Friday, January 30, 2015

Back into the swing of things at robotics.

    Robotics season has started again. I have William every other week. He really loves going to robotics and tries to get involved as much as a seven year old can. When we show some new device on the robot he is right in the front row trying to get a look. When the CNC is running he watches the parts being built. When we are running the auto code he wants to see the robot go. I love having him there and seeing him be so excited about learning everything. He even chimes in with ideas. He has no fear of rejection and I am glad that the students treat him with respect.

    We are on week three of the build and we are halfway tomorrow on Saturday. We have a working robot and it does most of what we need it to do already. We are suppose to get some additional function this Saturday and we can add to the auto mode on the robot. William was very disappointed that he wasn't going to get to participate on Saturday. He even asked if I could change days with is mom so he could come on Saturday. I am excited about the progress we are making with the robot and I look forward to having it fully functional within the next week.

    I am also excited about the other students at robotics. They are sponges and are really super excited about learning what I do. That is why I love going so much. The students are some of the best in their schools. They are motivated and want to learn what ever you have to teach. I know they are just as excited as I am to see what we can do next. They are throwing out ideas for what we can do next and the list seems endless. We will have to put a list together and start working on them as new features are available on the robot. Having a year when I can go and participate with out fear of what it will cost me when I get home is uplifting. I can smile and think about robotics what out feeling guilty. I never should have had to feel that way in the first place.

    I will let you know how things go throughout the season. I am just hoping for a good year and to have some fun. Try some things and be successful even if we do not win. William will not get to go to most of the competitions this year. That is a good thing and sad thing all at the same time. He really isn't old enough to do useful things in the pits but I would love to have him there to see what we are doing. He will get to see one competition this year. That should be enough to keep him excited about the season. I'm sure that if they let him drive the robot at lest one time he will be back next year.

Hope to have a great season of learning,

Your Loving Dad

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

School is Getting Better

    Things have been tough on my little man since mom left. He has been acting out at school and having lots of problems. He has gone a couple of weeks now with no major issues at school. It is a relief not to have to worry if I am going to get a call from school to come pick him up. Sadly he has started to adjust to his new life. I say sadly that he had to get used to this not that he is adjusting to it. I am glad to see him start to take ownership of his behavior. He was very excited to learn that he had finally earned back his Xbox privileges after months of no computer games. I haven't seen him that excited in quite a long time.

    Life is busy for us right now. I am mentoring F.I.R.S.T. robotics for a local school here this year. We are in the build stage for our robot and we are about half way through. William likes to go and help with what ever they will let him do. He gets really excited when he gets to drive the robot. They will usually let him do that a few times a year. I like to have him there so he sees what it takes to make a robot and everything that you have to learn to do it. I hope that this is a spark that makes him want to learn and be excited about doing this on his own team someday.

   Our days right now are: get home from school do homework, make dinner and then get a bath. We get home a little later because of robotics so we have to take care of everything before we go to make sure that William only has to brush his teeth before we go to bed and read our stories. He doesn't get to play as much Xbox with this schedule but I believe that it is better for him. We head over to the build site and work on the robot for a few hours. I love seeing William in his safety glasses asking the kids what they are doing and trying to help. Most of the students are good about letting him help or listening to his suggestions on how to make the robot better. He was very disappointed to find out that he will not be at my house for most of the competitions this year. He will get to see part of one of the competitions at the local college.

    I am enjoying getting to try new things with the team and teaching the students about programming. I plan to try and get them a little more involved tonight. They need to take ownership of the code and the robot. I am simply trying to show them techniques for programming that will make their lives easier.

    I can't wait to get to build a robot with you and see you excel at what you do. You are a true leader and love to take charge of the situation. I smile when you give ideas and you are not afraid to talk to the students today as if they were equals. I love to see the confidence that you have and I want you to know that I am proud of you even now.

Here is to your quest for knowledge and adventure,

Your Loving Dad

Monday, January 26, 2015

Having Fun at the Hockey Game.

