Tuesday, what more can I say?

It is almost noon and I must face facts, I am lazy today.  I told MK and Mike this morning at breakfast, before heading out to the gym that I was having a “Rich Day.”  Mary Kay laughed and said that a “Rich Day” is nothing more than a day I spend in running around the house doing things.  She is right, but I am not sure what I should have called it. 

I am still in my leather easy chair but I do have my beloved laptop with me.  I have spent the morning messing around with blogorganization, making sure that I have everything properly documented and filed.  I have done some e-mailing and also a short translation from French into English for Christine in France, who requested that I go over something for a special “Fair Trade” exhibition taking place in a Strasbourg church in the near future featuring bronze statues from Burkina Faso.  It amazes me that a small piece of my work might soon be sitting in a French church.  It also just occurred to me that I forgot to mention to Christine, although with her English I am sure she is aware, that I used the American spelling of mold which would be mould in British English.  Oh well…

Yesterday was absolutely wonderful with Samantha but for some reason it flattened me a bit!  I fell asleep in my chair during her afternoon nap, something I don’t do all that often.  I thought about it and realized that I have really been terribly busy, so why not just have a plain old lazy day?

I had a great workout at the gym early in the morning.  Mike’s was less successful as he was dealing with Charlie’s somewhat unexpected exercise routine that “confused” his own a bit.  Mine was going along just fine, some cardio, my shoulder/chest machines, and then a “super” cardio finish because somehow having Michael next to me on a treadmill had me working harder than I otherwise might have. 

So, I came home, did some organization, a bit of translation, and am quietly sitting finishing up the herbal tea I prepared.  Lunch, perhaps?  Darn, I am going to have to prepare it myself!

I also did some work for MK’s upcoming birthday.  As usual, I will set some “grenades and bombs” of confusion about what will take place and about what she might be receiving for this particular “big” birthday that she wants no hubbub about.  I love the element of surprise and the stress as one wonders exactly what is going to happen.  Honestly, I haven’t done much planning…or have I?  Since she reads this blog, perhaps I am setting her up from this vantage point.  On the other hand, is her birthday this month or next month?  She knows me too well, I am not the normal husband, I remember these things.  My mother trained me well, Queen of Hallmark that she was!

So, although I am blogging later in the day than normal, at least I got to it!  Still keep wondering…the day is young, there are all kinds of mischief I can get involved in!

The blizzard arrives!

I went out somewhere around one o’clock or so to check on the grandmothers at Rosewood Nursing home. My mom was, as usual, the last one at the table, having barely touched her food. That is not unusual and the fact that she moves so little these days allows her diet to be limited in amount. She did eat her apple sauce and then her cake, and refused to leave until she had done so. She then drank her tea, although I was surprised that she wasn’t complaining that it was cold. She likes it piping hot and has never figured out that she is the cause of the drinking of less than hot tea, as it sits there forever while she completes her meal. She, like so many of us (who, me?) has a special routine for everything. I would like to think that her routines are a bit more obsessive than mine.

I was trying to move her along since I wanted to go visit my mother-in-law as well. I quizzed my mom about my mother-in-law and she said that she hadn’t seen her since her original arrival. I have to say that my mom and mother-in-law are both in the same wing on the second floor of the nursing home and my mother-in-law is, in fact, literally around the corner from her. My mother was very lucid today, as she usually is, she remembers all about my mother-in-law’s interesting character, I am thinking that that is why my mother didn’t roll her wheelchair around the corner! In any case, my mother-in-law has been stewing about the fact that she has to share a room and I did hear that she hoped not to room with my mom. I think that that is a good move.

My mother-in-law was in her bed, not dressed, as she likes to be. She was watching television but absorbing little, if any, of it. She was pleasant and she and my mother commiserated on the food, etc. in the nursing home.

