Wednesday, June 29, 2011

spreadsheet junkie

Since I have both diabetes and high blood pressure and am doing everything I can to avoid more medication, I have been monitoring my blood sugar and blood pressure on a daily basis. As you can imagine, this is a drag.

Not only do I hate having to think about every calorie/carb I consume or burn, I also hate writing it down. I've been keeping it all in a notebook, but I find myself not wanting to record the higher numbers; evidence for the doctor that I need another pill.

But I flipped through the book the other day and noticed some interesting patterns - like my blood pressure is always high on Sundays (go figure!). And my blood sugar is high when I first wake up and for a couple hours after I run. Finding these patterns makes me want to find more, so I've decided to throw it into a spreadsheet. Then I can easily sort it by day of the week, time of day, amount and type of exercise, or however else I want.

This thought made me unreasonably happy. Almost giddy. Why? Because I am a spreadsheet junkie. I am addicted to spreadsheets. I love them. Give me a bunch of information, randomly scattered about in my head, or the house, or wherever information scatters, and I will plug it in to a color-coded document, ready to sort and display in a variety of ways.

I first started creating spreadsheets for work, but now they are a daily part of my personal life. My "gateway" spreadsheet was a basic ledger I set up in Excel. It is simple, but much better suited to my needs than any of the money software programs I've tried. From there, I was hooked.

I now have spreadsheets called "run times," "2011 goals," "home improvement projects," "piano attendance," "piano ledger," "practice cards," "diabetes journal," "calorie list," "garden planning sheet," "gardenplanner2," "garden planner large," "garden planting calendar" and the list goes on and on. In fact, those were just the ones that came up in my recent documents list.

Sometimes, while day-dreaming about a new way to set up or sort a spreadsheet, I feel like an enormous geek. But I guess as far as addictions go, spreadsheets are not so bad...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

harmonicas and such

By choice, we live in a very small house. 900 square feet upstairs, 900 square feet down, and a bonus room behind the garage, nicknamed the "Room of Requirement." That is where Max's drum set lives, so technically it's not in the house. But all the other instruments are.

We have collected such a ridiculous number of instruments, that I counted them the other day: 4 guitars, 1 bass. Abby's french horn, trumpet and mellophone, and a flute from my mom. A ukulele, a banjo, and a tambourine. Bongos and cowbells too. A tiny violin Dave's mom loaned us when Abby was four, and an accordion I occasionally pull out of its case. I will spare you the list of harmonicas and such.

Sometimes I'm tempted to get rid of a few, especially the ones we don't know how to play. But then I hear Abby writing a song, or practicing her horn(s). Or I hear Dave and Max discussing some band. Or I play the piano for a couple of hours, until my heart and mind are at peace. Then I know music is the soul of our home and I'm glad the instruments live here too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

14 funfetti-filled years

From the time Abby was old enough to point at a box, she wanted a funfetti birthday cake. Every single year. Eventually we started to complain. I don't know why. It was only once a year, and it's not like I never baked a cake at any other time. Nevertheless, by the time she was 10, we had teased her into better flavors.

A couple weeks ago, she had a party to celebrate the end of the year. I offered to make some cupcakes but, short on time, told her we would just spice up a mix. We went to the store, to the baking aisle. I was looking for a few other things. When I turned around I saw Abby, her hand on a french vanilla mix, but eying longingly the funfetti box.

I encouraged her to get it; you're only young once. You should have all the funfetti you want!

Note: We added 1 box of vanilla instant pudding and used buttermilk in place of the water. We made our own buttercream frosting from scratch. The "funfetti" cupcakes were really quite good. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

i am your monster friend

For some reason, when my kids were little, my mother-in-law was fond of giving them gifts that make noise. Most of them were Christmas things, like a creepy little tree with a Santa hat and big white eyeballs that popped open when you walked past him, followed by an unbelievably annoying voice singing "Deck the Halls" or some such carol. Or a bright red and green angel with yellow yarn hair, wings that beat gently back and forth, and a head that moved eerily around on her body as she lulled you into the Christmas spirit.

But one time, she gave them an extra-large stuffed monster who faintly resembled Animal from the Muppets. He didn't sing, but had two or three sentences he would shout out when roused. He was big, blue and furry, with a black mouth, scary monster teeth and pink (or was it red?) hair and beard. We tried to get them to like him, but they were never too interested in playing with him (What do you do with a monster friend?) and eventually we stuck him up on the closet shelf. He stayed there for weeks, months, maybe a year, until his batteries started to die.

When that happened, he would occasionally call out from the closet shelf, in his gruff monster voice. It only took a few times of him scaring me nigh unto death before I donated him to the D.I., but in memory, he lives on. Just today, I found myself telling the kids, "I am your monster friend!"