Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky Halloween!

Thank you, Mimi, for the wonderful pix of our family!

Can you guess who's who?

Okay, this one's not that tough...

And, here's Nana, aka "Mother Mary of the Perpetual Easy Virtue".

Papa Bear went all out this year, preparing a spooky story and game for the kids to enjoy.
"The Tragedy of Mr. & Mrs. Brown" (written by Papa Bear)

Twas a hundred years or more ago,
When our eerie tale began.

In the sleepy hollow town of Buckhead,
Where fate took a young bride and her man.

On this dark night a vicious storm
Brewed dangerously around.

While Mr. & Mrs. Brown took their buggy
To go for a ride into town.

To a masquerade ball did these newlyweds go
On that All Hallows Eve.

And after a long spell, the hour was too late
When our heroes finally tried to leave.

Having had way too much fun at the ball
With much drinking and long dancing a jig,

Mr. & Mrs. Brown stumbled drunk
As they climbed back into their rig.

Their trusted steed knew the way home,
Upon which the Brown’s had to rely.

But the storm became dangerously worse
And the lightening blinded their eyes.

Past the graveyard they rode on into the night
With the storm swirling ahead.

Mr. Brown and his bride failed to make the right turn
And went the wrong way instead.

With the crack of more thunder, the howl of the wind
And the rain pouring down steep.

It is there and then when our friends lost control
Of their two-wheeled horse-drawn jeep.

The horse became spooked, he reared up in fright
And cart flipped with a sudden crash.

Through the woods they flew, as their screams for help
Were drowned out by a thunderous clash.

Into a tree did the buggy jolt
And split into a thousand slivers.

But sadly the Browns’ were never seen from again
Having drowned in the raging river.

Never laid to rest in a proper grave --
Their broken bodies never were found.

Until perhaps now has this mystery been solved
With all of these things that we pulled from the ground.

Unearthed from a spot along the riverbanks
Downstream from the accident site,

Was a collection of body parts that may finally rest
Our heroes from that dreadful night.

Can you help to identify these personal parts of Mr. & Mrs. Brown?
Instructions to Grown-Ups

Have these items prepared ahead of time (mix any of the items with jello, pudding, clear syrup or egg whites to enhance the texture). Try avoid using items with heavy odors.

Body parts:
1. Steamed and sculpted cauliflower (brains)
2. Softened lasagna noodles – edges only (intestines)
3. Softened lasagna noodles - flat strips (skin)
4. Corn silk and/or dried lichen (hair)
5. Peeled grapes (eyeballs)
6. Large sculpted mushroom (nose)
7. Asparagus sculpted & notched (fingers)
8. Large beef leg bone from pet store (leg)
9. Boiled and sculpted tripe (lungs)
10. Peeled large beefsteak tomatoes (hearts)
11. (5) small plastic cauldrons (or Tupperware bowls)

Tell the above tale in a darkened room with smoke effect from dry-ice (or smoke machine). Dim the lights and use eerie music or background sound effects. Blindfold the children (or adults) and seat them all in a circle on the floor. After telling the story, pass around each of the items above in a cauldron and have the children try to guess the body part. Tell them if they can’t guess and pass around again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Weekend At Camp Kudzu by Brother Bear

Over the weekend my family and I went to Diabetes camp, and (besides the walking and running) we had a heck of a time!

It took an hour and a half to get there. When we were ten minutes away we hit a Zaxbee’s for lunch. When we pulled out of the drive through and were on the road I wanted to eat my chicken sandwich but my stomach didn’t agree with me. I almost threw up, so I closed my eyes. I didn’t mean to go to sleep but I did.

Day 1: When we got to the camp, Dad pulled up to the nametag table in the roundabout, and Mom got out and went to the back seat (my side) and woke me up...on purpose. I said, “stop it, stop it, stop it”. When we got are nametags we went to our cabin and then I had my sandwich from earlier.

