Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's cookin'?

Hey! Well, it's a busy day today. With Thanksgiving tomorrow you know I'm cookin'! I'm lucky enough to be having Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law's. Which means I'm just bringing my favorites: the desserts! So what's our dessert menu? I'm glad you asked...

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie
Dutch Apple Pie
Pumpkin Bread
Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies

So, maybe this is (drastic) overkill for the amount of people who will be there, but there are good reasons, I promise. Or at least good justifications.

Well, pie is a Thanksgiving tradition, right? Especially pumpkin pie. So clearly we had to make Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, because it's delicious! But not everyone is into pumpkin pie, so we need a second pie. Dutch Apple is Matt's favorite and I have a recipe I love for it (below), so that's our winner. Max said he wanted pumpkin bread, which sounded like a good idea too. And this one's easy because you just swap the bananas out for pumpkin in my Amazing Banana Bread recipe. And finally, I'm an admitted chocoholic and there was a disturbing lack of chocolate on the menu. Matt and Max said I needed to make cookies, so we picked Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies and Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies (recipes below). Yum! I'm a few pies in already, and going strong. I hope you try something on the list for your family too!

Today's Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie. It came out really well!

Max's Pumpkin Bread

Dutch Apple Pie
I started with this recipe from, and turned it Dutch Apple style with a crumb topping. Here's how to do it:

pie crust (1 if you're doing the crumb topping, 2 if you prefer traditional)
6-8 apples (Granny Smiths are good, but anything on the firmer side will work well)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tblsp flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line your pie pan with pie crust.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 1/2 cup of unsalted butter. Stir in the flour until it clumps up into a paste, but don't cook it to brown like you were making a roux. Add the water and sugars and stir. Let it simmer until it's a nice caramel color.
In the meantime, peel, core, and slice your apples and mound into the crust. I love my apple corer for this, but that's just 'cause it's fun - a knife gets the job done too. :)
Pour the sauce over the apples. (Now use some of the apple scraps to taste test the sauce. Cause it's delicious!)
Mix topping ingredients in a separate bowl, then sprinkle gently over apples.
Put the pie in the oven, reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and bake 50-60 minutes. You want the apples to be soft but not goopey,  and the topping to be golden, not burnt. Let cool and enjoy! I like it with vanilla ice cream.
I love my apple peeler! It peels, cores, and slices! And it's fun to use too. Max loves it. If he's getting bored of apples as a snack I can still get him excited with a "slinky apple" treat!
See: slinky apple! It actually solves the pie problem of your apples not cooking at the same rate, because now they're all the same thickness. And so pretty!
The bunnies like to snack on some of the apple skins as a special treat. :)
Mound the apples really high, then pour the sauce all over.
All done and smelling scrumptious!

Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
These are a bit tricky, but they're really good. Beware making them because people will demand you make them again!

3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz mini semisweet chocolate chips
~8 oz mini marshmallows, frozen

First, go toss those marshmallows in the freezer! A little weird, maybe, but it makes it way easier later on.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Set aside.
Blend sugars, then cream with butter. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until fluffy.
Add flour mixture and chocolate chips and blend on low until just combined. It's a really hard, stiff dough, so don't despair - you're doing it right!
Ok, now the tricky part; we're going to stuff the cookies with marshmallows. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and flatten in out into a circle. Now squish 4-5 mini marshmallows into the center of the circle and fold the dough up around them. You want to mold them into a ball. I leave a tiny air vent in the top, then place that spot face up on the cookie sheet. Put the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Here's how you get those cookies stuffed.
They're like amazing chocolate marshmallow volcanoes!

Baby Chocolate Pie Cookies
These are basically a sugar cookie stuffed with chocolate ganache. They will come out best if you let the dough rest for a few hours in the fridge.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup brown, packed
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until fluffy.
Add flour and blend on low until just combined. Gather dough, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least an hour.
For the filling, place cream in a small saucepan and heat until just about to boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Ok, now the stuffing. Instead of flour, dust your cutting board and rolling pin with powdered sugar; it works just as well and won't change the flavor of your cookies like flour will. Roll out the dough and cut out circles - I use a drinking glass, but a cookie cutter would certainly be best. About a 2-4 inch diameter works well. Gather and reroll until you've used all the dough. Place a circle on an ungreased cookie sheet, drop 1 teaspoon of ganache on the circle, top with a second circle, then seal the edges by pressing all the way around with a fork.
Bake 15-16 minutes, until golden. Transfer off cookie sheet to cool. You can also dust with powdered sugar for a nice finished look.
These ones are slightly less amazing to look at, which is why I sometimes sugar the tops. They're really good though. They're not oversweet thanks to the semisweet chocolate, but plenty decadent. They remind me a bit of Pepperidge Farm's Milanos.

