Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oreo's Passing

Our family's pet rabbit, Oreo, died last night. Apparently she laid her little self down, went to sleep, and just didn't remember to wake up this morning. Apparently, this happens with bunnies. Obviously, this sucks. If there is an omnicient, omnipotent, all-knowing Entity sitting up there on his Heavenly Throne making these types of decisions, then He's just a big, fat meanie-face.

Spaghetti With Sand

This is totally not healthy, but the kids like it. I saw this recipe on a cooking show way back in my BC days and never forgot it.

½ box spaghetti (1/2 lb)
bread crumbs (2 slices worth if you make your own)
½ - 1 T parsley
½ - 1 T garlic
½ - 1 t salt
Olive oil
Parmasagne cheese

Cook spaghetti and drain as usual. Toss everything together. Serve.

Yeah, I’m aware this is a really desperate attempt at a meal, but , heck, sometimes you’re desperate.

De Fish, De Fish

Papa Bear returned from his “business” trip to Florida with these guys. The three little ones are his own. The big one was the captain’s condolence prize. A great time was had by all participants…except maybe the ones who got sick and hurled overboard (Papa Bear was not among the lilly-livered).

A little perspective shot....

Friday, May 29, 2009

Emotional Blow-Back

We’ve had a tough couple of days. The stress of T-Bear’s diagnosis and care has been peeking out around the edges of our familial relationships. Everyone seems to be showing the stress a little differently, but I think all of us are feeling it. I’ve dealt with it by launching a clutter-control project (makes me feel like I’m in control, when clearly I’m not…delusions do have their uses) and taking my anger out on messes. Brother Bear has become more argumentative and resistant than usual (if that is possible). Angel Bear has been melting down over every disaster imaginable, from having to wait 15 minutes for a snack to his brother not waiting to walk him to the trampoline, and wants me to carry him everywhere around the house. Only Papa Bear seems to be managing this with more grace than the rest of us.

T-Bear, obviously, has had the largest load to carry. I knew the honeymoon of post-illness “grateful to be alive and feeling good” would pass, and it has. He’s gone from saying “thank you for taking good care of me” after I poke him, to resisting the testing and injections. I can’t blame him. It sucks. And, because of his APD challenges, he’s becoming more non-verbal in expressing his stress. Wining, groaning, whimpering, writhing, crying, clinging. All the behaviors that say “I hate this”, and that make stabbing him several times a day more difficult than it already is.

I think it’s time for a vacation. Oh, yeah, we just had one. Oh, yeah, we’re supposed to still be on one (except for poor Papa Bear). So, why are we not relaxing and enjoying ourselves and one another? Just after Orlando, I had a brief glimpse of a vision of what our family life could be like if I gave up constantly trying to “improve” everything about us. Relaxed, joyful, fun, loving, curious, active. But, then I got sucked back into my efficiency mentality, the long list of what I “should” be doing. What we, as a family, “should” be doing. Ick. The “shoulds” sure are joy suckers.

I think it’s time for me to step back from the “to do” list (after I finish reconciling bank statements), and focus on relaxed, fun, loving time with the family. We could all use it. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t still collect and dump one bag of trash from the house per day, does it? :)

The Joy of Shredding

I’ve been on Mission Clutter Control for a few days now. Unlike previous Missions however, this time around I’m not attacking the entire house with rabid fervor to disembowel our domicile of all extraneous materials (for which I am sure my family is grateful). I’m on a slow, bit by bit plan, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable projects that can be accomplished in smaller blocks of time. Clean off the surface of my desk. Clear out old bills and receipts. Clean off, launder bedding, store away winter blankets, and re-make the kids’ beds. And, as I go, I’m focusing on filling trash bags and give-away bags. Not just moving the clutter around, but slowly, surely, getting it out of the house.

My favorite part of this has been the paper shredder. We used to have one of those dinky little things that sits on top of a trash can, designed mostly for home use, I’m sure. But several months ago we got a real-live getting-down-to-business shredder, one that comes with its own receptacle, and is serious enough it can destroy things like credit cards (woohoo!). While our timid little former shredder frequently got jammed and required meticulously picking bits of paper out of its teeth with tweezers to get running again, our new shredder, so far, has stood up very well to my jubilant feeding of it. I am hoping for a long, happy life together.

So, why do I like shredding so much? Brother Bear is a collector. Of everything. Including junk mail. And, it’s rubbed off on Angel Bear. If a catalog makes its way into the house, one or the other of them inevitably must keep it. Indefinitely. And, like most people I know, we get a number of catalogs. Some we get multiple copies of. And I always end up picking them up from wherever they were left. Several times. And, I can’t throw them away, because they must be kept. If I slip them into the trash, I am often found out and angrily confronted with my transgression.

But, if an item finds its way into the shredder, then it’s gone. Permanently. Forever. There’s no getting it back. And if I’m sneaky enough, no one else in the house will know it even existed. What does this mean? It means I will never spend one single additional moment of my precious life dealing with that item. I am completely freed from it. From the entanglement, from the arguments, from the dilemma of whether or not it is worth holding onto. No issue. No stress. The decision has been made, and it is indelible. It’s actually very liberating. And, we’re using the shreddings for the bunny hutch, so it’s being recycled.

Ah, the joy of shredding… Just be sure no one sees you doing it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Look Out, I'm Gonna De-Clutter!

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh. Mel at the Study The Classics group mentioned this book, so I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it over the course of a day and a half while I was cleaning the house in preparation for our Homeschool PTA Party on Saturday. Wait, let me rephrase that. I listened while I spent a day and a half herding everyone’s clutter. By the time I finished dealing with the clutter (and laundry), I didn’t have much time left to actually clean in the sense of using water and cleaners. Needless to say, once I finished my clutter herding, I was deeply inspired to permanently de-clutter our entire house. I’m sketching out my program now.

What I like about this book is Walsh doesn’t just say “get rid of a bunch of stuff”, he takes you through a step-by-step, room-by-room program and guides you through the process of dealing with all your stuff. And, he starts in a somewhat unexpected place by asking “what is your vision for your life?”, and then moves on to developing a vision for each room of your home, developing functional zones for each room, and then determining whether or not each item in the room supports the vision. Anything that doesn’t support the vision for that room needs to be removed. Period.

The other thing Walsh points out is, the amount of stuff you can have is limited by the amount of space in the home you live in. Right now. This minute. Period. So, you have to set limits on the amount of stuff you will allow in your home, designate areas and spaces for specific stuff, and then pare down to fit in that limit. And then, “one in, one out”. For each new item you bring into your home, you have to let go of an existing item of similar size or type. Period. If you have two bookcases, all of your books have to fit onto those two bookcases. Today. Right now. And, if they are completely filled, then when you bring home a new book, you have to let go of one. Period. Immediately. It’s the only way to defeat the clutter creep.

I got Angel Bear's room cleaned up the other day (for those who saw it on Saturday night, you know it took a while!). I worked with Brother Bear yesterday on assigning specific purposes to zones in his room, so we can get a start. And, my closet is on the hit-list this week as well. I’m trying not to take on too much at once, but still make some progress. Dare I hope we master the garage this weekend?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inagural Homeschool PTA Party

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who was able to attend our first Homeschool PTA Party, BBQ and Crab Boil! Everyone, I’m pretty sure, had a fabulous time, and we were able to relax, chill out, and enjoy one another’s company. We're looking forward to getting together again.

