Sunday, August 26, 2007

What A Catch

What a blast the spawn and I had this weekend. From pitching our newly bought tent, to camping in the cool damp rain, to tying knots, fishing, hiking a good 5 miles, to tearing down our newly bought tent soaking wet! We had fun!

Youngerspawn was out there Friday afternoon, all night Friday night and all day Saturday until about 5 p.m. Then my dad called and asked if he wanted to come over and spend the night with them. He fished, played hard, got all muddy and soaking wet but never tired out. He decided to spend the night with my mom and dad Saturday night. Everyone in the pack knows him as and calls him pigpen. And everyone kept an eye on him. We've had over 12 inches of rain just in the month of August this year and our rivers are over flowing. And we were camping out right on the river's edge.

Elderspawn and I went with our Webelos group. We completed achievements, earned belt loops, built a council campfire and had a blast together.

A council fire. A little lopsided, but boy did it burn good and hot for making S'mores over Saturday night.

The most fun and excitement came when one of the members from our pack, who is an Eagle Scout himself, yells for us all to come over. Then he proceeds to show us his catch of the day. A snapping turtle. The boys thought it was really cool. They learned were taught not to get near one though, as they have very long necks and very strong jaws and can crush your bones should one get a hold of you.

Sorry it's head turned out so blurry but that sucker was in action! That's the hand of the Eagle Scout holding onto it's tail. The only area you can hold onto one where they can't get a hold of you!

Welp, I've got a ton of laundry to do. At least the gear's all cleaned up and put away! TTFN!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

But Mom's Not Ready

It's already here. It's that time again. School. The spawn go back tomorrow. Shit. I'm not ready. Normally it's the parents who are ready to shove the kids out the door. Not me. Normally the kids don't want to go back yet. Not my spawn. They were ready a month ago. Hell, that's all they've talked about for the past two weeks. School. Yippee!

I've been scrambling the past month trying to get everything both spawn needs for school. Registration fees (which went up $22.00 each this year), school physicals (one's in Pre-K the other's in 5th), clothes (pants needing hemming), undies, socks, shoes, school supplies, getting their bus schedules - youngerspawn's is screwed up as they have him in Kindergarten and going all day when he's in Pre-K going in the mornings only. Fuck. It is getting too expensive to send my kids to school anymore. Of course both of them outgrew all of their school clothes from last year so we had to start from scratch this year.

I had one hell of a time finding gym shoes for Elderspawn. 4 different stores. He wears a size 5 and the shoes can't be black soled. And he can't tie shoes. Yeah right. Try to find something that will fit that bill and not be a shoe that has to be tied. He's 10 and isn't able to tie shoes because of his medical issues. We ended up with a pair with black soles that are non-marking and they slip on and off. They'll just have to deal with it. He ended up with a pair that ties to wear to school. Grau will have to help him with them in the mornings.

Tomorrow I'm going to have to take the day off of work and go up to Elderspawn's school to set up his lunch account and get him settled in. It's supposed to be raining even more all night long and I'm not letting him stand out in the rain with a backpack stuffed full and a bag with his gym shoes in it. Then I have to take Youngerspawn to his school to meet with his teacher on the first day of school. We have to bring in all his school supplies tomorrow too. He then will start on Friday. I also have to fix his bus schedule with his school as they were the ones who screwed it up in the first place.

Oh, and this weekend (starting Friday after school through Sunday morning) is our annual Cub Scout Pack Campout. Yeah. The weekend right after school starts. Shit. Now I'm scrambling to try and get everything put together for that shindig. Thanks a lot guys. We couldn't have done it earlier this month, huh!?!

I think I've managed to get everything they need to start off with. If not, it looks like yet another trip to the store for me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Laughing Out Loud

Okay, I finally did it. I went and applied for a bus driving position today. Now, some people think I'm out of my ever loving mind putting up with screaming banshees on a school bus and disgruntled parents all day long but I beg to differ. If I can deal with what I do on a daily basis I can do this, piece of cake. Not to mention the fact that I have selective hearing. I can tune out a whole bus load of screaming banshees especially because when I'm in a crowd I don't hear one single person speaking if more than one are speaking at a time. Yeah, maybe I have cracked that much.

Basic requirements for the position:

1. Ability to be able to sit for up to 5 hours a day: I have no problems warming a seat with my ass. I'd welcome it for a change.

