feast for the eyes

Just a few of the MANY vignettes of Autumnal colors and textures

Today, sadly, was the last day of the season for the Des Moines Farmers' Market.    I attended the first market of the year back in May and was excited to see the calendar clear to make it to the last one. 

I came prepared today with my roll along cart and handy dandy helper.

Just so we don't go into major market withdrawal, however, there will be a Winter Market held indoors at 400 Locust Street in downtown Des Moines.  Two dates are set; November 19th & 20th, and a final one on December 17th & 18th.

how cute is this design!

Maddi, Ellie and I had a fabulous time.  The air was a bit chilly, but the sun warmed the street and once we were in the crowds the cold didn't bother us. 

Our first stop was at Blue Gate Farms, our favorite supplier of the best homegrown veggies, eggs, honey and specialty jams and syrups on the planet.

Jill of Blue Gate with the famous chicken hat

From there the girls and I enjoyed all of the fabulous sights, sounds and smells of the market.  Today was a 'feast for the eyes' with many 2 legged and 4 legged costumes.

After we gathered our share of loot at the farmers' market, we walked on over to Market Days, a monthly gathering of some really talented artists who sell their wares in a downtown warehouse.

And, IF there was a contest for the best costume ever, and IF Maddi, Ellie and I could vote, THEN this next participant would win for sure ;)

An original (for sure) granny square afghan blanket monster. With pants, people!  And a removable head!  This photo seriously does not do it justice.

This Rockstar of a knitting artist was selling hats and scarves with felt and knitted animals/monsters/items sewed on.  Fabulousity!

Ellie sporting a red kitty cat

Mads with a blue blobby monster

Finally, to wrap up this 'feast for the eyes' post, allow me to present the most politically aware vehicle I have ever seen:

p.s. we successfully walked around for 2 hours, grabbing little samples along the way, and blood sugars remained stable throughout.  Woo-Hoo!!!!  Other than the break for a bs test and having to carry Ellie's emergency kit, it was almost like our pre-diabetes days.  Giggly, happy, cartwheeling girl!


trader joe's is coming to town

(I snuck a photo of the temporary sign.  Sssshhhhhhh, don't tell anyone)

to be sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is coming to town"

You better watch out
The sign is down low
Keep an eye out
For the store we all know (and love)
Trader Joe's is coming to town

He's setting up shop
And stocking up shelves
Doing it all with the help of some elves
Trader Joe's is coming to town

He knows when you are hungry
For the food you want to make
He knows when you need groceries
So go shop for goodness sake!

Oh! You better watch out
The sign is down low
Keep an eye out
For the store we all know (and love)
Trader Joe's is coming to town

Grand Opening Friday, November 5th !!!!!

Ceesa and I had a very special day.  We got an exclusive, all access pass to tour the new, not-yet-open-for-business Trader Joe's store in West Des Moines

Yep! Front row parking, backstage pass and a private tour with store associate, Neta. (rhymes with Margarita)

We were able to spend as much time as we wanted wandering the aisles, browsing the products and checking out all the awesome one-of-a-kind artwork painted on the walls.  

Did you know TJ's employs a full-time artist to hand paint murals and signage throughout the store?

Neta clued us in to some insider, employee only information.

Like, did you know TJ's sells a frozen oatmeal that is top notch awesomeness?  I know!  I didn't know either!

Also, the frozen brown rice apparently is a 'must have' staple item in your freezer.

Oh, and the store will have a station where you can gather fresh ingredients for 2, count 'em two, pizzas to make for a mere $5 buckaroos.  Wowza.

We scouted some special finds and made some mental notes so next week we can get in and out quickly despite the expected large crowd.

I bet if you drive out to the store in the next week you, too, can tour the store before it opens. 

Just tell Neta that Thelma and Louise sent ya ;)



You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

My kiddos LOVE hot chocolate.  I always have some mix on hand for when the cold settles in for the season.  Living in an area of the country where cold temps last anywhere from 5-6 months out of the year, my stash of cocoa often earns it's own shelf in the cupboards.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the grocery store and remembered I needed to stock up again.  It is Autumn and that can mean one day we may be in shorts and a T-shirt, while the next we are scrambling to dig out the hats and gloves.  Better to be prepared than be sorry.

