Dear 20’s Me…

Hey, 20’s Me. It’s me! 30‘s Me! I know you probably don’t recognize me. That’s ok. I’m rockin’ a mom bod now, and honestly can’t remember the last time I went somewhere to get my hair done that didn’t say “$5 haircuts” on the door.

But, I’m just dropping by to talk to you for a sec. That’s right. We’re still really into abrevs.

I know you’re lost. I get it. You’re looking for acceptance from everyone else. Your confidence is lower than ever, and you feel unworthy. Transitioning into a “real adult” is nothing what you thought it would be, and depression has slowly overcome you. I know you’d never admit it, but that’s what it is. Depression.

Fitting in, staying in shape, wearing the right clothing. These all seem really important right now. But you’re just chasing an unattainable standard that is running you into the ground.

Well, guess what? Everything will work out, and I know you’re scared it won’t. We hung onto the right people, and found some new ones along the way. They helped shape us for the better. The MUCH better.

We still love to belt out 90s pop, and yeah, skinny jeans are still a thing. But, here’s something to look forward to, leggings make a comeback! And I’m pretty sure they’re here to stay… well, for us anyways.

But here’s the deal. We eventually settle into mom life, and we’ve got this incredible husband, and adorable little home, that we pretend to decorate like we’re Joanna Gaines(someday that will mean something to you.) And we’re happy. Really, really happy. And we found this happiness through accepting and loving ourself.

So, go ahead. Hang out late tonight, and sleep in tomorrow, because these years are fleeting. But, just know, you’re going to be just fine.

OH! And Full House is back! HAVE MERCY! Ok, I think that’s everything.

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The Evolution of a Momance Stage 2: Getting Acquainted

Now that you’ve found your mom mate, it’s time to get to know each other. You casually Facebook stalked her for a few days before taking the friending plunge. She accepted quickly, which gave you a boost of confidence. Over the course of the next two weeks, you progressed from liking her pictures, to commenting, and eventually messaging her about a potential play date.

Once the date is set, and the plan is in motion, you have to prepare your house for a good first impression. You clean things you’ve never cleaned before, like the windows, and the bathroom. Your home needs to look like you don’t actually live there.

You’ll also need to stock up with essentials. Juice boxes, goldfish, and fruit snacks for the children folk, and coffee and wine for you and your new bestie. Splurging on a bottle of wine over a box is necessary. As is kicking your coffee selection up a notch to some Starbucks.

When it’s finally time for your new friend and her offspring to arrive, you make sure you’re showered, hair is brushed, and you’ve changed out of your yoga pants into your newer yoga pants. With five minutes to spare, you throw on some makeup. Just as you sweep on chapstick as a final touch, there’s a knock at the door.

You scan the room. Your kids have already eaten a sleeve of crackers on the carpet, dumped every toy out of their designated bin, and what’s this wet spot? Oh well. You open the door.

Me: Hi! Welcome! Sorry, the house is a mess.

MF(mom friend… obviously): Are you

kidding? You should see my house. I don’t even know what color my couch is any more because of the laundry that lives there now.

Me: Don’t venture into the master bedroom. That’s where all of our laundry accumulates. Would you like something to drink?

MF: I’d love some coffee. The baby…

Me: Say no more. I’m on it.

You and MF hit it off right away, and are able to chat easily through the entire play date, probably because neither has seen another adult in weeks. Besides the fight club moment between your kids, and the Great Sharing Debacle of 2018 between her kids, it was a total success.

As your MF leaves, you promise to do this weekly, and even plan for the next time. As you shut the door, you feel a wave of relief that it went well, and are really excited about the prospects of sharing this messy, hectic mom life with someone!

What About Me?

When Piet was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it was like having a newborn. Oh, and we did actually have a newborn. That meant no sleep from nighttime feedings and blood sugar checks every other hour. I was constantly tired and worried and hungry and stressed. We were figuring out our new lifestyle as a family of five, along with the responsibility of acting as a human pancreas, and it was a lot.

