Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Something Old is New Again

Michael has had a fascination with the old-style Jiffy Pop, and finally got one to try out. He was very excited about doing it on the stove; he read the directions and everything. It worked, and now he has successfully scratched that itch. What more is there to say?

Before


After

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Editing::One Thing Leads to Another

I've been fussing for a while because I needed to reorganize my primary workspace (desk, top of desk, areas around desk, etc.), but have not made time to do that (somehow working on my clients' projects was my priority...go figure). But, a series of unfortunate events (name that series) led to and supported putting organization closer to the top of my to-do list.

First and foremost: my printer. I'm pretty sure this was the hand-me-down from David when his company upgraded his printer, so that would make it about ten years old. It's a color printer, but it gave up printing blue before it was passed on to me. That was fine, because I just figured out which colors not to use on documents if distinguishing colors was important. Then, the red gave out. That left black and yellow. That's just not okay. My business' signature colors include magenta, purple, and green. Just can't make that happen with black and yellow.

Second, I realized I'm going to have to copy and/or scan every single cashier receipt for both my editing business and David's remodeling business, because the ink on those suckers fade pretty quickly and certainly would not survive the requisite seven years recommended by the IRS. That in itself was not an issue, but having my printer/copier on top of my roll-top desk (where I cleverly put it to keep it from taking up valuable workspace) made making numerous copies of receipts problematic. This issue became a bit more urgent since I need (or want, depending on how process-oriented you are) to copy/scan every receipt for both businesses from 2016 before I send all my "stuff" to our accountant to prepare income tax statements for said year.

Taking "first" and "second" together, there was no sense going through the burdensome process of moving a printer/copier that needed to be replaced anyway. So, it was time to get a new printer (business write-off...yay!). Since my business is still "blossoming," being thrifty was important. But, it needed to be reliable and print in color (what's a spreadsheet without color?). Print quality wasn't much of an issue, but speed was a consideration. Where do I go to find such a printer along with consumer reviews? Amazon, of course.

I found it with about 30 minutes of poking about. It was less than $60. I ordered it. It was on my doorstep in two days. I don't care how many people insist Amazon is Satan come to destroy humanity, I love Amazon.



Opening the box is always a gleeful experience.
The reviewers on Amazon may have overstated the simplicity of setting it up. There were two pages, back and front, of the "Getting Started" guide.


Simple Set-Up Instructions

When the printer and the online set-up instructions (in addition to the aforementioned printed instructions) failed to agree with one another, I called on Thomas to finish setting it up. Which he did, because he a good son who loves his mother.


Ready to go.

It now works! I can reach printouts from my yoga ball (without falling off of it), and it's easily accessible for copying! Yay!

So, the resulting benefit of this whole exercise was reorganizing my workspace, which happened (the first photo above). My desktop is uncluttered in a wonderfully peaceful and focus-inspiring way (I can actually put an open MS binder in front of me and work onscreen at the same time). I can get to my pen-and-ruler drawer (doesn't everyone have one of those?) without having to move my stand-up organizer. All of my reference books are within easy reach and I don't have to unstack eight of them to get to the ninth. All of my client files are in an actual filing cabinet where I can easily reach them. I can look up from my computer screen and see my most favorite painting (reproduction) when I need a moment of contemplation. I found the perfect spot for the Family Dictionary. And (covered with a protective hand towel) the new printer has become a favored perching spot for Bagheera and BooBoo (because many writers and editors need their animal spirits).

What more can an editor ask for?

My Zen inspiration corner: Cool antique-y lamp. Origami cranes from dear friends' wedding celebration. Mama Bear pencil/pen/ruler cup. Dinosaur skeleton model (guess where that came from). Incense pot. Reading Girl in the background. Perfect. Back to editing...



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Puppy Love


Jenny (12) and Ruger (4-ish)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Helping with the Laundry


Biscuits

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bold Fashion Statement

Our current exercise routine is me taking the kids to the indoor pool Monday through Friday. This was Thomas' attire today. File this one under "they never listen to me when I tell them what to wear in public."


Waaaaat?!?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sleeping Sitting Up

Please note the title of the book...

BooBoo (9)

Work in Progress - Stairs

Our stairs have been through some tough times and were showing it. Some of the bullnose finish pieces had popped off the front of the treads, resulting in steps that were a wee too short for the average foot (but not on every step, which made them that much more precarious). The older dogs (Jasmine and Jenny) have been having more and more trouble getting up and down them without slipping because of the stairs' hardwood finish. So, time for a re-do.

Thomas agreed to take on the project with David's instruction and oversight. The first step (ha) was tearing the finished bamboo off the treads and risers, ripping off the underlayment, and removing the banister on the open side of the stairs.

