Blogging about life and raising our five kids with Down syndrome.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My View from Serbia

Almost every day I get to say good morning to the kids as they get ready for school. What would we do without things like Skype or FaceTime!!! Here was my view from Serbia yesterday.

Angela ready to catch the bus. 


Axel still in his jambes because Papa is trying to mess up the routine before I get back. 

Then, when it's almost bedtime for me, it's time for the kids to come home! I usually get a shot of Axel, but Angela is usually off and running. LOL


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Repost Pt11: The Marathon

Just the thought of this day makes me feel cold.

We started the morning in our tiny hotel room in Grand Marais.  It was cool, foggy and damp when we were getting ready to leave. Chaps were definitely in order! If you're not a rider, chaps are WORK do get on! Not only that, but when I started wearing chaps I also discovered that, like a lot of people, my dominant leg (right) which makes my chaps tighter on that leg, which feels funny and bothers me.


We loaded up the bikes and headed into town for breakfast at a nice little cafe, and asked the local fisherman what then knew of the day's weather report. No better people to ask than fisherman!

We were headed to Marathon, Ontario, Canada. We only had a 245 mile ride ahead of us, but we knew it just might possibly get chilly. What we didn't know is it would be the longest 245 miles we'd ever ridden! We stopped at a store in town so Bev could buy some better (read warmer) gloves and some neck thingies, mailed all the post cards that needed mailing, and donned the riding gear we thought most appropriate for the day ahead. We waved goodbye to Sven and Ole's, and hit the road.

We passed through Grand Portage and visited the Witch Tree, and arrived at the border. That's where we learned that "Pepper Spray" needs to be labeled as "Animal Repellant" and Canadian vending machines don't take American coins. Go figure!

It had warmed up a bit, so after taking a break at the visitor center (and an FYI for you bikers crossing the border, there is a helmet law in Canada.) we were able to shed a couple layers, and switch to lighter weight loves. However, over the course of the morning it became apparent that Ontario is a lot like Minnesota, in that the weather can change very quickly. Well some of it has to do with the lake effect. Remember, we're on the shores of Lake Superior.

We stopped for lunch in a tiny little town who's name escapes me, and had lunch at a little diner where the waitress/cook/cashier looked to be about 14 years old, AND you paid extra for each item you ordered. Example: I ordered a burger w/fries. The fries were extra. The mayo was extra. The lettuce and tomato were extra. Tink asked if I had to pay for the plate and the ketchup too.

Shortly after leaving that town we hit the first road construction we'd seen. They were ripping up the pavement so the road had those really nasty grooves in it. In a car, they're not a big deal. On a bike, it makes you wobble all over and feel like you're going to either be pulled into the oncoming traffic on your left, or over the cliff on your right. The way to ride this stuff is to just let the bike go which way it needs to go and not fight it. It's a constant mind game between you, the road, and the bike...10 miles of the mind game. I can ride on gravel and it doesn't bother me. I can ride in the rain, and I'm only slightly annoyed, but give me these grooves and I'm white knuckling it!  Unfortunately we hit this several times during the day for a total of about 75 miles of grooves.

During the day it was drizzling off/on, but never enough to actually need our rain gear, just enough to be a nuisance. And as we climbed higher into the mountains the temperature was dropping.

There's also this funny thing about the metric system there. Speed limits are all listed metrically. Now, I have metric numbers on my speedometer, but Tink, who was always very careful to have us following the speed limits, DID NOT! When it says 70 kmh, that's like doing 45 mph...only Tink was doing more like 60 mph and we were following her. LOL

Finally, with 50 miles left to go, Tink stopped to change to warmer gloves yet again. I asked her, "Do you know how fast you were going through those towns, and do you know what the speed limits were?" She'd had no idea she was doing somtimes 25 mph over the limit! I can't believe we never got pulled over. Anyway, Tink changed gloves. I decided, "Ach! Another 50 miles, I'm fine in what I have on."

10 miles down the road the temperature started dropping dramatically, and it started drizzling. And then the fog rolled in. We kept seeing signs like, "Marathon 60 km". I could look down at my speedometer and figure out how many miles that was, giving me an idea how much torture time we'd had left.

The drizzle got heaver, and turned to 'almost rain", and at one point I swear it was snowing. "Marathon 30 km". OMG...I wished I'd put my warmer gloves on back there!

The highway happened to be a great ride, nice long turns around the mountain's rock walls, and if I wasn't getting so flipping cold I would've been able to really enjoy them!

"Marathon 25 km". Here comes the fog, and more moose crossing signs. I'm starting to have visions of us meeting one of these guys as we come around every corner.

"Marathon 10 km". Oh thank God we we're getting closer! I can't really feel my fingers anymore, and my toes are starting to hurt. I feel dry though. Yes...I do feel dry. My ass is killing me, and I'm shivering, but I am dry. We see a sign that says, "Welcome to Marathon."

"Marathon 5 km". Good grief, will they stop teasing me with those signs? Thank God I brought my full-face helmet. I'd have had to stop 20 times by now to warm up my ears. The air temperature is probably about 40 degrees, which makes it about 30 degrees in the wind on the bike. My teeth are starting to chatter. I swear there was a "Welcome to Marathon" sign back there. Where the HELL is the flipping town already????