When I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw, but didn’t have the time or energy to change it. There were bags under my eyes, a layer of post pregnancy/stress eating weight that made all of my clothing too tight, and some new wrinkles that found their way across my face. I looked like someone I didn’t know, but there was nothing I could do. I was in survivor mode.

When Kammie turned four months old, and we had two months of experience with Piet’s diagnosis, I finally felt like I could breath for a second. I decided to make a change, and focus on myself, even if it was just for twenty minutes each day. I usually took that time to exercise, and looked forward to my “me” time. Of course, this was made possible by Jacob, who encouraged me to take a time out from the kids, and he would say, “Trust me, because I can handle it.”

One Sunday afternoon in early November, my mom called me. She told me about an idea she had, and thought I should start writing a blog to bring awareness to type 1. I always loved writing, but wasn’t confident enough to put myself out there. But now I had a reason, a purpose, and it was the exact push I needed.

My “me” time transformed into writing sessions. It became my weekly therapy, my release. Writing helped build up my confidence, and gave me goals and dreams to pursue. I love teaching about type 1, and sharing our family story. And, believe me, I have SO many more stories to tell!

Now when I look in the mirror, I see someone different. Where my eyes were once tired, they are now full of hopes and dreams. My body is slowly releasing the extra weight, as my stress level gradually lessens. My new wrinkles are badges of honor from all my life experience along the way. Without this lifestyle, I would not be the courageously strong person I have transformed into. So, thanks, Mom!

The Evolution of a Momance: Stage 1

Stage 1: Finding the One

Picture this. You’re at the park with your pack of wild animals… I mean children. You scan the premise. This place is littered with potential mom pals, but you need to weed the non-matches. You check out your options.

To the right, Mom #1 is serving her children kale chips, squeezing fresh lemons into their environmentally friendly drinking vessels, and you’re pretty sure you just saw her rub coconut oil on a fresh playground scrape.

On your left, Mom #2 is running in place, and repeatedly checking her Fitbit. She looks like she’s never missed a gym day, even at nine months pregnant, and her jogging stroller probably costs more than your car. You hear her yell to one of her Under Armour sporting children, “What’s that, Beckham? The soccer balls are in the back of the van! Don’t forget to grab your Gatorade! Replenish those electrolytes!”

Straight ahead, Mom #3 is parked on a bench, nose deep in her phone, tapping the baby swing with her toe to keep it moving. You’re not even mad at this, you’re impressed. Could this be it? The one you’ve been looking for? Just then, another phone wielding mom moves in. You can tell they’re already friends by the way they don’t even greet each other. They just start showing each other phone content, and giggling.

Then you spot her. There in the distance. Mom #4 has more kids than arms. She’s rocking black leggings, a messy bun, and sunglasses, even though it’s cloudy. You see her reach into her hoody pouch and pull out a hand-full of Goldfish, then distribute them to her offspring. From inside a stroller, a baby throws a pacifier onto the mulch covered ground. #4 picks it up, wipes it on her leggings, and tosses back.

It’s time to make your move.

“Hey Kids! Let’s head over to the big slide.”

“But, Mom. There are people over there.”

You think, “That’s my boy,” but say “I know, it’s fine. Come on.”

Your troop trudges to the big slide area, and unloads onto a nearby bench. Now it’s time to make your move. You casually smile in her direction. She smiles back. Quick, say something cool.

“Coffee, am I right?” as you lift up your travel cup filled with the only way you know how to survive.

“Yeah, totally.” She mirrors your motion with an iced DD coffee.

Good start. This is it. She’s the one.

*Side note: I am every one of these moms. It’s easy to look at a mom from the outside and think you have her pegged, but we are all so much more than just kale chips and Fitbits. I am Mom #1 when I smear brown, thick organic sunscreen on my kids. I predominately wear Under Armour, so I probably look like Sporty Spice and Mom #2. And Instagram isn’t going to swipe itself, so I’ll be scrolling through the feed when I have a spare minute, like #3.

