Monday, December 23, 2013

I'm Loving It!

I'm not quite sure how I am getting it all done.  My house is clean and homemade caramel rolls have just came out of the oven.  I am exhausted from all the housework. but I am so grateful that I did it!  Not long ago Steve and I had to pay someone to come clean our home and paid a neighbor to make our family dinners, because I phsyically couldn't do it.

Here I am 3 1/2 years later cleaning and cooking like a fool.  Or should I say cleaning and cooking like a woman who loves her husband and children?    

I will continue to give thanks for all of my abilities.  I am able to contribute to my family and I will never forget where I came from.  I would be fine if I didn't receive any gifts this Christmas, because my new mobility is a gift that I never thought I would receive.   I love my life and the family I get to share it with.

My homemade caramel rolls

Friday, December 20, 2013

You Can Do Anything!!!

Recently, my parents e-mailed this video to me.  This video will make you think about what is really important in life and what you need to give thanks for.  I feel like I can relate to Richie Parker.  Like Richie, I always felt I had to prove to others that I could succeed in life and do it with a genuine smile.  I truly believe that you can get through anything in life if you have a positive attitude.  Don't give excuses for why something can't be done.  Instead, think outside the box and don't ever give up!

I hope you can take 8 minutes out of your day to watch this inspiring video.  I'd also encourage you to share it with your children.  It will let them know that no matter what there dreams are in life, they have the power to make them come true.

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's All In My Head

It's been quite a busy week for me trying to get ready for the holidays.  As I told my mom today, I'm feeling overwhelmed for no apparent reason.  I am done with my Christmas shopping and it is nearly all wrapped. However,  I still have to fill my home with the necessities for my in-laws coming to visit and clean our home which feels impossible with a toddler under foot all day long.

In my mind, I know that there isn't a lot to do to get ready, because I can phsyically do more now than ever before.  The thing is that my brain hasn't caught up to my capabilities.  In my mind, I feel that I need more days than possible to make our home perfect for our family coming to the Twin Cities.  Not long ago, I could only do one or two tasks a day before I had to call it quits and rest in my chair.

As time passes,. I continue to get stronger and better at everyday chores.  I just need to let my brain catch up to the understanding of what I'm able to do.  When I begin to get overwhelmed I just think to myself, "it will all get done," and "if it doesn't get done, my family doesn't care.  They are more interested in special time spent together than cupboards stocked with festive food."

With that being said, I'm going to work hard at being happy with all that I can do this holiday season and be grateful that it will be spent with family.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


It's been over 24 hours since the snow stopped coming down, but the roads are still a mess.  Luckily, I can handle it (not always the case).  Tonight as I was trying to get Winona to basketball practice, the car in front of me could not make it down the icy road.  The poor driver tried to go, but her wheels just spun and spun.

I waited a moment thinking that someone would come to her rescue (the road was basically a parking lot).  I was wrong.  I hopped out of my car and began to push her vehicle in hopes of helping this young girl who was trying to get home.

I was so proud that I was able to help her.  As she began to drive, I got back in my car and slowly made my way down the road to only see her stopped once again.  Since I was still in Superwoman  mode I began to push her car once again.  This time I couldn't free her.  She was on a patch of ice and I was slipping as I tried to push her car that wouldn't budge.  Eventually, she got going on her own.

I'm pleased that I was physically able to help this girl, but I couldn't help but wonder why wouldn't anyone help me push the car when I couldn't free her on my own.  Offering a helping hand only takes a couple minutes out of your day and most people really appreciate it.  Sure, Winona ended up being late to practice, but it was the right thing to do.

I now have the physical abilities to help others.  I can't find any reason that justifies looking the other way, so I ask that when you see someone in need, no matter how busy you are, take a moment to give a helping hand.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gifts

I'm overwhelmed.  There's no doubt about it.  I spent the last two days unpacking and doing laundry (we spent 5 days up at the cabin over Thanksgiving) all while running after a toddler.  I try to keep my stress levels down by going to the YMCA, but taking care of a family with three children is a lot of work.  

My family is my greatest gift.

I know I have so much to be thankful for and count my blessings every night before I go to bed.  I don't seem to ever finish giving thanks since I always seem to fall asleep first.  I am beyond grateful that I have the physical capabilities to do all the things that stress me out.  I know that sounds silly, but now that I can do more, it adds a stress that I never had to deal with in the past.

Luckily, I have people in my life who offer help (ie: A basketball parent brought Winona home from practice tonight).  I also have people in my life who offer words of encouragement which always makes life easier.  The best part is that I have two daughters that make the world a better place (corny, I know) and help me out immensely with John.

It's easy to see how much they love this little guy!

I will get through this holiday season with a smile on my face.  And I will be sure thank God throughout the day for everyone He sends my way.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

'Tis The Season

This upcoming Christmas will be my third year celebrating the holiday with my new diagnosis.  I still have a hard time understanding that I can shop alone and wrap gifts in record time.  Don't hate, me, but I'm nearly done with my shopping and I've wrapped 90 percent of it.  I don't do it because I like to be ahead of the game.  I do it because I fear I won't get it done in time.

The old me had to rely on family taking me to the mall to purchase gifts.  I had to do all my shopping prior to Thanksgiving because I phsyically couldn't manage the mall after Thanksgiving.  Driving a big mobility scooter through crowded paths at the mall just doesn't mix.  As for wrapping, it took be a minimum of ten minutes to wrap each gift.  After three or four gifts, my hands couldn't do it any longer.  I just couldn't manage cutting and don't even get me started on the tape! 

This past week, I was beginning to feel stressed that I hadn't started to wrap the girls presents.  Christmas is closer than it seems. Even though I know I'm capable of completing the task, my mind feels like it's the old me (and can't do it on my own).  So, while John napped, I wrapped.  Before I knew it, I had wrapped a dozen gifts in under two hours!  Me. Alone. By myself!!!  

I am so blessed that I can manage the holiday's on my own, but honestly it's not important what's under our tree.  It's the people I get to share these moments with that matter most.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Miracle Doctor

I never cared for going to the doctor, until I began seeing Dr. Nance 3 1/2 years ago. She gave me a life that I never dreamed of and I look forward to seeing her every six months.  She's always thrilled to watch me walk and tell me how she thinks it's improved since the last visit. And I love sharing my new adventures with her.  In fact, I should have made her cupcakes!

