Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Athens Music Festival, More Pix

More pix of the Athens Music Festival, courtesy of Papa Bear.

Determination. BooBoo Bear tackling the climbing wall.

BooBoo ascending. Looks sorta like a frog, yes?

"Can I ride him?"

"He's about to spit!"

Athens Music Festival

On Sunday Papa and the Cubs went to the Athens Music Festival, while Mama Bear stayed home for a much needed afternoon off. Everyone had a blast, despite the heat.

Making guitar fans.

BooBoo and his fan.

BooBoo and Banana Bear.


Brother and Banana Bear.

Papa Bear. Oh, wait, I think that's a camel.

BooBoo feeding a furry critter. I think it's a llama.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Service Project “Save the Gulf Critters” Part Two

We finally got around to sewing up our hand towels after a bit of a false start yesterday. While bringing my sewing machine downstairs to the dining room to set it up, the storage case on the poor old thing gave out and the machine dropped to the floor. Thankfully, it did NOT drop on my foot, or I would have been in the ER (I swear the thing weighs 30 lb at least), but being dropped seems to have convinced the machine that it's time for an extended vacation. Not that I use it all that often, but it's probably at least as old as I am, and it's probably not going to remain functional much longer. So, "thank you" to Luisa for passing your sewing machine on to me so looooong ago. It has been put to very good use, and once we return from our trip, I'll see if it can be revived for a few more years of service.

Anyway, my friend, Grace, lent me her sewing machine so we could get this project wrapped up. I was able to get all of the hand towels seamed within a couple of hours, with a small break to teach Brother Bear how to make a simple seam.

T-Bear seaming a hand towel.
He decided, also, that the towel he seamed by himself needed a monogram. So, after a quick fiddle with the machine and one dry run, we managed to sew at "t" onto the towel.

Monogrammed hand towel. We're sure some sea critter somewhere will appreciate the added touch.
So, the hand towels are ready to go as soon as I pack them up. And, I remembered I had a very large skein of white cotton yarn in my craft box that is not likely to be used anytime soon. So I pulled it out and started knitting wash cloths. I'll probably only get a few done by the time I ship our box, but it's the type of thing I can keep working at during our trip and possibly ship them out when we get back home. Being able to knit and read at the same time does have its advantages...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Comfort of a Nice Spreadsheet

I have a thing for spreadsheets. Really. I have had for quite a while. It probably goes back to my being a bookkeeper of one sort or another for all of my “working” life, and having come from a Matriarchy of Bookkeepers. There’s just something really soothing and satisfying – almost fulfilling – about building a spreadsheet from conception to end product and having it balance out and display all relevant data in all their splendor. There have been times when I’ve stressed over finances or an upcoming project, and sitting down to fiddle with the numbers has given me enough of a sense of control that I could calm myself. Every number plugged into a box and dutifully added, subtracted, multiplied and divided to come to a bottom line. There’s nothing better for getting a handle on the hard data and figuring out the best way to proceed.

Sooooo, the first few weeks of T-Bear’s transition to the pump was a little stressful. I’d had a really good “feel” for his ebbs and flows while he was on injections, for how his body used insulin at various times of the day, for how activity (at which levels and what types) effected his BG, and, most important for me, what his “magic number” was at bedtime…what level his BG needed to be so I didn’t have to worry about a low overnight. It was all very comfortable.

Til we started pumping. Then, suddenly, nothing made sense. I couldn’t see any patterns. I couldn’t predict what his BG would be from one test to the next, or how his body would respond to a bolus. And, I’ve been up two or three or four times each night since the switch, checking and adjusting, and reporting his detailed (and I mean DETAILED) log sheets a couple times a week to the Ped Endo, ever since. And, one of the first things I did after switching to the pump, after about a week or so of feeling completely in the dark, was revamp our Ped Endo’s standard “pumping” BG log sheet to suit my own needs. Quite forward of me, I know. But I’d been typing up his log sheets on the computer for several months anyway, mostly because my writing is not that clear in those little boxes, especially after it’s been faxed. So, having already duplicated it as a spreadsheet on my computer, making a few changes to the log sheet wasn’t that much of a leap.

