Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Allergies

This one here -- he's been feeling a mite puny the last two weeks.

He caught a little cold, which promptly turned into an ear infection, for which we went through the usual course of antibiotics. And then after he was through with the antibiotics, he got a rash. Not just a little rash somewhere on his back or belly -- but a rash all over his body and alarming enough that the children's pastor at church put him in quarantine. So I took him over to the weekend kids' clinic where we waited for two hours, most of it in a cubicle with only a curtain separating Mace from all the wonderful rolling equipment with the buttons that light up. To keep him entertained, we watched all the videos I have of him and Casey stored on my camera many many times. When the doctor finally came in he ruled out Scarlet Fever (throat looked fine) and Fifth's Disease (his cheeks weren't ruddy), shrugged his shoulders and said, "Probably just something viral he picked up." I'm ready for him to drop it back off, cause the rash is lingering in spots and he still has a runny nose and a cough.

I'm starting to think (prepare yourself, this is big) that my mother might be right. My kid has allergies.

Growing up, my mother was not the chicken soup kind of mom. If I went to her and said, "Mom, I don't feel good." Her response, without fail, was, "Well did you take something?" Meaning -- had I self-medicated already? My usual response was "No, ma'am" (I was nothing if not polite as a child, even when I was sick). To which, Mom would say, "Well then, I don't feel sorry for you." (I'm pretty sure this is when I developed my pill-taking phobia -- I still can't swallow pills without chewing them first.)

Also, we never had colds as children. Not one. We had allergies. Granted, we lived in Georgia, where pollen coats the entire state yellow for at least two or three months a year, but still, to never pick up a virus? Seems unlikely.

So when my own kids are sick and my mom diagnoses them over the phone with, "It's allergies" -- it rubs me the wrong way and brings back memories of me as a six year old trying to get the child-proof cap off the Dimetapp bottle so that I could take some before I went to tell Mom I couldn't breathe and my throat felt like I'd swallowed an SA8 pad (that's steel wool for all of you who grew up in non-Amway households).

But. Mace has a clear runny nose, an unexplained rash, and a lingering cough. He is eating like a toddler (on again, off again) and doesn't have a fever.

The boy has allergies.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seagulls and Dog Yak


Meet Chance. He's a good dog -- somewhat insecure and prone to pee on wall corners, but overall a decent specimen of an English Setter. He is the only dog we've ever owned that comes when called (even if we're not holding food or sitting at the dinner table), and will heel, sit, stay, speak and shake. He has a few quirks, but that's how we know he belongs to us. For example, when he howls along with sirens, he can howl two notes at once, in harmony.

Several years ago, right after we moved to Tampa and before Casey was born, Joe and I took Chance to the dog beach out at Honeymoon Island. Unlike a dog park, the dog beach requires you to keep your dog on a leash. Chance loves to swim and he loves birds. So, lucky for him, the dog beach has lots of both. Not so lucky for us, given that leash rule, however. We spent the afternoon taking turns holding on to the leash while Chance dragged us into the water behind him so he could swim and chase birds at the same time. He was so excited when he saw all those seagulls, he threw up his partially digested lunch in the ocean. And when the seagulls caught wind of those dog food bits floating in the waves, they started dive-bombing into the water all around Chance to pick up the food. Chance, who was quickly whipping himself up into the heights of a bird-induced frenzy, started yipping in his highest pitch bark, so everyone on the beach turned to watch Chance dragging me through his vomit and wondered what I was doing to that poor hysterical dog.

We left pretty soon after that, but by the time we got home about 45 minutes later, we noticed that Chance was lethargic and he was wheezing really bad. So we turned around and headed back out to the emergency vet. We hate the emergency vet. If you step inside the emergency vet's doors you can go ahead and kiss $1,000 goodbye, so we try with all our might not to step inside those doors.