While looking at the various kinds of cocoa, I suddenly realized this year things would be a little different.  A cup of cocoa with marshmallows for Ellie would mean an extra dose of insulin which would mean an extra shot. (We are doing MDI on Humalog and Lantus for our basal)

If Ellie snacks on something less than 15 grams of carbs, no shot.  Aha!  Find a cocoa with less than 15g per serving and badda-bing badd-boom, no poke for her.  The Nesquik I purchased has only 7g per serving when mixed with water ........ perfect!

Last night we put the drink to the test.  It was snack time after dinner and Ellie wanted some of her *new* hot cocoa, and paired it with a protein. It appeared to make a nice, balanced choice.

Not so.

Ellie's bedtime blood glucose reading was 328 :o!  (Her ideal range is 80-150) Since we are newly diagnosed and not instructed on corrections, we do nothing about a high number but check for ketones and drink extra fluids.  Not an ideal set-up for going to sleep.

Now for the funny:

My hubby is in the kitchen and has a Sharpie in one hand and the box of Nesquick in the other.  He is giggling and smirking as he is writing something on the lid.  He tilts it down to show me and I read: Makes Ellie High!

She had told him he should write that on the box so we would remember for next time she wanted to drink it that it makes her 'high'.


'High' has a WHOLE new meaning to me now ;)

p.s.  20 bonus points for the 1st person who guesses what movie the line in the title came from


Ellie's T1D Diagnosis Story

Ellie Rae is my second of three babies. Born into this world at record speed on June 8, 2002 and has been smiling and giggling ever since. She was my 'good' baby who nursed like a champ, slept like a dream and was happy and content as long as there was something or someone to look at. Ellie desires to be just like her big sister, Maddi, and is a best friend (and worst enemy) of her little brother, Ben. My flower child, free spirit, book loving, silly little girl.

So, when her personality started to change and her trademark smiles became random I did what most Mom's would do ....... chalked it up to 8yo growth and hormone changes. Besides, she was eating like every meal was her last and not gaining an ounce. Surely a growth spurt was on the horizon. When school started this last August and Ellie started coming home in tears, I fed her a snack and gave her some space to just chill-out. After all, 3rd grade is a challenge and Ellie likes to succeed and please her teachers! She just needed to stare at the TV, have a snack and regroup.

Over the last 2 years it had become apparent Ellie had some hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) issues, but her Dr. assured us all would be fine as long as we fed her every couple of hours. When the 'grouchies' would hit, I would check the clock and sure enough it was near a meal or snack time. Ellie would eat and then return to her normal, happy self. Until late September 2010.

More often than not, Ellie would not bounce back from her 'bad' moods after eating a snack or resting or having quiet time. Her appetite was as big as ever, but she would complain of an upset stomach midway through a meal. Ellie always had room for milk or juice or water, though! In fact, towards the end of the month she started carrying something to drink with her at all times and would also wake in the night to grab another sip of water.

Ellie's strange behavior really grabbed my attention when we took a quick road trip over a Saturday and Sunday in late September 2010. We have made this particular trip often, and had gotten it down to a science where we drive to our destination in 2.25 hours with NO bathroom stops. Well, this weekend we had to stop. Not once, but 3 times along the way. I grabbed her cup of water and told her "No more!". Her face crumpled up and she whined "but I am soooooo thirsty". Throughout the next 24 hours I watched my daughter drink like a parched camel in the desert. Once glass in hand and always looking for another. As Sunday rolled around, we packed up and loaded the car for the return trip. I told Ellie to put the drinks away because I didn't want to have to make any stops on the way home. I will never forget what I witnessed next: Ellie got this frantic look on her face and started gulping the drink and grabbed the refrigerator handle to get another refill and then started to cry. My 'mom radar' was going off big time. I knew what these symptoms could mean.

During the drive home (with 2 bathroom stops with 1 accident later) I knew something was wrong, but what could I do? Get home on a Sunday and go to the Urgent Care and tell them my daughter was drinking and peeing too much? Pppppffffttt. I am a seasoned mother, now. My kids are no longer babies so I don't run and call the Dr. about every little cough or sneeze or sniffle! This is no biggie. I'll just keep an eye on her and take her to the Dr. later in the week if it gets worse. Except ........ my heart was heavy with worry. I decided to text my friend, Stef, whose daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a couple of years ago. "Just ask her a couple of questions about early symptoms so I could ease my worries and get on with other things. If she doesn't text back, I won't get all anxious" I told myself.

