Saturday, April 16, 2011

MS Walk

I am fortunate to work with a group of caring, generous people. This may be only my second year at this school, but I feel very thankful for the opportunity to work here. For me, the MS Walk each year is a time I am especially grateful for the kindness of my colleagues.

Though I never hide the fact that I have multiple sclerosis, I tend to not make a big deal of it, either, especially with people I am just meeting. Somehow, though, several teachers at school did learn of my MS early on. One teacher had recently been affected by the disease as well, with her sister being diagnosed. This teacher formed a team last year and this year to walk in the Northwest Arkansas MS Walk. Several faculty and friends joined with us on a cold Saturday morning to walk in honor of her sister and me and raise money for the National MS Society.

After several venue changes, including on the University of Arkansas campus (on the same day as the ESPN-broadcast spring red-white football scrimmage), the walk took place at Lake Fayetteville. This turned out to be a great location, because it had good parking and a wide-open space for gathering, as well as a pretty location to actually walk.

Our "Woodland Walks" team arrived early for a photo, but wound up huddled together due to the chilly temperatures. Shawn had layers on, but had not brought a jacket. One of the teachers had a sweathshirt in her vehicle that she let him borrow. It was too big for him, but he loved it! (Notice the hole in the knee of the sweatpants. Both boys wound up with holes in THAT knee for some reason.)
He also loved the donuts the walk coordinators provided.
A couple of teachers brought dogs along. (We had plans for the afternoon, so our dogs stayed home. I was also on my own with Shawn, so I didn't want the extra work!) Shawn's dog-loving nature meant he was quick to play with them. He talked about sweet Lola long after the walk.
Once the walk was underway, we started off with some friends at the same pace as the rest of the walkers. It was a pretty brisk pace, though, and not one I felt I could keep up for long. Though I enjoyed walking and talking with my friend, it wasn't long before I needed to slow down. I took time for some photos on the path as a way to keep it slow.

The walk was set up so that you could walk 1/2 mile, then turn around and return to make a full mile walk. There were also longer options. I didn't want to push it once I started feeling the strain in my left leg (the one that tends to "go out" with fatigue due to the MS). Fortunately, since MS is known for stopping people from walking at all, I believe people understand that someone with MS may not make it the full mile!

On the way back I photographed the other side of the bridge, with a small stream and bluffs. Northwest Arkansas is so pretty. (Yes, I may have gone overboard with the number of photos. My dad also did that with scenery and flowers, so I believe it's natural for me!)

I feel so honored to have such caring friends and colleagues who would walk partially in my honor.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Orthodontic Adjustments

It's now been seven weeks since Shawn and I started orthodontic work.

Shawn seems to have adapted to his orthodontics for the most part. He has a palatal expander with a device attached to curb his thumb sucking. Unfortunately, that little device had to be altered a bit last month. Just before leaving for Nana and Papa's house for spring break part of the metal snapped off. We had to contact the emergency line for the orthodontist office on Saturday morning from a Pancake Breakfast Fund Raiser (Tyler was working it for Boy Scouts). The main man himself, Dr. P, who owns the practice, arranged to meet us in the Bentonville office. He bent the pointed metal remaining in Shawn's mouth up and out of the way so it wouldn't hurt him and set up a follow-up appointment in Fayetteville a few weeks later. At the follow-up visit we decided he seemed to be adjusting to it as it was, so we would move forward with treatment without the cost of making a new device. We made plans for Shawn to get braces on his top few teeth in the upcoming weeks. Shawn would soon have more to adjust to.

I seem to be adjusting to my braces pretty well also. Like many things, some days it feels like the braces are just a part of me, while others I'm still shocked by them. Most frequently, the feel of the braces seem normal, but the APPEARANCE is a huge shock--I still tend to do little double-takes when I spot them in the mirror or in a picture.
I, too, had an unexpected visit back to the orthodontist. Just 10 days after getting them placed, one of the metal bands around my molars started sliding. I had already had the most difficulty with that particular band, since part of it rubbed my tongue pretty painfully, so that when it also started hurting my gums I was a bit unhappy. When I realized it was hurting the gums because it was sliding on the tooth, I made a quick call to the orthodontist. They worked me in and got it tightened.

The experience of having the band repaired was not pleasant. It did, however, prepare me for adjustments. I knew to be sure to take pain meds, and I knew to expect an odd sensation when the metal wire was removed from the brackets--an odd pain from no longer having the teeth "locked" into place by the wire. I also knew that reattaching the wires with the little ligatures was, well, painful!

Fortunately, my true adjustment yesterday only required a brief recovery time. I had heard that after every adjustment soft foods would be necessary, but I was actually able to eat a real meal. I had to take small bites, and didn't eat much, but the soup, mashed potatoes and milkshakes that became my mainstays for the 2 weeks after first getting the braces on--and then having an unexpected added visit--wasn't necessary this time.

