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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy 148th Birthday Canada!

It all started with a simple picture of my 10 month old daughter holding a Canadian flag.  Now 7 years later, all 3 of my kids proudly wave the maple leaf on Canada Day. 

Tell me what’s a Douglas Fir

Betcha never heard a bobcat purr

Have you ever seen a lobster crawl?

In Canada, we get to see them all.

We get to see the maple trees, maple sugar and the maple leaves,
We got the biggest wheat fields growing tall

In C-A-N-A-D-A, where we see the reversing falls
In Canada, we get to see them all.

Tell me, what’s a tidal bore,

Have you ever heard the ocean roar?

Just listen to that wild goose call.

In Canada, we get to see them all

We get to see the maple trees, maple sugar and the maple leaves,
We got the biggest timber woods so tall 
In C-A-N-A-D-A, where adventure ever calls,
In Canada, we get to see them all.

Have you ever heard a maple creak?

Betcha never seen a mountain peak.

In the land of the big snowball.

In Canada, we get to see them all.

We get to see the maple trees, maple sugar and the maple leaves,

We got the biggest wheat fields growing tall

In C-A-N-A-D-A, where we see the reversing falls,
In Canada, we get to see them all.

Have you ever seen a magnetic hill?

Or a lady on a dollar bill?

Betcha never seen the autumn fall.

We get to see the maple trees, maple sugar and the maple leaves,
We got the biggest timber woods so tall 
In C-A-N-A-D-A, where adventure ever calls,
In Canada, we get to see them all.

*Lyrics from the song C-A-N-A-D-A by Raffi

It's a day late, but Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian peeps out there. 


Friday, June 26, 2015

Making Food... Ninja Style

Once upon a time, one of my favourite things to do was to go to Costco and peruse their samples.  Fred and I even had a name for it... Redneck Dim Sum. 

Before you decide we're totally lame, let me preface that for you. We used to be broke.  Like totally and completely broke.  Our grocery budget was $20 a week.  One of the ways I would keep the budget down is we would take advantage of coupons, 2 for 1 meals, eating at the Costco food court, and when we had no money left... Redneck Dim Sum.  Yes, we would eat Costco samples as a meal.

Ah, the good old days!

And you could always tell it was going to be a good day if the "Blender People" were there.  The wonderful people that would churn out sample after glorious sample of yummy goodness.  If you parked yourself by their table you could get an entire meal... soup!  Smoothie!  Ice cream!  I vowed that one day I would own one of these machines.

So when I was offered the chance to try out a Ninja Blender (with Auto-IQ one-touch intelligence!), I was a little excited. And try it, we did!

The Machine
I won't lie to you, I was a little overwhelmed when I pulled it out of the box.  The base has lots of buttons.  The one you press depends on what you're trying to do.  Plus, as well as the blender pitcher, you also get 3 smaller cups of different sizes; 18, 24, and 32 oz.  So I had to sit and look at the manual to figure out what cup to use, and what button to press.  Sounds easy, but try doing that when you have three kids yelling, 'Smoooooooooooothie!" in your ear at the same time.

The base feels very sturdy and has little cups on the bottom to suction it to your counter. The buttons are big and respond well when you press them. The Ninja is pretty loud when in use, but I think that's true of any of these types of blenders.

The Equipment
The blender pitcher is quite large and is capable of holding many servings of your creation.  The total crushing blades did a great job of pulverizing all the ice and frozen fruit I used in my smoothies... no annoying lumps!

I also really liked the smaller cups for making smaller portions.  My favourite things about those are that they double as a cup (it comes with 3 lids), and can be put in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

Let's Blend!
Honestly, I haven't used the Ninja to make anything other than smoothies yet.  I will at some point, but let's face it, smoothies are pretty easy to make and my kids love them.  Our first creation was Elise's recipe:

We used the 18 oz. cup and used fresh and frozen strawberries, half a banana, 1/2 c of OJ, and about 2 tbsp. of the protein powder.  We weighed all the ingredients to figure out the carb factor (don't know what that is?  Click here to learn all about carb factors).

Calculating... and we have a carb factor of .10. I have notebook upon notebook with these scribbles.  

And the finished product.  Super yummy and smooth!  Elise really enjoyed it and has asked for it repeatedly.

