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December 31, 2009

The Year In Review Part Deux: 2009.

Looking back on 2009 has made me smile, laugh, cry a little bit, and also made me a little bit dizzy.  Here's an in-depth recap of the moment in 2009 that stood out for me - and what I'm looking forward to in 2010.

January marked the completion of my first Diabetes 365 project, and also the announcement of my partnership with Dexcom.  And it also was another month of A1C struggles (theme of my diabetes life, it seems).  Some of my former dLife coworkers took on the Diabetes for the Day experience, and I took the concept of "diabetes perfection" to task. 

February had some tricky highs and some unfortunately vlogged low blood sugars, but I did celebrate my birthday, and Valentine's Day, with my husband, and I also had a chance to interview Jay Cutler.  February was also the dawning of my tendinitis saga (which rages on to this day, albeit is slightly better), and a bad month for pipe layers from Holland

March forced me to admit that whole thing about froast, and then there was that issue with the GARBAGE TRUCK GARBAGE TRUCK.  I cracked open my diaries from way back in the day and talked about how diabetes affected me then, and now, and my mom popped in to write another guest post.  And the ellipmachine joined the Sparling household (and yes, it's still being used), as did the Dexcom Seven Plus.  But one of the best moments in March was hanging out with the ladies of the Fairfield County Dinner crew, who I miss terribly!

April was the beginning of the travel mess that was 2009, with a trip to the Canyon Ranch Institute with Dr. Val (and that whole issue with the pilot on the plane).  I met the employee of the month, I had dinner in New Haven with Manny and Adam, and I shamefully recounted my story about the guy with the heart on.  I ended up scanning a pile of old photos and diabetes stuff from decades ago, and the cost of healthcare today versus years ago caused me to go on a bit of a rant.  Also, I got a cortisone shot to hopefully help with my wrist issues.  OH AND I MET SHOES!

May was fun.   SixUntilMe.com turned four years old, and I celebrated my blogaversary by having dinner in NYC with Caroline and her (almost, at that point) fiance.  There was another Fairfield County Dinner with the ladies, and again with the fine folks at ACT1.  And Chris and I marked our first wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to the Caribbean.  (Although there was that questionable walrus ...)

June gave me some time to focus on the parts of diabetes that make me grin (yes, there are a few!) and also a moment to talk about diabetes stereotypes.  I became a Kevin James zombie and ate a blueberry cupcake o' awesomeness.  I also channeled my Grammie in the grocery store when I was attacked by apples, met some fellow d-bloggers in Philly, and the first announcement about Buried was made in Variety!  And, as a reminder, Brett Michaels is a shithead.   

July was a ridiculous travel month, but so worth all the time in the air.  Chris and I traveled down to Florida for the CWD Friends for Life conference, and I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Joe Solowiejczyk speak, and also had a chance to catch up with Jay Hewitt.  (But we definitely hit up Disney World after the conference was over, which was awesome!)  A few days later, I visited Washington, DC for a Better Health event about healthcare reform, and then popped off to Indianapolis for the Roche Social Media Summit (and met some of my favorite diabetes bloggers).  Lee Ann and I skipped the teeny plane rides and instead took a road trip to Chicago for the BlogHer conference, where I spoke on a panel about PatientBloggers, had lunch with Valerie Jarrett (and spent some quality time with my conference wife Jenni and more d-bloggers).  

August began with a renewed mission to conquer my A1C and work towards a healthy pregnancy.  And then Chris and I traveled to Spain (my first trip to Europe) and visited the set of his film, Buried, then set ourselves loose on the city of Barcelona.  And little did I know, we came back with a bit of a surprise.  :)  But in the meantime, I gave some thought to switching insulin pumps.   

September was spent holding a secret, but while I tried to stay quiet, I gave up caffeine.  And my A1C came back at the lowest it had been in 23 years, which was awesome, considering the secret I was carrying.  Chris and I made a big decision to leave Connecticut after 3 1/2 years at dLife, and planned to move up to the Boston area in October.  While I worked out my last month at dLife as an editor, I visited a local CT support group and met with some terrific parents.  And we packed.  (Cats did NOT help.)

October marked my last day at dLife, and Chris and I moved ourselves (and our cats) to a new place.  A ninja arrived in the mail to greet us.  We visited Bar Harbor again and ate strawberry butter and biscuits at the Two Cats Inn.  And then I finally told you guys my secret, the one that I'd been holding for three months - about our baby.  But before I could sit and enjoy the excitement of telling, I had to take a quick trip to Las Vegas for BlogWorldExpo to speak on a MedBloggers panel.  But once I got back, I let loose with the pregnancy posts that I'd been drafting up for weeks.  At the end of October, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia for the ePatient 2009 conference, where I spoke about being a patient blogger, and addressed the topic of diabetes and guilt.

And then November.  Stupid NaBloPoMo made my head explode.  So did the H1N1 vaccine.  We, as a diabetes community, celebrated D-Blog Day, and I ate cheeseburgers.  Chris and I visited Florida for the DRI Diabetes 2.0 conference, where I spoke on a panel about online diabetes communities.  With November also being National Diabetes Month, we marked World Diabetes Day on November 14th.  And when my computer bit it in November, I replaced it with a shiny new Macbook (way out of my paygrade).  And BSparl gave us a few first flutters

Now it's December.  We found out our baby is a girl this month, and that we're heading to Sundance next month.  Chris and I marked the 20th week of our pregnancy, and we found out that we've replaced Shoes with ceiling gnomes.  I see the doctor more than I see my husband these days, and the baby bump is getting bigger. 

2009 has been the year I've been hoping would happen for a long time.  I've made some career moves that I'm very happy with, and my husband has had a very successful year as well, but what matters most to us is what's coming in 2010.  I am married to a man who I love intensely, and in just a few short months, our baby girl will join the family. 

And that's the part that makes me cry with joy.

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year, everyone, and cheers to a happy and healthy 2010 for us all!

December 30, 2009

The Year in Review: 2009.

Year in Review:  2009.This is part of my annual twofer roundup - a meme that gets me clicking all over the place through other blogger's archives - so here is part one: the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2009. (And this meme is a good one if you're looking for a quick and dirty wrap up of the year!)

January:  Last January, I took the plunge and joined the inspiring photogs in the Diabetes365 Flickr group.

February:  A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Internet last week.

March:  Last night, I found a box of old diaries.

April:  Yesterday at lunch, I was browsing at one of my favorite stores and picking through a pile of spring sweaters. 

May:  Today Six Until Me turns four years old. 

June:  Even though I do not like the disease, there are some diabetes-related simple pleasures that make me smile.

July:  The catalyst that brought me to BlogHer was a conversation back in October 2008 with Lisa Stone. 

August:  Last week, Chris and I were in Barcelona to visit the set of his feature film, "Buried."

September:  Twenty three years ago, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And today, I've got nothing but hope in my heart.

October:  Dear baby, I've been thinking about you for a long time.

November: The first time we saw him (or her), it was at the emergency room back in Connecticut.

December:  BSparl is now the size of a large mango, according to the What to Expect site.

It's been a wild year, and 2010 is shaping up to be more of the same unpredictable chaos.  I can't wait!

December 29, 2009

Reader Question - Can You Help?

