Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Pod Has Arrived

You'd have thought it was Christmas around here, as excited as everyone was to get this package.

Ain't no guessin'...we know exactly what's in this plain brown box!

Everything unpacked.
We received the PDM and a skin for it; 50 Pods (a 4-month supply); a Freestyle glucose monitor and test strips, and a carrying case for the whole shebang. Once the PDM is set up by our Ped Endo T-Bear will be testing right on the PDM. In the meantime, he decided he'll use the new monitor, and gave his trusty old monitor to Rufus.

Here, Mom, read this 10 lb User Guide.
I probably will not read the entire User Guide all the way though, but skim it before training next week.

The PDM...the brains of the operation.

A Pod...the insulin reservior and pump.

One of the Pods apparently malfunctioned, as it was emitting a high-pitched squeeling noise. Or maybe it was just excited to be in its new home.

Starter Kit and User Guides.

The Starter Kit holds everything we will need for training.

All ready for training next Tuesday.
Can't wait til Tuesday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pod Countdown

Well, it’s official. The nice folks at Insulet got the last of the paperwork put together, and T-Bear’s initial shipment of OmniPod supplies, including the PDA (the computer doohickey that looks sort of like an iPhone and is the brains of the operation) and four-month supply of Pods (the part that sticks to T-Bear’s skin and delivers insulin), goes out today. We should receive it in 3-5 business days. That’s next week. NEXT WEEK we will have William’s Pod right here in our home. And you know I won’t be able to stop myself from fiddling with it.

So, after delivery, we’ll be going to the Pediatric Endocrinologist’s office on May 4th for a “saline start.” That means they program the PDA, teach us how to use it and how to set up the reservoir and get it going, and send us home with saline to run through the Pod for about a week or so. We’ll be increasing the frequency of testing and keeping more precise records, and may also get set up with a 3-day Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) so the Ped Endo has some hard data with which to determine start-up dosing (it takes a BS level every 5 minutes and records it to be downloaded by the Ped Endo, showing in detail how your BS is responding throughout the day). We will do BS testing using the PDM, and having the PDM calculate meal boluses (insulin to cover carbs eaten during a meal), but the Pod will be delivering saline rather than insulin; we will continue to use syringes to administer insulin (both Lantus and Humalog) during the saline trial. That gives us time to get comfortable with changing and setting up Pod sites and fiddle with the PDA to get good at using it without worrying about overdosing T-Bear (which can be life-threatening disasterous).

Then, on May 13th, we go back to the Ped Endo for the “insulin start.” That’s the biggie. Real live insulin in a real live insulin pump. The real deal. No more shots, baby. Then comes the “adjustment period.” Probably lots of highs, lots of reporting BS to the Endo, and lots of tweeking of the PDA programming, until everything is running smoothly and T-Bear’s BS is brought back into target range. Tighter BS control, fewer highs and lows than we’ve had with shots. I’m hoping it won’t take more than a few weeks to get his Pod humming, in plenty of time before our July trip.

Just as a “sidebar”, I’m not really expecting anyone to recognize the significance of the May 13th insulin start date. But, May 13th is the date that T-Bear was diagnosed with Type 1. I didn’t pick the date for the insulin start, it’s just the date the Ped Endo office had available. So, one year to the day that he was dx’d, T-Bear will start taking insulin through his pump. Don’t really even know what to say about that, except that we’ll be celebrating Rufus’ 1st Birthday with cake, ice cream, and a Pod Bolus.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Observing T-Bear

Last week T-Bear and I attended Pump Prep Class at our Ped Endo’s office. He’s not often in a group/classroom type of setting, so when we do go to something like this class, because of his APD I generally try to prepare T-Bear, giving him an idea what to expect, what will be talked about, asking questions to probe his own understanding of the topic at hand, etc. And, I position myself to quietly answer questions if he doesn’t understand something. Particularly in this case, I was concerned he might not understand the specialized vocabulary and technical terminology associated with Type 1 Diabetes and its management, even though I have made a conscious effort to use proper terminology with him from day one. I was very pleasantly surprised to see him in class, fully engaged and seemingly understanding almost all of what was said and discussed. I think the slide presentation helped, allowing him to read the pertinent points at the same time the presenter was talking. But, clearly, his APD is not holding him back.

