October 30, 2008

Happy birthday to Evan

16 years ago today, I gave birth to one of the cutest baby boys ever to walk the face of the earth (cutest, that is, until 20 months later when the other cutest baby boy was born to create a tie)...

Yes, Evan turns 16 today, which is very exciting to both of us. However, it also means that I'm getting to be REALLY OLD. Ah well... I figure I've earned all of these gray hairs. Not surprisingly, most of them have probably come courtesy of my Ev-Man, but that's a post for another day :).

Anyway, when Evan was born, I had planned on creating a journal to record all the cute things he did. A short 2 1/2 years later I actually purchased two journals: one for each boy. And I wrote in each of them for approximately 2-3 days. I know, I suck... I always figured that "one day" when I had the time, I would sit down and write up all the stories before I forgot them. Well, I think we all know how that's gone, especially considering my track record as of late (such as leaving Evan waiting for hours at the high school, as one example among many).

I have been feeling very sentimental lately, what with Evan reaching this big milestone, and also since I've gotten on facebook and reconnected with some friends from my high school days, among other things. So tonight, in honor of Ev's birthday, I record for all posterity the story of his birth, which is the only story in his journal:

March 22, 1995

Dear Evan,
You were born October 30, 1992 in Ogden, Utah, and you were 2 days overdue. I started labor on a Thursday night (the 29th) while your father and I were out to eat at the Athenian Restaurant (apparently you didn't care for Greek food!) with your Grandma and Grandpa Vaux. While I was in the hospital, they monitored my contractions to see how we were doing. You apparently had other ideas about being born, because after each contraction would push you down a little bit, you would wiggle back up to where you had started! After what seemed like an eternity, you were finally born at 3:27 p.m. in the middle of the first big storm of the season. I can vividly remember being in the middle of labor and the electricity and lights in the hospital kept flickering on and off. When you were finally born, and they placed you in my arms, I cried. Never had I seen such a beautiful baby, and I fell completely in love with you in that one instant.

It's funny, but even though I can no longer remember what I had for lunch yesterday, that memory is still as ingrained in my head as it was in 1995 when I wrote it.

And I'm still just as much in love with you now, seeing the young man you are becoming, as I was back then when all I could do was imagine your future.

I love you, and happy birthday!

October 29, 2008

Walt Disney had some SERIOUS issues...

I know I'm not the first to mention it, but just WHAT exactly is so appealing about a giant rodent that people will plan vacations and spend big bucks to go celebrate it? I like Disneyland as much as the next person (although admittedly it's been almost 20 years since I've been there and the thing I remember most was a GREAT stuffed baked potato that we had for lunch at one of the stands), but after my most recent adventure, I just don't get how Walt sat down one day looking for a way to get rich and decided to create a lovable mouse character. Where had he been? Had he SEEN how disgusting they really are? It's obvious that there was not information about the hantavirus back then. And can you imagine the risk of the virus there would be if mice were really as big as Mickey and Minnie?!

Anyway, now that the weather's getting colder (at least here in Utah), the mice in the area are starting to pick up and move to nicer digs, namely my house. We live out in the "country" in a neighborhood where all the lots have to be at least 1.25 acres, so we're pretty much surrounded by fields. We have cats outside, but they are apparently unionized and won't do their jobs to the best of their ability.

But I digress: the past few weeks we have seen mice in several rooms of the house, so I went shopping and bought the little poison bait bars to place discreetly in the rooms. I also bought a few glue traps, great little pieces of REALLY sticky glue that fold into little tents:
in theory you place them against the wall and the mice, who LOVE hugging the walls, run into them and get stuck. Notice the emphasis on "in theory." What actually happens is that you place them against the wall, the mice run along the edge, take a sharp turn to go around the trap, and continue on their way.

The night before last I went to bed, and actually got to SLEEP (an accomplishment if you've read my other posts) without any sort of sleep aid. Life was good! Then I awoke at 2:45 a.m. to the very distinct feeling of having my finger gnawed on. For such little animals, their bite hurts like none other. I jerked awake, and then my poor befuddled brain tried to rationalize that it couldn't
possibly have been a mouse, or any other type of animal, feasting on my finger. However, the throbbing then commenced so I blearily trudged to the bathroom to assess the damage. Hmmm... blood, and a tiny little gnawed-looking hole. Definitely a bite.

