Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ups and Downs

This week has been interesting and that's not always a good thing.  Usually interesting=money. 

Monday was nice, Brit was here and the kids played and I read and did my own thing.  On Tuesday, we went to the library (up) the orthodontist (up and down) and to Karen's for tea (up) and to Daddy's for dinner out (up).  

Wednesday, I called and did lots of talking on the phone because Tuesday, we got 2 sets of news from the ortho man.  First, Chan's consult-she must have oral surgery to continue treatment. (down) Then Jake's consult-next time he goes in, he will have an eval for removal.  (up) At this time, there is no need to go ahead right away with the jaw surgery it looked like he would need (up).  However (down) IF he does not fill out more, he will need the surgery after he turns 18 (down) and, AND, he will need to go BACK into braces for another year (down, down).  Insurance only pays their meager ortho contribution once per person and to no one over 18.

Chan's surgery will be July 28th, they will do the following:  knock her out, yank her baby tooth (a canine), cut open her gum, glue a bracket with a chain to her impacted adult tooth (which is currently sending roots into her sinus cavity), dangle the chain and then sew up her gum.  (all down-though I am glad they can do such things).  10 days after that, she will go get traction added to the chain and over the next year, they will guide her adult tooth into place.  Cost in addition to the $5k for braces: $935, not counting the meds for pain and a round of antibiotics.  (down)
Their brackets are red white and blue for the 4th! (up)

 You can see on her right side that there is a gap in her brackets.  That's the offending baby tooth that refused to come out.  It's not even loose!  Her adult tooth is lounging on its side somewhere further up in her head, being VERY lazy.

Wednesday at lunch, I checked the mail and got a letter from Matt's job.  Hello, what's this? 
They want me to go to a website and fill out a health assessment and also go to my doc and get a physical so they can have a bunch of info about my blood and weight and BMI.  If I don't, we get fined $50 a month on top of our insurance costs.  Matt had to do that last year, now I have to join in.  When I went to the website, I saw they already had a tab for 'children', so I imagine they will be part of next year's demand. 

So this year, we avoid the fee by just having physicals.  NEXT year, we avoid the fee ($600 a year) by logging in our workouts.  Not just ANY workouts, but workouts either at a membership gym that we pay for or using an electronic device that we pay for.  We get 10 points a day each for doing the workouts and uploading the info (heart rate monitor or step counter from their partner companies).  We need 6,000 points jointly to qualify.  That's 300 full workouts in a calendar year.  (down)

You can get points for other things: stop smoking, stop drinking, managing diabetes.  I guess I could take up a drinking or smoking habit.  That would get me out of 40 days of workouts (400 points) when I quit.  I feel like an idiot for losing that 30 pounds last year, I could have been obese and then gotten points for when I just became overweight instead. 

I am fairly's no different in my mind than if they sent someone to check my toilets to see how clean they are.  I am not an employee, yet I have to jump through their hoops.  It's BC/BS insurance.  I can SURE guess what the BS stands for now! (down)  Guess what else?  There's a drawing you can enter when you lose a certain amount of weight, you can win...a flat screen TV!  WTF?  Here, sit on your ass now that you've reached your goal! (grrr)

Yesterday also had some ups.  First, Daddy loaned me his pressure washer and I washered the sidewalk, became addicted and washered the porch, then the house, then the windows and then we cleaned out the whole shed and I burned limbs and wood and such on into the evening. (all ups!)  The house looks SO nice, I am pleased as punch. (up)

Here is a pic of my handsome Benny (up) and his fuzz.  He said I have not posted one in a while.
note the different shirt! (up)

I should get some kind of beautification award for all the pretty babies I have contributed, I tell you. (up, also, no shame)

We are replacing the fascia boards next week!  SOOO looking forward to looking out of the kitchen and NOT seeing carpenter bee tunnels!

Kuma is not amused, not one jot.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Sunday, Emily stayed until dark, it started off HOT, then got windy and rainy over in the afternoon.  The girls played outside a good part of the day.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Birthday Take One

Chan was getting lonesome and tired of just her brothers, so we decided to invite Britney over for a couple of days as she was needing a little brother break herself.

Gina and I talked off and on during the week and finally settled on them coming out Saturday evening for dinner and to drop Britney off.  I called Suzette on Friday to see if Emily could come out and hang out one day while she was here and she decided to come to dinner, too! 