The other thing I noticed, which I had not been really watching for, is the way he interacted with the instructor and the group in general. I suppose I should preface by saying the group consisted of parents and children ages about four to teen. All but a few of the adults sat and listened attentively without contributing or asking questions. The questions mostly came from the same two adults; myself and one other mom with two little boys. Only one young adult asked a question specific to her own activities, the rest remaining silent the entire time. Except for T-Bear. He was eager to ask questions (mostly about the topic at hand) and to pipe up with his own experiences. His hand went up a dozen times during the one-hour program. And, of course, being the socially hyper-conscious person that I am, I kept trying to field his questions and comments so he wouldn’t “bother” the instructor and the rest of the class. This, he resented. He deeply resented not being treated as a full-fledged member of the group. He resented not being given the same opportunities and freedom to speak as the adults in the room. Thankfully, the instructor was polite and patient, calling on him frequently when he raised his hand (probably because most of her clients are children).

So, this experience led me to ask why so many children are not permitted (or do not feel they are permitted) the same freedom to participate as the adults in a mixed setting (particularly a setting, such as this one, where the children were welcomed and encouraged to attend). Or, are the children simply not that interested in what is being discussed, even though it relates directly to them? And, what of the adults who simply sit and listen, without once asking a question or offering input? What’s the deal there? Are we, culturally, so well trained to sit in our chairs (or at our little desks) in class with our mouths shut and our minds just empty buckets in which the instructor is to dump unexamined data, thoughts, ideas? Or am I just being too cynical?

I used to be one of the silent, very attentive, well-trained students. I sat quietly, I seldom asked questions in class, I never volunteered information, and I rarely raised my hand to answer a question unless I was absolutely positive I knew the correct answer. I did very well in school, but I must say I must not have been very interesting. I certainly was not engaging.

I am far more comfortable now in a group setting, probably because I am so much more comfortable with myself. I can ask questions and contribute without my heart racing and my voice cracking. I can approach our CDE and ask her to look at T-Bear’s numbers without feeling like I’m intruding on her time, and I can exchange a few words with other parents in the room without feeling like I’m pushing myself on them. I am, in sum, free to open my mouth and speak as I see fit.

Homeschooling has been good for me, I think.

Monday, April 12, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 5 – Monday

So, this was our most challenging day, I think. Papa Bear had a business meeting in town and didn’t expect to get back to camp til 3:00 pm, but checkout was 1:00 pm. The plan was for the kids and I to hang out at the beach til Papa was done, but they don’t allow dogs at the beach. If Papa had the truck, there was no place to keep the canines. So, we decided to pack up Popper, drop her off at the beach parking lot, drive Papa Bear to his meeting, drive back to the beach with the kids to hang out, then pick up Papa at 2:00 pm. Not complicated at all…

We did get up, get camp packed up (I had pre-packed much the previous night), and Papa Bear sufficiently gussied up for his meeting to leave camp at 10:00 as planned. We dropped Popper at the beach, and dropped Papa at his meeting on time. However, Papa’s cell phone was left at the camp. We called the Ranger Station from the road and asked them to keep an eye out, and by the time I got back to camp they had the phone…and the dog feeder and water trough that we had also left behind. I pulled into the beach parking lot and found that someone had parked in the space directly in front of Popper, so hitching her up was going to be problematic if the vehicle was not moved before we needed to leave. And, it was by then clear that the beach was going to be cold and windy, and possibly even rain a bit (which it did).

But, T-Bear has a deep love of the beach, and with all of the other outings and activities, he had not been able to spend as much time there as I had hoped. I think part of its attraction for T-Bear is the roar of the surf and wind drown out all the other sounds that constantly bombard him. I didn’t want to deprive T-Bear of this last opportunity to soak it in, so made up some sandwiches for lunch which we ate in the car. BroBear and Booboo elected to stay in the truck with the dogs, while I took T-Bear down to the beach for a bit. Despite the uncooperative weather, 15 minutes on the beach with his feet in the cold water was enough to top off T-Bear’s tank for this trip, and it didn’t start sprinkling until we got back to the truck.

T-Bear soaking up the beach. Rain's a comin'.

