Monday, July 28, 2014

The Alto's Journey

Reagan & I spent a day about town last week, Tuesday, to be precise.  I thought we both needed to get out of the house & focus on things other than Frozen acclimating to her new insulin pump, & plus there were some things I had to get done.  The oil doesn't change itself.  We don't grow toilet paper on trees.  Well, you know what I mean.

The day began well.  My dad recently returned from a mission trip to Guatemala, & he brought me this:

I'm not sure why Guatemala has the economic issues it does; I'd pay a high price for more of this stuff.  I have to now point out (because he has so many, many times) that yes, while my father was in Guatemala doing the Lord's work, I was rocking with Queen & Adam Lambert & buying shirts on sale at Macy's.  I have a friend at church who was in Costa Rica doing mission work recently & he has promised me a bag of Costa Rican coffee beans that he says make some of the best coffee he's ever had.  He's a hardcore coffee drinker, & also one of the few males (that I know of) who read & enjoyed my book, so I value his judgment & am eager to grind my foreign beans & enjoy the Costa Rican coffee.  It's amazing how the Lord's work is paying dividends in my life lately.

When my Guatemalan coffee was drained, I asked Reagan where she wanted to eat lunch, knowing full well where we were headed.  She loves Newk's.  Admittedly, they do have a great grilled cheese sandwich; it's a lot fancier than the grilled cheese sandwiches she gets everywhere else.  They also have good, fresh fruit, her side of choice, & tea pre-sweetened with Splenda, so I can't complain too much.  Plus, I know exactly how many carbs are in a Newk's grilled cheese with a side of fruit, so it makes the dosing easy.   

With full stomachs, we headed to the nearest Rocket Lube to have the Highlander's oil changed.  If there's one thing that will make me jump, it's a persistent warning light reminding me it's past time to have the oil in my car changed.  Oddly, it's not the idea that I might be destroying the car's engine that bothers me.  What ushers me right to Rapid Lube every time is being stared down by the light that will not go away & obfuscates my otherwise clean, pretty dash, but regardless, it serves its purpose.    

The oil change was a first for Reagan (aside from the time her father changed his own oil).  She was highly skeptical of the men waving me forward, motioning for me to veer to the left a little as I attempted to line up the car for them while explaining to her that they weren't going to do anything while we were still in the car.  She did not enjoy stepping out onto the large gray metal plates with holes in them that allude to dark spaces below, but I coaxed her into the indoor waiting area with promises of Altoids (they're very strong, curiously strong even, but she loves them & they have few carbs, so we go with it).    

There's a lot of things I don't understand.  Admittedly, in some cases I am satisfied being ignorant because were I truly interested in enlightening myself, I could.  I don't understand why synthetic oil costs more than real oil.  Doesn't synthetic mean fake?  I know we're not talking about diamonds, but generally the 'real' version of something is more expensive than a synthetic version.  The first time I had the oil changed in my Highlander, a kind man came in the waiting area where I was sipping old, stale coffee & explained that the Highlander needs synthetic oil, & was that okay?  Well I have no idea.  I just said, "Sure, that's fine."  I am the woman they spot a mile away.  They whip out the new air filter before I've put the car in park because they know I'll say, "Sure, change it," if they so much as hint it's dirty.  Even without a new air filter, my oil changes run around $70 now in the synthetic-era.  I'd at least like a fresh cup of coffee with that $70 oil change.  Yes, I know it would be less expensive if I didn't use the Rapid Lube guys, but I don't have the luxury of waiting hours at Goodyear, where they take slightly less time than Trey to change a vehicle's oil.   

With new, albeit synthetic, oil in place, it was finally time to head to the promised land: Target.  

After I grabbed a few of the boring household items we absolutely had to have (toilet paper, kleenex, baby wipes . . . the bodily fluid trifecta), I escorted Reagan to the back of the store where the many toy aisles are located.

For all her bravado, Reagan almost always selects toys that are inexpensive.  We were specifically searching for a pair of gloves like Elsa's.  A few Sundays ago, Reagan came home from church, removed her frilly white socks, put them on her hands, & announced they were her gloves, & they were only to be removed for her coronation.  Had I known how tricky it would be to get all ten of her little fingers in a set of actual gloves, I'd have been more than satisfied with the frilly white Sunday socks. 

