Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

We just returned from church and had a rare moment to take a family photo before eating some dinner and trying to tuck the kids off to bed!

Merry Christmas!

Ready for Christmas

I think we might almost be ready for Christmas. I think Mike is dipping the last of the Oreo balls. I have wrapped every present that is going to be wrapped (Santa doesn't wrap presents at our house). The tree is up and finally decorated (last night).

We are headed to church for Christmas Eve service tonight and then dinner will be hors d'oeuvres and hopefully getting the kids in bed around 9pm.

And despite the fact that they haven't been able to drag themselves out of bed before 7:30 in about a week, I can guarantee you they'll be up at 6am! Last year we put up baby gates to block their ability to go or look downstairs until we are ready. I think I got rid of all of those, so we'll need to figure something else out.

For the first time in a really long time, we'll be staying home for the entire Christmas Day. We won't head to Roanoke until Dec 26th and stay for a couple of days. Return home and turn around for Williamsport for a couple more days. Mike's parents offered to come down, but Christmas is the only time we guarantee we can get up there and see Mike's grandmother, who is really up in years now, so we'll head up to see her. We'll return on New Years Day for a couple of days of relaxation before school and sports and dance starts again!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Busy Christmas Season

Its been a busy Christmas season. Perhaps because I didn't really get a chance to "start" preparing until about the 12th of December. Really cuts the time short.

We've also been busy with other activities. A few highlights.

On December 12th, Mike had his company Christmas party at the nearby Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. It was pretty neat to have the party laid out around the airplanes and space shuttle.

On December 14, Emma's preschool put on its Christmas program. They sang three songs and did a little skit. It was very cute and Emma had a good time. She really likes to sing and do all the motions with the songs.

We found a great preschool for Emma. Its an "in-home" preschool run by the pastor's wife at our church. There are only 8 kids there and she has been very willing to take on Emma's diabetes care, doses her for snack and lunch and calls me for any high or low readings. The moms have also been supportive, collecting carb information for any food at parties so that I can dose her properly. Its really a great preschool and we're very fortunate to have found it.

On December 19th, we finally took the kids to see Santa Claus. We got up and moving early because I didn't want a line at the mall, and I inevitably pick a day with a line. Well, we arrived at 8:45 and there was no line. We walked right up and saw Santa. The kids all told him what they want for Christmas, and that they behaved and did everything they are supposed to do. I didn't hear the entire conversation but I think something involved Emma brushing her teeth! I always like to take the chance to take some photos of the kids with the decorations around Santa too, because the mall does such a good job with them.

And finally, on December 19th, Michael earned his Brown belt in Tae Kwon Do. He has really progressed this year and it was nice to cap off the year with a belt graduation. He only has 3 belt levels left to Black - Brown Stripe, Red, and then Black. I would expect that on this pace that maybe by the end of 2009, Michael will have earned his Black Belt.

We have dinner tonight with some old friends from AMS that we haven't seen in years - after a reconnection on Facebook. I'm pretty excited to see them again!

So, its been a busy few weeks leading up to Christmas. The wrapping has started but is nowhere near finished. Two gifts still yet to arrive - expected on Christmas Eve, no less. I'm excited for the gifts I got the kids this year that I WANT them to have, and I'm sure they're excited about the gifts that THEY want. I also know they are enjoying the reduced school schedule we've been running the past couple of weeks.

Monday, December 15, 2008

She is just TOO smart!

I'm sitting here laughing in amazement at Emma.

She has a bunch of paper off the paper roll from her easel. She's trying to roll it nicely but of course its trying to roll on its own. She was getting quite frustrated at the paper for rolling up from both ends while she was trying to roll it nicely.

So, she went and got a small box of books to put on one end of the paper to keep it from rolling up until she could roll from the other end herself.

I'm not sure the 11-year-old would have figured that out!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Home and lots to post

I have been a bit under the weather since we got back from Disney, so I haven't updated.

We had a great trip. Always sad to leave and wanting to know when we will go back.

Emma said on the last day "I had fun being here". I think that sums it up.

Cheney stayed at the vet for this trip - we usually leave him at home and have someone come in but he usually goes on a hunger strike. I hoped by putting him in the vet that he would have more attention and eat. They called me 2 days in that he wasn't eating and they were going to have to force feed him.

When I went to pick him up, all of his food was gone and I was shocked. They said they actually let him roam around the front treatment area and he then started eating fine.

Did I forget to tell them that he thinks he's a dog in a cat suit. He does. He needs the attention like a dog. And that's nothing compared to now that we're home - he won't leave my side. If I'm on the couch, he's on the couch. If I'm in the bed, he's right beside me - literally. At least he's happy to see us!

More on our trip later. We did a couple of different things that we enjoyed on this trip - always trying something a little new and different.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In less than 2 days, we will be at Disney

While its dreary and cold and wet here, I can imagine what it will be like in TWO days when we are at Disney World!

Here's the weather report for our trip. Not too bad with only one day with any real chance of rain (30%) and my birthday is looking good (Dec 7):

Mon, Dec 8:
High of 77
Low of 55
0% chance of rain

Sun, Dec 7:
Mostly Sunny
High of 76
Low of 51
10% chance of rain

Sat, Dec 6:
Partly Cloudy
High of 71
Low of 51
10% chance of rain

Fri, Dec 5:
Few Showers
High of 71
Low of 50
30% chance of rain

Thursday, Dec 4:
Partly Cloudy
High of 75
Low of 52
10% chance of rain

Wednesday, Dec 3:
Mostly Sunny
High of 72
Low of 52
10% chance of rain.

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Mostly Sunny
High of 65
Low of 40
10% chance of rain

Mom, don't forget to mail Morgan's birthday card if you haven't!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Weather report is looking better!

Well, all of the rain forecast on YESTERDAY's weather report is gone from today's. I think that's an indication of how volitile the weather can be. We've been when its freezing cold, and shorts weather, and lots of rain, and none. All of these weather reports within the same couple of weeks of the year.

So, here's where we are today:

Sun, Dec 7:
Mostly Sunny
High of 75
Low of 53
0% chance of rain

Sat, Dec 6:
Mostly Cloudy
High of 73
Low of 54
10% chance of rain

Fri, Dec 5:
Partly Cloudy
High of 77
Low of 54
0% chance of rain

Thursday, Dec 4:
Partly Cloudy
High of 75
Low of 55
10% chance of rain

Wednesday, Dec 3:
High of 67
Low of 51
0% chance of rain.

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Partly Cloudy
High of 64
Low of 40
0% chance of rain

The trip seems to be starting off with a little cooler weather and then getting warmer during the week, which just means we need 2-3 seasons worth of clothes, as well as medium-weight jackets in addition to some shorts. Makes for some fun packing - NOT!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you are enjoying a safe and happy holiday.

Today's weather forecast has a little bit of rain during our trip. But since I've see so many changes, and we are still a week out, I have confidence that it will get better (and I have shipped the ponchos down, just to be safe)

Sat, Dec 6:
High of 73
Low of 55
40% chance of rain

Fri, Dec 5:
Partly Cloudy
High of 75
Low of 54
10% chance of rain

Thursday, Dec 4:
High of 75
Low of 54
60% chance of rain

Wednesday, Dec 3:
High of 67
Low of 51
0% chance of rain.

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Partly Cloudy
High of 64
Low of 41
0% chance of rain

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting closer

Today, I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving and our house and shipping a box down to Disney World with items we don't want to have to pack in our suitcases (such as ponchos, juice boxes, etc)

Weather report for today:

Friday, Dec 5:
Mostly Sunny
High of 72
Low of 52
10% chance of rain.

Thursday, Dec 4:
Mostly Sunny
High of 74
Low of 52
10% chance of rain.

Wednesday, Dec 3:
High of 71
Low of 53
0% chance of rain.

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Partly Cloudy
High of 67
Low of 49
0% chance of rain

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still looking like great weather

Weather is still looking great for our trip. Starting to have to think about getting packed - especially since I want to ship a box down in advance!

We leave one week from today!

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Partly Cloudy (yesterday it said Mostly Sunny - I STILL don't know the difference)
High of 72
Low of 52
0% chance of rain

Wednesday, Dec 3:
High of 74
Low of 55
0% chance of rain.

