Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Hiker's Christmas

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and were able to spend the day with family and/or friends.  I got an early start to my day.  In  fact, the girls were up just a little after six am.  They enjoyed opening gifts from me and Steve and of course Santa.  Steve and I don't always exchange gifts, but did this year.

As I opened my gift from Steve I was a little off guard because the bag was from a sporting goods store.  This is my 35th Christmas and I have never received any sport type gift in my life.  I couldn't imagine what could be in it.  To my surprise the gift included hiking socks, hiker's back pack and special hiking sticks.  Never in a million years would I have asked for or even wanted these items for the obvious reasons.  My how things have changed.

One of the activities that Steve and I enjoy doing together is hiking.  We have hiked two of the Apostle Islands near Bayfield, Wi and the unforgettable ten mile hike of Pictured Rocks in Munising, MI. I was so proud of myself for completing these two hikes that I bought a patch from the each of these National Parks to remember these long walks by.   Being able to see beautiful scenes by foot is an amazing experience.  It is so much better than by car.  In fact, we are looking forward to many more years of exploring God's great land.

As I looked at my Christmas gift, Steve told me that I should sew my patches onto the backpack.  I nodded in agreement and told him that can't believe that this was a gift that I would be able to use.  My whole life I struggled to walk just a few feet at a time.  Now, I'm able to walk miles at a time with Steve and our daughters.  I didn't just receive a great hiking gift today, I received another day of mobility and Independence. I love my life and can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Busy Busy

I am really looking forward to the kids winter break from school.  We won't have to run out the door to all of the activities (basketball, girl scouts, church classes, etc.)  The girls can play with friends and we can just have fun together.  It's really hard to believe how much our lives have changed all because of my correct diagnosis.

A year and a half ago, I only left the house if someone was taking ME somewhere!  I was home all day long and couldn't do much other than sit and watch television.  Steve would always make sure to get me out of the house on the weekend with some type of activity (Costco run or having dinner out).  My mom would take me to the gym a couple days during the week and that saved my life.  Not only did I need the strength training, but I needed the social interaction.

Now, all I do is run the kids here and there. All I can really think is, "I'm so glad I can do it."  They were not able to be this involved in so many activities before,  because of me.  I know that I was a good mom then, but now I feel like a Super Mom.  More often than not, when I'm taking Sharon to basketball she will ask me, "Mom, do you remember when you couldn't drive at night?"  To that I normally answer, "I will never forget that."

When I began taking my new medication over a year ago, I had two fears:
1) What if this medication doesn't work forever.  I can't  live a normal life and go back to the way I used to be.
2) I don't EVER want to forget how challenging my life use to be, because it's necessary that I appreciate every little gift that is given to me.

I hope you will take time out of your busy day to count your blessings.  I think you'll be surprised with how many you have.  I know I am.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holliday Greetings!

The holidays are here yet again.  I am here to remind you to slow down and take time to appreciate all the little things.  This time of year can be so stressful, so take a deep breath and thank God for all that you are able to do.

This Christmas season feels a bit different for me.  I did all of my own Christmas shopping.  That means that I drove myself to all of the stores, parked far from the door and had to deal with the busy isles.  This is something that I had to have my mom help me with in years past and I had to park in the handicap spaces.  Not this year!!!

I am even done with all of my wrapping.   In all the years past, my mom wrapped all of the gifts because my hands didn't allow me to cut with scissors or rip the scotch tape off of the dispenser.  Don't get me wrong I accepted my moms help to wrap all the kids gifts this year, but I joined her.  I stood at her kitchen table and we wrapped all the gifts together.  Yes, I said it, "I stood while wrapping gifts!"

This weekend, I'm looking forward to baking cookies all afternoon with my daughters and nieces.  Baking cookies was never easy for me for so many reasons.  This year will be so different and I can't wait to giggle in my mom's kitchen with these six wonderful girls.

I must add that I'm doing all these things as a pregnant woman who feels nausea nearly all day long.  So, on that note try not to get too crabby this holiday season and be happy for ALL of the gifts that are not under your tree, but are there all year long.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Living the Dream

As a little girl and teenager I always told myself and others that I didn't want children.  That was not true and I knew that deep down inside.  The truth was that I wanted to have three children because I came from a wonderful family with two siblings.  I wanted the same thing, but didn't know if it was possible.  I didn't want to let myself down.

When I was 25 I was blessed with a baby girl.  The problem was that my pregnancy was so physically demanding for someone suffering with Spastic Dipigia (I talk about this more in my book).  I didn't know if I could live through another pregnancy.  However, I knew that I could not let my daughter be an only child either.  So, we had another baby two years later.

