August 31, 2010

First day thrills

Today, C-man went to his first day of K5.
Well, who are we kidding?  He went to an hour of K5.  Same teacher as he had in the afternoons last year, and only a handful of new kids.  So really, same drill, different year.  But we made frogs together and got to see the journal he'll have to write in throughout the year.  Tomorrow, he's back on the bus, and it's back to another year.
But my real thrill of the day?  Our new washer and dryer showed up.  Dear God, it's so sweet!  Before you start calling me lame, remember, we've been out of a washer and dryer since early July.  And I also need to let you know that it sings a little song when it's complete.  Man, I love this thing.

Vacation recap

Every day started with a spin in the hot tub
And progressed with a daily trip to play mini golf
One day we had a visit by Grandma and Grandpa
Another day we played fooseball at Alexanders,
while we waited for the glorious pizza to be ready
Each day, Harry watched over the property, ensuring no passing kayakers would attempt to board our dock.
while C-man and Beerman watched the birds and watched for the "rimples" made by surfacing fish.
C-man even eyed a turtle on a canoe trip.
He also caught some fish at the fishing jamboree. (With the help of Musky Matt, in this picture he's in the process of releasing this whopper) 
He even won a trophy. (Nevermind he was the only kid who showed up! He WON A TROPHY!)  And then he got put on the radio later that night with Musky Matt, the guide who runs the jamboree. (It's uploaded HERE, 8/29- Hour 1, minutes 47-52) After, he was talking about all the things he "should have said!" including a home-grown joke.  But the new fishing hat, fishing pole and minnow net made it all better.
We had a great time at the go-kart track.
And I, of course, took too many photos while in the canoe that you'll be subjected to in the coming days.
C-man learned how to shoot the BB gun Great-Grandpa Arnold gave him for his baptism. (Seriously, you can't make that stuff up)
And it was great, great fun. (I'd like to point out that shot in the middle of the X. You know, the one shot by yours truly.)
Beerman built a huge fire every night by which I made too many s'mores.
And we all watched the night sky make its appearance with its beautiful stars. (And even Mars)
Now it's back to reality, and C-man's first day of school. It was great while it lasted.

August 30, 2010

Happy birthday, Mom!

Hope it's a fun ride!


As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
-Henry David Thoreau

August 29, 2010

Serenity and Joy

A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.
-Luis Barrigan 

August 28, 2010

On Happiness

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 27, 2010

Role Models

Even Harry's on vacation with us. He was freaking out when we brought out the suitcases, so it was a happy surprise when we let him go lay down and stay there on the back bench of the minivan.  So this is for him.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

August 26, 2010


We are now officially on vacation. (WHOOT!) While I endure the long ride north, I'd like to share with you how C-man plays Washers in order to make sure he scores enough points...

August 24, 2010

Summer sailed by

It's our last week of summer before school starts.  And that makes me sad.  Not just because summer has come and gone; it always does that.  I'm sad because I feel like we never even had a summer this year.  Not really, anyhow.  I was huddled under blankets, it was so cold at the beginning of t-ball season.  About the time it warmed up, monsoon season started.  We've been dealing with the destruction the flooding caused ever since, and the giant red dumpster in my driveway is a constant reminder of the stress and money we're continuing to get soaked with as a result.  I've been on medication all summer; medication I was told would make me instantly better, but has done nothing but steal 3 out of every 7 days of every week. And now, the aftermath of the rain means that the mosquitos are so bad, you can't go outside without swallowing your daily allowance of protein.

In other words, I want a do-over.  And I'm going to do my damndest to get it.  We're heading on a mini-vacation this weekend, and I'm planning on cramming my entire summer into all 4 days of it.  4 days is all we could muster this time of year, but we really need it.  That's why it's going to be stress-free, relaxing, and fun.  I am going to read some books, eat some pizza, do some fishing, and soak my toes in the water.  We've got some big decisions to make, but I'm hoping getting out of our normal environment will help us do the right thing.  And for that, I can't wait.

August 23, 2010

Celebrate good times, come on!

