Monday, May 12, 2014

Hey there...

The Giggly Girls and I are still alive and kicking. I've retired from the TOS Review Crew and am taking a much needed blogging break.  We're just schooling, enjoying life, and kicking diabetes' booty; and that's enough for now.

I'm not sure when I'll be blogging regularly again, but I did finally upload all of the posts from my old homeschool blogger blog, where it all began.  I'm going through those and cleaning them up a bit and I'll start posting them soon. You'll be able to check out the beginning of our homeschooling journey with little Mackenzie and a bit of our time on Guam.  My how time flies...


Thursday, November 21, 2013

One Year - Part 2

This past week the Smith Family hit another milestone. It was Kayleigh's One-Year-Diaversary.
What, you ask , is a diaversary? It is what us T1Ps (Type One Parents) and T1Ds (Type One Diabetics) call the anniversary of their diagnosis. We have a whole secret language. lol

It was just two short months ago that it was Mackenzie's First-Diaversary.  Our feelings about this milestone haven't really changed since I wrote that post so I thought I'd share a different aspect of this milestone.

At our house we've turned these days into a celebration of sorts. We're not celebrating diabetes, still not a fan of it, but it is definitely worth taking the time to celebrating living with it. Especially with the first year being the most overwhelming. So on their diaversary, our girls get to plan their day.

Kayleigh had very specific plans for her day.  It couldn't get here fast enough.

Phase 1

FurReal Friends Cuddles the Monkey. Now named Daisy.

It's creepy, overpriced, and annoying. 'Nuf said.  Did I mention creepy? It eyeballs you.

Phase 2

Dinner at Chuck E. Cheese. Not my favorite place. Plus giving insulin for pizza can be tricky. But I'm not even going to try to explain that. lol

Phase 3

Ice cream chaser from Friendlys. She had to have a monster sundae. That's 51 carbs people. Not to mention that you are what you eat and she's definitely at leas part monster. lol

Phase 4

A bath in mommy and daddy's tub. This was my least favorite activity because cleaning out that huge tub afterward is backbreaking work. I tricked Kevin into giving her the bath so I thought I'd get out of cleaning it. Wrong. He got heavy handed with the bubbles and had an "incident." Bubbles everywhere.  He cleaned up the bubbles and I wound up cleaning out the tub afterward.  Meh.

While she enjoyed her special activities, it was somewhat of a rough day diabetes-wise. A lot of lows for her that day. Even after the pizza.  The thing with lows is, besides being dangerous and making you feel bad, it requires a bit of sitting still while you wait for your blood sugar to go back up.

That's the thing with type 1 diabetes.  It doesn't give you a break. Day or night. Special day or average day. It's right there, throwing you a curve ball. Or twenty.  Every year that someone lives with it is worth a celebration in my book. Even if it involves a creepy monkey eyeballing you. Shudder.


Related posts you might be interested in:
Kayleigh's Diagnosis Story
Mackenzie's Diagnosis Story
The Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes (If I had to pick one post for you to read, this one is it.)
Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: God's World News

For our seventh grade year, we've been putting more of a focus on current events with Mackenzie.  She's been digging through the news paper each week trying to find articles that she could understand and give a report about. However, the pickings have been slim. Either they have been over her head or, in my opinion, very one sided. Either way. It wasn't working for us. So we were quite pleased to be giving the opportunity to review Gods World News, Top Story Edition for middle schoolers.

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About God's World News

God's World News strives to provide news and interesting information to children at their level, and from a biblical standpoint. They use todays current events and cover subjects such as science, social studies, religion, geography, and more. There is something for every area of your curriculum. With magazines for pre-k through adult, there is also something for every student.

And you get more than just a news magazine. Their online content is extensive and filled with things that would make great supplements to your student's learning.  With our Top Story subscription, we had access to biographies, quizzes to test comprehension, fun lessons to compliment the current issue, and a website just for the students that further extends the learning.

