Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taken Aback

Ready for some whine?

I went to yoga class last night but couldn't do all the poses because of my stinkin'tendonitis elbow. Can't put weight on it so I did downward facing dog lightly on a chair and all my standing poses had a crooked aspect to them thanks to my non-straightening arm. *sigh*

Toward the end of class we were separated into people doing shoulder stand and people not inverting (me!), who were told to do supported bridge pose at the wall. I had one blanket & a block, so I set them up at the wall, and went across the room to get a few more blankets and a strap. Another lady is setting up her shoulder stand blankets right up next to where mine is, and it is clear that her legs will fall across my body if she does so. Before I go on...

I love my teacher. I love my class! People go in and out of it, move up levels, but there is a core group of us that has been there a while. We are in the smaller studio of the two in the building, and we are often crammed like sardines. But hey! It's yoga! There's always room for one more mat. Whenever someone comes in and it looks like there's no space, we're always scootching our mats over, saying, "come over here! Plenty of room!"

Back to last night. I said to the lady (and this is either someone who was new to our class because I didn't know her, or she was dropping in) "Oh, I just set up here because I'm doing bridge pose. But you can take my spot over there (there was a nice big opening in the middle of the room), I'll move my mat, I can't do shoulder stand today."

She says, "no, I'd prefer to be in the spot I've been all night. There's a spot across the room that you can take."

I was taken aback. I tend to speak my mind, but this was YOGA class for goodness sake, and although I was teetering on the brink of bitchiness, I just couldn't let it happen. Even though I did put my blanket down first! Anyway, I smiled sweetly, said "*I* don't mind," picked up my stuff (with my hurt elbow, sniff sniff) and went across the room to a rather pinched spot, but I made it work. Because that's what we do, we make it work.

In final relaxation I couldn't relax very well because my brain was still stamping it's pissed off little feet. Ugh. So next week, if she's there, I'm going to sit next to her. Say hi, get to know her. Sometimes my teacher makes us move to different places in the room to get us out of our comfort zone. I need to move across to her side to get back into mine.

Monday, January 28, 2008

See What Happens When You Have a Birthday?

Actually, it was a few days before my birthday that I woke up in the middle of the night, quite uncomfortable. In that pre-dawn muddle I wasn't sure what was bugging me, but I tossed & turned and finally shook it off enough to fall back asleep. When I awoke, my elbow hurt.

It hurt like I had banged it against the corner of my night table (not an impossible thing to do in my sleep, knowing me). I looked for a bruise but saw nothing. Shrugged. Oh well, it will go away.

But it didn't go away. The darned thing hurt all week! I didn't take anything because it was so incongruous, I just kept thinking that it would disappear in the night, going the way that it came.

Last weekend the elbow spoke quite loudly. It would not be bend all the way. It would not straighten. No lifting, please. What the heck happened?

I got an appointment this morning, not with my doctor, but with the P.A., who told me I had tendonitis. Huh? Where the hell did that come from? Honestly, the dishwasher wasn't that heavy. I helped move it a few feet and felt no pain. Nothing snapped or pinged or creaked.

I must take advil around the clock for a few days and ice ice, baby. See the lovely ice pack?

So my boss had an explanation as to why it happened. He said, "it happened last Sunday because you were one day older than last Saturday. And that's what happens when you get older. You get pain. Things start falling apart." Yeah. Right around the birthday, too. Sheesh.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I’ve been thinking a lot about being in d-mode this week, from the mom’s point of view. I wonder if I’m always in d-mode? How does this affect everything & everyone else around me?

First of all, when the nurses at the hospital explained diabetes to me, it was kind of unreal. The implications of the 24/7-ness of diabetes didn’t really hit until we were getting ready to leave the hospital. I felt a grip of fear, just as I did when the nurses, so many years before, gave me my new baby to take home. “You mean, I have to take care of this all by myself?” A big, tired, whiny part of my mind cried, “I CAN’T!!” And a deeper, calmer voice inside my heart said, “Take your baby home and love him the best way you know how.”

That same, still voice follows me around today. Loving Daniel the best way I know how includes learning what seemed to be the equivalent of a few college courses in a couple weeks’ time to be able to do diabetes care. Friends shake their heads and cluck worriedly, saying, “I don’t know how you – give a shot, get up in the middle of the night, learn all about carb counting, deal with the insurance companies, weigh all the food, write everything down….” But I know that if one of their children was sucker punched with diabetes or another devastating illness, my friends would roll up their sleeves, put on their battle gear, and get down in the trenches with me. It’s what we do for our children.

