Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

The Chaos Family is turning their lights out tonight at 8:00 for
Are you?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Crash Strikes Again!

Believe it or not, the smiling boy in this picture had just gotten home from a 9 *hour* visit to the ER. Why is he still smiling? Because he's Hunter! And Hunter is the happy-go-luckiest guy I know. It takes more than a 9 hour wait at the ER, and a broken foot to bring this little one down!

I'll first back up to Tuesday when I "think" this all started. Louisa and Hunter were playing around on an old swivel-y desk chair that's in our living room. I heard Hunter fall and cry. He came to me for hugs and kisses, and was on his way again. Limping a little. At bedtime his foot was a bit swollen and bruised, but he said it didn't hurt him.

Wednesday morning his foot looked worse. We had a playgroup thingy, and Hunter was walking on it just fine (except with a little limp), so we went to playgroup. The opinion of the playgroup mommies was pretty unanimous, take him to the ER.

I dropped Louisa and Drew off at a friend's house and Hunter and I headed to the ER armed only with a small backpack full of Cars cars, one small snack, one diaper, and a sippy cup. (Isn't hindsight always fun?!)

Here's the rest of the day:

Approx. 1:00 pm~ check in to ER
1:45 pm ~ screening nurse .... um.... screens Hunter

4:00 pm ~ ask front desk person if they can check where we are on the list.... he tells us "not at the top, but not at the bottom" (how diplomatic of him)
5:30 pm ~ decide to leave and make an appointment (HA! ya right!) the next morning
5:35 pm ~ Feel guilty as I watch Hunter limping back to the truck, so, in tears, I turn around and go back in to ER waiting room
5:40 pm ~ talk to some soldier guy who's working in the ER and, as I'm crying, beg him to get someone to at least look at Hunter's foot to see if it's worth the wait. get another very diplomatic answer that "yes, it's always worth the wait", and "you're not at the top of the list, but not at the bottom"
7:45 ~ FINALLY called back to an examining room
8:10 ~ doc sees us, quickly tells us we need an x-ray, and leaves. (DUH!)
8:30 ~ very nice nurse quickly whisks us to x-ray
8:45~ back in examining room.... watching Supernanny.
9:30 ~ doc finally shows us x-ray and sure enough, metacarpals 3, 4, & 5 are fractured.
9:45 ~ very nice nurse very quickly and efficiently wraps Hunter's foot in a temporary cast, gives me instructions, gives Hunter orange popsicle to match his shirt, and signs us out
10:00 ~ arrive back at truck near tears at the exhausting day we just had!
10:15 ~ pick up kids who spent the day playing Monopoly, Sorry, and Clue.... and thank my friend a million trillion times!
10:45 ~ arrive back home with a now wired, tired and hungry Hunter, who is full of smiles regardless of what just happened.

We had nothing to eat the whole day because I didn't think we'd be there that long! We walked in to a full ER waiting room, watched it empty out, fill up, and empty out again. So of course, I want to know what was so important about all those other people, that they were seen and released so much ahead of Hunter? Hunter, with a broken foot, who is walking on it the entire day, could possibly do more damage to it, had to wait for almost 7 hours just to be seen in the first place! Hunter was showing no signs of discomfort, playing and running on his foot. But that doesn't mean nothing is wrong! Shame on that ER staff, and I'm guessing the screening nurse, for making such an assumption.

One of the few consolations of the day was that the 2nd shift nurse was just as upset that the 1st shift made a baby wait so long before taking him back to be examined. She said she would mention something to the 1st shift nurses about it. And when we walked out of the ER with Hunter's foot all bound up, I wanted to yell, "See! It WAS broken, jackasses!" But it wasn't the same staff in the waiting room/screening rooms anymore, so it wouldn't have done me any good.

Thursday morning I call orthopedics first thing like the nurse instructed. They don't do feet that small, so they are referring us to a foot clinic in the nearby town. And no, they don't know how long it will take for the foot clinic to contact us. Great.

