Off the Dial

Trick or Treat

I live in one of those neighborhoods that's just perfect for Halloween.  Loads of kids, easy to navigate sidewalks and neighbors who go all out decorating and treating.

This is when I usually start getting the questions, though. Will Benny trick or treat? (Yes). Is it okay to give him candy? (You betcha). Should we provide sugar-free versions of the stuff I'm giving to other kids? (NO!)

Halloween_candy Benny was three years old for his first post-diabetes Halloween.  That's when we told him this is the holiday when you run around the neighborhood, getting as much candy as you can possibly carry. Then you bring it home and trade it in for a new toy!


I stole this strategy from my friend Beth, who has a child with severe food allergies. Beth was also my college roommate and she's just started what I know is going to be a wonderful blog. Don't ask her to spill any secrets, though. She's as loyal as they come. (Right, Beth?)

Benny was easy - it was his older sister who was a little tougher to convince.  She was six that first year and experienced in the wonderful ways of Halloween and its spoils of unlimited sweets.  We agreed to keep as many pieces of candy as the age of the oldest child (she's a tough negotiator).

Frankly, I don't find sweets and candy to be that much of a problem with Benny's diabetes – 10 carbs in a mini-Snickers is not a big deal and easily controlled using his insulin pump.  But too much of anything is a problem, for him and for us.

Our doctor is so helpful. I remember thinking when Benny was diagnosed at 23 months that he would never be able to eat anything with sugar in it ever again.  Dr. V set us straight and every Halloween his office even hands out this list of popular Halloween candy with the carb count for each item.  Last year they included a cute picture of a vampire saying, "I vant your blood" and holding a blood glucose meter.  Nice to have a doctor's office with a sense of humor!

Our biggest challenge with diabetes and Halloween may be Benny's costume. It's a pull-on one-piece.  I'm probably going to have to cut a little hole in it for his tubing, so he can wear his pump.  We use the wonderful Animas 2020 but don't have the remote control version yet.  Hmm. Well, he'll be running around so much, his BG will probably go low. He'd love that – he'd get to dip into the Halloween stash early!

That’s Racin’ (with JDRF)

We  had someone new to root for at the Bank of America 500 this weekend.  #21 Woods Brothers Racing Ford driven by Bill Elliot. That's because the car's paint design was created by an 8 year old with type 1 diabetes. 

Jdrfpaintnascar This is part of a great contest by Ford Customer Service Division to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Children with type 1 colored in an outline of a car and submitted the design. After some fund-raising (which did not determine the outcome), they announced the winner: Carson Luther of Missouri.  You can read more about it here.

I won't pretend to be anything more than a casual NASCAR fan, and I love going to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the big races.



It's an incredible scene and there is nothing like seeing, hearing and feeling 43 cars go all out right in front of you. What a spectacle.

They put on a great show leading up to the race. These are my lame cell phone pictures of just after the driver announcements (left).






Then they clear all those people off the track and start the race. Look closely at this one, (right), those streaks are cars!







Big thanks to everyone at Charlotte Motor Speedway for their support of JDRF.

This is CMS President and GM Marcus Smith. I had the chance to bend his ear for a few minutes Saturday night and we're going to cook up something locally for JDRF. 

As part of that official effort, I'm pushing for the chance to drive the #21 car around the track. What? I already drive my minivan that fast!


Operation School Bell

In 1958, a teacher in California noticed children from one large family never came to school all at once.  She never saw all of them together.  It turns out the children were taking turns wearing the few pieces of clothing the family had. The teacher, Ruth Ann Montgomery, decided she couldn't let a lack of clothing keep her students from getting an education.  She turned to her friends at Assistance League and started what would become Operation School Bell.

In the 52 years since Miss Montgomery got involved, nearly 2 million children across the country have received new clothes, shoes, toiletries and school supplies.  Charlotte's Assistance League held Operation School Bell this week. I was honored to be part of it once again. 

AssistanceLeagueRufus They're smart over there – they get media folks involved so the cameras come out. But the real stars for these kids are the mascots and athletes. Rufus from the Bobcats was a big hit. I helped a girl named Alisa (on the left in this picture) and she must have hugged Rufus half a dozen times. Huge smiles.

Here's how it works. Underprivleged kids selected by school counselors get to shop in the AL store.  No money's exchanged, but they do get to pick out jackets, pants, shirts, socks, toiletries, a book and other little prizes. 


My favorite part is helping the kids pick out a jacket. You can tell it's often the first time they won't have to wear a hand-me-down and while the clothing is navy/white school uniform, the jackets are in bright colors the kids really like.

(Natalie Pasquarella from WSOC strikes a pose after helping a student pick out a new jacket.)


Next up for the Assistance League is their Baubles and Bags event on October 23rd. They need donations of handbags and jewelry and then they need people to come out and buy.  Great cause, dedicated volunteers, needy kids.   Ruth Ann Montgomery decided to do something more than 50 years ago. Let's keep her dream going and help these kids concentrate on learning.


Weight Loss – What Works?

I gained 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies. The first time around, chocolate enrobed mini Krispy Kreme donuts were my downfall. The second time I vowed to be more careful, but after gaining 30 pounds by the fifth month, I threw in the towel. Yes, of course I took my vitamins and ate my veggies, but I also ate everything else I wanted! 

Scaleweightloss These days, I weigh about five pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I'd like to lose a bit more, but overall I'm thrilled. What worked for me? Accountability. I signed up with a weight loss program. Can't say I followed their eating plan to the letter (and frankly, I didn't buy any of the products) but knowing I'd have to step on that scale in front of a real live person every week helped me stay on track.

Of course, I changed what I ate – added more lean protein with breakfast and veggies with dinner.  I still snacked, but on yogurt and fruit instead of those mini-donuts.  I also had my own rule that once a week I could eat whatever I wanted for one meal. Fast food, high-end steak house, chocolate cake, whatever.  But just once a week – and usually right after that personal appearance on the scale!

We're going to be starting something new soon with Health Headlines: The Show on NewsTalk 1110 WBT and I'd love to hear from you.  When it comes to healthy living, what works? Whether it's starting a new exercise program or eating better, let us know about your success so we can share with others.

Comment here or email me at You may be featured on our show!