I washed it a million times, and then put a huge glob of Neosporin on it and bandaged it up. I wandered out to the kitchen and spent the next 30 minutes googling "mouse bite," "rabies," and "what was wrong with Walt Disney anyway?" I couldn't find answers that were as definitive as I'd like about mice and rabies, or Walt either. Some sites said there was no chance of contracting rabies, others said there were slight chances, others gave the encouraging news that "only 2 people in the U.S. have survived rabies once they've contracted the disease." Now that's cheery...

After spending the next 4 hours with a giant case of the heebie-jeebies (and again, NO SLEEP ** sigh**), I went to work. I decided that I'd feel much better if I went in to the Instacare and got the bite checked out. One hour and 1 freshly administered tetanus shot later, I've been assured that I will live...

Our house is now beginning to resemble the house on the movie "Mouse Trap," and I have decided to use the money I'm currently throwing away on my 401(k) to invest in an assortment of mouse-torturing devices.

The kids called me at work today to report the first victim: found in my bedroom trap. Ahhh... victory is so sweet! I may have him stuffed and mounted.

October 27, 2008

The New Love of My Life

We bought our current home almost 8 years ago now, which has been heaven, even though the current house has often presented many challenges. When Tom and I first met, he had just purchased a 2-bedroom bachelor pad which was just way too small for his newly-enlarged family. So, not quite a year after we married we packed up and moved into a larger home, one of many such moves to come. The first 6 years we were married, we moved 6 times, and not just house-to-house but town-to-town. Needless to say, you would have to physically dynamite me out of this place, just because the thought of packing everything up one more time is enough to send me screaming for the hills.

The first few years in this house were like a honeymoon phase, easily overlooking the things that we disliked because we were so blissfully happy not to be moving again. Soon though, just like in the best of marriages, the honeymoon was over and I started noticing things: the kitchen's too small, there's absolutely no closet space, a person could literally freeze to death in the basement bedrooms, etc. etc. Feeling picked upon, the house soon proceeded to act with classic passive-agressiveness: the swamp cooler developed a never-ending leak, one which still torments us to this day; the water main to the house broke in our yard, making it our responsibility to pay for, in the middle of winter when it would be ridiculously expensive to dig up and replace; and my all-time favorite, the propane tank with a leak that NOBODY from the petroleum company could find (of course, they didn't have much incentive: we were paying $150-$200 per week just to keep the water heater running; it's truly a miracle we didn't all get blown to bits).

Finally, after much love and affection, things seemed to fall into place and we haven't had to fork out much money for major home repairs. In the past year, however, the appliances in the home have decided to get in on the act. First to go was the dishwasher, which we've never bothered to replace. Why, when we have three dishwashers, er, I mean loving children to do them for us? Two years ago the trusty old refrigerator that we had died a violent death, so we replaced it. A few months later, the kitchen stove followed suit, so we replaced it a year ago. This year it was the dryer. Actually, it had been going out on me since last summer, but we kept suffering along, until I finally put my foot down: I could either get a new dryer or we could all dry clothes one piece at a time with the handheld hair dryer. I got the new dryer.

Well, for the last few months, the washer has been acting up. There have been several close calls where I really thought it was done, but then, like a prize boxer, it would bounce back up and work for a little while longer. This last week it too finally gave up the ghost.

Like any good consumer, I studied up on the internet and had myself armed with the best brands for the money, the benefits of a front loader vs. top loaders, etc. Tom balked some at the extra cost for a front loader, but I persevered, and by Saturday afternoon we headed out in the pickup to find a working washer.

We came home several hours later with my new 400-pound baby: a white Frigidaire front-loader with 10 different wash cycles. I woke up early Sunday morning and did 3 loads of laundry before waking the others up for church. I made my customary cup of Earl Gray tea, loaded up the shiny chrome barrel, added the soap, and pushed the start button. I then oohed and ahhed as it washed load after load of clothes with barely any water (I swear our old machine used 100 gallons per load, minimum), and spun them faster than I ever thought possible. Taking them out to put into the dryer, they are just barely damp. It honestly has cut 20-30 minutes off the time needed in the dryer.

