Monday, December 20, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Santa Claus is alive and well in our house.

I never understood those who didn't tell their kids about Santa because they didn't want to "lie" to their children. Lying and make believe are two different things. Kids need a creative imagination. Santa is part of that.

Even the government believes in Santa Claus - they track him every year at NORAD.

We have helped keep the Santa magic alive in our house. He always leaves crumbs when he eats our cookies (messy Santa). One year, he left sooty foot prints on the mantle on the way in (thankfully, not on my carpet :) )

One year, he had to leave a note for Michael because his elves couldn't get his Transformer that he REALLY wanted ready in time (daggone FedEx)

I know for certain that Samantha believed at least 2 years ago - when we were discussing her wish list and I was asking for them to put small, less expensive items on their list. Samantha said she would just ask Santa for the iPod since he doesn't pay for presents, he makes them!

This year, Michael's list started with just 2 items and he wanted them from Santa. Whew, he has expensive taste as he wants a Lego and a Nerf Gun, both expensive. But, he made sure that he mentioned he wanted those from Santa

We have always "prescreened" the kids Santa list before going to ask Santa - because that way he can always bring them what they ask for.

Samantha has never told us that she doesn't believe - but I doubt that she does. Michael asks from time to time, but always talks himself out of not believing. Its fun to believe. It adds to the magic of Christmas.

I think I finally realized it when Santa and my mother had the EXACT same handwriting on presents under the tree. We never wrap our presents from Santa so we don't have that situation, but they only get a couple from Santa anyway and the rest come from us (except the ones too big to wrap or we are too tired to wrap on Christmas eve).

But, Santa is alive and well in our house again this season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cool marching band

I was in marching band for 3 years - we never did anything THIS cool.

Marching band kicks football

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving back

Last week, Emma and I were given an opportunity to go to Princeton, NJ to participate in a focus group hosted by a diabetes pharmaceutical company. The company had reached out to Children with Diabetes and they reached out to me, as I am a somewhat active poster on their forums.

After asking them several times if they were SURE they wanted Emma, reminding them that she is 5 - and has the attention span of a 5 year old - we happily accepted. I was pretty excited about the opportunity.

It was a bit of a struggle with the planning because they were feeding us, and I had to make sure we had Gluten-Free options. Although the planning was a bit of a pain, it was all good in the end. We walked into a lovely local restaurant and they handed me a gluten-free kids menu (score!) And, the restaurant made her gluten-free waffles and they had gluten-free options on their buffet for breakfast and lunch.

The goal of the focus group was to identify what parents need when they are first diagnosed. Something that this company could offer to families to take home with them as they leave the hospital. They invited a great cross-section of patients and parents - with Emma being the youngest at 5 and the oldest being 17. The kids were also diagnosed at different ages, which helped to get different perspectives on what parents need. I think probably the only "control group" that wasn't included was probably the "less connected". The sheer nature of where this group came from meant that we are all pretty connected - we sought out and found CWD at some point after our children were diagnosed. I know there are lots of families out there that aren't connected with other families with diabetes and we were probably missing someting of their perspective.

Emma made friends quickly and was definitely a hit in the group. She was also complimented on her manners, which I was especially proud of!

There were lots of different ideas of what people felt would be most beneficial when coming home with a diagnosis of Type 1, although most people felt that someone they could reach out to when they want home was pretty high on their list of things that would be helpful. Someone to help them see through the fog of diagnosis. That's what Children with Diabetes does for so many!

It was a long day, plagued by high blood sugars, sickness from what I can only guess was ketones, a pump malfunction and having to give injections, getting 20 miles down the road only to have to turn around to go back and get my laptop that I forgot. But, it was a great day.

For me, personally, I was thrilled to meet Kerri Sparling, of the Six Until Me blog. I don't remember how I found this blog, but I read it regularly and I refer every mother of a teenage girl with diabetes to this blog. This is a great place to see that there is hope for a child with diabetes growing into an adult with diabetes, getting married, and having a family. And her baby is pretty cute too!

We also met a former Pittsburgh Steeler - Randall Simmons - who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes early in his professional career. He talked about how he managed his diabetes in an extremely physical situation and dealing with the emotional side of factoring Type 1 diabetes into your everyday life. Emma has a football signed by him to show for it.

The company indicated that this is only the first time we will meet together - I look forward to any opportunity to get together with this group of families again. We all relished the opportunity to give back to new families what we have learned, coming out of the fog on the other side of diagnosis!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Yes, I have neglected updating here. Sorry about that.

I have a friend that blogged and said she always felt pressure to have pictures with her posts, and that was holding her up on posting. I think I have the same problem.

It has been busy as we have been diving into the Holiday season, and this weekend was no relief from the chaos.

Friday night we went to a party held by a friend from Michael's baseball team. Its always nice to see these folks outside of the baseball field, but inevitably the conversation comes back to baseball.

Saturday night was Mike's annual office party. It has been held for the past few years at the nearby Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazey Center. This year, however, they expanded it to much more of the company. They did a good job of identifying "key areas" for the different groups to meet up, so we still found Mike's co-workers pretty easily. And, since I used to work there, I still know a number of people. Ironically, the first two people I saw when we walked in the door were former co-workers of mine who DON'T work at the company anymore - they were invited because they work for a business partner company. I then ran into a man I knew when I worked onsite at an Army client site - in 1994! That's 16 years ago - and he remembered me!

Sunday, we had the opportunity to attend the taping of "Christmas in Washington" - airing on TNT this coming Friday night (Dec 17). Mike won it in a drawing from all the people who registered to walk in our JDRF walk in June. It originally was for 4 tickets and he was able to get a 5th, so we could take the entire family. We had pretty good seats - 6th row back on the aisle in the side section. It was a nice show and we look forward to watching it on TV to see how its different when edited than it was live. The only bad thing was that it was pouring down rain and chilly, and because the President was in attendance, the streets were blocked off a block or so around the National Building Museum, so we parked a couple of blocks away and walked. It was pretty neat and I don't think the kids appreciated that this is not something you get to do often - I think Samantha asked something about next year and Mike told her that this probably wouldn't happen again.

Times were busy leading up to this weekend as well, but that's enough of a quick update of why I HAVEN'T been posting - things are busy in the Stopper house!