It was a great evening, loads of laughing and the dads got to hang out, which was extra good, they don't get enough play time!

We celebrated Matt's birthday a couple days early, since we were all together and Emily and Britney spent the night.

Emily is about...5 feet tall, she's sweet and smiley and always so polite and helpful.  She is such a great kid...until you give her a game controller.  Ack!  She can talk smack and not just here and there.  They went until 3 a.m. and she beat the crap out of everyone she played against, keeping up a steady stream of G-to-PG rated smack going the WHOLE time, punctuated by maniacal cackling laughter at frequent intervals.  hahahaha!

we would like to thank Suzette and Sara Lee for providing the cake!

On Thursday, the shipment of new computer parts arrived!  Matt built a computer from scratch for Ben, who is as pleased as can be about having his own computer.

He also upgraded graphics cards and memory and such in the other computers, so we currently have 5 working computers in the house!  It's so nice for everyone to have their own system, the boys had shared until February of this year when their computer died.  Chan's was to the point that she had to use a paperclip to open her cd rom drive.  Now she has a dvd player and cd burner!  I am so happy everyone has a good system they can game on and go online.

Letting kids go online has been such a controversy in our group, and I imagine among most parents.  Here's how we handle it.

Jake and Chan have wireless dongles that plug into their usb ports and allow them to access the internet via our router from their rooms.  Ben is plugged right in on a cat 5 and is in the living room where we can see what's on his screen at any time.

We can check and see what Jake and Chan are doing at any point from our computers.  The deal is, if they end up somewhere they should not be online, they can come tell us.  It can happen to anyone, you click a link in a search and BAM.  Boobies!  We have safe search on their computers and so far-nearly a year now-there has not been a single issue.  If there were an issue with chat rooms or certain websites that we don't feel are safe, we can just pull the dongle and they are no longer able to get online.  

I am probably the least strict parent in our group, so I have to admit, I don't police much.  Now that Jake is on his own and away from me (he was using Matt's computer, which I can see from my own) I will probably check his history now and then.  Or let Matt.  Or not...if he's going to be old enough to go off to college in just a few more years, there is a time to give more free reign.  It's hard to know...what's being respectful of their space and what's just being naive.  I think if someone contacted him or if he got into a situation he was not comfortable with, he'd come tell me. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I finally lost the 9 pounds I gained-starting on the camping trip-last month.  Only took me 6 weeks and several setbacks.  But I am back to my lowest point and plan to forge ahead to new ground.  Here is the suck part.  When I gained everything the first time, I was pregnant/new mama and it all packed on evenly with the extra bulge at the belly that has been my bane for 15 years.  My wrath is very unfiery...

When I RE-gained the 9 pounds last month, it was ALL on my belly.  Which, even though I am back to my earlier weight, is not as small around as it was.  If that's not incentive...I can't think of anything else that would make me want to avoid gaining again.  Apparently when you pack on new mother pounds, it spreads out and sits on the muscles to ensure you can make milk and keep the baby warm, when you just pack on fat, it's ab fat.  I saw a video about how it packs in around the organs, that kind of fat.  UGH.

I have been walking and have built up to 3 miles a day 5 out of 7 days.  It's not so bad in the evenings, I still get sweaty, but at least the sun is not baking me.  The recent rains have really helped cool off the world and it's lovely walking out here past all the green-again fields with the sun making the sky pink and orange and the mist rising up along the tree lines in the distance.  It's very calming.  The local cows line up to look at me, hay dangling from the corner of their mouth, occasionally a calf will bolt and skitter, making the other babies charge around and the mama cows back up a step and eyeball me harder.

I have not had an issue with dogs the way we have in the past riding bikes.  I may break Matt's bike out and see if I can get in a 10 mile ride now and then to break up the monotony.  With all the hills, I'd coast half the ride and sweat and struggle the other half!  I am glad to be back on my way again, I lost my footing for a while there.  I am still not totally over my mental funk, but I feel the grip loosening and I can shake it off by doing things with the kids or walking or keeping the house up to snuff.  As long as I feel like they are okay and that I am doing something toward my health and that the house is not a sty, I can beat off most of voices in my head.  I wish I could just understand why my brain is two different beings, one who seems very against me accomplishing even the smallest victory.