Whew! I'm going to get back to cooking. I hope your holiday is a good one too!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Patient centered care

Okay, its a break from the holiday sewing tutorial collections.  1. Because I've been dealing with Aria's healthcare and I haven't had time to put together an awesome collection and 2. Because I've been dealing with Aria's healthcare and something has been bugging me about our most recent experiences.

I know I've talked about being in a doctoral program; I think I may have mentioned the particular focus of study.  I am mostly interested in mental health care policy but my course of study has provided me with a solid background in general health care policy with an emphasis on health care systems, quality improvement, and public health.  With all the recent hubbub over healthcare transformation, there's quite a lot of stuff going on.  One of those things is a push to make care more patient and family centered.  Its a lovely buzz word but what does it mean?  It means that patients and families are actively involved in the care that they or their loved ones receive.  There is an emphasis on patient/physician relationships built upon communication and trust.  Doctors no longer assume they know what and how a patient feels and they no longer assume they know best. Instead, they should actively seek patient and family input, encourage questions and feedback about health concerns and care plans, and operate under a team-based model of care where everyone including the patient and family is considered a valuable member of the care team.

Okay.  Sounds great.  Some places and some individual doctors were already doing this or are in the process of making that fundamental shift from doctor led to team led care and unfortunately some are dragging their feet and will need a little more time and a whole lot more nudging to get them to move in that direction.  Change is hard.  It really is and implementing patient and family centered care requires a huge shift in the way the medical profession has traditionally thought about healthcare and the role for patients and families in healthcare. (Psst: this is going to be long, so pull up a chair and put your feet up. ;)  If you want to scroll down, you'll find some tips from me on how patients/parents/caregivers can be more active members of the healthcare team.)

Okay so what has been troubling me?  Well, here is the deal for the last 7-8 months Aria has been complaining of tummy aches. Initially I thought it was solely anxiety related; I thought that if I could help her learn to manage her emotions, it'd get better.  It might be anxiety related but it's also very physical.  After a few random episodes of vomiting in the absence of any other symptoms of illness, we took Aria to the doctor.  An X-ray showed she was extremely constipated.  I'd like to note that this was something that took us by surprise as Aria's stools have never been hard and actually have always been on the loose side.  We gave her Miralax by doctor request for one month to help remove the blockage. She seemed to get better. At her follow up appointment about 2 months ago, they told us that she was fine, to maybe give the rest of the medicine we had left every other day until it was gone.

I have to say I was incredibly frustrated with that appointment.  For one, their long term plan seemed to consist of little more than, "just give her more laxatives if she has problems again." Medicine has it's place but I'm not a fan of relying on them as band-aids.  How were we supposed to know how long to put her on the laxatives, when to take her off, or when to finally bring her in for further evaluation?  Is 2 months too long? What about a year?  

In addition, the attitudes of the supervising physicians for the two appointments were completely different.  That first appointment was with an older no-nonsense chap who was extremely understanding, who listened to my concerns, and took the time to fully grasp our particular situation.  The one we met during the follow up appointment was condescending, was clearly not listening to me, and appeared to have a lot of preconceived notions about parents with children on Medicaid.  I'm still internally stewing over the comment she made when I expressed concern that there are times when Aria doesn't seem to eat much. Instead of offering me advice or pointing me to resources to help us deal with Aria's lack of appetite or picky eating, I was told, "Well, that is clearly because of something you've said to her."  So rather than advocate for Aria, I let the way she talked to me beat me down. Instead of questioning and pushing for an actual long term plan, I walked out feeling confused and embarrassed. 

The last month Aria mostly seemed okay but near the end of October she complained of tummy pain again. I remember that vividly because rather than run around in a pumpkin patch field with her buddy, my energetic and beautiful child sat in a van on the verge of tears because she was in so much pain. And then she started having poop accidents in the morning. She says she can't feel it when she has to go.  Last Tuesday on the way to drop me off at work, she vomited in the truck.  With no fever and no other signs of illness; to me that's a red flag in light of her history of tummy problems.  

