Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I don't even know what to say

Why is it that when something from down here in the Valley makes national news, it's always for something like this:

Defense: Woman too obese to kill nephew

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) -- A nearly half-ton Texas woman charged in the death of her toddler nephew couldn't have beaten the boy to death because of her limited movement from weight problems, her attorney said Tuesday.

What kind of mother leaves her children with a 1,000-pound woman who can't even get out of bed? And then, why is it such a concern about how they will take care of her medical issues if she's in prison? I mean, okay, maybe you figure out a way to treat her until she is convicted. But once someone is convicted of such a horrible crime, why in the world to we continue to provide them medical care? We don't have medical care guaranteed for the good, hard-working, law-abiding citizens who haven't done horrible things like, oh, say, kill their nephews. My own father bled to death in his living room, even though there were treatments that could have helped him, because my family could not afford those treatments. You know, maybe I should have just encouraged him to do some horrible crime and go to jail. What a thought - if my father had been a criminal, he might still be alive today!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

%@:**$#% Mosquitoes

Ah, yes, it's that time of year again. It does seem to be a recurring theme around here. This is our third year in the Valley, and each year so far we have experienced the wrath of the little blood-sucking biters.

The mosquitoes are back.

They got bad after Hurricane Dolly and the rains before then. A few weeks ago, we were scared in the early evening by the sounds of planes flying very low overhead to spray to kill the little buggers.

Since then, we've had more rain. Lots. There was flooding in places, there is more rain in the forecast (every day in the extended forecast there's a chance), and Gustav, which looks like it's going to be dumping on Haiti very soon, has me worried. There are large pools of standing water everywhere you look. We're trying to be sure to make sure there is none in our yard, but we live next to a slow-moving canal with a runoff ditch next to it, and there's nothing to be done there.

As I started to type this, sitting at my computer in my house with all the doors and windows closed, I swatted a HUGE mosquito who was having a feast on the blood near my left elbow. I looked up to see blood had splattered onto my computer screen, nearly 2 feet away.

In Target yesterday, pulling out my wallet to pay, I had one land on my shoulder and try to take a bite.

I killed at least 3 in our van, and there may be more.

Guthrie has a dozen bites on him, and the only time we've spent outside the last 2 days was walking in and out of the library, and then in and out of Target. I opened the door yesterday when UPS arrived, and there were dozens visible right outside the door.

Eric said he got bitten inside his classroom while he was teaching yesterday, and was attacked walking to his car at dusk. A report in the newspaper said we shouldn't expect much relief until Thanksgiving, but spraying is being attempted. The problem is the forecast for more rain and maybe wind is making spraying difficult or impossible.

It could be worse, I know. They could be carrying much worse diseases than the ones we fear, but West Nile is certainly a consideration, as well as other illnesses that sometimes make an appearance in this part of the world. We had no flooding in or near our house, we live in a sturdy house with no leaks - the only way they get in (and they do) is when we open the doors to go in or out. There are people who are not so fortunate - they've had standing water in their houses, and many live in houses where there is little proection from what could come in from outside.

Still, I'm at a loss for what to do, again. Later, we will go to Chick-Fil-A (I should mention that I'm totally in love with Chick-Fil-A now), and let them run around in the playground. I can't, at least not yet, bring myself to slather us all in bug repellent so that we can go outside. I'm trying to keep the living room/playroom clean enough that the boys can run around in it some, because I just don't know what other options we have for them to get any exercise and burn off energy without being a mosquito feast.

And with guilt I admit we'll probably watch more Bob the Builder and Thomas for the next few days than I would normally like, but a little movie time seems like the lesser of evils when West Nile Virus is the possible other option.

*sigh* Really, there are things I love about living here. Come January, when I'm hearing about other places having snow and ice storms, while we're wearing tank tops and going for long walks and bike rides, I'll feel differently than I do right now. But at the time, the outside world is a very scary blood-sucking place, and I think we'll stay inside today. ANY suggestions at all would be appreciated. Or at least a little reassurance that if we eat at Chick-Fil-A every day this week and watch a different movie every day, the boys really will survive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is this what aging is like?

I turned 30 about 2 months ago. Yes, 30, and yes, it is painful to type that. I was a little, um, terrified of that number, but it's come, it's gone, and there's no stopping it now. And I figured, really, I was in some of the best shape of my life, healthy, fit, happy, strong, great family, stable. So, what's 30, really?

But I turned 30 while we were having visits from our daughters (who each live with the other parent) and Eric's niece. We baked more than usual. We ate out more than usual. We took some shortish and weekend road trips, and drank sodas and ate Sun Chips and cheese dips and hotel breakfasts. Did I mention we baked a lot?

And the net result of that was about 7 pounds extra (7 pounds in 6 weeks) of which 4-5 are stubborn and trying to become permanent. No big deal, I just need to get back on the elliptical/bike/step machine/walks with the family.

Last week, I'm not sure how (but I know it wasn't interesting or exciting), but I hurt my neck and shoulder. The pain comes in waves, but for about a week now, the left side of my neck has been really sore. It might have been from moving up the next size in weights too soon. Or laying in a weird position in bed to write in my journal. No matter how I got it, it HURTS, and I've been relatively inactive - no weights for right now - to try to help it heal. I'd visit a doctor, but I'm not sure there's much they could do.

