Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Life Hands you Lemons....

This past weekend was insanely busy, but A TON of fun for Charlotte and me. 

Every year our town hosts a HUGE All-Town Garage Sale day...people from all over come out to participate...and we gets TONS of traffic through our otherwise quiet little neighborhood. So (flashback two years), we decided that this event provides us with the perfect opportunity to do a little fundraising for JDRF! 

We held our 1st lemonade stand to fundraise for JDRF (and provide a little Type 1 education to our community) during our All-Town Garage Sale in April 2009.  It was a lot of fun...and we were excited to have a little extra help with our older sister, her hubby and their two girls (the same age as Charlotte) were in town for the weekend. They were awesome helping us prepare for our stand...making signs, drumming up business at the table, and just being there to support Charlotte and our cause!

Our 1st Lemonade Sale for JDRF (April 2009)
(Unfortunately, we missed out on the opportunity for 2010...the event took place during Charlotte's Spring Break and we had planned our family vacation to take place during that week without realizing that we'd be missing out on our lemonade stand.)

So...I made sure we weren't going to miss out again. We started talking about and mentally preparing for our Lemonade Stand back in January! Charlotte was VERY excited to be able to have another stand! But somehow in planning for other things, I didn't realize the date (yes, again) and her daddy (Jay) booked the weekend to attend a workshop out of town! That wasn't going to stop us though...we decided that not only were we still going to have our lemonade stand...we were going to make it bigger and better than the last one! 

So I called my parents a few weeks before the event and asked if we could pick up our "tent" that we use for our Walk...and sent hubby to pick it up! We decided that not only would we sell lemonade this year, but we'd bake cookies too! And I discovered and used Team JDRF to set up a fundraising website for Charlotte's Lemonade for a Cure!

So, the day before the event...Jay has left for his out-of-town workshop, but fortunately Nonna is able to help me out by taking Amelia for the night before. I head out at 4pm to go get the girls from their bus stop after school and on the way back stop to chat with our new neighbor. Of course, I manage to mention our "Lemonade for a Cure" and she mentions in response that our other neighbors are also hosting a lemonade stand for their grandchildren (just for fun). 

So now I'm thinking we really need to step things up a notch to be successful with our event. Our little table, tent, and poster just aren't going to cut it...but how in the world am I going possibly going to "upgrade" our stand AND get everything done in less than a day??? No problem, I'm Super D-mama right???'s how it all goes down:
It's about 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, Nonna takes Amelia and Charlotte for a snowball while I make a run for some last minute, extra cups (cause I didn't think I had quite enough), and eggs for the cookie baking (cause somehow I forgot those). About 5:15pm, I grab Charlotte from the snowball stand and we drop the ice off at the house and than take off for a last minute trip to Hobby Lobby (gotta love that store!)...grabbed a bright yellow table cloth, some fake lemons and a cute little green bucket, and supplies to make a banner for our tent! We probably spent longer at Hobby Lobby than we should we didn't get back home until almost 7pm and we grabbed dinner through a drive-thru on the way back. Once we got home we started to prepare gallons upon gallons of lemonade and make our signs. Then around 8pm we ran out to stake our small signs around (and just outside of) our neighborhood. Back home by about 8:30pm and starting to bake the cookies...finished that up by about 10:30pm. Then we designed our banner for our tent and off to bed by just after 11pm....Charlotte was exhausted but really excited and so managed to stay up to help out the whole time!  

Charlotte's 2011 Lemonade for a Cure
We were up and getting things ready by 6am on Saturday morning! I'm sure we provided some great laughs for the neighbors as we tried to pitch our tent (just me and Charlotte)...this feat took a good 30 minutes (but we got it done!) Charlotte and I got our table positioned and all prettied up and stocked with our lemonade and supplies! 

Our Lemonade Tent...we've "upgraded" since 2009
We had a great time on Saturday and really appreciated our family and friends that came out to support us...not to mention the numerous phone calls from people who couldn't be there checking in to see how things were going and letting Charlotte know they were thinking of her!