FINALLY Tink turns on her right turn signal, and I see we're pulling into a hotel parking lot. I want to kiss the ground, but I have to stop my bike first now, don't I? Tink, in the lead, pulls into a parking spot. As I pull into the lot, I realize I can't feel my brake lever as my fingers are too numb. I downshift to slow down, and my feet hit the pavement, dragging...all the way to through the lot. As I pull into my spot, I'm sort of 1/2 laying over the tank, and I see Tink is laying BACKWARDS over her bags. I see there is a curb ahead of me, and my bike bump against it to stop.

By this point in my delirium I'm laughing hysterically. Tink is flopped own way, and I am flopped another. I look at her and said, "Who's *#@$ idea was this trip, anyway?" She can hardly speak as she says, "Don't you have BRAKES? All I hear coming behind me is cccccrrrrrrrrrrr" and I'm thinking I'm loosing parts or something. (I know this isn't funny reading, guess it was one of those "had to be there" moments."

I had parked in a way that Bev, who was behind me, can pull into the same spot, but instead she parks in the NEXT spot over. Four bikes taking up four parking places is a bit silly. We should be able to get all four bikes into 2 spots. (remember one is a trike) Bev takes one look at me and says, "Are you kidding me? Park next to you??? Who can't even STOP? I don't want you tipping over on my trike!"

Here's where we parked the four bikes (w'e already unloaded them by this time.) If you look really close, you'll notice Scharlett's bike on the far right has a flat tire, but that's another post. ;-)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's open!

My adoption blog has now been reopened. Hope you enjoy reading over there!

Repost Pt10: Name that household item

Have you ever seen the show, "Who's Line is it Anyway"? They have a segment where they bring out strange items and the comedians have to come up with ways to use them.

Well, here is our version of that show. We were in the little motel in Grand Marais (if you're in a corner room you're good to go, if you're not...well...SQUEEZE!) and it just might be possible we'd had a little bit to drink.

Tink came out of the bathroom carrying this thing. Give something like this to a bunch of drunk women, and all kinds of things happen! We ASSUME it's some kind of toilet plunger, but you know what they say about the word "ASSUME"!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Repost Pt9: Sandy/Crystal

Here we are, in Grand Marais, resting as we watch the traffic go by on the highway. 3o seconds after taking this picture I was snoring in my chair. Getting this picture was a major undertaking, as it involved teaching Tink how to use the timer on her camera. What you can't see is the camera is sitting on the cover of the sewer drain. (click on the picture to make it bigger.)



Then we headed for dinner at Sven and Ole's Pizza.

For some reason, whenever the four of us walked into an establishment we attracted a lot of attention. It could have been the fact that four biker chicks just walked in, in full biker gear (including helmet hair.) and these small towns had never seen anything like that before. Or, it could have been that we tended to be loud and giggly and nearly hyperventilating with laughter. We'd like to think it was our great humor, but more than likely it was because we were annoying people. At Sven and Ole's one man came to sit right next to us even though there were 20 empty tables, just so he could watch the show.

It was here that we met Sandy/Crystal. No...really, she told us, "My name is Sandy, unless I'm in Arizona, then it's Crystal." Yeah, our eyebrows went up on that one! Sandy/Crystal is in her mid 60's..maybe 70. Like people often would, Sandy/Crystal came over to our table to say hello. I sooo wish I had a video, because this was the "Fargo" movie at it's finest! Sandy could be a call in to a radio show and get paid because she speaks true Minnesotan!

Anyway, Sandy/Crystal told us about a group of 4 wheel'in women in town who have quite a reputation, and "Oh how much fun they have together. I wish I could join them donchya know." We encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone, just like we had to come on this trip, and join their group. That we were sure she'd be welcomed with open arms. Honestly, Sandy/Crystal appears to be a very active lady, so I'm sure she'd be able to keep up. We told her about our tattoos, and she promptly showed us ALL OF HERS! One of us took a picture of Sandy/Crystal, that I'm trying to track down. You'll just die when you see her. I swear, her white permed hair had a blue hint to it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Our family has much to be thankful for this year. Angela is growing into a lovely young lady full of talk of boys and her social life. It's Axel's first Thanksgiving with our family, and Asher will be joining us in tim for Christmas. God has certainly brought us on a whirlwind kind of trip this year, guiding us through changes we would have never dreamed about even three years ago. We are thankful for every single one of them!

Repost Pt8: Moose!

Ok, here in the Midwest we have lots of "Deer Crossing" signs. Just a yellow sign with a picture of dear taking a lovely leap, presumably over a road.

In Canada they have "MOOSE CROSSING" signs, only they have them like every 1/2 mile! Not only do they have these signs all over, but they're not just pictures of a lazy moose moving across the road. No, instead they have a picture of a RAMPAGING moose, who you just know, when you come around the next foggy bend in the road, will be standing in the middle of it just waiting for you to crash your motorcycle into it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Repost Pt7: 12 year olds in a hotel

Well, you would have THOUGHT there were 12 year olds in the hotel, but I'm going to say it's all Tink's fault. If she hadn't told us that Scharlett snores like a mouse, things would've been just fine!

We were at an impromptu stay at a very cool lodge in Wawa Ontario. We had originally stopped in town for coffee and donuts, but when we came out of the shop the weather had worsened. We began another event that Tink dubbed "triathalons" (more on that later). As we zipped up the last of our rain gear, and donned our warmest gloves, a guy in the drive-through lane asked in pure Canadian, "Where ya headed eh?"
I told him we were headed south to Sault Ste. Marie. "Really eh? You might just want to hang out here a bit eh. The weather is worse to the south. I just came through there."