Diabetes affects my thinking. In conversations with friends I have to clamp my mouth shut so often, because I relate so many things these days with diabetes care. Going on trips, eating out, parties, school, everything. I don’t want diabetes to be the focus of every conversation. Eventually, my friends would avoid talking to me! But it’s there, in the back of my mind. In that way I’m always in d-mode.

When I’m at work I have intense moments of activity. D-mode easily slides back into its little compartment in my brain and takes a nap. But if I happen to look at the clock, I’ll find myself thinking, “I wonder if Daniel remembered to test his blood sugar after lunch today?” (The time he usually forgets.) D-mode. Can’t get away from it.

Sometimes d-mode feels like a physical chore. As if someone handed me a barbell with weights that were manageable – a few pounds – and said, “Here, hold this forever or something terrible will happen.” For the first few hours, the first few days, I hold the barbell in the air without a problem. I notice it is there, but I also know that it is what I have to do. Then the weight seems heavier and heavier. My body gets stronger as I deal with the weight. There are days when my arms are just too tired, and I’m thankful that I can hand over the weight to my husband for a while. Or just talking about this burden to family members or the wonderful online community makes it easier to bear.

Hundreds of thousands of people are walking the world, carrying these invisible burdens every hour of ever day in silence. They are in d-mode or c-mode or ms-mode. You never know.

I was deeply disturbed the other day at the grocery store. There was a lady there, probably in her mid 60’s. She had a mentally disabled son in his 20’s with her and she was yelling at him. “I tell you to do ONE THING and you CAN’T EVEN DO THAT!” “GO SIT OVER THERE! NO, not on the BREAD!” She was berating him for something he did or didn’t do, I’m not sure what. I wheeled my cart away, embarrassed. Then in the pickle aisle, I ran into them again. I needed to get my kosher dills, and the mom was standing in front of them, staring at all the choices. Her son was leaning over her shoulder. As I excuse myself to reach around her & take the jar, she turns to him and yells “I know what you’re doing! You’re just trying to BOTHER ME!” The son was grinning, saying “Okay, sorry, I won’t do that. I’ll listen.”

No, I didn’t say anything. I don’t know their story. I don’t know the son’s levels of behavior. But I do know that the mom had obviously lost the ability to manage her invisible burden, and it was spilling out around her in great, shattering waves.

I was mad at her and sad for her at the same time. Perhaps she has no one to talk to, or to give her a break. Or she could just be a mean person – I don’t know. I saw myself and others giving her a wide berth as she worked her way down the aisles until finally she reached some internal limit and decided to stop shopping & leave the store. There was a palpable sigh of relief, an absence of anger that echoed as loudly as her shouting.

In a sort of a Buddhist way, I’m trying to carry my “burden” mindfully, even joyfully. Just trying to do my part and be thankful. Trying to send out ripples of good & calm into the world. Maybe that’s called being in d-mode. Maybe just be trying my level best to be aware, to be here in every moment, I can be in d-mode and mom-mode and life-mode all the time, and my arms won’t ache from the weight of it all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Third Time's a Charm

Wild Child really annoyed me today. His Jekyll Hyde personality exploded in a public place, which didn't help matters. This, after he received great praise for his maturity and control.

Dominic came to work with me today because he had the day off of school. I work at the school he used to attend, so he visited his old classmates and spent the day with them. The teacher went out of her way to tell me how much he has grown up. How when he raised his hand to talk about things that were off subject, she told him that it wasn't the appropriate time and he said okay! He had a great day.

On the way home we stopped at CVS to pick up Daniel's prescriptions. Nora was with us too. They always ask if they can look at the toys in the toy aisle while I'm waiting to pay for the prescriptions. Fine. Well of course it is taking longer than usual because the person behind the counter can't find the stinking box of pen needles. As I'm waiting, I hear a screech coming from the toy aisle. I quickly excuse myself and go to find Dominic, red faced, complaining about his sister. I grab his hand and run back to the counter. All the while he is fighting me, trying to get back to the toys. I give him my sternest mom look and ask him to stay with me. He screeches in reply.

Nora comes to tell me that Dominic wanted to see all the things that were hanging on the pegs (there were different things behind the front toy), so he was taking them off and putting them on the floor. A CVS employee told her that he wasn't allowed to do that. So she picked them up and put them back. Then Dominic attempted to lift up the front toy to see what was behind it, and Nora thought that wasn't what he should be doing. Screech.

I told Dominic that we could go together to look at what was hanging on the pegs as soon as I got the prescriptions, if he would just calm down and listen. STAMP. SCREECH. Back up two paces. More stern looks on my part. More screeches on his. The prescriptions finally arrive and are paid for. I marched Dominic out of the store.

