Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kids-N-Guns

"Kids hunting for squirrels wing truck triver" Yep, that's one of the headlines in our local paper today. Apparently a two kids got hold of a .22 caliper rifle and decided to go squirrel hunting...NEXT TO THE HIGHWAY! Since the 11 and 12 year old don't have to sense to not shoot towards a highway and TRAFFIC, the truck driver was shot in the arm as he drove down the road.

Ummm...question. WHERE ARE THE PARENTS AND WHY DO THE KIDS HAVE ACCESS TO THE GUN? Why does it seem that whenever an incident like this happens you'll find parents saying something like, "Johnny had been taught how to use a gun. He went to gun safety classes! He's always been very responsible with it. We just don't understand how this happened."

I know how. Because Johnny is NOT responsible. If Johnny was responsible, when he and his friend thought up they idea Johnny would have said, "No, I'm not supposed to use the gun if Mom and Dad aren't home." If Johnny's parents were responsible they would have had the gun locked up in such a way that Johnny couldn't get his hands on it.

I understand that hunters have guns around, especially this time of year. We have hunting rifles around too, but guess what? They're locked up, and the ammo is locked up somewhere else. Kids do stupid stuff, because that's just part of their nature. (I say this as memories come flooding back of having a "shootout" over a pond using bb guns, and my friend's little brother falling into the pond in what we thought was a fake injury. Turns out he wasn't faking. Good thing it was only a bb guy. But..you know...bb guys are "safe".)

Back to Johnny. Mom and dad, until your kid turns 18 it's up to you to keep him alive. Having guns around where your kid has access to them means you're not exactly doing your job. It's also your job to teach him right from wrong. Yeah, this time Johnny was just hunting for squirrels, but apparently the training he had wasn't enough because he didn't remember any of it. What if this particular Johnny had some kids at school he didn't particularly like? What if this particular Johnny was walking through a field looking for squirrel and tripped, shooting his friend?

There are all kinds of "what-if's" here. What if that trucker had been injured worse and his truck took several other cars with him? Sorry, but my daughter was just in a HUGE semi crash a month ago that was caused by someone else doing something intentionally. I don't have much understanding for something like this. I can't wait to hear what the parents have to say about this, because I have all kinds of images of the families developing in my mind, and I hope I'm wrong about them!

My Favorite Recipe

Last night I had THE BEST dessert! In fact, it was so good I ate the whole thing and didn't share with Angela OR any of the dogs! And NO, am not completely heartless! Shees! Later on I let Angela make a smaller cake all by herself!

Here's what you do:

Go to your local grocery store and buy flower, eggs, oil one Betty Crocker Warm Delights.

There are several different flavors available. My favorite is the Molten Carmel Cake, but the Molten Cocolate Cake is pretty darned good too if you're needing a chocolate fix.

For those of you who are watching your calorie count, they also have MINI versions of these! Really, it ends up about the size of half a cup cake.

These things are super easy to make, just add water, stir and toss it in the microwave. They're so easy that Angela can make them without ANY help. I've told her, "Honey, this is how we bake a cake." And because that's pretty much all the baking she's ever seen go on here, she believes me!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What does YOUR mom do?

The answers to this question will vary depending upon your age, and the age of your mother. My sister's mom (who is not my mom, interesting huh?) went roller skating several times a week till she was nearly 80. My best friend's mom does scrapbooking and is into yoga.

But I bet not many people have mothers like mine. My mom doesn't sew. She doesn't bake. (well, she does once in awhile, but not on a regular basis.) No, my mom does things like climb mountains in the jungles of the Congo to take pictures of the Gorillas. Yep, just like Jane Goodall, here's my mom trapesing around the jungle to observe the gorillas.

In a couple of days my mom leaves for three weeks in Kenya, East Africa to lead a photo safari. They'll be doing things like watching The Great Migration and photographing "The Big Five"

My mom is also a phenomenal artist! Here's a painting she did from a photograph she took while on her travels. Remember, this is a PAINTING!!!


As if that isn't enough, there is more that my mom does. My mom travels the world to places like Isreal, Turkey, South Africa, East Africa, and the Philippines just to name a few to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She runs an international women's ministry called Women of God, interdenominational ministry that trains women towards their calling. Mom has ministered in 18 countries, including ministering with a pastor alone in The Congo for a month. Not only does she preach the gospel, but she helps people along the way as well. Like helping a Maasai tribe establish a new well so they could have safe drinking water.

Mom with some of the Maasai leaders.


We try not to worry when Mom is in some of these places, but it's hard not to, especially when it seems every time she goes somewhere there is some type of uprising! Things like the Hutu/Tutsi conflict. My mom was in Rwanda, on a mountain photographing the gorillas when the park rangers came to find her. The borders were closing, she had to get out! A plane from the Missionary Aviation Fellowship was sent to get her. Just 10 minutes before the border was closed, which would have trapped them in the midst of a brutal war, she and three other people flew out on a four-seater plane. Or the time she was in Soweto during the end of Apartheid when things were very unstable in the area. Most people would have said it wasn't the place for a white woman to be hanging out!

And how do you not worry about your mom when she comes home with pictures like this? These are REAL wild animals people!!!


So that's my mom. What does YOUR mom do for fun?

Friday, September 28, 2007

slipping away

I know I have Adult ADD, or brain rot, or something serious like that. How do I know this? All you have to do is walk around my house and you'll see evidence of it scattered all over the place.

For the past week the plan has been to clean the office, and I fully intend to have it done before the mighty hunters return. Today I started by taking a box of what's left of my nutrisystem meals to the outside garbage. While I was out there Zurri and Rubee were being very cute.

Watching Rubee and Zurri play reminded me that I needed to get some pictures of Rubee as I haven't updated my pregnancy tracker page in a couple of weeks. Here's some pictures I took while I was out there. I did a video too but didn't feel like waiting for it to upload.

Rubee found a catapillar


She likes to share, so she brought it a toy.


She showed it to Zurri


Rubee is due with puppies on the 15th. She's hardly acting like it, running around chasing Zurri and the squirrels.


So then I played fetch with Zurri for a few minutes. Her buddy Dudley is gone and she clearly needed to burn some steam. That's when I made the video I'm not posting.

I came in the house, and started emptying the dishwasher. I went to put a pan away and when I opened that cabinet the shelf fell and everything came tumbling out. Oh yeah..look! Here's the pans I once set asside to throw away but then we put new floors in an had to move the cabinets and somehow they got put back in here. I ran them down to the garbage quick! Zurri met me at the door with a leave on her head. I needed a picture of THAT!



Then I came into the office to upload the pictures. (yes, the dishwasher is still sitting open 1/2 empty and the pan cabinet has pans spilled on the floor from the collapsed shelf. I'll get to it in a minute.) As I was uploading the pictures and thinking of how my days disappear I could feel this blog coming on.

Then the phone rang. It was Angela's school OT who I kind of have a beef with. Well its not really with HER, but with the services school says she can now provide, and how Angela has lost a full year of skills since this started. We talked for a few minutes and while I was talking to her I fed the dogs.