Life is a gift and I am grateful that Dr. Nance has been placed in my life.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1600 Blessings

My friend Tasha Schuh wrote an amazing memoir this past year that I think is definitely worth sitting down to read.  When Tasha was 16 she fell through a trap door during the rehearsal for her school play.  She fell 16ft, landing on the concrete floor which left her wheelchair bound.

With all of the changes she had to endure, Tasha focused on the positive things in her life.  Tasha is currently a motivational speaker, giving inspiration to others on a daily basis (including me).   I feel honored to know this strong woman and feel that I need to help her reach an important goal of hers.

This month marks the 16th anniversary of Tasha taking her last step backward.  She has asked that everyone post at least 1 thing that they are grateful for on her Facebook page. Her goal is to have 1600 Blessings posted to her page by the end of November.  Since we are all very busy, I've attached the links for you to post your blessing AND to order Tasha's book.  Thank you!

Post your blessing:

Read Tasha's Blog:

Order Tasha's book:

Monday, November 11, 2013


A couple days before Halloween I bought a pair of really cute boots.  The kind of boots that make you feel beautiful and confident.  I thought they looked great with my  jeans and they even had a one inch heel.  I'm not sure if I've ever been happier about a clothing purchase...until today.

As I walked next to Sharon in the school parking lot, my ankle twisted to the side.  Next,  my legs gave way and my chin kissed the sidewalk making my sunglasses bounce out of reach.   Memories of my teen years came back in a flash and I popped myself back to my feet,  even though my ankle, knee and wrist knew better.  With a quick look to left and then the right, I told myself that no one saw me biff it, because then it must be true.

So as I sit here and blog my embarrassing story, I have to ask myself, "Do I wear the adorable boots again?"  I can't  help but want to wear something other than a walking shoe.  Maybe I can teach myself how to walk in the heel little by little.  Or, I can wear them when I'm with Steve and take his arm like the women do in the movies.  Then I think about what I tell others:  appreciate the little things in life.

Four years ago, I would have given anything to be able pick my child up from school alone.  Now I can.  It doesn't matter to her what shoes I wear.  So, should it matter to me?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The First Snowfall

Ok, so it's snowing.  I know most of you are thinking something along the lines of, "Not yet!" The thing is, we can't complain about the snow if we choose to live in Minnesota.  Right?

Back in the day, I couldn't walk in snow and I couldn't take my mobility scooter out in the snow for risk of getting stuck.  That meant, I was confined to my home unless my mom or Steve took me out.  Nowadays, I can make a snowman, go sledding and even drive in it.  

There are a lot of benefits to living in this Winter Wonderland and I would love for you to focus on all of the positive aspects.  For example, there is nothing better than sitting by the fire and drinking hot cocoa while watching the beautiful flakes fall from the sky.  Yes, your morning commute is going to be doubled, if not tripled.  When you get to work, don't give in and talk about how horrible your drive was or how cold it was standing at the bus stop with the little ones. It's a gift that you can do it!
This was taken last April (yes APRIL!!!) at my parents home and I think it's breathtaking.  
 Instead, I urge you to say something positive about the change in season.  I bet your co-workers or friends will follow your lead and the day will seem much brighter.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's hard to believe that another year has passed and it's Halloween already!  Growing up, this day was bitter sweet.  I loved creating a costume and getting a haul of candy, but I dreaded walking house to house at the most difficult time of day (afternoons and evenings were always a challenge).  I was never about to give up time with friends or chocolate, so I used up the last of my energy and even borrowed against the next day just so I could experience this special day like every other American kid.

Now, I love Halloween.  It's no longer bitter sweet.  It's just SWEET!  I was able to take my kids to the Goodwill in search of the perfect costume (disco girl, cat and dog) and I have invited friends over for dinner tonight.  I wasn't ever able to make a nice meal for guests.  Today I made two kinds of soup, homemade wheat bread and a Halloween cake that impressed my girls.  The best part of this day will be tonight when I take my kids out trick-or-treating.  I will get to see the look on John's face when candy is placed into his pumpkin for the first time. I never experienced that with the girls. A mobility scooter can't go up steps, therefore, neither could I.

As kids, Halloween is all about the candy. For me, it's all about creating more happy memories with family and friends.

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is It Me?

As I sit here working on my 45 min speech that I will be giving next week, I can't help but think "How did I get here?"  When I think back to everything I have been through medically, it doesn't feel like it was me.  In fact, when I talk to friends or family about my past, I sometimes refer to myself as "she."  Isn't that odd?

As I've been working on editing and organizing my book, I feel bad for the little girl who had to endure so many challenges.  She was so strong and had such a positive outlook on life.  And then I realize, that was me!

Daily, I try to be like that happy go lucky girl I knew so well back in the 80's and 90's.  She didn't sweat the small stuff.  It didn't matter to her what people thought about her.  All that mattered was that she was happy.  If I really think about her story, I can learn so much from her.  As I become more "normal" and fret the small things at times, I make myself reflect on who I was.  I don't want to stress about things that won't matter ten years from now.  I want to make sure I take time to enjoy every little thing life throws my way.  I think we could all learn from that little girl with the knee knock walk.  I know I will.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Real Me

The quality of my life has improved a great deal over the past couple of years. I am slowly learning how to be independent and love trying new things.  Even though I love my new life, I know that it isn't perfect and I will always have physical challenges. 

While I was doing laundry yesterday, I fell to the floor... hard.  I could feel the pain surge from my knees to my back and was grateful that John wasn't underfoot.  I quickly got to my feet and brushed off the pain.

Hours later, our downstairs neighbor told Steve that there was a loud bang earlier in the day,  which resulted in her light fixture falling to the floor.  Of course, I was horrified and felt terrible.  

Falling has always been a part of my life and always will be.  Sure, things may be better now that I am on new medication, but the truth is, I will never be like my friends.  I'm just glad that I can look in the mirror and be truly happy about the person I turned out to be.    

