Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Updates and Happenings

Last Thursday: Caelyn graduated from kindergarten. Yes, it's silly how many graduation ceremonies kids have to go through, but this one was adorable. The kindergarten teachers narrated a story about the week of Creation while the kids took turns creating the set on the stage. Every single child had a role to perform whether it be speaking a line into the microphone or carrying trees and gigantic animals onto the stage. I loved how every child was involved. Caelyn had a speaking part and did it well.

Our school also does a fantastic job coaching the kids to pause for a moment and smile at the crowd when they received their diplomas. Principal Paden shook their tiny hands, handed them a scroll, and reminded them to turn and smile. All the parents were appreciative of the staged and often hilarious photo ops. Many of the kids overperformed and turned out hysterically cheesy grins. In all, a great ceremony.

Last Friday: Caelyn's last day of school. The moms from two of the kinder classes joined forces for an all-out class party. One of the moms owns a commercial sno-cone machine and popcorn maker, so we took turns churning out snacks. Other moms set up art centers and games. The kids took turns rotating through all the stations. The party was only supposed to last for 45 minutes, but we were having a blast and finally called it at two hours. I'm so sad that Caelyn's teacher is moving to Dallas this summer. Mrs. Hill was a perfect match for Caelyn and one of the truly great teachers out there. (Of course, I'd say the same about Kendra's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gordon. We'll be requesting her for David when it's his turn.)

Saturday: Spent the day at Sea World with the kids. My opinion of theme parks hasn't changed.

The day was redeemed when we watched the Spurs trounce upon Utah. I'll reiterate my previous prediction and state that the Spurs will win it all. After surviving the series with the Suns, the rest of the playoffs should be cake. OK, not cake, but they can definitely win another championship. Unfortunately, the Finals start on June 7 which is the same day we leave for Orlando. Kevin and I have already agreed that our days at Disney will have to revolve around the games. Yes, our priorities are not always normal, but I know that Amy understands.

We also managed to paint the girls' bedroom and bathroom this weekend. The color was supposed to be a soothing celery, but it turned out quite a bit brighter than I'd anticipated. It's growing on me but we definitely need to repaint the bathroom. The color makes us look queasy in the mirror.

Monday: Went to the opthalmologist again. She says I'm seeing 20/20. I've noticed a definite improvement in my sight in the last week, especially with nearsighted reading. My eyes still struggle to work together but it's getting better. My depth perception has greatly improved and I no longer feel like the floor is moving when I walk. The only real problem I'm experiencing is dryness, especially late at night and first thing in the morning. Basically I have to stumble out of bed, walk directly to the mirror, pry my eyes open and insert drops. I'm OK after a few minutes, but it's a little annoying to do that every morning.

Wednesday: Took Caelyn to the doctor for her 6-year-check up. She's 75th percentile in weight and 45th percentile in height, which is far shorter than the other two kids. Caelyn still has that sweet toddler look to her even though she's 6. Her legs are still short for her body and she'd got some definite pudge that I think is adorable.

The poor girl has several warts on her fingers, and the doctor applied a gel to them with the instructions to take off the band-aids and wash the gel off in four hours. We did, and Caelyn promptly started crying hysterically about how much her fingers stung. Two hours later and Caelyn had ENORMOUS blisters where the gel had been applied. Before bed I lanced the blisters while Caelyn shrieked at the top of her lungs. I tried to distract her by having her look at the Webkinz animals online while I was performing home surgery, but she wasn't having any of that. My ears are still ringing and an exhausted Caelyn is now asleep with fully bandaged hands. Next time she has warts I'm going to try the duct tape method instead.

We also had a late afternoon birthday party at Incredible Pizza. What a fun place! The food is far superior to Mr. Gatti's and Chuck E. Cheese. Even better, today was Wacky Wednesday so the game cards were unlimited play. I'm a skeeball fanatic, and the kids played just about every game they could. Caelyn even won a decent wristwatch in one of her games! I also tried my hand at the hunting game and shot myself half a dozen deer. That was surprisingly satisfying even though I'm not a fan of hunting. By the way, what I love most about Incredible Pizza is that it is Christian-owned and the prizes include tons of Christian themed selections. Christian jewelry abounds, and there are also Hello Kitty prizes and other benign options. Not a Sponge Bob to be found, hallelujah!

Thursday: Technically, this is tomorrow, but this is Kendra's last official day of first grade. The kids have had a week of pure fun. Today was pajama day and the kids got to clean our their desks. Tomorrow they go in the morning until 10 a.m., at which point we'll all caravan up to Spring Branch for the class party. One of the families has some acreage and they've rented one of those huge waterslides for the kids. I'll have the other two kids in tow, and I'm sure they'll all have a blast running around with water squirters. And on the way back into town we're going to stop by a store and let the kids pick out their Webkinz as a beginning-of-summer treat.

