Tag Archives: Family

It’s Race Season….Run! Run! Run!

After several months of holidays, busy schedules, and the resultant relaxation (no, the complete neglect) of my exercise habits, I’m feeling a little sluggish. In the past few years I have maintained a healthy level of fitness and activity through yoga, hiking, running, and whatever else I can grab time for. Physical activity, more than anything else in my life, keeps my mind clear and focused, my emotions steady, and my body strong and healthy. Which all make me a better mom, better partner, better friend….a better woman in general!

So we’ve rolled over into a new year, and are rounding the corner on winter. I’m craving some exercise and the pick-me-up that comes with it. Spring will bring sunnier days and warmer temperatures and….race season!

I just started running a couple of years ago with the encouragement of my sister, Kate, a marathoner. She’s inspirational in her own running and I’ve had so much fun racing with her! And she’s not afraid to yell “Tie that shoe Angie!!!” in the middle of a course.

Downloads

Left: June 2011 Solstice Run, Vancouver WA. Right: June 2012 Pacific Crest Sports Festival, Sunriver OR

Just like Kate has passed her love of running on to me, I aspire to instill the same feeling of excitement about fitness in my kids. Evie has participated in three seasons of Girls On The Run, a great program that builds confidence and love of fitness in grade-school girls. She and I have run three 5K races together as part of that program! I’ve been delighted to run together and encourage her, and to see the pride on her face when she completes a race and improves her time.

Left: Evie and one of her Girls On The Run pals after their Spring 5K. Right: Evie’s very first GOTR 5K. Will and Luke provided moral support and comic relief.

We participated in the weekend-long Pacific Crest Sports Festival last summer in Sunriver, Oregon, and Evie, Will, and Luke got a taste of the triathalon world. They each rocked the Kids’ Splash, Pedal, and Dash, and Will finished with an impressive 6:49 (that’s minutes).

We hung around transition areas and cheered. We watched athletes claw their way to the finish of a challenging triathalon course and then break out in laughter and smiles at the accomplishment! And in our downtime we rode miles and miles of paved and unpaved bike trails through the gorgeous Deschutes National Forest (Bonus!).

Kids' Dash

Left: Luke, Evie, Will (and cousin Ella) at the mini-tri bike transition. Right: Post-race smiles, and medals all around.

The very, very best thing about this particular festival is that it serves to generate excitement for fitness in the whole family. Kids run, moms run, dads run, friends run, strangers run (and bike and swim!), and everybody has a great time!

Emphasis is on personal best and finishing, not winning, and everyone’s efforts are recognized. Our group had racers in both triathalon events, the half-marathon, 10K, and kids’ races, and everybody’s finishes were celebrated wholeheartedly. I honestly can’t think of a better way to make fitness fun and to model that health is important and valuable.

1-mile Dash finishers

Left: Luke, Evie, and Will after their 1-Mile Dash finish. Right: Luke was especially proud of his race medal, and has since permanently affixed it to his school backpack.

So I’ve set a goal for 2013: I will run a 10K race in under an hour. I only have one 10K time under my belt for reference, but I think it’s doable. I have one race lined up for April, and I’m anticipating a second chance in June.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get running!

What activities excite you and make you want to get moving? Please share!

Halloween Prep: It’s Scary Out There!

Halloween. Witches, skeletons, goblins, and ghouls. Angsty teenagers in horror movie costumes. Scary indeed. But what’s even scarier for a type 1 mom?

Sugar.

Gobs of it. At school, at the store, even in my own kitchen, where a huge bag of mixed fun-sized candy sits waiting for Wednesday night’s trick-or-treaters.

I loved Halloween as a kid; coming home with 5 pounds of free candy and gorging on it for the next two weeks was the highlight of the season. And as a parent, I used to enjoy seeing my kids get excited for the same thing.

In anticipation of massive loads of sugar over the next few days, I’m filling the pump reservoirs with more insulin than usual.

