Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Naturally Sweet Sisters!

As always, Halloween celebrated 'Naturally Sweet Sisters' style is about having fun and making lots of family memories.  Enjoy your trick or treating, count your candy, eat a little or a lot and fall asleep with the happy thought that Christmas is only a mere 55 days away!

Need Carb Counts?  Click here

Need Candy Removal Ideas?  Consider the following:

1.)  Donate to your local senior center.  Grandmas and Grandpas love candy just as much as everyone else and quite often, do not have the financial resources or the mobility to go out and buy it.   The Naturally Sweet Sisters did this two years in a row and received lots of praise and 'thank you's' for thinking of our lovable seniors.

2.)  Donate it back to your child's teacher for classroom or school stores, reward incentives or special celebrations at school.  It can even be used for a PTO/PTA fundraiser during the annual bake sales.  Just bag up a portion of the candy into a cute goodie bag and price it a $1.00.  A great way to help make a little bit of money for your school.

3.)  Team up with a local dentist or orthodontist to send candy overseas to the Military through a buy-back program.  In our area, several dental groups are offering children a dollar per pound of candy, up to five pounds.  It's a win-win situation for kids and soldiers alike! 

4.)  Freeze it.  In the upcoming holiday months, several recipes call for candy to be added to cookies or cake for an extra scrumptious treat.  Our personal favorite is to add m&m candies to our Sunday morning pancakes.  Just sprinkle a few on top of the pancake as it begins to bubble.  Flip over to cook the other side and then, serve!  No syrup needed! 

5.)  If all else fails and a least one spouse works, consider sending it with him/her to the office to share with the 'big kids'.  Every year my husband snags one bag full to keep on the candy jar located on his desk.  He says it makes him the most popular guy in the building for a least a couple of days. 

Hope your Halloween is the best one yet and be sure to take lots of pictures.  I am starting to see the subtle changes that at least one of my Naturally Sweet Sisters might be nearing the end of the trick or treat tradition.  It really does make you realize that Halloween is all about making life long family memories and I am so thankful that I didn't let Type 1 Diabetes get in our way. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick - or - Treat with Sanofi, NSS and a Whole Lotta Candy

In the spirit of advocating for families living with type 1 diabetes, Sanofi US contacted me and asked if I would be willing to share our traditions on Halloween.  Ofcourse!!!!!  Sign me right up!  Naturally Sweet Sisters (NSS) is written entirely to show support and to encourage children and adults living with type 1 diabetes.

After our fun telephone talk, which by the way had me grinning from ear to ear - the Sanofi staff is awesome!!! -, the following article was drafted to help normalize holidays, specifically Halloween, while living with type 1 diabetes. 

Anyone who knows NSS understands that we truly live by the motto; Kids First, Diabetes Second.  Halloween is just one more way to create some truly kid (and family) oriented memories.  Yes, even with a big bag of carbs.  You CAN do this! 

Thank you to Sanofi US for encouraging families not to give up on their own Halloween traditions.

Here is a direct link:

Halloween: A Mother Shares how her Girls with Type 1 Diabetes Celebrate

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski
The leaves have changed colors, the weather has gotten cooler and the wind has become a spooky howl. Yes, Halloween is upon us! While many families worry about the amount of sugar their kids will bring home in their trick-or-treat bags, parents of children with diabetes have additional challenges this time of year. Today, Amy Ohmer of Naturally Sweet Sisters shares the ways she and her family, which includes two daughters living with type 1 diabetes, celebrate Halloween to the fullest.
When Amy’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes in December of 2006, she had to relearn how to do everything for her daughter, including how to celebrate holidays like Halloween.
“The first Halloween post-diagnosis was overwhelming. We went from having a palooza Halloween, celebrating it, enjoying it, reveling in it and not even thinking about what the kids were doing or eating,” Amy said. “Then we had our first diagnosis. At that point we were just not even sure what to do. We were still educating ourselves about the disease.”
Amy’s daughters dressed up for Halloween
Amy’s daughters dressed up for Halloween