Then we went to the gym for a metaphoric welcome mat, along with 20 other families. Me and a couple other kids played a line /running game called Pacman, where two people are the squids and the other players are the pacmen. You have to play in a basketball court because you need connected lines. It’s ummmmmm…it’s like tag on lines.

Day 2: The first activity that the owls (that’s my age group’s name) did was we went canoeing! The second activity the owls did was puppetry. The instructor (Mr. Puppet Dude) told us about different puppets and where they came from and then he showed us how to make bat puppets. Then it was Drop-in time (a time for the families to do anything). It was break time for all the families. First my family went for a hayride (because we had signed up for it). It was fun until we got stuck in some mud; the load was very heavy. Then my family and I went mini golfing A.K.A Putt Putt. I got 5 holes’ in one in a row (holes 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19).

The next activity that the owls did was archery. My friend N came in first, my other friend B came in second, and I came in third. Then it was time for Drop-in time #2. So in that case we went to the tree house. It was awesome. They had an under side of the tree house, there was a tire swing and a trap door and a plaque with a famous poem called “Tree House” by Shel Silverstein, and a slide and telescope. Then Dad, BooBoo Bear, and I went rock wall climbing and I rang the bell at 40 feet in the air. Then Dad, BooBoo, and I went paddle boating and I steered and poor Dad was the engine.

Day 3: The last activity that the owls did was arts & crafts. We made Geckos and foam trees and necklaces and wooden fishes. It was awesome.

If you know someone with Type 1 Diabetes then you should tell them about Camp Kudzu.

(Edited by Mom)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Camp Kudzu Day Two

Day Two was FULL! Scheduled activities for the kids and adults. Scheduled meals AND snacks (with carb counts!). And "scheduled" free family time.

During free time, we headed for the hay ride. The tractor got stuck on a muddy hill, so we all piled out and helped guide and advise the young driver out of the situation. Then piled back in for the rest of the trip.

The boys hit the "putt putt" range on the way to lunch.

Then, after another scheduled session, more free time for the families.

The "tree house"

Paddle boating

A new friend

Finally, after dinner, the evening program.

Brother Bear lines up

Dr. A...gotta love him.

Preparation for....

...self-inflicted pie in the face.

Our fearless leader/organizer, Kat.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Camp Kudzu Day One

Camp Kudzu is held at Camp Twin Lakes, not too far from our home so the drive wasn't too bad.

The staff and volunteers were all super friendly and helpful. A nice gentleman with a golf cart and trailer hauled our luggage to our private bunk house. Someone had very thoughtfully left a welcome note on the porch, as well as on the door. Sweet.

After the evening's introductory "getting to know you" session in the gym, and a scheduled snack (very nice), we were off to bed.

Oh, and we all got our very own "Camp Kudzu" t-shirts.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Rituals

It’s fall. Not sure what the calender’s saying, but my soul is telling me it’s fall. The air is cool enough to see your breath in the morning. The windows are remaining closed most of the time, only brief bouts of fresh air are let in in the afternoon now (for a California girl, that’s a sacrifice, let me tell ya). A fire is lit in the family room fireplace each morning. I’m reprogramming the programmable thermostats. The seasonal clothing chest has been drug out, sifted through, clothing tags re-dotted, and long clothes tucked into drawers. Sheepskin slippers are upon my feet. Slipping on jeans every morning. Down comforters are on the beds. Family TV time involves snuggling under the jeans-of-loved-ones quilt. But perhaps best of all, the bugs are dead. Teehee. I love fall. I can sit on the back deck swing with My Love in the mornings, wrapped in a beloved blankie, sipping coffee together, and no mosquitoes to torment me.

Life is very good.

Jeans-Of-Loved-Ones Quilt

You know what it's like when you pull on your oldest, best broken-in, most favorite pair of jeans? How snug, and soft, and comfortable, and friendly, and "right" they feel? Well, that's what it feels like every time I slip under this quilt, times ten.