Spidy mask, clown shirt,
"I don't wanna grow up" helecopter beanie,
and New Orleans bling.
This outfit pretty much embodies
the tone of the evening.

The Garden

How many shades of green? Our beloved magnolia tree is tempting us with the threat of blooming. It should be spectacular.

Dropletts on the hydrangia.

A volunteer who survived the spring purging.

I wish you could smell this.

Honeysuckle. The boys and I are still surprised each time we find nectar inside.

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Marinade

Just in case anyone from last night was wondering about the whole tri-tip thing, here's the deal. We had tri-tip just about weekly when we were in California, and I still occasionally pick up the pre-marinaded version at Costco, which is to die for but is also pretty expensive. This time around, Papa Bear picked up just the meat at Costco, and I found a basic marinade on-line. Tri-tip is a deeply marbled piece of beef, so cooking slowly makes it incredibly tender and flavorful. The Santa Maria marinade, however, it the kicker. Here's my version:

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup chopped green onion
1 T garlic powder

You're supposed to marinade for 24 hours, but ours only stewed for about 8 hours (we use the zip-loc baggie method). Do the whole day-before bit, and it will be even yummier than it was last night. It should sit on the grill for about 45 minutes to cook slowly through. Slice into ribbons to serve.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apple Cheddar Sandwich

I love this sandwich, not just because it's yummy, but because it reminds me of some of my favorite people and some of my favorite experiences. I think S was the first of us to try this on our first Moms Night Out to Shakespeare Tavern, and she assured us it was yummy. It took me a while to try it at home, and it was totally worth it. Instead of an official baguette, this one was made up on a home-made baghette (see basic yeast bread recipe). One loaf serves the five of us, especially if I offer fruits and cheeses on the side.

Take your loaf and cut it in half. I put just a bit of mayo, sliced apple (I like the tart types), sliced cheddar, and a nice smoodge of pesto (I leave off the pesto on the kids'). The cripsy crunchy version, I image, has a charm all its own. But, I also really liked it with the softer, slightly denser, almost-still-warm-from-the-oven version, too. Once you try it, you'll be dreaming up all kinds of variations.

Basic Yeast Bread

This recipe has been wending its way through or local homeschool group for a couple of months now, at least. I love this recipe because it's almost impossible to mess up, and you can use it for so many things. Basic loafs, baguettes, twisty breads (butter, garlic, and Italian herbs on top), buscuits, monkey bread, cinammon rolls. Go nuts. It can take it. **For those who've been using this recipe, please feel free to comment with modifications, upgrades, tweeks, and favorite add-ins.


In small saucepan over low heat, mix
1 c water
1 c milk
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)

Bring to baby bottle temperature, and remove from heat. In mixing bowl, mix together
3 c flour
3 T sugar
1T + 1t yeast
1 t salt

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix. Continue adding flour slowly until it forms a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and knead.

Place back in bowl, spray top lightly with cooking spray, cover with clean cloth, and let rise approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from bowl and knead a few times. Form to desired shape, cover with clean cloth, and let rise approximately 20 minutes (I usually give it about 1/2 hour).

Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes.

1 batch makes two loafs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Victory! At least, a small one :)

T-Bear was awesome tonight. I was dreading our dinner-time testing and dosing, because he'd been having such a tough day. He's been very upset by the poking today and last night, and it was starting to really get to me. Tonight I asked Papa Bear to do the testing for practice, but T-Bear said he wanted to do it himself. So, with Papa Bear and I looking on, he handled the lancet himself, and Papa Bear took the reading. Angel Bear was standing by with the "dot" band-aid to finish up. No tears, no upset. T-Bear took control.

I went and calculated his dinner dose, with Papa Bear doing a side-by-side to be sure he could do it, too. And, once again, T-Bear took charge. With Papa Bear and I overseeing, he gave himself the injection using the new rocket device Dr. A gave us. No muss, no fuss, totally in charge. High five, T-Bear!

In the movie "Parenthood", the main character Gil (played by Steve Martin) talks about how rediculous it is for a grown man's entire happiness to be wrapped up in whether or not his 9-year old son catches a pop-fly in a little league game. I know exactly how Gil feels. I was completely bummed out, depressed, and broken hearted today, until T-Bear came through and caught that pop fly. The roller coaster scene at the end of Parenthood says it all. Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. Thank goodness for the highs.

Slow Food and Slowing Down

As Michael Pollan points out in In Defense of Food, cooking real food takes time. It also takes planning and mental energy. Slow food takes slowing down. For the week or so before we went on vacation, with the help of Ms. Guiliano I had honestly been enjoying slowing down, thinking about meals, taking time to chop vegetables and prepare a nice meal with several parts, even if the children refuse to eat it. Even the clean-up wasn’t so bad.

My first real challenge to our new eating was the Sunday before our vacation when David’s cousins came for a visit. His cousins (actually his 2nd cousins) are his mom’s age, from The East, and are a blast. And, I’m pretty sure they’re used to SAD (Standard American Diet). But, I was determined to skip the tried-n-true chip-n-dip appetizers, and present something healthy, yet appealing. I think I did a pretty good job, because most of what I put out (mostly cheeses, fruits and fresh breads) was eaten. We BBQ’d chicken for dinner, and I managed to avoid the usual trappings of the typical American BBQ and serve fresh corn, grilled veggies, black beans, and a knock-out salad with dinner. Oh, and of course, wine. It turns out that one to two glasses of wine each day, with meals, is good for you. Last time I was at the doctor, she told me the recommendation was about three to four glasses per week. So, drink more. It’s good for you.

My next challenge was preparing for our vacation. I packed just about everything wholesome from our fridge into a cooler (I can’t stand to waste food), yanked a bunch of stuff out of the pantry and plopped them into re-usable shopping bags and boxes, and even loaded a bag up with nutritious snacks for the road. It’s kind of an on-going mental exercise to figure out what the next few meals will be, and whether or not I’ve got enough ingredients for it. I even brought along all the ingredients to make banana bread from the bunch of over-ripe bananas that no one will ever eat. Yep, even grabbed the loaf pans, just in case the “fully stocked” kitchen wasn’t. It wasn’t, but I was impressed that it did have a measuring cup and spoons, and a hand mixer.

The BIG CHALLENGE of course came with T-Bear’s diagnosis of diabetes. The first week has been just trying to learn everything I can about timing, dosing, and carb counting. And, what I’ve found is that a lot of “diabetic meals” are just SAD hijacked to reduce the carb count. So, what you end up with is, well, SAD; unhealthy, unappealing food with lower carbs. Now that I’ve just about got my feet back under me, I’m moving back to cooking more and heating up less. I’m determined to get back to cooking real food, slow food, and enjoying the process (gotta knead that lovin’ into every loaf of fresh bread!), and still keep T-Bear (and the rest of us) on a healthy and carb-appropriate diet. I don’t want to fall into the habit of serving Gold Fish for snacks just because I can instantly determine the carb count by reading the nutrition panel. I can do better than that, and so far I’ve been managing about half-n-half; instant snacks half the time, and healthy prepared snacks half the time. As I type, I’ve pulled two baguettes fresh from the oven cooling for lunch, in glorious anticipation of apple/cheddar sandwiches. I’ve never baked the bread fresh before, but the sandwiches served on store-bought “fresh” baguettes have been a hit, so I’m hopeful this will work out.

