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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month- How to be a part of the cure

My father was 46 years old when he first discovered he had diabetes. My roommate was only 27. It’s amazing how this incurable disease can affect the lives of so many people today. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults have diabetes in the U.S. An additional 79 million are at risk for type 2 every year.

I was a scared little 16-year-old girl in the hospital when my father was first diagnosed. According to the doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he had had diabetes for two year before his heart attack. Being more likely to obtain this disease at a later age, I learned many things from my father’s cardiologist in order to prevent diabetes and stay healthy, as many times this disease can be hereditary.

November is known as Diabetes Month. So whether you are a carrier, or know a loved one who is at risk, there are a few facts and several resources of information you should know.

The number one way to tell if you are mom material

Can you wipe?

No job is more humbling than motherhood. It’s the role where you find yourself wiping people and things on an hourly basis. When I think about how many cloths I’ve palmed then poised over faces, bottoms, countertops, carpets, hands, feet, toilet seats, windows, sinks, crockpot inserts, lampshades, tummies, armpits, chins and chins and chins, I gasp.

Wiping takes style and skill. It’s circular scrubbing, sacrificing manicures, it’s flipping and folding, rinsing, squeezing, unfurling, balling. Wiping becomes second-nature for the person who is faced with deluges of grime and goo.

The tools of the trade are many. A wise mama knows when to break out wet cloths, dry cloths, scented cloths, disposable, washable, and those destined for a dumpster because the stuff on the other side will be a little too microbial, even for the hot cycle.

It seems mean and more than insulting to distill motherhood down into one humbling act, but I think wiping speaks volumes for who she is and who she must be as a woman and a loving caretaker. 

Mom material means putting others first, even when the others happen to wear diapers they fill like loose slot machines. I swear, I’ve heard clang clang clang clang clang before being presented with an intestinal jackpot. Wipe.

Mom material means sensing when hearts are broken. It’s cradling the frightened preschooler, wrapping arms around the bullied 4th grader, rocking the baby with an ear infection. Tears flow like splashing streams. Wipe.

Mom material requires a sense of humor. A shirt is pulled off, revealing a colored bellybutton. A young daughter tries applying eyeshadow to every body party but her eyes. A toddler has dog food crumbs in the corner of his smiling mouth. Wipe.

Mom material displays an uncanny ability to anticipate the future. The mop is retrieved from it’s home in the corner. Mugs are filled with hot cocoa. There’s a clean towel on standby. The kids are outside, playing in the snow. Soon, the floor will be covered in leaves and dirty wet snow. And someone will slosh her cocoa because she is breathless and pink-cheeked and can’t wait to tell you about the fort she built. Wipe, wipe, wipe.

Mom material is a realist. She knows that life is beautiful and messy and that her little ones are imperfect humans, just like she is an imperfect human. She spills her cereal sometimes. She tracks in mud after a sudden storm. She dabs her own eyes when her heart overflows. She swipes her own nose when she catches the virus the kids brought home from school.

Mom material has a memory. There was a time when she was a child and someone looked upon her tenderly when she clang-clanged into her diaper or sloshed in any manner. But then there are the moms who didn’t have that tenderness and my heart goes out to them. Our small daily sacrifices mean much, much more than we can comprehend. I’ve been guilty of announcing how very much I hate that I have to wipe up this or that or oh my word, what is that!?

And then I put myself in their shoes. They need me on so many levels, but it all comes down to one small physical action in the end. I’m proud to be a Wiper.

Mama Drama: Rampant Rudeness

Dear Mama Drama~

I am struggling with my daughter who is almost 4 saying mean things to her parents and her younger brother. When she is tired, hungry, irritated or just not in control, she says many mean things.

For example:

I don’t like you.

You are not a good brother.

You are not the boss; I am the boss.

I never like you.

I know this is not truly how she feels, but I don’t know what to say back to her to take the power out of her words. Her little brother gets sad when she is mean to him, so he’s crying and I’m in a fit hearing her use these words.

What do you say back to these mean words? Telling her that is not something we say is ineffective.

Trying to be nice,

Mommy in Erie

(photo credit)

Dear Mommy in Erie:

I can hear your heart breaking as you struggle with this situation. It can be so difficult when your children are acting mean.