Hopefully we are done having to purchase new appliances now, and honestly, I can't think of anything else that could possibly go out (I know, I know, I should NEVER have sent that statement out into the universe. In fact, I take it back!). I can't decide if I've reached a new low or a new high in my life, but I am unashamed to proclaim it: I (HEART) MY WASHING MACHINE!!!! Who knew that I was so easily entertained?

October 20, 2008

My new rating system

Aside from the recent whining I did a few posts ago, I really do love my job. There is always a huge variety of things that need to be done, so life rarely gets boring, which is good (usually). My previous job was maximus tediosum! One of the greatest perks are the people I work with: they really are, for the most part, a great group. One individual I work with long-ago created a rating system for us to share how our days are so we would each know just how much each of us would put up with before going postal. It's a fairly complicated affair involving the alphabet and many numeric levels, kind of like the pain scale they have at the hospital. For the life of me, I can never remember if a D1 day or a D5 day is preferable. Either way, it doesn't seem to matter as this person enjoys pushing my buttons, regardless. If I'm really in a mood, I have finally resorted to just saying "Watch it, I'm feeling SENSITIVE." Problem solved.

Today, another of my favorites from here (whom I lovingly refer to as my "cheerleader" because they are always looking for ways to help me better myself by FINISHING my degree before my youngest (9) finishes her Ph.D.) left a comment on my previous post about my always-sad lack of sleep . Rather than shamelessly plagiarize, I thought I'd share it with you all. Here, from the mysterious R:

"How do you function the next day after a day like this? In your office, you need to develop a system like the one used to monitor air quality in the valley. Here's my suggestions for how you approach the problem:

"Green Day: It is a good day. You can bring your requests for assistance to Tracy. I will smile pleasantly, not kick the dog, hum to myself, and be a team player.

"Yellow Day: Conditions are questionable. Try to complete your projects without a great deal of my help. You'll have trouble distinguishing between a smile and a grimace. I will push around small animals in my way, talk to myself, and, if the building catches on fire, you are on your own.

"Red Day: The bells are ringing in my head, Tom's snores can be heard over a fleet of B-52s, and my whimpering would arouse the passions of Mother Theresa. I'm sympathetic to the extinction of certain dogs. Professors who ask for assistance will find a burning bag of doggie doo on their front porch on my next Green Day. I know where to get the doo, and I know how to use it. In the meantime, I'm going to sharpen my elbows, get a cork for those damn dogs, and have a pleasant night at the Crystal Inn."

How could I not love where I work with friends like that?!

October 16, 2008

Hmmm: I think it's him...

Sasquatch, with a baseball cap. It could happen!

October 15, 2008

More Notes on Recovery

Well, I have eaten solid food for 2 of 3 meals today, which is a good sign that I'm recovering. But, I still feel incredibly drained. I foolishly tried to go into work on Monday, but realized my folly after about 2 hours. I went to my follow-up doctor's appointment, then came home and went to bed. I have not accomplished much more than that since then. You should see my laundry pile!

I probably would have been well enough to go to work for at least part of the day today, but guess what? Savannah now has caught the dreaded gomboo... She started the night off early by sleepwalking, which I've noticed she usually does if she doesn't feel well or if she's stressed. I think that last night was a combination of both. Then, about 2:30 a.m. she woke me up to tell me that her tummy hurt. And it was off to the races from there - the poor thing. It is sooo hard to watch your little ones being sick like that, especially knowing there's nothing you can do but let nature take its course. I did manage, however, to try and smuggle some potassium into her system! At one point in the day I smooshed one of my over-the-counter potassium pills into a powder and then stirred it into her apple sauce. She only took a few bites, but I felt better knowing she at least had a little more than she did earlier! I have a feeling I am going to become the neighborhood potassium pusher.

Anyway, I'm going to take a much-needed break from dwelling on our illness and post some pictures of the good sights we saw on our drive Friday, BEFORE the real adventure began. :)

Savannah, with Bear Lake in the background. It always amazes me what a gorgeous blue it is!

The second campsite: I like this one even better than their usual camp, but I understand it was a leveling nightmare. Seems to me (not being the leveler) that it would be worth it!

For some reason, this photo reminds me of pictures I've seen of Lewis and Clark, after they finally made it to the Pacific. Annie, the fearless explorer.