Thursday, Dec 4:
Mostly Cloudy
High of 77
Low of 50
10% chance of rain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Pump!

We got Emma's new insulin pump today. Its an upgrade to our original pump (Animas 2020) called the One Touch Ping! It is a meter and a pump integrated.

For us, we wanted the ability to control the pump remotely. This means we don't have to pull it out of her pouch in order to dose her, or see what her insulin status is - its all on the meter. This will be especially valuable overnight, when we sometimes have to turn her over and dig out the pump to dose her.

For Emma, she wanted pink!

(Sorry the picture is grainy, out of focus, and not very good of Emma but she isn't cooperating for photos these days)

Bet you didn't know you were reading the blog of an amateur meteorologist, huh?

Tuesday, Dec 2:
Mostly Sunny
High of 72
Low of 53
0% chance of rain

Wednesday, Dec 3:
Mostly Cloudy
High of 75
Low of 56
10% chance of rain.

Gosh, if it gets much hotter, mom is actually going to say its TOO HOT! :)

So far, weather for our trip to visit our favorite rodent in Florida is looking promising!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunny, high of 73, low of 54, 0% chance of rain

That's the weather report for Dec 2 - the day that we arrive at Disney World. Sounds pretty good to me.

Only 10 days left. I've had trouble getting excited about the upcoming trip. I think its maybe because I'm afraid that its going to be crowded - due to the fact I couldn't get rooms at the resort I wanted nor a couple of meal reservations that I wanted. But I'm finally starting to get excited

We go when we do (beginning of December) because its supposed to be one of the least crowded times, the weather is still great, and we LOVE to see the Christmas decorations. I hope all of those still prove true this trip!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've done my part to stimulate the economy!

I went shopping for Christmas presents today.

I have to tell you, I'm surprised at how expensive and BIG everything is. You can't just get a "small set of Tinkertoys", it has to be the "Super Size themed with colors" Tinkertoys - and price tag to go along with it.

And the electronics are all just expensive. Since kids are "engaged" with electronics earlier in their lives, its more years of electronics we have to deal with.

I even did my part to help the credit markets - I got a new credit card. Approved on the spot. I got a ToysRUs credit card that got me 10% off my purchases today (which I can say was NOT insignificant) and 6 months, no interest to pay. Since we are well disciplined in paying bills and don't pay interest or penalties on any of our credit cards, this is a safe approach for us to take and it spreads out our Christmas payments until June!

Have you done your part?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good diabetes news!

Emma had her quarterly checkup yesterday. For many people, this is the only contact they have with their endocrinologist practice. For me, that is not the case (not withstanding the fact that I saw our nurse and Dr. at the JDRF Gala on Saturday). I email the nurse pretty often when we have trends that I can't figure out and need another set of eyes. She's really good at not just telling me what we should change, but WHY so that I can try and understand and make the change myself in the future.

The good news is that all of our discipline pays off - our A1C is 7.0%. We are all pretty happy with that for a couple of reasons. In general, its a great number for a 3-year-old. It equates to an average 170 blood glucose reading over the past 3 months. We've been seeing some lows that I don't like but the doctor is convinced that we aren't missing them, or our A1C would be lower. The other reason we are happy is because its down a smidgen from our previous one (7.1%). Every little bit helps. We've been working on her rates a lot and I was worried it would be a lot higher, so we're happy.

Everything else looks great and I always like going to these appointments!!

And, because I hadn't shared before - here is a photo of Mike and me from the JDRF Gala in DC this past Saturday:

Sunday, November 16, 2008


A short post now. A longer one later.

Last night we attended the Gala for our JDRF Chapter. After a last minute change in location due to the G20 summit, the event landed at the Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Ave.

I bought a new formal and borrowed some great jewelry from a friend. It was a great cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by dinner and a live auction.

Our Endocrinologist (Dr. Cogan) and our Nurse (Celia Henderson) were both there, so it was nice to chat "outside of the office".

The MC of the event was Amy Robach from NBC. Much to Mike's chagrin, I went up and introduced myself. She used to be on the board of the chapter and has a family connection to Type 1 diabetes. When I mentioned that I lived in Loudoun County, she immediately connected it to the recent election as she was sent here to cover this "swing county" in the "Swing state" of Virginia.

Very tired today from being up late at the party and then late checking Emma.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A typical day

In honor of World Diabetes Day, I thought I'd post what a typical day for a Type 1 diabetic (or parent of a Type 1 diabetic) is like. Of course, the irony is that there isn't a typical day - there are so many variables and factors that go into a diabetic's blood sugar, that normal doesn't happen, but here we go:

7:00am - Emma gets up. We check her blood sugar first thing. Recently she has either been waking up in range (70-150) or low. If she's low, we have to give her juice before she eats
7:30am - Emma eats breakfast. Every meal she has needs to have a protein in addition to carbs. Protein slows down the absorption of carbs and paces it better with the action of the insulin. She is given insulin through her pump for her breakfast.
9:30am - Check Emma's blood sugar. Her morning numbers have been a little crazy so we have to do a 2-hour post-meal check. These days, she is in the low end of range at this time, which means more testing. If she's below 100, we give her 2 ounces of juice because the insulin is still working in her body and she'll go even lower if we don't.
11:00am - Check Emma's blood sugar. If she's below 80, we give her between 1 and 2 ounces of juice

12:00pm - Check Emma's blood sugar and feed her lunch. These days she has started arguing with me about what she wants to eat. So, I can't give her insulin before she eats, because there's no guarantee she will eat it. So, she eats (or doesn't eat) and then we give her insulin based on what she ate.
12:30pm - Emma goes to take a nap - sometimes she goes right to sleep and sometimes she's awake for a long time.
3:00pm - Check Emma's blood sugar. Whether she's awake or not, we need to check her reading. There is just no telling whether she's going to be low, high, or in between, so we need to check. The good news is that we only have 4-5 combinations of food that she eats for lunch, so we are pretty confident in the carb counts that we are using.
5:00pm - Check Emma's blood sugar. This is a crazy time of day for Emma. During sports seasons, we are often heading out to baseball or soccer so she's running around a lot, which makes her readings drop. If we are at home, she's a lot calmer, so her readings will go up. Obviously, its not steady so we need to check.

Evening and Overnight
6:30pm - Check Emma's blood sugar for dinner. Dinner time varies a lot based on what activities the kids have and what time Mike is getting home from work. Dinner also introduces the most variability in carb counts as we have more variety for dinner than any other meal. Its often a meal with a higher fat content too, which affects Emma's blood sugars.
8:00pm - Bedtime for Emma.
8:30 - 9:00pm - Check Emma's blood sugar. Based on what we ate, how confident we are in the carb counts that we did, and what Emma's reading was before dinner, we check her between 2 and 2 1/2 hours after dinner. She's often not been in her room for long, so she's often not asleep or just going to sleep. But we have to disturb her to check her and sometimes give her juice if she's low.
10:00pm, 11:00pm, midnight, 2am, 3am, 4am - any of those times overnight, we have to check Emma's blood sugar. Each night we have to make a decision based on what she ate, what her 8:30pm reading was, what else is going on, whether she went right to sleep, etc. There are many variables that factor into the decision each night.

Each time we check Emma and she is low (below 80), we have to give her juice. Usually that means a re-check in 30-60 minutes to make sure she really DID go back up. If she's high enough that we need to give her a correction with insulin, we have to check her in 2 hours to make sure she came down, and didn't come down too low.

The other variable is the unknown. Since Emma cannot tell when she's high or low, we have to try to read the symptoms. If she's fussy or cranky, we have to test to see if she's low or high. But, lets not forget that she's 3. She can be fussy or cranky because she's 3, or because she's low or high. We hate that we have to test because we don't know.

Every 3-4 days, we have to change the location of her pump site. After a period of time, the tissues of your body become saturated with insulin and you need a new site. We rotate from time to time between her rump and her belly. Over the past 2 1/2 months we have found that her insulin needs are a lot lower when her site is on her belly. Which means we've had to adjust all of her insulin doses to accommodate. Which means more testing. We have also found that after we change her site, her body is so excited to have fresh insulin in a fresh site that it goes nuts and she drops low - really low. So, we are often fighting low readings for 6-12 hours after a site change - luckily its only every 3-4 days.