Can you help?Hey guys - quick question from a reader about medical insurance and insulin pump coverage.  I've had limited experience with insurance switches while pumping, so I'm hoping a few of you guys can offer another perspective or two for this SUM reader, so she can make an educated decision (and move towards a successful pregnancy - yay!!) 

"I'm switching jobs soon and will also be switching insurance companies.  Does this mean that I will have to go through the approval process [for the pump] all over again or will my next insurance company support whatever supplies I am using at the time I start my policy with them?  I have never changed insurance companies while on the pump and I don't know what kinds of hassle that will bring?  If any?  If I do have to start all over with the new insurance company, should I just give up and stay on MDI's?  Or should I go ahead and get pregnant and if I get approved, then start pumping mid-pregnancy?"

If you've got some advice for this reader, please leave your comments below!   Thanks in advance for your help, guys!

You Know You're a Diabetic When ...

You know you're a diabetic when ...

Diabetes MacAttack!

... a few blood stains on the computer power button are almost expected.

December 28, 2009

Post Holiday Post.

Christmas spans several days here in Sparlingville, mostly due to big families on both sides and plenty of dinners that take place over the holidays.  Christmas began in earnest on Thursday afternoon and stemmed well into Sunday, coming to a full stop once we got home last night and realized there wasn't anything left under the tree to disburse or open.  Very family-focused holiday, which was awesome.  And other than the cats dancing around inside of wrapping paper rolls and chewing on discarded ribbons, it's pretty quiet on the holiday front.

And now it's that weird purgatory time between the end of Christmas and the beginning of a new year, with bloggers writing year-end wrap up posts and, or recaps of the holidays, or perhaps cleaning out underneath the bed and finding that box of old diaries.  And then flipping through them and finding MORTIFYING posts from third grade, where apparently I fancied myself both a college sophomore and a mall rat, all at once.  (Despite being nine years old.  And unable to drive.  And without ever having even had my hand held by a boy.  But I wrote as though my life was a harlequin novel, with a high romance factor.)Oh the cringe-factor!!

So honestly, what's a blogger to do when content ideas are short and laughable moments are being handed out by the pageful?  Oh hell yes I'll post the diary excerpts.  No one reads blogs on the week between Christmas and New Years, right?  RIGHT?

"April 9, 1989:  Today I played Mall Madness on my Flipsider.  And Brownies ended today, and I'm glad because I didn't like having to sit there and not talk."  (Flipsiders rocked.  As did Pocket Rockers.)

"July 4, 1989:  Today Aunt [name removed] had a cookout and everyone was there!  I went swimming in the pool and it was warm.  Then I went into their hot tub.  Wow it was steamy and if I wore glasses, they would have been all steamed up!!  It was weird.  Then there were fireworks.  What a supurb [sic] day!"  (After reading through a few different entries, it turns out that "weird" was my word du jour of the 80's.)

"October 10, 1990:  I tested my blood sugar today for the first time without mom watching and I saw the number was good.  I'm not going to write it here because it's none of your business, diary reader, but I did test.  And the number was good.  And that's it, 'kay."  (Even then, I was protective of being judged.  And also indignant, but that's another discussion.)

"November 18, 1990:  Today Kim babysat.  She gave me a bracelet and I put it on and said thanks.  Courtney and I babysat our cabbage Patch Kids.  They behaved pretty good and that made the whole day easier when they aren't pretend crying."  (Pretend crying is pretty different from what I'm expecting BSparl to do.  I'm guessing she'll be more of a real crier.)

"December 2, 1990:  Today [name redacted] was so nice to me.  He gave me three quarters, and a nickel.  Also a portrait of a bird.  I'll stick the bird on the next page so you can see it, okay?"  (And there, on the next page, was said bird.  I guess I didn't keep the change.)

"January 10, 1990:  I'm going roller-skating today and there will be no adults!  And [name redacted] will be there!!! Okay, I have to do this stuff:  wash my hair, pick out clothes, wear deorderant [sic], wear light-blue eye shadow, bring kit, make a snack, bring about $12.00, get extra eye shadow. " (Okay, this entry made me die inside, because not only did I need to wear light-blue eye shadow at the age of about ten years old, but I needed back up eye shadow as well.  Because in the early 90's, you just couldn't have enough blue eye shadow.)

"January 11, 1990:  He couldn't come."  (Picture of a heart with a stick through it and sad looking birds.)

"(On the inside cover of the diary) Mom, if you are reading this you should just stop, okay?  Because you said you wouldn't.  And that means that if you are reading this now then you are breaking you're [sic] word.  And that's just not NICE."  (Skull and crossbones here, only done in pink marker.  Threatening, for sure.)

"February 1, 1990:  I'm in love.  And [name removed] loves me too.  I know because when I needed a pencil for the test, he gave me one.  That's what real love it all about including also sometimes holding the door for people."  (Damn straight, sister!)

All you need is love. And love is shown through pencils.  Words of advice from a ten year old.  :)

December 24, 2009

Sausage Paws is Comin' to Town.

(To the Tune of Santa Claus is Comin' To Town)

You watch out,
You'd better not cry!
(You'd better take insulin
Or your numbers will be high.)

Sausage Paws is coming ... to town!

She's making a list,
With her Christmas Elf,
But the only one naughty,
Is her own stupid self.AHHHH! SHE'S COMING!

Sausage Paws is coming ... to town!

She stares at me when I'm sleeping,
She sniffs me 'til I'm awake.
She's us-u-ally bad, not good,
So beware for goodness' sake!


You'd better watch out,
You might want to move,
This little gray cat has something prove.



December 23, 2009

NinjaBread Cookies.

Yesterday, my mom and I made attempts to make a bunch of Christmas cookies.  We started out early(ish) in the morning, and with some normal looking cookies and with our brains fully functioning.  We made some delicious winners, like these tasty Hershey Kiss cookies that have a tinge of peanut butter and are melty and awesome.

Hershey Kiss cookies are the BOMB.

However, after too many cookies cycling in and out of the oven, and after decorating dozens and dozens, we started to lose it a little bit.  Maybe we got a little punchy.  Or bored.  Or a dangerous combination of both.  Either way, by the time we got to the gingerbread people, we were both silly.  We tried to keep them standard, like this Santa Claus cookie, complete with little paper present and sassy raisin eyes:

But then we digressed into gingerbread kitties (made from the regular gingerbread man shape, only with added cat features to fool consumers into thinking this cookie should have a tail):

Gingerbread Kitty?

"Oh NO!  MR. BILL ATE MY LEG OFF!"  Or some such comment from this mushy gingerbread man, complete with bloodied stump.  (My mother stopped calling these "cute" and instead starting asking me if I had anything I wanted to talk about.)  

Imagine he's screaming, "AHHH!  MY LEG!  THAT NINJA CUT OFF MY LEG!"

And these, the best of the bunch:  NinjaBread cookies.  GingerNinjas?  (For you, SuperG!)  However you slice them, these cookies weren't baked, but instead stalked themselves into crispy, sneaky perfection:

Gingerbread Ninjas - George, this guy is lookin' at YOU!

The ninjas came in both purple and green, had red cinnamon ninja "stars," and took to hiding in the fake snow in my mother's Christmas village, where they were joined by the cat cookie.   Then the snowmen pretzels wearing their sombreros visited the scene.

Of course.

... I'm a little nervous that my baby may not understand me.  ;)

December 22, 2009

Nicole - On Rhode Island Public Radio!