We looked at each other, not knowing weather to laugh or cry. The laughter would be because of insanity, and the tears would be because of the weather report. One of us made the executive decision that we'd be getting a room and staying put. It was only 2:00 pm, but if things were slow going on the highway due to weather it would make us tired (and possibly crabby) and with poor reaction time should we meet up with any wildlife or other "think quick" situations. (sounds like a good reason to throw in the towel for the day, doesn't it?)

We looked around us, and a few hundred yards away saw a giant goose. Not a real one, a big statue one. It belongs to the Wawa Motor Inn. If you're even in Wawa, this is an AWESOME place to stay, and VERY reasonably priced! If there is a group of you, you can get a FANTASTIC two bedroom chalet for $175/night, that includes a full kitchen, fireplace, two bedrooms (each with two double beds and it's own sink) and a large bathroom. For us, split four ways this was a great deal. They also have a regular hotel with your typical hotel room, at reasonable rates. gAnd, across the road is a very cool Trading Post where you can spend your hard earned cash! No, really, there is some way cool stuff in there! Here's a video of the chalet we stayed in.



Oh, yeah...the 12 year olds.

We were grateful for the fact God had found a way, on our very last night together as a group, to put us all in the same room in such a nice place. We were supposed to be scattered between different rooms in a totally different town. Instead, here we were. As we sat around a crackling fire, we had a deep discussion about what we'd be bringing home from this trip. It was clear that none of us were going home the same person we had left.

Somewhere during our deep discussion, Scharlett fell asleep, which prompted Tink to tell us about Scharlett the snoring mouse. Soon Scharlett headed to bed, with Bev not far behind her. Tink and I continued our chat, unwilling to let our last night together end. After a few minutes I heard a noise. Tink squealed "That's Scharlett! That's her SNORING!" We giggled at each cute little snore. But, being the 12 year old adults that we are, we couldn't leave it at just that. No, we had to drag out the camera. What happened is that the video turned out different than we expected. Sure, the sound of Scharlett snoring is cute, but what is funnier is US in the background. Every time you see the camera jiggle it's because we're giggling so bad we have to cross our legs to avoid leaving a puddle on the floor. It's possible this video won't be funny to you the reader, but for us....well...you get the picture.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Repost Pt6: The Witch Tree

While we were in Grand Marais, we ran into a stand with with a bunch stumbled upon a post card with a silhouette of a twisted old tree on it. It's called The Witch Tree. (but also goes by the name "Little Spirit Cedar Tree". ) The Witch Tree, located in Grand Portage, MN is sacred among the Chippewa tribe. The earliest documentation of the tree dates back to the year 1731. It is a small, gnarled and twisted tree growing out of a rock, sitting alone on a small cliff above the water's edge. Tribal members would visit the tree to have their fishing and hunting expeditions on the lake blessed with safety. They would offer tobacco to the four winds.

Nobody knows for sure what type of tree this is, or exactly how old it is, as they don't want to damage it by taking bore samples. Several years ago the land around the tree was purchased for the tribe, and walking within 20 feet of the tree was prohibited.

And so we continued on our way up to Grand Portage. Scharlett felt that, given our previous day that included falling down and a couple other minor events, AND that we were in the Chippewa nation, AND the entire area just feels very...ummm...spiritual....it wouldn't be a bad idea to have the rest of our trip blessed by the tree. When we got to the old fort, Scharlett and Bev went into the visitor center to find out how to get to the Witch Tree.

While she was doing that, Tink and I went look'in around. (we're not much for standing around asking questions. We're more the "Lets go find it!" type. LOL) As we'd been riding up to the fort, you could see this WEIRD fog moving in off the lake. Well, it probably isn't weird to those that live there, but to me, it was almost eerie. I tried to get a video of it, but it just doesn't capture how it felt OR how the fog was moving. I went and stood on this v-e-r-y long dock and shot video.



At the very end of the video, what you don't see when I come back around to the shoreline is that Tink is there and scared the crap out of me. LOL

Then we went inside the old fort and saw...well...old fort stuff. It was very interesting, and the people were dressed in period clothes and "living the part".

Some of the tents, just outside the fort. I didn't get to ask who stayed in them, but I think mostly traders and stuff.
There is an Indian woman sitting inside this lean to, cooking fish on the fire.


She didn't actually HAVE a baby with her, but here's a papoose thingy that a baby would be carried in. The Chippewa have a specific name, but I don't remember what she said it was.
The guy on the right is getting ready to leave in his birch bark canoe. He's a trader, and has just brought in all of his furs to trade for staples and more pine tar which is used to waterproof the canoes. (the woman on the left is a tourist.)

I stuck my head inside a teepee, but it was so bright outside, and so dark inside that I couldn't see a thing. So, I stuck my camera in and this is the picture it snapped. There is a sleeping mat in back, a red blanket to the left of it, and some firewood to the right.
I wanted to ask more questions, but Tink was thinking we needed to get back to Scharlett.

When we were coming to the end of the trail, there was Scharlett, flagging us down. She was so excited, and in SUCH a hurry! Here's what she told us:

I went inside and asked the woman behind the counter how to get to the Witch Tree. She said, "Nobody goes to the Witch Tree. It's a sacred place, and only those who've been approved by the Tribal Council are allowed to go there. " I explained to her WHY we wanted to go there, but I understood why we couldn't. I'm sure my disappointment showed, so she said, "We do have pictures of it over there, if that helps." I told her thanks, thinking the picture just wasn't the same thing. Oh well... And then a young woman came to the desk and asked, "You wanted to see the Witch Tree?" I told her yes, and why. She said, "I'll be right back" and disappeared. She came back a few minutes later and said, "I'll take you there. We'll have to go by car so you'll need to follow me." It seems her mother's land adjoins the tree, and after hearing WHY we wanted to visit the tree, she made a phone call and got our visit approved.