So as you see, you tend to be "time driven" when you have Type 1 diabetes. Its always about when the next time is to test, when you ate last, how much insulin is still working in your body, whether the fat in your food is going to make you spike later, whether a new site is going to make you go low, whether the exercise you did in the afternoon will make you go low, or the adrenalin in your system will make you go high, whether you looked at your mother wrong, whether the moon is in a strange cycle, or Jupiter and Mars are visible at sundown.

There are just so many factors that the best you can do is have discipline and structure and test often - keep them from going too low or too high and have as normal a life as possible and you've succeeded.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Diabetes symptoms come on gradually

Many ask how I knew that Emma was sick and I can talk about the symptoms that she was experiencing, but its easy to look back and see what you were missing. Emma was taken to the Urgent Care with an ear infection on New Years Eve 2006. That was the first time she had had any sort of illness - she had been surprisingly healthy. Within 2 1/2 months, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And looking back at the photos of her during that 2 1/2 months, I'm surprised we didn't suspect anything sooner about her illness.

Here's some information from the Children With Diabetes site that talks about the gradual development of Type 1 Diabetes:
Diabetes Develops Gradually

The process of developing diabetes is gradual. Studies performed by the Joslin Clinic1 have shown changes as much as nine years before the actual presentation of diabetes symptoms. The development of Type 1 diabetes can be broken down into five stages:
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Environmental trigger
  • Active autoimmunity
  • Progressive beta-cell destruction
  • Presentation of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes

People with Type 1 diabetes have a genetic pre-disposition to the disease, but one or more environmental insults is required to trigger disease. This fact can be derived from studies of identical twins with Type 1 diabetes. When one twin has Type 1 diabetes, the other twin gets diabetes only half the time. If the cause of Type 1 diabetes were purely genetic, both identical twins would always have Type 1 diabetes.

One environmental trigger is thought to be the Coxsackie B virus. Researchers at UCLA found that a small segment of GAD is structurally similar to a segment of a Coxsackie B protein. GAD is found on the surface of insulin-producing beta cells. The implication is that the body's immune system, after warding off the Coxsackie B virus, continues to attack beta cells because of the similarity of GAD to the virus.2

The environmental trigger results in the production of autoantibodies. People with Type 1 diabetes have antibodies in their blood that indicate an "allergy to self," or an autoimmune condition. One autoantibody found in people with Type 1 diabetes is the islet cell antibody. This antibody is often present months or years before the diabetes presents. Other antibodies include the GAD (or 64-K) antibody and the ICA 512 antibody. The presence of these antibodies is a sign that the body is attacking its own beta cells.

Symptoms of Diabetes
Once over 90% of the beta cells are destroyed, the body is no longer able to regulate blood sugar levels and the patient develops some or all of the classic symptoms of diabetes:

  • excessive thirst
  • excessive urination
  • excessive hunger
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • high blood sugar level
  • sugar and ketones in the urine
  • Kussmaul breathing (rapid, deep, and labored breathing of people who have ketoacidosis or who are in a diabetic coma)

While the symptoms appear abruptly, the development of the disease actually occurs over a much longer period of time.

So, despite the fact that we saw the obvious symptoms for about 2 1/2 weeks, it was clear that Emma was developing this disease over a period of time. And I'm just glad that we identified it when we did or she could have been much worse before she was diagnosed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bartering Supplies

Anyone who has a chronic illness, has had a major medical problem, or who has to deal with insurance companies on a regular basis will laugh at this post.

Insurance companies are weird in what they decide to pay for and not pay for.

They have argued over and over with us about how many blood GLUCOSE test strips we get a month. We test on average about 11 times a day, which is 330 strips a month. And that's when Emma's not sick. If she's sick, or if she's having a lot of lows, we test more. But they wanted to just pay for 200 strips a month, so I've had to fight and get pre-authorization, and REMIND them that they pre-authorized in order to get enough test strips.

It took me about 3 months to get them to approve the blood KETONE testing strips - something you need to test for when a diabetic is running high numbers. When we first got the prescription, it was denied at Target - they were told it was a "medical" expense and not a "pharmacy" expense. So, I submitted the prescription to the approved medical supply company. It was denied - they were told it was a pharmacy expense. It took lots of phone calls from me AND the nurse from the Doctor's office, and finally my demanding a conference call with the supervisor from the Pharmacy Dept AND the Medical Supply Department where I got them to agree which department would be paying for this prescription and who would be calling to tell the supplier.

So, now I get two boxes a month of the blood KETONE strips - 10 in a box. Only once have I used 10 in a month. Many months I only use 1 or 2 strips. So, I have about 15 unopened boxes.

Someone on the Children With Diabetes message board today indicated that she had drums for the lancet that we use and she need blood GLUCOSE strips. Well, I don't have extra ones of those (because of the story above about arguing between 200 and 350). BUT, I have a TON of the Blood KETONE strips. Many people have trouble getting insurance to cover these strips.

So, I'm sending several boxes of Blood KETONE strips to a member of the board. She is sending blood GLUCOSE strips to the person who has the drums for the lancet. And that person is sending me some of the drums for the lancet that we like to use.

This is a ridiculous game to be played - thanks to a screwed up insurance system. But, as long as insurance is going to be screwed up, we'll figure out how to work the system the way it needs to be worked. I'll get rid of some items that will expire before I have a chance to use them, and get something that I'd like to have extras of. And everyone is happy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks for your service!

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the armistice treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed, ending World War I.

Since then, this day has become the day to not only celebrate the end to a brutal and bloody war, but to celebrate and honor all of the veterans of this country. Military service in this country is not required, but is left to those who volunteer. It takes a person of great personal strength and commitment to take on such a serious commitment, even moreso during a time of war.

Remember today to honor and thank all former and current members of our Armed Services for everything that they do to keep this the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Emma's numbers - finally pretty good

Last night notwithstanding, when I fought super-low numbers all night, Emma's numbers are finally starting to stabilize. We have been fighting unexplained highs, random lows, and everything in between. We have changed every basal rate on her pump (the ongoing stream of insulin to keep her steady) and bolus ratio (the amount we give her when she eats).

She actually had a meal last week where her preschool teacher FORGOT to give her insulin with her food - and she was still under 200 2 hours later. That means she would have been low had she HAD insulin.

Finally, after playing over and over with the morning numbers, we had a good morning at preschool today. She was 147 at 2 hours after breakfast and 100 at 2 hours later after snack - both of those numbers are smack-dab perfect and can't ask for more.

I look forward to getting back to a period when I'm not checking all the time because we don't know what's happening. We had a happy 3-4 month period where she was very stable and I could pretty much predict what her numbers were going to be when, and we rarely had to get up overnight. We've been back to getting up at least once (or twice or three-times or four-times) overnight for a couple of months now and its getting old.

Thankfully we have a great nurse who does most things by email (often at 10pm at night), can take an export of my pump readings and give me recommendations right from there. Its so much easier than trying to fax in numbers and trying to get a response.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Under 12 Girls Fall Classic Champions

With a 2-0-2 record in the tournament this weekend, Samantha's team, the South Riding United, won the Under 12 Girls Championship.

All of the games this weekend were hard fought. Our first game on Saturday morning was against the Gators and we won 1-0. Our second game was against the Hokies. It was a tough game with a LOT of shots on goals for both teams, but in the end it was tied 0-0. We went into today tied for first place with the Hokies, each team with one win and one tie.

Our first game today was played with great skill. All of the girls seemed to really be on their game, the defense was keeping the ball away from the goal and the offense was pushing forward and scoring. We started the game with two quick goals and in the end won 5-0. That score would ultimately be the one that won the tournament for us. Our fourth and final game of the tournament was played against the Monarchs - the only team that beat us this season. They scored a goal about halfway through and we were down 1-0. We fought back and fought back, but couldn't score as time was rapidly ticking away. Finally in the final minutes, one of our players kicked a huge kick that went OVER the goalies head for the tying goal. That game resulted in a 1-1 tie.

So that left it to the final game. The entire team watched the game and cheered for the Gators - if the Gators beat the Hokies, we were the champions. If the Hokies win, we're second place. And then there's the situation of a tie. If the Hokies tie the Gators, then we have even records at the end of 4 games. And lo and behold, that's what happened.