By that time, the people who had parked in front of Popper were loading up and preparing to leave, so that little glitch was solved. I managed to get Popper hitched up with spotting by BroBear, and drove back into town to pick up Papa Bear. We stopped off at Hardy’s for a 2nd Lunch (technically snack), and off toward home. A stop at Cracker Barrel for dinner, and we were home by about 10:30 pm. Good to be home. But, part of me will miss sleeping in Popper til next time.

So, lessons learned on this trip:
  • Grab fire wood left behind by departed campers before the Ranger does. They must rebundle and resell it, and since you not allowed to bring non-local wood into the Park, and can’t gather dead wood from the Park, and usually have to buy wood at the Park or locally at $4-$6 per bundle, grabbing up left wood could save you a bit of money.
  • A raw shrimp tail used as bait which drops off a fishing pole hook into the back of the truck will create a horrific stink that does not dissipate until the tail is found three days later and disposed of, no matter how many applications of Sol-U-Mel are applied. Once the shrimp tail is located and booted out, however, Sol-U-Mel works great to get rid of the gag-inducing lingering odor.
  • My kids are much better diplomats than I am. Any time I start getting a little uncomfortable about “what the neighbors must think” of my rambunctious kids, all I have to do is let them go over and introduce themselves (as they are always dying to do), and any possible (usually imagined) scowling is immediately remediated. They also smooth the way for me to go talk to the adults at a later time if necessary.
  • Camping during the week is awesome (unless it’s during a break) because everyone’s in school. There are fewer campers, so more freedom for the kids to be wild banshee children and less stress for me and Papa Bear. And it’s quieter. Except for our children, which we’re pretty much used to.
  • Oak is really hard to burn without an incendiary compound to get it going. Papa Bear favors tiki oil and lighter fluid. Bring more starter bricks. And, I really need to teach one of the kids the Magic Mommy Dragon Breath so there’s another person in camp capable of keeping the fire going without adding incendiary liquids at frequent intervals. Our best candidate at this point is BooBoo Bear, but he’s only five. Perhaps I should invest in a bellows.
  • If you’re a female enjoying your mid-life, never count on your period arriving on schedule. Always bring feminine equipment along on trips.
  • If you’ve been listening to Money Python in the car on the way to the Chinese Buffet, explain to the children before you get out of the car why it is inappropriate to bellow at the top of your lungs the song “I Like Chinese.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up. Please.
  • Dramamine not only eliminates nausea, but also knocks two out of three children unconscious for at least four hours. (insert Evil Laugh).
  • White socks worn under camp sandals may look really dorky, but it keeps the sand off your feet. Which is really important if you have sensory feet issues or diabetes. Deal with it and stop being so judgmental.

That's it till next time!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 5 – Sunday

The Tent Sleepers were up before me. I wrangled up Krusteez pancakes (the best!), sausage and eggs for breakfast, tidied up camp and the camper while the kids played, and was ready to head for the shower just as the McG’s arrived. I enjoyed a blessed shower while the grownups decided the plan for the day, and came back in time to pack up all of the essentials for the crew to go off for a few hours of fishing. The dogs and I stayed in camp for some downtime and writing. Then, post-fishing we all headed out to a local(ish) Chinese Buffet for lunch, after which we parted ways with the McG’s. Back at camp, Papa took BroBear and BooBoo to the Park’s fishing pier with the dogs, while T-Bear and I hung out and chilled. Most of our neighbors had bugged out, so it was pretty quiet. T-Bear spent most of his time obsessively listening to The Parrot Sketch, The Book Shop, and Michael Jackson.

I spent much time contemplating how to manage the complexities of the next day.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 4 – Saturday

A lovely morning in the wilds of Florida. Breakfast burritos, then Papa Bear took the Cubs to the beach for a couple of hours before work associates arrived for some backwater fishing. There’s something very soothing for me about puttering around the camp, tidying up, arranging things in the camper. And taking advantage of a lull in the activity to do some writing.

Our first compatriot, D, arrived around 11:00, Papa and Cubs returned just after, we packed up everything up (including the dogs) and scouted out a place to fish. Turns out, Little Talbot Island State Park doesn’t allow dogs anywhere on the beach or backwater areas, so we had to find a spot outside of the Park. We were joined by the McG’s a bit later, who graciously provided lunch, as well as dinner for later at camp. Nothing edible was caught, but much enjoyment was had by all, and we got to see several samples of the ugliest fish I have ever seen in my life, aptly called a “toad fish.”

