I don’t know what it is about February, but I always seem to turn lethargic and unmotivated around mid month. For the past 12 years, each February has found me thinking about putting the boys back into school and getting a nice job where I don’t make anyone cry.  This feeling goes away by March -weird, huh?. If I have to go get a real job, I want to be able to make people cry. Doh!

February 2013 has proved no different.  Even though the oldest three are on their own education-wise, Andy’s school is proving to be a lot more challenging than I thought it would. I attribute a lot of this to his age AND my age. In fact, I think my age is more of a factor than his. The late 40’s are not as pretty as I had hoped they would be. One of us always has a giant pimple or is on the verge of tears.  It’s not pretty.  The healing properties of chocolate will never cease to amaze me (or Andy).  

This week started with a freeze.  Of course, I’d planted the garden the previous weekend.  :::sigh::: It seems to have survived.  The weeds are certainly vigorous and alive.  They are also dead as of this afternoon. Hah! I win for the next two days.  After a stand-offish Monday and Tuesday, Andy finally fell to the virus all of his friends have had recently. I knew it was coming! He was mean and grumpy and his eyes didn’t seem right. 

The virus involves a high fever and a nasty cough for about (cross your fingers) five days.  Andy is into day three.  He’s so sad and little (except for his freakishly large feet which just look pasty white and a little scary) when he’s sick. I’m taking care of him. But, I’ve also been kind of gleeful these past few days.  I guess it’s the mom equivalent of a snow day.  At 13, Andy does not need me every single minute of the day.  He mostly wants me to leave him alone so he can sleep. Anyone remember E tickets at Disney World? The ones that used to get you on the best rides?  It’s kind of like that except I do hate that Andy is so miserable.

BUT, (let’s get back to me, shall we?) I don’t have to do math or Latin or grammar or anything.  I’ve had the time to take Ian and/or Tim to work which leaves me with *gasp* a car!  As Andy has been mostly sleeping, I have been able to drive one or both older boys to work and go do things I’ve needed/wanted to do all semester.  I finally found the AMAZING primer I’d been reading about as I researched the best way to paint the fronts of our aging, inexpensive IKEA cabinets in the kitchen. Andy slept some more and I tested the primer.  WOW!  This is the stuff to use if you want to paint a shiny surface or laminate furniture.  It’s all I was led to believe it was.  Our cabinets have a shiny surface and the primer adheres to it (so far) and the paint goes on beautifully and even when I try to chip it, it does not chip.  I’ll try to get some before and after pictures – it’s pretty dramatic.  

In other news, I found a great online tutorial on how to crochet.  So far, I can crochet a single strip (which I think I could do back in the fourth grade, but I’m not entirely certain). Additionally, I found a great online tutorial (yes, I will link these both when I find them again) on how to make t-shirt yarn. I have watched several of these videos and this guy made it so easy and fast!  Then I hit the thrift store and picked up a stack of t-shirts with the 1/2-off color tag and came home and made t-shirt yarn.  I’m crocheting it now into a rug.  I think next time I might give more thought to color as the pink in the middle brings to mind a giant nipple . . . but live and learn.  I’ve been learning a lot as I work on this project.  If you know me, be afraid, it’s likely you’ll end up with a funky t-shirt rug in the near future.

(I do have pictures of all of this, but the stoopid camera battery died so it will be another day.  I swear, when I’m a real grown up I’m going to have a real grown up camera that takes pretty pictures and works when I want it to work.)

One more weird bit of life in Florida: it was below freezing on Monday and Tuesday.  Today, Friday, it was 86.  The Pittsburgher in me will fight to the death before putting the a/c on in February.  It’s all so confusing.

I miss vacation.

