Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six 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!"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Movie Review: Hotel For Dogs

We had a family date night last weekend, and went to see "Hotel For Dogs".  Angela was thrilled to death, since the star of the show is Jake T. Austin! LOL You'll also see some Hollywood faces you haven't seen in awhile.

This was a cute movie. There are a lot of cute tricks performed by the dogs, and I think you'll see just about every type of dog in the movie. There's a nice sub-plot about finding the right family for people and homeless kids. 

Movie Review: Gran Torino

Let me put this simply....GO SEE THE MOVIE! You'll watch an older mid-western, extremely prejudiced man (a disgruntled Korean war veteran) learn some things about himself when he's forced to learn about the world around him. Every racial slur you've ever heard, and many that you haven't, will be heard in this movie. It's a good thing though, I promise. For those in the disability world, remember when The Ringer came out, and the "r" word comments in it were necessary to set the stage of the movie? The same is true for Grand Torino.

That's it. I won't say anything more, except, GO SEE THE MOVIE! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Significant risk!

Going to Reece's Rainbow breaks my heart. If you've never been there, you should go. Pictured there are children who's lives are hanging by a thread. Many, who when the reach their 4th birthday, won't have a celebration, but instead will be moved to an institution (much like this one, and some will go to the very same one!) where they will likely die within a few months time from dehydration, malnutrition, neglect, and illness that comes when a child is subjected to all of those things.

When I go to Reece's Rainbow, I visit this page, and pray for the little girls there, many of whom have their 4th birthday looming over them. They don't know what's in store when that birthday comes. All they know is their life in whatever orphanage they happen to be living in at the moment. Some of the orphanages give very good care considering the circumstances. The children are clothed, fed, and bathed occasionally. If they're lucky, they'll be the "favorite" in their group, and get a hug on occasion. Other orphanages are not so good. The food given them is barely enough to keep a child alive. The children are severely malnourished, with every bone on their body showing, and their face sunken. Illness is rampant, and many don't survive to REACH their 4th birthday. You know, the birthday that marks their transfer to certain death.

The other page I visit at Reece's Rainbow is this one. There are girls pictured here who could easily be Angela.  Who've never received the medical care they need. There are some children who were abandoned for something as simple as a hand malformation, or a cleft lip. There are others who have more significant needs. The children who are deaf break my heart. All they need is communication, something I could so easily give a child. 12 year old girls who've never known the meaning of "family" or "home". The children who have Down syndrome make me want to crawl into a hole and make it all go away. I KNOW Down syndrome, and I KNOW it is so far away from the misconceptions these countries believe. 

Meet Irena, who's two younger siblings have already been adopted, and she's been left all alone in the world. A girl who can read, and talk, and loves school, but who has never known "family". No mommy to braid her hair. No mommy to paint her nails. No mommy to hug her when she cries in the night. No mommy to teach her about the changes her body is going through now. In fact, in Irena's country, when a girl turns 16 she is TURNED OUT! No money, no clothing except what is on her back. No nothing. She will live in the sewers with the other orphans who've been turned out. Most girls like Irena will be forced to become prostitutes in order to survive. It is said that 80% of these orphans commit suicide by the age of 18. Look at Irena's face! What will HER fate be? 

So why do I visit Reece's Rainbow? What's the point of torturing myself? I'm in no position to adopt, and probably never will be. It would take nothing less than a miracle for Dean and I to be in such a position, and I don't ever expect that miracle to happen. I go because one thing I CAN do, is talk about them here, and hope that someone reading will actually click on the link, and see a face that says, "I belong in your family! Are you the one to save me?" Please click on the links. Please don't turn your eyes away, and think "Nope, not me!" Why are you afraid of looking? What stops you from going? Is it because you don't WANT to know what happens to these children? I bet the children wish if they blinked, it would all go away, and they wouldn't have to suffer. I bet they wish just the right person would look at their picture today. Today...maybe today...thier Mama will find them. Maybe today someone will see Irena's face and say, "It's me! I'm supposed to be her mother!" 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A little humor to start the day

Got this from another blog this morning. Thought I'd share it here, to give you something to laugh about this morning. I know I sure needed it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

When did I get old?

I don't know when exactly this happened, but I GOT OLD! Do you want to know how I discovered that I've suddenly aged dramatically? It happened today when I went to take my college entrance test. Yep, I walked into the building and didn't see ONE PERSON who appeared older than about 25! 

Did I ever feel out of place. I saw all the new dental hygenists going into their area, all young and in their scrubs. I saw the vet techs, looking like they were quite impressed with themselves in THEIR scrubs with puppies and kittens all over them. Yeah, well I have scrubs at home too! Several sets in fact. All acquired while helping my kid struggle through another hospital stay. The don't make me puff my chest out like they did for these 20 somethings.

The first time I went to visit this school, the admissions guy gave me a tour of the building, and the program I'm interested in. So then he says to me, "Yeah, the instructor who teaches that program, she started later in life too."

"LATER IN LIFE"????????? Are you KIDDING ME?

I wanted to look at him and say, "Yeah, well did anyone ever mention that you look like you're about 12? And that you have no business talking to your elders that way????"

