Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shopping with Teens

I haven't enjoyed shopping in a very long time. It is pretty rare for me to shop alone, with no children. I don't consider grocery shopping the same as 'shopping'. However, I rarely do that alone either. We have three teen girls who are always in need of something or other. I used to be able to pick things up for them without them being there. Now a simple size is no longer simple, they have to be there to try clothes on. Not to mention that I can no longer figure out what they like and what they don't like. I could buy something identical to a favorite shirt or the like, and they would hate it. Just when I think I have a clue what they like, they change their minds.

So, now I have to shop with them. We were in Target the other day shopping for bathing suits for the the 14 year old twins. As I sat there waiting for the girls to show me what they liked, holding a squirming 3 year old boy, I learned my girls aren't so bad. That was a surprise. There were a few other moms sitting as I was with serious frowns cementing lines into their foreheads as their daughters threw hissy fit after hissy fit over what they wanted versus what was appropriate for their age ranges.

My daughters liked some bathing suits that I would never have let them wear around the house let alone in public, but they didn't throw hissy fits. I would simply say "yes that's okay" or "no". One mom asked me how I got them to be so agreeable. I laughed and told her that they had to find a suit that I approved of or they simply wouldn't get one. She actually seemed confused.

I wish our girls were still built like this other mom's 14 year old daughter. She was a stick, no curves and no boobs. They were having a very difficult time agreeing on a bathing suit. I told her that her daughter would still fit into the bathing suits at Justice for girls. She laughed and said her daughter refused to even go into that store. Wow, our girls were frustrated they couldn't wear Justice suits anymore and I was frustrated I couldn't buy them a suit at the Justice prices.

We then went to our new favorite store, a second hand shop that is huge and carries great name brand clothes. My girls were in a dressing room there and another mom was arguing with her daughter loudly. I gave her the 'so sorry' look. She sighed and said, "I will trade you mine for whatever you have in that dressing room". I laughed out loud. Then I simply told her that I had twin 14 year old girls in there. She cracked me up, all she said was, "F*@#!"

I remember when our girls were much younger we would go out to a public place, like a play area in the mall. Parents would ask me how I managed with three toddlers. I would say one minute at a time. There are memories that I am pretty sure are mentally blocked due to sleep deprivation. The girls ask me things like, "what was our first words?" And I have no idea. I didn't sleep for five years. Someday I hope those memories come flooding back, but until then we have lots of pictures to help fill in the holes in my mind.

However, no matter how overwhelmed I was, everyone else's kids were a constant reminder to me that mine were not so bad. I am honestly surprised every time that happens. I am surprised and pleased that our children may be little brats from time to time, but they are good kids at heart. I may be the Candy Ass Mom, but saying no isn't that hard to do. Really, it's not.

I don't think I will ever enjoy shopping, especially with teenagers. However, I will always appreciate my children and their absence of hissy fits.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sometimes you just shouldn't ask...

I am already a stay at home mother of five wonderful children. That's a lot.

We have health challenges with three of the five. Our oldest is a type 1 diabetic (but if you have ever read this blog you already know that), one of our twins has sometimes severe asthma and also Raynauds syndrome (which her pediatrician is currently working with the rheumatologist to find out if it is in fact benign or not as we previously thought), and our son has asthma and a sever peanut allergy. That's also a lot.

There are months that go by when we have almost no problems and things are easy. And then there are the last 12 months.

My daughter with asthma and Raynauds has added to her list and now is suffering from complex migraines that mimic stroke symptoms (exactly the same kind I have had since I was 16 years old). Our other twin has developed some sort of issue that seems to be the exact opposite of Raynauds, her hands and feet heat up, get flushed, and hurt at random times. The pediatrician is still working on this one although her blood tests all cam back okay. We have begun to joke that if the twins were able to clasp hands while they were each suffering from a flare up (Raynauds turns your hands and feet blue to white and your fingers and toes get very cold) that they could cause the end of the world....a physical yin and yang so to speak (we could make dinner time at our house into a reality show with the stuff that goes on).

Our oldest continues to battle with sever low blood sugars. Her A1C dropped almost an entire point in just three weeks. Which sent her body into a withdrawal of sorts. She has felt horrible and is also become afraid of her low blood sugars.