I am having a hard time coming back to reality. In fact, the past two days have been spent in actively avoiding reality. Not sure how much longer I can keep this up and get away with it. It’s just too hard to go back to laundry and all the rest of it after so much time at the beach.  
At the beach, I will do anything as long as I can see or, at the very least, hear the ocean. Laundry, no problem. Cooking? Sure.  It’s fun.  Like playing house.  It helped that the house we stayed in was so cute. It was such a change from our last vacation’s sleek huge house. I would argue with the owners that the house sleeps 12 – we did it for several nights, but it was a stretch.  BUT, I would recommend the house to most families.  It was cozy, quirky and really delightful.  I like quirky, you know.  I also prefer color to neutrals and this house had all of that.  
It was weird this year.  Mike, my dad and my brother usually take turns commuting so that we can keep the business running (someone had to pay for the wine and ice cream).  However, this year, Ian and Tim were also going back and forth, though not as much as I had feared.  Danny was only able to join us for a long weekend.  Each vacation is different and each one seems like more fun than the last, even with all the changes.  
We had a bunch of visitors while we were there.  A couple of our neighbors were able to join us one day. It was fun to have so many kids running around and doing so many different things AND there were enough adults around that we were not outnumbered. As with most of our beach activities, there were lots of food and snacks involved.  Our friends Gregg and Ann and their kids came late one day and stayed for a long beachside dinner.  Not too many people can make me laugh so hard.
During the second week, Aunt Judy and Uncle Tony arrived.  They stayed at a nearby hotel being sane, but spent the bulk of their time with us. What a blast.  We celebrated Judy’s birthday and their 45th anniversary with two cakes and a night launch of a bunch of Chinese fire lanterns on the beach. During the days, we traded book lists and did a lot of cooking.  I’ll try to get the recipe, but Judy came up with a delicious shrimp dish (shrimp cacciatore?) the one night. Ian and Tim cannot have shellfish so we served that with amazing pasta and a big salad.  It was like eating in a fancy restaurant – only without having to put on shoes or a bra.  
One afternoon, Lynne surprised the kids with a parasailing adventure.  Andy was not interested and I’m the family’s designated purse, camera holder though Andy and I did go out on the boat.  I’d love to share pictures, but I guess I can add boat rides to the list of things that now make me violently ill.  There I was, I finally had my hands on Ian and Tim’s amazing cameras (they never let me near them) and I was so excited.  I was going to take pictures of the light house from the water and of everyone flying through the air.  I managed about three pictures before I was considering just jumping overboard and swimming back to shore. (I’m old, but I could swim 1-2 miles, right?) 
As my sister and my niece were launched into the air, I found myself cursing the guys running the boat (if the skeevy guy who does the ShamWOW commercials has brothers – that’s them) and then praying for death. So, I have no pictures, but someone took some and maybe eventually I will add them to this post. I did not die. The nice lady on the dock gave me a big glass of ginger ale and bitters.  I don’t know what bitters are, but I will never visit anything involving possible motion-sickness again without them.  Oh well.  Everyone else had a great time and I learned something new about myself.  That’s good, right?  

Overall, it was a great vacation. I could type all night about everything I loved.  Maybe when I get my hands on Ian and Tim’s pictures, I will. 

