Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bingo Night

On Sunday we went to the neighborhood clubhouse for bingo night. Andrea's a part of the "Women's Coalition" and they put together the bingo as a fundraiser.

Connor was really in to the bingo. There were lots of little prizes to win and there were lots of winners. Connor won twice.

Paige enjoyed the pizza and snacks. We tried to help her with the bingo sheet, but she was more interested in eating the Fruit Loops than playing. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Connor's swimming lessons

Andrea signed Connor up for some one on one lessons this summer. He's been working with Jordan for a few weeks and has been learning all kinds of good swimming moves. With ISR, he learned how to survive in the water, but his technique was mostly just dog paddling and floating. With Jordan he has been learning proper strokes and is getting pretty fast!

They do a lot of hard work, but she gives Connor some time to goof around too. 

Cole's 8th birthday pool party

On Friday night we went over to Aberdeen for Cole's 8th birthday party. We hadn't seen the Longs in a long time and it was nice to get together with them. We swam for a while, then ate snacks and cake.

The kids all got sunglasses and took a group pic after we ate cake.

Before we left, the kids insisted we play on the playground for a bit.

I'd forgotten how good Connor was at monkey bars.

Garage organization - Monkey Bars

Having no basement makes it a challenge to get things organized. Our third car garage has been extremely cluttered and this past week we had Monkey Bars put in to get some things off the ground and hang stuff against the walls. The pics don't look like much of an improvement, but there's a lot more room to maneuver and there are boxes stacked all the way up to the ceiling as well. I'm not 100% crazy about the system, but it helps with a lot of our things. It would help if we could somehow hang all our bikes on it, but although we have the room to do it, it wouldn't be practical since we ride them quite a bit and it'd be a pain in the butt to always put the trailer back on a bike when we were going to ride. 

Before and after pics!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Connor and Paige have both rediscovered trains lately. Paige has enjoyed pushing the trains around the track and putting "tails" on the engines. Connor has gotten pretty good at creating tracks. He will rearrange them daily and he plays very well with little sister. They have been playing so nicely lately and it's neat to see them play something together that they both enjoy so much.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chloe and Connor's chores

We decided a while ago that we needed to find some work around the house for Connor to do so he would learn about responsibility. He's got a good work ethic when you give him a task and we wanted to nurture that behavior. Right now he's in charge of taking Chloe outside to go potty, helping buckle Paige in when we're in the car, collecting laundry from upstairs when Andrea does the laundry, and cleaning up the playroom.

Today, I decided to get a quick pic of him doing his work with Chloe. Since we don't have a fenced in yard, we have to take Chloe out front. Taking Chloe out is probably Connor's most complicated and difficult task. He has to put on Chloe's leash, open the garage door, take her down to the grass, then take her back inside and close the garage. He knows to run inside if there's another animal outside (like a loose dog or bobcat) or if there are strangers that approach him. I typically keep an eye on him from inside when he goes out with Chloe. Right now he doesn't have to pick up her poop, that's something Andrea and I still take care of.

Aquatica with Gina and Trevor

On Thursday Andrea and Gina took the boys to Aquatica, which is the waterpark for Sea World.  The waterpark had some really neat attractions like a humongous water playground and two lazy rivers. Andrea said one of the lazy rivers was very long and had a super fast current. They all had a bunch of fun.

Connor of course just had to have a stuffed animal to remember the occasion.

They intended to stay the night in Orlando and go again on Friday, but after their full day on Thursday they realized they'd done everything they'd intended to do and just drove home Thursday night.

Camps for Connor

Connor is off for the summer and Andrea has been doing an amazing job keeping him active and busy. He's got a lot of time this summer and Andrea and I both decided that being at home is fine for some days, but we knew he'd get bored and wanted to take advantage of the time he has off from school. Most of the camps he's been involved with are just in the morning until afternoon and most aren't every day of the week. It gives him something to do and then when he's home in the afternoon and evening he enjoys and appreciates his "home time".

He's really enjoyed all of the camps this year and always looks forwards to them. I can't think of one time he complained because he had to go. Andrea did a good job picking things he'd like and mixing up his weeks. He typically doesn't do the same camp for more than a week and then he gets to try something new. He's done a mini-camp that involves swimming and crafts at the Julington Creek clubhouse, he's done soccer camp and basketball camp so far.

We took some pics of him on the last day of his soccer camp. He played well even though it was much harder to score since everyone was playing a dedicated position and there was actually a goalie.