That accomplished, Thomas installed new solid wood treads, with David cutting boards to length. Since all boards were straight cut, the front edges of the treads needed to be rounded, which Thomas used a router to accomplish. The outside edges of the first four treads got the same treatment.

Here's the progress so far, along with the (rightfully) proud carpenter.


Ta-da!

The next step is preparing and primering the steps and side trim on both sides. Then painting the treads, and installing laminant on the risers. Finally, we'll be tacking a carpet runner all the way from the bottom to the top so the girls have something easier to climb up.




Bravely forging forward!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Reading and Pizza

It's been a few years since we officially enrolled in Pizza Hut's Reading Reward program. Each student enrolled in the program sets a reading goal for the school year. Each month they reach their goal (as confirmed by teacher), they get a free personal pan pizza.

All three boys are now too old to officially participate, but we've continued the tradition anyway. William is the big "reader" and has met his goal of one book per month almost every month we've been doing this. Thomas and Michael...have not been as consistent.

This is the second month in a row all three boys have earned their pizza. And believe me, they take full advantage of filling up. A personal pizza is not nearly enough to satisfy their lunch intake requirements, even with boneless wings on the side. So, we all split full-sized pies (with a little left over to take home to Dad).


Post-consumption table

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Backyard Adventures

Michael enjoys spending a lot of time outside, and during the "school week," that means the back yard. Having plenty of scrap left from taking down a few dead trees, he gathered up some materials and built himself a lean-to.


Front Door
Sturdy door header
























View from outside























Flurry of mushrooms...NOT for emergency dining

Saturday, May 14, 2016

NOLA Day 3

Saturday morning. Eight AM. Construction. In the building. Go figure.
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Most of the morning was spent getting some work done, but by lunchtime we were ready for some walkabout. As you might expect, the architecture of the homes in the French Quarter is worth stopping to take a look at. These are a couple of the nicest little cottages we walked past.



But, there is just about every kind of townhouse, shotgun shack, and brick building imaginable in this area, and some that just make you go "huh?" And the thing is, because this is a historic/landmark district, owners can't change any aspect of their buildings. They have to be restored to look exactly as they have for the past hundred years or so. It's strictly regulated by the city to preserve the nature of the neighborhoods. And as much of a pain in the ass as it must be for building owners, they're doing a good job of protecting what makes this area such a draw for visitors. According to our Air BnB hostess, you can't even use a different color of paint. So, you know, don't buy an ugly building.
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One of the things I like about walking is that you get to see these tiled plaques telling you the names of the streets two centuries ago. There are also tile street markers on each corner.


After a bit of wandering, we settled on Johnny White's for lunch. Actually, we were kind of almost yanked in the door by the "host" who hangs out in front passing out menus to people on the street. "I got a nice table for you on the balcony! Let's go!" And we did, indeed get a nice table right on the corner (okay, two nice tables). Despite being almost uncomfortably warm on the street, there was a nice breeze on the balcony. Which is probably why they built balconies on these old buildings.

William perusing the menu

It was nice and relaxed; the perfect opportunity for selfies.

Thomas with Aunt Faby



Me and my Honey.

The food was gooooood! I've now developed a fondness for BBQ shrimp, NO style. The sauce was deliciously sweet when you dipped the bread in it, but the shrimp themselves somehow didn't pick up the sweetness as much. Just a lovely tangy-ness. And incredibly messy! There is NO way to eat these guys without getting at least one hand covered in sauce. YUM! And just about perfect with a cold beer.

My lunch. You should have been here.

We were in a perfect place to enjoy some live rock/blues music. The bar just across the street had a live band playing (very loudly, but well), so we could hear the music without being deafened or overwhelmed. And during our lunch a parade casually passed by playing live Jazz music.

Coming...

...Going

A teenager being pointed at by a tweenager. The love/hate relationship between these two is something to behold. Though it's mostly love...


After lunch we continued our walkabout.


They could be brothers.

At Market Square we came across a magician just getting started for the day. We were his first audience. He roped us in with the line, "I'm going to start my show just as soon as I can find ten people who give a damn." He used Michael's brand new mood ring (from the Voodoo shop) to do one of the tricks.

"I'm pretty sure you'll get this back."



Michael watches his ring nervously
William has to be just about the best audience member for any act. He just can't hold back his exuberance and appreciation of a good trick. Or show of any kind.

"Oh my god! Dude!"

Even Thomas, who's been practicing card tricks, was impressed.

"Oh, yeah. I totally know how he did that. I think."

After a bit more wandering about, we returned to the house for a rest-up and fresh-up before heading out for dinner with David's entire team at Bourbon House.