Nicole Purcell, writer of Curious Girl and one of my first in-person blogging connections from back in the day, is being featured on Rhode Island Public Radio tomorrow, December 23rd.  You can catch it on NPR at 102.7 FM, Southern RI 1290 AM, Providence, at 6:35 am, 8:35 am, and 5:45 pm, or streaming on the website at www.wrni.org.

From the website: 

"Modeled on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow, This I Believe – Rhode Island, hosted by Frederic Reamer, is an effort to share the many stories of people of Rhode Island... the personal experiences that have helped form the opinions of your neighbors. This I Believe – Rhode Island is also an opportunity for you to share your own beliefs and experiences.   The people, places and things that have shaped your views of the world."

To listen to the beautiful essay that Nicole wrote about her life with type 1 diabetes, and to hear her perform it in her own voice, you can download the audio file by clicking here.

Nicole, this is a beautiful essay, and your words are so powerful.  Thank you for sharing them, and yourself, with all of us.

Feeling Maternal.

Between these slowly rotating into the laundry cycle as we get ready for the baby:

Baby clothes in the laundry basket - makes my brain melt.

and the fact that my baby bump has popped overnight:

Kerri, Five Months Pregnant

I'm feeling pretty pregnant these days.

That is all.  :)

(Light posts this week, what with the holidays and the fact that I'm headed to my mom's to make gingerbread cookies all day today.  Photos to come ... and probably a few boluses, too.)

December 21, 2009

Living at the Joslin Clinic.

Last Friday, Chris and I (and BSparl) were at Joslin all day long.  ALL DAY.  But that's what's required with type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, so I wanted to recap these appointment for posterity, and for anyone else who is curious about what it takes to manage this whole party.  It's a long post, but with five different appointments to cover, I want to make sure I don't miss a beat.

Grab some coffee.  I'll wait.  :)

I love this baby.

Eye Dilation:  At 8:30 Friday morning, I had my eyes dilated to check on my non-proliferative retinopathy.  A few years ago, my eye doctor found a few small spots in my eyes, and referred me to a retinologist.  Since that time, I've been carefully stalked by different eye doctors, but without any real change or issue with my eyes.  Being pregnant, though, can throw eye complications into overdrive, so I'm now being monitored by the Joslin Clinic's Beetham Eye Institute.

First they did a regular eye exam to see if I was experiencing any pregnancy-related vision changes, and I've definitely lost a little.  "You've gone from 20/15 to 20/20."  Okay, so better-than-perfect vision to just perfect vision?  If that's it, I can handle that.

But then then did the dilation, and even though my retinopathy remains non-proliferative, some of the spots have changed.  The ones that were there have healed, but there was a new one in my left eye that was a little too close to my macula for my retinologist's comfort.  "I want to keep close watch on this one, because it could progress quickly due to your pregnancy.  Let's slate a follow up dilation for February, which will help us determine how your OB wants to move forward."

That was that.  I slide my sunglasses on, Chris and I went to an early lunch (he read the menu to me because I was so dilated I couldn't read a damn thing), and moved on to the next appointment.  No time to get upset about the eyes when there were still three more appointments. 

(Note:  But in writing this, it surprises me a little to write the word "retinopathy" without a pit in my stomach.  Funny how we just move on, despite fear.  Despite everything.)

Fetal Echocardiogram:  Our next stop was the Boston Children's Hospital, where I visited the high risk prenatal clinic for a fetal echocardiogram.  Basically, it was a special ultrasound to check on BSparl's heart, as a high risk pregnancy also comes with a laundry list of "maybes."   Our Level 2 Ultrasound (I think that's supposed to be capitalized) came back with no signs of any issue, but we had to make attempts to rule anything out. 

Thing is, BSparl wasn't cooperating.  (Imagine my shock.  She is my daughter, after all!)

"She's really low in your pelvis.  Maybe you can walk up and down the hallway and see if you can get her to move up a bit?"  The doctor asked, after spending almost twenty minutes trying to get a good look at BSparl's heart.

"Sure thing."  So I paced the hallway and danced around a little bit in hopes of getting her to scoot up a smidge.

"Great - now she's even lower.  She's breech, and facing away from us, and just about as low in your uterus as she can get at this stage."

"Should I do a handstand?"

They said no.  ;)

After a lot of time spent searching for a clear view of her heart, we eventually decided to make another attempt at a later date, once the baby is a bit bigger and less shy.  Because she was hiding snuggly in my pelvis, waving her little hands at us as if to say, "Hey!  Catch me if you can!"

Obstetrician:  After searching for her little heart, we headed back up to the pregnancy clinic for a regularly schedule OB/GYN appointment.  Discussions revolved around our flight to Sundance (a hearty congrats from the team for Chris, and then we talked about how heparin worked for me when traveling to Florida), measured my belly (clocking in at the anticipated 20 weeks), and discussed BSparl's estimated April birth plan.

"With this morning's eye exam, that might dictate what we decide to do, as a team.  If your retinopathy is still close to the macula at the end of your pregnancy, a C-section will be what we want to move forward with, so that your eyes can stay as safe as possible.  But we don't have to make that decision now.  We can decide closer to the date."

My OB gave me a rueful grin.

"It's that whole 'the tighter your control, more your eyes rebel' thing."

"Cruel irony, isn't it," I said, my hands across my belly.  BSparl gave a defiant kick.

I was a little bit upset at this point - I want to have the option to give birth naturally and the idea of diabetes taking that option from me made me feel frustrated - so my OB leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, "You are having a girl, right?  We should go make sure."

And we had a quick ultrasound (second one that day), to not focus on the intricate measures of my baby's heartbeat, but on her round little head and her kicking legs and her hands with their five fingers each.  Photos were printed, Chris and I laughed, and I felt like parents-to-be again, not just a lab rat going through all the motions. 

Endocrinologist:  After visiting the OB, we visited with my endocrinologist, who - in her infinite patience - printed out my logbooks from my meter because I had left my logs at home.  (I'm losing my mind - have I mentioned that already?)  We reviewed some numbers, did some basal tweaking due to an increasing fasting blood sugar that once was under 100 mg/dl but has been increasing up to 130 mg/dl steadily.  We made some changes to my afternoon insulin:carb ratio as well to help bring down my afternoon post-prandials. 

"Overall, you look good.  These numbers look great, and the ones that are creeping up, we'll get them back down.  We're on to the point in your pregnancy when things might change every other week or so, so don't get too comfortable with any of these rates and ratios yet.  We're just getting started!"

(I love my endocrinologist.  She makes this seem like it's totally doable.)

Labwork:  One last stop, to be jammed in the arm.  They grabbed a few vials of blood to run standard second trimester testing, including my A1C again, and a test to check for neurotubal defects in the fetus.

And then we left.  Finally.  After eight hours of intense appointments.  

That night, I was exhausted and decided to hang in.  And while I was watching a movie on the couch, I felt a few thudding kicks from my baby.  

"I feel you, baby girl.  I know you're in there."

I would do these appointments every single day if it meant she would be safe.  Type 1 diabetes and pregnancy is exactly as much work as they promised it would be, but when I think about this little girl and how excited I am to hold her and to be her mom, I realize I would do anything for her. 


December 19, 2009

Looking Back: The Sounds of Diabetes.

