Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Of...

Many of you already know this, but for those of you who don't know...

We're having a baby!

We have been keeping our fun news off of the internet because there were lots of people that we wanted to tell, but in a unique and personal way, and in our own time. With news this exciting, it was way more fun to spread it out over months and get fresh reactions each time. The blog and facebook (especially the latter) would have ruined our plans....hence the silence. However, while we were in Utah over the holidays, we were able to see/tell the final three people we were waiting to tell in person - Daniel, Camille, and Olivia - so now we're going to elaborate on how we shared the news with friends and family. The following documentation is my "best of" list for the announcement/reactions.

The very best have to be the times that we got to share the news in person. These were few seeing as we live in Ohio, but they are gems!

Telling my parentals:


They visited Russia earlier this year, so we thought a Matryoshka theme would be fitting. I used four nesting dolls and started with my grandmother's birthday, then my mom's, then mine, with the announcement wrapped up inside the smallest doll. My mom had to guess what each date represented (she passed with flying colors) before she could open the doll.

The slip of paper is an inside joke I've had going with my dad for years, so those aren't actually names we considered, but my parents loved the announcement. The date is slightly off as well - baby Adams is due to arrive on 24 March 2012.

I can't wait to see my parents as grandparents - they will be amazing!

To go along with the announcement, I made my parents this certificate. If you received our Christmas letter, this is the promotion I was referring to - hopefully it made sense. This will be the first grandchild for my parents, so we figured we'd go all out with the certificate.

Next up: telling Uncle Joey.

We invited him over for dinner (I think), but it was really all about the dessert - a scrumptious chocolate cake with the best frosting/icing I've ever tasted.

Joe also received a promotion, as you can see:

It took him no time at all to figure out our happy news. His reaction was priceless, even considering he'd have to convert if he really wanted to become a godfather. =) We had lots of fun that night calling fellow Berhaners to announce another addition to the next Taiwan generation (ours is baby #3 in that group).

Final in-person announcement - telling Liz Weinberg, one of my dearest roommates from BYU:

We were fortunate to meet up with the Weinbergs over Thanksgiving weekend in NYC, and we had a delightful Thai dinner together. Liz was thrilled, and I was so happy I got to share the news with her in person!

Next up on the "best of" category list - those we told over the phone and through the mail.

If I had actual awards to give out for the best responses, they would have to go to Penny Yarbrough and Ann Odom - hands down.

First up: Penn.

This picture should look familiar to many of you - including Penn. I sent this to her (and others) in the mail with a note on the back saying only, "We have an announcement to make!" Short and sweet, but totally worth the wait to have it arrive in the mail as a surprise. I will never forget the phone conversation we had when she received of those "hot of the press" moments.

Ann Odom also needs to be mentioned due to the timing of the announcement. I won't go into all the details, but I sent a rather facetious text to her that arrived at the perfect moment, which truly can only be described in person. I was planning on telling her the same way I told Penn, but then randomly felt an urge one particular night to just tell her right away via text. Her explanation of the events made the timing/spontaneity crystal clear. =)

So those are the announcements that made the "best of" list, and the following pictures are some additional pieces of the puzzle that you may or may not be wondering about.

We found out at the beginning of November that we are having a girl! This is how we told our fellow temple workers on the Saturday afternoon shift - an offering of sugar cookies covered with pink sprinkles. My days serving in the temple with Steve are numbered, but I was still excited to share the news with the great friends we've made there.

As soon as we found it was a girl, we immediately knew her name:

Ainsley Jane Adams

Unique. Classy. Scottish.

My parents sent flowers the day after we found out the gender, and I was welcomed into the world of grandparenthood when I called to thank my mom for sending the beautiful flowers, and received the following reply, "the flowers aren't for you - they're for Ainsley." Awesome. That cracked me up.

The last two pictures are from the baby shower that Jamie Benich and Steve's mom threw for us over the holidays. Steve and I got to spend an evening surrounded by family, as well as Penn, Ann, and Savannah. I'm so glad these three could make it!

We received so many generous gifts from those who came, and we're so grateful for all the love and support we felt. Even though family is very far these days, we wanted to put up a picture of this gift from Christie Hardey because it perfectly captures how we feel. We're in Ohio, my parents are in Utah, and Steve's are now living in Peru, but when it comes to family, distance doesn't matter.

So there it is.

Ainsley Jane Adams - coming our way on 24 March 2012!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I married a bookworm...
Part I

Part II

Part III

A non-fiction-loving bookworm.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's November.