She didn't text back. You know why? She is a D-mom. Her warning bells were ringing loudly so she picked up the phone and called me. "What's going on? Tell me everything you are noticing." So I did. Then I laughed and apologized for taking time out of her day to calm my nervous nellies. Except she didn't hang up. In fact, she told me to take Ellie to Urgent Care. I argued I didn't want to wait in a germy office on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and assured Stef I would call the Dr. tomorrow and make an appointment. Apparently this wasn't a sufficient answer, because Stef URGED me to go to Walgreen's and buy some keytone strips. As in, right now. "If Ellie is negative for keytones, you can wait until tomorrow to see your doctor. If she is positive, you are going to the Urgent Care". Uh, okay. But what the heck is a keytone? Never mind.

Ellie and I get to Walgreen's and were barely at the register to pay for them when Ellie tells me she has to pee really bad. We head back to the store restroom (ewwww) and she pees on a test strip. Again, a moment in history I will never forget: the test strip was purple. I called Stef and said, "she's positive". At that moment, I knew my daughter had type 1 diabetes. I just knew it in my heart.

What happened next is all sort of blurry and messed up. My mind and body went on auto pilot while my spirit sank. I rushed home and quickly explained to my husband why I had Ellie pee on some weird strip and that I spoke to Stef and now we needed to go to Urgent Care. The P.A. at the clinic said Ellie was "spilling" sugars into her urine. Something about 1000 units. ?What? Then a blood draw and mumbling about being over the meter and another machine not able to read that high. ?How?

At this point I am texting Stef back and forth with numbers and questions and she is trying to explain and then all of the sudden the P.A. walks back in with the Dr. on call and they sit us down and tell us we need to take Ellie to the hospital. ?Where?

This is where my very-good-never-can-repay friend steps in and tells me she is coming over to drive us to the hospital. ?Okay?

Blur - insert IV - blur - people talking - blur - Stef answering - blur - Ellie holding strong - Blur - stable so we can take her home - blur - show up at the pediatric endocrinologist ?Who? at 8am in the morning. - blur.

We somehow make it through the night and show up at the clinic the next morning. We sign in and are ushered through paperwork, vitals and shown to a room. A nice nurse starts comes in with an armload of papers and equipment and immediately starts to talk to Elie about checking blood sugars. A knock on the door interrupts the instruction and in walks the doctor. A brief introduction is made and then, for the 3rd time in 24 hours, I experience a moment that will stay with me forever: The Dr. turns to look at Ellie, rolls her chair right up so she can look at Ellie at eye level, and tells her. "Ellie, you have Type 1 Diabetes. There is not a cure, but we are going to teach you today how to manage it. You will take insulin everyday. You didn't do anything to cause this. It is not your fault. You can do anything and be anything you want to be. Don't let anyone tell you different."

I am sharing this story in hopes it will cause another person or parent to call their Dr. or investigate further about any symptoms they or their child may have of Type 1 Diabetes. Ellie did not have to stay in the hospital and did not suffer from DKA because we caught it early. Because Stef shared her story with me 2 years ago and I remembered about the excessive thirst. Because, if left untreated, diabetes can be fatal. Listen to that inner voice when it tells you something is just not right.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes


I did it!

I completed another 'first' with Ellie since her Ddiagnosis ..... which was 4 weeks ago today, officially.  This past Friday Ellie, Maddi and I hopped in the car and took a quick road trip to visit my sister and help celebrate my niece Megan's first birthday.

Why is this so special?  Because I traveled with all the Dstuff and didn't forget any of the Dstuff and used all the Dstuff with N-O complications!!!!!  Go me.  We stopped at Subway for dinner, requested a nutritional guide before we ordered, and enjoyed every last bite without worrying how I was going to calculate the carbs.  Ellie tested in the car and even gave herself a shot while in the car. (No worries, the car wasn't moving). 

At the party my sister had lots of fresh veggies and dip Ellie could munch on without going over 15 grams.  Homemade pumpkin cupcakes were for the desert and Ellie decided to forgo the sweet and instead munch on some lil' smokies.  Gotta love a girl who turns down sugar for meat ;).

Blood sugars remained semi-steady and we made it through the night with Ellie snuggled up close to me in the guest bed.  I just can't describe how happy I am with the 24-hour road trip.  I got to love on my nieces, chat with my sister, spend some great quality time with my girls and all without being completely consumed with diabetes. 