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Speech, Speech!

I have been entertaining the idea of becoming a motivational speaker.  I know, I know, for those of you who went to high school with me, you are thinking, "This girl is CRAZY!"

Back in High School, I couldn't stand in front of the class, much less do it while talking.  My nerves would get the best of me and the focus would be on my shaking, rather than my words.  I am proud to say, that I have come a long way since then.  I actually enjoyed my public speaking class in college and looked forward to presentations!  Unreal!

I know that I'd like to give speaking a shot, but really feel that I need to complete my book first.  Plus, I'm not sure how my body will respond to speaking on a regular basis.  I phsyically don't do well when I am under stress or am lacking sleep.  That's just part of my DRD.

Anyway, I was approached by my a friend,who is also a medical student out East, to speak to his class about my experiences with medical staff and life as a disabled person.    I am honored that he felt I had something important to share with future physicians.  I always believed that I was put on this Earth with limitations for a reason.  Maybe, this speaking engagement will go really well and I will follow my dreams to become a speaker.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, I will continue to give thanks for all of my blessings.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Shopping With My Girl

This evening I took Sharon to the mall.   She was in desperate need of a new pair of athletic shoes.  We went from one end of the mall to the other in search of the perfect pair (if you know Sharon you'll understand).  It had been a long week for me, but I was thrilled to be running around the mall, at night!  Even though we looked in numerous stores, we left the mall empty handed.

Even though I was tired, I thoroughly enjoyed shopping with Sharon tonight.  There is no way  I could have done that before (especially in the afternoon or evening).  Spending this special time with her was a gift.  Plus, we did find her some shoes at Famous Footwear.  It all worked out!!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tree to Table

Last weekend we visited an apple orcahrd.  I was able to walk freely down the rows of trees and even pick a few apples.  It amazes me what I am able to do these days and can't help but feel blessed.

Gilby's Orcahrd, Aitkin, MN

The girls and I made two pans of apple crisp.  Can you believe that I had never made this popular american dessert before?  I was never able to peel and cut this fruit.  The best part was the Steve said it was the best apple crisp that he's ever had.

Life is a gift and I intend to really appreciate all the good things that God continues to send my way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miracle Mom

I have a long list of items to complete today.  As I look at the list I am amazed that I can do them all independently.  It used to be that I could only do one chore a day, maybe two.  I can't help but share my list with you:

Grocery Shop --
Frost Cupcakes-
3 loads of laundry
Unload Dishwasher
clean off my dresser
make apple crips
pack for cabin--
pack cooler--
Go through John's clothes--
Give John a bath-
Paint Nails
Make eye appointment
Make photo appointment for John

As I look at this list, I can't believe that I've gotten through more than half of it before 2pm. So many of these choirs were nearly impossible in my previous life.  I always wondered what it would be like to be a SuperMom, but that is not me.  Instead, I would like to think of myself as Miracle Mom.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What A Feeling

Once again, I feel like I am living a miracle.  As you are all aware, there was a time in my life that I was dependent on others and I needed to use a mobility scooter to get from point A to point B.

This evening I attended Winona's 6th grade curriculum night alone.  Yes, alone.  Steve had to work and I was happy that I could drive myself to the school and walk class to class in the sea of parents without worrying whether I would fall or not.  

Tonight I felt strong, free and confidant and am so grateful for all my new abilities.  I love that I can go to bed tonight feeling the way I do.  Life is more than I ever expected it to be.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Bright Side

I have always been a positive person.  I try to see the good in all, look on the bright side and my glass is ALWAYS half full.  To be a positive person is a choice.  I think if I had been bitter about the cards I was delt in life, few people would question it and many would defend it.  But, being bitter has never made anyones situation easier and simply drains the life out of you. I've been able to get through so many challenges because of my positivity.   

Even on the worst of days, I'd say, "my glass is half full." I am able to do this because of the good people I am surrounded by.   I have friends that can cheer me up when I'm feeling down, a husband who understands my frustrations when I'm not able to physically complete a task and parents who have always shown me that despite my limitations, we could always have fun together.

Today is the day to say, "My glass is half full."  There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.  And no matter how difficult the situation is,  it's going to get better.  It is up to no one but ourselves, to make the most out of our lives.  Rather than wasting it, let's make something of it.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bring On The Tissues

I  don't think the day will ever come that I will be able to watch the above video and not cry.  I was living a life very simular to these courages kids.  I wasn't able to walk normal, fell often, couldn't use my hands after 6pm and had the very noticable tounge movement.  Any one of these abnormalities would make strangers stare, but I had them all.  

Like the children in the video, I was given a new life.  I can walk without falling, have taken martial arts classes and feel as though I am living a miracle each and every day.  I'm okay shedding tears while I watch this and will be forever grateful for the doctor that lead me to my new life!  

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Little Things

This evening Sharon asked me, "Mom, do you remember when we used to have microwave popcorn? That was when you couldn't make it on the stove."  

I love that she remembers the challenges that we had together.  Before she went off to Kindergarden, I wasn't able to play with her in the yard, take her to the Y to play ball, bake with her or even put her to bed at night.  Now, I can do all of those things and even more.  It's the little things in life that matter most...even to a ten year old.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Iron Woman

Well it's September and that means the beginning of a new school year and afterschool activities.  Sharon is going to be a Junior Girl Scout this year.  To her that means being with friends for after school meetings, making crafts and selling cookies.  For me, it means ironing all her patches onto her new sash.

Because I'm still relativly new to all of this, it takes me about an hour to carefully iron on the 10 patches that make up her uniform.  There was a time in my life that I didn't trust my balance and coordination to use a hot iron.  I have to admit, this is not one of my favorite new tasks, which is why I waited all summer to do it.

Sure, I could complain that this job had to be done, but how could I do that?  I have been given the gift of dexterity, better balance and most importantly, my beautiful Girl Scout.  So even though there are things I would have prefered to do this afternoon, I will give thanks for the things that I was ABLE to do this afternoon.

Ironing on patches is just one more little thing in life that I don't ever want to take for granted.  What did you were you ABLE to do today?