I managed to get home somewhere around three o’clock, just as the winds had picked up and the snow started to fall. At four or so, I went out (as did Mikey to check the snow blower he will use when he goes out plowing with his brother) to shovel what there was as Mary Kay called and said she was on her way. She mentioned that her high school district was closed tomorrow as are seemingly all of the local school districts. The wind is gusty and the snow is moving furiously around as if in a tornado of sorts. With just about any hour of snowing in, there was plenty of snow to move. I ended up moving the two cars between the house and the fence hoping that they will provide enough coverage to keep that part of the driveway clean. It is a royal pain shoveling that section in heavy snow as the snow must be transported to either the front or back yard.

I brought in some wood, in case we want a fire and we are all set to settle in for the evening. Mikey had created a gourmet meal, although he denies it. He thinks it is a ho-hum type of meal. He coated chicken breasts and baked them in the oven. He made some fried potatoes and we are going to take some goat cheese circles, bake them and place them on salad to complete the dinner. I cannot wait.

So, welcome the first real blizzard in a long time, the blizzard of 2011!

Black bricks and fluffy snow

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I just took out the recycling after figuring out that my town does, in fact, not count Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday.  If they did, I wouldn’t have to take out the recycling, they would come tomorrow instead.  I was a bit surprised by that.  Mary Kay is home today, there is no school; during my school career it was an official holiday; oh well, but isn’t that discriminatory? It makes me think of the famous “Pulaski Day” we used to celebrate in Illinois with the day off, never being truly apprised as to why he was so important we would have a day off;  Dr. Martin Luther King day, that I can understand.

As I moved the recycling from the front to the back I slipped on some invisible ice on my driveway and almost pulled out my back.  That was a bit of a surprise. As I walked in the house, my crocs filled up with just enough snow to be annoying as I passed by several big black bricks of dirty snow from the car that I kicked aside.  The falling snow shall soon hide the ugliness of a winter thaw and traffic on the temporarily pristine surfaces.

Ali did get the paper and once again is snoozing in the same location she has been choosing the past few days near my feet.

I am not feeling overly great, having yesterday figured out why I was cleaning and straightening up like the mad man I am, I was getting Samantha’s cold.  It wasn’t the stress or worry coming out, it was a simple cold!  As the day progressed that feeling of weird pain in my sinuses progressed as it felt like they were twisting tightly and tightening.  The result was an intense unpleasantness of swallowing, growing stronger by the moment.  I almost feared going to bed thinking that I might have a bad night, but luckily that didn’t come true.

We shall be having Samantha over for a bit today as we jockey time so that everyone can have some free time. Yesterday at Ribfest she was a bit better mood wise than she had in previous days while her nose was running; yesterday the cold was  bit “stuffier” but still evident.  I must say that I have rarely seen a child do as well with a cold, even my own didn’t.  Her illness showed itself by a little less politeness, she almost always uses her “pleases and thankyous” in both French and English but was more inclined to be curt.  She was also more inclined to hang on to mommy and to a lesser extent daddy when the mood struck.

Ribfest went extremely well and seemed to help melt the tension we have been feeling in a sometimes heavy duty way since the day that Michael told us he was a drug user. Breaking bread together may just be symbolic but it is far deeper than that in meaning.  It must be almost primeval the actual sitting down with people and eating.  It seems to break down barriers and allows us to move on.  Since it is such a Koerner tradition anyway with European aspects added in, it is even more important that we actually take the time to spend with each other.

Talking about breaking bread, I remember that when I was an adviser at New Trier that I made a great effort to bring doughnuts and such even when I didn’t feel so inclined.  I was seemingly so often gifted with dysfunctional groups that had problems and eating together definitely didn’t ever hurt.

I pulled out the apéro (apéritif) when everyone arrived.  Everyone had their drink of choice (with Mikey teetotaling) as we snacked on peanuts, spiced pretzels, and cheese puffs.  Even Samantha enjoyed the experience as we sat together and talked about the week’s experiences and then had the birthday boy open up his gifts.  We are hoping that the family stress we have experienced continues to lessen as we all recover and heal.  There was talk of working out together, playing hockey, cross country skiing, and movies.  I just exchanged my cross country boots so I am hoping to get out in the stuff.  Might as well enjoy the snow we are gifted with.

