Well, days 15 and 16 seemed to slip away as I was having too much fun with my youngest sister. This was one of our best visits thus far and with her new job, I hope to have more. Not growing up together created an unfortunate gap in our relationship over the years, but having more time alone together than her last visit, we covered a wide range of conversations that revealed more of who we are today. Not to mention, how much we are alike. Which is quite awesome I must say.
What I’ve noticed is that as the oldest of four siblings, I seem to have quite naturally fallen into more of a mother-hen role. One that I embrace as this far outweighs my previous role growing up as bossy-beyotch.
Kidding, they’re too scared to call me bossy.
What’s curious is there seems to be the common belief among my siblings that I’m laden with self-sufficiency and emotional strength. This isn’t to say they don’t ask me how I’m doing or aren’t there to listen, but there’s a small element of disbelief that my world is sometimes rocked a bit. How do you think one obtains this vast wisdom that I willingly share?
I’d like to think it’s an accumulation of life experiences, including those things that one keeps on the really-really-stupid-what-was-I-possibly-thinking list. Everyone has THAT list. Talking about all sorts of things with my sister this weekend brought that list front and center. It’s those you highly regret that are cause for conversation to help you rationalize. It’s when you don’t own your mistakes in life that you can’t get past them.
I can attribute it to youth, but to a younger sister that’s more of an insult and highly unhelpful. Answers are needed, specific answers, and even though I don’t have all of them, sharing what I do know is therapeutic for all people involved. The key word here is empathy – even if you can’t process what you’re hearing, you must have empathy for those you love and care for. There's no room for judgement here, ever.
So, keep that in mind as you start thinking about your list of moments that most would respond with “No you didn’t!” Because, yes. . . you did.
Today was a definitely a good day, despite losing what felt like well more than the hour since I overslept. Everything was rather chill even though I knew I’d be packing up my first born to go on his eighth-grade trip to Washington, DC. I’m very excited for him and trying not to let my motherly anxiety possess my psyche. This will be the first time he’ll be completely out of my grasp, and staying with his grandparents doesn’t count, by the way. I just may need medication.
I’m fortunate that he’s going with a small group of students, teachers, and other parents that I’ve known for the few years he’s been at his school. This means that if anything happens to him, I know where they all live. Kidding! Mostly - you never know when it comes to mothers and their offspring. But, to stay on a more positive note, my son is armed with his phone and our telephone numbers.
I’m armed with a small handgun. . . I’m kidding. I’m still waiting for the concealed weapon license to get here.
Or am I?
All joking aside, I’m confident that because he attends a smaller school, that because the parents are all volunteers in some form or fashion, and that because I’ve gotten to know a majority of his classmates and their family, that he'll be in good hands. If you’ve ever volunteered to be a room mother/father, or perhaps attended a field trip or two, being a part of this charter school multiplies those opportunities to be involved by a thousand as it’s an everyday occurrence. You can’t help but get to know and love each of these kids as if they were your family. I guess in reality, they are.
And that, my friends, is why I will only need a light dosage of meds this week.
It seems good old Dad has given me a blog post subject for tonight, nostalgia. It began earlier this evening with his posting of random photos of me around the age of my two teenage sons. Talk about blowing their minds to see me at 14. It’s also nice to recognize that the friends in the photos are still my friends today. Well, they’re more than friends at this point, they’re family. I lost them in the early 90s, but delighted to say have found all of them and this is where Facebook’s powers are used for good.
First there was a reunion with Bridgette in December of 2010. She and I met while I was working at Palais Royal in Houston back in 1989. I worked in the Men’s department, of course, and Bridgette worked in women’s fashion, naturally. No one knows fashion like Bridge. My favorite memories are of us going the Post Oak Ranch after work for happy hour. We owned that place back then! Cowboys in business suits?
We lost touch once I moved to Miami in 1994 with the Husband. I decided to look her up in 2010 as she came to mind. And what do ya know, she was living in Jacksonville! We’ve pretty much been quite a team since then and a force to be reckoned with if I may say so. Fortunately, she has retained more memories than me on our adventures. My favorite being when a less than attractive guy approached her while we were out one night. Being the loyal friend that I am, I convinced him that she was deaf. Hey, what are girlfriends for if not that?