Sharon bridging from Brownings to Juniors last spring.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Wife

 Growing up, I never thought I would marry.   Luckily for me, I was wrong and married Steve thriteen years ago.  We went on a relaxing honeymoon and drove around Lake Superior which took about one week (it's a big lake).  On the first day of our honeymoon, we toured the Glensheen Mansion (Duluth, MN).

Steve is helping to stand.  

As you can see from this photo, I am one of the happiest brides on Earth.   Little did I know what my future held.

Thirteen years after our honeymoon, Steve and I returned to the Glensheen Mansion and I am still a very happy wife.  As you can see, my life has changed drastically, but for the better.  We now have two beautiful daughers and a handsome little boy.  Unlike the above photo, Steve no longer has to hold me up.  In fact, I'm not only able to stand on my own, but I can do it while holding my boy.  Somebody pinch me, because I think I'm dreaming.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Working Out With My Girls

I never imagined that I would have kids, much less great kids.  Before my new diagnosis, raising the girls was so physically challenging for me.  I wasn't able to walk them to the bus stop, cook them nice dinners or play tag with them in the yard.

Because of my new medication, I was able to drive my girls to the YMCA and take a Zumba class with them.  For 45 minutes we danced together, side by side.  I couldn't help but smile that I was on my two feet participating in a physical activitiy with my girls.

I may not have been able to play in sports as a young girl or adult, but I'm going to take every oportunity to take Winona and Sharon to the gym with me.  Tomorrow we will being attending a Yoga class.  Never in a million years would I have thought that those words would  come out of my mouth.  How lucky am I!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Fishing We Will Go

This past weekend we went up to the Boundary Waters and stayed at a cabin on Moose Lake.  While there, we spent a day fishing.  We met our fishing guide, Sue, at the dock at 8am and didn't return until nearly 7pm.  This was a first for me and prior to our departure, I wasn't a bit nervous.  I knew that I would be able to sit in a rocking boat for several hours and walk into the woods to use the latrine.

When we headed to shore for lunch (our guide brought a shore lunch), she asked me to jump out of the boat and hold it just enough so it wouldn't float away.  I have to admit, I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it and my sister-in-law, Emily, offered to do it for me.  Even though I was uncertain of my abilities, I had to try and I knew that there was a good chance I would fall into the shallow water in the process.

As soon as I got to the front of the boat and we were inches from shore, I put my right leg on land and quicly said, "I'm glad I've got long legs!"  And that's when I just about did the splits over the water.  I had one leg planted on the ground and the other still in the boat.  I was able to get both legs on land without falling in the lake.  I was proud that I attempted this task, but after lunch I asked Steve for help getting back into the boat.  I wasn't about to press my luck and wanted to stay dry the rest of the afternoon

I really enjoyed spending the day fishing, talking with Emily and getting to know Sue, all while watching the great view God had created.  I must add, that I caught nine fish. Not bad for a rookey. Of course, I couldn't have done it without the help of Sue.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Second Chances

My oldest daughter, Winona, is only two weeks away from beggining  middle school.  Yesterday, I took her to school to get her class schedule and locker assignment.  I couldn't help but feel excited and nervous at the same time.  I'm excited for Winona because she will do great, but I felt the nerves because middle school was a difficult time for me.

One of the things I struggled with in junior high was my ability, or should I say inability, to crack the code on my locker.  No matter how hard I tried, I rarely got it unlocked on the first try.  So, when we got to Winona's locker yesterday, I had to try and unlock her locker so I could prove I could do it.  I turned the dial three times to get each number just right.  And like magic, it opened!  I looked at Winona and beamed.  I felt like I had just conquered the world!

As I think back to the middle school locker and the numerous times I failed to get inside it, I realize that I probably couldn't keep my hands steady enough to acuratly stop at the correct numbers.   Everytime, I went to my locker I hoped that I would get in without any trouble.  I was so lucky that the janitor would be near by to help me get in to it. Yes, the janitor.  He was my angel those first few weeks of junior high and prevented me from being late to all my classes.  Sure, things may not always be perfect, but they always work out.

I have to wish Winona luck as she goes into the sixth grade.  I know that she will do great!!! I should add that Winona got into her locker on the first try  and is confident that she will have no problems with her locker on her first day of school.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Come Swing With Me

I can't help but feel grateful for the new life that God has given me.  A little over three years ago, I couldn't take my kids to the park and now here I am swinging with a toddler in my lap.  I was able to do this without worrying if I would fall off the swing or drop my little boy.  And we had so much fun together!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Sweet Life

I have to make this a quick post because John is getting into everything and I don't have the girls here to help watch him.

It's hard to believe that I have done so much this morning at it's only 9am!  I just took banana bread out of the oven and my carmel rolls are almost done rising.  It still amazes me that I can phsyically measure and stir ingrediants to make homemade baked goods.  Plus, I'm doing it while stopping to get John out of trouble (he's one and into EVERYTHING).  I love that I can take the time to enjoy all the sweet things in life.  I am so blessed.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

For the Love of Shopping

Yesterday the girls and I (along with my mom and John) went to the Ridgedale mall to shop for back to school clothes.  We roamed the mall for nearly five hours and were sucessful in our search for the pefect pair of jeans for Winona and cute shirts for Sharon.  

It is a great feeling to be able to walk without holding onto my mom or needing to use a mobility scooter.  I can get in between those narrow paths of clothes so my mom doesn't have to bring everything to me in the big isle.  Yesterday, I was able to dig through piles of jeans until we found Winona's size.  Plus, I could assist Sharon is getting the shirts that were up high, so she could get a better look at them.  

I can't help but feel blessed to be able to shop independtly with my daugters.  My mom always had to come with to help me.  These days, I can call her to come shopping with us just for the fun of it!  I love my mobility and will NEVER take it for granted.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It'll all Work Out

I have been feeling a bit stressed these past few days while thinking about my book that I desperatly want to finish.  With stress, comes lack of sleep.  Lack of sleep causes balance issues and issues with my hands ( I have dropped my keys many times this week, but that's okay.)

While being overwhelmded with the project of trying to review and edit my book, I can't help but pause and thank God for all of my blessing.  When I go to bed I thank God for all He has given me and that helps calm me and really think about what is important in my life.

