Katie and Gramma Jean’s Big Birthday Adventure

I told Gramma that for Katie’s birthday, instead of giving her stuff, to take her on an adventure. So she did.

In Gramma’s words:

For Katie’s 5th birthday this year, we went on an adventure! (Yes, in Grayling.) We played at three parks, went wading in the river (along some of the racers practicing), went to the grocery store for picnic lunch supplies [where Katie could pick anything she wanted—she got a Lunchable, strawberry yogurt covered pretzels, strawberries, cashews, and chocolate milk], threw stones in the river for a half hour, went for a 3-mile bike ride (yes, I fell), and had an ice cream cone at Wimpy’s. We were gone 7 hours and mom and dad were starting to worry! What great fun we had! Happy birthday Katie Bug!



Gramma says Katie could have pedaled for hours!


Gramma says: I am so glad Katie didn’t fall. We were too close to each other and her back wheel caught my front wheel. 


Jen’s Eye Trouble

I woke up as normal, dealt with the kids as normal, showered as normal, then went to put my contacts in as normal…and noticed they were strangely misshapen (almost like they were dried out).

The strange thing was this exact thing had happened yesterday, but since it was about time to switch out lenses, I just tossed them and opened a new pair. So when the same thing happened the second day in a row, it felt like something had to be wrong. I wasn’t sure what it was, though, and could think of no reason to NOT try putting them in, so I tried. When I finally got the first lens in after a few attempts, it felt very wrong in my eye so I took it out immediately—almost like it had been soaking in something BAD (but it was just the same contact solution I’ve been using for years). I tried the other lens in my other eye and that one went in much better and felt fine. So then I went back to the first lens and the first eye and nope, not happening. And now that eye was really red. I rarely use Visine but thought I would today to get the red out before trying to put the contact in again. So I dripped a drop in and HOLY SHIT DID THAT BURN. Wowza. Well, that definitely wasn’t a normal reaction, so I knew at this point I wasn’t going to be wearing my contacts. It was at this point I realized that my vision was hazy in both eyes—I likened it to being in a steamy room where all you could see was a blurry white haze. There was no pain, but something was definitely wrong. So I took out the other lens I had already successfully put in.

And then started having a minor panic attack.

I tried to find my bottle of plain saline solution (not contact solution) and it had disappeared. I put in a few drops of contact solution (better than nothing to try rinsing if something was in there) and that felt awful. I rinsed with cool water. No change.

I googled and, of course, every source said GET IT LOOKED AT IMMEDIATELY and the worst case scenario was detached retinas and cataracts. I was pretty sure it wasn’t either of those, but it was still concerning. I couldn’t even call my eye doctor because he had closed his local office like a month after I saw him and his new office is 30 minutes away (and I knew I didn’t want to drive that far with my eyesight in an unknown state—I could see well enough, but didn’t want to be caught off guard in a 30-minute highway drive with diminishing vision). I didn’t think it was quite worthy of an ER visit so I found two local optometrists and of course neither opened until 10. And it was only like 8:20. So I left a detailed message for one and crossed my fingers.

At this point everything was still hazy, though it was at least a bit more clear with my glasses on. And I was trying to stay calm while getting the kids ready for school and without worrying them. I texted both close SAHM friends to see if they could take Katie if necessary—or drive me to an appointment if my sight worsened—but of course both were busy so I crossed my fingers everything would be okay. And oh yeah, Tom left last night for a week away for work. I talked to him and he said he could come home in an emergency (he was only three hours away) so he was put on notice.

I swear the next 90 minutes was one of the longest waits of my life. At 10, the optometrist called back, we went through the details, and she told me it didn’t sound life-threatening, the doctor wasn’t in, but she could make an appointment for tomorrow at 11. My heart sunk. Then we realized they didn’t take our insurance, so she recommended an ophthalmologist a few doors down. I called and got an appointment at 11. THANK HEAVENS.