But Chance was in bad shape. He was moaning and wheezing and when we got to the vet's parking lot, we could hardly get him out of the back of the SUV. When he finally stood on his own four feet, he kind of wobbled around like he was drunk and looked at us like, "You expect me to walk?" We got about two steps away from the car on our way to the vet's door and Chance stopped, in the middle of the parking lot. Then he started peeing. And he went. And he went. And he went some more. And this continued for five full minutes. No lie. He must have had half of the Gulf of Mexico in that bladder of his. No wonder he was wheezing.

When he was finally finished, he shook himself all over, trotted over to us and started wagging his tail. Joe and I decided pretty quickly that Chance didn't need a visit to the emergency vet, he just needed a good pee. So we put him back in the car and went home.


This is the bird that visits the tree in the creek by our house and lives to torment Chance. The branch she sits on is over the deepest part of the water, so Chance either has to sit on the bank and stare the bird down or swim back and forth underneath the branch until he gets tired enough to go back and sit down on the bank. That bird is a female anhinga -- I have trouble remembering the name of those birds and am continually calling them "Annakins" which Casey, my Star Wars-lovin' son, thinks is hilarious. These are the birds that dive down into the water and skewer fish with their beaks. When they surface, they look like snakes swimming along with just their neck and heads above the surface of the water -- that's why they are also called snakebirds. [Little bit of bird info for you there -- I knew you were feeling a twinge of guilt for spending so much time reading this frivolous drivel so I put some real knowledge in here to make you feel better about yourself.]

[Aren't those great pictures by the way? My friend Heidi over at http://www.heidigilbertphotography.com/ took them. ]

Chance also doesn't mind getting himself into odd places and staying there.


But enough about Chance. Have I shown you my new office?

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I would have liked to have put music to that slide show, but as it turns out, when I was fighting (and losing) with the new printer last week I inadvertently removed whatever sound device software came with my computer. The good news is The Computer Guy came to the house and fixed the printer problem. The bad news is that my computer has to be admitted for outpatient surgery at the Computer Hospital one day next week to get the audio whatsajiggie fixed. So that's my way of breaking it to you that this may be the last post you get for a day or two (or three) -- I know you already had to go without for a whole week (it's not easy setting up a new office, people -- just ask my husband who pretty much did all the work!), but I promise once things settle back down, I'll be back to my regular posting schedule.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fish Guts



This was the idyllic scene at our house this afternoon. Casey caught his first fish:



You may wonder why, if we've been living by this tidal creek for the last four years, this is the first fish Casey has ever caught, and it's a valid question. Casey is not equipped with the outdoor gene. He is equipped with the Star Wars gene. I have noticed that the outdoor gene and the Star Wars gene are, by and large, mutually exclusive. Occasionally, we can bully Casey into going on the boat or taking hikes in the woods or working in the (now dead) garden, but it's usually only because we've promised him there would be ice cream after. For some reason, though, Casey asked me recently about going fishing. When he asked, he certainly did not realize that it involved putting worms on hooks and handling slimy fish once they're caught and cutting their heads off, or he wouldn't have asked. The Science Channel must have featured making fishing rods in an episode of How It's Made recently and that's where he picked up the notion that fishing might be fun.



So the men fished this afternoon. And they caught something like 12 or 13 tilapia -- they threw some small ones back, so I'm not sure how many they actually caught -- all I know is Mike and Joe had to clean 11 tilapia before dinner. Casey was a good sport and really hung in there. Mike would bait the hook, cast the line, and then hand the rod over to Casey. It was good times -- quality male bonding.



And then it was time to clean the fish.



Casey lasted about two minutes. This was when he was saying, "Hey! I was going to put that one in a fish bowl in my room!"



When we told him we intended to eat all these fish for dinner, he nearly swooned.

I was pretty proud of him for actually staying outside for three hours without whining, so the fact that he couldn't stomach watching the fish get their heads cut off doesn't trouble me too much.



Mace, on the other hand, was all about fish guts. He stayed and watched every last gory bit and he even ate some tilapia at dinner.