I call the insurance company and they haven't received the referral paperwork yet and they won't be able to tell me which foot clinic until they get the paperwork in their system. Not sure what else I can do besides wait for paperwork to hit the system.

At 1:00 I decide to call ortho back, just to see if they can tell me anything. The guy who answered was so nice and helpful! He got us in to the foot clinic right away. (With a little haggling on his part!) I also went on the hospital's website and went to their customer comments section. I told what happened and how angry I was that a 2-year-old had to be in the ER for 9 hours, walking around on a broken foot. So don't worry, I reported this!

When we got to the foot clinic, they had been expecting us. They were so nice to Hunter and I. Very welcoming, took good care of Hunter. The doctor clearly enjoyed his job, taking a long time with Hunter and I, as if we were the only two patients in the clinic. He explained that Hunter broke something called his "growing plates". Little kids have growing plates at the ends of their bones, which will eventually grow into one long bone as we get older. But when they are little it's important to have those growing plates intact and growing straight, so that the foot (or bone) doesn't end up growing crooked. He recognized the seriousness of this, while at the same time alleviating any fears I might have had.

He said we need to keep this temporary boot on Hunter until early next week because he can't put a cast on a swollen foot (when it's the foot that's broken). On Tuesday we will go back in for a real walking cast. For now we are keeping the little boot on (see above picture).

I have to say that Hunter was amazing throughout this whole situation. He didn't cry or whine or act naughty. He waited, played, behaved, eventhough he was tired and hungry and his foot had to be bothering him at least a little because he was walking on the side of it and limping. I've said it a hundred times since Wednesday and it bears repeating, he's my little trooper. Definitely his father's son!

And speaking of Daddy, he didn't get to find out about any of this until today. I emailed him the above picture on Wednesday night, and up until today, he had no clue what the details were. He's glad we got it taken care of and he's proud of his little guy for being so brave.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the Chaos Kids!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Drew's Turn to Cook

Last night Drew got to try his hand at cooking. Unfortunately my patience were a little thin to begin with. Add in Drew and his "let's add an extra step to everything I do" behavior and we didn't mesh as well as Louisa and I did on her cooking night.
I allotted Drew plenty of time, already knowing it would take longer than it should. He has to give everything one last final fancy stir, or push the buttons on the microwave in an exaggerated manner, or dance and twirl around while I'm trying to get him to read directions. I knew we would encounter all of these, so I tried hard to give him the fun cooking experience that Louisa had.
Drew made us Sausage and Egg McMuffins with cheese, and both the kids learned how to make a quick and easy scrambled egg in the microwave all by themselves.
I remember making myself microwave cooked eggs for years in these small glass bowls my mom had. Louisa isn't a cereal-for-breakfast kind of girl, so now she can make herself an egg if she wants.
Drew was very proud of himself, and Louisa thanked him for the scrumptious dinner. We were supposed to make smoothies as well, but I was missing an essential part to my smoothie maker (which I found after dinner of course!), so Drew will have to make us smoothies another time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Chaos House does Home-Ec