So at the end of 4 games, the South Riding United and the Hokies are tied with a 2-0-2 record. The tournament director has to pull out the tiebreaking rules to determine who wins. First criteria: who won head to head competition? Well, it was a tie. Then, it went to the team with most wins - we each had 2. At that point it went to Bonus Points. Bonus Points are awarded for each goal above and beyond your competitor in each game, for a maximum of 3. We won a game 1-0 yesterday for 1 bonus point. We won a game today 5-0 for 3 bonus points, for a total of 4. The Hokies won 2-1 yesterday and 3-1 today for a total of 3 bonus points.

So we won!! It was touch and go all day and Samantha really did a great job in the last game of playing defense and helping to keep the ball away from our goal.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

1-0-1 and 2.25

1-0-1: That's Samantha's soccer team's record after the first day of tournament play. They could have beat the team they tied - they just weren't playing their best today. We won the first game 1-0 and tied the second on 0-0. So two more games tomorrow and then we'll find out our standings. We are "tied" for first right now - but its round robin and we have two more teams to play tomorrow. The team we tied today is the other team tied for first place. It will be interesting tomorrow.

2.25 - that's how much I paid per gallon for gas this morning on the way to the game. I can remember when we were aghast at a price that high - now we celebrate how low it is!

Friday, November 07, 2008


A nice thing about homeschooling is that you can schedule appointments "during the day" and not worry about "missing school".

But here's the thing - you do miss school.

I try to schedule things in the afternoon, because the majority of our schoolwork is done in the morning. But it doesn't always happen that way.

I have a great schedule that we follow on most days that gets all of our work done efficiently. Until we have an appointment.

If we have an appointment during the morning, it throws the entire schedule off. So I have to figure out what to do. Because I have my mother's brain that doesn't always think in the morning, often having an appointment means skipping most everything else.

Practicing their piano is a priority. Doing part of their writing assignment for writing class is a priority. Both of these are because there are others involved with their progress (or lack thereof). So I make those a priority. Often when there's an appointment in the AM, the only thing that happens is piano practicing and their writing assignments.

I'm hoping to find a way to integrate appointments more easily into the schedule but it hasn't happened yet - I'm still hoping.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can she have this?

I get asked this question a lot. Its a very valid question. Many people have not had an interaction around a Type 1 diabetic that involved food. And honestly, until I had one in my own family, my knowledge was very limited as well.

The treatment of Type 1 diabetes has changed significantly over the last generation, the last 10 years, and even the last 5, with the introduction of single "24-hour" insulins, fast-acting insulins, and insulin pumps to replace the regimented, scheduled treatments of the previous generations.

For Emma, its all about carbs. She asks me all the time, "How many carbs does this have?" or she tells me herself. Because for a diabetic, its carbohydrates that are converted into sugar. Its the sugar that is poison to her system - IF she doesn't have insulin to counteract it. Its all about the carbs

And in previous generations, diabetics were relegated to eating a certain number of carbs at a certain time to day, to match the action of their insulin. Now Emma can eat any amount she wants at any TIME she wants (or whatever we decide whenever we get around to eating it). Its just a matter of matching her insulin dose to the carbs she eats.

So, it might be grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Or, it might be a McDonalds Happy Meal with Chicken Nuggets and French Fries. Or even a big piece of birthday cake after a couple of greasy pieces of pizza.

Its all ok for her! And we're very thankful for the treatment advances over the past years that have made it possible.

And I'm happy to continue to educate my friends and acquaintances who ask out of genuine concern and love for Emma and a desire to keep her safe and healthy. Yes, its ok if she has that piece of candy, but thanks for asking!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What is normal?

When you talk about blood sugars, you often ask the question (or you are ASKED the question), "What is normal"?

Well, normal means lots of things.

For a completely healthy non-diabetic, normal blood sugar readings would be 70-120.
Even right after a meal.

Your body has an amazing ability to secrete insulin that is immediately effective on sugars in your system - synthetic insulin is much slower.

Normal for a Type 2 diabetic that is diet-controlled is about the same as a non-diabetic.

Normal for a diabetic is a bit different. Would we LOVE Emma to always be within 70 and 120 for her readings? ABSOLUTELY.

Will that happen? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Is it normal to see a reading over 200 after breakfast? Yep
Is it normal to see a reading of 50 after a lot of activity? Yep
Is it normal to see an unexplained reading of 300+? Yep
Is it normal to see an unexplained reading below 40? Yep

So, for us, normal is relative. We target numbers in the 80 - 150 range. But its not abnormal to see anywhere from 50 - 300!

For a diabetic, its not about a single number. Its about how we deal with that single number, how we react to trends, and how we fix a situation that we handled incorrectly (overdose, underdose, missed dose, bad pump site, bad insulin, illness, etc)

One reading at a time.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes

In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I'm going to have a series of posts over the month that hopefully help to educate and raise awareness about diabetes. I know I have some readers that aren't associated with Type 1 diabetes, so I hope this is beneficial.

When people ask me how I knew that Emma should be checked for diabetes, my answer is simple: she was drinking an enormous amount of water and peeing a lot! It was that simple.

Diabetics without insulin cannot process carbohydrates and convert them to energy (because they need insulin to do that). Therefore, their system tries to dispose of the carbohydrates and they end up as sugar in the person's blood stream. Having excess sugar in the blood stream makes the person thirsty. They keep drinking and drinking trying to quench a thirst that is unquenchable.

When a person's body doesn't get its energy from carbohydrates, it burns body fat to get energy. The resulting by-product of that process are ketones. This process makes a diabetic lose weight and ketones are poisonous to the human body.

The excess water the person is drinking, combined with the ketones produced by the body, makes a person need to use the bathroom A LOT. Its so extreme that it can be quite obvious that a person needs to go all the time.

Most people that have identified a person with diabetes, or suspected a person has diabetes, usually picks up on these two symptoms - drinking a lot of water and using the bathroom a lot.

Some of the other related symptoms include: loss of weight, dark circles under the eyes, lethargy due to lack of energy from food, and extreme irritability.

Identifying a person at risk to Type 1 diabetes EARLY is key to help them get the diagnosis and begin the insulin treatment that is crucial to save their life. Many diabetics have been diagnosed because they were admitted to the hospital almost in a coma from the extreme high blood sugar levels.

Being aware of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and discussing any concerns with the family doctor is the key to early diagnosis.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Second Place!

We had a very exciting baseball weekend!

Michael's travel team played in a tournament with 4 teams - 3 from the regular season league and 1 additional team. It was a double-elimination tournament.

We lost our first game on Saturday to the Manassas Generals - we lost all 4 games to them in the regular season. The second game on Saturday was against the Virginia Young Guns, who we beat twice and lost to twice in the regular season. At the end of the 2 hour time limit, we were tied 10-10. The tiebreaking rules say that you play another inning starting with a runner on 2nd base. Well, it was 6:05 and it was clear we couldn't finish that inning before dark, so the entire inning was rescheduled to play at 9:30 on Sunday morning.

That was very advantageous for us - a pitcher who couldn't be there on Saturday could be there Sunday morning.

So we went to the field on Sunday morning just hoping to win the one inning we play at 9:30. We batted first and scored two runs, and then shut down the other team and won the game 12-10.

The boys were ecstatic, but had to regroup beause we now had to play the Manassas Generals again.

We played a FANTASTIC game. Our pitcher SHUT THEM DOWN and we won 12-0 in 4 innings due to the mercy rule. This against a team that we hadn't beat all season!

So all of a sudden we were in the finals against a fantastic team from Harrisonburg - the Valley Diamond Dawgs. This team was intimidating.

Our boys played very well and while we lost 9-5, it was very competitive and we were thrilled at how well the team did.

We beat BOTH of our regular season opponents in the tournament and came in 2nd to a great team - great results for our first season as a travel team.

Michael had a tough time pitching due to a sore arm - we were all disappointed (including him) that we weren't able to have him pitch more - but he hit the ball very well and played strong in the outfield, including assisting in a play to prevent a hitter from getting a home run by getting the ball in and eventually having the catcher tag the runner at home!

Winning doesn't always mean 1st place - as far as I'm concerned, we WON!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My mother will laugh at this!

When I was growing up, we spent a lot of time at the baseball field. There was this little boy who was always running around the field - his brother was a couple of years older than him and was often on my brother's team.