And so we made a run for our bikes so we could follow Terri to the tree. The ride out there was SURREAL! It's a couple mile drive, and as we neared the area where the tree stands (only we didn't know how close we were) this fog swept over us. Almost sucking us in. The moisture from it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was almost as if the Indian Spirits were guiding us in...welcoming us...that's the only way I know how to explain it. We drove down what felt like a deserted road, with the lake to our right and dense woods to our left, then pulled into what looked like an small gravel rest area that hadn't been used in years. We dismounted our bikes, and headed down the trail.


we stopped to read this sign:


Then continued on...



Terri had brought along tobacco (I was really tempted to ask what KIND of tobacco it was, but figured that would be kinda rude. LOL) As Tink was blowing her tobacco to the four winds, she became very emotional. As a little girl she and her dad would sail along the north shore, and would stop here so her dad could visit the tree while she played on the shoreline. As a child she never understood the significance of the tree. But now, as a grown woman, making her own journey, the image of her dad leaning on the tree (because you could do that 40 years ago) was a very moving experience for her.




Here's the picture I got of the Witch Tree, which doesn't do it justice at all.


Here is Terri, our guide. What a lovely young lady she is.



And Terri took this, which is one of only a couple pictures of all four of us together. Notice the Witch Tree is right in the middle of us! (and don't we look lovely with all our gear and helmet hair! LOL)

When we'd walked back to our bikes, and said goodbye to Terri, we all agreed this was a sidetrack well made. Next stop: Marathon, Ontario Canada!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Repost Pt5: Agates

I don't know if it's still true, but for many decades Lake Superior was the best place in the country to search for agates. The beaches are all picked over now, but you can still find small ones here and there. My ex husband used to spend a lot of time on the shores of Lake Superior picking rocks, then would bring them home and put them in a rock polisher for like a month, turning them into beautiful stones.

So, Scharlett had never seen an agate before (at least not to her knowledge) so we got her on the shore and started teaching her. (Ok, Tink taught her while I orbited around on my own search.)

First, it's necessary to remove your shoes and socks for the full experience. Tink removed hers, but it was like a bazillion degrees out and I was wearing my motorcycle boots, and felt like if I took them off I'd never get them back on again. Besides, it would mean bending over...too much work.
Then Tink went searching...and searching....
And when she found what she was looking for, she drew a circle in the rocks and told Scharlett, it's right here...right in this area.
No, really Scharlett...it's right there in front of you!
While they were doing that, I was busy looking "reflective". This is me, looking "reflective".
From there we went to see the Glensheen mansion. I'll post about that later, right now it's lightning outside so I have to shut down!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Repost Pt4: Split Rock Sisters (or Falling Down)



We left Duluth on Monday, July 8th, and headed north. Tink and I, who are familiar with the area, thought it was important for Scharlett (who is not) to see the Split Rock Lighthouse. If you're not familiar with the area, this is only about a 20 minute ride outside of Duluth, and is on the road that runs along the north shore of Lake Superior.

We arrive in the parking lot, but nobody seemed to know exactly where to park although there were lots of empty spaces. This is called "female confusion" when faced with a new situation AND your decision is based on the decision of the person in front of you who may or may not have trouble making a decision. I'm not sure exactly what was going on since I was in back, but I finally pulled myself into a spot and got off my bike, with Triker Bev pulling in along side me. Tink and Scharlett pulled around to the other side of the lot, which was nearly empty.

We all walked up to the door of the gift shop/office place and discovered we really didn't want to pay $8.00 to see a lighthouse, so we headed back to our bikes. I got mine started, and pulled around to where Tink and Scharlett were parked. I watched them get their gear situated before they mounted, and waited for Bev to come around. I don't know what I was looking at, but all of a sudden Scharlett yelled, "It's going over!" and....clunk....went her bike. Apparently, because of the slope, she really had to hoist it to get it upright, but...because of the slope, it went too far and over the other side. I ran over, and the three of us grunted the 900lb bike back on two wheels, and insisted the Scharlett take a moment to regain her wits.

That's when I announced, "Hey! We need a falling down pin!"

This was met with blank stares.

"Every group that goes on a big ride, or rides together regularly needs to have a falling down pin. When someone's bike falls down, they have to wear the pin AND BE NICE TO IT until the next person falls down, at which time it is then pinned on the new fallee."

*Note* "Falling down" is not the same as "going down".  "Falling down happens when the bike tips over for silly reasons.  For example, you get gas and you forget to put your kickstand down and try to walk away from your bike. "Going down" is a bad thing and something no rider wants to talk about because it happens when you get hit by something or you hit something while moving down the road, and usually requires an ambulance trip and sometimes helicopters.