When we got home, Dominic went into time out. Time out has never been a great thing for him, because he'll slam the door and tear his room apart rather than take the time to calm down.

The things that worked on my other two kids just don't work on this one.

Anyway, he went into time out with a major warning. If I heard one stamp, one slam, one screech, or if his room got messed up, I would call his karate teacher and take him out of class.

Here's the deal. I'm soooo tired of doing the "catch him being good" thing. It just doesn't make a difference to him, or at least, it doesn't at home. We had a talk just this morning about tantrums, and how inappropriate they are for a 7 year old. I said to him, "do you ever get mad at school? Do you have screaming fits there?"

"I do get mad at school. But I don't want to get in trouble. So I calm down and deal with it."

AGH! After I calmed down (I had to clean 2 rooms to do it) I went to Dominic, who was, by then, quite calm and happy. I told him that I have had it. I'm done with tantrums. If he can control himself at school, then he can control himself for the person who loves him most in this world. And if he has a tantrum again, he's going to lose something precious to him. Like his DS. Or his guitar. Or his favorite car book. Whatever. I'm just not putting up with it anymore.

So he says to me, "then I can just use some of the money I have to buy more things!"

Okay. Good point. I said, "That's true. But here's the deal. The first thing you will lose is your money. I'm sure there are lots of underprivileged kids who could really use it. After that's gone, and your piggy bank is empty, then we'll start working on your stuff."

Of course he got very sad. And I explained how sad I was every time he screamed loud enough to break my eardrums. But I reminded him... he doesn't have to lose anything. All he has to do is control that temper. I reminded him of the many techniques I have told him about to try to get him to calm down, the major two being taking deep breaths and talking about the situation.

We'll see what happens. Maybe Super Nanny will appear at my door and tell me that I'm doing everything wrong and that I need a chart on the wall with gold stars for good behavior... but I'd probably just kick her out into the street if she did. She just doesn't know Dominic.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Half Way Point

My birthday is coming up. Two more days and I'll be 45. I don't want a cake because 1) Daniel can't have any regular old gluten-filled bakery cake (and I sincerely doubt that any other members of my family are going to attempt to make a gluten-free one) and 2) I'm trying to lose weight so cake is counter productive. The best birthday present ever was yesterday when Matt installed my lovely new/old dishwasher. Thanks to Carla for donating her not so very old dishwasher to me when she got a newer model. It's Bosch, it's sleek & stainless and I love it as much as one can love an appliance.

So... the birthday thing. There's no guarantees about anything, of course, but am I at the half-way point? What shall I do from here on out? I feel so often that I have been going from one day to the next doing what needs to get done, but not really *living*. Not being aware.

The title of this blog is from a Mary Oliver poem, the summer day, which ends like this:

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? "

I haven't been kneeling in the grass today, it's just too wickedly cold for that! But I am in the middle of a lovely day spent with my family. We're going out tonight for my birthday because Wednesdays are just too busy. In this relaxing day there's time to write and think over life, its joys, its challenges, its blessings. Do a little laundry, do a little knitting, give and receive a lot of hugs.

I'm trying not to let the age thing bug me, but to deeply practice the gratitude I feel for all the wonderful people in my life. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I know there are lots of wonderful organizations out there helping people with diabetes. One of these organizations is AYUDA. I have been reading about AYUDA on Jules' blog for a while now. Jules volunteers with them and has done some amazing work helping underprivileged kids with diabetes!

AYUDA is hoping to win $50,000 through a Parade Magazine contest. To win, they need donations. Go to this link and donate if you can, whatever you can. Because it is the organization with the most donors, not the largest donations, that wins. There are lots of diabetics out there who have resources who can make a difference for other diabetics with practically nothing.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Contingency Plans

Yesterday it snowed. It also sleeted and rained, sometimes separately, sometimes together! I work at a small private school, and we were inundated with phone calls from our parents, asking if we were closing early. Often we like to take cues from the county public schools. We kept checking their web site to see what they would do. Nothing. Nothing.

This week in the public high schools, the kids were taking mid terms. This is a county that usually closes schools when a snowflake is spotted in the far western corner of the boundary; however, I think they were gritting their teeth yesterday, waiting out the weather because they did NOT want to mess with the mid term schedule. We decided at our school to cancel after school activities and asked parents to pick up all children at the end of the school day so that our after care providers could shut down and make their way home.

