People ask, not really ask, assume, by stating a question where the only socially acceptable answer is yes, "so, the diabetes, you have that handled now, right?" Jim and I generally shrug our shoulders and say, "sure." We do, philosophically, have a handle on it now. It is less front of mind. We go whole hours without actively thinking about it. An alarm in the middle of the night is a common occurrence and results in annoyance more than panic these days.  Type 1 just generally  occupies a smaller space in our minds than it did before, but it is still there, always running in the background. Her numbers certainly are not any better, in fact, they are probably worse. For the first year after diagnosis, we were really locked down, counting every carb, weighing every bite, saying no constantly about everything.


The first year, I basically stopped cooking. I love to cook, but the thought of it would send me into a panic. I would just assemble food that I knew reliably how to carb count. When we were out, someone would suggest a snack and my eyes would go wide with terror. Jim took over a lot of the food prep for the kids that first year; handling breakfasts most days and  prepping lunches the night before. There were even some nights that he would come home after work and make dinner. I would just be paralyzed, afraid to feed her. That's better now. I cook. We experiment. Sometimes she spikes up. Sometimes she doesn't. We say yes more. We are, I think, doing a much better job of balancing her physical health with her emotional well being. 

The other thing people ask is when she will start doing it herself. I usually work really hard to change the subject at this point because I don't teach Penny any self-care related to diabetes. First, the stakes are too high. Life and death shit does not belong on the plate of a six year old. Sometimes she will ask to test herself and she has given herself a shot from time to time, but she can't tell you what her insulin to carb ratio is (1:10) or about how many carbs are in an average sized apple (25g) or any of the other day to day things that make life livable for her. We do that. We do all of that, moving in the background with as little impact as possible, getting Type 1 out of her way so that she can do the important work of being a kid. 

But mainly, it is my last and only shred of optimism at work. It is the only evidence of my hope that by the time we are not able to support her completely the landscape of how we treat Type 1 will have changed so dramatically that the skills we would be teaching her now would be obsolete, the equivalent of knowing how to play a record on a turntable, interesting and might come in handy in a pinch, but not something you need to exist day to day. 

I don't breathlessly read scientific articles related to a cure anymore, but I am encouraged by the progress being made in tech and biomedical research. I am encouraged that there are many brilliant minds working to find feasible solutions to the day to day problems people living with type 1 face, that they have it handled and that someday, she will too.

P.S. Hi. It is nice to be back. Still not sure how today ends.

All the Things I Thought I Knew

There used to be constants. There were touchstones in my life. There were things I knew. There used to be things I knew. Some were concrete and some have always been more ephemeral. I thought I knew how to make dinner. I don't anymore. I thought I knew what it meant to be a good parent. I now, don't even have any clue how I would begin to make that judgment about myself, much less about anyone else. I thought everyone should sleep in their own bed. I don't anymore (think that, or, quite frankly, do it). I thought my kids would be the lucky ones. That is the lie we tell ourselves so that we, the parents, can go on living. My kids will be fine. They won't get hurt. They won't get sick.

Momma, you a pirate and I a shoulder bird.

Momma, you a pirate and I a shoulder bird.

Until, they do. 

Tonight, almost four months post dx, we had our first major "dinner is yucky and I can't eat it or I might die" moment. I'm honestly surprised it took this long. Pre-T1D, I would have taken a deep breath and launched into, "I'm sorry you are disappointed with your choices for dinner tonight, but if you are hungry I would suggest that you take some bites and see if there is anything on the plate that you might want to eat. I will not force you to eat anything, but there will be no other food available until breakfast tomorrow." This was a thing I thought I knew. She could eat the dinner that was served, or she could go to bed a little hungry.

But tonight, my brain was racing and my heart was pounding. I knew her finger prick reading was in the low range and the continuous glucose monitor (more on that later) was trending down, and she had already had several lows today. You see, P is honeymooning. That is the term that the endocrinologists use to describe what happens to the newly-diagnosed when their pancreases, or more specifically, their few remaining islet cells kick back on for a bit, once the synthetic insulin is introduced and the stress on the system decreases. It doesn't mean that she is going to get better. It just means that we have to stay really flexible with our treatment protocol, because we never know when or why tiny P's tiny pancreas is going to try to "help" and kick out a bunch of extra insulin and possibly send her plummeting to seizure/commaville. Long story, short: she needed to eat something, preferably a slow carb, preferably soon. I thought about yogurt, an easy sell. I thought about peanut butter, a sure favorite. I considered the juice boxes tucked away in the wine cabinet. (Yes, we have a cabinet FULL of wine. Don't judge.) 