Tink, Bev and I all agreed this was a fantastic idea. Scharlett kind of groaned but went along with it. We marched ourselves back to the gift shop and searched every shelf for just the right pin. Finally we found it, a pin with the Split Rock Lighthouse on it. Tink paid for the pin and we had a ceremony right there in the middle of the store. As a crowd gathered to watch our ceremony, much to the disgrace of Scharlett, we used our formal words to describe the purpose of the pin for the spectators. What you have to imagine though, is Tink and I laughing hysterically as we did it! LOL

With Scharlett pinned, we went back to the lot, mounted our bikes, and headed north. We were only about 30 miles down the road when I had reason to move out of my position of bringing up the rear, and pass Scharlett. Not knowing how much group riding experience Scharlett had, I thought about this for several miles before doing so. I didn't want her to panic when I went past her. Finally, with no oncoming traffic, I moved over to the other lane and went past. What I didn't count on was TINK (who was leading) seeing me in her mirror, freaking out that there was something wrong and SUDDENLY pulling over...on the road with really no shoulder. Everyone pulled up behind her (because they had time to do so) but I came to a stop just ahead of her. In my mirror I saw her get off her bike, and when I looked back...she and her bike were gone.

Because they were on the ground.

Ok, here's how it went. Tink stopped..on the road with not much of a shoulder...and when she put her feet down, there was no pavement under her right foot. Instead there was a 2 inch drop to gravel. Being the short-legged person that she is, this put her way off balance. Her bike SPIT her off, and....are you ready for it? She rolled head over heels down the embankment! She stood up and hollered, "Give me that *&#@ pin!!!!" You have to remember that she'd just rolled in all her gear and helmet down about a 5 foot drop, which makes one very top heavy, AND makes you look quite silly climbing back up!

We picked up our second bike for the day, and pinned Tink right there on the side of the road. Poor Tink! But, if you were following my twitter, you know that I could hardly text fast enough to tell about this! LOL

Later that same day we were in Grand Marais. We had done some shopping downtown and were headed back to our hotel when we came to an intersection that was uphill AND we had to make a right turn at the light. My bike has been having trouble going into first gear lately, but I didn't know I was still in second. I was at the head of the group when I went to make the turn, and killed the bike mid-turn. This is every bikers nightmare as this heavy piece of machinery suddenly STOPS mid-lean! This is where on would fall down, only I didn't. I could, however, FEEL Tink behind me WILLING me to fall down so she could get rid of that damn pin! When I turned to look, she could hardly stay upright because she was laughing too hard about the fact that yes, indeed, she'd been doing just that!

We went on to call ourselves the Split Rock Sisters, and there was much joking about "Pulling a Split Rock" and stuff like that. I spent the entire trip being so hyper-aware of everything I did getting on/off my bike! The best part though, is I never did get that pin!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hey...

If you haven't been to my adoption blog recently, you should go have a read there!

Repost pt3: How to Commemorate an Epic Event

*Disclaimer* Reading this particular post with small children on your lap, or impressionable 12 year olds hanging over your shoulder would not be a good idea.

When you do something in your life that is of Epic proportions, you need to find a way to commemorate it.

Saturday July 7th I arrived in downtown Duluth, MN to meet these crazy women I was going to be spending the next week with. Only I didn't know they were crazy, but I had a hunch.

I hadn't slept well the night before, nor had I eaten anything that day because I was just too excited and nervous. I pulled into the hotel parking lot and Tink came out to greet me with a huge hug. I got to drool over her BEAUTIFUL bike (she'd glued swarovski crstyals all over it and it's stunning!)  We sat down on the varanda as a group to figure out what to do next. First stop, FOOD! They'd gotten in earlier in the afternoon but had waited for me. What I didn't know is the plans they'd been trying to make!

We sit down in a sandwich shop, exchanging some small stories, trying to get the feel of who each other really is, when Tink says to me, "So...uummm...last night we were trying to figure out how we could commemorate our trip. We wanted it to be something big, but..umm...well Bev mentioned how about we all get a tatoo? I told them I doubted you'd go for it, but since I really don't know you, I have no idea."

"A tattoo? I've been wanting one for a long time! Where do I sign up."

"Well...ummm...actually....we have an appointment at 8:00 tonight (it was now about 5:00) with a guy named Jeffie. Really, you don't have to do it if you don't want to. We think we're going to all get the same thing, but we want to go look at the guy's work."

And so it was decided. Keep in mind that I'm a tatoo virgin. There isn't a drop of ink on my body, but the other girls each have one or two...or 5.

Meet Jeffie. He is an artist at Dominic's Dowtown in Duluth. Doesn't he look just like a tattoo artist? The funny thing is, his name is really JESSIE but Scharlett misunderstood on the phone. And so, as would soon become a habit for us, we renamed him.



Jeffie was very patient with us. We told him the purpose of this trip...a freeing experience, and one to bond with our fellow biker sisters. An expression of independence and a celebration of life. We wanted it simple (aka not expensive!) and we all wanted the same thing. Jeffie disappeared into his studio to draw something up. About 15 minutes later he came back with a couple different designs which we tweaked a bit, each of us adding a small item to make it our own, yet the same as the others.

First there was much discussion about WHERE we would put our new artwork
And naturally we had to sign our life away!

Then more discussion about who was going to be first. Tink volunteered, and I was allowed to go watch and take pictures, which was a lot like watching Miami Ink on T.V. except different. My pictures didn't turn out the greatest, because my camera didn't like the lighting. Also Tink was trying very hard to put on a good face for me since I was still a virgin, and it's just possible my nerves were showing a little bit.