Trevor's also been going to the camps with Connor. He hasn't really been too excited about the sports camps. He said he didn't like the basketball camp because all you did was shoot hoops and dribble the basketball. Trevor doesn't much care for sports but he's been a good buddy over the summer and I think it's helped both of them when they go to a camp and already know someone.

Basketball camp was fun with coach John. Connor and Trevor were some of the smaller kids so they didn't get the most play time and struggled since they were shorter.

Overall, it's been a fun summer for our little man. I'm glad Andrea's been so dedicated to finding things for Connor and she's been awesome about taking him around to everything and also spending some special days with him.

Eye Surgery for Shawn - PRK

This past week I had PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) surgery. It's similar to LASIK, but with some differences. Wikipedia compares them this way: LASIK is associated with decreased inflammation and quicker recovery, but at the cost of decreased expression of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) at the surgical bed. PRK, on the other hand, has longer recovery time with more postoperative discomfort and irritation, but rates of ocular dryness are less, as only the epithelium is denuded in this approach. LASIK, on the other hand, involves creation of a corneal flap.

So, there are some advantages and disadvantages to PRK over LASIK. To me it was a decision between a fast recovery time with LASIK and a better long term outcome with PRK at the expense of short term "discomfort". I thought it sounded like PRK was worth the effort as the "corneal flap" always made me uncomfortable since it never really heals.

I've been wearing glasses since 5th grade and since I was in middle school, I've been wearing contacts pretty regularly. My prescription in both eyes was a -3.5 for the last decade at least. Little to no change as long as I can remember. My eyes lately have been getting red if I wear contacts while working on the computer all day, and I've been experiencing a little more discomfort. I had two eye doctors recommend that I no longer wear contacts due to the irritation in my eyes, however I will always wonder if they just were telling me that since they followed it up with a pitch for LASIK or PRK.

In the end, I did some research on local doctors and found one that had fairly good reviews online,  has been featured on the local news and I'd heard him speak on the local NPR station. Andrea and I both have been considering doing corrective eye surgery and both consulted with him. We decided I'd go first and depending on my experience Andrea would have surgery later in the year.

I had a couple appointments where they took measurements of my eyes and on Friday morning (July 12th, 2013) Andrea and I went to the doctor for the surgery.

I put on a hairnet and some shoe covers before going in to the surgery room.

They also gave me some numbing drops that turned my eyes red and hurt.

Next came the fun surgery. I was expecting it to be uncomfortable, and it was worse than my expectations. Having your eyelids pried apart by metal instruments is not pleasant and before they blasted my eyes with the lasers, the doctor scraped my eyeballs vigorously with some kind of a tool. It wasn't exactly painful at this point, but it was extremely uncomfortable. All of my instincts demanded that I shut my eyes, turn my head, look away, and fight him off. Instead, I had to force myself to sit still.

My right eye was first and after he scraped it up I had to stare at a blinking light. The laser made a clacking sound and I had to sit very still and stare at the blinking light as it ablated my cornea. BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP BAP...

As it was shooting me, the doctor and technicians told me I was doing great and sit still. With each BAP, I could see my vision changing slightly and with the last few BAPs my vision got clouded. Then, it was over and they pulled me out and put eye drops in my eye. I was happy the right eye was done, but it was almost worse now knowing what was coming for my left eye. For my left eye, as he was scraping it and sticking it, apparently I kept looking up and he scolded me at least two or three times for it. I was trying hard to sit still, but my right eye was hurting and all of my animal instincts were hard to suppress. Andrea watched me through a glass window and said she could see my hands clenching and toes curling throughout the procedure.

When we were done I wasn't really in any pain although my vision was definitely not much improved if at all. When he sat me up, he pointed to a clock and told me that it was 4:00. I just said "uh huh", then looked at the clock and realized he wanted me to contradict him. The clock was across the room and blurry and after squinting a moment I was able to tell him it was actually 9:45 or something. I think he was expecting me to sit up and be more impressed with the immediate results, but I wasn't too thrilled yet and was still in a little shock from the procedure.

When we left, I realized I hadn't brought sunglasses and they gave me a pair to wear home. Andrea and I went to Cafe Genovese for lunch and I kept my eyes closed almost the entire time we drove there, ate, and then went home. She snapped a pic of me at lunch.