It is Spring, which means in our house that allergies are a flowing! So the months we went without any breathing issues and got lucky with very minimal illnesses over the winter are gone. Everything is blooming and our son is, well he is puffy, snotty, and itchy.

Okay, so that's a lot too, right?

Its like an infomercial or game show... BUT wait, there's more! And this time it's me. I have spent the last year ignoring and blaming symptoms that have increased on anything and everything I could. That's my way. I believe it's genetic. I take care of everyone else and put me on the back burner. I could type two pages of just tests, appointments, and such but let's just save time and shorten that up. I have some kind of inflammatory arthritis caused by my auto immune system. I found a wonderful doctor (which has never happened for me before) and she has calmed my nerves about labeling exactly what I have. It may take years she says to figure it out exactly. The two she has narrowed it down to are Lupus (which my grandmother, whom I love very much has) and Rheumatoid arthritis (which my great grandmother had) OR she says it may be both. let's be honest, that's more than a lot.

Okay, so I have begun medication to treat my symptoms. I needed to have an endoscope test because I have been nauseous for almost a year and she needed to know what limits on medications I may have. Well, I have Celiacs disease as well. Which explains a lot for the last year of stomach issues and weight loss. But I could have done without that diagnosis all together.

I have entered the angry phase for the Celiacs because of the cost of gluten free foods and the fact I can never again have a cheese danish. Sounds silly I know. I have a shelf in the pantry of stuff the kids are not to eat. I have talked to a few people about brands and types of foods like bread and noodles that are good. But I am still a bit in shock of it all. No more restaurants, no more random snacking, and no more carefree eating. Am I wrong to be angry? To be honest, I really don't care. I am just angry.

I should be thankful that everything I have is treatable and not life threatening such as cancer would be. I am not in that thankful space. Maybe I will get there. Maybe I will deal with it all more maturely in the future. Maybe not.

It took me some time to decide if I was going to share with the world (blogosphere so to speak) all of this. But then I realized, the amount of community and support we have gained from sharing our daughters diabetes has been life changing and we would not be where we are emotionally or physically without the sharing we have done. So I am sharing. I will eventually write about my Lupus or RA since everyone is so different and my story may help someone else. But let's start with this small (ha ha, yeah small. I know that's funny right?) amount of information.

I must say that the amount of support I have gotten from my immediate family and friends has been incredible. I am not alone in all of this. I know that. They have been great. I will continue to bake for my family and friends. I will continue to do all the stuff I love to do for them. I just won't be tasting or eating any of it myself.

I am hopeful to get some response from others dealing with similar issues. I am hopeful that someone out there will read this post and know exactly how I feel and will respond. I am hoping for a similar amount of support like we have gotten over the years for my daughter's diabetes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling LOW ~ Do You Pay Attention To Your Intuition? ~

Are you blessed with Mother's intuition (or women's intuition)? Do you get those gut feelings that wake you up in the middle of the night, that send you on a hunt through out your home looking for something that may be wrong, or that prompt you to randomly call your husband and children in the middle of the day just to check and see if everyone is okay? I often wish I was better at paying attention to those little butterflies. We have five children, three of which have life threatening challenges. We have one with Type 1 Diabetes, one with a very severe peanut allergy, and one with asthma. Having five children in itself is a huge distraction. I often wonder if my warning bells are drowned out by the noise and chaos that five children create. Or is it just a bunch of hooey?

Since the beginning of  last week we have been battling the chaos that is low blood sugars. Our oldest is sixteen years old and has Type 1 Diabetes. I wish I was blessed with the ability to know when my daughter had a low blood sugar. Well if I was granted a wish by the universe, I would wish there was a simple cure for Type 1 Diabetes, which would make my wish for the ability to know when my daughter was low useless.

Last week our daughter's friend Heather saved her life. I am incredibly thankful, but so frustrated that my Mother's intuition didn't catch what was happening. How did Heather save Macy's life? She came over to visit Macy. Yep, that's pretty much it. She came over and I directed her to Macy's room. Macy had been home from school all of an hour. Heather found her asleep. She tried to wake her up and Macy nodded when she said do you want me to let you sleep.