Our Experience

We received a full year subscription to the Top Story Middle School edition.  The subscription includes 10 full color issues with one issue every month except December and May. Each issue is 32 pages long and is printed in full color. Each issue contains age appropriate articles, editorials, news graphics that explain difficult concepts, puzzles, Map It activities, editorial cartoons, and more. We also received a huge 20" x 30" world map that corresponds with the locator maps inside the magazine. I receive an email every week, with answer keys to the quizzes and puzzles along with easy access to the web content.

We have been primarily been using the magazine as her source for Mackenzie's current event assignments and it has been working beautifully!!!  The articles are short, informative, and age appropriate. The content is varied. She's done reports on everything from government data collection to border patrol to Syria to robots.  And she is really enjoying them.  The articles have been very straight forward making it easy for her to outline them and write her report. She's actually enjoying her current event assignments now.  No more stress!  You can read a sample issue HERE.

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The list of online biographies is quite extensive and I've been able to utilize those to supplement our science and history studies, as well. She's read about the Egyptian Pharaohs, Gregor Mendel, and Isaac Newton. I'm currently going through the list of biographies and matching them up with our scope and sequence. Many of them will find their way into our future lessons.  Check out a sample HERE.

I am also finding that the articles and biographies make wonderful source texts for our writing curriculum.  This has been very helpful when she needs extra practice on certain writing techniques. And now I don't have to go digging for appropriate material. It's all at my finger tips.

Each issue also comes with at least two, sometimes more, additional lessons that you can access online. Again the topics are varied, every thing from mummies to cancer to baseball to life in other countries. The lessons include an informative article, puzzles, quizzes, and fun assignments. You can see a sample  HERE.

And guess what else you get with your subscription? Online access to all levels. Including back issues. This is very handy if you have a family member who tends to toss things into the trash, like current GWN issues, without looking at them first. (You know who you are!! lol)

I hate reading on the computer but I don't mind it on the iPad. (Weird, right? lol)  So I was very happy to see that they loaded easily onto my  iBooks app to make my life easier. And there's even an app for the adult version of God's World News.  And it's free with your subscription.

I am so pleased with this product. All I was expecting was a news magazine that would help us with our current events studies and we got so much more. We are really enjoying this magazine and all of it's extras. This is something I plan on continuing to subscribe to in the future. In fact, I'm planning on subscribing to the kindergarten issue for my little one.  We just love this magazine!!!!



Age Range: preschool through adult

Pricing: $28 for a 10 month subscription



Saturday, October 12, 2013

What are Ketones....

and why do us Type 1 Parents (T1Ps) freak out about them?

If you've ever read my blog or Facebook page, you might have noticed that I am less than happy when I find out that one of my girls is spilling ketones.  And chances are, unless you're a T1P yourself, you probably have no clue what I'm talking about.

Never fear, today I'm going to fill you in.

What Are Ketones???

When a body is unable to burn glucose it burns fat and this produces a chemical called ketones. Ketones are generally produced when too little insulin is produced for the amount of glucose in the body. So your body burns fat to create energy instead, thus producing the acid ketones.

Why is This Bad?

Burning fat sounds awesome right??? Well in a diabetic it can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidois (DKA) and that is one of the two big emergencies that type 1 diabetics face. (The other is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.)

DKA occurs when ketones build up due to a lack of insulin. The ketones will start spilling into the
urine and if the body still doesn't get enough insulin that it needs then it can lead to a diabetic coma or death.

What are the Symptoms of DKA?

*Usually  high blood sugars. 

Usually. Kayleigh is more prone to spill ketones      than Mackenzie and her blood  sugar is usually   within a normal (for her) range when this happens.

That's diabetes for you. It's never predictable. You can certainly make educated and informed decisions regarding D-Care but you have to be prepared to be wrong. Because diabetes does not care about the "rules". It can be something different every single day and for every single person with diabetes.

*Extreme thirst and frequent urination.

Caused, of course, by the high blood sugars.

*Higher Levels of Ketones in the Urine.

You can check this using a urine test or blood test. The blood test is more accurate because it's up-to-date information. The urine test is a couple of hours behind. Usually if the ketones are 1 mmol/L or less it's pretty easy to treat by pushing water and upping their insulin a bit. But it's a balancing because if they're blood sugars are within range or low you cannot safely give more insulin because you'll drop them low and that's a different kind of diabetes scare.