"Nope, not edible."

Not sure what's up with the hat.

It was low tide when we arrived, and the bank was mud. And, I mean, MUD. Dark, silty, gooey mud. BooBoo got bogged down in a patch and had to be fished out by Papa Bear, who also managed to find both camp shoes which had been sucked off Boo’s feet. Not long after BooBoo was cleaned up (relatively), T-Bear got bogged down in pretty much the same spot, had to be assisted out, and also cleaned up (relatively). Papa Bear got bogged down in a different area while trying to rescue a bobber off a snagged line. He had to extract himself.

Re-rigging after Papa Bear saved the infamous 20 cent bobber from a snag.

Back at camp, we all enjoyed camp-fire-roasted weenies and brats with all the fixin’s. Had snacks, and more snacks. The neighbor kids joined us for some cards. Then we set up the little tent and the McG boys stayed the night. Oh, and during a rare moment of cell reception, Papa was able to retrieve a voice mail message from a neighbor letting us know that the irrigation main at home had a significant leak and was “spewing” water. After reaching Mimi via a borrowed cell phone, we confirmed there was no major water emergency, just a minor water leak. Thanks, again, Mimi and Matt, for looking after the home place in our absence!

For anyone who is wondering what it takes to care for T-Bear's diabetes on a day like this, I've written up a post describing the care aspect of this partcular day here.

A Day With Diabetes – SC/FL Camping – Saturday

For anyone wondering what it takes to care for a child with Type 1 Diabetes on a daily basis, this is an unadulterated look at one day of our recent SC/FL Camping trip from mom's perspective.

Up around 8:00 to make breakfast. While I prepared the fixin’s for breakfast burritos, I wrangled T-Bear out of bed (he’s no morning person), and got him to test his BS (he hates the finger pricks more than the injections). He’d been running very high at breakfast time all week – between 200 and 270 most mornings – and was high again, though lower than previous days since he skipped his bedtime snack the previous night. I’d left a message on the Pediatric Endocrinologist’s Blood Sugar Hotline the day before on the way to our new campsite, but my phone had no reception at the campground. I couldn’t check my messages to see if they called with an adjustment, so I just had to wing it till Monday when I could talk to them.

Correction for a BS of 178: (178 – 100)/40 = 2 units

Bolus for breakfast:
1 large flour tortilla = 35 g
1 serving refried beans = 16 g
Fried potatoes – declined = 0 g
Shredded cheese = 0 g
1 cup milk = 12 g

Total 63 g of carbs at 1:10 insulin/carb ratio = 6 units

Total insulin dose = 8 units

I’ve pretty much perfected working up an insulin dose at camp. I write down all the carb counts per serving in my notebook as I’m cooking. After T-Bear has tested and given me his number, he serves up his plate and I count his carbs based on what he’s served and the numbers I’ve already collected. The stove in Popper so far has always stayed closed, so that’s our diabetes counter. There’s just enough space to lay out the Cami Pack, Poucho (which holds the two open insulin vials, in their Securitee Blankets), our sharps container (a recycled fabric softener bottle), and my notebook and log sheet laid open. I need a better calculator, though. My original calculator is just too big for the Cami Pack, and the little one I replaced it with has a faulty screen, so I can’t always see the numbers clearly. But, I set up the dose and T-Bear comes inside to take his injection before he eats. Smooth.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought T-Bear a watch just like mine, and he’s learning to use it to support his BS management. To get an “accurate” BS reading, we have to wait at least two hours after he eats before testing (I say "accurate" because glucose meters aren't entirely accurate). After he finishes eating his breakfast, we both set the timers on our watches for 2 hours; when the timers go off, we know it’s okay for him to test his BS again, and it’s about time to start thinking about eating within the next hour or so before his BS drops.