So I get to the appointment and they take pictures of my eyes and give me a quick vision test where she asked what letters I saw and I said “What letters?” Yeah, I couldn’t even tell there were letters there—though with the glasses and both eyes I could make an educated guess. It didn’t take her long to come back and tell me I had whatever the technical scary-sounding term is for, basically, dry eye. My first thought was Phew, I’m not going blind! She showed me the picture and told me that my eye basically looked like sandpaper.

severe dry eye
This is a similar photo of dry eye. A normal eye should be completely clear of all those pockmarks.

We discussed how this could have happened—and her best guess was a batch of bad contacts (since the same thing happened to two pairs two days in a row) OR it could have been a combination of bad contacts and bad contact solution (I had just switched to a different bottle of the same stuff that was technically expired but she said it shouldn’t have caused this amount of pain and she had never seen contact solution cause contacts to shrivel like that). So she was honestly clueless. She did say I should contact the office where I got them and see if they would replace them (which is fine and logical, but UGH, that’s at least an hour round-trip now).

By this time my eyes were starting to hurt. I was sent to get both prescription and OTC drops. The doc didn’t give me a brand—she just said “tear drops preservative free” which of course no bottles actually said that so I had to Google while standing there in the aisle. I started using them as soon as I got home but 1) it hurt when I put them in (I definitely wasn’t expecting that—I had envisioned a calming cool feeling of relief) and 2) they didn’t seem to be doing anything. It was awful. I just wanted to cry—and I actually did try crying in case that would help but it didn’t at all. And it actually felt like it got worse as time wore on. Every blink was torture. And my vision wasn’t even coming back! I actually called the doctor back to ask the questions I forgot: 1) when I should start feeling some relief and 2) when my vision should start coming back. She assured me that I should be feeling better pretty quickly and if I wasn’t better by Friday to call her. FRIDAY? IN FOUR MORE DAYS? Lordy I hoped it felt better before then. She also said my blurry vision was normal and would go away.

I have just never experienced anything like this in my entire life so it completely freaked me out. What was even more odd/disconcerting is that at one point, one eye felt completely fine and the other felt like someone was scratching it with sandpaper. Both were fine last night AND upon waking up so that just blew my mind. And once I started thinking about it, I’m sure I’ve had dry eye issues for quite some time now but I never realized that’s what it was (the doctor hinted at this as well). But it only seemed to manifest in the later evening and I just assumed it was my contacts bothering me after being in all day…and my eyes always felt fine in the morning. The doctor said it would be like putting a Band-Aid on every morning—it helped it feel better but it wasn’t taking care of the underlying issue.

I told Tom “You know, it’s funny. Every time something wonky happens you think ‘Oh this is the worst thing ever!’ A bad back, a constant cough, a hurt knee, etc. But I think eye stuff is officially the worst.”

In posting on Facebook and getting advice from LOTS of friends who have similar issues (huh! who knew?), they were surprised I wasn’t prescribed something more permanent. I am assuming when I go back for my follow up there will be more talk of a future plan—today was more of a let’s just fix the immediate issue plan. And I may go back to my old brand of contacts that I was using before switching to the new ones last fall.

I ended my day going to bed when I put the kids to bed. I figured having my eyes closed would feel the best—except by that point, it actually hurt worse to keep them closed! WHAT?! I just couldn’t win! So I took two Tylenol PMs, put a cool compress over my eyes (it actually felt better than a warm compress) and it also helped me keep my eyes closed.

FOLLOW UP: I was out by 9…and then slept 10.5 hours!!! And upon waking, my eyes felt better! It felt like a completely new lease on life after yesterday’s hell.

Also, I’m interested to see what, if anything, our insurance covers. I have only used insurance for exams prior to this. I don’t even know if it covers anything else—it doesn’t even cover frames or contacts or anything typical like that so I don’t have much hope of it covering any of what I was seen for. I could research to see but it doesn’t really matter at this point because I had to go and get looked at.

Our first trip to the ER!