The two pregnancies put such a toll on my body that I knew that a family of four would have to be good enough.  The family with three children could no longer be my dream and the smiles, hugs and laughter from my two girls would be wonderful.

I am now 35 years old and the life I used to live is no longer mine.  It's better!   At times, I'm not sure whose body I'm living in.  I can do things that I never thought imaginable such as walking with ease, driving at night, cooking, cleaning and so much more.  I'm living out some of my childhood dreams that I never thought possible, including having the third child.  Yes, I am elated to tell you that Steve and I are going to have baby #3 in May.

So far this pregnancy is a piece of cake compared to the first two I endured.   Don't get me wrong I'm still sick every day, but I don't need to be taken care of.  Instead, I am still able to take care of my family and  understand what my friends' pregnancies were like.  More importantly, I have discovered how strong of a woman I was to not only live through a terrible pregnancy once, but to do it all again so Winona wouldn't be an only child.  I have to be honest, as I look back I don't know how I did it.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Yesterday, the girls and I walked through a corn maze with other Girl Scouts.  I always thought it would be neat to wonder through I giant corn field with my daughters, but I never thought it would be possible.   I guess I was wrong and  am delighted to say so!

It was a breezy afternoon, but the corn stalks sheltered us from the chilled air.  Not once did I have to worry about losing my balance on the uneven ground or by a child trying to run past me on the side.  It was simply a joy and a gift that I will never forget.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stopping for Gas

Yesterday, I drove the girls and I home from the cabin.  I had to stop and get gas.  The girls stood next to me as I dropped $25.00 into the tank.  Sharon looked up at me and said, "Do you remember when Grandma had to do this for you?"

It's true, there were quite a few years that I wasn't able to stand and pump my own gas.  Not only would it be too difficult to stand outside my car, it was difficult for me to maneuver the pump and take the gas cap off.  

Because I went so many years not being able to do this task on my own, it doesn't bother me to stop to fill my tank.   It doesn't even bother me that gas is so expensive because the gift of independence and mobility I have been given is priceless!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Round Kick!!

After being in Martial Arts for over a year, I was finally able to do a Round Kick.  This is a really big deal to me.  When I started Martial Arts, I couldn't even lift my leg off of the ground without losing my balance.  I thought it would take years to do this difficult Round Kick.

After tonight, I have realized that I might not be a white belt nearly as long as I thought I would.  I am so proud of myself!!!

Thanks to my instructor Dave who showed  me different ways to work on my balance and of course Steve and my girls for being there every step of the way.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Book Nook

School is back in session so this morning I went to Sharon's classroom as the volunteer morning reader.  Sharon was thrilled that I was going to read to the class.  Not only did she get to pick out the books I read, but she got to sit next to me on a chair rather than on the floor with all of the other students.

While I was driving home after reading for twenty minutes to a group of  seven year olds, all I could think was, "I love my life."  I can finally give back to others by doing something I enjoy.  How many people can say that?  Actually, many can, but never choose to do so.  

In the past, I physically couldn't volunteer in my kids school.  "Why?" you may ask.  I couldn't walk myself to from the car to the classroom.  In fact, I wasn't even able to hold a book anymore.  Today I was given the gift of  providing entertainment to wonderful children through books.  It felt so good to see how much they enjoyed listening to me read to them.   I can't wait to go back soon and do it again.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Giving It All I've Got

After a long day, I made myself ride my recumbent bike.  It had been quite a while since I last rode it.  Lately, I've been riding the elliptical (because I can).  When I got on it I thought that I'd be lucky if I rode it for 7 minutes.  I am proud to say that I exceeded the seven minutes.  In fact, I rode that bike for 26 minutes.  I even broke a sweat and had to ask Winona to bring me a glass of water halfway through.  In that 26 minutes I didn't go easy on myself either.  I had the resistance anywhere between three and six.  Just before I got off of the bike it read 5.9 miles. I couldn't help but smile and then I ran to tell Steve my good news.  

I LOVE that I was able to do this tonight (yes, at night).  Two years ago, I could only ride the recumbent bike for a maximum of 5 minutes on the lowest level.  I would give it all I had and the results were barely anything.  I did it though and that's all that mattered.

So, as I look back at how far I've come in such a short amount of time, I know that I am a living miracle.  It's up to me to make sure that I give it all I've got and NEVER take it for granted.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Away We Go

Last night I told Sharon that I would be driving us to the cabin tonight (Steve is already there).  She looked at me with concern in her eyes.