Another look back at a post from December 2007, talking about what diabetes sounded like in my childhood.  These clacking insulin bottles make me feel like I'm seven all over again.

*   *   *

I was reading through the November issue of Men's Health at the gym a few weeks ago and came Sounds from my childhood with diabetes.across an article written by Jeremy Katz, the father of a child recently diagnosed with diabetes.  There were parts of this article that really resonated with me, but this sentence caught in my throat.

"The clink of the insulin bottles against my wedding ring was hauntingly familiar: I'd heard my father make the same sound a hundred times."  - Jeremy Katz

I immediately thought back to my own childhood, with the sound of the bottle of NPH as she rolled it against her wedding rings.  Every morning, she would wake up at 5 am to get ready for work, stopping by my bedroom to test my blood sugar.  Even though I was still asleep, the sound of her approaching slippers made my finger automatically stick out from underneath the mountain of blankets.  She would then roll the NPH to mix it up in preparation for my morning injection.

Clink ... clack ... clink ... clack.  

The glass bottle rolling against her rings in the early hours of my school days.  The stale and hollow beep of my old Accu-Chek meter after it had counted for 120 seconds in efforts to offer up a result.  The scratchy sounds of the cellophane wrapper on my Nabs crackers, or the shunk of the straw easing into my Capri Sun.  The hot fizzing of the urinalysis tablets as they cackled from their glass test tubes on the bathroom counter. 

These are the sounds of my childhood with diabetes.

Now, after 21 years and easing ever-faster into a new phase of my own life, there are new sounds that define my diabetes life.  The boop beep boop of my insulin pump as it boluses for lunch.  The whirring of the pump as it primes itself.  The quick thwap of the lancing device as I prick my fingertip.  The chalky scrape of glucose tabs rustling against one another in the jar.  The gentle click of the beads on my medic alert bracelet. 

These sounds have replaced those of my childhood.  I wonder what twenty years from now will bring.

Even though I now use Humalog insulin that doesn't need to be mixed, I'll roll the bottle against my rings and make myself feel like a child again.

December 18, 2009

Pumpkin Roll.

For our dessert party last weekend, one of the things I made was a pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese filling.  My beloved aunts make this all the time, and it's the only pumpkin-flavored thing I like.  But my aunts are like dessert genies, and their baked goods always come out perfectly, and enviably well. 

I thought, "Hey, the baking gene must be in the family, right?" - neglecting to remember that they also have that whole "making their own insulin gene" thing intact as well, so I should have seen disaster looming.  But I decided to go for it.  So here's the breakdown:

First, I needed to make sure my kitchen was stocked with all of the proper ingredients.  I decided to go with the Libby's Pumpkin Roll recipe mainly because it was the brand of pumpkin I bought.  (Hey, I had to make an educated decision on the fly!)

Ingredients for the ol' pumpkin roll.

Ingredients To Make the Cake:
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Ingredients To Make the Delicious Cream Cheese Filling:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

To Make the Cake:
Preheat the (not often used) oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan (in our home, known as the "lasagna pan") and then line with wax paper. Grease and flour the ol' paper. Then, for some reason to be disclosed later, sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Throw the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves (try to forget how expensive the cloves were when you find yourself spilling some onto the counter by accident), and salt in small bowl. Beat the crap out of the eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until the mixture is thick and kind of pasty. Beat in pumpkin (and here's where I went wrong - I added  just a pinch too much pumpkin, which made the whole thing too moist.  And you know how I feel about the word 'moist.') Stir in flour mixture and then spread evenly into the prepared pan. 

The mix.

Toss (gently) the pan into the oven for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched.  (And by "springs back," this recipe means when you touch the top of the cake, it doesn't come off on your fingertip.)  Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel (which was a trip to accomplish - easily could have been a disaster but thankfully, I survived without flopping the cake onto my feet). Carefully peel off the wax paper. And then, oddly enough, roll up cake and towel together and let this cake snake cool on a wire rack.

Hidden in a dishtowel.  Which is a little gross.

To Make That Delicious Cream Cheese Filling:
Smash together the cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until the mixture is smooth.

The awesome cream cheese frosting.

Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. 

Finished roll - seriously finished, like we already ate half of it before I took a photo.

So here's where I went wrong:  Either I added too much pumpkin, or I didn't let the cake cool enough before adding the filling.  But whatever happened, my pumpkin roll ended up too moist, with filling spilling out everywhere, and the cake was cracked.  Basically, it looked like holy hell.  But thankfully, it ended up tasting awesome.

And was completely and utterly bolus-worthy.

December 17, 2009

Ceiling Gnomes.

Dear Shoes,

It's been a while since I dropped you a line, and I'm thankful for that fact - mainly because I'm not living anywhere near you and your clompy-heels-on-the-hardwood-floors.  It's not that I don't miss you, but more that I'm really enjoying sleeping through the night now, before Miss BSparl arrives and changes that whole dynamic.

Oh Shoes, you and I have quite a history.  Three and a half years of memories.  Do you miss me as much as I miss you?  Did you know that I actually wanted to get a broom and bang it against the ceiling when you were playing with DogShoes or hollering at BoyfriendShoes, banishing him to sleep underneath the mailboxes?  I never did these things, Shoes, because I'm not an 80 year old wizened woman, but still, my internal wizened woman thought about it.

The new place is very nice, and no one lives above Chris and I, except for the bright blue sky and the clouds.

Oh, and the ceiling gnomes.Le Ceiling Gnomes

We live near some open fields, and there are all these geese that hang out there, smoking cloves and making out.  They toddle around and ultimately end up on the roof, where they sleep for a few hours and then run like hell for the edge of the building, taking off into the sky. 

But from my apartment, it sounds like we live beneath a commune of ceiling gnomes that scamper back and forth throughout the day, most often in the morning when the sun is shining brightest.

The cats aren't sure how to handle these critters.  When the pitter patter of gnomey feet starts progressing across the rooftop in a hurry, the cats all stop DEAD whatever they're doing and they turn their furry faces to the ceiling, bewildered.  

"What IS that?"  Siah breathes as she scurries across the floor, trying in vain to follow in the footsteps of the ceiling gnomes.  

Shoes, it's the weirdest thing ever.  The little clicking footsteps, and then NOTHING.  Silence, once the geese take off, leaving the cats unsure of what to do next, other than stare frantically at the ceiling.

But it's funny.  And it entertains me endlessly, especially when all three cats stop and stare in perfectly synchronized motions.  And I find it oddly calming, that I live beneath ceiling gnomes instead of your high heels.

Kisses to you, my Shoesy.  Hope you're well, and torturing the new tenants.


December 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: All I Want For Christmas is My Pancreas.

Today, I'm honored to have Catherine Price (of A Sweet Life and The New York Times fame) guest blogging at SUM, and she's tackling the issue of the Christmas holidays and diabetes.  Enjoy her post, and welcome her to the diabetes online community!

*   *   *

December is scattered with diabetic land mines, and things only get worse on holidays themselves. In my case, that's Christmas, an occasion my family used to celebrate not just with large amounts of carb-laden foods, but by going to the Nutcracker, the world's most diabetically unfriendly ballet. Featuring a hula-hooping troupe of human candy canes, the entire second act is set in a place called The Land of Sweets, and stars the nemesis of every diabetic ballerina: the Sugar Plum Fairy.

