Monday, June 27, 2011


I just took my laptop to the shop for repairs. It will be about three weeks before I get it back. I probably will not be posting anything for a while, or following anyone else, but will be checking e-mail about once a day if I can. See you all when I get back!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Challenges of Eating Mexican (food, not people)

We haven’t been eating out a whole lot lately, but last night we all decided that a joint excursion to a local Mexican restaurant would be a nice treat. So, we packed seven kids (our niece is visiting) and four adults into three vehicles (coming from two different locations) to meet up at Taqueria Los Hermanos for dinner. Just about half way there (for those coming from the house) we were hit by a substantial and impressive thunderstorm. Downpour. Windshield wipers on high. Gusts of wind pushing the Sequoia around. Always fun with a car full of kids.

As we pulled up to the restaurant, there was enough of a break that we could get the vehicles unloaded of their passengers without being drenched. Once unloaded, we found out the restaurant (and the retail center it was situated in) had no power. Every other building in sight had power, just not the building we were visiting. They couldn’t cook with the power out, so we decided to hang a little while to see if the lights came back on.

While we were waiting, my watch and phone (and David’s phone) went off announcing “Lantus Time” (7:00 pm). It was also time for William to test, so I pulled out our kits and laid them out on the little cafĂ© table outside the restaurant, and we did our thing (gusting wind and alcohol wipes are fun). By this time more than one kid was hungry (including William) and a wee bit of whining was commencing from various quarters. And BananaBear was having a small asthma issue from the smokers parked outside the restaurant, and was quietly sucking on her inhaler. So, we decided to have our group seated inside and have drinks and chips while we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, and then make a decision then about whether to wait it out or find another restaurant. Yes, the manager said, we can serve drinks and chips. Then, no, on second thought, let’s “wait” on that option. And, oh, yeah, we can only run your card for another 30 minutes or so, then we can only handle cash to settle your bill.

By this time, William was gearing up for full-fledged “I’m dropping” wailing mode. I was holding him in a Mama Bear hug and talking quietly but firmly to him. It was time for food. Very, very soon. Even though he tested high (219) his afternoon snack was clearly wearing off and he was dropping rapidly. (Although I can't speak from personal experience, for William dropping rapidly from a high seems to be almost as upsetting as dropping slowly into a low). So, I gave him a squished up chewy granola bar that had been in my purse for quite a while, to hold him over. By that time, we’d decided to head to the “other” Taqueria Los Hermanos, ten minutes away, and have dinner there. I gave William 3 units in the car to cover the bar and a bit of the high, counting on having access to chips in a short time in case he dropped suddenly.

Thankfully by the time we got to the “other” restaurant, the rest of our party had already arrived and we were immediately seated. Chips and queso and sangria immediately commenced (this location only served beer and wine, so no margaritas for mama…a bitter disappointment at that point, let me tell you!).

"Foood! Sooooon!"

One of the tricky parts of eating Mexican is the chips. Free-flowing chips. Hungry children. All those empty carbs. Don’t know yet how to bolus dinner, because dinner hasn’t even been ordered yet, much less arrived so you can eye-ball the carb load. So, I’ve adopted the “count the chips as you eat” approach.

One hatch mark for each chip. Yep, that a lotta chips.

Even after dinner is ordered, I still have to wait until the plate (or, in this case, platter) arrives. The whole time, chips are being downed at lightning speed. I can almost hear his BG spiking with each crunch. Still waiting for the platter, here’s what my sangria looked like.

Okay, not really. I set up that shot. Really.

And, finally, dinner! No food library on the planet can possibly arm you for the task of counting these carbs.

Let’s play “Guess Those Carbs”. The rice on top was William's addition to the nachos.

So, let’s see…. High BG an hour ago, but dropping rapidly. A smushed granola bar. Three units of rapid-acting insulin. Twelve units of long-acting insulin. A butt-load of chips. Now, an immeasurable pile of carbs. Can’t check BG again because he’s been eating. And despite the size of his eyes, I know his stomach is NOT going to hold all that food. There is no formula on the planet, as far as I know, that will tell me how much insulin to give William right at this moment. I take my best guess and give him 8 units, knowing we’ll be playing “Chase the Blood Sugars” the rest of the night.