I may want to write a successful book, but that will only happen if that is part of God's plan.  If what I write will truely help others to apprecaite the little things in life, it will all work out.  If it's not part of His plan, then that is just the way it's going to be.  If I can go to bed at night and give thanks for my husband, healty children and my mobility, than there really isn't anything else I can ask for.  As my dad always told my mom, "Everything will work out in the end."  I don't think I could say it better myself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be Positive

Yesterday while I was at the gym I talked to a woman who I see there regulary.   Through our conversation it came out that she is 47 years old.  I had always thought that she was no more than 40.  I couldn't help but ask, "What's your secret?"  She simply responded, "Be happy and have a positive attitued."  I don't think I could have said it better myself.

Keeping a positive attitude is key to having a healthy, happy life, so I have a bit of a dare for you.  Can you go one day without thinking or saying something negative?  In todays world it's not easy, but I suggest that we both give it a try.  So many people could benefit from this: our kids, spouse, co-workers and people driving down the road next to us.  We can do it and we need to do it!

Good luck and think positive!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

You Mean Everything to Me

Thirteen years ago, I climbed into my bed and prayed to God that I would get a good nights sleep (my phsyical abilities were always dependent on the quantity and quality of sleep).  My prayers were answered and I had the best night of sleep that I have ever had.  And because of the exceptional night of rest, I was able to throughly enjoy my wedding day.

As I think back to that beautful summer day, I can't get over how lucky I am that God gave me Steve.  He has been by my side through it all, both good and bad.  I don't know if there is another person who could have handled this journey better than him.  I am so grateful for His gift of love.

Happy Anniversary Steve!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Best Gift Ever

Yesterday was an unforegettable day for me.  I headed to Winona, Mn with Steve and the kids for my birthday.  Winona holds a special place in my heart .  It is where I got the BA degree that my high school guidence counselor said that I would never be able to achieve and where I met my husband who was able to love me for the person that I am.

For the first time ever, I visited this beuatiful city and campus I called home without my mobility scooter.  I never imagined that I would be able to walk from one side of campus to the other so easily.  I felt like I was experiencing Winona State University for the first time.  I was able to walk with the sun beating on my face and the wind blowing my hair without the worry of whether I would make it to my next destination!  Being able to walk is better than any birthday girft anyone could ever give me.  I love my life!!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thanks Mom and Dad

Tomorrow is my 37th birthday and I feel younger than I ever have, honestly.  I am doing things I never imagined possible and my definition of tired is completly different than most.  I know it's my birthday, but I can't help but feel like the celebration should be geared towards my parents.   Yes, they gave me life, but they gave me much more than that.

For 33 years, they worried about  me on a daily basis, yet they never let on.  They pushed me to try my hardest at everything possible and to do it with a smile on my face.  I am a strong, positive woman because of them.  When others told them that they should really put me in a wheelchair, they worked harder to keep my muscles from weakening any further.

My parents sacraficed many years making sure that I was able to live a normal life.  I know that they would do it over in a heartbeat and love me for who I am.  I am so grateful that out of all the Moms and Dads in the world God chose them to be my parents.  I can't imagine how different of a person I would have turned out to be without them as such positive role models.

So tomorrow when I wake up and am one year closer to the big FOUR O, I will be thanking God for my wonderful life and the strong parents He  put by my side.

I love you Mom and Dad.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On A Roll

I feel like this may be turning into a cooking blog and that is not my intention.  However, the new thing I did today did involve food.  With that being said, I made homemade cinnimon rolls today!!!  They are beyond delicious.  I was a bit hesitant to try making this because I didn't know if I'd be able to roll the sticky dough after I had flattened it out and put the sugar and cinnimon on it.

Even though it's been three years on my new medication, I still second guess my abilities.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to get over the "unknown"  I'm like a big kid and I'm okay with that.  Like I have stated in previous posts, when I successfully complete a new task, my reaction is very similar to that of a five year old who has tied their laces for the very first time.  I'm okay with that too.  Life is too short to not fully appreciate all the little things I can do.  I am thrilled that I can share these experiences with my parents, daughters, husband and of course all of you.  I truely appreciate the support.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Hostess with the Mostess

This summer we have had company up to the cabin and I feel like I am able to be the host that my guests deserve.  I'm able to do things for them that I never could have done in the past: clean the cabin, make side dishes to go with the dinner Steve grills, wash the dishes quickly so there's more time for chatting and putting clean sheets on their bed before they arrive, and so much more.  These may all be simple things, but it all means so much to me.  I love being around people, especially my close friends and family.  These days, the time spent together is so much better because I'm not worried about them having to help me.  For once, I'm finally able to take care of them.  And I LOVE that!!!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Berry Good Life

While we were at the cabin celebrating the Fourth of July, Steve and the girls picked Strawberries (I watched John).  When we returned to the cabin, Winona and I spent nearly 2 hours washing and cutting the Strawberries.  When we started the process, I thought that I would only be able to do it for a half an hour.  I wasn't sure if my hands would begin cramping or if my feet would get too sore standing for a long period of time.  Winona kept saying how much fun she was having and that she could "do this all day."  Her positive energy kept me going and I was happy to be working by her side.  I do need to admit that Sharon filled in for me so I could take a 15 minute break.  It is so rewarding to be able to participate in my families activities.

We cut up two pallets worth of Strawberries

Winona and I cutting while Steve sugars the Strawberries

With all of these strawberries, I had to make Strawberry Shortcake.  I have to admit, I didn't have a clue how to do it.  Sure, I only used Bisquick for the cake cake, but I had never made whipping cream from scratch.  I grew up in a household where we used Cool Whip. :)   Since there were no instructions on the heavy whipping cream, I had to ask Steve how to make it.  It turned out quite well and I'm thinking that there will be more Strawberry Shortcake in the very near future.

There are a couple lessons here:
1)  keep a positive attitude as it will surely rub off on others
2)  No matter what you do together as a family, a memory is being created.  
3)  Strawberry Shortcake is really yummy and there is no substitution for "whipping cream"

I hope you will go out and enjoy the little things in life and see that they are the most important.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

For the Love of Shopping!

