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Showing posts with label life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life. Show all posts

Monday, April 30, 2018 3 comments

Weekend Roundup

Most of Mason’s soccer games are at the local park, but each season they have two or three out of town matches. Saturday’s game was up in Towns County, pretty close to the North Carolina border.

I had Maps plot a course, which skirted Helen (probably very busy on a warm spring weekend) and took us up GA75 toward Hiawassee. We put the top down and I thrashed the Miata up that winding mountain road, a very enjoyable trip once the passing lane opened up and I got past the slowpokes.

Our destination was Foster Park, on Foster Road. Fortunately, Mason wanted to leave early, because Maps treated us to one of its rare hiccups, finding us a 1.5-lane Foster Rd. that ended in a church parking lot. After turning around and driving right past the place we actually wanted, I pulled up Google Maps and got the right directions. (I’ve had Google Maps totally fail as well, which is a good reason to have both.) The upshot was, we got there in plenty of time.

There’s not much to be said about the game itself. Mason took the goalie position for the second half, and only allowed one to get past him (which was pretty good because his teammates were offering little to no defense, and not a whole lot of offense). Since the game started at 4:30pm, I figured we’d find a place to eat there before coming back home—and when the coach texted all of us to welcome us to her alma mater (Young Harris College), I figured she would know a good place. Her son is Mason’s best friend, except for the matter of this one girl (c’mon, they’re all 8!), so hanging out after the game was a no-brainer.

Supper, then home. Maps knows where I live, and helpfully plotted a nice set of backroads. We went down Track Rock Rd, where some of my relatives once lived, and then thrashed the Miata down US19/129 before heading home. Despite having only all-season radials, I never felt like we were going to spin out or anything… so maybe I wasn’t pushing it that hard after all. We only had a couple of tire chirps and one squeal, which was probably because I was on the paint on the inside of a right-hander. It got chilly enough that Mason (who is even more of a top-down fiend than me) was ready to put the top up early on in the drive home, but we did keep the windows down. Definitely a case of the journey being more important than the destination..

And there was evening and morning, another day.

Swingin’
Sunday after church, the wife suggested we take the boys to the park after lunch. She couldn’t stay past lunch, but I figured Mason and Charlie would have a pretty good time. As it turned out, I was right. Mason alternated between the jungle gym and riding his bicycle in the parking lot.

As for Charlie, he enjoyed the swings. He liked the slides. But the big attraction was the large fenced-in playground space. He spent most of his time running loose, and all I had to do was follow him around and make sure he stayed out of the one muddy spot under the big-kid swings. His random sort-of orbit would occasionally take him to the picnic table, where I had left his sippy and diaper bag, and he would guzzle some lemonade before taking off anew. At one point, a bunch of girls started screaming, and Charlie turned around and joined in. If you heard a chorus of Joyous Ear-Splitting Shrieks™ over the weekend, that was probably them.

Of course, like Mason at that age, he generated an Atomic Diaper. I just laid him on the picnic table and took care of it. (Mason, despite being the same age I was when I first changed an Atomic Diaper, has not worked up the nerve to try. Kids these days, y'know?)

At last, the wife returned from her errands. To my surprise, both Mason and Charlie put up no fuss about going home. I figured, in Charlie’s case at least, he had worn himself out with all the running and would zorch out pretty quick. No such luck—he was wound up, and it was closer to 10pm before he finally gave up for the night.

Looking at the extended forecast, spring has finally chased the last vestiges of winter back to the Arctic. The sun is shining, birds are singing… and I got video of Charlie talking back to the birds. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 06, 2018 2 comments

Here's Your Sign

“More” (hungry kid)
While Charlie is still non-verbal at age 2, his speech therapist says he understands a lot more than the average 2 year old. Meanwhile, the speech therapist, daycare, and the wife are teaching him some sign language (ASL). I remember reading about kids who skip the baby talk until they’ve figured out how to speak in complete sentences, and I kind of hope that’s what Charlie will do.

Still, he usually manages to make himself understood. That’s a lot easier when your surrogate parents have raised a handful of kids, and been around a bunch more. I can often tell when a baby at a restaurant is hungry or just wants attention by the edges in the crying. It’s hard to explain, but I’m usually right, judging from what the kid’s doing after quieting down.

Anyway… back to Charlie. A lot of times, he’ll start to fuss when I put him in the playpen (a/k/a “cage”—a nice roomy cage with lots of toys, but it’s still confinement). I’ll say, “You know the drill; I’ve got to get stuff ready to go,” and he’ll calm down and start playing. He really does know the drill.

One recent morning, I was getting him ready for the ride to daycare, and his shirt rode up. Belly blast (blowing loud raspberries on his belly) time! He laughed, then signed “more.”

"More what?” I asked.

He pushed his belly out. More belly blasts!


This evening, I was getting his bottle ready. (He drinks out of a cup now, but still likes his bottle for nighty-night.) Back when Mason was a baby, I'd count down the last ten seconds before the microwave finished up, and I’ve been doing the same with Charlie. Somewhere along the way, Mason started whispering “Tin!” and pointing at the timer, trying to get the countdown to speed up (I point to each number as it counts down). Tonight, Charlie grunted and pointed at the display for the first time. He’s not saying “ten,” but it’ll come.

Sometimes, I wonder if Mason’s fascination with numbers partly stem from those late-night microwave countdowns. Speaking of Mason… as this is Spring Break week on Planet Georgia, he’s spending the week with his dad. He was supposed to come back yesterday, but asked if he could stay until Saturday. Skylar stays with us most evenings, to provide some surrogate noise, but it’s mostly been a quiet week. I’ll be glad when the rugrat is home, though.

