Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Life -- Diabetes & Autism

I originally posted this on November 9, 2012.

My life is complicated.  I've been married for 21 years to a great husband and dad -- I know that makes me a freak of nature!  We have four incredible children.  We own a successful technology company, live in wine country California, and blah blah blah.

What's so complicated?  It all started when our third child (second son) was born.  I thought everything was fine.  As my son grew older I noticed little things that were a bit "off" but I just thought he was quirky.  Little did I know.

As a homeschooling mom I noticed during kindergarten my son was not learning basic skills like his older siblings did.  So began a long journey.  A journey we are still on.

My son was first diagnosed with dyslexia, then clinical depression, autism, and processing delays.  Honestly, the depression diagnosis scared me more than the autism.  It was a crushing diagnosis.

I rallied, contacted our local school, secured services, behaviorists, child psychiatrists, and learning specialists.  I took courses about the educational laws and IEP process.  I prepared for what was coming; or so I thought.

The morning my husband and I were to attend our first meeting with the local school my second child (first son) was very ill.  I went on to the school and my husband took our son to the doctor.  In the school parking lot I received a call from our family doctor.  "Your son has Type 1 Diabetes.  He is very ill.  I am scheduling him for admittance into the nearest children's hospital endocrinology department.  He needs to go immediately." 

I realized in the school parking lot I had to pull myself together.  First I needed to attend the school meeting for my autistic son.  I needed to successfully navigate the meeting and I did.  Afterwards, I broke down in my car.  My world collapsed around me. My dad had died from complications of Type 2 Diabetes. But Type 1 -- genetically inherited, no where in my family or my husband's. How could this be? What did I do to have this happen? Why my boys? Why my family? Why?

That night was stressful and traumatic.  We decided I would drive our son 2 hours south to Oakland, CA to Children's Research Hospital.  They had a place for him and we needed to get there immediately.  My son was barely able to walk or move.  He was lethargic, pale, and gravely ill.  I drove to the city for the first time in the rain and dark, unsure which interchanges to take, where to park, where to check in.

When we arrived my son tested over 600ml.  Normal glucose is 80ml to 100ml.  A few more hours and my son would have been in serious, almost deadly conditions.

After a wonderful stay (the staff was INCREDIBLE) we learned how to give insulin, measure carbs, and address illnesses.  My son loved it there because he could dial the kitchen and get anything he wanted. 

The next few months -- almost year -- was very stressful.  I was losing hair, weight, and sleep.  Managing two children with disabilities pushed me to my limit.

I can say, five years later, our lives are less complicated.  Now the boys are teenagers.  Perhaps our biggest challenge is dealing with teenage boys! 

Perhaps it is better to say our family has adjusted and grown stronger through these challenges.  Our lives are still complicated, I suppose, but we manage.  I am ever grateful for the support inside and outside the family.

I wish strength and happiness to all who face similar challenges. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Style vs. Fashion

I had an epiphany this morning.  It was  a simple "ah ha" moment and it felt good.  I didn't realize or understand physics, how to win the lottery, or why I love ice cream. 

I did (finally) realize there is a difference between style and fashion!  Oh my goodness.  It seems like a silly thing to be excited about but I am excited!

I am excited because now I understand how to use fashion to express my style.  Previously I had a two-dimensional view of fashion.  It is an art and nice to look at but impractical.  Now I realize fashion is an art, some times impractical, beautiful to look at, thought provoking, AND usable. 

This simple revelation has opened up so many possibilities to me.  Style is an expression of one's self through the use of fashion.  Fashion is a tool to express a mood, personality, quirk; in short, ourselves, our style.

So, when we say we want an Audrey Hepburn-style we really should look at the fashion she used to create her style and add our own touches.  What do we like about her style?  What elements and pieces did she use to create her style?  How can I make it my own? 

Use different fabrics, patterns, cuts, colors, or accessories to personalize fashion into your own style.

Ah ha!

Now, I came across a blog by a young lady who came to this conclusion a long time before it occurred to me.  In fact, visiting her blog lead to my ephiphany. 

She is fashionable, stylish, and has a terrific eye for what it takes to create a personal look.  She is fantastic.  And she is under 18! 

Introducing Tolly Dolly Posh Fashion.  Go girl!



I discovered her through another terrific blog The Wantering Blog.  Be still my heart!  This blog is incredible.  Style = fashion with your personality. 

I adore both of these blogs.  Check them out and see what you think.  I think you will LOVE them!

Au Revoir - Tammi

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shopping with a Tween

As a mother of four children it is easy to assume shopping with a tween is an easy task for me.  After all, I've spent the past 19 years shopping for one child or another at various stages of growth.  I must admit, however, shopping for the pre-teen is not fun.  Some things have remained true throughout my 19 years of mom/child shopping excursions... kids have opinions.  Very strong opinions.  Often these opinions are counter to mom's opinions. 

My first daughter is now an adult but I remember clearly the battles fought in the store over what is appropriate and acceptable versus "what is in".  Fast forward 11 years and I find myself in the store, in the same battle with my last child who is eight going on twenty-five!

Some things never change.  Fortunately, I've learned how to "negotiate" an appropriate wardrobe for each child.  A wardrobe we both can live with and like. 

My recent outing to the mall was to purchase summer clothing for my eight year-old daughter.  Like so many other children her age schoolmates and television are huge influences.  I am heavily influenced by my desire to keep her a child as long as possible and not let her grow up too fast!