I made this quilt many years ago, back in my single days. I had visited my father and step-mother at their home in Arizona, and my stepmother was in the process of quilting (see note below) a denim quilt she had pieced together. She had gathered up the worn-out jeans and the cut-off legs of jeans-now-shorts from a variety of folks she knew and loved, cut those bits into squares, pieced them all together, and was in the final stage of completing her quilt. She was quilting it by hand, so it was likely to take a while to finish, but could be gently used in the meantime, so it was lying on their bed. It was such a lovely idea, and the fabric from the long-worn-and-loved jeans was so soft and broken-in, it was nearly irresistable. So, upon returning home, I engaged in a quest to collect jeans.

It did not take as long as I had anticipated to collect the materials. I contacted family and friends and asked them to send me any old jeans or cut-off-legs they had laying about, and cut up some of my own jeans that no longer fit or were not being worn. My dear soul-friend, Woo, was a significant contributor. The flower-print demin was from a pair of overalls she had handed down to me, and the plain demin with daisies were from a pair of my own jeans she had hand painted for me (believe me, I only gave up wearing those jeans when they became completely obscene to wear, even with leggings beneath). All the rest of the pieces I couldn't possibly identify, but every single piece was from someone I loved and cared about at that time in my life. The rainbow pattern was an acknowledgement of my own compulsive nature, and gives the quilt an essentially "placid" cast for me.

We're a "cut-offs" and "pass-em-down" kind of family. As comfortable as we are financially, I still can't bear to toss out or donating a perfectly good pair of jeans without first passing them down the line and/or making them into cut-offs if at all possible (please check out this article on the subject, one I am particularly fond of). And, every time I cut off the legs of a pair of the boys' jeans, I think about the next quilt they could go into. Weird, huh? The things moms think about while in the laundry room? Since I didn't really plan on making another demin quilt, I even sent a bunch of legs to IBOL in our bundles, because I just can't bear to let go of them. Really weird, huh?

So, here's my idea. Each time I whack off the legs of a pair of jeans, I put the ends into a box with that boys name on it. In ten years or so, I should have enough leg-ends to piece together a quilt. A quilt to be presented to them when they move out into the world on their own. A quilt made of their own worn-and-loved jeans. A quilt made of their own cherished childhood. Cool, huh?

So, whatcha all think?

Background Note: Creating a quilt generally follows these steps:

1. Cut out pieces, and sew them together to create the "top".

2. Layer the top, the batting, and the bottom (generally a full peice of fabric).

3. "Quilt" by sewing through all three layers. Traditional quilting is done by hand, one stitch at a time, and generally follows a particular design throughout. There are now machines specially designed to "quilt" quilts (which saves the largest chunk of time involved in creating a quilt), and can be done with intricate patterns. The above quilt was done using a modified technique, threading yarn through the center of each square and tying off one knot at a time, which takes much less time, but is not quite as secure. It has to be "reinforced" now and again, depending on how frequently it is washed.

Dogwood Transforming

I love when the trees start transforming in the fall...

And particularly when our dogwood starts putting forth bright red berries....a glimpse of the holidays to come...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mo' Fish

From Papa Bear's latest trip to Florida....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living Math

Among “relaxed”, “eclectic”, “unschooling”, and other non-traditional homeschoolers (ain't that a fringe-of-the-fringe group), there seems to be a general predilection for “living math”. That is, allowing kids to learn basic mathematical concepts within the context of everyday life, rather than trying to drill formulas and procedures into their little heads and hope they stick (the formulas and procedures, not the kids). This is pretty much the approach we’ve taken toward math, mostly incorporating a lot of kitchen math and “let’s figure it out” responses to questions. But this year, the term “living math” took on a whole new meaning for me, as T-Bear’s T1 care requires a fair amount of mathematics to be effective.

I happen to be pretty comfortable with numbers. I took four years of “advanced” mathematics in high school and did well with it, and I was a bookkeeper in my former life BC (before children). It took me a couple of months PDx (post diagnosis), but it finally occurred to me that when T-Bear’s diagnosing endocrinologist asked about my education, one of the things he was probably probing about was the level of my mathematics skills. Since it came easily for me, I guess I didn’t really stop to think about that too much. After all, I had a few other things to think about at that time, and for several months thereafter.