Oh well. So I'm old. I'm not even 42 yet. My age has NEVER bothered me before. My gray hairs? I've earned every one of them and wear them like a badge of honor. But today, I feel old.

Anyway, the test went ok. I hate that I read and type fast, because it makes me take tests fasts, which in turn makes me question my answers, because surely I didn't take my time. Today I read and re-read questions to the point that I read them TOO much. LOL For once I wasn't the first one finished. Nope, I was the second. LOL Oh, and the others taking the test today? All of them were probably 19-23 years old.

Stepping off the ledge

Tomorrow I'm going to take, what is for me, a HUGE leap of faith. I'm going to a local college to take the "accuplacer" entrance exam, to see if I can get back into school.

I know that I'm an intelligent person. (well, ok, there are some who would beg to differ, I'm sure.) but part of this test is...umm.....M-a-t-h. Let me remind you that I graduated from high school in 1985. And, let me also have you look up the word dyscalculia, and you'll understand why I'm kind of freaking out about this test! 

When I was in elementary school, there wasn't a name for what I had. They just said I couldn't learn to do math. I also received tutoring for reading, because I was always turning everything around. I continued getting 1:1 help with math all the way through my freshman year of high school, when I was required to take freshman algebra. ROFL...seriously, I was still trying to memorize the multiplication tables, so they stuck me into a general math class instead. My sophomore year they stuck me in a freshman algebra class. I hated it there. I was with students a year behind me (which made me a social outcast in the class) and the person I hated most in the entire school sat right behind me. To make matters worse, I was kind of a clown, and would do all kinds of stuff to get out of whatever I was supposed to be working on. Finally, the teacher told me "I'm going to pass you with a D-, because I don't want you in my class again. (he was our only algebra teacher) You're unteachable!" Yes, really, a teacher told me that, and it stuck with me for years.

In fact, I'm almost 42 years old, and it's still with me!

A couple weeks ago, in preparation for the test, my friend Clara gave me some tutoring time. When we were sitting right there, with it right in front of me, what she explained to me and had me figure out made perfect sense. By the next day it was already gone from my brain. Tonight I opened the lesson again, hoping that something would click inside my head.

It's hopeless. 

Or is it?

Years ago, when I was beginning my journey into interpreter training, I had one class that was supposed to be 8 weeks long, but I took a condensed version over two weeks. Not only were we learning 200-300 signs PER CLASS, but we were also learning grammatical structure. At the end of the 2 weeks, when it was time to take the test, I felt like I hadn't even gone to the class in the first  place. Not one bit of the information was retrievable from the storage facility called my brain. So, on the way to the test I said this prayer, "God, you have me in this class for a reason, and I know it wasn't just to waste my time.  I don't know what the reason is, but I'll know which direction to go next based on how I do on this test. If I do well, I'll continue on, and if I don't, I'll stop here."

I scored 100% on the test, and a couple months later found myself in full-time college, later graduating with a 3.8 gpa. 

So here I am, 23 years later. My interpreting skills served me well for many years, and the information I learned along the way has helped me in many areas of my life. Four years ago I had to let all my certifications go so that I could stay home and care for Angela when her health took a bad turn. Now it's time to turn my sights to something different. Two years ago there was a local program that caught my eye, but I wasn't sure what I should do with the information. Then a few months ago Dean and I started talking about what I'm going to do with myself once Angela gets back into school. I really do NOT like being at home full-time, but other than interpreting I have no formal education. Time for me to go back to school. 

Today Dean asked me, "What are you going to do if you don't pass the test?"

My answer is, "Tomorrow I'm going to take the test, and I'm going to pray as I answer each question, particularly the math questions. If I pass the test, I'll know I was meant to go back to school. If I don't pass, then now is not the right time."

They only take the top 20 scores, and I won't find out until the end of April if I got in. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is the day to prove myself.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One step forward, 2 steps back

You may remember that right after Thanksgiving we were able to add an hour to Angela's school day. Things were FANTASTIC the first trimester of school, without one single incident, so we added one hour. In my mind I hoped that by the end of the year Angela would be back to attending school all day.

The first week things were ok. 

The second week there were a couple minor incidents. 

By the 4th week it was daily. Now, school staff is back to spending her last 45 minutes there keeping everyone safe. It's possible that when this tri is over things will improve. The "trigger" time seems to be the FACS (family and consumer know we used to call it Home Ec. LOL) When they were cooking it was great, and Angela loved it. But then they went into child development. Lots more "talking" and "listening", which Angela doesn't do so well. They shortened the time that she's in there, but it really hasn't helped at all. (Fortunately the 6th graders don't get to have little kids in there! In 7th grade they do, and then Angela will not be allowed in there! She is NOT SAFE with little kids.) 

Next week on Wednesday we have parent teacher conferences, and the behavior team has requested to be part of the meeting. Her DCD teacher and I have talked some, and I'm pretty sure we're going to back off a bit, and drop the hour that we added. It's just not beneficial when they're spending that entire hour fending off blows, and making sure she's out of reach of anyone with hair. It's also not fair to the other students who are supposed to feel safe at school. If there was a problem here or there, it would be one thing, but that's not how it is. It's constant. 