Why not have it be Christmas Day? :)

So last night, Owen was being Owen and dove into the big beanbag in the living room, but then…rolled off? fell off?…and somehow landed wrong on his arm. Tom missed it, I missed it, and Uncle Rob barely saw it so we’re not entire sure what happened. All we know is that he was complaining that it really hurt. Tom looked at it and moved it around and there wasn’t any screaming so we were pretty sure it wasn’t broken. So we iced it and gave him some Advil. Of course, Owen being Owen, he continued playing around and bumping it and saying it hurt, so we made him sit still in the chair. He seemed to be fine overall and making cookies for Santa took his mind off it so we didn’t think much else about it.

So this morning we opened presents and he still hadn’t mentioned it. I had honestly forgotten about it. But then he was trying to put some Legos together—and was complaining that he couldn’t because his hand hurt. Hoo boy. Tom tried to move it around some and it seemed more painful than it had last night, so we figured since he has a high threshold for pain it must REALLY hurt, so we decided to have Tom take him to the ER.

Thankfully they were the only ones there and the whole thing went very quickly. But he had taken his new Minecraft characters just in case. :)


Apparently when you visit the ER on Christmas you get to pick a toy!


He picked this for Katie! Awww!


And??? It wasn’t broken. Just a sprain with some bruising that Motrin should help. PHEW!

If you need me I’ll be on the couch.

There’s nothing like tripping on nothing? a small rock? in your driveway, falling and scraping both feet, smashing a knee, and scraping and smacking your wrist to make you appreciate how good you HAD been feeling. 

Within 10 minutes my back was hurting along with everything else and I had to take some painkillers. 
I knew I should have left the garbage and recycling bins for Tom to bring in. :)

Their first fireworks!

We knew the weather was going to be a crapshoot, but we figured we had to try since they were just three miles from our house!

It started off well enough…Tom and Owen went off to check out the food offerings and Katie and I had a picnic (oranges, string cheese, cheddar Chex, and a juice box) which she loved: “Mama! This picnic is the best ever!”

And even though it was sprinkling, she was running around in the grass and having a blast…until she realized she had a boo boo on her foot and then she turned into a hot mess drama queen as seen here.

Then as soon as daddy came back 15 minutes later, she was all smiles and amazingly forgot all about her boo boo.

As soon as daddy laid down, she copied him. :)

Then I jumped in for a picture.

Owen had been off playing football with some kids but he came back to check in and said “We’re tackling and I knocked two people down!”

Since we had everyone, we took this shot. A lady behind us actually offered to take it but I said “No thanks, this is how we do it!” And it was perfect—done in one shot!

And then it started to rain harder. And it was chilly. And we had already been here two hours and still had about 45 minutes until the fireworks were going to start…do we stay or do we go?

The show was happening rain or shine and I hated to miss it after being there so long already…so we decided to go sit in the car and potentially watch from the tailgate or through the moonroof if it was a downpour. Thankfully it didn’t do much more than a light rain.

We had the car on to listen to music so the kids were having fun in the tail lights…

Owen: “This is burning my face!” 

…and playing to the music…

Owen being a lamppost:

And then the show started! They both immediately covered their ears so we got out the noise-canceling headphones for both of them. 

Yes, I was happy we had the minivan so we could do this!

Both kids said it was the BEST DAY EVER and they wanted to know if we were going to go to the fireworks next year. Ha HA! I’ve created fireworks monsters!! (Tom doesn’t really care for them, but now we outnumber him three to one! And he really did enjoy watching the kids loving everything!)

P.S. Wow, this is post #6000!

Poor Katie…bug bites.

So we went on another walk this morning…and it started out perfectly. Owen was our guard again and today he brought a gun—he’s serious about his duties!

But the fun quickly turned to disaster as Katie somehow got stung twice at the same time by…bugs I completely missed!!

We were walking along and I was watching her legs because she was right in front of me and she just stopped and started screeching that she was hurt. I thought she was just being a 3yo drama queen because I looked and there was nothing wrong with her that I could see. I tried to keep us walking but she was limping and shuffling along and had big serious tears. So I stopped to look again—and THEN I could see the two tiny bites right under her kneecap. (Once I got home and Googled, they appear to be wasp bites.)

