Monday, June 24, 2013

Deck Done

The deck is finished. It looks great. Next up (possibly as soon as this week): yard digging shall commence.

I'm hoping my husband and I can heft the grill up to the deck tonight to actually grill in our back yard instead of our driveway out front. I'm sure the neighbors will appreciate the effort as well ;)

The only issue with the deck process involved the stairs.  There is quite a drop between the house and where the stairs land, so our landscaper had to come out to figure out at what level the patio will rest.  The first attempt at the stairs ended about 18" from ground level, which would have meant some sort of retaining wall around that corner of the patio.  They re-did the stairs, and the patio will be a bit lower than where the dirt currently meets the house.

Also, once the big muddy process is done, perhaps we will actually fertilize our yard and do some weed control. It looks...kinda bad. But it isn't worth spending money on the back right now because a large stretch will be removed when the grading is fixed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Break

I am approaching my second solid week of medical leave with my son. This is, I believe, the longest contiguous break I've had from work since he was born and my maternity leave ended.  So far, so good.

T-man is healing up really well. He is still sore right at the surgery spot but has continued to refuse any pain medication.  The soreness only affects bathroom stops and wiping (hey, you don't want to hear about  body functions, go find another blog, LOL). He's still on a bigger-than-before dose of Miralax to make sure that nothing hurts coming out. He is about 50% in underwear, 50% in pull-ups. The extra Miralax sometimes gets things moving a bit too fast for him. Before his surgery he wore a panty-liner in his big-boys every day because the prolapse would rub and bleed through his pants. This past week, when not fighting liquid stool, his pants are staying dry and clean!

Besides that part, it's just summer break.  He can't sit in a bathtub or pool, but showers are fine, so we have gotten out the sprinklers and water guns. We decorated kites then flew them at the park. He did play at the park, but knows not to go down a slide on his bottom (yes, for once I'm telling him to go on his tummy, feet first of course).  The kids have had way more screen time than average (because what's a good old fashioned summer break without some mind-numbing couch potato time). Every morning at breakfast time they also do a couple of pages out of school workbooks (multiplication and division practice for the soon-to-be 4th grader, and a variety of reading/writing/math/clocks/time/etc sheets for the little guy). We've been to the library to sign up for their summer reading program, and collected a prize each. We went to a concert (Casting Crowns, at Six Flags, in the pouring rain and thunder).

We still have a few to-do's on our wish list to check off. Paint pottery, see a movie, go to the zoo, do some drawing.  And finish writing the novel I've been working on for 1.5 years. (Seein as how I've been known to hammer out a first draft in like 3 months, this particular story is driving me insane) I'm down to 2 scenes before I can type The End and set it aside to "rest"...I think editing this one will be a breeze because my self-editing process takes more of a fixed amount of time. Also, I abhor this story. It's either the worst thing I've ever written or it's brilliant (my money's on "worst").

I think by the follow-up visit next week that I will have little to no vacation or sick time left, so my husband will be the primary sick-day-parent for the next several months. I'm not upset with that. I'm a little sad that I'm unlikely to have enough vacation left for an actual Vacation this year, but 2.5 weeks off in June isn't bad.  Wish I could do this every year (minus the surgery of course).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It Starts

The splintery stairs are gone!  In their place, we have the beginnings of framing for the new deck, plus holes where the footings will be poured. I believe an inspector must OK the holes before the concrete is added.

I was surprised to see that the deck is only attached to the house in two small areas--both about 2 feet wide, on either side of the breakfast bay.  The deck will not be attached to the bay itself, likely because there is no foundation directly below it.  We now have two small (1ft x 2ft) pieces of cut away vinyl siding.

Also, as we are still home recuperating from surgery, T-man got a front-row seat for the building process. He is loving getting to observe the process.

Looking at the house from the back, the area to the right of the deck towards the second bay window is where the stairs and paver patio will go.  In the picture it doesm't look that tall, but the end of the deck is a good 4 1/2 feet off the ground, so there will be about 6 steps down to ground level.

The deck is not that large. At its depest, it will be about 12 feet, but from the kitchen door probably more like 9.  Deep enough for either one of our patio tables (our smaller round one is hanging out in one of the side shots, the bigger rectangle one is in the garage where it's been stored since we moved), or else a different seating group.

I have been window shopping patio furniture ideas, but want to wait and see the finished spaces before buying anything new.  We already have the two tables, though the round one would need new chairs. The old ones are the cheap plastic, two of which moved with us to the old house, and are neither attractive nor comfortable (though they may live on for extra temporary seats in case we have a big party).  The round table is wrought iron and while it wasn't expensive, seems to be holding up great. I can get matching chairs from any of several stores, just waiting for someplace to put them. Our bigger rectangle table needs a fresh coat of paint, but I still love the floral weave pattern that it and its chairs have. Ideally we will keep both, because together we can seat ten people for an outdoor dinner, or have extra buffet or prep space.