First Day Home

We survived Mike’s first day at home! He’s alive and kicking as I type. Yay us.  Mike is not too thrilled with the soft food diet, but, oh well.  My job is to keep him out of the hospital and that’s what I’m going to do.  It’s only two weeks!  I made shephard’s pie and a lovely rice pudding with a fig newton crust tonight, maybe that’ll add some interest?  
Andy is sick.  I’m not sure if he has what Mike and I had a week or so ago (awful sore throat, cough, monster headache) or if he’s getting strep.  I figure I”ll know tomorrow when I check his throat.  Upside to Andy feeling rotten?  He’s keeping Mike company!  It’s weird how in sync the pair of them are.  After oatmeal and applesauce, they watched game shows all morning, napped, snacked, watched more bad television (I wasn’t in the room too much but I can tell you it was mind-numbingly boring), ate lunch and napped again.  I think they were both happy to have each other today.  (In case you haven’t picked up on it, once you’re out of the hospital, I am not the most sympathetic caregiver.)
Tomorrow?  Who knows – a lot will depend on whether Andy’s throat has big spots on it or not in the morning.  
Fun stuff?  While driving to pick Mike up at the hospital yesterday, I spotted what I thought were big, old wooden windows on someone’s curb with a little sign that said “FREE.”  I love how old windows look hanging on a wall.  I called Ian and Tim and asked them to go grab the windows.  When we got home, we learned they were much bigger than I had thought.  In fact, they’re French doors!  For free!  After however many years in this house, there is a possibility that with a little elbow grease, we might finally lose the nasty sliding door and have French doors leading out to the porch.  Okay, maybe fun is an exaggeration.  Still, Mike can measure everything safely and start thinking about the project.  Right????  Tape measures are kind of fun, huh?
Funny? Mike and my brother work together at the family business.  My parents help out on a very part-time basis.  With Mike being incapacitated,  my folks have been working full time.  When I called to let them all know that Mike was home and that he was cleared to work (with no lifting) on Monday, they laughed. I think it will be a bit longer until Mike is ready to go back full-time and they agree.  My mom called me last night to tell me that they were going to have a t-shirt made for Mike that said “If you see me lifting anything, please call 555-555-5555 IMMEDIATELY.”  Strangely, Mike did not find this as funny as I did.  
I think that’s about it for now.  I have more I want to ‘talk’ about, but it’s all going to have to wait. 

Wednesday Mike Upate

He’s HOME!  Hooray!!!! The fever stopped sometime around midnight last night and has not returned.  There are still MANY unanswered questions and we will be pursuing answers in the coming days.  For now, Mike is home and stuck in bed or on the recliner, eating a soft food diet.  We’ll see how it all goes.  Today, by the time we got Mike home he was ready for a nap – a four hour nap!  I went shopping for “soft foods.”  The next couple of weeks are going to be bland, but interesting.  
Andy, Ian, Tim and Dan have been amazing through all of this. When I arrived home today with Mike, the house was picked up, dishes done, bathrooms clean and the laundry was swishing thanks to Ian, Tim and Andy! Early this evening, Mike was happy to get a call from Dan – laughter is good medicine.  However, I think the stress of the past several days have taken their toll on all of us.  Ian and Tim were in bed before midnight. I’m kind of at that punchy point where sleep is actually needed but hard to come by. Poor Andy just woke up with a raging fever – I changed his sheets, gave him some Tylenol and tucked him back into bed.  We’ll see what tomorrow holds. Mike?  You’d never know he’s been sleeping in a tiny hospital bed flat on his back with multiple IV’s and monitors – he is completely sprawled over our king-sized bed.  Unless something changes in the next 20 minutes, I”ll be sleeping on the couch.  Which is fine.  I’m just so happy he’s home. 

Thank you all for the support and prayers.  Now to find out the cause of this  . . .  hmmmm. . . . Stay tuned.

