Tuesday 31 August 2010

Up, Up and Away

I have a problem, it seems.
I'll confess now:
My name is Jules and since my child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I am a metaphoroholic.
Can't seem to help myself.
Even on my first hour or two home from the hospital, two years ago, whilst Frank and Mr Muffinmoon were still there, I looked at my little boys' toys and clothes and at his empty room and thought of Tiny Tim's little crutch from "A Christmas Carol".
My husband totally calls me on this and at least makes me smile when I get mawkish.
So, on to today's choice of title.
On Thursday this week we go to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge to begin our pump journey.
I do hope it goes more smoothly than our kite flying attempts yesterday out at Cudmore Grove in East Mersea.
That kite smashed into the ground with such force!
Not a great thing for a woman obsessed with metaphors...

I have been chatting to Frank to prepare him and he thinks a pump is a good idea because the injections hurt.
My boy is brave and takes the hurt four times a day along with numerous finger pricks too.
Today I took him to Frinton where we met his friend Halim and his family.
Look at those happy faces!
(I asked them to laugh their most cheeky laughs; this is what I got!!)

And finally, I end with a gratuitous Moomin photo.
Green tea was drunk from this, my favourite little Moomin mug, as I watched the children building sand castles and drawing train tracks in the sand.

Think of us three on Thursday. I will be back very soon with a mountain of questions for you all, I'm sure. I just can't think of any at the moment. I believe they are being drowned out by the white noise in the tiny walnut that is my brain ...

Thursday 26 August 2010

Fifty-five & Seven

No, not weird blood sugar numbers FOR ONCE!
Can you guess from the pictures what those numbers are?? (He hearts Michigan alright, and especially his pals Paddy and Winnie!!)

I'll put you out of your misery!

Two great numbers for us this week as we celebrated seven years of marriage and Mr Muffinmoon's birthday.

It took some courage for me to post the above picture of the wedding as I look SO BLOODY DIFFERENT now.

All exhausted from no proper sleep for two year since diagnosis.

Not to mention seven years older!

But, it was such a fun day with all our best and most beloved with us.
And that is worth remembering.
Soon I will write a post including the CD of music we put together to be played at the meal, together with as many links as I can.
I warn you it contained Vaughan Williams, The Smiths and Ray Charles.


P.S. I am avoiding pump-talk as we are now only
a week away from our visit to the hospital.
We have two huge bags of sand outside the front of the house, left over from the pergola building done over the summer. I can be found most days staring at said sand and contempleting inserting my head like a five foot ten ostrich...
Off to test the boy's BG now.
Happy days!

Friday 20 August 2010

From the mouths of babes ...

In a week and a half we are heading off to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge to begin the process of getting Frank an insulin pump.

I've been ignoring this looming date but last night decided to chat to him about his little friends all over the world who need insulin and don't have injections because they have pumps.

Cue the cute children's atlas and reminders about our friend Addison in Seattle and Aleksi in Espoo.

It was all going well.

Frank asked where you get a pump from and I replied "from a hospital, but a different one to the one we normally go to".

With unerring logic he says, "I think we need to go to a pump shop. Ha! Ha! Ha!".

Feeling rather smug at my advanced and capable child I smile at him benevolently.

He smiles back and adds, "Or a poo shop! Ha! Ha! Ha!".

Sigh ...

Thursday 19 August 2010

Teeny Tiny

I finished this last night, sitting at the dining table (and watching Johnathan Creek on YouTube - my latest guilty pleasure).
The baby this is intended for is due at the end of October and I hope it has a kind of small head.
This thing is titchy.
Hence the use of my phone to give an idea of scale, although even the word "scale "seems wrong on the face of such tiny gorgeousness and much more apt used in descriptions of, say, the Grand Canyon. And yes, before anyone asks (that's you, Amanda!) that is a Moomin phone charm. Pretty cute that is too!
OK, the boy and his Dad are at the beach today. My task is to sort and cull the plastic toys and take them to the Chazzer (our family vernacular for Charity Shop).
I need to call The A Team.
It's going to take me an age.
Wish me luck!

