Friday, September 23, 2011

Bear's Loose Tooth {A Giveaway}

Eating. Seeing. Reading.

Those are pretty much my favorite things about vacation. And I'm going on vacation. Tomorrow. To Maine. Then Boston. I will tell you about what I eat, see and read when I get back, I promise.

But until then, I have something for you. Well, one of you.

"Bear's Loose Tooth" is Karma Wilson's newest installment of the adorable, rhythmic Bear books. My dear friend Sarah introduced me to Bear and his friends. Cate -- my 4-year-old who loves books -- is loving Bear these days.

So you can imagine I was excited when I saw on Facebook that Karma Wilson offered to giveaway "Bear's Loose Tooth" to interested bloggers. She included a signed paperback copy for Cate and a hardback copy for one of you.

My favorite lines I've read in any of Karma's books comes from "Bear Feels Scared" ...

With a flap and a flurry
all the friends gather near.
They give him bear hugs--
and they calm his bear fears.

And then there's these sweet words from "Bear Feels Sick" ...

Mouse squeezes Bear tight.
He whispers in his ear,
"It'll be just fine.
Your friends are all here."

Entering this giveaway is simple. In the comments below, tell me what your favorite book by Karma Wilson is. If you haven't read her stuff, what other children's books and authors do you love? Please include your email address unless you have no doubts it resides in my email contacts.

For additional entries, you can ...
  • Follow me on Twitter. And tell me in the comments below you did.
  • Subscribe to this blog. There's an email sign up in the right sidebar. And tell me below you did.
  • Tweet about this giveaway. You can do so daily. And, yes, post the link to your tweets below.
  • Blog about this giveaway. And, I know you know, but tell me below with your link.
And then when I get back from vacation, I'll randomly choose a winner. You have until Wednesday, Oct. 5 to enter. Until then, happy reading.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meet my insulin pump ...

I started wearing an insulin pump on Monday evening. It's like a mechanical pancreas that is connected to me most all of the time. Yes, having it attached to me constantly was my biggest hesitation, but less than 48 hours in I'm already seeing why people love this way of managing diabetes.

Diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic more than seven years ago, I have had far more good days than bad days. But it's a chronic condition with so many variable to attempt to balance. And, honestly, this summer was rough. I had lots of unexplained ups and downs. I adjusted insulin doses {with the help of my doctor} and started trying harder to pinpoint problems.

As I learned more about insulin and my body, I decided Lantus, a long-acting insulin that is suppose to maintain blood sugar levels throughout a 24-hour period, was giving me trouble because I took a dose every night. Some days that dose was the right amount. Other days it was too much. I'd go low in the morning and then have my blood sugar spike up in the afternoon.

My doctor encouraged me to think about changing to pump therapy, which uses just fast-acting insulin, like what I've been taking at meal times. Small doses of Humalog are injected throughout the day. The pump allows for various settings that can be tweaked should I require different amounts of insulin in the mornings and afternoons. Before I could only inject full units at time, but the pump can inject fractions of a unit to be more precise.

The pump remembers my carb-to-insulin ratio so when I enter the number of carbohydrates I'm eating it can calculate how much insulin I need. My glucose monitor communicates my blood sugar readings to the pump, which knows the range I'd like to have my blood sugar. Should I need more insulin to bring a high down or less insulin to keep it from going lower, the pump calculates that along with what I need to cover the carbs I'm eating. It's just math, but it's nice to have the equations figured out and information stored on my mechanical pancreas in my jeans pocket.

It's going to be a good friend, I can tell. Perhaps I should give her a name.

It attaches to my abdomen like this. There are different infusion sets, but I chose the Sure-T set for a couple reasons. Unlike the others that use a plastic cannula to deliver insulin, mine uses a small steel needle. It also that extra loop of tubing that I thought would help if the small hands in my life pulled on the tubing. It tugs on the adhesive that doesn't include the needle {left side in picture} rather than pulling directly on the needle site {right side in picture}. And it doesn't require anything extra to inject it, like the other one I was thinking about. I figured the less I had to haul around, the better for the weight of my purse with diapers, wipes, my wallet, sippy cups, snacks, glucose monitor ... and whatever else makes it in for a trip to the grocery store, a weekend away, or a play date with a friend. I guess the one drawback is because it's a needle, I have to change it ever two days, rather than every three days like the other sets.

