Saturday, December 22, 2007

Magic Kingdom (Day 4)

Nov 30th

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom after a day at Epcot. The days at Magic Kingdom are usually about the same - start in Fantasyland, which has universal appeal to everyone. Head over to Tomorrowland for possibly our favorite ride - Buzz Lighyear. The kids and Mike head off to hit the roller coasters from time to time and we meet back up. Emma has a grand old time and takes a nap in the afternoon. Throughout the day, we visited with a variety of characters that we found throughout the park - that is one of my more favorite parts of a trip to Disney.

The two highlights of this day were our dinner at Crystal Palace and the Very Merry Christmas Party. Crystal Palace is probably our favorite character meal - and not just because its the Pooh characters. Pooh has been a favorite for all of our kids - and Emma is no exception.

After dinner at Crystal Palace, it was time for the Christmas party. They were shuffling out the other guests - we had our wristbands to show we were there for the party. We walked over to the castle mainstage so that we could see the Christmas party show. We took that time to TRY and get a family photo. Between random eye-blinking of one or more members of the family, and Emma refusing to look at the camera or wearing a hat or anything else of that nature, we finally got a decent photo of the 5 of us with the Christmas castle in the background - and I got a good one of Mom and Dad.

After the show, Mom and Dad and Emma and I headed down Main Street to get our places for the parade. The Christmas party parade is really different than the regular daytime parade. They have lots more floats and characters and everything is decorated for Christmas. AND, they have the marching "precision" toy soldiers. They march and play right on the beat - which has GOT to be difficult with those big soldier heads on.

After the parade, Mom and Dad and Emma and I headed back to the hotel. It was already 9pm and Emma would do better if she got some sleep. Mike, Samantha and Michael stayed and rode the rides some more, while the lines were especially short. They caught some of the parade on their way out.

I realize that I hadn't shared any of the fireworks that we saw our first day at the Magic Kingdom. I got some great ones during the show and thought I'd share a couple of my favorite.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Epcot (Day 3)

Nov 29th - Epcot

Today was our day at Epcot. We have always spent just a half day there and done "most" but never everything we wanted. So, we decided to spend the entire day there and take our time and see all that we wanted.

We spent the morning at the Land and the Sea pavilion. I personally hadn't ridden "Soarin" before. I loved it and we rode it a couple of times. In between, we rode the Living with the Land train and that was really neat. We saw a lot of different plants - and my favorite was seeing the mold that they put around the pumpkins to make them grow in the shape of Mickey Mouse. And I LOVED how they grew all of their "vine" plants on racks up above your head - a lot better results that way!! (and surprisingly I don't have any photos). We also popped over to the Sea pavilion to ride the Nemo ride and check out the aquarium. We love that they project the animation right on the aquarium - pretty neat.

After lunch at the Land pavilion, we worked our way back to the World Showcase. Mike took Samantha and Michael to ride Test Track while Mom, Dad, Emma (asleep of course) and I rode the boats on the lagoon - both of them. Mike and the kids made it back by time we were getting on the 2nd boat so they rode with us - and Samantha even got to be a guest pilot.

Once on World Showcase, we started at Germany and worked our way around back towards the front, as our dinner plans were at Le Cellier. We wanted to see some of the Christmas presentations at the different countries. We started with Germany. A lovely German woman came out and told of some of the Christmas traditions in Germany and she spoke of a Nutcracker, who then came out to greet her and have some photos taken!

As we worked our way around World Showcase, we enjoyed the Dickens carolers in the American Pavilion and then the Fife and Drum Corps performance just outside. Emma finally woke up from our nap and we worked our way around towards England and one of our objectives for the day - seeing Winnie the Pooh. He was greeting guests with Eeyone in the back of the toy store in England. We waited in line and were able to see and play with them - Emma showed them her stuffed Pooh and Pooh loved on it. And, as we were exiting the toy store, Father Christmas was coming out to tell his story of Christmas in England - so we were able to sit right down and hear that.

After England, we continued our way around to Canada where we saw Papa Noel tell his story of Christmas in Canada and then we went and checked in for dinner at Le Cellier. We enjoyed it a lot the last time we went, but the service was pretty slow - VERY SLOW. And, we went prior to the Candlelight Processional last time, so we were extremely rushed to get to the concert. From what I understand, we weren't the only ones to complain about the speed of the service. So, while we were 20 minutes late getting seated, the service was much more efficient and we had a good meal and were done in plenty of time to walk calmly to the American Pavilion, arriving just in time to sit down for the Candlelight Processional. It was, as expected, wonderful - and the deaf interpreter that was there two years ago, was again. She is quite animated in her interpretation and really enjoys the concert herself!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Disney Summary

I haven't had a chance to post about Disney. Probably because a) one of the main readers was on the trip with us (Mom) and she KNOWS already; and b) we've been trying to get schoolwork done and ready for Christmas.

But, I thought I'd post a little summary.