2. Must be able to lift 35-40 pounds in and out of a bus seat if you drive a special education bus - 35-40 lbs. only!?! Holy shit!!!! Not sure if I can manage that light of an amount. **sarcasm**

3. Must be able to maneuver and adjust a wheelchair and a ramp: Hell, If I had to, I could heave one on and off a bus, no problem. Know how many I've had to heave in and out of people's car trunks? I've even put them together and repaired them. Now, I've never had to use a wheelchair ramp before but I've helped get people on and off of them and have seen them used.

4. Must be able to get from the front of the bus to the emergency door in the back in a timely fashion: Ever see me run on a STAT call!?! I can move when I have to.

5. Must be able to push, pull or drag people up to 200 pounds: This would be rough but I've had to do mock evacuations and fire drills before and I can do it if I have to.

6. Must be able to climb up and down stairs, 3 at a time, on a school bus: For some people this would be very difficult but luckily I don't have any issues doing this.

7. Must be able to push the accelerator on a school bus: I'm sure it's quite different than in a car but once I get used to it I sure hope that bus has cruise control. LOL!

8. Must be able to set and release a parking brake repeatedly: Yeah, I can do it just fine, but it probably starts taking a toll on the elbow and shoulder. I do believe that it's a hand brake on a bus.

9. Must be able to push a clutch: Funny, it never said anything about being able to drive a manual transmission though. You've got to know how to shift gears correctly so you don't strip out that transmission. Most of the buses are now automatics and some even come with a/c.

10. Would you work overtime if asked: Um, working for an employer where 40 hours a week is taboo, yeah you bet I'd take some of that. But I'm not getting it all dumped on me.

Other than having a clean background check, a clean driving record, you're not an alcoholic, a drug addict or a sex offender these are what are required of you to do this job.

What had me laughing so hard, and yes I was laughing as I filling out the application, were some of the above top 10 requirements. Having been a C.N.A. for the past 13 years, this pales in comparison.

The best part is they do all of the classroom and driving training for one to obtain their CDL license. They even pay you $8.00 an hour while you're in the training classes (40 hours). It's not much, but it's better than having to do it for nothing. And they reimburse most of the cost for the CDL license as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

F.T.A., Last Day, I Promise

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Let's get ready to crash, slam, boom Demolition Derby time at the fair. Youngerspawn and I headed out after the 3rd qualification heat but Graumagus and Elderspawn made it through the last one. They didn't stay for the grand finale heat or the two consolation heats because ES got hit in the face with a huge mud ball and decided they saw enough.

The blue car over against the wall is representing another local Cub Scout Pack. I thought that was cool and our pack needs to do this next year.

This car got slammed so hard from behind that it was sent up and over the huge cement block, knocking it over into the fence. The front end slammed the fence pretty hard finally coming to a stop as you see it in the pic. I would not want to have been one of the people standing on the other side of that fence.

This is a 1951 Farmall Model M tractor that my grandfather used on his farm. I remember driving this thing around the farm when I was a kid. It looks like hell but it still runs and it even still has a tin can on top of the smoke stack. He sold it since he's no longer able to do most of the farm work himself but I was able to find it amongst a bagillion other antique tractors out there and get a pic of it.

All in all is was a very hot and tiring yet fun week for me. The kids had a blast and for some reason not one single person irritated me at all. Usually I find at least one person who is so rude I just want to ram them over with Youngerspawn's stroller. I must just be getting more mellow as I get older.

And the spawn never once wanted to play games or go on rides today. The only ride to be had out there was one pony ride for YS. Heck, they never enough started squabbling out there today. I think they finally got faired out!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Driving Bus And Me

Today I headed over to the Belvidere DMV office. Normally this office isn't overcrowded. Well, not so today. When I got there they were on # 46 and I was # 65. Seems all the teenyboppers who must have just finished their driver's education classes were there trying to obtain their very first driver's licenses. Obviously, they weren't taught to read in school because none of them had all of the required paperwork they needed to do it. One right after another they were turned away, heads hung low, to come back when they had the proper paperwork. They had all been given lists of what they needed to bring with them but obviously weren't instructed properly on how to read them.

Anywho, I went there to obtain my bus certificate. I have to have one before I can apply for a school bus driving position. 40 minutes later my number was finally called. When I approached the lady behind the counter I simply stated that I would like to get my bus certificate. A simple glazed and dazed look was all I got in response. This woman, who works for the DMV, had no friggen clue what I was talking about. It was as if I was speaking a foreign language she didn't understand.

When she was finally able to speak I get: "What are you here for again." Again, I repeated myself then told her I needed it in order to apply for a job. This time, I also told her who I was applying for and that I needed 2 forms instead of just the 1. Again the same exact glazed and dazed look I got the first time. Luckily, the man standing next to her heard me the second time and knew exactly what I was talking about and what I needed.