Thursday, March 22, 2018 2 comments

Back in the Saddle

Mason got a mountain bike a while back, and lately he’s wanted to… well, go mountain biking. Imagine.

Raleigh M-60… 1998?
Well, gee. I have a mountain bike, too. It has even been featured on this blog in the past, riding exotic routes like the Pinellas Trail or the Silver Comet Trail.

I hadn’t ridden it much in the last few years, and even less so after Charlie and the knee replacement. But it has been in the dry garage, and even moved around from time to time. It was a gorgeous weekend—we were all running around outside with shorts—and Charlie wore himself out riding a push-truck on the driveway. After he went down for a nap, at Mason’s incessant urging, I rolled the Raleigh out into the sunlight along with its air pump, a few tools, and the tires.

Off with the on-road,
On with the off-road!
The tires, you say? Yup. It came with a pair of off-road tires, with an aggressive tread that made it sound like an old pickup truck when riding on pavement. It turned out I rode a lot more on pavement than off, especially when The Boy and Daughter Dearest were old enough to ride on the roads. So I bought a pair of hybrid tires, swapped them on, and hung up the knobbies for later.

Later, it turned out, was last weekend. As Mason watched with great fascination, I pulled the wheels off, swapped the road tires for the knobbies, then hung the road tires up. This was made easier by dint of the tires being quite flat. Fortunately, the inner tubes held air when I pumped them back up. We took a shake-down cruise: down the driveway, across the expanse of yard alongside the road, around the gravel pile, then back to the manor. You know the old saw about “it’s just like riding a bicycle.” Yup, it all came back to me really fast. The tires and tubes were fine, and Mason was ready to start his adventure ride.

There’s a trail that leads from the back yard down to a garden area (a previous owner cleared it, although I wonder why they didn’t clear an area closer to the house… oh well). Mason found the trail on the other side, that runs to the fence between FAR Manor’s grounds and the in-laws’.

“Want to ride down to the pond?" I asked Mason. He was enthusiastic about the idea, so we went through the gate and I led the way.

The pasture was pretty rough, between all the rain we’ve had recently and the cows walking on it, and it jounced us thoroughly. Through a gate on the other side, past the campsite, and down to the pond. There were some poles and tackle left behind by one cousin or another, so Mason decided to do a little fishing:

Just as well they weren’t biting
I’m kind of glad Mason didn’t catch anything, because it would have been rather difficult to bring the catch home.


You may have noticed I said we rode down to the pond. That was a deliberate choice of words: FAR Manor is on a hilltop, and there’s only a dozen yards or so that isn’t downhill between the house and the pond. Now you can guess what that means… yup, uphill all the way home. This was the part Mason hadn’t really considered. Even in low gear, he complained a lot and had to take a few rest breaks. Surprisingly, I only needed a brief rest, and I never went below the middle chainring on my bike.

I hope Mason elects to continue riding around the manor and farm, though. It’ll build up his legs and his stamina, and he’ll be able to hustle harder in his soccer games. As for Charlie, I have a bike seat that clips onto the rack. I bought it for Mason when he was little, but he wanted nothing to do with it. I expect Charlie will have a more positive reaction.

Oh… and I need a new helmet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 No comments

Horsing Around

BIG doggie!
Charlie continues to get therapy for his developmental issues. Besides the occupational therapist who makes house calls on Thursdays, he goes to a clinic for speech and physical therapy.

Part of the latter involves horses—they say it helps with his balance. The clinic has a large indoor area where they can control the situation as well as the climate.

Charlie’s first encounter with a horse went rather well, I’d say. At least he didn’t freak out. i could imagine some kids being intimidated by a critter that size.

So he was comfortable getting face to face with a horse; how about getting on and taking a ride? That went pretty well, too. He sat up straight and enjoyed it:


Check out that big grin as he goes by the wife. He’s loving every minute of it.

Of course, with so much excitement, he didn’t get a nap today. I finally finished a work project that has been dragging on FOREVER, and we celebrated with a night out. Charlie was enamored of the service dog at the table next door, and managed to eat fairly well. But he refused to go down for the night until he had his bottle. Priorities! But he did go down early…

Friday, October 20, 2017 1 comment

Four O'clock Charlie

Image source: openclipart.org
Of course, I’m riffing on the classic M*A*S*H episode Five O'Clock Charlie here, but it’s not terribly humorous at the moment.

After last week’s “July in October,” this week has been more seasonable. It was cold enough, yesterday morning, that I had to start the furnace. But it seems like, with fall actually feeling like fall, Charlie decided to level up in Sleep Fight Club. He has developed quite a few techniques for keeping himself awake lately, including slapping himself over the head and the classic refusing to sit still.

Then, when we finally get him to sleep, he wakes himself up around 4 a.m. and howls until someone comes and gets him. Wife has been bringing him into the bedroom and letting him lay with us… which might have been a mistake, because now he expects to sleep with us.

Needless to say, neither the wife nor I have slept well this week. Charlie likes to flip and flop, and we’re constantly worried he’s going to roll off the edge. One of us bails for the living room, not that it’s much more comfortable on the couch or a lounger.

Worst case, I’m traveling on business Monday through Wednesday, so I’ll have a couple nights in a quiet (I hope) hotel room. Maybe he’ll settle down and go back to sleeping all night. Maybe pigs will fly out my, um, jet exhaust.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3 comments

Happy #1, Zoey!