Daddy/Daughter reunion. She sure missed her dad!

Braden, practicing his aerobics moves. I don't know WHERE he gets all his energy. All the other photos I tried to take of him came out blurry because he was constantly moving too fast. I do have one that looks amazingly similar to the Bigfoot photos you always see. It could explain the smell of his socks!

Look! There were still some trees with leaves left on them...

October 11, 2008

Lessons Learned

Okay, I now have a new definition of what exactly qualifies as a “bad day.” As you know from my previous post, I had a really hard day at work on Thursday, followed by a really long night with the kids, school events, etc. Yeah… whine, whine, whine. The bright spot in all of it was that I was taking Friday off to drive up to Bear Lake to help drag the 4-wheelers home for Tom and Braden.

Well, yesterday, that’s what I did. I let Savannah stay home from school so that she could ride up with me, and we headed out about 10:30 a.m., after going to Bray’s school for his first Parent-Teachers conference of the year. Afterwards, we hit the open road. It’s always a beautiful drive through Logan Canyon, and I was happy to see that there still were some trees with leaves left on them, so I got at least a taste of the beautiful fall colors. We found their new campsite with no problem (they’d moved the trailer lower down in case it snowed that night) and then proceeded up to their old campsite to load up the ATV’s on the trailer. Where it SNOWED on us. In OCTOBER. Not even mid-October! I have NEVER seen snow this early before. Anyway…

Coming back down the road, I started feeling slightly nauseated, but nothing horrible. With the Meniere’s, I spend more time than I’d like to admit feeling nauseous, so I didn’t pay much attention. By the time that we got home at 4:30 p.m., I was REALLY not feeling well. I excused myself to bed, feeling guilty because Tom didn’t really want to cook dinner any more than I did. Nonetheless, he went to the store to get the makings of spaghetti. After laying in bed for a short time, I started in with the most horrible case of vomiting and diarrhea that I’ve ever had. I called Tom at the store and begged him to not come home without medicine in hand., which he did.

In the meantime, I decided to take a bath, thinking that it would help me feel a little better. While in the bath, I started feeling horrible again, so I got out, vomited some more, and then started feeling really weird. My whole body started tingling (I’m told I must have hyperventilated, which I’ve never done before), and my whole body was going numb. I knew I was in trouble, so I managed to get to the bedroom door to call for Tom to come and help me. In the meantime, my arms and hands started curling in on themselves, as did my feet. While Tom and Savannah tried to call 9-1-1 because I couldn’t even walk at that point, Savannah kept telling Tom that “Mommy’s feet are shrinking.” It was VERY scary. I have never had anything like it before in my life, and hope to never go through it again.

Sooo… we had a houseful of paramedics, sheriff’s, etc. It seemed like forever before the paramedics arrived, and it turns out that they actually had a tire blow-out on them on their way here, so had to call for another ambulance. They started me on an IV to get me rehydrated, which took forever. Turns out I have “shallow” veins, and they kept having to stick me and stick me before they finally got one. THAT HURT LIKE HELL because my muscles in my hands and arms were so tensed up and turned in on themselves. It literally felt like my muscle would shatter like glass if anyone even barely touched them. By the time they got me to the hospital my blood pressure had returned almost to normal (it was 160/120 the first time they took it) and after more fluids in my system my hands and arms finally relaxed back to normal. After drawing blood, they discovered that through the vomiting, I had “totally depleted” my potassium reserves, and that was probably what caused the symptoms I had so they gave me an IV bag of potassium too… Wow! Who knew that potassium could cause such problems?

All in all, it was a pretty horrible night. They kept me until about 12:30 this morning, when they finally let me go. We soon discovered that in the rush and excitement from the house, I did not have any shoes or a coat to wear home (and it was dang cold).

Anyhoo, I will no longer whine about my day at work Thursday. As I’ve always known (and I should have known better), IT CAN ALWAYS GET WORSE. I’m still not feeling wonderful, and my arms and hands are extremely achy today, but it’s still WAY better than it was. A special thanks to everyone who stepped up to help with tracking down the kids (the boys were at the corn maze while all this was going on) and for my Pastor and his wife who came and made me laugh and then prayed with me. It's times like this that just bring home to me how blessed I am with the friends and family I have...