 "What is it?" I asked.

She informed me that not only have I never driven to the cabin, but in the past I couldn't drive at night.

She's absolutely right.  In the past, my muscles would have been far to spastic for me to drive after 3pm.  I always relied on others to chauffeur me and the girls to all the activities.  For those that know me, you are aware that it's never been easy for me to ask for help.  I always wanted to be independent.  Once the girls were born I had to swallow my pride and accept help from friends and family.

I am truly grateful for the ability to drive no matter what time of the day it is.  It has opened so many doors for me. I can take my girls to basketball practice, pick them up from school, take them to church classes and even be a Girl Scout leader.  It's much easier to put events on the calendar when I don't have to call others for help.  If I want/need to take the girls somewhere I just do it.  Independence is an amazing gift.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

School Days

Last night was orientation at school for my daughters.  While I was there I began to recall how nervous I was for my first day of fourth grade at Crooked Lake School.  My brother, Tom, had always helped me find my classroom on the first day of school.  The first day of fourth grade was different because Tom no longer went to the elementary school.  He had moved on to the junior high which meant that I was on my own. I recall being nervous a week in advance.  I was scared that I wouldn't be able to find my name outside any of the fourth grade classrooms.  This would be nerve racking for any child, but I was nervous that I would have to walk a long way just trying to find the correct room.  There were always lots of kids walking the halls and stopping to read the list just as I needed to do.  For me walking was always more difficult around others because a slight brush against my arm could send me tumbling to the ground.  I survived that first day of school and found my classroom without any trouble.

I feel so blessed that my daughters are healthy and don't have to the physical challenges that I had as a child.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Our family has a new addition...a kitten named Pickles.  I never thought we'd be able to have a house cat because they can get under foot and cause me to fall easily.  That isn't the case any longer and we adore our new family member.  My girls will be able to experience loving a kitten just as I did as a little girl and that makes me so happy.

How we got her name:  We went to a farm to get cucumbers for pickling.  They didn't have any.  However, they had kittens and we left with one of them instead.

Facing My Fears...Again

This past weekend I rode a bike!!!!

I met up with my childhood friends at a state campground.  While we were sitting around my friend, Angie, suggested that I try riding one of their bikes.  I didn't think she was serious until she said that she would hang on to the back of the bike for me.  After some hesitation, I decided to give it a whirl.

I hadn't ridden a bike since I was twelve. It took my brother, Tom, three summer to teach me how to ride without training wheels. I never thought I would be able to do it, but the day I finally took off down our driveway was one of the most freeing days of my life.

By the time I was twelve, it became too difficult for me to ride my bike an longer.  So, when my friends suggested I try the bike again, I was a bit scared.  They quickly reminded me that, "once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget how."  We all thought this would be a great opportunity to see if that old saying is true.  I am proud to say that it is!

Angie and Lonnie grabbed on to the back of the bike (where a toddler would sit)  and told me to peddle.  A few seconds into the fiasco, I told them to let go.  "Are you sure?" they asked.  "Yes, let go."  Then I was off down the dirt road of the campground.  I could help but scream a bit.  I tried not to, but I just couldn't help it.  I was letting out what sounded like high pitch dog barks.  Steve even said that a dog barked back.  So, to say I was nervous was an understatement, but who cares.  I did it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Facing My Fears

This past weekend, I went camping with both of my brothers and their families.   When I left Friday with my girls, I knew I had a fun time ahead of  me.  I had informed my nieces, Mikaela and Sophia that I had jumped off  of my boat at my cabin just a couple weeks earlier and they were proud of my for trying something that they knew I was scared to attempt.

A week before our camping trip, Mikaela suggested that I go down the water slide at the campground.  I thought she was crazy and told her that I could not do it.  "Yes you can!" she said right back to me.  I reminded her that I can't swim and she quickly turned to me to say that the pool is only five feet deep.  I'm deathly afraid of water and I proceeded to explain to her why that is.

When I was a little girl, I took swimming lessons and was actually a pretty good swimmer.  People would comment to my mom how well I swam at such a young age.  There was a BIG problem though:  I could never get my feet planted on the ground after swimming.   While swimming, I would raise my hand out of the water and whomever was the person in charge of me would grab me and stand me back up.  So, yes, I can swim.  However, I can't stand up when I'm done.  I'd have to say that's kind of an important part.

After my niece listened to my explanation she informed my that her dad (my brother) could catch me when I went down the slide.  I knew at that point, that this twelve year old was not going to let this go.  I told her that when we got to the campground I would try and go down the slide, but I'd have to wear my life jacket.  I'm telling you that I am really scared of the water.

