Sunday, October 25, 2009

October Update

Fall and H1N1 are in the air! Ah, maybe that's not such a good combination. Anyway, as usual, we've been incredibly busy lately. Here's what we've been up to...

David - celebrated a birthday last week, has been playing his new Tiger Woods 2010 Wii game a lot since his birthday, and will soon be coaching Zachary's basketball team.

Michelle - has had an incredibly busy work schedule lately, seeing lots of kids with H1N1, filled in for the pediatrician in Huntington again, and will be helping in Lauren's class this week during the Halloween/Fall party.

Zachary - finished soccer season, had a great grade card, is getting ready to start basketball season, started piano lessons, is learning to play the recorder at school, and is anxiously awaiting upcoming trips to a Colts game and the IU vs. Purdue football game.

Lauren - got her first kindergarten grade card with sparkling results, started ballet lessons, continues with gymnastics, and just joined a Daisies (Girl Scouts) troop. We are celebrating her sixth birthday next weekend!

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

School has been underway for a few weeks now. What happened to the days when school started after Labor Day?

Zachary is enjoying fourth grade. He still loves math, science, reading, spelling...looks like he just likes school in general! He has also been playing fall baseball and soccer on the weekends. Lauren has been enthusiastic about her kindergarten homework. Each Monday they take home a letter worksheet that they need to complete and return by Friday. She has been finishing her worksheet as soon as she gets home Monday evenings! Since I have Fridays off, I'll be helping in Lauren's classroom one Friday a month. Kindergarten is half-day, so she rides the bus to her daycare Mondays through Thursdays. She is still doing gymnastics once a week at her daycare.

Now that school has started, I'm glad to say that the number of sports and school physicals on my schedule has decreased. That leaves much more room for well baby checks and sick appointments. I'm sure that, by the time winter is over, I'll be tired of looking at infected ears and red throats and will be looking forward to seeing healthy kids again!

We just got back from a long weekend trip to Chicago. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry, where we saw the traveling Harry Potter exhibit. The exhibit had movie props and costumes, including wands, brooms, robes, Quidditch hoops, Harry's four-poster Hogwarts bed, and Hagrid's furniture. We also went to the Hershey store, Ghiradelli's, American Girl, the Cheesecake Factory, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, and Mike Ditka's restaurant. David, Zachary and Lauren even let me go to Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, and Ann Taylor! ;-) Our final stop of the Chicago trip was the Adler Planetarium. It was pretty interesting, but I prefer the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. We watched a 23-minute Sesame Street show about stars while we were at the Planetarium. Afterwards, Lauren informed me that she is "waaaaaay too old for Elmo."

We spent a rainy day at the lake today getting some of the outdoor "stuff" put away. The sailboats, paddle boat, and the canoe are packed up for the winter. We left the speedboat out so we could take a few more rides in the next couple of weeks. It's always kind of sad to pack up the lake toys for the winter, but before we know it we'll be getting it all out again next summer!

Hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend! Enjoy the short work/school week!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Where has the summer gone?

It's the last day of July already! Zachary and Lauren start school in two weeks. Z will be in 4th grade and L will make her school debut in kindergarten. Lauren was eager to buy school supplies so we rounded up pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and more at Wal-Mart today.

Here are some of the things we've packed into this summer so far:

* Zachary played baseball (and his team won the tournament in the 9-10 age group).
* Lauren and Zachary went to zoo camp and farm camp.
* We took a vacation to Hilton Head, SC, with stops in Asheville, NC, and Knoxville, TN.
* David and I took a long weekend trip to the Tampa/Clearwater area.
* We went to Muskegon, Michigan, for a weekend.
* Spent time at the lake (swimming, fishing, boating, fireworks on the 4th)
* Planted fruits and veggies in the garden
* Library trips
* Vacation Bible School
* Movies (Up, Harry Potter, G-Force)
* Zoo trips
* Tried out the new kayaks
* I started a new job as a nurse practitioner in pediatrics.
Here's hopin' we can pack in even more activities before the end of summer. Good thing I have Fridays off!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our recent trip to NC, SC, and Georgia

Zachary and Lauren at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

One of Savannah's beautiful squares

BBQ at Disney's Hilton Head Resort

Zachary (on the left) waiting in line for the water slide at the Disney Resort

Hilton Head Island, SC

Lunch at the Salty Dog Cafe, Hilton Head, SC

The Lady and Sons Restaurant (Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, GA)

Lauren in Hilton Head

Face painting at the Disney Resort

Hilton Head, SC

One of our favorite vacation spots is Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It seems like we find something new to do each visit! We have always flown there in the past, but decided to be really adventurous and drive this time.