Tuesday, Nov 27
We got up early and took an early flight to Orlando. Luckily, Mom and Dad's flight was only 20 minutes later, so we waited for them and took the Magical Express bus to the Pop Century. It was nice because we were the first stop, so I think it was only a 20-25 minute drive!

Check-in was pretty quick; and they had the box of diapers and other items that I had shipped down. We ate some lunch and then threw our carryons in the room, our luggage arrived and the kids changed to shorts, and we headed to Magic Kingdom.

We managed to walk in right as the parade was starting, and we had a good view, so we saw the parade. The kids ran off with Mike to Space Mountain, of course!! We were able to ride a few rides with the kids before heading over to 1900 Park Faire for dinner. We took the boat over to the Grand Floridian. The dock master gave "trading cards" to the kids and told them about the 18 trading cards that they different transporations have (bus, boat, and monorail), so they spent the rest of the trip collecting them!

We were also excited to see the great Christmas decorations and the life-sized gingerbread house!

Dinner was nice. I was afraid that we wouldn't like the evil stepsisters but I think a better description is "the sarcastic, comedic step sisters" because they were great. They were very engaging and funny - we almost liked them better than Cinderella. This one asked Samantha while she was at the buffet if her brother was married!! :) Loved the food.

Wednesday, Nov 28th

We headed off to Magic Kingdom today. Two objectives I had on this trip were to a) see the opening show on the train platform; and b) be at the opening of Toontown at 10am. We accomplished both of these today. The opening show is cute - the Main Street singers come out and sing and then Mickey and his friends come around on the train to open the park. Its a great way to really get into the Disney spirit.

We headed to Fantasyland, our typical first stop. Emma loves to ride rides as much as her brother and sister, so there was no keeping her off rides. And, she wants to be in control - you don't get to drive when you ride with her.

After spending a day riding rides with Emma taking a nap after lunch (which she did EVERY DAY on this trip - thankfully), we went to Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner. We have been there for lunch before, but never for dinner. They serve dinner family style, and you get visited by Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale. Emma was doing great with the characters, was loving hugging them and kissing them. But, she was dawdling and NOT eating her dinner. So, after one of the characters left the table, I (innocently) said that she needed to eat quickly so she could be done before Pluto got there or Pluto would eat her food! Boy, what a backfire!

After dinner, we headed out to get our places for SpectroMagic and the Fireworks. Mike and the kids headed off to get in a couple of roller-coaster rides before then, planning to take the train around the main street in time for the parade. I think my favorite "Christmas" decoration Disney did this year was the castle. They have lit the castle with a bunch of "icicle" type lights. They have a little ceremony to light the castle and then it stays lit until the fireworks. It is truely breathtaking - photos just don't do it justice, but here are a couple anyway.

Next post: Epcot and a return to Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tooth Crisis finally over

Michael has had a loose tooth for a while. The past few days it has really gotten loose. The gums were turning red and the tooth was just really hanging loose. He was having trouble eating. We finally told him last night that it needed to go. He had a meltdown. He really didn't want it to come out. Mike tried to help, he wiggled it a lot, I bribed him with McDonalds McFlurry, but he just didn't want it to come out.

Finally Mike put him to bed last night saying it wasn't going to come out - that it was hanging on strong. I was waiting until the dentist opened this morning to call and schedule a time to take him in for them to pull it out - he was really looking quite snaggletoothed!

But, he finally came running in this morning to tell us it fell out while he was biting something for breakfast. Thankfully.

The two previous teeth that came out had to be pulled, so this is the first one that fell out on its own. I hope the rest aren't this traumatic.

Guess the tooth fairy will be visiting tonight!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The next 24-hours will be unbearable

I finally told the kids we are going on vacation. I told them we are going on vacation tomorrow. They asked where? I asked them where they wanted to go and they both said "Disney World" at the same time. So I said "OK".

It took 10 minutes to scrape them down off the ceiling.

I'm not sure they're gonna make it through the next 24-hour without having an excited nervous breakdown!!

Weather still looks great - even the small chance of rain appears to have passed!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My neighbors are heading South too!!

I went down the street this afternoon to a neighbors house to ask if their 11-year-old girls would be willing to take care of the cat while we are on our trip. When I told the mother when we were leaving, she informed me that their next door neighbor is also going at the same time. Samantha and Michael both play with their kids.

This will be their first trip - so of course I knocked on the door and gave her a few quick tips! And my phone number and she wanted to try and meet up if we are in the same park at the same time.

Its a surprise for their kids too!!

Guess a few other people have good taste regarding the best time to travel to Disney!

Weather's still looking good!

I've been going to for the past few days, checking out the 10-day forecast for Orlando for our trip.

I've seen some forecasts of rain that are then gone!

But, right now, we are looking at:
- A 30% chance of light showers on the day we arrive
- No more than a 10% chance of rain for all the other days. And we will make sure that rain doesn't come by carting all of our ponchos and covers for the stroller with us every day!!
- Highs in the upper 70s, lows in the mid-50s

I don't think the weather can get more perfect. We'll have light jackets and sweatshirts, but no need for the heavy winter coats and sweaters! And hopefully our ponchos won't see much use!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's Christmas Time!