When I got to the campground that Friday evening, my niece didn't give me much time before she asked me when I was going to go down the slide.  I told her that she had to go back to the camper to get my life jacket and by the time she got back, my beer would be gone and I would do it, just to get it over with.

Mikaela quickly returned with my life vest.  I put it on and looked out at all the people vacationing at the pool.  I told her that I didn't care what they all thought of me, even though I'm pretty sure they thought it was odd that a  35 year old woman was wearing a life jacket.  Next, I told her that she would have to go up the ladder behind me, because if I chicken out she would need to just push me down the slide.  She said she could do that for me.  As for my brother, he stood in the pool at the base of the slide waiting to catch me as though I was three years old.

As I climbed the ladder, I could feel butterflies in my stomach.  I know it's silly to have felt this way, but I couldn't help it.  I was trying this for the first time because I was NEVER able to do it as a child.  There is no way my muscles could have handled the sudden movement going down the slide not to mention how nearly impossible it would have been for me to get up the laddert in front of all of those people. My  bottom had barely touched the slide when Mikaela gave me a good strong push. I quickly found myself flying down the slide doing something impossible.  Mikaela never gave me the chance to chicken out and I'm thankful for that.  She helped me face my fear.  And even though I didn't think it was fun, I'm really glad that I did it.

I should probably add that as soon as I got out of the pool, Mikaela insisted that I go down the bigger slide that is also an enclosed tube.  I was even more scared to do that, but I did it with the support of family.  Life is too short to not take chances and face our fears.  This is something that I will remember for ever and I think my niece will too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Girl Scout In Me

Tonight was Winona and  Sharon's bridging ceremony.  Sharon went from being a Daisy to a Brownie and Winona went from a Brownie to a Junior Girls Scout.  Before we left, my mind went back to the night I bridged from a Brownie to a Junior Girl Scout.  I remember that I didn't really want to go to the ceremony.  I was too nervous to walk across the bridge if front of all the parents and grandparents.  My parents made me go and I did just fine. I made it across the little bridge and received my Girl Scout wings. 

This evening was so different from that night over twenty years ago.  As the co-leader of Winona's troop, I had to stand in front of the parents and grandparents and speak.  I didn't get emotional until it was time for me to take each girl's hand and walk them across the bridge.  By the time I walked the tenth girl across the bridge, I thought to myself, "I can't believe that I'm doing this, at night, in front of people."  Tears welled in my eyes just as it was time to congratulate the Junior Girl Scouts with applause.  

So, I can't help but wonder if all those people think that I'm just a crazy, emotional, Girl Scout leader.  There were only a handful of parents that know "my story"  The rest of them don't have a clue that a little over a year ago it would have been a chore for me to get to this ceremony and I would not have been able to assist in any way.   

I will remember tonight as long as I live, just like the night nearly twenty five years ago.  Only this time, it will ALL be happy memories.

Mom and Dad,
Thanks for making me participate in that bridging ceremony many years ago.  It was an important night for many reasons, but most of all it helped me to really appreciate the special gift that I was given tonight.  Thanks for always having faith in me.  I love you both!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Say Cheese

This past weekend I went to a family reunion.  I enjoyed visiting with those who I only see at weddings and funerals.  I must say that it was kind of weird seeing them in shorts and t-shirts.  Anyway, we took time out of the day to take group photos.  The last photo that was to be taken was of the entire group.

Since everyone's cameras were running low on batteries, I was asked if we could use mine.  Everyone took their place for the photo and I quickly tried to figure out how to set my cameras' timer to take a photo.

As soon as I knew everyone was ready, I asked where I was supposed to jump in.  The answer was up front, right next to my niece, Becca.  I stood behind my camera, looked through the lens and then pushed the button to take the photo.  Then it was time to run!  I ran as fast as my flip flops would take me, sat down next to my dear niece. crossed my legs and smiled with a second to spare.

How is it possible that I did this?  In the past, someone would have had to help me walk to where I would have to pose for the picture.  Not this time.  I did it and on my own,.  So, when I look at this photo of me sitting up front, with a big smile on my face, I know that it's much more than a family photo.  I also have a pretty good idea that my grandparents saw the whole thing from heavan and that makes my heart smile.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Helping Hand

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with my emotions this morning.  My life has changed so much this past year.  I can do everyday tasks so much easier than I ever thought possible.  More often than not, I was dependent on others for help.  Last night was different.  I was given the gift of being able to help another mom.