After some serious stalking of the toy aisles, we left Target with a pair of purple gloves, a few things of nail polish (displayed above), & some new Frozen dinnerware, pictured below. 

The Frozen dinnerware coordinates with the Frozen figurines her Grandmama bought her, & (not pictured) her Frozen T-shirt, & her collection of Frozen coloring books.   

When we left Target, we still had one mandatory stop (the grocery store), but I wasn't ready to face it yet.  I headed to Chick-fil-A, where I ordered a coffee & a Coke Zero.  I was sitting & sipping my coffee when Reagan made a face & asked, "What kind of coke is this?"  It was more like, "What kind of coke is thiiiiIIIIsss?"  I realized I hadn't taken a sip of her drink before handing it to her, something I usually do to avoid her unknowingly downing a regular soft drink.  I took a sip of her drink, which was obviously Root Beer.  I looked at my ticket, which clearly read 'Coke Zero,' & headed back to the counter.  I was kind . . . but admittedly mainly because the lady who helped me was not the individual who'd served my daughter a day's worth of carbs in a cup.  Seriously, food service employees, people have allergies, people have diabetes, people have crazy mothers, so when they order a Coke Zero, give them a Coke Zero.    

With her Coke Zero in my hand for real this time, & her new purple Elsa gloves in her hands, we headed to the elusive back end of Chick-fil-A, the play area.  I can't admit to you how often we go through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru, but it's a lot, & Reagan always asks about the play area, & I always say no, & so last Tuesday I let her have the run of the place.  

We did eventually make it to the grocery store, which was as boring as it sounds.  

A few shots of Reagan with her Elsa gloves:

She's concerned about the power she'll unleash if she removes the gloves:

I'm ready to talk about Frozen now.  As you can tell from the above riveting rundown of a typical day for me, Frozen is very much an intricate part of my psyche.  I need to talk about it.  

I first saw Frozen last December when my mom & I took the kids to see it.  Reagan enjoyed it; Henry saw the first ten minutes & fell asleep, which is nearly identical to my dad's one experience with the film.  I've tried to impress upon him that he needs to watch it again while conscious because if there's anyone who appreciates great music & intricately woven vocals, it's Gordon.  Seriously.  I became immensely more interested in the movie when I realized Princess Elsa is voiced by none other than Idina Menzel.  I have to give props to the Disney folks for Frozen.  They might also in turn give props to Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, the book about the witches of Oz turned into a broadway sensation.  

The similarities in Wicked the musical & Frozen don't end with Idina Menzel.  Both are centered not on a romantic relationship, but on the relationship between two women, one with a sugary soprano voice, the other an alto born with powers she doesn't understand that force her into a life of isolation.  In both musicals, there's an early number establishing the oddity of the alto-voiced lead, while also serving to solidify the syrupy goodness of the soprano lead.  The next act features a duet between the sweet but naive soprano & a man she's just met five minutes ago, but whom she loves & intends to marry.  Whether dancing through life or walking through love's open door, it is clear to everyone but the betrothed soprano that she won't be living happily ever after with her prince of the day.

What I adore about both Wicked & Frozen is the journey of the alto, & not just because both are voiced by the wonderful Idina Menzel, & not just because I prefer an alto to a soprano.  After struggling to find her place in a world that isn't welcoming of her & her power (after all, no one mourns the wicked . . . conceal, don't feel!), the alto inevitably flees, setting the scene for her big moment of triumph, which in a musical or Disney film translates to a fantastic musical number.  It should be noted that she always flees in a specific direction, such as to the Western sky, or up the North Mountain.

The theme of the alto's journey, & thus her big musical number, is freedom.  Whether her line is, I may be flying solo, but at least I'm flying free, or Yes I'm alone but I'm alone and free, it's obvious she feels she can finally breathe.  Or feel, rather than conceal, or defy gravity, whichever.  She is willing to embrace solitude for freedom, specifically freedom from judgment.  Yes, I may be green & labelled a witch, but I can deal as long as I am free.  I may turn everything in my path to icy stone when I lose my tempter, but I just don't care anymore who knows.  I think that's every mom's anthem at some point, Yes I'm alone but I'm alone and FREE!  No doubt the Disney geniuses are aware of who pays for the movie tickets, & the DVD, & the soundtrack.  And the figurines.  And the plates.  And the gloves.  And the coloring books.  