I was lucky -- I wasn't diagnosed with Type 1 till I was 22, which meant I had a childhood full of injection-free holiday treats (and, for that matter, ballets). Believe me, I lived it up: Christmas was a time to make chocolate-dipped peanut butter bars for my grandmother, who had a sweet tooth, and birthday cakes for my dad, who was born on Christmas Eve. My mother and I celebrated the holidays by baking Irish soda bread and laboring over pots of boiling oil to make chrusciki, a traditional Polish cookie made of deep fried dough dipped in powdered sugar. And at college, when my classmates and I decorated a tree with hand-made gingerbread men, I was known for eating cookies off its branches. In other words, as someone who spent her youth with a natural source of insulin, I know all too well what we diabetics are up against. Forget two front teeth -- all I want for Christmas is a new pancreas.All I want for Christmas is my pancreas.

It's easy to let the consequences of our malfunctioning immune systems get in the way of holiday fun, but this year, I've decided to adopt a new attitude. I was wandering around a mall a few weeks ago and noticed that I was feeling very satisfied with myself.  I tried to figure out why and realized I was feeling virtuous for not spending money when there were so many options around. This made me happy for a moment, till I realized why, exactly, I hadn't made any purchases: there wasn't anything that I wanted to buy. I didn't want faux-fur-lined Dansko clogs; I didn't need reindeer candle holders from Pottery Barn. Sure, I enjoyed looking around, and I did end up with a $15 box of Aveda tea. But for the most part, being virtuous was easy. Not only did this faux sense of self-control make me feel good about myself, but it left me happier about the few things I did decide to buy.

So what if I were to adopt a similar attitude toward food? It's easy to bemoan all the things that diabetes makes hard to eat, but there are plenty of high-carb holiday treats that just aren't that good. Like candy canes, for example. Who needs more than a few licks? Egg nog is great till you see one of those holiday scare stories on the 5 o'clock news about how many calories there are in a cup (343, to be exact). And then, of course, there's fruitcake -- loaded with fat, studded with dried fruit, and completely, totally, unappealing. The list goes on. Christmas Stollen -- gross. Rum-spiked fruit punch -- fine, till you get up on a table at your office holiday party and insist your boss refer to you as Santa. Cakes that look like yule logs? Totally not worth the insulin.

Approached this way, holiday eating can become almost fun: just surround yourself with food you don't want and then take pride in saying no. It reminds me of a quote I once heard about Miles Davis. Someone pointed out that what made him such an amazing musician was the notes he didn't play. So forget feeling guilty about that one Christmas cupcake. Instead, measure your accomplishments by the food you didn't eat. That way, when you meet a holiday cookie you truly can't resist --or, in my case, a glass of really rich hot chocolate -- you can count up the carbs, turbo-charge your pump, and enjoy.

*   *   *
Catherine Price 

Catherine Price is a freelance journalist and blogger/frequent contributor to the diabetes site A Sweet Life.

December 15, 2009

BSparl: 20 Weeks.

Dear Baby,

Daddy and I are at the halfway point in our journey to meeting you, and I'll admit - I'm a little surprised at how quickly this is happening.  I feel like I was just in Spain, hoping you were there with us, and then just at Joslin, wondering if they were going to tell us you were indeed hidden inside of me.

Baby, we know you are a little girl, and that every week, different parts of you progress in their development.  Daddy and I read through those books we bought and marvel at what's actually happening inside, when my outside just looks bulgy.  "She can hear us now!"  "She'll start kicking any day."  "Will we catch her sucking her thumb in the next ultrasound?" "Does she realize I don't know the lyrics to ANY songs, not even Christmas ones?"

Baby Girl Sparling, 20 weeks

And I've felt pretty healthy, Baby.  I am about 13 lbs heavier and wearing maternity clothes now (you'll see them when you're born - the crazy pants with the elastic waist bands that everyone was jealous of at Thanksgiving?), but a lot of the "pregnancy woes" aren't part of our lives yet.  Like heartburn.  And stretch marks (yet).  Just some back pain and I feel pretty tired a lot of the time.  Heating pads and naps work wonders these days. 

But Baby, I get very nervous about things that other people don't know about.  The stuff that isn't mentioned on the "What to Expect" websites.  We visit the doctor every two weeks, and I'm being followed very closely by my medical team, but sometimes my mind gets panicked about how capable my body is of taking the best care of you.  I can't lie - I know that diabetic women have healthy babies all the time, but Baby, when my blood sugars ring in at 200 mg/dl after a meal, no matter how carefully I've counted carbs and bolused insulin, I'm terrified that I'm hurting you.  Or this morning, when I woke up at 135 mg/dl at 7 am, I felt a pit in my stomach because I know that it's best for me to be under 100 mg/dl first thing.   I wonder, when the infusion set really stung yesterday morning upon inserting it, do you feel that pain?  Is it normal to worry about every little thing when it comes to your well-being?

Of course it is, moms and dads who have done this before will tell me.  It's completely normal for me to want the very best for you and to hope and pray for your good health and safety.  And it's also completely normal for me to worry about every little thing.  But what I worry most about are the things I am scared to talk about.  The things like blood sugars and hypertension and diabetes-related complications for you and I alike, that other people in my life think I have figured out but I just don't know how to do it right every day.  And the idea of doing it "wrong" makes my breath catch in my throat.  My numbers seem "good enough" and my A1C is lower than it's ever been, but those 200's that are creeping back in at at times terrify me.  So does the 31 mg/dl in the middle of the night.  And so does every single thing that threatens to affect you in any way.  Will I keep you safe enough? 

Diabetes is the shifting sand I'm trying to build my life on, and I can handle my being affected, but I don't want it to touch you.  Not even for a moment.

I love you endlessly, Baby.  I'm so grateful to even be this far, and I appreciate every moment I have with you, and will have with you in the future.  Don't worry, Baby.  I'm not spending every minute of our pregnancy in a panic.  It's just sometimes I feel so scared that I'm not able to provide to you everything that you deserve.  I'm very protective of you already, and I want to be a good mom to you.  When I feel you kicking around inside of me, I know you are exactly what I've always wanted.  You are a new life that your father and I created together, and I hope that I can give to you even an ounce of the joy you've already given to me in the last five months. 

I can't wait to meet you, and hold you, and know that you're okay.

Your Mommy

December 14, 2009

Pineapple Express.

I could eat this by the POUND.

Hi there.  I'm addicted to pineapple.

This week, I'll be five months pregnant, and it seems like the vitamin C cravings I had early on in my pregnancy are back with a vengeance.  Orange juice (yes, with pulp), kiwi fruit, apples, raisins (even though they're low in it, I still want them), and pineapple.  To the point where Chris and I bought a pineapple at the grocery store last week and I ate half of it in two days time.  What's good is that, for whatever reason, my blood sugars aren't rebelling against this fruit overload.  (Different from cute overload, where hamsters play the trumpet.)  Before the BSparl invasion, I had things like oatmeal timed out with precision, so that I could eat something with 30 grams of carbs in it without a spike, but just one apple could cause my numbers to go berserk.  Now?  Oatmeal is hard to predict, but I can nosh on a whole bowl of fruit salad, estimate the carbs, and coast in the low 100's for NO REASON. 