It sounds like you’ve identified some of the triggers that are leading to your daughter’s rude and hurtful behavior such as tiredness, hunger, and irritability. Figuring out those triggers is a huge step.

Next I recommend looking at her schedule. Pinpoint the times when her behavior escalates and when she might become tired or hungry. Then see how you can adjust the schedule to head off the triggers with a snack, eating meals earlier, reading a book together, having quiet rest time, or other calming activities.

Become a great observer of your daughter. Begin to learn the early signs that she is becoming frustrated, tired, hungry, or out of sorts. We often feel like outbursts come out of nowhere, but with focused observation we can find the little signals that precede them. Look for subtle (or sometimes obvious) changes in behavior that indicate in increase in anxiety such as an increase in fidgeting, rapid breathing, heavy sighs, whining, or struggling to handle minor issues. Help her notice those signs and do something to alleviate them. As you both learn her body signals, you can intervene and help her stay more even.

The next step is teaching her how to handle herself when she’s tired or frustrated and how her mean words hurt you and her brother. It is important to do this when she is relaxed and rested so you can all talk about it calmly and make a plan for the next time she is feeling upset. Books are a great way to address these issues as they can feel less confrontational and you can reread them and refer to the ones she connects with when issues arise.

Some books that are appropriate for her age are Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick, Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ann Miranda, When I’m Angry by Jane Aaron, When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman. Books that can help her understand how mean words hurt others are Andrew Angry Words by Dorothea Lachner and Snail Started It by Katja Reider.

When issues like these are happening, we can have a hard time stepping back and looking at them without being overwhelmed by emotions. Increasing our toolbox of strategies is helpful in managing it all. A great resource for parenting strategies and humor is Love and Logic Magic for the Early Childhood Years by Jim Fay and Dr. Charles Fay.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

What kind of mother ARE you?

When it comes to motherhood, there are martyrs and there are saints, those who bend over backward and those who are not quite so flexible, as well as all points between. There are Marion Cunninghams and Carol Bradys, Marge Simpsons and Peg Bundys, each figuring out her own way to balance mommy’s needs with the needs of those whom she loves.

What about you? Answer these four questions.

1. You have a chance to meet your favorite author who in town for a book signing — a to-die for experience! The problem is, the signing is at the same time as your daughter’s soccer game, in a different part of town. You can’t make both.

a. You go to the book signing — you’ll catch next week’s game for sure.
b. You go to the game. It’s important that your daughter knows how much you  support her.

2. It’s your birthday, and you get to choose the restaurant. You pick:

a. Date Night. Get a sitter and do it up good!
b. Family night at Olive Garden or TGI Fridays or Tres Margaritas. A cuisine you like at a restaurant that’s kid-friendly.
c. Chuck E Cheese. Your kids will be so happy and that makes you happy.

3.  You’ll spend the extra “Fall back” hour on Sunday:

a. sleeping, reading, or indulging yourself somehow.
b. getting caught up on your To Do List.
c. playing with the kids, of course.

4. Your spouse has a work trip planned to a city you’ve always wanted to visit. You can get there on frequent flyer miles and the hotel expenses are paid for by the employer. You:

a. immediately begin researching flights and brainstorming babysitting options (not necessarily in that order).
b. sigh deeply and wish you could get away, but it would just be too disruptive for everyone.
c. go about your business. Get away? Why would you want to get away?

This is the part where you think I’m going to say what the answers mean, isn’t it? That if you answered mostly A, you are self-centered and need to grow a heart, or that if you answered mostly C, you have lost yourself and need to grow a pair of, um, warm fuzzy socks. For yourself.

But no, I simply want to ask you if your answers accurately reflect your values. Do you do what you want to out of love and joy? Or do you find yourself acting out of duty and obligation some of the time? much of the time?

What are some ways that YOU balance the needs of those you love with your own needs? Do you identify more with Mother Teresa or Mommie Dearest (or one of the infinite other points on the spectrum)?

What kind of mom are you, and what hints can you give about getting everyone’s needs met (including your own!)?