So I called and made an appointment. The lady on the phone agreed that I should bring her in. It was an urgent care visit which means the physician who saw Aria was some random physician and not her actual pediatrician.  She started off with the usual string of questions about what brought us in.  When I told her, she seemed a bit confused and repeated several times whether I brought Aria in just because of ONE vomiting episode.   Maybe I'm still sensitive after my last encounter with Aria's clinic, but I was over it.  I was done playing games, so I told her yes because I think it matters and because we are not happy with the level of care, that we're not happy with the attitude of just give our child laxatives to fix the problem, that I didn't appreciate being told that this wouldn't be a problem if I just fed our daughter right because I do a pretty darn good job on that front.  Aria eats lots of veggies and fruits yes we eat fast food and pizza occasionally but I don't buy a bunch of processed foods on a regular basis and her drink of choice is water.

The physician told me that in cases of severe constipation, the intestines get stretched out and that sometimes the person needs to be on laxatives for an extended amount of time to give the intestines a break and time to shrink.  I've done my research and she's right; prescribing laxatives for up to a year for severe constipation seems to be standard medical protocol when they suspect the intestines have been stretched out.   I don't have a problem with that; I have a problem with the lack of support.  So I told her that I understood that, that I'd done my research as well, but that we wanted an actual plan in place and we wanted a timeline for how long she needed to be on the medicine. 

She left and brought in her supervising physician (one we haven't talked to about the tummy troubles yet) who came in with a care plan, an actual care plan.  They do believe that Aria's intestines are stretched out, which means even when we get her bowel movements going, some of the stool fills in and settles into the stretched out portions and slowly collects, eventually starting the cycle over again. So she wants Aria on the laxative again but this time for 6 months.  If she vomits or complains of tummy aches I'm to call them.  I was good and didn't raise my eyebrow at that considering the fact that I just had to defend my rationale for bringing my child in for ONE simple episode of vomiting.  The supervising physician also told me that sometimes some people just get the short end of the stick when it comes to tummy issues no matter how well they eat, which I appreciated given my past experience at their clinic.

In addition we have a psychiatric evaluation in place early December. The first supervising physician (the one I liked) recommended it to assess if her sensory problems and general anxiety are contributors. I'm not even going to get into our journey with the mental health system right now...maybe another day. So, this is where we are at.  No. Constipation is not the end of the world and I am thankful that Aria doesn't have anything seriously wrong with her, but its still not insignificant either.  I don't want her to grow into an adult who has such severe gastrointestinal problems that it prevents her from fully enjoying life and I most definitely don't want her to have to rely on laxatives her entire life to be comfortable.  

Aria was in good spirits at her appointment.  Clearly.
I appreciate the challenge the medical field faces.  I understand they often deal with patients who consume too much healthcare, who demand treatment for health concerns that would clear up without medical interference or with lifestyle changes.  But I also know that patients and caregivers have a lot of knowledge about their or their charges' health status and that they are often the strongest member of the healthcare team if the medical establishment includes and supports them properly.    

I have to wonder how many people fall through the cracks because of inadequate support and the sometimes condescending attitude of medical professionals.  I'm both sad and relieved.  Sad because I suspect the answer is too many and relieved because I'm in the position to push back against such crap.

I'm going to end with a few final thoughts on how to be a more active member of your own or your child's healthcare. I'm sure many of you know this and by no means am I suggesting that you don't do a good enough job, but I know that I personally struggle sometimes with it and maybe a few of my suggestions will be useful to someone out there at some point in their lifetime.