Motrin helps some. Icy Hot does too, but then I smell like an old person. The perfume I put on to cover it made me smell like an old person wearing Peony perfume.

Tonight, my dear husband suggested out of nowhere - and my husband never suggests this out of nowhere - that we go out for some dinner. Guthrie's been wanting IHOP, so okay, we went to IHOP. I had the Chicken Florentine Crepe, which was YUM (but I'm sure had 6,000 calories), and a couple bites of Guthrie's pancake. Thoroughly enjoyed the dinner, then stopped by a pet store, where both boys fell in love with a Pomeranian puppy, which we cannot get because I'm allergic.

And then the dinner confirmed a suspicion I've had for some time: I'm apparently allergic (or intolerant, whatever difference it makes) to mushrooms. I used to HATE mushrooms - just looking at them made me gag - but now I really, really enjoy them. The last few times I ate them, I had stomach pain. Tonight, I figured I'd try the food to see how it was, but also do a little test to check on the mushrooms. Sure enough, it's all I can do not to curl up in the fetal position clutching my belly. I'm making an appointment for allergy testing tomorrow.

So, I turn 30, gain 5 pounds, injure my neck, smell like an old lady, and end up doubled over in agony from mushrooms.

I think 30 sucks!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Not cars, not trucks, not other things with wheels"

(Don't panic. This is a wonderful train museum in Temple, Texas. The tracks are part of the museum, as is the train. It doesn't run. It's not nearly as scary as it looks.)

Guthrie likes trains. The above quote is how he described his love to his Grandma Mac (Eric's mom) before her visit last fall. "I like trains. Not cars, not trucks, not other things with wheels - trains."
He has had this love of trains all of his short life, since he was first able to communicate his interests to us. His first real Halloween costume was a train.

During our brief trip to the Chicago area for a friend's wedding when he was 18 months, we ended up at a hotel in Aurora with a train theme, right next to Walter Payton's Roundhouse, and the train station. We rode a train to Chicago, and this was the highlight of the trip for him.

For Christmas that year we got him a train set. Eric, of course, couldn't wait until Christmas for him to have it, so he ended up with it early. It started out pretty small, and on a table.

When we moved into our new house, Guthrie was 2. We still had boxes everywhere, the beds weren't set up yet, but we unpacked the trains.

Slowly the train table got less and less use, and every time we found ourselves in a toy store a few trains and a few more tracks, or track sets, found their way into our cart. The trains started to take over the house.

He got himself a costume so he could pretend to be a train conductor any time he wanted.

For his third birthday, we rode on a train from Warrensburg to Kansas City and back, and he got to meet a REAL condcutor.

Then when we were back in Missouri last summer, we happened to be in the same town that was celebrating its annual "Railroad Days" and got to ride a miniature train, before going to ride on the real Thomas the Tank Engine and meeting Sir Topham Hatt. Poor thing was getting sick, but we didn't know it until he started to develop a fever while we were on the train ride.

We went back to see Thomas in Austin in October, and followed that up with a night in Corpus Christi, where we stayed in another train-themed hotel, and rode on the Great Ocean Drive Scenic (GODS) Railway.

A few months ago, Eric got the idea to spray paint some of Guthrie's tracks. Guthrie then insisted they do them all, and carefully they worked on this together, taping off places that should not be painted, unscrewing roundhouses to pain inside them, using brushes on pieces that wouldn't come apart. Now Guthrie has beautiful, colorful tracks, and we spend many of our days (like today) building elaborate layouts that do take over much of the house.

We've read books on trains. Fiction - the entire collected original Thomas the Tank Engine stories cover to cover (all 405 pages) at least 4 times. We've read many other Thomas books, those we own and many from the library. We've read "The Subway Mouse," "A Cricket in Times Square" (because they live in a subway station), "Pano the Train," "The Little Engine that Could" with 2 different sets of illustrations, "Choo Choo" by Virginia Lee Burton, and so many other fiction books I've lost count. For non-fiction, we've read children's books that tell how train works, and we've also read much of an encyclopedia of trains in which the second half of the book describes hundreds of the great rail lines of the world. I learned many places I want to visit and ride the trains.

I do wonder just how long this love will last. It is fun, and he learns so much, but oh, I've looked at the hobby stores. I've seen the electric model trains. I know how much they cost and how much room they require. And we have a friend who works with the railroad, and we know there is a term for people like Guthrie. Yes, that's right, he's a Foamer.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Made me laugh

Turner is 27 months old. Still nursing - a lot. More than I'd like for him to be, but I'm not really ready to forcefully wean, and I'm lazy, so we're still going. He's still two months younger than Guthrie was when I weaned him. And I'd like to try child-led weaning, although I'm not sure what my limit is. I guess we'll see.

He just climbed up on my lap to nurse, and who knows why, but he pulled off, looked at the nursies, and said, "Icky. Sick." I told him the nursies were yummy and good and wouldn't make him sick, and then he looked at me, pointed to the nursie, and said, "Compost."

I totally cracked up, and now he keeps saying it.

Apparently, I need to compost the icky nursies. *sigh*

For all those people who think babies *MUST* be weaned by one year, or whatever other abritrary age, and are definitely too old to nurse when they are old enough to ask for it, they just don't know the fun they are missing with a baby who is able to tel you how much he loves his nursies, or, even, that they should go in the compost.