After cleanup, Papa Bear took the boys to the beach for a little bit while I tidied up. I filled T-Bear’s new hydration pack with water (dehydration can really mess with BS), made sure he had his SPI Belt on, and off they went. Since they’d only be gone about 1 ½ hours, he shouldn’t have needed to eat again before they returned, but he’s got a glucose meter, lancet device, and glucose tablets in his SPI Belt just in case he starts feeling low. Swimming will do that to him, but they would mostly be “splashing” and playing, and the weather wasn’t too hot, so I didn’t foresee any difficulty.

Around 11:00 we headed to the backwater for some fishing with friends, who were bringing lunch. Really no way to plan for this particular meal, but I’ve gotten fairly good at guestimating carbs. I’ve been using one of our blue “diabetes backpacks” for keeping T-Bear’s supplies, as well as my “purse”, camera, reading material, water, etc. I took a quick inventory of the Cami Pack supplies, got more syringes and alcohol wipes from my back-up supplies, and managed to get the Cami Pack, Emergency Pack, Poucho, notebook, water, an emergency snack, and a book into the backpack (the camera I had to carry separately). I even managed to carry it from the truck to the fishing spot without collapsing like an over-burdened camel.

Our watches beeped about the time we arrived at the fishing spot, and our friends arrived a bit after that. The delicious giant deli sandwiches, unfortunately, didn’t have a nutritional label, so no carb count. I haven’t found any supermarket deli that bakes their own bread and includes a nutritional label on the package. I just have to guess based on the 44 g roll that our local deli serves. Testing was slightly problematic since T-Bear had about earlier grabbed two fists full of squishy mud, which had dried to a cakey consistency on his hands. We did our best to rub most of the dirt off of one finger onto his shirt, cleaned thoroughly with an alcohol wipe, and did our best.

No correction for “on target” BS of 134. (Target is 80-150).

Bolus for lunch:
Deli roll – guestimate of 50 g
Sliced cheese – 0 g
Deli meats – 0 g
Tomato & lettuce – removed – 0 g
Mayo – 0 g
Water – 0 g

Total 50 g of carbs at 1:10 insulin/carb ratio = 5 units

Total insulin dose = 5 units

Drawing insulin at the fishing spot was a bit more challenging. With experience doing drive-thrus under my belt, I managed to sit the Cami Pack open in my lap, balance the Poncho open and upright, fetch out a syringe and alcohol wipe, and get a dose drawn. The lovely wafting breeze did not help.

After lunch T-Bear discovered the potato chips and was dying to have some. A serving of 20 chips is about 15 g, and he doesn’t technically need to cover anything less than 10 g with insulin, so I let him have 3 whole chips. A little later, he was offered a grape flavored water drink, which had another 6 g, which we also did not cover. I figured with all of the running around in the sun and warm weather, he’d more likely go low than high, so a few extra carbs wouldn't hurt.

This fishing spot was definitely one of those places where shoes are absolutely required at all times. Before embarking on this camping trip, I took all three Cubs to REI to get camp shoes. Thinking ahead to summer camping, I needed a way of keeping T-Bear’s feet protected without completely overheating. For any diabetic, even small cuts or booboos on the feet can be very problematic, as high BS reduces circulation in the extremities, which can hamper healing and lead to sores that just won’t heal. That’s when you have to start worrying about amputation. Although T-Bear is not necessarily at risk for this type of complication right now, we still do regular foot checks and want him to get into the habit of checking and caring for his feet. So, I decided that Keens water shoes would do the trick; give adequate protection from booboos while still keeping his feet somewhat cooler. They worked well at the fishing spot where there were lots of sharp rocks, pokey grasses, and gooey mud. No booboos, and he was able to easily wash the gooey mud from his feet and shoes without removing the shoes. And they’re comfortable enough he’s willing to wear them most all the time.

A couple more hours of fishing and playing, our watches beeped, and I consulted with Papa Bear and our friends about a departure time. Pretty soon I’d need to feed T-Bear a snack, and wanted to know whether we were going to do that at the fishing spot or at camp. It was decided we would pack up, head to camp, and have snack/dinner there, which our friends also brought. T-Bear started getting squirrelly as we were packing, so I did some soothing and hugging and firm talking to calm him down and bit, and had him test. Sure enough, he was low (64), so I gave him a serving of potato chips (15 g) to correct and hold him over until we got back to camp.