The kids love to help me cook. What kid doesn't? They love to stir the cake batter (and lick the spoon), they love to help mix the cookies (and lick the beaters), and of course they love helping to make smoothies (and drinking them!)
But I decided while daddy is gone we'd take it a step further. We busted out our Better Homes & Gardens New Jr Cookbook, and both Drew and Louisa got to plan a meal, make a grocery list (after checking to see if we already had what they needed), go shopping (and doing a little price comparison), then cook the meal.
Drew hasn't cooked his yet, but Louisa did tonight. She did almost all of it herself. She picked out a chocolate s'more dessert that had to sit in the fridge for a few hours, so we made that this morning. I really didn't help her with much except for getting out some of the ingredients and tools for her.
We went to an Easter egg hunt that my husband's army unit put on for us, and when we got back it was time to make her main entree'. Louisa chose, out of her cookbook, corn chowder. It looked good, but I wasn't too sure. The word "chowder" reminds me of throw up because that's what we used to call throwing up when I was in high school. Like when my friend had to disect a cat in Biology II, she headed straight for the photography darkroom (where I happened to be working on some masterpieces) and she made chowder in the garbage can. Which completely interrupted my creative flow. Ever since then, whenever I hear the word "chowder" I smell photo fixing solution mixed with barf. It's not pleasant.
Louisa's chowder, however, was very pleasant! She did a spectacular job. It had ham, potatoes, carrots, corn and celery. She cut all the veggies herself, measured, mixed, kept watch so it wouldn't boil (because it had cheese soup in it). At the grocery store she had picked out a yummy loaf of bread (from the clearance bakery cart!) to go with our soup. She was very proud of herself and everything was delicious.
Now let's hope that Drew's cooking experience on Tuesday goes as smoothly! He wants to make egg and sausage mc muffins. Not quite sure how we're going to work that one.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Parental Right of Passage: Paying a Babysitter

Friday night I did something I've never, in 10 years of being a mom, done before. I paid someone to watch my kids. I've had babysitters before, like friends and family, but I have never actually paid someone money to babysit the kids.
Once a month my spouses group (FRG) goes out to eat just to hang out and relax. We can bring kids or get a sitter, doesn't matter. Well, one of the ladies insisted that I bring my kids to her house and have her son watch them so I could get out on my own. Louisa had a sleepover at a friend's house, so it was just Drew and Hunter.
When we got there, and I saw the kids who was going to babysit them, I wanted to say no thanks and hop back in the truck. He looked no older than Louisa! No way was some 10 or 11 year old going to watch my boys!
Right away he started playing with them, getting them settled. He seemed to know what he was doing. He wasn't shy around them, like I usually was when I went on a first time babysitting job. He just made sure that they felt at home.
Okay.... hesitantly I headed for the door with my friend so we could go to the restaurant. She was confident in her son's abilities.
An hour and a half later we get back to her house and the boys are having the best time. They are running all over the yard, playing with their babysitter and the neighborhood kids. The babysitter had fed them hot dogs and applesauce, and he told me what they'd been doing. It took me a long time to get the boys in the truck and get out of there. I had to tell them we were going to Dairy Queen to get them to leave!
So I paid the boy and he said he hopes he can watch them again someday. I don't know why, but I'm always so surprised when I meet a genuinely nice, respectful teenager. Is that bad?
Anyway, I gained two things... a future (cheap) babysitter, and a little bit of time to myself. Although, I played with another friend's baby the entire time we were at the restaurant!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Parental Rights of Passage

Today I entered another one of those Parental Rights of Passage. The one where you stand in a long, hot line with your kids for several hours so they can get an autograph from someone they won't remember in 20 years.
I remember being 12 and *having* to get the autograph of...... someone. Donnie...... something, maybe. We stood in a line on a cold Wisconsin day for probably 2 or so hours. By the time we got up there, I had nothing for him to sign. It was my first signing, I assumed he'd have pictures of himself to sign. I didn't know they expected me to buy his tape (yes, it was that long ago!). So I had him sign my jean jacket (again, yes it was that long ago!) I was cool in school for about a week when everyone wanted to see the signature. Then it started to smear a little from everyone's greasy hands touching it, so I cut it out, hung it on my wall, and sewed some material in place of the hole. I still can't remember who that guy was!