But, when I picked up an algebra workbook for myself at the beginning of our homeschool year and worked on a couple of pages (that’d be “Inspire, Not Require”), it dawned on me that I had been using and applying basic algebraic rules to calculate T-Bear’s insulin injections. Correctly, which is kind of important. Then I began to think about other parents with T1 kids, and how well they were coping with the mathematics involved.

I happen to know a few adults who suffer from “math block”, who never really recovered from that one horrible math class in which they became convinced they would never be able to do anything remotely mathematical, and that conviction has stuck with them their entire adult lives. And, what a completely horrific nightmare it would be for one of those adults if their child had T1. If their child’s health, and possibly very life, depended on math skills that they, the parent, just did not have, and were convinced they would never have. “Sink or swim” does not even begin to approach the trial-by-fire that these parents must endure. It made me deeply grateful, once again, for the brain that I have. This little mass of cells that easily grasps and manipulates numbers on an intuitive level. It makes me weep just thinking of it.

Now, Brother Bear, because his heart is so golden, makes efforts to learn how to care for his brother. He goes through spurts where he insists on drawing doses for T-Bear (under my supervision), and insists that I help him learn how to do the calculations. Honestly, the math is still a little complex for him at this point, but whenever he shows up for another round, we go through the numbers together. Because someday, I know, it’s going to click for him. And, when it does click, it’s going to be with him for the rest of his life. Because his brothers life and well-being depend on it, and he knows that. THAT is “living math”. Literally.

So, for those who have never calculated an insulin dose (lucky souls), here is a typical day in the life of our T-Bear, by the numbers. Keep in mind, this is the “easy and flexible” insulin program, and there are many other programs out there. And, we're still on MDI (multiple daily injections), not a pump. This program requires more math, but allows for tighter control of BS, particularly for kids whose eating habits tend to be somewhat irratic. And, tight BS control is a good thing. A very good thing. Really, an essential thing. And, BTW, I don't guarantee all of my math is correct...just "close enough".


Home-made pancakes:
2 c whole wheat flour = 46 g carbs
3 tsp baking powder = free
½ tsp salt = free
¼ c sugar = 12 g carbs
2 eggs = free
2 tsb oil = free
1 ¾ c milk = 21 g carbs
Total carbs per batch = 79 g carbs, yielding 4 cups of batter
¼ cup batter for one small pancake (4 c / 16) = 4.9 g carbs
2 pancakes = 9.8 g carbs

¼ cup syrup = 53 g carbs (really….wow…look at THAT compared to the pancakes it goes on)

1 egg, scrambled = free

1 c milk (to drink) = 12 g carbs

Total breakfast carbs = 74.8

Breakfast dose:
Pre-breakfast BS = 101 = no correction needed
Meal = 74.8 g carbs / 15 (carb/insulin ratio) = 5 units
Total breakfast dose: 5 units fast-acting insulin


Sub sandwich from Jen's NY Deli (park day):
6” sub bread = 48 g carbs (thanks, Jen, for looking that up for me)
Turkey, ham and cheese = free
Mayo = free
Lettuce & tomato (which he picks off) = free

Pkg potato chips = 23 g carbs

Bottle of Crystal Light drink = 0 carbs

Lunch dose:
Pre-lunch BS = 163 = (163-100)/50 = 1.25 correction
Meal = 71 g carbs / 12 (carb/insulin ratio) = 5.9 units
Total lunch dose: 7 units fast-acting insulin


Apple (small, but have to guess exact carbs) = 15 g carbs
Peanut butter = free

Snack dose:
Pre-snack BS = 85 = no correction needed
Meal = 15 g carbs / 12 (carb/insulin ratio) = 1.25
Total snack dose: 1 unit fast-acting insulin