  1. The minute you start to consider calling the doctor, start keeping a log of relevant information.  What do I mean?  Okay, so I'm not in tune with Aria's bowel movements.  I'm just not.  I would notice if she hadn't pooped in a week, but I don't particularly keep close track of each and every time she goes potty. Our appointments would have been much smoother had I actually had the foresight to keep a log on what she was eating, how often she was urinating and pooping, how frequently she complained of tummy aches, and so on.  Of course it can be hard to know exactly what information to track so don't get worked up if you don't know what to track or don't track the things the doctors want to know about, but if something seems particularly relevant, track it.
  2. Related but different, keep your own personal record of any and all formal and informal treatment for the issue in question.  Yes, your doctor should have access to your medical record but sometimes information doesn't get put into the system or it gets put in the wrong place.
  3. Before the appointment, write down all your questions and concerns and be sure to bring your list to the appointment.  You tend to get bombarded with questions and information and its really easy to forget the things you wanted to address especially if your physician is trying to beat the clock and get to his/her next patient.
  4. Consider bringing someone you trust along for the appointment.  It can be hard to pay attention and stay focused during an appointment when so much is going on.  It helps if you have someone with you who can listen intently, take notes, and even ask the questions you want to ask but are too embarrassed to do so yourself.
  5. Ask them to clarify themselves.  If something doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense. I find it useful to either straight up ask them to explain what they mean or to repeat back what I think they said and ask them if I got it right.
  6. If you're uncomfortable with something, speak up.  This one can be incredibly hard.  A lot of us have grown up believing that doctors really do know best.  Don't get me wrong.  They have an enormous amount of academic and medical knowledge that should not be discounted.  But YOU have spent a lifetime in your body or YOU have spent a lot of time with your child, which means you have an enormous amount of intuitive and innate knowledge that should also not be discounted.  At Aria's followup appointment, I ought to have pushed them to discuss an actual care plan.  I was unsettled by the lack of guidance and long-term thinking but I was so embarrassed by how the physician treated me that I left without voicing my concerns.  If I could have a do-over, I would have insisted that they help us develop an actual care plan that consisted of more than "just give her more laxatives!"

Finally I have to say that if your physician is being condescending and disrespectful on a routine basis, you need to know that there is absolutely no excuse for that kind of treatment.  I'd like to say just get a new doctor but I know that sometimes that isn't practical or possible.  In our case, Aria is seen by a resident physician first and then whomever is the supervising physician on duty that day provides support and oversight if Aria's case is complex.  I think switching clinics at this juncture would be a mistake as she has gone there since birth and this is the first time we've had an issue.  But that does mean I'm going to be on guard from here on out and I won't be allowing any other physician at that clinic to ever speak to me so rudely.

Look, bottom line is that it's totally okay to speak up if you feel disrespected.  And it's totally okay to request certain doctors in a practice if you find that one is more helpful or respectful than another.  If you're up for it, I suggest letting someone in charge know if you find a particular physician disrespectful or extraordinarily helpful.  As the system moves towards more patient centered care, patient and family voices are going to be extremely important for shaping and guiding further transformation.  



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dairy-free White Sauce Lasagna

We're getting better at this dairy-free stuff. Matt's a trooper. However, I know he misses lasagna and similar classic Italian dishes, so I tried my hand recently at making a dairy-free version he could love. The results were pretty good! All around even the folks who could eat dairy didn't really miss it, and this is healthier to boot! I hope you guys love it too. :)

It uses a few store bought items, a few things you can make ahead, and a few final touches.  The keys are the dairy free Alfredo sauce (from this previous post) and dairy-free ricotta substitute, which you can buy or make. It will be good made ahead or even frozen ahead! This recipe makes 1 very big 9x13 pan.
You'll need a box of lasagna noodles (I like the wavy edged ones), and a package of chopped spinach.

Here are the stars of the show: dairy free alfredo, dairy-free ricotta & veggies, and your meat of choice.

Nice big pan ready to go into the oven!

All done and ready to be devoured!

Yummy! It was quite a hit.

1 box lasagna noodles
1 batch Awesome Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce
2 12 oz blocks of firm tofu, drained
2 t apple cider vinegar
2 t honey
2 t salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 cloves mined garlic
1 box chopped spinach, drained
1 lb. chicken or Italian sausage
1 cup soy cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare noodles according to package directions.
In a wide frying pan, brown meat.
Remove meat from pan, add diced onion and garlic, cook over medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).
In a large bowl, mash up tofu with a fork. Add vinegar, honey, salt, eggs, and stir. Mix in spinach, onion, and garlic.
Start layering:
1 cup of sauce on the bottom
(layer of noodles
1/3 of ricotta mixture
1/3 of meat
1-2 cups sauce) repeat these 2 more times
layer of noodles
1 cup sauce
sprinkle soy cheese across the top

Bake for 35-45 minutes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sewing for the crafter tutorial collection

As promised I am continuing my holiday tutorial collection.  Last week, I put together a collection of amazing tutorials that should help you put together a great dollie accessory pack for the special little child in your life. This week I help you figure out what to make for perhaps the most elusive person on your list...the crafter/artist. Yes, that's right.  The person in your life that already makes his/her own amazing projects.

Here's a nifty little rollup designed to hold knitting needles or crochet hooks.  I think it would also make a great rollup for paintbrushes, markers, and/or pencils for the artist in your life.

