What I Need You to Know, Caleb

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 4.03.56 PMDear Caleb,

Before your brother was born, your dad and I led very similar lives. We met in college and each started working with an accounting firm after we graduated. We spent years working long hours and advancing our careers.

Then Colin was born.

Dad continued to work, and I spent my days with Colin. Then you and Colin. Then you, Colin and Lila.

That’s what you’ve always known. You’ve always known me to be the anchor at home because Dad’s schedule is unpredictable. It isn’t unusual for Dad not to know where in the country he will be two days before he needs to be there.

Dad’s here helping in the house a lot. He coaches all your sports. He cooks many meals, he reads with you guys, plays games and all that other stuff. But he’s also got a demanding job that means there are lots of nights with just the four of us at dinner and many mornings where it’s just the four of us getting ready for our days.

There are many things that you, Colin and Lila do primarily with me since I’m the one who is always here. One of those things is managing your diabetes. Whether it’s just deciding on what to do with a blood sugar or prepping your gear each day or managing things at school, it’s mostly just you and me. Dad helps here and there, but you and I are the team when it comes to diabetes.

There is something that I need you to know, Caleb. Your dad has always been there for you to support you and whatever has come your way because of diabetes. Always.

IMG_2799He was the one doing most of the overnight checks in the early weeks. He gave you as many shots as I did when you were first diagnosed. It was a challenging time for all of us. So much had changed and none of us knew where we fit in this new normal we were trying to create. The distinction in our roles in your diabetes care developed over time out of necessity. I was here at home all the time and Dad was not. It’s just that simple.

What I need you to know, Caleb, is that when times became very challenging for us relative to diabetes when you were nine, your dad was there fighting for you as fiercely as I have ever seen him fight for anything. He spent countless hours working to protect you, despite the demands of his job. Nothing was more important to him. Things were hard for us, Caleb. But your dad remained steadfast in his defense of you. I could not have gotten through that time without him and his focus and determination to care for you. You, Colin and Lila mean more to him than anything else in this world. If he could move heaven and earth to protect you, he would.

When you grow up, you will likely look back on your childhood and think of me as the person who cared for your diabetes. For the most part I did. But what I need you to know, Caleb, is that Dad was always there too.

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“He’s Yours for a Reason” | #dsma Guest Post & #SibsofDKids

I’m honored to be a guest blogger at Diabetes Social Media Advocacy, a venture that Cherise created and moderates and of which I have the privilege of being an advisory board member.

As luck would have it, it coincides with the Sibs of D Kids event that Sherry and Lexi put together. One of the points of my post is how I try to balance my relationships with each of my children as equally as I can.

So I ask that you visit me over at DSMA to read about the inspiration behind my Twitter handle, Colcalli: Caleb and his D-Sibs, Colin and Lila.

Have a fun Sibs of D Kids day!!

DCamp Part 2 | Opening Day of Family Camp

We made it to North Oxford, Massachusettes, safe and sound.  We pulled into the Clara Barton Center’s (CBC) parking lot and were greeted by two Leaders in Training who merrily instructed us where to park and check in.

Upon checking in, Caleb and I met with several members of their staff including the medical counselors and the food specialists.  David, Colin and Lila went back to the truck to bring our stuff to the cabin.

Caleb has never been to “just kid” camp, but I’m pretty sure there was a calmness and casualty of family camp that regular camp does not have.  There are less people there in general and since most families have only one member who lives with type 1 diabetes, there are far fewer T1Ds for which they need to review care details.

Caleb sitting on his bed in Rainbow Ridge cabin. Note the staircase up to the counselors' loft behind him. 🙂

Check in was pretty painless. Everyone was very friendly. The food specialists were happy to learn that although Caleb’s medical records note him as being allergic to EVERYTHING – yes his blood work shows that he is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and everything else they test for – that he is, in fact, only allergic to peanuts. (I hadn’t realized that part of his medical records had been sent over in advance).

We were assigned to Rainbow Ridge cabin and Caleb and I headed over to reunite with the rest of the family.  We thought Rainbow Ridge was pretty spectacular.

As we unloaded our stuff, we got acquainted with four of the five counselors, all of whom live with type 1 diabetes and are long time campers of CBC, and would be bunking in the loft of our cabin. We shared the cabin not only with them, but with two other families.  A mom and dad with a 9 year old girl and a mom with her two kids, a 9 year old girl and 6 year old son.  Both girls were living with type 1 diabetes and actually met in the hospital at diagnosis.