You'd think, being trapped in my head, it would want to be happy and live a long time and do lots of different things, not sulk and brood and assure me how much I suck.  Whatever, Inner Nasty.  I am putting you back in the coal hole, for you are being very naughty.  (We just watched Silas Marner for English credit)  Don't bother trying to come back out until you can act better.

Anyway, I had hoped to be at my next goal by my birthday, but a pound a week-my going average at the moment-puts me at only 5 pounds less by then.  *sigh*  I would have to get some kind of parasite to lose 4 pounds a week.  It will take until the first week of November at the rate I am going.  Oh well, as long as it's this year!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Around Home

 Day 3
 Day 5
 Day 6

After suffering a homeschool haircut gone very wrong, Ben and I agreed PDQ to shave his head.  That was last Friday.  I have been taking pictures every couple of days to chart the progress of it growing back in.
He IS wearing the same shirt in every picture, Chan bought it for him and every time I wash it, he puts it right back on.

I took Jake in for a haircut yesterday here he is before:
And after:

If you think "I see no difference" it's not because you are crazy.  It's because he chickened out at the last second and I got mine cut instead.  She layered the bottom, cut about an inch total, so it would quit wrapping around itself and breaking when I brush.  I bought good conditioner.

This week, the boys and I cleaned out their room-they did 90% of the work-and we moved a couple things around to make the space more useful.  Now they have a table they can use AND that they can move around.

This morning, the sunflowers were brighter, I guess from the little bit of rain we got last night:

All the Disadvantages of Home

 I remember going to my aunt's house in Kentucky when I was a kid and we would sit outside some nights and watch the heat lightening fork through the sky.  She lived on the edge of the Great Plains, her yard was huge and flat as a pancake. 

Here, the greater weather remains a total mystery.  In leafless months, we can see toward the southwest-where most of our weather comes from-and have some idea of what's out there.  In summer, the press of trees blocks views in every direction except for north-where hardly anything ever happens.

Last night, 2 things happened.  First, there was weather to the north and second, I got the willies scared right out of me.  You'd think, being a girl, I'd not have much willie, but you'd be quite in the wrong.

Since I titled this 'the disadvantages of home' I should elaborate.  I do love this house and where we live-though I am lonely more often than not.  I would not want to leave here unless the state of Tennessee was involved in the final destination.  I don't really mind the press of trees, I planted most of them myself.  What I do mind is the road to the house.  When we moved here 7 years ago, it was wide enough to dodge a cat  if you slowed down and pulled over a bit and that was about it.  They scrape and scrape, every 6 weeks or so, and now the road is wide enough for 2 semi trucks to wave at one another as they whiz past.  I hate it.
the 6 lane superhighway to service the the 2 houses on our road.

The county came last fall and sprayed herbicides in a path 4 feet wide on either side of all the roads out here, including ours-they did skip the obvious 'yard', but soaked the rest of it.  Everything died: trees, bushes, grass, flowers, lilies.  There were brown dead swaths lining the roads.  They stayed dead all winter and into the spring and in April, green showed up. This green quickly grew into 3 foot tall thistle which went to seed within 6 weeks and the downy fluff is still blowing all over every time there is the slightest breeze.  It has taken root in the yard and we can't walk barefoot any more due to the spiked leaves-no matter how short we keep it.

They have pushed the road from 9 to 14 feet wide in the past 3 years and every time they come through, they scrape more into the yard and into the embankment across the road.  Another 3 feet and the mailbox will fall over.  They have already pushed it into the cow fenceline that runs next to the road, the posts are leaning in now.  They have demolished the water meter boxes on our end and Judy's box as well.  They came by to spray again a couple weeks ago and I went out and yelled to get them to NOT spray IN MY FENCE and they left and came back an hour later from the other direction and the asswipe had the sprayer hanging OUT THE WINDOW of the truck so he could spray from the other side.  I stood out there with the shotgun and my phone.  I almost wish he HAD squirted the first drop where my children and pets play.  I'd have his dick above my mantle.  I understand the whole 'x number of feet from the middle line' is county right of way.  But when they add themselves 5 feet, it's hardly fair.  3 more years like the past 3 and they will be to the power poles and bumping the cedar tree in the yard.