Parents started trickling in after lunch to get their kids. I heard stories of accidents, slipping and sliding, trucks turning sideways... I was a little nervous, thinking about my kids on the school buses. I work part time, and get out of work just as Daniel is getting out of school. He's not allowed to use us cell phone during the school day, so after I got out I called Daniel to find out if he was already on his way. I was thinking that I'd rather pick him up this time... but he was on the bus with his friends and they were just starting off. So I headed off to my daughter's middle school & my youngest son's elementary school to get them. The weather kept changing. I drove through bands of snow, sleet, and rain. While waiting in the pick-up line at the elementary school, the precipitation changed back to all snow for a while. The flakes were enormous and heavy. It looked like ostrich feathers were falling from the sky.

When Nora and Dominic returned from sledding, later, they were completely soaked.

The heavy precipitation caused a power outage last night. Daniel had 2 friends over celebrating the end of mid terms. I had just gotten one in a long line of leftover dishes cooked in the microwave when the lights went out. AGH!

Luckily I can still light the gas on the stove when the power is out, so leftovers took a little longer to cook, but not much. We ate by candlelight. After his friends left, Daniel and I played Scrabble. I started wondering how long the outage would go, and thought about generators and whether we should get one. We've thought about getting one on and off for a few years. There have been a few times when we have lost power for a few hours, and once for most of a day. Back then we didn't have medicines to deal with.

How long does the insulin keep in the refrigerator once the power goes out? I know the insulin pens can be stored unrefrigerated, but that's usually after they are opened. What if the power goes out and the temp in the refrigerator slowly goes up? I started thinking about all kinds of natural disasters, and what it must be like to live in a place that is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., and have diabetes.

I am going to call the companies and find out what they say, and go from there. I think we need to have a back up medicool kit, or something like that at least, just in case. A contingency plan.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just snow...

It was pretty outside today. On my drive home from work the precipitation switched from snow to sleet to rain and back again. Sometimes all three fell at the same time.

The snowflakes were as large as teacups. They clumped together heavily on the branches, like a bad mascara job.

But with snow, it looks good!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Laugh of the Day

My sister-in-law called to give me the biggest laugh of the day. She reads this blog (as well as many others; she is a savvy, well-informed lady) and has learned a lot about diabetes & celiac through what I've written, others' comments, and diabetes365. She had an "Aha!" moment today. You see, she didn't' know what "diabetes OC"' meant. (I apologize. It means diabetes online community.) Her reference was the TV show, "The O.C." She had this picture in her head of the beautiful diabetics of Orange County, CA, slapping each other around over diabetes supplies. "Hand over that pump, you bitch!!"

Kathryn, you made my day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Weighty Matters

It seems like a lot of people in the diabetes OC and beyond are either following their weight loss resolutions or resolutely deciding to lose weight. It could be that it's the beginning of a new year, when we all make plans to change things in our lives. It could just be a continuing health issue, or an upcoming event. For me, two years ago, I was planning on having some foot surgery and didn't want to lug an extra 15-20 pounds around on crutches. No matter what the reason, there's a brave & supportive group of people out there posting their weight, their loss, their trials, their desires, struggles and successes. I would like to be one of them.

Two years ago I lost almost 20 pounds on weight watchers. I had been at my highest point ever, 174 pounds. I saw a picture of myself and said, "UGH!! How did I get there?" It seemed impossible, because for a few years I had been fighting horrible gut problems. A few weeks after Dominic was born I got food poisoning. It landed me in the hospital, dehydrated and in great pain. I was sent home with anti nausea, anti diarrheal, and a couple of other medications. I was told to eat a B.R.A.T. diet for a couple of days and then gently begin a normal diet.

I tried. It didn't work. My digestive tract just didn't want to act normally. Anything I ate or drank sent my system into spasms. The anti-diarrheal medicine they gave me at the hospital worked, but knocked me out completely. I couldn't work. I couldn't eat rice. I couldn't eat a plain potato, or an egg. I tried many different things. Finally, there were 3 things that I could have that didn't cause instant pain & diarrhea. Water, Gatorade, and jello. Of those 3 things, the only thing I like is water.

For 3 weeks I lived on water, Gatorade, and jello. I lost all my pregnancy weight and more. I was the skinniest I had ever been in my life. But of course I felt awful. I had no energy. I had 3 kids, one of them a new baby, and I was nursing! My hair was falling out and I had a short fuse.

Eventually, of course, I tried eating again. One of the first food successes was banana. Then oatmeal. Soon I was eating toast. I tried the B.R.A.T. diet again. Whew! Almost back to normal. There was one problem. Every time I tried to eat some of my favorite things like most raw fruits & vegetables, I'd be back in the bathroom, crying. The doctors scoped me up and down and decided that I had irritable bowel syndrome. They said I just had to figure out what foods caused me problems and avoid those foods.