Heather could have just left. She could have just taken the situation for what it looked like, a tired friend taking a nap. But instead she came to me and said, "Hey, Macy is asleep and when I asked her if she wanted me to let her sleep she just nodded and rolled over". Heather knows Macy well enough to know that wasn't a normal reaction to her coming over. So we went back to Macy's room. I took with me some Jello and a banana just in case (we were out of juice). That way I wouldn't have to waste time going back upstairs if there was a problem.

This was one of those times where it would have been a lot easier to freak out and panic. But I say, handle the problem and if you need to panic, panic on your own time, later when no one is watching and the emergency is gone. On top of that, Heather was there and she certainly didn't need to see me lose it. It wasn't until later she understood the seriousness of the situation.

So Macy was laying in her bed. She could respond some but was obviously experiencing a low blood sugar. So I fed her the Jello and the banana. Then I realized her test kit wasn't down there. So I sent Heather to look for it. It was upstairs in Macy's purse where she had left her backpack and stuff when she came home (she was probably beginning with her low blood sugar then which explains why she just left her stuff in the middle of the hall). By the time Heather had come back with her purse Macy had finished the Jello and banana. I tested her blood sugar. It was 28.

If you don't have a Diabetic in your life than that number may mean nothing to you. So for reference, the average person's blood sugar ranges from about  70-180. If a Diabetic is below 70, food is needed. If they are below 50, it becomes an emergency that must be taken care of immediately. Macy is usually not responsive or able to communicate at about 40 or below.

We needed more sugar and we needed it now. I grabbed her emergency glucose gel she carries in her purse. Why didn't we use this to begin with you may be asking yourself. Well, frankly because its gross. It tastes nasty and has a gooey consistency.  Macy must be really low for me to get it into her. Honestly, I don't blame her. We waited about 7 minutes after she swallowed the glucose gel and tested her again. This time she was 24! She went lower?! So as I ran out of her room I asked Heather to keep talking to her, trying not to panic.

Its amazing how fast a someone can be going up stairs, maneuvering around baby gates, and getting to the fridge or pantry and then back again. I grabbed 2 things of Jello pudding I had made the night before (which were half vanilla and half chocolate). Running back down the stairs to Macy all the time trying my best not to panic.

Macy sat up as I asked her to do, which was a good sign and pretty amazing. I began to feed her vanilla and chocolate pudding. I was cracking jokes and making fun of my abilities to feed someone because I kept missing her mouth and getting pudding on her face. Heather laughed and Macy attempted to smile, which just made me miss again. I was reminded she doesn't like vanilla pudding, at all. But she ate it and made big 'oh no' eyes when I offered more glucose gel instead (even though it was upstairs too. I knew she would say no.)We tested again, and she was finally up to 64. She snacked on some bunny marshmallows (something she had in her purse for school lows) to continue the rise into the 100's. It was the longest 20 minutes of my life.

I am so very grateful for Macy's friend, Heather. She paid attention to Macy and came and got me. This isn't a normal low blood sugar time for Macy and if Heather hadn't come over we would never have known she was asleep and low. Normally after school she spends time on her computer and does her homework quietly in her room. Since then we have had many lows that have blind sided us. To help fight this battle I bought 4 cases of juice boxes (120 juice boxes) to stash strategically around the house and for her to stash in her locker and purse at school. She always carries something in case she goes low, but she hasn't had a low issue like this in years.

I haven't slept well since this occurred. I randomly go down and test her in the middle of the night. Which are more of those mother's intuition times. Most times I found her low in her sleep. Maybe I am paying better attention to my butterflies or maybe I am just getting lucky. I don't know which it is.  My husband has also helped by waking her up much earlier than normal, when he gets up between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning rather than 6:00. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful husband who will get the kids up in the morning for me since more times than not I haven't slept well or have been up at odd times in the middle of the night. As a stay at home mother I consider this my job since I am not leaving the house and working. But its really hard to keep up with when your not sleeping well, not to mention throwing into the mix a 3 year old toddler boy to keep me busy.