October 9, 2008

To hell and back

Luckily, most days are not as awful, from start to finish, as today was.

I won't go much into my day at work, but suffice it to say that just because one works surrounded by Ph.D's who are arguably very bright people, that doesn't always mean that they have common sense. In fact, I would propose that the higher the level of education, the LESS common sense they actually have. Anyhoo, it was a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD DAY. And LONNNGGG... Did I mention long?

Then, after work was finally over, I got to rush home to grab Savannah and Evan, run back to Savannah's school, because, YIPPEEE! Tonight was the school carnival! My favorite day of the year!! Except it was a nice, warm 50-degrees with a windchill factor of I would guess -90. It was DANG cold, but Savannah REALLY wanted to ride the ponies, one of the few events that they kept outside. We waited in a long line until I developed hypothermia, then I put my foot down and declared "There will be NO pony rides this day!" Mean mama, I know, but I was just too darn cold to care.

Inside we went, but OH MY. You wouldn't think that they could pack that many people into one little hallway. You literally could not get through the crush of bodies to even see what cheesy, OOPS- I mean fun, games they had set up. The best part? If you could make it to the cafeteria where there was actually room to breathe, they had Teacher Karaoke! Very LOUD teacher karaoke, I might add. My life is now complete... :)

I guess the good part of the day was the fact that I had worked so long at work that we only were able to spend an hour at the carnival. As soon as it was 7:00 on the dot, we were off again, rushing to church for Savannah's Christmas play practice. Normally this wouldn't be so bad, but after the day I've had, all I wanted was to come home and crawl into bed.

On another note, Tom called me earlier today to let me know that he and Bray are coming home tomorrow instead of Sunday (crap, now I have to cook again!). I guess that the weather's been absolutely miserable all week, and they haven't seen a single elk (usually they see them, just the wrong kind). The forecast is calling for more rain tomorrow night, and then, yippeee! Snow on Saturday. Excuse me while I weep... As our pastor pointed out in church last Sunday, it has only been 9 1/2 weeks since the snow on top of the Wellsville mountains was gone, and last Sunday there it was again. Can I just say that I am NOT ready for winter again?

I am taking tomorrow off of work so that I can drive up to their camping spot and help haul their ATV's home. I think a drive up the canyon to see the beautiful fall colors will do me a world of good (provided all the leaves haven't blown off with today's wind), and getting a break from work will be even better! I feel a little guilty leaving my co-worker there alone all day to fend off the fiends (sorry Becky), but I'm sure I'll get over it come 6:30 a.m. tomorrow when my alarm DOESN"T go off!

Anyway, I'm home now, have my shoes kicked off, and am not moving off this comfortable couch cushion until somebody forces me from it! Thanks for letting me vent... :)

October 6, 2008

No Boys Allowed

The first week in October is our family's favorite week of the year, for different but similar reasons. You see, Saturday was the first day of the elk hunting season, so Tom and Braden are off being manly-men and living in the woods for the next 10 days. Tom eagerly looks forward to this time each year as his time to just relax and get away from it all. In all the years that he's done this particular hunt, he has NEVER gotten an elk. I have tried in vain to convince him to take the time, make the trip, but leave the guns and the money he spends on elk tags behind! He might as well get the enjoyment out of it, but save at least SOME money in the process... ;-)

Anyway, Savannah and I always look at this time as our special "mommy-daughter" time. We go window-shopping, see a movie, and then our favorite, dinner at the Olive Garden at least one night (we are both addicted to their Zuppa Toscana soup - just one more sodium-laden thing that I can't have any more *** excuse me while I stifle a cry ***
Okay, I've got it back together now). We eat whatever we want for dinner, which at least one night during that week will consist of a bowl of sugar-laden cereal. To put it mildly, it's like a vacation for all of us. Tom and the boys get away from work and school and, although I still have to work, I get a vacation from cooking the 3-course meals I usually serve up each night. Hallelujah!

Last year, Evan was grounded because of his performance at school, so he had to miss out on the annual trip. Being the (overly) nice mom that I am, I still allowed him to come with Savannah and me on our special dinner out. You have NEVER heard such sniveling and whining as I had to endure from him. He hated the wait, hated the decor, hated the salad dressing, hated the options on the menu, blah blah blah blah blah... Needless to say, it was NOT a good time for any of us. I do believe that may be the closest he's come to death, and he's had many times that he's pushed me to the verge (I am a big believer in Bill Cosby's quote on parenthood: "I brought you into this world; I CAN take you out."). But I digress.