Despite our challenges, we actually did have a “normal” meal out, everyone had a good time, and the food was GREAT (and, believe me, finding GREAT Mexican food in GA can be a challenge!). Over the past two-plus years, I’ve learned not to let myself get stressed out so much I can’t enjoy the pleasures of a meal out…with seven kids. Okay, amend that reference to “normal”. No such thing when you’re eating out with seven kids ;)

William enjoying his chips, queso and diet coke (no carbs in the coke).

Banana Bear and BooBoo.

Kitmama. All the kids are on the other end of the very, very long table, and the sangria is on our end of the table...thus the Mona Lisa smile.

David snapping the photographer with his phone.

The Pirate with Dad's stolen hat.

"Wanna candy, little boy?" - Dad

BabyMan. Ain't he just toooo cute?!?

ThunderBear and BananaBear.

LittleMan carbed out.

Too cool BroBear.

So, how did William’s BG night end? Not too bad, actually. Dinner was plopped in front of him around 8:30 pm. We spent the rest of the evening watching "XMen" so I could keep an eye on him. At 11:00 his BG was 301 and I gave him a full “bedtime” correction (2.5 units). I had sent my phone alarm to check on him in two hours, but it didn’t go off (or I shut it off in my sleep, which is possible). At 5:30 am when I woke up, he was at 94. At 9:45 am he was 85. At noon (with no breakfast) he was 194. Go figure. (With that kind of rise in BG without food, I would normally increase his Lantus a tad, but with all the lows he's been having - including a couple in the 40's - I'm going to keep his Lantus right where it is til things settle down a bit).

I'm not really sure the point of this post, except maybe to let you all know that even in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, with power outages, late dinner with a gaggle of hungry kids, a diabetic child with wacky BG's, and carb-counting from hell, you can STILL enjoy a meal out if you can smoosh your brain into the right frame of mind.

So, go enjoy a nice Mexican dinner, consume a pile of lovely carbs, and have a great, big margarita for me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yeah, I know that's not a word, but it's kinda fitting for our current co-habitating lifestyle (I seriously dislike the word "lifestyle", but can't think of a better one right now). Papa Bear has always done a great job of "filling in" with William's D-care as needed, but has recently made it known that he wants to step up and take on more responsibility. And, Kitmama has been great about jumping in to do testing and dosing since she and her family began residing with us. So, now I've got two co-pancreases on the job (or is it "co-pancreai"?), which is a huge relief. I can actually GO SOMEWHERE and leave William at home, knowing that he's going to be taken care of (okay, I still text someone when it's time to test, and still confirm doses, but that's small buscuits for a solo trip to the grocery store!).

The problem is, so much of William's hour-to-hour management resides inside my noodle, and a lot of the time I "feel out" dosing based on what's been going on the past several hours, what's currently happening, and what I expect will be happening. I also sometimes "try out" an adjustment to see if it's going to help his numbers, before making it "official". I didn't really realize how much of this stuff I've got in my head, until I sat down with Billy and tried to tell him everything that would need to be incorporated into the "perfect" T1 diabetes app. The glaze-over factor for this particular conversation was pretty high, and it quickly became clear that this would be a very complex app. You'd have to find a really dedicated and highly-charged detail-oriented programmer who is a pit-bull with a challenge. (I'm not saying this "perfect" app will actually get was just an idea we were talking about...something that I recently began fantasizing about. But, that's a post for another day).

Anyway, the problem with what's in my head that needs to be accessed by other people is compounded by my compulsion with creating new log sheet formats and fiddling with the formats of the log sheets I already use. Sometimes I use the "basic" log that tracks by meal, and there's a "fill-in-the-blank" at the top for including ratios, and one at the bottom for correction factors. But, if I'm doing middle-of-the-night checks, or our "routine" is not really very "routine" in terms of meal times, I need a 24-hour log sheet to spot trends, and there's just not space to include much information about calculations. I just can't seem to find the perfect log sheet (kind of like trying to find the perfect purse or diabetes know it's out there, but you just can't seem to find the one that has everything you're looking for). And it came to a head, so to speak, because I needed to tweek William's ratios again.