Back at camp, after ordering all three Cubs to the showers for a good rinsing off (clothes, camp shoes and all), we set out dinner and started roasting wieners and brats. It took reading Think Like A Pancreas for me to figure out that I can use the same correction formula to adjust for highs and lows. Previously, I’d been rounding down or guestimating a dose adjustment when he was low. Now the correction looks like this:

Correction for a BS of 64: (64 – 100)/40 = -1 unit

Bolus for “snack”:
1 serving potato chips (to cover low) = 15 g
2 hot dogs (no buns) = 0 g
1 serving potato chips (with meal) = 15 g
Crystal Light = 0 g

Total 30 g of carbs at 1:10 insulin/carb ratio = 3 units

Total insulin dose = 2 units

Yeah, I know, not exactly the healthiest meal. Because of the timing, I logged this dinner as “afternoon snack.” I also chose not to give T-Bear a dose, deciding that he would probably be running a bit low after a day of playing in the sun. Often his BS will drop 2 – 4 hours after intense or hours-long activity, and I didn’t want him to have another low before “dinner”.

More play back at camp, and a few hours later T-Bear had “dinner” – Honey Nut Cheereos with milk.

No correction needed for a BS of 121 (yay me!)

Bolus for dinner:
Honey Nut Cheereos = 22 g for ¾ cup serving; 2 ½ cups = 3 servings = 66 g
1 cup milk = 12 g

Total 78 g of carbs at 1:15 insulin/carb ratio = 5 units

Total insulin dose = 5 units

At the same time we were preparing “dinner”, our alarms went off. 7:00 is time for Lantus (long-acting 24-hour insulin). Because he’d been running so high at breakfast time all week, I increased his Lantus by ½ unit, from 9.5 to 10. So, two shots within 15 minutes (we can’t combine his two insulins in the same syringe).

More playing, a few card games, and time for bedtime snack. Again because of his morning highs, I changed his bedtime insulin/carb ratio from 1:30 to 1:25, hoping that would drop his morning number a bit. Since I had no way of reaching the Ped Endo, I just relied on my 11 whole months of experience managing T-Bear’s BS to guide me.

Correction for a BS of 274: (274 – 100)/80 = 2 units (the bedtime correction is ½ of the daytime correction)

Bolus for snack:
1 serving marshmallows (4 pieces) = 24 g
1 cup milk = 12 g

Total 36 g of carbs at 1:25 insulin/carb ratio = 1.5 units

Total insulin dose = 3.5 units

He was very high at bedtime (which we corrected for), and the sugar shock from the marshmallows, I’m sure, caused him to spike even higher before the insulin kicked in. He was having a minor meltdown, was feeling sick, and was too upset for me to get him to pee on a KetoStick (which we’re supposed to do whenever he’s over 300, or complains of a stomach ache). Despite my worry and anxiety about his high, I just laid down with him and helped soothe him to sleep. He was out within minutes of climbing into his sleeping bed, and slept all night. I, however, did not, waking at around 2:00 am feeling anxious and overwhelmed about our planned 30-day cross-country camping trip in July. How, oh how, am I going to manage that? For the first time since T-Bear’s diagnosis last May, I had doubts whether or not I can keep him healthy, particularly if my communication with the Ped Endo is spotty while on the road.

If you have read all the way to the end of this posting, then bless you. Either you really want to know what it’s like to live with and care for a child who lives with Type 1 Diabetes, or you’re one of my blessedly tolerant friends for family members. (If you happen to be an old hat at T1, please feel free to drop my a line or leave a comment with suggestions for improvements I can make to T-Bear’s care). And if you know me, you know that I will handle our planned trip in the same way I’ve handle everything else. With lots of planning and thinking about it ahead of time, and with a big dose of confidence (even if I don’t necessary feel confident at times). I’m going to screw up a lot, and I’m going to learn a lot. But if Papa Bear and I manage to pull this trip off even moderately well, T-Bear is going to have one more experience under his belt proving that he can do anything he wants to, diabetes be damned. And that will be a gift of a lifetime from us, his concerned parents, to our beloved, beautiful son.