Friday: Our first official day of summer break, punctuated by a visit from my mom. The kids are thrilled to see their Grammy and have made a long list of what they want to do during the three-day visit. A visit to Stride Rite is a certainty. Kendra is already wearing a size 4 shoe. Yup, that's right, she's on the cusp of being able to shop in the women's department. And she's 7. The skinny mini can't wear anything above a 6x, and even those require adjustable waists. But the poor girl inherited my ginormous feet and she's doomed to a life of searching for cute shoes that fit and don't cost a fortune. We've already searched Payless and Target for summer sandals, but they either don't come in her size, don't fit, or look like hoochie mama shoes with stacked heels. Nope, not gonna. Stride Rite is pricey but conservative and cute. And Grammy will undoubtedly buy, God bless her.

So that's it, the week in review. Add to that a dozen loads of laundry, general housecleaning and cooking, preparing a summer schedule and gathering curriculum (did I mention that my pint-sized brainiacs want me to homeschool them this summer?), plus several trips to the grocery store, Target and the post office. Is it any wonder that I don't have time to sleep more than six hours a night?

Monday, May 14, 2007

LASIK update...

It's 12:44 in the morning and I'm watching the Survivor finale on TiVo. I just thought to myself, "I should really go take out my contacts." And then I realized, I'm not wearing contacts. Yet I can see the TV. And almost clearly see my computer screen. I'm a little more impressed with the Lasik technology at this moment.

Friday, May 11, 2007

For Those Who Are Considering LASIK

About 48 hours ago I had LASIK done on both eyes. For those of you who have ever considered the procedure, I thought I'd give you a play-by-play and my post-op thoughts. It might help you make a decision for or against it.

First of all, I chose to use my opthalmologist that I've been seeing for a decade. She's one of the best doctors in the city and she's been doing the procedure for as long as I can remember. Also she has always invested in top-of-the-line equipment. She's not the cheapest in town by a long shot, but I trust her and I trust her equipment. It pains me to write this in print, but I paid $2400 per eye, which covers all the pre-op and post-op care for an entire year.

I met with my doctor a couple weeks ago for the pre-surgery consultation. She needed to run some tests to see if I was still a candidate for Lasik. She said she could do Lasik on my left eye but wasn't confident that it was safe for my right eye. She said the cornea might be too thin to cut the flap of cornea. She said we would re-check using a different scanner on the day of my surgery. She also recommended PRK as an option. PRK corrects the vision by using a laser through the surface of cornea. However, after reading all the materials I decided against PRK. It has a higher risk for scar tissue forming, plus the pain level and recovery time are greatly increased. I wouldn't be able to drive for at least three days after PRK, and that just isn't an option for a mom of three kids.

So PRK was out, but I was still willing to just have my left eye corrected if I could. The vision in my left eye is -4.00, but the vision in my right eye is only -1.00. Since I'm right eye dominant, I've been using my right eye to see distance for the last 20 years anyway.

My doctor also gave me a large packet of papers that I needed to read through and sign. I had to initials a couple dozen times and write out statements such as, "I understand that I may need to wear corrective lenses even after the Lasik procedure" and "I understand that Lasik can cause partial and full blindness." I'm sure all doctors need to protect themselves from lawsuits since this is a voluntary, partially cosmetic procedure. Lasik is FDA approved and is much safer now that they don't use blades to cut the cornea, but it's hardly risk-free. The greatest risk is from infection, but I'd be getting antibiotic drops to prevent that.

On the morning of the procedure I arrived at the LASIK facility, which is actually on the 12th floor of a bank building. There were warning signs on the front door that people with any form of cologne or perfume could not enter. In addition, I was not allowed to have on any makeup, hairspray, or anything else "scented." I couldn't wear makeup for two days prior and I can't wear makeup for another four days after the procedure. A whole week without under-eye concealer is not a pretty sight.

The assistant took me back and performed an OrbScan, which measures the thickness of the cornea. Thankfully, the OrbScan confirmed that I could safely have the procedure. The machine provides a colorfully cool printout that shows the detailed view of any astigmatism and the overall shape of your eye.

Then the assistant used a different machine to measure my level of myopia. This took a while but basically it confirmed that yes, I can't see well. All that information was put onto a memory stick.

My doctor met with me and double-checked the computer's suggestion for my level of refraction. She did the old-fashioned, "Which is better, one or two?" with the refractive lenses. In the end, she confirmed that the computer was accurate and she would just do what it had suggested. She numbed my eyes and drew on the whites with a blue pen. She said this would help the laser line up the eye perfectly.