Ugh! That was a great help. Thanks for scoping me up and down and giving me that very wise answer, that's what I was doing in the first place.

On the advice of a friend I tried taking Metamucil. Now I have found that if I have my daily dose, I am once again able to eat insoluble fiber like salad without a problem. My weight stabilized. Is everybody happy? YES!

Then came May 2007, and Daniel's diabetes diagnosis. When I was with him in the hospital for those 3 days, I had the first IBS attack in years. Does stress bring about IBS? YES. The hospital gift shop was out of pepto bismol, which is my quick fix. Matt brought some for me from home, but mistakenly brought the kid's kind. I doubled the dose & chomped it down. Increased my water intake, switched to the B.R.A.T. diet, settled down.

Now I look at how I have eaten in the months since May. My weight has crept up and up. I am now back to my highest weight again. All my pants are tight and my body hurts. I can't do my yoga poses properly. I can't believe I'm here! I need to make a change. I think I must be using food to compensate for something -- I'm not sure for what (feel free to psychoanalyze here). So it's time to take control again.

I've always been very sensitive about my weight. I've never let people know how much I weigh, probably because I've been able to "hide" it. I'm tall. People never guess. But I am inspired by other bloggers who are being very open about their decision to join weight watchers or do other diets. Also, I'm doing my very best to keep my children healthy and teach them good food habits. Why am I ignoring myself?

So here I go. Going to take control. I plan on going back to weight watchers. I don't know if I'm going to post my weight every week. I don't know if I can do that just yet. But I will try.

Every pound is four sticks of butter.

Every goal begins with an intention.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I found some gluten-free cinnamon buns right before Christmas and did a little jump for joy in Roots. We usually have cinnamon buns on Christmas morning, and this little find meant that celiac wouldn't get in the way of a family tradition. Although I think I'm going to do something about family traditions being heavily linked with food, but that's another post for another time.

Daniel had 2 on Christmas morning (35 carbs each) and 2 more a couple of weeks ago. This morning he wanted to have the last two. (They've been in the freezer so they are okay!) The buns make his blood sugar go a little high, but not too bad. I didn't want to over bolus him because today was the first day of mid-terms.

As expected, he ranged just over 200. He felt confident about his physics test. He didn't go low in the middle of a test, which is what really worried me.

Most parents make sure their kids get a good night's sleep & a good breakfast before a big test. With diabetes, there's always something else to take into consideration.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Celiac (celiyuck)

The gastroenterologist does two tests for celiac. One is called an anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA) and the other is the IgA anti-endomysium antibodies (AEA). The tTGA test is the blood test that looks for tissue damage. There can be false positives with this test, so it is good to follow up. With the tTGA, you get a number. Below 4 is normal, between 4 and 9 or 10 (depending on what I've read) is slightly elevated, and above that is high. The first time Nora's tTGA was 9. The second time it was 4.1. When Daniel was tested, his number was 70.

The IgA AEA is a follow up test. You don't get a number, you get a positive or negative. This means that your body is producing antibodies as a response to gluten in your diet. If you have celiac, this test shows up positive almost 100% of the time. If you don't have celiac, this test is negative about 95% of the time.

Nora's AEA test was positive.

Nora is my bread girl, my picky eater, my veggie hater. *sigh* I knew this would be hard news. So first I went to the pet store and bought a few more trinkets for Nora's new hamster home. Mommy guilt. Sweet with the sour. Call it what you want, but I wanted something that would make her happy following something that I knew would make her sad.

Daniel went to a friend's house after school on Friday, so I had Nora to myself for a little while. I sat her down and let her know the results of her test. Sad she was. Also, a little bit angry. She wanted to know if she needed to go get an endoscopy now. I said that at this point, since the tTGA was low, an endoscopy may not show any damage, so that the celiac may not be able to be confirmed by endoscopy. But the AEA is the confirmation. Plus the fact that her brother has it.

And then there's my other fear. I have read that "undiagnosed celiac causes the immune system to be in constant ‘turned on’ state, which can accelerate the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes." I said to Nora, if just by changing your diet you had an improved chance of not getting diabetes, wouldn't you do it?

Nora said, "Which does Daniel hate worse, diabetes, or celiac?" She asked this already knowing that of the two, Daniel thinks diabetes is an annoyance while he'd love to get rid of the celiac. I think she also knows that her dad and I would rather deal with a simple (or not so simple) dietary change rather than being dependent on medicine.

She doesn't want to follow a GF diet until a positive diagnosis through endoscopy. Which would mean that damage is already occurring.