Fresh baguette cooling on our "baker's rack".
It's actually a paper stacker from Office Depot,
but works great when Papa Bear makes bunches of pies.

Motion Sickness Defeated

I get sick in the car if I’m not driving. I can avoid it if I watch the road at all times, but even turning my head to talk to one of the kids in the back seat can make me nauseous. T-Bear occasionally gets queasy on curvy roads, and Angel Bear is known for throwing up whatever he’s eating when eating in the car. So, a few months ago when we were facing our first long drive down to Florida (Tampa), I got hold of some motion sickness bands to try them out. With all of the reading that I do, I couldn’t imagine sitting in the car staring at the road for six hours. Well, the bands worked. They worked great. They worked completely. I read. I wrote notes. I even worked on a needlepoint. The entire time. And not the least bit queasy did I feel. Awesome.

So, this time around on our trip to Orlando, I had Papa Bear run into the drug store and pick up four sets of bands. He even found some kid-sized bands with funky neon colors. Once again, I was able to keep myself occupied (and, in fact, typed up the notes for this post in the car) without the least bit of motion sickness. It worked great for the kids, too. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cold Breakfast, Cold Coffee

Breakfast was only half hour late this morning. Wedging bath time into our routine has proven a little more perplexing that I had imagined, because T-Bear can’t bathe too soon after an injection, but I don’t really know what “too soon” means. We tried last night, but were running behind, so I made an executive decision to delay bathing until this morning. So, making breakfast, testing in the bathtub (BG 100, yay!), running downstairs to check on breakfast, draw the appropriate dose, get everyone else gathered for breakfast, back upstairs to dose T-Bear, and finally sitting down to eat my beautiful omelet, it was cold, as was my coffee. Sigh. I’ll get better at this.

I have to fax T-Bear’s numbers to Dr. A every morning for a couple of weeks, so Doc can track his numbers and make adjustments if necessary. Papa Bear has a fax machine in his home office, but it’s not working. So with a little tutoring from Papa Bear, I managed to scan the document and use Call Wave to fax from my computer. I got a voice mail a couple of hours later confirming the fax, and letting us know no adjustment was needed today. Whew. I just figured out the calculations, and not ready to change them again quite yet.

After breakfast began the Parachute Development Program, which progressed through two models before Papa Bear was content with the design. The final deployment was, I think, successful. At least the LEGO man attached didn’t break an ankle.

T-Bear’s medical ID bracelet came today. Papa Bear snipped out a couple of links to adjust the fit (he’s very handy that way), and T-Bear doesn’t seem to mind wearing his new jewelry.
T-Bear and Rufus with matching bracelets

I've pretty much got my "stuff" all together in one place in the kitchen for figuring, calculating, testing, dosing and recording, plus mundane things like the grocery list. And, of course, the all-important background Mozart or Beethoven on the iPod player.

Mama Bear's Mission Control

Papa Bear is back on his feet, and had his first lesson in testing and dosing before bed time snack. Only a couple more nights of 2:00 am tests. Looking forward to sleeping through the night again (except for the usual insomnia).

A Great Big Thank You! Brad, Eric, Thor and the entire Securitas Global and National Accounts Family for the tremendous care package! T-Bear and his brothers were THRILLED with all of the the goodies you sent, especially (of course) the Wii Super Smash Bros Brawl game, and the mini Transformers. The sugar-free treats are being stashed away for snack time, and each one has the perfect number of carbs for counting. But, most appreciated is your good thoughts and best wishes. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A New Doc

Yesterday (Monday) was a pretty good day. I managed to get our meals done and served on a more reasonable schedule. T-Bear was feeling good, and his numbers were mostly all good. It was a nice, sunny day, so the boys all spent time outside. It was great to see T-Bear and Brother Bear dueling on the front lawn in the sunshine.

I was up at 6:30 am (early for me), wrangled T-Bear out of bed by 7:00 am (very early for him), dressed, fed and out the door by 7:30 am to meet his new endocrinologist, Dr. A. It was an hour drive, half-hour check-in procedure, and an hour meeting with Dr. A, who I liked very much. He put T-Bear on a new insulin and a slightly different routine, which I’m working on mastering. We’re still eating three meals and three snacks, and we’re still testing four times a day. But, instead of mixing insulin, we’re doing one “basal” dose in the evening which keeps his glucose steady for 24 hours, and then doing a rapid insulin before each meal and bedtime. It’s giving us more flexibility in eating times and amounts, which is great; we don’t have to worry so much about sticking to “the schedule”, and snacks won’t be as critical. But, it takes more than a little kitchen math to figure out dosing. One unit for every 20 carbs consumed, plus if his glucose tested over 150 give additional rapid insulin based on the formula (BG-100)/50. Except at bedtime it’s one unit for every 40 carbs, plus (BG-100)/100. Once we get used to it, it should be great.

After the visit with Dr. A, the boys and I headed for the park to meet up with our local homeschool group. Our little group, which was just about five families for the longest time, has been growing here and there, and suddenly it seems we've got eight or nine families gathering each week. It's been great to see the rapidly expanding gaggle fo kids running around. (Thanks, S, for playing chauffeur for us).

Dr. A is being more agressive about getting T-Bear's numbers down where they should be, and the new dosing should do that. The transition was a little screwy; T-Bear was very hungry after lunch, and his glucose spiked in the later afternoon which made him even more hungry. We managed to get him a heafty dose of insulin and a nice plate of pasta a little earlier than our planned dinner time, and he felt much better. It's odd how much glucose affects his mood and stress level. But, we started the new basal insulin this evening, so hopefully things will level out for him.

Papa Bear was it hit with a nasty respiratory bug on Sunday, but was feeling a bit better today. Hopefully he’ll be back on his feet in another day or so, and I’ll be able to teach him the routine. In the mean time, the boys and I are on “vacation” for at least a couple of weeks more, setting aside studies in favor of free time. I’ve even bowed out of my on-line book discussion group for a while. I feel like focusing on relationships will be very important right now for everyone. Simplify and de-stress, and try to enjoy one another as much as possible. Not a bad way to spend a few weeks with family.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day for T-Bear. His glucose stayed under 300 (yay!), he was feeling good, and he handled his pokes very well. I pushed water on him all day to flush out extra glucose, helped him set up a couple of exercise games on the Wii for some activity (it was raining most of the day here), and he spent most of his free time playing some of his favorite Wii games.

My biggest challenge has been meal planning. I know he can have a small pancake for breakfast, but exactly how small? "Kitchen math" took on a whole new meaning for me as I tried to figure out how many carbs in each ingredient, and how much batter came out to one serving. I know this will get easier as I accummulate a mental directory of foods and their respective carb count, but for right now, careful planning is in order.

My other challenge has been getting meals and snacks served up and eaten in a timely manner. It's taking me longer to put a meal together, with all the counting and measuring, so meals have been getting tardier and tardier. T-Bear has to wait at least 2 hours after eating his snack before I can do a glucose test, or the test will read high. So meals have ended up being pushed back. We ended up eating dinner at 9:00 last night, which means T-Bear and I had to be up until 11:00 pm for his last test and snack. I'm determined to do better today.

