Off the Dial

Happy Holidays!

I don't know where I got this bendy little dreidel guy, but I love him.  This year I'm moving him around a bit more – here he is enjoying the coffee maker:

Dreidel man

I may have moved him around a little too much – my ten year old asked me, "Is that our Elf on the Shelf?" I laughed and asked her, who would he report back to? "The Chanukah Moose, of course!"

You've never heard of the Chanukah Moose? Here's the hat that inspired it and the story of what happened next (click here):


A few years ago, we decided to make the first night of Chanukah a night for giving. This year Lea & Benny picked Levine Children's Hospital because that's where Benny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five years ago. Yesterday we brought bags of toys and gift cards and Carrie Keuten in the Child Life department made us feel like superstars (thanks so much!).

Come to find out, there is a true star when it comes to giving to Levine and other local hospitals. Check out the wonderful story of Katies Kidz:


Great job by Kristin Hampton at WBTV and congratulations to Katie.

Happy Holidays!! Health and happiness to you for the New Year.

Good Friends

An hour for lunch and good works all year.  That's the idea behind Good Friends, a wonderful Charlotte charity.  I've been honored to attend the annual holiday luncheon for the last several years and it's always inspiring.

This is the 25th year for Good Friends. It started with a challenge from three Charlotte women, who were told they couldn't do as good a job as the men's group, Good Fellows. These ladies rose to the challenge and more, totalling 2.5 million dollars raised for needy families during the last quarter century.


Our gracious host, Marilynn Bowler. One of Charlotte's movers and shakers and just a lovely, fun lady.


At 800+ women, it was the biggest crowd ever – first time anyone sat in the "balcony."

Lots more pictures and info from the Charlotte Observer here.

Here's what else is nice about Good Friends. It's one of few holiday lunches I go to that feels very inclusive. They always mention Chanukah – even in the invocation – and the choir includes songs from many different cultures. It's a little thing – and not at all necessary – but it's very, very thoughtful.

Operation Corndog

My son is going to eat corn dogs and nachos. I am so proud.

Benny's in first grade and he's been asking to buy lunch at school since day one last year. Since he has type 1 diabetes, that's a bit of a challenge.  We base the amount of insulin he gets on the number of carbs he eats – and you've got to count each and every one.

We pack lunch every day and include a list of the carbs in each item. A staff member has to eyeball what's left from Benny's lunch and make sure he gets the right amount of insulin.  We have a very supportive school staff and so far, this system has worked beautifully.

However, buying lunch is very popular at our school and our 5th grade daughter buys at least 3 days a week. Of course Benny wants in. This week, we're making it happen.  I met with all of our school helpers and here's the plan:

  • I will print the school menu with all the carb counts the night before. This is a pretty cool feature they've had a for a few years now (it also includes allergens).
  • Benny and I will decide what he wants to eat and circle those items
  • I'll provide a list of "backup items." (in case they run out of the strawberry-applesauce he wants and he has to eat grapes or carrots). 
  • His class assistant will walk him through the line to see what goes on his tray – and she'll check in with him after lunch to see what's left over (just like she does now). If she's not available, one of the cafeteria workers has volunteered to help us out.
  • Just like now, the assistant will do the math and Benny will use his pump to give himself the insulin.

We did a test run yesterday and found that roughly a quarter of items on the food line aren't on the carb menu. I'm going to make a list and provide those numbers. I also found out that fruit servings are always 4 ounces (helpful) and that most of the desserts are only about 15 carbs (not too bad). Our school district has done away with fried foods and provides lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 

Corndog2Of course, Benny is only excited about eating what I think are the worst foods on the menu, corn dogs and nachos.  I can't pretend we eat perfectly healthy at home all the time, but these are never served in my house, which is probably why he wants them! However, I'm willing to trade off some high-fat high-carb lunches – and probably some higher afternoon bgs -for a pretty important step toward independence.

 Eventually, he'll have to make his own food choices, count his own carbs, do the math and give his own insulin unsupervised.  I don't think first grade is too early to start working on that.  I am extremely lucky to have such a great team helping me with Benny – I know many parents of children with diabetes who aren't as confident about the care at school. 

Right now, Benny will only buy lunch once or twice a week.  Hopefully it'll go well and if not, we'll make any changes needed.  So here we go – another diabetes milestone.  You'll forgive me if I don't celebrate by digging in!

A Colorful Question

We have a pretty cool skyline in Charlotte, but there's only one building that makes me ask a question. When I look at the Duke Energy Center I always wonder, why that color?

DukebldgThe Duke tower is the only one in town that lights up – it's our New South version of the Chrysler Building.  It opened in 2010 and was almost immediately nicknamed Voltron (I believe by @DesireeKane or @MeckClt).

I see it on my so-early-it's-still-dark commute but I rarely know what the colors signify. We get that it's blue when the Panthers play and yellow for the big Chiquita job announcement, but it was red this morning. Is that for the Heart Association? Red Cross? Turns out it's World Aids Day. I assume that's what the color is for.  There's no way to know.

I've been posting about this on Twitter on and off for a while now. This week I finally got smart and asked Lisa Hoffman, the social media specialist for Duke. Here's what happened: 


@StaceySimms @LisaHoffmann Is there a list of the Duke Energy bldg light schedule? Why is it white/lite purple today? Thanks!

 @Briandfrancis @staceysimms It'd be cool if the building had a twitter account that tweeted the requesting organization and reason for light

@StaceySimms@briandfrancis Great idea. And they should jump on that before someone creates a fake one. @VoltronClt anyone?

@Lisahoffmann@staceysimms @briandfrancis Wells Fargo controls the lights, but I'll see what I can find out.

 @Melissa_Lynne @LisaHoffmann @staceysimms @briandfrancis we were just talking about that this morning at work. We wanted to request blue and yellow again.

@TheKevinLock @LisaHoffmann @staceysimms @briandfrancis I know who has the answer to this.

@TheKevinLock @LisaHoffmann @staceysimms @briandfrancis Also grabbed @VoltronCLT before someone more nefarious did. Happy to turn it over for official use

@Lisahoffmann @staceysimms @briandfrancis @TheKevinLock I'm inquiring w/ WF to see whether or not they're interested in regularly sharing #voltron sched.

@TheKevinLock @LisaHoffmann @staceysimms @briandfrancis I've talked to one rep. No calendar but Twitter is intriguing. She's taking it to committee


I hope this doesn't die in committee, or get over-thought. It's just a fun part of Charlotte with the potential to be even more engaging.  

(I knew I should've grabbed @VoltronClt as soon as I wrote it out!)