Mike Update

Today was a pretty good day.  Mike is still running a fever, but kept down some broth which is pretty huge.  If the rest of the night goes well, he might get some applesauce tomorrow.  Progress!!!! The fever is still a problem as is his cough, but I am hoping we can make progress on those tomorrow.  For the most part, Mike sleeps.  This is not normal Mike behavior so I figure he needs it.  I spent the day knitting and watching Mike sleep.  It’s strange – I’m not used to sitting so much. 
Once again, I am beyond impressed with Mike’s nurses.  He’s in the PCU which is the Pulmonary Care Unit (I think that’s it).  It’s a step down from Intensive Care and a step above the regular floor.  He’s there not because he has pulmonary issues but because the rooms are set up for chest tubes should the need arise.  Most of the patients on the floor are old and very sick and I really admire the nurses’ kindness and incredible patience with all of these people, some of whom are very difficult from what I see and hear. 
Ian, Tim and Andy came to visit Mike today for a bit.  They all sat on Mike’s bed to see how much they weighed as a group (yes, there is a button you can push that will weigh whoever is on the bed!) but they maxed it out at 500+ lbs. They are a strange bunch, but they always manage to have fun. Seeing the boys definitely cheered Mike up – not to mention how much the boys were cheered.  We’re all missing Danny, but there is no sense in him coming home right now.  
Thanks to all of you for the prayers and good thoughts.  I cannot say how much they mean to us.  Thanks for the phone calls, the offers of help, the food and just everything.  Until you have been on the receiving end of this kind of love and generosity (and I hope you never are) you cannot imagine what even the smallest gesture means.  I will go to bed tonight knowing that my family is loved and cared for by so many, many people and that’s no small thing.  
I’ll post an update tomorrow.  I am really hoping things continue to go so well.  Thank you all again.  
And, because I hate to leave you all without something a little funny . . . this morning I slept through my alarm and was in a rush to get to the hospital.  I grabbed jeans and a sweater from the dryer, took my shower and started to get dressed.  I started to pull the jeans on and they stuck at my calves.  Hmmmm . . . A normal person would have realized, “Gee, I’m trying to put my 6’2″/140 lb son’s skinny jeans on and that is a bad idea.”  But, I have never claimed to be normal.  I sat down trying to figure out why my legs were so swollen.  Really!!! I was squeezing my ankles and calves. Gah!  (Hospitals do weird things to my mind!) I finally ascertained that my legs were the same as they always are, peeled off the nasty skinny jeans, put on a pair of jeans from my floor that I was sure were mine and were reasonably clean and headed out to start the day.  I have already laid out my clothes for tomorrow to avoid anything so sad tomorrow morning. 

Do over?

Let’s pretend I did not complain about the restrictions on allergy medicines and our familial woes over rationing the pills, shall we?  Never mind.  When do “do overs” stop working?  Around age 9-10, huh? I’m a little late.  
Saturday, I continued my productive streak and painted the awesome, but VERYgreen, Goodwill chairs. You can see in the picture how fun they look now.  (Well, I think they’re fun, your mileage may vary.)  $6.99 per chair, $24 in spray paint and polyurethane, fabric was free from my stash as was the scotchguard.  $13 per chair? I’m pleased.  
Andy, who in case you had not heard, has officially turned 12, did not lose a minute telling me that Dan was 12 when I let him watch the show 24.  Fair enough.  So, since Andy’s birthday, he and I have been staying up way too late watching the awesomeness of Jack Bauer.  This Saturday we were supposed to watch three in a row.  We watched one and started another and I could feel myself fading.  My throat was scratchy, my head ached and UGH!!!!!! Andy watched the third episode.  I woke up with a stiff neck on the love seat where I crashed sometime during episode two. I did appreciate that Andy tossed a comforter over me and locked up the house, though. 
And, here we are.  It’s officially Friday, though I’m still counting it as Thursday.  I had a relapse of whatever I had at the beginning of January.  Not quite as miserable, but Sunday-Wednesday are pretty much a blur of sleeping between bouts of Tylenol and cough drops.  Yes, I did think about going to the doctor.  But . . . I never had a fever.  Everything coming out of my head is clear.  My throat had no spots.  It’s just a killer headache, sore throat, cold combination.  Today, I was so excited to wake up feeling mostly human.  Turns out at least two of my neighbors (who both had a bout with the first goo) were sick this week as well.  I am trying to get back on a normal sleep schedule – not that I ever had one, but it’s never too late to start, huh?  The laundry is caught up.  The desk is cleared.  I think I paid all of the bills for the month and there is bread in the oven.  Ahhhh . . . the world is coming back into focus.  
Poor Andy.  It’s been a long school week for him. We have a pretty solid routine and much of what he does he can do on his own or with a little kick start lesson.  Still, it’s gotta be a bummer to do your whole math lesson and bring it back to your mom who was enthusiastic just 30 minutes ago only to have her drool on your notebook.  We muddled through – the upside is Andy’s been doing history all week and tomorrow is science – Alton Brown muffins here we come! 
Ian and Tim were also instrumental in the running of the household, though as they get older they get more selective.  Their stuff was laundered.  Their dishes were done. You know, about what you expect from 18 year olds with their mom drooling on their little brother’s math notebook 18 out of 24 hours.  Lucky them.  I was up and ready for them this morning.  What is it about having teenagers that turns a person into a raging witch? Oh well.  Danny survived it and he still calls me voluntarily, I guess Ian and Tim will too.  Right? 
Mike?  Bless his little heart.  He worries about me when I get sick but it’s comical to watch him avoiding me or anything I might have touched.  He’s right to do this as it’s really just him and my brother running the business.  But, still I was tempted to buy him those late night tv tong things that people in the scooter chairs are supposed to use to get things from grocery shelves. 
Oh well, cross your fingers this is the end of it.  I’ve seen more television this past month than I usually watch in six – and it’s not good.  I’m planning ahead just in case I get sick again – I had Tim pick up a cd player at Goodwill.  Now, if nothing else, I can listen to Harry Potter or another book while I wait out the worst of it. Has anyone else noticed the irony? I would be fine with being sick, if I could lay around and read.  But, when you’re really sick, reading is the hardest thing in the world to do. It’s just cruel.  But, now I’m “recuperating,” I plan on using the weekend to read all the books I received at Christmas and have yet to get to.  Are your fingers still crossed?