But, really, pumping is such a different beast from injections, and I really needed to feel like I could eventually get a handle on it. The first adjustment I made was to set up a “time line” across the bottom of the sheet that showed each programmed segment for carb/inulin ratios and correction factors (the original log sheet just had a place to write out the ratios and factors). Just that one change helped me figure out a pretty significant problem with our programming. Our “dinner time” can fluctuate quite a bit from day to day depending on what’s going on (a particular byproduct of relaxed homeschooling). When T-Bear was on injections, I just did the calculation using his “dinner” numbers, no matter what time we ate. But, with the pump, calculations are made based on pre-programmed formulas dictated by fixed time segments. So, depending on when we ate dinner, sometimes T-Bear was getting a bolus and correction based on the “dinner time” calculations, and sometimes he was getting a bolus and correction based on the “bedtime” calculation…which is about ½ the insulin. So, Chinese at 8:00 was a complete nightmare high in the middle of the night, whereas the same meal at 7:00 was much less of a problem. Ooops. And, his bedtime carb/insulin ratio and bedtime correction factor didn’t start at the same time…they were an hour apart. So he could be getting a dinner bolus with a bedtime correction. But, I never would have figured that out if I hadn’t reworked the log sheet.

I also set up the basal rates to show on a “timeline” for each day, then removed the “notes” column on the right side of the log sheet, and inserted a couple of rows between each day so I have plenty of room to make notes (which I do a lot of). And, each note can be made under the appropriate hour, i.e. when we changed the programming, when we changed a Pod and why, where we placed the new Pod, etc. This was great when I called Insulet about all those Pods that fell off, because I could tell them exactly when each one had come off, how long each lasted, etc. (And, now, I know to include the Lot & Pod number on my sheets for when I request a credit for problem Pods). And, since I can now e-mail our log sheets to the Ped Endo (a new thing), I’m even highlighting stuff on the log sheet that I want to bring to the CDE’s attention, such as an unusual flurry of unexpected lows, highs caused by party grazing, when/how heavy exercise effected his BG, etc. Last week I started using an extended bolus on T-Bear’s carb-heavy meals, and I’m highlighting the ones I split so I can see whether or not it’s helping control the highs after a large meal.

All in all, I’m pretty sure the nice CDE's at the Endo’s office must think I’m a nut, being so anal about my reporting. But what the heck. It makes me feel better, and I’m pretty confident that this new log sheet is one tool in my toolbelt that will allow me, eventually, to get a real grip on managing T-Bear’s T1 on a pump. Give me a few more weeks, and we’ll be smokin’.

Besides, one of the CDE’s I talked to last week actually said she likes the changes I made to their log sheet, and that I prefer to e-mail rather than fax. Now, if I could just find someone to design a computer program that will download data directly from the PDM and plug it into my spreadsheet, I’d be all set…

P.S. If any D-moms want to see our new-and-improved log sheet, just leave a comment with your e-mail address, or e-mail me directly (Hueyhome@msn.com) and I’ll send it to you as an Excel file. Call me a dork, but I’m curious about what other Endo’s log sheets look like. Maybe you are, too....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Service Project “Save the Gulf Critters” Part One

Yeah, I know, I need more on my plate right now. Just shush and listen up. And, oh yeah, and if you can help out, please do!!!

My friend, Grace, sent me a link to this service project that is calling for crafters to pitch in and make towels and washcloths to be used by the folks in the Gulf who are doggedly wiping oil and gunk off of rescued sea critters in an attempt to save as many of them as possible from the oil spill. And, since there’s no sign they're going to be able to fix the leak anytime soon, this is going to be a massive, long-term and on-going clean-up effort. I mean, REALLY long-term and on-going. So, the more help the better.

As soon as I mentioned this project to the kids, they were all over it. BooBoo Bear, especially, is very distraught over the animals who are dying, and he doesn't even watch that much news. Just the idea of all those critters covered in oil and suffering is upsetting for him, so it was awesome to have a project plopped into our laps that allows us to actually help in a direct, meaningful way. We immediately went to the grocery store and bought three large bottles of Dawn – the only detergent the cleaner-uppers specifically request. There’s a specially packaged option that includes an automatic $1.00 donation to animal rescue efforts, so those are the ones we got. The Big Ones. Yeah, yeah, I know, I only use non-toxic, environmentally safe Melaleuca products at home, including dishwashing detergent, and I don’t understand why the rescuers would use a toxic product full of environmentally damaging phosphates on these already stressed animals, but it’s what they asked for, so we’re sending it. To each his own.

