Friday, March 30, 2012

Ice Block

I'm not sure where the idea for this project came from, but yesterday Michael decided he wanted to make a big block of ice. With a canteen in it. By the time I was informed of this project, it had reached this stage:

He had even cleared out a space in our full-sized stand-up freezer for it to go. He just needed me to lift it in, which I did.

We talked about how long he/I thought it would take to freeze to a solid block of ice. We mutually decided to set the kitchen timer for 1/2 hour and check on its progress.

Half hour later, it was still pretty much liquid. We tried three hours, and this is how it looked:

Just a thin sheet of ice, but moving in the right direction. So, we left it in until after dinnertime, and this is what it looked like:

A nice sheet of ice on top, but not so thick it could not be broken through (which it was). After playing with ice chunks for a bit, back into the freezer it went (somehow the chisel had to be tossed in with the canteen).

Today, we had our solid block of ice:

Out it came, on the back deck. Okay, first it was on the kitchen floor, then in the garage, then I insisited that, really, the back deck would be a better place for this.

It didn't take very long for the canteen and chisel to be freed from the ice. The water inside the canteen had partially frozen, but not entirely.

End of project.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Springy Shoes

I wish I'd gotten video of these puppies in action before they bit the dust. But the virgin test flight took place at Park Day, and I didn't have my camera with me (what was I thinking, not having my camera on me at all times?).

The concept and implementation were pretty simple. Attach some springs to the bottom of some shoes so you can bounce. (I'll give you one guess who's project this is).

The "springs" are actually snow cone holders from our snow cone making kit (they hold the cone-shaped paper upright to free up your hands). The shoes are hand-me-downs that he wears from time-to-time, but he's just not a dress-me-up kinda kid. Michael started out using different types of tape, but they didn't hold up very well. Liquid Nails (construction adhesive) did the trick.

Once we reached the park and had a suitable audience of other kids and apprecitive moms, Michael donned his Springy Shoes and, sure enough, bounced all over. He actually had pretty good control and did not suffer any mishaps (though a couple of us moms agreed that a crash helmet would probably have been a good idea). He got a pretty good work out before one of the springs loosed itself from shoe.

Then he was off to the next "thing".

Friday, March 23, 2012

7.5 (sigh)

The 7.5 was William's A1c today. The sigh was not one of contentment or satisfaction.

Today was our quarterly appointment with our endocrinologist. Dr A had a scheduling conflict, so we met with Dr. S for the first time. William was a little disappointed not to see Dr. A, because he is genuinely fond of him. And I was a little nervous meeting with another doctor, because I am comfortable with Dr. A and he knows our history. In other words, I know the he knows how hard I work at keeping William healthy, even when it is not reflected in his A1c, and how much I try to stay informed and educate myself. But Dr. S was very nice, and very supportive. Two thumbs up.

Today was also our annual blood draw, something that William truly dreads, and I can hardly blame him. I hate blood draws, too. Frankly, I kind of dread it, too. The first time we did this, it took me and two burly nurses to hold him down and he screamed the entire time. Not happy-making for either of us. The second time, last year, he was really worried about it, but he managed to get through it without screaming and being held down. This time, he was anxious and tense, but he got himself through it with minimal fuss. I was so very proud of him.

But, back to the A1c. 7.5 is a really good number, and Dr. S said so. I just could not feel really good about it, because I know that number was due in large part to all of the lows William has been suffering through. He's been suffering through highs, too. In fact his log sheet for the past few weeks has had more red (high) and purple (low) on it than white (target range). Despite my best efforts and coordinating with our endo office, he's only been in target range about 20% of the time, and that's bad for his health.

Dr. S knows how tough it is to manage D, especially in kids, and he was perfectly non-judgemental, kind, and supportive. One thing he said to me really made me feel like I have been doing everything I can, like I've been doing it right despite all the colors on the log sheet. After looking over the logs, he said to me,

"You're right. There's no pattern here."

That, right there, was perfect confirmation that I have not suddenly forgotten everything I have learned about D, that I am doing everything "right", and few people could do any more than I am doing to keep my son healthy.

So, overall, I guess it was a good checkup ;)

Another Visitor

Is it only boys who have a knack for finding toads and frogs, or do girls find them as frequently? ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bread Making

Today we were supposed to go on a field trip to a local bakery with our homeschool group. But, frankly, KitMama and I have been so over-loaded with the "other stuff" going on in our family's lives, we just did not have the gumption to pack all six kids into the car and drive an hour (one way) to see how bread is made. Especially since we already make bread at home. So, we skipped the tour, stayed home, and Michael made some bread, mostly on his own with a little direction from me.