Then there’s my girl Gayle! I’ve known Gayle for as long as I can remember and my Dad reminded me of some of the fantastic times in my life that wouldn’t have been so had she not been there. Our families went camping every 4th of July in the early 80s and later she was my requisite person for the buddy system my parents required when I began dating around 1987. And if you knew the things we got ourselves into, even after she moved to North Carolina and came to visit, you just might blush.
She and I both lost track of each other after we married and the distance didn’t help. And guess where I found her? On Facebook, in January of 2011. The first time we saw each other again I went with my family to North Carolina, we all had dinner and it was fantastic catching up. But, when she came for business to Florida and we got together without three pairs of little eyes, Shazam!
So, first, thank you dear Father for reminding me how lucky I am to have these two amazing women in my life. And, yes, thank you Facebook for reuniting me with my family.
Here's to reconnecting with those we've lost along the way and being a better person because of it.
Tonight was the second night that I sat down and played a video game, Tomb Raider on the PS3. I had forgotten how much fun it was to play games and losing myself for a while as I concentrated on riding my motorcycle and shooting the bad guys was fantastic. We are a gaming family for the most part, but each of us wear a very different game face.
My oldest becomes calm and serious when he plays, especially if he’s driving a Formula One car on the Spa circuit in Belgium. However, you must not look, talk or even think about him when he's in the zone because concentration is key. Oh, he also reads the game book, in its entirety, before he plays a new game. Nerd.
The middle child gets rather animated and yells “Are you kidding me!!” repeatedly at the screen no matter the game. I’m not too sure why he continues to play because it rarely seems like he’s having a good time. He's like a tortured soul, even when he's winning. With him, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be removed from the game before his time is up as I hate to see his head spinning around.
And then there’s the third child, my daughter. Who lies perpendicular on a chair, head on the armrest and looking like she’s about to take a nap. Her games are little more geared to her age, like Little Big Planet, which are usually child-like and fun. But, just when you think all is right with her sweet fantasy world, out comes a maniacal little laugh as she shrieks, “Take that! Heh heh heh!” Scary.
The Husband pretty much sticks to his Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and goes into combat daily. Next to his wife, COD is his bestie. I like games like Zelda and Prince of Persia - my own little fantasy world where I’m on a quest. I'm a mix of the two boys, but I get to curse under my breath. And unlike my kids who get no more than an hour a day, momma gets to play as long as she wants. Sweet.
We do the Wii games as a family, mostly bowling, and nobody likes to lose in my house. Someone always ends up in tears and then we know family fun time is over. After the Husband dries his eyes, he regroups and goes into combat to make things all better.
Now, what I don’t understand is why some people are fiercely against video games. I’ve been playing since my Dad brought an Atari home back in the early 1980s and pretty much haven’t stopped. I can understand if it’s not your thing, however I don’t get those who ban them or even keep their spouses/boyfriends from playing.
That’s right ladies, I’m talking to you. You let that man play if he wants too! Like anything with life, it’s all about moderation, not eradication. that's for the enemy on the screen. I'm quite sure if you give it a try, you'll no doubt like it. And if not, don't be hatin' those of us who do.
We all have our passions in life, but the stigma some associate with video games can be a death sentence for relationships. However, In my house, it not only brings us together, but also gives each of us a little escape from the real world.
That's the part I like.
All too often we take for granted all the things that hold us together in life. Our family, friends, and even our pets are the ones that shape who we are and how our day will be. And, in dealing with all of them, we can decide how much power they will have over our mood. Your spouse may get on your nerves with their annoying habit of slurping their coffee because it’s just too hot, but he’s not patient enough to wait. Heaven forbid. This really isn't a valid reason to spoil your mood. Right? Or, when he guzzles down his water as if he’s been lost for days while hiking in the Mojave Desert without a drop to drink. You know that sound - gulmp . . . gulmp. It should never get to me, I mean, you. Right?
Or, how about when your son doesn't finish his lunch that you carefully packed and leaves a half-eaten sandwich mutating overnight in his snazzy insulated lunch box. Funny how he has forgotten (repeatedly) that the dog will use his Jedi skills to pull open the zipper and ravage what’s inside. I’m only kidding, the dog doesn't use the force, he ventures into the dark side and actually chews right through the outer case until he rips what can be only described as an irreparable wormhole, leaving bits of plastic scattered under the dining table. And, consequently, this leaves your son having to embarrassingly brown-bag it. But, it's not gonna ruin my day, right?
