My Worst Nightmare

RoomMom's teeth

Awhile back I wrote about my Cracked Tooth and subsequent visits to the dentist. The condition of my teeth has deteriorated since those visits, but I have largely been ignoring the pain when I eat ice cream and the twinges when I bite something with resistance. I just quit eating the painful food or switch chewing to the other side of my mouth.

I started noticing some receding gum on my top front tooth about a year ago and just hoped it would not move any further. I have heard from friends about grafting gum tissue from the roof of your mouth to rebuild the gum tissue on your teeth, and I am not interested. I can barely make it to my regular teeth cleanings.

ultrasonic-scaler

This morning was my long awaited semi-annual teeth cleaning (already re-scheduled once). We started out with a full x-ray of my head then moved on to 30 minutes of scraping, ultrasonic scaler, baking soda blast, and gum check. Finally, the dentist arrived to survey my throbbing mouth.

Here is a summary of Dr. Teeth’s comments:

  • Let’s start with the good news. No visible tumors or cysts in your x-ray.
  • The gum tissue on your #9 tooth has receded 3 mm. This is almost always a direct result of clenching and grinding. Imagine pushing on a fence post all the time. The dirt at the bottom of the fence post eventually loosens. That is what is happening to your top teeth because you are grinding your bottom teeth against the top ones while you sleep.
  • We need to deprogram your mouth and get it to relax using an appliance at night. It’s like physical therapy for your mouth. Once we get your jaw to relax, we can “reshape” (i.e. sand, drill) some of your teeth to make sure your bite is even (insert heavy breathing from TheRoomMom here).
  • If we don’t start some type of intervention, your top teeth will start falling out in about 10 years (insert more heavy breathing and slight tearing from TheRoomMom here).
  • Dental insurance won’t cover much of the cost (insert visible crying here).

Here is a summary of TheRoomMom’s comments:

  • Do I need to be seeing a therapist to reduce my stress levels?
  • When you say mouth appliance, are we talking that antenna headgear thing I had to wear when I had braces?
  • If I agree to all of this mouth therapy, can I avoid gum surgery and tooth loss?
  • Do you have a payment plan?

Apparently, Occlusal (Bite) Disease is fairly common and is often hereditary (oh good, I can blame my parents). The splint I will need to reduce the teeth grinding takes up about the same amount of space as a retainer so that alleviated a little of my worry. If I get my mouth to relax, my receding gums should stabilize and may even drop back down a little, although, not to their original position. The good news is I would not have my teeth fall out in the near future.

tooth splint

I also stopped in the Barre Evolution studio on the way home to sign up for classes to hopefully relax my muscles a little. Gaining weight, flabby arms, lack of muscle tone have not motivated me to get into any kind of regular exercise program. The threat of losing my teeth absolutely spurred me into action.

Anything traumatic happening at your house? Are your teeth the source of the trauma?

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Houseguests

pound cake slice

Aunt B arrived yesterday with her two boys. Sewing Sister arrives tomorrow with her girls. I will have a full house for the next few weeks. Since I live near the beach, we have houseguests during the summer fairly regularly. I have systems and procedures for everything much to the frustration of TheRoomDad. In order to get ready for any friends and family who may be visiting, there are a few houseguest preparatory measures I follow.

  1. I collect hotel shampoos and lotions throughout the year, travel toothpastes from dentist visits, and Christmas toothbrushes and keep them in a special “guest” drawer in our bathroom that people can use when they visit.  Guests are welcome to use any of the toiletries. I also keep an extra hair dryer in the bathroom for guests.
  2. I have a secret addiction to junky magazines like Us and In Touch. After reading an issue, I will keep a stack in our spare room. Guests are welcome to read them when they visit. I keep a stack of paperback beach reads in the room too.

houseguest magazines

  1. I stock the refrigerator with “group food”, so people can serve themselves a little bite at any time. Some of my favorite items to have on hand are DILL DIP and BLACK BEAN SALSA DIP. I thrive on party food and love to make it. I am not sure why it is so different from the day to day monotony of preparing family meals (which I dread), but it is. I find that food preparation and kitchen maintenance are the hardest pieces to manage when guests are in town.

For this particular family visit, I baked a pound cake, which is one of Aunt B’s favorites. I think this is kind of a traditional version of pound cake because if you Google “cream cheese pound cake” you get many results with the exact recipe that I use. I have been having problems with my Bundt pan, but I finally just threw the thing away and bought a new cake pan. Success! The pound cake turned out perfectly.

Most recent baking attempt with the old Bundt pan. This should have been a glazed lemon cake.

Most recent baking attempt with the old Bundt pan. This should have been a glazed lemon cake.

Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks butter, softened (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour, sifted

pound cake mixer

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Blend butter and cream cheese.
  • Add sugar until well mixed.
  • Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.
  • Add sifted flour slowly.
  • Put mixture in greased and floured Bundt or tube pan.

pound cake batter in pan

  • Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let sit for ~5 minutes.

pound cake baked

  • After the cake rests for a few minutes, hold a cake plate on top of the Bundt pan and turn over, so the cake will drop into the middle of the cake plate. Let the Bundt pan stay on the top of the cake until you can see that the cake has dropped onto the cake plate.

pound cake finished Notes

  • To grease and flour a Bundt pan, cover the inside of the pan completely with Crisco. Scoop about 1/4 c. flour into the bottom of the pan. Holding the pan over a sink, roll (and tap) the pan around on its side letting the flour stick to all parts of the Crisco.

pound cake flouring pan

pound cake floured pan

  • Make sure that you turn the cake out of the pan while it is warm. This will help make the layer that sits on the cake plate squish down a little and be crispy and moist at the same time. That bottom portion of each slice is TheRoomMom family’s favorite bite of cake.

pound cake cross section

What strategies do you have for overnight guests, or do you just book a hotel room?

Mr. Star Wars Gets a Job

rainbow loom materials

Mr. Star Wars is that kid who will knock on your door and ask to rake your leaves for a nominal fee. He likes earning money. He reminds me a little of Henry Huggins. One of my dearest friends’ parents is organizing a convention for a large organization and needs 500 Rainbow Loom bracelets. TheRoomFriend threw out a request for the bracelets probably without really expecting a response. I offered Mr. Star Wars’ services. As you may have gathered, when we dive into a project at TheRoomMom’s house there is no tolerance for low effort or half assed commitment. It’s over-the-top extreme project work or nothing at all.

Since Friday, we have “loomed” 189 bracelets. Mr. Star Wars is getting paid per bracelet. More importantly, he has used just about every 3rd grade math and time management skill he has to complete this job. Here is the list of skills we covered with this job order. I am tempted to match it to the Common Core Standards that are all the buzz right now, but I will refrain.

rainbow loom single

The Prototype

  • Pre-Planning Before we committed to the order, Mr. Star Wars made one sample bracelet. We needed to know the time it would take to finish one bracelet and how many bands we would use in each bracelet. We created a ladies’ size (24 bands) and a men’s size (28 bands).
  • Setting Manageable Goals (Ha! As if I ever limit myself to the manageable and appropriate level)– We committed to 100 bands and agreed to try to make more.

The Materials

  • Mental Math The order is for green and yellow bracelets. I hit every store in our area for the right colors. We bought bags of 600, 300, and 100. There were fewer yellow available and various shades of green. We had to do a little mental math at the store to calculate how many bands we would need to make at least 100 bracelets. 
  • Rounding we rounded each bracelet to 25 bands since that divides into 100 so nicely. A bag of 600 would give us about 24 bracelets. I bought extra… just in case we felt like making more than 100 (as if there was any doubt).

rainbow loom counting

The Assembly Line

  • Patterns We couldn’t just open every bag of bands and dump them on the table. The bracelet colors had to be consistent. We use 2-3 shades of green and 1 yellow in each bracelet.
  • Math Facts Do you remember the math facts tips from last week? Mr. Star Wars had to calculate how many bands he needed in each color for each sized bracelet. He came up with several groupings. In the ladies’ size, we have 3 colors of 8 bands each or 4 colors of 6 bands each. In the men’s size, we have 3 colors of 9 bands each and add one extra of the starting color or 4 colors of 7 bands each.
  • Grouping We count out the groups of bands in coordinating colors into a 12-cup cupcake pan. We produce 12 bracelets at a time and then re-fill the cupcake pan. After 4 groups of 12 in one size, we make 2 more for a total of 50. We then switch to the other sized bracelet.

rainbow loom sorting

Production

  • Collaboration When we started, it took Mr. Star Wars about 5 minutes to make 1 single chain Rainbow Loom bracelet. Pulling the bands off the crochet hook and over the next band was slowing him down. We figured out a tandem system where one person holds the crochet hook, and the other moves the bands. We cut the production time to less than 3 minutes per bracelet.

rainbow loom color order

Money

  • Problem Solving We negotiated a price per bracelet that did not include the materials. When we set the price, we worked out the number of bracelets we could make in an hour, and Mr. Star Wars came up with an hourly rate. We then divided the number of bracelets by the cost per hour and proposed a price.
  • Earnings Mr. Star Wars constantly calculates how much he will earn every time we finish another group of bracelets. Our price per bracelet is less than a dollar, so he is having to convert cents to dollars.