I can disconnect from the pump for short periods of time to shower or swim. When I do, this is what is left ...

It's waterproof and I don't really even feel it. When I'm ready to resume, I reattach the pump to the part on the left of the above picture. And go on about my life. Diabetes is always going to be part of my life, but I don't want it to define my moods or steal my joy.

So welcome to my life, Izzy the Insulin Pump. I hope you're everything I want you to be.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

{Football. Family. Fall.}

The above picture captures so many good things.

First, look at all those sweet faces. Seven of them. That's my kids and their five first cousins on the Taylor side. And they're all decked out in blue and gold, which must mean one thing ... Yep, game day. The weather finally cooled down and we were ready for some Murray State football.

And we saw some football Saturday evening, that's for sure. But, first, a couple more pre-game shots of us and our Racer pride ...

And, now, back to the football that was played on a gorgeous night that finally felt like fall. Murray State beat Tennessee State 58-27. Racer quarterback Casey Brockman passed for 600 yards, including seven touchdowns. And then he went on to catch a TD pass on a fabulous trick play.

The stats are impressive, indeed. But my favorite thing was watching the energy on the sideline. Every time a defensive player had a convincing hit or with every first down, the players lining the field erupted with cheers, high fives and dance moves. I saw more than one coach jump into the air more than once because of excitement.

It was a good night to be a Racer fan.

And there were plenty of opportunities -- eight! -- to see Racer One, who really is an old grey mare, circle the field. Murray State has an awesome tradition of having a horse -- you know, a Racer! -- run around the track when a touchdown is scored. Racer One ran 2 miles last night! Hope the horse has trained well because I get the feeling he'll be running quite a bit more this season.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

He reigns

I was cranky this morning thinking about my week while I was getting ready for church. Mostly, I was thinking about how my husband is going to be gone overnight one night. Really, I don't think I'll ever like going to bed without him home. I'm also going to start using an insulin pump. I'm really excited and I have high hopes that it's going to help my diabetes management. But some nervousness set in because I have a love-hate relationship with change.

And then I said it out loud to my husband: "I am sorry I was cranky because I was anticipating the busyness and you being gone one night. I know I have a bad habit of stressing about things that haven't even happened yet. I'm done doing that for now."

So I gave my week up to Somebody who really knows what he's doing. And not long after I was encouraged with every single song we sang at church. He reminds me time and time again that he's in the details.

It's all God's children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

He reigns over my days and over my plans and over my emotions. And I know the peace that passes all understanding when I let him be King.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender ...
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save ...

He conquered the grave. And he conquers every insecurity and worry that crosses my mind. He is mighty to save. Yes, he's preparing a place for me in heaven, but he's also saving me over and over again as I live my life here. He saves me from a permanent state of crankiness and disappointment and worry.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God ...

He's greater than my concerns that busyness is encroaching our time as a family. He's greater than my to-do list and responsibilities. He's greater than me and all the times I don't handle things as well I wish I did.

Thankfully, my heart and head are full right now of thoughts of how our God is greater and mighty to save. And, yes, he reigns. Even when I feel crankiness coming, he's reigning and waiting for me to give it all to him, again.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

I believe in community.

Sharing our lives is powerful. And I mean really sharing. Like not mopping the kitchen floor before your friends and their kids come over for dinner. Like telling them you really don't feel well when you don't. Like asking for help when you're overwhelmed. Like ignoring to pile of dishes in the sink to sit down talk with someone you love.

Community is about letting people in. It's about knowing you're not alone. But sometimes that's means having hard conversations. Often it means sharing meals, planning playdates and just being near. I think about the meals people brought me after each of our adoptions and the way people cared for us physically and emotionally after my father-in-law died unexpectedly and I know the power of community.

And I believe technology can help foster community.