And then, I took a deep breath and said, "I'm sorry you are disappointed with your choices for dinner tonight, but if you are hungry I would suggest that you take some bites and see if there is anything on the plate that you might want to eat. I will not force you to eat anything, but there will be no other food available until breakfast tomorrow."  I did this while doing another finger prick to confirm her sugars were not dangerously low and while putting a half ounce of peanuts on her plate, but I said it. I like to think that I said it calmly and with the strength and surety that P needed to understand that this was a limit, that she was safe because mom and dad had it under control.

She wailed and sobbed and I held her and repeated, "I hear that you are not happy with what we made for dinner tonight. We can try again tomorrow, but tonight, this is dinner and if you are hungry, I suggest you try some bites," all while anxiously checking her number on the CGM. It felt important, this pre-T1D parenting approach, in a post T1D world. I was running contingencies in head the entire time and was just about to call it quits and settle on a yogurt after bedtime stories, hoping it would be a long enough window that she didn't associate it with dinner, when she said, "Maybe avocado isn't yucky anymore."

I let her sit on my lap, while I fed her dinner, something I would never have done before, and she ate. She ate the whole plate, while we laughed and chatted. 130 even, cruising into bedtime (This is real good, kind of like our blood-sugar-night-time sweet spot). So, maybe I still know some things, and maybe, some of the things I'm learning are even more important. 

The Tale of the Small House

I often have this dream, where we live exactly where we live, but suddenly, after years of living here, I find a door or an archway or an opening into a new space. Sometimes it is an extra room and sometimes it is a garden. At first, it is a relief. I start to imagine what this new space will mean for us. Inevitably, I find the extra room is attached to a busy bank lobby separated only by curtains, or the garden is overrun with terrible, wild beasts. Even in my dreams, more space isn't really the answer. 

Love grows in a small house.

Love grows in a small house.

We live in a small house. We live in a small house in a large city with big housing problem. I can't tell you our square-footage, because I don't know it, but it is small. It's not Tiny House small, but you get the idea. 

The forest

The forest

We have two small bedrooms and one impossibly small bathroom, and yet, somehow, all five beating hearts manage to squeeze their way into it, en masse, at least once a day. Ah, the joys of family togetherness. 

O cookin' on the the O'Keefe 

O cookin' on the the O'Keefe 

There are advantages. I love my antique O'Keefe & Merritt stove more that I hate not having a dishwasher. While I hate our impossible closet situation, I love that my kitchen door opens up to some outside space with trees and room to play. They call it "the forest" and while our more rural friends would be right to laugh at them, it warms my heart, when on a cloudy afternoon, they insist on flashlights before entering its leafy depths. I love the vintage details and the craftsmanship of old construction and the way the hardwood floors creak in only predictable places. I love having a parking spot right outside my kitchen door and having a garage in which I can hide Christmas decorations, old paperbacks and my shame. I love it here: the neighborhood, my neighbors, Jim's 2.5 mile commute. Living here means he is home before 6:00pm almost every night. I especially love that. 

Living within earshot of my children has shaped the way I parent. We never had a baby monitor. There was no need. We are on top of each other almost all the time. We chuckle when O says she is afraid to be alone at night, with only one wall to separate us at all times. 

It takes organization. It takes discipline. It takes patience and compassion, and maybe I'm just rationalizing, but I really believe that love grows in a small house, or at least, ours has. 

Project Family Dinner: Week One Update

O: (Announcing at the dinner table) Everyone, every time I help cook, my nose gets itchy so I get a little bit of germs in your food. Just so you are aware. 

The Menu

1. Shrimp Rolls and Avocado Boats

We wanted to start with a guaranteed win. Both girls love shrimp and serve anything on a brioche roll and you've won their hearts and tummies forever. Plus, it felt like a fitting farewell to summer (and I had a half a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer.)

bear with me while I learn to take better pictures of food

bear with me while I learn to take better pictures of food

2. Roasted Salmon and Lentils

3. Black Bean Soup and Avocado and Tomato Salad

We made this ahead on the weekend and had it ready to go for one of our late evening swim lesson nights. I get home with the girls around 6:45 so Jim gets dinner on the table in the 15 minute window he has before we get home. 

Photo and yummy salad credit: J. Felton

Photo and yummy salad credit: J. Felton

4. Spagetti with Red Sauce and Green Salad

Another solution to our swim lesson night problem. Plus, it used a jar of sauce that had been lurking in the cabinet. 