Monday 16 August 2010

There goes my heart

We went out for a walk today, my boy and I, to find treasures (leaves, acorns etc) and to pick blackberries.
He wore his new nature bag and his tiger mask that he spent ages colouring in.
As we reached a wide open space he looked across the ploughed field and wondered out loud what the name of the tractor was that had ploughed it. I stood still and took this picture and thought, "There goes my heart".

Sure he can push his luck at times. He has me up twice most nights. I am tired most of the time. He won't eat his veg.
But he is my heart.
Growing up and running around and colouring a tiger mask to scare Daddy when he gets home.
And I often think of that beautiful poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach.
So, no sad, mawkish prose today.
Diabetes is always with us.
Sometimes it takes centre stage and sometimes it is blasted to the back row by the sheer force of life coming from this small child and from the love I have for him.
My only baby.
And this evening I wish you all many moments like these.
Moments where D takes a back seat to living well and loving each other.

Friday 13 August 2010

Date Slices - a Taste of Nostalgia

When I was a student, way back in the eighties, I lived in Portsmouth and used to frequent a fab wholefood shop called "Time for Change".

They sold date slices and I loved them very, very much.

I was renting in a house just along the road and so did most of my shopping there.

It left me precious little drinking money but that didn't worry me at all as I can only manage a pint of beer or two glasses of wine before having to head home or risk falling asleep in a pub. Always been that way and suspect I always will!

As a student that meant I was heading home for a cuppa and cosy nights reading whilst others were out on the lash.

Then the next day I would go for a long walk on the beach with my friend Anne and have a date slice whilst attempting to read a German newspaper, all the time looking longingly at the NME and finally succumbing and reading all about The Smiths or The Fall or 10,000 Maniacs or Billy Bragg (oh, how I still love this guy!).

Ah, me, nostalgia indeed ...

Anyway, I AM leading somewhere with this and it's to the recipe for Date Slices.

It is from the first ever cookbook I bought (The Cranks Recipe Book) and I still use it more than any other. I always add less sugar then any recipe gives but have decided to include the original recipe here and let people make their own decisions about sugar. This is fairly low sugar anyway but obviously packs a spikey punch with all that dried fruit. Adding nuts to the base and topping would cushion that spike and I do that most times. Variations I have tried have included apricot and ginger using ground ginger in the crumble mix, date and walnut and fig and coarsely chopped almonds.


350g dates (or dried apricots or figs), chopped
6tbsp water
grated rind of one lemon
225g wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats
75g raw brown sugar
150g butter, melted (coconut oil would work here too, I think. You need a fat that will set at room temp)

Makes 16 slices.


Put the dates, water and lemon rind in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until the mixture is soft.
Combine remaining ingredients and sprinkle half to a (27 x 18cm) shallow cake tin and press down WELL (very important this, or you will get a kind of granola effect, not a bar).
Cover with the date mixture and sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top. Press down firmly again.
bake in the oven at 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes.

Let cool in the tin and then cut into slices.

Turn on some indie music from the eighties (find an example here, here, here, oh, and here!) and apply a date slice to your face.

And, as a quick added moment of nostalgia, I had a boyfriend in my first year who would come to all the Indie Discos but would only dance to one song, and one song only, often alone if it happened to be played early. Then he'd go home!
Oh, my, I had forgotten that.

Happy Days!!

Thursday 12 August 2010

Me time

In the half-sorted summer house I have managed a little "me time" this week.Sometimes, in all honesty, this has only meant that I have sat staring at the wall with a cup of tea.
Sometimes I get things done.
A couple of days ago I cut off the legs of a pair of old jeans and made two little "Nature Bags"; one for Frank and one for the child of a friend.
They are worn messenger style and are for all the little conkers, acorns, leaves and feathers Frank tends to pick up when we are out and about.
Frank seems really taken with his little bag and is filling it with all kinds of things that then make their way to the nature table (some get removed by me, held at arms length; he is a boy after all and is fascinated with all kinds of gross things!!) And today I've had another couple of hours and ran up these cute little trousers for my boy to wear around the house.
I love this soft flannel and love checks but they do look so much like pyjamas that I fear he'll get comments if I let him out in them.
I have in image in my head, however, of he and I in front of The Wind in the Willows on DVD and the fire glowing in the grate as we snuggle up on late Autumn evenings.