At least that's what Emma thinks.

It started about 5 minutes after she got up from the Thanksgiving table yesterday. She has started talking about Santa Claus, supported by my other two instigators. So, we finally had to tell her that she wouldn't be getting "stuff" from Santa Claus until after we had Thanksgiving (this was about a week before Thanksgiving that we told her that).

So, immediately after Thanksgiving, she was SURE that it was Christmas time and she was gonna get her "Dora Stuff". That's what she says. Santa Claus is gonna come and bring her "Dora Stuff". She has asked no fewer than 3 times today if its "Christmas Time" yet.

Doesn't help that the Christmas decorations started going up in our house today
(since we are heading out of town on Tuesday).

We still have 30 days of this to go!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

World Diabetes Day

Today is the first annual World Diabetes Day!

Observed during Diabetes Awareness Month, its designed to bring focus to this chronic disease.

Other important diabetes related web sites:

Children With Diabetes
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
American Diabetes Association

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's true, you only truly appreciate your parents once you have children yourself

I just spent the day on the soccer field. Starting at 8am and leaving at 4pm.

It was 45 degrees for a HIGH today.
The wind was blowing and there was LOTS of moisture in the air.

I've been home for a couple of hours and I still don't think my toes are thawed out. My fingers are still stiff and tingly as they are warming up.

You know its cold when the 8-year-olds are saying its too cold to be outside!!

But, I was out there because I volunteer my time with the soccer league that the kids play in - everyone needs to pitch in to help.

Gives me a new appreciation for the numerous cold games my parents attended during my childhood.

And, P.S., Michael had the best two games of his season today!! He played great!

Friday, November 09, 2007

I've done some Christmas shopping and didn't even realize it

I have had boxes showing up at my house almost every day for the past week. They were piled in the hallway for a while. I have finally gotten around to unpacking and sorting and putting away everything in them.

I had 2 boxes of Tastefully Simple food. Yay! They have some new items that I got for us to try and I'm excited about giving them a try.

I got a new backpack to take on our trip to Disney. We have worn out our old ones and I need a good sturdy zipper one to be carrying around Emma's supplies on our upcoming trip to Disney.

I had 2 boxes of Candles and candleholders for the recent Partylite catalog party I had. I was burning a variety of candles all over the house tonight after unpacking that box.

I have a box of games. There is a relatively new direct sales company that sells games. Most of them have a little educational aspect to them, but they are all pretty cool looking. My nephews and kids will be seeing these at Christmas.

I also had a box of American Girl dolls and clothes. I had a friend who lives in Minnesota go shopping for me at the American Girl outlet sale in Wisconsin this summer. I finally got my items. Emma will be getting a bitty baby and Samantha a new historical doll. There are also new outfits for the babies!

So, I've actually started. That's good since I feel a little rushed when I take a trip at the beginning of December, so this will get me going ahead of time!!

And there are also 5 bags and boxes of stuff that will be given away to Vietnam Vets when they come for a pickup next week - right by the door and ready to go!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

19 days!

We leave for Disney in 19 days. Well, actually 18 days if you count the fact that I'm getting ready to go to bed.

I feel woefully unprepared for this trip. I ordered a new backpack that we need the other day and its coming. I need to purchase a bag to carry all of Emma's supplies but I haven't yet. I haven't taken "inventory" to see if the kids have the right amount of the right season's clothes.

I also need to read the menus again of the places where we plan to eat so I can research some carb counts for Emma. We can actually load them into her pump to have them ready to choose from a list when we go to dose her. But I need to do the work.

I think the reason I haven't been doing any preparing recently is because of how Disney changed their reservation system. It used to be that you could only make dining reservations 90 days in advance - now you can make them 180 days. And you MUST make them 180 days in advance in order to get what you want. So, my reservations were made in May. You lose a little momentum in that time.

And, I feel a little behind on the schoolwork so I feel the need to get a good bit more done before we leave. And just when I think we have a weekend off to "organize my thoughts", something else is scheduled. This weekend Michael has a soccer "end of season" tournament, the following weekend Samantha has a "dance festival", then its Thanksgiving and then we go!! Whew - I'm tired just thinking about it.

But nothing will stop us from getting on that plane early in the morning on November 27th to our favorite vacation destination!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All I can say is...

2-year old girls and red permanent markers do NOT mix well!

No photos to share! Sorry!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hello November!!

It has gotten COLD here. I swear these days we don't have 4 seasons - just summer and winter. We spent most of the fall with temperatures in the 80s (and even some still in the 90s in October). Now its November and its really cold. In the 40s and 50s cold.

As Emma says, "Its BRRRRRRing me"

At least she still likes wearing jackets!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A couple of cute photos

When we are reading our history reading in the front room each day, Emma often comes running in. I often have to take her back to the family room, because she's distracting. She'll bring in blankets and stuffed animals and run in and out.

