Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kids Creeper Hat

Every child I know is obsessed with MineCraft (as well as some adults I know).  If you know anything about MineCraft, you know what a Creeper is.  I set myself the challenge of making the perfect kids' Creeper hat, and began my on-line quest.  I'd found some knit creeper hats, but most of the patterns had the Creeper face sewn on after the fact.  I think you all know how I feel about "finish work", so that was a turn off.  Plus the hats were a basic skull-fitting type, so not very MineCraft-y, since everything in MineCraft is blocks.  

Then I found a pattern for the face done in crochet color work.  It was perfect to create that "pixellated" look.  I had Thomas pick out the perfect green-to-white-verigated yarn, and got started on a basic hat pattern.  But, as I progressed, I was stymied about how to handle the crown.  Finally, I decided the crown had to be squared off, to create a "cube" appearance.  Viola!  The perfect kids' Creeper hat!

I didn't really follow a pattern (except for the face), I just kind of made it up as I went along.  So, if you want to duplicate this hat and need a little guidance, let me know and I'll try to walk you through it. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Something New

Okay, two somethings new in one picture.

I've suspected for a while that William's vision was not great.  He seems to need to be awfully close to whatever screen he's in front of to see what's going on in his video games.  Then, when we attended Thomas' performance of A Christmas Carol at New London Theatre, I lent him my glasses so he could see something written on a whiteboard on stage, and he asked me if he could keep them for the rest of the performance.

So.... time to go in for an eye exam.  We do this every year anyway, to check for D complications.  Last year the opt doc said he was a bit near-sighted, but we mutually agreed to hold off of the glasses to see if it could be corrected by reducing screen time, forcing focus from a distance, etc.

Apparently not.

Today, we picked up William's first glasses.  He was really excited, because he's going to have one more thing in common with me.

On the way home from picking them up, we stopped off at the library to return some books, and saw this machine outside the newly-remodeled building.

That, my friends, is William with his new glasses, standing in front of the new book-dispensing machine in front of our library.  I'd never seen such a thing before, and hope to see many more in the future.  Way better than soda, junk food, and video dispensing machines, no doubt.

Oh, and there was actually a third new thing, at the library.  The book return slot on the outside of the building talks.  It just about scared the pee out of me when I went to return something.  A talking book return really is one of the last things one expects.  Ever.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Walk Three

Sunday was a lovely day for a Walk, and our family participated in our third JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Although Team ThunderBear shrunk a bit this year (David and Thomas were helping friends move, so William, Michael and I represented our Team), we were still able to raise almost $2,000 in contributions for JDRF's very important work.

We tried out a different Walk location this year, Tribble Mill Park, which is closer to home, and we preferred it over the previous years' location.  The event was set up next to a lovely lake, and the Walk was around the lake on a paved path through a wooded area.  Beautiful and shady and less crowded, but still with the same entertainments for the kids.

All-important free cotton candy

William climbing the wall.

Michael not to be outdone by big brother.

William with a local legend ... Choppy, the mascot of our local Gwinnett Braves.

A brotherly moment about half way through the Walk.
William did great this year - his BG stayed just about within normal range, so he did not get as fatigued as prior Walks.  He even gave encouragement to Michael when his feet started hurting.

So, once again, we want to give a great, big "Thank You" to everyone who sponsored William this year.

Brad and the Securitas team


Sunday, October 7, 2012

My New Funky Feet

Here they are, taking a little rest after their first official "work out".

So, why are my feet wrapped in these goofy glove-like things and looking a bit like they should be attached to the legs of The Creature From The Black Lagoon?

These are "five-finger shoe-less" shoes.  The first time I saw a pair in the athletic shoe section of the sporting goods store, I almost fell on the floor laughing.  "What the hell are those supposed to be, and why would anyone ever wear them?" was my initial response.  And that was just about the end of the matter.

Til I came across someone who was wearing a pair.  A very reasonable, intelligent, health-minded person.  Not a whacked-out sports junkie who spends every waking moment climbing rocks or running mountain trails or jumping off cliffs.  Just a nice, normal kind of person.  So, we had a conversation about them.  She assured me they were very comfortable, very good for your feet and legs, and she wears them almost exclusively, not just for exercising, but for all-day, everyday activities like shopping and breathing.

So, I did some research.  I asked around.  I read some reviews.  And I decided these just might be a good idea.  And, I decided that now would be a good time to get started, so I would have plenty of time to break them in (in reality, it's actually retraining my feet and legs, not breaking in the shoe) before the JDRF Walk later this month.  I'd already started aerobic walking again in preparation for the Walk, and needed to replace my ancient sneakers.  Might as well "do it right" and get some really "good" walking shoes.