Do you know why? Because, I've come to realize that my life is more than those annoying little moments. There are so many things I love, simple little things, that I began writing down yesterday. I carried a notebook around after I came to the conclusion that a list was warranted. And, to my delight, it simply grew on its own. As you read my list, think about the little (or big) things you love.
Just so you know, I do recognize that standard operating procedure dictates family and friends are at the top of the list, so let’s just say I’m starting my list right under that part. Also, keep in mind they are by no means in order of importance, but the first one was what made me take a moment to think how sweet my life is.
I could easily add more to this list and most grateful that it would come so easily to me. These are just a few of the things that give me a reason to smile and recognizing each one has been immensely therapeutic.
Are you making your list of the little big things things you love? If so, share a few.
This summer’s social studies assignment for my fourth grader included reading a biography, or autobiography, of someone they want to represent in an American History Wax Museum. The idea is that the kids will dress like the person they read about and be able to tell their story as if it were their own life experience. Gigi and I both sat down and made a list of usual suspects like Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, and naturally, Elvis. I realized that my daughter would only select someone she was already familiar with so I decided to take the opportunity to expand her knowledge considering our history lends itself to so much more than the popular few. I came up with the brilliant idea to make a list that only included women who made their mark in American history.Image: NASA
I first offered Abigail Adams who gave her husband support and advice that even he didn't know he needed - “Remember the ladies” letter comes to mind. I told her about Helen Keller and, of course, Anne Sullivan - favorites of mine when in elementary school. Helen for overcoming the odds of being blind and deaf to be an advocate for those with disabilities, and Anne for helping Helen realize that she could be said advocate. Both very admirable for using their traumatic childhood experiences to encourage others. I wrote down a few others who opened doors for women, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, and as an English major, I selfishly chose Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (some of you may recall Age of Innocence, it's not just a movie).
I found it a bit of a struggle to make a soon to be nine-year-old understand the accomplishments of my choices. Or, at least understand enough for her to want to read more about these fabulous women to emulate them for her classmates. So what do we do when we need more ideas? We Google it. As a list of women filled the page I quickly scanned and knew immediately who would fascinate my Gigi to the very end, Sally Ride - the first American woman in space! It couldn't possibly get more exciting than that, could it?
My daughter hasn't quite realized that there was a time women couldn't do what they wanted, so this was a sort of awakening for her. We picked up Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space from the library and it’s been a learning experience for both of us. Did you know that Sally was also the youngest American to ever be in space? According to the biography we read, Sally never considered being a female as an obstacle because her parents led her to believe she could do anything and be anyone she wanted, so she did. This is exactly what I tell my own daughter.
This isn't to say it was easy for Sally to soar above the clouds a little over thirty years ago as she was one of six women chosen by NASA in those early days, but what an amazing bio to share with my daughter. Sally made it happen because she wanted it and worked hard to achieve her goals. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen, male or female, and I want that more for my daughter than I've ever wanted for myself. I want her to believe that being a girl doesn't decide her path, but her devotion to what she wants does.
When I read the line from the first chapter of the book, “This launching marks the first time in history that an American woman will fly in space,” I felt a bit emotional. In fact, I was surprised that I got a little choked up and I really can’t explain why. Maybe I feel gratitude toward Sally, or perhaps a bit of pride? I can only describe it as that same feeling that I feel when someone sings the Star-Spangled Banner, right when they get to the part where we “yet wave” and pause for a bit. I’m good until that line of the song and then . . . hot mess, every time.Image: NASA.gov
I may be a bit more enthusiastic about Sally Ride and her accomplishments than my daughter at this point, but she did interrupt with all sorts of questions and observations. Some being silly, like “Why would Sally like Superman best when Spiderman can shoot webs from his arm?” And, more importantly, “What does it mean when the Challenger only reached a force of 3 g’s? What’s a ‘g’?” In case you were wondering, a “g” is one earth gravity, the acceleration of the objects due to gravity on Earth. There’s more to it, but that’s a whole other blog.
Reassuringly, this means my ever-so-intelligent daughter was, at the very least, paying attention. Her inquisitiveness gives me hope that I’m doing my job right so far as she never seems to consider that being a girl is any reason to not be or do what she wants. I look forward to the day when my daughter decides what she wants to be when she grows up and rest assured that I will be there to cheer her on.
"Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see."