On the first leg of our trip, we drove to Asheville, NC. When we arrived, we ate at a seafood restaurant with live jazz music, and then got dessert at The Chocolate Fetish. I couldn't pass up a truffle called "Blossom," with the following description: "A must try for any Chocolate lover, this Truffle offers a rich Dark Chocolate center subtly flavored with lemon zest, a touch of ginger, and a hint of saffron encased in a Dark Chocolate shell and garnished with a candied Violet blossom." It was quite an unusual combination of flavors!

The next morning, we toured the Biltmore House before heading out of town (see pictures below).

With bikes and kayak in tow, we finally arrived at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. We stayed in Hilton Head for most of the week, but we did take one day to drive to Savannah, GA, to tour the city and eat at Paula Deen's restaurant. Here are some other things we did on our vacation:

* Went on a dolphin watching boat ride
* Kayaked with dolphins VERY nearby (less than a paddle length away at times)
* Went to the beach (and found creatures/items such as a horshoe crab, jellyfish, shells, and sharks' teeth)
* Swam at the Disney resort's pool, which has a very fun water slide
* Attended Disney events (Campfire with S'mores, BBQ, Pool Party, Fireworks, Low Country Shrimp Boil, Magnet painting activity, Beachcombers activity, Marsh exploration activity, Alice in Wonderland's Un-Birthday Party)
* Climbed 114 steps to the top of the lighthouse in Harbourtown
* Fished
* Caught crabs using crab nets and shrimp
* Ate at delicious Hilton Head restaurants
* Rode bikes

On the way home, we stopped overnight in Knoxville, TN, but we didn't stay to see much of the town. Our fine Knoxville dining consisted of Papa John's pizza that night!
We've almost settled back into our routine, although it may not be completely normal for a while due to my upcoming job change! I will soon be working as a nurse practitioner at a pediatrics office three days a week and at a family practice office once a week. I've enjoyed the OB-GYN world but have always loved pediatrics! David continues as one of ten partners in his law firm, specializing in civil litigation. The kayak that we hauled to Hilton Head was David's early Father's Day present.
Zachary's baseball season is in full swing (no pun intended) now. He has already attended baseball and basketball camps since school has been out! Lauren loves her gymnastics class at preschool and is counting down to the start of kindergarten in the fall. Both Zachary and Lauren will attend zoo camp and farm camp in the next several weeks. Summer tends to fly by around here!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asheville, North Carolina

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. The house was originally owned by George W. Vanderbilt, beginning in 1895. His grandson, William A.V. Cecil, owns the estate today. They don't allow cameras inside the house but the outside offers plenty of picture taking opportunities!
The house includes 43 bathrooms, a bowling alley, a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, and a gymnasium.

There are two Renoir paintings in the breakfast room: Young Algerian Girl and Child with an Orange.
Vanderbilt was an avid reader and had a library with more than 10,000 volumes in eight languages. There is a chess set once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte on display in the library.

We toured the house and the gardens, although we didn't cover all 8,000 acres of the estate! The audio tour kept Zachary and Lauren interested -and busy- on all four floors and in the basement of the house. Zachary's last visit to the Biltmore House was about seven years ago when he was 2 1/2. This time, he managed to restrain himself from dashing under the ropes in an attempt to leap on Mr. Vanderbilt's bed. Lauren was quite enamored with the elaborate canopy beds, but she politely observed them from a distance.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

We're heading to the lake tomorrow for a Mother's Day celebration! Tomorrow is also my grandma's birthday. It's always nice to see the arrival of lake season.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Baseball, baseball, baseball...

...This was the perfect weekend for it! Yesterday Lauren and I drove to Delaware, OH, to watch Matt pitch in the OWU vs. Wittenberg game. Matt pitched a 4-0 shutout; click here to read more about it. Meanwhile, back at the...gym?...Zachary had a baseball skills assessment for his upcoming baseball season. The assessment allows the powers that be to divide the teams evenly. David plans to coach Zachary's team this summer.

Today David and Zachary watched Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D while Lauren and I watched the Hannah Montana movie. Lauren isn't a big fan of 3-D movies so we saw Monsters vs. Aliens a few weeks ago in 2-D. We enjoyed the Hannah movie!

Other than baseball and movies, our latest Wii favorite is Animal Crossing. It is a strangely addicting game without much purpose. Even Lauren and David have gotten into it. (It is not unusual for me or Zachary to develop new Wii game addictions.) We're waiting to hear back from Olivya and Natasha so we can add their friend codes and visit their Animal Crossing towns!

Friday, April 10, 2009

No More Tonsils

Zachary had his tonsils and adenoids removed last year. This year was Lauren's turn. She had her surgery yesterday and did really well. Apparently we were justified in our decision to go ahead with the surgery because her doctor said her tonsils looked very scarred from chronic infection when he removed them. Thank goodness for the numbing spray they apply to kids' throats at the end of the surgery. That seems to last all day, allowing kids to eat and drink more than they would otherwise want to. It is the following day when trouble can set in. So far so good, although it is still morning!