Veterans Park Lagoon, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Today I'm celebrating:
  • A 3-day workweek until our vacation. Whoot!
  • Taking our laundry in for the (supposedly) last time to pay by the pound, because our newly purchased washing machine and dryer will be delivered on the 31st.
  • Finally meeting with my fellow school rummage sale committee chairs tonight.  I don't know why it needs a committee to plan this thing, when what it needs is one person to create and run the project plan and another to organize the volunteers to stage and sell crap. But anyhow, it practically took an act of God to get this meeting of the chairs scheduled.  You would have thought this was a major operation and not a school rummage sale.  But, it does make about $20,000 for the school, so I'm trying to keep it all in check.  That's why I did feel a tiny bit guilty that I laughed out loud when one woman sent her "project plan" via email ahead of time. It was a Microsoft Word agenda template with some crazy clipart on it.  I know we're all volunteers, but oh, ladies... please... leave the project planning to those who do this for a living!
  • Sending off a really inspired email to the Village Manager on Friday.  The jerk is now playing CYA and sending emails suggesting we pull our 4" drainage pipe to re-install a 12" pipe. (Seriously, isn't that considered a culvert at that point!)  He also suggested we add some rain barrels to our property as a real solution to the drainage problems. I'm suspecting this is all coming at us now because FEMA denied Wisconsin flood recovery money, and he doesn't know how to fix what needs to be fixed with no funds.  But Beerman and I figured out the cubic footage just of the water that was in our basement, not including what was being pumped out or drained, and discovered it would take 270 rain barrels to hold that much water each time it rained.  And since it rained like that twice in 24 hours, we would have needed at least 500 barrels!  So after 2 hours of physically shaking, I was so mad, I wrote an email that got my point across.  My final line of the email made me feel a whole lot better: We are thankful the Village has finally seen the drainage issues on our block as a problem and are making strides toward resolving it.  But please do not insult us by insinuating that further damage prevention be on our time and money, because I'm quite certain we've taken on more than enough of that on your and the Village's behalf.
  • Not being a Chilean miner.
  • Having it only be a 3-day workweek. (Oops, did I mention that already?)

August 21, 2010

A cause, a festival, and some tug-of-war

Today was the annual Arthritis Foundation 5K to Irish Fest. I walked it this year.  I haven't been feeling very well, so haven't been running at all.  Plus, C-man and Beerman were available to walk it with me this year, so it was a good of an excuse as any to take it slow.
It was hot and muggy, but we made it along the lake and around the lagoon.
And despite C-man claiming he was going to "absolutely die" during the walk because he was sooo tired and his tummy hurt soooo bad, he still had enough in him to run across the finish line, clocking in at a solid 50 minutes.
Afterward, we cooled off in the Milwaukee Art Museum for a bit.  And since it was noon, we got to watch the wings open and close.  We also got to see 2 weddings and 3 quincineiras getting their photos taken.  C-man always loves seeing the girls in their elaborate dresses.
And then it was time to head into Irish Fest.  Typically this is not my main festival of the year (that's State Fair, after all). But I've decided now that I have discovered my Irish roots, I needed to give it a better shot.  And there were definitely some cool things - a huge geneology tent for me, and a recreated Narnia complete with walking through the closet for C-man. The food and music are still not my thing.  (Scotch eggs and bagpipes next to tiny girls in makeup and fake curly wigs stomping dancing... Really?)
But the tug-of-war competition was a lot of fun to watch.  How do you even get on a competitive tug-of-war team anyhow?  It's not like you hear little kids saying, "When I grow up..."  But there they are.  And I found them facinating.  In fact, this team is heading to the World Championship in South Africa in September.

Overall, it was a pretty good day.  But now I'm really tired.  So if someone could just bring me my dinner and put that movie in so I don't have to get off my butt, everything would be perfect.

August 20, 2010

Everyday miracles

 “Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human”  -Tim Hansel

It's hard to believe this precious child was screaming and crying at me as I pulled out of the driveway this morning.  Snot and tears and all, I sure am glad to have him back home with us.

August 19, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Things I'm looking forward to

  1. Vacationing in Northern Wisconsin next week as our final hurrah before C-man goes back to school. It's nothing extravagent: mosquitos, pizza, fishing, sleeping in; but I can't wait.
  2. Teaching C-man how to shoot a BB gun.
  3. Reaching my goal of 2500 people on my family tree. (I'm just over 2400 now).
  4. Finding someone in my geneological line with the same birthdate as me. I know for a lot of people I only have years, but COME ON - there's got to be a match with SOMEONE, doesn't there?
  5. Having the village drainage situation resolved.  So far, there's a berm at the base of the soccer field, some of the school parking lot has been pulverized, and our neighbors have been notified they need to change their downspouts.  Only a bit of piping to go...
  6. Getting a new washer and dryer. While it's nice to have the laundry cleaned and folded, the $50 a week is kind of ridiculous, and I'd really just like to have stuff clean when I want it clean.
  7. Having a clean basement to put all of our crap back into. I'm kind of tired of living with suitcases in our dining room because there's nowhere else to put them.
  8. Finishing up Season 6 of Nip/Tuck, so I can be done with it and get back to books. Man, that's a bad show. But it's like crack, and I just can't stop watching what stupid thing the writers are going to throw out there next.
  9. Finishing C-man's school shopping. His stuff is bought. I just need to get him some more uniform shorts and pants (that actually fit) and a new pair of gym shoes.
  10. Saturday's 5K to Irish Fest benefiting the Arthritis Foundation (Now that I know I have Irish roots, I guess I can't mock the Irish so much anymore). I'm walking it with the family this year, since I haven't been able to run lately, but it is always nice to see so many people out for the same thing.
  11. Not traveling for work the entire month of September.  We'll see if it really happens, but a girl's got to have goals.
  12. Taking C-man to swimming lessons. Man, how he loves those now. Thank God we got over that hump!
  13. Having lunch today with an old friend
Happy 21st, Terry and Bill!

