Looking for Pants in All the Wrong Places

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BLOG pantsWhy is it so damn hard to find pants? I have a body with the standard number of legs. It’s different than it used to be, but it’s not different from most human beings. I still have a torso! I still have ankles! What happened to pants to make them all so…wrong?

(Please, this is not the time to bring up LuLa Roe. I’m being serious, here.)

I was never a one-brand pants kind of person. That’s why I liked TJ Maxx – you could find 10 different brands, maybe something you wouldn’t have chosen, and one or two would fit. You might end up wearing a pair of “Yuma Zumas” to work, and they might have purple zippers in random places, but they fit, damn you, they FIT.

Now, TJ Maxx’s selection isn’t as diverse, and it looks as if they have their own brands, which don’t impress me. In fact, stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Burlington, and Ross have less selection than mall stores (Gap, J. Crew, Gap… is there anything else in the mall? It’s been awhile) that were wise enough to come up with different cuts & styles. Unless you want a Shakespeare bust, then, by all means, TJ Maxx is your place.

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“You should be bard from wearing those pants.” – Renaissance burn

I have very good luck at consignment stores when the time is right. If someone who is me-shaped has just come in and unloaded their closet, I’m all set. The trick is to make obsessive rounds to the shops in my area. But, I can’t always do that…

Lately, I’ve resorted to online pants-buying. I can shop in the middle of the night if I know I’ll be needing pants three to five days from now. I have to stick with certain styles within brands. I like Ann Taylor’s “Depressive” and Old Navy’s “Shoplifter.”

Even here, I have criteria. I won’t compete for a pair (my final offer is $4.80. It just is.), and I won’t pay outrageous shipping. (My ass is big, but it’s not $6.99 in fabric big. It is “large envelope” at best, thank you!) I also look for ratings, geographic proximity (leggy Texan woman do not share my Midwestern plight), and a reasonable return policy.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever wondered why I always look like Gallagher, now you know.

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Lookin’ gooood!

Now, I was just on my way to get some pants. Wish me luck!!

Dexcom Dosing Sing This Song…

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If you read this blog, you know that I have a son with Type 1 Diabetes, and he takes insulin, and has a CGM. It’s a Dexcom brand continuous glucose monitor, and I LOVE IT. Before he had it, I was afraid his blood sugar would drop drastically while he was in school, or he’d go low in the night and not wake up.

Now that he does have it, it’s great, but like any other piece of technology, it’s not perfect.

That’s okay, Dexcom, I love you just the way you are. BLOG flight2

Does the sensor go wonky when you just put it on, or when it’s near the end of its life? Yes! I know that when the little trend line looks like Woodstock’s flight path, it’s time for a change. Does it wake me in the middle of the night with false alarms? Yes! But, only once in a while, and I can live with it, and it also wakes me with real alarms – the reason we got it in the first place – which has kept my kid from the aforementioned scenarios more than once.

Early in my boy’s “journey”, we heard a speaker ask an audience of Type 1’s if they ever calculated their insulin dose from their CGM without testing (that is, using a drop of blood on a test strip to get a reading from a blood glucose meter). All of them raised their hands. They weren’t “supposed” to do this, it wasn’t FDA approved, but most of them were adults, and probably pretty comfortable with their diabetes. If they felt okay, and their CGM said they didn’t need a correction, they skipped the strip and dosed.

It seemed miraculous! No more finger pokes? Sign us up!

However, the question was NOT, “How many of you always dose from your CGM,” it was “Have you EVER.” They would test, of course, if there was any doubt – they would be putting themselves in danger if they didn’t. That is because everyone who has one knows they can be wrong sometimes.

Take lows, for example: a CGM will alert the user if their blood sugar goes below, say, 70mg/dL. (You set your own high/low thresholds.) Lows can be sneaky and they can mess with a person’s judgment, so generally when it goes off, they test (old school strip and meter style) and treat if the alarm is correct. (Treatment for LOW is eating or drinking sugar, btw.)

Since the CGM takes a while to catch up, it can look like the person is still low, even after 15-20 minutes. The protocol for low treatment is to test again 15 minutes after eating the sugar. But, if you’re just watching the CGM, the reading might go even lower after you treat. At that point, it’s wrong – inaccurate! – but you’re still not sure, so you might eat more glucose, shoot your blood sugar into the stratosphere, and then you have to treat for a HIGH (with insulin).