Both Wicked the musical & Frozen are modern in that they are female-centered, rather than prince-centered.  There are handsome men milling about, occasionally breaking into song, but the central  relationship in both musicals is the bond between the alto & the soprano.  They compliment each other, musically & otherwise.  The flighty soprano's redemption is her defense of the alto; whether her sister or her friend, their relationship shifts from distant to warm & loving, & the soprano, having made an attempt to understand the alto's desire for isolation, guards her against the onslaught of the raging villagers.  Obviously the Disney film ends happily, & Elsa is returned to her kingdom, her relationship with her sister & her subjects restored.  Elphaba's story doesn't end as well, but her parting of ways with the good witch makes for one of the best duets ever, EVER!, For Good, originally sung on Broadway by Idina Menzel & Kristin Chenoweth.  My favorites lines are, of course, a section sung by the alto:  

It well may be, that we will never meet again in this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part: 
so much of me is made of what I learned from you.
You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end, 
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend.            

Reagan, be an alto in life.  Guard your heart, don't assume you'll marry the first man you meet, & learn the virtues of solitude.  Gravitate to people who accept you & are willing to defend you against the mob.  Learn the value in letting go of the past.  For a gripping & well written lesson on the perils of living in the past, read The Great Gatsby.  Finally, accept & appreciate your mother's ability to work a reference to American literature into any context.  

It needs to be said that Disney made one major mistake with Frozen.  It's not so obvious if all you've done is watch the film (repeatedly), but spend some time listening to the soundtrack, & their misstep is glaring.  I try to leave you with at least one piece of sound advice when I write, so here's today's: there is never, ever a reason to have Demi Lovato record a song sung by Idina Menzel.  There are two versions of "Let It Go" on the soundtrack, the one Idina sings that's featured during the film, & another version that I think plays as the credits roll on the movie.  If you're unsure of who Demi Lovato is, don't worry, as I'm not sure myself.  She is not Idina Menzel, & that's really all you need to know. 

Idina was voicing a misunderstood, powerful protagonist long before Elsa, & I'm trying to get Reagan to embrace Elphaba's story, to no avail.  I've only seen Wicked once live, but I love the soundtrack; it tells the story.  I am trying to teach Reagan the value of a soundtrack as well, that if you listen to it from beginning to end (rather than switching between the two versions of "Let It Go" & skipping every other song) you can enjoy the story over & over.  And over & over & over.  And over.  She has learned the word duet, so we're making progress.

Clearly, my brain needs a distraction from basal rates (which I am on the verge of nailing!) & altos, not that they're not both fascinating.  Not only have I spent too much time contemplating the many roles of Idina Menzel, but concerning reading & writing, I'm in a holding pattern right now, & I've got to put an end to it.  I am a few hundred pages into The Summer Garden, the final book in The Bronze Horseman series.  I'll eventually finish it, because it is not in my nature to not finish a book series.  World War II is over, & ** spoiler alert ** Germany loses Alexander & Tatiana have been reunited.  They're getting down to the business of living, & it's tough stuff, especially when they're both scarred, physically & emotionally, from the horrors they experienced during the war.  More on them later, but my point is that I don't race to get in bed at night so I can begin reading, & often I end up piddling on the Internet, which is a vague way to say I randomly google things like Mockingjay trailer, or distressed furniture (which I love & am always in the market to purchase), or synthetic oil, or Robert Pattinson.  Yeah.  I hate me too.  The next thing I know, it's after midnight & I've wasted time I could've been productively reading, or spending time with Edie & Dr. Foster (who're in the middle of celebrating Christmas, which is difficult to write with zeal & authenticity when it's July), & instead I've got three tabs open to various articles about Robert Pattinson & Zac Efron going bowling.  This is what happens when I am not absorbed in a book.  It's sad.       

I think the main culprit is August.  I know it's coming; it clouds my judgment.  August is my absolute least favorite month of the year.  It's so hot now, & I'm constantly berated with Frozen, a movie in which people whine about an eternal winter, which honestly sounds fabulous to me (as does being able to freeze people who anger me).  I can now fit in corduroy pants I haven't been able to wear for several years, & I want to wear them!  I want to wear all the boots I bought on sale last March, but it's almost 100 degrees outside everyday, & if I show up places in heavy corduroy pants & winter boots, people will start to wonder.  While I am an alto, I don't have the voice to get away with being weird.  I can't sing myself out of many situations.  Defying August?  Maybe?    


Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Oh, where to begin?

Last we spoke, I detailed our recent trip to Dallas, the highlight of which I gush about here.  If you don't want to read the whole post, here's a summary:  Trey & I went to see Queen & Adam Lambert in concert, & it was fabulous.  Hmmmm.  Reading that summary, I have to encourage you to read the whole post if you've the inclination, because the summary does not do the event justice.  Even when I type FABULOUS! this way, I feel more words are needed to convey the epic evening.

Anyway, what I didn't tell you is that I desperately needed the night out to listen to Adam & mellow (no drugs were used in the mellowing process) because when we returned home from Dallas, we travelled to Jackson to meet with a trainer & transition Reagan from a MDI diabetic to a pumper.  MDI, for those who aren't versed in the language of diabetes, is an individual who receives their insulin via multiple daily injections.

I've known since Reagan's diagnosis that we'd be pumping within the year.  Everyone raves about the pump, especially Reagan's doctor (the one in Jackson with the MD behind her name, not me).  I've spent the past month or so sending emails, filling out paperwork, making phone calls, & generally completing tasks that no one cares to do, tasks that are made particularly difficult by two young children who don't stop making demands because mom's trying to jump through all the necessary hoops to ensure our pump of choice arrives at the door, along with the supplies necessary to make pump magic happen.

The day before we left for Dallas, after a few months of researching various pumps & weeks of phone conversations about acquiring the one I chose, Reagan's pump was delivered to our house.  I'd been telling Reagan it was coming, & that it was for her & it would give her her medicine in lieu of shots.  She of course asked me what lieu means.

Needless to say, she was eager to get her hands on the pump.

The pump we went with is made by Animas, a company headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  I'm not going to go into all the details about why I wanted this pump, but at the top of the list of selling points for the Animas pump are, (1) it comes with a remote & (2) it is waterproof.  

Pump on the left, remote on the right:

The remote is my new toy.  It has many functions, but my favorite is that it allows me to give Reagan a bolus dose of insulin for food she's about to eat without having to touch her, or her pump.  This is particularly wonderful in a restaurant, or anytime she's wearing complicated clothing that would have to be lifted for me to access her pump.  Or anytime she's behaving like a three-year-old who doesn't want anyone messing with her while she colors.    

I realize I just used the word bolus.  Here's the thing: Obviously I can't make it far into this post without using a few diabetic-centric terms, so sit down & take notes, because we're going to school for a few minutes.  There are two ways insulin is delivered, & this is true for everyone, whether the insulin comes from your pancreas or a pump.  A bolus dose is a large amount of insulin that's delivered at once, in a rush, to cover food that is eaten.  The second way insulin is delivered is referred to as the basal dosage, which is a constant, tiny ping of insulin your pancreas is always emitting to keep your blood sugar at a steady, healthy level.  Reagan's pump, by the way, is called the Animas Ping.  It's all the same insulin; it only varies in amount.  

The above is important for you to know because what is currently consuming my life is figuring out Reagan's needed basal rates.  Today's word of the day is BASAL.  I'll use it in a sentence:  Before Reagan began pumping insulin, she received a shot of buffered insulin once a day that covered, in theory, her basal insulin needs.  The main reasons the pump is superior to a shot of buffered insulin (which is time-released) to meet basal insulin needs are that, (1) the pump mimics the way the pancreas emits insulin, constantly & in small increments & (2) various basal rates can be set during the course of a twenty-four hour day.  No one needs the same amount of basal insulin all day long.  When Reagan was receiving one shot to cover her basal needs, there was no way to adjust the dosage; six units didn't quite cut it in the morning after breakfast, when her basal needs are at their highest, but was often too much at times while she was sleeping, & she'd dip too low.  It was maddening.  

If you're not diabetic, or you've never cared for a diabetic, what I am about to say likely means a lot less to you than it does to me, but my greatest joy in life right now is that, because of her pump, I have the ability to adjust Reagan's basal insulin rates.  I can cut her basal rate in half, or by any percentage I designate, for an amount of time I specify.  I can shut off the basal dosage completely for a period of time if she's too low & not rising.  I am like a kid in a basal insulin candy store.  I currently have four rates set during the course of a twenty-four hour day, but I tweak the amounts daily.  At six in the morning, her pump begins to give her more basal insulin in preparation for the massive natural rise she has in the morning.  At four in the afternoon, & again at eight o'clock at night, the basal rate is lowered incrementally to make sure she remains high enough while she sleeps, & at least in theory, Trey & I sleep as well.  

