Upgrading the “Nail Station”

In December 2017, Yoli painted Jadzia’s fingernails with a St. Patrick’s Day motif.

From the time she was little, Jadzia enjoyed having her nails done. She liked watching videos with Yoli to see different techniques and patterns. Then, one year, Nan gave the girls a “Salon Nail Station” made by “The Color Workshop.”

The Nail Station was a plastic storage compartment with a battery-powered fan for drying fingernails after they’ve been painted with polish. The kit included several bottles of nail polish.

The Nail Station includes a storage compartment for nail polish. And when you want to dry your nails, you put your fingers under the compartment, pushing down on the sticker that says “press here.”

The way the station was designed, Jadzia would place her fingers on a shelf under the storage compartment and press down. Pushing continuously on this shelf would cause the fan to blow on her fingers and dry the nail polish.

It seemed great in theory. But when Jadzia tried to use the Nail Station, she had great difficulty keeping the button pushed down. Her fingers were thin, hypermobile, and weak because of Marfan Syndrome. So after a few uses, the Nail Station was set aside for many years.

This year, Yoli began painting Josie’s nails regularly, and they got out the old Nail Station. Josie had stronger fingers and was better able to push the button. But she complained about it, too.

So Yoli came to me with a request: Could I hack the Nail Station and install an on-off switch, so the fan could blow without requiring the girls to push anything continuously.

The upgrade

This was a pretty simple upgrade: Disconnect the bottom button, cut a hole for a switch, then wire the switch.

The Nail Station is disassembled, and the location of the new switch has been marked.

I had an extra toggle switch left over from the time I fixed our Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, so I didn’t need to buy any additional supplies.

The main thing I had to figure out was where to mount the switch. My original thought was to put it under the compartment on the bottom shelf, but that was a dumb idea: not enough clearance, and it would be in the way of the girls’ fingers. I considered putting it on the back which would keep the connections closer to the motor. But ultimately I mounted it on the very top. The plastic was a bit stronger there, and it’s easy to access.

I used my Dremel to make a hole in the top. Then I removed some material from the top two internal supports, to make room for the nut that screws onto the switch and secures it.

The new switch is installed.

Finally, I wired the connections between the switch, batteries, and motor, and soldered them. My soldering leaves a lot to be desired, but it was good enough for this simple project.

A few hours later, Josie gave it a try. It got a thumbs-up from her and Yoli.

Josie dries her nails in the upgraded Nail Station.

The Very Big Christmas Show

Josie, Joseph, and Ludi dressed for the third act.

Editor’s note: This year, Ludi, Josie, and Joseph all participated in “Miss Kathey’s Academy,” and performed in “The Very Big Christmas Show” in December. All of them did awesome. Josie in particular had a memory she wanted to share:

I am in Miss Kathey’s Academy. I didn’t really expect it, but Miss Kathey said she wanted a small kid to sing a solo called “Happy Birthday, Jesus.” She wanted someone 8 or under.

Me and my friend both went to Pastor Bob to try out. He chose me to do the solo! After that, we practiced once a month every month until December.

I was super-scared at our first performance. Even the tape that held the microphone on to my cheek made me scared. But when I got out on stage and looked at the audience, I realized I couldn’t just chicken out. I said my lines to Santa, the music started, and I began to sing.

Very Big Christmas Show

Josie performs her solo, “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”

Strings attached

Josie with her guitar
Josie with her guitar

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson offers a program called “Strings Attached” which offers students guitar lessons and the chance to earn a guitar if they stick with the program.

A spot finally opened up for Josie this year and she has worked hard. Like her older sisters, Josie often doesn’t want to practice, but she has pushed through, and performed in her first concert.

Here’s a video of Josie in action:

Josie's guitar concert from Josh Renaud on Vimeo.

Pie in the face

Our kids attend AWANA at Grace Church. AWANA emphasizes memorizing Bible verses so that the kids can hide God’s word in their hearts.

One of their teachers, Mr. Rich, has a very unusual way to motivate the kids in the Sparks club to memorize verses.

He willingly lets the kids who complete the most book sections throw a pie in his face! He has done this for many years.

Our little Josie has long wanted to throw a pie in Mr. Rich’s face. So this year she worked hard — and she won!

And boy did she make the most of her opportunity!

See for yourself:

Josie Throws A Pie In Mr. Rich's Face from Josh Renaud on Vimeo.

Thank you, Mr. Rich, for being such a good sport.

The space explorers meet the Borg

Borg and waffles

On nights when I am home from work, I tell the kids stories before bed. Because they are divided among two rooms, I usually tell two stories.

The first story is for Josie and Joseph, and usually involves me making up something about the two of them as “space explorers,” visiting new planets or meeting aliens or trying to escape from black holes.

The second story is for Jadzia and Ludi, who prefer to have an improv-style story in which they each pick a character for the story (like “a good dragon” and “a bad lamp”) and I have to make up the rest.

Occasionally, though, the older girls will overhear the younger kids’ story and ask me to repeat it for them. Tonight was one such night.

Continue reading “The space explorers meet the Borg”