The boys wanted a some more fruit in their smoothie, so I broke out the 32 oz. cup and threw in some frozen pineapple, fresh and frozen strawberries, half a banana, a peach, OJ and protein powder.

This one was definitely my favourite, the sweetness of the peach really came out.  If you read the instruction manual, it tells you exactly how to layer the ingredients so it blends well. 

For these smoothies, I used the "Ultra Blend" button, which pulsed the blender on and off automatically for 60 seconds at irregular intervals.  I'm guessing this method helps to blend it completely, because we never had any lumps in our drinks.

One thing I love about smoothies (and using blenders in general) is that you can sneak healthy ingredients in and the kids are none the wiser.  Spinach, kale, avocado are all things I've used in the past.  The Ninja came with a book of 25 recipes including several smoothies, chocolate mousse, and even a margarita recipe!

It also came with another book called Eat to Lose, Eat to Win. It also had some recipes as well as healthy eating tips, but I found the author's overall tone to be a little holier-than-thou and rather off -putting. The advice was good, but I didn't care for how she made it sound like she never made poor food choices, just everyone around her did (if she did, I might not have made it that far into the book... I just didn't care for her writing style).

So Joanne, is it worth spending up to $200 for a blender? That depends how much you will use it.  I have one of the older models of another big-name blender and I use it almost everyday.  I've made smoothies, soup, peanut and almond butter, butter, waffle batter, ice cream as well as varying types of flour.  For me, it's a useful addition to my kitchen and I can't imagine not having one. For me, it's well worth the money, and the Ninja blender will always have a spot on my counter.

My sweet boy and his smoothie.  My other two will rarely pose for pictures anymore

***Though I was provided the Nutri Ninja Blender for free, that doesn't mean my opinion can be bought. This review is comprised of 100% honest thoughts and feelings that are completely my own.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It gets better

Yesterday I volunteered at the  JDRF's TypeOneNation Summit.  I was manning (womanning?) the table for our local support group, and had the opportunity to speak with many newly diagnosed families.  One in particular moved me to tears.

A grandma to a two-year old boy was attending the event.  She spoke to me about how overwhelmed her daughter-in law was and it reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago.  I gave the woman the info for our support group, as well as the address of my blog.  I'm re-posting this with hope that she will read it and start to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Good luck to you.  We are here for you if you need us.


Dear parent of a newly diagnosed baby,

Let me start off by welcoming you to one of the crappiest subsets of an already pretty crappy club. I'm guessing you stumbled here by googling something like "my baby has type 1 diabetes" or "babies with type 1 blogs". Those are some of the more popular search terms.

Can I just tell you that I know? I get it. I understand the emotional hell you are living in right now. The questions you have swirling around in your head; why my child? Did I cause this? How can I do this? Will my baby be okay?

I understand the pain of having to hold down your baby, who doesn't get it, to give them a shot. I know too well the worry of them not being able to tell you if they're low. The fear of putting them down for their nap and having no idea what their BG is.  And yes, I get how hard it is to check a BG of a child who is asleep in their crib.

It sucks. It's okay... yell it from the rooftops if you want to. Go on.  I know you want to.  Because I wanted to.  I wanted to scream the F-word as loud and as long as I could almost every day.

But, can I tell you something?  It gets better.  It does.

I know right now it consumes your thoughts.  Your brain is bogged down with carb ratios, correction factors, carbs, blood sugars, ketones.  Diabetes constantly is swirling in your thoughts.  Everything you do, you have to factor diabetes in.  Your diaper bag, once used for normal baby things now is weighing you down with all the tools of the diabetes trade in it.

But there will come a time that you will actually forget that your child has diabetes.  For a few moments anyway.

You will be able to watch other children freebase apple juice without a jealous rage welling up inside of you.

You will stop living and dying by every number.  You will learn to interpret the story those numbers are trying to tell you.

Leaving the house won't seem so overwhelming.  I remember being so scared that I was forgetting something vital, but pretty soon you can tell you have everything you need with a single glance. 

You will become you again.  Not the you that you were before your baby was diagnosed.  But a better you.  A stronger you.  A more compassionate you. 

And the flow of tears will ebb. You will notice the times between emotional breakdowns will grow longer, and the breakdowns themselves; shorter. There will always be sadness residing in your heart, but with the passage of time, it will take up less and less space. 

