Archives for September 2011

Healthy Living… Essentially

For those of you that have been following along… I’ve been making a serious effort to live healthier. This has meant going to the gym several times a week, training with a trainer, attending cooking classes at Love’n the Kitchen, and changing our eating habits.

Part of changing our eating habits has been replacing certain food items. It’s sort of a take on “eat this… not that”. We’ve ditched butter in our cooking almost entirely. We’ve replaced skillet fried meals with George Foreman grilling. Whole fat, greasy chips have been replaced with baked varieties. And this week… we’ve made a swap in our baking ingredients: Splenda Essentials for sugar.

The recipe is one of my own. The only replacement was to swap out the sugar in my recipe for Splenda Essentials with Fiber. This no calorie sweetener has the same sweet taste of Splenda, but also has an added benefit of a gram of fiber. It’s also packaged in a bag that makes it easy to measure out.

The biggest benefit for this switch? Lowering the carbs from added sugar allows Allison, age 5, who has Type 1 Diabetes, to enjoy baked goods in a healthier way. Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetner Products are helping me to make better choices for my family without taking away dessert.

Kelly’s Essential Splenda Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

The food that we eat… whether it’s dessert or not… doesn’t just influence the way we look. It also influences the way that we feel. Taking control of the types of foods we’re putting into our bodies will help manage our weight and get us closer to our over all health goals as a family.

Because I’ve personally had such a great experience using Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener… I’m going to share a fabulous prize package with you.

One lucky winner will receive ($75 value):

One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener with B Vitamins
One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener, 1 gram of Fiber packets
One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener, 1 gram of Fiber granulated
One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener to-go mug
One (1) Splenda-yellow blender
Two (2) Splenda-yellow bowls
One (1) Splenda-yellow fruit juicer  

The Rules:

Leave me a comment on small healthy changes you’ve been making in the lives of your family and “Like” Splenda on Facebook. One entry per contact method (Email or Twitter).

The winner (who leaves some way for me to reach them) will be announced on Friday, Oct. 21st. Contest is closed on Thursday, Oct. 20th, midnight pst.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post on my own. The recipe is my own. The thoughts and feelings of my health journey have been my own. Splenda financially supported the use of their product in this post. I’d be baking cookies regardless. xoxo

Second Verse. (Not the) Same as the First.

We had our second son on Wednesday. Jack Peter now has a little brother. Reid Parker. We take him home today.

Already, I’ve a new parental philosophy. (In my mind, I can see Angela Chase fix Jordan Catalano with that look. “You have a philosophy?” I miss My So-Called Life.)

Different. Not better. Just different.

It’s a mantra, a Buddist ‘om’ said between breaths. Having two of anything begs comparison. As parents, my wife and I have no other frames of reference.

One came out with a full head of Blagojevich-esque hair (Jack.) One did not. (Reid.) One came quick and easy. (Reid.) One did not. (Jack.) One makes a lot of noise, little mews and cries. (Reid.) One didn’t. (Jack.)

This list could go on, stretching well into their adulthood. It is my sacred mission as a father to make sure that it doesn’t.

My worry is that these kinds of comparisons become the way I talk about my boys for the rest of my life. That they hear these comparisons as proof of preference. My preference.

If I had one fear as a re-new Dad, aside from dropping Reid on his soft little head, it’s that my heart wouldn’t have room for them both. That I would be incapable of giving each of them the love and attention that they deserve.

Silly. The fears of a rank amateur.

Our best stretch in the hospital so far was Thursday morning, when my mother-in-law brought Jack in to meet his brother. As much love as I’d focused on Reid, I realized I’d missed my other little guy. As much as Jack wanted to see Lara and I, he loved sitting in my lap while we looked at Reid. “Baby brother,” he kept saying, then looking at us to smile.

The hair. The mewing. The delivery time. None of it matters. It’s just description. How I anchor you each in my mind, boys. What makes you different from each other. Not better. Just different.

I love you just the same. And for exactly who you are.

Note From the Editor: This post made me shed many tears as a mom. Tears that could relate. Tears that wonder if I secretly or maybe not so secretly compare my girls. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanKercinik and read more of his blog at Always Jacked. And as always… leave a note. Can you relate?

Conversation at my house:

4 year old boy:  I’m touching my poop.

Me:  That’s not poop.  That’s your penis.  You’re touching your penis.  That’s fine.

4 year old boy:  Oh.  Will you touch my poop?

Me:  Your penis?

4 year old boy:  Yes.

Me:  (blowing this all off)  Nah.  I just want to change your diaper.

4 year old boy:  My poop tickles.

Me:  You mean your penis.

4 year old boy:  My penis tickles.

Me:  ::manically trying to figure out how to include this dialogue into a blog post::


And now you know what I do when I’m busy not blogging.