Colin's, Caleb's and Lila's swim bands.

Next, Colin, Caleb and Lila took their swim tests and got their safety wristbands showing their level of swimming expertise. Caleb still speaks of the one minute of water treading and “tough”.

We then went out to “Lower Rec” where other counselors and family members were gathering and partaking in ice breaking activities. We learned songs and games and I felt like a bit of a fool running around and holding hands with strangers. Like Harry Potter thinking “Not Slytherin”, I was thinking “please, please don’t pick me for ‘Duck, Duck, Barton’, because I really don’t want to have to get up and run around this big circle or fumble all the names of the people that we are trying to learn.”  I know I sound like a child.  The good news is, the actual children of my family were having fun and that made me happy.  And no, I didn’t get “Bartoned”. (Yay me!)

From there, the evening went as follows:

  • BGMs and Insulin (more on that in a later post).
  • Dinner, complete with song chanting and table banging.
Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. They are "taking in" the singing/table banging culture that surrounds them.
  • Banana Olympics.
  • Camp fire, complete with campy songs and more songs.
  • BGMs, insulin and snack back in the cabin.
  • Sleep.

You haven’t heard of Banana Olympics, you say?  Well neither had I.  Each cabin adopted a banana, decorated it, named it and took it through a series of courses culminating in a huge catapult.  Any bananas that survived the events deemed their owners winners!  There was a single banana survivor caught in the shirt of a very agile and committed dad.  Ours met with a different fate after its catapult.  It was a hoot to see the counselors dressed in their scrubs to attend to the injured bananas.

Colin and Lila interacting with one of the counselors while waiting our turn for the banana catapult.

So that is the beginning of our stay at the Clara Barton Center.  I have several more posts planned that will touch upon various aspects and highlights of our DCamp experience, rather than a day by day play by play like this one.  I just wanted to get started with the nitty gritty for those of you who are like I was, curious about every single detail of how this marvelous camp experience works.  Plus, we were all in a little bit of camp culture shock, so for the first day at least, we kindof just went through the motions.

To be truthful, my nitty isn’t so gritty, so if you have any questions as we go along, please feel free to ask and I will happily respond.

Colin, Caleb and Lila at the campfire. Notice the backpack on the counselor next to Colin. Each counselor carries one full of blood glucose meters, lancets, test strips and glucose tabs.

DCamp Part 1 | The Trip That Almost Wasn’t

DCamp Part 1 | The trip that almost wasn’t

During the most hectic summer ever, following an extraordinarily busy week, we were packed and ready to set off for our long awaited trip to the Clara Barton Center for family camp.

Have you heard anyone say they didn’t absolutely love their experience at diabetes camp? I haven’t. The reviews I’ve heard are consistently rave.

We tied up some final details that morning, including fueling up the truck.

Dave called me from the gas station. The truck was not drivable. He turned the wheel to pull out of the station and “POP”, the power steering was done for.

It was a Sunday. Getting the truck fixed pronto was not an option.

We have two vehicles. Mine is “the truck”. Dave’s is a teeny, sporty sedan.

Truck towed, David back home and we’re looking at all the things we need to take and the car. Big pile of stuff including pillows, sleeping bags and necessities for 5 people. Little car. We can barely get the three kids to fit in the back seat. There was no way our big pile of stuff was going to fit in the trunk that fits little other than Dave’s baseball bag. I walked inside the house leaving Dave there contemplating out of sheer desperation.

Do we miss the first night and see if we can get the truck fixed in the morning?

Do we wait and rent a vehicle first thing in the morning?

Do we drive to an airport and rent a vehicle today?

My dad knows automobiles. When this happened I called him to get a sense of whether there was any hope that we could diagnose the problem with the truck and fix it ourselves. He validated the chances were slim to none. Immediately he offered to bring his pickup truck over for us to use. To both David and I, that seemed like too big an offer to accept and we were determined to figure this out ourselves.

Boarding the truck about to depart

When I saw the big pile and the little car, I knew the only way we were going to get to the Clara Barton Center for opening ceremonies, which I felt were too important to miss, was to take my parents up on their offer. I looked at David and said, “If Colin calls you in 15 years in the same situation that we’re in, what would you do?”

Enough said. We accepted the offer and my parents were on their way. Not only offering their truck to us, but driving over in two vehicles which means my mom was driving, and driving on the highway, and lets just say driving is not her favorite thing.

Thanks Mom and Dad. And really big thanks, Mom.