Lori is the daughter of a Carol Brady but somehow developed into a Peg Bundy. She writes regularly at WriteMindOpenHeart.com about living mindfully and parenting in open adoption. Every chance she gets, Lori leaves her children Tessa, 10, and Reed, 8 in the care of Carol while she goes on business trips with her husband.

Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How a new 911 service could save your family’s life

Have you ever worried about an emergency at the most inopportune time?

Do you have a special need or medical condition that cannot be seen by the naked eye?

If any of these questions grazed your mind at one time or another, you’re not alone.

When a 9-1-1 medical call is placed, paramedics arrive on the scene with little or no knowledge of the person. With our technology these days, you would think emergency officials would know everything about us with a click of a button, but that hasn’t been the case…until now.

Smart 911 is a free service that has the tools to keep you and your family safe. It will soon be available in Jefferson County, so keep an eye out. Their goal

Mama Drama: Anniversary Advice Round Up

Mama Drama is celebrating two years with Mile High Mamas!!

We’ve rounded up all of the drama Lisa has covered during that time into a variety of categories to make it easier for you to find that special nugget of information or advice you need.

Keep the questions coming (Lisa@milehighmamas.com) and remember that we all have our share of Mama Drama, so contribute your advice, ideas, and tried and true strategies as we support each other through the journey of motherhood in this fabulous community of moms.

Be sure to bookmark this page for easy access and share it with all your mommy friends!

Developmental issues:

Articulation Angst – When to worry about speech concerns.

Denver schoolteacher Carol Wilcox role model, mom for East High’s Hendrix brothers

On the lawn in front of stately Denver East High School, Isaiah Hendrix reached out and, with the back of his hand, lightly tapped his brother, Kadeem. “He means a lot to me,” Isaiah said. “I love him.”

A few minutes later, Kadeem said of Isaiah, “He means everything to me.”

Isaiah is a senior tailback, Kadeem a junior quarterback for the East Angels. They are good players, good enough they probably will be able to play college football somewhere.

That’s not what this story is about.

This is about the love among two brothers and Carol Wilcox, the Denver schoolteacher who after spotting them as victims of abuse from their birth mother

Are you PINK this October? Breast Cancer Resources

Pink. It seems to be everywhere. Have you noticed the color at the local grocery store on cereal boxes, or perhaps on TV during football Sundays? The month of October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a movement for 25 years of awareness, education, and empowerment. Breast cancer touches more than just those who are diagnosed.

About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Besides skin cancer, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women.

If you are at high risk for breast cancer due to family history, genetics, or previous cancer diagnosis, there are many things you can do in order to stay healthy and help prevent breast cancer.

Get

New laws ban simple childhood pleasures

For most of my childhood, I avoided red balloons. I had a theory: Red balloons pop more than any other color. I see how silly this is now, but for years I was convinced if I blew up a red balloon or received one at a party, my heart would soon break. POP.

Why did I avoid red balloons? Because when I was around 4 years old, I was blowing up a red balloon and it popped in my face. It startled me. The latex snapped back. It stung, but I wasn’t permanently scarred. I went on to blow up other balloons successfully and without incident. I learned from my mistake. Party balloons have a certain capacity. When exceeded, they pop. The horrors!

According to an article in Britain’s The Telegraph, new rules implemented by the EU mandate that children under the age of eight are no longer allowed to blow up balloons without supervision, “…In case they accidentally swallow them and choke.”  This worst-case scenario thinking has also led to an even more ridiculous ban. Paper whistle noisemakers that unroll when blown can’t be used by kids under the age of 14!

In some EU countries, a child may drink wine with dinner, but she can’t toot a paper party horn.

I find these new rules to be a slap in the face. Like an evil red balloon, good-intentioned laws meant to protect fly back in the face of common sense. Has society truly reached a point where a 13-year-old can’t be trusted to unfurl a paper horn without risking his life? Isn’t life dangerous? Ban the party horn. Next, the birthday cake. After all, don’t more people choke to death on food than party favors?

While the EU is busy protecting children from childhood, they should ban birthday candles. I’ve always been nervous around them, especially with my little ones. That’s why when we light birthday candles, we don’t let our toddlers pounce on them or try to grab them. It’s called parenting and I don’t need a government entity to help me connect the dots that fire + 2-year-old = be on our guard.