What is supposed to be so great about these shoes?  Here's a pretty good article about it which goes into some detail (be sure to check out the pictures of feet).  But, in a nutshell, "shoe-less" shoes are designed to strongly encourage you to walk in a natural manner, as though you are barefoot, while giving your feet protection.  Traditional shoes encourage you to walk (and run) heel-toe, which is hard on your joints and which is why you see all of these expensive athletic shoes with fancy springy gizmos on the heel to absorb some of the shock from this unnatural stride.  Your natural, bare-foot gait should have your foot striking the ground either across the middle of your foot (arch), or on the ball of your foot; toe-heel instead of heel-toe.  It's a completely different way of walking.  You're actually using all of the muscles in your feet and legs that were put there to enable bipedalism.

So, on Wednesday the boys and I made a trip to REI (always an event) so I could try some out and possibly get a pair.  Now, these funky things are not cheap, but you can easily spend as much on a good pair of athletic shoes.  And you want to be sure you're getting proper size and fit.  Everything I've read led me to the conclusion that you want to try these on, preferably with the guidance of someone who actually knows what they're doing.  REI fit the bill, so that's where we went (also, with my member rebate I saved close to $40).  I quickly found someone who knew what they were doing and actually had a pair that they used.  We measured my foot (they come in European sizing), settled on the KimodoSport as the best option for my proposed use, and I slipped on a pair.  I had done my homework, so knew there is definitely a trick to getting these things on without looking like Mr. Incredible trying to squirm his oversided self into his old super hero spandex, and managed to get them on fairly easily.  My first impression?

I'm pretty sure I released a sigh indicative of a small o.  The most comfortable and cozy things I had ever put on my feet.  Like slipping them into goose-down socks.  With support.  Wow.

So, I bought 'em and wore them most of the afternoon for casual running-around stuff.  You have to train your feet and legs slowly with these things, or suffer the consequences.  Thursday, I wore them around the house, but not for running errands, and wore them most of Friday and Saturday.

Today was the big test.  I wore them on my half-hour low-aerobic morning walk (I've been easing back into an exercise routine...subject of another post).  Results?  They felt really good.  I was a bit cautious in my gait and where I was stepping, but was able to get my heartrate where I wanted it.  At the end of the walk I could feel a bit of grumpiness in my right arch, but I was pretty much expecting that from my flat feet having to actually work while walking.  Most surprising, though, are the muscle groups that I can feel got the best workout from my walk:  my posterior thighs and butt.  That's right, I am walking, on mostly level terrain, with my butt.  Go figure.

Overall, I think these funky feet are going to do the trick for me.  They're comfortable, and both protect and support my feet in ways that will build the strength in my feet and legs that I'm looking for.  I'm reviewing the audiobook "Younger Next Year For Women", and The Boys point out that people fall more often as they get older not because they trip more often (they don't) or because they're clumsier, but because they don't have enough strength and agility in their legs to catch themselves before they exceed their tipping point and crash to the ground.  So, strong, agile legs equals no broken hip.  Sounds like something to work toward.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cool New Gizmo

Yesterday William had his quarterly checkup with Dr. A, our Pediatric Endocrinologist.  Despite being sick with bronchitis for about six weeks (which has finally passed, thankfully), his A1c was 7.5.  Not too shabby.

While we were there, Dr. A showed us a new blood glucose meter that is used with your iPhone or iTouch.  Really.  How cool is that?  Well, of course we had to have one, so Dr. A wrote us a script and we picked it up on our way home.

And here is William (aka Thunder Bear, aka Funny Bill) demonstrating his new iBGStar glucose meter.

So, I told you that story to tell you this story...

On October 21st, our family and friends will be participating in our third JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  You all already know why we're walking, and why JDRF's support of research is so important.  (If you don't know, check out some of the Diabetes links on the sidebar.)  So, please take a moment to go to William's JDRF Walk fundraising page and either join Team ThunderBear, or give whatever size donation you can.  Your support means the world to us.

Thank you!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Reusable Travel Coffee Filter Pouches

This is a project that David has been kicking around for a while. He travels frequently for business, and though he usually stays in pretty decent hotels, he consistently has one complaint: the in-room coffee service. It's really great to have a personal-size coffee maker in the room, because, really there are times when you just can't wait for coffee.  But, that convenience can be offset by a certain lack of . . . savory-ness.