At this point I stepped back. It's a lot of info to deal with, especially for a girl who loves her gluten & has no symptoms. I understand. It's going to take a little while to sink in, and she needs to have that time.

Meanwhile, we've added to the hamster cage, bought some treats, and made french toast for breakfast. I'll follow up with the gastroenterologist next week, and we'll do what we have to do!

It's just so yucky. Celiyucky.

Friday, January 11, 2008

All the Money in the World


Dominic said, "If I had all the money in the world, I'd buy parts to make stuff for my hovercraft." (He's planning on being a scientist when he grows up, with a concentration in hovercraft technology.) "I'd build the biggest and best hovercraft. Mom, what would you do with all the money in the world?"

Mom: "Well, after I got my own island, I'd probably give the money to doctors and researchers so they could find a cure for diabetes & celiac."

Dominic: "Mom! What if you gave them all your money and they still couldn't find a cure?"

Mom: "I'd still have to try. I think diabetes is a terrible disease."

Dominic: "But Daniel controls his blood sugar so he's okay, right?"

Mom: "Yes, but sometimes some people with diabetes do everything right, everything they are supposed to do to control their blood sugar and their body still has problems because of the diabetes. Diabetes can make other parts of your body not work so well."

Dominic: "What parts of your body?"

Mom: "Do you remember when Daniel had to get glasses? That's when his blood sugar was high, before we knew he had diabetes. High blood sugar can change your eyesight, and even make you go blind. It can affect your heart and your nerves."

Dominic: "Can diabetes make you death?"

Mom: "Well, diabetes can lead to death, but only if it gets really really really bad. Daniel is not like that."

Dominic (pointing to his ear): "No, can it make you death? Can it change your earsight?"

Mom: "Oh, 'deaf.' No, it won't do that."

Dominic: "Well, I'll give some of my money to the doctors. But I still want enough to build my hovercraft."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Random things

On hamsters.
Our new little hamster chews on the bars of his cage. I guess that's what hamsters do. I would chew on the bars of my cage if I had a cage. Anything to get out.

I'd hate to be confined in such a small space. I'm not claustrophobic. Just like to get some fresh air. I'd let the hamster out if I was sure I wouldn't lose him. But I don't want little hamster poops all over the place. I don't want to unexpectedly step on a hamster.

On yoga.
My yoga teacher says that my goal this session is to access these muscles located at my upper outer thighs. I need to use them to stop my thighs from "poofing out" in standing poses.

I don't feel these muscles. I question their existence.

This is WoYoPracMo, which is World Yoga Practice Month. This month was so named as an incentive to do yoga practice every day, whether it is a 10 minute pick-me-up stretch or a full 90 minute practice.

I wake up in the morning with sore hips and do "fingertips to the bathroom counter" stretch, followed by "downward reaching dog," followed by "not quite a triangle" pose. I have to find a yoga pose that can be accomplished while blogging.

On being a bad mother.
My youngest, Dominic, hasn't noticed that he hasn't had a birthday party with his friends. And I'm tempted to just let it slide. It's not the easiest thing that his birthday comes on the heels of Christmas/New Years. Every year I should remember that I wasn't prepared the year before. But I don't. And I'm not. I think I'm still in an underlying funk about Daniel's diabetes/celiac diagnoses and don't want to do parties, cakes, cookies, screaming, explaining, and stopping children from shaking the hamster cage.

On being a good mother.
Kids should learn that you don't *have* to spend more than $200 at Chuck E. Cheese or Jeepers or the Swim Center or the gymnastics place to have you and 20 of your friends scream and eat cake. You don't *need* 2o more plastic toys.

On husbands.
Mine is giving me the look. Now. That one that says "if you don't stop typing & get to sleep you are going to be a sore head in the morning."

He knows me. He loves me. He's right. Good night!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Eyes are Red

I've been up since 3:15 this morning, and it has nothing to do with blood sugar! My poor little brain is churning because of my job, which increased in frustration levels yesterday. I problem-solve in the middle of the night (unfortunately) which can make me snappish. Yesterday as I left work, I told my co-worker that I was going to take advantage of our spring-like weather and throw myself onto the grass and stare at the clouds going by, just so I could try to relax. Instead, I took all the kids on a long walk (which ended up in a potty emergency, isn't it fun being a parent?) down our gorgeous new hike/bike trail. I'll post pictures later. Not of the potty emergency. Of course, all this took time, and then Nora and I stayed up late trying to organize & prepare for her Spanish final next week, about which she is greatly concerned.