This year, Evan wisely decided by himself to stay home so that he won't be buried alive by homework after a week away from school. At least that's the story he's telling. Personally I think it's got more to do with his fear of telephone withdrawals. He and his girlfriend (Annie the girl, not to be confused with Annie the dog) are constantly on the phone, and that is not an exaggeration. The other night he was on the phone and the computer that's located in our bedroom, while I was relaxing and reading a book in my bed. I kid you not: they spent 30 minutes just sitting there, with him occasionally singing along with songs he liked that were playing on the radio. The worst part is, I remember doing the same type of thing at his age. How could I have been so ridiculous?!!! How can they?!!! I am soooooo glad to have gotten past the teenage stage of my life, and it's brought me a whole new level of respect for my parents that they let me live through it too...

While it's been nice (so far) having him home, Savannah is feeling sad because we're not getting our "alone" time. My suggestion to her: tomorrow we dress him up in a nice shirt and skirt, and it can be "JUST US GIRLS." I was rewarded with her adorable giggle, and the request for a wig as well. I think that's the least he can do. :)

Ahhh... I love October!

October 1, 2008

Snips and Snails...

Boys are so...so... I really don't know WHAT they are, other than sometimes pure joy and very often pure frustration!

When I had the boys, I was so excited to have them close together (20 months apart) so that they would always be each others' "best friend." Obviously I hadn't had two boys 20 months apart before! My brother and I were 8 years apart, so I had woefully misguided yet idyllic visions in my head about how fun it would be to have a close companion at every turn. I longed for a sister, and even dressed my brother up and did his hair in ribbons so that I could pretend. Lucky for me I was so much older, so he couldn't resist! I didn't realize that someday they would go crazy from having companionship at every turn.

It started at such a young age too! When they were little, my grandma (who was totally blind) watched them for me while I worked. For those of you who never knew her, she was absolutely amazing. She raised four of her own children and then had a direct hand in raising all of us grandchildren. However, Evan figured out early on that "grandma's eyes are broken," so he could be a total hellion so long as he did it quietly, and then blame it on Braden. For several months I would pick the boys up from Grandma's and hear about how horrible Bray had been (at age 2), how he'd gotten into the fridge and dumped out ketchup or mustard on the floor, how he'd take all the books out of the bookcase, etc. etc. Finally, near Halloween that year, grandma told me how Braden had gotten into her Halloween candy and dumped it everywhere. Finally, the proverbial lightbulb came on over my head: there was NO WAY that Braden could have gotten up to the cupboard that the candy was placed in, even had he been able to push a heavy chair over there. The poor little guy had taken the blame for months, when it had been Evan all along. I still feel awful for that one...

The next summer, he got his revenge. The boys had one of those big, yellow Tonka dumptrucks that I swear every little boy who has ever lived has had, and I was watching them play in the yard through the kitchen window while I did the dishes. Evan had again been pulling his "big brother" act, taking every toy that Braden played with. Braden would just shrug, and go find something else to play with. Eventually he'd had it, and I watched as he casually got up, went over to where Evan was playing, picked up the dumptruck and conked him over the head with it. No tears, no fighting, just "problem solved." You could almost see the thought in his head: "You want it big boy, you got it!!!"

Thus, the constant wrestling began, which is still what drives me craziest. It starts out as good fun, but it ALWAYS gets out of hand. But if I try to stop them when they first start, I get the same "Oh mom... we're just kidding around." Anyway, I'm sure that some day they really will be best friends, and I am starting to see glimpses of that now.

Watching them play football in the yard tonight was another of those moments that gives me hope that they will actually be friends, even after they leave home. It's so fun to watch them and see how far they've come, and I love listening to the sound and timbre of their soon-to-be grownup voices. I think the fact that Evan will be 16 this month is hitting me hard (and making me feel REALLY old!). I know it's trite, but it seems like just yesterday that they were playing with those trucks and fighting over who got what bunk in their room...

** Sigh ** Now if only they could pull this off for more than 30 minutes before it turns into another brawl... ;-)