So, off to start breakfast....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Welcome Home

I stepped out the front door this morning to check on my little kitchen garden I planted before we left, and found the hydrangea blooming. Isn't she sweet?

My kitchen garden of herbs, tomatoes and sweet peppers did just fine in my absence.

The daylillies are just starting to bloom.

And the roses are holding up as well as can be expected in Georgia.

The Wee Hours

It's about 5:30 am, and I'm up. I mean, awake. Bedtime was tough. T-Bear was exhausted (he actually used the word "exhausted", which for him is highly unusual), so the bed-time testing was emotional and stressful. His number was high, so I had to give him additonal insulin, which was even more stressful. We managed to have a little bit of positive one-on-one time while we shared a bedtime snack together. I have to send a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Nicky, Ella and Aubry for sending T-Bear the sweetest get-well notes ever. They were here when we got home, and really made a difficult evening much better for T-Bear.

After our shared snack (well, my snack was technically just a glass of wine), we snuggled down to sleep. But, I had to do a middle-of-the-night blood test around 4:00 am, which was very upsetting for T-Bear (being poked when he's tired is the worst). And even worse, I had to give him additional insulin because his number was still too high. The pee-ing on a stick thing is almost not worth mentioning in light of the poking part, but we had to do that too. Too many carbs during the day (figuring out carbs on the road and in restaurants is tough for us newbies!), not enough water, and no activity due to being stuck in the car for nine hours, all add up to a high number.

But, he settled back down into sleep fairly quickly. My tormented Mommy Heart couldn't help noticing he did NOT want to snuggle with me as he drifted off, which has never happened before. So, I'm awake, and plotting our strategy for tomorrow (technically, today). Lots of water and as much exercise as we can manage to get the excess sugar out of his system. Hopefully we can avoid the additional injections, and maybe even have a little fun together figuring out how to work the Wii Outdoor Adventure game. Oh, yeah, and I promised to jump on the trampoline with him (my poor, overstressed, already aching lower back will NOT thank me for that by evening).

Hoping to get a few hours of rest (dare I even hope for sleep?) before I need to get up and make breakfast...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Evening - HOME!

Home again, home again, jiggidy-jig. Or something like that. We’re home! We're home! We're home! Really! Yay! We made it! (Can you tell I'm an introvert?)

We managed to get packed up and out of the resort by about 12:30 pm, despite the added complication trying to get T-Bear into a new routine and working to overcome his fear of needles. Papa Bear even managed to take the boys down to the activity area and get a caricature made of them.

T-Bear with Rufus, Angel Bear, and Brother Bear

In spite of my tendency to get batty whenever we're running late, I managed to have a pleasant pack-up morning (just a weeeee bit of stress when a security officer knocked on our door to confirm we were REALLY leaving soon). And, in spite of the stress of the past few days, Papa Bear and I both have been upbeat, positive, and just plain happy. I feel like we’ve dodged a bullet, and I am so deeply grateful that T-Bear is going to be okay, the usual “small stuff” stressors that would have otherwise made me a bit nutty and bitchy, simply have not gotten to me today. Ironically, today has been one of the most pleasant and joyful days we have spent as a family in a long time. Weird, huh?

So, here we are, blessedly home. I’ve got a huge pile of laundry to do tomorrow, lots of stuff to put away, a huge pile of medical stuff to figure out where to store, and a new routine to establish for the family. But still, it’s good to be home.

Heading Home - Saturday Morning

T-Bear is doing great this morning. He slept well all night (except when I woke him up to poke him), ate a good breakfast, and is clearly feeling much, much better. He even made jokes at breakfast about my injecting him in his butt this morning. We're just about all packed up, and should be hitting the road around noon or so. It will be gooooood to be home!

T-Bear with his new buddy, Rufus the Bear with Diabetes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Evening

We're home! Well, sort of. T-Bear was released from the hospital this afternoon around 3:00 pm, and we're back at the resort for the night. After two nights "sleeping" in the chair-wannabe-bed, it will be a genuine pleasure to sleep in a real bed again, even if it's not mine. Rather than being wakened every hour, or even every few hours to help the nurses soothe a distressed child who's being poked with needles, I'll only need to get up once at around 2:00 am to do a glucose test. Hopefully it won't be a major wrangling, and we can both go back to sleep pretty quickly.

T-Bear is now dependent on me for his care, and believe me that is intimidating. I'm pretty sure I've got a handle on the basics of everything involved in management, but don't I like having the phone number of the Orlando endo docs, and knowing they generally call back within ten minutes. I tested that this evening at dinner time, needing a clarification on whether to use the rapid dose in addition to the regular mixed dose, or only use the rapid dose when not doing the regular mixed dose. Yep, Dr. Banks called back within ten minutes and was patient with my nervous question. Not only that, the doctor's message service called me back to confirm that the on-call doctor had gotten back to us. THAT is excellent service!

Tucking in for the night. Looking forward to our own beds tomorrow night.

An Irony

The week before we left for Florida, I listened to the audiobook of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. It was awesome, and it gave me that last little nudge toward getting our family’s eating habits more in alignment with a “healthy lifestyle” (ugh, what on over-marketed term). Pollan provides quite a bit of background information and history to show how the Standard American Diet developed, and why it is so unhealthy for us. He takes a shot (I think rightfully so) not just at the food manufacturing industry, but at the health and nutrition experts, and at the media, for making the simple task of deciding what to eat so difficult and confusing, and for making healthy eating so much more difficult than unhealthy eating. If you need that last little push to get you going in the right direction, this may be it. In addition to overhauling my meal planning and shopping, I planted a small kitchen garden before we left for vacation (hopefully it has survived in my absence). And, I’m revisiting Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat for meal ideas. Yum.

Now, in light of T-Bear’s illness, eating well is no longer just a matter of keeping each member of my family “healthy enough”, it has become a matter of controlling a serious disease in one of my children. It’s no longer optional. My challenge will be creating meals that support T-Bear’s prescribed food intake in a way that will be tasty, enticing, and using as many “whole” foods as possible. So, I’ll probably be writing more about food and diet as our family makes this transition, since this will be one of our biggest challenges, and posting some of my initial thoughts on diet from a couple of weeks ago. Odd how our paths progress, isn’t it?


We had a good night, considering we were in the hospital. T-Bear’s glucose stayed in the desired range through the night (drops around 2:00 am are not uncommon, so they tested him around 3:00). Dr. Desrosiers came in early on rounds to check in. Our new day nurse, Magen oversaw as I did T-Bear’s testing this morning, and drew and administered his insulin, so I feel confident now that I can do it on my own. T-Bear is still getting upset when it’s time for needles, but he said after this morning’s dose, “I think I’m getting used to this”, and he didn’t cry nearly as long. We keep talking about it little bits at a time, and I think he is beginning to adjust. We had breakfast together, his IV and monitors were removed, so he was free to get up and around.