When I opened the fridge to get the yogurt out (the dogs get plain, unflavored yogurt in their food. It's good for their coats) I got annoyed with the crammed full refrigerator. I grabbed a garbage bag and started tossing stuff in to bring out to the garbage. HA!!! You think I got sucked into taking more pictures of the dogs, don't you? WRONG! I came right back in here, but only becuase HELLO! I'm still on the phone with the OT and I needed to reference some papers AND it's hard to take pictures while maintaining an intelligent conversation with a school professional type person.

When I hung up I definitely felt the need to blog. I'll be picking Angela up from school in a little bit, so I guess I'll work on the office later tonight, after she's in bed.

Just a haircut

I want to get Angela's hair cut. Something short and sassy, but still feminine enough that she won't be mistaken for a boy. I went to Stellure.com and did a one month membership that allowed me to upload a photo and select hairstyles to view with Angela's face super imposed in them. (It was interesting, but not worth the $20.)

Part of the process of using this program is establishing certain points on the face that become landmarks the computer uses for making a digital rendition of the subject. Zoomed in on Angela's eye I mapped out the exact corners, the center of her pupil, the arch of her brow line, her perfect eye brows. As I marked the bridge of her nose, I discovered she finally has one!

I tried on some funky hairstyles, then decided to mess around with my face. As I mapped out my eye, I re-discovered that Angela and I have exactly the same eyes. I was reminded of a time when I was a little girl around 11 or 12 years old. I was at a friend's house and her little sister (then about 6 or so) asked me, "Are you chinese? You have Chinese eyes." Well, I'm very much german caucasion, but I definetly have almond shaped eyes. These eyes match my daughter's and my mothers. Nobody else in our family has these eyes.

As I matched Angela's nose it reminded me of a nose I'd seen before. I pulled out a picture of my son Noah at about 9 years old, and one of me at 10. Sure enough, all three of us have the same nose.

I mapped out Angela's mouth; the down-turned corners that are a marker of her extra genetic material. Except that they also mark her family, as I have the same downturned mouth. (I just have more creases in the corners of mine!)

I mapped out her ears, the right one being slightly over-curled, and both set low on her head. Funny...that's where mine sit too.

Examining Angela's features this way brought back memories of the day after Angela was born. I stood at her bedside in the NICU as the neonatologist went over her body, feature by feature, showing me what things pointed to Down Syndrome. "But she just looks like me." I said. Really...she just looked like me. I'm sure they thought, "oh that poor mom. She just doesn't want to see that something is wrong with her baby." But no....really....she just and still does, look just like me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Red"


Here's a picture of "Red". It's not a great shot. The chick on the bike is fat and tired looking, and the bike needs a bath.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Follow the Little Red Light

It's Wednesday night, and that means ride night with the West Bank Motorcycle Club. I'm not a member of this club, but Dean and I ride with them on occasion. Tonight was the last Weds night ride of the season, and since I had a sitter (rare for me) I was determined to join them. Besides, I'm in a Sis Riders mileage contest this month and haven't hardly ridden at all. Dean wasn't able to go tonight, so this would be the first time I'd ride with the group without him, and I was a little nervous. I have no idea why, as the vast majority of my riding is done alone, (almost 6,000 miles this summer!) but once in awhile the old shy me comes out and I have to stuff her back and pretend she doesn't exist.

I'm always anxious to head out for a ride, itching to get in the saddle and go, and tonight was no different. Nobody in the club had seen my new bike, so while Angela entertained herself by forcing the dogs to run the agility equipment again and again, I gave Red a bath, making her chrome all shiny and clean. About the time I finished the sitter called and said she was home and I could drop off Angela any time. I was thrilled that for once the day's timing was in my favor.

The club meets at a small bar in south Minneapolis. As I headed north on Cedar Ave. I could see the dark ominous clouds ahead. I could still see the skyscrapers though, so I knew it wasn't raining there yet. I figured I'd at least get to the bar, say hello to everyone and then head home, but as I got under the cloud system it really was just cloudy. Slightly on the chilly side, but I was dressed for it so it wasn't a big deal.

When I got to the bar I learned the ride was headed west to the Mound area. Hmmm...west..I looked at the pitch black sky to the west, watching the system flicker with lightning. "That west?" Crap! Ok, I can figure this out. When the ride heads out I'll head for home. Now, I've always hated having to leave an event early, only to to later hear about the fun stories of things I missed. I decided to stick with the group, and if things started looking worse I could always split off and head for home. It sure sounded like a good plan at the time.

We saddled up,all 40 + bikes, me keeping to the back of the group, making it easier to split of if need be. We headed west through city side streets, the sky ahead of us getting darker by the minute, and the lightning getting bigger. I decided it was time to make my move, except there was one small problem. I had NO CLUE where I was! Again, not a big deal. Soon enough we'd get to a highway and I'd be able to get my bearings. Just as I thought that thought, the ride captain pulled us over. "Ride's off. Those who live to the west will still go that direction. Everyone else, if you want to sign in (the club members have to sign in to get ride credit) do it now." It was only 7:00 and pitch black!

Everyone made quick decisions as to what they were going to do. The vast majority chose to head for home. One guy, Milo, said he was headed back to the bar we'd just left, so I planned to follow him. At least from the bar I could find my way home.

My friend Tracy was on my left. We're really just good acquaintances, but she's one of my favorite people in the club. She said she was headed back to the bar too. As the group headed out, bikes were splitting off in several directions. Tracy and I pulled up to the stop sign together, realizing we'd already lost Milo in the darkness. Tracy said she knew how to get us back so I was good to go. As we sat a stop light a few big drops started to fall. I looked at Tracy and said, "So this is great. I've never ridden in the rain before."

Tracy plastered a frozen smile on her face. "Oh...well I guess you're gonna learn huh?" But the look on her face said, "Oh shit. This is NOT good, and here I am...the babysitter."

A few minutes later the wind started picking up, and the rain started to fall for real. Tracy hollered "We can stay on the side streets or go on the freeway. What are you more comfortable with?"

"I don't care! Either way we're wet so whatever you want is fine."

That was the wrong answer. "Ok, well follow me. If you don't feel safe and want to pull over just do it and I'll pull over too."

A few seconds later the rain started POURING down. I want to use the term "Torrential rain". When you're on a motorcycle and it rains like that, you cannot see A THING! The raindrops hit your face so hard you're sure it's hail. It runs down your face and into your eyes, making you want to close them, except that closing them means certain death. As I followed Tracy, she turned onto the I-94 entrance ramp. Oh...My..GOD we're going on the FREEWAY?? Suddenly the ice cold water running down the crack of my ass didn't matter anymore.

I gripped the handlebars a little tighter and watched Tracy's tail light speed off ahead of me. I tried to speed up, afraid that soon I'd feel my rear wheel slipping underneath me. I could her Tracy's voice in my head, "If you don't feel safe and want to pull over..." Man, I really wanted to pull over!!! But yeah, this is the freeway, and it's pitch black and raining. Not a good idea. So I sped up a little bit. Just a little....