Just a bit more about Dr. Sally Ride
- Audio of the 1983 lift-off
- "Remembering Sally Ride, Space Pioneer"
Mashable.com - "10 Badass Quotes from Sally Ride"
Sally Ride Science - Founded by Sally Ride to educate, engage, and inspire students
Women@NASA - Honors Sally Ride
Tastier than it looks
I, not unlike many others, have been wasting (okay, spending) valuable hours on Pinterest. In addition to that, I've logged many hours watching HGTV, DIY Network (Rehab Addict baby!), and Cooking Channel. Why? I want to cook, redecorate, refurbish, and quite simply, create something new. It occurred to me that with the kids out of school and my not being employed (yet), there really is no reason why I can’t tackle some of the fantastic things I've been wanting to do. The dilemma is that now I've started no less than five different projects this past week and only completed one, a dessert recipe. Which, in all actuality, would be weird had it not been completed once started, so perhaps it doesn't count.
My daughter and I tackled the task of making a peach cobbler, which is a great way to get in some math in without her knowledge. It was also an exercise for me in practicing patience as my kitchen is minuscule and my tolerance for "what if" questions is extremely low. "What if I put in two tablespoons of baking power instead of one?" This pretty much went on for every ingredient and funnier (for her) every-single-time.. My answer for the hundred times she asked, "It will blow up, just follow the recipe." Oh, and by the way, she doesn't like peaches and wouldn't taste it. Eh, more for me. Next!
Coming to a Pinterest board near you, and In no particular order, let's start with the nearly done project first. I reupholstered my dining room chairs, okay, only three out of six (guess it’s not nearly done after all). I bought enough material to do four chairs and quite frankly was a bit nervous, even after the great advice from the lady cutting fabric at JoAnn's.. It’s never as easy as it looks when others do it, especially when you have to run the fabric choices by the Husband, who as we all know has an opinion about what to wear, even if it’s furniture.
I was wrong, it was so easy! For starters, the Husband liked four of the six fabric options I presented, which are great odds considering, and surprisingly he chose the boldest, most colorful one - and my favorite. We both like warm tones and the fabric pretty much covered every one one of them.
Once starting the reupholstering I realized I had an advantage over the many people I watched in my video research, my staple gun is electric (estate sale bargain), rather than manual. It made everything a breeze and I got a little help from Son #2 who had no problem sitting on the cushion while I wielded an automatic staple shooter near his rear. Well, he was a bit nervous, but I let him try the staple gun as a consolation. This is how mom becomes an instant hero when she shares the power. Just don't do it too often. I’ll be working on my fourth chair today (maybe) and returning this week for more material to finish the last two. I pretty much feel like reupholstering everything in my house now. Muhahahaha..
Next, we have a small, but arduous task of refurbishing a miniature cabinet thingy (not sure of the technical name) that I bought quite literally four years ago. I started this project recently to see if I like the idea of refurbishing furniture as it appears to be all the rage according to HGTV and Pinterest. The jury is out as I don’t have the space in our current abode or the help of electronic gadgets. That’s right, I’m manually sanding this thing (mostly) and working on it in the carport area. I am in the market for a palm sander, especially if this works out and there’s income potential. I do have the help of a Dremel tool, but the sanding bit is limited to half an inch. As you can imagine, it really isn't such a great idea for larger areas. Let's just say, lots-o-divots. I must add that manually sanding the wood hasn't been at all disagreeable, so I can only imagine having a sander would make it a breeze. I’m on the next phase of getting some primer and choose a paint color. I'm thinking of going with a distressed look as it only seems fitting with my lifestyle. I'll keep you posted.
Side note: this could have been a great project for me as one of my neighbors set it on the curb, which of course translates to free-for-all. I just knew I could turn this dresser into something fabulous and I considered all the factors before deciding to walk away: sanding by hand would not be fun or fabulous, no garage to work in and protect it from the elements, and the Husband would probably not appreciate toting it down the street.
It was really just the last one.