Maybe by my next visit I'll have adjusted even to getting adjustments. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Lessons Learned (or Reiterated) Today

* Say the nagging rules in a funny voice and they might hear them.
Shawn loves to laugh, and saying anything in a silly way can often make him chuckle. I "laid down the law" today but said it in a funny voice, and he thought it was hysterical. He kept repeating it. He may not necessarily obey, but it won't be because he didn't hear it!

* Be careful about using phrases or even words from a Phineas and Ferb song (or any other for that matter), or I'll hear it repeatedly.
I make a lot of connections to things I know the boys enjoy, but I'm learning to be careful of doing so when it could become a song. Today I compared something to the word "aglet"--the tips of a shoe lace. We really only know that word because of Phineas and Ferb, so the boys had to start singing the song. On repeat. I had it in my head all day.

* My husband can be the worst of the lot with boyish behavior.
If I have to be careful of references with the boys, I have to be especially diligent with HoneyBear. I called him after dropping off the boys and told him the aglet story. I didn't make it to past the word "aglet." He immediately started singing the song as well. When I made it to school and we said goodbye, apparently the phone didn't disconnect. I heard a strange sound and looked down to we were still in a call. The sound was him yelling through the phone "A G L E T" and the rest of the song. At least it made me smile.

I'm sure there were more, but I slept late this morning after taking some pain meds last night. Of course, that reminds me of another lesson learned--the meds that you take when you DON'T want to sleep will knock you out right away. Taking meds with the hope of letting them do their thing and you get some sleep means the meds won't take effect until just before your alarm is supposed to go off the next morning, and will then last the entire day!

Sometimes life is just full of lessons.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beans and Oranges

We had a pretty good den meeting last night. We completed an elective of planting a seed or pit from something you have eaten.

The original plan was to plant oranges. The boys like eating oranges, so having oranges as a snack and then planting orange seeds from the oranges made sense. We had some challenges with orange seeds, though. First, the only bag of oranges I found at WalMart were the "cuties." They were small, which is fine, but as I looked at the label I discovered they were seedless. That wouldn't work for our project at all! Unfortunately, the weather this year made it a bad year for citrus, and navel oranges were not cheap. We decided to get just a few of the more expensive navel oranges, with the thought of eating the little ones and using the navels for the seeds--and enjoying them ourselves.

Sunday evening we finally got around to opening those oranges to get the seeds prepped for Monday's meeting. After peeling all 3 oranges, we only found 1 seed! The oranges actually tasted pretty good, but they wouldn't work for the project at all. I ran out to the closest grocery store for some more oranges, thankful that HoneyBear in particular likes oranges so they wouldn't be wasted. I brought home a 5 pound bag thinking that surely that would work, and HoneyBear dove in. He peeled 4 of them without a single seed. It was definitely time to change plans.

Fortunately, I had already planned on also planting beans along with the oranges. Oranges aren't fast growing, and the boys might not have good results, so I wanted them to have something that would hopefully grow fast so the boys could see results quickly. Since I already had beans, we decided to only plant those and just talk about oranges growing from seeds while we had our snack.

The meeting itself seemed to go well. They drew a garden as their gathering activity and some of them really got into that. They enjoyed their oranges, and we had apple juice with it, so we were able to talk about apples coming from seeds as well.

I had brought in fresh bean pods I discovered at Harp's. We snapped off the ends to show how the green beans we typically eat are made from the full beans. I even got to share my memories of sitting on the porch at Granny's house and snapping beans. After we snapped them, HoneyBear cut them open to see the seeds inside. Each boy got a bean and worked with it a bit to try to get to the seeds inside. After cleaning up the table from snacks and bean experiments, we were finally ready to do the planting.

It was a warm evening and the rain had passed, so we did the planting part outside to make clean-up easier. HoneyBear had the soil in the back of the truck and parked with the tailgate against the sidewalk, so we were able to do all the planting from the tailgate of the truck. Each boy got to plant two beans. We brought them back in and gave them some water, and were finished a bit early with the meeting.

I brought Shawn's beans to work with me to grow in my large sunny window. Hopefully we'll remember to keep them watered and he'll have some plants to admire soon!

Pugs in the 'Hood

We had an adventure this morning as we were headed to school. It happens to be testing week for Tyler, so it was important he get good rest, eat a good breakfast, and get to school on time. We did manage to mostly accomplish this, but had some interesting moments along the way.

It was a stormy night last night, with thunder and lightning waking us up throughout the night. It was very wet and muddy this morning, so that when Tyler took the dogs out for their morning "elimination" only Roly joined him--it was too wet for finicky Tucker, apparently. When Shawn opened the door to join Tyler, even Roly ran back inside, so they didn't spend much time out at all.