I don't know how fast or slow we were going. It could have been 10 miles an hour or 50, I have no clue because was afraid to take my eyes of that little red light that was Tracy. I couldn't see the lines in the road. In fact, I couldn't see the road at all, just shiny blackness. I was thinking how glad I was we were in the right lane when a saw Tracy's yellow blinker as she moved over to the center lane. THE CENTER LANE!!! OMG...I was pretty sure I was going to end up on the news. I knew that Tracy was riding on the left side of the lane, so if I stayed staggered I'd accomplish 2 things. 1) my tire would be in the tracks of the cars ahead of us, giving me better traction instead of hydroplaning and 2) would keep me in the center lane without getting in the way of any cars that might be next to me. There COULD BE cars next to me, but to find out would mean taking my eyes off that little red light.

We went through the small tunnel and as we came out the other end the rain hit us like a brick wall. I realized that I'd been holding my breath for quite some time...probably like 10 minutes or something. I couldn't see so I tried ducking way down to look near the base of my windshield, but that did nothing except expose the skin on my back to the rain, causing even more cold water to rush down my ass. I tried looking over the rim of my glasses but that was bad too. There just wasn't any good way to see at all. I wondered how Tracy could possibly see to lead us.

There's her turn signal. HALLELLUIAH! We're getting off the freeway! This was wonderful, but posed a new problem at the same time. It's called "stopping". Stopping on wet pavement (and really, this was standing water) can be tricky. I concentrated on slow/even braking. We made a couple of turns and there was the bar. I wanted to kiss the ground but realized that would look silly. I didn't know if I was shaking from being cold and wet or from the adrenaline coursing through my body. We went inside to the bathroom where I called Dean to let him know I was alive. I was jabbering away telling him about our ride when he said, "Are you drunk? You sound drunk. I thought you just got there."

"No, I an not DRUNK! A bit shaken up maybe, and having an adrenaline rush, but I haven't even had a POP!" Getting drunk sounded good about that time, but not a very good idea since, when the storm blew over I'd have to get myself home.

We stayed about an hour then headed our separate directions. As I rode home on the wet roads I realized how thankful I was that Tracy was there for me tonight. Would any of the other riders have been as patient with me? Would they have gotten us back only to give me a hard time about being a newby?

As my riding skills have grown over the summer, God has seen to it that I've learned things one step at a time. He's given me Dean who is a great teacher and forces me to learn things without being mean about it. He put Tracy in my path tonight because he knew she'd be patient, kind and safe, but still making me learn this new skill of riding in the rain. She gave me just enough encouragement to press on, yet reminded me to ride my own ride, and pull over if I didn't feel safe. I know that if I had pulled over she would have sat it out with me.

Tonight I'm thankful for good friends, a safe ride, an open garage door when I got home, a hot shower, and His protection. Oh, and I'm thankful for little red tail lights!

The best song EVER!!!!

My friend Krisina had this on her blog. It's too good not to share! Every mom should learn this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Agate

Today I was reminded of a story, and decided I'd like to tell it here.

Several years ago, when Angela's dad and I were still married and had all 5 kids living at home, we lived in the tiny town of Lester Prairie, MN, in a huge six bedroom, 100 year old Victorian house that had a small fenced in back yard. We also we had a dog named Agate. (yeah, like the rock.) Agate was a Sheltie who was an absolute sweetheart. We lived in that house for 7 years before buying a 50 year old farmhouse on 10 acres just outside of town.

About 2 weeks after moving into the house, I walked outside one day to find Agate unmoving on the lawn. I went to her and found that she was awake with blinking eyes, but she wasn't able to move. She did thump her tail, but couldn't lift her head. I screamed for my husband to come help me load the dog into the van so I could rush her to the vet.

After examining her we concluded she'd thrown her back out. (I had no idea a dog could do this!) Agate wasn't in the best of shape when we moved. She wasn't really overweight, but she certainly didn't get the amount of exercise a Sheltie needed. Moving to the farm and suddenly giving her all this room to run was a little like plopping me onto a track and saying, "Go! Now! Run 10 miles!"

Agate was put on doggie bed rest and given an anti inflammatory and pain killers. Poor Agate. I felt horrible for doing this to her. Her bed rest was to last 3 whole weeks. The first week she could only go outside when she had to go to the bathroom. The second week she could be outside on leash. The third week she could be outside off leash but only if we were outside with her and not letting her run around too much. But that third week it was hard not to just let her be outside. She hated coming in.

About half way through the week, on a Wednesday afternoon, I had to drive the seven miles to pick up the boys at school. I needed to leave but Agate wouldn't come in. Angela's nurse was due to arrive any minute, so I decided to just leave her outside. After all, it would only be a few minutes that she'd be alone. What could happen? (if you ever have a thought like this, STOP! Don't do it! Phrases like "just one more time." or "What could happen" are known to MAKE things happen!)

I picked up the boys, then stopped at the grocery store to grab some milk. I was gone 30 minutes. I pulled up our sort of long driveway and there was Angela's wagon sitting in the middle of the parking area. I mumbled something about the darned wagon being in my way.

And then we saw her.

I say "we" because all four boys and I saw her at the same time. Draped across one side of the wagon lay Agate.

"Oh my God!" I cried, as I scrambled out of the drivers door, the boys piling out the side. We all stood around the wagon, mortified, sobbing, not really sure what to think. There was our Agate, one whole side (the side that was up) looked like it has been skinned by a skilled butcher. Angela's nurse came outside sobbing. "I found her...at the end of the driveway...she must have tried to follow the van when you left. She was already dead when I found her so I don't think she suffered."

The boys were hysterical, and all scattered different directions. I went to the house to call my husband, "Get home! I don't care how fast you have to drive or what you have to drop to get here, just GET HERE! The boys are hysterical and I need you home." The pressure was one. This was the first pet the boys had ever lost, and I knew how I handled the next few hours would be very important in years to come. How, I didn't know, I just knew it would.

I could hear sobbing coming from an upstairs bedroom. I climbed the stairs to find 13 year old Noah, face down in his pillow. As I rubbed his back and tried to comfort him, something out the window caught my eye. There was dirt flying from the behind the corner of the barn.

I bundled up and went out to find 10 year old Bryon, sobbing and gagging, digging a hole right next to the barn wall. "Bryon honey, you're doing a great thing here, but...well...umm...this probably isn't the best place to bury Agate. If floods here, remember?" (visions of a dogs body working its way out of the ground kept coming to mind.)

"But we have to bury her! She's DEAD!!!! We HAVE TO!!!"

"Yes honey, I know Agate is dead. Dad will be home soon and we'll figure out the best place together, ok?"

"Fine!!!" he hollered, as he threw the shovel into the hole he'd started. "Crap!" I thought to myself. "How did he get that hole so deep so fast? I'll have to remember that next time I need a hole dug and he says he doesn't know how."