Long ago, in what literally seems like a galaxy far away, I took up the art of sewing. I call it an art because the finished product, even if you follow a pattern, pretty much is your own little masterpiece. Oh yeah, and skill is involved. I took a sewing class at JoAnn's right after my daughter was born a little over eight years ago. The bonus is that I already had a sewing machine my mother-in-law picked up for me at a garage sale and I had a guinea pig, I mean daughter to sew cute things for. I wasn't going to make a some pillow or hand towel, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I wanted to go big and the class was going to show me how anyway. It was so much fun and I may have become rather obsessed. at the time. I mostly made things for my daughter, but I did venture in making clothing for myself, quilts (which is a whole other animal by the way), one-and-a-half bowling shirts for my boys (son #2 never saw his, finished), baby gifts for friends, and pillows (it was okay at this point). My toughest challenge, and what I think was my greatest sewing accomplishment, was my daughter’s red coat as it called for lining and sleeves and a whole bunch of other advanced moves I had yet to master at the time. I think it turned out rather nicely, right?
So, here’s the thing, I found this great fabric (okay, so it’s a bed sheet) at an estate sale and knew I had to make something with it. A friend suggested an apron as there’s a demand for vintage everything and the sheet pattern screams mid-century, the last one that is. I already had the pattern since I made a cute little number for my son’s teacher back in the day. Shazam! Project! I haven’t officially started this one yet as the presser foot is missing from my sewing machine and not having used it in 5 years, not a clue why it’s not there. I think it’s a plot from the Husband, who literally managed to roll his eyes to the back of his skull when I pulled the machine out of the closet. There’s no doubt it's some residual annoyance as the last time it was used I may have neglected him and the children, but it was totally sporadic neglect and they ARE all alive after all. So what’s the problem? Again, I’ll keep you posted.
Lastly (not really) is my crafty card project. This is totally Pinterest’s fault because of all those snazzy handmade cards people keep posting totally enabling me to do the same. Luckily, I'm well stocked with plenty of scrapbook paper from all those albums I haven't finished, yet. By the way, do you know how easy it is to make your own envelopes? Very. And, I have enough paper to make hundreds of little envelopes and cute, little paper cards to insert into them. Yes, I could buy them, but what's the fun in that when I could easily do it myself by cutting out a template, tracing it onto scrapbook paper, cutting that out, folding it strategically into a little envelope, applying glue to the appropriate edges, and allowing to dry for at least six hours. See, easy peasy, right?
I've actually printed out a template that assisted me in creating a lovely little dress that I may apply to the front of a card. It took way longer than I anticipated, but I did it! Disappointingly, I didn't feel like making another afterwards . . . or ever again. However, I have all this paper and will keep searching for new ways to be crafty with it.
Well, that about sums up my list of projects that I'm working on, yet oddly enough don't feel like there's too much on my plate. Surely I'm not alone in the whole juggling of Pinterest projects and I'm fairly confident that I have enough motivation within to see all of these to the end . . . okay, perhaps not the envelope thing. I'll keep you posted.
Sad, but edible.
Yes, I am totally blaming Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and this here website for burning my bacon. I normally consider myself an amazing multitasker, but when I was trying to retweet the funny stuff, stalk my friends, pin fabulous meals, maintain the blog expectations of my fan, make perfectly crisp bacon, and mediate the ritual Saturday morning battle between the kids on video game time violations - it was the bacon that suffered. As you can imagine, I was in disbelief that I could fall short of handling more than a couple tasks.
Thankfully, I have found scientific reasoning to comfort and rectify me. We all know you can’t argue with science (or your mother-in-law - another scientific fact).
According to an article on Sciencemag.org, multitasking splits our brain and we only have two hemispheres for task management. So, despite what we women constantly appear to prove otherwise, the brain can’t effectively handle more than two things at one time. Some scientists feel that you can add a third task, but it really depends on the task and the part of the brain it uses. Keep in mind, multitasking is being able to switch rapidly between tasks, not performing multiple tasks at the same time.
“...people are remarkably good at eating while doing other things...because the practiced motor skills involved in eating don’t overlap too heavily with those that interpret visual cues, control language, or run other complex processes.”
And we all know that keeping up with our friends on social media, managing children, and making bacon all require complex processes. I can't blame the kids and I certainly can't blame the bacon, so...
I would venture to say that we women have the upper hand in the multitasking arena, but that’s probably a whole other blog post. Or, you could read this article about how women spend 48.3 hours per week multitasking while at home compared to a man’s 38.9. But what’s really interesting is that the article states that men are more likely to be pleased with themselves for multitasking, where women were stressed.
Clearly, what this article is saying is that my husband should cook the bacon.