Back to last night and the other disadvantage of living here.  We took pictures of the clouds all lit up with lightening:

I stood outside taking pictures from the back fenceline out over the pasture and talked to Matt, who was under the pine tree.  It started raining and I headed in to keep my camera dry.  I had to shove past the dogs who were huddled on the back steps, suddenly terrified of the weather when just a few minutes before, they were running in the pasture.

When I got in, Matt was at his computer.  Ugh!  

I have mostly gotten used to the feeling that something in the house does not approve of me, it's like living with a cat-that occasional feeling of a glare at the back of my head, usually when I don't mop the kitchen.  There has always been a family ghost, but female.  This was a man-I thought it was Matt.  I was chattering, he never answered, I was just talking about ISO and how grainy my shots were going to be because I had to crank it up so high and wondering if I should get the Rebel or just wait for a better lightening show to mess with that.

Just after I freaked about it not being Matt, the power went off for a second.  We all screamed.  It was actually a little funny at the time, but later, when I went into the bathroom and reached for the light switch and my hand went into the open closet instead, I got the willies again.  And at 2, when I woke up because I thought one of the kids had come into our room, I got them again...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shoal Creek Canoe

I made reservations to take a canoe and 3 tubes down the upper 10 mile stretch of Shoal Creek.  They provide transportation, paddles, vests and they allow a surprising amount of leeway-pets are fine, BBQ grills, camping along the creek...

There are several trips to choose from.  The upper 10 miles is called Busby to Iron City, there is a second drop-point at Factory that makes the upper stretch only 8 miles.  Iron City is where the canoe place is located and you simply canoe down until you get to the only bridge on the route, pull over at the stop sign and they load your canoes and gear up and you walk up to your car and leave.  There is another option for getting in at the store and going downstream another 10 mile stretch and that's called Iron City to Goose Shoals.  

In that situation, they pick you up at the end-you can call them or they will just set a time.  You can combine the drop/pick up places to be dropped at Factory or even Busby to make an 18 or 20 mile run, there is an option to keep the canoe up to 4 days and just paddle and camp all along the route.  There were many places to camp on sand bars in the first 10 miles and at least 2 established campgrounds.  They offer kayaks, canoes and tubes.

We stopped en route to pick up river sandals for Matt and the kids.  I swear, if they don't stop growing soon I am just going to dip their feet in that stuff you use to rubberize tool handles and call it done.  Matt is done growing, but his old sandals had flopped their last flip.

While they shoe shopped, I picked up cheese sticks, some nutty bread, bananas, blackberries and raspberries and some flavored water with electrolytes.  We had breakfast before we left, but I figured a good snack would start us off on a better day.  We had opted not to bring a full lunch on the canoe and just had a variety of snacks to stave off munchies.

We got up there around 10 and were in the creek before 11, we started off with Matt and me in the canoe and the kids floating along in the tubes.  We pulled off to swim and snack, reapply sunscreen and to look around a few times.  Matt had the GPS tracking the route and as the day progressed, we were going through the hours much more quickly than the miles.  We had left our keys in the office, so we had to be back by 7!

We tied the kids on to a rope to haul them, as the water flow was quite slow.  Hauling via canoe is work and during the day, Jake and Chan both took a turn while Matt and I enjoyed being towed.  There were some fast-flow spots where we could take a small rest, but overall, we paddled about 9 miles while pulling the tubes.  Next time, 2 canoes-no tubes.  Or more like a canoe and 2 kayaks.

 Getting in at Busby, you literally step off the rocky cliff and into the canoe.  They carried it down for us, which was nice!  The van that hauled us up there was made to fit 12, but we got at least 16 in there!  It had seen better days, possibly even better decades, but the doors stayed shut and the brakes worked.  

 I heard there were more cliffs along the lower run, but we had fun jumping off these and swimming at this spot.

I shaved Zep down Friday, so she had to wear a t-shirt and sunscreen like the rest of us.
She is SOOOO cute!  I love that dog.  Everyone we passed asked to keep her.
She liked the boat, she would stand up and bark at people fishing along the banks and she napped on an extra life jacket, laying under a towel we set up for shade.  She liked all the stops, but did not like having to be picked up to get back in the boat, I have never seen a dog have to mentally prepare itself to  be picked up like she does.  I have to wonder if someone threw her at some point in her life.