    We got to go to another Griffins Hockey game on Friday. It was a lot of fun. The weather cooperated this time and my friend Jeff came along. We stopped by McDonald's for a quick bite before the game. We can get a hamburger with no bun and french fries which are all gluten free. The ice arena does not have much in the way of food for gluten free eating. We did get a diet drink and candy before the game started. I know it seems weird to buy a diet soda while buying candy. I never know how much of the soda he will drink and I can measure out the candy a little at a time. If he doesn't drink all of the soda then it really doesn't matter with the carbs. Just want him to be able to have some fun and enjoy the experience.

Way to go Griffins
    Jeff had not been to a game in a long time. It was exciting right from the start and William was right into the game. He was worried about getting a T-shirt and the coupons that they drop from the little blimp during the games. At the end of the first period it was 1-0 with our Griffins in the lead. they scored one early in the second period to tie the game but with 1 second left on the clock the Griffins scored to make it 2-1. With five minutes left int he game the other team had a power play and decided to pull their goalie. We scored fairly quickly on the open net to make it 3-1. They still left the goalie out with 4:30 left int he game with the same result. Now 4-1 the game was really heating up for the Griffins fans. We got one more goal before the end of the game. 5-1 was the final and what a great game.

    This was a better result than the last time we went. They lost and William told me he didn't want to go back because they lost. We went home and William got ready for bed and out he went. What a fun night for all of us. I can't wait we we go again in two weeks with Jen and her family.

Memories I hope you keep with you,

Your Loving Dad

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yearly Check for Celiac Disease

    When we went to the endocrinologist recently and time we had to have blood drawn. One of the checks that is done as part of this is the check to see how we are doing with William's celiac disease. William was diagnosed with celiac disease at age five. I sometimes find it more trouble to deal with then diabetes. The tests came back normal. That is really good to see. We have been going out to eat more and having two households to alternate, I was worried that his number might spike this time.

    Celiac disease is not fun. It will not kill William quickly or anything but it could have very long term effects on his health. This would be in addition to the health effects that having diabetes could have. We have to plan carefully to make sure that we always have food for him to eat. I have to make sure if we are going to someones house that they not only keep the wrappers so I can see the carbs in a dish but that I can see if there is any wheat or gluten. We have to arrange the menu and bring dishes to pass so William will have something to eat. It is so frustrating to see all of these foods that do not need gluten but they have it anyway. We went to a birthday party for the neighbor and they had a pinata. They filled it with candy. William was excited about being part of the kids that eventually broke it open. He raced in to grab candy and brought it to me to inspect. Every bit of the candy was manufactured in a plant that handles wheat so he could not have any of the candy. William was great about it as he went into the middle of the kids still picking up candy and just threw it in the air for them to take.

    The daily grind of dealing with diabetes is draining and putting celiac disease on top just adds that much more stress. William has had more stress in his life than a seven year old deserves. He should be able to just come in and grab a juice box or a doughnut or what ever but that is not his life. Don't get me wrong I do not feed him junk but it used to be a nice treat once in a while. One good thing that came out of his mom leaving is that she now has to help. I do get every other week off. That was not the case before. I did everything for his care. I would have gladly carried on with his care to keep our family together. The sleepless or minimal sleep that I got, buying the groceries and cooking making his lunches, taking him to school, training school and daycare how to take care of him, the doctor appointments and all of the other stuff. It is nice that she is finally having to do her share.

    I look at William and worry about where he will be in five years. There is so much to deal with and it will soon become his to take on completely. It is a heavy weight that no one should have to carry. The extra weight of all of the life events that happened last year just make me worry that much more. I will be standing by your side no matter what.

I love you my son,

Your Loving Dad

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Using a Pump for Insulin Control

    We switched to an insulin pump for William's insulin injections almost four years ago. I do remember doing all of the math required for his care just before that. They made us do all of that for about six months before they allowed us to get a pump. I guess they wanted us to do it the long way before showing us the shortcut. Kinda like in math in school. I really didn't hit me as to how easy things had gotten for his care until about a month ago. I had the privilege to take another type 1 with us on a field trip to the zoo. He had been diagnosed about two years earlier and was still using shots to regulate blood sugar. It had been a long time since I had to give shots for blood sugar control. It felt a little strange having to do the math for the injection. I am so used to just putting the carbs in and having the meter dump the blood glucose number straight to the pump and do the correction that I had forgotten everything that you need to do to take care of diabetes the old way. I also forgot about the nighttime shot of Levemir. I am glad that I got to go that day. If I had not gone that day then neither my son or his friend would have gotten to go. It was also nice to get to see how far we had come.