You don't even want to know how crazy my anal-retentative self is about nailing down these basal rates.  I think I'm close, but then I get a random high or low, & I have to go back to the drawing board & decide if the off number can be attributed to something other than the basal rate, or if there needs to be another basal adjustment.  Once I feel her basal rates are where they need to be, I am going to go work for NASA.  No, seriously, I believe that if an army of mothers who've cared for diabetic children could be sent to the Middle East, something miraculous might happen.  Presidents & politicians & diplomats are great & all, but gather together a few women whose accomplishments include, "accurately determined my child's basal insulin rates," & sit back & watch; let them tackle our budget woes, because they can work the numbers.    

Now that you are asleep more thoroughly understand my excitement over the commencement of pumping insulin, here's how it all went down.  A week ago, on Wednesday, July 16, six months to the day of her diagnosis in January of this year, we took Reagan to Jackson.  For three hours, we met with a nurse who works for Animas, & we left with Reagan receiving insulin via her pump.  

We immediately headed to our favorite outdoor mall in Jackson for a late lunch, where I remotely instructed the pump to deliver the amount of insulin Reagan needed to cover her food.  

After eating, we visited the Learning Express toy store, an establishment I forecast will rake in a small fortune over the years as we travel quarterly to visit Reagan's pediatric endocrinologist (in diabetes language, that's a ped endo).  

She quickly discovered their Frozen display.  I cannot talk about Frozen right now; let's just say that I'd prefer to be figuring out basal insulin rates. 

Another number for you: eighty-two.  It was eighty-two degrees when we got in the car to drive home.  July 16 - - Mississippi - - eighty-two degrees - - five-thirty in the afternoon.  It was a day for miracles.   

Since we returned home, things have gone well.  Pump, pump, pump.  It's always pumping (much like a pancreas).  Saturday, we went to my Aunt Donna & Uncle Bryan's house for a gathering-o-cousins.  The afternoon's key event was a drama featuring Reagan, her cousin Will, & his new motorized jeep.  It went a little something like this (feel free to insert your own captions):

Henry saw no jeep action.  Donna & Bryan recently added a luxurious pool room adjacent their pool where Jessica & I want to live we all lounged.  

Henry in a glass case of emotion:

Annnd the inevitable attempts to capture a shot of two three-year-olds & two infants with their great-grandfather:

Henry is DONE:

Monday, while Jessa & Maisie were still in town, we took the kids to the pool.  Before the pool outing, when I'd bathed Reagan I placed the pump on the side of the tub.  It got wet, but wasn't submerged in water.  I'd been assured numerous times that it is waterproof, but I just couldn't dunk it completely in water while she was in the bath (somehow I don't think the rice trick would work with an insulin pump).  Monday, I faced a moment of pump truth.  I had to either disconnect her (which is a possibility for a short while), or let it go - - ah! I hate to use that phrase  - - & trust what I'd been told regarding the steadfastness of the pump in water.  I smiled, clipped it to the back of her suit, & trusted that it would continue to function as her pancreas.  All was, & is, well with her pink pancreas.

Miss Maisie was uncharacteristically gleeful about her time in the water:

Henry, per his usual, was fine as long as he was eating something:

Before I close I need to introduce my parents older &/or technologically unsavvy readers to yet another new term: hashtag.  Did you think I typed the title of this post in haste?  I did not.  If you've not yet been introduced to her, this is the current Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison:

Google her name & you can take your pick of news articles covering her recent decision to wear her insulin pump on her bikini while competing in a beauty pageant scholarship competition.  She was encouraged to post a picture to her social media accounts, & other pumpers began to post pics of their pumps, tagging them with the hashtag #showmeyourpump.  A hashtag is used as a search tool on Twitter & other social media.  It's a means by which related posts can be easily located.  If you're on Twitter, search #showmeyourpump.  I did.  It's encouraging to a mom who's recently hooked her three-year-old up to the device that will serve as her pancreas for the foreseeable future.