Detergent and terry cloth.

So, Phase Two of our project; we bought 5 yards of terry cloth at JoAnn’s Fabrics, and I’m cutting it up into hand towel-sized pieces. To maximize the usability of the cloth we bought (and to maximize the usability of my time in cutting and sewing), I’m working up an approximate 14” x 27” towel and not being all that precise in my measuring and cutting. After all, as soon as these towels are pulled out of the box, they’ll be used to soak up petroleum, and will never be the same thereafter. Hopefully, they can be washed and used a couple of times.

I’m cutting 28” lengths (still folded in ½ off the bolt), and then cutting 15.5” widths (again, still folded in ½) to give me my raw pieces. And, a la the fabric store, I’m lining up the folded edge of the material along the edge of my dining room table, and using the “seams” of the table leafs to make a semi-straight cut. Quick and easy, baby.

BooBoo Bear cutting pieces.

BTW, the boys were fascinated by the whole measure-and-cut process at the fabric store, especially when the cutting lady used the rolling table to measure and cut the fabrics I bought for tablecloths (they came on a roll, rather than a bolt). BroBear’s comments was something to the effect of, “Hey, that’s just like the rolling device they use on Myth Busters when they’re measuring long distances.” Hehe. Who says a fabric shop is no place for boys?

Sewing seams is much more effective when you're wearing your ant mask with bug vision lenses.

BooBoo hand sewing a seam. Black thread is a nice touch, don't you think?

So, all the pieces are cut, ready to be sewn starting tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where We're Going

Papa Bear picked up Popper from the RV place yesterday afternoon (it was in for a minor repair), and found some cool stuff for our upcoming trip, including this map. Papa and the Cubs peeled off each State we'll be visiting from the master map, and put it on this map which can be hung up in your camper with suction cups.

He also found these nifty journals for the older kids to record their journeys, "Let's Go See: All 50!" For each State, there is a simple map, some information about the State, and lots of space to write about your visit, including a page of prompts; Date visited, with whom, reason for visit, places visited, what I enjoyed most, what I found most interesting, and what I'd like to see next time. Then two full lined pages for your own notes.
The younger kids got books of campfire stories, and Rand McNally travel games books.
And, what did Mama Bear get? Mom's Camper Cooking recipe book; Easy Recipes for RVer's. Too cool.
Thanks, Papa!

Monday, June 14, 2010


No, I'm not reading Jane Austen...again. I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. It basically discusses the phenomenon of social epidemics – ideas that “take off” and “infect” large numbers of people - and the elements necessary for a social epidemic to occur. In the chapter entitled “The Law of The Few” Gladwell states that one of the primary elements of a social epidemic is people, and specifically, a combination of three particular types of people; Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

The Connector is someone who has a very large number of “weak ties” or acquaintances; they seem to know everyone. The Maven is an obsessive collector of information who enjoys helping others by passing along that information. The Salesman is the person who can sell ice cubes to Eskimo, not because he’s pushy or high-pressure, but because he’s so charming and enthusiastic.
Gladwell uses as an example the infamous ride of Paul Revere, compared to the ride of William Dawes. Who was William Dawes, you may ask? That’s exactly the point. Because Revere and Dawes set out at the same time, on the same day, with the same mission to warn the people surrounding Boston of the impending assault of the British army. Revere succeeded in raising up the entire militia in the surrounding areas in a matter of hours, while Dawes was able to pull together virtually no militia. Why?

The answer, of course, is that Revere was able to pull together the three personality types necessary to create a “Tipping Point” social epidemic, whereas Dawes was not. Revere himself, it turns out, was the ultimate combination of Connector and Maven, and only needed a few Salesmen to push the colonies into the beginnings of the Revolution…Salesmen he just happened to know personally, because he was such an exceptional Connector. Dawes…not so much. Which is why very few Americans know his name today. And why, if Revere had been a Dawes, we probably would not have had the Revolution that we did.