Carefully measuring out the flour using the "scoop and scrape" method.

Mixing the wet and the dry.

Kneading the dough.

Rolling out pieces for....

...the twist (ready to bake).

The rest of the dough went into "twisty-topped loaf".

Michael used a very basic, very easy bread recipe that I'd gotten from our larger homeschool group a few years ago. It's pretty much one of those can't-miss recipes, as you can see. And very, very yummy! Nope. No leftovers ;)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Water Cannon

I'd like to say this was all the kids' idea, but.....

Actually, the idea of a water cannon had been floating about for a while. Michael, of course, had several plans pinging around in his little, Evil Genius Mind. It took Dad going to the hardware store to bring it to reality.

The Newly Completed Water Cannon.

"My Leetle Friend" requires multiple handlers.

Problem mounted on the toy truck.

Now, that's some Brotherly Love ;)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Echota Archeological Dig

Of all of the field trips our homeschool trip has done over the past few years, this one has to have been, by far, the coolest. So, right off, I have to send a great big THANKS! to Scot and Grace for setting this up. The kids had a blast (I think the moms probably enjoyed it, too), and I am sure they will remember this day for a long, long time.

We arrived at the dig site near New Echota Historical Site a bit early, as did a couple of other families. So, our host, Scot, who is in charge of this dig site (and a good friend), showed us around a little before the educational portion started. (This dig is part of an environmental impact study being conducted prior to relocating an existing road; they basically want to be sure there is nothing archeologically significant in the area where the new road will be).

Scot in a ditch.

As you can see, the site was muddy. It rained the night before, and ditches dug into that infamous Red Georgia Clay tend to hold water really, really well. For a long time.

William's muddy shoe.

All of the kids were looking around on the ground for artifacts, asking Scot again and again, "Is this something?" "Is this something?" "Is this something?" He was very patient.

Not Something. A grub. Michael wore his "archeologist" gloves.

Little Man did find something: a bit of a broken plate down by the river.

Once the rest of the group arrived, the real tour began. At this point, KitMama took over our combined crew and the camera (more on that later), so my descriptions are going to be a bit sketchy.

Scot explaining about a trench.

A very serious Pirate Man.

Very serious Little Man and Michael.

Buddies screening for treasure.

Thomas and friends getting an explanation of the yellow thingy on a tripod.

An actual artifact, that was actually logged and bagged!

Three Diggers in a trench.

He had to find the muddiest trench...

...but came up with an artifact! A heating stone.

No artifacts in there. Just mud and water.

And a friend offering a stick to help pull him out.

This is the kid who, when another mom sees him, causes her to smile, and with a satisfied sigh, say to herself, "Not my kid."

I am often amazed at how deeply engaged Michael becomes when exploring something new, whether it is an archeological dig, or Billy's music studio, or building an invention of his, or planting seeds. Other adults who have interacted with him have made similar observations of his desire to understand everything there is to understand about a thing. He jumps in with both feet, digs in with both hands, and doesn't come up for air until he's completely satisfied.

Anyway, after immersion in the dig site, kids were stripped down, cleaned up, redressed, and we all drove the short distance up the road to the New Echota Historical Site. We all had a quick picnic lunch in our cars (it was chilly and very windy there), and then went into the museum.

The museum part of the Historical Site is compact and interesting enough to hold the kids' interest (Michael: "Look! An Indian rifle!" "Look! An Indian axe!" "Look! An Indian book!"). The Ranger was very nice, and set up the short informational film for us to watch when we were ready.

Then we headed outside to see the buildings. (Okay, we headed for the restrooms, then to see the buildings). I was pretty much left in the dust by the hoard of kids who literally ran across the acres of land that once contained the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation, eager to see all of the old and/or reconstructed buildings. So, I took a bunch of pictures of old and/or reconstructed buildings, and no pictures of people. (I won't post all those pictures here, since I'm sure you've all had an eye-full by now.) I have to say this is one of the few "historical-ish" places we've been to where I felt completely comfortable letting the kids have the run of the place to explore to their hearts' content, without worrying that some "official" would be zipping up in their little golf cart telling the kids not to climb on the railings or some such. It is definitely worth going to see, especially if you've got kids.