Kim from Child Life came by to play with T-Bear, gave him his own “Me Doll” with medical supplies. She talked to him about diabetes, then they set an IV and give meds to the doll, did a finger prick, and insulin shot. Then, after a snack, we went upstairs to the play room for a game of LINGO (hospital Bingo) with half a dozen other kids. William got a prize, a nifty little flying gizmo, and we headed back to his room for a little rest. He needed one more tiny dose of insulin before lunch, but ate just about everything on his 3-carb plate (that’s a lot!), and we’re just waiting for our last meeting with Sarah, and for the doctor’s okay to exit the building. As nice as everyone has been, we’re both looking forward to getting out of here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Update (Thursday)

It’s about 9:30 pm, and we’re about ready to turn in for the night. As of around 4:00 pm, Thunder Bear’s “numbers” are right where they need to be, both his glucose and his bicarb(?). He had his first meal in two days, most of a personal pizza and some sugar-free punch, and his glucose held up fine. Our night nurse, Deadra, came on at about 7:00, and Thunder Bear cried when Maureen left. I did my first test on him, and got my first hands-on lesson in setting up the injection, though the nurse took care of injecting. Thunder Bear is about as over-stimulated by the poking, prodding, and foreign environment as he is able to tolerate, so the last few procedures have been extremely emotional and difficult for him. The IV is still in for additional fluids, and I’m hoping that as he continues to “plump up”, the pricks and pokes won’t be as uncomfortable. A decent night’s sleep won’t do any harm either, and I think they’ll only be waking him once, at 2:00 am, for a glucose check.

A great big “thank you” for all of the offers of support and assistance, and all of the prayers and good thoughts. It’s going to be an adjustment for all of us, most particularly for Thunder Bear, but I’m confident we will transition and move forward. Thunder Bear has an excellent chance of living a long, healthy, full life, and there are technologies which should become available in the next few years which will make on-going management even easier. We are blessed to have access to excellent medical care.

Signing off for now….

An Update

It’s Thursday afternoon, and it’s been a busy day so far. Our Child Life Service person, Valerie, came in to introduce herself, and arranged for the pet therapy lady to come by with her beautiful Golden Retriever for a visit and some tricks. Valerie also arranged for an Xbox to be brought into the room, which was a blessed distraction. Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Angel Bear arrived around 11:00, just in time to meet with the Certified Diabetes Educator, Sarah. She gave us a backpack full of stuff, including books and supplies, talked to us about the disease in general as well as management, and showed us some basics about testing and injecting. Then a quick lunch in the cafeteria before meeting with the dietician, Lisa, who went over Thunder Bear’s meal plan, carb counting, etc. The guys have gone back to our rooms, and I’ve got plenty to read up on this afternoon. It still looks like we’re on schedule to get Thunder Bear’s IV removed this evening, so I’ll probably be getting my first hands-on lesson in injecting then. He can’t wait to eat real food again.

The hospital staff has been fabulous. Thunder Bear has been very well taken care of, and everyone has been very friendly, attentive, and supportive. We are blessed to have received such great care.

A Diagnosis

It’s Thursday morning, and we had a bewildering Wednesday. Thunder Bear had begun feeling ill Tuesday afternoon/evening. Around midnight, he began vomiting, and continued most of Wednesday. I stayed with him in our rooms while Papa Bear took the other boys back to Kennedy Space Center for a short visit. As Thunder Bear was not improving, Papa Bear took him to the local (Orlando) ER in the evening. Within a couple of hours, our little Thunder Bear was diagnosed with Juvenile Onset (Type I) Diabetes. Needless to say, this was a shock.

Thunder Bear was transferred to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, where I joined him around midnight to give Papa Bear time to rest and spend time with the other boys. (Thank you, nurse Scott, for taking such good care of us). By the time IV treatment had been started on Wednesday, Thunder Bear’s blood sugar had spiked above 500, but he responded very well to treatment. By this morning at 8:00, his blood sugar had dropped to 238, which is right where Doctor Banks, our endocrinologist, wants it to be at this stage of treatment. He looks and is feeling better this morning, though still very tired and a little nauseous. Our day nurse, Maureen, hopes he will be feeling well enough to get up and around a bit this afternoon, and possibly spend some time in the play room with the play therapist. The plan is to keep him on IV insulin until around dinnertime, at which point the nurses will train me to test and administer his on-going care. I will probably be meeting with the nutritionist today, and the diabetes educator tomorrow. We are hoping he will be released from the hospital tomorrow (Friday), and that we can return home on Saturday as planned.

I will continue to post updates here as events unfold.

Change of Plans II (Tuesday)

Well, we had our sales presentation, and did not buy a timeshare. Went back to the rooms for a nice nap, and had an awesome thunderstorm in the afternoon. We sat for a while on the screened balcony, until the screens became so saturated we couldn’t see clearly through them anymore. For a few minutes there was rain and hail simultaneously, and at one point it was raining so hard we couldn’t see the buildings across the street. Brother Bear and I both saw the lightening that struck just behind the buildings facing us, and a few moments later brown smoke could be seen behind them, sign of a fire despite the hard rain. By the time the fire engine arrived, the fire seemed to have been doused by the same storm that created it. Angel Bear gets as pumped up by a good lightening show as Papa Bear and I do, and we certainly got a nice show.

Angel Bear's Storm Chasing Gear
Thunder Bear was feeling a bit poorly, so we stayed in and relaxed through the evening.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Launch (Monday)

Off to the shuttle launch. Brother Bear spent some time checking out the NASA site’s mission information before we headed for the Kennedy Space Center United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

After a short pit-stop along the side of Challenger Memorial Parkway….

…and a little entertainment in the car…

Angel Bear as Aqua Fina Man.
…we arrived at our destination.

After a bit of wandering about in the Hall of Fame exhibits, and a ride on the shuttle time-warp ride, we zipped outside to see, hear, and feel the launch. Even from ten miles away, though we couldn’t see the launch pad, it was perfectly clear exactly how fast the shuttle was moving, shooting through the clouds and into space.

Then back inside for a bit more exploring, where Brother Bear, Angel Bear and I squeezed into a capsule.

The most important thing I learned today? Astronauts have to be small people. I barely fit into the capsule’s seat. Long-ways, I mean.

The ride home.

Some clouds.
Returning to our temporary home, the introverts (Thunder Bear and I) hung out in our rooms, while the extroverts (Daddy Bear, Brother Bear and Angel Bear) went out for dinner. They were kind enough to bring back dinner for us, including a nice dessert.

On tap for tomorrow: Up early for a tour of the Resort, during which some poor salesman is going to try to sell us a timeshare. Then back to Kennedy Space Center to explore the Visitors’ Center.

Change of Plans (Sunday)

Angel Bear just waking.
Isn’t it nice to have a flexible enough schedule to be able to change your mind? We reconsidered Sea World for yesterday, and decided instead to have a “down day” and go see Star Trek. The kids were devastated (not) since that meant they could hang out for the morning and build their new LEGO kits.

Multi-sized kids building LEGOs.

After a lunch of apple cheddar sandwiches (thank you, Sarah), we were off. On the way to the theater we drove past the Wonder Works building, which kind of freaked out Thunder Bear. We were a few minutes late, and the IMAX theater was packed, but I managed to find three seats for the boys and I to squeeze into (with Angel Bear on my lap), with a seat in front of us for Papa Bear. The kids had never been to an IMAX or stadium seating, but once they adjusted to the huge screen they loved it. The move was awesome, and since Brother Bear had already gotten into the old Star Trek series and previous movies, he was able to identify each of the familiar characters as they appeared. It was one of those movies we’re still talking about the day after. We’ll probably end up going back later in the week.

