Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Reason for a Wienie

K, D and I went to a local grocery store yesterday afternoon to see the Wienermobile. (M was at school...first day!) K wouldn't stand by the big dog alone and would only consent if I said D would be in the photo too.
Although we went for a hot dog lunch and a glimpse of the goofy Wienermobile, we also went for a less frivolous reason.
Ann Peterson is a mom, like me, but she has four kids. A six-year-old and 2 1/2-year-old triplets. She was at the grocery store today. She sat quietly with her family and took in the hubbub that surrounded the giant hot dog. Her eyes were proud.
Ann Peterson sat in a wheel chair. Just seven months ago she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a neurological condition that affects the nerves that control voluntary muscles. Ann's muscles are deteriorating. Her speech is being affected.
The family needs to modify their home to accommodate a power wheelchair. They also need a vehicle that will do the same.
That's what brought us to the Wienermobile. Those hot dogs they were selling were for Ann.

There were many people who came out to help Ann and her family. This photo only shows the beginning of a long line. But even if all of those people bought a $1 hot dog, there would not be nearly enough to pay for these things that Ann and her family need.

As I stood nearby Ann, urging K to eat his hot dog, I thought about how I would feel if I were in her chair at a benefit for me. I assume I'd feel gratitude, but also humbled.

My heart breaks for her kids.

If you're so inclined, you can help the Peterson family with a donation:

Peterson Benefit fund:
- Using PayPal:

By Mail: THINK Bank
Ann Peterson Benefit Account
ATTN: Nicole Ganrude
25 2nd St SW
Rochester, MN 55902
Peoples State Bank
400 Division St
Millville, MN 55957

You can read more about the Peterson family and other upcoming fundraisers here. There is also a beautiful photo of the family.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Swing, Batter, Batter, Swing...

It's birthday time at my house, and you know what that means?

Hit that piƱata!


One more time!

Ahhh, the sweet taste of success!

Because, apparently, the cake just wasn't enough...

Thursday, July 24, 2008!

I believe that I may be breaking a blog rule here. Didn't I read somewhere that it was against the rules to blog negatively about your significant other? No? Well good, because here goes...

Why do men find it impossible to stick to a bedtime routine? Seriously, an almost SEVEN year old should NOT need to lay with someone every night.

Why can men tell the kids to do something ONE time and said kids do it, with no whining bickering pleading? And why can't that dad see how easy that is and ask the kids to do more things, more often for the Mother?

Why do men feel the need to get the kids all crazed late at night, then fall asleep minutes later on the couch leaving the mom to do all of the bedtime work?

Why do men (or at least mine) STILL leave dirty socks on the floor?

Why is it SO hard to just kiss the kids and then leave? DO NOT linger, it makes your leaving that much worse for them (and you).

Why do men always get to be the superhero? I want some Momma appreciation here too, you know?

Can you tell I am a little aggravated this morning? Can you tell that my hubby has been away and working long hours, so when he is here, he is giving in to the kids way too often? Can you tell that I am feeling that he is lucky that we are all going away this weekend? Otherwise, I think I would be running away from home this weekend. No kids, and definetly NO HUSBAND! Grrrr....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

All I need now is a cow out back

The beans in my awesome bean fort could win me a place in the county fair... but the real reason I built the fort was so that I could be self-sufficient at the lake, and completely avoid Wal Mart all together.

I have a black berry patch in the woods behind me at the lake, blueberries are a 4o minute drive away, and now the beans in the fort are keeping my table fairly stocked. But of course, a chicken to provide fresh eggs in the morning, and a cow for milk... that would be nice.

Growing your own vegetables is rewarding, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that nurseries are seeing an increase in the amount of vegetable plants sold, and a decrease in ornamental and flowering annual sales. The high price of gas, the high price of food are driving many Americans to think about growing their own to keep their food bills down.

In its early days, growing the fort seemed like quite a project, and quite a bit of work. Now that the fort is thriving, and the black plastic is making weeding a nonexistent activity, I do wish I had grown more vegetables now. Because looking back, it doesn't seem like the whole thing was all that hard. The kids want to taste fresh carrots, a watermelon and a pumpkin. Cucumbers, radishes and all of those things do taste so much better fresh from the garden.

I'm already planning next year's fort; it will be bigger and incorporate a few more vegetables. Now, if I could just find a way to get my tomatoes to ripen before the first frost.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Great One

There were people lining both sides of the walkway, just standing, immersed in their own conversations. It was a maze to snake through, with only space enough for on average-sized person to fit through although she’d need to turn sideways and shuffle every few feet.

“Excuse us,” my voice wasn’t nearly as commanding as it needed to be, and my words, even to myself, sounded like a suggestion.

“Excuse us,” I tried again with more volume and authority.

The blockade remained strong.

“Aw just run ‘em over Heather!” Brian would exclaim, smiling mischievously all the while.

So, with Brian’s blessing to use him as a battering ram, we’d begin to forge our way through, clipping heels and the occasional buttock, leaving startled spectators in our wake.

It was always Brian and I who led the way. Brian because he was the more outspoken between his sister and he. In a way, the pairings were reversed from what they should have been.

My friend Amy was much more willing to bellow at people to move it than I, and Jessica, her partner, was more soft-spoken.

But for reasons I don’t recall, or maybe they were never expressed, it was always Brian and Heather, followed by Jessica and Amy.

Most often our outings included a hockey game where we’d try to navigate the people, oblivious to their insensitivity, blocking the aisles until only one smallish person could slide through the space.