The oldest and the youngest tended to the final step of cooking yesterday to get the ribs in order on the grill.  I had intended to take pictures of them but they were snarfed up before I could do anything about it.  I did get some pics of Michael in all his “barbecue” glory.  He was so funny because when we all sat down and had a toast, I followed it up with a question to the group asking if anyone needed anything.  I had noticed that there wasn’t any extra sauce around, but frankly after jumping up quite a few times (honestly, I really don’t need to work out!), I decided to sit down and “make do.”  Mikey asked the question as he apparently likes extra sauce as well.  I am not even sure how I responded, but the whole family went into its usual uproar saying that my “martyr” ways wouldn’t be accepted.  What they meant by that is something I learned from my mom growing up, when she would cook, for example, she would always take the slightly overcooked meat, the smaller piece, etc., gifting us with the better portion.  I have been known to follow this path and when it is noted, it is more often than not corrected.  Do I need professional help for this? 

The other aspects of the day, as I collected more Facebook friends from the past, were more than wonderful.  I have received messages from so many former students with little bits and pieces of kind words of things they remember from my classroom.  Yesterday, one of them who has self-admittedly sadly put aside her French as she majored in elementary education talked about how she mentioned my practices in education classes.  Another one spoke of using some of my practices while teaching English in France. Then there was the young man who spoke of reading this blog and saying that he was so happy to have had a teacher who cared as much about his students and that it made him feel so good about his education.  Teaching well is one heck of a hard career at times and drains the last bit of energy from you as if you were losing blood at times.  Moments like this are like transfusions and more than make up for the blood lost!

So, kind of a holiday here although unfortunately we won’t be thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King as much as we should.  The snow is starting to collect on the exterior surfaces and I am sure that I am going to have to do something about that. Meanwhile, I need to gather my forces and face another day and week.  This week shall be probably the last of my heavy tutoring for a while; it has been a great experience as the students have been so appreciative and receptive.

Ali is stirring, is Mikey up?  Gourmet breakfast perhaps?

Swimming meditation revisited

Today I went swimming for my exercise and unfortunately or fortunately, I was surrounded by more noise than one could believe.  I had neglected to think about the fact that private swimming lessons would be going on today and the gym had set aside one lane for laps. 

I had mistakenly thought that no one was in there when I spied the keys given out for the pool area from the desk when I signed in to the gym.  When I arrived there, the parents (all dads) and swim instructors were there with a lot of little ones, all about Samantha’s age, about two.  In the past, I always amused the gym desk personnel as I would run over to the pool area before checking in, seeing that there was a lane free.  I found that it doesn’t really matter so I gave that up.  Now they have less to be amused by…lol!

So I went in and I thanked my lucky stars that I am a master of tuning out extraneous noises because there was a loud cacophony of noise from the children, even one who screamed for ten minutes straight.  I used to drive people crazy when I was younger because my study habits did not need silence.  I actually liked to have a TV or radio on and I would just tune it out as I studied.  I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, but that is just the way it is for me.

So, my meditations went on with the noise and that was fine.  My only disappointment was when, toward the end of my stint in the pool, someone asked to share and once again I had to swim with the professionals.  It was particularly hard since the lane was the one with the ladders. 

Mikey and I discussed my swim (or lack thereof) technique and we both came to the same conclusion.  Although I don’t swim the standard stroke, I still get an “interesting” workout and perhaps the workout isn’t as important as the meditative quality of what I am doing.

I came home and took my blood pressure and it was lower than it has been all week, so I am happy. Now for the rest of my day, I am wondering what the tutoring sessions shall bring!