Deadlines

  • Time Management We need to mail the bracelets by Saturday in order for TheRoomFriend to get them in time. We set a goal (200) and divided that by the days we had. We had more time to work this past weekend than we will this week, so we adjusted for that. We set a quota for each day.
  • Rewards TheRoomFriend offered us a bonus for any bracelets we make above 200. We should hit 200 by tonight (Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss are looming while I type). We now have an incentive to go above the goal. I have to say, I am impressed and would hire Mr. Star Wars in a heartbeat.
rainbow loom bracelets

Almost 200 Rainbow Loom bracelets. They are like big bags of green Ramen noodles.

Everything I Know about Discipline I Learned from the Dog Trainer

Birdie

This spring our vet suggested we escalate our dog training. Our dog is 90% good and 10% unpredictable. The vet didn’t think we had to classify Birdie as a “bad dog” but when she became possessive and growly, we had to fix the issue.

After the trainer’s first visit, it occurred to me that everything he advised applied to discipline in the classroom with my students and at home with my kids.

Replace your child’s name any time the word “dog” appears. Let me know if you see any improvement after following Bark Busters’ advice. According to Bark Busters, you need to practice the desired behavior daily for at least 5 weeks before the appropriate behavior will be automatic and without any hesitation.

The dog needs to recognize the adult as the leader.

  • I have to set clear boundaries, so the dog will accept me as the leader of the pack.
  • The dog will constantly test the boundaries, and I need to be consistent. The dog feels safer when she knows that I will stop her when she hits the limit of what she is allowed to do.
  • If I am trying to get the dog to come to me, and I keep calling her name, but she does not respond, I may NOT give up until the desired behavior is demonstrated. The dog will see that as a weakness and know that she does not have to do what I ask. I can change my tactics by moving closer to the dog, spraying her face with a water bottle, or attaching the leash, but the dog needs to see that ultimately, I am in charge. 

If the dog is adrenalized (hyper) remove the dog from the situation calmly, then give commands.

  • When there is a lot of excitement, and the dog is not responding to my voice, I calmly clip the leash on her and pull her away from the chaotic situation. As soon as I have her in a place where she can focus on my commands, I give her directions. Avoid getting emotional and screaming at the dog.

Routine and retraining is important for the dog.

  • In order for the dog to acquire new skills (like putting on shoes getting in the car crate when I ask), I have to repeat the procedure. If I don’t repeat the procedure multiple times, the new skill will not be successful. I also have to ask the dog to perform the skill the same way each time. If I switch up my directions, it will confuse the dog.
  • If I leave town or the routine is disrupted (like when summer break started), the leader may have to practice basic training again, so the dog remembers what the rules and expectations are.
  • Keep directions and training simple and short. If I give long, complicated requests nothing will happen. 

dog training

The dog needs vigorous play several days a week, or she will get bored and misbehave.

  • If the dog has nothing to do, she will create an activity for herself that will most likely be something that I do not like. I have to provide opportunities that stimulate the dog to keep her from being destructive in the house. The vigorous play does not have to happen every day. If I provide a few activities each week, the stimulation carries over for a few days.
This is what dog fur looks like after the dog eats an entire red felt tip pen.

This is what dog fur looks like after the dog eats an entire red felt tip pen.

 

Happy Birthday RoomMom

It’s my blog’s birthday today. It kind of snuck up on me, and I have not even gotten her a gift yet.  However, you are all invited to the party. Here is a little peak inside our baby book:

  • June 6, 2012– Our first post.
  • June 12, 2012– A birth announcement e-mailed to all friends, families, and acquaintances.
  • June 14, 2012– We receive notice that we have been allowed to join Pinterest.
  • June 25, 2012– We join Twitter. TheRoomMom’s mom is not so sure about Twitter, but all of her blog friends are doing it, so we feel compelled to join.
  • June 28, 2012– Our Facebook page is created, so any pictures or announcements of our milestones, big or small, can be shared with the world.
  • September 22, 2012, TheRoomMom gets an official domain but because the TheRoomMom’s mom is a first time blogger, she did not get her application in before the blog was born to reserve the name she really wanted, and she is on a waitlist. So, theroommom.wordpress.com becomes The-Room-Mom.com. We don’t really like the dashes in the name, but we have our fingers crossed that the domain name we want will not be renewed, and we will move up on the waitlist!
  • September 30, 2012– Our first giveaway.
  • February 28, 2013– We post Carpool Etiquette and have the best day (view-wise).
  • April 29, 2012– We have our first guest post on All Things Upper Elementary.

What is on TheRoomMom’s birthday list? More followers, likes, comments, and shares. So, please help spread the word and happy birthday little blog!