I haven’t blogged much about Grandkid #2, mainly because I haven’t seen much of her, mainly because The Boy lives about 120 miles from FAR Manor. (Smart move, that.) But she had her first birthday party over the weekend, with a “Wild One” theme. Zoey isn’t terribly wild—she’s not quite walking yet—but her parents…

Anyway, I expected Charlie to get a good nap on the 2-hour drive down… nope! He was fascinated with the 18-wheelers and transfer trucks on the freeway. When we got all the way past one truck, he would crane his neck to look out the windshield for the next one. We got to the pavilion, and he was ready to party!

A good time was had by all. Especially the birthday girl. There was cake. With icing, of course:

Now why did someone give me this spoon? Who needs a spoon?

Charlie thought the party was fun, too. He even tried to steal the show by turning loose and trying to walk away once—for the second time that weekend. As with the first time, he got two steps, keeled over, and I caught him. He wasn’t too sure about me holding Zoey; but while the wife had him, I carried her over to say hi to Charlie. He grinned at her, she stuck her tongue out, and Charlie cut loose with the Joyous Ear-Splitting Screech™. Zoey suddenly decided she’d had enough, and started wailing for someone she knew to come get meeeeee!.

One of the cool things they did was to put out a stationary pad for everyone to write Zoey a letter. She’s supposed to get them all and read through them when she’s 18. That involves a lot of confidence that someone will be able to hold on to that correspondence for 17 years, but it’s still a cool idea.

After the party, we hit Golden Corral and hung out for a while before heading back. Once again, Charlie kept a lookout for trucks… at least until it got dark. But he refused to give in until we got about 10 miles from home. Then, he crashed. It didn’t take much longer for me to do the same.

Friday, September 22, 2017 4 comments

Boys, Books, Birthdays, and B…

Get the shot, Granddad, I’m about to pull it off!
Somewhere along the line, I’ve become Charlie’s favorite. It might be because, most days, I’m the first person he sees in the morning and the last at night. I also spend a fair amount of time with him through the evenings, usually either reading to him or helping him walk through the house. He likes to go from one end of the house (door to the garage off the kitchen) to the other (shower door in the master bath), then back. Several times. It’s beneficial in several ways: he enjoys it, it helps to wear him out and get him ready for bed, and his (supported) walking has improved greatly over the last couple of weeks. No more drunken stagger, although he does do the pigeon-toe thing.

Most mornings when I drive to the office, I drop him off at daycare. He likes riding in the Miata because there’s always someone next to him. He also likes for me to lay my right hand over on his car seat, so he can touch it. I also keep a little toy car for him to play with. When the sun shines in on his side, he starts squinting, so I grab my hat (much like the one in the pic) and put it on him. He gives me a big grin and pulls it off… I guess he’d rather squint than have something on his head. But that’s what gave me the idea for the picture, and the knowledge I’d have to be quick on the shutter.

Charlie’s favorite book
Oh, and Charlie has re-discovered his joyous ear-splitting screech. He doesn’t reserve it for Mason, either. If he’s enjoying whatever he’s doing or seeing—the dogs tug-of-warring over a chew toy, walking around, Mason doing something silly—he cuts loose. (I’ve often joked about looking forward to going deaf as I get older, even if I wear ear plugs when I mow the lawn, but I’ll likely get a chance.)

I’m sure the hat is a coincidence, but this is his favorite book. When I’m reading this one to him, he doesn’t try to flip to the end to read the blurb or whatever. Personally, I think it’s because he loves the water so much, he’s always ready for a story about a little boy getting to play in/near the water. It’s a blast to watch him in his float, screeching with joy and splashing water everywhere. I want to get him and Mason up to the resort to play in the pool before it gets too cold.

Speaking of Mason, I kind of get the impression he’s been feeling left out lately. I’m constantly taking care of Charlie most evenings and weekends, and the wife is constantly taking care of her dad, so where does that leave him? I take him to soccer practice twice a week, wife takes him to school and occasionally has a dinner date with him. But of late, he’s been hostile, demanding, and often doesn’t want much to do with Charlie. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get out much from May into the first part of August (the resort trip in July taxed my knee and relaxed most everything else). Now that I can do most of what I could do before the knee started acting up, I’m working on changing that. That’s one reason I want to get them both up to the resort.

It will also help (and cause trouble) once Charlie starts walking on his own. The physical therapist that will soon start working with him thinks once he’s fitted with leg braces, he’ll be walking in less than two weeks. On the other hand, the daycare people told me he took one step today, then got really wobbly and sat down. I figure once Charlie starts walking, he’ll be beelining for Mason’s room (his personal concept of Heaven)… the only thing that will slow him down is deciding whether to get into Mason’s Legos, cars, plastic army men, or the rest of it. Angsty teenagers got nothin’ on Mason when someone starts messing with his stuff. Mason turned 8 earlier this month—I told him now he could learn how to change Charlie’s diapers, because I was 8 when I learned how. I think only the father-in-law could have given a better “deer in the headlights” look when I said that.