Doing Dinner at the De Boer’s

Because Jacob works second shift, supper is my solo responsibility. The schedule looks like this: feed them, pj them, bedtime them, feed me.

Before we really get into the meat and potatoes of our dinner time routine, I have to explain the evolution of our seating arrangement. Not because it’s imperative to the story, but because it really emphasizes how you think you have a nice thing going, and then kids ruin it.

Original game plan. The two oldest sat at a kid’s table, and the baby sat in a walker. This was fine, until the baby started picking up the walker, and carrying it across the room, nearly tipping it repeatedly every meal, and swiping all the older kids’ food off the table.

Plan B. Baby in a high chair, kids still at the table. Cue baby standing on chairs between meals. Somehow we escaped a trip to the ER during these days.

Take 3. Chairs are in a closet. High chair is out. Buy TV trays for the others. BOOM. Winner.

Every night I give a rundown of meal options.

Me: Dino nuggets?

Ceci: No.

Piet: Yes!

Me: Grilled cheese?

Ceci: No.

Piet: Yes!

Me: Peanut butter sandwich?

Ceci: No.

Piet: Yes!

Me: Ok, well I guess we’ll do nuggets for Piet, and Ceci, how do Ritz crackers sound?

Ceci: Yeah, ok. But no peanut butter this time.

Me: Sorry I tried to add a little protein to your diet. My bad.

When I’m making the dinosaur chicken nuggets, I know it suggests flipping them halfway through. I don’t do that. I just make sure the slightly burned side is on the bottom when presenting them to my children.

While the nuggets are burning in the oven, I get plates out of the cupboard, and prepare the rest of the meal. I use the plates with segmented parts, because Ceci will immediately dump everything on the floor if there is any food mingling.

And what goes best with crackers? More crackers. So, I get out the Goldfish. I count out 20 for Piet(type 1 diabetic). And God forbid they have an unequal amount, which means counting out 20 for Ceci, as well.

Everyone gets a thin Oreo for 5 carbs. Once, I made the mistake of buying vanilla Oreos. Ceci showed her disapproval by throwing it on the floor, stomping on it, and smashing it into the carpet. She never broke eye contact with me, even as I yelled for her to stop.

Lastly, I squirt sugar free ketchup into one of the sections on Piet’s plate. I don’t hold back, really piling it high. He eats ketchup on pizza, so to say he is a ketchup enthusiast would be an understatement.

I throw one Skittle into the last spot on Ceci’s plate, because “MOMMY! You forgot to put something in this hole! Every hole needs something different!”

There are still a couple minutes before the nuggets are finished, so I take this time to dose Piet his insulin. Since he started his insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor, mealtime is quite a bit easier. No more shots and no more finger sticks!

I count up the carbs: 7g(Goldfish) + 5g(Oreo) + 12g(four chicken nuggets) = 24g. Next, I check the Dexcom and see what his blood sugar is. I grab his PDM(personal diabetes manager), type in his BG(blood sugar or glucose), and how many carbs he’s eating. It does the math, and distributes the suggested insulin.

Finally, the food is ready, Piet is dosed, TV trays are out, and it’s time to eat!

O crap! The baby! I buckle Kam into her high chair, scatter some shredded cheddar and Cheerios onto her tray, and call it a meal. Sorry, Baby.

Tips for Taking 3 Toddlers to the Beach

1. Don’t.

2. Just kidding. You’ve got this! But you’re going to need multiple adults, mental toughness, and an exit strategy.

3. Start by packing all of your beach belongings. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to pack 3x more stuff than you actually need, including beach chairs(hahaha you will not be sitting), summer reading(see beach chairs), and 20lbs of bottled water.

4. When you’re finally packed up, kids in suits and car packed, the potty trained one will definitely shout, “I HAVE TO PEE!” If the doors to the house are locked, no worries! She prefers peeing outside anyway, with zero hesitation.