But now the fun-sized Snickers and M&M’s give me nothing but anxiety. Even with the dual insulin pumps, which made candy boluses much quicker and easier, blood sugar management during Halloween is a nightmare. Pockets get filled with treats that mysteriously disappear, candy is stashed here and there (I even found a few Smarties under Luke’s pillow yesterday morning), and everyone loses track of how many pieces of candy corn they’ve munched on.

And even if we bolused absolutely perfectly for every bit of sugar, the quick absorption outpaces the action of the insulin and pretty soon….hyperglycemia craziness.

What to do? One mom saves the 15-gm carb candies to treat low-blood sugars (Skittles are tastier than glucose tablets!) and cuts out a few parties. Read her great ideas here. It also helps to be prepared with carbohydrate counts. Paradoxically, fun-sized candies aren’t required to have Nutrition Facts labels, which makes bolusing a real challenge. How many carbs do you suppose that Charleston Chew has? Arming yourself with the relevant numbers is key: here’s a good chart. And another one here and here.

We’re in the process of Halloween candy negotiations right now. I’m going to let my kids have whatever candy they want on Halloween night, save some for treating lows later, keep a few for after-meal treats the rest of the week, and then buy the rest off of them. We’ll see how it goes.

The Ninja, Abby Bominable, and Camo Guy (what IS this costume???)

Diabetes Family Camp: Laugh. Cry. Bolus.

I wrote last month about our opportunity to attend ConnecT1D’s Diabetes Family Camp in Seattle, and how excited we all were for the weekend. Evie has gone away to diabetes summer camp for the past couple of years on her own, but this was the first camp that we’ve attended all together with other Type 1 families. We were ready for an adventure!

We skipped their half day of school on Friday and made our way leisurely through Seattle (“look, Mom, the Space Needle!”), playing a little along the way, and then headed North to the retreat center. After we checked in, met the camp directors, and found our cabin (double bunk beds!) we gathered in the meeting room with the other families for orientation. Then off to bed for a good night’s rest.

The morning started off with a bang, with a keynote presentation by a family psychologist that had me tearing up in my seat. The topic was parenting and diabetes and he touched on standard issues like discipline and family dynamics, but also addressed more tender topics like grief and loss. He asked us to reflect on our diagnosis stories and my chest tightened. We have two of those; they are different, but equally painful. Being in a room full of other parents who I knew shared similar stories and experiences made it a little easier to confront those memories and emotions.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Everyone gathers together in the center of the meeting hall to get to know one another.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Three teens with type 1 diabetes share their stories and answer questions

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Parents and caregivers listen together to the presentations.

Other sessions that day included a research update, a panel to discuss diabetes in the school environment, and a small group session in which we all shared tips and for living and coping with diabetes in our families. This hour or so of more intimate and open discussion was my favorite part of the weekend. Groups included caregivers with newly diagnosed kids, some who have weathered years and years of diabetes in their families, and everything in between. My group even included another set of parents that had two kids with diabetes.

Even though I’ve been parenting diabetic kids for four years now, I was a sponge, soaking up information and experience like I was a newbie. It was so comforting to be surrounded by other parents who Understand—other adults who have to navigate school policies and holiday parties, wake up multiple times during the night to check blood sugars, and learn to live with a complicated disease that has unpredictable and ever-changing effects on their kids and families. We could all look at each other, recognize that underlying burden of physical and emotional fatigue we wear like an old sweater, and say “I get it.”

I hope that my kids had similar feelings of solidarity. Evie and Luke go through most of their daily lives being the only kids with diabetes, singled-out by blood sugar checks, trips to the health room, and well-intentioned but isolating comments from teachers (“Please avoid sending sugary treats because we have a Diabetic in our class…”).

I expect that it’s a relief to be in the company of other kids who have to stop and pull out a medical device before tearing into that mid-morning granola bar and bag of pretzels. And whatever your age, its fun to swap “war stories.”

This one time I had a vampire cannula and my tubing totally filled up with blood!! 