I hope you are getting a little "me time" here and there and would love to hear what you are doing with it.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

The August Project

We have set ourselves a BIG task.
August is our month for sorting the house, the garden and the summer house.


We are planning to go away to the Netherlands in September but have made the commitment to stay home this August and clear the decks for the year ahead.

In all honesty we have been kind of frozen since Frank's diagnosis and have only recently been glimpsing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nobody bounces back from this kind of diagnosis but some people seem so able to use its force for good so much more quickly than me.

I don't envy them that, I just accept that I have taken as long as I have needed.

Now it is time for me to be a bit creative and to be more IN CONTROL than I maybe felt before.
So, here is the list with photographic evidence of some progress (and going public with it makes it more likely to happen!):

This August I will:

  • Get a seasonal book basket organised for Frank and sort the Nature Table

  • make use of all the herbs, flowers and veg in the garden (see basil for pesto above. Pesto in fridge as I write. Courgette soup in freezer. Fresh herbs and flowers from garden in various vases. But no time for complacency as the quince will need care and the sunflowers will need to be used for the birds and the fig will need the fruit using.)

  • Help in any way I can as Mr Muffinmoon and Mr B put up the pergola (in reality this involved me making tea, cold drinks and soup from courgettes from our garden and Tom's allotment. Oh,wait, I did help hold it steady a bit whilst they did some bashing with big hammers. It was all very Witness.)
  • Clear out all the junk in the summer house and get it set up as a sewing studio for myself (this is almost done!! Yay! Photos to follow when it's complete).
  • Reorganise the pantry so that I can actually see most of the food that we have in the house (getting there, slow progress being aided by actually eating the food; a cunning plan!).
  • Sort the mass of shoes and jackets hanging in the hall and just have the ones we need there. Put others away until Winter. (Mostly done).
  • Preserve as much food as I can find time for (lots of jam already made, soup made and frozen, plans for more such jolities ...).
  • Sort and minimise Frank's toys and games and puzzles that litter the house and seem to have no real place. Less is more for these things and he seems to mostly play trains, paint with his watercolours, do some crafting and use his Lego. The rest gets left to trip me up or pierce my bare feet! Long way to go on this one, don't hold your breath for photos).
  • Dig over one side of the garden (actually this can continue right into Autumn) for growing herbs and veg next year.

OK, this might explain why I have been absent for a few days. All the above and some weird growth hormones playing havoc with Frank's numbers at night and keeping me up to give him water and change a flooded bed far too bleedin' often. I have also been in major sorting mode as I WILL NOT BE BEATEN by this.


So, my friends, the truth is "out there" and I am now officially accountable for regular reports of progress.

Oh, and a requested recipe for the date slices we had a few posts ago is coming up soon in all its wholewheat datey glory.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Recipe for Equilibrium

You will need:

A small child with a fart fixation

A hubby

A novel

Bread and things to spread on it

Tea bags and milk

Granola ingredients

A garden

An envelope

Tissue paper

Beeswax modelling clay

Pipe cleaners

Insulin (Novarapid and Lantus are what we used for this recipe!)

Dinner ingredients


Wake up, let the hubby put the kettle on and start the toast, read a novel for a stolen five whole minutes before being told, "Mummy, you are taking a very long time today!", get dressed, go downstairs for breakfast.

Wave hubby off to work, eat breakfast with a small child for company, whose conversations are all about farts and poo (oh, yes, even before my first cuppa), inject small child.

Let the home-based fun begin:

Make Maple Butter Nut Granola with small child Cut back the big and blousy hydrangea
Go into garden and collect seeds from the Big Red Poppy heads

Label an envelope for the seeds.

Sort out the beach collections into a more pleasing design.
Make tissue paper flowers with small child.

Cook a restorative meal for hubby and self, today it was Broad Bean and Pearl Barley Risotto from this great book.