Amy had to be creative in celebrating Halloween that first year. At that point, her oldest daughter had not yet been diagnosed with type 1, so she had to find ways to celebrate Halloween to accommodate the needs of both children. Her solution was to create a “store” in their house post trick-or-treating where both girls would turn over different amounts of candy for different prizes.
“During the first year we decided the best thing to do would be to get the candy out of the house. We started with a store. We bought little trinkets and a few big prizes for the girls to ‘buy’ with their Halloween candy,” Amy said. “A Barbie doll might be worth 10 pieces of candy, a sleepover party may be worth the entire bag.”
When the store worked out well, Amy realized that Halloween wasn’t all about the candy for the kids; it was about the celebration. Then, in 2009, her oldest daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Although it was still challenging, Amy felt much more prepared. She said the family’s holiday celebrations have evolved as the girls have gotten older and the family has learned more about diabetes in the process.
“Now we look at Halloween as a big, fun celebration. The kids go out, they trick-or-treat, and they try to get as much candy as they possibly can. It’s like a scavenger hunt for them. Then they bring it back. They spread it all out. We look through it. They categorize it,” Amy said. “When that’s over, we let the girls pick out their favorites, and that’s what they focus on. We bag up the rest of it and send it to work with my husband to share with the ‘big kids.’”
Amy’s daughters with their pumpkin seeds
Amy’s daughters with their
pumpkin seeds

Although Halloween tends to revolve around candy, Amy’s family has another holiday snack they enjoy—pumpkin seeds! She said she started making them a lot after her daughters’ diagnoses because seeds are low in carbs, easy to make and there are a variety of flavors to make with them.
“We’ve actually bought extra pumpkins just to have more pumpkin seeds!” Amy said. “We make pumpkin carving a family affair. The fun part of this is that my husband usually gets stuck with cleaning the pumpkin out. Then the girls and I clean the seeds. Everybody has a laugh over it.”
Amy says making the seeds is fun, but eating them is even better. “We all enjoy munching on the seeds after we’ve roasted them,” she said. “We pick different flavors to season them with. Our current favorites are cracked black pepper or a little bit of garlic, very delicious. You can put almost anything on the seeds and they roast wonderfully.”
Amy’s final advice for parents of children living with diabetes is to just enjoy Halloween or any other holiday that comes around. “All you have to do is prepare a little bit,” she says. “Relax, enjoy it, have fun. The kids are just little for such a short amount of time. Those are the memories that you want to make.”
I’m impressed with Amy’s creative ideas and those pumpkin seeds sound delicious! A big thanks to Amy for sharing her family’s philosophy. I wish you all a very happy Halloween!
My best,
Laura K.

Disclosure: Amy Ohmer received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Almost Her Entire Life

She turned 9 this week.

"Where did my baby go?", I wondered quietly to myself.

An inspiring number (9) as she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly after her 3rd birthday. 

"Almost her entire life", I silently marveled.

Her joy and anticipation of her birthday was not once overshadowed by type 1 diabetes.

"I still have so much to learn and she is my teacher",  I thought as I tried to shoo the diaversaries out of my mind.

Even though she had to attend her marathon A1c appointment the day before her party.  With more pokes, more prodding and a few invasive questions sprinkled in for good measure, she handled the appointment flawlessly. 

"Only 9 years, yet wise beyond", I thought. 

Instead, she simply radiated lovely in only the way that happy and well adjusted 9 - year old could, writing a wish list of all things pink, sparkly and lalaloopsy. 

And at the end of her shining birthday moment, even when her CGM beeped a low bg warning, she simply grinned and asked "for more cake, please."

"She is happy and because of her happiness, so am I."

Happy Birthday to our fabulous youngest daughter!  You makes us so very proud!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Funnies- 10/26 Busy D Bee

Tomorrow is our annual comprehensive (and quarterly) A1c appointment.  If you are like me and have a history of cramming the night before a big test, I bet you can guess what I have been doing....

Something that takes a lot of time and whole lot of patience.  And no, not studying.


Yes, downloading.  Not the kind of old-school "downloading" (did we even use that term back then?????) that requires memorization and books.  Instead, the modern day download of tiny microprocessors cleverly disguised as medical equipment.