    August research brings Mayflowers

    So I'd been playing around with one of my ancestors who many report sailed on the Mayflower.  The problem is, I've discovered she was born in Massachusetts.  As were both of her parents, so it was impossible.  But as I've discovered, there are a lot of people out there, call it wishful thinking or call it fraud, who don't do their research right.

    But I think I've found the right link...

    Richard Warren (1580 - Oct 20 1628) is my 13th generation Grandfather through the Frost line.  He's also the 12th signature on the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of Plymouth Colony.  His wife, Elizabeth Walker, later came to Massachusetts on the ship "Anne" with her 3 daughters Mary, Ann (my 12th generation Grandmother) and Sarah.  They then had 2 sons in Plymouth.

    Because all 5 of his children survived to adulthood, he is the most common link people have to the Mayflower lineage, ranging from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Regardless of his popularity, he's my link to the first passage.  I'm not sure what that gets me, but I'm checking it off my list anyhow.

    Mayflower... Check.

    August 18, 2010


    As reported here.

    Phil Mickelson Reveals His Struggle with Psoriatic Arthritis

    The pro-golfer says quick diagnosis, effective treatment helped him get back in the game.

    By Bill Sanders
    8/17/2010 Golfer Phil Mickelson, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, has revealed that he is battling psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis that came on suddenly and left him temporarily in a near-crippled state this summer.

    Mickelson said he first noticed symptoms, including searing pain, in the days leading up to the U.S. Open in June.

    After a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mickelson began taking weekly injections of etanercept (Enbrel), an injected, biologic drug that helps to lower levels of a protein that spurs inflammation.
    In the days leading up to last week’s PGA Championship, the year’s last major golf tournament, Mickelson first talked about his arthritis and said he was pleased with how he was responding to medication.
    “I feel great,” he said to a group of golf reporters. “I’m able to work out and don’t have any pain. So I’ve had some good immediate response. And that’s why I feel comfortable talking about it, knowing that long term and short term, things are fine.”

    Psoriatic arthritis is not the first serious medical issue that the Mickelson family has had to face. Mickelson took most of 2009 off after his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Already a fan favorite, he became even more popular for the way he stepped away from the game to take care of his family. Mickelson came back this year and won The Masters in April.

    It was soon after that he began to experience mysterious pain and stiffness.

    Psoriatic arthritis (PA) is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues. The condition is rare, affecting about 1 out of 100 people in the general population. People with psoriatic arthritis not only have joint pain, but also experience plaque psoriasis, a red scaly rash that commonly appears on the skin of the arms and legs, scalp, palms and the soles of the feet. Over time, psoriatic arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage and disability.

    The fact that he was even able to play golf, much less compete in a couple of major tournaments with this condition, is amazing, says Robert Shaw, MD, a practicing rheumatologist and instructor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

    “It clearly shows what an elite athlete he is,” Dr. Shaw says. “People with PA sometimes have trouble dressing themselves. He could have had a milder case of it, but eventually, untreated, it still overtakes you. You can’t just move on. The hallmark of this type of inflammatory arthritis is that it causes you to stiffen with even minutes of rest. So if he takes a short water break while playing, his joints would stiffen up.”
    Enbrel is one of four “big-gun” medications used to treat PA, and Dr. Shaw says that for some people they are almost miracle drugs.

    “These protein inhibitors have changed completely the face of treating inflammatory arthritis,” Dr. Shaw says. “If he’d have gotten this 15 years ago, his playing career would have been over.”

    Mickelson said he plans on taking the injections for about a year, after which he believes he’ll be symptom free.

    Dr. Shaw, who has not treated Mickelson, says Mickelson and his doctors will decide the best long-term treatment plan, but that in his experience, patients with PA need to stay with the treatments for the rest of their lives.