While she was getting done, this man was in the next chair. His name is Mike, and he's having a guardian angel put on his back. I don't know his whole story, but this angel holds great meaning for him, and he has survived tragedy. His spirit was very sad, and I hope getting this tattoo is a step to healing for him. From an artistic side, the shading and detail in this tat is fantastic!
Next up was Bev. She couldn't get hers in the same spot as the rest of us, because she already has one there. Bev's daughter Pam died shortly after giving birth from an embolism several years ago. On her chest, Pam had a tat of an angel blowing stardust. Bev's tattoo is very similar, only the face resembles Pam, and inside the stardust are the letters to spell out PAM.

I was next. I was very nervous by this point, but Jeffie handled me well. ;-) First he applied the stencil.
And then the work began! OUCH! I don't know how in the world that Mike guy could stand to get his whole back done, or for that matter anyone else who I know with large tats!
Getting right up close and personal!

Scharlett was next. She made the mistake of not wearing the right shirt so she had to take it off in order to get her tattoo. Poor Scharlett.
And, the picture you've all been waiting for....the finished product! Notice the slight swelling. I am such a wimp. LOL

Some of you know I've been trying to design a tattoo about my kids for some time. After looking through the books in the shop, and talking with Jeffie I've finally gotten it figured out! I know where I'll be going to get it done.

Coming soon, "Split Rock Sisters"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Repost Pt2: Where do I start

This is part 2 in a series repost. This was originally posted in 2008.
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I have no idea where to start blogging about my trip. Seriously, I have about a month's worth of blog fodder!

I have to say that while I have enjoyed many friendships over the years, and gone on some amazing trips, this one takes the cake! First of all, never in all my life have I laughed so hard, so many consecutive moments, over the course of so many days. I'm talking "hold yourself so you don't wet your pants and oh my god I can't breathe!" type of laughter! I suppose most of it was "you had to be there" kind of stuff, but I will do my best to get you there too!

And of course, there are the friendships made. There were four of us on this trip, all from different walks of life. Let me introduce them to you.

First there is Tink from New Jersey. Tink is a Type A personality with ADD, which makes for an interesting combination, let me tell ya!  Anyway, this started out as really being her ride, and the rest of us were kind of tagging along. She just turned 50 and this was her "Epic Journey".  Not only a celebration of her birthday, but of her life. Her sister died at 50, and Tink has been very moved by the fact that it could have been her. It was also a celebration of HER, and she made the trip because she COULD. (see my reasons for the trip and you'll know what I'm talking about.)  I met up with the group in Duluth, MN which is Tink's birthplace. Much of our time there was spent visiting old memories with her, and was a lot of fun. More on that later.

There is Scarlett, only I have trouble calling her that and kept saying Charlett by mistake. Eventually I forgot her real name and she became Scharlett to me. LOL  Scharlett and Tink are good friends, and together formed the NJ chapter of Sisters In Spirit. Naturally she was the first one who Tink asked to come along on the journey. Scharlett is a Type A personality but is very polite about it! No, really...it took me awhile to figure this out! I think it was the day we were sitting in our hotel room, and she had a stack of envelopes in front of her. Each envelope had the name and address of each hotel they stayed at along the way. (remember they'd been on the road for a week before I joined them!) I kind of teased her, saying, "What, are you sending thank you notes to each one?" (cuz remember, she's very polite.) She said, "No, each one has a map and and the hotel information." aaahhh...see, Type A organization! Compare this to the scrap of paper that was floating around in one of my saddle bags, where I'd scribbled my hotel info just in case I needed it.

And now meet Bev. aka Foxy. She is from a little town in central Wisconsin. Last year she purchased her dream TRIKE, and was anxious to step out of her comfort zone and make a long trip all alone. ("alone" meaning without her husband.) She has only had her trike for about a year, so I have no doubt she learned a lot of skills on this trip!

Here's a picture of the other 3 ladies, the day I met them.
Bev, Scharlett, and Tink

Repost: Epic Journey

My blog has been seriously neglected this week because I'm mostly blogging over on our adoption blog. So I've decided to repost a series I did a few years ago about my Epic Journey. It was a very fun motorcycle trip. Little did I know how much it would change me, or the confidence it would give me to do more in my life. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed riding it.
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One Last Post Before I go! SEE YA!


By the way, this picture was difficult to take by MYSELF!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

If you didn't see it

If you didn't see it on my other blog, Axel is having problems with his neck, and his surgeon thinks it's possible the hardware that was installed has come loose. He needs to have a CT scan done ASAP, but he needs anesthesia to do it. We will be trying to do it this week before he goes. His doctor called tonight to check on him. His neck is now sensitive to the touch. It LOOKS fine. There is no sign of infection or anything unusual around his scar, but he is clearly very sore. And, his neck feels hot to me. I think we'll be trying to get that CT scan done on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cooking with Axel

A few weeks ago we got Axel a play kitchen. He LOVES this thing, and at least once a day sets all the contents out on the dining room table, then sets his bears on the chairs where they have a feast. Axel usually manages to get Angela involved too, but on this particular day "Cooking with Axel" turned into "Signing Time staring Axel".

A few translations:
"Agah" = Angela
"Mom...Dean...Papa" is what Dean is called quite often. LOL

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cards for Any Moment

During one of our trips to Philadelphia for an Axel check up, we ran into problems at the Philly airport. One particular employee was incredibly helpful to us, and when it was time to part ways he gave me his business card. On the back he wrote his personal email address and asked me to please contact him; he wanted to hear our story. It turned out he'd done a few mission trips related to orphan care and was touched by Axel's story. I would have loved to hand him one of these:



A couple weeks ago as I was pulling into our clinic parking lot, a woman in another car tried to pull in at the same time, but my car was kinda in her way. If course, she would have noticed this if she hadn't been texting. She ended up parking next to me. I didn't say anything, but I would have liked to leave one of these on her windshield:

I want to put one of these on the refrigerator for myself AND the kids!