It was about that time when I heard a strange noise coming from the garage. I couldn't place what it was, except that I knew for SURE it involved power tools. I raced to the garage to find 13 year old Robbie. Somewhere he'd found a HUGE slab of cement, managing to load it into a wheelbarrow and push it to the garage. In his hand was a drill and he was attempting to carve Agate's headstone. There were chips of cement flying everywhere.

"Robbie..honey...ummmm...this isn't gonna work son."

"Yes it will! YOU don't know! I can do this!!!"

"Robbie..honey...lets go in the house and wait for Dad to come home. He'll help us get everything we need, ok?"

"Fine! I don't care! My dog is GONE. SHE'S GONE!!! Don't you KNOW THAT?"

(Wow...teenagers are very dramatic.)

About that time I realized I hadn't seen Tyler. Where could HE be? I looked everywhere for him and was just headed into the house to call my sister when out by the creek I saw just the top of his hat. The creek is a good 1/4 mile from the house through the field. When I got there he was down in the dry creek bed.

"Whatchya do'in Ty?" I asked?

"Rock hunting. Leave me alone. I'm just looking for rocks."

I thought this was a very clever way to deal with stress. And then I realized what KIND of rocks he was looking for. He was hunting for Agates. My heart ached for him.

Just then my husband came home. We gathered up the boys to figure out where to bury our friend. It was evening now, and very cold and blustery on the Minnesota prairie. My husband and the boys chose a spot out on an open knoll, right at the edge of the field, facing the evening sunset and set to digging. Angela and I watched from the house.

When the hole was about 2 feet deep Dad noticed a problem. Apparently many years before there used to be a driveway in that spot, and it had been paved with red rock. "Dad, you can't stop, it has to be SIX FEET! We can't move it, it has to be RIGHT HERE!" an so he kept digging.

Finally it was time. I bundled Angela in her warmest winter clothes and we joined the funeral procession across the yard. Dad pulling the wagon with Agate's favorite blanket draped over her, the boys following behind one by one, sobbing and sniffing, and me bringing up the rear, carrying a pink snowman named Angela.

As we stood on the windy knoll, Dad started to lower Agates body into the hole, except that this wasn't going very smoothly. The hole wasn't quite wide enough and Agate's stiff legs were in the way. He tried to carefully bend them but they wouldn't bend. He turned to see the faces of all the boys, their tear-stained cheeks bright red from the cold. He looked at me with one of those, "NOW what do I do???? QUICK, save me!" kinds of looks. It was time for a meeting.

He and I stepped to the side. "I could force her legs, but it's going to make a noise. Bring the boys to the house and I'll do it then."

"Yeah right, you think they're going to leave right now? Not on your life. How about if you just stand her up on all 4's?"

"Stand her up in the hole? I don't think it's deep enough to do that."

We walked back over to the grave site. Dad carefully lowered Agate into the hole, standing her upright. Except that her head was bent back so it wasn't going to work. He climbed back out of the hole, hauled Agate out and put her back into the wagon, then started digging again.

Finally the hole was wide enough and deep enough. Agates now frozen body was lowered into the hole, her favorite blanket draped over her. Dad reached up and took the rocks from Tyler, carefully arranging them around the blanket. Then they all looked at me. I guess since my mother is a minister that made me a minister's daughter and the one responsible for saying a prayer for the dog.

"God. Agate was our best friend. She was the best dog ever. She loved Robbie, and Noah, and Bryon, and Tyler and Angela. She loved everyone. Please take care of her for us, and tell her that one day we'll get to run with her again. Amen."

I led the kids into the house while Dad went to work filling in the hole. A few days later a friend made a bone-shaped marker for Agate.

There were a lot of lessons learned that day. Lessons like:

1) always follow doctors orders. If she says bed rest for 3 weeks, she means it!

2) never ever ever say, or even THINK, "Just one more time." or "What could happen?". Just having the thought will MAKE bad things happen.

3) Tweens and teens feel emotion in a very raw sort of way. It's primal. They will also feel it for a very long time.

4) Never try to hand dig a grave in Minnesot in November, and if you do make sure you have the homes abstract on hand so you can go back to be sure you're digging in a good place!

5) Always dig the hole wide enough. Take measurements if you need to!

6) What you say in the prayer is very important to the kids. They will NEVER forget it! Pray from your heart, and remember that God put that creature here for all of you. THANK HIM for giving you the chance to love that pet.

"I'm not into brown."

So, Angela is going back to wearing glasses. Not a huge surprise. What WAS a huge surprise was what happened when we went to pick out frames. Alright, knowing Angela I guess I shouldn't feel that surprised. Anyway, she wouldn't consider one single pair that I handed her to try on! Nope, she kept picking out these god-awful colored frames. I kept handing her more neutral frames with flesh-like tones, to which she'd say, "Mmmm I'm not into brown. Hmmmm I'm not into silver."

Where did "I'm not into..." come from?

Instead of liking what I did she kept pulling out every purple, red, and NEON GREEN frame she could find. There was one style I really liked on her, if only they weren't DARK VIOLET! I wanted to see the other colors, so the guy ordered the brown ones so I could at least see them before ordering.

We went back today to try on the brown....they are very dark brown. With Angela's dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and dark brown frames....it was just too much brown. That didn't really matter though because Angela isn't "into brown" and only wanted the violet ones. With all the frames I suggested, she'd look in the mirror quickly, then put the violet ones back on and proceed to look at her reflection from all kinds of different angles....sideways left...sideways right...chin down...chin up...magnified...you name it, she tried it. She really enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror with the violet frames. When the sales person or I would say, "Look at mom once." She'd just turn her head, but her eyes stayed glued to the mirror.

I know that this is a game God is playing with me. He knows this particular color is probably one of my least favorite in the entire rainbow. I KNOW that's why He has Angela so attracted to that color. Apparently I'm still getting lessons on how to not give into the control issues I have. I could see Him at work during the whole visit, like he was speaking in my ear saying, "It's not about YOU. It's about HER and what SHE likes. Give it up already!"

GAH!

So we ordered the violet frames. I'm hoping this will mean she actually wears them. In the meantime, I'm now shopping for lots of clothes with a particular shade of violet in them. I'll post a picture when we pick up the glasses at the end of the week.

Speaking of clothes, we're having issues in this area. This issue is called, "I want to choose my own clothes, and you're not going to like what I choose."

Angela has about 15 t-shirts and about 4 pairs of pants. (long story I think I've already told you about.) In the morning she gets in the shower, and I put her clothes for the day on her bed. When she's out of the shower and getting dressed I go get the dogs fed. She ALWAYS comes out wearing different clothes than what I set out. At the very least, a different shirt. Now, one smart thing I did was get rid of all the too-small tpshirts she had. (sometimes I'm slow about this, which causes problems with the favorite shirt that is now too small is still in the drawer.) I've also gotten rid of the really junky shirts, so at least she's choosing shirts that are wearable. But still....purple sparkly capri leggings with an orange shirt and all kinds of colors on the front doesn't look too good. Add red socks and the purply/silver shoes her dad bought her. Nauseating.