Her behavior issues at home seem to wax and wane, I'm sure a lot of it has to do with raging hormones. We did start a great behavior programs that makes our mornings smoother 5 out of 7 mornings. She usually picks 2 mornings to dig her heels in. Unfortunately the incentives we have set up for her get old after just a few days, and then we have to think of something new. 

When she comes home from school, she has another list of things she needs to get done, and she can check them off as she goes. She really likes this routine, and is pretty good about getting all of it done. (with the exception of homework! LOL) We only have occasional problems in the afternoon, but when we do, it requires quick "duck and cover" reflexes. 

The behavior person comes once a week to check in, but also works with Angela on identifying feelings and emotions, and talking together about what's expected, and coming up with "a plan" for every day. Today was the first time I saw carry over from that. We'd picked up a new movie, and while we were driving home she was looking at the cover. She started labeling the facial expressions of each of the people on the cover, then telling me why each person had that expression. "That boy, he has surprise face. He surprised because a party!" 

So, I'm kind of bummed that we weren't successful with adding time to her day. It's a very real possibility that Angela will never be able to attend a full day of school. It used to be that she was just plain tired. Even with a half day of school she would come home and sleep. But she doesn't get tired anymore. She comes home full of energy most of the time. Sometimes she's a bit on the tired side and will hang out in her room, or doing something quiet, but not for very long. I'm not quite sure what it is, if it's just overstimulation (though I don't think so, as she's in a very quite environment at school) or if it's just the demands of school, and having to maintain good behavior for 5 (what is for her) very long hours. 

But, even though I'm kind of bummed, my main goal is for Angela to be successful, and happy, while still learning the things she needs to get by in the big world that is waiting for her. Over this past year I've been very fortunate to find some things outside of school that Angela loves to do, and that will help her later in life as well, both physically and socially.

My name is Leah, and I'm a blog addict

Thanks Renee, for finding a way to point out my 'issues'. LOL

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some new pictures

If there was any doubt in my mind that Angela is growing up, those thoughts were eliminated tonight when I was messing around with the camera!

How did you find me?

Once every few days, I check out the live feed of my visitors (seen on the right sidebar of my blog). It shows me what search terms people used to get here. Sometimes they're kind of funny! I'll tell you BY FAR the most popular searches that bring people here are

"Narcoleptic insomniac" which brings them to this post. I have narcolepsy (diagnosed about 8 years ago) and sometimes insomnia due to too much caffeine or hormones.

Witch Tree Minnesota which brings them here.

I think I will continue to write reviews, since they seem to bring a lot of people! I bet I get 5 or 6 per day on each of those I mentioned above. I'm kind of surprised by that! If you're here because of one of those reviews, drop a note will ya? Tell me what YOU thought of the product.

But the most important one, and really the reason for my blog, is when people search things like "What causes Down syndrome?". I do have a post about that. Hopefully, once someone gets here they'll see that in the grand scheme of things, what causes it doesn't really matter. What DOES matter is that if your child has DS, it's really not that big of a deal. Life goes on. Down syndrome, while it will affect your child's life, it will not be everything. I promise!

Wee Haw!

That's what Angela says while on the back of her horse! LOL

It was warm here yesterday. was above zero. It was actually supposed to be in the mid 30's but it never made it past 22 here. Anyway, since it was going to be 'warm', I scheduled Angela's next riding lesson.

This time she got right on the horse and we didn't waste any time with the dramatics we had last time. She did a GREAT job, and her balance surprises me. You can see when she starts to get tired though, because her left side starts to collapse (which about causes me to have a panic attack wondering if her instructor is NOTICING the change that I have become so hypersensitive to! LOL When you hear me say "push with your feet" it's because I can see her leaning and I'm pretty sure her instructor isn't seeing it.)

Anyway, here's a fun (and not very long) video of her doing several different things on her horse yesterday. She's so stink'in proud of herself!

If you could spare a prayer

My brother in law is in surgery right now. This is Dean's twin brother Dave. A few years ago he wrecked his knee at work. A year and half ago he had his knee replaced, only he'd already developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). I'd only heard of this one other time, and it's miserable thing to live with for the rest of your life. It is constant, never ending, SEVERE pain. It never ever ever stops. Not when you're sleeping. Not when you're trying to enjoy your life. Not when you're tired. Nothing. It just never stops. Dave has tried a lot of things to stop the pain, like walking around with a spinal block, morophine pumps, and stuff like that. It's just plain miserable. Some people with RSD go as far as having the affected limb amputated.

Since he had his knee replaced he's had nothing but problems with it. It's loose, and collapses on him. Turns out the knee had had put in was somehow defective (or the surgery was done incorrectly). Everyone agreed he needed to have it replaced again, but NOBODY would touch him with the RSD. You see, as bad as it already is, RSD can be made WORSE by additional trauma to the tissues. After a year and a half of not being able to use his knee correctly, his back and hips are now a mess. You know, the whole domino effect.

Anyway, He finally found a doctor at the University of Minnesota who is replacing his knee today. We pray that this is the end of PART of his problems. The RSD is here to stay, but life would be so much better for him if he can use his leg correctly, without further damaging his back and hips. Please say a prayer that todays surgery is without complication, and he can start his road to a better life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

oh oh oh! Casting call!