Winona and Sharon were invited to a birthday pool party last night.  I offered my help to the parents and found myself assisting them for the duration of the party.  I helped pour soda, pass out the pizza, re-filling the snack dishes, etc.

My mom has always been the person to come help run my daughter's birthday parties because I wasn't able to do much at all to help.  I usually had to sit in a chair and watch my mom and Steve do all the running during the parties.  I always felt blessed to have planned my girl's parties, but there's just something about actually being able to do the "mom duties"

In March, Winona and Sharon had a combined sleepover, birthday party.  I was able to get the pizza ready, run the games and get the kids to bed.   Steve helped me quite a bit and my mom didn't need to come at all, because I had faith that I could do what I needed to do.

Birthday parties are a lot of work, but it is worth every bit of it.  When we give a child a fun birthday, we are creating memories that will last a lifetime.  I have so much to thank God for.  I just hope He knows how much I appreciate the life I have been given (even the years with the physical challenges).

Monday, August 1, 2011

On Three

We spent this last weekend at the cabin with some friends of ours.  The weather was warm and the lake water felt perfect.  My friend, Hilary, has known me for quite some time and understands how I feel each and every time I do something that I have never done before.  Last summer she encouraged me to go tubing behind the boat with her.  She really helped me overcome the nervousness of the unknown and I really enjoyed the experience.  So, when she asked me to jump off the side of the boat with her this weekend I knew I had to try it.

Steve had anchored the boat in the middle of the lake (about 20 feet deep).  When Hilary asked me if I wanted to jump off  the boat I felt both excited and scared to death.  I have never even gotten up the courage to jump off the dock, so the thought of jumping off the boat had never crossed my mind.  We both had our life vests on and stood at the back of the boat together.  "I don't know if I can do this," I said looking at her.  I'm sure I looked like a little kid getting trying to jump off the diving board for the first time.  Hilary turned to me and said, "You don't have to do it if you don't want to."  

I had to jump.  Not jumping was not an option.  I have been trying to get the courage to jump off the dock, but have chickened out each and every time this summer.  I looked at Hilary and told her that, "I want to jump."  She smiled at me and told me that she would hold my hand.  Eagerly, I took the  hand that I knew would give me the support that I desperately needed to overcome my fear.  

As we stood at the edge of the boat looking down at the water my nerves began to become more intense.  I can't swim, but I knew that the life jacket I was wearing would take care of me just fine. I didn't think that my legs would allow me to let go, so  I turned to Hilary's husband and asked him if he would just push me in. 

I have to jump.  Hilary tells me that we can go on my count to three.  She also told me that I could plug my nose with my other hand.  The cocky part of me informs her that I don't need to plug my nose.  I begin the count to three and on two I jumped.  

As I fell into the water I give a quick scream, as though I'm riding a roller coaster.  My voice is quickly silenced by the lake and water shoots up my nose.  Slowly, my body rises to the surface.  As soon as my head is out of the water I begin cheering myself on.   Hilary gives me a high five.  Even though I have swallowed water and my nose is burning, I can't seem to stop screaming with excitement.   No can I get this smile off of my face.  This is one of the happiest moments in my life!  I just did something that I could have never done before and it was so much fun!  

Hilary, thank you so much for helping me overcome my fear and introducing me to an activity that I will be able to do with my daughters at the cabin.  My only question to you is: What are  we going to do to top this next summer?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lessons from a seven year old

A couple days ago, the girls and I were driving to go see my mom.  I made the comment that we haven't seen her in awhile.  Sharon immediately replied, "Well, I guess that's because you don't need her help anymore."

I find it amazing that at the age of seven, Sharon understands my transformation better than some adults who have known me for years.  I often think that she doesn't remember that Mommy used to need help running all of her errands and completing her household chores.  I guess that's not the case at all.

Even though Sharon was only six when began learning how to do things independently, I can't help but think that that she won't ever take the little things in life for granted.  I think that there is a lot that we can learn from her attitude and outlook.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's More Than A Braid

I just put a french braid in Winona's hair!!!!  I can't believe it.  It seems even more unbelievable that I did it at 9PM.  I never thought in a million years that my hands would allow me to do my daughter's hair just as my grandmother and mother did mine many years ago.  As soon as I completed putting the band in her hair, I squealed with so much excitement.  I quickly stood up and gave Winona a hug that almost caused her to spill her apple juice.

When she was a toddler, Steve always did her hair because my hands didn't allow me to do so.  He was the one who put their hair in ribbons and pigtails for major holidays and professional pictures.  I must add that he did a great job.