Well, this boy never met a dirt pile or a mud puddle he didn't like. He was ALWAYS covered in dirt.

I am now the mother of one of these - she is 3 and her name is Emma!

Happy Birthday Granny!

Just taking a quick stop home between baseball tournament games and wanted to take a quick second to wish Granny a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

There are downsides to homeschooling!

Most homeschooling parents love homeschooling! Most really feel its their calling in life.

So, you will often hear about all of the fantastic benefits of homeschooling. And there are many benefits of homeschooling. But you rarely hear about the downsides. I thought I'd share some:

-- The papers just keep on coming. You skip grading papers for one or two (or seven) days, and the amount of time it will take to catch up becomes daunting.

-- Teacher workdays don't help you feel "caught up"; they often make you feel behind because you didn't do lessons that day.

-- There are no substitute teachers if you need a sick day or a mental health day. Unless the principal (Dad) wants to take it on!

-- Homeschooling is really a misnomer. You find yourself in the car MORE and away from HOME so you can add in "specials" such as art, music, creative writing, drama, sports, etc that the other kids have in school!

-- Instead of the kids getting OUT of the house during the day and you having a chance to CATCH up on housework, they are AROUND the house all day creating MORE housework.

-- A Parent-Teacher conference just makes others think you are MORE nuts because you sit around talking to yourself!

I have spent the past day or so grading a week's worth of papers, vacuuming 3 rooms that desperately needed it, sorted through no fewer than TWENTY sets of Scholastic order forms, finished cutting apart the Latin vocabulary word flashcards, listed some unused homeschool items online to sell, analyzed and sent a week's worth of Emma's readings to the nurse for analysis, and many other miscellaneous things that have just been building up, or finally needed to be done. I'm feeling a little more caught up, but I'm trying not to "rest on my laurels" becuase I know that if I don't KEEP up, I'll have that week's worth of papers to review again NEXT week!

And don't get me wrong - this is still the right decision for Samantha and Michael but don't let anyone tell you that homeschooling parents are taking the "easy way out" - no way!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hello Winter!

Boy this has been a weird fall.

Today, the high temperature in Suburban Washington, DC is 48!

That's right - 48 degrees.

And that's before the wind chill. The forecast calls for wind gusts up to 40mph this afternoon.

Sounds more like Winter to me!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It must be in our blood

To say that I grew up around baseball would be an understatement. My dad started and ran leagues, coached teams, organized events, and even coached an AAU team that won a state tournament and competed in the National AAU tournament. I kept score for years, for both Little League games and our high school baseball team.

Mike grew up in Williamsport, PA - home of Little League baseball - need I say more.

We are both happy that Michael is interested in baseball, since we both like it so much. We have cheered through many seasons of soccer with Samantha and Michael and enjoyed watching the games. But I haven't felt nearly the excitement at any of the "fast-paced", always moving soccer games as I have at most of Michael's recent travel baseball games.

Many say that baseball is boring. Not much action and lot of standing around. Then why is my stomach in knots just wishing Michael's team to just get one more out before the other team scores another run? To just WILL the boys to hit the ball and not get out, and to cheer loudly when a steal turns into another base?

It must be in our blood.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

589 days!

1 year, 7 months, and 9 days

That's how long Emma's been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She's had it longer, obviously, during the time she suffered with it before it was diagnosed.

On many days, her diabetes just blends into our life seamlessly and its no more burden than reminding the kids to put on their shoes, brush their teeth, etc.

Other days, the burden is much heavier.

We have been fighting crazy numbers for quite a few weeks now. Lots of high highs and low lows. Its frustrating for us, and I know doesn't feel good for her. As a result, we've been testing a lot more than normal, so its now a more prominent part of our lives (especially in the middle of the night)

And the impacts it has had on our lives feel more, well, impactful right now. Emma was at a babysitter yesterday while Michael had a baseball game (we didn't want to subject her to the cold for those long hours in the evening). The babysitter had graciously agreed to check Emma's sugar levels. But she called at the first scheduled time to say she was having trouble. So there I was trying to keep the scorebook for the baseball game and troubleshoot what might be going wrong over the phone. I finally told her to just take a break and try at the next hour. It worked fine then.

Today, Emma was dropped off from preschool and the other mom casually said "Emma didn't eat all of her cookies". It had been about an hour since they had had lunch at school. I checked her sugar and she was ALREADY low (and had a lot of insulin still working). I had to give her juice and milk to compensate for the fact that she had been dosed for 16 carbs that she didn't eat.

Trying to balance keeping her safe and healthy with how involved her other caretakers are is tough. Her preschool teacher is the only adult in her little "in home" preschool. She checked Emma's levels before snack and lunch and then doses her. It's confusing enough for her to do this with 7 other kids, so I've tried not to ask her to check BEFORE lunch but dose AFTER lunch to make sure she ate it all. I want diabetes to integrate seamlessly into her school as well.

Some days are just harder than others. This is one of those days. I've lost the ability to look at my child and just smile at her sweetness (she is pretty sweet). Unfortunately, that thought is immediately followed by "I wonder what her reading is right now". It just stinks. It makes us tired.

I hope for the day that they develop a cure for Type 1 diabetes. I'll be first in line (and I know I'll be fighting with a lot of other mothers for that first spot in line). We've always heard its "within the next 20 years" but is it really. No one knows. And as the treatments have become so much better than they were 10, 15, or 20 years ago, it makes many believe that research time and dollars could be spent on diseases that are "more deserving" - I mean, our kids get along, just fine right?

Tomorrow will be 590 days. I look forward to the day I stop counting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Virtual Friends are Real Ones Too!

I debated through several titles before posting this one - mainly so that I didn't alarm anyone with more, well, alarming titles.

I read and post on several online message boards. After a while, you come to know the people on these boards almost as well as you do your "in person" friends. One of these message boards that I frequent is based on scrapbooking, a hobby that many of us love. I have driven to several different states to meet in person some of the people that I have "met" online in that community.

Today, we mourn with a member of that online community. I never met Donnann in person but knew of her through our message board. Last week, she took her 5-year-old son Danny to the Emergency Room after he had woken up unable to stand or walk. The couple of weeks before, she had been asking for advice because he had stopped eating, was getting sick, and losing weight.

She walked into the ER with a sick child and walked out with empty arms.

The doctors found a 4cm tumor on his brain stem and attempted to remove it through surgery. Danny never came out of his coma and died.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Donnann and her family went from planning trips to the park to planning his funeral.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Danny gave the gift of life to 4 other people with donated organs. Today they celebrated his life and mourned his death.

Danny loved the movie Cars and Lightning McQueen. All around the world, online friends of Donnann's family released Red Balloons in honor of Danny who left the world too early.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Make sure you hug your own children a little tighter tonight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I think the thermometer lied!!

We spent over 6 hours outside today at Michael's double-header baseball game. I am in charge of the concession stand, so we have to get there extra early to set up. We arrived at 11:30 and left around 6pm.

The weather report said a high of 60 today. Considering last Sunday it was about 83 degrees at our game, this was a big change.

What the weather report didn't say was GUSTING WIND.

The thermometer in the car when we left said 55. I don't believe it.

I've been home almost 3 hours and I'm still cold down to my bones.

The wind was blowing through the fields today and the sun was giving no warmth.

The boys, being typical 8 year old boys, said "I'm not cold" but I insisted Michael put on his jacket and then I would find him putting his hands in the pockets - so it was at least cold enough for that!

Welcome Fall!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

9 weeks!

When it comes to school, that's a magic number. I remember growing up that everything was about the "9 weeks". "The first nine weeks", "the end of the nine weeks", the "last nine weeks".

The school year was divided into 9 weeks, for a total of 36 weeks and approximately 180 school days.

This coming week is our 9th week this year. I feel like its a milestone. Our 8th week wasn't fantastic because Samantha felt a little under the weather a couple of days and didn't do schoolwork, which meant at a minimum that we wouldn't be doing History and Science, because she does those subjects with Michael. After that it was pretty easy to give Michael a day off, or an easy day, because Samantha was already "down for the count".

So, we will complete our "First 9 weeks" this week. This has been the best nine weeks we've had homeschooling, in terms of productivity. Our family schedule and lesson plans are really keeping us moving. My kids are like me in that they like to check things off a list - so I'm giving them lists.