Winona and I went shopping at the Albertville outlet mall for three hours today.  My goal was to get a pair of walking shoes.  After trying on more than a dozen pairs and Winona's opinion of what looked good, I left with two pair. Plus, we had plenty of time to look around several of the other stores.  I'm glad that I found what I was looking for, but honestly the best part was spending time together (and John).  It really wasn't that long ago that I needed someone to take me shopping, because I couldn't walk from the parking lot to the store's front door without assistance.  I love that I am living an independent life these days and can spend time with my fun, loving, energetic daughter.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Errands Again

It seems that these days I am never home.  The kids and I are busy running to Cub Foods, the YMCA, Community Education Classes and the library.  The other day, I told the girls that we weren't going to go anywhere, "we're staying home today."  Like me, they were glad to have a day off of running errands.

Before my new diagnosis, I would go crazy because I rarely left the home.  Day after day, I'd send the kids off to school and be by myself nearly all day long.  If my mom wasn't coming over for the day, I would call her to chat and that would be my contact to the outside world.  When my parents would be gone on vacation or visiting their friends, my company was the television.  You see, at that time in my life, my hands didn't allow me to type easily or turn the pages of a book for more than an hour.  

These past couple weeks, I have been so busy running errands in the "real world" and it can get overwhelming trying to keep everything running smoothly.  I have to say, that this is a much better problem to have and I have to remind myself daily how fortunate I am.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cooking with DRD

Even though I have always tried to keep a positive attitude, I hated to cook!  In the past, it would take me double to triple the time to make a classic Minnesota Hotdish ( a can of creamed soup, meat and noodles).  Plus, the end result wasn't as good as what most people could make.  Mine would often be over cooked and dry.  In fact, Sharon would use Ketchup at nearly every meal to mask the taste.  Through the years of  struggling to cook I became very unsure of my abilities and doubted myself a great deal.  Therefore, we ate frozen lasagna and other entree's weekly.

One year ago, I decided that enough was enough and I was going to teach myself how to cook!  At first, I wouldn't change a single thing about any recipe that I found online, fearing that if I did it would turn out terribly.  In the beginning, I'd often call my parents or e-mail Steve at work with questions such as, "how do I know when the pork chops are done?" to "why should I use fresh garlic over powdered garlic."  It's been quite the journey.  My cooking has improved a great deal and I even feel comfortable cooking for those who are not in my family.

After I try making a new recipe, I often feel proud of myself.  In fact, yesterday I made two loaves of white bread.  After 3 hours of prep and baking, I pulled the pans out of the oven and all but jumped up and down with gratitude because it looked just like it was supposed to.  The kids and I took a taste and their expressions told me that I exceeded their expectations.  I think the girls were just as happy as I was that I succeeded in my baking.  I can't believe how far I have come in this last year and am so excited to continue creating more delicious meals for my family, without it feeling like such a chore.

Oh, and I must add that there is only 1/4 of a loaf left!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Attached At The Hip

I've had a long, busy day, so I'll keep this post short.  

On a daily basis I notice things that I can do that I never dreamed possible.  The other night I realized that I can cook over a hot stove top and hold John at the same time.  Back in the day, I couldn't stand while cooking.   I would think about how my mom would hold me while she cooked our family dinner every night.  I always felt bad that I couldn't do that with my girls, but accepted it just the same.  It's hard to believe that I can successfully do this task now.  Plus,  I'm sure there are moms out there that moan and groan when they have to make dinner with a child attached to their hip.  To me, it is pure joy!   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a break from cooking, but when I do cook, I am grateful that I can do it with ease.  

Photo by Sharon Abbott

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thankful Beyond Words

Once again, I was overcome with so much joy.  My niece, Mikaela, chose me to be her sponsor for her Confirmation.  I met up with her and the rest of my family at the Cathedral of St. Paul.  The beauty of the church alone is enough to stir up emotion in me, but knowing I had the ability to walk around among the hundreds of people and be a part of Mikaela's Confirmation brought tears to my eyes.

I love her so much! 
Fourteen years ago, I went to Mikaela's baptism.  I had difficulty standing and sat for most of the day.  As I stood behind her in the long line waiting for her turn to be Confirmed last night, many thoughts swam through my head:    How did she grow up so fast?  How can I be standing here in this long line independently?  I'm wearing sandals and I'm not worried that I'll walk right out of them (or fall).  And then I felt the presence of God as a bright light shone above me.  All I could do is pray for Mikaela and give thanks for the life He has given me.

I made her this carrot cake.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Field Trip of a Lifetime

I am always amazed at how much life has changed in three short years.  Today, Winona's art class had a field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) and then lunch at the Sculpture Garden.  There were more parent volunteers than needed,. so parents were asked to meet the students at the MIA.

I volunteered to drive myself and three other moms downtown Minneapolis so we could spend this time with our fifth graders.  This was the first field trip of Winona's that I was able to chaperon   Back when she attended Ramsey Elementary, I was still in my scooter.  Volunteering just wasn't an option.  I would think about her all day as she would be on her field trips.  I guess that's why today felt so special.  Being able to drive downtown to spend the morning with my daughter and her classmates was such a special gift.  When I look at the photo below, I can't help but smile.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Little Bit Off

My balance has been off all day due to my wimpy cold and the heat.  I found myself preventing falls and bumping into things all day.  All I can do is laugh, right?  As I notice the twitching and the balance issues I feel like I need an extra nap today.  It's funny how that is.  I'm hoping I get a really good night's rest and keep my stress levels down, so I can have a better day tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Busy Day!

Wow!  What a busy day I've had.  I went to see a friends new house, went to Michael's to purchase a cupcake carrier, cleaned the house, made dinner AND dessert.  The best part is that I did it all wearing flip flops!!!

Now, I'm getting ready to head out to my Girl Scout meeting.  It's a warm, sunny day and I feel so blessed that I could phsyically get all of those tasks done today.  Not long ago, I would have had to pick one item to cross off my list and call it a day.  I am such a lucky lady!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I feel so fortunate to be living the life that God has given me.  It wasn't always easy, but with lots of faith and friends I have survived and become a very strong person.  I am often asked if I am angry that it took 33 years for a correct diagnosis.  The answer is, "No."