Once you get used to the CGM, you learn to be patient and wait for it to catch up. Like I said, not perfect, but much better than a meter alone.

Several months ago, the FDA did approve the Dexcom CGM for dosing. Hooray! Throw away those expensive test strips! Because we all know when the FDA approves something, it’s guaranteed safe.

After all, why would a group established for the safety of human beings, approve something if it weren’t safe or effective? To make a product like a CGM more attractive to consumers and healthcare providers, that’s why. The manufacturer was just so sick and tired of customers saying, “You mean I still have to test?” So they asked the FDA very nicely to please change that restriction. Type 1 Diabetics have grit and gumption! They can decide whether to test or not. If the CGM happens to be off that day, it’s the risk they take. (Which is great – I might be that way, too, but I’m making the decision for my kid!!)

I was devastated the day my son was diagnosed. I spent a whole day in the ER learning only a bit of what I would need to know, and I spoke to a dozen doctors and nurses. One of them was an endocrinology resident who told me, “If you’re going to get diabetes, now is the best time in history to get it.” Oddly enough, that didn’t make me feel any better, but I knew what he was trying (ham-handedly) to say:

Medicine and technology is available and amazing. Not affordable, but that’s another post… There’s more on the market and in the pipeline for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, which is still a crappy, unpredictable, life-long disease.

I love the CGM, and someday, I might love for my son to have an insulin pump, but realistically, they won’t take his diabetes away. There have been times I’ve dosed him from the CGM – usually if I’ve tested him recently for some other reason and I’m confident nothing drastic has happened. But, when that alarm goes off in the night, you better believe I’m pricking his finger, no matter what Dexcom or the FDA say. Trust but verify!!

As a parent, I didn’t need this FDA indication. They had me at “He’s low.”

A Tale of Two Groceries

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BLOGjoesextWhere can you find white thirty-somethings lined up to bag your groceries? (Besides Tiburon.)

Trader Joe’s! Yes, you, with the MFA! Grab a Hawaiian shirt and join the grocery chain that sounds like it was named after a sex trafficker.

Here be treasure in delightfully-priced little packages. $7.99 for coffee – good coffee! $2.99 for real Camembert! They even have their own wine, their very own cheap wine!

But, you don’t NEED to shop at Trader Joe’s, asserts somebody at church. They have EXACTLY the same things at Aldi for EVEN LESS!

Oh… Aldi. :/

There’s an Aldi in my neighborhood. It’s certainly… German. The first time I went, my daughter was a toddler. It was late fall (drizzling!), and I had her in one hand and my reusable bags in the other. When I got to the carts, I realized they were chained together and I needed a quarter to “rent” one.

Another woman was returning her cart and saw me with my baby. As I rummaged in my purse, she said, “Do you need a quarter?” She took it out of her cart and held it out toward me. As I was thanking her, she changed her mind and pocketed it. “This is my lucky quarter,” she explained.

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Thanks, obscure TV series.

Cartless, and downtrodden, I went into the store. I wasn’t even looking at the prices because I was too distracted by the “Designer Impostor-ness” of the merchandise: “Lundt Chocolate Truffles” and “Pressed Oat Snack Bars” displayed in their own cardboard shipping cartons. Unlike a German store, the floor was a little gritty, and the employees were not making a living wage. I felt punished for my years of suburban consumerism.

I wanted to walk right out, but even that wasn’t possible. I had to exit through a check stand, only wide enough to fit eins Wagen! That meant waiting in a checkout line with a little kid. She was savvy enough to grab hold of a plastic satchel of faux Legos, so I bought it (for 2.99), but we donated it after a few weeks because instead of interlocking, they just “interfit,” making unbelievably unstable structures.

Yesterday, I was in Aldi again – “The short name saves you $$!”  – shopping for cheese. Someone I know* insisted they had the same cheese at Aldi that they had at Trader Joe’s! Sure, they had cheese… But would I want it…? Nope.

*You know who you are.