Balloons and paper horns aren’t the only things on the EU no-no list. They’ve also mandated that stuffed toys intended for children under age three be fully washable. This will protect Europe’s youngest citizens from catching horrific diseases via stained, well-loved teddy bears. I’m all for tossing lovies in the wash when warranted, but I appreciate that a little dirt and grime isn’t something to fear. Stuff gets dirty. We don’t live in a bleached, sanitized-for-your-protection world.

In case the EU’s toy safety patrol is reading this, I’d like to offer a few more suggestions of things they can ban to protect children:

~ Coloring books and paper, to prevent paper cuts which can become infected.

~ Tops because they can spin on a sharp point.

~ Any toy that can be thrown.

~ LEGO, because they hurt like a #*@&#* when stepped upon.

~ Toy foods that do not depict wise, healthy, nutritious choices.

I care deeply for the safety and health of my kids and kids all over the world. But, I’m convinced kids must be afforded opportunities to learn through play—and mistakes made while playing. I learned not to over-inflate balloons because I made a mistake. Could I have inhaled the balloon out of shock and fear? Yeah.

And I could have poked my eyes with pick-up-sticks, put a Monopoly boot up my nose, knocked my brother upside the head with a Tonka truck, tumbled down a hill on a Big Wheel, plummeted to the ground after a tire swing rope snapped, got my shoelaces tangled in bike gears, cut my foot on glass in a sandbox, developed allergies because I played with many, many rabbits, and colored my belly button blue with a permanent marker.

One of the EU officials defending the changes to toy safety rules stated, “You might say that small children have been blowing up balloons for generations, but not anymore and they will be safer for it.”

I suppose it’s all in how you define safe.

POP.

Star Trek parenting: raising my next generation

For most of my life, through school and college and dating, through TTC (trying to conceive) and infertility, I was mostly guided by my head. I learned early on the surest way out of any problem was to study it, analyze it, work it, contemplate it.

I was pretty successful with this method. I earned several degrees, didn’t marry several Mr Wrongs, and navigated several medical interventions — all with the power of my intellect (not as colossal as I make it sound, and there weren’t THAT many Mr Wrongs down on one knee).

But parenting — and specifically adoptive parenting — required me to take my Data model (sensible, information-based) and add the Deanna Troi model (sensitive, compassion-based). These two Star Trek characters personify for me the head and the heart I now use in parenting my two children.

Adoption and, more specifically, OPEN adoption, is something I couldn’t think my way through. I couldn’t study my way through or weigh my options through or test my way through with a #2 pencil.

I had to FEEL my way through.

Open adoption has engendered a huge shift in how I move through life. From Day 1 with Tessa’s first mom, Crystal, I have had opportunities to choose between what feels right and what makes sense, in cases where they are at odds.

parenting with heartPulling another organ into service for decision-making and leadership has had an added benefit: parenting itself requires the involvement of one’s heart as well as one’s head. I can’t think my way through Reed’s fight with his BFF. I can’t think my way through one of Tessa’s tantrums (no thinking occurs for either of us during one of those). Book learning only goes so far.

It’s not that I turn OFF my intellect, but that I also tune into my heart for answers.

Living from my heart requires me to just. be. present. Abiding in a situation and with the people in it. Being open to insight, inspiration and intuition.

Which I can add to intellect.

Open adoption has brought me more deeply into thinking/feeling. I used both my head and heart to navigate Tessa’s reunion with her first dad, Joe, and am using both methods currently to help Reed with some questions he’s been asking about his placement.

I’m not saying that all problems are easily solved because I’ve got such massive brainpower and a huge, unerring heart. I make lots and lots of mistakes every single day, and some are whoppers.

I’m saying that open adoption requires that I see things from the perspectives of the others involved, that I understand the effects of my actions on them, and that I use both my head and heart as I move through life.

It’s been a worthwhile change.

Lori is a mom via open adoption to Tessa, 10, and Reed, 8, and her family lives in the metro-Denver area. She writes regularly at WriteMindOpenHeart.com about living mindfully. She gives herself a B+ thus far and is aiming for an A on the final. Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield and available in mid-2013.

Images: smokedsalmon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net