Tree house

Tree house

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lucky 13--An Archive

  I'm posting this blog I wrote last year, because I don't want to lose it.  I published it as an assignment on my teacher blog page, but it definitely fits better with these musings.  In a month, Gabe will be 14.  This year has been the typical roller coaster one can expect with teenagers, but I am still so incredibly amazed at how lucky I am to be on this ride with my boys and their dad.  It doesn't get much better...



Lucky 13

This summer is flying by.  As of today, I've been out of school for an entire month.  During that time, I did 3 grad classes, another CCU, cleaned out my attic, have been watching my 3 month old niece twice a week,  volunteered for VBS, and more.  I'm tired.  Oh, and I had a garage sale Friday and Saturday.  I'll say it again, I'm tired.

But on Wednesday this week, we took time to celebrate one of the best parts of our lives.  Gabriel Brock, our oldest, turned 13.  While I have a little nostalgia about how great he was when he was little, I have truly enjoyed every phase and been ready for the next.  Ok, I guess the one exception to that was the first 12 weeks when he screamed every waking second.  Every other stage has been challenging, exciting, fun, thrilling, scary, and humbling.  This kid is our first try at this whole parenting thing and my husband and I will readily admit we've screwed up.  Lots.  More times that I can count.  In fact, I can think of 3 or 4 examples of decisions or statements this summer in which I would like to call out "Do-over!" and try them again.  But that's just it.  There are no do-overs as a parent.  Or a spouse.  Or a teacher.  Every single minute has to be "game on" and the clock is definitely running.

Some of my friends dread the teenage years, but I have to say I'm ready.  Elementary school was great, but Gabe's more than ready for middle school (7th grade in the fall).  He's clever, funny, and growing every second it seems.  I love teenagers; that's why I can teach high school. While I don't love the snottiness, attitude, or the mood swings we've been experiencing at our house, I am very aware that we are already late in the 3rd quarter of our full-time parenting with him.  I'm looking forward to every second I get to be with Gabe this 13th year.  Every second counts, after all, and the clock is ticking. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Living the Life--Type I Diabetes: Know the Signs

World Diabetes Day
My kids have it rough.  If they complain of being thirsty too often or have to pee more frequently than usual, they are subjected to a series of finger pokes and blood sugar checks.  Whether they think about it  or not, along with my nose to one and my legs to the other, I may have also passed along the genes/propensity to get diabetes. 

I'm careful with them because I know the signs. If my parents had known what to look for, my diagnosis would have been much less dramatic.  But this is me friends, so I suppose anything short of dramatic would have been out of character. By the time I arrived at the hospital, my blood sugar was over 800 and I was in full ketoacidosis--I struggled to breathe, I couldn't stop puking, I was hallucinating, and I couldn't stand or move on my own.  If we had waited any longer for treatment, I would have gone into a diabetic coma, and the odds of coming out of one of those aren't pretty.  But I did receive treatment, and every day since I have been figuring out how to live with it.  

This week was World Diabetes Day (November 14th).  According to the International Diabetes Association, the number of people with diabetes is increasing in every country and within a few years, the United Nations has determined that it will be at pandemic levels throughout the globe.  So friends, know the signs.  Be aware of them in your children for Type I and yourself and those older for Type II.  Here's a quick run down:

-Excessive thirst
-Frequent urination
-Lack of energy
-Weight loss 
-Frequent infections/illnesses
-Headaches/difficulty concentrating

There was nothing anyone could have done to prevent me from getting Type I diabetes, and hindsight is always 20/20.  Knowing the symptoms is key to prevention in Type II at least, and the sooner you catch Type I, the easier it is to control within the first few months.    Life may be rough for my kids that's for sure.  But if we can avoid the drama my family and I went through all those years ago, it's definitely worth the finger pricks now and then. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Living the Life-- Type I Diabetes: Not Your Grandma's Disease

When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes mellitus.  No, this isn't the same thing your grandma has.  No, I didn't get it because I was fat or drank too much sugared pop.  I'm diabetic because cells in my body attacked the beta cells in my pancreas, and effectively killed off that part of the organ.  I didn't do anything wrong to get it; I couldn't do anything to avoid it.  No one is completely sure why some people get it and some don't.  It may be genetic, it may not.  Whatever it is, there is no cure.  And to be honest, I have very little hope that there will be one in my life time at the rate the research is going.

 Part of the reason for the delay in the cure is that Type I diabetes only affects 5% of all diabetics. That's right--5%.  The total number of diabetics in our country is growing at an exponential rate.  In 2011, the CDC reported that there are 25.8 million diabetics.  That's 8 out of every 100 Americans.   So in other words, 95% of all diabetics in this country have Type II diabetes.  That, my friends, is the preventable kind in almost all cases.  There are a few cases of Type II occurring due to medications (steroids such as prednazone, for example) in otherwise healthy adults, but overall, the number one cause of Type II diabetes is being overweight and a lack of physical activity.  In fact, according to the CDC's study, 58% of all of those at risk for Type II diabetes were able to stave off the disease with lifestyle and activity changes.  In those aged 60 and over, that rate increased to over 70% who avoided the development of the disease. 