A whole lot of downloading from two DexComs and two Animas Ping insulin pumps.

I am not sure what your thoughts are about the "dongle" that reads the Ping but I think it makes even the calmest people a little crazy.  It takes hours and several reboots. 

I swear that I am not moving the sensor!  $%&!  (insert bleep!)

And why is it that the DexCom seems to take years to load data? 

I have been up and down and back around at least four times only to see the same data load position of 52%.  Are you kidding me?  Load!  $%&!  (insert a second bleep!)

So if any pump/CGM manufacturers out there want a little (bleeping) advice.... please start using 4G because my simple little cellphone is a million times faster than either of these!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Be A Halloweenie (Repost)

Here is a repost from Saturday, October 22, 2011 - Hope you enjoy!

Be A Halloweenie!

The countdown to Halloween is on.

Costume parties, school parades, church trunk or treating, neighborhood trick or treating, boo'ing with your neighbors, classroom parties, bonfires in the backyard and so much more.

All of this is so much fun! Right? (insert googly eyes here)

Well, for the kids maybe.  For the parents suffering from Halloween over-load, I get it. I feel it too. The one-day-a-year holiday has now morphed into weeks of festivities. Everyone wants to be able to provide a young child with a magical memory to last a lifetime.

To me as a parent, it is like living in Halloween 7, except Michael Meyers is now best friends with Martha Stewart and Willy Wonka. And they live next door. And hold seats on the PTA. But I digress...

Sooooo, how do we deal with it?

We dive directly into the fray. The girl's enjoy the activities from costume selection to savoring all of the junk food. We count carbs, dose more insulin than we ever thought possible and go to bed early at night, preparing for even more fun the next day.

Yes, with type 1 diabetes.

I've seen quite a bit floating around in blog land about ways to stop your child with type 1 diabetes from participating in enjoying the holidays, especially Halloween.

As a reminder, "kids first, diabetes second." This means that you have permission to let your children participate in the fun. Revel in it, brag about it and fall to sleep dreaming of the goodness of Halloween overload.

The years of childhood are few and precious. It seems that in a blink, our children are grown and no longer want to participate in family oriented events. My advice is to enjoy this time. Try not to fret about candy or donuts or cider. Count up the funsized candy bars with your kids and make a pile of the gross pieces that have wrappers missing. Laugh about the house that gave out toothpaste. Take a taste of one treat or even five. Talk to your kids about their favorites and enjoy watching them savor a bite. Give a high five to your kids for scoring a full-sized candy bar. And take turns teasing daddy as his belly swells from the laffy taffy.

Carbs will be counted, insulin will be given and in a few weeks, the leftover candy can safely be disposed of...

If Michael, Martha or Willy happens to also live in your neighborhood, may I suggest a care package to them? They will undoubtedly love it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Diabetes Detectors (or Veruka Is A Bad Nut)

Yesterday, as we walked out of my younger daughter's school, I noticed my daughter wasn't acting in her  "so-glad-school-is-over-what-is-for-dinner-can-I-play" typical manner.

Instead, her face looked sadly tired, her arms were crossed in an attempt to protect herself from the world and she seemed to be holding back a few tears.

I stopped walking on the sidewalk and gently took off her backpack and asked if she had a good day or bad kind of day.

"Bad", she mumbled. 

"Very, very, very bad." 

A couple of hot tears rolled down her flushed cheeks.  She looked at me with an accusing frown and said, "Why do you make me wear this?"  She pointed to her CGM sensor which was clearly visible on her arm below the sleeve of her brightly orange colored Halloween inspired t-shirt. 

I look to where she is pointing and at first glance, all I see with my mommy-colored glasses is a beautiful, well defined bicep muscle, formed from hours of playground monkey business poking out of her short sleeves.  She points her finger dramatically to get my attention and I then notice she is clearly pointing to one small, gray DexCom sensor.

"This!"  She is now shouting to release the pent-up emotions from the school day.

"Everybody asked me what this is.  They wouldn't stop.  One girl told me it was weird.  I told her to shut-up.  I told her to it was nothing and to mind her own business but she wouldn't stop.  She just asking and pointing.  She was so mean."