    I do have to keep up with trends and look for things on a daily basis but over all it is so much easier having the pump. William's A1C dropped significantly after we got the pump. He was so young that small amounts of insulin made a huge difference. The shots only gave an accuracy of 0.5 units where the pump was at 0.0275. This made a big difference in his little life. Not so many lows. We no longer had to give the night time shots of Levemir but could better control his numbers with the basal rate adjustments during the night. Many things have changed over the years. We keep pushing his numbers to be better. William is starting to do some of the care on his own. I now let him do his own blood glucose number checks. He uses the same finger all of the time. I am going to have to break him of that. I am glad to see him wanting to take care of himself.

    We are due for a new pump this year. I have been doing a lot of research on the subject and I think I know what I would like to do this time. I also think that we will be looking into getting William a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. This will be a significant expense since insurance only covers a small part of this. New tools are not covered by insurance right away no matter the improvement in life care. That is a discussion for another day. I really hope when you are an adult and you read back through this you will think "I remember when I had diabetes and had to have a pump". I really hope that one day soon you will not have to think about what you eat, at least for diabetes.

Can't wait to see the future,

Your Loving Dad

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When I get to be a fat old grandpa

    William and I were watching TV the other night when a commercial came on about and elliptical trainer. It was a flashy commercial with lots of sound and skinny people working out on this trainer. Out of no where William looks at me and says "I am going to buy one of those". I was a little puzzled by this comment. If you know William you know the he has to be one of the most skinny, energetic kids on the planet. He is always doing something and he is usually running to get there. So I asked him why he wanted to get one of these machines. His answer was very funny, so I thought I would share it today. He told me that he would need it when he gets older and becomes a fat old grandpa. If he got one of these he could lose weight. I guess that children want to believe what ever they hear all of the time. If it is on TV then it must be true.

    In all fairness William's grandfather was not a skinny man. He would always tell the kids that he was eating "health food" while he was eating cake, doughnuts, pie etc... I guess that William just sees this as the natural progression when you get older. William's grandfather was always doing something around the house. He was a good man and seemed happy with the friends and family that surrounded him. I was still laughing at the idea of him being a fat grandpa. I will probably not get to live to see that day but I sure hope he is happy when he gets there. There is something that is very warming in my heart to think of him as a grandpa. If he turns out like his grandpa that would be a great thing for his grand kids.

We miss you grandpa,

His Loving Dad

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Diabetes Today

    It has been a little while since I have written about diabetes for William. Yesterday was the quarterly check up that every type 1 has to endure. The finger poke, peeing in a cup, the numbers review and ultimately the dreaded A1C number is revealed. Things were going good yesterday until William found out that he had to have blood drawn. It was his annual blood draw to make sure everything was going well. You would think that being diabetic he would be used to being poked with needles but it was the worst time ever yesterday. I had to physically pick him up and take him into the room to have the blood draw. We tried everything that we could to calm him down before I picked him up and took him in. In all fairness I remember doing the same thing when I was young. I remember having 4-5 people hold me down to gets shots or to have blood drawn when I was a kid too. I had my legs holding his legs down and my arms wrapped around his body and one arm. The male nurse held his other arm out while the lady (Kim) took his blood. It was a most amazing moment just before she poked him with the needle he calmed down and let her take his blood. No movement, no crying just calm. I am not sure what caused him to calm down just at that moment but I was relieved that he didn't keep fighting.

    I am still a little bewildered by his fear of needles outside of the diabetes stuff (How can he be so afraid of needles?). I guess I am glad to see him act like other kids when it comes to this though. I am glad that his life with diabetes is just slightly different than an average person's. That diabetes only jumps out a few times a day to say "remember me?". He takes everything in stride and I am glad to see that. He is starting to take on more as he is getting older. I am glad and sad to see him have to take on this responsibility. The everyday grind that this will become in his life but the freedom that he gets by learning it all is also good. I want to protect him for as long as I can. I want to keep him from having to learn all of this and just let him become another kid in the class. I can't do that though. It would be irresponsible for me not to put him in charge of his body. It would be a poor choice to not show him how to take care of himself but at the same time I would like to shield him from the grin as long as possible. I am not looking forward to the days when he just doesn't want to do it any more.