My doctor gave me some Valium (bless her!) and verbally explained what would happen during the procedure. I wish she'd told me a little bit more, because a few things surprised me. However, here's what happened.

With my hair in a lovely blue hairnet, I laid down on a dentist's type chair. The nice doctor gave me a teddy bear to hold and reminded me for the 20th time that I just needed to relax and think about relaxing thoughts. Yeah, that didn't really work for me in labor, either. Anyway, first they put a whole bunch of numbing drops in my eye. Then they shoved this plastic speculum in my eye to hold it open, and then they placed a suction ring on the cornea to hold it in place. They turned on the suction and I felt a ton of pressure on my eye. My vision quickly blacked out due to the pressure. My doctor counted down as the laser cut the flap of the cornea. They released the suction, which was actually a little painful and startling, and then they repeated the procedure on my other eye. They had some trouble getting that enormous plastic speculum in my left eye, and that didn't exactly help me relax. And the suction ring broke blood vessels in my left eye, so now I have a bright red arc across my cornea. My doctor calls it an eye hickey and says it will go away.

After they cut the flaps, they swung the chair around so I'd be under the second laser. They used tape (somewhere between a surgical tape and duct tape based on how much it hurt when they pulled it off) to keep my upper and lower lids WIDE open. The doctor told me to keep focusing on the blinking light above me, which was a little difficult since it moved aorund a bit. She lifted up the flap of cornea and everything got fuzzy. I kept staring at that blinking light and the laser zap zap zapped my eye. I didn't really feel anything but I could smell something burning. Uh huh, that would be the smell of my own eyeball on fire. OK, not that bad. But definitely a slight burning smell.

When the laser finished doing its thing, the next five minutes were highly uncomfortable. They irrigated my eye incessantly with saline. That is an extremely frustrating sensation when your instinct is to blink but you can't. They put in a half-dozen other drops that were antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Then the doctor gently put the flap back down and used some kind of spatula to smooth it back into place. That part reminded me of smoothing the bubbles out of wallpaper. She did this for a minute and I could see that spatula keep coming toward my eye. It was a little disconcerting but it didn't hurt. What did hurt was when they finally removed the tape. I imagined all my lashes coming off with the tape, but I still have some left. I happily closed my eye and tried to mentally prepare myself for the next eye.

In all, the entire office visit took just over an hour. I donned some dark sunglasses and Kevin drove me home. I put on the obligatory protective goggles and slept for nearly four hours, thanks to the Valium which had finally kicked in. My eyes stung when I went to sleep but they didn't hurt at all when I woke up. My eyes felt itchy the first day and the next day, but today they feel normal.

After my nap, I had to put a series of drops in my eye every hour on the hour. One was just a lubricant, and one was a steroid to help reduce inflammation and promote healing of the cornea. I also had a prescription antibiotic and another prescription for a steroid that supposedly helps me make more tears. I faithfully put those drops in every hour and then slept again that night with the goggles on.

Yesterday I went back to the doctor for a follow-up. She tested my vision and said that I could see 20/20 out of my right eye and about 20/25 out of my left. It doesn't feel like I can see 20/20, though. My distance vision is amazingly better, but I can't read my computer screen. (So if there are tons of typos, I'll correct them later. I'm typing this with my eyes closed because I have a headache.) I drove yesterday afternoon and today with no problems. I am seeing well but not as clearly as I had hoped. My doctor says it will improve a little bit every day, so I'll report back in a couple weeks and let you know what I think. Right now, I'm wondering a little if this was worth it. If I have to wear reading glasses, then I didn't reach my goal.

My left eye is also extremely tired today. For the last 20 years I've depended mainly on my right eye to see when I didn't have my contacts or glasses on. Now I'm having to use both eyes together and I'm realizing how weak my left eye is.

I haven't been able to wear contacts very often for the last couple years because of chronic dry eye and frequent infections. That was the major reason I wanted Lasik. Wearing glasses is not extremely convenient, especially during the summer months when I'm in and out of the pool all the time. I also wanted to be able to swim laps without hitting the wall. I'm hoping that the frequent flare-ups in my left eye, which looked like pink eye but wasn't, will stop. Time will tell whether that condition continues.

I'll let you know how my vision improves over the next week. But right now, the jury's out on whether I think I made the right decision.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I love this game!


Is there really anything else to say after looking at Steve Nash's battered face? The colliison gave Tony Parker a sizable contusion on the forehead, but his boo-boo is nothing compared to the gash on Nash that required six stitches.