5. While driving in the car, you already know it’s coming. Sing all the songs, distribute all the devices, turn up the radio, but you will never distract them enough from asking this question every five minutes, for the entire trip. “Are we there yet?”

6. Once you finally pull in, make sure parking is a fiasco. Drive up and down the beach a minimum of 12 times. Finally, park in the spot you chose originally.

7. After walking six miles to the perfect patch of beachy goodness, it’s time to set up shop. While pulling out 1.2 million sand toys, you’ll notice the kids are sprinting for the water and/or eating fists full of sand. Stop them from doing that, because it’s time for…

8. SUNSCREEN! This is the hardest thing you will do all week. They will scream like you’re setting them on fire. Power through.

9. Now, everyone is lubed up and ready to enjoy the beach, which basically just means you’ll be running back and forth from the ocean, carrying buckets full of water to your children, who will just dump the bucket, and lose their mind, because they just dumped the bucket.

10. It’s time for lunch! Don’t worry about feeding the youngest. She’s full from all the sand she’s already consumed. It is never more evident how many times your kids drop food, than when you’re at the beach. “No, Sweetheart. You cannot eat that Oreo anymore. Stop crying. It’s not going to change anything. THEN STOP DROPPING EVERYTHING IN THE SAND!”

11. After lunch, it’s usually nap time. But, not today, because you’re trying to suck every bit of experience out of your magical day-cation. Everyone will be overly tired(including you), and on the brink of a temper tantrum(including you), but you have to keep on keeping on. Because it’s time for collecting seashells!

12. The first seashell you pick up will still have a living being in it. Forget collecting seashells.

13. Now, look at your significant other and decide you’d rather walk across a sea of Legos than stay at the beach for five more minutes. So, clean up time!

14. You clean up all the beach toys that no one played with, while your partner attempts to wash the sand off the children. As soon as they return, sand free, and ready to head out, two of them will lay in the sand and start making “sand angels.” At this point, you don’t even care. You’ll start taking pictures, and decide you’d rather run your sand filled car off a cliff than try to clean them up again.

15. Once everyone is strapped into their car seats, it’s time to head home. The car ride will be quiet, because those sweet sand angels will fall immediately to sleep. You will reflect on what an amazing time you had, and that you’ll have to do it again soon.

The Ugly Truth About Type 1 Diabetes

Usually when I write about type 1, I try to keep it on the positive side and even educational. Jacob brought it to my attention that sometimes I paint a prettier picture about our day to day than what it really looks like. I guess I never ever want Piet to think that this disease is a burden on us or that we can’t handle it, so I underplay the seriousness of our life.

So here it comes. The ugly truth about type 1 diabetes.

When Piet’s blood sugar is below 90 or above 250, Dexcom alerts us every 5 minutes, until he is back in range. Alarms go off at the store, in church, at family events, in the middle of the night. Before Dexcom, nothing alerted us. It was up to us to finger prick, and finger prick we did… 12-15 times daily.

The other night, Jacob and I were exhausted. Piet’s blood sugar was on the higher side, so I dosed him a modest amount of insulin, and we went to bed. What we didn’t realize was that his new pod was inserted into his muscle, rather than fat, and insulin was hitting harder and faster. That small amount of insulin PLUMMETED his blood sugar, and somehow we slept through the first couple alarms, which never happens. When we finally woke up, the Dexcom said LOW. It didn’t even give a number. We both ran upstairs, and I yelled to Jacob as we got there, “Is he breathing?” Yes, he was still breathing. Yes, he woke up and sucked down a full apple juice. Finger stick blood sugar was 52. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep peacefully again.