Back to today, at the PX (Post Exchange). We arrived at a little after 11:00, having already been to an Easter egg hunt earlier in the morning. The guest of honor that had half the PX flooded with screaming girls was Keke Palmer. Who??? Ok, so it's not quite as exciting as Hillary Duff, or Zac Efron. I mean, they probably don't have time to come to a dumpy little base like Fort Polk. I'm surprised Keke came! If you have no idea who I'm talking about, check out Akeela and the Bee. She's Akeela. Or, if you have Disney Channel junkies like I do, she's the lead double dutch girl on the movie Jump In. Anyway, when we saw the poster advertising that she would be here a few weeks ago, Louisa immediately knew who she was and was very excited.
There was a small stage set up and Keke came out and did two songs off her CD for us (because all those young kids are crossover artists, you know). After she did her songs she bent down to hug a girl and, well, things got kinda scary for a second. Several girls grabbed her trying to pull her into the crowd. A few more girls grabbed her hair, and someone snatched the bracelet off her wrist. You could see she was frightened, and she managed to pull herself out of the grasp of all these girls. I felt bad for her, though. These young fans need to learn that these artists/actors are real kids just like them. They don't like their hair pulled and their bracelets stolen.
There was no crowd control, which didn't surprise me. I'm not sure why anyone would assume that 200 crazy girls would easily form a single file line. And more than the girls... their *parents*! The parents here, they're competitive with a capital C. They want their kids to be first, most important, always right. You say it's like that everywhere, you haven't met a military parent! The parents were the worst at the shoving and the pushing and the, "Hurry up, get up there! Push in front of those people! Wiggle your way up front!" And the loudest when someone dared to budge in front of their kid!
Louisa and Drew were at the front of the line near the signing table when Keke started signing, but because they were two small kids without their mom in their to play Mama Bear (I had Hunter off to the side in his stroller and there was no room in that mob for a stroller) they kept getting pushed back, and back, and back until they ended up at the back of the line. I found them back there fighting because the crowd scared Drew and he was crying, and Louisa was upset that so many people pushed in front of them.
Sometimes I forget that Drew is only 6. He's so tall and he can act like such a big boy, that I forget he's not that big. And, of course a pushing, screaming, hot and sweaty crowd of people much taller than him is going to scare him.
At one point Keke's dad/manager made an announcement that she could only sign for another 15 minutes. By the looks of the crowd ahead of the kids, and not only ahead but the ones constantly streaming in from the side, we weren't going to make it. But we had already been there for more than 2 hours, so we were going to tough it out. Either my watch was much faster than his, or he gave us a generous 15 minuets, because we made it.... barely. We were literally one of the last people she signed. Even then she took a second to stop and talk to the kids. They had the Jump In soundtrack for her to sign, which has a few songs on it sung by her. She told them she loved that movie and asked if they liked it. They of course emphatically nodded their heads (we've seen it close to 20 times!) Then she signed both the CD and the insert, so they both have an autograph.
Whew! That was close. My heart was beating so fast. I was sure we weren't going to get there in time and that our last 2 and a half hours would have been in vain.
And poor Hunter. Sitting that whole time in his stroller, asking me "Please" in his sweet little voice with his hands folded so cutely, hoping I'd let him out.
He did find ways to entertain himself, though. A few examples follows (does this kid know how to work a camera, or what?!):

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Teary Farewell

In Wisconsin we take a few things *very* seriously.
Hunting, Miller beer, the right to always be called the Dairy state (eventhough California exceeds our dairy production), a really good brat, tailgating, and football.
Wisconsinites are not fair-weather fans. We don't lose interest just because the team goes through (20) years of bad games. We hang in there, selling out every football game no matter what. Freezing weather, near blizzard conditions, nothing stops the Wisconsinite from entering the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field to watch their Packers. A dome? That's for wusses!
Along with our football goes the bragging rights to one of the greatest QB's of all time calling Wisconsin "home" for the past 17 years.
This week, Wisconsin is in mourning. We knew it was coming, we knew it couldn't last forever, but it doesn't make it any easier.
Good-bye Brett :(
No one in this world has ever made us cling to the edge of our seats, white knuckled through 3 hours of intense do-or-die football, cry, beg the Lord for just one more touchdown, and celebrate joyously as you pull off that last minute touchdown.... again.
Even if you're not a die hard Packer fan, watching the teary farewell is enough to crack the toughest cookie. If you haven't yet, bop on over to Yahoo and watch it.
Heroes come in so many different forms. I should know, I'm married to one. I don't use the words "hero" and "sports player" together often. Hardly ever, do I associate the two words anymore. Brett and his wife Deanna are heroes for their charity work, their public pain, and so many other reasons.
Some may read this and think how melodramatic it is, that's how seriously we Wisconsinites take our football, and OUR Brett! We watched him grow from a cocky young man who liked to party a little too much, to the most humble player in football today.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thanks, Daddy!

