Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

Remember that Star Trek movie where the team is transported back in time, and they are running down the hall of a hospital and Bones, in exasperation with the outdated medicine, gives a woman on dialysis a pill that makes her grow a new kidney? 
That’s happening to us today.

Ok, maybe not that exactly, but pretty close.

Today, Brother is getting fitted with his new insulin pump. In two weeks, he’ll be fitted with a CGM, that’s Continual Glucose Monitor, that talks to the pump. After over a year of injections 3-6 times a day, my 3-year-old is getting what is basically an artificial pancreas. If his blood sugar gets too low overnight, the sensor will tell the pump to turn itself off. If it gets too high, it will signal me that something may be wrong with the tubing. 

I feel like the universe has opened up in front of me; my continuing mission: to boldly go where no mom has gone before. 

Ok, lots of moms have gone there, I guess, but it’s all brand-new to me. 

For us, this means not being afraid of church or birthday parties, eating when we want, not always on a strict schedule, fewer dosing errors, less stress, more sleep…
In short, this little piece of cutting edge technology allows our whole family to 

Live Long and Prosper.

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For the Dogs

I’ve never been a dog person. I’ve had cats since I was big enough to ask for one, and ever since I was bitten by a dog as a child, I’ve just not wanted much to do with them. So when my son turned three and started asking for a dog, I groaned inwardly. Then we had a very scary incident where Hubby was gone for the week and some crazy tweaker came to our house in the dead of night, screaming that someone had been shot and banging on the door and trying to get in. Now, mind you, we live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Christmas tree farms and grass seed fields. Our neighbors never heard a thing, even once the police showed up with sirens blazing. So we decided we needed a guard dog, like, yesterday.

When I saw an ad on craigslist for a “Purebred Boxer Puppy”, I was thrilled. Hubby wanted a doberman, and I just wasn’t sold on the idea. I showed him image after image on google, finally convincing him that boxers are just as intimidating as dobies, and arranged to meet the pup. What I saw was a half-starved, boxer-shaped bundle of bones and wagging tail, and there was no other option than to bring him home with us. It didn’t even occur to me to question his lineage. We named him Kuma (Japanese for Bear) in anticipation of his hulking size and protective demeanor. 

Then he got wider, but not taller. 

On his first trip to the vet, the doc took one look at him and asked, 

“What kind of a dog is that?”

Lovely. 

After some discussion and inspection, she announced that he may have some boxer in him, but if he did, the other half was probably daschound. 

Seriously?

So, despite his questionable heritage (hey, we’re a mixed-race family, who are we to judge?) and jokes about his parentage (he’s typically referred to as a “boxund” or “Boxer-weenie”) Kuma settled in as a permanent, if not particularly useful, member of the family. 

Until last night.

Last night around 11 he was pacing up and down the hallway like mad, whining, and driving me nuts, and he kept opening the door to the kids’ room. I was about to kick him outside. Then, as I was laying in bed, trying to ignore him, it hit me that I had forgotten to check Big Brother’s blood sugar before I went to bed. 

“Oh well, I guess maybe the dog is good for something.” I grumbled as I stumbled through the darkened house.

My son’s blood sugar was so low that if I had just fallen asleep and left him til morning, we most likely would have had to take him to the ER. 

I’m telling you, THE DOG KNEW! As soon as I got some food in Big Brother and his blood sugar started to go back up, Kuma settled down and went to sleep… right outside the bedroom door. 

The Curse of Beautiful Children

I have adorable children. 

Sorry, it’s just the truth. They are Pretty. Darn. Cute.

This is a blessing and a curse, because everybody’s first reaction when they see a beautiful baby is to touch it. I was actually guilty of this myself this past weekend at my sister’s wedding, I met my dear cousin’s baby son for the first time, and his fiancee as well, incidentally, and my first reaction was to pet the baby’s soft arms and kiss his little forehead. Bless her heart, the mother seemed to realize this was a family thing and didn’t seem a bit offended, even though this person her fiance had just introduced to her was basically spreading germs on her baby. In my defense, he is a beautiful baby. But because of this marginally acceptable faux pas, I’m forced to look a little more forgivingly on people who walk up and pet or pat my children.
(She later took me up on an offer to hold him while she danced with her fiance, so I guess she forgave me, too.)