Having phone conversations when, like me, my closest friends have small children in their homes, and probably at their feet, is hard. Texting and emailing to schedule times together often works because we can go about our lives -- getting preschoolers ready for the day, packing lunches, filling sippy cups, changing diapers, washing clothes, doing dishes, reading books, playing Memory, sweeping up crumbs from breakfast -- and make plans and check on each other while doing so.

Facebook makes the world smaller. And it makes community come together as moms encourage each other, ask for advice and warn of trials that could come. It's a place we can share wisdom we've read and songs we've heard and then plan parties for our families.

But just because we text and email and Facebook doesn't mean we shouldn't hang out. Being intentional about meeting at the park or the restaurant with the ball pit is also important to living in community. While the kids run together, us mommas can talk and bond, even if it's interrupted. And it will be interrupted. But 'tis the season for us to multi-task to take care of everyone near us.

And in community these same people take care of me.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Becoming a momma

Four years ago was my last day as a news reporter at the Murray Ledger & Times. I had been hesitant to dive into community journalism four years before that when Greg and I moved back to Murray, but it's the only job I could find. Turns out, I loved it. I love small-town journalism. I loved the challenge of working where I planned on living for a long time. And I still believe communicating what's happening in government, at the university, in community organizations and among families who call this town home is important.

But I traded that in to be a full-time momma. And, honestly, this motherhood job is much harder. I was trained to be a journalist; I'm called to a momma, and I'm still figuring it out. Before Cate was born, I assumed I'd keep working, balancing my professional and family lives. I went back to work when she was six weeks old, but I quickly learned this baby girl changed me. And was going to change me. And I didn't want to miss it.

I was nervous about giving up a paycheck when my husband had only been out on his own for a year as an attorney also managing a real investment company. I had to figure out how to get health insurance because there was no way we could pay for insulin and other diabetes supplies without it. And I had to trust my heart in a world that encourages women to work simply because they can.

I gave a month's notice, but Cate was four months and eight days old, I finished my last day as a news reporter in this town I've grown to love. And I haven't regretted it once.

{Here's my farewell column, if you'd like to read it.}

I don't get a paycheck to tell stories anymore, but I still have plenty of stories to tell. And I haven't stopped writing. It's for you guys here. And it's therapeutic for me. Plus it addresses my fear that I won't remember the details of this season of life.

I spend the majority of my time tending to my now 4-year-old Cate and 21-month-old Ben, who rocked my world in ways Cate didn't but fits perfectly in our family. I like to eat dinner at home and spend evenings with my family, but I've gotten a chance to tell some stories for other people along the way. I've helped Ken Winters with his re-election campaign because I believe in what he has to say and how he treats people. And I've written some press releases for the local Republican party.

Then more recently I prayed that God would give me some ways to use my communication and organization skills in ways that help families. And not long after I saw that Randall Goodgame had some open dates for Slugs & Bugs Live. I left a comment on his blog that Murray, Ky., would be a good place to bring the children's concert. He emailed me and one email led to the next and I found myself planning a communitywide concert, sponsored by my church. And an hour after it was over, I realized I want to do it again.

I'm also in the midst of helping with the inaugural Marketplace 29 A.D. -- a Bible school-type activity that is going to be take place during the local schools' Fall Break and give kids a chance to learn about Jewish culture and Jesus' heritage in an alley that is going to look and sound like a first-century marketplace. So far, at least 17 churches are involved. I became involved because the organizer Jan Seargent called and asked if I could help with publicity. In the weeks since, Jan and I have become friends and I've gotten to witness some of the awesome things about community.

Yep, I'm a stay-at-home momma. But I don't just sit at home and change diapers. Yes, I change plenty of diapers and fill countless sippy cups. On the days with the dirty laundry piles are high, dishes are filling the sink, piles of preschool papers clutter the kitchen counter and my all-boy boy is getting into something else, I can get frustrated and lose sight of what's important.

Motherhood is hard. This is harder than any of the 88 city council meetings or two murder trials I covered. This is more challenging than asking U.S. senators and university presidents questions about controversies.

