Saturday, October 30, 2010

Deers, Leaves and Scary Stuff

Craig went hunting today, hoping to get a deer with his bow and give us a freezer full of meat for winter. He went with a friend and as they were climbing up to their tree stands a 5-point buck came a wandering underneath. Craig said he considered yelling to his friend to just throw himself out of the tree to crush it to death but obviously that just made for a good story. So he came home windblown, sun burnt (been 62 & sunny here today) and in good spirits, even though he hasn't got one yet.

Me? Well I got up at 7.30 and turned into "Domestic Woman", who's a super hero but doesn't look good in Lycra. I was cleaning, scrubbing, hoovering, mopping, polishing, washing, tidying, picking up and throwing out (every time I picked up some plastic bit of crap that was obviously a toy with no relevance - BAM! DM struck and threw it in the rubbish). The kids and our dog hovered and didn't say too much, knowing that now was not a good time to interrupt mummy. At 12.30 I stopped (could have gone for hours) and took them out into the garden to play and have an outdoor picnic. That was great, raking all the leaves up so they could play in them.

In the evening we did Boo at the Zoo and I took them to see the Batman, Robin & Joker show. There was loud stuff & fighting (KAPOW! BAM!), and total villainy. And both my boys were scared to bloody death. Jack was mesmerized but I could see by his fist-clenching and face that he was terrified and Danny starting whimpering the second the Joker came to our part of the stage. I tried to tell them after the fact that it was pretend.

And so I have learned a great lesson again this week. Last week it was don't shelter from a tornado with Amish people. This week it's tell your kids that scary stuff is not true ahead of time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Tonight was Beggar's Night and a good distraction for me after dropping my dad & Sheila at the airport. Leaving family there, knowing I won't see them again for a long time, is always just terrible. There's no feeling like it and it only gets slightly better when I know they are home.

And so tonight we took Batman & his side-kick Robin out for trick-or-treat. Both boys loved it and I was amazed how much they both got into it, saying "trick or treat" and "thank you" for the large haul of sweets I now have in the fridge. My mum sent the batman outfit about a year ago and it's well worn/loved by Jack. We made Danny's outfit, complete with green undies outside of his pants - great suggestion Linda!

Monday is the beginning of November, the start of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)! This year they are suggesting "Wordless Weekends", which will be a huge help. Yes, I know I am a chatterbox but sometimes it's nice just to post something else, like a video or picture. Maybe I'll post one of the old British comedy videos that me and my dad sat up watching one night and laughing till we cried. My American friends might have to just bear with me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Little Gems of Ohio

As well as our trip to Gettysburg this time, we took my dad & Sheila around some places in Ohio. Here's a few little Ohioan gems ..

Me & Little Sure Shot's gravesite between Brock & Greenville.

My dad at Made Rite Cafe in Greenville, where they sell very unique sandwiches. And the whole building is covered in chewing gum! My dad is pointing to a spoon stuck to the wall.

In Dayton, Wilbur & Orville Wright's bicycle shop, next to the museum

Dad & Sheila

Our visit to Amish Country was a bit hairy and we took no photographs. In typical Pam style, I had a calamitous time. Severe thunderstorms raged and I found myself driving between two small towns on top of a hill, scared to death. The windscreen wipers couldn't keep up with the rain and the trees were blowing and losing so many leaves I couldn't see the road. Craig had previously texted me to say that tornadoes were in the vicinity. The weather got so bad I screeched into the parking lot of a farm shop, Starsky & Hutch style, and yelled at everyone to get into the shop for shelter. We burst through the farm shop door, drenched to the skin, into an AMISH shop. Damn & blast it. No basement shelter, no radio or tv to watch and get weather updates. And so while I was convinced we would all die by a horrible tornado, we in fact shopped for Swiss cheese and home made carrot cake.

And so, on to Zanesville ..

The famous Y Bridge, revered by Amelia Earhart for its easy point of aviation reference. It's also part of the Historic National Road.