We normally battle high blood sugars. She is a teen girl who gets distracted easy and who tries to keep her Diabetes as hidden from the outside world as possible. Which all result in higher numbers instead of lower. High blood sugar isn't good for her either, but it is much easier to manage and is much less of a life threatening emergency. Her fear of going low of course has made her weary of letting her blood sugar drop below 175. If she could keep it at 80-100 than that would be the healthiest and best place for it. But it's also a lot easier to drop low from there compared to 175. I don't blame her for being scared. Snacks are a very important part of a Type 1 Diabetics life, balanced with protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They can be the difference between life and death. Which sounds dramatic, I know, but a simple snack at the right time can help avoid having a low blood sugar all together. It's just a matter of when to eat those snacks. It's not as though a snack at 3:00 am is easy.

Heather is starting her job for work study this week at a nursing home near the high school. She has plans of becoming a nurse. And although my mother would say, " no, be a doctor" (since she just recently retired after 35 years as an ICU nurse.) I believe she is on track with a great career ahead of her. She pays attention and notices the things that help people. She will make a great nurse and she would make a great doctor too. Thank you Heather for being you. Thank you for saving my Macy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Battling the Morning Lows ~Type 1 Diabetes War~

My oldest daughter Macy is 16 years old and she is a Type 1 Diabetic. We have many battles in our War with Type 1 Diabetes, but morning lows is our toughest battle by far. One of our challenges is our daughter is a teenager, so she likes to stay up late and sleep in late.

There is nothing as scary as trying to wake up your child and getting no response. Our wonderful Endocrinologist helps us fight our battle and tells us it is a very common battle. Sigh, well that just sucks if you ask me. (which technically by clicking and reading here, you did).

One of the ways we battle morning lows is a good snack at bedtime. Our doctor explained it in a way that made a lot of sense to us. How accurate it is I could care less. It made sense and helps us manage these lows so don't bother telling me whether he was wrong or not. What he said was that our bodies go into a recovery mode around 3am whether we are awake or not. Its a lot easier on your body to be asleep during this recovery mode. Basically its when your body does its massive cell regeneration and fixing (for lack of a better word). Even though you are asleep this mode actually uses energy. If you are awake because you are a teenager who is playing on your computer or watching movies or whatever...then you are burning even more energy because you are awake and in recovery mode. If you didn't have a good snack that provides the carbohydrates and such needed while your body is burning this energy then as a Type 1 Diabetic the result is a low blood sugar. (If you aren't then your body changes how much insulin is going through your system and basically adjusts things. With an insulin pump or long acting insulin in your system there is no way to adjust for it).

This is why a good bedtime snack is so very important! I was recently asked for some examples of a  high protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrate snack that our daughter uses at bedtime. Why protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrate you may be asking...well the slower burning the snack the longer the energy lasts, more or less. It takes longer to process so it creates a steady amount of energy for your body for a longer period of time. Think of those times you drank or ate something high in sugar and then you had the 'sugar crash'. Your body got energy from what you ate but it burned up so quickly that you crashed down to no energy afterwards. Regardless of whether you have Type 1 Diabetes or not, balancing your food and snacks helps maintain your energy levels and keeps you from being over hungry later (which just results in over eating).

Now I must remind you that I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT a health care professional. I am only sharing with you what works for us and the education we have received from our doctors and health care team. Never take anything you read on the Internet as law or fact for your situation, no matter how similar it may seem. Always ask your doctor prior to changing or using any new techniques! If your doctor has recommended balanced snacks and meals for your Type 1 Diabetic child, then the following list of our snacks may help you build your own and may even give you some new ideas.

So back to the examples. When I was asked I realized my daughter is now almost 17 years old and she is control of what food she eats and doesn't eat. So I had to look for our lists and I updated them based on what she normally eats for her snacks. The main goal is to get a child who is a Type 1 Diabetic to eat a good snack, while dealing with the normal childhood pickyness. Remember these are our numbers based on the products we use. Always notate your own exact information from the products you are using...they can vary and I don't want your child to have a high or low because of our numbers.