I was never even able to hold a pencil at night to take a phone message down.  How is it possible that God has given me such a wonderful gift?  He has given me one more way to put a smile on my daughter's face.  This is one of the happiest nights of my life.

It's also necessarily for me to thank Tonia for teaching me how to do a french braid this weekend.  Now all I have to do is practice and in no time I will be doing their hair for special occasions, just like a mother should.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What A Treat!

I made popcorn on the stove tonight for Winona and her friend.  I never thought I would be able to stand, at night and cook something that can burn easily.  What a gift!!!

Not A Bad Problem

As many of you know, I am in the processes of writing a book.  There's a slight problem though.  Okay, a big problem.  I seem to be having trouble finding/making the time to write.  I am so busy running the girls to swimming, park programs, etc. that I haven't had much quality writing time.

When I  begin to think of the end product (a complete memoir) I get stressed.  At this point there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  I have always wanted to write a book and now I finally have a really good story to be told.  I know it will get done and it may take years, but I have to remind myself that it's okay that it's going to take a long time.  I am living my life, a life that I had only dreamed of living.  So, if that means my book won't be done in the near future, I'm okay with that.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Different Kind of Vacacion

I just got back from a week of vacation with Steve and the girls.  We spent much needed time together without the technology that can keep us from quality family time.

We spent quite a bit of our time enjoying the wilderness of the North Country.  Yes, this city girl went on mosquito infested hikes on nearly vacant islands.  Our first hike together as a family was a two mile hike to a lighthouse.  Steve and I failed to bring the mosquito spray and the result was that of a very upset seven year old girl who would rather be at the mall shopping for cute clothes than out in God's Country.

As she complained, I informed her that us being together as a family AND walking in the woods was a gift given to us by God.  I told her how lucky she was to be able to not only walk., but to be able to walk where many people will never be able to visit.  When we finally did reach the old light house, we climbed the spiral staircase and looked out onto Lake Superior.  A middle aged woman stood next to us looking at the calm lake.  She made a comment that her husband was down in the boat and could not come because he was in a wheel chair.  Sharon was much better on the two mile hike back to our boat and she told me, "Mommy, you couldn't have done this when your legs didn't work."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Gift

At eight p.m. I found myself driving to Target to get a birthday gift for my nephew.  As I was walking into the store, I couldn't help but smile.  I was never able to drive in the evening because by nighttime, my body was immobile   Even though I had a crazy busy day, I feel incredibly blessed that I could run one more errand before the sun went down.  So, when Jack opens his DS game tomorrow evening he will be happy that he has a new game and I will be thrilled that I could go get it all by myself!

Happy 10th Birthday Jack
I love you!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Goodbye Couch Potato

For the past 30 some years my evenings consisted of sitting on the couch and reading to my girls and watching television.  Tonight was a new night.  In 15 minutes, I did 50 sit ups and 1 1/2 miles on the elliptical.  Sure, it would have been easier and more entertaining to find out who will get a rose on The Bachelorettee, but I'm going to take what the good Lord has given me and start doing cardio exercise daily.  I hope you will do the same.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Preferred Parking

Sharon and I ran a couple errands this afternoon.  I parked my car, and helped Sharon out of the backseat.  As we walked hand in had through the parking lot we passed a handicap parking space.  Sharon asked me why the spot was so much larger than all the other spaces.   I explained that many people with disabilities need to open their car door all the way to make it easier to get in and out of their car.  I couldn't help but ask her if she remembers me parking in spots just like that.  Her response was a simple, "No."

It wasn't that long ago that a handicap parking space was necessary for me.  I had to open my car door all the way to hoist myself out and walking more than a few steps to the store doors was unthinkable.  So, here I am today elated, not only that I am capable of returning items to West Marine and  Target by myself, but that it doesn't matter that the only parking spots on this Sunday afternoon are clear across the lot.  

I guess what I'm trying to say is we shouldn't complain that someone just stole the last close parking space.  Chances are that when you get older, you will need to use that handicap parking space and you'll look back and remember how good you had it when you had to walk a long distance in the cold rain.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Taking Care of Myself

Everyday that I am able to step into the shower I feel blessed.  Bathing has always been a chore that did not come easily and often ended with me asking for help.  Not until recently, I always had to wash my hair in the sink because my balance didn't allow me to do the task standing in the shower.  I would depend on my mom or my husband to wash my hair for me.