Will he have the patience?
We got Mason his own book from the book fair. It’s a pretty good how-to on creating stop-motion animations (making a movie one frame at a time), and Legos are a great way to get started with that. Mason, however, is definitely a child of the wife’s side of the family—no patience, and will argue with a fencepost. First, he expected me to read the entire book to him, when he’s quite capable of reading it himself. (THIRTY-EIGHT PAGES? *rage quits*)

Once he settled down, he went through the book, and learned how to storyboard a movie. He sketched out an idea for a simple “cops and robbers” story, and did a pretty good job of it. But (lack of patience again), he tore one of the backdrops included in the book… the one he wanted to use, of course. I taped it up and it works okay. We’re experimenting with a hybrid of stop-action and motion video, and hope to make some good progress over the weekend. Maybe I’ll have a new Weekend Cinema post for y’all soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017 2 comments

RIP, Big V

It happened on eclipse day, but it took me a while to process. Then I keep putting off the post. Still in denial, I guess.

Big V in better times
Up until evening, Eclipse Day was one of the best days I’d had, recently. It had been a pretty good day, by all accounts, for Big V and her family as well—no quarrels, lots of smiles, all was going pretty good for a change. The only problem: she had recently had gone back to home dialysis, after not being able to do it for a while, and the drain cycle wasn’t working well.

So her hubs got out of the shower, and heard her call him. By the time he got to her, she was already on the floor and not breathing. He called 911, started CPR, and kept it up for a heroic 15 minutes until the ambulance got there. They kept working on her until they got her to the hospital… to no avail.

One of the doctors said, “in her condition, 98% of the time, it’s a heart attack.” So we all went with that. Between the diabetes (not controlled well), leukemia, and kidney failure, this was going to happen sooner or later. I expected much later, after a prolonged decline, but maybe it was better for her to go out on a good note.

Since her widower works nights (truck driver), Skylar spends most school nights here and spends afternoons and weekends with his “papa.” Mason’s glad to have him around, even if they argue a lot. Charlie’s always up for another older kid who will play with him.

But I’ll hand it to Big V. She gave it all she could to stay with Skylar. In the end… maybe it was enough.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 5 comments

Totally Eclipsed!

Since I was Mason’s age, I’ve always wanted to see a total eclipse in person. So when I learned that it was going to pass only an hour’s drive from FAR Manor, I was stoked. Then August came in with rain, and more rain… I’ve always considered August an unlucky month.

But then the usual August dryness started moving in. Some things are stronger than bad luck, after all. I checked the maps, and found that US23, the GA/NC border, and the center of the eclipse path all intersected. There's a rest stop a few miles into NC, so I thought maybe I had my plans set.

“They said on the radio that traffic is going to be horrendous,” said the wife. I don’t listen to commercial radio much these days, but the wife does and passes on stuff that really matters. It made sense: a lot of metro Atlanta could make the same daytrip I was thinking about.

But Wednesday, I woke up with the solution. The resort we have a membership at was in the path of totality, it’s an hour from the manor, and there are lots of sunny areas. Woohoo, we’re on! I put in for Monday off, warned Mason’s teacher that I’d be getting him out early, and started making a list of stuff we’d need.

Crude but effective
First thing, I decided to make a pinhole viewer. I did something similar for the annular eclipse in the previous millennium, but got a little fancier since I had time and materials.

I taped a piece of paper in the bottom, cut a square hole in the top, then sacrificed a broken plastic plant pot for the cause. A 1/16" hole in the plastic piece, taped over the hole, projects an image of the sun onto the paper (if you have it aligned properly).

With all that taken care of, all you need is a way to look inside. I cut a slot, hoping maybe I could get decent cellphone shots of the projection. That didn’t turn out so well, but it did the job otherwise.

After going through all that, I learned that the school was going to give all the kids direct-sun viewing glasses. Still, I figured, my efforts were not all in vain. Mason could use his glasses, and I could use my viewer.

With the partial eclipse phase sorted, I Googled for optimal exposure settings for a total eclipse. Google obligingly turned up a chart. The National Weather Service provided times for the eclipse, and I was set. All I needed was a little luck to get there.

Everyone turned out for this one
Luck, in the form of Siri plotting a route over some backroads, was with me that morning. I loaded up the camera, tripod, pinhole viewer, sunscreen, and swim gear (I figured we’d want to cool off in the pool afterwards), picked up Mason from school, and away we went. The backroad route worked better than I expected, and we arrived at the resort almost ten minutes sooner than I’d hoped.

The resort had decided to throw an eclipse party, with hot dogs, drinks, and even a DJ! He never did play “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” but I did LOL when he played “Bad Moon Rising.” I found a place to park in the corner, but there was plenty of space on the grass. One guy thought the pinhole viewer was a pretty neat idea, once he saw how it worked. (I learned to tilt it up until the shadow on the backside just goes away, and that gives you the angle.)

Mason looking cool in the heat
It was a hot day—August on Planet Georgia, duh—and the heat had Mason dashing into the clubhouse a few times to cool off. I got him a hotdog, and water for us both… and then the sun got a chip taken out of it. Over the next hour or so, we alternated looking through the pinhole viewer, taking brief direct peeks through the sun viewers, and I tried in vain to get a decent shot with the phone camera through both the pinhole viewer and using the sun viewers. It cooled off as the coverage increased. I looked for the weird shadows, like I saw during the annular eclipse, but never did catch them. The wife, who stayed closed to home (in the 98% coverage zone), did though.

Of course, I envied the several people who had brought telescopes to the party. None of them, though, matched the rig I saw during the annular eclipse: a sun-scope with motor drive and camera attachment, taking shots at set intervals.

As the crescent sun grew ever thinner, I turned up my own camera and pointed it sunward—then put the lens cap on, loose, until the main event began. I looked at my chart one last time, making sure turning the clickwheel left was what increased exposure times.