I sent a note to school that said, "Angela is now choosing her own clothes" because I don't want to take the blame.

There is a store called Justice for Girls that my friend told me about. It has lots of "Hannah Montana" and "That's So Raven" type of clothing. I want to take Angela there and let her pick out her own outfits. At least then maybe she'll wear something that matches...one can only hope.

I did not have this problem with my boys!

Monday, September 24, 2007

gephyrophobia

gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges.

Many of us here in the cities have a new fear of bridges, developed after the collapse of the 35W bridge two months ago. For those who were on the bridge when it collapsed and lived to tell about it, I can only IMAGINE their fear. Dean and I, along with about 30 other motorcycles belonging to a group we ride with, were just minutes from getting on that bridge to enjoy our Weds. night ride.

A few weeks ago Angela and I were headed downtown to the fair, taking Hwy 52 in St. Paul just downriver (or is it upriver? I'm horrible with direction) from the site of the collapse. It was rush hour and we got stopped at the top of the bridge. I remember looking down and feeling a slight panic running through me. It was similar to what you feel when you get on a carnival ride, suddenly aware of all the nuts and bolts, wonder if those toothless carnie guys really know how to put it together. Anyway, I remember looking down at the water, then at Angela in the rear view mirror, knowing if something happened, there's no way I'd be able to get us out. And remember, I don't swim.

So tonight I'm surfing through the Star Tribune, and run across this article. It's about how the Wakota bridge project will now be delayed due to reconstruction of 35W, etc. The Wakota project has been delayed for quite some time, but one of the reasons is during one inspection it was found to have "numerous hairline cracks in the concrete support sections for the deck."

Umm...HELLO!!!! This is a BRAND NEW bridge, and it has these cracks all over the place? AND...this bridge gets 40,000 cars per day on it. One of them is mine. Ok, I'm not on it EVERY day, but certainly several times per week. Sometimes in my truck, sometimes on my motorcycle. Guess what? I think I don't WANT to drive on that bridge anymore. I can take another route! It's a coupe miles longer, but will still get me where I'm going. Call me irrational, and an alarmist, but guess what! We just found out that big bridges DO indeed collapse! They can come crashing down into a rushing river, or lake, or onto other roads.

Now, I might get over this fear by tomorrow. One just never knows. But for tonight anyway, I'm not driving on that bridge anymore.

Friends For Life


Angela and Rubee, enjoying a show and a snack.










Video of our Jr. Handler!

MN Health Care....RANT

Minnesota health care, who made you God? Warning, I woke up with a migraine, and then got this phone call....so I'm CRABBY!!!!

Now, back to insurance companies.....What the HE** are they thinking????

Last week I called the pharmacy to refill one of Angela's meds. This is the medication that keeps all of us in the household safe from Angela's rampages. (at least 90% of the time anyway.) Angela's script is written for (x) mg 3 times daily.

When I picked up the script the pharmacist said there was a problem. The medication with that Angela has been on for a year at the exact same dosage, suddenly the insurance company doesn't like the way the script is written. They don't like that it's 3 x a day. They will only cover if it's written for twice a day.

This irritates the crap out of me. Who the he** is the insurance company to say how a kid takes medication? Isn't that up to DOCTORS???? Now, in reality this is a solvable problem. They want it written for twice a day, so the doctor said she'd write it so the afternoon dose is double, but we'll just split the pill and keep giving to her like we have been. Doesn't seem like that big of a deal, does it?

WRONG!!!! Any other caregivers she has (school nurse, pca, etc) are required to give the medication AS IT'S WRITTEN on the bottle. Angela can't take a DOUBLE DOSE in the afternoon, she'd sleep for 24 hours!!!!

So I called the state Ambudsman, but of course they're not taking calls this week. (how can they not take calls????) and there is a message saying if you're having issues to call the insurance company. So I call the insurance company which has a message saying, "we're experiencing higher than normal call volume. Please call back later." then it disconnects you.

What the &^#@#)$&^S%

What the state of Minnesota doesn't know is how many times I've complimented them on the services we receive. Minnesota has long been known as the "cadillac" in the world of disabilities. It's crap like this that makes me wish I'd never opened my big mouth. We are just one small family of fish in a big huge pond. What are they doing to other families that have much bigger issues than we do? What a CROCK!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Testing insanity

Clearly Angela needs more physical outlets. She loves swimming, but for now it's only a couple days a week. She's out of school very early cuz she's too tired to make it a whole day. (but then comes home and spends exactly 6 hours driving me insane until bed time) I'd like to put her in something else. She needs something every day of the week, even if it's just to eat up time until bed time! She's in special olympics, but she's not bowling this year, so her next sport (basketball) doesn't start till January or something like that. I think I'm going to enroll her in Karate.

No, really...I think she'd love it! Now, it's very possible that I will regret this decision, but every time one of those flyers come home from school or arrive in the mailbox I think, "I can picture Angela doing this."

And then I think of this young man. His name is Carson, and he's amazing. He also has Down Syndrome! He has a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate. I would love Angela to be that successful in something! If you go to his website, make sure to look around at all his video's. He's something to watch!

I think this could be one of those "sink or swim" kinds of things, but I'm not sure if that's for me or for Angela.

Friday, September 21, 2007

There are days....

*Disclaimer*
I know there are several parents reading here who are brand new to the world of DS. Please know that Angela's behavioral issues are NOT typical of DS. We don't know why Angela's behavior is the way it is, but there is a significant family history of psychiatric and behavioral disorders so it's really not all that surprising. Surprising or not, the combination of that history and DS sucks!


There are days when I just don't get IT! I don't get what the lesson is. Surely there is a lesson in the happenings of the day. If there isn't a lesson, then WHAT'S THE POINT????? What is the POINT of my child's aggression. What is the POINT of the stress and strain? What is the POINT of this day happening in the first place?

UGH!!! Needless to say, I'm at my wits end today. Angela's behavior has been pretty good for the most part for a couple of months. Although whenever we see one doctor in particular she never fails to display her absolute WORST behavior. I'm glad she chooses that doctor in particular because THAT doctor is the one who gets us stuff (read services.)

Today is a day where I watch the clock counting the hours and minutes until bedtime. Angela doesn't sleep very well, so she takes medication to help her sleep at night. She's usually out within about 30-60 minutes of taking it so I know that if I can hold out until 7:00 she'll soon be asleep. I hate that I can't wait for my child to go to sleep. I don't think that's what parenting is about. Yes, we all have our days, but I'm feeling that way EVERY day.

I'm not getting any breaks these days either. I only have a few hours of PCA available, and the couple people I have to do it aren't available when I need them. Time to find more people. In January we'll have a new neuropsychiatric assessment done, which will get us additional hours, making it easier to find a body to do the job. We'll also be able to get an in-home behavioral specialist who will helps us learn how to deal with the issues at hand. Right now I just feel like I'm drowning.