And something fun to put in the kids lunchbox for school:




Created by my good friends Tammy and her mom Ann, Cards For Any Moment has made giving a quick little message really fun! They have something for every occasion. Imagine having coffee with another mommy friend who is really having a tough day. You could leave something behind in her silverware drawer for her to find later!


There are so many times in life when Cards For Any Moment would come in handy! The size of a business card and just $0.29 each, you can carry several in your wallet or purse. Don't see something you'd like to have on hand? Cards for Any Moment can create one for you. From now until November 30th they're running a promo of 10% your purchase if you enter the promo code BTS011. If you "like" them on Facebook, you receive 5 free cards with your first order.  And, it just so happens from now until the end of the year, Cards For Any Moment will donate a percentage of their proceeds to help a certain little boy come home! Don't forget to visit their blog for tips and ideas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

LOOK LOOK LOOK!!!!

Today another Serbian Prince has met his mommy and daddy for the very first time!!! Oh I am just beside myself with excitement!!!!! Please go give them some bloggy love!!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

11 months

In a few weeks Axel will be watching videos with people speaking Serbian in the background. They'll be videos of me with his new brother. I wonder what thoughts will go through his  mind?

The things he says now crack us up. Well, let me clarify a bit: About 90% of Axel's communication is in ASL, but his list of spoken words is slowly increasing. Since the beginning of September when Axel started school in the full-immersion ASL program his ability to express himself has exploded. While he still needs reminders to use more than single signs, when he gets those reminders he's pretty quick to give you more information. He now says Mooooooom a thousand times a day (post coming. LOL) and calls Angela "Agah" while he signs it. Here are some examples of recent things he's said/signed. Words in italics are signed only, words with red italics are signed and spoken together:

While sitting at the breakfast table:

"Agah hearing aids." (reminding her to put her hearing aids on.)
"Mom! Soon bus comes."
"Mom! Signing Time t.v. please."
"Papa! Tie shoes please."
"Mom! Tyler home!"
"Mom! Need bathroom. Poop."
"Agah. Watch." (demonstrates a sign that she has done incorrectly)
"Papa! Many many green chips. No red chips. Signing Time Me! Happy! Papa Happy!"

I'm sure you noticed the length of that last statement! Axel is working very hard to have good behavior at school so he can earn his beloved Signing Time, and that was the first day it "clicked" with him. He was just a LITTLE excited!

Product Review: Bounce Dryer Bar

A few weeks ago I became the lucky owner of a brand new washer/dryer set. I was SO excited to get them that the last four days before they arrived I didn’t touch any laundry. LOL

The day after my new machines came another surprise came in the mail. A Bounce Dryer Bar in Outdoor Fresh scent.


I’d never heard of the Bounce Dryer Bar before, so looked carefully at the package to figure out what to do with it. The bounce dryer bar is designed stick inside your dryer to give you fabric softener up to three months without having to do anything. No dryer sheets to remember to put in the machine or throw away. Oh me of little memory, this was right up my alley! Just "stick it and forget it!"

I'm one who always wants to know more, so I went looking for information. Did you know that dryer bar technology has been in use for years? They are used in places like hotel laundries where large volumes of laundry are done on a daily basis. I had no idea!

The only thing that concerned me was sticking this thing inside my brand new dryer. The bar is designed to show a replacement indicator after approximately three months. At that time you replace only the bar, while the holder stays in place. When the holder does finally fall off I wonder what kind of sticky residue will be stuck on my new dryer?

I love the smell of different fabric softeners! Unfortunately I have a bad memory associated with a particular smell so when I do buy softening products I can usually be found in the store sniffing the various boxes  to make sure they’re pleasant for me.  This bar in Outdoor Fresh scent is one I like!

Installing the bar is easy. Just peel off the paper backing and stick bar inside the dryer. Make sure you put it on the drum. (not the back wall, fins or door)


After about three months of use a replacement indicator will appear. Of course if you have a family of 10 you're doing laundry for, your bar will not last as long as mine will doing laundry for four. LOL I have been using mine for about four weeks and still have about 3/4 of the bar left. Replacement bars are easy to find in the store! 
When it's time to replace your bar, simply press the tab at the end of the holder, slide the old bar out and snap the new bar in. Your new bar will come with a holder. Although you may not need to replace the holder at that time, keep in on hand it case you do.

Our clothes smell absolutely wonderful when they come out of the dryer! Axel loves to help me fold laundry (crazy kid loves chores!) and sniffs every piece of clothing he takes out of the dryer. In fact, my entire laundry room, which is like a dark dungeon in our basement,  smells fresher using the Bounce Dryer Bar.