Piet has been sick a few times since diagnosis, and each time I make sure to have my hospital bags packed, because there is a real possibility we will need to be admitted. When he has a stomach bug, his blood sugar runs low, and I need to force feed him sugar, which probably only makes him feel worse. We pull back on insulin, but that’s a tricky game, because without insulin, he could develop ketones, which are very dangerous for diabetics. (Find out about ketones here 👉🏻 https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/qa/what-are-ketones) So I have to get a toddler, who has a belly ache, to eat or drink an unreal amount of sugar, to get his blood sugar high enough to dose insulin. If he refuses to eat. Hospital. If his blood sugar doesn’t come up. Hospital. If he develops ketones. Hospital.

On the flip side, when he has a cold, he runs very high, and insulin doses are more frequent. Sure, running high doesn’t SEEM as dangerous at first… except that long stretches of high numbers can also be cause for ketones. Now you know why you probably won’t see us from January-March, because the flu is our worst enemy.

Diabetes never sleeps, it never takes the day off. It gets in the way of everyday life and special occasions. Piet can drink juice boxes in his sleep and Skittles in the bath tub. He takes apple sauce breaks at the park. Sometimes he eats his dessert first.

And this is for sure. Every five minutes I will look at my phone to see what his number is. I never “forget” about diabetes. It is a constant tab open in my brain that never gets closed or refreshed. It is our life. We did not choose it. There is no end or remission. He will fight this devastating disease everyday of his life. And we will fight right beside him.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Fav Books

1. Wuthering Heights

2. Little Women

3. The House on Mango Street

Fav Authors

1. William Shakespeare

2. Edgar Allan Poe

3. ee cummings

Fav Movies

1. Juno

2. She’s the Man

3. Easy A

Fav Musicals

1. Rocky Horror Picture Show

2. Moulin Rouge

3. Grease

Fav Artists

1. Elton John

2. Meatloaf

3. The Beatles

Fav Songs

1. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

2. Arms – Christina Perry

3. Your Song – Elton John

Fav TV Shows

1. F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

2. The Office

3. New Girl

Fav Presidents

1. Thomas Jefferson

2. Abraham Lincoln

3. Teddy Rosevelt

Fav Places:

1. Williamsburg

2. Monticello

3. Anywhere Jake is

Fav Drinks:

1. Coffee

2. Water

3. Wine

Anything surprise you about my favorites? Also, tell me all your favorite things! I want to know!!

The Endo.

When we walk through the building doors, Piet leads the way. He knows exactly where to go. Since diagnosis 10 months ago, we’ve been to the endocrinologist office 20 times, meeting with the doctor, nutritionist, and diabetes educator.

Today is his quarterly visit. We will only see the doctor, but as we walk through the halls, Piet will wave “hi” to all the familiar faces.

First, we sit in the waiting room, and read the same book about animals. Then we name all the fruits and vegetables in a sign that hangs on the waiting room wall. “What’s that?” he’ll say, pointing to the acorn squash.

When we’re called back, the nurse will gently ask him to stand on the scale. He will fight it. He always does. This kid has no problem taking several shots per day, but is terrified of his weight. I mean, I guess I can understand that.

Once we’re in the examining room, the nurse takes a finger prick sized drop of blood to measure his Hemoglobin A1C, or just A1C. It measures the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The hemoglobin dies off approximately every three months, giving a great blood sugar average. It’s almost like a report card, and this is the reason we have quarterly appointments.

(Piet with his diabetes bag, getting ready to visit the doctor!)

Our A1C goal is 7.5. Lower than that would be great, but it is so hard with a type 1 toddler. They can’t tell you how they are feeling. Little amounts of insulin plummet blood sugar, and tiny amounts of carbs make them skyrocket. Also, he is CONSTANTLY growing, which makes blood sugars go very high, especially overnight. Our last two A1Cs were both 8.2. We will see what number today’s appointment brings!

After the A1C testing, we will pull up all our graphs from Dexcom and Omnipod. Just a quick recap, they are both devices Piet wears on his body, usually on the top of his butt or backs of his arms. Dexcom gives a great estimation of his blood sugar, every five minutes. Omnipod is his insulin pump, and it distributes insulin throughout the day. At mealtime, we input his blood sugar and the number of carbs he’s eating, and it releases the exact amount of insulin he needs, according to his preset ratios.