The Target Corp. here in the twin cities is doing a casting call for kids with special needs. Those interested were asked to send a picture and bio, which I did. Angela was chosen to come for the call, (as I'm sure most everyone was who sent in pictures.) So we're going on Thursday. DARN! Now I have to take my kid shopping for a CUTE outfit! How sad is THAT? (yes thats dripping with sarcasm. LOL) I have a friend who informed me she's done this twice with her son, and that they always choose the cute toddlers and preschoolers. ummmm Angela isn't either of those anymore. No, she's an awkward adolescent. But we'll go, and it'll be fun!

Now to decide where to go shopping! I need to go to a petite store, so I think we'll hit the Mall of America tonight after horseback riding.


Because this is where I'm going in August! That means I can't go on my Tail of the Dragon trip in April, but that can be done any time! This one can't!.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nightmares: Are they worth big bucks?

At 4:02 this morning I jumped awake, sitting bolt upright in bed, from the horrible scene that had just happened in the dream I'd been having. I won't give the details, except to say it was a gunshot that woke me.

I sat there in bed, my heart racing, adrenaline causing me to shake, and was sure there was someone in our house. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened, that it wasn't real. That I was safe in bed with Dean next to me. Once I realized all of that, I started praying, and once I started praying I knew exactly why I had the dream, and I knew exactly WHO caused me to have it. I even knew WHY I had it. (it was because I didn't follow my gut instincts earlier in the day!)

Even though I'd prayed for the safety of everyone in the house, and all my extended family members wherever they may be, I still didn't feel 100% safe. Instead I stayed there in bed, wide awake, until Dean got up at 5:40. Once he was up I allowed myself to fall back to sleep, and didn't hear another sound until Angela woke me at 8:30.

While I was laying there wishing (and lots more praying) that I could just fall asleep peacefully, a thought came to me. This horrible dream would make an AWESOME movie. Not because I was terrorized in the dream. Not because the theme in the dream was something common to several million people every day. Not because it was horrible. It was because of the heroism of the last person you'd ever expect. Probably the combination of all of it would make for a great screenplay.

So now I want to know how to write a screenplay.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Say Hi to Grunt

Please say hello to my new friend Grunt! Hold your cursor over him to interact with him, click to feed him, or just watch him as he hangs out! I was playing with him for a little bit, then moved my mouse away to just wait and see what he did. He looked so SAD and LONELY! I actually felt sorry for the little cyber-generated guy!


Do you love my new blog, or what? Thanks to Rebecca for beautifying my blog for me! You'll notice there are now buttons on the top of the blog, leading to various things.

First, a direct link to Angela's blog. YEAH!

The Calendar is for Angela's swim coach, because he's a busy guy! More than once I've shown up for swimming only to find that he's at a meet with his other team. LOL Unfortunately he isn't "connected", so keeping all of us parents updated is a bit difficult. Hopefully this will alleviate some confusion.

My dog posts will now be under...well...DOGS!

The Blogroll link is pretty self explanatory. That page will take me a bit to complete, since..well...lets not go there!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Tonight Dean and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire. Hmmmm....I have to say I had NO preconceived notions about this movie, other than friends said it was really good.

I have to agree with my friends!

I don't even know where to start in describing this movie. It's the story of one boy, and the very rough life he has in Bombay, India. (which later becomes Mumbai) who becomes a contestant on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". This movie has some parts that are very difficult to watch, but at the same time they're important to the story.

I know NOTHING about India and the culture there, other than there is an unbelievable poverty. I'm really curious to know how accurately the movie portrayed some of the things the children in the movie went through, so I can decide how angry I want to be! LOL

I have good news!

it is now 3 degrees outside. I bet if I listen really close I can hear the grass growing or something.

What do you do when it's too cold outside?

Have I mentioned its 30 degrees below zero here? Far too cold to be outside, burning off excess steam! So, what's a kid to do? Well, you can keep yourself busy dancing to videos of musical theater on Youtube! Seussical is Angela's favorite play, and she has a whole stash of youtube videos that she loves to watch!

When you're done with that, you can either torment your mother, or torment the dogs. Or...BOTH!

Please Vote to Crash the Superbowl

The Doritos company is holding a contest for the commercial that will be aired during the Super Bowl. My friend's nephew has entered, and their commercial is a HOOT! Please click on the link to vote. Here's the commercial. Oh...and by voting you're entered in a chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl. You're allowed to vote once per day. Here's a direct link. Theirs is the "Free Doritos" commercial.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What does she know?

I've been trying to get caught up on my blog reading. Sarah's Mom has some interesting discussions going on, which I thought I'd address here as well. The question there was weather or not teens or young adults with DS know and/or understand that they have DS?

When Angela was born, we met another family in the hospital who's daughter was born just the day before Angela, who also had DS. We were in a hospital 75 miles away, and yet they lived just minutes from our house. She and Angela were so much like developmental twins! LOL

When Angela was about 2, I had a picture of Hope hanging on my fridge. Angela would point to it and say, 'Hope!" Around the same time I got several picture books that had pictures of babies and toddlers with DS. Angela would always pick out the little girls with dark hair and say, "Hope!", so I knew she was recognizing the resemblance.