So, this is what I came up with:

Yep, a plain ol' blackboard with my shorthand notes for ratios and correction calculations. With a swipe of a cloth and a bit of chalk, I can make an adjustment and it will be implemented whether I'm doing the dose or someone else is. (I almost forgot the Lantus, until I was laying in bed at 3:00 am considering whether or not to change his dose...oops). It's hanging in the kitchen right next to the Diabetes Counter, ready for whichever pancreas will be doing the next dose. Low-tech solutions are sometimes the best.

And, of course, I still do this... least, I will until that perfect app gets written ;)

Update 6/16/11: File this one under "oops". Due to yet another whacked-out BG crisis this afternoon (BG 48 1.5 hours after a snack), I realized my entire D-Brain did not actually fit onto the blackboard. So, I Rethunk my Glunk, got the bigger blackboard, and tried it again.

This once specifies carb:insulin ratios for "food with protien/fat" and "food without protien/fat" at various times of the day. These numbers, I am sure, will require a bit more tweeking before we get settled into some calmer numbers...just in time for everything to change again ;)

Okaaaaay, one more update (6/16/11): I added a note between "breakfast" and "lunch" that BG will rise before lunch. Just so you won't be shocked at lunchtime.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love the Georgia Rain

These are for my dear friend, 'Neen, who stayed with us for a while, and who loves the rain...

Standing in the garage...

Standing in the family room door....

Looking out over the new "lower" garden.....

These were all taken during the same, brief, "localized" shower.

I love the sound of the rain......

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yesterday II

Yesterday was a pretty typical day at our house.

I spent a bit of time in the garden (in between updating the blog) and found our first squash of the season...

I just love the shape and arrangement of these squash plants...very orderly and pleasing to the eye...

I emptied out one of the rainbarrels to water some planters in the garden (this is the corn/squash)...

The air conditioning unit serving the main floor of the house has reached the end of its time, and it's been pretty hot here. David brought in a floor fan for the kitchen (cooking makes it pretty toasty in there), which the kids immediately pounced on to experiment with parachutes and aerodynamics.

There were eventually four kids crammed into the small hall between the kitchen and dining room, each with a plastic grocery bag with some sort of weight attached to it, trying to figure out the perfect weight to make the bag float over the upturned fan. (I had to run an errand, so don't know the outcome of the experiment). A local AC company came to look at the unit, and gave us the bad news...$5,200 to replace it. Ugh.

The other day David brought home some scrap lumber from Home Depot, which he gave to the kids to make projects with. This is Michael's finished product, a picture frame with a self-portrait on wood panelling.

Other projects are still in the works.

In addition to catching up on the blog (all of the lake trip has been posted now, including some fabulous photos by S), I also managed to catch up on laundry from the trip. All of the sleeping bags, blankets and sheets for Popper, as well as clothing.

Thomas and William were back to "study time" this week after our break, which means back to Time4Learning and lots of reading. I'm also looking into the Khan Academy website to see if that will be a useful tool for us. I think, definitely, it will be great when we get into "higher" mathematics and science, and it looks like they've got some fabulous teacher/parent tools for tracking progress. Correction, the tools are focused on tracking actual learning, which is what it's supposed to be all about, right? It's really a great story, how this guy got started (on YouTube) and how it developed into what it is now, a free library of videos explaining just about everything that makes most of us go "huuuuuh?". Salman Khan is a genius in my book, completely re-envisioning education in a way that actually serves each student individually, and maximizes the teacher/mentor's one-on-one time and classroom time. They've got a pilot program going in some PS classrooms with wonderful results. You should check out his TED Talk. (Thanks, S, for turning me on to Salman!).

I know there was a bunch of other stuff going on all day long, but I can't think of them all right now. For the next few days (at least) I'd like to "focus" on capturing more of our daily moments with photos and video.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vegan Awesomeness

Kitmama brought home a couple of vegan cookbooks from the library. I've been perusing Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson, and tried out the Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder on page 68. It seriously rocked!

If even half the other recipes in the book are as good as this one, I'll be buying this book very soon. What I like about the book so far:

  • Just about all the recipes I've read so far are, like, real food. You don't need a bunch of weird ingredients you've never heard of before,; you're most likely going to have most of the stuff in your pantry or fridge already, or at least know which aisle of the market to find it in. And, because it's mostly all recognizable stuff, the kids are way more likely to eat it. 'Nuff said.

  • She includes the cost per serving for each meal. All of them are under $1.85 per serving, and a lot of them are under $1.00 per serving.