Showering independently is one of those things that I'm sure many people take for granted.  It was always one of those things that I dreaded, but now I can do it without anticipating my next step in the process.  I can stand in the shower and not worry about whether I will fall and hurt myself.  I am actually to the point that I can see why many enjoy showering after a long stressful day. It's funny that I never knew it could be relaxing, not to mention a break from the kiddos!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Martial Arts

When I was a little girl I was never in sports for the obvious reason.  If  I couldn't stand still for more than a few seconds, if at all, there is no way that I could dribble a basketball down the court, slide into home plate or run hurdles in track.  That's why it is really hard for me to believe that I have joined Steve and the girls in their Martial Arts class on Wednesday nights.

My supportive, optimistic instructor new me when I was unable to walk and depended on my scooter to get around.  I'm sure that's why he is so patient and understanding while I have been learning to stand on one leg and attempt kicks.  At the end of every class I have a very strong sense of accomplishment.  Tonight was no different.

This evening we worked on defending ourselves if some one attacks us and gets our back to the ground.  Steve and I were paired up and I was pinned to the ground.  Our instructor walked me though what to do, and in the end I had my legs wrapped around Steve's neck, squeezing it as hard as I could.  I had such a mix of emotions.  I couldn't help but giggle, because of the obvious, but I realized how far I have come this past year.

Just over a year ago, my legs didn't allow me to stand on my own.  They were weak and unreliable.  Now here I am gaining strength, little by little trying to take my husband down in Martial Arts.  I am actually participating in a sport.  Not just any sport...Martial Arts.

A Good Reminder

Days like today are a great way for me to remember where I have come from.  It's also a good way to remind myself that it is essential that I get an adequate night of sleep and stay as stress free as possible.  Last night I only got a a handful of good sleeping hours.  If I don't get at least nine hours of sleep I really notice that my hamstrings become stiff and sore.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not nearly as bad as it was before my new diagnosis.  However, after a poor nights sleep I really notice that my balance is off and my limbs are fidgety. That's when I take a good look in the mirror and tell myself to slow down and listen to my body!

My brain doesn't produce Dopamine like "normal" people.  Our brains make Dopamine while we sleep and my brain doesn't seem to do what it should.  Therefore, it is out of necessity that I get a long nights rest AND take my medication.

In the past if I got a bad nights rest like this, I would need to spend most of my day propped up in a chair or simply go to bed.  I never knew any thing different.  It was just a way of life for me.  In fact, even if I did get adequate rest, my brain still did not produce enough Dopamine to last me the day.  My body would become more spastic and weaker as the day went on.  Leaving me dependent on others.

In my new life, I know that I need to take a nap the day after a poor nights rest.  It's not because my eyes are tired.  It's because if I don't rest, my arms will twitch, my balance will be off and my legs tight. Life is a gift and  I need to take care of myself.  After all,  I'll take a physically bad day of my "new life" over any really good day of my "old life."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm a Little Teapot

Sharon is always ready to point out if I'm doing something new.  This afternoon was no different.  She turned on some silly preschool music.  When "I'm a Little Tea Pot" began to play, I jumped off the couch and grabbed her hands and began twirling her around.  When the verse, "tip me over and pour me out" was sung, I lifted her off of the ground and held her upside down as though she was the teapot.  It was fun to hear her giggle because of something I did.  I began spinning her around in circles until the song was over.  When I placed her safely back onto her own two feet she immediately informed my that, "You could have never done that before."

At the end of the day, it's the little things in life that matter the most to me.  It's spending time with my daughters.  In the past, I was never able to take them on a walk or swing them around while dancing.  Quality time with my daughters consisted of playing games together, coloring or just watching a movie together.  Those are all important as well.  I believe that when they are grown with children of there own they will remember that Mom did fun things with them.  Chances are their most important memories with me will be the little things that we did together at home not big trips to Disney etc.  As I become more busy, it's critical that I take time to show my daughters how much I love them.  They are a gift from God and out of all them moms in the world, God chose me to be their mother.  I'm not going to waste His gift to me!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Vacation

Well, summer vacation is here and both of the girls are in activities.  Today was Sharon's first day of swimming lessons and Winona's first day of basketball camp.  As for me, it was my first day juggling everything that mom's do when the school year comes to an end.

Since we are fairly new to the area, we don't just leave ten minutes before we need to be somewhere.  It took me an extra few minutes to find the school where Sharon had her swimming lessons.  I was happy that I could drive her there and then walk her inside to the pool.  In years past, my mom would help me do this.  It is a great feeling to be independent.  This time when I sat watching her, I didn't have my mom sitting next to me.  I missed her company, but there is something to be said for being able to take responsibility for my own children.  I should add that even though Sharon dreaded going to her lesson, she did a great job!