So, after the movie, we went back to the rooms for a bit, where the guys presented me with some nice Yankee Candle Company candles. Then Papa Bear took the kids to the pool, while I hung out for some quiet time. After a dinner of pizza, the kids played Line Rider for a couple of hours on my laptop, making a special slide just for me for Mother’s Day. A laid-back evening, a nice bottle of wine. Contentment.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie - WoooooooooHooooooo!

We just got back from watching the new Star Trek movie in IMAX, and I have only one thing to say.


Okay, maybe more than one thing...

This film was f-ing AWESOME! Even if you never had any interested whatsoever in Star Trek, even if you're not into SciFi, even if you can even just barely tolerate big, bold, techie type movies - you will LOVE, I mean LOVE this film! The BEST Star Trek EVER!

Go see it, go see it, go see it, rah, rah, rah!

Who's comin' with me?!? I gotta go again! (Oh, yeah, I'm in Orlando...and you're not...shoot!).

Sunday Morning

After hours of swimming, Papa Bear and the boys returned to the rooms, we all showered/bathed, dressed, and headed to Downtown Disney, where we met this guy....

Papa Bear and Brother Bear (aka Indiana Jones)

We had dinner at Rainforest Cafe, where we were waited on by this guy...

Just kidding. We sat on the patio, which is right on the lake, just next to the ferry launch. It had cooled off enough to be pleasant under the ceiling fans. Although the inside was interesting and exciting, I think it would have proved overwhelming for me and for the tired Cubs...waaaay too much noise and stuff going on! The staff was fabulous, especially our waitress, and the Margarilla was stupendous. But the food was a little disapointing - I suppose I was expecting a lot better from a $30 meal. After dinner we wandered over to the LEGO store, where the boys each picked up a new kit ('cause you can never have too many LEGOs), then headed home.

The moon was beautiful last night, almost full, and orange. It's been hot, but not unbearable. Thunder Bear has been drinking like a camel, and actually drinking water instead of his one-and-only-beverage-of-choice, milk. He actually got up in the middle of the night to get more water.

The boys are working on their LEGO kits this morning. We're heading for Sea World after breakfast, for most of the day I'm sure. It's gonna' be hot today - a high of 95 is expected before cooling on Tuesday.

Oh, yeah! Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's The Little Things...

Have you noticed how easy it can be to let go of much of our self-care once we become moms? It doesn’t happen right away. During the first pregnancy, everyone keeps telling you to take care of yourself, and most of them will even do a little here and there to help you do that. But, once the baby comes, mom kind of settles into the background a bit as everyone, including her, is focused on baby. It starts to seem selfish to take time out for ourselves, to take time away from the family, to utilize family resources for something that can easily be seen as “pampering”, when in fact, for many of us, it is the essence of self-care. An essential element in maintain our own personal equilibrium. We may hold on to some of them, but slowly, over time, particularly if more children come into our hearts and homes, more and more of those little rituals sort of wander out of our lives, until we almost forget we once had them.

Happy Feet Pool-Side
I haven’t painted my toenails in years. It seems like an inefficiency in a life and household that requires a certain level of efficiency to get everything done, everyone taken care of, and spend some time pursuing my own studies. But, I’m on vacation. So, yesterday afternoon I painted my toenails. And, this morning, I painted my fingernails.

It’s amazing what a little nail polish can do for a tired mommy’s soul…

Three Little Piggie Banks

This morning after a quick breakfast, Papa Bear took the kids to the Kids' Club craft activity. Each of the boys painted their own piggie bank. I have no idea which one belongs to whom, but aren't they lovely?

Back to the Pool (Saturday)

After breakfast and crafts, we all headed for the pool. Instead of the mega-pool next to our building, we opted for the smaller, indoor-outdoor pool on the other side of the property. The walk was a nice stretch-o-the-legs. It was worth it just to see the pool-side chess board.

Thunder Bear - contentment.

Brother Bear sidling up to the bar.

Brother Bear found his new best friend, who happens to also be from Georgia. Angel Bear and I enjoyed the delights of the fountain kiddie pool. He, of course, had to figure out a way to make one of the squirting water jets go through his floaty noodle so he could direct the stream. We all enjoyed smoothie drinks and lunch.

Angel Bear enjoying his smoothie and lunch.

Have bandage, will swim.
The rubber band was my idea, to keep the tape from coming loose.
It certainly ain't slowing him down.

I had the most fabulous salad for lunch. I think it was called a "Juel's Salad", or something like that. A bed of dark greens, grilled fresh vegetables (mostly squashes in nice fat chunks), black olives, feta cheese, and grilled chicken, topped with a nice balsamic vinegar dressing. Ay, ay, ay, it was wonderful! Gotta try that when I get home...

An Afternoon Wrap-Up (Friday)

So, yesterday after his meeting, and a short nap, Papa Bear took the Cubs down to the pool for a couple of hours. He discovered the pool-side bar, and the Cubs had smoothies. Everyone returned to our rooms happy, tired, and hungry.

Papa Bear had to run down to the registration desk to get a new card key. Apparently it got too close to his cell phone, or wet, or something. By the time he got back, the kids were practically begging to dive into the platter of tortellini and shrimp on the table. Yum! After dinner, Papa Bear ventured out to Downtown Disney in search of a nice cigar, which he found, and enjoyed.

That wrapped up Friday for us.

One quick side note. Most of you know I buy as much organic foods as I can manage, and the boys know this. Angel Bear, especially, is keen on spotting the organic selections, and has just about mastered picking out the word "organic" on signs and packages. Yesterday we were wandering through the produce department, and he announced he wanted some broccoli. I told him we had some broccoli in the freezer, but he wanted the broccoli he was looking at. Now, since I've been working on upgrading our eating (which I promise I'll get into later), I've become even more leery of produce that comes wrapped in plastic and/or sitting on styrofoam, and this particular broccoli happended to be wrapped in plastic. "Ick", I'm thinking, but what I said was "Do you want that broccoli?" So, he asks me, "Is it organic?". I said "No, honey." As I'm squinting across the produce department to see if they had any broccoli in the organic section over yonder, he says "Is this one organic?" He's got another plastic-wrapped head from the same section. I think it was the first one's neighbor. "No, honey, those ones are not organic." "How about this one?", grabbing the next one over. "No, honey, they don't have any organic broccoli here." After a moment considering the broccoli in his hands, "Then I don't want any." Plop goes the offensive non-organic broccoli, back in the bin with it's non-organic, plastic-wrapped neighbors.

Gotta love food awareness in kids...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kids in Water

We spent a couple of hours this morning at the pool, the Little Bears and I, while Papa Bear attended a meeting.

Brother Bear - "What is this thing?"

Thunder Bear coming up for air...or flying. Take your pick.

Angel Bear - "This is the perfect pose, Mommy!" I obliged.