I have to point out that in the background of diabetic Miss Idaho's infamous photo is a sign advertising Idaho potatoes.  Anyone else think this is hilarious?  Anyone?  


I feel a series of thank-yous are now in order.  Thank you, Sierra Sandison, for the choice you made that has inspired pumpers worldwide.  While wearing a bikini in a pageant (or anywhere, for that matter) is not something I will ever encourage Reagan to do, I do want her to forge ahead with life with no qualms about herself or the pump she wears, so thank you, Miss Sandison, for doing just that, no doubt giving a much needed boost of confidence to little pumping girls everywhere.

Thank you to the Animas employees.  I've had only positive experiences with this company's employees.  I currently am in contact with a nurse who will follow-up with us for six weeks as we adjust to pumping.  Her name is Lisa.  I'll likely never meet her, but I like her as she's as determined as I am to discover Reagan's needed insulin regimen.

Thank you to the engineers who developed & continue to perfect the technology that makes this pump possible.  It is an amazing little gadget.  The work you do matters a great deal; it not only changes lives, it improves their quality & in many cases, extends them.   

Thank you to my family, particularly Reagan, Trey, my mother, & my mother-in-law, who tolerate me while I drag us all through basal hell.  

Thank you to the Lord God that my child & I live in a time & place where accessing what is needed to manage diabetes is possible.  

Clearly, the pump has temporarily taken over my life.  I have not yet watched the final hour of Jack Bauer, which aired a week & a half ago.  I don't know how the season ends, so please, don't tell me!  I plan to wrap up Jack's day one night later this week.  I did finish reading Tatiana & Alexander, the second of three books in the series that's hijacked my emotions this summer.  I've inundated you with enough already, so I won't say much about the book.  I'm not emotionally ready to anyway; I have so many, many feelings, & while I have downloaded the third & final book, I am not reading it yet.  I get in bed at night, & I want to read it because I miss my friends, Tatiana & Alexander, but foreshadowing does not escape me & I know where this third book is headed & it's not a place I can travel while so much mystery surrounds Reagan's basal rates.

I'm holding back on you.  Yesterday, Henry stayed with his Grandmama for the better part of the day while Reagan & I pumped all over town.  Lunch.  Pump.  Oil change.  Pump.  Target.  Pump.  Chick-fil-A.  Pump.  Groceries.  Pump.  The details of that adventure will have to wait though, in part because I am tired, & also because the day involved Frozen paraphernalia that I am not ready to discuss.  I know what I can handle, & what I cannot, & right now, I am unprepared to complete Tatiana & Alexander's journey, & I am equally unprepared to discuss Frozen paraphernalia.  I bid you farewell.   I now return to the labyrinth of calculating basal rates.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer's Soundtrack

There's something I need to tell you.

Okay, here goes.

The only American Idol contestant I have ever voted for is Adam Lambert.

I voted for him every week during season eight.  A lot.  Redial, redial, redial.  Redial.  Redial, redial.  I was living with my parents in the months before I got married, I had no kids & few responsibilities, & things like ensuring Adam Lambert made it through to the next round of American Idol were at the top of my priority list.  Before I continue, the catty twenty-eight year old in me just has to say to all the Kris Allen & Danny Gokey fans: where are Kris & Danny today?  I don't know, but I do know where they are not, & that is fronting for Queen.

I realize this may shock you, conservative me championing the outlandish, controversial Adam Lambert.  I don't always love his wardrobe choices, or his eyeliner technique, but the man can sing.  He is immensely talented.  While I have your attention, let me say this: before you give me an earful about my Adam love, please do realize that it's likely every entertainer you listen to, watch, laugh at, cry with, & flock to the theater to see is not an individual you hope your children will emulate.  They may not wear leather pants, studded jackets, or an awesome leopard print suit while singing "We Are the Champions," but few & far between are the entertainers whose personal lives are worthy of praise.  I can recognize & appreciate talent.  

So I've outed myself as a Glambert.  I feel so free.  As Adam's star was rising on Idol, my sister & I  feverishly looked up old YouTube videos of him, & I was sold.  He can sing anything, & he can do it better than you ever thought possible.  As I'm sure you well remember, season eight of American Idol concluded with a spectacular show featuring Adam singing "We Are the Champions" with Queen.  Unfortunately, Kris Allen was also singing, and oh my goodness was it obvious for whom Queen had agreed to play the Idol finale (hint: it was not Kris Allen).  Regardless of the vote total, it was quite clear who was the champion.  Since season eight of Idol concluded, I have harbored a dream.  I got married, I had two kids, & life continued to move, but yet, the dream never died, & last Thursday night, it became a reality.    