We will sit down with the doctor and notice trends in low and high blood sugars, adjust timing of insulin, insulin ratios, and ultimately celebrate our wins over the last three months.

(Daddy and Piet at the Endo!)

We are very fortunate to have an amazing pediatric endocrinologist. She is amazingly intelligent, and understands what a life managing type 1 diabetes is really like. She knows we fight so hard against this disease, every second of every day, and for that, she is constantly able to be reached. We love her!

Well, off to the endo! Stay tuned for an updated A1C! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

When We Met…

When you’re small talking it with someone, a totally normal question to strike up a good convo is “Where did you meet your spouse?” Such an easy question… such a complicated answer.

When Jacob and I were leading separate lives, we were basically both dumpster fires waiting to happen. I was recently separated from a toxic marriage, and he was partying it up, mid-20s style, with a string of questionable companions.

Cut to a bachelor/bachelorette party in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding party, and was looking forward to a fun-filled weekend of escaping reality.

When we first entered our hotel suite, I was introduced to another bridesmaid, and sister-in-law of the bride. “This is Jacob’s,” she said as she retrieved a hat from the kitchen counter. That was the first time I ever heard his name. *tear* (If your not used to me being cheesy and sentimental… you’re going to want to look away now.)

That night we partook in normal bachelorette party shenanigans. I knew that in the morning, we were going to mix it up with the groom and his bachelor party for breakfast(morning drinks) at the Irish Pub.

The next day, we were walking down the boardwalk to our meet up, when we ran into some of the guys from our counter-party. One of them, in particular, caught my eye, and I was immediately drawn to him. I was brazen in my younger years, walked right up to him, and said, “Hi. What’s your name?”

The action and response that reciprocated my question, can only be described as a small child being scolded by his mother. “Jacob” he whispered in my general direction, dropped his head, and shuffled quickly into the Irish Pub. I hollered towards his back, “Ok! See ya later!” But really, who is this kid?!

That morning, we had an incredibly fun time! There was laughing and mingling and drinking. Good times had by all. But I couldn’t help searching for this “Jacob” character. I honestly thought I scared him away.

At one point, the person I was talking to got up to go to the bathroom. Before I knew it, Jacob sat down in the open chair. I was taken by surprise, but so excited to get to know this human.

Conversation came so easily, and a natural and quick connection formed. My first impression was that he was overly confident, bordering on arrogant, but later learned that is just him pushing through his shyness. But one thing was for sure, I was head over heels for this fool.

Now, we have to backtrack for a second. If you know me, you know a few things:

1. I am terrified of commitment. Despite the fact that I was a serial monogamist, and married at a young age, I would self-sabotage every single relationship I was in.

2. I am cynical about everything. I am the voice in your head that says, “Don’t trust that! It’s not real! There is nothing happy in this world!”

3. It’s nice to watch love in movies, but that’s not real life. #sorrynotsorry

4. I honestly was unable to comprehend when I was hurting other people’s feelings, because I had never felt strong enough about someone to have my own feelings hurt. I didn’t even know what that was like.

Cut back to our story. As we sat there, exchanging ordinary information about ourselves, the way I felt was anything besides ordinary. I realized I loved Jacob at first sight, which went against every fiber of my being.

We left the Irish Pub together and spent the day on the beach, soaking up the sun and each minute together. Later that evening, the first text I sent him read, “I think I’m in love with you.” And he never responded… because his phone was broken… from the sand on the beach.

But we were able to reconnect, and the rest is the fairytale we’re living out now, if a fairytale is two people, wildly in love, raising three small humans who frequently pee on the floor and yell at you.

Apart, Jacob and I were like two F5 tornados, spinning wildly out of control, but when we collided, we created stability for each other. Something we both so desperately needed.