All of those symptoms can lead to...

*Stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, irritability, fruity smelling breath. 

My girls have also complained of blurry vision and headaches. Usually the time you hit this symptoms your ketone levels are moderate, somewhere between 1 & 3 mmol/L.

Treatment here definitely requires a big insulin push. If they're blood sugar is high enough, that is. If not you can try to give them food or drink to raise their sugar so you can give them the insulin.

Once you hit the 3 mmol/L mark you spilling high ketones, and this is when you might see...

*Labored breathing

*Extreme weakness/exhaustion

*Eventually unconsciousness.

Now you've reached DKA territory and it's mostly likely time to get them to the doctor for treatment.

Ketones in our World

I've, unfortunately, experienced my fair share of ketones. Both girls tend to develop them when they're not feeling well. It's not uncommon for ketones to develop when there's illness involved.

Mackenzie's ketones were 2.6 at diagnosis. Her extreme weight loss in the months prior were a big clue to that. She's so fortunate that she wasn't DKA with as long as she went undiagnosed. God was watching over her.

Kayleigh tends to spill them quite easily and she does it with her blood sugar in range which makes
treating them very difficult. She's had many random and unexplained periods where she vomits for 24 hours and her ketones shoot up. She never has any other symptoms of illness, just the vomiting, and perfect blood sugars. You can imagine that treating the ketones with insulin is next impossible when you can't give her food to raise her glucose because she can't hold anything down.

So far the trick has been to get her to sleep and get her to drink some juice while she's sleeping or suck on a lollipop. Eventually the blood sugar goes up enough where I can give insulin and that seems to knock the ketones down quite quickly.

Still, she gave us quite a scare once with 3.3 ketones. Thankfully I was able to give her insulin at the point and they dropped quickly. We were packing up her bag to take her to the hospital so she got lucky.

Type 1 Awareness

You might have noticed that a lot of the symptoms of DKA are also the symptoms that you might have type 1 diabetes. That's because a lot of the time people are near, if not in, DKA when they are diagnosed. Why?

Because there is not remotely enough awareness about type 1 diabetes out there. More people die from complications from diabetes (type 1 and 2) than from breast cancer and aids combined but still nobody is aware of the symptoms.

I go to my annual physical and get a breast examine every single time. But never once did our pediatrician check my girls for diabetes. Even though Mackenzie had the symptoms for over a year. It didn't even occur to the doctor to check because, even in the medical field, there isn't enough awareness about type 1 diabetes. A simple, in-office, finger prick at every child's physical could go a long way to saving a child's life.

Next month is American Diabetes Month and, until my girls were diagnosed, I'd never heard anything about it. Even now, I only hear about it from other people affected by diabetes. It is my my prayer that this is the year that I see 1/3 of the amount of diabetes ribbons as I do for cancer. Just 1/3 of the amount would go a long way to saving a lot of lives. Once day I hope to see just as many because the awareness is desperately need.


Other posts of interest...

S is for Symptoms - The symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
U is for Understand - The differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Fundanoodle

 photo fundanoodlelogo_zps4636896c.pngWe're knee deep in kindergarten around here. And part of kindergarten is learning to write, much to Kayleigh's dismay. She's not doing a bad job with her capital letters, but the lowercase letters have been given her a run for her money.

When the chance to review I Can Build Lower Case Letters by Fundanoodle arrived, I was super excited.

About Fundanoodle

Fundanoodle strives to help parents and teachers achieve educational readiness for their children. They offer a variety of fun learning systems to aid your students in motor coordination, eye/hand coordination, problem solving, and more.

Our Experience

We received the I Can Build Lower Case Letters learning system. The system included a magnetic white board with dry erase marker, set of 17 Magnastix magnetic pieces, six gross motor cards, six-sided die, and the I Can Write Lower Case! writing tablet.