After she examined my driver's license and got everything punched into the computer she sent me over to yet a second line to have the forms printed out and I pay the $12.00 fee there.

I get over there and the man behind the counter asks me if she examined my driver's license and if the certificates were for work or for court. Ummmm, work. Nope, no traffic infractions. No DUI's. See! Look at my driving record. All it says is "end of report." Nothing there.

Well, now this means I can go and apply on Monday. If I get hired then I'll have to head over to the Rockford DMV, which I prefer to call the clusterfuck, to take the written and driving tests to obtain my CDL. Plus, there's an additional written test to take for a bus driver CDL. It's either there or in DeKalb. I'll take Rockford since I don't know anything about DeKalb. And I'm nervous because I don't fair well with written tests. This should prove to be interesting, to say the least.

Again, wish me good luck! I'm gonna need it!

Fair Time, Already, Yet Another Day

My mom and I decided to head back out to the fair for a bit today. We weren't out there as long today though. We go every year on Saturday for the delicious grilled bbq chicken dinner they have. ES, my mom and I all got 1/2 chicken with coleslaw, and a dinner roll. I had a baked potato with mine and ES and my mom had french fries. The $7.00 cost of the meal also includes a drink with it and they provide as many condiments as you desire. My mom and I shared our meals with YS as he doesn't eat a whole lot in one sitting. He's more of a muncher. They gave us an extra plate, plasticware and a dinner roll for him. I already had a drink for him. ES sure did some damage to his dinner. He ate all the chicken, coleslaw and half of his fries. I ate his dinner roll and all of my dinner. I sure know how to put away the food!

Pigpen Youngerspawn living up to his nickname. After I took this pic, what remained of that chocolate ice cream cone ended up all over his shirt, shorts and shoes. I said "welp, looks like we have to leave now." In response I get "nope mama, you brought me extra clothes, 'member!?!" This is actually pretty mild though. He wasn't given the nickname of pigpen lightly. He attracts filth. He's all boy! And he's all mine.

Pigpen 2 Elderspawn with the remnants of his chocolate ice cream on his chin. He managed to keep his clothes fairly clean today. A couple of grass stains is all. Today was the first day his sinuses were pretty cleared up. Must have been allergies. Thank goodness. He was all for game playing today as mom didn't have enough money for rides too.

Ponies Youngerspawn taking a leisurely pony ride all by himself. This was the first year he was able to hang on and stay in the saddle without me walking beside him. Elderspawn is past the weight restriction now to ride them. Sniff, sniff. My babies are growing up. I remember the pony rides from when I was a kid. I couldn't get enough pony rides!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fair Time, Already Part Deux

Today is Thursday, a dawn of a new day. When ES woke up this morning, his head and sinuses still plugged up, but not feeling warm. Again, it's also running down his upper lip and into his mouth, which must be open in order to breathe. I again blasted them open with the nasal spray and told him he should see a doc today. It could be 1. horrible allergies with the mold count being through the roof right now from the storms. But one usually doesn't run a fever with allergies. But if it is then the doc could give him better allergy medication than what he's been taking to help him feel better. 2. A sinus infection, which he would then need antibiotics to get over it. 3. Or just a plain miserable summer cold. This, unfortunately, must run its course.

Well, this is the response I get: "But mom, I feel fine." "I really want to go back out to the fair for kid's day so I can ride rides." "Please, mom, I'll be good out there."

Oh, geez, play the ole sappy I'll be good trick with me, would ya huh!?!

Well, geesh, of course it worked on me. The only response I could mutter was: "Are you sure you feel alright?" Knowing full well by looking at his eyes he really didn't. He had the black under his eyes from his sinuses being so plugged up.

Needless to say, we got out there about 1:30 this afternoon. We walked around for awhile, sat in the tent for awhile, YS and I ate while ES refused anything to eat at all. NOT my spawn again!

Around 3 ish YS is getting antsy to ride rides. My aunt gave us 12 leftover ride tickets she had and we headed out, this time it was just me and the spawn.

Well, ES and YS went on a bigger ride together then ES went on a ride by himself that YS is too little to go on. As soon as ES walks through the exit gate he tells me that he's done with rides. I KNEW IT. He's feeling like shit again.

Later on, after YS rode all the rides he wanted to ride and the spawn played a few games, we decided to head back to our tent for a rest. It was around 4:45 by now and the reduced rides end at 5:00 anyway. ES decided he was finally hungry and ordered some nachos and cheese. He ate half of it and said he was full. This is my kid who normally can put away 3 hotdogs on buns in one sitting and still want more. This kid eats me out of house and home :) Oh, so, NOT my spawn.