Daddy sent the kids some bears from his base in Iraq. Louisa named hers Ace, Drew named his Super Bear and immediately made a cape for it, and Hunter named his Yogurt. (um... I have no idea why, that's the first word out of his mouth when we asked what he wanted to name it!)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Long Distance Friendship

One great thing about military life is the huge variety of people you get to meet. I have friends that I probably wouldn't be friends with in a civilian world. And although the words "unity" and "military wife" don't necessarily go hand in hand, most of us manage to find a few companions to share our troubles and triumphs with.
I'm lucky to have my real life friends, like playgroup mommies, ladies in my unit, and a few strays I've befriended down here on base. I also have the ladies I keep in contact through email because we met at a previous station and have since moved on to other places that life happens to take us. Then there's the online friends I've encountered the last few years. It's strange having close "friends" who I have no chance of meeting any time soon, yet I talk to them daily, they know me better than most of my real life friends, and my mailbox is stuffed full of their love on a regular basis.
What's got me thinking of friends, you ask?
Well, I'll tell you!
I've come across a new kind of friend recently. She's thousands of miles and two oceans away, but I feel close to her. Her husband serves in Iraq with mine, and that's how we have gotten to know eachother. She lives in India and she's currently waiting on her Visa to come live in the states. Her husband was born in India, but has spent most of his life here. They are newlyweds, not even one anniversary yet, and they met online. She's so cute with her new wife jitters, and is she doing everything right, and how do I keep a new husband happy from this far away.
Actually, she's closer to the guys than we are over here! That thought gives her a little comfort as she anxiously awaits her Visa to come here and live with her aunt until the guys return. Until then, her and I communicate through email and pictures. She's already in love with the kids and can't wait to meet them! (Ya, it's easy to fall in love with them through pictures when the actual volume of how LOUD they can be is on mute!) I was even lucky enough to get a birthday phone call from her saying "Guess who this is?" Sadly, I didn't guess because she barely had an accent!
She sent Louisa this beautiful Salwar Kameez. She picked the blue because she thought it went well with Louisa's coloring, not even knowing that blue is Louisa's favorite color. And now this is Louisa's favorite outfit!

My book club read Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I wrote my friend and asked if there were any "treats" she could send me that might also be enjoyed in Afghanistan, where the book takes place. She found that she could not send food through customs in her country, so instead she sent me not one... but ten Pashmina to share with my friends! This is me being silly in mine, but it can be worn as either a head covering (which they don't really do in India near as much as they do in Afghanistan) or as a shawl, which is more how my friend wears hers. A rainbow of Pashmina was set in the middle of living room floor of the book club hostess on Friday and I snapped pictures (actually Drew was my photographer) to send to our friend in India. The book club ladies were thrilled with taking home a piece of south east Asia, as well as a piece of this flowering long distance friendship they've been hearing so much about. I shared the pictures of huge smiles, pretty faces, and colorful Pashmina with my friend and she was so pleased that she made everyone's day like that. She says it's all she can do for now from so far away, but her friendship has been enough.
I'm slowly teaching her about American culture, and the woes of army life. She's excited to get here and start her life as an army wife and she's very proud of her husband. I can't wait to actually meet her, even if it'll be a year before she gets here.