I am proud of how brave you are in all of this,

Your Loving Dad

Monday, January 12, 2015

Snuggling on the Couch

    The one thing that helped me through everything this last year was you sitting by my side on the couch and snuggling. Many times when my mind was going a million miles an hour, you would come and sit next to me and I could calm my mind and I could fad off to sleep. Even if it was just a few minutes I was at peace because you were sitting next to me. When I have my arm around you I know everything is going to be okay for as long as we are sitting there together. I try to make sure that I get time with you every night for us to have that little bit of time together. I am waiting for that day when you no longer want me to put my are around you any more. I will be proud of you that day for the independence that you show as well as being sad because you don't need me the way that you once did.

    I see you grow everyday and become more mature. I am so proud of you. I wish that I could have given you a life with a mother and father because I really wanted that for you. Having one at a time and seeing the pain that it caused you is very hard for me. I think that you feel the same way when I put my arm around you. I think you feel safe and you know that everything is going to be okay too.

    I know the day is coming when it will no longer be cool for me to put my arm around you and snuggle on the couch. I will just have to put my arm around you in my heart and smile. I look forward to seeing the good man that you will grow up to be and I hope that you have learned enough that you turn out better than me. I do hope that you miss the cuddling and you are wishing in your head that I had my arm around you too. Please know that my arm will always be around you even when you are not with me.

    The last thing that I wish for you today is that when you are a dad, I hope you get to experience the wonderful feeling of snuggling on the couch. I hope you take every opportunity to feel that calm feeling of holding your children next to you and the joy and peace that it brings.I hope you pass that on to them and you one day feel the same joy and the sadness when you no longer get to do that together. Then you will understand when I say I will always have your arm around you.

Snuggling together today,

Your Loving Dad

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Getting to know your big brother

    Your big brother came to visit this week. It was awesome to me to see how excited you were to see him. He is so much older than you and I have always worried that you would not really know him because of that age difference. I was worried that he would not treat you like a good big brother and he would find you annoying more than any thing else. He has stepped up over the years and I see him treat you with respect and patience. I am very happy that he takes the time to make you feel like to matter to him. It is good to see you take him downstairs and play on the Xbox, play with the remote controlled car, play hot wheels and his patience when you don't share or when you get in the way when playing video games.

    When Thursday came this week and it was finally the day to pick up your big brother, you came into my room to wake me up and tell me that we needed to get going so we could pick him up. I acknowledged your request and you disappeared from my room and a few minutes later you were back fully dressed and ready to go. I wish it was that easy getting you out of bed every morning. It did make me smile knowing that you were that excited about his visit. After getting up and making breakfast we got in the car and headed to my sisters house to meet everyone there. My oldest sister picked up your brother from the airport and brought him to her house. We had a good catching up with each other and celebrated a few birthdays. We stayed and talked for a while and then we took your brother and went home.

    I have always wondered what your brother thinks about you sleeping in his room. I wounder if he thinks that I replaced him or if he thinks that is no big deal. When the house was fuller I really didn't have many choices for giving out rooms. I wanted you in his room, I guess, because of nostalgia. I missed your brother a lot when he went to live with his mother and it was nice have a son in that room again. My house will always belong to you and your brother and you will be welcome but part of me is afraid that he feels like an outsider now. I hope that is not true and that he can see the joy and pride I have for him just like I do for you.

    I want to make sure that you two have ever opportunity to be together and get to know each other. I guess having such a big age difference can be a good thing because you never had to go through sibling rivalry. You both had me to yourself. The time I spent was with you and you didn't have to share. Well I guess you shared with your other brother and sisters for a while but now my time is all yours.  You take more effort than your brother ever did. Your health care is a constant. You have so much more energy than your brother ever did. Your troubles in life started when you were old enough to see it and even understand it a little. Your brother and I started out when he was only two years old. That was when his mother walked out on us and we started our lives together. It was scary to become a full time single parent with no help. I was afraid but it made me stronger and made me love your brother better. It made me think like a mom and a dad.