Today she "snuck" in on tip toes, quietly. But she still didn't sit still. She sat with Samantha and then got down. Then she laid on the floor to "listen". She often does this and lays on the floor with her head in her hands - like this:

The other kids of course wanted to join in, so we took a quick break and I took a few pictures of all of them. This is one of the best pictures I've had of the kids in a while!

Halloween Photos

Thought I'd share a couple of Halloween photos.

Here are the three kids and then one with Emma, the only one I could get a photo of alone:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The best laid plans

So, I have been doing a little work this week getting some soccer fields ready for a festival this weekend. I had to go yesterday to one field and repair 12 sets (24 total) of goals and nets. I then had to pack 5 goals into my car to take to another field.

It was hard work and it took me the better part of 90 minutes to get done.

I wanted to just take the goals to the other field and drop them off last night (they were "somewhat disassembled") and then go back today and put them together and get them placed.

But I didn't. I knew that I would need help getting them out of the car because the nets gets all tangled up in the poles (thus the "somewhat disassembled" statement above) and it was getting dark.

So, we got a little bit of schoolwork done this morning and then I threw the kids in the van to take the goals out to the other field. I knew that Samantha could help me get them out of the van and reassembled. It really is a pain to put them back together because the nets are all twisted and wrapped around the poles and we have to figure out how to get them untangled and twisted, get the poles back together, and then reattach the net where it is falling off. Then we had to drag each goal a good distance across the field to where they needed to be.

We had 5 goals. We were able to get 4 back together and 1 is ready to retire.

It took longer than I thought.

While Samantha and I (and Michael at the end) were working on the goals, I had the radio playing in the van (with the key turned backwards) and the back door of the van open. For about 75 minutes.

So perhaps that would explain why the car wouldn't start when I went back to turn it back on. Or not - it doesn't seem that those two things would drain the battery in that short period of time, but you just never know.

So, my trip that I thought would take an hour ended up taking 2 hours, as I had to find someone to jump start the van before I could leave (because the guidance says that it isn't smart to jump start a car with a hybrid, so Mike couldn't really help)

All I can say is that its a good thing I didn't drive the van all the way out on the grass into the middle of the field, like I did when I picked up the goals in August. The only reason I didn't is because it rained last week and I didn't know how soft the ground was and there's a hill I didn't want to have trouble getting up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming

I had an interesting memory tonight. I remembered a conversation I had with a woman I used to work with. This was not too long after I had returned to work after Michael was born - so well over 7 years ago.

I remembered remarking to her that I knew what was on a variety of channels at 3am in the morning - specifically "Law & Order" on A&E.

Why did I know that? Because that was usually the time Michael would get up in the middle of the night to eat.

I'm feeling the same way right now about Emma being sick and the amount of time I have spent awake over the past 4 days - I think I've watched "The Devil Wears Prada" about a dozen times now.

Emma still has the bug. Fever is lingering and now she sounds like a pathetic hoarse seal when she tries to talk or coughs. Sure wish she would just kick this bug!! Michael theorized that maybe it had something to do with the rain, since Emma got sick the day it started raining - and its rained for the past 4 days (something it hasn't done since April, not long after her initial diagnosis)

On a NOT sick note, the South Riding Halloween Parade is tomorrow. This parade has typically been scheduled on Saturday, and we usually have missed it due to soccer. Last year, it rained on the scheduled Saturday so they moved it to Sunday. So many people remarked that Sunday was better for them, they decided to keep the parade on Sunday.

So, on Monday of this week, Samantha's dance teacher sends home a note that they are "military" theme in the parade. So, we need a costume. After I made sure Samantha understood that I was NOT going to go purchase a costume for the parade, and she refused to wear the "sequined jacket" that I found in my old dance costumes (from my Senior year), I have managed to cobble together pieces of camoflage from my variety of friends in the neighborhood. While my kids don't have any camoflage clothes, it has been a popular fashion trend in previous years, so I was able to get a pair of pants, a "real" Army brown t-shirt and a "brimmed" hat for her to wear tomorrow.

And its not going to rain - finally!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fighting a little bug

Emma is fighting a little bug. The only way I know is that she woke up and her body felt a little hot. The thermometer said 100, which isn't too bad.

But, when we checked her blood sugar, it was elevated. Our first suspicion was a bad pump site. One way you can tell this is to check her "ketone" levels in her blood. We are fortunate to have a blood meter to check this - most people have to use urine strips. Trust me when I tell you that it is beyond difficult to use urine strips with a 2-year-old in diapers.

Anyway, last time Emma had a bad pump site, her ketones went up to 1.6. 1.6 is a bad number and the guide says "call the doctor". Well, that time, it was pretty easy to treat and get her down quickly.

Yesterday, her ketones were at 4.2! That got my heart racing. They were off the charts. We had no explanation for that. I paged the nurse, who called me back quickly. She felt it was clearly due to the fever. But I certainly didn't know they could get that high. She said just to keep giving her insulin (and feeding her if I need to because we don't want her to drop too low from too much insulin) and as long as she is acting ok, then just treat her at home. Well, at the time, she was sitting in front of the TV watching "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" and having a grand old time - I'd say she's acting ok.