Casey had a hamburger. I decided to hold off telling him how we get beef.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Blessed Oblivion of Boys

Here's a picture of my son on his first day of Kindergarten at his new school back in the Fall , all dressed up in the WRONG uniform. This was not completely my fault -- the school had cancelled the new parent orientation, which is apparently when they would have told me that even if the first day of school does not fall on a Wednesday, the day that chapel uniforms are required, and even if the first day of school was scheduled to be on a Wednesday but actually turned out to be on a Thursday because of the tropical storm that blew right on past way out in the Gulf, you still bring your kid in chapel uniform. So here he sits, in his every-other-day-but-chapel-day-uniform, completely oblivious to the fact that he looked different from all the other children in his class:



I show you this picture because I did not have an opportunity to take a picture today of the moment I realized (on my way to pick Casey up from school this afternoon) that today was the day of the class Valentine party. I was unable to capture for you in digital form the sickening green pallor that came over my face as it dawned on me that I had not sent valentines with Casey to school today for all his classmates. I had at least five full minutes in the car of near-hyperventilation imagining how my son had sobbed and screamed in agony while all the other children were passing out their valentines to their classmates and my son had nothing, absolutely nothing to give to his friends. And I saw in my mind the exact moment his teacher realized I had sent my son with nothing and how she felt so sorry for him because he had a mother who was so horrible that not only did she not send the valentines, it probably didn't occur to her to even buy any. And she was right.

And then I pulled up into the pick-up line, already crying, dreading seeing Casey, dreading seeing his teacher, wondering if the story of my neglect had already spread among the teachers. His own teacher didn't bring him to the car, so I was spared at least that humiliation. He hopped into the car, said, "Hi Mom!" And he had his little bag full of the valentines he had gotten from his friends with him.

I'm big on getting the bad stuff over with, so right off, I said, "Sweetie -- I'm so sorry."

"What for?"

"Well I didn't send any valentines with you today to give to your friends at the valentine party."

"Oh that's okay -- I just gave out Preston's, cause he went home sick."

Thank you, Lord. Thank you so much for giving me boys.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trashy Aunt Samantha


Trashy Aunt Samantha, Trashy Angel/Mrs. Claus/Pirate's very patriotic twin sister, is out again after apparently staying indoors during our recent cold snap. I can only assume she is dressed as she is because it's tax season (which begs the question, do you feel more or less patriotic during tax season?) or because this coming Monday is President's Day. I suspect her wardrobe can be blamed on tax season, however, because I first got the call regarding her outfit at the beginning of last week.

So if Trashy Aunt Samantha is all decked out in her patriotic gear for tax season (or even President's Day, for that matter), what is she going to wear on a true patriotic holiday? She's a public figure now -- like Michelle Obama -- so she cannot be seen in public wearing the same thing twice -- just like the first lady can never wear that red and black dress again. Maybe on 4th of July, Trashy Aunt Samantha can dress as a firecracker or a founding father.

And is she just skipping Valentine's Day? No cupid outfit? Maybe she had a bad breakup recently and is boycotting the holiday altogether or maybe she refuses to participate in Hallmark holidays.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Petit Fours and Profile Pictures

After looking at some of our awful profile pictures on Facebook, Dez and Heidi came up with the idea for a party where Heidi, our favorite photographer (www.heidigilbertphotography.com), would take new profile pictures for us to put on our Facebook pages.



So we sissified the front porch, pulled out the paraffin wax torture devices, and dolled ourselves up to have petit fours, egg salad sandwiches cut into little triangles, and sweet tea.

One by one, Heidi took us out into the yard and took our pictures.



And while we were each waiting for our turn, we dipped our hands into scalding hot paraffin wax and then wrapped them in plastic and cloth gloves. Seriously, it was heaven.




As you can see, some of us enjoyed it even more than others.

When Joe came out to see why all these crazy women were still at our house four hours later, we convinced him to try the paraffin wax.