At a farmer’s market my mom and I took the kids to, I was reminded how little I appreciate people touching my children. The lady at the soap booth kissed my daughter’s hand, the guy at the windmill table pulled half-dollars out of both kids’ ears and gave them to them, and the lady at the flower booth watched my daughter dance to the street musician’s music and gave her a flower.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the quickest way to ingratiate yourself with me is to be kind to my children. And I smiled and thanked each person for the kindness, but inside I was cringing and snapping, “I don’t know where your hands have been, keep them off my kids!”
I know in some cultures it’s rude or bad luck to admire a child and not touch them, and I get that. I also understand how hard it can be to keep yourself from touching an adorable baby. But let me ask, would you come up and touch a full-grown person that you found beautiful? Ummm, no. You would not. Because that would be creepy. And possibly get charges filed against you. So let’s afford little people the same courtesy we afford big people, and keep our hands to ourselves. That’s what we teach them, isn’t it? 

Misadventures in Home Improvement

Last week my mom took my kids down to her house so that I could paint mine. The date had changed several times, and I was just so excited to get this whole week to myself and just get some stuff done without anyone asking me for anything. I figured I was painting three small rooms and two big ones, that should take me four days at most, then I would have the rest of the week to write, catch up on sleep, and read the Orson Scott Card book my husband recently bought me. (Confession: I’m an unashamed Leguminote. Bean is an infinitely more interesting character than Ender.) 
So Mom came on Saturday and got the kids, Saturday afternoon I had a facial, Saturday evening I went to a bachelorette party, and early Sunday morning, I was off and running. I bought paint, dug through the shop and found all the rollers and trays and drop cloths, and set to prepping.
Nothing got painted Sunday.
I cleaned and scrubbed and taped and moved furniture, prepped and planned, washed and watched as my husband re-prepped and moved appliances. 
On Monday I painted the laundry room and prepped the kitchen. On Tuesday, Housemate and I painted the kitchen and hallway. On Wednesday (incidentally, we have Bible study at our house on Wednesdays) I painted the living room. Bible study is at 7pm, and at 5:30 I was so stressed I was in tears because I had expected to have the whole house finished by this point and was barely halfway through, and now had company coming and no where for them to sit because all the furniture was in the middle of the room and covered with painter’s tape and plastic. 
Thank you, Lord, for my fabulous husband who helped me finish and put the room back together just in the nick of time! 
Thursday I did touch-ups and prepped the dining room, Friday I painted the dining room and we textured the bathroom walls. On Friday afternoon I gave myself two well-deserved hours of freedom while the first coat on the dining room was drying and read about 200 pages of Shadows in Flight. 
And on Saturday morning, bright and early, I hopped in my 1998 White Whale and drove 4 hours at 9 mpg to pick up my thouroughly spoiled offspring from Nana and Papa’s house. 
The house still isn’t completely finished, the dining room trim needs another coat of Portland Twilight and the bathroom needs to be edged in Oyster Shell. My bathroom vanity is sitting in my living room where the keyboard is supposed to be, and the keyboard is in my room while its cabinet is in the garage next to the new medicine cabinet, waiting to be stained. Remember that song from The Music Man, “The sadder but wiser girl”? That’s kind of how I feel this week. But I also feel that I learned a lot. So here are

Alissa’s Top Home Improvement Tips:

1. Don’t dance on top of a ladder, especially with a paintbrush in your hand. EVEN if Wayward Son is playing on Pandora.
2. Don’t sit on top of the refridgerator to paint the ceiling.
3. Don’t close the cabinet doors after you paint them.
4. The hardware store gives you those cool little paint can openers. Use them. Screwdrivers are sharp, and band-aids inhibit dexterity. 
5. Always look at the wall you’re painting, not the one beside it. 
6. Use the tape, don’t assume you’re careful enough.
7. Unless the paint is still wet. Then don’t use the tape.
8. Mud, sand, wipe, paint. Don’t mix the order up. 
9. Don’t leave the paint tray right behind the ladder. 
10. Cut your expectations in half. 
11. Texturing is hot, gross, dusty, frustrating work. There’s a reason professionals charge $60 an hour to do it. Pay the $60 an hour. 
12. Doing a project with your own two hands gives a feeling of accomplishment that nothing else can match. 

Twenty Signs you may have Toddlers!