Pregnancy and type 1 diabetes is a very peculiar combination.  /digression

But then I Googled "pineapple and pregnancy" and received a pile of search results that made me feel like I was going to have the baby that night.  One site said that "Bromelain [found in pineapple] can soften the cervix and bring on labor."  Another said that it could cause uterine contractions. 

So, of course, I freaked out slightly.  And talked to fruit.

"What am I supposed to know?  I mean, there's so many do's and don'ts when it comes to this baby gestation adventure - how can I figure out what I'm supposed to be doing?  And how come I keep finding out about suspect foods AFTER I've already eaten them?"  I asked the pineapple on my plate.  It did not offer a useful answer.

I have heard that I should avoid shellfish.  (Not that big of a problem, as my new food cravings seem to be for shrimp only).  I've heard to keep the caffeine tapered to a minimum, which I managed to get under control before we left for Spain in August, so that's cool.  And I have also been told, many, many times, that I can't eat cold deli meat anymore, so anything involving cold cuts needs to be "piping hot." 

But after those few bits, I get a little foggy.  Should I not be eating pineapple?  Someone else told me to avoid things with gluten in them because it can affect the baby.  Then I was told to avoid eggs unless they were whites-only.  And not to eat any sugar substitute except for Splenda.  And to steer clear of soft cheeses (which to me is everything except the cheese that you forget to wrap in saran wrap and ends up all nasty hard).  And to only eat while hanging upside down in my closet, like a bat.  While wearing galoshes.  

What the heck am I supposed to eat???   Or supposed to avoid?  And will eating pineapple really make my body flake out?  Because while Google is a great place to find information, I don't trust it nearly as much as I trust real people.  For now, I'll be chugging orange juice and bolusing accordingly.  :)

December 11, 2009

The Friday Six: A Smattering.

The Friday Six:  December 11, 2009 editionHappy Friday!!  This week has flown by (all the weeks lately have seemed to do that) and the holidays are already upon us.  Hanukkah starts tonight, and Christmas is only a few short weeks away.  And there's a ton of posts that have cropped up in the diabetes community that I've been meaning to share, so here's The Six!

1.  My favorite Ninja has interviewed his favorite ninja on The Bad Blog - George's interview with Daniel "Ninjabetic Jr" Schaffers is too awesome to miss.  You have to love a kid who wants to have a Ninjabetic Convention.  (Personally, BSparl and I would attend that one!) 

2.  Our blogger friend across the pond, Caroline, is planning her wedding and has just found her wedding dress.  Her post brought tears to my eyes, because I remember the moment that I found my wedding dress, and then the realization that an insulin pump needed to be somehow fit into the mix.  Make sure you read Caro's post - and I can't wait to hear about more of her wedding planning!

3.  Today is the last day to submit to Amy's Holiday Survival Sweepstakes - so if you have a holiday horror story, or a victorious moment at the family table, email them to Amy at info (at) diabetesmine (dot) com.  There are a lot of cool prizes you can win, so check it out!

4.  And this article, in the St. Petersberg Times by Robert Steinbeck, starts with "I am scheduled to begin dying on Feb. 1, 2010."  This man, a type 1 diabetic for 22 years, is losing his COBRA coverage on that date, and his assessment of the insurance situation resonates for people in our community.  Regardless of your view of the healthcare reform debate, Mr. Steinbecks article is a must-read for the diabetes community.

5.  And if you have been wondering what the pirate eye patches on Twitter are all about, you need to read Kelly's blog post about her one-in-a-million, non-diabetes-related vision loss experience.  Kelly has been beyond brave in the face of this, and her positive outlook and ability to make us laugh despite her pain makes her a true hero.  Drop her a note and let her know she's loved by the diabetes community - because she so is.

6.  Another diabetes blogger has found herself under a doctor's care this holiday season - Rachel has just come out of surgery for an ovarian cyst, and she's recovering slowly, but surely, at home (with the help of her husband and her pile of cats).  Stop by her blog and let her know you're thinking of her!

That's it for now - enjoy the weekend!!

December 10, 2009

A Tour of the Contour USB Meter.

Every meter I have used over the last five years or so has been relatively similar - small, compact design, color options for the casing, and good lancing devices.  (Don't go too far back in my memory bank, or you will find The Harpoon!) 

But what I have been struggling with, as an adult with diabetes, is the whole logging thing.  With BSparl on board, my mission is more focused, but before this pregnancy, logging was something I only did the night before I went to the endocrinologists office.  It wasn't a streamlined part of my day, so it was tough to keep up with.

Today, I tried out a new meter called the Bayer Contour USB meter (pretty self-explanatory name there, no?) and in the interests of full disclosure, Bayer's PR company sent me this meter, and the accompanying 25 test strips, for free so that I could review the meter.  

These days, my life is moving quickly and without warning, so the idea of a long, drawn-out review seems to fly in the face of this quick, zippy little meter.  So here are my impressions of the Contour USB meter, in snapshots:

Plugged into the Macbook.

Wow, it looks like a USB flash drive, all plugged into the computer and whatnot.

Is this what was missing from my childhood?

OOOOOH!  Look at the pretty lancet colors!  Who would have thought that a purple or aquamarine lancet would actually bring me joy?


The lancing device was easy to use, but didn't give me a blood sample until I poked myself three or four times.  Hard to tell if that's the device or my calloused finger tips that are at fault.  But once I was ready to apply the blood, the full-color screen was happy to accept.

Aftah my meal.

And after three seconds, my post-breakfast result came back.  (A little on the higher side, but oatmeal is a tough one for me!)

The meter has options to set your personal blood sugar goals, with a little icon of either an apple or a devoured apple to show the numbers as pre- and post-meal.  It is set up to provide 14 day averages and a built-in logbook, and just before you apply the blood sample, it gives you an option to designate the number as pre-meal or post-meal. 

There is software built into the meter, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.  (I'm hoping it works with my Macbook, otherwise I'm going to have to toggle back and forth between my PC and the Mac to get a feel for this thing.)  I'm planning to check this meter against my other meters, for both accuracy and convenience, but for a person like me who relies on insurance coverage and co-pays to provide diabetes supplies, it's tough to consider switching meters when I'm both happy with my One Touch and also completely covered by my insurance company for One Touch strips.  Options from different companies are great - especially when companies are putting out meters that are cool, like this USB one - but it would also be great if insurance companies would allow coverage shifts just as easily. 

Overall, the USB meter is pretty darn easy to use, is nice to look at, and is tiny.  I like having the option to plug it right into my computer (yes, there is a wall jack, in case you don't have a computer handy when the meter needs to charge) and I also really liked the full-color screen.  But I'd have to use it for a few weeks, and subject it to the torture chamber that is my purse, to see how it really stands up.

Has anyone else given this meter a go?

December 09, 2009

O Christmas Tree.

Our first real Christmas tree in years.

In the Sparling household, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  The tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung by the ... something with care (we don't have a chimney), and white lights have cropped up all over the place.  And it's our first REAL Christmas tree in years, because we won't be away from our house for days on end visiting family.  Fake trees have dominated our holidays for the past few years, and there's a warm, snuggly feel to having a pine tree in the living room.  I'm excited!!

I'm not mentioning the three little Christmas stockings we have for the cats.  I refuse to even whisper about that.

