Between the Storms

Just your average Thursday at the Ortiz home. Except there were no sub jobs today, so mommy stayed home. The boys got their school work done early and it stopped raining, so….. we went on a short hike.

We went to our local Foothills trail and headed east on the new section, the boys have been asking to take a muddy cutoff from the trail since we passed it our first time walking this section of trail. It’s about a half hour walk from the parking lot to the cut off but they were excited to go further once we left the paved trail.

It was VERY muddy and slippery in some areas, but it was beautiful. Lots of time walking near the river.

We saw some cool wildlife: goldfinch, sparrows, and snails! The boys stopped to watch skimmer bugs at the edge of the river for a bit too!

Part of the trail was treacherous and of course that was the boys favorite part. Walking along the wall from rock to rock, trying to stay out of the water isn’t my idea of fun, but it’s all they talked about after we made it past-how much fun it would be to do it again on the way back.

Both boys ended up with wet shoes and socks, apparently it’s fun to stand in the river until your shoes are full of cold water and then walk 2.75 miles back to the car.

I only tracked our return trip, because I didn’t have a full battery on the way out and didn’t want to be stranded with no cellphone in an emergency.

All together we hiked/walked almost 5.5 miles! And they didn’t whine very much on the return trip. G did a little, but quit pretty quick when I explained his ankles and toes hurt from the wet socks.

We missed daddy on this hike, but hope to take him out with us next time, and pack a lunch so we can go even further!

And we missed the rain! We were sprinkled on a bit but for the most part the sky was blue. Now the next storm has rolled in and TJs game tonight has just been rained out (I’m not sad about that) 😜 Maybe I can bribe the boys into getting our house cleaning chores done today by offering a movie when they are done…..

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Allergy shots or not

Poor G has terrible seasonal allergies. He’s on three different allergy meds to keep him from being miserable and sometimes, he’s still miserable even with all those meds. He had his annual allergy and asthma checkup today and the Dr once again brought up allergy shots. I’m leaning toward doing it, but Tony isn’t convinced. I’ve heard from the Dr and friends who have had them that it greatly reduces the reaction to the allergies or can eliminate them entirely. Which would mean fewer to no allergy meds for G-(which he takes every day!)

The down side is that he’d need to get another scratch test and then, once they mix the serum, shots starting at once or twice a week and working his way down to once a month for one to three years.

Tony really doesn’t want G to have to go through all those shots but I really don’t want him on adult allergy meds (even though the Dr said they are “safe meds”) for his entire childhood.

Looks like Tony and I have some more talking to do, but I’d love to hear what you think. Have you had allergy shots? Did they work?

Childhood Rights and Responsibilities

I’ve been trying to teach my boys responsibilities for the last few years. I have assigned them chores and tried to get them to do their morning and evening routines independently and they’ve had increasing workloads of school work. But I’ve failed. While G has done ok with all of this (so far-he always has the lighter load) TJ has struggled. “Why do I have to do so much?” And “why doesn’t G have to?” Are questions he constantly asks. My reply of because you are older hasn’t been very motivating,

I was talking to my parents and they pointed out (again) that while he has more responsibilities, he doesn’t get any extra rights. They go to bed at the same time, eat the same foods, play the same games, and watch the same movies. So why would he want to take on these extra responsibilities? G doesn’t have to work as hard and he still gets to do everything that TJ does.

So here’s what I’ve done. I talked to TJ about what he thinks he’s earned by having more responsibilities and we made a list.

We talked about how he gets computer time (typing lessons and learning to code) and more LEGO time. He needs to get his school work done early enough to have time before going to Grandma and Papa’s house. He doesn’t get computer time or LEGO time there, those happen at home. So he decided that if he could get his work done by 9 he could have an hour before leaving home to do those things.

Then I talked to him about the other things he wants and we came to an agreement on them.

He can have a later bedtime , IF: he says prayers with his brother and then spends that extra half hour quietly (reading or playing legos). He later brought up that he also wants to watch more “big kid” movies and I agreed he could watch some of the super hero movies that are too scary for G BUT they would be in half hour increments during his half hour of being up later than G.