Don't get me wrong, diabetes is STILL hard, and almost 7 years later there are days when emotionally I am transported right back to the beginning. The difference is, I am better equipped to handle it.  I have learned to not live in the darkness, but embrace the light of all that is good in my daughter's life.

To answer your questions; I may not know why any of our babies were chosen to first crawl and later walk this path, but I know this: You did not cause this anymore than I caused my daughter to have type 1 by only nursing her and making her homemade baby food with organic ingredients.

You can do this. Check out the many people on my blog roll who are also doing this.

And yes... your baby will be okay. Mine is. Just look at her.

I may not know who she would have been if diabetes had never entered our lives. But I do know that she has grown to be the sweetest, wisest, most loving and caring little girl.  She is truly a mother's dream.

She is absolutely incredible.

So are you.  You can do this.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

All Stocked up on crazy here, thankyouverymuch

Sunday - Crazy Stories (wildcard)

 Diabetes can sure bring some crazy moments. So tell us your Top 3 craziest D related stories! If you can't think of three, don't worry. We're just as happy with one or two . . . .


The post below is one of my weirdest "d-mistakes" stories.  Looking back, it makes me chuckle...

It was a lovely Thanksgiving afternoon.  Turkey et al had been consumed, insulin bolused, and the kiddos were outside playing a rousing game of soccer.

The adults were still gathered around the table, digesting our meal when it happened; the long, continuous screech of death which tells you diabetes has decided to screw with your holiday.

As I jumped to my feet, I realized that it was not possible for me to be hearing Elise's pod, since she was outside.  Either I had developed the hearing of an owl or the PDM was the source.  Sure enough; PDM error.  Still sucky, just not as sucky as a pod failure.

For you non-podders (or podders who have never encountered this), when you get a PDM error, the pod will continue to deliver the basal, even though the PDM (once reset) won't recognize the pod that is being worn.  This was great because we were a ways off from dessert, and I didn't want to interupt Elise's soccer game.

I reset the PDM, and when Elise came inside, we changed her pod.  As per our usual routine, she left the old pod on until we could put baby oil on the adhesive to get it off.

The rest of the evening, Elise hovered on the low side.  I ran negative temp basals, bolused for half of more pie, and still she remained stayed low-ish (80s - according to the CGM).

When we got home, I turned off her basal entirely; since we had been free-basing smarties the whole ride home.  I think her basal stayed off for almost three hours.  She came up to about 100.  I was worried about ketones developing (since she wasn't receiving any insulin), so I turned on her basal at 50%.  She went low again.

That night, Fred and I were up checking her almost every 30 minutes.  We alternated between turning off/down her basal and giving her carbs. I was flummoxed... how could she be receiving no insulin, eating smarties and her BG still go DOWN?

Any pod people care to chime in here?

Finally at 6:00 am, I sat bolt upright in bed after just laying down from a BG check and subsequent smartie-feeding.  I yelled, "THE OLD POD!  IT'S THE OLD POD!  IT'S STILL DELIVERING BASAL INSULIN!!!"  I ran to Elise's room, turned the basal off completely on the new pod and gave Elise 12g of yogurt.  Finally, she rose above 100 and stayed there.

Remember this picture from this post a few days ago?  That was this night.

The funny thing is, right before I woke up to check her at 6:00 am, I had a dream that Fred and I were driving down a highway and passed two factories right next to each other.  The factories were somewhat dome-like and both had chimneys with smoke rising from each one.  I remarked to Fred how strange it was to see smoke from both chimneys, because usually there was smoke from one or the other; not both at the same time.

Looks like Lenny and Harold are alive and well. Maybe next time guys, help me figure out my mistake a little earlier, mmmkay?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

DBlog Week: Playing favourites

Saturday - Favourites and Motivations 

If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written? Is it diabetes related or just life related? If you are a new blogger and don't have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?

This was a hard one.  I mean, the question may well have been, "which child is your favourite?"  Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but some of these posts (almost 900 as of today) were the result of a lot of blood, sweat, tears and pain.  

But if I have to go there, then I'm going to break the rules a little and pick a series of posts.  And that would be my Lord of the Rings series.  Why? 

Because they were all written while crying.  Meaning, they all really meant something to me.