Our trip was painful but successful!  I am willing to take the pain if in the end she has learned how to dress herself in a fun and appropriate manner.  Yes, shopping is a learning lesson for mom and child!

I am so excited by what we found!  The colors this year are sweet, soft pastels; polka dots; stripes; and pretty floral prints.  It is all so feminine!  I wished I could find some of these pieces in my size!

I love these "capri" yoga pants and double-layer tanks.  They are so cute and comfy!  I would totally wear these around the house.

Sweet pastel jeans, capri pants, and shorts.  The shorts are longer making them very appropriate and cute.  My favorite pair are the ombre blue capri pants.  They are awesome!
We couldn't forget skirts and dresses.  My daughters love / loved dresses at this age.  I couldn't get my older daughter out of them when she was 8!  I love the twist on '80's fashion.  The newer versions of stripes and polka dots are modern and classic -- not obnoxious!

These dresses are perfect for spring and summer.  They go to the knee.  I know, a shock in today's world!  They just slip over the head with no fussy buttons or zippers.  I also love that they can be worn with leggings or over a bathing suit when it warms up.

On of my favorite outfits.  The top is adorable.  I love the soft minty blue and pretty pink flowers.  It is longer so no mid-rift or tummy showing.  I also loved that it has a little '80's vibe with the cinched shoulders.  It is adorable with the ombre blue capri pants or a cute pair of pink shorts.

Never fear fellow moms.  Shopping can be safe and fun if you keep to your standards.  Our girls can look stylish, cute, and age-appropriate! 

Au Revoir -- Tammi

Six Sisters Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
Too Much Time On My Hands

Friday, March 8, 2013

Easy, Fun BBQ Dinner

When the weather changes from winter to spring suddenly I have the urge to cook something other than soup.  My family begins requesting BBQ foods as soon as the tree blossoms open!  I love BBQ but it is still cold and dark during the beginning of spring making outdoor cooking not much fun. 

In addition, the kids are still in school, homework needs to be done, showers taken, and bedtime is not that long after dinner.  BBQ in spring, on a weeknight can be a challenge.  Some years ago I learned a great time-saving process to make a BBQ dinner without fuss or much mess.

My secret process?  The slow cooker.  I LOVE the slow cooker.  It is quick, easy, low mess, and makes a great meal on nights I'm exhausted. 

For a mid-week BBQ dinner I made BBQ beef, citrus salad, and lemon, prickly pear, ginger ale drink. 

Slow Cooker BBQ Beef
BBQ Beef Recipe:
1 3-4 lb. chuck roast
Salt & pepper
Olive Oil
3-4 cups beef broth
Bottled BBQ sauce of your liking
Buns of your choice - hamburger, ciabatta, french, sourdough etc.
Season a beef chuck roast with salt and pepper.  Brown it in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil.  You are not cooking the roast in the pan.  Just brown it to give a good sear. 
Place the roast in the slow cooker with 3-4 cups of beef broth.  Set the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours. 
Walk away and go about your day. 
When the slow cooker is done.  Remove the roast carefully.  It will fall apart because it has braised for quite a while.  Shred the beef with two forks in a dish.  Add BBQ sauce, mix, done.
For the buns:  My family likes large hamburger buns but you can use ciabatta, french rolls, soft sweet rolls or any bun/bread your family likes.  I lightly butter the buns and brown them on an indoor grill or skillet.  Done.
Place some of the BBQ beef on the buns, add a bit of cheese if that is what your family likes, or more BBQ sauce depending upon taste.  Main course is complete.

Citrus Salad
I love salads and fruit.  I saw this idea in a Better Homes and Gardens  magazine and had to try it.  It is a very simple and customizable dish. 
Citrus Salad Recipe:
3-4 cups spring mix greens
Fruit of your choice:  oranges, blood oranges, mango, papaya, pomegranate seeds
Salad dressing -- best with a vinaigrette or lemon
I used spring mix greens, pomegranate seeds, navel orange sliced and quartered, and mango slices.  The salad dressing was a prepared balsamic vinaigrette.  You could make a salad dressing with olive oil and lemon, olive oil and balsamic, or just squeeze lemon with salt and pepper.
The salad is light, very refreshing with the fruit, and satisfying.  I will make it again with fruits that are in season -- perhaps I'll try kiwi next time.
Lemon, Prickly Pear Ginger Ale
This drink is pretty and delicious.  My husband's cousin Kelly created a fantastic tonic with simple syrup, lemon, and prickly pear.  She added the tonic to ginger ale and created this fantastic drink.
The beauty of this drink is it is fully customizable like the salad.  My kids and husband LOVE this drink.  It is a great party drink, alternative to soda, and a change from basic lemonade. 
Tonic Recipe:
Step 1:  Simple Syrup
Equal parts water and sugar.  For example:  1 cup water, 1 cup sugar
In a sauce pan bring water and sugar to a gentle boil.  Allow sugar to dissolve completely.  Cool.
Add lemon juice and prickly pear juice to taste.  (Alternative flavors below.)
I like to place the finished tonic in a nice glass container and store in the refrigerator.
Alternatives:  try adding lime instead of lemon, passion fruit juice, pomegranate juice, orange juice, or whatever flavors you prefer.
Drink Recipe:
Add 1 shot of tonic to a glass with ice.
Add ginger ale to your liking.
Add mint sprigs.  Stir gently.
Add lemon or lime twists or slices.
Give these recipes a try.  Add your own touches or changes depending upon your family's likes.  I am sure you will enjoy them throughout the year.