This time, with my second kid in tow we escaped with just 2 packs of breath mints. I beat a path back to Trader Joe’s, where I found my cheese, just as nature intended: fair-trade and wrapped in smugness. Trader Joe’s! How I’ve missed you! Let me tell you how bad your brother has been…

Aldi’s website has justifications for every complaint an American shopper can think of like, “Why are your hours so crappy?” (Being open more convenient hours would drive up prices!) and “Why don’t you have any bananas when you had bananas last week?” (Don’t get too comfortable – my italics – with your shopping list. Grab it now because it could be gone tomorrow.)

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Don’t worry, they have an off-brand comedian to explain it to you. (I’m sorry, he’s not a comedian, he’s a “funny man.” – Another way Aldi lowers prices!)

They’re the same in much the way the Wiggles and Judas Priest are both musical acts. Trader Joe’s is an indulgence. Aldi is where you go when you’re fresh out of options and have just one lucky quarter.

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Even the trash can is in despair.

 

Hell on Wheels

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I’m a little angry that private donations soared when DT announced he would cut Meals on Wheels. It’s not because I don’t love stories of Americans opening their hearts. It’s because we shouldn’t have to.

Our greatest presidents (not self-proclaimed greatest, BTW) worked in the interest of American citizens. They crafted and promoted New Deals, a Peace Corps, Civil Rights and Voting Acts. These programs helped all Americans, even those who claim to be self-made.

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“SMH, if my head wasn’t made of granite,” Teddy Roosevelt

Record donations to Meals on Wheels would be wonderful, if they would actually save the program. They won’t, but they will do two other things.

They will drain and strain an already stretched population. People making donations today to Meals on Wheels are not corporations or wealthy private donors setting up long-term trusts. They’re people who don’t want their parents and neighbors to die alone of starvation. They could make a $20 donation, or even a $2,000 donation, but they can’t give enough to maintain it for as long as we need it – and we have a huge number of people who are going to need it in addition to those who need it NOW. (Census report, enjoy!)

They will also enable lawmakers to cut deeper. “Look at Meals on Wheels,” they’ll say, “we cut that entitlement* and now it’s better than ever!” They will point to this moment of mass charity and American spirit for years to come, denying what will inevitably happen next: the money will dry up, states and cities won’t have room for it in the budget, and it will die.

*Funny how being entitled is only a bad thing when it applies to the poor, the sick, Veterans, women, children, immigrants…

Paul Ryan, a neighbor of mine from Janesville, Wisconsin, has admitted he has “dreamed of this” since he was a young man “drinking at a keg.” That’s amazing. Way to never give up! (Technically, he’s talking about cutting medical care – does that make you feel better??)

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I just can’t…

I’m not saying people who donated were wrong to do so. Every day, I think of the Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars,” and imagine all of the causes I could serve and people I could help if only I had a little bit more. We do have generous hearts, we don’t want others to suffer.

(Except Paul Ryan, I actually want him to suffer. Sorry, Jesus.)

If only we Americans paid a little extra for goods every time we bought something, and a little percentage on everything we earned. If only there was a certain time of year we could surrender some of our money to be used for things that really mattered to us. Why, I’ll bet we’d hardly miss it, and just imagine what that money could do – if only it were in the right hands.

Here’s more about Meals on Wheels. If you want to do more than donate, click on Take Action!

I’ll Be Your Roundabout

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A few years’ back, our state DOT came up with a great idea to control traffic and reduce time motorists spend idling at stoplights. The roundabout!

It’s not a new idea, they’re all around the world. We even have a famous one in Washington DC, a city designed in the European tradition.

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Hey, keep me out of this! I’m American as apple pie.

Oh, so you’ll find roundabouts in Europe? You know what you won’t find? FREEDOM! Nobody’s going to tell me how fast I can drive and how much fossil fuel I can burn and make my streets safer and less noisy!

As far as traffic control, the roundabout idea seems to be working. Take this actual conversation I had with one of my friends trying to choose a restaurant.

Me: Let’s go to that pizza place next to the movie theater.

Friend: Where the roundabout is?

Me: Yes!

Friend: I’m not going.

See? Reduced.

Fine with me because it doesn’t take long to spot a roundabout-denier on the roads. They hesitate, spill over into other lanes, stay on too long, or abruptly u-turn and take a different roundabout-free route.

