted to say thank you, Mr. Bailey's Leaf, for the awesome feeding station that you put up for me and my friends and all of us wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday!  Of course, a car came down the road and scared everyone away but me, but you get it.  A Happy Birthday-- from all of us!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dishin' Dinners Day: Use what you have edition and The Battle of Choo Choo Joe

I went light on grocery shopping this week.  (Milk, PB, cheese, turkey tenderloin, carrots.)  I have a lot of things on the shelves and in the freezer that can definitely be consumed. 

Monday:  Morningstar Chick Patties and sweet potato fries.

Tuesday/Wednesday:  Ham and bean soup.

Thursday/Friday:  Crock-pot meatloaf, whole grain rice and vegetable. 
Dinner drop to Heather (cousin #2) to celebrate Elyse's arrival.  Crock-pot turkey tenderloin, carrots, potatoes, bread sticks (that I didn't use last week) and pudding parfait dessert. 

Saturday:  Family dinner at the in-law's.  Chicken vegetable soup and homemade bread.  Mom L says, "Make the big pot!"  Will do.

I have looked at the freezer and shelves and I do have quite a bit.  I stocked up last week and still have plenty of grapes and cherry tomatoes for K-.  I will go for milk and to purchase a whole chicken for the soup.  Outside of that, we're good.

Onto The Battle of Choo Choo Joe.  Now, for those of you unfamiliar, I am a complete fan of Gilmore Girls.  I loved the show, own all of the seasons and mourned the day the Gilmorisms stopped.  The show gave me a great funny to share with Hubs today while at the Franklin Park Conservatory. 

Feel free to skip reading this if Gilmore Girls isn't your thing.  If it is, this is read on: 

Eight O'Clock at the Oasis. Season 3  Disc 2  Episode 5.
[Rory and Lorelai walk into Luke’s Diner]
Lorelai: Oh, man, it’s packed in here.
Rory: I guess we counter it.
Lorelai:Oh, I guess we do.
[They sit down at the counter]
Luke: What?
Lorelai: What do you know, your face really can freeze that way.
Rory: Are you okay?
Luke: Yeah, I’m fine, I’m great. It’s a big fat happy sunshine day for me.
Lorelai: Business looks good.
Rory: Yeah, the place is packed.
Luke: Sure, it’s been taken over by the J. Crew catalog.
[Several families with little kids are seated at the tables]
Rory: Oh, look, babies!
Lorelai: I never wanna hear that come out of your mouth again.
Woman: Find the yellow ball.
Man: [searching through a diaper bag] Yellow ball, yellow ball, yellow ball. . .ah, yellow duck.
Woman: Ball.
Man: Yellow ball, yellow ball, yellow ball.
Luke: Every weekend, the same stupid group comes in here and take up all my tables and every chair they can get their sticky hands on, and they do that. They sit, they stand, one person holds the kid, another person holds the kid.
Man 2: I’ve got Choo-Choo Joe.
Luke: This guy runs in and out and back and forth, the other guy never takes his head out of that stupid bag, the women can’t figure out which kid is which, and they do it all morning long, and then order two iced teas to go, and that is it.
Lorelai: I’m sure you’re exaggerating.
Luke: I am not exaggerating.
Woman 2: Oh god.
Luke: Oh, now, this is good, you see – Choo-Choo Joe will not be working.
Woman 2: Get the Bongo Bear. Get the Bongo Bear.
Rory: How’d you know that?
Luke: Because Joe has not been working for the last six months. Personally, I don’t think he’s broken, I think he killed himself to get away from that family.
Lorelai: Oh, now that kid’s a major drooler.
Rory: Yeah, it’s like a fountain.
Luke: Okay, that’s it, they have to go.
Lorelai: Luke, come on, it’s just spit. Pretend you’re at a baseball game.
Luke: No no no, I’ve had enough. Let them go not spend money at Al’s, I’m through. [He starts to walk toward the people when a woman stands up and starts unbuttoning her shirt. Luke walks back to Lorelai and Rory] Is that woman doing what I think she’s doing? [the woman has started nursing her baby]
Lorelai: Um, well, I can’t be a hundred percent sure, but. . .oh yeah, that’s lunch.
Luke: Why, why do they do this? This is a public place, people are eating here.
Rory: They sure are.
Luke: This cannot be sanitary.
Lorelai: I agree. You don’t know where that thing’s been.
Luke: When did that become acceptable? In the old days, a woman would never consider doing that in public. They’d go find a barn or a cave or something. I mean, it’s indecent. This is a diner not a peep show!
Lorelai: Hey, consider making it a combo. You could charge more for your cheeseburgers. Of course, no one would ever feel the same ordering a glass of milk again, but . . .
Luke: I have to do something. I just can’t stand here and let the lactating continue.
Lorelai: Luke!
Rory: Gross!
Luke: I’m gross? I’m not the one exposing myself for the entire world to see. That’s it.
[Luke starts to walk over to the woman, then walks back to the counter] You go make her stop.
Lorelai: I’m not going over there.
Luke: Why not? You’re a woman.
Lorelai: So what?
Luke: So you have the same parts.
Lorelai: What?
Luke: You shouldn’t be scared of it.
Lorelai: Scared of it? You know, you’re gonna be a bachelor for a really long time.
Luke: I am being taken advantage of here, and I do not like being taken advantage of. I hate this!
[Jess walks down into the diner and sees the woman nursing]
Jess: Oh geez!
[Jess quickly turns around and walks back upstairs. Lorelai and Rory start laughing.]
Luke: Okay, well, that was kind of funny.