Apparently project bags are very useful to yarn crafters.  This one is big enough to hold that sweater project your crafty friend is working on.

My husband supports my crafting.  Truly he does, but if you were to ask him his number one pet peeve about my crafting, I'd bet my last dollar he'd say its finding random needles on the floor. Whip up this sweet little needle book and help your friend keep the needles out of the carpet.

Have a budding little sewist/sewer/, whatever, have a child in your life who's learning to sew?  This adorable little kit will set them up with everything they need to encourage and support the love of sewing.

One of the few tutorials you'll find on this list that ISN'T sewn.  But come on, how adorable is this little ornament.  Perfect for that knitter you know that celebrates Christmas. Shoot, even if he/she doesn't celebrate Christmas this would be cute as a simple house decoration.

Make a camera strap for the photographer in your life.  This one comes with a little pocket to hold the camera lens cap when he/she is busy shooting away.

Do you know a great writer? Pair this lovely composition cover with a fresh pen and a new composition book for a great gift.  I think this would also work well for a sketchbook; you may have to adjust the measurements to fit properly.

Okay, this is just super cute.  Its an embroidery case to hold carded embroidery floss.  Its intended for embroiders but clearly this would work for those who cross stitch as well as anyone else you know that works with embroidery floss.

That wraps up this week's tutorial collection.  Next week I think I may put together a tutorial collection for home goods.  Let me know if there is something in particular you are looking for and I'll see if I can dig up any great tutorials for you!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Defense of Fuzzy Math

In case you didn't already know, my day job is to be a High School teacher. Specifically, math and technology. Recently, I've seen a lot of complaints and consternation about math education. It seems that we just can't make anyone happy.

I hear people talk about how we should be teaching harder math and more of it. Also how we're requiring too much and should focus on other things. The math should be harder. And easier. More of it. And less. We should not teach to the test. But we should push for higher test scores. Kids need to be pushed harder. Kids get too much homework.

The list goes on.

One of the ones that gets under my skin the most is when folks (parents, students, media, whomever) complain about fuzzy math. The protest is that students are being rewarded based on their work even if the answer is incorrect. This isn't new - math teachers have been awarding partial credit for ages. Remember being asked to show your work? That's exactly what was going on.

I'm not sure what it is. Perhaps teachers have become more transparent and explicit about what we're doing? We're now specifically saying "we want students to understand the process and that's more important than always getting the right answer." Or perhaps it's the growing impact of high stakes testing? After all, teachers care about process, but standardized tests can only measure answers. I can understand the tension between these ideas.

Here's the catch, though. The purpose of teaching math is not to learn to solve for x. Now, here's where I should say that all these views are just mine, not my school's, state's, professions, etc. Ok, back to the point.

So if we don't teach math to learn to solve equations, why do we? Well, the skills you acquire while learning Algebra and Geometry are problem solving, critical thinking, logic, deduction, reasoning, etc.
Sound familiar? This is basically a laundry list of the qualities that most people think we most need to teach our kids. Math is one of the ways we do that.

Students don't just need to learn to perform calculations. This day and age we have calculators for that. Instead, they need to learn the theory and process behind it all. They need to learn to think, not just recite. So we as teachers have to reward their thinking process, often even above the end product.

Will all students use the quadratic formula after high school? No. Will all students use some form of problem solving after high school? Yes, definitely.

Now, whether we're teaching the right math subjects is a whole other discussion, but one that's probably worth having. In the meantime, lay off the fuzzy math, guys. It's not about what x equals, it's about skills they'll use throughout life.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Sewing for Baby (doll) tutorial collection

Its that time of the year.  In our household we celebrate Christmas.  Every year, about mid-December I tell myself that the following year, I'll get a head start on handmade gifts.  I fail miserably at it.  If I was really being kind to myself I'd start around June, but this year the best I can do is early November.  From here until Christmas, expect to find a weekly collection of tutorials for all your handmade gifting needs.  Today I'm starting with "sewing for baby (doll)." If you have any particular handmade gift needs, let us know here in the comments or on our FB page and I'll see what I can do.