I got on the computer this morning and did some more problem solving. It seems you don't have to drive all over the place (as suggested in a meeting yesterday) to get the information you need -- all you need to do is google. GOOGLE!!! I'm going to present my findings today. And I'm also going to start looking around for new opportunities. I think it is time...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Motor Mouth

Dominic just turned 7. He is, and has been since the womb, a force of nature. He was actually twins, but at about 8 weeks I lost the other twin. My theory is that Dominic, in utero, delivered one of the karate kicks that he is now practicing in class. "Hi-YA! Don't crowd me!!"

So he had his annual check up today. He asked everyone he possibly could if he was going to get a shot. Last year when he had to have a vaccine, we practically needed a straight jacket to keep him still. I thought that maybe watching Daniel give himself shots every day without writhing in pain would have allayed his fears, but no such luck.

Dominic was lucky today. No vaccine, no TB test. He will have to have a blood draw at the lab later to test for celiac, but not TODAY. Once free from that fear, he was free to talk. And talk. He told the doctor everything under the sun. And as usual, when he talks about his brother, he says, "Daniel has diabetes. And celiac. It's really bad. He has to have shots and test his blood sugar and he can't eat gluten. Do you know gluten? He can't have the stuff I have. He has to look at a lot of blood."

He did that the other day to the guy who came to the door soliciting funds for US Pirg.

He tells grocery clerks. Teachers. Everyone. You.

Diabetes/celiac is obviously something he thinks about quite a bit. So recently when he said that when he grows up he's going to be a scientist, I asked if he was going to try to figure out how to cure diseases.

"No. I'm going to build hovercrafts. And robot arms and legs. And these nails that will come out above and below your eye so that if your eye falls out it will stop it from falling out and pop it back in."

No plans for a cure here. But if your eye ever pops out, you know who to turn to.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Amylia's Meme

Thanks to Amylia for the meme!

Age at my next birthday:
(the CD/MP3 generation might not recognize a 45!)

A place I'd like to travel:

A favorite place:

A favorite thing:

A favorite food:

A favorite color:

A favorite flower:

The city I live in:

The name of a past pet:

My Cosmo was furrier but had just as much bite.

Nickname I've had:

College Major:

First Job:

Hope for 2008:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Doing the Blah Blah Blah

I've just started reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm only a few chapters into the book so I can't say too much about it yet. A friend recommended the book to me and it is intriguing -- it is supposed to help unblock creativity, whether you are a writer, an artist, a lawyer, a dancer, a mom. So here I am, living vicariously through friends who are actors & artists & writers, thinking about my sad, lonely poems crumbling to dust in their manila folders in the basement (okay, the poems aren't sad poems, they are just sad to be in the basement) and about the characters that run around in my head, trying to get out & see the light of day. So I think, "Yeah! Go, girl! Unblock your muse, fly, be free!"

So here's the first exercise. Morning pages. Every day get up and write, longhand, 3 pages. It can and probably will be total junk. It doesn't matter if all you write is "I don't know what to write" enough times to fill up 3 pages. Any old BLAH BLAH BLAH. Eventually more words will come. This is a great exercise. My poetry teachers in grad school had similar instructions, and it works. The more you write, the more you WILL write. Julia Cameron says that this particular method works not only for people who want to write, but also for people who are trying to unblock creativity for other venues.

And I believe her, I really do. But Julia, honey, I get up at 5:25 every morning so I can get clean, get 3 kids out the door, and then leave for work. I come home in time to get kids from the bus & help with homework & get dinner on the table. I whisk them off to after dinner activities, or go to yoga to clear my head. Collapse into bed. Start all over. When can I get these 3 pages written? Longhand?

Get up at 5, she says (in my head). You want to do this? You NEED to do this? Then just do it!

Just do it. I sound like a frikkin' Nike ad.

I read through so many lovely blogs when I can -- usually in the last hour or so before conking out (like right now). I wonder how some moms can organize their lives to write as often as they do... to distill their days into lovely bits so easily... Are they all up, pre dawn-crack, writing morning pages? Julia sez that if I'm feeling jealous, then I probably need to unblock.

Today I am trying to decide what is more important to me at this moment. That last half hour of sleep, or sandblasting the clogged creative passages. Living with envy or without sleep. I don't have an answer yet.

BLAH BLAH BLAH. Is this 3 pages yet?

Friday, January 4, 2008

For keeps

Matt and I were married twice. The first time, in 1991, we eloped. We went to the courthouse, brought 1 friend along, and tied the knot. You see, we planned on a wedding in 1992, even set the date and found a place. But then Matt got a job offer in Saudi Arabia. I was accepted to grad school in Pittsburgh. We decided that Matt would take the job opportunity and I would start grad school and visit Matt over the winter break.