And, if you'll bear with me for a moment longer, I just have to reiterate that we have the absolute most wonderful group of friends we could ever wish to have (all of them just happen to be part of our homeschool group....convenient, isn't it?). Not all of them were able to make it to this field trip, but enough came to make it the roaring success that all of our adventures inevitably turn out to be. Our grown-up friends are interesting, engaging, accepting, patient people who actually like being around kids and interacting with them. Our kid friends are fun, confident, helpful, who actually like being around grown-ups and genuinely interested in the world around them. Who needs "socialization" when you're surrounded by people like this?

We live a blessed life.


Now, if you don't want to be bummed out, don't read the rest of this. Big D makes it's unwelcomed presence known.


So, the reason I handed the camera over to KitMama for the educational portion of the dig is that I didn't attend that part. Neither did William. Because he had another unexpected diabetic "episode." The third in two weeks. The second time cold weather seems to have made his BG drop rapidly. (I'm just taking a semi-educated guess at the cold weather thing, since I haven't been able to come up with another explanation).

Just as we were getting ready to head into the site, William started "feeling weird"; nausea and fuzzy-headed, edgy and moan-y; usually a sign of a low coming on, or a very high high. He had just eaten, with no insulin (I wanted to avoid another episode of rapidly dropping BG), so I thought he would be fine. But, nope. Not fine. I checked his BG; 20 minutes after eating with no insulin, his BG had dropped. I had him eat again, and he calmed down. Did another BG check after about 1/2 hour, and corrected. By then he seemed to be fine. Just when I was wondering if we should try to go find the group, a couple of shivering kids joined us in the car, so there we stayed until the rest of the group finished up and returned.

It's been almost three years since William's diagnosis. During that time, we, as a family, have done lots of cool things. We have taken a month-long camping trip across the country, attended a "hippie" music festival, gone boating and fishing, and stayed active with our homeschool group, in addition to just living a "normal" family life. We have not let diabetes stop William, and our family, do whatever we want to do. I keep insisting that diabetes is not going to stop William from doing what he wants to do.

But the fact is, there are going to be times when diabetes does exactly that. He's going to have "episodes" that prevent him from participating. He's going to have to stop what he's doing to correct a high or a low that is interfering not just with his ability to enjoy an activity, but interfering with his ability of function. And there's nothing I can do to prevent those episodes. All I can do is treat them when they happen, and eventually teach him how to treat them on his own.

Today reminded me of American Olympic cross-country skier, Kris Freeman. Kris was the first individual with Type 1 Diabetes to compete in any Olympic endurance event. He had proven his abilities in numerous national and international competitions, and he had a pretty good chance of medalling during the 2010 Winter Olympics. But, despite being one of the best-trained, best-prepared atheletes in the world, a completely unexpected blood sugar crash during a race left him lying in the snow helpless, until a German coach rushed over and gave him some emergency sugar. After a couple of minutes, he was able to get back up and finish the race. In 45th place. But, he did finish.

Despite my best efforts, diabetes is going to sometimes prevent William from doing what he wants to do, and that sucks. But, I hope that, like Kris, he gets back up, brushes himself off, and goes on with his life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Invention 3:7:12

I don't ask questions. I just take the pictures.

Okay, I'm a mom, so I do actually ask questions. It's just that sometimes I'm working so hard not to laugh, I don't really hear everything he tells me about these inventions of his.

Michael very seriously explaining all about his (jet pack?)

while I try not to giggle behind the camera.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Daily Pix 3:4:12

Michael and I spent several hours earlier in the week planting seeds in flats for the upcoming planting season. I had mixed results with last year's garden putting seeds directly in the ground, though the seedlings from our mini greenhouse did well. So, I decided to do more seeds in the greenhouse this year, and see if I can get more growing and producing plants.

While having a mini greenhouse on the back deck definitely is a plus when it comes to getting an earlier start on the planting season, there are some risks to starting your seeds outside. Namely, cold nights. After all the effort Michael and I put into planting our seeds for the greenhouse, the weather threatened to freeze overnight. We can't really bring the greenhouse into the house (though that would be nice), so I came up with a blanket to try to keep them warm.

Not a monster on the deck.

Our mini greenhouse decked out for a cold night.

Those seedlings that had already pushed up seemed to have weathered the cold just fine.

After much begging and pleading, Papa Bear surprised Michael with a new fish. Michael has taken a solemn oath to take very good care of this fish (others have expired from overenthusiastic feeding), and worked diligently to clean up and prepare his fish tank (with a little help from Mom).