We started showing her more pictures of herself, and she'd say, "Hope!" Even though she was far too young to understand, I would say, "Nope. That's baby Angela! (really they did look A LOT alike. LOL)But you look just like Hope because you both have Down Syndrome."

By age 4 she would point out pictures of kids with DS I'd say, "You're right, that little boy has eyes just like yours. That's because he has Down Syndrome just like you!" Oh look, see his hands? They look just like your hands! That's because he has Down syndrome and so do you!"

By 5 Angela was noticing people with DS out in the community. Interestingly, her big brothers (who are much older than her) still couldn't pick it out. They would point out someone who appeared to have Autism or something and ask, "Mom...does that person over there have DS?" But Angela always knew.

Angela completely understands that there are a lot of people who look a lot like her because they have DS. She can tell you all the athletes on her Special Olympics team who have it (of 120 some athletes, about 1/2 have DS.) What is really interesting to me is to watch what happens when the team is broken up into smaller groups. The athletes who have DS seem to gravitate to one another. It's like they have their own little club. To me, as an outsider, it seems they all have a very similar sense of humor. They always understand each other's speech, even when us parents or caregivers cannot. They seem to understand what the others need, even when the person having a problem isn't able to communicate it.

The other day Angela was on an outing with a friend and his parents. He also has DS. Angela was having a problem with something and was upset, but her friend knew what it was even though Angela wasn't able to express herself.

So yes, Angela knows she has DS. No, she doesn't understand all there is to understand about having it. She knows that because she has DS, it's sometimes hard for her to learn to do new things. That she has to work really hard sometimes. She understands there are people who look like her because they have DS too. We've taught Angela she has DS the same way we've taught her she has brown hair, and brown eyes.

Not too long ago I met an adult with DS at Target. I would guess she was around 25 or so. (though its often really hard to tell because adults with DS often look much younger than they are!) Angela was talking to her, and I was having fun listening to their conversation. She was talking about the group home she lived in, and I asked if there were other people who had DS there. She had no idea what I was talking about. Clearly, she didn't understand the term, "Down syndrome". It's very possible (and probable) that some of the other residents do have DS, but she didn't have the vocabulary to identify that. I felt a little big sad for her, because I can already see how much Angela gravitates towards others like her. Just like her brothers could say, "I like these friends because they all ride skateboard." At 12, Angela has some of the words to say why she likes the people she does. I pray that DS is something she can be proud of, and never becomes something she loathes.

Why I want to move

For SAINT PAUL, MN. 55101
Thursday January 15, 2009

Clear. Extremely cold.
Temperature ... -17º
Apparent Temperature ... -50º
Humidity ... 66%
Winds ... NW at 14mph
Visibility ... 10

Our temps this morning (it's WARMED UP since the sun came up!) When I got up it was -26!!!!!!! This is the coldest day in 5 years.
Next week we're supposed to have a heat wave. Right now it's 40 degrees in Anchorage Alaska, and that's what will be coming down here. Yep, we're supposed to hit 30 degrees next week. WHOO HOOO!!!!

And have you ever heard of black ice? SCARY STUFF!!!! Can't see it, its invisible, but it can still get you killed if your car slides on it. Because our dew point right now is -26, our roads are covered with this stuff. And Dean will be spending his day on the road. So then people get in an accident, or slide off the road, get out of their car and get frostbite in about 2 minutes. Car battery acid is below it's freezing point right now, so don't bother trying to jump start your cars!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reality check

Monday night Angela started basketball. Angela and I got to the Y early and walked a mile on the track together. That felt good!

Well, the weather here that day was HORRIBLE, so a lot of the athletes didn't show up, and the same was true for several of the coaches. Instead we had a nice practice with a smaller group of kids.

Let start with warm-ups, shall we?

There were about 8 or so kids and their parents. We all sat around in a circle for warm-ups, Angela and I next to each other. Stretching: Not too bad, though my arms are too short and I'm nowhere near able to reach my toes. I noticed the other parents were able to reach theirs. But, like I said, my arms are too short.

Sit-ups: I opted to be the foot-holder for this activity, and encouraged Angela to squeeze out 10 sit-ups. I know she does more than this at school, but 10 seemed like a lot to me at the moment.

Push-ups. Ok...I can remember a day that really doesn't seem that long ago (well, 25 years disappears in a flash, doesn't it?) when I was maxing out the Army Basic Training PT test EVERY WEEK. I was running 10 miles per day. And I could do all kinds of different pushups. On Monday, I was able to do 4. FOUR push-ups. UGH! I noticed the other parents, and I'm pretty sure they all did 10, or they faked it really well. Angela wasn't able to do even one, though that mostly seemed to be a coordination issue. I KNOW she used to do push-ups quite well, but she's gained a lot of weight this year, and it's all in her belly. This has caused her to be unable to do them anymore.

When we were done, I was looking at Angela and , and (I know I'm not supposed to do this) comparing ourselves to the other families there. What has happened? comparing ourselves to the other families there. What has happened? Most people don't look at Angela and think, "Wow, she's really overweight!" She's a little on the plump side. LOL At 54 1/2 inches, and 103 lbs, her BMI is at the 93%, and she is overweight. Loosing just 9 pounds would make a big difference for her.