5. Pan-Fried Whole Wheat Pizzas with Ham and Leeks

If you haven't pan fried a pizza yet, I'm here to tell ya, I might never turn my oven on again.

The Highlights

Everyone ate! Everyone helped! We had five very tasty and very pleasant meals together. O and P loved the salmon and shrimp, but hated the lentils. The pizza was a huge hit with Jim, not usually a pizza guy, and I had leftovers for lunch all week. 

The Missteps 

The trip to the grocery store en masse was chaos. We only had one master list so Jim had to keep wrangling P back to the cart to receive his next mission for retrieval. I was so distracted trying to manage the list and the cart that O managed to sneak a couple of items of contraband into the cart. 

The Takeaway 

Next time, two lists, two carts, we'll split up to cover sections of the store. Jim takes produce, dairy, and P and I'll take meat and fish, dry goods, and O. 

We did a lot of prep on the weekend and every morning. Anything that could be done ahead, I did. I'm a lot more ambitious at 10:00am after my coffee than I am 5:00pm. It was interesting how just having chopped or prepped a few things in the morning made the planned dinner feel somehow inevitable. 

Project Family Dinner: The Who

The Who

Code Name: Tiny P

Special Skills: Will try anything once. Will spit out anything that she tries and doesn't like. 

Code Name: O

Special Skills: World class table setter. Vigilant against all things green and leafy. 

Code Name: Momma

Special Skills: Makes people. Makes dinner. Makes those people eat dinner. 

Code Name: Dadda

Special Skills: Everyone's favorite sous chef.  Always home when he says he'll be, especially when there is food on the table. 

Code Name: Big Brown Dog

Special Skills: Floor clean-up. 


The team is assembled. Stay tuned for Project Family Dinner: The Howcoming soon.

Our New Project: An Announcement

I can't wait to share the details of our next family project. Inspired by Jenny Rosenstrach at Dinner: a Love Story, and her new book Dinner: the Playbook, we are embarking on 30 days of home-cooked family dinners. I'll fill you in on all of the whys, hows, and whatnots in future posts, but for now, know that last night's dinner was wonderful and I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.


O: Mom, I'm discomfortable. I'm too too hot. 

K: Take off your jacket.

O: But then I'll be cold like a popsicle.

When it comes to ambient temperature, O has about a three degree window of comfort. She is hungry constantly, except when she's not, and then she will pick delicately at whatever is placed in front of her. She is often hungry for only one particular food group, usually carbohydrates, namely bread. 

O: But Mommy, I'm not apple hungry. I'm bread hungry.

K: Aren't we all, kiddo. Aren't we all?

Hard work and a sandy tushy are rarely comfortable, but so worth it. 

Hard work and a sandy tushy are rarely comfortable, but so worth it. 

I feel responsible to provide for my children's basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, and so on. I even feel responsible to provide them with an engaging and enriching life: swim lessons, education, vacations, trips to museums. As O gets older and more self-sufficient, however, I feel less and less responsible for her overall comfort. Even as I'm typing this I realize how harsh that might sound. I really don't care much about her comfort. 

I want her to have agency and understand consequences. I want her to make the choice to not carry her jacket and then deal with the natural consequence that extends from that choice.  

But even beyond that, I don't want her to always be comfortable. Most of the big, wonderful things in life are uncomfortable at some point. Learning something new, putting yourself out there for a new relationship, getting your PhD, mastering a skill, swimming in the big pool, these things are not comfortable. They require someone with the resilience to move through discomfort, to see the big picture, to chase the dream.

Unfortunately, what that looks like right now is my dragging a hungry, inappropriately dressed preschooler through the world, while she wails that her bag is too heavy and her shoes hurt her feet, while I stride forward, deaf to her cries and blind to the judgmental stares from anyone in earshot. Mostly. 

Mother of the year.

A Museum, a Park, a Beach, Repeat

O: Momma, are we starting the day, or ending the day, or in the middle of the day?

I love summer, or at least I used to, when I was a kid. As I trudged into adulthood it has started to mean less and less. Sure, it is warmer and it is light later into the evening, but gone is that free feeling of having nothing to do, nowhere to be. I no longer live in my swimsuit, my hair in an eternal matted pony tail. 