We got things cleared out ok yesterday morning. She ran a little high in the afternoon but I wasn't surprised, due to the fever.

But, we went through it again last night. A high blood sugar reading that wouldn't come down. High ketones. This time, Mike moved her pump site and we gave her insulin to clear the ketones. It took another treatment this morning to completely clear them out. But she is clearly tired and still has that fever. If she has it tomorrow, I'm taking her in to make sure she doesn't have a treatable bug, because I don't want her to have to suffer through this all weekend.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The newest White Stripe

Michael took his test for his White Stripe belt at Tae Kwon Do last night. This is his 2nd belt. He has moved quickly through the first two. But he loves it so we keep taking him. He pays really good attention and works hard and I'm really seeing the strength coming in his punches and kicks.

The test was tough for him - for two completely unexpected reasons. The first was that there was an adult woman in the class. Michael was fascinated - he didn't know WHY an adult would be in the class. So I finally had to go stand behind the woman to get his attention to tell him to face forward (she was behind him). And then in warmups, he got kicked in the toe and it jammed and I could tell it was hurting him the entire time. Even the instructor noticed that Michael wasn't acting right, but he shook it off and pushed through.

So, he was awarded his White Stripe belt.

One poor boy was "missed" by the instructor when handing out the belts and the boy stood there stoicly, not saying a word, while the instructor gave his final words and dismissed the class, and then the boy started crying. His dad thought that he just didn't earn it for some reason, but the instructor then realized what happened and called him back to award his belt. I sent Michael back in and a few others went back in to applaud and bow to the boy. I was glad that was quickly remedied.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Been very busy!

Updates haven't been coming because we've been busy and I can't seem to get my brain organized. As a result my house isn't organized and often my brain can't get by the unorganized house to think about typing an update.

But, here's the short one.

The kids are doing great with school - they LOVE that my brain isn't always organized because it results in the teacher needing a periodic "mental health day". But, I think I've finally figured out why we can't seem to get to History enough. I've moved it earlier in the day and I'll think we'll get to it more.

Soccer season is in full swing. Both kids are having a great time and have great coaches. We're pretty lucky! The season goes until the first weekend in November and then Michael's team will play in a tournament during the 2nd weekend.

Micahel is thriving in Tae Kwon Do. I'm actually trying to convince him to take a 3rd class a week. He seems to do well at it and focuses, pays attention and shows a lot of respect for the instructors - I thought maybe if he took more classes it would rub off more and we'll see it a little more at home!

Samantha and I spent this past weekend in New York City. Her dance studio organized a trip. We saw Mary Poppins on Broadway (it was great), had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, and had a day at Radio City Music hall with a tour (its beautiful) and a session with a Rockette where the girls learned a few routines and then participated in a mock tryout. I'll write more later but we had a great time (and now I appreciate why I like to room alone when I'm out of town)

My volunteer job with the JDRF has kept me busy. But, we've gotten meetings scheduled with most of the Representatives that I'm responsible for (6) and more than half of them have agreed to sign-on to co-sponsor the bill for the Special Diabetes Program. There is a key meeting this coming week with a rep from our area who is on the sub-committee who will take up the bill. We need his support and we need to know that he'll continue to support the bill regardless of where it gets hung when all is said and done. Rumor has it that the bill will be tacked onto a Medicare reauthorization, because certainly funding for research for a disease that afflicts mainly children belongs on a bill for a program that provides Healthcare for Seniors.

Emma's pumping is going well. I think we are seeing trends now that we can finally recognize. Its so much nicer than injections and we're so glad we moved onto the pump. It used to be that numbers in the 200s were no bother for me - 180 was glorious. Now, my demands are higher. I don't like to see numbers in the 200s and I'm seeing a lot more in the 120s - and expect a lot more in the 120s. I feel more confident that her numbers will stay stable and she loves that 4-5 injections a day is replaced by a set change just every other day that she only cries for a moment (and I think that will pass over time)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

If I had a GPS indicator attached to me, you'd find me...

In the car - and everywhere.

A typical week will find me:
  • At the dance studio
  • At the Taekwondo studio
  • At art class
  • At the dance studio
  • At the soccer field
  • At PE class
  • At drama
  • At the dance studio

There is a lot of running back and forth in the car. The good news is that most all of the places we need to go are nearby so its a quick trip, easy to run back and forth in between, or not bad to stay and wait.

Thus is the typical story of soccer season in the Stopper household. Whoever said that homeschoolers are homebodies is nuts!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quick Update

We started Emma on her pump last Tuesday. Its been going good. I think we've had all the predicted challenges - changing meal ratios, changing baseline insulin, bad sites, lots of readings, the entire nine yards.

But despite the significant (supposedly temporary) increase in blood sugar testing that we have to do, I still think this is so much better than injections. Yesterday the nurse called to make a few changes while we were at the soccer field. I just called Emma over, pushed a few buttons and we were good to go.

Each time I call her over to "push some buttons on her pump", she says "No more shots?" and we do a little cheer.