Papa Bear arrived around 3:00 pm. Angel Bear and I went for a little grocery shopping for dinner. Papa Bear and the Boys hit the pool again, recreated, etc. while I got ready for dinner and blogged. A nice glass of wine (or two) in the relative silence of our room was involved. Vacations can be good.

Da Pool

There's not much else to say about this "pool". It's huge. It's family friendly. It's got a water slide. What more could you want?

This Morning's Eggs

The kids like cheesey eggs. I like fancy eggs. This morning we had "use what you've got" eggs. I used:

6 eggs, beaten
1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced small
fresh rosemary, finely chopped
goat cheese
salt & pepper

Done up like scrambled eggs. They were yummy! Angel Bear ate up every bite. We won't discuss his brothers.

Senior Doorbell Ditch

Ten minutes after he left for his business meeting, Papa Bear called me from the car. He left his iPod in the room, and asked me to have Brother Bear bring it down to the lobby and give it to him. All three boys were still asleep, and thinking about last night’s misadventure, I took it down myself (being sure to take the stairs, a la French Women – more on that later). On my way back to our room, walking down the hallway, I came upon a gentleman (I use the term loosely) standing in his room’s doorway, dressed only in shorts, and with the most gleeful grin on his face. He was older than me, probably in his fifties, fit, mostly bald, and had a tattoo on one upper arm. He appeared to be looking for someone, like you would be looking for a child you are playing a game with. As I continued walking down the hall, he rapidly tip-toed in the same direction, stopped just short of the door opposite my door, knocked on it, and then tore back down the hallway to his own room. I swear, he was giggling. Now I understood the game, my first thought was “Can I get into my own room before his buddies open their door, and if not, what am I going to say? ‘It wasn’t me’?” Their door was slightly ajar, so apparently this game had been going on for a bit. I did manage to get inside before being spotted. I giggled.

What's Goin' On?!? ... or, Why I Started This Blog

I started this blog because I’ve been jotting down notes about our vacation. Yesterday we drove from our home in Lawrenceville, GA to Orlando, FL for our first “real live family vacation”, as Papa Bear put it. We’re staying at “The Fountains”, A Bluegreen Vacation Club Resort (basically a timeshare condo that they’ll be trying to sell us on Monday, and which we’ll be politely declining). Papa Bear made all the arrangements, booked a few fabulous excursions, and ensured we’ll have adequate down time to enjoy our comfy suite of rooms and the fantabulous pool/water park just downstairs. But, since I’ve got this on-going mental narrative going through my head as we move through our days, realizing I’ll probably be answering the question “How was your vacation” at least a hundred times when I get back, I figured I might as well wrap the whole thing together in one big Blog Burrito and give folks a place to come and see for themselves how our vacation is/was. So, I’ll try to get caught up, and then post as we go from there.

Oh, yeah. I’ve got another blog, which is part of a homeschooling community. There’s some stuff from over there that I’ll re-post over here (I’ll indicate it as a TJEd post in the header so you can skip it if you’ve already read it over there). “So”, you are asking, “why don’t you just post this vacation stuff on your existing blog?” Well, because that blog is pretty specific to the type of homeschooling we do, and that community is pretty conservative, and probably doesn’t want to hear about our vacation or what I’m cooking for dinner tonight. Not that you do, either, but then, you wouldn’t be here, would you?

Off we go….

Getting Started

If you were on vacation and could do absolutely anything you pleased - entirely guilt free - for ten days, what would you do with your time? Me? I would read, and write, and lie in bed, and prepare lovely meals to please myself, and....hmmm....let's see....I would try blogging. Yeah, that's it, I'd try blogging. Every day. Just to see if I like it. Hey, come to think of it, I AM on vacation for ten days. Maybe I'll try blogging. Just while I'm on vacation. Just to see if it fits....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lost for a Moment or Two

We arrived at the resort at about 8:00 pm. Considering the duration of the journey, the kids actually did really well on this trip. We didn’t get “are we there yet” until about the last two hours, and mostly from Thunder Bear, who tends to get a little anxious about time-related matters. Pulling into the registration lobby, a fire engine, ambulance and police vehicle pulled in behind us, so that was a nice diversion for the boys while Papa Bear checked us in. We found our room, and proceeded to unload four luggage carts full of stuff, much of it groceries and ice chests. Wanting to support Brother Bear’s need for independence and for doing things of importance, we had him return one of the luggage carts to the lobby on his own. Now, this is a secured building we’re in. You can’t get in without a key card, and he wouldn’t be leaving the building, so this seemed like a no brainer. He’d been from the car to the room twice already, and on the second trip up took the elevator with his loaded cart by himself, meeting us upstairs. Well, after dropping off the empty cart, he got lost. He went to the fourth floor, instead of the third floor, got all turned around, and couldn’t figure out where we were. Papa Bear and I had finished unloading the last two carts, and Papa Bear was taking them downstairs when he commented that Brother Bear had not returned yet. A few minutes later, I got a call from Papa Bear asking if Brother Bear was in the room. Nope. Papa Bear located a couple of security officers, and they started looking. Brother Bear showed up at our door after about ten minutes, clearly upset and needing an extended mommy hug. I called Papa Bear and told him all was well.

Brother Bear is one of the most independent, self confident, and adventurous kids I know. Nothing seems to intimidate him. So, I guess I was a little surprised to see him so upset, not because he goofed and forgot where our room was, but because, in his words, he couldn’t find us. He called for us, and we weren’t there. For ten long minutes, he did not have his family, and that scared and upset him. Independence AND strong family bonds. That’s an unbeatable combination.

You Know You're In Florida When...

…you see screened in yards. You read that right, and I’m not kidding. We drove into Orlando this evening, and for the first time in my life I saw screened-in yards. The houses were large and new, mostly two stories, and all sitting on postage-stamp sized parcels, so we’re not talking about an enormous space. But, I kid you not, just about the entire back yard was enclosed in this large black metal framed, black screened contraption, about 15 feet tall, at least as wide as the house, and as deep as the yard. Of course, at 8:00 pm it was warm and humid enough to be just a tad uncomfortable, even for us Georgia Transplants, so I’m thinkin’ “What’s the point?” I mean weather aside, can you toss around a football with the kids in there? Or hit a few pop flies? Or even kick a soccer ball? Unless that screen material was made of some sort of impenetrable steel mesh, my kids would find a way to bust through it within minutes without even trying. And, I think I’d let ‘em. Those things looked a lot like cages, leading me to ask the question, “Are they keeping the bugs out, or the children in?”

Also, the thermostat in our room was set at 62 degrees when we walked in. It took two hours for the temperature to rise to a comfortable (for us) level.

We also saw a dead armadillo on the side of the road, but we’ve got those in Georgia, too.

Can’t wait til tomorrow when we find out exactly how warm 90 degrees in Florida is.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Angel Bear vs The Noodle Soup

Angel Bear burned himself. The day before we’re supposed to leave for vacation. We were cooking noodle soup in the microwave. I went upstairs to fetch something while it cooked, and Angel Bear took it upon himself to try to remove the hot soup from the microwave when it beeped. He did use hot pads, but spilled the soup out onto his right forearm. I heard his scream from upstairs. Not a long, drawn out scream, but almost a yelp, then silence. I went downstairs, and he met me in the dining room. “I spilled my noodle soup.” Not, “I burned myself”. He was worried about having spilled his soup. I put him on the stool in front of the kitchen sink and started running cold water over the burn, but it was clear this was more than just a minor burn from the way he was crying. Angel Bear is no wimp, and he doesn’t cry easily or for long when he is hurt. An hour later, after ice, a dose of Tylenol, and a failed attempt to divert him with one of his favorite movies, he agreed to let me take him to the clinic.