There was just on catch. I couldn't visit Matt in Saudi Arabia unless I was his wife. Hence the elopement. We eloped with great glee. My friend Jeanne threw rice. We went to the place that we reserved for our wedding the following year and took pictures. We didn't tell anyone (trying not to hurt feelings of close relatives). That was June of 1991.

In May of 1992, Matt flew back from Saudi Arabia and we got married again. At the reserved spot with all the friends and family there. It was a great party and we weren't nervous because we were already married! We had a few weeks to pack up all our gifts, my apartment at school, sell a car, and prepare to move me over to Saudi.

One of the gifts we got was a cream whipper. I'd never seen one before. It is basically a metal cannister that you fill with cream and to which you can attach a CO2 cartridge. The cannister is pressurized with the CO2, then you shake it and out comes whipped cream. It's your own re-usable Reddi-whip. The people packing our stuff for Saudi Arabia would not allow us to ship it because of the CO2 cartridges. So we asked my mom to hold on to it. And then forgot about it.

Fast forward 15 years. My mom is cleaning out one of her rooms and... whaddaya know. The cream whipper. She gave it back to me last week. I cleaned it out and tested it tonight on Dominic's birthday pie. And on his face, Nora's face, Matt's face. It worked pretty well! This funny little cannister was a gift to me this week -- it brought me back in time for a little while to the beginning of my marriage, the start of our grand adventure. The time before we started testing out those "better or worse" vows.

2007 was a challenging year for us. Many days (and late nights) I struggled to deal with Daniel's diabetes & celiac diagnoses, and just fell apart. Matt put me back together. When I weaken, he is strong. He is positive and steadfast. I am so thankful that I get to share this life with him.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


We now have a hamster and his name is Bumble. Nora got his cage & food & other supplies & a book about hamsters for Christmas, but had to wait to get Bumble until we returned from our trip.

Bumble is enjoying his new, super cool cage and has taken a few lengthy spins on his (mostly silent) wheel. We gave him a few dark green lettuce leaves from our salad, and he *loved* them. I swear he could smell them the minute we entered the room.

Isn't he cute?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Man Proposes and God Disposes

You can say, "man plans and God laughs," or "from your mouth to God's ears," or any variation on a theme. Last year's resolution was to SIMPLIFY. Of course, that didn't happen this year.

However, diabetes & celiac in our family has certainly caused me to organize. I believe it is true that one way to simplify life is to bring order to the chaos. To "simpliforganize." Organimplify? Anyway, I think I did the best I could, under the circumstances.

This year I may go back to the standard resolutions: lose a few pounds. Take time for myself to exercise more often. Write more. Express my constant gratitude for family, friends, love.

Scheduling time for writing and doing it consistently has been a resolution for years. Funny how this year I have used writing to organize my mind and help me find my way. The consistency was born of necessity. By doing so I have "met" the most amazing people online, the wonderful diabetes OC, celiac gurus, active yoginis, and astonishingly creative photographers. Whereas in everyday life I might overhear someone's conversation at a subway stop or a restaurant and think, "wow, what a great observation on life!" I would never intrude on that person's conversation. How rude! But online I can read observations, enjoy other people's photography or videos, follow conversations. I can add my own comment, give another viewpoint, concur with the author, praise a poem or a picture. Let someone know, "I like what you said. I'm listening."

Okay, I lied in the middle of the last paragraph. I might intrude on someone's conversation. I was at a Starbucks in Connecticut a few days ago with my sister in law & niece. I was waiting to pick up our drinks when I overheard another customer talking to the barrista about staying away from wheat, and how it was making her well. But how hard it was during Christmas, and how she had trouble getting any baked goods to taste good.

Yeah, I jumped right in. Talked about celiac, about different flours, and xanthan gum. Bob's Red Mill, Pamela's mixes, and the importance of staying gluten free. About the pile of gluten free cookies & biscotti I baked for Daniel. Failures & successes in baking. We talked for a little while, and then she thanked me so much for taking the time. Most people, she said, don't talk to people they don't know, and our little conversation really helped her. She laughed and said that she would start going totally gluten free, but she was going to cheat up until her birthday, January 23. "No way," I said, "that's my birthday!"

Just one of those things, you know? Got a little shiver. She thanked me and thanked me. Just as I thank you and thank you, all you many people out there who are listening, commenting, agreeing or arguing. Thanks for sharing this corner of the world, letting me vent or praise, answering my questions and giving me strength. Thanks for all these serendipitous electronic bitch sessions. A happy & healthy new year to you all.