But motherhood is rewarding. It's more thrilling to listen to my son learn to tell stories in broken, incomplete stories than it was to write a breaking news story. It's more precious to hear my daughter talk about Jesus than to hear about our public hospital's budget. And my job here is far from over. My kids are little. They have a lot of growing up to do. And I'll get to have a front row seat that doesn't require any media credential.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

All boy, my boy

Ben has no idea he's small. He has no idea he's not quite 22 months old or that he's not towering off the growth charts. He's fast and loud and stubborn and quick to try anything. He's always moving and discovering and moving some more. And he wants to do what big kids do because he has no fear.

Yep, he's all boy. Even when he colors in a My Little Pony book.

And he likes being a big boy, leaving his momma to wonder what's next.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

God made slugs and bugs ... and me!

God made slugs and bugs and rats and bats
And nasty bees who won't say please,
They sting your elbows and your knees if you chase them. ...

God made me,
Like He made the sea,
And filled it up with green and blue.
He sent His Son,
His only One,
To fill me up and make me new.

God made everything that was or is
Or will be, what a crazy biz!
I can't believe that I am his forever!

Now I listen very carefully,
Because He lives inside of me.
That could be gross, but it's not 'cause
it's Jesus Christ, My Lord and Savior!

-- "God Made Me" from Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies
By Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson

"Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" has been our favorite kids' CD for a couple years now, although Cate called it "Stop" for a long time because that's the first track. Even Ben, at 21 months, is into the songs now, especially "Bears" and "Tractor, Tractor." And Greg walks around the house singing different lyrics from time to time.

I liked the CD so much I bought several copies and we gave them to our friends' kids for their birthdays one year. And I shared an extra copy in a blog giveaway. So when the opportunity to host Slugs & Bugs Live came my way, I was really excited.

And, thankfully, other people showed up for the show yesterday ...

I don't know why I ever doubt God being in the details. I made 99 goody bags {I was going for 100, but I miscounted somewhere along the line ...} to pass out to kids after the concert. Cate, in typical 4-year-old fashion, was eager for her bag after helping me stuff them and seeing them sitting in a box at home for a few days. I told her she couldn't have one until all the other kids got one. And guess what ... she got the very last goody bag yesterday. I had exactly the number of goody bags that I needed.

The entire day was really like that, really.

Randall Goodgame and I talked on the phone and exchanged some emails while planning the concert, but I didn't really know him. Yet he was warm and welcoming {Can you welcome someone else when you're the one visiting?} and he put on a show that my daughter loved. And the other kids seemed to too. Is it crazy I want to do it all again some day?

Just watch this video and you'll sense the joy.

Did you see Cate work to get her friend Achazia's attention? Did you see cute Addie get closer and closer to Randall and then her mom Jenn slip in and encourage her back toward the group? And how cute are all those kids trying to do the motions to the song? I guess you noticed Ben really wanted to be up there with them!

And here's another favorite of ours, even Ben, who is all about making bear {and many other animals} sounds. Grrrr ... "Bears, bears, they got no cares. Bears don't drink from a cup ..."

I left the theater yesterday feeling thankful that I have a community of people around me {and many of them were there yesterday!} who value family and want to teach our kids about Jesus. I'm thankful for our college friend Ryan and his friend Bryce who took care of the audio/video responsibilities. I'm thankful our church elders agreed to do something new by sponsoring the free concert for my family and so many other families in our community. And I'm thankful other people thought Slugs & Bugs Live was a fun time.

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Remembering 10 years ago

Ten years ago, I worked at The Associated Press in Louisville. I had graduated from Murray State four months earlier, completed a three-month internship at the Lexington Herald-Leader and recently started at nine-month temporary stint at The Associated Press.

I was surrounded by the news of the terrorist attacks.

I heard news of the first plane crash while I was driving into work. Then I walked into The Courier-Journal building, where the AP office was, and heard of the second plane crash. Other reporters and editors -- who had a history covering history -- were stunned. Nobody said much to each other.

And then I got in the AP office and couldn't take my eyes away from the three TV lined up on one wall. Each was tuned to a different major network. And yet we craved more information. We had access to so many different AP wires, so we kept refreshing the New York and Washington news. Stories were being updated in a matter of minutes. Information trickling in as names were confirmed, as places were secured, as plans were made, as an investigation revealed dark answers.