Italian Soup:
1 box organic tomato soup = 4 servings x 16 g/serving = 64 g carbs
1 jar organic marinara sauce = 4 servings x 42 g/serving = 168 g carbs
6 oz elbow macaroni @ 2 oz/serving = 3 servings x 42 g/serving = 126 g carbs
1 c frozen vegetables (don’t count, ‘cause he’ll pick ‘em all out)
Total pot = 358 g
Portion size (approx 1/5 of pot) = 71.6 g carbs

Fresh French bread (guestimating ‘cause there’s no nutrition label) 2 slices @ 15 g per slice = 30 g carbs

Supper dose:
Pre-supper BS = 75; anything under 80 requires correction, so approx 10 g carbs free
Meal = 101.6 g carbs – 10 carbs free for correction = 91.6 g carbs / 12 (carb/insulin ratio) = 7.5 units fast-acting insulin

7:00 pm = 10 units Lantus (slow-acting, 24-hour basal insulin)


Not hungry, so doesn’t have a snack (thank goodness)

Bedtime dose:
Pre-bedtime BS = 80; needs to be over 100 before sleeping to avoid overnight lows (we really do NOT want to go there, 'cause it can involve seisures, stabbing with glucagon, and calls to 9-1-1), so force down one cup of milk; no fast-acting insulin needed.

So, that’s kind of it. A day in the life of T-Bear, by the numbers. Thank goodness for math, and for a brain that can do it fairly accurately.

PS: BTW, since I drafted this article, T-Bear's insulin/carb ratios have been tweeked. Just when I get all the numbers memorized (which is NOT my strong suit), they get changed. One more opportunity for growth, I guess.

PPS: One of the things I am deeply and daily grateful for is NO overnight lows. At least I can sleep at night knowing T-Bear is okay. Most nights. I weep for the parents who have to test their kids' BS at 2:00 am every night and correct, just to keep them okay. Juvenile Diabetes is a living nightmare for too many families. We need a cure NOW. PLEASE help if you can. JDRF.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stolen Avocado Salsa

We had this the other night with our lovely friends, M&M. I think I originally swiped it from a William Sanoma cookbook, but can’t remember exactly…

Couple of ripe avocados, diced
Couple of nice, firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
½ a purple onion, finely chopped
About ¼ bunch of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Sesame oil to coat
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

I like the avocado and tomato in big chunks. Toss it all together. Enjoy on big, fat tortilla chips. The angels will weep.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Italian Soup

I swiped this recipe from my absolute favorite neighbor, M, and then modified it somewhat.

1 box of organic Tomato Soup
1 jar of organic Marinara Sauce
6 oz or so of elbow macaroni
2 cups or so of frozen corn kernels (or other small vegetables)

Bring the soup and sauce to a simmer in a large-ish sauce pan. Once simmering, dump in the macaroni and vegetables, cover, and simmer til the pasta is done.

Optional: plop in some frozen meatballs in the beginning if you want some meat.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What's That Beeping Noise?

Oh, pardon me. That beeping noise would be me.

I haven’t worn a watch in over ten years. It’s kind of ironic, because I’m pretty compulsive about time, and being on time, and scheduling time. At some point, prompted by a skin sensitivity to metals, I decided to “let go” of my time compulsion and stop wearing a watch. The watch went, but the compulsion remained.

So, now that T-Bear is out of Honeymoon Phase, his diabetes management needs to be stepped up to the next level. Not that it was lax before, but his BS (that’s blood sugar) has been “easy” to keep on-target (“easy” being an extraordinarily relative term in this case). Now that his body is no longer producing any insulin at all, we’re going to have to be even more precise with calculations and doses, everything he eats over 10 grams of carbs will have to be covered with insulin (before snacks were okay without insulin), and we’re adding at least one test per day in the afternoon. The timing of all of this has become just tight enough now that I’m going to be more comfortable having a beeping buddy keeping me on track.

Yesterday I researched watches on-line (so love the internet) and had pretty much settled on the Timex Expedition as the watch for me. Today I had to run down to Target to get storage bins (that’s another story entirely), and popped in to the watch department to see if they had the watch I wanted. They did, in the right color and everything (pink and mauve), and a few bucks cheaper than Amazon or REI, so I picked it up. Only took about ten minutes to program, and I’m all set. Here’s what my new watch does for me.