The kids are also doing more chores, because I put those on the weekly schedule. All of our bathrooms are getting cleaned each Friday, and the front hall and family room and both sets of stairs are being dusted each Friday. The kitchen floor (supposedly) gets swept every day. I'll add more in as I feel like they are comfortable with these. Right now, they still drag along and it takes far too long to do them - who would have thought you could spend 30 minutes cleaning the toilet and the sink in a bathroom!

Our fall sports seasons are getting close to winding down - a couple of weeks left. Samantha scored a goal today in her soccer game - the first this season. She was quite excited. Michael has had some great outings in baseball (3 innings pitched, 7 strikouts) and some only ok outings. But he's hitting the ball well and staying focused, so we can't ask for much more.

Michael earned his Blue Stripe belt in Tae Kwon Do. I just downloaded photos so I'll post some later.

Our nephew Gavin visited with us for the night last weekend so his parents could go to a High School reunion. Mike took them to play putt-putt golf and they all had a great time!

Emma is loving preschool. She got to do a "Me poster" that talked all about her and we put some photos of her and her family on it and she colored it with colored pencils - she was excited to use colored pencils. When asked her favorite place to go, she said "Home" :). We talked a little more and it became "Preschool" and finally it was "Walt Disney World". We stuck with that one. Who can blame her!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We made CO2 today

We have been studying about the states of matter in science - solids, liquids, and gasses. I have to admit that science has just not been my favorite subject since I started homeschooling. But today's little experiment helped change my mind a little - we made Carbon Dioxide! And we "poured it"

We mixed vinegar and baking soda together in a jar and then held a match over the mouth of the jar to show the flame going on - showing the carbon dioxide in the mouth of the jar.

Then we lit a candle. We mixed the vinegar and baking soda again. I think formed a kind of "sluice" with a piece of cardboard and "poured" the Carbon Dioxide. No liquid came out, but the cardboard functioned to direct the CO2 down towards the burning candle and it put out the flame.

Really cool! If all of science was like this, I could get into it (as long as someone else gets all the supplies together in the first place - I hate having to track all the stuff down)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Blog on short hiatus

I'm having a slight problem with my laptop, in that if I try to open the monitor more than, say 2", the entire screen turns pink. I'm currently typing with my laptop opened, looking like an alligator's mouth, so that the screen is white and not pink

Sorry I haven't updated. Had a good weekend. Getting a major crick in my neck for working like this and signing off until I get the monitor fixed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lesson Plan... Good. Schedule... GOOOODDDDDD!

I've been doing a much better job of putting together the weekly Lesson Plans this year. For most of the subjects, its really as easy as "the next lesson" in the book. But, its too easy to skip a subject (especially the ones the kids don't like), if I just say "do the next subject".

So I've been sitting down and writing down the specific lessons for each subject they are to do each day. I only do one week at a time because things still happen and affect their ability to get all of their subjects, every day - so then I "catch up" at the beginning of the next week.

That has worked really well, but its still easy to get near the end of the day and "not quite have completed everything". And I was still having lots of arguments over "who practices piano first and when" and also finding it easy to skip subjects that involved ME working with the kids.

So, after seeing a great "time schedule" developed by my friend Erin, I have developed one myself. It includes a list of chores for each kid, as well as which subjects we are doing at what times (generally speaking - I'll put 2-3 subjects in a block). It has specific blocks for subjects we do together (History and Science) and which child practices at what time.

For the past few days, we've been pretty much on schedule and there haven't been arguments about practicing.

All in all ... we are working so much more effectively this year, moving along very well, learning a lot about force, solids, liquids, gasses, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Babylon, early Bible stories, multiplication, division, vocabulary, spelling, and amo/amas/amat.

Carpe Diem!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quick Samantha Update

Samantha had her 6 week follow-up with the doctor following her Kidney stone in July / August. She had had some tests run after her last appointment and we got the results.

I like the urologist. When he heard we homeschooled, he has taken every thing he's told us and turned it into a little lesson - he even explained what pH is to Samantha (and that was good because I had forgotten since we haven't gotten to chemistry yet).

All of her results were very good - except she's not drinking enough water. No surprises there! But we were happy to hear that she DOESN'T have a propensity to develop kidney stones - which is good because its unusual enough that an 11 year old had a kidney stone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Equal Time

We finally have some photos to share of Samantha playing soccer. In all fairness, part of the struggle with getting soccer photos is that there is a lot of running. And by the time you realize that Samantha's near the ball, its gone and you haven't taken a shot.

So, I took hundreds of photos this weekend using the "Continuous" shooting mode on the camera, hoping I could get a handful of good ones.

Samantha is playing her 11th season of soccer this fall in the Under 12 division. Here team is currently 1-0-1. They won this past weekend 1-0 and played hard most of the game. I think most of their games this season are going to be close, and low scoring, as all of the teams are pretty competitive.

So here are a few more photos of Samantha going after the ball and kicking it down the field in this past Saturday's game:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things you take for granted

Every once in a while, I realize things that I take for granted these days since I homeschool.

Today was one of those days.

Mike had to go to work early, I had to get Emma fed breakfast and pack her lunch for preschool (which includes writing out all of the carb counts for her teacher to dose her). We also had the first session of Michael's writing class (Samantha's is next week), so I had to make sure that Samantha had enough schoolwork with her to do while Michael was in his class. And all of this needed to be done by 8:15 so that we could leave to get our carpool friend to take to preschool.

It was a hectic morning trying to actually get out of the house with all of them on a schedule. We haven't had one of those in a while.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sports weekend

Finally, the rain held off and games could proceed this weekend.

Michael's Little League baseball team, the White Sox. Had their 3rd game and their first win. Michael had a great game, again.

Samantha's soccer team had their first game of the season. The game was hard fought and ended in a tie. Her team played this team in the tournament last season and it was a hard fought win at that time, so its no surprise that it was such a tough game (Sorry, we don't have any pictures from that game)

Michael's travel baseball team, the Eagles, played their first game in Remington, VA against the Remington Young Guns. The team played great, had some great hits, great catches, and great plays. The Eagles beat the Young Guns 9-0.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Even when you lose, you can win

(alternate title: Game Ball)

Michael had his first Little League game of the fall season last night. He's on the White Sox this season. Its an unusual team - fall teams usually are - because it has many kids who haven't played in the Single A division yet (which is kid AND machine pitching) and some who have played Double A before (all Kid pitch) all on his Single A team.

Michael is a pitcher. So his coach had him pitch an inning last night. When he didn't pitch, he played 2nd base, 3rd base, and 2 outfield positions.

Michael had a great game. He made one put out at 3rd base in the 2nd inning. When he started off the 3rd inning pitching, he struck out the first batter. That made him especially happy, as it is a teammate on his travel baseball team (another team). He threw a lot of good pitches and came from behind in the count several times.

In the last inning, he played 2nd base. He had two FANTASTIC tags of base runners in that inning, including one thrown in from the right-fielder. It was a very exciting inning.

He also had a great hit, over the first baseman, but down the line, and into right field. His team needs a little bit of help in the hitting department, so he was especially excited to get a hit.

His coach this season awards a game ball. Michael earned it last night for having a great all-around game (hitting, fielding, pitching). Michael has asked for us to get a plastic case for it so no one can mess it up and he wants to display it proudly with his trophies.

And just for fun, I wanted to show you that he is an authentic Stopper / Gwaltney child, as evidenced by the numerous expressions (or maybe contortions is a better word) on his face while pitching!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Day of Preschool!

Since we are homeschooling, its been a while since we've had a big "send off" first day of school. But, today was that day! Emma went off to her first day of preschool.

She has been so excited that we have been counting down "sleeps" (the number of times she has to go to bed at night) until it was the day. And she came running into our room this morning, dressed in clothes that she picked out (which we changed, incidentally) ready to go!!

So we had our breakfast, packed our lunch, and we were ready to go.

Emma has preschool at an "in home" preschool with the wife of the pastor at our church. There are 8 kids in her class each day - Monday and Wednesday. Emma jumped out of the car and headed up the sidewalk to her driveway and then up the driveway. The teacher has all the kids sit down on her sidewalk until everyone gets there.

Then they walk in together and head down for their school day!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wash Out!

Our first game of the fall soccer season, and Michael's first game on his Little League team were rained out today.