I can honestly say that I am proud of everything I have had to endure growing up with Spastic Diplegia. It was never easy, but it lead me to the person I am today.  I have a wonderful husband, three amazing kids and friends that are there for me no matter what.  I like me. And I love my life!

I also believe that God made me the way I was so I could teach others what is really important in life.  I can walk my kids to the bus stop in the rain, use my hands to put clean sheets on the bed after a child is sick, see the mess on the kitchen counter and hear the kids fighting while I'm on the phone.  These are all blessing.  Tonight I will be sure to give thanks for my life and will encourage my children to do the same.    

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cakes and More Cakes

I'm going to make this a super quick post since I need to go to bed.

Today Winona's piano teacher came over and taught me how to decorate cakes.  She is a professional cake maker.  In fact, her son was asked to go on cupcake wars. She is amazingly talented and took three hours out of her day to teach me!  I'm one lucky girl.

I baked and frosted this cake
So, she taught me how to make boarders around the cake using tips and the plastic bags.  I didn't know how or if I would be able to do it.  Surprisingly, I didn't do too bad.  In fact, she said that the cake I did didn't look any different than that you would find at the Byerly's bakery!  Whoot Whoot!!  She also taught me how to make little flower candies to put on cakes.  They were a bit difficult because my hand would get very tired.  I pushed through it though and was determined to get some cute candies made.  They will take a bit more practice, but I was thrilled that I had the dexterity to do it.  Finally, she showed me how to frost a cupcake.  We're not talking using a butter knife and smearing the frosting on.  I used the tips and bags again for this and they turned out so cute!!

I am so grateful.  When I was correctly diagnosed three years ago, the first thing I did was bake cupcakes.  I have come so far and can only imagine how much more I will learn to do when it comes to baking cakes.

I baked and frosted these cupcakes.  Winona and Sharon made these block candies and put them on top.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Book

I have been working on my book every day for the past week while John takes his afternoon nap. I decided that the housework could wait and I could put my book first. So even though the laundry doesn't get done until 9pm and the house is constantly cluttered, I am nearing the end of my first rough draft.  I'm no longer overwhelmed when I think about my book.  In fact, I am excited!

There is a sign on my mantel that reads, "The WORLD Is waiting to hear your STORY"   My parents gave me this a couple years ago when I first began writing my book.  There have been times that it has pumped me up and times that it has made me feel ill not knowing if I would ever accomplish my goal.  I'm happy to say that for the first time in two years, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it feels great!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


As I'm getting ready for bed tonight, I can't help the tears.  I'm not sad, I'm just so overcome with emotion.  Three years ago tonight, Steve had to put me to bed.  He did he same thing every night: helped me into my pj's, walked me to the bed, helped me roll onto my side (and get comfortable) and then covered me with the sheet and blankets.  Little did I know that he would never need to help me with that task again.  My life changed on that Good Friday three years ago and I wouldn't come to believe it myself until I stood independently on Easter Morning.  I can never give enough thanks to my husband for taking care of me  and the good Lord for healing me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Cooking Fool

I can't believe that tonight I cooked for nearly two hours!  I made a yummy Chinese dinner of Cashew Chicken, Fried Rice and White Rice.  It was so nice to be able to dice the onions and garlic and stand over the hot stove as I cooked my family dinner.  Before my diagnosis, it took everything I had to open a can of soup or prepare Kraft Mac'n Cheese.  In my first year of diagnosis, I realized that I could bake cupcakes and make a frozen pizza.  It brings tears to my eyes as to how far I have come in my cooking abilities.  Plus, tonight's dinner was really delicious.

I must add that this has been quite the learning experience for me as well.  Prior to my diagnosis, Steve did ALL of the grocery shopping.  When I began to grocery shop, there were things on my list that I didn't know what they were much less where it would be in the store.  Thank goodness for Google!!!!

In the past three years, I have learned how to manage my cooking time and can now cook more than one dish at a time.  I've become quicker at dicing veggies and no longer over cook the meat.  I feel so fortunate to have the physical capabilities to make more than a boxed dinner for my family.  The meals I make now days really are made with love because I'm not frustrated with physical challenges that had slowed me down for years.  My life will never be the same and I am proud at how far I have come in the past three years.  I look forward to seeing what else I will serve my family and friends.  I truly believe that anything is possible!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3 Years

It's hard to believe that this Friday will be the third anniversary of my new diagnosis and my new life.  Three years isn't a long time when your 36 years old, but at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago that I wasn't able to do so many things.  When I look back at my previous life, it's hard to believe that I was the one who went through so many challenges each and every day.  At times, I actually feel like that was an another person or an old friend who moved away for a chance at a better life.  The fact is, that was me and still is me.  When I tell stories about the past, I have to stop and make sure I tell the stories in first person, because often times I feel like I should use the word "she."  This isn't something I expect you to understand and you may even think I'm a little wacky and that's okay.  I have an amazing life with a caring husband and 3 wonderful children that I never dreamed I could have.  I am so blessed and am sure to thank God for all the gifts He has given me.  Often times I find myself asking if I'm living a dream and if I am, I pray that I don't ever wake up from it!

I have quite a few friends that never knew the "old" me, so I thought for my anniversary I would post two videos (before and after).  

Before:  I couldn't walk my girls to the bus stop

After:  After walking all day at Disney's Magic Kingdom I was able to walk on this bridge which is barrels over the water.  As a child I had to be carried over this bridge because I phsyically could not cross it.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

First Trip to the ER

After last weeks run to the ER with John (he swallowed a dime), I am desperately trying to catch up on my sleep.  Wednesday night, John and I stayed at the Children's Hospital in St. Paul.  I think I got 2 hours of sleep as I anticipated his upcoming non invasive surgery   With DRD, it is critical that I get a minimum of 8 hours of good sleep at night and then a nap in the afternoons.  With the lack of sleep, I had to take extra medication, so I could stand and walk on my own.  I managed and thanked God for my new medication.  The old me would not have been able to stay at the hospital with John and would have been completely immobile after two hours of sleep. The old me would have had to go home and sleep in my own bed.   I felt so blessed that I could be with my baby the whole time!  So, now I'm just trying to catch up.  My legs have been cramping at night, so I'm back to stretching them.   Plus, I've been going to bed at 9pm and sleeping until 7:30-8am.  I know that with lots of rest, I will be back to the "new" me soon!  The most important thing is that John is okay.