Because David is leaving for London tonight, this project got gently shoved to the front of my project list.

David is a coffee snob. Let's just be perfectly blunt on that point. He has been roasting his own coffee for a couple of years now, perfecting his own personal blend and spreading the Coffee Joy among friends and family.  He is so much of a snob, he won't even allow for grinding the beans the night before and setting the timer to automatically brew in the morning. The beans must be ground moments before being gently spooned into the coffee machine basket and immediately brewed.

So, you can imagine how disappointing a pot of freshly-brewed hotel-room coffee from a plastic bag might be to someone like David.  

He's been (gently) bugging me for several months to make some reusable coffee filter bags that he can use on the road, to be filled with his own personally blended, personally roasted, personally ground coffee. (I told him that taking a coffee grinder to London was just a bit over the top; he's just going to have to settle for pre-ground grounds).

So this morning he came home from picking up his dry cleaning and handed me a Jo-Ann's bag that just happened to have materials for this project. (Don't you love a man who can self-sufficiently shop at Jo-Ann's?). So, you know, I kinda had to put aside other projects to work on this project.  And here it is in a nutshell . . .

Unbleached cotton fabric, of a fairly loose weave.  Roughly cut it into 4" x 10" rectangles.  Double-fold and seam all four edges.

Sew one side of a strip of velcro on the right side of one short end.

Fold up into a pouch with right-sides out, and sew up the side seams.

Sew the other strip of velcro on the "flap" remaining.

Tada!  A reusable coffee filter pouch just about the right size for those personal coffee makers.

I actually whipped up three for this particular trip, and still had plenty of material left to make more.

Obviously, a more skilled seamstress will be able to make a better finished product. I'll let David post a review of the performance of this particular project when he gets back from London . . .

Friday, August 3, 2012


Yesterday we received visitors from Arizona: My dad and step-mother.  We enjoyed a lovely visit, shared dinner and a little wine, breakfast this morning (compliments of Chef Thomas), and a short shopping excursion, before Dad and Martha packed up in their little car and continued their journey to Virginia.  

Although the visit was brief, it was a good opportunity for the kids to get to know their grandfolks a bit better.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Appropriate Graffiti

This particular sheets of art paper have certainly seen more than the usual use.  They were originally taped together to create a backdrop for a play.  Then they were used for a bit of graffiti art.  Nice colors...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am Boots!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bunny Love

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bachelor Camping Day Five

Yes, Michael's hand is inside the fish's stomach.  Ick.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bachelor Camping Day Four

Three ducks in a row...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bachelor Camping Day One

David, Thomas and Michael took off for a long-weekend camping excursion with some homeschool friends. Since we've been having record heat, the lake was much used.

Here is Michael testing the pontoon boat he built for the trip.

Could probably use some more boyancy..

Wild monkeys swimming...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Home Made Pontoon Boat

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bead Love

I got a bee in my bonnet recently, and have decided that the blinds in the windows have to go.  Not all at once, and not necessarily now, but they need to be phased out.  It started with the dining room being painted; we took down the blinds before the sanding, and I'm determined not to put them back up (the windows are still bare, until after the painting is done).

Next came the bathroom.  We've got mermaids and shells in there, with a nice, soft, mossy-ish green, and I wanted to kind of keep with the water theme.

This is what I found.

It's hard to see in the photo how the sunlight is being captured by the beads, but it really add a nice light to the bathroom.  I really like the "sheet of rain" pattern.

Yeah, bead curtains are hokey.  Maybe even a little bit tacky.  But they make a really cool sound when you move them.  And these ones in particular make me smile every time I go pee.

I found them here, by the way, and they were pretty reasonably priced.  They came door-length, so I trimmed them to fit the window.  The pattern accommodated perfectly.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bread Love

This was baked in the crock pot.  Really.  Not as crispy as when it's baked in the oven, but wonderfully soft, much easier, and way less mess.  And it doesn't heat up the kitchen like the oven does.  Too cool.

A friend of mine Pinned this idea on Pinterest (If you haven't been there yet, don't go.  Really.  You'll thank me later when you start hearing from all of your friends how much time they're wasting on the site).  The authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day blogged enthusiastically about the method.

Waiting for the heat
If you haven't tried the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day because it seemed complicated and you didn't have all the stuff you need to bake it with, then this is the way to do it.  Even though I have all the stuff and the technique, I'm not sure I'll be baking our bread in the oven ever again.