It's also Diabetes Awareness Month.

I've never done much to spread information about diabetes besides answering questions people ask me. That's pretty lame considering I've had diabetes my entire life (I was diagnosed at 18 months). I really love answering questions by the way, but since I can't read minds, I don't know who has questions in the first place.

My friend, Erin C., is an amazing advocate for diabetes awareness. Since she blogs regularly (I don't), posts fb updates frequently (I don't), and does online research about advancements (I don't), she's inspired me to at least share a little about the disease, and my experience living with it. Here are the main points to tell my story:

1. I have Type I Diabetes. This is different from Type II. I'm not going to discuss Type II at all since I'm not an expert on it. Type I used to be called Juvenile On-set diabetes because they saw it crop up in young patients. That's a misnomer these days, and rarely used anymore, since young children fall into both categories of diabetes - type I and type II.

2. Type I Diabetes is an auto-immune disease. If you don't know what that means, in a nutshell, my own immune system attacked my own body.

Case in point: How I landed this disease.

I was 18 months when I was diagnosed, and the precursor to my problem started when I was exposed to the measles (yes, my parents were on top of vaccinations!). The measles antibody and the Islets of Langerhans - regions in the pancreas responsible for hormone production - look very similar. Do you see where I'm going here? My own immune system mistook my own cells - the beta cells that produce insulin (a hormone) inside the Islets of Langerhans - for the measles they were combating, and started to attack and destroy my own system, as well as the foreign bodies. No beta cells? No insulin. No insulin? No way to transport the glucose (from the food you eat) in the bloodstream into the actual cells, thereby depriving cells of energy and resulting in excessive amounts of sugar in the bloodstream.

3. You cannot get Type I Diabetes by eating too much sugar or by not exercising. This is a MYTH! Type II is a different story. Eating too many Snickers bars is not going to cause the reaction I mentioned above.

4. Currently, there is no cure for Type I Diabetes, however, there are technologies that make it one of the best illnesses to live with and still maintain a normal life - insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pens, etc. The following picture is sort of what my stomach looks like, only mine is less curvy, much whiter and also has scar tissue. =)

A) Minimed Insulin Pump

B) Pump insertion site (changed every 3-4 days)

C) Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) sensor (changed every 3-6 days)

D) CGM receiver (relays information to the insulin pump)

5. For Type I diabetics, insulin must be injected into the body by means of a syringe or an insulin pump. You cannot take an oral form of the medication (again, that's Type II stuff). I use an insulin pump - it's my third arm. I wear it 24/7 except when I shower or scuba dive. I've been on a pump since I was twelve.

6. I never go anywhere without my blood glucose meter. I use this to test my sugars (finger pricks) throughout the day to see how I'm doing, i.e. whether my sugars are too high, too low, or in the normal range. And what is the normal range? 80-120 mg/dl. On average, I test my blood eight times a day.

7. Aside from my pump and my meter, I always have sugar on me in the form of juice, glucose tablets (the two best sources for diabetics), or candy (not the best source because candy causes sugars to spike and then crash, but in a jam, it gets the job done).

8. My parents and Steve are the people who truly understand from experience how serious high and low blood sugars can be. I am literally not myself if my sugars go too high or too low. Extreme highs are bad, but extreme lows are incredibly dangerous if not treated immediately. Here are the symptoms (mine, at least) in case you come across a diabetic acting funny:

High: I cannot concentrate. My brain cannot respond to tasks that are normally easy. Ask me to figure out a complex equation? Impossible - I won't be able to do it. I'm hungry. I'm very thirsty. I don't move as quickly as I normally do. I'm really tired, and thanks to all the water I have to drink, I have to pee a lot too. This is the primary symptom that my mom noticed that made her aware something might be wrong with me when I was still in diapers. Solution: take insulin.

Low: I shake. I sweat. My eyes glaze over and you could be carrying on a conversation with me, but I will have no idea what you said. I don't respond quickly. I'm tired. I have no energy. Unfortunately, and my mother can attest to this, my inability to function well means that I can't swallow very easily. I remember a number of occasions when my mom had to raise her voice to get my attention while I was sitting on the countertop right in front of her while she was helping me to swallow sugar since I couldn't do it on my own. It's usually low blood sugar reactions that freak people out. Luckily, I catch myself 95% of the time before it becomes a crisis, but there have been times when I've needed others' help. Solution: Get any source of sugar into me as fast as possible.