I don't think that "rained out" does adequate justice to the buckets and buckets of water that have been falling out of the sky for several hours now, and are expected to continue to fall for several more hours.

Welcome Hannah!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Different focus this year

In the past, I have had trouble keeping focused with history and science. The history curriculum that we have chosen is great - Sonlight - but they schedule History every day and I often have trouble with that. When we were having a slow day, it was usually Math that we did.

This year, so far, I have been pretty good about doing History every day. I think its because I'm afraid of getting behind. It takes us almost an hour a day to do History but we're moving along nicely through Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian history.

But for some reason I'm having trouble getting engaged with math this year. I think its because neither of the kids are STARTING a new math. Michael did 3 or 4 days of worksheets to review what he did last year, and he is picking up mid-way through his 3rd grade math. Samantha almost finished pre-algebra last year, and right now she is working her way back through taking the tests again as a form of review, and when she reaches a point where she has major areas that she needs reinforcement, we'll pick up the lessons. She's also going to work on logic puzzles and word problems this year, to help her thought process and prepare her for Algebra next year.

Thankfully, the Language Arts that I have chosen for each of them is not every day - but 2-4 days a week, so there is wiggle room in there.

But, we are getting into our groove nicely. Even today where I woke up with a migraine and slept until 10, we did Science and History this afternoon. That's a lot more than I would have done last year!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mean Mom Award!

On a message board I read, many ladies post and say they have earned the "Mean Mom" award. This is an award given strictly by kids when they are convinced their parents are the worst and the meanest parents in the world.

I earned it today.

I made my kids do schoolwork on a holiday! The horror.

We didn't do a full day's worth of work. But we did cover our history lessons for the day and the kids did Vocabulary and Spelling and Samantha did a math lesson.

So, not a full day of lessons, but lessons nonetheless.

I've earned the Mean Mom Award today - hand it over!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Baseball Scrimmage

Michael's travel baseball team had an intra-squad scrimmage today. They've had quite a few practices and done a lot of "hitting and running" kind of scrimmaging, but hadn't been through like it was a game.

Michael had a pretty good day. He pitched two innings, which is the most he's ever done in a single game. The first inning was pretty good. He seems to either throw the ball right over the plate or way off - not a lot of inbetween. The second inning wasn't as good - a lot more wild pitches. I think just because he hasn't had to pitch two innings in a row, that was a lot for him.

I'm going to start counting pitches for him - because by playing on two different teams (one travel, one little league), with two different coaches, he could certainly be throwing too much.

I read an article today about kids throwing their arms out younger and younger. This has been a concern of mine since Michael starting pitching - so I got him some lessons so at least he would be throwing it correctly. But one of the most interesting things I read in the article today is that sometimes the pitchers throw their arms out because in addition to being a pitcher, they are a catcher or a third baseman. Positions that require a lot of throwing (catcher) or hard throwing (3rd base). The two innings Michael didn't pitch today, he played 3rd base. I think its because he is one of the stronger throwers, so the coach has him at 3rd (at least that's the explanation we've come up with because its very strange to have a left-handed 3rd baseman - he can't cover the gap because his glove is on the other hand). At least I got the coach to NOT have him catch.

But it was a good scrimmage and the boys played well together. We look forward to his first real game

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School!

So, as I hoped - we had our first day of school today.

We covered about half of our subjects today and we'll cover the other half tomorrow and then dive in full.

We talked about what we were going to study for history and we read a little bit about how you learn history and about archeology, since we'll be talking about that a lot when we talk about Ancient History. I showed them a little of the books we are going to look at, and the maps we are going to study, etc.

We also talked about science. For some reason, I have trouble getting up the motivation for science. I don't know why. This year we are trying a book called "Critical Thinking Through Science". Its a lot about observations and drawing conclusions and forming opinions (like my kids don't have enough of those already). Today we talked about those aspects of science and talked about how we would have a science notebook where we would document our activities and observations. I'm going to bounce around a little and even throw in a unit from My World Science, like we've used in previous years, but I'm off to a better start than the past two years

Then we did some math. I had each of them do some review problems for things they learned last year - we'll see how much they remember. I'll probably do that for a couple of days before we dive into new material for either of them.

And we had McDonalds for lunch! Because you can't have McDonalds for lunch if you go to regular school! :)

1 day, 179 to go!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School Starts Tomorrow!

For us, at least!

We've got almost all of our books in house and I'm ready to start. I like to try and start before the regular school starts around here and ease in a little.

I spent a lot of time last night getting my History lesson plan together - I'm combining some things together so I needed to get all the plans together so I saw what to do when.

I have some new Grammar books for both of the kids - they are taking a writing workshop with another homeschooling mom, because I've realized that while I'm actually a pretty good editor, my feeble attempts to teach them in this area just weren't very good. I've seen some wonderful results from other kids who have taken the workshop, so I'm pretty excited about that.

I've also already compiled my list of supplies I need for the first few science experiments. I'm a little more likely to actually do the experiments with the kids if I don't have to spend a lot of time trying to find supplies. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Both kids will be continuing their math that they did last year - Michael is half-way through his 3rd grade math already and Samantha will be going through pre-algebra again. There are so many concepts in that curriculum that are foundational for algebra that I believe she really needs to get them down - and we are ahead of the game with math, so we have a good opportunity for that.

Art and Writing classes don't start up for a couple of weeks, so we have some good time to just get into the groove with our own work and see how it works out.

Tomorrow is Day 1!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And the hits keep on coming

Last night's funny - Emma has named her Bitty Baby "Alva". Why Alva?

Because Vanessa (her pooh animal) told her that was her name!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Emma Funny

We laugh a lot at the things that Emma says day in and day out, but we had a couple of really funny ones yesterday.

Mike came home from work early so I could go to a meeting, but that didn't happen because of a migraine. Mike was helping me with my migraine and we asked Samantha to check Emma's blood sugar, because it hadn't been checked when she got up from her nap.

Samantha checked it and we didn't hear her tell us what the reading was. Finally, Emma told us that her reading was 81. That's at the lowest end of her range and I knew that she was going to be active later, so we wanted to give her a little juice to keep her up. We yelled down for Samantha to give her 2 ounces of juice.

And Emma yells back upstairs "But I was 81! I don't need juice".

So, we had to reason with a 3 year old as to why she had to have juice when she was "in range". Too Funny!

Then, last night she told Mike that she didn't have a good nap yesterday. When asked why, she said she was taking care of Dora, who was sick (her stuffed animal). I asked her last night why Dora was sick. I finally got the entire story. Dora was "sick of Pluto bugging her" (another stuffed animal). Pluto was evidently licking Dora and she didn't like it. So, I made Pluto leave the room for the night and told her that she should sleep fine now that Pluto is not in a position to make Dora sick!

I swear I think she needs to become a writer or something because the things that she comes up with are just hilarious!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letting kids be kids

This is probably a debate that has been going on in parenting circles for a long time - letting kids be kids.

The debate takes a different twist when you have a child with Diabetes. Its figuring out how to have your child live a normal life, eat normal foods, and do normal activities without having them (or you) become neurotically obsessed with how the diabetes is affecting that life, or that food.

This has sparked a spirited debate on the diabetes message board I read. Another member posted a great list of "Here's how I know I'm not letting diabetes take over our lives" and I wanted to share it - because I've done almost all of these things too:

We have seen the meter read HI (over 600)
We have forget to dose for a meal
We scratch our heads and say what the heck
We've tweeked the dosing too much, and we've tweeked not enough
We do not restrict food (except what I do for all my kids)
We've slept through the 3am check
We do see numbers in the 200 & 300's
We WAG the carb content of foods pretty regularly
We've blown off a post or pre check
We've over dosed and had a severe low
We've left the house without the meter (and debated even going back for it)

I realized that diabetes had just become a normal part of our lives last week when I was taking Emma to a sitter (who is an RN) and forgot her meter. I actually did debate with myself whether I should go back for it, since I was pretty confident she wasn't going to be low and I was sure she wouldn't need to test, and of course its a pain to turn around and go back the TWO BLOCKS to get it from my house. But, reason prevailed and I went back to get it (honestly, because I had the "what if I get in an accident and she has to keep her longer" thought)

So, I feel pretty good that we are letting Emma enjoy her childhood as much as she can, and diabetes has just been integrated into it just like any uniqueness that any of our children have.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The dirtiest room in the house!