You see, every time we visit the Conservatory, we run into some of the snootiest people.  (Ferris Bueller, anyone?)  At any rate, we had the Choo Choo Joe crowd today.  K- was literally the oldest child in attendance while young thirties-ish folks milled about.  There were the poor Choo Choo Joes of the crowd, strapped down with an assortment of baby paraphernalia while pushing the high end stroller that is always empty of child because either the child is strapped to him or toddling on holding onto him while his wife (on my husband's observation), shoots ahead in tight pants, unsensible shoes and holding a large coffee high in the air in her right hand, while talking on the cell with her left.  They are the ones that go to the cafe and can never be happy with their fine offerings of rather nice food.  "What do you mean you don't have pomegranate?  She was really looking forward to pomegranate.  You don't have any pomegranate in the back?  Are you certain that you are out of pomegranate? . . . "  :Insert 2 year old chanting "Pomegranate!  Pomegranate!" alongside overly caffeinated mom.: 

The Choo Choo Joes, for the most part, were only at the Conservatory.  We went on to COSI and found a completely different crowd.  We were all able to have a nice time, but struggled to be able to have K- use some things because of a lack of sharing.  COSI (Center of Science and Industry) is a hands-on exhibit science building.  There was one section that we found that she aged out of, but looked forward to seeing other things.  She wanted to ride the High Wire Unicycle, but she was too short.  I was going to, but the line was too long.  That's fine.  They had a thing that you would load balls into, you'd crank this handle several times, then you could shoot the balls to see if you could hit the wall funnel so that they could go through the wheels and tubes.  She played for about 10-15 minutes while patiently waiting for this child and his dad to give up the ship.  Nuthin' doing.  Hubs mentioned it to me and I walked over, bent down and asked the little boy if my daughter could try it a minute.  "She's been so patient."  He let her and the family ended up leaving soon there after.  K- was very careful to watch for the little people and when I yelled over to make certain that she was sharing (which she was, but kids were starting to surround the shooter now that it was free from the others), there was a mom who kind of approvingly looked over with a smile.  Apparently, more people wanted their kids to use it, but didn't have the guts to mention it.  K- wanted to climb into a submarine, but there was a huge line.  We decided that we'd go back.  When we went back, the line was shorter, she was able to get in, hang out a few and hop back out.  No big deal.  Same with the rocket ship.  There were seats that would allow you to pilot space craft.  All three seats were filled by ADULT men who saw us standing there looking, one turned, looked at us and went back to his thing.  That's fine, but when three adult men take to taking over a child's exhibit, that is just sad.  K- got plowed over at one exhibit.  I called her over to do something else and apologized to her for that happening to her.  The parents saw and I'm sure that they heard, but there was no correction on their part.  Their son probably didn't do it on purpose, but I still would have had K- apologize.  Fact of the matter is, COSI was packed, there was a lot to do that we did get to do, but my nerves were shot by the time we left.  I can absolutely tell you that I would never in a million years be a good candidate for Disney.  Ever.

Smiles in my weekend:
-  Spending the day with my people in early celebration of Hubs' upcoming birthday.
-  K- announced to Hubs and me, as we were trucking down the road, that she saw a hot air balloon.  I looked at the thermometer on my car.  13 F.  "Baby, I'm not saying that you didn't see a hot air balloon, but I really don't know that you did.  Perhaps you saw something else that looked like one."  "No, Mom!  I did!"  We came up over a hill and wouldn't you know, there was a hot air balloon in the air.  Now, it wasn't pie-in-the-sky-high, but she was up there and above the treeline.  I was stunned.  I didn't know that they could fly in such cold.  I don't know that given the temp that I would want to be in a basket flying in the briskness of 13 F.  Besides, wouldn't it be colder the higher up you went?  Yes, I apologized for doubting her.
-  When I took my truck to the Toyota dealership for an oil change on Saturday, it was an expected hour and a half wait.  I chuckled and told the gentleman to remember that I had a 7 year old with me.  45 minutes later, he showed up.  When someone (I went to church with her previously) said, "Hey!  :insert chuckle: Why does she get out before me?"  He smirked and said, "She has a 7 year old and you don't." 
-  While it wasn't a smile when I wore through 2 pairs of jeans this week (I had 4 that I've been wearing in hopes of losing 10 pounds before purchasing more), my friend confirmed that thrift stores have to do something to avoid the bed bug situation.  (She works in community health and would definitely know the details of this.)  She promised that I wouldn't infest my house if I went to buy myself pants there.  I found 4 pair of jeans, including one lovely pair of Ann Taylor Curvy Boot jeans (originally 69.50 and the ones I bought look like brand new!), all for $11.45 total.  That, my friends, is a lovely deal.  And yes, I left them outside in the freezing cold (12 F) and took them directly to my washing machine where I ran them through the agitation cycle twice.  They also tumbled through the dryer.  Not that I think that they brought any buddies with them, but in case they did, they are now gone.
-  K- is officially signed up for her spring sports.  This year, we are thankful that soccer and swimming aren't on the same day.  Where the two do overlap by two weeks, swimming is on Saturday and soccer is on Sunday.  We'll be okay.  We wouldn't normally do two at a time, but this is a short two week exception.

Have a great day!