He also wanted a 5 minute break after every 10 minutes of school work. 😳 that would add so much time to his school day. I reminded him that I had already said he could take a break ANYTIME he needed one. BUT it was a jumping jack/push-ups/running break, not legos, toys or whatever break. He decided that 5 jumping jack or 5 laps around the room would be a good break.

Here’s how it went tonight (after our talk): the boys did their nighttime routine (alone for a change) and we said prayers and did bible history/bible reading.

Then it was time for G to go to bed and TJ to go downstairs for quiet time.

G was VERY unhappy (despite what this picture shows-I could get one of his pouting/crying) he really wanted to stay up with TJ.

TJ very wisely walked quietly from the room and headed downstairs where he built his legos and got to play with them for awhile.

I really hope and pray that this is going to help him act more grown up. I know he has had to be more mature (about somethings-thank you T1D πŸ™„) than most other kids his age but he’s very immature in other ways. Maybe a few more privileges will help him want to behave like a big kid instead of like his little brother.

I’m still looking for more ideas of privileges kids can get as they grow older to help him feel that more responsibility is a good thing. Having a later bedtime is not my favorite way to reward him, (especially when he complains of being tired all the time). How do you show your big kids that they are more responsible than their younger siblings and that it’s a good thing?

6 Years Strong

We were going to go to the zoo, on April 3rd, a Tuesday, during my spring break. After we took TJ to the Dr expecting to be told we were over worried (crazy parents), we were going to go to the zoo.

Six years later on Tuesday, April 3rd, during my spring break we went to the zoo. We almost didn’t make it. TJ was punched in the eye by his little brother on water morning (for getting in his face and repeatedly yelling “it’s Easter!”πŸ™„) he seemed ok all day Easter, but the next morning woke up with a very swollen bloodshot eye, which he couldn’t open. We went to the Dr on Monday and she said pain meds and 24hrs time should heal it but if he wasn’t feeling better by the next day to call back for a referral to an ophthalmologist. I was a little worried this Tuesday would be another crazy medical issue day, but he woke up feeling better! So, we finally made it to the zoo! But first, we hiked.

After a quick calibration poke to get TJs cgm working (we just inserted a new sensor this morning).

We hiked Point Defiance again. We really have fun hiking around the point! We see different wildlife each visit, this trip we saw deer, a squirrel, a woodpecker, and a humming bird. We’ve seen an owl and a bald eagle on previous trips.

We love getting some exercise in the woods!

After a 4 mike hike, a picnic lunch, and a couple snacks, we headed to the zoo. It’s super convenient, since we park in the zoo parking lot to go hiking.

We saw some animals that haven’t been out much on our last few visits.

Like the clouded leopard! Finally! I think this is the first time we’ve seen them since they had cubs!

And the lemurs.

After our fun (and exhausting) day hiking and walking around seeing the animals, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner on our way home.

We stopped in Tacoma so we could eat on the waterfront. A beautiful view for dinner! TJ got one of his favorite dinners: mini corn dogs. He also got full sugar root beer, fruit salad, carrots, French fries and honey mustard, and a crazy big “dirt cup”. He dosed for 100 carbs for his dinner, not counting his special dessert. We expected a small pudding dessert and were shocked to see how big it was.

He sure enjoyed it!

It was a full, exhausting, fun day to celebrate one strong, brave boy! His life is far from perfect and he has many days where he hates T1D and doesn’t want to poke his finger. But he does it (eventually). We choose to celebrate this day because we are winning the battle. We have a strong son who is living and fighting to live every day. He goes through so much that other kids don’t, so an extra day of joy and festivity every year is definitely earned. He’s alive! And more than that, he’s thriving in spite (and because of) his new pump sites every 3 days, his new sensor insertion every 5-7 days, and his 5-15 finger pokes EVERY SINGLE DAY-whether he wants to or not.

Our sleepless nights, and all the drama that comes with this terrible disease is worth it because it keeps our little warrior alive.πŸ’œ

Easter Eggs 2018

It’s the day before Easter! And in the Ortiz house that means…cleaning! (The Easter bunny doesn’t deliver to a dirty house) and egg dying!