Now the tears are streaming down her face and she rams her head into my belly for hugs and comforting.  As I gently pat her back, I am acutely aware of curious parents and teachers who are also walking through the parking lot and witnessing the scene. 

For a moment, I wonder what they are thinking.  Do they think my child is acting out or misbehaving and as a result, that I am somehow punishing her?  Don't they realize what their own kids are saying at school?  Do they condone this behavior and why aren't they stopping it?  Who are these people?

But I can't dwell on these thoughts because I am holding an emotionally exhausted little girl who clearly is dealing with more than the average 4th grader. 

What's worse is that I don't even know what to say.  Denying the existence of inappropriate children would be to minimize the pain of my child or worse, condoning their behavior. 

I feel trapped because I know deep down that not one person in our school building (teachers, counselors, principal) would have the empathy or the knowledge to deal with the burdens that type 1 diabetes brings to our family.  Unless they live it, they will never understand the heaviness of living with t1d day in and day out.

The burden of type 1 diabetes while physically difficult is also emotionally isolating to all of us and especially, to my little girl.

I know people remark on the curiosities of the world.  Children especially, question anything outside of their own knowledge of normal.  Adults tend to have more tact but clearly, at this exact moment of comfort, we are both standing in the middle of the fish bowl.  This isn't our normal to stop, cry and comfort in the parking lot.  People are going to stare.

I can only imagine that happening all day long for a 9-year old with a CGM site on her arm, especially when that is not their normal.

My heart breaks for her.  The technology used to keep her alive is also the technology that quite often attempts to kill her spirit and self confidence.

I tell her the first thing that pops into my head which is this, "You did have a tough day.  I am sorry that you had to deal with that and it isn't nice."

I pause, wipe her face and hold her eyes with my own stare..... "And tomorrow, if she asks again, you don't have to answer her but if you do, be sure to look her right in the eye and say this helps me feel good.  If you don't understand that, than maybe you better go talk to teacher because I have already explained it to you."

I take my daughter's hand and I see that she is listening attentively, waiting for the wisdom only a mother can speak.

So I tell her this... 

"One day you are going to make a choice to have a career.  You may not know this now but experiences like this, will give you the understanding of how to help other children, and maybe grown-ups too.  You can take all of these feelings, remember them and then one day, you will be able to show the world how to be kinder and more caring to everyone else.  There is only one YOU and you are AMAZING."

I tell her one last thing.  "My darling girl, diabetes does not define you.  You are so much more than a CGM site and anyone who can't see past that is a fool.  Weed out the bad ones and you will be left with a group of the best friends anyone could imagine.  In a way, we are lucky that diabetes does that for us.  You have a built in meter right here."

I point at her CGM site, pretending to wiggle my finger like a lever.

"When someone asks too many questions or says something that isn't nice, this little CGM is going to detect that for you.  You just drop them like a bad nut." 

 My reference to the modern day Willy Wonka movie gets through to her.  I can see her thinking of the Verukas of the world and know that she is placing that girl from today into Veruka's shoes as a "bad nut".

(Conversely, I am doing the same with the parents. I don't tell her that though.)

We look at each for a long moment and then I see a faint smile and she asks me, "What is for dinner?  Can I play?" 

For the moment, she is going to be OK. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Can of Worms (Test Strips In The Middle of The Night)

Have you ever open a vial of test strips only to magically experience your own 'can of worms'?

You know, the kind of blood glucose meter vial that magically spews test strips in all directions the moment the lid flips open.

And even after you think you have cleaned up at the mess, carefully repackaging the exploded strips at 3:00 a.m., so as not to repeat the performance in the morning...

That you still find yourself waking up with multiple test strips stuck to your pajamas?

Seriously, how does that happen?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Matching Game (DexCom Makes it Fun!)

I snapped this picture this morning before school...

Often I am asked how closely the DexCom matches the meter and luckily, I am able to reply that it is within two or three points of what is shown.  There are a few exceptions such as eating a big meal or jumping into the shower (the hot water effect) but for most of the day, this little Dexie is quite remarkable.