I know they’re small and fast, but I still can’t believe I missed a bug flying in, stinging her twice, and flying away while I was staring directly at her legs!!

Of course she wanted me to carry her back so I tried the best I could on the trails but made her walk most of it. We got home and I put her leg up and iced  it and she got Ibuprofen. I watched her like a hawk, even though I was pretty sure she wasn’t allergic…but she was fine with her bandaid. :) 

Game 5: Raptors vs. Hot Rods

Katie helping Owen get ready!

Owen being silly.

We got there early enough for some practice time.

Standing on a pillow.

He took a little hit in the face after a bad hop.

Now that’s a throw!

He was also the catcher again for an inning.

Unfortunately, we had a minor accident. Katie and Owen were both in the dugout when I called to Katie. Both her and Owen turned to come to me at the same time—I have no idea why Owen did, but he did. And didn’t pay any attention to what he was doing…and smashed Katie right into the big metal pole of the dugout. Tom and I both saw it happen, heard her head SMASH into the pole, and saw her sink to the ground. And start crying. Hoo boy.

All the surrounding parents were concerned, and one got us some ice but Katie didn’t really want it. We had a talk with Owen about paying attention. And cuddled Katie.

We gave her some Tylenol when we got home and after we ate lunch and she took a nap, she seemed just fine. But she’s got a nice goose egg. Her first minor injury. :(

Katie’s ankle checkup

I took Katie in to get her ankle checked again. The new office is only about 12 minutes from us via back roads—but of course it feels farther because I have no idea where I’m going yet (comparatively, it took 20 minutes in Jacksonville).

She liked the waiting room.


A decent picture of her new hand-me-down cousin outfit.


Playing peek while waiting for the doctor.


Of course, they were running behind today…so by the time we saw the doctor, we had been there almost an hour and a half (they wanted us there early for new patient stuff, even though I told them I had printed all the forms and filled them out, then we waited in the patient room for quite some time). That said, the doctor was nice and apologized for running late. And Katie was very good the whole time between playing, watching videos on my phone, and looking at books.

The doctor looked at her ankle and agreed it was swollen and agreed we should get new x-rays. She also asked if Katie had been sick lately—or, really, if any of us had been—and I said no. She said she wanted to take a strep test! Wait, what? Yes, a strep test. She said it was a long shot, but it was a quick and easy test to rule out some type of arthritis. (She explained it and I googled later, and strange as it may seem, the same bacteria that can cause strep throat can cause swelling and joint pain. And since it had been going on so long, she wanted to rule it out.) Katie didn’t love the strep test, but she was a trooper and recovered quickly. (On that note, the nurse who performed the test didn’t have greatest bedside manner in my opinion—she was older and very matter-of-fact-get-the-job-done which worked, but didn’t give me any warm fuzzies.) The results were negative, so then it was off to a walk-in imaging clinic for x-rays.

This is where we were spoiled in Jacksonville—the x-ray clinic was literally three buildings down from the pediatric clinic. Today it was a 15-minute drive (of course in the complete opposite direction from home). It was approaching nap time, so I had to decide whether to wait and do it another day or just bite the bullet and finish it in one day. I decided to finish since Katie was being really good. So we had another 15-minute wait after the drive and then Katie was a ROCK STAR getting her x-rays—just like before. The tech had me stand next to her and hold her still but there really was no need—Katie didn’t move a muscle for either x-ray. (I tried to get a picture of her laying there nice but of course she started playing with her feet.)


It was over in about three minutes and she got two Elmo stickers and was happy. And then stayed awake for most of the ride home but fell asleep about three minutes from home. THREE AND A HALF HOURS AFTER WE LEFT. Egads.

So now we just have to wait to see what the x-rays show and then likely get a referral for a specialist depending on what they see.