I love this game. I love that Mark Cuban's beloved Mavericks got knocked out in the first round by the Number 8 seed. (And I also loved seeing Cuban's face when his team lost the final game, but that's just being petty.) I love watching the Spurs and Suns duke it out in this round, because whoever wins this series will probably win it all. I love it when Ginobili makes a no-look pass to Duncan who banks it in. I love it when Parker's flying feet take him down the lane, in between two defenders, to make the layup. I love seeing Robert Horry and Michael Finley hit multiple three-pointers in clutch time. I really, really love this game.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

30-Day Organizational Challenge

It got a little stressful toward the end, but I did it! I cleaned out, cleaned up, and deep-cleaned our study. It was all part of The 30-Day Organizational Challenged, hosted by I'm An Organizing Junkie. She asked us to answer a few questions, so I'll do that before we take the photo tour.

1. The hardest part was figuring out what to DO with all that stuff! It took a while, but I started with boxes and sorted things into a Sell Box, a Give Away box, and a Trash Bag. (More detail in #3.)

2. I've had to adopt a few new habits in order to keep the room looking this nice. First of all, this has become a no-kids zone. I love my kids but I need to have one place in the house that is free of toys, crayons, papers, etc. The kids have permission to come in here and read, but they cannot bring in a bunch of paraphernalia and junk it up.

Also, I've realized that I have WAY too many books. I need to get rid of some of them, so I stayed up late one night listing books on Amazon and So far I've managed to sell or trade two dozen books.

I'm also not buying any new books unless there is actually space for them. That's a hard one!

Finally, I came to realize that giving things away is extremely freeing. Often I try to sell things on Ebay, but the hassle is not always worth the few dollars I make. So I finally gave way two big boxes of clothes that I had planned on selling. The feeling of having that stuff out of my life is far better than the feeling of having a little extra cash.

3. So what happened to all the stuff? I'm a big fan of recycling, so I tried to do that. One big box of books went to the public library. Three big boxes are ready to be posted on Ebay. Two huge Hefty bags got placed on the curb. And the rest of it got sorted, containerized, filed, or shelved.

4. The biggest lesson I learned is that I'm a terrible housekeeper! No, wait. I'm actually a pretty good housekeeper when it comes to deep-cleaning. But when I'm bogged down with clutter, I tend to get depressed and then I can't function. Having the study this clean makes me really, really happy and motivated to keep it this way.

5. How will having a clean, organized study impact my life? First of all, I now have a designated place to do my Bible Study. That's huge. All the papers got filed, all the receipts got shredded or filed alphabetically by store, and all the books got organized. In other words, I'll be able to find what I need when I need it. Finally, and this is minor, I now have a designated bookshelf for books that I want to read. Once I've read them, I'll either shelve them or give them away. I think I'll get more reading done now!

OK, now for the tour. Here's the wide-angle shot of the study BEFORE...

And here's the wide-angle shot AFTER...

Here's the BEFORE shot of my favorite chair (it reclines!). I never sat in it because it was always covered with junk.

And here's what my chair looks like AFTER. Now I keep my Bible and Bible study stuff in the side table so I can actually use the chair as a place for a quiet time.

Here's the awful corner where I used to dump stuff that I wanted to Ebay or just didn't have a home for. It was so bad that I couldn't even get to the cabinets on the right...

And how here's what that corner looks like now. Two wooden boxes (which are empty!) and my kitty's bed. I couldn't get a picture of the cabinet, but I completely organized that, too. Top shelf is computer and camera equipment. Bottom shelf is binders, school supplies, and pads of paper...

So how about that desk area and the bookshelves? Here's the BEFORE picture...

And here's a more detailed look at the wall unit now. First, desk area. I organized the top shelf to hold photo albums and older boxes of photos. The bottom shelf has resource books and current photo boxes so they're more accessible.

The desk area was a disaster. I've filed everything I needed and tossed the rest. The shredder has gotten a good workout! It's hard to see in the photo, but there's a three-tiered wire basket that my hubby and I use for receipts and other mail. That system hasn't changed but we've caught up on all the papers.

Here's proof that the files are under control...

And look! I organized the drawers. This one's for batteries...

Now to explain how I organized the bookshelves. The top shelves on the left are for Christian fiction and non-fiction. The bottom shelves are organized by type, too. This is where I created the "to-be-read" shelf, which includes magazines.

I even found my old Yoda collection and decided to display it...

Finally, the shelves on the right. The top two shelves (not pictured) are books that I've listed on As soon as those get cleared out, I'll have room to buy more books! The bottom two shelves are for the kids. They have an insanely large collection of workbooks and puzzle books, so I've made those accessible just in time for summer. My goal is to have them do a few worksheets a day so we can actually use and get rid of some of those workbooks that my mother keeps sending.

That's it! Now I'm going to take a nap on that comfy leather couch.