I took that picture about five minutes before I took his gloves and plastic off and started trying to get the now-cooled and hardened wax off his hands. See, the rest of us had nice smooth girlie hands and the wax just peeled right off. Joe, being a man and all, has all that hair on the backs of his hands.

Or he used to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Lost Granddaughter of Vincent Verizon and Other News


So I was on the phone with Verizon today trying to get another phone line and fax line to our house. I knew it was going to be a long painful process because I also had two or three other items on my agenda with Verizon which were unrelated to me setting up a home office. And you know what happens when you have more than one item you need to address with a customer service representative. Although it took me as long as I thought it would, I was actually quite impressed with this particular CSR's ability to deal with all my random issues while having to listen to me also give instructions to the kids (yes, you can make a giant book with that posterboard; no, you cannot glue your brother into it like he's a pop-up feature).

But she also had this quirky thing. See, I normally complain that people, particularly customer service reps, don't take "ownership" of their jobs and instead, detach themselves from the reality that what they do (disconnect you) and more often, refuse to do (actually solve your problem), affects someone. But this Verizon woman today, God bless her, she took ownership. Either she owns a lot of stock in Verizon (is Verizon even publicly held?) or she is the great-great-granddaughter of Vincent Verizon and is being trained to take over at the helm in a year or two. For example, when I asked her if we could trade in one of our regular set-top boxes for one of those new HD DVR numbers, she said, "I see you've seen my commercial." And when I asked her about the installation charges for the new phone lines, she said, "I charge $100 for the first line and $50 for the second." When I asked her when the installation would be, she said, "I'll send my team out on Tuesday." And get this, before we hung up, she gave me her "secret" phone number, instructed me not to give it to anyone else, and wondered aloud at how I had been connected to her in the first place. I'm pretty sure I was talking to Veronica Verizon herself.

I realize I haven't been keeping you as updated as I normally do with all the latest Flamingo news, so we need to catch up a little bit. For the past couple of Saturdays, we have worked pretty diligently on the downstairs office, trying to get it ready for me to be a solo practitioner.

We have finished off the ceiling, textured the walls, and painted the walls and ceiling. You know me well enough by now to know that when I say "we" I normally mean, well, Joe. In this case, I did do quite a bit of the wall painting, with my friend Dez' help, and I had started painting the ceiling with Dez when Casey came in the room saying Grandma needed me to come to her. When I got to Grandma, she was laying on the concrete with a gash in the back of her head and barely coherent. Marginally controlled chaos ensued as we tried to figure out what happened (Grandma couldn't tell us) and Grandma and I ended up in the ER for three hours. Grandma couldn't remember if she fell or if she fainted so she got bumped to the top of the CAT scan list, because she was considered a "head trauma." We sat in the little curtained cubicle dreading the results -- would it be a stroke? a burst blood vessel? a heart thing? When the doc came to give us the results, he said nothing was wrong with Grandma and that she may have fainted because she had low potassium. He gave her a potassium pill, shot two staples in her head (that does hurt, by the way, no matter what the guy tells you), and sent us home.

On Sunday, we held the 2nd Annual Super Bowl Soirree at our house. Here's how we set up to watch the game:


And here's how everyone looked with their silly 3-D glasses on:


You can do Super Bowl on the porch in Florida, but it's still a bit of a risk, weather-wise. By the end of the game, everyone was wrapped up in a blanket because the temps had dipped into the low 60s (I know, poor us). It felt like we were actually at the game because, you know, the game was taking place about three miles away -- only we had grilled teriyaki chicken thighs to eat, a fantastic buffalo chicken dip (thanks, Cindy!), and all the hot chocolate we could drink.

Other than that, the only other news of note is that Trashy Angel has changed wardrobes again and you will never guess what she is now! I haven't gotten a picture of her yet, but I'll post one asap.

Monday, February 2, 2009

To Tide You Over

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Joe wanted me to tell you to try to watch that video without laughing so hard you snort. You should know that Mace still blames Grandma.