Rant and repent . . .

In my last post I ranted.  I don’t do that too often and now I remember why . . . there are always consequences. Sunday night was Mike’s birthday (happy belated b-day to Ami Mental!). It was weird not having Danny here, but we managed.  Andy actually scrounged up 49 assorted candles and Mike managed to blow them all out (it helped that they were concentrated on a small angel food cake). Mike’s 50th is most definitely going to be an outside cake.  There is a great picture on Tim’s camera and I promise to share soon.
Later that night, Ian, Tim and I were working out their community college classes and the end of their senior year of high school.  In the past, this has been a fairly easy proposition.  Sunday night?  Ian was being mean and ugly and finally I suggested, firmly, that he go to bed.  Sure enough, 6 am, Tim woke me to tell me Ian was barfing his guts out.  How many years?  And, yet, I never catch on.  My kids are many things but they are not mean or nasty – UNLESS they are on the verge of getting majorly sick.  Doh!
Pollen is bad here, so I let Ian go for two days thinking stomach virus – his temp was up and down, and he had no symptoms other than the fever and the vomiting.  I was kicking myself for slacking on the boys’ flu shots.  Last night was bad. High fever (over 103) lots of dry heaves, lots of miserableness. And, still, Ian is not registered for his classes.  I called around in the morning and they agreed to let Tim come in and register for Ian.  It took forever, but it’s done.  It was too late by then for us to go see our regular doctor, so we went to the CVS Minute Clinic.
At one point, I thought I was going to have to drag Ian through the store he was so shaky. I have not seen him this sick since he was about 6-7.  Somehow the Shaggy-chin-beard makes him even sadder than when he weighed 42 lbs.  We got in right away and the nurse practitioner was like a tall, fat sister to our Aunt Judy.  Ian and I were both smiling as she did her work.  It’s nice to find comfort in weird places like that.  We both knew “pseudo-Aunt Judy” would fix Ian.  
He has strep and a sinus infection.  Gah.  Poor Ian has been asleep since around 3:30.  I keep waking him to drink something and he’s had two antibiotics.  His fever is down.  He’s snoring on the couch as I type.  I think he should be feeling much better late tomorrow. Cross your fingers!  He was so sad today.  I used to get strep all the time as a kid and young adult and few things make you feel worse.
And, did you see how skillfully I made it all about me?  I ranted on Saturday, Ian fell sick on Sunday.  Yes, I do live in the year 1256. 