I finally have a fool proof way to cook hard boiled eggs! Last year (or was it the year before?) I tried baking the eggs in muffin tins, and found out (after we had colored all the eggs) that they weren’t cooked all the way through. 😒 so many wasted eggs! Since then I’ve gotten an Instapot and it is the BEST way to cook hard boiled eggs. 7 minutes on manual and then quick release and a cold bath for the eggs! Super fast and perfect every time!

This year we tried three different methods to color eggs. I tried some food coloring in rice and had the boys shake the eggs in the colored rice.

they didn’t really enjoy shaking the eggs and while they did come out speckled, they were pretty pale.

We also did the traditional egg dropped in food coloring, vinegar, and water. I bought an egg kit, but it didn’t have food coloring tablets in it, so I improvised with what I had on hand. We only put 1 egg in each color for those, because we are impatient and colored all the eggs with other methods before the first batch was dark enough. 🀣and purple still didn’t turn out! It looks brown. 🀣

The kit I got was the pearl/shimmery colored egg kit. TJ asked for glitter, but we eat our eggs, and I didn’t think there’s would be any way to peel the eggs with out getting glitter all over them. I don’t want to eat glitter, so I found the next best thing. This kit had liquid dye packets that you pour over the egg in a little bag and smear around the egg with the bag.

They turned out pretty, and didn’t take as long as the traditional method.

There was no down time between batches this year. Usually I have to find an activity to keep the boys busy while we wait for the eggs to get dark enough in the cup of dye. It was a quick egg coloring session!

I still bear the evidence of our activity…why do I never think to put on gloves before it’s too late? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

They had fun and that’s all that matters! πŸ’œ

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!

Staycation

Really it was just Tony that got almost a full week off, I still took some sub jobs. But we did have a couple of fun days off together and took advantage of them to do more than just sit around the house being lazy.

We took the boys bowling for the first time. And went to a really cool bowling alley that had an underwater theme.

They really enjoyed it and we ended up staying an extra hour!

On our next family day we went to the zoo.

We checked out some animals

Ate our packed lunch and looked at the fish and some more animals.

Then we paused to treat a low

TJ loves being low, because then he gets something sweet to eat.

G likes lows too, because sometimes, when TJ is low, he gets a sweet treat too. Fruit leather for the win!

Then we were back at it, walking around and checking out the animals. We were a little sad because some things weren’t open. We missed the budgies and goats and the otters and seals. But we got to listen to the male walrus whistle! It was so loud! And his breath smelled very fishy. We got to see the walruses in their night time area, and all 3 girls were sleeping in the sun, but the male was right up against the wall so we could look down (maybe 2 feet) and he was right there whistling so loud, you could hear him across the zoo, but the girl walruses just ignored him and slept on.

Tony made friends with a huge bumble bee. It really liked Tony’s hat, but flew away after a little bit-must’ve figured out that Tony wasn’t a flower.

We went out for dinner too, mainly because I didn’t feel like cooking dinner or cleaning up after, and neither did Tony.

It sure was nice to take a couple days and spend them doing something fun as a family. And can you see it? The mountain was out today!

Medtronic 670g System

We’ve been using the newest technology in the pump/cgm world for about 4 months now and here are my opinions.

ACCURACY

It’s accurate. When TJ wore both the guardian sensor and the Dexcom G5, they were both (usually) pretty close to finger pokes. I feel that the guardian caught the lows a little faster and that the g5 recognized the highs faster. In my opinion the guardian sensor was just as accurate as the G5 (which was not perfect).

AUTO-MODE

Auto-mode has really leveled out TJs blood sugars. He has way fewer mountain ranges on his cgm graph and lots more leveled out days and nights. In fact his A1c has dropped a whole point from 8.6 to 7.6 in those 4 months. So I think auto-mode is awesome! When it doesn’t kick us out. It kicks us out if he’s high for over 4 hours or low for over 2 hours. It kicks us out if the sensor isn’t reading for any reason (missed calibration, sensor is confused because it’s day 5 or 6 of 7, it’s in the dreaded need bg loop). Auto-mode is not a cure. It’s not infallible. It’s not perfect. TJ still has lows in auto-mode. He just needs fewer carbs to come back up into range-usually 4. He still goes high, if his carb ratio is not aggressive enough, if his insulin gets too warm and stops working, and if his pump site fails or gets infected. (Just my little rant to try to get Medtronic to understand why parents want their kids cgm data accessible via Bluetooth and WiFi–because we still need to see the trends!)