Earlier this year, David's company was awarded a very significant contract expansion, going from about a quarter of his client's sites to almost 100% of them. That required bringing on additional staff, so for the first time in a decade or so David has more than just Faby working with him. Can't really see them, but from left to right are Stephanie (Cat Woman), Jason (Batman), Josh (Green Lantern, who came on about a year ago), and Faby (Wonder Woman, who's been with David for 14 years). David is Superman. They refer to themselves as The Justice League. It's a team-building thing. It works. David's team rocks.


Barrett, our drink waiter, was not invited to join The Justice League.

I have to say, this is the best restaurant we've tried so far. The service is fabulous, very attentive without being pushy, efficient but still friendly. And the food was phenomenal. David and I both had the pecan catfish with shrimp. Even the rice was amazing.

And, what is making this young man so happy? The night before, he had discovered the joy of...


...the cheese board! This kid LOVES cheese, though he's generally stuck to cheddar and parmesan. The night before at Orleans Grapevine, he ordered their cheeseboard as an appetizer and fell in love, so he wanted to try this one, which turned out to be quite a bit fancier. 

A few items were never correctly identified

Maybe the most impressive aspect of this dining experience was the food delivery. We ordered several appetizers, and some of us had salads. Instead of the waiter bringing them out in batches, there was a whole team of waitstaff who swooped in and deposited all of the pre-meal goodies all at the same time. No one had to wait for anything. Empty plates were cleared promptly; I swear there was someone whisking away finished plates every five minutes. And when it came time for the meal, whoooosh!, everything all appeared at the same time, delivered by a team. Very cool. Even when there was an improperly cooked dish, a corrected dish was delivered within minutes. And there was this milkshake with rum thingy for the adults that was absolutely to die for.

If you want a really nice, but not extravagant, dinner in NO, definitely try Bourbon House.

Me and my dining buddy

***

In case you've been wondering how all of this dining and activity has been affecting William's blood sugars, it's been pretty up and down. Mostly up. As you can imagine, most of the places we're eating at don't have nutritional fact sheets available, so it's pretty much guestimating carbs. And at the tiny carb:insulin ratio we're using (4:1), there's a huge margin for error. Add to that a lot more walking than he's used to, which lowers BG, it's kind of a "correct as you go" kind of proposition. Thankfully, that has not dampened his enjoyment of eating wonderful foods.


Friday, May 13, 2016

NOLA Day 2

Our first full day in NO was mostly work for David and I, so we didn't get out until the evening. Stephanie arrived in the afternoon, and she and Faby headed out for a Blue Man Group show. So the Bears wandered out into the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street to see what we could see (there's a lot to see). Of course, we had to stop in at the local Voodoo shop for trinkets.

Thomas, Mama, and William checking out

Eventually we wandered into the Orleans Grapevine for dinner, and sat in the lovely little courtyard.


It was one of those rare opportunities to get pictures of all of us.

Brother Bear aka Thomas

Angel/Squishy Bear aka Michael

Thunder Bear aka Willaim

Including US!

The rarely-caught-on-film Papa Bear and Mama Bear

Part of traveling to different places is trying out the local cuisine. We're pretty sure this was pickled ochre. It didn't go over very well.

"How tiny can I make this bite?"

Deciding whether or not baked clams are something one should eat, eventually William decided "yes" and actually developed a taste for them. He had two, despite describing them as "sea fat." I think the large dose of melted cheese on top helped tip the scales in the clam's favor.

"Fatty...and fishy...perfectly balanced with cheese."

And, of course, tasting new foods means also sharing new foods with everyone at the table.

One of the few times these two will share anything. Win!



Happy memories with my boys.

Possibly the best ice cream I've had in my life. Chocolate, vanilla, and coconut in a gingerbread-ish bowl!

This was definitely shared all around

And, yes, on the walk home I did take a moment to appreciate the view.

 
Definitely worth $5 for the kiss I got. And for the record, Papa Bear took the pic.










 ***

Today was the seventh anniversary of William's diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes. It's always a rough time of year for me, particularly since it always falls within a week of (or on) Mothers Day. The past few weeks have also been difficult for William, hitting the wall with the unending maintenance required to keep him alive and healthy, the frustration of inadequate and imprecise treatment, and the reality of no cure on the horizon. I don't know if it's just coincidence he's struggling around his anniversary, or if he's experience the same type of anniversary trigger I have for the past six years. William was diagnosed while we were on vacation in Orlando, FL, so traveling at this time of year is something I was feeling some trepidation about. For whatever reason (or no reason), the date passed with no emotional upheaval for either of us. Perhaps we need to plan on a get-away to a new and interesting location for each anniversary...