Day Three of Daddy Boot Camp

I got up early this morning and expected and looked forward to sitting down with my coffee after setting up breakfast for Mary Kay and me.  I arrived in the kitchen and realized that Mikey is at home and that I was going to have some cleaning up to do in order to enjoy myself.  I sometimes wish I were different but I need a certain order to be able to enjoy myself, something that is a double edged sword.

After talking to him when he got up, I realized that he was really not capable of the cleaning up as he is still having issues with sleep that clearly, from what I can see, area a major reason for a relapse when you have an addiction.  It is somewhat akin to torture to a recovering addict to have to deal with.  A nightly fear of how the sleep routine is going to go.  It is hard to rationalize and realize that it is a temporary phase.  I recall days of insomnia before having children.  My boys did a great number on me and taught me how to sleep standing up and, for the most part, insomnia is no longer a part of my life.  Periodically, everyone has an evening of sleeplessness, my most usual scenario of late is to fall into a deep sleep, wake up completely wide awake, and stay up for a few hours.  I am guessing that I may well need less sleep than most people, anyway.

Mikey did a bit of research and knows that the sleep issues could last for a while.  That doesn’t make it necessarily easier to deal with. 

I am enjoying my house almost devoid of Christmas trappings.  I enjoy the clean aspect and not having to see the needles on the carpet.

I am wondering how long to continue what I call the Daddy Boot Camp.  How long is this going to go on?  When I say this, I am saying it in reference to the daily journal entries.  Time will answer that issue.  This morning, once Mike got up, we decided to watch a movie together.  I wanted to “chill” and see about getting my blood pressure lower than it has been, so watching a movie seemed to be a good solution.   It has been in the slightly higher than the borderline range, but I am not happy about that and I am avoiding medicating however I can.  If I really need it, that is one thing, but if I can somehow lower it wholistically, I shall.  My breathing session today lowered it to a more normal range; I am going to continue to try the controlled breathing each day. 

Mike is eating us out of house and home, his new “clean” status is bringing out his appetite and he actually could use a little padding.

We had lunch with his oldest brother and now we are getting ready to go to the gym.  Later this afternoon I have a tutoring session to attend.  

So, off to the gym for a swim and spotting Mikey to be followed by a visit to the grocery store and picking up items for dinner and for Mikey’ moments of hunger.  My routine is in transition.

Back to normal

I am sometimes convinced that holidays like Christmas were designed to get people to clean their abodes!  In order to put things up, you have to remove things, often find dirt, and clean.  The same thing happens when you end the holiday and put things back in order.  Is there anything nicer than having your house back after a holiday mess?  It is especially nice to be done with the pine needles, as nice as a live tree is.  It is almost three pm and we are finally pretty much done. 

Mike and I have been busy since early morning.  I started before he got up and then he and I located the storage boxes to put things away.  It was nice having someone go under the house and get them!  Midstream, we went to the gym  to release some excess energy and then hit the grocery store so Mike could take some leftover pork roast and morph it into tonights dinner.  So, a few bell peppers, carrots, and other items later, we went home and had lunch.  That was followed by renewed clean up and everything is pretty much all away. 

I am going to steal a few moments for myself before going to pick up la Princesse (aka Bambina, Samantha, Sam, etc.) at the babysitter’s and bring her here where Daddy will pick her up after a business meeting.  I shall then head south to Kenilworth to tutor a high school student in French.

All in a day’s work!

Day Fourteen, rehab and Day One of Daddy Boot Camp (DBC)

I woke up around four forty-five am, wondering whether I should throw myself out of bed, wondering whether sleep was going to retake me or if I was being forced to a wakeful state. I managed to remain in bed until the MK snooze alarm fest somewhere in the vicinity of five thirty or so.  Got up, cleaned up, straightened up some and went downstairs.  Temperature in the kitchen was fifty-two; we hadn’t yet reached the time when the thermostat would kick in at sixty-six or so.  I threw it up to a high sixty-eight and went about my business.