Total!
At last, things got really dim. I looked up, saw the corona ring, and got going with the camera. Click click click click I went, working down through the chart from Baily's Beads to the widest corona. Finally, I grabbed up my phone and got a shot of Mason with the eclipse in the background. Being a cellphone camera, it gave me a bright disc instead of a ring, but it was still an interesting shot. The sky looked really weird.

The last two shots, 1sec and 4sec, suffered from camera shake. Had I used the self-timer, I probably could have avoided that, but I might not have had time to get the shots anyway. Had I been closer to the centerline, I would have risked it.

Then things brightened up really fast, and we retreated to the pool. I was already thinking about the 2024 eclipse—Charlie will be 8 by then, and maybe he’d like to see one. It might be too early to book hotels and the like, but not too early to save up for the trip…

Saturday, May 20, 2017 2 comments

Kneecapped, 2017: Progress

Ah, to heal like Wolverine… because I never would have had to do this in the first place! But a week later, I’m making visible progress.

Stylish stripes!
Early in the week, I decided I needed to have some kind of morning routine besides sitting in the recliner and doing my therapy exercises. I’ve never been one to care about appearances much—except, ironically enough, I’m a little vain about my legs—but looking presentable is a definite mental boost. So each morning, I get dressed, shave, then sit at the desktop and do things that are more difficult to deal with on the mobile devices. I can actually get some useful stuff done that way, and that also gave my attitude a boost.

Keeping up with the three-a-day exercises is a chore, but I set alarms in my phone to remind me when to do them. The same therapist who worked with the wife, when she had her knee done, is now working with me. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Those are painful… that deep, annoying pain that’s the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Fortunately, that fades to an ache (still annoying) quickly enough. He gave me some additional exercises on top of the ones I brought home from the hospital.

Sunday, I decided to explore that “as tolerated” part of the repaired leg’s weight-bearing. I found it could tolerate a lot more than I had expected, leading me to wonder why I’m plonking around with a walker. I got my answer Monday: OMG was I stiff! That made therapy extra-OUCH-special. It didn’t help that the A/C wasn’t working (turned out to be a bunch of dead rats in the fan) for a few days.

The wife helped me get a shower Tuesday night. Soon after, the dressing peeled off (which was OK according to the doc) and we put a fresh one on. Despite my taking aspirin for pain relief as well as blood thinning, when that one came off, there wasn’t even a spot of blood on it. We’ve just let it get some air since then. Somewhere in there, the tight muscles began to loosen up. A little. Getting in and out of the recliner is easier and less painful. I’m putting less weight on the walker.

Friday, the staples came out, and my new stripey-knee style came in. I like it. The therapist is still clucking about getting my knee to straighten out completely, but was encouraging that I was able to straight-leg lift my heel a quarter-inch off the bed. Seeing that the quadriceps muscle wasn’t even working on Monday, that was a step forward. Getting in and out of the van wasn’t any less painful than a week earlier, when I got out of the hospital, but I’m no longer on hospital-grade painkillers.

So I got on the bed to do my exercises this morning, and I managed to lift that leg all the way off the bed! Now that’s what I call progress. I’ve also been able to shuffle behind the walker without putting weight on it, but (given the previous experiment) I’m not doing that one so much.

Looks like I might be good for resuming work (from home, anyway) come Wednesday. Not sure how much longer it will be before I can drive myself around again. I just hope I can be a pain-free passenger soon… that would be a good step forward.

Saturday, May 13, 2017 4 comments

Kneecapped 2017, post-op

Chainsaw go ning-ning-ning-ning…
The deed was done Wednesday morning, and Friday afternoon I was back at the manor. I only got four hours of sleep Tuesday night, because Charlie wasn’t sleeping well and I got up with him. So I was already pretty well out of it when I got to the hospital at 6:15am, and don’t remember much of anything after shucking my clothes in the prep room, putting on the standard extra-drafty hospital gown that would be my home for the next however long, and getting stuck for the IV. When I came to (at least to myself), they had just deposited me in my room. And there I sat. Or laid, actually.

I had prepared a bag for the wife to bring, containing my iPad, Kindle, a charger, and cables. She neglected to bring it up when I first saw her, but I was still sleeping more than waking. The same foot massagers they had put on her when she did this a few years back were now buzzing and squeezing my own feet. So some hours went by quicker than expected, and soon she was back with the goodie bag. That first day was okay, except that the nurses were a little slow to get around to me. I picked at my lunch (dry turkey, some interesting potatoes, green beans, fruit), caught up on the dumpster fire that is the daily news these days, read a little, played some solitaire, and listened to all the noises that are part of a modern hospital facility (even one out in Sector 706).

Except for two bobbles that first day, where it took an hour for someone to come after I buzzed, and the day nurse didn't take me walking up the hallway, things went smoothly. But sleep, even with pain-killers, was kind of elusive. I kind of skimmed the surface of sleep, with repetitive dreams (mostly about work of all things). I finally sat up on the side of the bed to use the undignified bucket they give you to pee in, and nearly filled it, sometime around 4am.

Thursday was a little better. My appetite and the food both improved, an ombudsman asked us if we had any problems (I told them about the hour wait on Wed), a therapist came by, and I got to talk with some people on the Outside―the wife and Charlie, Mom, and the home therapist who would be coming by after I got home. Except for the two patients whose meds were maladjusted, and who could thus be heard from the other side of the hospital, of course. I kept running out the saline they kept putting in my IV, and actually did fill the 1-liter bucket once. On my third walk down the hall, I reached the nurses’ station and thus “graduated.”