Just knowing that relief was soon to come, he stopped crying as we reached the clinic, and only whimpered a few times while we were waiting to be seen. It was clear the pain had diminished significantly because he actually dozed for a few minutes on the exam table, with his head resting on my lap, his arm resting on the ice pack. Bless the staff, when I asked if he could be seen immediately, they got us right in (despite the one hour wait), and had his arm dressed and us out of there within about half an hour. By then, he was no longer crying, and not in nearly as much pain. He didn’t even need the codeine the clinic prescribed. But, it was nice to have it available, just in case.

I’ve always believed that it was up to the adults to keep calm during any crisis involving a child or children. So often I see parents at the park panicking or over-reacting to a child’s minor bumps or scrapes, and wonder what would happen if the child were actually, seriously injured. Most kids, I think, take their cues from their parent’s reaction. Is this bad? How bad? Should I be crying? Screaming and writhing? Or, is this something that hurts now, but is going to be okay in a little while? I think Papa Bear and I have done a pretty good job of keeping calm in a variety of parental-angst-inducing situations, including Brother Bear climbing 15 ft up the magnolia tree in our front yard. And I think, overall, the kids have benefitted from our mild responses. Angel Bear could have very easily panicked and become hysterical when he burned himself, but he didn’t. He cried, but he stayed very calm. He’s going to always remember the day he was burned by the noodle soup, and he’ll probably always be more cautious in the kitchen (which is a good thing). But he’s not been traumatized by the event, and that’s the most important part for me, and I think for him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Panic In The Dressing Room

On Thursday of this week, we are driving to Florida, and we’ll be on vacation (a “real family vacation” as hubby says) for ten days, and this presented me with a bit of a dilemma. While the weather here in Georgia has remained incredibly mild and pleasant – cool, breezy, lovely showers – Florida is sunny and in the 90’s. Ain’t no way I’m going to be comfortable in jeans, especially jeans I can’t button. And I have, literally, NO shorts I can wear. So, off to do a little shopping. And, by shopping, I mean more than just grabbing something off the table at Costco and hoping it will fit. I actually went to The Avenue and entered an actual clothing shop. By myself. It’s been a while since I’ve done that.

The first shop I walked into, The Gap, two nice salespersons greeted me. I told them I was looking for some casual shorts with a natural waist. They had no idea what a “natural waist” was. Wrong shop; everything they had was pretty far below the belly button, just barely covering the Netherlands.

The second shop I walked into, Banana Republic, I was a little more hopeful because the sales lady seemed to be about my age, and she knew what a natural waist was. But the shorts she pointed me toward were just not going to do. She was kind enough to lie to me and say “they look cute”, but I know better.

Now I was desperate enough to walk into Ann Taylor Loft, telling myself that if I had to pay a little more for clothes that fit, I would just have to do that. I was greeted by a very nice sales lady, she understood what I was looking for, and had some appropriate shorts. But, even better, there were dresses and skirts and tops that a Real Woman could actually wear. I don’t think I’ve ever tried on more outfits in one shopping trip as I did yesterday. And, a lot of stuff actually FIT and looked pretty good, considering the shape it was covering. It was awesome.

So, here’s where the panic set in. One of the dresses I grabbed to try on, a little halter thing, was a little tight getting over my shoulders. There was no zipper up the back to undo, so I assumed that it would go on over the top (after all, it was a large, so it should fit), which I managed – just barely – to do. It was not quite what I had in mind, putting more emphasis on places I’d rather not emphasis just now (the term “tent” came to mind), so after a quick mental “nope”, I proceeded to pull it off the same way it came on. Except, it wouldn’t come off. I couldn’t get it up over my bosom, much less my shoulders (which are a bit broad for a lady). I had the skirt over my head, my arms criss-crossed in front of my face, tugging on the waistband to try to get it up, and it just was not coming up. And, it was a well-built garment, so it wasn’t giving any. I was stuck. Really.

At this point, I had a decision to make. 1) Rip the dress trying to get it off, sheepishly explain what happened to the nice sales lady (who had taken the trouble to actually introduce herself to me and ask my name), and pay for it. 2) Buy the dress and wear it out of the store, and bolt home where I could cut it off with scissors. 3) Ask the sales lady for help. While I was weighing my options, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and immediately rejected option #3. While I was struggling between option #1 and option #2, and still struggling with the dress, it suddenly occurred to me that there might be a zipper on the side. I managed to sneak a peek under my still upraised left arm and, sure enough, there was a zipper there, which I barely managed to reach and unzip. Whew. I’m not as oversized as I thought I was. And, the sales lady didn’t have to see me in my winter padding and old lady undies (and nothing else, since it was a halter dress).

As it turns out, everything worked out well in the end. I found some really nice skirts and tops and dresses that will get me through summer (and more importantly, vacation), and they were having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on the entire store, so everything was a relative bargain. And, I didn’t have to wear an unflattering dress out of the store. The Shopping Fairies were with me this day, bless ‘em.

Mama Bear Has Emerged

I’ve put on a few pounds over the winter. I’m at “that age” now when you realize that if you don’t start making a few changes here and there, you’re going to end up the size of a bear, and much less fit. Unlike the bear who emerges from her den in the spring emaciated, starved and very grumpy, I have been….um…very well fed all winter long. And, it shows. I can no longer button my jeans, the ones I’ve worn for the past five years or so. The last time this happened, I was pregnant. I have no excuse for using the rubber band trick now (for the first couple of months of pregnancy I often used a rubber band looped from the button to the button hole so I could continue wearing my jeans a bit longer).

So, yes, I embarked on a radical change in our eating, much to the chagrin of my husband (who is trying to be a good sport about it) and children (who are not). I recently finished listening to the audiobook of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, which I highly recommend. He talks about the development of the food industry and “nutritionism”, and why it’s been so unhealthy for all of us. He points out that being compulsive about reading labels and listening to the advice of diet experts has not made us healthier, but has made us sicker, and explains why. And, he strongly encourages returning to a “native” diet – ANY native diet – for the sake of our health, and explains pretty clearly why those diets seem to work best. That was enough of a nudge for me to run out and buy some herb, tomato and pepper plants, and make a small kitchen garden in the front of the house.

I also pulled out my copy of French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano for some recipes and inspiration, hit the grocery store and loaded up my basket with fresh (okay, semi-fresh) foods, and started cooking. And, we’re moving back to having regular, sit-down meals. Between the real food that doesn’t look or smell or taste like the old food, and the quickly dwindling supply of manufactured snacks in the pantry, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a rebellion pretty soon (unless hubby sneaks out to the grocery store). Thankfully, we’ll have the buffer of our vacation coming up. If I plan things out right, we can have a blending of prepared meals and eating-out meals, and coming home we can hunker down into the “this is how we eat at home” mentality. Although, I’ve not ruled out the possibility of armed resistance.