With the other kids, we are going full force with school right now. I'm finally getting some plans loaded into my software so I can print out lesson plans - Samantha prefers this. We are also knee-deep into soccer, dance, piano, PE, drama, art, and Tae Kwon Do

Michael earned his first Tae Kwon Do belt this past weekend - his white belt. He was quite proud. The lead instructor, when speaking to them about respect, said that the respect has to go home too. He told them that they had to bow (to show respect) to their family when they left or that belt would be coming right back off!! Michael bowed to Samantha the minute he walked out of the door.

That's a quick update for now - more to come soon!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How did you know?

This is another question I get asked a lot about Emma's diabetes. How did you know that she had diabetes? I think this question comes a lot out of fear - well, if her 2 year old can have diabetes, how do I know for sure that my child doesn't.

There are some clear signs of diabetes - the problem is, they don't usually come until the person has "suffered" for a while.

One important fact to know to understand diabetes - carbs and sugars in foods you eat are absorbed into your body for use as energy. In order for that to happen, insulin has to process the glucose in the carbs and sugars for it to be absorbed into your system. When a person's body stops producing insulin, glucose from food builds up in the blood stream because the insulin isn't present to process the glucose for absorption.

When this build-up begins, you usually don't have any outward signs. But as it proceeds, you begin to have outward signs, which are the symptoms or indicators of diabetes. Because the glucose isn't absorbed into your system, your body tries to find a method to get it out of your system - through urination. So, because you have extra glucose in your system, you pee more trying to get it out. Because you pee more, you are thirstier (you are basically dehydrated). You keep drinking water to quench the thirst caused by the constant release of glucose through urine. So, drinking lots of water and peeing a lot are two very teltale signs of a potential diabetic.

Another problem when the glucose isn't processed into your system is that your cells don't get their energy - which they get from glucose. So, in order for your cells to get the energy they need to function, they find it from other sources - your fat cells. Your body begins to burn fat for energy as its only source of energy. This energy is not as effective as glucose, so you begin to suffer from a lack of energy which eventually turns into extreme lethargy.

A by product of burning fat for energy is the acidic by-product left in your blood stream. These acids are called "ketones". As your body continues to burn fat for energy, the ketones in your blood stream rise. The only way to get rid of the ketones in your system is, ironically, insulin. Because your body isn't producing insulin, they continue to build up. The only way to know that your body has ketones is through a urine or glucose test - there are no outward signs of ketones themselves. However, the burning of fat in your body for energy also results in a loss of weight from the loss of fat. So, an undiagnosed diabetic may be experiencing weight loss.

Left untreated, the buildup of ketones causes ketoacidosis in your system which can eventually result in a coma. Most diabetics, fortunately, are diagnosed before their system reaches this state and can be treated with insulin to reduce the ketones in their system and reduce their blood glucose levels.

So, all of this technical information results in the following simple explanation of how Emma was diagnosed:
- An extreme increase in consumption of water
- An extreme increase in urination (which is easy to tell when they are in diapers)
- Loss of weight (2 pounds in 1 month)
- Extreme lethargy

The lethargy is the factor that finally keyed us in. We had been suspicious for a few days before that and had been researching symptoms on the web. But after Emma got really lethargic (and for anyone who has met her you would understand why this would be unusual), we finally decided something was wrong. And after two finger sticks with my old meter from when I was pregnant confirmed that something was wrong.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Diabetes 101

In my conversations with folks, I realize that many of them don't know a lot about diabetes. I'm not sure I knew a lot before Emma was diagnosed. I did have a grandmother that always "had to have her candy handy" and my brother had a friend in college "who was always checking his sugar" but that's about it. I watched a boy for a short time each afternoon when Samantha was in 2nd grade who was diabetic. I didn't have to give him injections, but I did know that he had to be on a schedule for eating and I knew that "over 300 meant to call his mom"

Boy what a difference 6 months makes.