This is our first Christmas in several years that we won't spend on the long, clogged highway that is Horrible 95,  so we're trying to get into the swing of things this year.  It's been pretty easy, since I'm sporting a nice baby bump these days, so "nesting" is totally up my alley.  (It's the strangest feeling, that satisfaction I'm getting once I realize all the laundry is done and folded, and how much I'm enjoying vacuuming these days.  VACUUMING!  Even all those shedding pine needles aren't bothering me.  What the hell is wrong with me?!)

I'm looking for some decidedly-non diabetes stuff from you guys, if you have it handy.  My mom and I are going to be making cookies in a few days, and Chris and I are having a dessert get-together at our house coming up, so I'm in dire need of delicious desserts.  Cookies, pies, cakes, breads ... basically, I'm looking for your favorite holiday dessert. (Because, irony being what it is, I'm unable to cook a decent meal, but I can make any dessert recipe under the sun.  It's my only culinary talent, and it's a cruel one indeed.)

If you have a favorite recipe that you'd be willing to link out to, or share in the comments section, I'd really appreciate it!  And my family will appreciate it, too.  You guys are my secret cache of fantastic snacky ideas!

December 08, 2009

BSparl: 19 Weeks.

Baby Sparling, 19 weeks and counting.
Bsparl, 19 weeks.

We're at the 19 week mark with our baby, and things are starting to change again.  My belly is hard and high, completely obvious now and forcing me to rock NBF's maternity jeans.  (She rocks, because she can provide some very useful hand-me-downs these days.  And NBF is due any day now!!  Ahem - sorry, I'm so excited!)  Pregnancy symptoms, like that heartburn I've read about and my new appreciation for the power of fiber and the need for some new bras, are in full force, and I'm feeling busy in the body these days.  Not to mention the weird leg cramps that crop up without warning.  I'm out of breath going up flights of stairs, thanks to the pressing of my uterus against all my other internal organs.  And my hair, which used to shed at least a few strands after every shower, has stopped shedding entirely.  (The cats in my house cannot make the same claim, however.)  These changes are taking some time to adjust to, but I am so thankful to be experiencing this.

The biggest change I've noticed, aside from the belly, is that now my blood sugars are starting to resist insulin a bit.  I haven't been able to nail down a definitive pattern yet, but my morning basals need some adjusting.  For the last four months or so, I've been waking up at numbers close to or under (sometimes waaaay under) 100 mg/dl.  My Dexcom showed a flatline on the overnights, and I felt pretty confident.  Until the last week or so, when I've started seeing a spike around 5 am.  I'll go to bed at 80 mg/dl, then wake up at 5:30 am or so to use the bathroom, and ring in at 160 mg/dl.  Consulting with the Dexcom shows that around 5 am, things go haywire.  For a few days in a row, I was waking up, correcting the high, and then getting up "for real" at 8 am to see a number back under 100 mg/dl. 

Is this the insulin resistance I've heard so much about?  I'm just over 4 1/2 months pregnant and have gained (honestly) about 12 lbs, and the baby is growing by leaps and bounds, so I'm sure my diabetic body is freaking out from all this change.  Insulin-to-carb ratios are oscillating between 1:12 and 1:9, depending on the week, and my basals apparently need a kick in the morning.  (Of course, this morning I was a steady 70 mg/dl all night long.  Hard to find a pattern when it doesn't remain as one for more than five days!)  I'll be at Joslin next week for a full fetal ultrasound and an eye dilation (fun) and several other prenatal tests, so I'm sure my medical team and I will make some changes, but still - this is seriously like trying to hit a moving target.  Hopefully my A1C is still steady and in the low 6's (for BSparl's sake), and I just want to get to May with all of us in good health. So I can hug her.  :)

I've also been waiting for her to kick, and my doctor told me that I might be able to feel something when I'm lying still and relatively quietly.  So the other night, I was in bed and the house was silent.  I thought it might be a good time to connect with BSparl.  

I placed my hands on my lower abdomen (where I saw her in the ultrasound last week) and pressed my palms firmly against my belly.  Nothing.  I waited a bit - maybe a few little flutters, but it's hard to tell what's her and what's me this early in the game.

It was getting late, and I was starting to fall asleep.  My eyelids were closed and the house was silent and I could smell the Christmas tree from the bedroom. 

"Tomorrow.  I'll try and find you tomorrow, baby love."

She responded with a sharp, definitive kick.

December 07, 2009

Farmer's Market.

Over the weekend, my friend Batman and I went to a local farmer's market to scope out the offerings.  We went to a market in Rhode Island, and since I'm from RI, I know how teeny the state is.  You'd think that after growing up in a state that you can drive through in less than an hour, I'd have seen the majority of what's there.

I love seeing that there's so much more to see.  I like that my home state still has plenty of surprises in store for me.

I had no idea there were to many farms in Rhode Island.  The market was located in an artist's loft building near Providence, and an entire wing of the building was devoted to these farmers and their stands.  Ten different kinds of local eggs, bins and bins of fresh produce, and enough loose tea and cheeses and apples and fresh, hot cider to keep two (and a half?) girls entertained for hours.  

I cannot wait to eat soft cheeses again!

The spread of cheeses was amazing, and Batman sampled a few while I looked on in envy.  (BSparl, once you've escaped and I can hug you, I'm going to eat a whole wheel of brie.  Just as a warning.)

OMG bolus-worthy!

And the dessert selections were definitely bolus-worthy.  Chocolate coffee rolls, brownies, and pecan-encrusted orange rolls (I think that's what those shiny ones are) - all sitting out there, waiting to be gobbled up.  I think of of the cookies actually reached out to hit the bolus button on my pump, but I resisted.  (For once.)

I wasn't aware that these grew on stalks like this.  So now I'm stalking them.

Brussel sprouts grow on stalks - this was news to me!  

We rooted around for these.  HA HA HA.

These were garlic stems, I believe.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the amount of organic, locally grown options.  Chris and I used to get eggs from the Mr. Chicken Man (the IT guy in my old office who has a fleet of chickens at his house as part of his wife's business, and he'd bring local, fresh eggs in for us), and these eggs were so delicious.  Seriously better than the ones we'd buy at the store.  Getting eggs from Mr. Chicken Man made us want to buy locally as often as possible - simply because it was more delicious.  

Problem is, local and organic can be very expensive.  We can go to the grocery store and buy a pack of Ramen Noodle for $2.00 and it could last us weeks, but shopping only in the organic section could run us into financial ruin.  (Note:  I've never, in my life, had even a spoonful of Ramen Noodle.  My college roommates ate it - Chris has, too - but I've never tried it.  I feel like I missed out on a whole part of my college experience, by not eating the salty disaster that is Ramen.  End digression.)  These days, we're paying rapt attention to food labels and healthiest options, for BSparl's growing babyness, but I wish there was a cost-effective way to eat like this more often.  I'm sure my diabetes appreciates the lack of corn syrup and preservatives and all that crap.

But in any event, it was a great location for a little shutter-snapping.  :)

December 06, 2009

Looking Back: The Boy at the Health Fair.

Today, I'm revisiting a post from 2006 (writing that makes me realize I've been blogging for a while now!), when I met a little boy at a Rhode Island JDRF event who warmed my heart - which I needed on this snowy, New England morning. ;)

*   *   *

I'd guess about ten years old.  Spikey blonde hair, pale blue eyes, chubby little kid face.