YS got an order of nachos and cheese as well only eating half of them and I got myself an elephant ear with cherry pie filling on top of it. Delicious!

We left the fair around 5:15 and after a potty break we arrived at the car about 5:30. I turned around in the car and told ES that the immediate care clinic is open until 9 or 10 tonight and I can still take him.

But, why mom, I feel fine is the response I keep on getting. This kid could have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel before he'd admit to feeling sick enough to go to the doctor. I think I'm just going to have to hog tie and tar and feather that child and force him to go. Again he's all plugged up and starting to feel warm again. He really doesn't like doctors. He thinks they're all going to stick that swab in his throat for a strep culture.

Worst thing is, because ES wasn't his normal self, I didn't get any pics from the fair this year. I didn't feel like bothering with the camera. And this year he was too tall to ride the smaller rides with his brother, the ones he was willing to ride because he really felt that shitty........

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this morning YS woke up really early, snuck downstairs, got a hold of my salt water taffy and damn near devoured a full pound of the sticky stuff. And he never got sick on it. Explains why he didn't eat a whole lot at the fair.....

Fair Time, Already

This week is the annual Boone County Fair. As you can see by the pic on the website, our fair is huge. It's the second largest in Illinois only smaller than the Illinois State Fair itself.

Of course it is the big hurrah for the spawn to go to. It's pretty much the last biggest thing we do during the summer, except we'll be camping out in a couple of weeks with the scouts, before school starts back up.

Yesterday and today were both kid's days where the rides are reduced. Yeah, at our fair each ticket costs $1.50 and some of the rides take 5 tickets each to ride on for a total cost of $7.50 a pop. This is why we go on kid's days only when it only takes one ticket per ride.

Yesterday, we got out there around 1:00, an hour after the rides started up. The spawn were all gung ho to get going on those rides, but alas mom simply told them "not until I have our old time photo taken of us first. I want you boys clean!" We got through that and headed out to the midway. I bought 10 tickets for $15.00 for rides figuring if I needed more I could always get more later. Good thing I only got 10 of them cuz Elderspawn decided to start feeling icky and only rode 1 ride, went through the crazy fun house then proceeded to hand me the rest of his tickets while telling me to give them to Youngerspawn. THIS IS NOT MY SPAWN!!!! He would NEVER share his tickets with his brother.

After I managed to burn through the remainder of the ride tickets and the spawn played a handful of games, we headed off to get a bite to eat. Corndogs for me, YS and my mom and hotdogs for ES. Then we all decided we all needed some creme puffs. I think they keep making them things bigger every year! YS had problems eating all of his, so I got to finish his off as well. Delicious.

We walked around a bit, YS, my mom and I had some roasted ears of bi-color corn but not ES he refused his favorite vegetable, especially on the cob, bought some candied mixed nuts for Graumagus, some salt water taffy for me and decided to call it a night. It was around 6:30 at this time and ES just wanted to go home at this point. Again, this is NOT my spawn!

As we were leaving, YS decided that some ice cream would hit the spot. Again NOT being my spawn, ES refused his favorite chocolate ice cream. I finally convinced him to get some but in a bowl and not a cone, less to eat that way, and he did and enjoyed it.

By the time we got home, ES's sinuses and head were so plugged up he wasn't getting airflow through his nose whatsoever. And the mucus was dripping down his upper lip and into his open mouth. I had to blast them open with some really strong nasal spray. Later on he started feeling warm so I had to add some Tylenol to the mix.

I decided to call off work and take him to the doc today. Well.......

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Power Outage

It's around 1:30 a.m. and I'm suddenly awakened by very sharp and rapid lightening. The thunder is a very low, growling roar. All of a sudden there's one loud clap of thunder then returns to the previous.

At 2:05 a.m. Grau returns home from work to discover our power is out. Then he proceeds to tell me about the weather.

About 5:40 my phone starts ringing off the hook. "This is work with a courtesy call. Are you able to get out of your garage?" I say, "No problem, considering I don't have a garage" after stumbling in the pitch darkness of my home to get to my phone, hurting myself. "Well, you be really careful coming in this morning. If we don't see you by 6:30 a.m. we're sending out a search party. Rockford's had well over 8 inches of rain so far." I say, "This is a good theory and all, but if it's that bad out who are you going to be sending out my way!?!" "Not to mention the fact there's a total of 6 nursing staff employees on duty on 3rd shift, two nurses and 4 aides." Who would they spare and who'd be crazy enough to do such a thing!?! Nah, I'd be floating along my merry little way, down the road, in my minivan. Thanks for the setiment but I tend think they were just calling to make sure that I was awake and coming in to relieve them.