I felt horrible. Isn't it my responsibility to keep Angela fit? She's certainly active, in fact there is NO WAY we could squeeze in another activity, but I know I haven't done the best job of monitoring her diet. We go in fits and spurts of really healthy eating, then a month or so of crap. Shame on me.

And then I got to thinking, I CAN squeeze in one more activity. Walking! Angela and I really enjoyed walking together on the track! It's interesting, because she has always hated walking with me on the street, but I think she liked the repetitiveness of walking the track. She liked counting every time we passed the elevator, and the kids in the pool down below. AND... this is something we could do together on a regular basis. Not daily, but certainly a few times per week. And, the days that she can't swim because we have other commitments, we could certainly go walking right after school! Or maybe lap swim? Between that and a diet change, maybe Angela will start to feel the benefits of additional strength and endurance? Hmmmm Maybe mom would benefit form it too? LOL

Monday, January 12, 2009

Have you.....?

I've seen this on several other blogs this week, so I lifted it! LOL The things I've completed are in bold.

1. Started your own blog (Here you are!)
2. Slept under the stars (Gotta love the army for that one.)
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (When I was 11. Need to go back so I can truly appreciate it.)
5. Watched a meteor shower (again, in the army)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disney World (when I was 7, and Angela's Make A Wish trip last year)
8. Climbed a mountain (Army stuff again)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo ( LOTS!)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (Watercolor painting. I posted a picture here)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Listeria, while pregnant with #1)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables( I ssoooo miss my big garden!)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. (Had a pillow fight doesn't every kid?)
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (ssshhhhhhhh)
24. Built a snow fort ( DuH! This is MinneSNOWta)
25. Held a lamb (Lambs, goat kids, foals, held 'em all.)
26. Gone skinny dipping ( I'm not spilling!)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse ( a few)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset ( Ixtapa w/Dean)
31. Hit a home run (I used to be athletic. LOL)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language ( ASL)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (ARMY again!)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke ( I'm a secret addict. When I'm drunk I know EVERY song! LOL)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt ( When I was 7)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Ixtapa with Dean)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (When I was 4 I got STUCK in a puddle! LOL)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (We still have one by us!)
55. Been in a movie ( I was an extra in "Hermann, USA")
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies ( only I ate them before I delivered them! >GASP<)
62. Gone whale watching ( While in Hawaii! LOL)
63. Got flowers for no reason (Pretty sure they were from Dean. >wink<)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I'm 0+, what are you?)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (sadly, yes. A time or two!)
68. Flown in a helicopter (Go Army!)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (Every girl should have a Mrs. Beesley!)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square ( But it wasn't long enough, and I didn't SEE enough!)
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (Remember my "naked in my robe" post? LOL)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Ummm HELLO!)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Well, published IN a book. Does that count?)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox (While 16 weeks pregnant with #2!)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Prince, Whitney Houston, Shaquile O'niel, more I'm sure )
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby ( Ummm yeah, three of 'em!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee (Did you see my post about THAT?)
100. Read an entire book in one day ( "A Cup of Christmas Tea")

Horseback Riding

Angela wrote about this earlier today, but I haven't gotten it published yet. However, I'm going to steal her pictures to write my own version! LOL

So yesterday was Angela's first day of horseback riding. We had to wait for a day that was "warm". (cuz we call 22* warm!!!) in order to go. (oh, and tomorrow we're going to have a "high" of ZERO!!!! ACK!)

Last summer Angela's PCA would occasionally take her to ride her horses. A couple of times she mentioned I HAVE to come watch, because Angela just loved it so, but I never made it. We no longer use that pca so Angela hasn't gotten an opportunity in quite awhile. And really, it was only a handful of times at the most.

Finally we've had a couple warm days forcasted, so I made the appointment. Angela spent the week insisting that she's going to ride a "Brown horse, named Buster".

Fast forward to yesterday. We got there and Angela was her chatty self, causing the barn staff to crack up at everything she'd say. Things like, "Horse poop? That's not cool!" or when I told her to remember her manners she'd respond with, "'s MY Life!" (can you guess that's how I got the name of her blog. LOL)

We get out to the barn, and her horse IS brown, but his name is Bud. (very close!) so she was thrilled. Of course, she was scared to death to go NEAR him, which made me question everything her former PCA told me. It took about 1/2 hr for her to warm up to him, and then she was an old hand.

I had given Angela the camera to mess with on the way there, so I was only able to get a couple pictures before my camera battery died. I wasn't able to get a picture of her ON the horse, nor video of her riding. (next time though, cuz I bought a new camera yesterday too! LOL) Anyway, I had NO IDEA Angela knew as much as she did. I had told her instructor Angela didn't need a side walker. Umm....apparently she didn't need an instructor either! ROFL She was riding around the ring ON HER OWN. (the instructor kind of followed along behind.) She knew how to neck-reign (steer) stop, and go. She also walked her horse over crossbars.

She was sooooooo proud of herself! I think the only reason I got her out of the barn without a problem is because her (and my) toes were FROZEN even with 3 layers of socks and boots. LOL

Angela learned how to use the timer on the camera. LOL I'm driving down the road and she's setting the camera on the dash to take pictures of herself. ROFL

Can you tell who took this one? LOL She got new mud boots for the barn. Those from the north know it is FAR too cold out for these boots. Never fear, she has THREE pairs of socks on inside them!