I cannot speak highly enough about the quality of these products. Every last item was sturdy and extremely well made. They will last for years. These items might just be the sturdiest product for children that I've ever owned. I'm am not the slightest bit concerned that the board will come apart or the magnets will peel off the backing anytime soon. They are phenomenally made.

The company recommends starting the lessons with a gross motor activity to help prepare the student for writing. Kayleigh has a grand old time playing a game with the gross motor cards. Each card is numbered and has a different animal for the student to act like.  Kayleigh rolls the dice and that acts out the card with the corresponding number. With only six cards it can get repetitive.  I wouldn't mind seeing the company expand the cards to include more. But you can even make additional cards with your computer if your student doesn't like that much repetition. Lots of fun!

Next Kayleigh and I would work on forming the letters with the Magnastix on the white board. The top and the bottom of the white board are painted green and red, respectively.  The green is a reminder to "Go" for letters that start at the top of the green line. The red means "Stop" since most letters will stop at the red line.

We followed the order set forth in the writing tablet, which are sequenced according to a child's development of visual and motor skills. I'd first build the letter on the board for her, using the instructions from the writing tablet, then I'd have Kayleigh build it herself.  Max the Monkey has specific terminology on how to form each letter. Things like: zip (straight line) down/across/up, zoom (diagonal) up/down/in, buzz (curve) up/around, etc. These instructions were really fun for Kayleigh to learn and they really helped her remember how to form the letters.

After working on the white board, we'd work in the writing tablet.  The writing tablet features the characters Max and Alphie who demonstrate and encourage the student to write the letters correctly. Each page offers the "Go/Stop" visual cues and a spot to put a reward sticker upon completion. My only issue with the writing tablet is that it is a lot of writing on each page, five lines worth, which can intimidate young learners. It did overwhelm Kayleigh.

I tried to have Kayleigh just work on one line per day but she really wanted that sticker ASAP so she insisted on doing the whole thing at once. I also told her she only needed to complete two lines to earn the sticker but she then insisted on doing them all anyway because she didn't want to "cheat." lol I guess those stickers are doing a great job at motivating her.

All-in-all Kayleigh really likes it. On days when we didn't do handwriting, she would ask about it. That rarely happens with Kayleigh so that is high praise. It's definitely a quality product and fun way to learn to write letters.



Age Range: K-1st

Price: $29.99


Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: The Presidential Game

What child doesn't love a good game? What parent doesn't love it when they can combine a game with some learnin'?  I don't know of any in either category.

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We were recently given the opportunity to enjoy a little fun learning when we were given a chance to review The Presidential Game.  Anybody who's tried, and failed, to explain the electoral college to their child will probably appreciate this game.

About The Presidential Game

 photo GameImage_zps8848e8d7.jpgDo you have what it takes to become president? In this game of strategy, you'll get a chance to find out while learning a bit about the electoral college system at the same time.

The game is played in two teams, Republicans vs. Democrats. You can play with as little as two people or form teams if you have more people who'd like to play.

 As in real life, you are battling against the other team to gain control of the electoral votes. Campaign or fundraise, you make the call. Discovery which strategy works best for you.

The game comes with a sturdy board, six dice, politic cards, voting chips, score pad and access to their online, interactive web map. Everything you need to take over the world. ;)

Our Experience

After our initial argument about who would be part of which party, we decided to play in teams. Kevin and Mackenzie, Republicans vs. me, Genius Party. (I decided to form my own. lol) Now before you worry about having to play for the political party that you disagree with, there is no political ideology anywhere in the game. You will not be campaigning on the issues so you don't have to stress about defending any platforms or positions on the big issues. You can save the heated debate for coffee later, when the kids are in bed. lol

The first thing that I did was read the instructions, which I'll admit confused me a bit. I could not wrap my mind around the voting chips for whatever reason. So I made Kevin read them and we came to a consensus. The interactive web map also contains the game instructions and I found a discrepancy or two between the instructions in the box and what was on the web map. We decided to stick with what came in the box.