After everyone was dressed and we were ready to go, I prepared for my little ritual of taking the dogs out one more time. Only I couldn't find the dogs. Tucker often creeps under our bed or behind the living room chair and falls asleep, then can't hear us since he's lost his hearing, so I was less concerned about Tucker. Roly is never so quiet I can't hunt him down, though--even when he's trying to hide, his snuffles and snorts are like a beacon. This morning, however, he was nowhere to be found. I asked Shawn to look under our bed, but it was dark under there, and he was suddenly too afraid of the dark to look. Since I wasn't able to hear Roly, I didn't really think he was under the bed anyway, so I let that one slide. I left the boys to continue looking and took my things out to the car.

As I turned around from the car door, I found the dogs. They had somehow gotten out of the house and were having a grand time down the street. Not only that, our next-door-neighbor's pug, Arlo, had also escaped and joined our two for a full neighborhood pug adventure! Tails were curled and tongues were out as they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

They all made it back into our yard, then decided to make sure they knew each other. It became a pug-go-round, with rear-end sniffs by all while walking in circles. They were filthy, wet, and loving it, even Mr. Tucker.

By this time it was definitely time to go, so we started herding our dogs into our house with the thought of taking Arlo to his yard next door. I didn't count on fast, distracted pug dogs. We finally got Tucker inside, but Roly and Arlo decided to chase one another around my car. First Roly chased Arlo, then Arlo managed to shift gears so he was chasing Roly. I don't think either cared; they were just having fun.

I finally got to Roly and managed to pick him up, holding the filthy pup at arm's length. I ushered him inside and had Tyler get him into the bedroom for the day. I expect he'll enjoy a nap after his adventure.

Sweet Arlo came to me when I called his name, and willingly followed me. He followed me until I hit his property. Since it was the neighbor's yard, I didn't want to invade, but was hoping to get him back safely inside his own fence. Somehow he must have known there would be trouble, because he wouldn't go near his fence.

Just then the oldest girl from next door rounded the corner at the rear of the house calling for Arlo. I was able to tell her where he was, so that she called her mom to go out front and get him. He was rounded up and taken inside. My favorite comment came from the mom, who told Arlo he wasn't a "free-range pup" and shouldn't be out! I don't think he listened.

Without time for doggie baths, our bedding will have to be washed tonight after this adventure. We never discovered exactly how they got out, either. Fortunately, I laughed about the whole thing rather than crying, and the boys thought it was hysterical. I expect to read a modified version in at least one of the boys' writings soon. I suppose if it gave them an adventure to write about it was worthwhile. We'll be extra careful about making sure the dogs aren't allowed out on their own in the future, though, regardless of the level of adventure.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yard Work

With grass growing and rose bushes out of control, this weekend was finally spent outside working on the yard a little. Tyler once again mowed for us. He even said he liked mowing because of the way it made his hands feel--the vibrations of the push mower made them almost numb! We quickly assigned the mowing to him so HoneyBear could work on bushes and yard waste, and he pushed on.

With the camper in the driveway, my vehicle goes off the driveway in the yard just a little, so I had to move it while he got started. I let Shawn join me, and the dogs hopped in, too. I even let Shawn ride up front, since we were basically just backing the car out of the driveway. He LOVED that privilege! We're keeping him in his booster until he's 8, going by recommendations rather than the strict letter of the law, so not only was he out of his booster but up front! I cheated and drove around the block since he loved it so much. It was a highlight for him he talked about for days (I just hope he didn't talk about it to someone he shouldn't have!)

By the time we got back around, Tyler was sorta finished mowing. He doesn't mow very straight, and tends to swivel the mower so he's going back and forth rather than around in ever-decreasing circles the way I was taught, so he winds up missing a lot. I do mean a LOT. He had to go back over quite a few strips because his back-and-forth missed the grass between passes. By the time he finished the front portion--not the sides--he thought he would drop. He grabbed water and collapsed to the ground. Oh, the drama :).

Meanwhile, HoneyBear worked on trimming back our rose bushes and other out-of-control plants. I brought a chair to the porch to try to be a part of everything without getting in physical trouble. We discovered a friend on the porch, and Shawn especially enjoyed him.
Eventually I put Shawn to work sweeping the sidewalk. 

After watching his attempts, I finally stepped in and took over some of the sweeping, asking the boys to beat out the doormats instead. Apparently this is not something they've done before. Admittedly, they were pretty thick mats, so weren't easy to clean, but they didn't exactly make much progress. Tyler sure had fun, though!

We may not have gotten as much done as was needed, but the front definitely looked better after our day of work. It was a pleasant time to be outside, too. Overall, our day of yard work was a confirmed success.