Stopped in the tack room for something. Angela was a little irritated that she was too short to reach and do it herself.

It was a VERY cold walk to the arena, and while it looks like we're walking on snow, it's glare ice underneath. Angela was slipping all over the place, so I offered my hand. Silly me! I got the "back off mom!" look, and she grabbed for her instructor's hand.

We have to wait for another "warm" day before we can go riding again, but now that I have a new camera I can get a video AND more pictures! WHOO HOO!

Fact for the day

Because I'm supposed to be cleaning...and I'm's an interesting fact for the day.

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

On this day in history

On Jan. 12, 1915, the United States House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

Wow, I guess it's we've come a long way, huh?

Jeff Foxworthy on Minnesota

Some of you from the mighty north might have seen this already, but for those who haven't, enjoy!

Jeff Foxworthy on Minnesota

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through
18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by,
You might live in Minnesota.

If you're proud that your state makes the
national news 96 nights
each year because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy",
You might live in Minnesota .

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March,
You might live in Minnesota .

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there,
You might live in Minnesota .

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the
middle of his forehead,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time,
You might live in Minnesota .

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you know how to say....Wayzata...Mahtomedi ... Cloquet
Edina... and Shakopee,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy,
You might live in Minnesota .

If vacation means going "up north" for the weekend,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you measure distance in hours,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you know several people, who have hit deer more than once,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you often switch from "Heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you can drive 65 mph through
2 feet of snow
during a raging blizzard without flinching,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you see people wearing hunting clothes at social events,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you install security lights on your house and garage and
leave both unlocked,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you think of the major food groups as beer, fish, and Venison,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you carry jumper cables in your car, and your girlfriend knows
how to use them,
You might live in Minnesota .

If there are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill's Fleet Farm
at any given time,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you design your kid's Halloween
costume to fit over a snowsuit,
You might live in Minnesota .

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter,
and of course, road construction,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you can identify a
southern or eastern accent,
You might live in Minnesota .

If your idea of creative landscaping is a plastic deer next
to your blue spruce,
You might live in Minnesota .

If "Down South" to you means Iowa ,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you know "a brat" is something
you eat,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you find -10 degrees "a little chilly",
You might live in Minnesota .

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Just some fun pictures

I'm still learning how to use my mac. Tonight I downloaded Picasa (not really sure that it has anything I didn't already have though) and re-discovered some recent pictures I'd already forgotten I'd taken. LOL

Dog nails 101

Bethany asked a good question about dog nails. Does the quick grow with the nails? Yes, Bethany, it does. First I needed to get pictures of the dog nails. I had to laugh, because when I told Zurri "Down", all three of these guys collapsed right where they were. Even Dudley who's high on morphine! LOL

Below is a picture of Roman's nails, looking at them from underneath.

And here's a picture of Zurri's nails (standard poodle)

Also, "DoberDawn" has a good description of how to dremmel nail
s, along with diagrams!

He's Home

Dudley is home, acting like nothing is wrong, but that could have so something to do with the morphine shot he got a couple hours ago! LOL The mass was sent off to the the magic lab place, and we'll hear back sometime late next week as to what type of cancer it is.

Thanks for thinking of him!

He's out of surgery

Well, Dudley's surgery is done, and I'll be picking him up around 3:00 today. Poor boy is going to come home with a headache! Now, to keep ZURRI from trying to clean his ear every 10 minutes...

It's national De-Lurking week!

Ok, I know from my hit counter AND the number of subscribers on my page, that there are a lot of lurkers around here! If you're one of them, drop me a note, will ya? It's nice to know who's bored enough to be reading my blog. LOL

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Surgery tomorrow

Not for Angela, not for me or Dean, but for Dudley. A few weeks ago I noticed a small red, slightly raised, inflamed spot under Dudley's ear. I kept an eye on it for a few days, and it was unchanging so decided to wait and see what it did. Although it looked sore, it didn't seem to be bothering him. After a few days, I kind of forgot about it. (I know, bad dog mom!)

Fast forward a couple weeks when I had Dudley to a new groomer. She was showing me how to do some grooming techniques on him. When we got to his ear, and shaved off some of the hair, this is what we found. That was 3 weeks ago, and it's about doubled in size since then. It's now about the size of a golf ball.

Anyway, we had a biopsy done, and found it is what we feared, a fast-growing cancerous growth. We were told it's a benign type of cancer, however, those of you who know Dudley know that since he was about a year old we've had a TERRIBLE time keeping weight on him. He is skin and bones. We've had done all kinds of blood work and other tests, hoping to find a reason for his inability to gain weight, but found nothing. In my gut, I always knew there was a problem lurking that we just couldn't see yet. We've been warned by a vet friend that sometimes, even though a growth is benign, messing with it can cause the system to go haywire and what WAS benign now no longer is. We're praying that's not the case with Dudley!