On a good note, so far this year at school she's been a model student. This is a HUGE change from last year when the behavioral specialists were having to follow her around and she couldn't manage staying with one subject or activity longer than 10 minutes. We did find out she HATES Spanish though! Our district started a charter program and her building is Spanish and Science. Yeah...lets work with English first! Anyway, she'll no longer be participating in Spanish. I'm sure the little girl who has been sitting next to her and getting her hair pulled will be thrilled.

If you're a praying person, please pray for God to calm Angela. Please pray for guidance for those of us who have to deal with the behaviors. The guidance could be insight into what's happening in her mind, or just giving us the words to say and actions to do to address each incident.

After the long grueling afternoon of Angela screaming, swearing, kicking, spitting and hitting, she has now isolated herself in her room with a movie. She came out long enough for dinner then headed back. I guess we all need a break.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

DOGS!!

Raising dogs is both fun and a lot of work, all at the same time. Our dogs seem to have a busier social calendar than we do. Right now they're rehearsing for their rolls in "Seussical the Musical." Dudley and Zurri are sharing the roll of the Grinch's dog Max. We'll be performing TWELVE performances of this play, which of course is running over the Thanksgiving holiday. My extended family is NOT going to be happy with me. Unless, of course, they want to go watch!

Today was open house at All Breed Obedience where the dogs and I do all our training, and where I also work to train other people's dogs. I mostly do puppy Kindergarten classes, and help teach the level one obedience class. In preparation for a busy weekend Dudley and Zurri got all gussied up. (meaning a bath, nail trim and some shaving here and there) and I got this beautiful picture of Zurri. Isn't she stunning?
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And here's an older picture of Dudley. He's just turned 2 years old happens to still be in his summer coat. Here's what he looks like in the winter time with full coat.
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Of course we can't forget Rubee. (Dudley's mom) Afterall, there are ultrasound pictures on here, so it wouldn't be fair to leave out her beautiful face. Here she is, waiting for Angela to come home from school. If you'd like to see more of our dogs, visit our website.
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Oh, and with our last litter I got some of the most amazing pictures! Here are a couple of them, and our website has LOTS more pictures like this!
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My life is distinctly different

Like most people, I have a whole bunch of "me" wrapped up into one package. I'm debating about splitting my blog into a bunch of different blogs. There would a blog for the "not-so-hot-biker-chick" side, and a blog for the "I'm raising a child with disabilities" side, and then the "dog breeder/trainer" side.

I know a lot of people visit my blog to read about my life raising a child who has Down Syndrome. They're usually new parents who are just starting out on their journey and want to see that they CAN do it. When they get here they have to muddle through the other parts of my life. ~O)

There are people (usually the families who have bought puppies from us) who come here looking for more of a dog journal, training tips, and stuff like that.

Then there are the other biker chicks who cruise around looking for biker related blogs.

Oh, and there are my grown kids who come here looking to see if I'm talking about them.

Breaking it all up wouldn't be such a bad thing...or would it? If I kept it all together, those new parents of new babies with DS could see that life goes on, DS or not! Those new puppy families can see that it doesn't take ALL of your time to train a dog. That there is still time for other stuff in life too. Those biker chicks could see....what? I dunno, except maybe why I don't have as much time to ride as I'd like? LOL

Most of you who are reading here are regulars. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Responses to comments

Tonight I received a comment to one of my posts "Surviving Tragedy/Id bracelets"
stating that something I posted was untrue. Since you didn't leave a way to get in touch with you, here is my reply:

First of all, that post was written the morning after the crash. Details were still very sketchy. I learned bits and pieces throught the night and day before. I was emotional, exhausted, and pretty freaked out! The details I did have came from Andy and what he saw/heard that night, (if I remember correctly, everyone showed up to the accident scene intoxicated?) and from the authorities involved in the chase, the clean-up, and the investigation. I think I've now talked with 3 different officers and am waiting for a copy of the police report and investigation results, including the toxicology reports. I've also heard from Tosh's family (his former step-mom, his sister, his brother and his dad.) who, like you and me, were not in that car with Tosh and can only speculate about what was going through his mind at that time. As of a week ago, what they have told me is they have a lot of questions that you have failed to answer for them.

Clearly the two of you had some "issues", and Tosh isn't here to defend himself about them. Really...I don't care to get involved with them either. What interest would I have in your business? To give me details about something he did so that I might see him in a negative light is just plain sick, an very "high school". Have you given the whole story to those who've asked for it? Has that story been jaded in any way? Remember that if it has, it'll eventually come out. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. Maybe not even until you're standing at the gates of heaven waiting for your own judgment to be handed down. When it is....which way do you think God will see things?

I'm sorry that you lost Tosh. From what everyone has told me he seems like he was a wonderful person. Certainly big enough to step up to the plate of responsibility when he had reason to believe he didn't need to. It's very possible you'll never find someone like him again. He could have been your "once in a lifetime" and now he's gone. I've said all along that every person involved that night...be they police officers, family members, witnesses to the actual crash, or innocent victims like my daughter, my ex-husband or myself...all of us have lessons to be learned from that night. Every person involved has "what if's" and "if only's" going through their minds. Those are the things we can learn from. Our job now is to take the lessons learned, and to apply them to our lives from this day forward. God gave us this opportunity for growth, and its up to us to use it. If we don't, eventually he'll stop giving the opportunities.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Look at our surprise!

Here's our ultrasound picture. How many do you see in there? Count the arrows....one....two....three....How cool is that?

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Ok, jokes on you. These are ultrasound pics from our dog Rubee who is bred and due October 15th. In dogs, an ultrasound 1) confirms the pregnancy and 2) gives you a minimum count. Today we counted 5, but she was very gassy which usually hides puppies. We will do an xray on day 60 for a final skull count.

Even a "rock" can make progress!

Once, when I was around 8 or so, I was at my grandmother's apartment building. There were two pools there, one indoors and one out. There was a man who lived there that gave swimming lessons to the kids in the building, myself included. Because of my total inability to swim, I was told NEVER to be in the pool area unless there was an adult around. One day I was chasing a cute boy around the grounds, and he darted into the indoor pool area. I came in through a different door and snuck up behind him. As he peered out the glass to see if I was coming, I tapped him on the shoulder, scaring him to death. He turned and by reflex gave me a shove, sending me into the deep end of the pool, and took off out the door. There was nobody around. I don't know know long I was in the water, and I don't remember anything after going in. I just know that I was found in the nick of time because...well...I'm still here! At 40 years old I still don't like water on my face, and have nightmares about my car going underwater and trying to breathe. I do go out in boats, but when we go fast I am constantly envisioning hitting a rock or something then sailing through the air only to land in very cold, very deep water. I am able to swim, but I NEVER go under the water, as doing so sends me into a panic.

So a year ago a friend of mine hooked Angela up with a swimming coach for the summer. Due to summer school interfering with everything else, Angela missed alot of time, as she did this summer as well. Really...she only got 4 or 5 sessions in this summer, three of them being private sessions. These sessions are very difficult for me to watch. The worst part is at the end of a session the get "free play" and can mess around with floaties and stuff. There are lots of adults around, and Coach Keanne is super diligent in watching everyone, but still the entire time I feel on the edge of panic. I've found it's better for me to either not watch AT ALL, or to just plain leave until the lesson is done. The last thing I want is for Angela to pick up on my fear of the water.