Before becoming a nurse practitioner, I worked as a registered nurse in pediatrics. It was very common for kids to be admitted for post-tonsillectomy dehydration. Once the numbing medication wears off, kids have an incredibly sore throat and can be very stubborn about drinking. If kids are well hydrated in the post-op period, they are less likely to have a serious bleed when the scabs fall off around days 7-10. Keeping that in mind, I approached Lauren's post-T&A care with a methodical, nerdy, let's-not-be-admitted-to-the-hospital-for-dehydration mindset. We had a long discussion before surgery about how her throat would hurt and how important it is to drink all day for a quicker recovery and to avoid the hospital. I went to the grocery store before the surgery and gathered all of Lauren's favorite snacks, including Capri Suns, Cheez-Its, Doritos, and Hannah Montana waffles. Gone are the days of an ice cream-only diet post-tonsillectomy. Kids can eat anything they want to, which actually helps prevent large scabs from forming (and later bleeding). Ice cream and popsicles are still encouraged though, since they are liquid, so Lauren had a delicious Culver's marshmallow milkshake yesterday.

In true RN nature (which never goes away, even if the job description changes), we have a chart with pain medication times and Is and Os (intake/output). Yes, the liquid intake is even recorded in CCs. In case you're wondering, Lauren's intake was perfect yesterday with 750 CCs. While it's only day two, things seem to be going well so far (knock on wood)! Zachary is also starting to feel better from an unfortunately timed episode of bronchitis.

Today's plan is to color Easter eggs and put together our bunny house kit...and drink lots of water.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Time-Wasting Site...But This One is Beneficial!

In yet another procrasination session (i.e. my daily blog reading schedule), I learned about a site guaranteed to satisfy even the most hardcore time wasters. Stretch Mark Mama posted a link to Free Rice. Free Rice is a not-for-profit site maintained by the United Nations World Food Program. You can take strangely addicting quizzes on vocabulary, grammar, math, chemistry, geography, art, and several languages. For each correct answer, the UN World Food Program receives a donation of 10 grains of rice. The rice is paid for by the site's sponsors. So, go forth, procrastinate, and answer questions!

Incidentally, hunger isn't just a remote problem. I saw an OB patient yesterday who hadn't eaten in almost two days. The refrigerator is empty in the apartment where she is staying. Luckily, we had some sandwiches left over from a meeting that I was able to give her. Where will she get her next meal? How will she take care of a baby if she doesn't have enough money to feed herself? According to the USDA, one in eight Americans is at risk for hunger. Our local food bank encourages the following donations:

Dry Soup
Powdered/Canned Milk
Macaroni & Cheese
Peanut Butter
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Canned Meats
Fruit Juices/Sip-sized Juices

Even if you are on a tight budget, you can donate a can of vegetables and help a hungry family for less than $1.00!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back from Florida

We're back from a whirlwind trip to Florida! Here is our itinerary:

Thursday night: fly into the St. Pete/Clearwater airport, drive to Tampa
Friday: Busch Gardens in Tampa and dinner at our hotel
Saturday: Florida Aquarium in Tampa, drive to Englewood Beach, spend time on the beach, dinner at Howard's, Matt's baseball game in Venice
Sunday: Beach time, Matt's game in Punta Gorda, more beach time, dinner at the Gulfview Grill
Monday: Beach time, drive to St. Pete/Clearwater airport, fly home

Pictures coming soon!
(Next trip: Hilton Head, SC...counting down!)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lauren's Tongue Twisters

Straight from the horse's mouth..."How much could a woodchuck chuck chuck, chuck chuck chuck some wood? Does that have a lot of chucks?"

Lauren: What are you typing?
Me: Lauren's Tongue Twisters
Lauren: I don't like tongue twisters. Not at all.

(left: Chocolate Monster with a Chocolate Face)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

We had another birthday celebration for Zachary today! We took Zachary, Lauren, and three of Zach's friends ice skating downtown. Then we came back and had pizza and cupcakes (pictured on the left). We also had heart-shaped brownies in honor of Valentine's Day. His actual birthday was Wednesday the 11th. A mid-week birthday is a great way to get multiple birthday parties. We celebrated with family on the 7th, took Zachary out to eat on the 11th, and we celebrated with his friends today. We brought Zachary home from the hospital on Valentine's day in 2000, so we had an extra reason to celebrate today!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Gazillion Activities Packed Into One Little Weekend

* Saturday morning Zachary had his last two basketball games of the season. His team went undefeated this year! David's coaching debut was a success. We have about a month off before baseball practice starts.

* After the basketball games, we had family members over to celebrate Zachary's 9th birthday and my dad's 58th birthday. Zachary's birthday is actually this Wednesday (the 11th) but the weekend was a good time to get everyone together for a celebration. We served brunch, including a ham and egg casserole, sausage, bacon, pancakes, cheesy potatoes, muffins, bagels, and fresh fruit. After the party, we laid around in our carb- and calorie-induced comas.