Within no time we were packed and ready to go. To the kids, taking the trip in Grandpa’s truck was a nifty adventure. I was just happy to be back on track. Dave was cursing German car makers.

That is how our trip began.  We arrived safely and happily at the Clara Barton Center within a couple of hours.

Just arrived at the Clara Barton Center for family camp

Not to give away any ending or anything, but we got through all the hard stuff before we even left. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch.

To be continued…

#DFeast Photomontage 2 | Fruit Kebobs

The DFeast list continues to grow and I cannot keep up with all the recipes I want to try!  I did manage to squeeze in a few since last time. Here they are in order of preparation:

Kale chips (no picture, sorry)

I clearly did something wrong because Jaimie, Kay, Scott and of course Reyna rave about these things.  They did not appeal to the crew here, not even Colin.  I’m going to try it again though because I think it’s all user error.

Frittata

I couldn’t leave a nice low carb recipe alone, I added thinly sliced potatoes.  Colin and I loved it. The rest tolerated it.

In the pan starting to cook.
Prepared and ready to serve.

Orange Chicken

Loved it! Bennet is the man. I have to dial down the spice for the kids a little, but otherwise it was great and easy. The sauce is the boss.

Poaching in OJ

On the platter.

Served with salad and rice.

Caesar Steak

Loved it! Bennet is the man. Yes this is exactly what you just read above.  And again, the sauce is most definitely the boss!

We made it for Lila’s birthday party and I didn’t get a picture until after we starting serving!  It received rave reviews.

Almost gone - HUGE hit!

Speaking of Lila’s birthday…

Happy birthday Lila! (Click on the picture for party insanity)

She had a couple of specific menu requests for her birthday.  One was quesadillas. They vanished in an instant they were so yummy.  Another was fruit kebobs which Grandma Grace was gracious enough to prepare.  These were so beautiful and fun and of course D-licious!  The picture is an adequate recipe, right?

Fruit kebobs by specific request from Lila
Notice the pin on her shirt right above her name?

Thanks for keeping the DFeast going!  I so look forward to Fridays now – more than usual!


Jamie Oliver Mentions Colin | Food Revolution Update

People on Jamie Oliver’s team heard about Colin and his mini Food Revolution.  What a thrill to hear Jamie kick off his most recent newsletter message with a shout out to Colin!  If you haven’t seen it, Colin’s picture is embedded smack dab in the middle of the newsletter (okay, well, more toward the bottom).

Thank you Jamie Oliver.  You made “this little ten year old” so very proud!

And heartfelt thanks to all who came by to read Colin’s story and leave comments.  Your encouragement and support mean a great deal not only to Colin, but also to me, his mom.

Here’s Jamie’s shout out:

Part of Jamie’s appeal is his sincere passion for making a difference.  If there’s anyone out there who doubts that he’s the real deal, I share one of the messages I received directly from him:

Jamie, you sir are a top man.  Thank you for all that you are doing.  To say that you are an inspiration hardly captures the impact you have had on my family.

The focus of this blog is my other son, Caleb and his life with type 1 diabetes.  I started this Food Revolution series saying it had little to do with diabetes.  But the reality is that making healthy food choices, although important for all people, really makes a difference in managing blood sugars.  Jamie’s message not only helps me as a parent that wants to encourage good eating habits for all my children, but also as the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes who, at times, can feel guilty that perhaps I let diabetes influence my decisions.  With Jamie’s encouragement, I know that the decisions I make for my children are what I would have made, or at least should have made, even if I wasn’t a parent of a KWD.  I bet that’s a bi-product that Jamie hadn’t planned.

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 1: Flash Mob

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 2: Pass It On

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 3: The School Meeting

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 3: The School Meeting

Colin with his Food Revolution Planning Binder

The final installment of this series (for now) is about Colin’s Food Revolution meeting at school. Over the past few months, Colin has been working with someone else who feels as strongly about the food options offered to students: Mrs. P, the school nurse.

There’s reading, writing, and arithmetic, but I think this learning experience is perhaps more important than any of them.  Mrs. P has taken it upon herself to mentor Colin through this process. She and Colin talked about what they could do, what they should do and how to go about it. Together, and with the aide of Jamie Oliver’s planning guide, they came up with goals and a plan to achieve them. Mrs. P coordinated a meeting with the district’s school lunch general manager and one of his colleagues.