So, this idea of social epidemics got me thinking about the current trend of loud “personalities” who go on the radio or television and tell everyone everything that they should be angry and afraid about, and the bewildering number of people who listen to them and repeat whatever the personality says. Epidemic, I think, is a perfect term for this spread of anger and fear. But, how do they manage to get otherwise thoughtful people to listen to them and spread their particular brand of virus?

In Gladwell’s book Blink, he talks about the phenomenon of our minds making a subconscious snap judgment about something within the first few second of seeing or being exposed to it. It appears these snap judgments, under proper circumstances, can be very effective and accurate. They can, however, also be easily manipulated or programmed, in some cases contrary to our own stated principles or values. The key to not allowing a contrary snap judgment to taint your decision making process is to slow things down. Law enforcement officers are far more likely to misjudge the intentions of a suspect immediately following a high-speed chase because they have gone into a state of stress that shuts down their ability to process subtle cues accurately. So, a snap judgment about a suspect, preprogrammed by culture, entertainment, news, etc. to say certain people are a threat, will frequently overwhelm the decision making process and lead to bad choices.

And, how does this process apply to the loud talkers on TV who seem intent on spreading anger and fear? When you turn on one of these shows, what images are you being exposed to in the first few seconds of the program? What “blink” impressions are you being programmed with before the show even begins? An American flag on fire? Arabs brandishing machine guns? Angry Hispanics demonstrating? The word “crisis” in red? A map of the U.S. torn in half?

In the opening moments of each segment of the program, what images are being used to program your “blink”? A political enemy with a look of anger or harshness on their face (as opposed to a neutral or positive look on their face)? The leader of a foreign “enemy” nation with his arm raised at a Nazi-esque angle (even if he’s just pointing at something), and a swastika placed on a separate board but within view? Are the video clips used five or ten seconds long and out of context (as opposed to a minute long, or two minutes long so you can understand the context)? Is the conversation or discussion short and choppy and frequently interrupted (as opposed to allowing the full presentation of a complete thought)? Is the speaker using hand and head gestures that encourage a subconscious mimicking in viewers, like a yawn that spreads through a room?

All of these elements are brought together in a very purposeful way to 1) program your “blink” impression or judgment and 2) prevent you from taking the time to examine thoughtfully and rationally what is being said. Even though the host is telling you that you need to think about whatever the subject is, the entire presentation has been orchestrated to ensure that the majority of viewers will NOT think about it and come to their own conclusions; they will simply accept what they are being fed.

Contrast this presentation to a typical informational program on PBS. A neutrally designed set, few background visuals, all participants sitting in a relaxed posture, everyone given time to speak and present their view without frequent interruption, no wild gesticulations or raised voices. Every part of this presentation is designed to slow everything down and give viewers time to really think about whatever is being discussed.

Lest you think the importance of presentation is an exaggeration, Gladwell cites two studies that seem to show that this type of subtle programming of response is eerily easy and effective. In the first, a connection was found between the facial expression of a news anchor while reporting on a political candidate, and the voting habits of the viewers. The second found that the simple act of nodding ones head inclines you toward agreeing with whatever is being said while you are nodding, even if agreement is not in your best interest or you would otherwise disagree (doesn't that make you pause and think about "head banger" music?). But, aside from anything any study can tell us about the impact of others on our internal world, when was the last time you didn’t cry during a sad scene in a movie, or laugh at a funny scene?

There’s a lot to think about. What you choose to surround yourself with and expose yourself to deeply impacts your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and actions. It is critical that we give ourselves time and space to contemplate what we are being told and shown. I’ll stop talking now so you can get to it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Love Customer Service

Today I called the Insulet Corporation, creators of the OmniPod insulin pump that T-Bear uses, and spoke to a very nice lady in the Customer Support department. No, I was not calling about another Pod failure. I was calling because our PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager - the iPhone-looking gizmo that controls the pump) was acting a little...suspicious. For a couple of weeks now, every so often the PDM would "reboot" itself - shut down, then restart showing the "welcome to my world" screen. It continued to do everything it was supposed to do, so I figured it was fine. And, yes, I put in fresh batteries to be sure it was getting enough power. I'd been assured by our OmniPod trainer/rep that if the PDM ever had a problem, Insulet would get a new PDM to us immediately...overnight in most cases.