Yesterday, we had a missed bolus.  Instead of waiting until the signs were unmistakable, our daughter was able to feel the vibration of the DexCom and alerted to the double arrow rise.  She added the bolus insulin back in, correcting the high and went about her merry way.

No big deal.

Except this is state exam week - a very big deal - and she would have been stuck in a room testing for hours, with a high bg and feeling crappy from ketones.  I don't like to think of what her scores would have looked like. 

Thankfully, none of that happened.

So add this to the list of reasons of why a CGM Continuous Glucose Monitor might work for you.

Driving - eek!
Field Trips
Parties with buffets

and now, State exams

I am sure the list will continue to grow.  Feel free to post your most beloved reasons for having a CGM and if you have played the matching game between the CGM and the blood sugar meter.  How close are you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Windshields For Animas Pumps

Captured during a moment of investigating the new DexCom Platinum 4!

After my oldest daughter's two and half year-old insulin pump started to look like this,

No, this isn't even on at the moment, those are just major scuff marks.

We knew it was time for a little bit of refurbishing.  Or as my daughter said, "It is time for a new windshield for my pump, Mom."

After calling the Animas support line, I was directed back to their gallery of products to find this,

a Lens Protection Film Kit for Animas One Touch Ping Insulin Pumps.  At a mere $9.95 for a package of three, I could give a face-lift to both of the girl's insulin pumps in one order.  It also felt good to know that I would have an extra just in case of application errors.  Hey, it happens!

Inside the package (sent UPS ground for $5.00) were three plastic screen protectors, a rubber mat and one bottle of spray cleaner.

Carefully following the enclosed directions, we peeled the older screen protector off, and wiped down the pump face.  Spraying our hands and the pump, we slowly applied the new screen, using the rubber mat to press out any remaining air bubbles.

In less than five minutes, we went from this,

to this shiny little beauty! 

Did you notice her nails match the pump? 

Now, if only we could find matching paint for a few extra dings....  um, and for my car too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dexie and Dexter Go To School (Making Standardized Test Taking A Little Easier)

Notice the brownish smudge?  Anyone have that before?  Looks like we need new CGMs.
Last night, in an effort to troubleshoot the week ahead, we decided to dust off our DexCom Seven CGMs and do a quick insertion and calibration.

By quick, I mean a battery charge for two hours, then an anxiety-riddled insertion for 30 minutes and finally, a three hour calibration which brought us to midnight. 

Midnight and then, of course, waking back up for any buzz or beeping noise from the bedrooms.

For the most part, after a few inaccurate calibrations, our Dexie and Dexter (hand picked names from youngest and oldest daughters) showed nice and consistent flat lines. 

The 166 is post breakfast from oldest daughter and happily,still trending flat. 

The 119 is wake-up from youngest daughter with no breakfast on-board and still trending flat.

Mama is so happy and even thinking it is worth an entire night of no-sleep.

Here is hoping for a great week of standardized test taking for both young ladies and maybe, even a nap today for me!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Babysitters with Diabetes (or An Oldest Daughter's Milestone)

It seems like I was just searching for babysitters.  For years, it was a task all by itself to find and train appropriate caregivers that would be able to not only watch and entertain my children, but also able to keep them safe.  As both of my daughters live with type 1 diabetes, this was no easy task.

I had to find someone who wasn't afraid of diabetes stereotypes, including needles, could handle basic math for carb counting and had a calm and level headed personality. 

Boy, was that a tall order!

We did find a few wonderful young ladies who were able to fit the role but each went off to college, one even pursuing a degree in nursing.  It seemed like our search was never-ending.

Last night, our sweet little girl (now a sweet sixth-grader) took her first American Red Cross Baby-Sitter's class. 

Clearly, we have come full circle.  No longer will I have the need to search for babysitters, instead, I have raised my own.

Date night just became a whole lot more exciting!

What is interesting, is that within the Babysitter's Training Manual is a short description of how to handle a "Diabetic Emergency."

My daughter happily pointed that section out to me and agreed, that everyone should know what diabetes means and how to handle it should a child require immediate assistance. 

And then with a smile she said, "I'm already ahead of the game Mom, because I know exactly what to do."