Don’t you hate it when your mom pushes too hard on the lancet and your finger is still bleeding three hours later??

One morning my school served french toast sticks that had 300 carbs per serving and I had to do TWO injections just to cover!! (Er….WHAT??)

Evie offers moral support to friends about to have a blood test.

Siblings of kids with diabetes also need peer support, and I was happy to see Will interacting and making new friends. I doubt, at eight years old, that he engaged in any conversations specifically about his feelings and experiences being a middle child sandwiched in between two kids with major medical issues, but he certainly saw that he wasn’t alone, and that was the whole point of camp. So that none of us would feel alone in our circumstances.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Evie plays carpet ball with a fellow camper.

I hope to go again next year and see many of the same families I met. Evie collected some e-mail addresses and is already busy keeping in touch. And Will asks me nearly daily if I’ve heard from his new friend’s mom yet.

But the most important take away for me was the realization that support and connection with other people who live with diabetes is vital. Not only to share information and resources, but to have people that can laugh with you when you make jokes about infusion sets and low blood sugars, panic together at the empty coffee pot, and not bat an eye when you cry over breakfast conversation. People who “get it.”

See you next year!

Evie is enjoying keeping in touch via e-mail with her new friends from camp.

Success!

ImageYou know you’ve been successful in delivering a message when your target audience makes an unsolicited poster presentation that she asks to hang in the dining room!

From Garden To Plate: Zucchini and Tomatoes

An important person in my life asked me some time ago about my goals for the next five years. One of them was (and still is) that I would like to grow more of our food. I passionately believe that being connected to our food–especially by planting, nurturing, and harvesting our own bounty–helps us to make more mindful decisions about what we consume. And for children, the fun of digging in the dirt and helping the Earth bring forth her fruit, is often enough to help them overcome some of their prejudices against eating things that look distinctly like bunny food by the time they get to the table.

Due to a move, our garden space this year was smaller than in the past, but significant in that it has timed sprinklers, and therefore, consistent watering (plants need water!). We filled it primarily with basil, chives, oregano, and mint, some just-for-fun flowers, and a few vegetable plants. I’ve never had luck growing bell peppers where we live, and this year was no different. Our pepper plant produced three tiny, shriveled, anemic-looking green bells that still remain on the stalk.

We did, however, grow a great little crop of tomatoes and one, massive, zucchini.

Luke and I did the harvesting together. I loved watching him gently push back the leaves and vines and stalks to reach inside, and then carefully place tomatoes in his colander. We compared the different sizes and degrees of wrinkly-ness, admired their deep red hue, and shared in some general mutual appreciation. Of course, we also tasted a few.

He had to heave the zucchini up and carry it with both hands. It was big.

While we picked things, we talked about the recipes we would be preparing: tomato and basil salad, zucchini bread muffins, and sauteed zucchini. I make a point to do this in order to help start them thinking about eating what we’ve grown, and to help get that connection between garden and plate crackling in their young hearts.

I’ll be honest here. The kids were all more excited about the chocolate zucchini bread muffins (cupcakes, really) we were planning to make than the other things. But my favorite turned out to be the salad; sun-warmed tomatoes paired with fresh basil and a little olive oil is a quintessential summer flavor combination, and something I always look forward to and savor as we roll into fall.

This particular late-summer salad rounded out a dinner of salmon, broccoli, and bulghur (a food that the “l”-challenged members of this family…ahem…little boys, really enjoy saying) with dried fruit and cardamom (YUM).

The following day we started in on the zucchini, shredding most of it to make muffins. Something new I learned about giant zucchini: they have giant seeds, too. Giant seeds that you really shouldn’t bake into muffins. (Aside: I’m always amazed at how much zucchini can disappear into a baked good. Was this phenomenon the inspiration for Jessica Seinfeld’s popular book?) While the muffins were a hit, they were also pretty sugary. Next time I think I’ll try these zucchini fritters.