So I came home Friday. Getting in and out of the minivan was harder than I hoped, but I made it into the manor and to the recliner. The first home therapy visit was this morning, and I’m left with a feeling of “I can do this.” If only I can make sure nothing gets infected…

Saturday, March 04, 2017 7 comments

Kneecapped, 2017 edition

Tonya, Queen of Kneecaps
image source: about.com
Last Wednesday, the knee started twinging. I didn’t give it much thought, because it does that once or twice a year. I baby it a few days, it gets better. This time, it waited until Monday to kick it up a… dozen notches or more. It hasn’t hurt this bad since before the surgery, and that was before Mason was born.

The normal RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) routine hasn’t seemed to help—in fact, icing it seems to only make it worse, and it can only stand being in a knee brace for an hour or so. Sleeping has been a chore all week, because I can’t find a comfortable position. One of the recliners almost works, and I got a relatively decent amount of sleep last night, but I’m having to watch myself to not get cranky with the kids or the wife. I’ve had to work at home all week, and the wife has done her usual “leave Charlie with me while I’m supposed to be working and go take care of everyone else” routine.

When it had not improved by Tuesday, I got a doctor’s appointment. It started feeling a little better by the time I arrived, of course. They sent me out for X-rays anyway, and I got the results yesterday: arthritis and bone spurs.

Next step is the orthopedist who roto-rooted this knee almost eight years ago. That visit’s scheduled for Tuesday, and I wonder how it’s going to turn out. Maybe scraping the thing every seven or eight years will keep it mostly functional. I’m not sure how I feel about a replacement just yet.

But I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, March 03, 2017 3 comments

Pilgrims Charlie's Progress

I won’t sit here forever!
While the evaluations show significant development issues, most related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Charlie is making progress. In the last week, he’s finally started sitting himself up, and he’s almost crawling. The report from the psychs lays it out—he’s about six months behind, and they want to confirm he doesn’t have cerebral palsy.

“He’ll have issues with this pretty much his whole life,” they said. I asked if Charlie would be able to become a functioning adult. “It’s too early to tell at this point.” While I won’t, I SO want to punch Badger Boobs for what she did to him. At least she’s been fixed, so she can’t do that to another baby.

Charlie, on the other hand, is a very happy little rugrat. His appetite came roaring back a couple days ago, after the congestion (probably associated with teething) went away. He’s up to ten teeth now, and continues to want to let you feel them. Especially the sharp ends.

He gave me a little scare the other morning. He woke up, chattering contentedly in the crib, about the same time I was getting up. I walked by on the way to the coffee pot, and he had rolled against the end of the crib, legs in the air and playing with the bars. When I came back, he had gotten into his knees and was looking over the side rail with his hands dangling over. Suddenly, the coffee had to be put down while I grabbed the kid. It’s high time to lower the crib mattress, as much as we like the height for diaper changes.

The Pack&Play that used to be his bed is now his playpen. He’ll spend a lot of time in it, until he wears himself out; then he lays down and cries until someone rescues him. Sit him next to Mason, and his mood goes Instant Sunshine, though. I swear, I’ve never known anyone who loves someone the way Charlie loves Mason.

The stationary “roundabout” (it’s like a walker with a base instead of wheels) is also a common play area for him, but for some reason… put him in it, wait 15 minutes, Atomic Diaper. Every time.

Chewed right through the story
His favorite thing these days (besides people) is paper. I keep a sheaf of an old manuscript next to my keyboard, and he likes to pull a sheet (or a bunch of sheets), wave them around, crumple them, maybe chew on them, then drop them on the floor and get another handful. If my books ever become some cult classics for the ages, historians are going to wail and gnash their teeth at what Charlie did to some of that early work, nyuk nyuk.

Ah, if Charlie could talk, what would he say? “Play with me, Mason!” or “Feed me!” would be the top two.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 2 comments

Cyborg-Mom!

Back in October, Mom had a pacemaker installed. It’s a routine thing these days, almost an outpatient procedure. They keep you overnight, wait for the happy juice to wear off, then send you home with a long list of things you can’t do for the next six weeks.

That should have been the end of the story, but would I be blogging about it if that was the case?

To begin with, Mom is pretty dang athletic for being 80, so there isn’t a lot of excess padding where a surgeon can hide a pacemaker. So they just stuck it under her skin, making a nice little lump but otherwise not interfering much. My youngest brother Solar lives near her, so he made sure things like laundry and heavy lifting got taken care of until she was off restrictions.

That should have been the end of the story. Again. But…

Whether it was a matter of the pacemaker being too close to the surface, or one of those airborne things getting into the mix during surgery, an infection set in. One of those nasty antibiotic-resistant hospital infections. Of course, this happened right before Christmas, when we planned to come down. Solar ran out of chill and advised us to cancel our hotel and just stay home. Meanwhile, they yanked the pacemaker and put on (on, not in) a temporary, then started shotgunning the antibiotics.

Wife suggested I go down myself, day after Christmas, and Solar was good with that. He had been taking care of his business and Mom’s, and was going into negative-chill over the hospital wanting to send her home despite never having done that when a patient has a temporary pacemaker. Still, Mom wanted to be in her place, and I suspect the hospital wanted to prevent a possible secondary infection. So I came down, and Solar got to have a break for a while.

Mom looked a lot better than Solar was describing—definitely not 100%, but able to dress herself, fix her own food, and so on. A home nurse came in daily to help keep up with her medications and do blood tests. So here she was: pacemaker taped to her shoulder, a pump pulling the crud out of the infected area, a PICC line in her arm—tubes and machines everywhere. Cyborg-Mom! Her primary complaint was “I only got to play tennis twice before this happened!”