I helped Colin set an agenda and accumulate data. He went though the lunch menus for the past three months. He tallied the number of times pizza was offered as well as other highly processed foods like chicken nuggets, chicken patties and mozzarella sticks, and then everything else. The “other” category, although not made from fresh ingredients, at least included items that appeared to be an attempt at more healthy options.

Here’s a summary of that data:

School lunch options offered over three months

If you watched the first show of the Food Revolution television series, you saw kids in school eating pizza for breakfast. I was shocked.  I was even more surprised to see it on the menu of my children’s schools. My kids eat breakfast at home and bring lunch to school, so I hadn’t paid any attention to the school menu. Not until Colin showed me.

The above chart depicts only lunch options, but you can see that pizza is offered for almost one of every two lunches served.  Two-thirds of all lunches are highly processed foods.

At the time of the meeting I was running errands, but was completely distracted knowing Colin, at the ripe old age of ten, was making the first presentation of his life of this importance. Both Colin and Mrs. P told me how it went.  Here are the highlights:

  • Colin thanked everyone for meeting with him, explained who he was and why healthy food options at school were important to him.
  • The food service representatives explained what progress they have made to improve the quality of the food at school.
  • They discussed the current menu and compared it to Jamie Oliver’s two week menu plan. Colin explained the merits of serving meals prepared from fresh ingredients and the impact it has on children and their ability to learn.
  • They talked about forming a student council to meet monthly to address food issues.
  • They debated to some extent what constitutes a healthy meal. Colin was asked about what he eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All parties agreed there was room for improvement in the school’s menu.
  • They discussed surveying the student population to see what things people would like to see on the menu and to assess interest in healthier options.
  • Colin was tasked to come up with the number one thing he would like to see removed from the menu, and the first meal he would like to add to replace it.

My perception is that it was a productive start to planting “a seed of change” and the food service people were open to further discussion. But it was also clear that Colin was dealing with a for-profit company. Their conversation gravitated to the bottom line. They talked about expenses and what menu items sell the most. Healthier foods are more costly. Kids buy pizza and lots of it.

Colin remains undeterred. He will continue to meet, plan and execute with Mrs. P. He is determined to see the above chart move to a pie of complete yellow, where yellow represents meals made from fresh foods.  He has me, Mrs. P and Jamie Oliver behind him. He has much work ahead of him.

Colin, there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t do something that makes me proud. This day was certainly no exception.

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 1: Flash Mob

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 2: Pass It On

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 2: Pass It On

Colin tells his guests why Jamie's Food Revolution is important to him

When Colin originally decided to have a Food Revolution theme to his birthday party, the plan was little more than to serve all healthy, made from scratch foods.  Soon after, the Flash Mob idea started to take shape.  Then I got Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook.  It’s more than just a collection of recipes.  Jamie gives his readers a challenge.  Here’s an excerpt from the book:

This pass it on movement is essentially a modern-day version of the way people used to pass recipes down through generations when they weren’t all at work. That dynamic is the best learning ground ever.  As simple as it seems, pass it on could well be the most radical food movement in recent years, and you could be part of it.  I wouldn’t be asking for your help unless I thought it was absolutely necessary.

In his book Jamie asks the reader to do two things: (1) learn a recipe from each chapter, and (2) personally teach these recipes to others.

So I asked Colin if he was up to learning at least one recipe to teach everyone at his party. He took Jamie’s book to bed with him for his nightly reading.  He was more than up to it.

He chose a recipe: Jamie’s sizzling beef with scallions and black bean sauce. I bought the ingredients and we did a trial run.

Colin does a trial run of preparing Jamie's Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce recipe

Delicious!

So the menu for Colin’s party was planned: sizzling beef stir fry, a huge salad bar, and for dessert, fresh fruit.

After suprising and entertaining Colin’s guests with a rendition of Jamie’s Flash Mob, Colin invited them into the kitchen to watch him prepare the stir fry.

He passed it on.

He showed them step by step what to do and shared copies of the recipe with everyone.

Dinner was a wonderful success.  In addition to the two servings that Colin made in front of his guests, we had two trays of sizzling beef and a glorious, colorful salad bar (pictures below).

It was Colin’s tenth birthday, so although flanked by lots of fresh fruit, we did include a cake in the celebration.

Colin's Food Revolution birthday cake made by Mom

We’re committed to keeping the pledge.  Lila helped me make Jamie’s meatballs and sauce (pictured below). Colin has remained in the kitchen with me, enthusiastically helping prepare whatever is on the menu, but particularly partial to chopping salads. We will continue to pick at least one recipe from each chapter to learn.  There are so many good ones, the only hard part is deciding which to make. Caleb’s part thus far has been limited to eating what the rest of us make.