A few months ago, I saw a news article announcing that Adam Lambert would be touring with Queen.  This was an announcement I'd been braced for for five years.  I glanced at the cities on the tour, & right there on the list was Dallas.  Dallas, Texas, a quick car ride away.  My heart began to beat a little faster at this point.  A few nights later as Trey was sitting & eating dinner, I casually asked if he'd be interested in seeing Queen in concert.  I was prepared for a 'No,' but this is what he said, "Yeah, sure.  You know Brian May has a PhD & makes his own guitars."  Well, no, no I did not know that, but good for Brian May, or rather, Dr. Brian May.  And with that random bit of trivia, the dream I'd dreamed for five years was made official.  By official, I mean I wrote it on the Pottery Barn chalkboard I use to keep my head on straight:

"July 10: Queen."  I didn't add, "& Adam Lambert," because Trey was less excited about that part, while I was not as awed as Trey deemed necessary that Brian May makes his own guitars.  See why we make a great pair?

Queen's music has been the soundtrack to a considerable amount of the walking & the little bit of running I've done these past few months in pursuance of my weight loss goals.  Queen has an impressive catalogue of hits, & they make for great inspiration for a mom trying to lose baby weight & also, if only for an hour or so, forget everything.  "We Are the Champions," "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Will Rock You," "Somebody to Love," & my personal faves while exercising, "Under Pressure," "I Want to Break Free," & yes, "Fat Bottomed Girls" have spurred me on all summer.

Ready to rock, last Thursday we all loaded up & headed to Dallas.  My mom accompanied us so she could sit with the kids at Jessica & Heath's house while Trey & I were at the concert.  I thought about it & thought about it, & no one is comfortable with the idea of Trey & me leaving Reagan overnight yet.  Maybe one day.  I wouldn't have slept, the babysitting grandparents wouldn't have slept, & Trey, well, Trey may've slept, but my mom & I decided the best option was for her to come with the four of us.

Trey in his pre-Adam Lambert euphoria:

We made a quick stop at Jessica & Heath's to unload everyone who wasn't attending the concert.  After brief insulin instructions for my mom, I told Reagan to behave & that we'd see her later.  She asked where we were going, & I think I said, "Your daddy & I want to break free."  The whole weekend was full of such fun.  Trey & I then headed toward the American Airlines Center, stopping at a burger place Trey loves on the way.  Smashburger.  I just remembered the name.  It was a decent burger; I was most impressed with the option to eat a side salad rather than fries.  The salad was wonderful, too - good green lettuce (no crummy iceberg lettuce), diced tomatoes & cucumbers, etc. 

I snapped this of Trey while we were eating.  You can see the anticipation of what's ahead on his face! 


The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30.  Being the responsible Queen fans we are, Trey & I arrived at the American Airlines Center at 6:30, & after I talked myself out of a $40 T-shirt & bought a cup of coffee instead, we were in our seats, our floor seats, by 6:50.  Believe it or not, not many concert-going Queen fans drink coffee.  The lady working the concession didn't know what to charge me for it because I think it was the only cup they sold all night.

I sat & sipped my coffee & Trey & I people watched.  You know what's almost as fantastic as sitting & listening to Adam Lambert & Queen for two hours?  Sitting & watching the people who're attending the concert.  The longer I sat & watched, the more foolish I felt.  For starters, coffee was not what everyone else was drinking.  On top of that, Trey & I were both fully clothed, we hadn't brought masks or crowns to wear, nor did we have any visible ink showing.  Trey commented on the sheltered life we lead, & also remarked that, sitting there, surrounded by our fellow concert-goers, it was no mystery how Obama was elected president not once, but twice (when the majority of people you know work, pay taxes, opt not to wear sheer shirts & Mardi Gras masks to concerts, or ever, & are not still mourning Freddie Mercury, the outcome of national elections can sometimes leave you perplexed).