At 4:00 pm an alarm sounds to remind me of T-Bear’s added afternoon test, and that it’s the last-chance opportunity for snacking before supper. At 7:00 pm an alarm sounds to remind me he needs to take his Lantus. At 8:30 pm an alarm sounds to remind me to send the neighbor kid home (that’s another story, too). And, two hours after T-Bear’s last meal, if I remember to set it, the timer goes off to let me know it’s safe to test and he might be getting hungry. Oh yeah, it also tells me the date and time.

So far so good. The sounds it makes are a little timid compared to the relative noise level of our house. And Brother Bear has had to point out to me a few times that my wrist is beeping. I haven’t had an outbreak of rash yet, and am oddly comfortable with this new, foreign object clinging to my arm.

Next high-tech gadget: the Salter 1400 nutrition scale, which should be arriving any day now. I’m so excited. I'm not a dork, am I?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Checkup

T-Bear had another checkup today, this time with the nutritionist at his pediatric endocrinologist's office. He's "officially" out of honeymoon phase, which means his body is no longer producing any insulin at all (during honeymoon, there are still a few stubborn t-cells left spitting out insulin; within about 3-6 months of diagnosis they are usually killed off). We've adjusted his carb/insulin ratio to try to bring his BS back down into the target range (it's been a bit irratic this week). And, we're going to have to add testing and injections every time he eats, instead of just at major meals and bedtime. That'll be finger pricks 5 - 7 times a day (more if he's experiencing symptoms), and injections 6 - 8 times a day. I was REALLY hoping to get him on an insulin pump this year, but he's changed his mind and wants to stick (heehee) with the injections. He's one of those kids who just doesn't like change or new things.

Also today, Brother Bear enrolled in the Panda Study, which tests and tracks siblings and children of folks with Type I (Juvenile) diabetes (aka T1). They drew five vials of blood for testing, and we should know in 8 - 12 weeks whether or not he has the genetic marker for T1 and is at risk for developing it. If he does have the marker, they'll be testing him 2-4 times a year to see whether or not T1 is developing, with the hope that they'll be able to slow it down or (eventually) stop it entirely. BooBoo Bear, I think, is just not ready to have five vials of blood sucked out of his little body for testing, so I'm putting off enrolling him in the program until he's able to make the decision himself. In the mean time, I'll just worry about him.

On the positive side, T-Bear's A1c was 6.8 - YAY! - That is a TOTALLY AWESOME number! I was concerned that our vacation drove his A1c out of the ball-park, but we seem to have done pretty well with his management, despite all of the eating out and guestimating carbs (something I'm just not very good at).

And, we've got Family Diabetes Camp coming up this month! Three days of all-out camp-type activities for the kids (in cooler weather!) during which fully trained medical professionals will be worrying about T-Bear's BS levels (instead of me), meals that someone else has prepared and come with the carbs calculated for you, additional training for the kids and the parents, and, most important of all, NETWORKING with other T1 families in our area! Yeeeeeehaaaaaa! I'm sooooo hoping T-Bear will find a "new best friend" who is on a pump, so he can see exactly what it's all about and that it really is a great thing. Not that I'm pushing for a pump, or anything :)

So, that was our day. I'm gearing up for more exact and intensive BS control now that T-Bear's out of honeymoon. I've already ordered the totally nifty and rad Salter 1400 nutrition scale, which calculates carbs based on the actual serving of each food, and can store up numbers for recipes for a total count (okay, that's so uninteresting for most of you, but when you cook from scratch and have to calculate every carb precisely, this is a really awesome thing). And, I'm looking at watches with several alarm settings, plus a timer, so I can be reminded when it's time for meals and snacks based on last-eaten (3 hours is optimum, minimum 2 hours from consumption to next testing), plus T-Bear's regularly scheduled Lantus dose.

That's probably waaaaay more than you ever want to know about or family life. Thanks for reading :)