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

School, Diabetes, and a Sad Mommy

Back to school… Both Rachel, who just turned 7, and Allison (5), are in school this year. Honestly… I had no problem with Rachel going off to school. She was still 4 when she entered Kindergarten, but we weren’t in a position to pay for pre-school… so off she went to Kindergarten. She was ready and excited and I was proud. She was also perfectly healthy.

Allison, on the other hand, isn’t perfectly healthy. She has Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve been taking care of her at home. I’ve been her playmate. Her giggles filled my office as I worked. We ate lunch together each day.. even last year, when she went to pre-school half day. Now someone else will be taking care of her all day.

I was sad. My life was changing. Several things changed on that Monday. I won’t get into them all right now… but sending both of my girls off to school sent me into a sort of sad, downward spiral. I didn’t even want to get out of bed. What would I do all day? Why was the house so quiet? Is Allison’s blood sugar stable? Would she tell someone if she wasn’t feeling right?

The questions overwhelmed me. I burst into tears in the school nurses office. She and I had a somewhat rocky relationship last year because having a diabetic student… even half day… was a new thing for our school. But we made it through and we set a plan for Kindergarten, along with our Endocrinologist. And now that Kindergarten was here… I was scared, lonely, and full of anxiety.

The first week was rough. I got a call daily and Allison was experiencing low blood sugars. But in the few weeks since… things have stabilized. And as things stabilized for her… I found that things stabilized for me.

Being a Mom isn’t easy but how we react to life’s changes make all the difference. How do you cope with the changes in your life?

Mailing it in.

The twins have been sick and require all these meds and breathing treatments and won’t let me leave their sides.  Thankfully the kiddos are on the upswing, and both are finally back at school.  There are no daily health concerns around here anymore, if you don’t count my own mental health issues which having two sick young children have exacerbated.  Consequently, I’m not feeling overly sentimental or even anecdotal about mothering twins on this Twin Tuesday.  It’s Twin Tuesday–my day to blog–and all I can think to say is “stick a fork in me”.

So I decided to film the twins and post it for your viewing pleasure on this Twin Tuesday.  I meant it to be a singing recital of sorts, but it turned out to be more of a slice of life with these chatty cathy’s I claim as my spawn.  Enjoy.


<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>Mailing it in.


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

Cinderella v. the Giant Scary Flying Bug

Such a fun, bittersweet day at the Byrd House.

The twins are sick.  Much of the time, they can catch a bug and it means a couple of days of downtime and some overtime for our Cough Assist (it expels their secretions for them, because they don’t have the muscle tone to do it themselves), SVN (nebulizer), and home suction machine.  But this time is different.  The twins have been congested and cough-y for well over a week.  It’s still manageable, thanks to a considerate pulmonologist and his always-fabulous nurse who called in prescriptions for us, but it sucks that the twins are sick today.  Why?

Today was Lauren’s big Make A Wish presentation.  The girl is obsessed with all things Mickey Mouse/Disney Princess/Winnie the Pooh, so a few months ago she told them she wants to go to Disney World.  I knew a few weeks ago that her Wish would be granted, but I kept quiet until tonight.  Her pulse oximeter and oxygen were hidden away in her room when they got here.

The fine ladies from Make A Wish presented Lauren with a personal note from Cinderella welcoming her to Disney World and explaining that she and Daisy Duck (Lauren’s other, somewhat plush but equally significant best friend) can’t wait to meet her in January.  Lauren exhibited exactly the levels of glee I expected—thrilled to see the special scroll with Cinderella’s message, impressed with the Cinderella costume she opened from their gift bag, minded her manners to thank them over and over, but entirely  consumed with desire to go outside to blow the Disney Princess bubbles which came with it.

Her Disney trip won’t happen for four more months.  Clearly, at age four, she doesn’t have a real concept of time, but holy cow when it’s time to get on that plane?  Nobody likes sitting anywhere near a little kid on a flight, but if you’re lucky enough to nab a seat next to Lauren, you will never know a happier three hours and fifty six minutes (I made that time up, but it sounds right).

All of us get to go with Lauren on her Make A Wish trip, of course—including her twin brother, who hasn’t decided yet what his Wish will be.  He has fourteen more years to decide his own Wish.  But many in-advance thanks to anyone who has ever contributed dollars, air miles, or awareness to such a critical cause.

I promise to keep her healthy enough to make this trip in four months if you all promise to keep donating, tweeting, caring, or otherwise supporting this amazing organization.  The story of how Make A Wish came to be is inspiring, yet heart breaking.  Read about it here.

So, as soon as the Make A Wish staff left, I let the kids enjoy the nice weather and blow those Disney Princess-y bubbles outside.  I was mulling around here and there–picking up around the grill, checking voicemail, demonstrating a cool putt-return doohickey for them when a giant VW-sized flying beetle landed on Lauren’s head, and then her arm, and then her foot and that my friends is what she remembers from this day.

Cinderella, you have quite a scary/hysterical crying memory to overcome and/or compete with…


The Make A Wish Foundation can be found at, or @MakeAWish or @MakeAWishAZ.

Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.