Now, back to blogging the good parts

Friday, April 9, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 3 – Friday

We were on a bit of a timetable for Friday, since Papa had a Webinar to attend at 1:00. Hoping to be in Savannah in time to sit at a restaurant table for lunch and have Papa set up with his computer and cellphone, we planned to be on the road by 10:00 and eat on the run. I got up a wee bit early figuring I would need to do a little post-storm clean up. I was right.

You’d think the campground being entirely on sand it would have drained pretty quickly rather than flood. And, mostly it did. It just mostly drained toward our camp, which was located in a bit of a low spot on a VERY flat plain. But, by the time I got up all the water has filtered down through the sand. You could tell exactly where the rain water collected during the night, because those areas (i.e. our campsite) were covered in pollen sludge. As were all of the items we had left out on the ground under the “protection” of the awning. The feet of the campstove, the feet of the campchairs, one end of the table extension, the bottom of the dog feeding station and water trough and the cooler, the kitchen rug, and Brother Bear’s brand new hydration backpack. The hose came in handy for hosing off (literally) the nasty yellow pollen sludge that was on everything. Luckily, it came off pretty easily since it hadn’t dried yet.

We managed to get the kids up and dressed and everything packed up just in time to pull out at 10:00 am as planned. It helped a lot that I had stowed all of the kitchen gear (except the stove) the night before, and we had decided to eat on the road rather than cook breakfast. That approach, or simply having cold cereal for breakfast, will probably serve us well during our July trip. We didn’t quite make it to Savannah in time for Papa’s Webinar, but staked out a Denny’s which worked out just fine. Within a couple more hours, we reached Little Talbot Island State Park.

Papa Bear’s first impression was “This is just like a landscape from Disneyland.” It is sort of like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Dixieland. There is something incredibly magical and other-worldly about driving into this little park with the stiflingly dense trees and shrubs and srub on both sides, with Spanish Moss draped everywhere.

The drive into camp.

The sky from our camp.

My first impression was, “Whoever first took a look at this place and decided this would be a nice place to live was certifiably insane.” Sort of like the scene from “Princess Bride” where Wesley says about The Fire Swamp, “It’s not that bad. Not that I’d want to build a summer home here, but the trees are quite lovely.” I’m pretty sure there were very few wives who volunteered to play pioneer in this place.

So, impressions aside, I can say this about Little Talbot Island State Park. Small sites, tightly packed together. There’s just no sense of privacy, and we hadn’t even pulled in and set up the rig before I was stressing out about “what the neighbors must think.” I guess I have left-over ideals from my childhood of setting up camp in the middle of nowhere, where the kids can be wild banshees, running off to explore and collect dead snakes and firewood, without parents worrying about “breaking the rules” or “disturbing the neighbors.” I understand the rules and the need for them, and for the fees associated with utilizing public lands in the form of State and National Parks (although the necessity of paying $4-6 for a bundle of 6 pieces of firewood is beyond me). But, part of me – okay, a HUGE part of me – feels like a HUGE part of camping is about letting the kids be wild banshees for a stretch of time, and that’s just not possible in a rule-ladened, civilized, government operated (or even privately operated) camp ground. The Last Child in the Woods is not only deprived of unregulated nature on their own home turf, but now, also, in Public Parks. Bugger. Where’s a mom supposed to take her wild, flamboyant, exuberant, adventurous boys where she’s not having to constantly shush and correct and civilize them? Where, I ask?!? Okay, rant over....

So, after a dinner of Bubba Burgers (which were awesome) and baked beans, we cleaned up the dishes and headed out for a night hike. Booboo’s been hounding me for a night hike for several months (don’t ask me where he got the idea), and this was our big opportunity. We took the dogs with us, so they could get most of their wiggly whinies worked out before bedtime. We experimented with turning off all of our flashlights to see if we could still make out the dirt road we were walking on (we could) and with seeing how quietly we could walk (not very); stopped long enough to listen to a critter in the bushes rustling around VERY loudly, and to determine that it must have been an armadillo (no soft-sided critter could afford to make that much noise and not be turned into dinner); and identified some basic constellations. Then the boys played “Hit The Deck” with Papa while I wrote this.

We experimented with a new sleeping arrangement, whereby we kept the “table” in the outdoor kitchen, and Zak slept on the “couch” rather than on the “table bed”. All very confusing, I know. But, I wanted to see if we could make everyone comfortable, including the dogs, without partially dismantling the kitchen at bedtime. Didn't work out very well, so back to the standard arrangement.