So tomorrow, as soon as Angela is on the bus, I'll be dropping Dudley off at the vet. Here's a couple pictures from today of my guy.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


This morning Zurri was bothering me. Ok, not Zurri herself, but the fact the poor dog was a mess! Her topknot was so long she couldn't see and yesterda was seen bumping into furniture. LOL Time for a haircut! So, I spent all day working on the poor girl. First brushing her out, then bathing, then blow-dry with the HV dryer, then a haircut. This dog is the most patient dog EVER!

Once her haircut was done, I decided Roman needed to be done too. Well..he got 1/2 done. I'll have to finish the rest of him tomorrow. Once haircuts were done, it was time to dremmel everyone's nails. All our dogs are really good about this, but it does take training first! Those of you who run out and buy a peti-paws nail trimmer, don't think you can just take it out of the box and do your dogs nails. It usually takes several days to a couple weeks to train your dogs to get used to the noise and vibration before you can even THINK about doing their nails with it! (by the way, a Pedi-paw nail trimmer is just a dremmel with a cool cover on it that makes the grinding a little easier to control.)

With hair and nails done it was picture time. I realized I hadn't gotten our annual picture of the dogs in front of the tree! Usually Angela is in the shot too, but she'd already gone to bed by the time I got this brilliant idea. So, here are the results of our photo shoot tonight. LOL

Happy New Year!

With a babysitter at home (big brother Tyler!) Dean and I went out for Moonlight bowling. This year it was MY turn to not be designated driver. LOL We had a great time together and enjoyed having an evening out!

This is what happens when you don't realize you have the camera pointed the wrong way and the flash goes off in your face! LOL

2008 in a blog

2008 was a great year for us!
In February Angela was granted her Wish. It started out with her Pre-wish party. What a day that was! A week later Angela and I had a mother-daughter spa day in preparation for our big trip! Before we knew it, the day had arrived for our big trip. This was probably the most amazing thing our family will ever experience, and we are eternally grateful to the Make A Wish foundation of MN for granting Angela's wish!

On the last day of our trip, Dean, who'd been a two-pack or more a day smoker, enjoyed his very last cigarette. I'm so proud of him. I know this is something he'd wanted to do for a very long time, but it's also a daunting task. He also had some major dental work coming up, and he'd been warned that due to his smoking he would have a lot of trouble healing. Well, here we are a year later, and he's still smoke free! He still has days when he'd really like to have a smoke, but he keeps on keeping on. Way to go Dean!

On March 12th I had a run-in with the ice, shattering my wrist and landing in the operating room to have an awful lot of titanium installed! On March 15th Dean turned 51. We had a family dinner out with is twin brother and other siblings. Unfortunately I was in a lot of pain from my accident just a couple days earlier and wasn't up to enjoying the party. Just one week later, while my fingers were still the size of bratwurst and I was still pretty high on pain drugs, Dean had is oral surgery. He came out of surgery pretty loopy, and making lots of comments to the cute young nurses. Good grief, I didn't realize I he was such a dirty old man! LOL Getting him to the car was pretty interesting since I only had the use of one arm, and not only was he off balance but he was halucinating. When we got him home he told Tyler and I all kinds of things. What an eye opener. LOL

April brought the beginning of the great sidecar customization. After purchasing the sidecar, I spent a year wondering if I should do this to my bike, and wondering if I would regret it. The results would far surpass my expectations!

In May Angela received her birthday present a couple weeks early. She got the bike of her dreams! We put a lot of miles on this thing over the summer! I also got to play with power tools in May, in preparation for a big family reunion at our house. Sadly, power tools are great entertainment for me. Also in May, Angela got to tell her birth story on stage! Yet another time for mother's tears.

In June Angela turned 12! (please read my blog post for that day, it was pretty funny!) And she got the coolest birthday present a kid could ask for! And even better, it made her the coolest kid in the whole 5th grade! We also had our annual family vacation up in Walker, MN. We've been doing this trip for 13 years, and sadly, this one was probably the last. Also in June, Angela graduated from elementary school, and was voted to perform at her school's talent show. Needless to say, mom cried a few tears that day!

June also brought one of my life goals, and epic journey with a group of women. The memories will be with me forever, and I have plans to take another trip with the same group in April '09.

In July Noah turned 21. OMG..I'm mom to a 21 year old! Ok, well he's not the first one, but still! This totally freaks me out. Sadly I'm short of Noah pictures! He's very camera shy and avoids the thing at all costs.

August brought a "vacation" for Dean and I. This was the most exhausting vacation I've ever been on! 2,000+ miles on a motorcycle in 5 days isn't exactly "relaxing"!

September would find Angela and I in New York to see her picture on the big screen in Times Square. Yep, more tears for mom!

October Angela was officially declared a swimmer. And she also got her very own bowling ball.

pretty much disappeared before I ever knew it was here. I was in a play that was HUGE, with too many performances. LOL

On December 3rd Tyler turned 20 years old. Wow...20. For those who know his story you know just how amazing this is.

We hope that 2009 is as good to us as 2008 was. We have lots of new things coming up! I'm hoping to start back to school next fall to get my BS in Sonography. Dean and I have decided that when I'm done with school we'll consider moving "south". (we'll be looking at several different options over the next couple of years!) The deciding factor will be Angela's educational and funding needs. In the mean time, we'll just keep on keeping on!