I’ve come to realize something about myself...I kind of like clutter. Not the hoarder type of clutter, but my-house-contains-a-family type. I promise, dear minimalist husband, this isn’t a ploy to get out of cleaning the house or purging unnecessary items. And, it isn’t that I don’t want to be organized, because I do. It just seems more appropriate that I refer to my method as organized chaos. I want all the things I love about my busy life scattered about the house in a cleverly structured fashion I've designed. This includes my never-too-many books spilling off every shelf, the kids many drawings hanging on any spot available, and my craft of the month supplies exactly where I left them. All the many bits-n-pieces of what makes our house our home.
This self-realization occurred as I perused the Home Décor boards of Pintrest the other night and found that although I appear fastidious in my selections, that isn’t what draws me to the photo. I may appreciate the color palette, the furniture design, an abundance of windows, and sometimes even just the layout of the room. Essentially, my pins all have elements of what I want in a home, but in reality, my favorites are those cluttered with all kinds of stuff. Isn’t that more realistic anyway? Well, it is for me at least. Items strewn about on the ottoman and stacks of papers on the counter? Absolutely normal.
My ideal desk, but with more books
I do have friends who not only prefer a spotless look, but actually achieve it. They have absolutely nothing at all on the coffee table that isn’t decorative or on their kitchen counters - I totally admire the dedication. And, I know deep down in places my husband would never mention after all these years for fear of impending death that he would prefer I be more like my OCD friends (again, I write that with sincere admiration). But, as I mentioned back in December, that's not me. Admittedly, I do aim for model-home perfection when I clean my house. However, when my kids arrive from school and the living room instantly reverts to cluster of backpacks, shoes, and notebook paper, all hope is thrown out the now finger-smudged window. I guess all I’m really doing is removing some dust and simply minimizing the mess with routine cleanings.
Perhaps this whole revelation is a defense mechanism to keep my sanity after having cleaned all day? Or, not ever wanting to clean all day? Perhaps I've somehow rationalized that despite carefully organizing every single aspect of my home it’s just not going to stay that way. I have three kids and unless I’m willing to devote my entire existence to following behind each them with reminders to put things away, it’s not going to happen. I really don’t need another thing added to my list of things to bark at them about and would like to keep it narrowed down to homework and basic hygiene. Besides, they know what drives me batty - a forgotten 450-piece Lego project in the middle of the floor, overly sharpened pencils left on the leather couch or an empty granola bar wrapper on the side table next to their juice box.
I don’t want to live in a house where my kids can’t feel relaxed or more importantly, where I can’t relax. Now my husband, if he hasn't relaxed by now, he never will. So, call it whatever you like when you have to kick three pairs of shoes out of the way to close the door, or when you have to stack the endless amount of drawings and classwork your kids bring home, or when you have to throw everything into a plastic container until you feel like going through it. You know what I'm calling it.
I know I'm not alone in all of this because of the many "pins" on Pintrest about how to organize your home, whether it be your pantry, hallway closet, underneath your sink or even your filing cabinet. In fact, if you do a search on Pintrest for "organization" you will find a hundreds of ideas that have been pinned well into the thousands. Kudos to those who are doers and not just dreamers - like me. Which one are you?
My hot topic today is diabetes and the issues that surround those that either have it or in danger of getting the disease. The question I have is whether anyone who isn’t affected by it directly truly understands what it is? Presently, I have three people in my life who have Type 2 diabetes and I’m ashamed to say I truly don’t have a complete understanding of it. Ashamed because these people are important to me and I should know better.
I recently attended an event hosted by Healthy 100, which is an organization that was "created by Florida Hospital to educate and motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles.” The honorary guest speaker was everyone’s favorite Southern Belle, Paula Deen. I must say, she is every bit as charming in real life as she is on television. Paula shared her story about discovering she was a Type 2 diabetic and learning how to maintain her diabetes through moderation, healthy eating, and medicine. Interestingly enough, she spoke some diabetic lingo that initiated applause from the crowd, but left me feeling clueless (I still clapped, of course).
So, I’ve done a little research since then.
Let’s first address the term Type 2 as it relates to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) a total of 25.8 million people have diabetes and Type 2 is the most common form. Basically, what’s happening with Type 2 is that the body isn’t producing enough insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows our body’s cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Almost everything we eat is used to create glucose and it ends up in our blood to fuel the cells in our body that need it. It’s the insulin that regulates those blood glucose levels. Where Type 1 is a lack of insulin produced in the body, Type 2 is persistently high levels.
For those of you left saying, “whuuut...?” here is a handy video to explain insulin’s job a bit better.