I thought Solar was worrying way too much. Sure, he was comparing Mom to herself at 100%, but she was able to handle the basic tasks of life. We went to the grocery store, she made coffee, and helped me fix a meal or two. I was comparing her to my father-in-law, who only gets out of his chair when he needs to use the can or eat. He completely depends on the wife (mine) to get his meals, arrange his meds, and bathe him. Compared to that, Mom seemed hardly affected… besides being unable to play tennis, of course. I even got to take a couple walks on the beach, where I saw six people using a four-person inflatable float and a melting snowman (sandman). Had to look up the float; I might get one for our week at the timeshare.

Put me in summer and I'll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!

So back to Mom. Once they identified the infection (a cousin of tuberculosis), they knocked off the shotgun antibiotics and gave her one or two that had the most effect against the bad buggly. (Good thing, all those drugs were starting to bang on her kidneys a little too hard.) So the infection started clearing up, and they took the pump off. Mom really bounced back after that; she always had to remember to pick up the bag with the pump and make sure the lines weren’t going to snag on something. I kind of missed it; it made a soft fart sound every ten minutes or so, which thoroughly delighted my inner 12-year-old. (“Yeah, Mom, blame it on the pump!”)

So I went home on New Years Eve, and she went into the hospital on the 3rd to get the new pacemaker put in. This time, they put it into a muscle so there wouldn’t be a repeat problem.

That should have been the end of the story. But… are we starting to see a pattern here?

She came home on the 4th, and the very next day she was right back in for a mild heart attack. They ran a catheter in, and found no blockage, so they concluded it was stress-related. (Stress? Now why would she be stressed?)

She got to come home a few days later, and everything is finally more or less on an even keel. We rescheduled our vacation for spring break, I got reservations at the cottages we often stay at, and she should be back to playing tennis by the time we come down in early April.

Not even 2016 could do for Mom. Nobody messes with Mom.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 5 comments

Charlie on the Ball

Hmmm… cushy!
As part of Charlie’s state-supported foster care, someone comes by the manor every couple of weeks from Babies Can’t Wait, a sort-of physical therapy program for babies with developmental issues. She gets to play with other people’s babies all day and get paid for it, although the therapy part is very real and not all babies are nearly as good-natured as Charlie. He enjoys the time, because she brings all sorts of interesting stuff, but does get worn out toward the end of the session. He gave her his “OK, I’ve had enough” growl on Thursday as she was close to wrapping up anyway.

Physically, Charlie is behind, although he’s starting to show signs of catching up. The therapist has been working on his sitting and grasping, and recommends we give him lots of “tummy time” so he’ll get the hang of crawling. (Usually, he just flips onto his back and grins.)

More fun than the flop-over game!
We try to do some of the things the therapist does, both to help him practice doing stuff he should be doing and to wear him out a little. So this morning, I laid a blanket over the carpet in our bedroom and sat with him. He immediately flopped over, so I had to catch him, and Charlie thought that was a fun game! I tried a little tummy time as well; the first time he inchworm’ed forward a foot or so then laid there. After that, he just flipped onto his back and waited for me to play with him. So I grabbed a couple large Duplo blocks from Mason’s stash and one of those huge Mega Blocks. New game: picking up the blocks (it was easier with them upside down at first) and waving them around, occasionally smacking himself for the fun of it and chewing on the corners. He preferred the blue blocks to the red one, at least at first… but most importantly, he sat freestyle (no leaning against Granddad) for a good ten minutes. So he’s capable, he’s just a bit lazy. In a previous therapy session, he did a fine imitation of Monorail Cat, a boneless sprawl over the ball both on his tummy and his back. I really wanted to get a pic of him doing that, but this time he was more interested in sitting on it. (Rosie the Boston Terror gets anxious when the therapist balances Charlie on the ball… it’s rather cute.)

I’m not concerned with his mental development. He’s always understood that when he’s hungry, and we take him in the kitchen and start mixing stuff, it means the food is on the way and he’ll stop crying and fussing unless he’s half-starved. (You can see in the pix how many meals he misses…) He vocalizes plenty, and has recently added “joyous ear-splitting screech” to his repertoire. That one he usually saves for Mason, either as a reaction to his clowning or to tell him, “Hey, do something funny!” Charlie probably won’t start talking as early as The Boy or Mason (both could say a few words well before age 1), but he could well talk before he walks.

Right now, he’s sleeping off his floor time with me. As I was up until 1am last night, and had to get up with Charlie at 7:30, I’d like to be doing the same.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016 2 comments

Lucky Seven

His favorite cake
Mason’s already 7. How time flies.

We had pizza in town for his birthday dinner. Most of the kids close by (including Sizzle & DD’s bunch) came to help celebrate. Last I’d heard, it was going to be at the father in law’s place, so I went straight home from work… only to find out I’d driven right past everyone in town. Grumble grumble jump back in the car and head on back.

After supper, I ran to pick up the cake you see here. This really is Mason’s favorite kind of cake; he loves blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, and Mandarin oranges, so who cares about the cake part, right? I think he had candles on his dessert pizza, so it’s all good.

The Boy & his wife came up to join the celebration, even though he has to get up at 5am for work. They bought Mason a trampoline for his birthday (oh joy), and we’ll get that this weekend or next. I guess if he has a climbing wall, he should also have a trampoline. We’ll have to find a flat spot to put it, or maybe we’ll borrow a tractor with an end-loader (aka “yooper scooper” as we called them in college) to scrape out a flat spot. The latter is more likely; level ground on Planet Georgia is usually not found in nature.