The coach is not just any coach. He is the coach for the Special Olympics NATIONAL team, and in a couple weeks will be taking the team to China to compete in the world games. He is an amazing man, donating HUNDREDS of hours of his own time every year. When summer swim was over he invited Angela to "swim" with his team. I was elated.

You see, much like her mother, Angela swims like a rock. Mouth wide open, sinking straight to the bottom. Over the past few weeks Keanne has worked with her ever so slowly, and ever so patiently, on how to kick and how to paddle her arms. (which Angela seems unable to do simultaneously, which is not conducive to staying above the water!) Because of her history of strokes, watching her "kick" is quite interesting, but over the last couple weeks I'm seeing her kick change, and become slightly more efficient. She's also working her arms better as well. But yesterday there was a breakthrough!!!!

We've been talking to Angela constantly about the need to close her mouth in the water. That it's scary when you go under and your mouth fills up and you try to breathe. She just doesn't seem to understand the concept. Yesterday when it was time to get out of the pool, she was in the second lane over and needed to go under a rope in order to get to the ladder. Keanne asked her, "What should we do? How are you going to get to the ladder?"

Angela's eyes got big, and said, "I go under."

So Keane demonstrated. He put both hands on the side of the pool on either side of the rope. He made an exaggerated motion of closing his mouth, then going under the water and under the rope.

Without missing a beat, Angela did it right behind him!!! She came up smiling at me, "See mom? See Dean? I did it! I go under!!!!"

I had to hide my tear so she wouldn't see it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Gift of Riding Alone

I actually wrote this Mother's Day weekend, and it was published in the August edition of Biker Alley magazine.
.....................................

Almost a year ago I reached one of my "Before I turn 40" goals. I took a motorcycle safety class and earned my "M" on my driver's license. I think I unconsciously set this goal way back when I was a teenager and I rode behind my mom, but later as an adult and mother of 5 young kids myself it seemed an impossible goal. Then, at age 35, I found myself divorced and with every-other weekend to myself. I started dating again, and one of the "prerequisites" of anyone I dated was that, not only did he need to have a bike himself, but he needed to ride regularly as well. It never occurred to me to get my own!

One of the men I dated had a sport bike (aka crotch rocket) and I found I loved the speed and rush of adrenaline that came with the ride. I even contemplated owning one myself, but our relationship was short-lived and suddenly that particular type of bike didn't seem to fit me anymore. As any adrenaline junkie will tell you though, it's highly addictive. The goal was now firmly etched into my soul.

Then I met Dean. Not only did he ride a Harley, but his entire extended family did as well! Dean and I fit together like a hand and glove. We rode together on his bike like we'd been doing it all our lives. What Dean didn't know was that riding behind him was a woman who was starting to have issues. Control issues, that is.

Like most people, when I'm riding behind, I loose myself to my thoughts. (Ok, I have a tendency to sing because Dean can't hear me!) I can look at the scenery and just enjoy it. Once in awhile we can have a conversation, but usually in broken sentences, or bits and pieces at a stoplight. Mostly though, I'm just by myself on the back of the bike. If I really want to feel "connected" to him, I can put my arms around him, or give him a squeeze with my thighs. Sometimes he might reach back and put his hand on my lower leg (the only part of me he can reach.). Those actions, however simple they may seem, are very meaningful forms of communication when on a bike.

Unfortunately there came a time when I developed awareness for other things around us. I've always had a watchful eye for hazards when on the back of the bike, but it's not been 100% up to me, so I could slack off now and then. But one day, out of the blue, I became very nervous. It was like somewhere deep within me a switch was flipped, causing me to be hyper aware of everything. Does he see that car? That pothole? That gravel on the inside of the corner? How good is he at quick stops? My ears became aware of his shifting, both up and down, which meant I also noticed differences if there was a problem.

I thought it was just me being paranoid. That is until I started talking to women riders who told me, "That's how I knew it was time to get my own bike!" So I took their advice, and got my license just before my 40th birthday.

The first few times out, (once I got over the fear of our daunting driveway!) I went alone, sticking to side streets where 50 mph felt very fast! It didn't take me long to venture further, and on roads that had a 55 mph speed limit. My time is limited to ½ hr here and there squeezed in after household chores and while my daughter is still in school, but even so within a couple of weeks I was able to put a couple hundred miles on my bike.

One day, shortly after my daughter left for a weekend with her dad, Dean came home early so we could go for a ride. It was to be our "maiden voyage"; our first trip together on separate bikes. He decided we would ride to the home of his parents just 15 minutes away. "But we're taking the long way Honey. We're going on the freeway."

"The freeway? I've haven't done that yet and it's getting to be rush hour!"

His replied, every so calmly, "That's exactly why we're doing it. I don't want you alone the first time. It's only a mile or so of freeway. You'll be fine. So let's go!"

Suddenly I didn't want to go on this particular ride, but I wasn't about to let him see my fear either. After all, I do have control issues, and I'm highly competitive!

I quickly realized I needed a new goal, and it was keeping up with Dean. I knew he wouldn't go too fast for me, and I knew his ultimate goal was my safety, but I also knew if I did anything stupid, or showed fear, word would travel through the entire family before my feet even touched the pavement again. So keep up I did. For the entire mile and a half I stuck to him like glue at 70 mph, and even changed lanes once to get around a slower moving vehicle! I felt like I'd "arrived" and was now a legitimate rider.

The next day we ventured out more. This time it was on a three lane interstate with all kinds of cars (and semis!) merging and exiting. We switched lanes more than I've ever dreamed we needed to, and I'm pretty sure he did this on purpose. I really didn't pay attention to WHERE we were going, because I was too busy keeping up to Dean, and staying away from the tires of big trucks. But I did it! All 60 plus miles of it. And along the way, I discovered something I never knew about the gift of riding my own bike.

You see, my daughter has a disability, and my life with her is often very complicated by doctor appointments, school meetings, and worry about whatever her current medical crisis is. I rarely get a break from her care other than a couple of hours each week. Even when I was riding behind on Dean's bike, getting "lost in my thoughts" often meant getting lost in my thoughts about the latest school report, or doctor's diagnosis, or how to help her achieve the next much-needed independent living skill.

What I discovered on my own bike is there isn't one single opportunity to think about my worries of the day or week. Every fiber of my being is involved in the ride. My nose smells everything there is to smell; from the diesel fuel of the truck next to me, to the lilac bushes in full bloom on the side of a country road.

My ears hear the subtle changes in my engine, they hear when I need to shift gears up or down. They revel at the powerful sound that comes from a fast acceleration.

My hands grip the handlebars, doing a subtle dance between brake and clutch. With just a very slight change I can accelerate quickly, or let the engine speed slow me down. My feet join in the dance, braking and shifting as the need arises.