Neither Brian nor Jessica was a large teen. At nearly 17, Jessica’s ankles were, at best, the size of my wrists. Brian, the younger sibling of the pair, seemed to me much younger than the 4 years that separated us.

Both Brian and Jessica loved a good hockey game despite the difficulty the venue presented for two young adults pushing two teens confined to wheel chairs. Brian and Jessica both had ataxia telangiectasia, a degenerative disease that mimics several other diseases all rolled into one. It is a disease that robbed the two of muscle tone and mobility rather than intelligence and spirit.

My friend Amy was a home-health aide at the time that we went on these excursions with Brian and Jessica. They were two of her clients, but also friends. She was not on the clock on these outings (and neither was I).
Amy and I attended the first fund-raiser for ataxia in Rochester that Brian and Jessica’s family organized. That first year it was simply a golf-tournament followed by a banquet. Over the years it has evolved into a celebrity-attended annual silent auction and golf tournament, headed by NHL player Shjon Podein’s charity Team 25, which Podein started along with his wife after meeting Brian and Jessica Christensen.

The life expectancy of children with ataxia is not high (most do not reach their 20s), and sadly, Jessica lost her battle at 18.

Brian grew to be a man who brought his sunny smile and spirit to many. He grew awareness of his disease and through his efforts met celebrities who continue to raise funds for research because they were so struck by Brian’s dynamic personality.

Brian beat the odds and lived to be 30 years old. He died May 22, 2008, the same day that my youngest child was born.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Room to Roam

The NY Times ran an article earlier this week about the latest problem with apartment tenants: their noisy children. Apparently more parents of young children are choosing to remain in the city, and replacing formerly aging, quiet tenants in very expensive digs. The downstairs neighbors are understandably upset. A furor has ensued pitting parents of young kids against all others: empty nesters, bachelors, dinks (does that term even exist anymore?), and the crotchety of all ages who just don’t like to be bothered.

I love reading the NY Times, and this isn’t the first time I’ve come across an article that’s made me really stop and think, because even though I side with the parents on this one, I can appreciate the mean-old-neighbor side. I don’t really like to be bothered, either. Occasionally, in the NY Times, I also stumble across an article about the east coast that makes me yearn for the years I spent there. As a young adult, I was certain that my life would be spent in New England, that I would raise polite and preppy children, and that even if the New England thing didn’t work out, there was always the other coast. I would simply never live in the middle. Why would I?

Well, you know of course that life doesn't always follow our plans for it, and here I am in the middle and I have been for almost ten years now. One of the huge upsides is that there’s plenty of affordable housing out here in the middle, so we don’t have to shush our kids when they’re hurt and crying, or tell them not to drive their Matchbox cars across the wooden floor, or scold them for running down the hallway because we’re worried that our neighbor will complain. We have yards and trees and parks galore (although NY does have that one really BIG one).

Although I can’t claim to have fallen in love with the Midwest, I have certainly like it, and have come to appreciate its finer attributes. There are some absolutely gorgeous places, like Sleeping Bear Dunes and Mackinac Island, that I never would’ve seen if I hadn’t moved here. Did that make leaving San Francisco easy? Nope. Do I still miss Seattle? Yep. Does Boston pop into my dreams on a regular basis. You betcha.

But God must have known that I’d have three boys who love to run and jump and play. And He put us in the perfect place for them to do just that.

So here’s to no downstairs tenants and lots of room to roam!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

not a chance

I arrived home from a long weekend of camping today.

We were supposed to come home Sunday, but like almost all of our vacations, we extended it a day. We just could not bring ourselves to leave.

So, we arrived home late this afternoon and I am still not finished unpacking/putting things away. I have 3 loads of laundry already finished, and at least 1-2 to go. We have no groceries in the house, I'm SO tired, yet I am still awake at 12:20 AM blogging about it because I was due to post today and somehow it slipped my mind. Hmmm....I wonder why? :)

I always hate that we say we need a vacation to recover from vacation because I had a WONDERFUL and relaxing time, I do not really need to "recover" at all. But I definetly have alot of catching up to do.

Would I ever skip a chance for a vacation just because of the work it takes to prepare, and then the extra work you always have after the fact?

And miss this?

Or this?

Not a chance!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Nights of endless fireworks

We’re here at the lake, expecting the arrival of some of our first friends of the season. We’re painting the screened porch an awesome bluish green, and the kids are organizing the boat decorations I bought for the “boat parade.” Our first. The parade route is two laps around the lake at low speed, followed by two laps at high speeds. The kids are overjoyed that yes, tubing is allowed during the parade. Flares are sold for $2 a piece to light what they traditionally called, “The Ring of Fire” around the lake.

My kids miss our “block party” back home. (Why?!) So, I’m happy to report that there will be a “lake party” this year, complete with a band.

Rain was constant last night, with wind so stong it took our fishing boat for a ride out by itself during the storm. Dave and my oldest son rescued the boat with the canoe and a flashlight; in-between lighting storms.

Today, there is boating despite high water levels. Today the sky is a dreary gray, a chilly 61 degrees, and the boys have been busy with their new friend who likes to crawl up our screen.

With our friends, we’re planning a trip to the local German winery for Saturday, and letting whatever else comes up to just present itself. With the weather, things are always unpredictable here anyway.

Still, the best part about the fourt on the lake, besides the fresh black raspberries, is the abundance of fireworks. I love fireworks. Every night from tonight on to the next ten days, someone on the lake will have visitors. There is a large barn, just off the exit to the lake that sells fireworks. Visitors can’t resist this spot. All of us around the lake have the benefit of watching the show, never knowing exactly who the provider of the night actually might be.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008