I desperately missed the receiver/WiFi readout of dex during his first basketball game! I had no idea what his blood sugars were doing!

GUARDIAN SENSORS

while the sensors are accurate, they are not as easy to use as the Dexcom sensors. Yes, they insert way easier than the harpoon sensors we started with and even easier than the G5, but they are still more finicky and not nearly as user friendly as the Dexcom. Pay attention to the arrows! Only calibrate when steady! If you miss a calibration, you get no sensor info. For us the sensors only last 5-6 days instead of the full 7. Yes, Medtronic will replace them for free, if you call and troubleshoot it with them and send it back and spend lots of time on it. BUT it still sucks that my 9 year old has to get a poke every 5 or 6 days when it should stay in 7 (and we frequently got 14 days out of a G5 sensor).

Also it requires 20-40 minutes to charge the transmitter every time you change the sensor, plus a 2-3 hour warm up period. And then guess what! Once you hit the end of the warm up and calibrate…Surprise!! You will have to calibrate again in 6 hours (or loose all cgm data until you do calibrate). So when a sensor fails at night (which is when it usually fails for us) we will be up again between 1 and 4am to calibrate, depending on how early it failed.

Speaking of calibrating…. with Dexcom you calibrate and it instantly updates-like less than 5 seconds!! With the guardian, it takes 1-4 minutes to calibrate!!! It shows you a little bar so you can see how close it is to being done but seriously, 1-4 minutes!

I guess I’m saying that it’s amazing technology but far from perfect, and definitely not a cure. If another pump company came out with a similar system using a Dexcom sensor, I would switch as soon as we could. Unfortunately, Medtronic has the edge (and maybe it just comes down to finding) on the newest technology, so we will continue to change sensors when they die before the 7 days they are supposed to last and suffer through the lack of data and sleepless nights that occurs because he gets kicked out of auto-mode because that’s what T1D parents do, react to bgs or technology as needed, to give our kids the best chance at being in range and healthy.

The Last Time

That’s what I kept thinking today. This is the last time I will unlock the door and go into this school.

This the the last time I will see the smiling faces of all the friends and work family of the past 9+ years of my life.

This is the last time I will teach these kids.

It’s, probably, the last time I will walk through any school and know 80% of the kids by name.

My last recess at this school.

My last lunch in this lunchroom.

This is the last walk on my lunch/break with Cheryl and Claire.

The last time I’ll walk through the courtyard and see the yellow and blue

lines.

At times I wished all I would see/think were what pushed me and gave me reasons to quit in the first place. The frustrations, the poor decisions, the lack of care about my families needs, because then I wouldn’t cry. I would walk out with my anger, feeling justified. But in the end I’m so glad I’m leaving with the love and affection of my coworkers, who will be deeply missed. The faces that made me wait for multiple reasons before I quit, because how could I work in a school without their support? I will definitely miss most of the people that I have worked with over the last 9 years! And still feel a little bad about abandoning my team. But I definitely felt God calling me to move on and he gave me so many signs, that I couldn’t wait any longer. Thank you to all of my work family who may have made me cry repeatedly today, but who showed me the appreciation and affection that all the other drama had blurred out. πŸ’œ

God gave me another sign of reassurance today too. 😊

Seeing this little rainbow on my way to work just helped me feel (once again) that this is all part of the plan. I’m so glad, even through the sadness of leaving behind so many, that I’m on track and doing what is best for my family. πŸ’œ

Ortiz Christmas 2017

This Christmas Eve and Christmas are different from any previous Christmas we’ve spent as a family.

We started our Christmas Eve doing some yoga. I actually got the boys to join me (although TJ really needs to work on his form 😜) and G really seemed to enjoy it.

We did a little shopping, and then went for a walk on our local trail. My parents dog got to go for a walk too (she’s staying with us for a little while again. 😊) G had to wear his dads jester Santa hat all day. We made it all the way to the second bench! My plan was to wear these boys out, so they would nap, and it worked! After lunch both of them actually slept during nap time! But I also wore myself out, and didn’t get much done.