So, here's a few facts to make everyone a little more knowledgeable about diabetes:
  • Emma has Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas stops producing insulin. It can be a genetic disposition, it can be caused by a virus. They aren't exactly sure. What they do know that it isn't caused by obesity, lack of exercise, or too much sugar (those are contributing factors to Type 2 Diabetes)
  • For a normal person, their fasting blood sugar level is usually below 100 and their typical blood sugar 2 hours after eating is usually below 150. For Emma, we target to keep her blood sugar between 80 and 180 but we are often happy as long as it stays in the low 200s.
  • Until a cure is found, Emma will be dependent on insulin medication. Every day. All day. Without insulin, her body cannot process the sugar that it ingests. Without insulin, her blood sugar levels will increase and her body will basically start feeding on itself and she will go into a state called "Ketoacidosis" which is a very dangerous and coma-inducing state.
  • Because we give her "artificial" insulin instead of naturally produced insulin, her body doesn't regulate its production and absorption like it would if she had a pancreas. That means sometimes we can give her too much insulin for what's going on in her body and she'll go low. Lows are dangerous and cause unconsciousness and seizures. We treat lows with juice and sugar in an attempt to get her back into range as quickly as possible.
  • Emma currently cannot tell for herself whether her sugar is low or high, so we have to do an enormous number of finger sticks to check it. She typically gets about 8 finger sticks a day (7:30am, 11am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9:30pm, midnight, 2am) with additional ones in between if she is acting unusual or something just doesn't seem right. It is clearly an art form to try and know when to check and treat her blood sugar levels.
  • Emma currently gets her insulin through injections - 4-6 times a day. She is a trooper about these injections, and rarely makes a peep as she gets them. Due to medical advancements in the past 5 years, she is currently on a wonderful 24-hour injection that gives her a baseline of insulin (like her pancreas would if it functioned). Then we only need to give her an injection based on what she eats. She can eat what she wants when she wants as long as she gets an injection.
  • In just a few days, Emma's injections will be replaced by an insulin pump. This wonderful invention is the closest thing to an artificial pancreas right now. This pump carries a vial of insulin that is slowly injected into her body through an infusion set all day and all night. It has programmable doses for her baseline insulin and then settings and calculations that we can use to give her insulin based on what she eats. This pump is about the size of a cell phone that can easily be clipped on a belt or tucked in a pouch, with small tubing attached to her infusion set.
  • The long-term effects of untreated / unmanaged diabetes can be pretty bad, including blindness, loss of feeling in extremities, amputation, etc. Even managed, her risk of heart disease is higher than that of a normal human. And pregnancies will be more difficult and high risk for her (yes, I know she's only 2). But, things are so much better than they were even 10 years ago and her chances for a more normal life are better than ever.

This information isn't given to scare anyone or upset anyone, but just to educate readers on the facts about diabetes. What's hard is to look at your child and see the child, and not the disease. I still find myself looking at her and thinking "I wonder what her blood sugar is" instead of wondering if she's happy or what she wants to play. After your mind is inundated with this disease, its hard to get it off your mind. But while we expect this pump start to be difficult, the long run will make it easier for our entire family to manage this disease. Then maybe we can go back to just dealing with the typical "2 year old challenges": potty training, tantrums, business, etc.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pump Start in 6 days!!

We are excited. Emma will be going on her insulin pump in 6 days. We are looking forward to this as we really believe this will make our lives so much easier. It will also give us some greater control with Emma as the pump can be so much more precise in her dosing than we ever can.

We had our training yesterday on the pump. While it seems intimidating, its really not that difficult to use. I have been wearing it now 24 hours and I have been given a steady "basal" dose of saline (for the test) and given myself doses for meals and to correct readings out of range. I have overriden the suggestion of the machine, taken it as is, and even cancelled a dose mid-stream. I even slept in it last night - it wasn't too bad.

I will wear it for a couple more days and then Mike will wear it - and yes, he will be putting in Emma's meals and dosing himself for her food as well (all with saline). Then Emma will be put on it with saline and we will practice dosing her with saline at the same time we are still giving her insulin shots. And then we go in next Tuesday and we start her insulin doses on the pump. Yay!!

A recent email from a friend made me realize that there is so much that people don't know about diabetes or diabetics. My next post will be geared to educate folks about diabetics, diabetes, and what Emma's life will be like as a diabetic (and what it could be like if we didn't have the advances we have today)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memory Of: Odessa Morris

Odessa V. Morris

Imagine a day of great joy turned into a day of great sorrow. That is the feeling that many use to explain what happened on September 11, 2001. And its the story of the Morris Family of Maryland. This post is in honor of Odessa Morris.

September 11, 2001 started like many other mornings for Odessa and her family - only it wasn't just any morning. It was Odessa's 25 wedding anniversary with her husband - Tony. She didn't intend to go to work for long - and her husband dropped her at a nearby Metro station for her trip to the Pentagon that morning.

Odessa was a Budget Analyst working for the Department of the Army on the fateful morning of 9/11. Her "short work day" on that morning was her last day - as the terrorists of 9/11 crashed a plane into the side of the Pentagon. The side where Odessa worked.

After hearing of the attack, it took her husband hours of calling and searching to learn that she was missing. I cannot imagine the feelings going through his mind at that moment - wondering if it was too much to hope for, but probably holding on to the only thing he had - hope.

Odessa loved animals, and she loved to cook, and she had a relationship with Jesus Christ - which means she is residing in Heaven now. Hopefully that brings some comfort to her family. She left behind her husband of 25 years and 3 children, now grown. But nothing, even the passing of time, can fill the void and the hole in each of their souls that was taken the day that Odessa was killed in the Pentagon.

There are so many tribute pages to the victims on 9/11 on the internet now. I have provided links to a few here. If you are so inclined, leave a tribute to Odessa on one of these.

As for me, I have thought about her a lot since deciding to blog a tribute to a victim on 9/11. Having walked the halls of the Pentagon myself, I know exactly where she was when the Pentagon was hit. I have been in many of the offices that were destroyed by that attack. While I knew no one personally who died on 9/11, I feel like I know Odessa V. Morris a little bit better now.