My body feels the changes in the engine, the rumble of the exhaust. It feels the changes in the wind, instinctively adjusting to keep the bike upright, becoming one with the bike through curves in just the right way so as to make it one smooth and beautiful move.

My heart and mind are in the ride, taking a break from all the world has offered to me on any given particular day. Leaving it all behind, trading it in for the feeling of freedom, power, independence and pride that come from riding alone.

At the end of the ride, when the kickstand goes down and I take the key out of the ignition, I'm ready to take on the world again, and all that it has to offer. I'm ready to be a mom again, refreshed and energized to live each day to the fullest.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Starting over...again!

When I divorced 6 years ago I was a fat and frumpy 30 something mom. It didn't take me long to learn that in order to get dates I had to 1) loose weight 2) stop dressing like a mom! I had never realized that Mom's who live in farm country very quickly get into a rut in how they dress and (don't) take care of themselves. I was on a mission!

Fast forward a couple of years. I was now in fantastic shape at 140 lbs. I stopped drinking the 4+ bottles of Mountain Dew every day, I walked 3 miles every morning BEFORE work, AND was working out an hour every night. (I got more compliments on my arms by other women!) I'll never forget meeting the guy I was currently dating for a lunch date. It was summer and I'd just bought myself a new outfit. It wasn't anything special, just a pair of shorts and a shirt, but as I walked up to the table he was seated at, a huge smile came across his face as he said, "Wow! You look GREAT!"

Never in two marriages had I heard those words before. I vowed I was never going to get fat again.

A couple months and a break-up later I met Dean. I kid you not, within 4 months I'd gained 20 lbs back. I was furious with myself. I started back on the long road to loosing it, and was just about there when Angela got sick. I spent that winter living in the hospital, and eating hospital foods. My love affair with Mountain Dew was rekindled, and the workout stopped. I had given up.

A year and a half ago I bought into Nutrisystem. I actually did loose a fair amount of weight on the system, but it's expensive and I couldn't keep it up, and it bothered me that I did it before without spending so much money. Again, I gave up.

This summer I bought my first and second motorcycles. I'd had visions of being a hot biker chick on my bike, but turned out to be anything but. I wear my hair very short and with the extra weight it makes me look like a guy. I could hear Satan in my ear saying, "you're not what your Dean wanted! He doesn't like to be seen with you looking like this."

And so here I am again. I was going to start my workouts the day Angela went back to school. Well, that just didn't happen, so I started today!!!! I went back to my "Firm" videos that I used before Dean and I met. I really like them, but man are they TOUGH!!! I remember being able to get through the entire video, and finish with my clothes satisfyingly soaked, confirming the calories that had been burned. Today I made it only 15 minutes into the video. (that's just the warm-up!) Tomorrow I promise to go 20 minutes, and keep adding a few more minutes until I can make it all the way through the 62 minute workout.

As for next spring? I'll be that hot biker chick!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I hope to do this again sometime

So tonight was our book signing. Ann Bremer, Emily Zied, and myself. The man who was our contact person hadn't been very optimistic about the whole thing, as they usually only have "big names" do signings. Oh well.....

We were to start at 7:00 pm. Ann and I arrive, and there is a stack of books on a table, chairs for each of us, and chairs in front of us....like for an audience to sit at. (?) I think to myself, "That must be where people wait when the line is too long!" (wishful thinking, I know.)

People start to arrive. We have smiles frozen on our faces because we're really not sure what we're supposed to do. One woman comes in with her teenage son with DS and says, "So what time do you start speaking?"

Speaking?

This is what my face looked like in response to that question. It looks confused.
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We were SIGNING books, not speaking. Yes, I do public speaking all the time, but I have a SCRIPT...sorta...This is different. So we ask "the guy" who set everything up about this 'speaking' thing, and he tells us, "Oh, you know, you use the microphone (we hadn't noticed the MICROPHONE!) and you can talk about yourselves, or read something from the book, things like that.

So Emily arrives, and we tell her about the speaking thing, and that' she's first. There are now about 20 people seated, with some on the floor and some standing behind shelves peering over to see.

She is a great sport and hops up to the mic, and does a spectacular job of speaking. She reads part of her essay, and I see people wiping tears from their eyes. Later I'll add a picture of Emily speaking.

Then Ann gets up to the mic. She reads her essay and people laugh, clearly identifying with her feelings. Like Emily, she does a fantastic job.

Then it's my turn. I'm so glad to get this opportunity, because I've always felt that mine is much better when read out loud. People laugh at the story, which is a good thing because it's supposed to be funny.

Then we get on to signing our books. Here we are signing away. Notice we are all smiling because we can remember our names AND the page number our story is on!
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Angela signed books too!
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Oh, and I even did my nail art appropriate for the evening! (it's a Down Syndrome awareness ribbon)
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Suddenly there was a problem! All the books were GONE! We'd SOLD OUT!!! There were still people in line, but no more books! Ann had brought a few with her, and she sold those! The guy from the store was stunned. He kept saying, "This has never happened before! In fact, two weeks ago we had the lead singer from The Styx here and HE only sold EIGHT COPIES! We had sold 30 in a very short time. He was now our best friend and wondered how soon we could come back. :wink:

The coolest thing about this whole book deal, is ALL the royalties go back to the non-profit that produced it, to purchase more copies of the book (which is now in it's 3rd printing by the way!) Our goal is to get a copy of this book into the hands of every new parent who's just been told their baby has DS, into every OB and geneticist's office, and into every NICU waiting room.

It was a wonderful evening, one that we were thrilled to have the pleasure of participating in!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Mother's Job

Now that I have kids out of the house, I'm trying to figure out where my job as "mom" ends. Where I have to step back and just watch the mistakes my kids make and let them learn on their own, and where I should step in.

I look at my grown kids and wonder if I did a good job with all that we went through. I have to be honest, it's hard to tell. Clearly I made mistakes along the way, (we all do, right? RIGHT?) I just wonder which ones were preventable?

I can see that the basic thing is still there....they both have good hearts. They don't like seeing someone hurting, and they don't like to cause hurt. This is a good thing, I just wish those same hearts were open to God. For that I'll keep praying.

One is hard working, the other expends alot of energy avoiding hard work. I look back to what I was doing at my 20th birthday. I had already been in the Army, gotten married, and had a two week old baby, and by my 21st birthday my husband and I had a house and another baby on the way. I think I'm glad my boys are nowhere near doing those things, but at the same time I wish they at least SEEMED ready to handle that level of responsibility. Should the unexpected happen I don't think either of them have the skills necessary to deal with it.

It was tough to be a young mom who barely knew myself, much less trying to get to know a husband and new babies at the same time. It was tougher still to become a single mother by the age of 23. I don't even want to see my grandchildren go through what my little boys did, so I will pray that my boys can straighten out their lives and become responsible, productive members of society.

If you are a person who prays, I would sure appreciate it if, the next time you sit down to have a talk with Him, you'd lift my son Noah up to Him as well. He needs all the prayers he can get right now. Pray for guidance for me. When to step back, when to step in. Pray for open hearts and minds all around, and for forgiveness on all the levels it's needed.