Okay, we should all now be aware that it’s insulin that takes the sugar from the blood to transfer it to cells and without it there’s an overload in our blood as it's not being distributed.
Back to Paula - one thing she mentioned, which caused a thunderous applause, was that her A1C level was at 5.8 on her last doctor’s visit. My lovely friend I invited to come with me to the event, a Type 2 diabetic, was just about to explain when Marti White, who was on stage with Ms. Deen, elaborated what A1C meant. Essentially, this is a test that measures the average blood glucose for the past three months. ADA compares it to that of a baseball player’s season batting average as it illuminates a diabetic person’s success, in addition to making certain their treatment is working.
Based on some of the sites I’ve visited, the A1C, or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), test on the average, non-diabetic person can range from 4% - 5.6% with anything higher indicating a risk, or actuality of, diabetes. My friend who was with me explained that number can vary as your doctor may want you to stick to a level based on your age or body type.
Paula also told a story of how her blood sugar level reached 139 about seven hours after a #2 cheeseburger meal, followed a few hours later by a fat-free yogurt topped with marshmallow cream. It was implied by her sudden pause and guilty glance toward the audience that the topping wasn't so fat free. But, in her defense she was on the go running errands and, as she so cleverly explained, the #2 meal is easy to eat while driving. Who hasn't reasoned their way into that excuse? The difference is that diabetics have to be more careful as this sugar level was high for her. However, she was delighted that after walking a mile she brought the level down almost by 100. What she clearly demonstrated was that exercise is essential for a diabetic as it brings down those high sugar numbers. What’s considered high? Glad you asked.
Based on the information from the ADA website, before a meal, the blood sugar should read anywhere from 70 to 130. After a meal, the number can reach up to 180 on the glucose meter. Yet remember, the levels are based on what a health care provider has recommended based on A1C percentage and body type. I have experienced both high and low blood sugar levels with two family members. The side effects of either of these can be very disconcerting and downright scary if you don’t know what’s going on. Going with the baseball theme, first up to bat is the low blood sugar scenario, also called hypoglycemia.
I’ve had numerous occurrences with one of my in-laws who, let’s just say, isn’t meticulous in regulating his blood sugar – at all. He rarely tests his glucose level and the blood sugar lowers to numbers that essentially make him incoherent. He gets confused and slurs his words – to put it plainly, it seems as though he's intoxicated. This was extremely scary for me in the past, as well as for others around him (outside of family), as it was confusing as to whether he required sugar or had too much. Again, ignorance on my part despite the frequency of this happening. Eventually, it was understood that he was in desperate need of sugar, therefore orange juice was always on hand.
And like with anything in life, there’s a yin with this yang, where the glucose levels are too high, hyperglycemia. My mother, who had not been previously diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (but warned) fell into a diabetic coma because her blood sugar levels were about 1200. Seems rather high does it? Well, it’s a little over a thousand where it should be! Her factors for getting diabetes were exceptionally poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise. It was thought she wouldn’t live because she didn't come out of her coma for almost seven days. The list of her immediate health issues was super long, but for the most part she has made a full recovery, aside from now being a diabetic. I wish I could say she's consistently been receptive to treatment by watching her diet, checking her blood sugar levels, and exercising, but she's not. We'll call it a work in progress. You can only take them to the water so they say...
In all reality, it’s up to the individual to be responsible with their diabetic condition, however as a friend, or better yet, family member, we should all be informed and at the ready to help if needed. Considering the overwhelming amount of people who have diabetes, one must also know the myths associated with the disease as we don’t have to just be overweight or have a poor diet. Here are a few myths from the ADA website:
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
I can’t say this is all there is to know, but I think it’s a start as understanding the Type 2 diabetes that affect those important me is absolutely essential. And, armed with this knowledge, I recognize that not only are my children susceptible, but so am I. Fortunately, we’re already aware that a healthy diet and exercise are an important part of our lives, so we’re slightly ahead of the game. We encourage our kids to try new foods (this by no way, shape or form means they eat them) and try to keep our kids active.
I'll leave you with Paula's thoughts about our kids and lifestyle today compared to yesteryear, which actually applies to my childhood. This is a video I recorded at Florida Hospital's Healthy 100 event on March 11, 2013.
Sites to both help with your understanding of diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle. If you have more to share, please do!
My photo adventures in Florida