But here we are, at the beginning of O's second summer off from pre-school, and somehow, that tingly summer feeling is returning. This week I rolled down a hill, swam in the ocean, and ate ice cream for dinner. Our bathing suits are living on the line outside and haven't been fully dry all week. In a few days, we are going camping. We will return home, exhausted and that first post-camping bath will leave a dirt ring around the tub as satisfying as the trip itself. Summer is a time to be dirty, to roll in the sand, to eat cherries until your fingertips are stained red, to lay in the dirt on your belly and look for bugs, to lay in the grass on your back and watch the clouds. I'm ready. I suppose, if O and P want to join in, they are invited too. 

This summer, my recipe is this: a museum, a park, a beach, repeat. Every week, we are going to attempt those three things. That should leave plenty of time for cloud gazing, getting dirty, and cherry eating too. 

I Made Dinner

O: The whole kitchen smells delicious, like real food. 

Please don't misunderstand.  My children have had dinner each and every night, but since I've been running back-to-back shows, it has generally been made by someone else. I'll leave instructions for the baby sitter regarding quesadilas or buttered noodles or some other sure-to-please-a-picky-tiny-person type of dish, but two nights ago, for the first time in weeks, I had the night off and I was in my own house, with my own kitchen.  

So I had a beer, made scrambled eggs for dinner, and went to bed at 8:30. 

There was beer and there was bacon, dinner of champions.

There was beer and there was bacon, dinner of champions.

But the next night, I made dinner, nothing fancy, just some steamed broccoli and fish.  It felt good, to all be eating the same meal.  It was nice to spend some time in the kitchen.  It felt really good to make dinner, and even better to eat it.

Baked Halibut with Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli

Serves 2 adults and 2 furiously hungry small people

(This recipe works beautifully with any mild white fish. I generally try to only buy wild caught and fresh, as in never frozen, which will drastically limit your choices most days if you are at a regular market.)


Three 6 ounce fillets of halibut

One cup brown rice (the girls prefer short grained)

One crown of broccoli

For the marinade (full disclosure-I never measure, I eye-ball, pinch, and approximate so feel free to taste and adjust)

1/4 of a of cup soy sauce

1/8 of a cup of rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp of honey

Two cloves of garlic, pressed

1/4 tsp of fish sauce-if you haven't cooked with this before, you should start, but know a little goes a long way

 1/4 of a cup of olive oil

1/2 tsp of dijon mustard 

Put the rice on.  I use a rice cooker, but there are great stove-top directions here. Pre-heat your oven to 300. We have a cool, funky, antique, gas oven that works great, but heats up the whole kitchen, so when I can, I use our toaster oven, which handles this dish perfectly.  

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the marinade.  Rinse and pat fish dry. Place in a small baking, dish skin side up, and pour the marinade over. You may want to reserve a small amount to drizzle over the dish for any adults you happen to be serving.  

Clean and prep broccoli, cutting into small florets.  

Breathe and pour yourself a glass of wine. You are almost done.

Put fish into oven, checking for doneness every five minutes or so. Fish is done when it appears nearly opaque and flakey.  These particular fillets took about 10 minutes at 300. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fish, but remember that they will continue to cook in the hot pan when you pull it out, and while you can alway stick it back in for a minute or two, you can't repair an over-cooked piece of fish.  

I usually cheat and throw the broccoli florets into the rice cooker, on top of the rice, when the rice is about 3/4th done, but you can also steam or sauté them the traditional way.  

Cheater cheater, broccoli eater

Cheater cheater, broccoli eater

Serve the fish atop a bed of brown rice with the broccoli on the side, or on a segmented, plastic, zebra-themed plate. 

just like this

just like this

or this

or this







Kids Are Gross

O: It's okay, momma.  I don't need a tissue. I can use my shirt!

Today, I found

a half eaten apple in my bed,

at least a tablespoon of sesame seeds ground into my kitchen rug,

paint splatters on the wall in the living room,

three and a half pairs of sand-filled shoes on the dining room floor,

a mysterious, grey and brown smear on the wall behind the toy basket,

and a sippy cup of what used to be milk under the couch. 

Geez, kid, get it together

Geez, kid, get it together

I have wiped butts, noses, and hands, and the hands were the grossest of the three.  I have been sneezed at, peed on, and licked.  I have made them beautiful meals, only to turn my back for a minute to discover that they have poured the milk over their fish, or dropped hunks of mashed potato into their cup of water, creating some inedible, unholy stew that I will later have to scrape off of their tiny, brightly colored dishes.  

Don't let that sweet face fool you. GROSS.

Don't let that sweet face fool you. GROSS.

There is a smell in the car that I am afraid to investigate. 

Once, P actually blew her nose directly into my mouth.  Please don't ask about the logistics. Just know, it happened.  

God, they are gross. The grossest.  

So gross

So gross