I am WAY too old to have kids that need me in the middle of the night.  I’m good with being up late.  I’m not so good with just dozing off to sleep to waking to full alert for a sick kid anymore.  I used to be WAY better at this kind of thing.  

But, poor Andy was a mess last night.  He’s a tough kid in general and to see him so puny and sad and sick is heartbreaking. I had to get him up early this morning to get him to the doctor. He actually cried in the doctor’s office.  Andy NEVER cries.  NEVER. Sure enough, strep.  (Janet, the doctor actually called him a “Poor Bunny.”)

I brought him home and settled and to sleep, and I got a call about a survey I’d done with an organization I’ve been signed up with for years and years.  They wanted me to fill in for a focus group on bread.  Andy was passed out and the older boys were home with tons of instructions, so I went.  35 minutes, six bites of bread later, one survey filled out and I was home.  $75 (cash) richer.  Nice, huh?  

The group I’m on board with is called About Orlando.  They do surveys for companies that offer a variety of services and products.  Sometimes I fit the profile they’re looking for, sometimes I don’t.  But, it’s nice “found” money when it works out.  If you’re in Orlando, check this group out.  If you’re not in Orlando, see what is in your area.  The things I’ve done in the past are easy and usually fun.  

By around 8 pm tonight, Andy (with two rounds of antibiotics in him) was nearing human.  I made him stay up for a bit so I could get the Advil timing right, but I think by tomorrow night, he’ll be back to normal.  

Ian and Tim are planning to gut their room tomorrow.  They want to build loft beds and paint.  We’ve given them the go ahead, but my stomach is churning at the thought of what they’ll come up with … I know, it’s not permanent, but *twitch* it’s hard to let go.

And, that’s that for today, I think.  

Unteachable me?

You would think, after having four children, that I would catch on to patterns of behavior and learn to act accordingly.  But, no.  That would be too easy.  Sure, I’ve seen Dan, Tim and/or Ian get mean and grumpy after big weekend holiday kind of things.  Sure, I’ve told them to snap out of it only to figure out a day later they had strep or some other ailment that was making them mean and ugly.  

Do you see where I’m going with this?  Andy was grumpy and kind of a poop yesterday.  I sent him to bed kind of early thinking it was a post-fireworks thing.  This morning he complained of his throat being a bit sore.  By this evening, he had a fever, stomach ache and nasty white spots on his throat.  Guess what we’re doing in the morning?  

Honestly, I’m pathetic.  It’s too late for me to say I’m going to catch on to this kind of thing.  Andy’s my last chance to redeem myself and, oops, missed it again.  Ugh … cross your fingers no one else (family or friends) has caught it.  


Lost day . . . sort of.

Andy woke up early, early, early this morning with stomach troubles. Poor guy. I hate stomach stuff, there’s simply not much you can do as a mom to alleviate the misery short of wiping off their faces and using that “nice mom” voice we all have deep inside. Honestly, though, what’s to do but wait it out? Sorry kid.

Oddly enough, on Sunday night, as I finished painting Andy and Dan’s room and we were all moving furniture back and forth. I love this kind of thing. Mike hates it. Mike would be happy if everything just sank into the ground where it is, but he was a trooper.

We moved an armoire from our bedroom to Andy and Dan’s bedroom. It made more sense for them to have it. Before moving it, we unloaded a GIANT stack of VHS tapes. The boys were so funny! “I haven’t seen this since I was 8.”  lol  Of course we didn’t have a working VCR and the boys had mostly outgrown (or so I thought) our VHS tapes.

We stopped at Goodwill in search of a lampshade on Monday evening and Andy was excited to find a VCR for $6. We bought it. Lo and behold it worked. Today, while Andy was sick he watched for the first time since he was about three A Bug’s Life, Babe and Toy Story. And, to be honest, we all stopped and watched too. $6 well-spent. 

It’s nearly 3:30 am now and Andy has not been up in the last 90 minutes – I think the bug has run it’s course. Added bonus, no one else seems sick! Night everyone.