Cute Crisscross Baby Doll Dress by The Blueberry Moon
I have made a dress using this pattern and it is super easy.  Do pay attention to sizing.  You may need to size up for a bigger doll or size down for a smaller doll.  One tip I can pass on...if you use KAM snaps like the ones used for baby diapers, you want have to hide the snap backs.
Baby Doll Diapers by Skip to My Lou
Dolly diapers are super easy to whip up and you can even coordinate them with the clothes you make for baby doll.  Again, I like to use KAM snaps.  They are harder for the kiddos to work but they don't snag on fabric and yarn hair and they add a nice decorate touch.
Baby Doll Sling by The Wooden Spool
Okay, how sweet is this baby doll sling?  Let your little kiddo practice baby wearing just like Mom and Pop!
Easy Doll Diaper Bag by V and Co.
After you make up a bunch of baby diapers, make this diaper bag so your kiddo can take care of baby on the go!
Baby Bibs by Crafty Cupboard
Yep, just like diapers, baby bibs are a must-have baby doll item.  Also you can coordinate these to match the outfits or diapers as well.
Hooded Baby Doll Blanket by Sparkle Power
Ack!  So cute!
Baby Doll Carrier by Sew Bossi
I also have experience sewing this one.  Its super easy.  I did make a few changes.  Namely I enlarged the pattern and made it adjustable by simple not sewing the straps into place at the top of the carrier.  Instead I added snaps to both the straps and the carrier so it could grow with Aria.
So I think that's a pretty good list. Do you know of or have a great tutorial for baby doll clothing or accessories?  Let us know in the comments! 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Techie Eye Candy

Ok, this was not the post I was intending to write this week, but I just can't wait to share.
I built a 3D printer! It's crazy awesome and I'm super excited!

Now, it's not for me. I built it at school, with help from a few students, and it's for class. The 3D Design students will be able to print their projects and the Robotics Team will be able to print custom parts. I mean, seriously, how cool is that?!?

So here it is in all its glory:

Ok, maybe it's not the most fascinating thing to watch in the world, but it's pretty darn cool. My mind has been buzzing with all the stuff I want to print. What would you print with access to a 3D Printer?

There's so much cool stuff happening in tech right now that it's impossible to keep up with it all, but I wanted to share a few more goodies with you.

Here's a table that can make a virtual version of whatever is under it's scanner. You have to check out the article on Gizmodo for the whole video 'cause it's really cool. It was invented by some of those amazing MIT folks. And here you were thinking 3D movies were cutting edge. ;)

And now something slightly more affordable and for the younger set. These aren't quite available for purchase yet, but are available for pre-order at a discount. What are they? They are cute robots designed to be programmed by kids! We're talking ages 5-10! Check them out over at
Bo and Yana can be programmed via iPad (iPhone, Android, etc) using the companion app. They use Scratch and Blocky and are a gateway to programming for kids! So cool and I want them!

But back to 3D printing. Did you know some folks are printing food? And custom casts to replace those plaster or fiberglass beasts? And these folks on Kickstarter are hoping to print custom chocolate bars! I'm not saying it's going to change the world necessarily  but it's pretty cool what all you can do with these things.

Maybe I'll figure out how to print something special for the dolls. What do you think? Some jewelry? A custom pacifier for one of the new babies?


Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Generosity

To those who celebrate, I hope you had a delightfully spooky but fun Halloween.  Aria and I joined Cady and her family for trick or treating where fun was had by all and the kids 
secured a decent stash of candy.
When we got home, it was late.  I promised Aria she could pick out one treat to eat before bed.  As she dumped the candy on the living room floor and slowly started to sort them, I told her in my stern Mom voice that she needed to pick her one treat quickly and not dilly dally.
Except my amazing little girl wasn't dilly dallying.  She was sorting her candies to share with Grandma and Daddy.  I stopped and just looked at her as she thoughtfully considered whether Grandma and Daddy would prefer the sucker or chocolate bar.  I decided that even if it took her an extra 30 minutes to get the candies sorted and bagged, that it wasn't the end of the world. I couldn't bring myself to interrupt the spontaneous generosity of my sweet little girl.

I shouldn't be too terribly surprised.  Aria is actually one of the most generous children I know.  I'm sure I'm a wee bit biased but she is forever stashing toys and trinkets away in her giving box for her friends and cousins.  She takes delight in sharing with those she cares about.  But still, there is nothing quite like seeing a five year old of her own volition split her candy 3 ways (and ultimately 4 ways, when she realized that Mom had no candy) to share it with others.

Damn.  I love this kid.

What do your kids do that warm your heart?  We'd love to hear, feel free to share in the comments or on our FB page.