Remember to photograph it only after you have eaten half of it as it was so yummy. Hubby had totally licked the plate clean so no chance of a picture of his dinner!

And so, after all these activities and more in between, I feel much restored from the fragmented self I blurted out into Blogland yesterday.

Thank you all so much for your kind words and thoughts.

I cried when I read them because they all said just what I needed to hear.
I hadn't even been sure whether to send that post but am glad I did.

Huge big fat hugs to you all!

Tuesday 3 August 2010


Today I met a friend of a very good friend for the first time.
She is over from Berlin and, as I speak German and love my friend so dearly, Frank and I popped over to say Guten Abend just after dinner this evening.
I left feeling uneasy and misjudged. And yet everyone was lovely to me.
I feel this a lot when for the first time I have to explain that Frank is diabetic. Lovely, educated and kind people look at him with concern.

It goes like this:

They ask me if it can be managed with just dietary changes.
They ask if I have to do any injecting.
Oh, yes.
They ask if he will grow out of it.
They tell me they have heard the condition is growing quickly and that some children of 12 or 14 are getting it because they are obese and eat junk food.
I say that's probably Type 2.
They look at me. They look me up and down.
I am suddenly aware of every morsel that is going into my mouth.
I am not a skinny person.

I feel so judged.
Part of me in these moments feels the weight of the world judging me for my chronically ill child and my Mama belly.
I can feel my spirit shrinking and I want to slink away.
I know I will rally later but for now I am rather beaten.
And I judge myself too, even though I know I did nothing to bring this on or deserve it.
Talking to someone recently we came up with the idea of imagining a bubble around yourself that is permeable but serves as protection from unwanted comments and emotions and judgements.
But it would need to be almost bullet-proof because when your child has diabetes, this stuff cuts so very deep.

I shall have a good cry tonight and then Frank and I are spending the day quietly at home together tomorrow.

That will restore my balance.

Being with my two boys will restore me.

Knowing others "out there" hear me, really hear me, will restore me too.
Thank you for reading.

Monday 2 August 2010

Butterfly Crowns and more Fun wth Friends

How could I not post this cute picture of Frank and his good friends Maria and Elsa? They came over today and I helped them choose coloured felt for a butterfly crown each from this book, which they duly wore in the garden and to the play park. Frank was the only one I managed to photograph well enough to see the crown as he was held hostage in the swing.
The girls were just a blur as they were all having such a good time.
Diabetes News Update:
We have an appointment for early September for the clinic in Cambridge to begin the process of getting a pump.
Here in the UK one needs to "qualify". You know how it is everywhere; it's all a case of funding streams.
Having a lazy-arse pancreas isn't enough.
We are not at all sure we will qualify but are interested to get the process going and prepare Frank for it all.
Any advice for the early stages?
How can we introduce the idea of a pump to our little boy without freaking him out?
I feel like crying at the thought of having to fill my brain with more information but I know it will help with controlling his sugars with regard to his erratic eating. This evening he refused the pasta with butter and Parmesan (even though I had talked to him about it and he had said he wanted it). So no dinner, no insulin, just a night time snack and me wondering where my eat-everything baby went to?
All advice gratefully received, even if it involves my lying in a darkened room for a while ...

Sunday 1 August 2010

Scenes from our weekend

And a fun one it was too!
Frank and his best friend , Halim, went on the big bouncy slide in Castle Park. They just adore each other's company. We had yummy apricot and walnut bread from our fab bread stall at the market and hydrangeas from the garden to make breakfast pretty (I adore these blousy flowers).
Er, we had croissants from the market too.
With my homemade strawberry jam, which didn't set but tastes wonderful.

We made Nutty Noodle cookies (and, yes, that is a Moomin apron!).

And what can you say about a gorgeous boy, who when asked if he's OK to have his insulin now rather than in the lounge on the sofa, lies down on the kitchen floor immediately and prepares himself for his shot?!
He made me giggle so much and feel so grateful for his can-do attitude.
I loved the spread arms like The Angel of the North.
P.S. He has spent the weekend sporting an eye cold pack he found whilst rummaging in the basket in the bathroom.
He uses it to be a superhero!
What a boy.