Special thanks goes to the American Red Cross for making a difference in teaching basic diabetes awareness to a brand new group of babysitters.  Naturally Sweet Sisters applauds your efforts!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ra- Ra, Shish, Boom, Ba - It's Spirit Week! Got ice cream?

Crazy Day

Spirit week is in full force over here. 

That means that for five days, with a culmination on Friday of a Homecoming parade and high school football game, our kids have total freedom over their wardrobes and quite possibly, a slightly easier study load for the first time since school started.

Spirit week is fun, for both parents and children alike. 

For our school, the week has assigned days like this:

Monday:  Crazy Day - dress as crazy as you want.
Tuesday:  Pajama Day - wear those comfy pjs to school.
Wednesday:  Pocket Day - wear all the pockets you can.
Thursday:  Sunday Best - wear your nicest duds to school.
Friday:  Spirit Day - wear all things spirit in school colors.

As a parent of a child(ren) with type 1 diabetes, I secretly love events that do not involve extra planning for counting carbs or adjusting insulin needs.  It isn't that we wouldn't participate if there was a buffet of sweets everyday (and we have because it is always kids first, diabetes second), it just means that it is a whole lot easier and better when food is taken out of the equation.

Usually, spirit week is a non-food event week.


This year, on pocket day, the child wearing the most pockets will be rewarded with an ice cream purchased by the principal.

Which leads me to once again scratch my head and wonder at what we as a society are sending messages about - is this one saying every time you have"fun", you celebrate with "food"?  Or to be blunt, winning = food?  It is no wonder we have issues with obesity and the dreaded (and completely avoidable) type 2 diabetes in children.  We are teaching our kids to eat.

What happened to earning a gold star or a paper reward ribbon?  Or better yet, just pure satisfaction that you won?  Clearly, we have forgotten that simple praise.  In our current decade, everything has to be bigger and better than before.  Supersize is still around; only now with new names that have friendlier health terms such as "large value size", "grande" or "biggie".  Really, who are we kidding people?

This extra consumption adds into the total of all those unnecessary calories while sitting at school.  Between reward prizes, birthday treats, holiday parties and candy tossed for correct answers or following procedures, our kids, to whom PE is provided maybe once a week, are sitting and consuming without a thought as to what they are eating. 

We give it to them and they simply eat it.

This is NOT the type 1 diabetes talking either because I am sure that people think my children can't eat this or that (which is absolutely untrue) so I don't want anyone to eat it (also untrue).  It is just an observation from a mom who actually reviews what goes into her children's mouths. 

I am in-tune from living with type 1 diabetes but not because of type 1 diabetes.  You know our saying, "whether my kids eat carrots or candy, we need to count carbs and dose insulin".

Maybe I should be calm.  After all, I know that this is just an ice cream.  One ice cream.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I also know that we could choose to not try to win and that would be perfectly acceptable too.
In fact, that is probably what people would expect us to do because of the rampant misinformation plaguing type 1 diabetes.  Quick medical lesson, this is an auto-immune disease that no one chose, caused, asked for or wanted and could not be avoided or prevented - insulin is NOT a cure and only our lifesaving medical treatment until a cure can be found.

But back to that thought of kids first, diabetes second.  My child carefully read the rules of spirit week over and instantly her eyes gleamed as she read about pocket day. 

"Mommmmmmmm!  Did you know that you can win on pocket day?", she said excitedly pointing to the flyer.  "I want to win!  I am going to sew and sew and sew.  Wait, can you help me?  We can win!"

I look over at big, hopeful, green kitty cat eyes staring back at me and nod my head in reply.


Because at the end of the day, I am not going to let the extra hassle with counting ice cream carbs, spiking blood sugars and excessive calorie intake stop her from reaching for her dreams.  She deserves to try and win just like everyone else out there.

I will however, monitor that food intake later, adjust insulin for those extra carbs and make sure we all have a nice walk at the end of the day whether she wins or not.  

Change may not come at our school but it will come from our family in advocating and modeling responsible lifestyle choices and not rewarding with food but with a big hug and a high five. 

This is the "spirit" from spirit week that I hope catches on.