First she gets really still when you tell her you have to pick her up now, then sometimes she needs to run away and then come back, then she sort of braces herself and goes totally stiff, then you set her down and she always blinks and looks around-I imagine because any time she can't jump there herself, it's a totally new landscape.  I bet she'd be able to get in and out of the boat by herself within a day or so if we canoed more.

 a little side-stream, it had high canyon walls and I wanted to get out and explore!  We will next time.  I did not get a shot down into the stream with the walls because I was trying to get the kids to look at it. 
 One of about 50 rope swings along the way.  Some had platforms, some were in water that was barely over your ankles!
That is one hot mama!  *whew*

I hopped in a tube and got towed a while, it was MUCH more fun than paddling! 

Chan and I swapped out with Matt and Jake and we paddled a while.  Our canoe had been repaired at some point and there were 2 holes drilled in the bottom for a plate to fit on and they had not been filled back in, so Matt was sure it would sink if I sat in the back.  Chan was in the back, which meant I was hauling everyone and doing all of the paddling from the front, which was a workout and a half.  We made it about an hour before I had to swap around again. 

I got in the back for the rest of the trip and was able to help Matt get some miles behind us.  By the last mile, I was ready to give up and let the bears eat me.  We were SO tired and done for.  I know it was hauling the tubes, when they were not attached, we skimmed along like pond skaters. 

 There was a nice long stretch both in full shade and with rapid flow, so we unhooked the kids and they bobbed along, looking at the huge alligator gar and tons of other fish.   We saw 2 snakes as well, both harmless water snakes.  They never skeeved me until I saw one dive UNDER the surface and head for the bottom of the creek.  I did not know they could do that...

 It is a pretty creek, the whole way we hardly saw anyone else, just a few little cabins and a few people camping and fishing.  It would be a really nice fall or late spring trip when the water is up a bit more-we did scrape a few times and had to get out and pull the canoe a few times, too.  Any lower and it would have been miserable.  It's full sun nearly the whole route, even in the afternoon, the creek turned and headed due west, so the sun beamed on us.  There were only a few shady spots, I am surprised we did not cook.
 The water willow bloomed all along the edge of the creek.

 Matt, in the process of thinking through our marriage vows and wondering why on earth I thought tubes would be so much fun to haul.  This was the last half mile or so of the run and we were both so tired of paddling that I thought hard about just swimming the rest of the way and waiting for the boat to float down on its own.

 We put Ben in the canoe to lessen some of the drag and to shade him more.  He is so fair and I shaved his head-I was worried he would burn.  He held Zep while she napped and talked non-stop.

 The bridge at the end.  We would have cheered if we could have mustered the energy. 

We were all a little burned despite the frequent sunscreen stops.  Our faces/heads and shoulders fared well, everyone had red legs, my back burned a little and the sun went further down my top than my sunscreen, so I have red stripes.  Ben's legs and ankles are red, Jake's nose is a little red, Matt's knees thighs are red.  I think I got the worst of it because I was so focused on getting everyone else covered and making the kids stay out of the water for 15 minutes for it to work that I did not think about getting myself covered.  None of us burned enough that it will peel, by this morning, we are all turning tanned except for a couple streaks here and there where clothes usually cover or where the sunscreen rubbed off sooner.  Burnt around the edges.

It was a fun trip, despite my complaints about the heat and the work hauling the tubes.  The heat is just part of life here in summer and the tubes were just a bad idea.  I wish they had said something when I made the reservations about how slow the water flow was-if we all had been in tubes, there would be no way we could have drifted down 10 miles in 7 hours.  In the deeper spots, when we drifted the GPS read us as going .10 MPH.  So, 10 hours to go a single mile in that-and there were a LOT of miles of deep water with no current.  The website says the upper run is Class 1 with a good flow and the lower run is slower with more paddling required.  That sounds like kids on tubes would have a great time.  I am just glad we had the rope!

We stopped at Taco Bell in Florence for dinner and snagged some doughnuts at Krispy Kreme.  I am SOOOO glad there is not one of those closer than an hour from here.  I do not need access to Hot Now more than twice a year.  : )