* Saturday evening, we went to the high school basketball game. They won handily. Zachary was correct in his prediction of a 16-point victory. Lauren was happy to munch on popcorn, down an entire 16-oz bottle of water, and draw during the game.

* Sunday, Zachary's church choir sang in all three services. After being thrice blessed with the word of God, we headed home to work on Zachary's assignment (which I later pronounced "ridiculous" and more). He had to make a diorama depicting a book scene in which the characters are using life skills. Ugh.

* Finally, with the last scrap of construction paper glued on the shoebox diorama, we all went up to Lauren's room and started peeling wallpaper off the walls. We sure know how to plan fun family activities--ha! Lauren decided (rightfully so) that her wallpaper is too "babyish" so we're in the process of peeling off baby bunnies, bears, and cats. She has already picked out two Disney paint colors for the walls: Princess Bouquet and Fairytale Pink. Alas, she has outgrown her cute little toddler bed so we'll soon be shopping for a big girl bed.

* Next Saturday we're taking Zachary and three of his friends ice skating for his birthday. (Birthdays seem to be week-long events in our family.) It's kind of hard to picture ice skating when the news is predicting a 60-degree day tomorrow! Hopefully we'll be able to post pictures of Lauren's completed room soon!!

Enjoy the week!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breakfast casserole recipes, please!

Zachary's 9th birthday is coming up soon! We're planning on celebrating his birthday (and my dad's birthday) on February 7th. Since Zachary has an early-morning basketball game that day, we're planning to have family over after the game for brunch and cake...a perfect combo! I think a breakfast casserole would be easy to make for a crowd for brunch. Does anyone have any good recipes? If so, please leave your recipe in the comment section. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fun Ways to Waste Time on the Internet

I had an Internet-savvy music history professor in college who gave us an Internet-based assignment (waaaaay back in 1995). She actually gave us written instructions on how to use the Internet for the assignment because some of us had never even opened a web browser. Now, like countless other Internet addicts, I use it multiple times per day. In fact, I have come to realize that the Internet is a haven for procrastinators such as myself. The Internet has some very practical purposes but the entertainment value of the Internet ranks quite high in my book. (That said, all of those patients who read the Internet and come to me with notions that they have strange and unusual diseases need to quit surfing.) Following is a list of some of my favorite sites to visit. Enjoy these procrastination opportunities!

1. Cake Wrecks - The site's author describes it best: "When Professional Cakes Go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong."

2. MyPoints - This site allows you to earn points that can be used toward a gazillion different gift certificates. I frequently get Barnes and Noble gift cards. You can get points by clicking on email links to various web sites or you can shop on the Internet to earn points. It is easy, doesn't take a lot of time, and doesn't lead to a bunch of spam.

3. Jay Leno's Headlines - Whether you watch The Tonight Show or not, this site is LOL-worthy. One misplaced letter can completely change the flavor of a newspaper headline!

4. Cupcakes Take the Cake - The cupcakes on this site are amazing. If you weren't a cupcake fan before, you will be. The site is updated almost every day with new pics and commentary.

5. - Interesting if you follow celebrity gossip or want to know which celeb couple named their twins Garlic-Marie and Snowkapt Mountain.

6. Advance for Nurse Practitioners - I had to include a medical site since I spend 3 1/2 days a week immersed in medical issues (e.g. doing patients' exams, writing prescriptions, ordering labs and diagnostic tests, reviewing patients' labs and ultrasounds, yada yada yada). I use this site for news, continuing education credits, and occasionally random entertainment.

7. - This site has everything! It even has products you don't know you need but probably can't live without once you discover the existence of said products.

8. Barnes and Noble - This is my faaaaaaaavorite book and music store. (Not just because they sell Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake.) In fact, I have a Barnes and Noble package waiting for me on my front porch. The UPS truck just pulled away.

9. Facebook - Beware. This site is addicting. In addition to reading updates about people I knew back when we walked to school uphill both ways, I also spend way too much time playing Pathwords on the site.

10. Webkinz - I've mostly listed this site due to the frequency with which our household visits it. If you're not familiar with Webkinz, they are little stuffed animals that come with codes. You can use these codes to access your pet's online community. You can feed and clothe your pet, play about 30 different addicting "arcade" games, and decorate your pet's bedroom. You can also earn fake money (aka Kinz cash) to buy more food, clothes, and room decor. David says this site is just preparing children to become eBay and Amazon addicts. I know there are parents out there who are secretly playing Webkinz arcade games and feeding their children's virtual pets at night. :-)

These are only a small portion of the sites I visit frequently. I didn't even get to the individual blogs I scan daily. Does anyone else have a favorite site that is worthy of a daily visit?