9. Insurance is absolutely necessary. Without insurance, diabetes cannot be managed properly. Without proper management, that's when you deal with loss of eyesight, kidney failure, heart disease, amputation and all sorts of complications that then require huge sums of money that burden taxpayers. I love it when people complain about Obamacare. I love it when they only see the bad and refuse to acknowledge the good (both exist). I really wish they'd do some in-depth research to learn about dealing with insurance while having a "pre-existing condition." Obamacare will radically alter these difficulties, and I am grateful for that. Good insurance is vital.

The numbers (that I deal with, though each diabetic is different) speak for themselves.

Supplies (costs per year without insurance):
Insulin: $5,400
Strips: $3,504
Pump insertion sites: $1,040
Pump reservoirs: $270
CGM sensors: $1,820

One-time costs:
Meter: $65
Insulin pump: $6,000
CGM receiver: $1,300

I'm not including the cost for doctor's visits and lab work that is required - I don't have the numbers nearby....

Total: just shy of $20,000 including one-time fees for equipment, $12,000 per year if you only include costs for on-going care.

There are many other diseases that fall under the label of "pre-existing conditions" and I'm sure those diseases have high costs of their own. Like I said, good insurance is what keeps me going.

10. Diabetes is manageable! I've never felt that I wasn't a normal person, or that I couldn't do exactly the same things all of my friends were doing just because I have diabetes. If you are responsible and take care of yourself, you can lead a very healthy lifestyle and do everything you want/dream to do. My parents always reminded me growing up that others had it far worse than I did - others had diseases that were much more devastating than diabetes. I thank them for the perspective they drilled into me.

And there you have it. This is probably way more information than you've ever cared to know about Type I Diabetes, but hopefully it will come in handy some day if you ever come across someone with this disease that needs your help, or at least some understanding.

Happy November.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Irish and Awesome

And to think that I spent years attempting the very same, only with my feet...

Simply amazing (though Irish music is way cooler).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicago Style

We love Chicago.

I haven't felt this way about a city since Edinburgh. Five minutes after arriving in Scotland's capital, I was in love.

Same thing with Chicago.
Even though our recent adventure over Columbus Day weekend wasn't my first time visiting this fabulous spot, it was the first time that I got a good feel for the city and all its treasures.

If work or school takes us there, we'll be happy as clams. No matter where work or school takes us, we'll still be happy as clams, but Chicago is incredibly cool.

So here's a look at the Chicago style adventures we had this last weekend.

We started out at the Art Institute of Chicago.

A little art humor presented by Steve.

Treasures in the Art Institute - Grant Wood's American Gothic and George Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte.

When I teach about these paintings I have an extremely hard time not getting distracted by the following connections:

President Eyring and Cameron Frye

Can anyone else relate?

Totally missed this part of the Institute last time I was here, and this is probably my favorite section - the Thorne Miniature rooms.

Next stop: Shedd Aquarium

Coolest jellyfish exhibit ever! Aren't they pretty?

More cool creatures - we were mesmerized.

After seeing live animals at the aquarium, we saw some dead ones next door at the Field Museum.

Meet Sue and Pumbaa.

One of the marinas off of Michigan Lake.

We caught a trolley and headed up North to explore the Magnificent Mile where we saw the following attractions:

This is close to the Chicago Water Tower building - in the heart of the Mile.

And not far away is the John Hancock Tower - Chicago's 4th tallest building, which has the best views of the surrounding areas.

Looking North...

A candy shop along the Magnificent Mall with some amazing displays.

Fruity candy is way better than chocolate candy. If taste wasn't evidence enough, here's fashion that also supports my claim.

Winding up our walk down the mile, we came to some fabulous river scenery.

Then we finished the day at Millenium Park.

Had to take pictures at Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate.

And some more pictures at the nearby fountains.

Favorite photo from the trip.

The next day found us at Navy Pier.

Carousels and Swings. Please make note of Steve's pose in the airborne pic - classic Adams.

What's a trip to Chicago without a stop at Sears Tower?

From what we understand, the locals prefer not to refer to this building by its official name - Willis Tower.

Another view of a marina. Pretty at dusk, eh?

The following pictures show the amazing architecture that characterizes the city as seen from our cruise on the Chicago River.

Back to the Pier for some cool evening shots.

This is a picture where we stayed (the gate, anyway) - a gorgeous home belonging to Steve's relatives who were kind enough to let us stay even though all the family was away for the weekend.

On our way out we stopped by the Chicago Illinois LDS Temple to check it out since we were so close.

Then we headed home.

Some gorgeous scenery to welcome us back to Ohio.
Autumn is the best.