Charlotte "working" her Lemonade Stand!
All in all, it was a success! We had a great time (despite the last minute craziness and tent set-up challenge) and it turned out to be a beautiful day to spend outdoors! And...our little Lemonade stand raised just over $200 for JDRF!!!

Our motto:  When life hands you lemons....make lemonade! (thanks Lora!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Becoming my mother...well, almost

Tonite, like most nights, after dinner had been cleared from the table and baths were finished for the girls, I sat down to relax for a few minutes before getting the girls their snack and starting the bedtime routine. Amelia was already dressed for bed and was watching the end of Chicken Little with Daddy. And Charlotte was getting her PJs on and had brought me her brush and hairdryer to dry her hair. As I was brushing through her wet hair I heard the faint melody of "Fur Elise" in the distance. She had been out of the tub for awhile already and had seemed to be so self-sufficient getting herself dressed and ready for bed so I guess I just assumed she had put her pump back on...but the distant music let me know otherwise. Already knowing the answer, I looked at Charlotte and asked her if she had re-connected...I'm not even sure if she actually answered me or not, but she ran and grabbed her pump off of the bathroom counter and brought it to me to help her get hooked back up...she's got an arm site right now so can't do it herself. As I snaked the tubing through her PJ top I smiled at her and in a light-hearted tone started to say "you know, I think you might forget your head if it wasn't attached"...but I stopped myself and started to laugh as I thought to myself "no, actually it's not her head, it's her pancreas....and she did forget it"!

Over the past few months, we've been trying to gently ease Charlotte into gradually taking on a little more responsibility for some of her D tasks...checking her sugar by herself, carb counting and entering info into her pump for mealtime boluses (with a check by either me or Jay before delivering), connecting and re-connecting her pump at bathtime, etc. She's been really awesome about it all and is learning a lot. And she has been really proud to show off her new big girl accomplishments. But it's sort of bittersweet...I see her growing up and having to take on more responsibility (and much as I hate to think it) compared to most other kids her same age - all because of T1. So in an odd kind of way it was actually comforting to hear those words (that my mom said SO many times to me) coming from my mouth! I really cherish these moments that she's able to be a goofy, carefree (and even forgetful) little girl...and hope that, by carrying some of the T1 burden for her, she can enjoy many more moments like that...but from now on with her pump reconnected!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A lesson in empathy

Last week my girls were off of school for Mardi Gras break. Despite the challenges of balancing a full-time work from home job and taking care of both girls we had a lot of fun...and the week brought a few very special moments!

Charlotte's little sister, Amelia, is an amazing little girl! She has a BIG heart and is definitely the most loving and compassionate 4 year old I've ever known! Don't get me wrong she's definitely had her share of meltdowns and temper tantrums...several of which have been real doozies! But Amelia has also had to deal with more than most little girls her age...she's never known a life without diabetes in it; Charlotte was diagnosed just 11 months before she was born.

Amelia's vocabulary already includes words like diabetes, ketones, glucose, and insulin. And watching her play with her baby dolls is very different than watching her classmates doing the same...her version includes things like blood sugar checks and pump site changes. And her artwork even includes elements of diabetes...

Amelia's portrait of Charlotte and her "diabetes stuff" 
(meter with test strip, pump, juice box, and supply bag)
Amelia looks up to her big sister, Charlotte, so much and wants to be JUST like her! On a few occasions over the past few months she's grabbed one of Charlotte's pump pouches and has insisted on wearing it. Well, last week that wasn't enough...she wanted a pump too. Charlotte was pretty excited about this and made her "a pump" to put in the pouch...and I took this opportunity to provide a lesson in empathy. All day Amelia proudly wore one of Charlotte's Too Sweet pump pouches and her new "pump" complete with "tubing" (made from curly ribbon) secured with a Groovy Patch. I also grabbed one of Charlotte's old meters for her to "check her sugar" throughout the day each time Charlotte checked.