We decided to play using the interactive web map because we didn't feel the need to do math while having fun. You can access it on the computer, smart phone, iPad or whatever you had. If you don't have those things then you can use the handy dandy score pad. You'll be doing a lot of math on it so make sure you have a pencil with a good eraser. lol

First you have to decide how many "weeks" that your campaign will run. The recommend 30 weeks. All this means is that each team gets 30 turns before the game is over.  A 30 week team lasts about an hour. We went with 15 weeks because that's what our attention span prefers. At the end of your time period, the party with the 270 electoral votes wins.

You have two options for your turn, campaign for votes or fundraise.

When you campaign, you chose three states to campaign in and then roll your 3 colored dice. One you roll you add up your dice total and that's how many votes you get to divide as you wish between the states you chose. Just take your chips and place them on the states. Finding the states is also a great way to study geography. lol

You can also fundraise. You are limited to the big vote states (NY, CA, FL, TX). You chose the state you fundraise in, roll, add your total. In the case of fundraising, you have to place half of what you rolled in the fundraising state but you can use the rest of the votes as you wish. Also, when you choose this option you get a politics card which will get you more votes to use right then or during another turn. The cards do not touch on any political issues, they just say things like "You own two rescue dogs. Animal rights people love you. Pick up 5 votes to be used any way you like."

Kevin and Mackenzie went for the big states. My strategy was to go for as many of the small states as I could nab.

The Genius Party pulled off the win!! I should rule the world. And yes, I know we don't have 270 votes but we were only playing for 15 turns.

All in all, it gave Mackenzie a good idea of how the electoral college works. (She thinks it's stupid and confusing. lol) That being said, this was not her favorite game. I think playing on a team and sharing the decision making took some of the fun out of it for her. My husband and I liked the strategy aspect of it. I think Mackenzie will enjoy it a little more when she's a tad older.



Age Range: 11+

Price: $35 + S/H


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One Year

One year ago 

today, an innocent trip to the park turned out to be so much more. Our sweet Mackenzie braved a finger prick in the name of science and it changed our lives forever.  One reading on a blood glucose meter explained so much about what was going on in her life. It's amazing how one moment can change everything.

That moment landed her in the PICU at the local hospital where she learned about all she needed to do to care for herself for the rest of her life. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As of today, it is a forever disease. Until there's a cure there is no going back.

It's been a long year that has stretched our family beyond our imaginations. We had to learn how to give injections, count carbs, figure out how to dose insulin and change infusion sites. We had to learn not to walk out of the house without glucose meters, test strips, syringes, needles, insulin, and much, much more. We had to learn to function without a full night's sleep. We had to learn to not cry whenever we saw somebody just eating without thinking about carb counts and insulin. We had to try not to allow all of the what-ifs of type one diabetes to rule her life.

I look at the bowl of goldfish in the first picture and remember how easy it used to be to pack a snack for my children. Just dump something into a container and go. Now I have to remember to take the time to figure out the carbs for every, single thing that they put into their mouths. Even the simplest of outings requires a lot of preparation. It's crazy how a single moment can change everything.


My girl is adjusting and doing well. I am so proud of her.  She does most of the things that she's always done, just with a lot more planning and forethought. She is a still a fabulous pianist. She still rides roller coasters. She still plays soccer. She's started running. She's better at math thanks to all the carb counting and insulin dosing.

Candy is no longer a treat but often a life saving device. We're slightly more used to people staring while we do blood sugar checks. We wish more people knew the (huge) differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We're still exhausted from the lack of sleep. We're tired of needles and sites. We're sad that, while we've survived the first year, that she has a life time to go. We are upset each time we hear of a new diagnosis or of someone who didn't survive this disease.

We're thankful for our health insurance that provides the things we need to keep them alive and for all the doctors that created them. We're blessed by the many people who love and support us. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our endocrinology team. We're grateful that there are summer camps just for type 1 diabetics so that Mackenzie doesn't always have to feel different from everyone else, if only for nine days. We're humbled by a God who gets us through each day when we really should have crashed and burned by now.

We're hopeful for a cure.


Related posts you might be interested in:

Mackenzie's Diagnosis Story
The Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes (If I had to pick one post for you to read, this one is it.)
Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2
Our JDRF Walk Page as we are walking for a cure this October


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