But, yesterday the PDM stopped alarming. Not that it forgot to go off when I set a reminder. Its screen lit up and said "Reminder; check BG" or something to that effect. The problem was, it didn't beep. It just kind of sat there quietly flashing it's little light and words, hoping I would notice it. Which, amazingly I didn't. Especially when I was asleep. Also, it wasn't giving that nice, comforting "beep beep" to tell me it had enough blood for a BG test, or that it's begun delivering a bolus, or finished delivering a bolus. This was more distressing to T-Bear than to me. But the not waking up part....well, that was distressing to me.

So, I called. They answered. The nice lady on the phone said, "Let me pull out my PDM and walk through it with you." And, she did. Within three minutes, she had determined that we need a new PDM, and arranged to have a new one delivered tomorrow. TOMORROW. And, we have an entire 30 days to send back the old one. No questions asked. How cool is that?

She also took the time to verify that all other aspects of the PDM were working properly, and that T-Bear would continue to have insulin delivered properly until the new PDM arrived. Kinda important. Then, she asked if there was anything more she could to for me. Nope, that about covers it, thanks.

I love great Customer Service. Especially when my son's health depends on it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pod Guts (hehehe)

File this under "understanding a thing gives you a sense of power over it." Or, whatever you want to file it under. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these pictures are pretty self-explanatory. If, however, you require a few more words, or would like a laugh, the story is below.

The Traitorous Pod which is flashing its innards in an unseemly way. Wouldn't YOU want to take it apart? Here you mostly see the "motherboard", but can also see the cannula sticking out of the right side; the four small batteries lined up across the top; the reservior fill port on the left side; and the reservior along the bottom.

We popped the case open using a small common screwdriver.

A better view of the insides; the reservior and pump mechanism on the left; the needle that injects the cannula in the center (and spring under that...no wonder that "pop" is so loud when it injects); the batteries lined up on the right.

The reservior, minus the pump mechanism, and the tube which delivers to the cannula. The pump part is basically screw-driven, kind of like many garage door openers. One small twist lowers the plunger a tiny bit, forcing insulin into the tube.

We think this is the wireless device that communicates with the PDM. Didn't seem to have any other function.

At this point, BooBoo Bear pretty much went to town ripping the Pod apart into it's smallest components. He needed the "micro chip" for his robot project. Then, this morning, he created rainbow colored ectoplasmic goo using one of our science kits, lotion, and tempura paints, and filled the Pod casing with it. I'm not sure what it's going to be used for, but I have a suspicion I should keep an eye on it.

The Story Behind the Pictures:

Yesterday afternoon, we had another Pod Failure. Yeah, I know, you’re thinking, “ANOTHER Pod Failure?” I’m sure, when the OmniPod representative told us “You’re going to have some Pod failures in the beginning until you get it all figured out,” she didn’t really mean this many Pod failures. But, what the heck. They’re being popped onto a BOY!, and, well, there ain’t a medical adhesive devised that can stand up to a 9-year old BOY! flying down a Redneck Slip-N-Slide.

But, in all fairness, this particular Pod Failure, as far as I can tell, had nothing to do with BOY! activity. I’m absolutely positive there was NO Redneck Slip-N-Slide yesterday. He was hardly even outside yesterday because it was too bloody hot and humid. So, the fact that this Pod fell off, less than ten hours after its initial adhesion, well, that can’t possibly be our fault. I’m pretty sure.

At any rate, T-Bear came to me and showed me his site, which didn’t look good. The medical adhesion stuff that is supposed to hold the Pod snug against his skin…well, it wasn’t. In fact, it looked like it had decided on a full-scale Secession from the Union, and was doing its best to depart entirely from the State of T-Bear. It was kind of gnarly, actually. But, it was one of those moments when you have to allow your initial reaction of “ugh!” to Slip Quietly Into That Good Night, put on your Big Mamma Panties, and do your best to respond in a calm, comforting and completely logical manner.

“Hmm”, I said, “looks like it’s time for a Pod change.”