Luckily Will was available to help pick out seeds and cut the remainder of the oversized vegetable. He cooked it up with some Bragg’s to go along with our dinner of black-eyed peas and flax-sesame cornbread. This eager boy is just beginning to show a real interest in cooking, and I enjoy teaching him how to cut and chop and saute!

Involving kids in the process of cooking their food is another way to help them develop a connection to what they are eating. Feeling pride and ownership over the meal goes along way toward food acceptance. Its also a really nice way to spend time talking and laughing with them!

All in all, our tomato and zucchini harvest made for a couple of days of good garden-to-plate lessons, and some tasty food! Next year I’ll try for even more edibles, and the young growers and chefs will be a little older. In the meantime, we’ll harvest from our local farmer’s market and the produce section at the grocery store, and we’ll continue cooking and eating together and having FUN!

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe

This sounds really tasty! I can’t wait to make it; I think my kids will love it for dipping chips or veggies. From Savvy Vegetarian:

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread is a sample recipe from ‘Cooking Vegan’ by vegan dietitian Vesanto Melina, and vegan chef Joseph Forest.

My tasters loved it and inhaled it along with any cracker-like food. Quick & simple to make, this olive spread recipe will make you forget that hummus even exists.

Total prep & cook time: 2 hrs

5 Servings

Nutrition Data, 1/2 Cup Serving: 272 cal, 29g carb, 10g fat, 281mg sodium, 11g fiber, 10g protein

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups cooked or canned white beans, rinsed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped green or black olives

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Put the beans, lemon juice, oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth

Add the olives and parsley and process until evenly distributed, about 5 seconds

Transfer the spread to a bowl or covered container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to marry and deepen.

Cooking Tips:

Common white beans, such as cannellini (white kidney), great northern, and navy beans, are used in casseroles and soups and are particularly tasty when baked with tomato sauce. Here, they are used to make a delectable spread that can be served with crackers or raw vegetables. The flavor of this mineral-rich spread will deepen if it is made a couple of hours before serving.

Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, White Bean, Olive, and Thyme Spread will keep for 4 to 5 days.

via White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe.

Family Camp – ConnecT1D

The Majors are going to Camp!

I happened upon a post a few weeks ago from a Seattle-area group called ConnecT1D for an upcoming Diabetes Family Camp the organization will be hosting next month. It sounded like so much fun! A weekend of family togetherness, campfires, mess hall dining and canoeing….all while connecting with other T1D families, and even learning some new things about living with Type 1:

ConnecT1D is founded on the simple principle that people with diabetes manage their disease better when they have connections to and support from others with diabetes. To live our mission to connect people with diabetes to each other and to disease management resources, ConnecT1D will host our first annual Family Camp, October 12-14th, 2012!

Our home for the weekend is Warm Beach Camp, about 50 miles north of Seattle. Families with children of all ages are welcome. The weekend’s agenda is packed full of presenters and breakout sessions covering a variety of key topics including: managing the emotional impact of diabetes, diabetes in your school, advanced pump and CGM use, and many more. The breakout sessions facilitate the sharing of tips, frustrations and encouragement.

While parents gain and share valuable insights into raising a family impacted by Type 1 Diabetes, the kids’ agenda is simple: FUN and FRIENDSHIP. Children (ages 0-12) will be paired up with energetic volunteers who are knowledgeable about Type 1 Diabetes. The kids programming and the Warm Beach facilities offer a wide-variety of age-appropriate activities to help kids meet other kids, just like them, who deal with diabetes every day. Teens ages 13 and up are eligible for junior camp counselor and camp counselor positions.

via Family Camp – ConnecT1D.

I filled out the scholarship application that night, but I waited to mention it to Evie, Will, and Luke until I knew if we were going to be able to go. A few days ago I received a phone call from a Camp Director with news that one of their generous donors will be sponsoring us for the weekend. I am absolutely thrilled, and grateful. And the kids’ eyes lit up when I told them all about it.

Let the Countdown To Camp begin….