  • Most of the recipes are on the quick side, and she includes time-saving tips (like cooking basics and large batches ahead of time and freezing, and cooking one meal that will be used for two).

  • She also includes recipes for making your own "convenience foods"...those vegan versions of non-vegan ingredients (like meat, mayo, etc.) that you can get at the grocery store, but usually at a steep price. I'm not sure I'll go quite so far as to make my own seitan (vegan meat) because we're not strictly vegan, but for those with food allergies or who want to be strict vegans, these made-at-home versions could be a significant money saver (and you can skip those weird chemical additives in many of them).

  • She includes a chart showing which ingredients will be cheaper to make yourself rather than buy, and the approximate cost savings.

So, overall, I think I'm going to get a lot out of this book.

Oh, and here's the recipe for the Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder:

1 T olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups cooked or 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (I used home-cooked)

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained (I used plain canned tomatoes)

1 (4-ounce) can chopped mild green chiles, drained (I went easy for the sake of the kids, and left some to be added by the adults as desired)

1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (I used frozen)

1 t chili powder

1/2 t ground cumin

1/2 t smoked paprika (optional) (I used regular paprika)

3 cups vegetable stock (I used homemade)

Salt and black pepper

Tortilla chips (I served with home-made Artisan bread)

  • In large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Ad the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the beans, tomatoes with their juice, chiles, corn, chili powder, cumin, and paprika, if using. Add the stock and season with salt and peper to taste. (The amount of salt needed depends on the saltiness of your stock). Simmer until the chowder is hot and the flavors have developed, 30 to 40 minutes.

  • To serve, ladle the chowder into bowls and top each bowl with tortilla chips.

And, yes, the kids ate it. A couple of them even went back for seconds ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Hey! I'm trying to catch up on my pix and posts for last week at the lake, and I'm post-dating them. So, scroll down if you want to see what we did :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Busy Boy

Michael was a very busy boy yesterday. Here are two of his three inventions-of-the-day.

That's what you get when you've got a creative kid with lots of free time on his hands and access to tools and duct tape.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Awesome Lake Pix by S

I have always enjoyed the photography of my friend, S. But for the past year or so, she's been really focusing (pardon the pun) on improving her photography skills, and she has done just that. Here are some of the photos she took of The Bear Family while we were at the lake. There are quite a few, but they are worth peeking at. You can find her blog here, and she also posts fabulous photos using Instagram. Check them out!

Papa Bear flips.

BooBoo launched.

"Hold it like this..."

Thirsty dog...or narcissistic?

Buddies chatting.


Brother Bear and mom catching up.

Papa Bear casting.

Me. Really. An actual photo.

Michael fishing.

Funny Girl and Brother Bear.

Whose fish is this?


Jenny and lake dogs.

Michael found something!

Michael waiting for a bite.



Greying muzzle.

Fishing injury.

Right out of the tub....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day Seven at the Lake - And Fish!

On the Seventh Day God rested, but we packed up and went home.

While I gathered up all our belongings (spread all over the house, the dock, and everywhere in between) and packed everything up into Popper and the truck, David got in a last stint of fishing, and Michael created some "art" on the sea wall.

I required, of course, getting into the lake.

Fully clothed.

Yes, all of his other clothes had already been packed and, air-dry it was.

The drive home was uneventful aside from a stop at Subway for lunch. After Popper had been raised and unloaded, David and Michael set to work cleaning the bunch of fish they'd caught.

Michael's fish. Don't know how he could tell it apart from the others...

Ready for the post-mortem. I'm really glad David cleans his own fish.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day Six at the Lake, Part II

Another day of "mostly pix". William and I got back to the lake in time for another dip in the lovely, murky waters. Even I got in (I don't like water I can't see through).

Thomas chillin'.

Still all decked out.

Funny Girl dis-ing the life vest.

Babyman floating.

A dancing dog...oh, my!

Jenny contemplating the water.

Can't even begin to describe this shot...

And, much more of this....

Our last night at the lake, I figured out that a big part of William's wacky numbers were probably growth hormones kicking in. A 2 am check read 137, and at 8 am he had shot up to 377. Wow. Mind-boggling, ain't it? Looks like some middle-of-the-night corrections are in order....