Trey's pontificating was interrupted by a slightly inebriated woman in a tight white body suit regaling the kind usher stationed near our seats with the story of where she was when she learned Freddie Mercury died.  Tears were shed.  Beer was spilled.  Hearing was damaged.

If you've ever wondered what a conservative mom of two looks like eagerly awaiting Queen & Adam Lambert to take the stage, here you go (photo courtesy of Trey, who declined to stand & have me take his pic):

Finally, the lights dimmed, plumes of smoke billowed from the stage, & a deafening roar rose from the crowd as the legendary Queen took the stage, accompanied by their fabulous new frontman.  Adam's voice live is phenomenal (it's clear to me I am going to run out of adjectives in this post).  The concert was incredible.  But no, concert is not the right word.  What Queen & Mr. Lambert are bringing to cities across North America is a visual & auditory spectacle, like something you'd see on Broadway or in Vegas.  The internet is replete with rave reviews of the show, but this links to a glowing article about the Dallas stop on the tour.

I took a few pictures during the concert, but as you might imagine, the lighting wasn't optimal.  If you're truly interested in good images of the concert & a detailed look at Adam's many costume changes, photos are everywhere online.  I think my favorite look was his last.  You might not think a grown man wearing a leopard print suit & a big gold crown would be a good look, but when he's belting out "We Will Rock You" & "We Are the Champions" while accompanied by Brian May, it works.  I mean what else would you wear in such a situation?

I won't relive the whole two hours for you.  I know some of you just do not care at all & would rather me blather on about what's happening with my Russian solider.  I'll just say that it was the best concert I've attended.  Admittedly, I haven't been to all that many concerts, but I have seen the Eagles & U2 live, & while I love the Eagles & their music is my go-to, Queen's stuff is so grandiose (as is Adam) & meant to be performed & enjoyed in an arena setting, & in that setting it was just amazing.  I like Queen's music, but I've never enjoyed it as much as I did Thursday night.  

Then, once it was all over & because we are sophisticated, on the drive back to Jessica & Heath's house Trey & I discussed Freddie Mercury's overbite, & had a brief argument about whether or not he was bisexual.

Friday morning, Trey rose early, showered, & took off on a tour of various Cabela's locations in the DFW area.  With considerably less haste, my mom, Jessica, & I readied the children for a few hours at the mall.

Henry did well Friday as long as he was in this stroller & could wave & kick his legs at everyone walking toward him.  Henry's favorite Queen song is "It's a Hard Life."

Reagan was dismayed that we made her sit & eat lunch before allowing her to run rampant in the Disney store & ride the merry-go-round, which I think she rode a total of five times before the day was done.  Reagan's favorite Queen song is "I Want It All," which as you may know goes a little something like this . . . I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.  Admittedly, before Trey points it out, yes, Reagan & I have similar taste in music. 

Finally, Reagan made it to the Disney store where she ended up sitting a bit & watching sing-a-long videos of the songs from Frozen.  Nana & her fresh cup of coffee also enjoyed the sing-a-long. 

One of the day's five rides on the merry-go-round:

The mall is a great option for people with kids because there's a lot to see & do & eat, & it's all housed under one roof, eliminating the need to strap & unstrap, & strap & unstrap kids in their car seats when it's nearing the century mark outside.

Without having to load everyone up in the vehicles, we strolled right into The Cheesecake Factory for an early dinner Friday.  Heath joined us, having been at work all day, & Trey also joined us, having spent hours scouring Dallas for deals on guns he does not need & knows he could never justify purchasing, despite the evening he spent with me & Adam Lambert.   

A little cousin bonding while waiting for our food.  Henry is not in these pics because that would have required him to leave my side, which is something he rarely does, & not without considerable protest:

Walking off dinner:

It was a good weekend.  Everyone had their moment in the sun.  I saw Adam & Queen live, Trey enjoyed a Smashburger & was given free reign to search the DFW area for guns, Henry smiled & waved from his stroller as if in a parade, & Reagan rode the merry-go-round over & over & over again, with a Frozen sing-a-long thrown in for good measure.   

I hope the bold step I've taken out of my Glambert closet hasn't irreparably damaged the heretofore high opinion you held of me.  At this point, if you're still hanging around & reading, I figure you're not easily offended & likely can handle the fact that I, champion of conservative causes, obsessive fiction reading, & great coffee, need a little Queen in my life, & by Queen I of course mean Adam Lambert.