So where are the bulk of the money and resources going in the fight against diabetes? Education and prevention of Type II.  Am I bitter?  Maybe a little sometimes.  Ok, maybe more than  a little.  It could have to do with the fact that I've gotten flyers from the AARP since I was 13.  It could be that so many people assume I just have to pop a pill and be ok.  It could be because I have a disease I couldn't prevent.  A disease that is the 7th leading cause of death in America.  A disease that is the leading cause of blindness, renal failure, and non-traumatic amputations.  A disease that I didn't get a chance to stop or lose weight to make go away.  So this month (Diabetes Awareness Month) I thought I would share a slice of my life living with this nasty disease. And I promise, it's not all this depressing.  Diabetes is my constant companion, my thorn in the flesh, and even at times, a blessing.  It's not your grandma's disease for sure.  No, my disease is much more complicated than that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 Days and More to Come

Well 31 days have come and gone, and I can say that I'm exhausted.  Blogging every day is tough.  Trying to fit it in with grading, laundry, kids activities and seeing my husband every now and then was not easy.  But I've enjoyed my time blogging and will keep it up, just on more of a 3 or 4 times a week basis as opposed to every day.  In fact, tomorrow is T1 (Type 1) awareness day and kicks off Diabetes Awareness Month.  In honor of that, this T1 can't help but share some thoughts, joys and struggles of being a diabetic for the last 28 years.  So the 31 Days of Digging Deeper series may be over, but I'm looking forward to continuing this "conversation" I'm having with many of you.  Thank you for reading and encouraging me as I look forward to many more days to come.

Better Late....

So I missed another day of blogging.  I will blog again later today, but in honor of the day, I thought I would share this:

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creamed Peas and Tough Cookies

My Grandma Downing was not exactly your typical grandma.  Buying her cards for Mother's Day or her birthday was always somewhat comical as the gushy Hallmark sentiments for grandmothers didn't even come close to fitting the kind of relationship we all had with her.  You see, my Grandma Downing was not particularly thoughtful or  sweet.  She was not tactful, and she was definitely not submissive.  No, my Grandma Downing wasn't typical, but that didn't make me love her any less.

While there are lots of things she wasn't, she was a great cook.  She made fresh creamed peas that were to die for.  I won't touch the things now, but Grandma's were amazing.  She made phenomenal Parker House rolls, and incredible home-made angel food cakes.  She always had Post Toasties or glazed donuts for me to have for breakfast, and as a kid, it felt like she was treating me like a queen.  

My grandma didn't know how to show her love very well though, and she had a temper.  One time when I was there for a week in the summer, I was so homesick, I tried to call home.  I was so young, I didn't know about area codes, and I ended up talking to an operator.  Grandma heard the sound of the phone and asked if I was playing with it. I lied and said no.  I went to Grandma Sexton's from there, but before long, Grandma Downing came to get me with a wooden spoon in her hand.  I'll never forget that walk back to her house with her holding me firmly by the hand--telling me how lying was wrong and had to be punished.  How expensive it was to make a long distance phone call.  How she had a lot to do and I was keeping her from it.  Now I was no stranger to spankings.  I got them all the time at home.  But this one stung deeper somehow and I haven't forgotten it.  She was more harsh than she should have been, but I betrayed her trust.  She let me call home that night and Grandpa gave me extra loves and snuggles.  Grandma loved me very much, but she was one tough cookie.  

As I think about Grandma Downing, the ways she encouraged me were subtle.  She loved the way I played the piano.  She asked me to play at her church often, and she encouraged me to practice on her piano at home.  She wrote me letters and shared bits of her daily life with me, even when I was small, so I could feel a part of her life.  When she moved to Norfolk, Brian and I would go to her apartment each Sunday and have lunch with her.  We carved pumpkins at her house one year, and spent the afternoons talking.  She loved Brian and loved how he loved me.  She'd tease us both and we'd tease her right back.  When we had Gabe, she called him Brock (his middle name--her maiden name) for the longest time because she "liked that name" better.  She always asked if I was taking care of my diabetes and worried that I wasn't.  She talked "school" with me as she had a been a teacher before getting married, and loved hearing about my student's shenanigans.  

My Grandma Downing was not your typical grandma and she was not without faults. But neither am I.  At times, I have a temper similar to hers.  I don't always show an abundance of tact. I have been far too harsh with my own children.  I am incredibly blessed to have had so much time with her and for both of my boys to have positive memories of her.  I miss all of my grandparents, but I miss her the most.  It's not just because I knew her the longest, although I know that's part of it.  Rather, I miss her because I was old enough to recognize her shortcomings and love her in spite of them.  As I recognize so many of them in myself, I hope my own family is able to do the same.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tending the Roots

So I missed a blog yesterday.  I would say I'm struggling with large amounts of guilt, but I was getting ready for Zane's big day today.  You see on October 28th, 2005, a full 5 weeks early, Zane Michael burst on the scene in all of his gigantic fabulousness.  Weighing in at 10 pounds 7 ounces and almost 23 inches long, he was a force to be reckoned with from day one.  We celebrated with food, family, and gifts and both of us are sad the day is already over (Gabe is not.  He's ready for his brother to do his own chores again).  

Birthdays are big deals in my book.  They were always big days for me growing up, and by celebrating the birthday, you celebrate the person. Brian doesn't get nearly as excited about these days as I do, but he humors me.  So while I may only get in 30 days of blogs this month, I can live with it.  I have a very happy 8 year old tonight who will remember a great day.   Tonight he knows without a doubt that his family on both sides values him.  I'm pretty sure that's what rooting them deep is all about.