I also love the idea of low chairs around a fire pit, but that would probably have to sit down on the patio rather than up on a wood deck. Without fire, we could use the deck for a conversation area instead. I'm also not sure we can trust kiddos near fire, but they aren't babies. So it all just depends on how our existing furniture fits, what furniture we find, and how much we have left to spend after we're done paying for our landscaping adventure.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Number Six

Last week was my son's sixth surgery. Granted, #5 was tubes in his ears, a procedure that was fast and very commonplace.  But #6 was yet another bowel-related one, this time for a rectal prolapse--to repair a small amount of "mucosa" that stuck out his bottom. Looked a lot like a hemorrhoid, and it was constantly irritated.  Poor kid had to wear a pantyliner in his big boys so that the bits of blood and mucous didn't bleed through onto his clothes. And though he actually has really good bowel control (amazing, given that he didn't actually have an anus at birth), the prolapse got in the way sometimes of him feeling when he needed to go or when he was finished.

Wednesday, he got to do a "bowel prep". If you've ever had a colonoscopy, then you can empathize.  Instead of the "golightly", they had him drinking large quantities of Gatorade with Miralax.  This approach is apparently as effective as the golightly but gentler and tastes better. We started around lunchtime, and he got to choose his flavor of drink for each successive glass (we had like 6 different colors on hand to pick from). We played video games. We watched TV. For a good long while, he sat on the toilet and played on a tablet or Leapster.  I set up a small folding table in front of him so we didn't lose any electronics into the potty (something that has happened in the past..)

Thursday morning we arrived at the hospital at 7:15. He changed into hospital jammies, and tried (vehemently) to decline having his blood pressure taken. For some reason, those silly blood pressure cuffs terrify him (makes cardiologist visits load of fun). He told everyone who walked in the door that he didn't want any shots.  They gave him a relaxer, most of which he spit out because it tasted bad.  He got to choose the scent for the mask they would use for the gas that would put him to sleep.  The IV went in when he was already out (and it was more of a soft tube rather than a stiff needle).

The surgery went well. He slept for quite a while He was awake and ordering lunch by about 2pm--pancakes and sausage.  Unfortunately for us, he had a roommate for the hospital stay.  The other little boy had had some sort of spinal surgery and had already been there for a few days (and would stay a few days longer).  That kid was not comfortable, and frequently fussed, sometimes outright crying.  It bothered my husband and I more than it did our son. The two boys were of similar age, and they did occasionally watch the same TV show and talk a bit through the curtains.

T-man could go on "adventures" as soon as he felt up to it, and the nurse found us a sort of car-type wagon complete with steering wheel. The IV pumps can run on battery for hours, so we'd just unplug and try not to run over tubes as we explored. St. Louis Children's Hospital has a gorgeous rooftop garden that overlooks Forest Park. They also have a patient playroom. The first floor has a big ball track machine where rubber balls travel through a maze of tracks and spirals, sometimes bouncing into baskets, sometimes ringing bells. We visited it a couple of times.

I spent the night in the hospital while my husband and my mom (who visited from Indy) drove home to sleep.  There is a chair that pulled out into an approximation of a bed. It would have been better if our roommates had actually turned out the lights on their half of the room, or at least turned off the TV before midnight. My little guy fell asleep around 9:30 and stayed out all night.  I woke up about every hour all night as something beeped, someone fussed, the lights were on, a nurse came into the room for one kid or the other.

Thankfully, we came home on Friday.  T-man is doing great. He has some restrictions on activities, but nothing horrible. No tub baths. No climbing. Try to not sit straight on his bottom for too long. Be careful of the area (no itching!). For the moment he's wearing Pull-Ups, but even with his digestive system still off-balance from all the Miralax, he's continent.  So we may be back in big-boy underwear pretty fast. Ideally with no liners, but only time will tell if the surgery completely fixes that problem, or if he will always need a little extra backup.

I'm off work with him for about two weeks while he heals enough to go to summer day camp.  By the end of it, I will be out of sick days for quite a while, but that's fine.  As a happy side effect, my daughter gets a 2-week break from summer camps.  Neither of my kids have ever gotten a true summer vacation where they play outside and sit around the house feeling bored. That's a big downside to having a non-education career--I don't get summers off either. We can't go swimming or do big exercise-intensive activities. but it should still be a decent little break. And if the weather cooperates, we may get to watch our deck being built before we start back into the daily grind.