And, on to Day Four!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 2 – Thursday

Rising the in morning to make coffee in our new French Press, we were able to take in the visual splendor of our surroundings. Pine trees engulfed us. And pine pollen covered everything. The kids and I don’t happen to have a problem with pine pollen, but Papa Bear does. He was a bit drippy, getting all spiffed up for his business meeting. The coffee from the French Press pretty much sucked, but I’m pretty sure that was Operator Error. It may take a bit of practice.

Our camp.

The Cubs and I hung out at camp, reading, drawing, coloring, writing. Mostly just relaxing. The weather was clear and warm, and we stuck to the shade offered by the pines. When Papa returned, he took the Cubs for a tour around the Park where they gathered some firewood. Then, hiked up to the river for some fishing (taking the dogs along), picking up a dead Copperhead snake and a couple of skinned knees on the way back.

Jenny pooped out after her hike.

Our day wrapped up with roasted weenies for dinner.

The kitchen.

Weenie and skinned knees.

Good campin' eats.

Just at bedtime, it started raining. A gentle rain on Popper is an incredibly soothing and comforting sound. The rain falling on the pop-out tent parts (the bedrooms) is like rain falling on any tent, a pleasant “plop, plop, plop” sound. But, the rain falling on the metal roof of the living area is a very distinct, and strangely familiar sound, aptly described by Booboo as “checkers”. The sound of checkers being stacked, arranged, restacked, and fussed with. Somehow that sound just sent me right back into childhood, and inspired at least one grin as I lay in my sleeping bag.

Then it started raining harder. And it turned into a long night. Sometime after midnight (I think it was about 2:00 am), a car alarm went off. And, as all car alarms sound EXACTLY ALIKE at 2:00 am, I assumed it was our truck, jumped out of bed, and scrambled for our keys (which were in my pants pocket), so we could turn the alarm off before we pissed off the entire campground. Papa was on his feet and ready to respond, so when I handed him the keys, he took up the challenge of shutting off the alarm from the doorway of the camper so he didn’t have to tromp out into the rain in his undies. Turns out, it wasn’t our truck, but the car in the neighboring site. Crisis averted. Sort of.

It was at that point that Jenny (the spaz dog) decided she needed to pee. Right then. In the camper. On Brother Bear’s sleeping bag. So, Papa dragged her outside in the rain so she could finish peeing. Except she wouldn’t. Because our entire camp site was covered in 3” of water. And, ya know, dogs can’t possibly pee in water. I’m pretty sure it’s a survival thing. Or maybe just something designed to irritate their owners at 2:00 in the morning. Either way, it was quickly brought to our attention that anything left on the ground in our camp was in danger of floating away. Papa Bear rounded stuff up (including the orthopedic dog bed, which was completely soaked), while I trudged through 3” of water all the way to the comfort station so I could pee. Well, not just water, but also huge pinecones and a flotsam of pine pollen. It was kind of gross, actually. Not much sleep the rest of the night.

On to Day Three...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SC/FL Camping Day 1 – Wednesday

It’s springtime in Georgia, and the pine trees are ejecting pollen with a vengeance. Papa Bear hosed down the truck and Popper before we left home, and both were once again covered in greenish-yellow pollen by the time we reached Lee State Park in SC. Of course, it was dark when we pulled in, so we couldn’t really tell exactly how much pollen coated everything. It was more felt than seen. But, we got to practice backing the camper trailer into a campsite in the dark. We’re good to go. Got Popper set up in about ½ hour, and I was happy not to have to be cooking dinner after setting up. Time to relax, listening to the wind in the pines, and smelling the campfires. Tucked into bed, and slept like a lamb.

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A New Easter Tradition

The Easter Bunny started a new tradition this year, loading the kids' baskets with books, Brain Quest games, bookmarks, bubbles, and kites, in addition to a few sweet treats. Everything was appreciated, but the kites were a particular hit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Garden Log 4

Progress in the garden...

The Kitchen Garden getting bigger.

White Narcissus (daffodil)


Yellow Narcissus (daffodil)


At the mailbox.

Christmas cactus (inside).