It was quite an experience for Amelia...and I think she learned a lot (at a 4 year old level). Her "pump tubing" did get caught on things and got pulled out several she quickly got tired of it and took it off after a few hours. But she remained faithful and wore her "pump" and carried her meter for the entire day. I used that opportunity to explain to her how it might be fun for her to "play diabetes" and be just like her big sis, but that Charlotte can't just take off her pump and tubing whenever she feels like it and it isn't really fun for sissy. I think it was a good lesson for her ...and I know Charlotte really enjoyed having another T1'er in the house for the day.
Even at such a young age, Amelia is a great advocate for her big sister. She's always wanting to help out with JDRF walk stuff or our lemonade stand (which we do in conjunction with our Town Garage sale to raise money and awareness for T1)...and she enjoys wearing her Walk team t-shirts and talking about what she knows about diabetes. I'm not sure that Charlotte fully realizes it, but I see Amelia becoming Charlotte's biggest cheerleader!

I have great relationships with both of my sisters (I'm the middle of 3 girls). So I was thrilled when Amelia was born and knew that Charlotte would have a sister to share things with the way I have with mine. Only I had no idea then how T1 would influence and strengthen their bond as sisters!

Both Charlotte and Amelia are truly amazing and special little girls. I am truly blessed to have them both in my life and be a witness to such pure sisterly love!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hope for Understanding...

Yesterday was "A Day of Hope". So Charlotte and I celebrated by writing the word on our hands...and spelling it out with insulin syringes. Then we posted our pics on Facebook to spread our message. What message you ask? Well, I'll be happy to share with you....

Hope: to believe, desire, or trust

If you've been following my blog for the past couple of weeks you already know that my oldest daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just over 5 years ago at the tender age of 2. And you know that our family hopes and dreams about a cure for our little girl and everyone else living with T1.

But we have another hope too....we hope for understanding!

We hope that people will...
Understand that T1 is an autoimmune disease. It is NOT caused by eating too much sugar and people do NOT outgrow it!

Understand that T1 is a disease that Charlotte lives with 24/7/365! It affects her ALL the time...awake, asleep, at home, at school, on get the picture. She is forced to think about it every day...checking her blood sugar at least 7 times a day, having her insulin pump attached to her little body, and measuring her food to figure out the carb content so she can dose herself with insulin (since her pancreas can't do it for her).

Understand that T1 is unpredictable. Charlotte can eat the same thing every day, get the same amount of insulin, and do the same activities...yet have a completely different outcome with her blood sugar levels. So when you ask how she's doing and I have that perplexed look wash across my face it's because I have no idea how to answer your question...because despite every effort her sugars can fluctuate for seemingly no reason at all...and they often do!

Understand that insulin is not a cure....and that without it she would die! And that there are still children out there without access to this life-saving drug who need our help (check out the video that Wendy posted on her blog, Candy Hearts).

Understand that Charlotte's insulin pump does NOT take care of everything for her...she still has to check her sugar, count her carbs, and tell the pump this information so that it can help figure out her dose and then allow her to deliver it.

Understand that T1 is "a big deal"...and that it has impacted our lives in more ways than I could have imagined. We aren't able to just pick up and go for a day like we did before her takes planning and preparation so that we aren't caught off guard with a low blood sugar, a "bad site", etc.

Understand that yes, Charlotte CAN still eat anything she wants...and it doesn't have to be "sugar-free"...but, we do have to know how many carbs it is so that we can give her the insulin her body needs to cover for it.

Understand that those well-intentioned stories about the person you know who suffered from complications of diabetes are not well-received...especially when they're shared in front of Charlotte (or any other CWD). Case in point, Haley from Naturally Sweet had not just one, but two people share stories with her about someone they knew who suffered diabetes-related complications. These stories do NOT help us...they only serve to make us upset and worry more than we already do (and trust me we worry plenty already).

So while we are hoping and dreaming of a cure (and working hard to make it eventually become a reality)...we hope that the people whose lives cross paths with ours will take the time to understand!