After Sharon and I dropped Winona off at he basketball camp, Sharon and I ran many errands.  We went to the bank, dropped off money at her Girls Scout leader's house and then went to the Post Office.  Again, these are ALL things that either my husband did or my mom would assist me with in the past.

Even though I feel like all I did was run my kids around all day, I know that I really accomplished something today.  In many ways I feel whole.  I could never fully understand how mother's could get so much done in one day and run there kids in five different directions.  I think I am slowly starting to get it.

Now that I'm home for the first time all day I get to clean the kitchen, do laundry and make dinner.  Yes, I may seem a little overwhelmed, but last year I wouldn't have been able to do any of these tasks.  These are all very special gifts that have been given to me today and I love each and everyone of them the same.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why 'Rainy Day Friend?"

A few months ago, I was talking to my mom about the book I'm trying to write.  I was telling her my different thoughts that I want in my book. That's when she told me this:  "When you were a little girl I thought that if a book was written about you it should be called Rainy Day Friend."  I looked at her and asked her to explain "Why?"  She said that when I was little my friends wouldn't call to see if I could play on the sunny days, but I would receive many play date requests when it was raining outside.  She said that I was the perfect rainy day friend.

Rain or shine, everything that I loved to play was done inside my home.  As a young girl, I kept busy by playing board games, playing house and living vicariously through my Barbies.   When I was a little girl, I was not able to play the outside games like all the other kids I knew.  On bright and sunny days kids enjoy running in the yard and biking down the street.  I would always attempt to do these things.  At times I was successful, but more often than not I wasn't, but I would never let my inabilities stop me from having fun.

I find it really important to add that when I was a little girl I had wonderful friends.  I don't know if it's possible  for me to have had better friends in my life.  They didn't care that it took me longer to do things then the other kids my age and if they did, they never let on about it.  These girls in my life helped to make me the person I am today.  In fact, these girls are still my best friends with whom I share some of my most deepest thoughts and biggest laughs with.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Dance

Yesterday was by far one of the best days of my life.  I attended my first wedding since my new diagnosis.  Everything from the wedding to the reception brought me tears of joy.

When the reception began and the DJ started the music, I was immediately brought to my feet by my dad pulling me to the dance floor.  I eagerly followed his lead and we were dancing to the upbeat music.  I have to admit, I felt a little awkward. I had no idea how to dance and my sense of rhythm was anything but graceful.  It really didn't matter though.  All I really cared about was that I was having fun with my dad.  We smiled at one another and I can't help but think how happy he looked to see me up and dancing with him.

Last night I learned that I LOVE to dance.  As I said earlier, I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn't care.  There was just something about bopping around the dance floor with my daughters, husband, nieces, nephews, cousins, sister-in-laws, brother and my parents.  We had a blast dancing to everything from Kid rock to The Chicken Dance.  I even did the Conga!

I patiently waited all evening for a slow song.  It was really important to me that I have the father/daughter dance that I was unable to do at my own wedding nearly eleven years ago.  When American Soldier began playing, I knew I had to get my dad out on the dance floor.  He gladly accepted my request.  Again, I didn't know what I was doing and my dad showed me how to follow his lead, something that I was unable to learn from him years earlier.  As I got the hang of slow dancing, I felt it was necessary to tell him all things that I never got to say on the dance floor at my own wedding. He reminded me that everything always works itself out in the end and he was right.   By the end of the song, we both had tears in our eyes and unexpectedly I  found myself giving my dad a hug and telling him that I love him.

This is clearly a wedding that I will never forget.  Last night I was given the gift of dancing with my family; a gift that I will never take for granted.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The first post

I've had a couple people suggest that I start a blog so friends and family can be a part of all my new experiences.  I have to be honest; I had absolutely no idea what a blog was, not to mention how I would set one up.  I was able to figure it out, so here I am.  I should also add, that I am not a professional writer and my English teachers from school would probably cringe reading this.   

Like an excited toddler, I will share all the things that I too can do all by myself.  At the age of 34, I am finally a big girl!  Actually, there are many times in the week that I feel that I am trying something new that most set out to do shortly after graduating from high school.  

I find much joy in doing things that many people dread doing.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think these things are fun.  I find myself with tears of joy, because they are things that I never imagined I could ever do.  In fact, I would see others do them and watch in amusement wondering "How do they do it?"   Anyway, here's a short list of things that I can do now:

put clean sheets on the bed (even on a bunk bed)
grocery shop
make cupcakes
cook dinner
drive my daughters to all of their activities in the evenings

I really hope that this Blog helps others see that we really need to be thankful for the little things in life.  I know I am.