Limping Girl

So Katie has been limping off and on for a few weeks now so we finally took her in (Tom came with me because he’s off this week). The doc agreed her ankle was swollen and guessed it might be a fracture so sent us for x-rays. Thankfully they came back clear, but the only recommended course of action was ice, rest, elevation, and ibuprofen (yeah, like ice, rest, and elevation are really going to happen) and to check back in two weeks if she was still limping. I guess that’s better than having to get a cast, but I’d almost rather have a definitive solution (i.e. cast) as opposed to “wait and see.”

She was a little poop at the appointment, though—you know her normal super talkative self? Who never shuts up and is always smiling and laughing? When the doctor came in, she turned to stone. No smiles, no giggles, no hi-fives, not ticklish…it was the craziest thing.

But she was a ROCK STAR getting the x-rays—she just layed quietly on the table (it helped that there was a pillow so she pretended to sleep!). The radiologist said she wasn’t used to kids who stayed that still. :)

So. How big does a hole in your hand have to be before you should consider getting stitches?

I was washing knives this morning—being careful!—yet I still stuck myself. Right in the middle of my right palm right down a major line. Ugh. I kept pressure on it and didn’t think it was all that serious, so I posted the above question on Facebook. These were my favorite responses:

Can you see thru it? :)

A little duct tape will take care of that!

If you have to ask, you probably need stitches.

In all seriousness…between all the responses, a quick Google, and talking to David (my ex-PA stepdad), I decided to go to the ER. However, there was one problem—all the roads were still completely covered in ice. I had a brief thought that maybe the main roads would be better (like at home, Roberts Road can be horrible, but once you cross North Down it’s clear) but DUH, this is North Carolina. I felt okay going slow (25 in a 45) but as I got closer to town, I saw a line of cars slowing down, some stopped, and some turning around. I wasn’t even halfway to town by that point, so I just turned around and went home. (Come to find out later, it was at least a tractor-trailer accident and someone caught another accident on their phone while stopped for the previous accident.) And the police were telling people to stay off the roads. So I made the right call. If my hand had been lots worse, I may have pressed on—but it wasn’t.

However. The more I waited and watched, the more paranoid I got. It hurt—but it was most likely just normal bruising and not (my paranoid side) that I cut a muscle or nerve. It had stopped bleeding—but started again when I opened my hand too much. By this time it was after dinner and dark and there was no way I was going out on the roads…which meant even if I decided to go to the ER in the morning, it would be past the general 12-hour cutoff for suturing a cut. Ugh.

So I popped some more pain pills (a naproxen at first this morning, then a hydrocodone this afternoon, now Tylenol tonight), slapped some Neosporin and a bandaid on, and called it good for the night. If it’s still oogy in the morning, Tom will take me to the ER. He wouldn’t have to take me, but he has to report to work tomorrow at 11…unless, of course, he’s dealing with me. :)


P.S. I just realized the pic makes it look like one big hole. Trust me, it’s not a gaping hole…it’s just blood making it look that way.

Toe Update #2

I had started to mentally prepare myself for possibly having to burn a hole in the nail to drain the fluid/blood…but thankfully I don’t think we’ll have to do it. It started leaking a little fluid/blood last night so I helped it along with some gentle pressure and Owen said it didn’t hurt. It looked lots better immediately and looked even better today!

Birthday Bowling + A Toe Tragedy

Today we had a birthday party at a bowling alley for one of Owen’s classmates.

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He had great fun using up his allotted tokens:

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And I played one game for him and won over 100 tickets! He liked feeding them into the counting machine! (I thought we were done at this point which is why I turned them in so early. By the time the day was done, I had three redemption slips!)

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Then it was time for pizza, cake, and opening presents. Overall it wasn’t too bad, but the party room was SUPER tiny for all the kids and let me just ask: If you were having a birthday party at a bowling alley on a limited time schedule with little kids with a short attention span, why on earth would you bring ALL your personal presents (at least 10-12)? Bring maybe 2-3 from mom and dad (if any at all) and open the rest at home. But anyway.