So 9/11 will always be a bittersweet day for the Morris family and when I think of 9/11 and everything our country experienced that day, I will say a prayer for her family to have peace during this trying time and remember her with smiles and laughter.

But never forget. Never forget what they did and those who died. Remember the victims with honor and the agressors with hatred. Hatred for what they took from us and what they did to us. Always remember.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gettin in a groove!

Well, finally, the neighborhood kids are back in school and I'm able to get into the groove with the kids. The schoolwork is going much smoother and we are moving along nicely.

I added in History this week. History is pretty time consuming but we've been good about doing it every day. I'm wrapping up a little bit of Sonlight Core 3 (1st 1/2 of Am History) over the next few days and then we'll jump into Sonlight Core 4 (2nd 1/2 of Am History). We're in the "middle" period of "post American Revolution but pre-Civil War" that doesn't have much for elementary-aged kids to study other than "people went west". We don't get into the politics of expansionism or Manifest Destiny at this level, so there isn't much to discuss until the Civil War.

I still need to add in Science. The kids have picked some experiements they want to do from our "Critical Thinking through Science" books for us to do but I'm not quite ready to do them yet. Each of our books has a unit on "observation" at the beginning and since we are just focusing on a bunch of experiments this year, I think it will be valuable to start with teaching them how to actually "observe" and then we'll get in. We'll do our first observation experiment on Monday.

Latin will also start on Monday. I didn't start it this week because Monday was a holiday and the book is structured in "5 part" lessons so I'd like to start on a Monday to try and get it into the "week" mode. Latin is really just for Samantha but Michael wants to watch the DVD too, so I'll have him listen in. The curriculum is 3rd or 4th grade to start, so its a little advanced for him, but not much.

The teacher got a new cart!! Each of the kids last year got a rolling ELFA cart for their books and papers. Its easier than keeping them in one room and using them in a variety - we just move them around. But my books kept moving back and forth from the kitchen table to a pile on the desk and back and forth. Now I have a rolling cart of my own with the books sorted by subject (teacher books, answer keys, test booklets, extra school supplies, etc) and I can already see the kitchen will be neater as a result.

Lesson planning is still happening pen to paper. I have a great program to do my lesson planning but I'm just not there yet. Some of the subjects will be easy - they just have 160 or so lessons numbered, you guessed it, 1 - 160. But there are a few that I'm doing a bit different, and others have 32 lessons, with 5 parts, and its just harder right now to put it in the computer than it is to write it on a piece of paper. We'll get there, just not yet - I'm focusing on getting them into the work right now, which is more important.

Tomorrow, Samantha has her first Drama rehearsal for the season and she's playing with a homeschool friend that we have hardly seen over the summer. She's pretty excited.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 2!

Well, I'm sure we'll pick up the pace soon, but we finally had Day 2 of school. Today we did Math, Grammar, and Spelling for each of them. I'm slowly adding in the subjects so that we can ease in a little bit and not throw it all at them at once. Tomorrow we'll add in Vocabulary and Handwriting. I'm saving History and Science and Latin for next week!

Friday, August 24, 2007

We finally started school

So, my plans to start school on Monday of this week were nixed by a migraine on Sunday that took most of Monday to recover.

I didn't start on Tuesday because I knew that we wouldn't be able to do anything on Wednesday.

We didn't do anything on Wednesday because we had our psychology appointment for Emma's pump in DC - and anything in DC takes no fewer than 4 hours.

We started school yesterday!! I had piles of books on the table and we went subject by subject and looked through our books for this year. Some are new and some are ones we are finishing up from last year. Its fun to have new books! They each did a little math, practiced their piano and that sounded like enough for the first day.

My plans to do another day of school today were foiled by day FOUR of a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder. I woke up on Tuesday with a pain in my shoulder, but I've had that before and it usually resolves itself in a day or so. Well, it didn't go away on Wednesday or Thursday, and as a matter of fact, kept getting worse. By this morning, the pain was constant and extreme. So, we didn't do any lessons while I made an appointment with the Doctor.

I had a Doctor's appointment who said that it was probably a muscle spasm that caused the pinched nerve and it would take 3-7 days to clear up (its already been 4). She prescribed a pain killer (since none of the ones I was taking were working) and a muscle relaxer.

I also went and got a deep tissue massage today to work out the muscle. It is much better right now. Between the massage and the muscle relaxant, I'm finally able to turn my head a little (which I couldn't do this morning)

So, ONE day completed, ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE to go!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Newest resident of Anderby Lane

So I'm sitting at my computer in front of the family room window today and I'm hearing this loud screaching noise. I don't know WHAT it is but it is different than I've heard before.

All of a sudden, a bird flies through my line of vision and lands on the fence next door.

It was an eagle.

This was the source of the loud screaching sound.

Later, I continue to hear the sounds and go looking in the backyard to see that the eagle seems to have taken up residence in the back yard. It seems that there is a nest lodged in the crook of one of the tall trees and the eagle is heading there. I got some video of the eagle singing and then flying on the way to the nest. The lighting is horrible because its backlit but you can clearly see the eagle in the shot and most definitely hear the singing!