The overnight nurse walked John around in the wagon so I could try to sleep.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Creating More Memories

This morning before school started I took Sharon to the YMCA.  We went into the gym and played a little basketball.  Yes, WE played basketball.  I was able to dribble the ball up and down the court, but I have to be honest, making a basket was a challenge.  Sharon tried to show me the proper technique and how Daddy tells her how to do it.  It was so cute and we had so much fun.

Afterwards, we went and played a little table tennis.  I don't know if Sharon and I have ever laughed so hard together!  At one point, I was using my hand to hit the ball, rather than the paddle, because I wasn't quick enough.  I loved hearing her giggle and watching her eyes briefly close as she laughed with me.  At the end of our game, I accidentally hit the ball behind the snack machines and that put Sharon over the edge in laughter.

I feel so grateful that I was able to spend this quality time with her.  I would not have been able to do this three years ago.  I know that I'm not athletic and can't show her the ropes on basketball and table tennis, but that's not the important part.  What matters to me is that we had 30 minutes of quality fun time before she went off to school!  I love her and my life so much!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tears of Joy

While putting Sharon to bed tonight I leaned over and gave her a hug and began to talk to her about trying to get along better with her sister.  In middle of the lecture (her sister would get one soon after), I picked her up and she wrapped her legs around my waist.  I spoke to her about not tattling, how to express her feelings and thinking about her actions.  Just as I was about to finish my talk, she burst into tears.  "What is the matter?" I ask, waiting for her to tell me it isn't all her fault that she's been bickering with her sister so much lately.  To my surprise she looks me in the eyes as tears drop onto my shoulder and says, "You could have never done this before."  She's absolutely right!  When she was little, I couldn't even walk into her bedroom and tuck her into bed at night  So, how is it that I was able to hold my eight year old daughter at 9 o'clock in the evening?  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mrs. Baker

I am so excited.  I just made Winona a basketball cake for her birthday party! This was the first time that I had ever baked two round cakes.  I was quite intimidated not knowing if I would be able to remove the cakes from the pan.  I did it!!!!  Then I was able to place the two cakes on top of one another without either of them falling apart.  After I frosted the cake I was able to place dozens of Resee's Pieces over the entire cake.  There is no way that my hands could have done that before.  I would have dropped nearly all the pieces on the floor.  I feel so incredibly blessed that I was able to make Winona a really cute cake.  I did it without help and frustration free!   I think she's going to love it!

I must thank my cousin Beth for sending me this wonderful cake idea!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wonderful Celebration

I am so over come by emotion this evening.  I have a life that I could only dreamed of when I was a new mother.  Winona is celebrating her 11th birthday by having a friend stay the night.  I'm in disbelief that I could dish up cake and clean up the kitchen at 9pm!  Plus, I moved a couch so they have more room to sleep (Sharon's friend is staying over as well).

When I had Winona back in 2002, I had to be in bed every night by 8:30 because after that I couldn't walk, stand or use my arms/hands.  I really don't know how this came to be.  How is it, that I can do so many things that I never thought possible? If someone would have told me 11 years ago that some day I could have an overnight party for my daughter I would have shook my head.  I love that I can do so much for my kids.  I love them so much.  And I love my life!

Oh, and Harry if you happen to read this, my daughter would love to see you in concert!  It's worth a shot, right?  Happy Birthday Winona!  I love you so much!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dancing With My Boy

This afternoon while the girls were in school, I put in their One Direction CD and danced with John in the kitchen!  Their number one hit, What Makes You Beautiful,  sang to me as I held John in my arms.  I knew that my steps weren't graceful and would make the worst celebrity on Dancing With the Stars look fantastic, but I didn't care.  I was creating a memory, a  memory that I was never able to create with either of my amazing daughters.    To say I was grateful would be an understatement.  In fact, you can find us in the kitchen tomorrow afternoon for an encore presentation.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Late Night Taxi Driver

The other night Winona had basketball practice from 8:00-9:30pm.  Steve had a meeting and it was up to me to drive her to and from the High School.  Even though it was nearly -10 outside I couldn't help but smile at my ability to not only drive this late at night, but able to walk into the school to get her.  Less than three years ago I had to be in bed by 8:30pm with the assistance of Steve. Plus, being in the extreme cold made my movement very rigid.   Yes, I was tired driving home that frigid evening, but I was capable of bringing my daughter home from an activity that she absolutely loves.  What a gift!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Grand Prize

Over my lifetime I have taken several beach vacations, but my recent visit to Puerto Vallarta, that I won on a local television show, was like no other. As a child walking on a sandy beach was nearly impossible and sightseeing wasn't enjoyable (unless I used my scooter)   Once again, my limbs surprised me and  allowed me to enjoy activities that I never imagined possible. Rather than a long post describing it all, I thought I would share a simple list with all of you.

I was able to:

1.  Walk a mile on the beach

2.  Walk with ease to dinner every night (in low heels)

3.  Play beach volleyball for two hours (this one is my favorite)

4.  Stand on the unstable sandy beach and talk to newly made friends 

5.  Carry drinks for both me and Steve from the snack shack back to our lounge chairs

6.  Cut my own steak at dinner

7.  Walk out of a bar intoxicated (not so proud of this one, the bartender made my drink super strong, but it beats being carried out of the bar like I was on my 21st birthday).  

8.  Easily take my one piece swimsuit off so I could use the bathroom

9.  Get ready for dinner on my own (shower, put hair up, apply makeup)

10.  Walk with out any trouble on our city tour

These are just a few things that made my trip so memorable.  I know that they aren't Earth shattering and most people do all these things without giving it any thought.  For me though, everything on this list is a miracle.  Yes, I won a wonderful vacation, but the real prize is being capable of everything I listed above.  

Giving Thanks