Right before I head out the door, Grau confirms the conditions in Rockford and tells me to be really careful driving to work. I know he's just looking out for me but...

Honestly, I didn't take too much stock in the warnings because Rockford was hit hard and bad and usually we don't get anything as near as severe as they do. That, and I really didn't want to scare myself more while concentrating on driving. Thank goodness I was correct in my assumptions. I took it slower than usual in case of flooding, but the road was just wet and not really slick.

The rainfall out here barely left standing water in the ditches although we took quite a pounding ourselves. I guess we're lacking in rainfall because it was soaking into the ground pretty well. I've been told at least one family lost their house and both of their vehicles to flooding in Rockford. There were also reports of vehicles floating down the roadways due to the flooding. And now they're concerned that the dam at Aldeen Park in Rockford won't hold much longer and will flood the area. Yeah, Rockford got hit much harder I'd say.

Anyways, I had to turn my bright lights on to pull into the parking lot at work. There are barricades all over the place due to massive road construction, the barricades nearly block off the driveway to my work, and both sides of the road have huge drop offs that have all been dug out that are a tad rough to hit. Then I quickly realize it's darker than pitch out there, the lights in the parking lot aren't on and I can hear the backup generators running outside.

Shit.....we have no power in a nursing home. The backup generator doesn't put any lights on in the rooms, the dining room, the kitchen (but the oven works), very few lights work in the hallways, few work at the nurses station, no hot water because the water heaters are electric, there's no a/c, the stench permeating throughout the building is enough to gag a maggot, and we can't flush the toilets due to lowered water pressure. Yeah, and the previous shift helped out quite well: "We made sure all the windows and curtains were shut to try and keep it cool." Well, us day walkers couldn't handle the stench anymore and cranked open the windows. We did get some airflow at least and we didn't toss our cookies. But it sure was muggy in there and we're all cooling ourselves with cold washcloths throughout the morning.

The power had gone out about 2 a.m. and we were without power until 9 a.m. 7 hours, well after the sun has risen and things are starting heat up outside. Hot and humid, floors are sticky and slippery and the place stinks to high heaven without proper air circulation. I had to dress folks in the dark, wash them with lukewarm water, I couldn't see to shave the men folk and hoped the were dressed, clean, and upright in one piece. Everything turned out o.k. so maybe I do my best work in the dark, lol!

A most beautiful start to my day......

On the up side, the dietary manager pulled out some 12 packs of pop from our pop machine supply for all of us (since we couldn't get any out of the machine) and brought everyone in creme filled long johns for us all to feast on this morning. Yum...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wish Me Good Luck!

I'm ready for a change in careers. It's been a long time coming but I'm really hoping things will pan out for me.

Tomorrow I'm headed to apply for a new line of work. A school bus driver is what I'm trying to get. They start drivers out between $15.00 to $17.00 an hour and you can work as much as you like. I'm sure I'll have to be fingerprinted, background checked and tested for drugs but I have nothing to hide and don't do that shit. Not to mention the fact I have a perfect driving record and I'm sure I can handle getting a CDL license. Heck, I learned how to drive on a stick shift tractor, pulling a kicker baler out in the fields on the farm. I think I can manage to learn to drive an automatic bus on the road. And, it's not like we live in a big city either so I don't have to worry about that kind of traffic to deal with.

Yeah, I think I could put up with screaming banshee kids and all the other bullshit that goes along with it for that kind of cash flow. It sure has to be better than being a professional punching bag, putting up with delusional family members and making $5.00 less an hour than their highest starting wages for such an honor. (Dripping in heavy sarcasm).

I even went so far as to make sure that I have 3 solid and good references ready to go as well. I got them today. They're all co-workers so they would be able to give a solid statement about my work and my personality. More references will be available upon request. I have more people to ask if they'd be willing to give me a reference or not.

Yeah, I'm ready for a change. Can you tell!?!

Deep Thoughts Of The Day

What do you call a man with no arms or legs behind a ski boat....Skip.
What do you call a man with no arms or legs hanging on a wall....Art.
What do you call a man with no arms or legs in the water....Bob.
What do you call a man with no arms or legs laying on your floor....Matt.
What do you call a woman with one leg....Eileen.
What do you call an oriental woman with one leg....Irene.
How do you order Chinese food correctly...."I'd like an order of Shrimp Flied Lice and a fuck." Translation: Shrimp Fried Rice and a fork :)