 Maren is going to be a pink poodle for Halloween. See? She is already practicing eating a pink lollipop.

 Miss Meggie Moo Magoo is sporting a chicken costume. As you can see, she is not too please with being stuffed.

While this may look cruel, I can assure you much laughter and enjoment was had by all (except maybe for the chicken).


what does 'balance' mean, anyway?

If I don't know the meaning of a word, I just ask my husband.  Seriously ...... he is the KING of vocabulary!  I have to be careful, however, because sometimes he gives me an erroneous answer just to mess with me.  If I am looking him in the eye when he does it, I can catch him.  His right eye glints and sparkles for just a fraction of a second and he is caught.  Once I smile or lift my left eyebrow I've got him.  The sly crooked smile of his can't be contained and he knows at once he is busted.  Unfortunately for me, however, I am not always looking him in the eye.  

But I digress.  Yes, yes, back to definitions.  I should go to an online dictionary and search for a proper meaning to my query, but I am often left scratching my head with more questions.  What does it mean to ME?  How does that definition FIT my need?  Did it just use the SAME word in order to define that word?  Ugh. I am much better off when I define a word by applying things I already know and figuring out how the word applies to me.

So ....... b-a-l-a-n-c-e.  Well, I think of a gymnast when I think of balance.  More specifically, a gymnast on a b-a-l-a-n-c-e beam.  I don't have to imagine what it is like, because I was both a gymnast and a gymnastic instructor during my lifetime so I have personal experience with the apparatus.  Low, high, short or long; all are 4" wide and you must walk, tiptoe, jump, turn, spin and flip on the beam while maintaining balance.  Balance is the KEY to staying on the beam. 

How do you do it? 

What does it feel like?

For me, it was a delicate dance between tension and relaxation.  Tense up your muscles too tight and you will literally bounce off the beam.  Muscles too loose will find yourself fighting gravity's pull to lower ground.  Hold your breath and get lightheaded; but breath too fast will bring on hyperventilation.  Both result in getting 'off balance' and thus, off the beam.

Now; to apply 'balance' to my life, I apply what I know about my definition and plug it into my world. 

Not too tense.  Relax the shoulders and breathe.  Stop, assess the imbalance, and correct.  Keep on top of things.  Don't sweat every detail.  Let out the rope but know when to reign it back in.  Constant motion with restful breaks.

This brings me to my last point, and reminder to myself when I start to become overwhelmed.

Oxygen.  As in, "When in an emergency situation, the oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling.  Place the mask over YOUR face FIRST so you are able to have the strength and clarity to place the remaining oxygen masks on others."

If I do not take care of myself and strive for balance, I will be of no use to anyone.  Oxygen for myself first.  Always.


balance check

Chuga-chuga-choo-choo!!!!  The little engine that could was plugging along, around the curves, up the hills and down the slippery slopes.  This is life!  As long as it kept saying to itself "I think I can, I think I can", all was well.  Sometimes the engine slows to a snails pace and other times it throws the throttle in reverse in order to switch tracks.  In the best of times it gets to coast along with nary a care.  But, sometimes:

eeeeeekkkkkkkkk!  *crashbangpowkaploey* Did you see that?  It come out of nowhere!

On Sunday, September 26th 2010, Type 1 Diabetes crashed into our lives.  Ellie Rae was diagnosed and life as we knew it had changed.

It is now almost 1 month later and I am finally rebounding from the blow.  Finally ready to come back to my 'happy place' and share my thoughts, photos, conversations and happenings.  Finally ready to connect with people and places who are threaded together by a disease with no cure.  Finally ready to accept this is my new way of life.

Ellie is:

- feeling good
- counting carbs
- giggling again
- poking her finger 6-10 times a day
- riding her bike with no hands
- singing with her iPod
- giving herself 3 insulin shots a day
- teaching others
- going to school
- emptying the dishwasher
- yelling at her brother
- playing the piano

Ellie is the same ........ but her needs are different, now. 

We are picking up the pieces and setting things in place, trying to figure out how to balance our new normal.

Please ask questions
Please pray for us
Please treat us as you did before
Please ask us for a favor
Please don't be afraid
Please count on us
Please give us grace

Whatever you do, please don't disappear.  We need the support of our friends and family more now than ever.