Some things to consider when using the Bounce Dryer Bar:
  • Not all clothing is a good match with fabric softener!
  • Kids clothing that is flame retardant (such as infant sleepwear) should not be treated with fabric softener as it affects the flame resistant capabilities. You must remove the Bounce Dryer Bar from the holder when drying these items.
  • If you have someone in your house with skin sensitivities and their laundry can't have softener, you can remove the bar from the holder when drying their clothing.
  • If you don't like the scent of the bar you've installed, you can change it out for another scent. If you decide you don't like the bar at all, remove it and the holder will fall of on it's own in a few months. 
Overall I am really happy with this product. It is easy to use, and easy to remove if I'm drying clothes I don't want treated. The scent is pleasant without being overpowering. A great product I highly recommend!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

November

November is Adoption Awareness Month and this past sunday was Orphan Sunday. I think you all know how I feel about adoption. ALL orphans need homes, no matter where in the world that home may be, but for obvious reasons those with special needs have a place of honor in my heart.

I think many of you also know how I feel about the corruption surrounding international adoption. Adoptive families are paying ransom to get their children home. This morning I received an email from someone who directed me to the website of a U.S. based non-profit organization claiming to do Serbian adoptions. The woman asked how much they charge, and she was told $25,000 - $30,000. And...that she could adopt a healthy toddler there. There are ransoms for orphans, and then there are RANSOMS!

This makes me so angry. Absolutely furious, really.

Let me give you a little education about Serbian adoptions. Keep in mind that while some things are the same as they were a year ago, other things have changed. I seem to get a lot of flack from people saying things like "When I did my adoption 5 years ago" or whatever. That was YOUR adoption, and is not necessarily what happens now.

1) Serbia has somewhere around 50 children currently registered for international adoption. (they told me approximately 40 back in May and there have been children added recently, in addition to some coming home.)

2) Every single child on the list is considered to have "special needs". Anything from CP, DS, Autism Spectrum disorders, etc.

3) Serbian adoptions are FREE. The Serbian government charges NOTHING for an adoption. If you CHOOSE to use a facilitator you will pay for that service. That service should NOT be tens of thousands of dollars! It shouldn't be more than somewhere around 3000 euros and that INCLUDES your logging, in-country travel, translation fees, new documents (birth certificate for child, passport) and the visa.

4) If your facilitator is a Serbian state employee, it is against Serbian law for them to take money for adoption related services. It is considered a conflict of interest.

5) Did I mention there are no healthy children allowed to be adopted out of Serbia? There are nearly 500 Serbian families waiting to adopt healthy children. Every Serbian orphan (healthy or not) is offered to Serbian families first, and must be rejected by 3 or more families before they are able to be registered for international adoption. While you are welcome to submit a dossier for a healthy Serbian child, it does  not mean such a child exists on the registry.

6) There is a PROCESS for Serbian adoptions. The first step is to contact the Serbian ministry directly, introduce yourself and explain the type of child you are looking to adopt. From there the Ministry will answer your questions after you have provided them with the appropriate information. They will not release to you information about the children on the registry until you have been given pre-approval to adopt. If you would like the contact information for the Serbian ministry please contact me privately ( my email button is at the top left sidebar) and I will give it to you. I just don't want to post it and have them upset with me because their email box is full of junk!

7) You cannot go to Serbia and request to choose a child while you are there.  The private information of Serbian orphans is not given out. You are matched with a child before you travel. Yes, you will have choices based on the criteria you have provided.  It could be there is only one child, or there could be 10. It just depends upon your family. For example, we requested a child in a certain age range and listed the type of special needs we feel capable of handling. We were then given a list of children who meet that criteria. Even with that, in most cases you will know more about that child before traveling than you would a child you were going to Ukraine to adopt.

The Serbian adoption process is quick and smooth. The Ministry is a pleasure to deal with and most of the time quick to respond to questions. Do keep in mind though that this particular office wears many hats and adoption services is just one of their many roles.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Nikon D3100 CAMERA GIVEAWAY!!!!

If you didn't go to my adoption blog yet, then this will be news for you, but next week I'll get my travel date to bring L home. I will very likely be traveling two weeks from now! Yes, that fast! We have just two weeks to come up with the last of the money we need. $2,000. We only need to raise $2000!!!!!

Here's what we're giving a way:



Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera Kit






Included in this package: 
14.2 Megapixel D3100 Digital SLR Camera
2 Zoom-Nikkor VR Image Stabilize Lenses
System Case
4GB SD Memory Card
Nikon School Guide to Digital SLR photography
2 Nikon School DVD's

Here's the rules: Click on the "Donate" button below to enter. Each $20 contribution gives you one entry into the cyber hat. (so $40 is two entries, etc.) Leave a comment here with a link to your blog post about the giveaway and/or tag me in a Facebook post and you will get one additional entry. You have until midnight November 15th to enter. On November 16th the winner will be chosen using Random.org.
That is just TEN DAYS to raise the last of the money we need to get L home! 









Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Are you ready?

I need to take you on a quick detour to one of my other blogs, so if you wouldn't mind hoping over there for just a minute, I think you'll enjoy the post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Just a couple more days

The push to get Little P. home is almost to an end, but my friends there are still thousands of miles to go. The Chipin closes in just couple of days and we're still $2100 from our goal.

Do you remember the post I did a couple days ago, about eyes? Well, take a look at these eyes.


These eyes belong to a boy who has no idea his world is about to change. He will see things he can't even dream about yet.  He has never seen a Mama or Tata (the Serbian world for "daddy") and doesn't know they are trying to get to him. They are ready to cross an ocean for him. I cannot wait to see his eyes light up as he receives his first hug from HIS parents. As he his tucked into bed at night by HIS mama and tata, with kisses and love, in a bed to call his own, with pajamas that belong to him. Those eyes up there.....you're going to be a part of changing the world for those eyes.