So enjoy those Wii games you got for your birthday, rugrat!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 2 comments

Weekend of Woof

Our weekend began well enough, until Mason… shall we say, displayed symptoms of a 24-hour stomach virus starting late Friday evening. The fun went on a little while through the night, then settled down. Saturday went well—Mason bounced right back well before lunch, and was playing outside. I managed to get the lawn mowed, and started editing Blink on a paper copy.

Call it the eye of the hurricane.

Source: oversharing.tmi
Sunday late afternoon/early evening, the wife started feeling pretty rotten, and I was about three hours behind her. “I meant to tell Daughter Dearest to bring up that medicine,” she said.

“We’ve got Pepto here,” I replied.

“That won’t work.”

Be that as it may, I figured it wouldn’t make things worse, and took a couple tablespoons when I started feeling queasy. It seemed to work for me; I only had MGV (Merde Gran Vitesse) to deal with. I skipped supper, and slept very lightly, but I slept. Unfortunately, the “lightly” part meant I woke up whenever the wife ran for the bathroom, which happened several times through the night. Thankfully, Charlie slept through the night. One less thing to worry about.

Monday morning came. Sizzle came up to watch Charlie, while I felt human enough to take Mason to school. On the way home, I picked up a bunch of Powerade. My first act upon returning home was to email work and tell them I wouldn’t be coming in. I poked at a couple things online, sipping at a tall glass of Powerade, then got back in bed and stayed there until about 2:30pm. By then, I felt quite a bit better—even though I’d skipped three meals in a row for the first time in, like, forever. Wife was past it as well, although she was debilitated and most likely dehydrated. I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing a paper edit of Blink, and plying the wife with fluids.

By supper time, I felt more hungry than crampy, and decided to have a sandwich. It gave me no problem, which was good, but I was ready to sack it again by 10:30. That was good, because Charlie woke up at 6:15 this morning. I got him a diaper change and bottle, and he went right back to sleep right when Mason got up (also a little early). So we got him off to school, and me back to work. Wife is still a little tired this evening, but is otherwise recovering well.

I sure hope Charlie avoids getting it. Nobody should have to go through this, but that goes double for a baby. Besides, this stomach virus already violated the Interspecies Accord by hitting more than one person in the house at a time, so it needs to leave the rugrat alone.

Sunday, August 14, 2016 3 comments

The Great Closet Purge of 2016

I’ve been saying for a while now that I need to get clothes I don’t/can’t wear out of the closet to take to Goodwill. Well, today the wife took Mason to see The Secret Life of Pets, leaving me with Charlie. The baby was ready for his nap, but wasn’t about to go to sleep while Mason was making noise and doing amusing things… but it took less than 10 minutes to put him down once they left. With him asleep, and me alone and stuck in the manor, I decided this would be a good time to tackle that closet.

Now I figured to purge enough clothes to fit in one bag, then I could run by the Goodwill dropoff after dropping Mason off at school. But the Great Closet Purge of 2016 had other ideas. After taking a third of the old shirts out, I already had two stacks and wasn't even half done with the closet. Next came the pants; over half of those had to go, but I found 8 or 9 pairs I could wear and didn’t know I had. Finally, the sweaters and miscellaneous stuff on the floor. I ended up with four stacks, plus a separate pile for rags. Then Charlie woke up.

Note: the baby is to show scale and isn’t otherwise part of the purge.
Somehow, I don’t think I‘ll get all that into the Miata with room left over to carry Mason and his bookbag. Besides, I have to purge my dresser as well…

Monday, May 30, 2016 4 comments

Daughter Dearest Ties the Knot

And we officially begin a new chapter—both our kids are married.

Here comes the bride—get outta the WAY!
Saturday was the culmination of a lot of preparations that made everything a little crazier than usual around the free-range insane asylum, but everything went off as expected. Charlie tried to steal the show, making his contented growling noise in the back row and making DD laugh a little up at the altar.

At rehearsal, I had to carry on a tradition started by the wife’s dad. Back when, the preacher got to the part where he asks who’s giving away the bride. He answered “Her mother and I. And I got two more at home! Who wants ‘em?” So when it came to my time, I put her hand in Fizzle’s and said, “She’s all yours, buddy! Good luck!” (Of course, neither of us did that at the actual ceremony.)

So now it’s time to rename Fizzle, since he’s no longer the Future Son In Law. +Katherine Hajar suggested “Sizzle.” And why not? Sizzle it is!

And tomorrow, I’m off to NC with Mom. For the whole month. Once she gets her cable modem activated, I’ll resume regular blogging.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4 comments

Mason Says Farewell to Kindergarten

Mason’s first year of school is drawing to a close. Yesterday, the kindergarten classes had their “graduation” ceremony.

In which Mason gets a hug, from the principal of the thing. :-P

He has made quite a few strides this year. He reads now, and he’s always been good with numbers. He doesn’t know it just yet, but he has a couple of graduation “presents” waiting for him tonight: his own writing/drawing journal, and the second Dragonbreath book. He always complains when packages arrive from Amazon and they’re not for him… at least the one coming in today is partly for him.

Wife’s birthday is tomorrow, Mason’s last day of school is Friday, DD’s wedding is Saturday, and I think I missed the 11th blogiversary day for TFM. This week is going to be crazier than usual. At least Thing #1 (the graduation) is over.

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