A few nights ago I settled in to watch some TV and saw they were showing all the LOTR movies.  I checked in from time to time, but made sure to watch the scene from Return of the King, which inspired the post below.  

And as the scene played out before me, I found myself in tears. I haven't cried about diabetes in awhile, but it led to almost full-on sobbing.  Because it's true.  All of it. As much as it was when I wrote it almost four years ago.


Her Sam

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, then you know I love Lord of the Rings. Although Frodo is the protagonist and main hero of the story, he's not my favourite. Legolas and Aragon provided some great eye candy in the movie, but they didn't take top spot either. And while I can totally identify with the craziness of the Gollum/Smeagol thing, he/they aren't it either. 

The one character that gives me the warm fuzzies is Sam. Sweet, lovable, Samwise Gamgee. Frodo's gardener-turned-sidekick for the epic journey to destroy the ring.

As Frodo became weak under the burden of the Ring, Sam carried most of the luggage, cooked, kept watch at night, and rationed the food so he and Frodo had enough for the journey. He protected and took care of Frodo as they moved through the dangerous lands toward Mordor.

At one point, on Mount Doom, Frodo collapses. Exhausted, he can go no further. Sam, while exhausted himself, tries to rally Frodo. He asks him to remember all the wonderful things about the Shire; the orchards that will soon be in blossom. The birds nesting in the hazel thicket. Summer barley and the eating of strawberries with cream.

Frodo cannot. He is done. Seeing this Sam yells, "Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it (the ring) for you... but I can carry you!" and slings Frodo over his shoulder to carry him to the end of his task.

That scene? Chills. Every time.

We all need a Samwise Gamgee in our lives. For the times when we collapse under the burden of our ring and have nothing left to give.

And I hope to be this for Elise as she grows up and the ring becomes her burden to bear. Right now it is mine. And that's okay. I would carry it forever if I could.

But I know that when she grows older, there will be days where she feels like Frodo on Mount Doom. So weary and tired. The responsibility and never-endingness of the disease will take its toll on her.

And I pray I can be there for her; unable to bear the burden for her, but more than capable of carrying her when she can't walk. For as long as I am able, I will travel this road with her, making the epic journey and lifting her up when she needs it. I will remind her about the orchids, and the strawberries with cream.

I will be her Sam... for as long as she needs me.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DBlog Week: Food! Glorious Food!

Friday - Food on Friday

Write a post documenting what you eat in a day! Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever. Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.


Even though Elise was diagnosed young, food has always been the easy part for us.  She always eats everything on her plate, and she's a creature of habit when it comes to her meals.  For example:


Cinnamon toast
Probiotic drink

Total carbs: 45g

Yes... she eats this pretty much every morning.

The best part is I can wake up at 6:00 am and pre-bolus her while she's still asleep.  This way we avoid the nasty breakfast spike and top out around 180 before gently floating back into range (in a perfect world where everything goes according to plan).


Probiotic drink (she loves them)
Chocolate chip cookie

Total carbs: 65g

Snack after school:

Popcorn (usually not even enough to bolus her for)


For this I asked Elise what her favourite dinner I make was.  After rattling off a few, she said, "but your chicken nuggets are THE BEST!"

They really are.  Better than CFA, in my opinion.  Alas, I cannot take credit for them.  You can find the recipe here at Our Best Bites. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but honestly, everything I have made from their site is pure awesomeness.

And you're into such things... a carb factor of .10 works quite nicely for these.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DBlog Week: Nothing Permanent except Change

Thursday - Changes 

Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways. Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way. This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing. OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes. Were they expected or did they surprise you?

I just wrote about it in another post, but the way technology has changed the way we care for Elise is mind-bottling (Blades of Glory, anyone?).

We went from using NPH/diluted Humalog and checking her BG almost every two hours, to being able to micro-bolus with her pump and watching her BG from miles away using Nightscout. In only 7 years.

Totally mind bottling.

Of course there is always room for improvement.  We love our Omnipod, but the PDM is a little pre-historic.  If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we design the PDM to be a little more smart phone-ish in looks?

Speaking of smart phones and PDMs, one of the major downfall of the pod is that if you lose/leave behind/have a fatal PDM error, you are SOL.  Wouldn't be awesome if there was an app you could use in these instances?  Bolus Elise from my phone?  Yes please!