But it needn’t be this way, y’all! Let me tell you what roundabouts AREN’T:

They are not indicators of a community’s cultural sensibilities, as in “Did you hear what happened to Cedarburg…? They got a roundabout.BLOG clspecial

They are NOT all-way stops! You don’t have to stop – that’s the whole point – just slow down. Wait your turn, if need be, but if traffic is moving, or there IS no traffic, just keep on keeping on.

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Do not enter

 

They are not portals to other scary dimensions. That’s Stargate. As far as I know, the DOT won’t have those in place for another 20 years.

 

What ARE roundabouts? Linear speed bumps. A little “moment of zen” in this journey called life. No big deal (!) even when the weather is icy, or there’s traffic, or big trucks, it’s still all good, everything’s cool…  the roundabout is just a way for everyone to slow down and get to know one another. They’re the Southwest Airlines of thoroughfares.

I advise you to get up early one morning, before the rush hour, drive down to your local roundabout, and give it a whirl. (Roundabout humor!) Don’t be afraid. And if you come back feeling a little different, talk to your local DOT.

Fresh (re) Baked Bread

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Hot n’ funky fresh, yo!

Two food posts in a row? I know, but you need this information.

Sometimes I go to the store and buy bakery bread or rolls.

Then, I don’t eat it right away, and it gets dried out.

BUT ALL IS NOT LOST!!

You can resurrect it:

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Three days? No problem!

Take the loaf of bread, turn on your faucet, and wet the bread. Don’t soak it! Just get the crust a little dewy. Put it on a cookie sheet.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, and turn it to 400° Farenheit (205° Celsius). Don’t preheat!

Just stick the wet bread in there and set the timer for 10 minutes, or eight if you want a softer crust. In that time, your oven will heat, but it matters not. Take the bread out at 8-10 minutes.

TRUST ME!

It will be warm, dreamy, and ready to eat.

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Enough pictures! I’m hungry…

Go ahead, buy a day-old baguette! Use those rolls from last night’s dinner party! Recycle yer bread, y’all.

Feels so gooooooood.

Visit me in the ether. I break virtual bread on Twitter, Facebook, and amazon.com.

 

 

Sweet!

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Sugar and spice – and SCIENCE!

I’m making Chai Spiced Pound Cake.

It’s the most miserable time of the year. The holidays are over, we’re all fat and hangry, and it’s super-duper cold here in Wisconsin, USA.

Normally, this is my baking weather. I’ve had this blog a few years, and have shared my hatred of cold weather and the solace I take in making and eating sugary stuff. This year is different.  I’ve been gun-shy about ye old pies and cakes because my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (not because I’ve developed an irrational fear of Pam®.)

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Although, technically, he can eat anything he wants (“anything but poison,” the nurses like to say. haha…), we have to figure out how many carbs are in everything and give him the right amount of insulin, and sometimes we don’t know how many carbs, and sometimes he just wants to eat the goodies and not get an injection, and sometimes I worry that whatever he’s eating isn’t fit for human consumption, diabetes or not. (…Pam®)

It’s put a real damper on spontaneous cupcakes and caramel corn.

That said, both of my kids love when I bake and I love making the house warm and fragrant, and having something delicious to eat once in awhile (like every day from November to April.)

Enter America’s Test Kitchen!

The latest from America’s Test Kitchen is Naturally Sweet, Bake All Your Favorites with 30-50% Less Sugar. (It’s also available on amazon.) I just found it in the library, and I am excited for a few reasons.

  1. The recipes are stalwarts reasonable people would bake, using natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, chocolate!!!) without weird and disastrous consequences. (Every scientific process is fully explained in laborious, skippable detail.) They also include ways to use plain old sugar if you can’t get your hands on Sucanat or coconut sugar – or if you just don’t want to.
  2. They are NOT the vegan weird things I’m accustomed to making where you swap out avocados and flax seed, close your eyes and pretend it tastes just like the real thing. This is a book about reducing sugar, period. Not a “healthy dessert book.” (I still like Happy Herbivore and Chocolate Covered Katie for those recipes.)
  3. It’s a classic America’s Test Kitchen tome using real ingredients, and not funkadelic sugar substitutes, packets of sugar free pudding, etc. These desserts resemble food.
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Ta da! A cake to fill the emotional void left by the sun.

Time to call the kiddos and dig in!

Stick around and read more or visit me on twitter @lynnvanlier or Facebook.