When they woke up we watched Christmas movies while we waited for Dad to get home from work. We were planning to go to a Christmas Eve party with Tony’s Family before heading to church. But Mother Nature had different plans. It started snowing!

TJ spent the rest of the evening outside playing in the snow.

Except when he came in for dinner, once Tony got home. After driving home in the snow, Tony didn’t think it would be safe to go visit his family, especially since it was still snowing. So we stayed in, and continued watching Christmas movies (except for TJ). The boys got to open their Christmas Eve gifts at home (for the first time ever). They got new PJs, an activity book, and a small toy.

They wore their new pjs to church, in the snow. We went to a local Roman Catholic Church, so we could get there and back safely. Then it was back home to put the boys to bed, so that St. Nick could visit. Tony and I finally made it to bed at 1 am with a quick prayer that our boys would sleep in past 7… and they did! Or at least right around 7, which is sleeping in (for our early risers). I popped breakfast in the oven and kept the boys out of their presents until our Christmas visitors arrived. We had Grandma, Papa, and Madrina spend Christmas morning with us, opening presents, going through stockings, and eating a yummy breakfast. When they headed home to get ready for the rest of their day, we got geared up to play in the snow!

That dog loves to catch snowballs!

And we had a fun snowball fight! Then we got ready to visit the rest of my local family and have Christmas dinner. The Boys even got to play a couple of games with Papa and their cousins! It was nice visiting family, a very yummy Christmas dinner, and we made it home before 6pm.

It was a magical White Christmas! The first white Christmas since I was a kid, that I can remember. I hope your Christmas was wonderful too!

Medtronic 670 CGM

We got sensors! So I called and scheduled a training with the Drs office. TJ is currently wearing 2 CGMs a Dexcom G5 and the new Medtronic guardian. I’m curious to see how they compare.

The boys had fun before the training playing on a clinic computer.

I didn’t think to charge the transmitter, so our appointment ended up being over an hour. But we got it figured out. 😁

The rep was impressed that I started up the 670 pump on my own without training-I just put all the settings from the 630 into the 670, no big deal! But she did review and adjust some of his pump settings in addition to getting it all set up for the cgm.

the boys got to play on tablets while I was adjusting pump settings and taking with the rep. 😜 keeps them quiet and happy!

Now that his cgm communicates with his pump, we have a new feature we’ve never tried before: low suspend. Basically, his pump predicts that he’s going to go low, and stops giving him insulin. It already did it today! After we were all done we headed over to the Point Defiance visitors center to turn in coupons for free water bottles (the boys earned them by filling out a field guide on our hikes this summer)

They got their cool new water bottles, and played in the visitor center for awhile.

And then we went to the marina, just a short walk away.

We saw some fish and walked over to where people were lined up fishing, and dropping crab pots. There was a dad, with his kids, there who showed the boys his crab pot, talked about how it worked, and his son even showed the boys the crabs they caught. The boys LOVED it!

While we were learning about crabbing, TJs pump alerted repeatedly because it was time to calibrate the CGM. He ignored it until I told him to clear the alert. 😜 once I dragged them away from the fishermen, and we started driving home, TJ poked and calibrated. It took a LONG time for the pump to calibrate and show a number. In the meantime, dex alerted 150 with 2 straight down arrows. He had just poked at 110, so he must have been dropping fast. I gave the boys each half a pack of fruit snacks and waited to see what happened. About 10 min later the pump alerted and said he was 80 and headed straight down, and started low suspend. At that point dex showed 120 with an up angled arrow, but I just let the pump do its thing. He came back up into range with no spike. And now that he’s eating dinner, he’s on low suspend again (dex shows 82 and steady). He’s having pizza for dinner so it should be an interesting night. 😜 I hope and pray that the guardian is as accurate as I’ve been told and that we are allowed to try out auto mode (the pump adjusts basal insulin all day long, to keep him in range more of the day) soon! If it’s accurate and the algorithms are as good as they say, this could be a lot easier. Unfortunately, it won’t be perfect, there is always a possibility of failure with electronics, and bad pump sites just happen, for no reason, when they are least suspected, but it would be a lot easier-when it works…

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