Never mind the fact that I had emptied the last vial of room temperature insulin into said Defecting Pod that morning, and only had refrigerated vials on hand to refill with (injecting a Pod with refrigerated insulin can be problematic…it really should be “room temperature”). Never mind the fact that I had to pop a vial of refrigerated insulin into my bra to warm it up before I could initiate an Emergency Pod Change (quickest way I’ve found to warm a vial of insulin to room temperature), which is really kind of uncomfortable. Never mind the fact that it’s the end of the day, and Papa Bear’s been gone all day on a home improvement project, and I’m kind of not at my best at said moment. But, it’s time for a Pod change, so that’s what we do. Thank goodness Pod changes are so incredibly quick and simple. Anyone can do it, even a pooped out mom.

But, then, I’m sitting there, looking at this Failed-and-Traitorous Pod, with its medical adhesive backing pulled away, and it’s flashing its innards at me like a co-ed who’s had a few too many beers. And, I’m thinking, “I’ve never seen the inside of a Pod before…I wonder what makes it tick...” And, I remember that I’ve got three BOYS! who like figuring things out. And, one BOY! in particular who can spend hours dismantling household appliances to figure out how they work. Hmmmm.

“Hey, T-bear!”, I bellow down the hall (because I really don't want to get up at that particular moment), “Wanna see what’s inside of a Pod?”

Three sets of feet immediately come pounding down the hall into the family room.

“Yeah!” they all shout in unison.

So, we did.

And, that's how we found out what’s inside a Pod.

BTW, I’m pretty sure we violated some FTC or FDA or ETC regulation, but, what the hell…it was educational. So, don't tell, okay? ;)

One Hundred

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagintion
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
Now way. The hundred is there.
by Loris Malaguzzi
taken from The Element by Ken Robinson

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Kitchen Remodel by Papa Bear

Papa Bear has a true talent for home improvement and remodeling. In addition to the many projects he's undertaken on our homes (past and present), including a master suite addition above our garage, he also sometimes takes on projects for friends, family and aquaintences. A few months ago, in response to the lamentations of one of our homeschool group moms over the impending remodel of their kitchen, I volunteered Papa Bear's services, just to look over her plans and see if there was any way he could ease the process for her.

Papa's specialty, you see, is not just going in and handling a remodeling from start to finish (although he can do that, too). His specialty is helping homeowners with their remodeling projects, preferably teaching them about the process and the techniques as the project progresses. He encourages homeowners to invest their own "sweat equity" right along side him so they can save on labor costs. And, hopefully, by the time the job is done, the homeowner will have enough confidence to handle any future projects, with or without his assistance. Cool, huh?

So, here's the whole story, in Papa Bear's words. But, first, a photo of the finished product.

What a lovely place to cook in.... (pic #4)

This little project started out after park day when my lovely bride volunteered me to play consultant for a homeschooling friend who was completely frustrated and overwhelmed with the Big Box store experience of trying to remodel their kitchen. The next evening after playing racquetball, I popped over and spent a couple of hours meeting with P and her husband S to learn what their (her) objective was.

In that brief visit, I learned what she wanted as an end result and asked a few key questions to help me understand what obstacles (or perceived obstacles) were in the way. I didn’t take me very long to realize and make a couple of obvious recommendations to them (maybe drastic is more like it for someone who’s never done this before). So, I decided to walk them through the various simple elements involved with being HER OWN general contractor over the various trades rather than relying on L’s or HD's to do it all for her. This approach helped her avoid their standard 20% mark up on everything. I offered my behind-the-scenes guidance throughout the entire process (Oh, all-mighty and powerful home-improvement OZ me -- LOL).

This helped her glean the confidence she needed to move forward. By taking this approach, she was subsequently able to save enough money to afford the materials she wanted rather than having to settle for lesser quality. She picked out all the materials (cabinets, countertop and tile) and design style with the help of her friend. The cabinet company installed the cabinets and the countertop company installed the new granite countertop as well as the new under-mount sink. I took her and her son for a 4-hour tile venture to Floor and D├ęcor in order to help guide them through the tile/grout selection process (somewhat daunting at this tile warehouse environment.
They asked me to help demo out all of the old cabinets/countertops and appliances; as well as do minor drywall repairs, plus install the new appliances exhaust vent ductwork for the stove hood (oh, and wasn’t that just a hoot since the cabinet company failed to cut the holes large enough or even in line for 7” ductwork to fit!). P also asked me to install the tile backsplash, too. This gave me the opportunity of teaching her husband and son how to work with tile/grout for the first time (hey, we’re all home educators here – right?!).