Hartstone Pottery, where we got a free personal tour. We missed the official tour (also free) but they felt bad that visitors had come all the way from England. Some of the workers even gave up their lunch break to show us how the pottery was made, bless them.
One lady spent her days buffing the just-kilned clay bakewear and her work place was covered in clay dust and she was and I wondered why on earth she didn't wear a mask. I didn't ask of course. Far too chicken.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our Kamikaze Hawk

At lunchtime today me & my dad went to get Jack from pre-school and when we got back we walked into the front room to find everyone looking out of the big window down at the ground, and I noticed a feather-laden smear, in a circle, followed by a little bit of bird poo. Obviously a bird had slammed into the window AGAIN. Just a few days ago I saw the same markings on another window (same side of the house). The people in the house said it was a huge bang when it happened so I ventured outside to see if the bird was still there.

He was laid on his back, under a couple of Autumn leaves, his wing sticking up in the air. He was a magnificent red-tailed hawk and I saw his speckled chest heaving up and down. Relief! Not dead then. I hunkered down to look under the leaf covering his face to see if his head was okay and looked straight into his bright yellow eyes which made it perfectly clear - "come one more inch and I will put my talons in your eyeballs!" Ahhh, back inside I go then.

We all lined up against the window again, noses pressed against the glass, egging him on to be okay. He took about 30 minutes to shake his head, roll over, then stand up. By this time I had to leave as I had a flight to Tampa but went outside again to see how he was doing, just as Craig pulled up to take me to the airport.

We both agreed the little fella had a broken left wing, hanging wide by his side, while the right one seemed so tight and tucked in. So before I left I called my vet, then Ohio Wildlife, located about 10 miles away. They said bring him in - they obviously can't drive out for every wild animal. But still - bring him in? I was flying in 1 hour and Craig had to go back to work. So I ran to both neighbours, usually so helpful and at home. Guess what? They were both out.

Craig took me to the airport and I contacted friends that I knew loved animals. We texted back and forth and discussed a little bit about the idea of throwing a towel over a big hawk, wrestling it into a box and driving 10 miles with it in your car. Not for the faint-hearted by all means. Imagine it getting out while you're driving!

Still, thankfully my friend Debbie took on the daunting task and went to my house. At this point I got on the plane and had no reception for 2 hours. When I landed in Florida she texted that she got to my house and then got a towel and approached with care. He looked at her. She looked at him and advanced . Then he spread his wings and flew! 3.5 hours after the impact he was okay & hopefully no broken wing. Debbie looked up at Jack at the window and gave him the thumbs-up and he reciprocated. All is well.

So now I have to ask - why twice in a week? Is he fighting himself in the glass, is he not seeing the glass, or is he after Tutz (my cat)? Whatever the reason, let's hope he doesn't do it again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Quick Trip to Gettysburg

We went to Gettysburg, PA this past weekend. The battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the turning point of the American Civil War that lead to the north's victory. Over 50,000 men lost their lives during the 3-day battle and the dead lay all over the fields and the town. The town was devastated by it and they did their best to bury the soldiers with dignity and then to remember them with memorials that are scattered for miles in and around the town and farmland. It's a very sad place to visit and gave me goosebumps, much like the battlefield of Culloden did years ago during a visit. Here's a few pictures ...

It was a long trip (7 hours drive each way) just for the weekend and we really could have done with staying there for 3 or 4 days but I'm still playing catch-up at work after Jack's illness. Doing Gettysburg in 24 hours seems so disrespectful somehow but I'm glad I got to take my family.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day of Shawshank

One of my favourite films of all time is "The Shawshank Redemption" with Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman, and it was filmed in Mansfield, Ohio. We went there on Sunday, starting off at Mansfield Reformatory which was the prison in the film, and then we did some of the Shawshank Trail including the park where Brookes fed the birds and the big old oak tree where the letter from Andy was buried.

The old reformatory,
and the big old oak tree ..

Mid-way through the afternoon we stopped at Malabar Farm Inn for some food and ended up sat next to a woman with zero tolerance for kids, who kept glaring at us and she had a face like she was chewing lemons the whole time. Craig thought it was funny but that kind of thing always stresses me out and makes dining no fun at all. I do wonder sometimes where these people think they came from? Do they think they were born aged 20?

We are supposed to be going back to the reformatory for their haunted tour of death row. They put you down in the cells in the pitch black on your own and I'm not sure I have the mettle for it. I thought it might be fun but after I listened to a You Tube video of people screaming and crying down there I'm not so sure. The words pee and pants come to mind.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Hell Week & My Family Arrive!