Most people who have Toddlers have been diagnosed by a physician or a stick that you pee on, but some don’t know they have this seriously draining, but highly curable condition. So here are the top signs you may have Toddlers:

1. You find yourself humming the theme song from Winnie-The-Pooh as you clean the kitchen.
2. You’re talking to your friends and announce that you “have to go potty.” 
3. You know that Bob the Builder and his assistant, Wendy, were meant to be together. 
4. You say “put your pants back on” more than 5 times a day. 
5. You have stopped caring whether the clothes match, no matter who is wearing them. 
6. Naptime is the best time of day, second only to bedtime, because you actually get to sit down. 
7. You wait until they’re sleeping to go to the bathroom. 
8. Bodily fluids don’t even faze you anymore.
9. Silence makes your cheek twitch. 
10. You don’t drink, even though you really, really want to, until you’re sure they’re asleep. 
11. The only place to hide things is on top of the refrigerator, and even that is questionable.
12. Coffee is your main source of nutrients.
13. You regularly stop and take stock of your day, because you can’t remember when your last meal was. 
14. Finding a repeat babysitter is nigh on impossible. 
15. You know that Cheerios are a perfectly acceptable meal at any time of day. 
16. You have very strong feelings about Caillou. Like, “That kid needs a serious spanking.”
17. You have heard “Had it FIRST!” more than 10 times in the last 12 hours. 
18. You know it is totally worth all the effort you put in to raise these little humans. 
19. Going to the grocery store by yourself is like a vacation.
20. No matter how long you’ve been away, you’re always happy to come back to them and hear them squeal with delight that you’re home. 

If you think you may have toddlers, talk to your spouse, chances are he or she has them, too. Necessary treatment includes Time, Love, and lots of animal crackers. Condition generally runs its course in 3-8 years. 

*This blog is not meant to diagnose or treat anything except a frown. 

Cooking for Parents

Ingredients: 
3 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 c warm water (divided)
2 Tbsp. oil
2-3 children, small

Directions:
Wash all hands, put on aprons. Get stools or chairs so everyone can see over the counter. Make sure everyone has their own, or someone will get pushed off. Get out bowls and spoons. Avoid any electric tools. Get out ingredients. Remove bowl from child’s head. Wash bowl, and return to counter.
Mix together yeast and 1/2 c. (now lukewarm) water, set aside. (Out of reach is probably best) Measure out remaining dry ingredients. Remove child’s hands from sugar, remeasure sugar. Sweep up salt. Remeasure salt. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add warm water and oil, stir until combined. Add yeast and water mixture, let child stir. Wipe flour off counter, wall, and child. 
Turn dough onto floured surface, by now this shouldn’t be hard because that will describe most of your kitchen. Knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Find out why children have been so quiet for 6-8 minutes. Put tupperware back in cabinet and cookbooks back on the shelf. While dough is rising, wash children. Have a child punch dough down and let rise again. Read a book, or three. Wash hands again. Let a different child punch dough down, and divide into loaves. Make lunch, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake between 45 and 65 minutes, depending on how many diapers you have to change the moment the timer goes off. Let cool thoroughly, serve as snack. Or dinner. 

Servings: As many as you can get
Prep Time: Most of the day
Nutritional value: Who knows?
Worth it: Absolutely

The Care and Keeping of Families: What I’ve learned so far

After 23 years of watching my mother grow a beautiful family, I think I’ve found her recipe for success.

Families require all your love and most of your time. Always make sure that all members are adequately clothed, but remember that matching is not a necessity. Food is very important to all members of the family, particularly those of the male persuasion between the ages of 10 and 30 years old. Without regular nutrient-rich feedings (regular being every 2 hours or so) some families can become irritable, hostile, and may resemble a grizzly bear in April. That being said, a 5-course-meal is not always necessary, most families benefit from the occasional pizza-and-soda night.

Play and work must be well-balanced, because without one the family drifts apart, and without the other the family falls apart. Use your own judgment in this area, you know your family best. Occasionally, let the work sit while you focus on play. Remember, families have approximately a 20-year span before the branches leave to start families of their own. Likewise, love and discipline must be mixed well before applied, because either one without the other is dangerous to the overall health of your family. Punishment should be used sparingly, and only when well-diluted in a mixture of love and affection.

Your primary focus in the care of your family should always be the roots, namely, Mom and Dad. It is impossible to give too much love, attention or respect in this area. You will also find that these particular nutrients, when applied to the roots, will spread throughout your entire family. Always make sure your roots have enough soil, time away is good. Crowded roots make for crabby roots, and if Momma Ain’t Happy Ain’t Nobody Happy. I recommend date nights applied directly to the roots at least twice a month. For single-root families, always make sure the root has time away from the branches occasionally, or the root will stress and the branches will wither.

(For details on how to start a family from the roots, you’re reading the wrong blog.)

Finally, water your family generously with prayer and encouragement. Make sure your family gets plenty of sunshine for the best disposition and health. And above all, like all beautiful and temporary things, enjoy your family!

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