Well, maybe not the dirtiest, but certainly close

Our laundry room also serves as the way out of the house. 95% of the time - we go in and out through the laundry room into the garage. We have baskets for the shoes so we aren't walking around with shoes on the carpets.

Its a good thing!

I can't imagine trying to vacuum out the amount of dirt I just swept out of the laundry room. I pulled the baskets out from their cubbies in the bench that hold shoes to sweep under them as well - Michael's actually had piles of SAND under the basket.

I almost completely filled the dustpan with dirt, dust, and sand from sweeping the laundry room - a room that we spend the least amount of time in, but experiences the most traffic.

And now its clean!

Monday, August 18, 2008


After 8 years, we have decided to change dance studios. Its difficult after you've been at the same place for so long, but my frustration with the studio has grown year after year and I had finally had enough.

The director just didn't have any respect for the families - this was her life and she expected the world to revolve around her for us too. Never mind that we have other sports and music and family lives to manage. We can't drop everything to do an event, run all over town to find shoes or accessories at the last minute, and drop lots of money on a whim.

Our new studio is a bit further away (since, of course, the last one was here in our neighborhood) but I'm very impressed with it. All of their instructors were formerly professional dancers or have degrees in dance or dance instruction (our former one danced in high school and was a Redskins Cheerleader wannabe). The kids who are younger than Samantha with fewer years of instruction are already quite impressive. Their approach is really nice AND we won't be having to do competitions anymore - and we will have fewer hours a week at the studio.

Sounds like a win-win to me! Just wish I had changed sooner

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Travel Baseball

Michael tried out and was selected for the 8 and under travel baseball team. We're pretty happy. I think this is going to be a good experience for him.

The good news is that travel doesn't really mean so much "Travel". It basically means that you play in a league with other teams from the region, as opposed to just within your own little league. The might be one tournament in the Spring, but mostly it will be playing teams in the surrounding area.

And a lot of good training and drills. Some with professionals.

Congratulations Michael!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The family sharing really needs to stop!

I blogged after Christmas how my sister-in-law broke the "no gifts" rule and gave me a Christmas gift - her cold.

Well, now my mother has done the same thing.

We went down to visit my parents while my sister and her kids were visiting last week. Early on in the week, my mother complained that her throat was scratchy and perhaps her glands were swollen.

It didn't really materialize beyond that.

A couple of days later, my dad had the same complaint.

As far as I know, it didn't really materialize beyond that.

Near the end of Monday, my throat started feeling scratchy. I figured it was the same as Mom and Dad, and it would be scratchy for a little and then be over.

3 days later, I'm still suffering from this head cold.

I wake up with earaches and a sore throat from all the draining. My nose is running all the time, despite the Claritin and Sudafed that I've been taking. And of course I'm sleeping horribly as a result.

We really need to stop sharing these germs!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We have babies

After seeing the mama robin sitting on her nest a lot last week, I figured the babies were going to hatch soon.

When we returned from the lake on Sunday, we had babies. They are definitely very new, as yesterday they had trouble even holding up their heads. But one will poke up a head from time to time, mouth open lookin for mama, and then flop back down, tired from the hard work.

Mama is still spending a lot of time around the nest and she's pretty protective. She didn't like it at all yesterday when the neighbor was power washing his fence not too far away. And she doesn't like it when I'm in the back yard setting the sprinkler.

But the babies are getting bigger every day. Emma asks to see them a lot, says "look, they're growing" and then "let's leave them alone" and heads back in the house!



Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

We live about 30 miles away from Washington, DC. But, of course, because its there - we rarely go in to take in the sights. This week, we did. An online friend of mine was coming in town with her family, and initially needed some folks to join her party to have enough for a White House tour. We ended up taking a tour of the Capitol, a tour of the White House, and visited the National Archives. I've been wanting to go into town for a while and this was just the motivation to get me moving.

The Capitol tour was pretty neat. We met up at the office of her Senator - their office arranged the tour. She took us to the Capitol by way of the 3 Senate Office buildings, to show how far you can go without ever going outside. She also showed us how the architecture varied as the age of the buildings changed. And while walking the underground corridors, I actually saw OUR Senator, Senator Warner, headed to the Capitol. He looked so feeble - he's been sick recently.

When we arrived in the Capitol we saw many hallways and special chambers, such as the former committee room for the Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, on the way to the rotunda. They were exquisitely adorned with beautiful colors and designs throughout. Then finally we reached the rotunda. I had seen the rotunda when I went to the viewing for President Reagan in 2004, but this was an opportunity to actually look at it. There is a freize around the upper portion of the rotunda and it tells the story of the formation of the United States: starting with the Native Americans and the landing of Columbus, all the way through the birth of aviation with the first flight of the Wright Brothers. Its so expertly woven together that you don't see a gap in the pictures - it looks like one long picture - and cannot even tell that it was actually completed by 3 different artists over many years.

Underneath the frieze are some large pictures depicting specific events in the history of the United States, such as the baptism of Pocahontas, the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Cornwalis' surrender to Washington at Yorktown and Washington's resignation as General of the Army.

At the apex of the rotunda is a beautiful painting of angels - and the father of our country - George Washington.

We also spent some time in the sculpture room. Each state has sculptures of two famous people displayed in the Capitol - with many in this room. This room is also significant because it had held committee meetings for the House of Representatives in the past. There were placards on the floor showing where the desks of some famous representatives sat - including Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams.

On the way back to the Senate office building, we saw the marker indicating the exact center of the city of Washington, DC - the center of Capitol Hill! And then we got on a small train that runs between the office buidings and the Capitol that is used by visitors, guests, and even the Senators as they need to go to the floor for debates and votes.

On Friday, we headed in to go on a tour of the White House and the National Archives. The White House tour was set up by a friend of my friend's husband - he works in the White House. A tour is difficult to get these days so this was especially nice. Mike took the day off and went with us. They are also very restrictive on what you can bring in - certainly no cameras. They usually don't allow purses but I was allowed to take mine due to having medical supplies in it. But they didn't like it. We were able to see several of the rooms in the East Wing of the White House - the Blue Room, Red Room, Vermiel Room, the East Room and the State Dining Room. It wasn't a long tour but it was really neat to see.

You will also notice the kids are in pants - in 90 degree weather. Because we were with an employee, we had to adhere to a "higher" dress code, so we all needed to be in pants. I would have ensured my kids looked "presentable" regardless, but I wish that all of these types of tours had dress codes to prevent the short-shorts and strapless "tube tops" that I saw at several of these locations.

After heading back to the car to retrieve the stuff we wanted to have with us but couldn't at the White House, we got some lunch and then headed over to the National Archives. After a short wait outside, we went through our 3rd or 4th or metal detector of the day, watched a short movie about the purpose of the archives, and then got in another line to see the main reason for the visit - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The Declaration of Independence was hardly visible anymore but the other documents were in pretty good shape - considering their age.

We also saw a pretty neat exhibit which show how different documents and other items that have been kept in the archives show the history of our country, from old maps of the colonies, the new states being formed, patents for many of the inventions made in this country, important photos and video, as those mediums were developed. The only disappointment is that they have an area where educators and parents can see how to use documents and books to teach history - and it was closed. I really wanted to see how they were presenting it.

Anyway, it was nice that it took a visit of a friend from Florida in order to get us into a city that is only 30 miles away - but we saw some things we hadn't seen before and I'll try to make a better effort to take advantage of all the wonderful things that D.C. has to offer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There and Back Again (and again)

Last year I posted about some baby birds that had taken up residence in a nest in the rose bush at the back of our house. You can read about it here: Birds Nest

Well, I looked at the nest about 6 weeks ago, because it stayed in the rose bush all winter, and again we had baby birds. I snapped this photo from the porch because when I tried to get close enough on the ground, Mama flew away and then started yelling at me from the nearby tree.

We have another nest in the front of the house, in our crepe myrtle tree. Its really high up, so its difficult to see, but I saw a baby beak poking out the other day. Later in the afternoon, we found that baby bird flying around in our garage and we had to scoot her out.

And today, when I checked out the nest in the back, it seems to be round two - there are at least 2 blue robin's eggs in the nest - just waiting until its time to hatch!