Well thank God that week's over with.

After a bad weekend with Jack's HSP we ended up back at Children's Hospital on Monday due to the constant pain in his legs and stomach and then he started vomiting and I saw some blood in it. After a particularly frightening time where they found protein in his urine things settled down and we were discharged on Wednesday. I'm not going to lie and say I was a brave parent during all this because I was, in fact, a complete basket-case.

Then my dad & step-mum Sheila arrived last night from England. I am happy & excited they are here and can't wait to show them a wonderful time but I really could have done with just a few days to finish the bathroom, clean my pigsty, pet-hair infested excuse for a house and get the chewing gum out of my clothes dryer before they got here. They don't care of course and will happily muck in with whatever we've got going on.

Jack is racing about now with all the gusto and energy that only a 4-year old can have. You would swear that he couldn't possibly have been ill and that I must be exaggerating his condition. Only the fact that he's still on high-dose steroids reminds me of how bad things were and how grateful I am that he got better and can walk. He started back at pre-school this morning and his teachers made such a fuss and gave him such big hugs that I got a little blurry-eyed and made a quick exit before I completely shamed him by blubbering in front of his friends. Both he and Danny are loving having grandparents in the house to play with and follow about.

So now I've got to panic-plan the next 3 weeks and try to come up with things to keep the family occupied and happy. I told them about the Circleville Pumpkin Festival already and might have over-done the excitement level a touch. I mean really, they didn't traverse the Atlantic Ocean to go and look at large Cucurbitas and explain, "Oooo that's a big un!"

No, I shall have to think bigger than that and try to come up with some Americana. A drive through the fall colours of the Appalachian Mountains maybe? Or a trip to Chicago to see the site of the Valentines Day massacre? In Ohio I thought we could see the Memphis Belle this time and maybe a trip to Annie Oakley's grave site. And the football game. Oh yes. Tomorrow we go to the Buckeye game and I will teach them all that is wonderful about my beloved Buckeyes.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Horror that is HSP

Jack has HSP. Five days ago we had no idea what that was and even the doctors at Childrens' Hospital (the 3rd best in the nation!) don't know what the hell it is. The best we know is that HSP is where your immune system reacts badly to an illness or other trigger. This leads to blood vessels breaking down causing horrendous bruised spots, and then leg and arm joints swell. It's very painful and in some cases leads to kidney failure. The most common triggers are strep throat, a reaction to medicine or food or an insect bite. I'm thinking mosquito bite but I'll probably never find out.

HSP causes symptoms in this order: Intense stomach ache & constipation (and possible kidney problems), followed one week later by unique bruise-like spots on the legs, then joint swelling (mainly knee, ankle, elbow), & then excruciating pain so bad that they give the patient morphine. Jack got all of this last Wednesday 9/29/10, minus (THANK GOD) the kidney failure.

This is the early appearance of the leg spots. His left foot swelled so bad that angry red stretch marks appeared on top. His foot then turned purple with the bruising.

A moment of happiness (it's surprising what morphine can do). Visitors helped too. If you asked Jack what the worst bits were he'd say the pointy shots (drawing blood and inserting the IV) and the fact that his legs hurt. He was also upset that they wouldn't let him out of his room because they convinced themselves he must have had strep throat, even though all tests were negative. Yes I know this hospital is supposed to be awesome and that might be the case when they know the illness, but when they play guessing games they are no more intelligent than I am, only with not as much common sense. Crikey, you can tell I've had a few rough days can't you.

His left knee and ankle, taken on Friday 10.1.10.

After 3 days he felt good enough to walk so we got discharged and thought we were in the clear. Hurrah! Even posted as much on Facebook. Then at 7pm last night, boom! Back to square one, but this time with the right leg.....

This morning he woke up right as rain and can walk again and I have to calm myself down and tell myself what I seem to have learnt so far: This could go on for MONTHS. The bruising, swelling, & joint pain I can handle. The constant threat of kidney failure is something that worries me to death.

One bright spot in all of this is the huge support we've had from family & friends. Friends have baked us food, brought toys, offered to babysit and most importantly, visited Jack and jollied him along. So thanks to all of you. We love you and hope we can return the favor some day. X

3 Month Catch-up

I can't believe I haven't posted for over 2 months! So much to say.