Owen was really very patient, and finally it was time for bowling. He wasn’t thrilled with the shoes but I told him he had to wear them. The first few frames went pretty well (they had the bumpers up) but honestly, trying to corral ten or so ~5-year-olds into bowling is like trying to herd cats. Kids running here, running there, between lanes, down the lanes while others are bowling, not waiting their turns, wanting to punch all the buttons on the display… And the noise level? Eeesh. Owen started complaining that the shoes hurt his feet and even though they felt fine, I let him take them off. I bowled in socks as a kid and so could he.

Here was his first go at it!

Then they brought out the helper stands—which made a HUGE difference in the success of each turn.

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So it was only Owen and another kid on the last lane. This kid seemed to be a little older and a little bit of a brat—and I have NO idea who his mother was/parents were because no one was ever once close to him the whole time I was there. Well, in about frame six, this kid grabs a ball off the ball return and I guess was trying to be nice and bring Owen a ball for his turn… And just as I’m realizing this could go horribly wrong…yep, bowling ball to the toe. Screaming, wailing, tears, and a little boy sobbing in my lap.

A few moms and kids came over to see if he was okay (he was, he just had to cry a bit and settle down) and one offered to get some ice (oh, yeah, that would be good—I was so concerned with calming him down I had completely zoned on getting ice). Anyway, that was the end of the fun and he just kept saying he wanted to go home. I said we could but we had to leave the ice on for a bit first. The other kid never apologized (I’m sure he didn’t think anything of it) and whoever was there with him never came over (I recognized the few moms that did come over) so that was kind of annoying.

We did have to stop and redeem his tickets on the way out. He had picked out what he wanted earlier and of course they were out of that item. But the guy said we could pick ANYTHING in the case! (I mean it’s all cheap crap, but Owen was excited!) So he picked handcuffs! :) Then it was a slow hobble to the car (I obviously can’t carry him) and he really was a trooper for as painful as I know it was. On the way home I tried to get his mind off it it and had him smiling and laughing. And since he can take pills now, I stopped at Walgreens to get some children’s Advil.

Of course he couldn’t wait to get home to tell Gramma and Grandpa about it and show them. We asked him if he knew the kid and he said no, but he always drops the bowling ball on his foot. :)


I just heard my leg snap. That can’t be good.

Is it possible to hear a charley horse snap? I’ve felt what feels like a charley horse forming…and coming down the stairs just now I felt and heard it snap. I didn’t lose balance (thankfully because I was carrying Katie) but it hurts like HELL.

Google later told me it’s the Gastrocnemius:


I’m not in agonizing pain but it’s certainly not comfortable. A quick call to my stepdad confirmed that I should probably go the RICE route AND go to the doctor. And of course tomorrow is the day I have to walk Owen in to his new classroom and do all the registration stuff so I can’t leave Katie in the car. Then I have to hope I can get in to see a doc and that it’s something they can do something for.

UGH. This is NOT something I really needed right now.

Morning at the playground

I told Owen we could go to the playground this morning, thinking he would pick the one we’ve gone to a few times (the one we stopped at on the way back from seeing Tom off) that’s closest to us…but no…he requested the “baseball playground” (obviously, the one next to the ball fields we went to after playing baseball).

He also requested “socks like grannie’s at the hotel” so he could slide down the slides better. So I gave him some of mine (no pics, unfortunately)…and they stayed on pretty long, until he saw a girl in bare feet and then he wanted bare feet, too!


It was a nice, cool, fall-ish morning so we were all in long pants and long sleeves (which felt like heaven!)…but Katie just couldn’t quite understand the long sleeves and kept trying to pull them off.


This is how she sometimes goes down stairs.


Unlike Owen, she doesn’t mind sand at all.



Owen with Connor, one of the kids from my mommy group.


Katie had her first skinned-lip/chin fall on the sidewalk moments before this (she just stumbled). She cried for about 15 seconds while I brushed the sand off her face…and then she was fine.