Pics #1 and #2 were taken just after the tile was installed (notice the spacers are still in place). Pics #3 and #4 were taken after we completed the grout, caulk and sealant. The river rock liners’ being used as a backsplash border was her idea but being used vertically on the ends and in the corner was mine. And, I just love how the river rock reflects onto the granite in the corners . . .

Pic #1

Pic #2

Pic #3

In the end, this project took roughly (1) month from start to finish and P was SO PLEASED with how relatively painlessly and quickly it all came together. I know you can’t tell, but I just TRULY LOVE helping to bring this kind of happiness and joy to someone’s home/life – very fulfilling!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Five Love Languages Of Children

I read this book a couple of weeks ago, before passing it along to a friend. It was originally given to me by my SIL, for my birthday I think, and it’s taken me several months to get around to it. Frankly, I was expecting a bit of ineffectual drivel and eye-rolling fluff, and it certainly did not initially pass my “who wrote it” test (see below), but I dipped in anyway. Yeah, I did some eye-rolling for the first couple of chapters, but once I got into the meat-and-potatoes of the thing, I found it lent itself to some significant insight into our family and the complexity of our inter-relations.

The gist of this book (and its predecessors, which began for couples) is that in human relations there are five “love languages”; ways of expressing ourselves to another which can create feelings of love in that other person. And, each individual has one “primary” love language. Similar to Stephen R. Covey’s “emotional bank account”, “speaking” to the other person in their love language “fills up” their emotional "tank” and contributes to the relationship.

In a nutshell, the five love languages are:

1. physical touch – thrives on lots of touching and cuddling
2. words of affirmation – likes to hear about how well they’ve done something
3. quality time – needs consistent doses of one-on-one time
4. gifts – loves receiving little treats and gifts
5. acts of service – wants to have small acts of service done for them

Clearly, each person will have a combination of the above love languages, and I happen to come away with the sense that we should not become “one trick ponies” with each of our children (or partner), ONLY speaking to each child (or your partner) in ONLY their primarily love language. But, it was definitely interesting to sit down and think about each member of our family and figure out which were their primarily love languages (yeah, this is the type of stuff I spend considerable time thinking about). Without divulging too much personal information, I can say with a fair amount of certainly that we’ve got the following combinations living under our roof (in no particular order):

Person A: 1-2-4
Person B: 1-5
Person C: 1-3-4-5
Person D: 1-2-3
Person E: 3-5

Interesting dynamic, eh? Can you guess who is who in our family?

And, who is who in your family? Betcha can figure it out in less than five minutes. And, you'll have a few "ah ha's" when you do. Heehee.

The “who wrote it test” goes something like this. If it’s a book wherein the author is giving me advice about the best way to raise my kids, I flip the book over and take a look at the author’s bio. Most of the time, it’s been written by a professional male psychologist who runs off to the university every day to lecture (or the office to practice their psychology on unsuspecting patients), while leaving his wife (or the nanny) at home to raise their single, female child who likes to sit in the corner and read books all day. Sometimes, said female child likes to draw pictures of ponies and rainbows, or sing songs about blue birds, or dress her dolls in pretty outifits, just to mix things up a bit. Not that I have anything against this type of author personally (or their adorable, well-behaved and extremely well-adjusted child), and I don’t mean to impugn said author's professional status, but I seriously doubt how much they will be able to teach me about raising three very active, very curious, very strong-minded, very creative, very hands-on BOYS! ‘Cause, in this house, we’ve got BOYS! Not, a sweet little girl who likes to sit in the corner and read all day.

So, just 'cause I can, here are a few tidbits from the past to remind you of what it's like to live with BOYS! (notice how one BOY in particular keeps showing up consistently?):

What's In A Name (aka, can't call him Angel Bear anymore)
Edison Trait Kids (involves fire...don't try this at home)
DaVinci Cannon
Water Bomb Cannon

And, so I don't feel quite so alone, here's one from my friend and compatriot, KitMamma:
My Realization

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer is....

....Redneck Slip-N-Slide with ice-pop in hand.

BooBoo Bear
Yes, I know it's technically not summer yet, but it's been hot and muggy enough to haul out the Redneck Slip-N-Slide. I'll spare you more videos, and just direct you to last summer's post to see it in action.