After that came the painful weekend. I had been expecting some discomfort following the procedure and fully intended to follow the doctor's instructions and "take it easy". I thought that "taking it easy" would entail relaxing in a dark room and maybe watching a little TV occasionally or reading. Instead, my eyes burned and hurt so badly that I had little choice but to lie in the bed in pain. The doctor said my eyes seemed pretty sensitive during the procedure and I believe I had more pain than average. Perhaps I am just a pansy, but it was flat out pain for me, not "discomfort" as advertised.

I hardly opened my eyes all day Friday, Saturday or Sunday. When I did, they would water like crazy and would hurt badly. The pain was only a 4-6 on a 1-10 scale, however it was so constant that it nearly drove me crazy. There was nothing I could do to escape it. No way I could sit to be comfortable. I lay in bed and listened to hours and hours and hours of podcasts. I tried to interact with the kids a little to help Andrea out, but the most "help" I could offer was to tell the kids stories before bed. They weren't good stories either since I could barely concentrate. 

I did go out to eat one day with Andrea and the kids. Paige put stickers on her eyes to be like Daddy and Andrea took our pic.

By the time Sunday night rolled around I was ready to claw out my eyes. I was resigned to being in horrible pain until my follow up appointment on Wednesday. After the procedure, the doctor put "bandage contacts" on my eyes and I was suspecting that they had been causing some of the pain. I anticipated I would be in pain until they came out. On Monday morning I woke up and was relieved to realize my eyes didn't hurt. I wasn't able to work at all Monday and Tuesday, but I was at least able to think and keep my eyes open. My vision wasn't good, but I could at least see a little bit.

On Wednesday I had my follow up appointment and the doctor took out the bandage contacts. He said I was healing nicely and to continue to take it easy. It has burned a little more since then to put in my eye drops, but I haven't really had any dryness or discomfort. My vision is getting better each day. At times I can see perfectly, then it gets blurry for a while, then I can see better, then it's blurry. It's a little bit of a rollercoaster, but it's improving.

My eyes feel a lot better. They aren't red or painful and it's amazing how thankful you can be for something so simple as pain-free eyeballs.

I am in my office typing this and decided to post one last pic of me right now with my new and improved laser eyes. Hopefully they continue to improve and my eyes will stay good for a while. It's supposed to take up to a month for the eyes to heal and adjust completely.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7-7-2013 Block party - Ribs and Shrimp

On Saturday night we went to the East side of the neighborhood for a Ribs and Shrimp Block party. The neighbors in a cul-de-sac hosted a bunch of people and everyone brought some food to eat, then we visited, watched the kids play, and once it got dark they shot some fireworks.

We'd been to it last year, so Andrea thought to charge the Powerwheel Jeeps and we brought them along. The first half of the party the kids all spent time jumping between Powerwheels and driving them around the cul-de-sac. 

Eventually all the vehicles ran out of juice and the children had to resort to human powered toys.

Once it got dark, our neighbor Aaron shot some of the biggest fireworks we've seen owned by a private individual. They were so big that after the first set was done we moved way back since they were very loud and we were getting pelted by little bits of the fireworks packaging when the fireworks burst (nothing on fire, just little bits of cardboard mostly).

Someone brought a bunch of glow-sticks and 4th of July costume jewelry. Connor loved it all and ended up with a bunch of it. It was actually pretty nice that he had it all since it was easy to spot him once it got dark.

We stayed out pretty late (past 10) and we were glad that we insisted both kids take a nap earlier in the day. Before we went to the block party Connor had complained that he didn't want to go, but when it was time to go home he told us he didn't want to leave. The kids had a bunch of fun with everyone.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

5th of July barbecue at Betty and Damion's

For the fifth of July, on Friday, we went over to Betty and Damion's house after work. Their pool has a fun waterfall to jump off of and they've got a nice big yard to play in.

Connor enjoyed jumping off the waterfall with the big kids and all the boats and rafts.

Andrea chit chatted with the ladies and watched the kids quite a bit while I goofed off.

Amanda and Betty bought some sparklers for the kids as well as some pretty big fireworks. The kids loved the sparklers, and we let our kids give them a try. They set it up so they'd have a cup to cover their hands from the sparks and it worked fairly well, but Paige got a little wild with hers and I snapped her pic just as Andrea was grabbing the sparkler away.

I played horseshoes and football with the dads. We started out with just catch and eventually put together a couple teams and ran some plays against each other. Our team won 4-2 and I caught three of the touchdowns for our team. When Andrea was watching of course I dropped the passes to me so not sure if she will believe her ex-marching band husband was the MVP.

The pool felt great after football!