Cleaned up a bit in the kitchen, set the coffee to on and got things ready for breakfast, putting all the necessities on the tray to take to the dining room.  Turned on the tree lights and took the final recycling out and moved the car so MK could extricate hers from the driveway when she left.  School is back in session.  Kids have German to learn!  Sat down with my coffee in the cup I had to warm up in the microwave so it wouldn’t chill my coffee too fast.

I am wondering if this is going to be my daily event, hitting the laptop bright and early in the morning.  What I mean here is, writing in this blog.  Am I going to feel the need/urge to write as I work toward my own personal deal with the new paradigm in the Koerner family?

Off to have breakfast with MK.  I shall be back.

I thought about taking my blood pressure.  When I had my physical last week, the doctor was almost crazed with the idea of my taking meds to counteract my situation.  She is a great doctor, very wholistic in approach, and I respect her, but she doesn’t seem to understand that I really do have White Coat Syndrome.  Therefore, the blood pressure is taken each day so I can prove to her that my BP is actually not an issue.  So far, every time I have been borderline, but within range.  As I mentioned before, perhaps my current stress might be the reason?

We didn’t see Mike yesterday, but we did talk to him, he was fine.  We ended up the latter part of the day with Samantha as her parents went out to dinner alone and then to a movie.  Those moments are precious and for young couples they can be passed by.  Babysitters and such are expensive; add in to that the recession and how it has hit us all.  So, I got some “French time” with her and MK got some much needed “Sam time” as well.

Mike explained to me that I should pick him up around ten am or so.  He said that that would be after a meeting and that they were planning a special send off for him anyway.  His only request is that we go to Dear Franks, the local hot dog joint that is a Deerfield habit.  Mike said that California just didn’t have the great gooey, warm, spreadable cheddar cheese that we have in such abundance in the Chicago area (and so close to Wisconsin).  He really missed it…  The people who run the place are not the original owners but they have been so gracious and inviting that they have managed to surpass the original status of the fast food establishment.  They have done it to the extent that they have even opened up more in the area.  They are successful and they deserve it!

Mike talked about going to the gym with me; I am going early and swimming because I am not sure if this day will allow for a work out. 

Daddy Boot Camp is a funny thing and this is day one of it.  I may have mentioned this before that when the boys were alone with me; MK would come home to find a somewhat more regimented set up in the household upon her return.  She would call it Daddy Boot Camp.  Obviously each parent has a particular style and mine is a bit more organized because that is my nature.  The family realizes that my being home and MIkey returning means that the DBC is once again functional.  Mike is okay with this and we shall soon see how this works with a twenty-six year old.

In case one wonders what the heck is going on as I use different appellations for Michael, it is frankly because, more often than not, that is a Koerner thing.  You don’t find it so much with Christian or with Richie, but Michael found himself called all sorts of nicknames.  In this entry alone, I have used Michael, Mike, and Mikey.  Most of the time, I call him Mikey and he is fine with that, he is fine with all three, but Michael actually has a list of over twenty nicknames that I actually have saved in a Microsoft Word document.  His brothers had more nicknames for him that one could possibly imagine. I thought about an entry with all his nicknames, but I thought again…

I am heading off to the gym, it is almost seven thirty and, hey, the day is young.  I am wondering how this day is going to pan out.

Swam for an hour, showered, and then headed out to Waukegan.  Picked  up Mikey around 10:15.  We headed home, stopping at Target for incidentals and then finally home.  Christian and Samantha were there for us waiting. 

We had lunch.  Things were a bit tense as we discussed some of the things that had gone on in his absence regarding his welfare.  It is obvious that things are not going to be as easy as we had thought.  He is not in agreement with all of the choices we have made.  We have made them oh so carefully, knowing full well that they might not be all that popular with him.

He and Christian left me at home watching Samantha (or being there while she napped) while they went to play ice hockey somewhere.  The ice situation has been questionable (as are a lot of things) and  we are taking one thing at a time.