    I hope that you become friends and dads together and that you take what I tough you and make it better. I hope you love stronger, live happier and talk to each other about making things better. I hope you help each other when the hard times come and when it is raining that you hold the umbrella for each other. I hope you have good times together and you stay a family. You stay brothers and you stand together through everything that happens in your lives.

I am very proud of my boys,

Your Loving Dad

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Holidays

    I was off for the last three weeks. It was a nice break from everything. I really needed the chance to recharge and get ready for a new year. A lot of things have changed this year but life is better now. Over the holidays William had a birthday, we had Christmas, Jen and I went to a Grand Rapids Griffins game, Jen and I had our six month anniversary and My oldest son came to visit. It was a really good time.

Birthday Cake

William's Birthday
    For William's birthday Jen and I made him a cake and decorated it. William has always wanted a cake that looked like one from the local store. Since he is gluten free that can not happen. We got a cake mix and made our own. We mixed the frosting and decorated it with Transformers. He loved the cake and liked it even more that the transformers we good ones from the store that he can play with. The cake was a new mix and it was great. The one from last year was kind of bitter but William liked it. The one from this year was very good and we all ate gluten free this year. We got to sing Happy Birthday, have ice cream and open gifts too. William got a special book that was all about him. He got his very own pirate hat and we had a great time. We played with his hot wheels on the floor. I am not sure who had more fun Jen or William.

Christmas Holiday's
    I got to spend Christmas eve with Jen and her family and William can home at 9:00. We got to wake up to see what Santa had brought for Christmas. This is a few of the highlights of Christmas day.

    We also hosted Christmas dinner and had a great time with Jen and her mother. We had lasagna. This was great because I had lunch with my friend Jeff the day before. He had his kids for Christmas but wasn't sure what he was going to feed them. I guess he doesn't cook much. I invited him over and we made dinner for us and his family. We made one big lasagna for Jen's mother Jen and myself. We made one stripped down lasagna for the kids to eat and one with everything for him. I also made William a gluten free lasagna. It felt good to be helping a friend. It was also very nice to hear him say that it was a memory that he would have for a long time. Making dinner with a friend for Christmas.

 The Griffins Game
    Jen and I had a great time at the Griffins. They kicked butt and won 7 to 1. We had a great time enjoying each others company.

 Six Months Together
    It is hard to believe that out of such tragedy and pain I got to meet someone that makes me feel good about who I am. Someone that appreciates everything that I do and doesn't take it all for granted. We celebrated six months together with a very nice dinner. I am very lucky to have met someone like her. Thank you for six great months together. I am looking forward to many more anniversary's with you.

Big Brother Came for a Visit
    My oldest son is in the Navy. He is currently going through nuclear engineering training to help run the nuclear power plants for the navy. He is hoping to be on a submarine. This is the same path that I took to get where I am today. It makes me proud to see him doing what makes him happy and working hard to get it.
    We do not get to see Aaron very much so we had to fit everything we could into the weekend he was here. My sister picked him up from the airport and took him to my other sister's house so we could all see each other.  William was so excited the day Aaron got here he came into my room and woke me up to tell me that we needed to get going to pick up Aaron. He left my room and came back a few minutes later fully dressed without me having to say a word.That really made me smile.
    William, Aaron and I went to Craig's Cruisers for some fun together. We rode the go carts and played games. Big brother is fun to hang out with. He also played with him on the Xbox and really was a great big brother. William wanted him to move in with us and was very disappointed to know he was going home.
    My oldest played hockey when he was younger. I loved coaching his team and it was something that we enjoyed doing together. We took in a Griffin's game while we were together. He is now a man and it is a little tough thinking of him that way.

I am grateful for the wonderful break and the family that surrounded me this holiday. It was good to have both of my sons in my house again. It was also nice to have Jen meet Aaron. They really hit it off and I got to see him play the guitar. Jen brought hers over. It was the first Christmas that I have enjoyed in a really long time.

What a wonderful break,

Your Loving Dad

A Story by William

William's letter about Lucky     William sat down yesterday an wrote a letter about Lucky our dog. He wanted me to publish it. So ...