His mother stopped by the table we were manning at the School Health Fair, mussing with the pamphlets strewn about the blue plastic tablecloth.  The tri-fold cardboard display announced "Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation" in bright blue letters.  Myself and another volunteer from the RI JDRF stood vigil at the table, handing out trinkets and informational packets, answering questions, and enjoying the sights.

"Hey buddy.  Would you like a t-shirt?"  My fellow volunteer leaned in towards the little blonde boy.

"Sure.  Thanks."  Shy blue eyes.

Turning to the mother, my partner asked, "Does anyone in your family have diabetes?"

She waved a green sweatshirt clad sleeve at her son.  "Yeah!  He does!  He has diabetes."

He looked at the floor and contemplated his untied sneaker. 

His mother laughed loudly and clapped him on the back.  "Some days he talks about it and some days he doesn't.  Today he just ain't talking!"  She picked up an issue of Countdown Magazine and flipped through the pages.Lost in the Crowd

"Here's your t-shirt."  Pale blue eyes met my own.  "I have diabetes, too, you know."


"Yeah.  I have an insulin pump."  I pointed to the pump clipped inside the pocket of my khaki skirt.  "I've had diabetes since I was about six."

"I've had it since I was seven."  He smiled and fingered the plastic sleeve around the blue JDRF bracelet.  "It's okay... so you have it, too."  He looked at all the other volunteers at the other booths. 

After a beat:  " You look just like the rest of them."

I stood there after he and his mother walked away, toting plastic bags filled with health fair goodies and JDRF magnets and pamphlets on bloodsugar management.   His blonde head blended in with those of the other kids until I couldn't find him in the crowd anymore.

He looked just like the rest of them.

December 04, 2009

Buried to Premiere at Sundance.

So we have one more bit of travel scheduled before BSparl joins the family - Buried is going to Sundance!

I can't help it - I'm so excited and so happy for Chris and the success of Buried that I can hardly sit still.  We got the call at one in the morning a few weeks ago and I've been waiting for Sundance to announce their film line up - it's hard to wait for them!  But finally, they have posted it, and Buried is making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival

Chris and I will be traveling to Utah for the festival in January, along with plenty of our friends and family. (Yes, I'll be 6 1/2 months pregnant. No, not quite sure what to wear, but I can guarantee you it will not be a size itty  bitty.  I'll be in mega baby belly territory by then - yay for BSparl!)  I'm so proud of Chris and I'm thrilled to see Buried already receiving plenty of press. 

Buried, written by Chris Sparling

Here are some links to mainstream media goodies about the film:

  • Screen Daily gives a nod to buried in their announcement of the non-competition films. 
  • The MTV Movie Blog also gives some blog time to Buried, noting it as part of the midnight screening group.
  • USA Today has a run down of all the films being screened.
  • The LA Times lists Buried in their non-competition recap.
  • So does the New York Times
  • And MovieLine wants to know if Ryan is performing shirtless. 
  • (And for a peek at the movie poster, check this out!)

More coming in the next few weeks, but so far, I can't stop bouncing around excitedly about this.  It's been a big week for Team Sparling, from finding out we're going to be the parents of a little girl to announcing that the movie is premiering at Sundance.  2010 is going to be a big year, for all kinds of reasons.

Thanks for all of the diabetes community's continued support with this film (actually with everything!), and we hope to see some of you at Sundance!

December 03, 2009


BSparl is now the size of a large mango, according to the What to Expect site.  A large mango makes sense to me, because all of a sudden, my belly is way more sticky-outtie this week than ever before.  

BSparl at 18 weeks and 2 days.

This past ultrasound was, by far, the longest one I've had yet.  The technician spent a little over an hour taking a close look at the different parts of the baby, from the spine to ensure that it was fully enclosed to the mouth to check for cleft palette.  (Thankfully, no issues on either front there.)  He scanned her top to bottom, making sure she was developing on schedule.

"Everything looks good.  It's great, because when type 1 diabetic women would come in pregnant just a few decades ago, some of the complications to the mother and the baby were tough to manage and difficult for everyone.  But now, these babies of women with diabetes are just as healthy as the ones born to mothers without.  It's a wonderful thing."

I grinned.  "I agree."  

"So do you want to know the sex of the baby?"  The technician asked us.

Chris and I both responded, almost in unison:  "Yes!  We do!"

So the tech scanned up to my belly button (because BSparl has been hanging upside down in there like a bat, head down and feet towards my ribcage) and went to check for the baby's ... goods, I guess. 

Only the legs were crossed.

"Hmm.  This baby is a little on the shy side.  They don't want to show us anything yet."  And on the ultrasound screen, I could see my little kiddo, sitting in there with their legs crossed.  Almost like she was waiting for hot chocolate to be brought to her and for a story to be read.

"Come on, baby.  Let's see what you are ..."  He scanned for a few more minutes.  "Okay, guys.  Ready?"

Chris's hand held mine.  "We're ready."

"It looks like you're having a baby girl.  A little girl."

I didn't have a preference for what this baby would be.  As soon as we found out we were having a child, my mind immediately left the realm of pinks and blues and I just hoped and prayed for a healthy, happy baby.  I didn't care whether it was a boy or a girl - I just wanted a healthy baby.  No matter what.

But as soon as the lab technician said "Girl," my heart swelled to the point where I couldn't breathe.  A baby girl.  A daughter.  My best friend.  I thought about her little face and the tiny heart beating inside of me that belonged to her and there was this moment of complete and utter warmth and comfort, and I fell in love with her completely.

Of course, my mouth wouldn't comply with the musical going on in my head.  And all I could stammer out what, "Okay, that's something."  But the tears just kept coming, and Chris's hand closed tightly around mine as he kissed my forehead. 

The lab technician smiled.  "I'm sorry that it took so long to see everything.  But with a girl, we have to make sure we're right - takes a little longer than with a little boy."

"It's okay,"  I said.  "I'd rather she be on the shy side.  She doesn't really know you, you know?"  

The technician scanned back up to the baby's face, where she was hiding with her hands covering her face.  Five little fingers.  And then she moved and we saw her mouth, and she has these big, pouty lips already in there, pursed in a little bow.  And I couldn't stop staring, because this was my daughter.  We've only known her for four and a half months and we haven't even held her hands yet, but Chris and I are beyond smitten with her already.  And terrified.

"You're all set, Mrs. Sparling.  Everything looks great.  Congratulations."  The door closed behind him.

"Our daughter.  We're having a little girl."  

Chris and I sat in the dark for a minute, letting the idea of our daughter wrap around us like warm fleece.  Realizing how much we loved her already. Realizing how truly lucky we were.

Realizing how much our lives had just changed. 

December 01, 2009

Update on BSparl.

I love BSparl.It's been a long, wonderful day at Joslin, and I have a lot to say, but for now, Chris and I are going to decorate our Christmas tree, drink sugar-free hot chocolate with marshmallows, and grin about our daughter, who is due on May 4th.

A little baby girl. I love her so much already.

I couldn't feel happier right now if I tried.

Boy or Girl?

We're heading to Joslin today to find out the sex of the baby (providing that BSparl isn't feeling shy today.)  I don't have a single gut feeling about what this baby is, and Chris and I cannot wait to find out.  Because we're tired of calling the baby "it."  :)

See you in a few hours!

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