(Yes, I am aware I have a total delusional attitude about these things and have no idea about the inner workings, but dream with me here, mmmmm'kay?)

And further speaking of all things smart, I wish pumps in general were a little more brainy.  For example, we used to use the extended bolus every day for Elise at dinner.  It's just how her body works... we can never give all the insulin up front, no matter what she eats.

But we discovered that the extended bolus function doesn't work for us. Because she needs about 50% up front, a small amount during hours 1 and 2, and the remaining by hour 3.

What we end up doing is just manually bolusing her at certain times after dinner.  The result?  Exhausting.  Because if I get caught up in other stuff and forget, her BG skyrockets.

I'd love to see a pump where you can tailor the extended bolus to your needs.

I'd just like to add that we've messed with ratios and basals and that just makes it worse.  Elise has been this way forever when it comes to dinnertime.  The only thing that ever worked was diluted insulin.

Actually, just give me the Bionic Pancreas please.

To wrap it all up into a neat little package, I am amazed by how far we've come. And waiting with eager anticipation at just where we might go.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DBlog Week: Hoarders; Diabetes Edition

Wednesday - Clean it out

Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out. What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out? This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to. Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?


My name is Joanne and I hoard diabetes supplies.  The above picture is our diabetes cupboard and it houses all the necessary supplies to keep Elise alive and living life as normally as possible. 

If you look up at the top left-hand shelf, that's where all the meters are.  Not spare meters, mind you, but meters we somehow have collected but don't use because we don't have the strips for them. I just counted and there are 6, brand new, never used meters.

And yet I still keep them.  Why?  I don't know.  Mostly because I don't know what to do with them.  It seems to be a waste to throw them away.  But I don't know anyone who needs them.  Or what else to do with them.

So there they sit.  Sad.  Alone. Unused.

Anyone need a meter?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DBlog Week: KISS

Tuesday - Keep it to Yourself

Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see. What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet? Or from your family and friends? Why is it important to keep it to yourself?


When people used to ask me questions like, "Is Elise's diabetes under control?", I used to launch into long, descriptive diatribes using lots of examples why that is the dumbest question in the history of ever.

Then I noticed people stopped taking to me.

Okay, it wasn't as extreme as that, but I did observe the glazing over of eyes when I tried to explain why diabetes can be such a pain in the ass... sometimes literally.

These days I use the KISS principal... Keep It Simple, Stupid.  While I appreciate them taking the time to ask, they won't get it.  

They can't.  

Even if I were to use lots of diagrams, flow charts and maybe a live reenactment, unless you live it... you don't get it.

So I usually respond with, "It's as under control as type 1 can be", and leave it at that.

I save my special brand of crazy for people who tell me they can cure my daughter with a cinnamon and okra smoothie.

Monday, May 11, 2015

DBlog Week: Can I?

Monday - I Can

In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of "I can...” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren't sure you could? Or what have you done that you've been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?


Positive side?  If you had asked me about 7 years ago if there was a positive side to diabetes I would have laughed in your face.  Then maybe kicked you in the groin for being so insulting.  

Heck, even 4 or 5 years ago it was still a battle.

But these days my baby with type 1 is not a baby anymore.  Not even a toddler.  And with her growing up, we have "grown into" (for lack of a better word) her diabetes.  Is it still hard?  Some days, yes.  So. Very. Yes.

But it is better.  Or maybe we're better.  The technology is definitely better.  And when you put all these things together, we are doing things that I never thought possible back on September 6, 2008.

We travelled... first a short hop to Kansas City, but soon after to Canada.  Portugal.  San Francisco.  Orlando x 2.

We added to our family.  Two more times.

She went to preschool, where nobody had any experience with type 1.  And rocked it.

She's done skating lessons, swimming lessons, dance, soccer, gymnastics, and hockey.

Then came elementary school, and riding the school bus. Class parties and field trips.  With the help of Nightscout and an awesome school nurse, we totally conquered Field Day this year:

We have walked, raised money, raised awareness, and educated.  And  much, much more.

These days when I think back to that scared Mom, sitting in a dreary hospital room clutching her baby tight in her arms, I can close my eyes and remember exactly what was running through her mind; "Can I do this?  I don't think I can."

Almost 7 years later, the answer is: Absolutely, I Can.

And so can this girl.