Some of the snacks we use for bedtime:

100% Whole grain whole wheat bread (1 piece) with peanut butter (about 1 tablespoon)
10g fat
5g fiber
9g protein
23g carbs

Quesedilla (one 10" flour tortilla) with cheddar cheese (about 1/2 a cup)
23g fat
3g fiber
20g protein
37g carbs

Special K red berries cereal (about 1 cup) with 2 % milk (about 1/2 cup)
2.5g fat
3g fiber
6g protein
33g carbs

Baked beans (about 1/2 cup) with a cut up chicken hot dog
10g fat
5g fiber
12g protein
32g carbs

1/2 bag of microwave popcorn, 1 medium size apple (with skin), and 1 piece of string cheese
12g fat
4g fiber
9.5g protein
23g carbs

substitute a med size pear instead of above apple
12g fat
6.5g fiber
9.5g protein
35g carbs

Tostitos scoops tortilla chips (24 chips) with salsa (about 4 tablespoons) and queso (about 1 tablespoon)
15g fat
5.5g fiber
4.5g protein
45g carbs
We add string cheese to many snacks simply because my daughter likes cheese, its easy since its individually wrapped, and really provides the needed protein and fat combo to almost any carbohydrate snack. Did you know a single piece of:
Sargento regular string cheese
 6g fat
0g fiber
8g protein
1g carb

Another great snack (if you can get your child to eat it) is Chobani Greek yogurt. Although there is no fiber in these yogurts they really pack a punch with the other components. There are two kinds, a child's style and the regular style. Our three year old loves the child's yogurt in very berry.

Chobani Champions Very Berry Yogurt (the child's style)
1.5g fat
0g fiber
8g protein
13g carbs
Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt (standard style)
0g fat
0g fiber
14g protein
20g carbs

Another item we keep on hand for our daughter is the Snickers fun size candy bars. Our Endocrinologist recommended them. No seriously, they work great for a snack or in a pinch a slight low while your out and about (like at school in class).  We don't use this as a bedtime snack, I just thought I would share it with you.
Snickers fun size candy bar
4g fat
.5g fiber
1.5g protein
10.5g carbs

I would love to have some feedback. What is your child's favorite bedtime snack or snacks? Do you battle with morning lows? If we all share then think of all the information we would have available!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skittles Rainbow Cake!!!

I made the most awesome cake yesterday! I posted pictures of it on Facebook because well, dammit I was pretty proud of myself.

All I did was modify and add some of my own ideas to an existing cake I have seen on Pinterest. When I saw the pictures originally I thought talk about tasting a rainbow! Then it hit me, wait what if the cake was flavored like Skittles and you could taste the rainbow? I actually tried to think of what flavors to use for the colors to get it to taste like Skittles, then it just kind of occurred to me why not just use Skittles to flavor it like Skittles? That was easier than trying to find and buy the flavors at the store.

Friends and family members asked me how I made it and asked for the recipe. So I have decided to map it out for you and share how I made this incredible Skittles Rainbow Cake for my husband and children on Valentine's Day.

What you will need:

Space to cool your cakes,
6 jars or bowls
2 cake mixes (I used white cake mix with the whole egg recipe)
a 14 ounce bag of Skittles
food coloring
and patience

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups water
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

You begin by separating your Skittles by color. I would recommend starting with the bottom of the rainbow and moving your way up since the syrups and cakes will cool in the same order. I used 6 small mason jars with 1/3 cup of water in each. (the only thing I wish I had done was save some Skittles to put on the top of the cake after frosting, its up to you whether you want to or not).

I used our magic bullet to grind each color up as I went prior to mixing with the water in the saucepan to melt them down. But you don't have to do this step. They will melt from full size. I just don't have the arm endurance to stir that long, so I ground mine up (dry) in the bullet. You could also use a food processor.

Over medium heat dissolve the Skittles with the 1/3 cup water (I prepoured mine to make them all the same and to also have a place to pour the hot syrup into when it was done). I brought mine to a boil briefly and then poured into the jar.
Rinse and repeat. In the last jar I mixed blue food coloring into the 1/3 cup of water, since there are not blue Skittles. This was the only layer in the cake that didn't have a fruit flavor.

This is what my Skittles syrups looked like when finished.
Warning! The syrup is very hot and also smells incredible. Be careful and don't get too close.