Eventually, I talked to people on the Louisville streets and made phones to learn how local people were responding to what was becoming a day no American would ever forget. There were so many stories of loss and hope. I was reminded why information helps people cope and how documenting these stunning moments -- even from a distance -- is a way to preserve history.

And I'll certainly never forget the way our country mourned and came together. Heroes were honored. Security was tightened. And a few numbers signify a date that changed so many lives and continues to be part of our American story.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 22

Thanks to the Courtney for the above photo.

On today, which is Day 22 of my summer cold, I can finally say I feel better. I feel closer to normal than I have in three weeks. My head doesn't feel like it's going to explode, my blood sugar isn't fluctuating to the extremes, the fluid in my ear doesn't feel like it's going to spill out of my head, my nose isn't raw from blowing it every 6 seconds, coughs aren't interrupting my sleep, my energy level is much improved and my throat isn't itchy.

Being sick when you're a mom is rough. I didn't do as much as I usually do, but diapers still had to be changed, food still had to be bought and sometimes prepared, questions still have to be answered and clothes needed to be washed and dried and eventually put away. And, even as much as I love summer, the 100-degree temperatures probably didn't help.

Plus laying on the couch for days at a time isn't really an option with a 21-month-old boy who is all boy. I know, he looks all innocent watching the Murray State football game in that picture above, but having him sit like that is rare. He likes to be on the move. He likes to do whatever his big sister is doing. He is loud and funny and constantly into something.

I tried just doing things and going places in an attempt to forget how bad I felt. Some days that worked, at least temporarily, until I crashed on the couch later. We even had a couple out-of-town trips planned that I didn't want to miss.

Summer colds are miserable. I went to the doctor twice, coming home with medicine only the second time. I learned that a steroid pack for a Type 1 diabetic is complicated. I'd do a chore, and then have to rest, and I longed for the day to end so I could just lay down, even though sleeping was frustrating because the coughs and congested interfered with my dreaming sweetly.

I kept hoping the next day would be better.

And today, finally, I can say I'm better.

I'm still coughing and have a runny nose, but that's nothing compared to the past three weeks. Trust me, this is relief. I'm so happy to be here. And I'm happy the fall weather joined me.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

A small-town big family

Cate played with her second cousin once removed yesterday afternoon. Yeah, I've never met someone of that relation to myself. But the beauty of a big family in a small town is when your 4-year-old daughter's second cousin once removed, who is almost 7, is visiting Murray from her home in Nashville, you can have lunch with the relatives unexpectedly and then have an impromptu playdate.

Cate and Taylor -- whose last name isn't Taylor but whose mom's maiden name is Taylor -- played at Dwain and Mary's house. To further the relational break down, Dwain is Greg's great uncle and Taylor's grandpa. Cate came home talking about Gigi, who until today we've called Aunt Mary.

The girls played Yahtzee, climbed on a swing set, drove a Barbie Power Wheel and discussed last names and where they live. Taylor taught Cate about tennis. And Cate fell off a homemade zip line after having been successful some times earlier.

She came home with a bruised finger and elbow, busted lip and gums, and scraped cheek. But she also brought home lots of stories and memories. Then Taylor brought Cate a get-well gift today. And we've already mentioned getting together next time.


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Friday, September 2, 2011

Football is a fall sport ...

It's football season! Yeah, I know, it doesn't feel like it. Trust me, I know. We watched Murray State play at Louisville yesterday and it was 100 degrees. And that's no exaggeration. We even tailgated in the hot, summery weather that made wish a beach was close.

Our quick road trip to Louisville, tailgating before watching our Racers and hanging out with some family and friends were fun ways to kick off football season, even if the weather doesn't seem as eager to give way to fall.

Ben befriended these Louisville fans who were tailgating next to us. He babbled about the planes that he saw in the sky, the other cars and who knows what else.

This was before Courtney and I were sweaty mess. Go Racers!

Ben really liked Steve. So much so, he barely paid any attention to us. And "us" included both grandmas.

The Racers offense struggled to come alive, but the defense played well. Louisville won 21-9, but we were glad to be there, wearing our blue and gold, in that sea of red. Perhaps Mother Nature will decide she's ready for football soon.


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