If you’ve watched Colin’s video then you have become part of the Food Revolution.  You’ve seen a ten year old do it.  Why not print the recipe yourself and make it one night this week?  I bet you will love it.  Then pass it on to someone you know.  Give them the recipe and show them how to make it.  Or at least pass on Colin’s demo.  Keep it going. Cooking fresh meals from scratch really can be easy.  Help up spread the word.

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Visit Jamie’s website for more about his Ministry of Food Campaign, read about how you can pass it on, watch Jamie prepare his sizzling beef stir fry recipe, and print your own copy here.

Up next, Colin meets with school personnel to discuss the current state of the menu.

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 1: Flash Mob

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 3: The School Meeting

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 1: Flash Mob

Colin

Yep, Colin. This blog is dedicated to Caleb, but this post is about his brother, Colin, and his love of eating good food. What does this have to do with Caleb and/or diabetes? Well nothing really.

I am of the belief that good eating habits benefit anyone.  That sounds rather obvious, I agree. I state this because there seems to be greater pressure on people with diabetes to eat well.  “Pooh”, I say.  Just because Caleb has type 1 diabetes doesn’t mean he is held to a different standard.  I believe we all have a responsibility to eat well.  Before he was diagnosed, I cooked mostly from scratch and made healthy meals for my family.  Although my awareness of good nutrition is now heightened because I see it in Caleb’s BGs all day every day, for the most part we make the same food choices we would have otherwise.

Back to Colin.

Colin loves food. To hear him say, “I’m full”, is cause for celebration.  He eats and he eats a lot.  You would not know this to look at him.

I promise he eats more than most adults.

He is lean.  We refer to him as “spider monkey”.  Colin can pack it in, but he doesn’t pack it on.  I believe this is in part because of what he chooses to eat.  He has a strong preference for fruits and vegetables.  What some would consider an ample offering of fruit for their entire family would be what Colin chooses to eat as his serving alone – I’m not exaggerating.  When on vacation, Colin gets excited at the prospect of varied choices of salads (no dressing please or there will be a very grumpy Colin, and it’s pretty hard to make Colin grumpy).  The snack he brings to school on a daily basis is a fresh apple or pear whose cores are barely recognizable when he is done.  Beverage of choice – water or milk.  He takes pride in the fact that he’s never had a sip of soda in his life and doesn’t ever intend to.

Pizza, Chinese food, pretzels, cake and even the occasional candy are also part of what Colin enjoys.  But for the most part, his palette favors things that are fresh.

To help you understand that this is not all a result of nurture, Caleb and Lila, who both enjoy the healthy foods given them, get giddily excited at the offering of what qualifies as “junk food”.  Colin’s reaction is one of tolerance.  This is not from pressure that I have put on him.  It’s just Colin.

Enter Jamie Oliver.

We watched Jamie’s Food Revolution show as a family and we loved it.  I am not fond of school lunches.  Not only do I think the options are, um, well, not the most nutritious, but when I allowed Colin to pick one day per week to buy lunch at school, he always came home hungry.  Not it’s-time-for-a-snack hungry, but oh-my-gosh-did-you-skip-lunch hungry.  If I had to pack something to supplement a school lunch, well then forget the school lunch.

Now here’s Jamie – this hip, fun guy telling my kids all the things I have told them.  Thank you sir!  Colin didn’t need any convincing, but I’m glad to have these things reinforced with the younger two.

Colin’s excitement about the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution spilled over to his 10th birthday and he had a Food Revolution themed party.

If you haven’t seen Jamie’s Show, the premise is to teach people to prepare healthy meals from scratch, quickly and easily.  One of the ways that Jamie did this in the town featured in his show was through stirring excitement via a Flash Mob at Marshall University.  If you didn’t see it, here it is (it’s helpful to watch to fully appreciate the next video):

And this is how Colin, Caleb and Lila surprised our family after most of them arrived to celebrate  (it pales in comparison to Jamie’s performance, but we had fun with it):

This is only the beginning of Colin’s Food Revolution.

Up next, Colin does as Jamies asks in his book – he “passes it on”.  I promise there is real food in Part 2.

In part 3 he sees what he can do about his own school’s menu.

If you haven’t already, please consider signing Jamie’s petition to improve the food offered in schools in the United States.

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Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 2: Pass It On

Colin’s Food Revolution | Part 3: The School Meeting