Now onto the cake. I did one box at a time to keep them as even as possible. I also only have two cake pans of the same size so I did two at a time. I mixed the cake mix as directed EXCEPT I did not add water. It is best to have a mixer for this since it is a stiff mixture. Separate into 3 even amounts. I measures the first one out and it was just under 3 cups, so I did just under a cup for each.

Again begin with the bottom of the rainbow so when you are assembling your cake the layers you need will be the coolest. I also spooned off the very top of the Skittles syrup, I am pretty sure this was the wax ingredient they use to make the Skittles. Its not harmful to eat and most likely won't effect the cake, but it looked icky to me so I took it out. It was about a spoon and a half of cloudy white waxy liquid.

In a bowl mix your cake mixture and one jar of Skittles syrup well. I added liquid food coloring to get the desired color of cake I wanted. I used the primary regular colors for the red, orange (yellow and red), and green. But for the blue and purple I used the neon food coloring. They have a pretty purple and I mixed the primary blue and the turquoise neon color for the blue cake.

Prepare your pans as you would normally for a cake (I spray and flour mine). The amount of batter in the pan will be less than normal, make sure to even the batter out in your pan so it will bake as evenly as possible. Bake each cake at 350 degrees watching very carefully. They are thinner than normal and will be done quicker. I use the toothpick method to keep from over cooking my cakes. (Dry cake is yucky). Depending on your oven, you may need to rotate them once as they cook. You know your oven, do like you normally do.

Mix, bake, and repeat. If a layer or two are different thicknesses don't worry, it will still look awesome. And don't worry about the colors of the cakes once baked. They look dull and blah on the outsides, but that's what frosting is for. Once you cut into them you will see the wonderful bright colors you mixed earlier.

While your cakes are cooling it is onto the frosting! You can make whatever kind of frosting you like. I made the fluffy white frosting my grandmother has made since I was a kid. It's sweet but not overly rich with butter.

Separate 4 egg whites into your mixer...don't turn on yet.
On the stove mix into a saucepan:
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups water
1/2 tsp cream of tarter

Mix it together and turn on the stove...once you have the stove on walk over and turn on your mixer to beat the egg whites until they have stiff peaks. You want the sugar mixture and egg whites to be done at the same time, which is why you want to turn them on at the same time. (Do not over beat your egg whites or you will end up with more of a divinity than a frosting. Once you can touch a spoon to them and they stick and peak they are ready).

Bring your sugar mixture to a boil. A good bubbly boil, but stop as soon as that happens (your not making candy here). I pour my sugar mixture into a large Pyrex measuring cup because its easier for me to handle the very, very, hot liquid and pour it into the mixture while its going in the mixer without spilling it all over myself. Up to you if you want to just slowly pour from the pan or not.

Your egg whites are ready and your sugar mixture is bubbly hot... while on a medium speed (not fast enough to spit it all out the sides but fast enough to actually mix and whip) slowly drizzle the sugar mixture into the mixer. Once you are done pouring it in you will need to mix for another 7-10 minutes. The hot sugar mixture slowly cooks the egg whites so don't worry you won't be eating raw eggs in your frosting.

It doesn't take too long to cool...so once it is cool enough begin assembling your cake. Remember red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple! So start with purple on the bottom. It works best if you have a spinning cake plate made for frosting (my daughter Macy's best friend, Heather bought me one for Christmas. I helped her make a lovely chocolate cake for her moms birthday and we used a plate on top of a bowl. I don't think that would have worked with 6 layers).
You do not need a lot of frosting in between the layers. The cake is a wonderful sweet flavor and it doesn't need too much. You could skip the frosting all together, but wheres the fun in that?But its up to you and your skill level of keeping the cake upright. Spin and frost. Stack and repeat!

This picture has my very eager-to-eat-cake children in it for a reference on the size of the cake!

Here is our finished product. I recommend refrigerating the cake and keeping it covered. Hopefully it won't last too long, but the frosting dries out if left uncovered and the cake will too. It really preserves the flavor and texture if you can find room for it in your fridge.
Good luck and most importantly, HAVE FUN! If it tastes wonderful, its perfect.