    “The disease goes in and out of remission without treatment, but the disease is still there,” he says. “I think patients need chronic therapy that never stops. What he does will be between him and his doctor, but most of us keep it going chronically.”

    The most common side effect of the injections is infection, Dr. Shaw says.
    “The drug is playing with your immune system, lowering it ever-so-slightly, but still lowering it. So it leaves you susceptible to infections. If you get a fever, you go off [the drug for] a little while, get well and then go back on it.”

    Philip Mease, MD, a practicing rheumatologist and clinical professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, agreed with Dr. Shaw that Mickelson probably wouldn’t be able to come off the injections anytime soon.

    “I never like to use the word ‘forever,’ but for the foreseeable future, unless something new comes along and there’s a cure for it, I’d say he’ll need to be on it,” Dr. Mease says. “And even for the high-end athlete, I don’t know if he’ll be able to not have some impact from the PA, even on the Enbrel.”

    Dr. Mease hopes Mickelson’s case will raise awareness of PA.

    “It can elude diagnosis,” Dr. Mease says. “It typically takes a savvy dermatologist or rheumatologist to find it. It’s not always that the person even knew he or she had psoriasis. That can be misdiagnosed as eczema or not diagnosed at all.”

    Even grappling with such significant health issues, Mickelson rallied in the final rounds of the PGA tournament to finish at 6-under, tying for 12th place.

    Wordless Wednesday: It's what's for dinner

    August 17, 2010

    A few things I know

    • We were not founded as a Christian nation. The vast majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States were followers of the Renaissance and proclaimed Deists. As in, they believed in God's existence as our creator, but did not believe in the Bible or His subsequent intervention. And if you think about it, we kicked the English out because they were specifically Christian. So while I'm a Christian, please don't spout that "Nation built on Christian values" crap to me. Revisionist history doesn't help anyone, Texas.
    • We were founded as a tolerant nation.... regarding all religions. In 1796, we created and signed the Treaty of Tripoli, which stated: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." This language was very specific, deliberate and intentional.  We were to be tolerant of Muslims.
    • Tim McVeigh was a Christian.  (Remember him?) And the last I checked, there were no protests about the weeping Jesus statue across the street from the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.  And why was that?  Seems like a bit of a double standard, doesn't it?

    In spite of our long history of tolerance and understanding, growing crowds continue to protest the building of a mosque because it happens to be near Ground Zero in New York.  That terrible tragedy, where lives and a country's innocence were destroyed by some whack-job extremists who didn't even understand their own religion, or they wouldn't have done it in the first place.

    But in spite of that, it makes me so angry frustrated sad that people are so ignorant of our own foundations, of the very threads that have stitched us together as a country, that they are willing to spout specifics from the 2nd amendment when it suits them, but want to toss out the 14th when it doesn't; preach love when it's easy, hatred when it isn't.

    Let the mosques be built; in New York, in Tennessee, and anywhere else there are groups of people coming together to worship a higher power. Worship where you choose, and let others do the same.  And let's not let a few nut jobs mold our entire way of thinking about others.  Because really, isn't that what Jesus would have wanted?

    August 16, 2010

    Monday is the new Friday

    Since I've started taking the hard-core meds for my arthritis, TGIF just doesn't have the same meaning to it.  While I take a couples of bottles of meds every day, the low-dose chemo comes on Fridays.  Which makes Fridays decidedly un-fun.  On Fridays, I feel ill. My stomach tosses around.  I eat, not because I want to, but because I know if I don't it'll get really ugly.  And as much as my stomach hurts on Fridays, I'm completely exhausted on Saturdays.  And by Sunday, I feel as if I've gone 9 rounds with an un-gloved Mike Tyson; every fiber of my body aching, barely standing straight up on my own.  It isn't until Monday that I can begin to move again, begin to open my eyes without pain, really begin to do anything again.

    So I've come to think of Mondays as my new favorite day.  The day it all gets better; I can walk, talk, and even think straight.  I'm trying not to think about how pitiful it all is.  So instead, TGIM!

    August 15, 2010

    And then it was done

    I've always loved the Wisconsin State Fair.  It's not about overdrinking or what band you see, like so many other festivals around here, although that can be a part of it if you choose.  For me, it's about flying down that enormous slide on those wretched burlap mats that are probably older than God.
    It's about checking out which animals were born during the fair.  And now it's about teaching my child about what it means to have a new baby animal born, and teach him how they eat and what we do to care for them.
    It's about the food on a stick.  All 70 items this year.  Beerman got the deep-fried philly cheesesteak on a stick, which was a new item.  He described it as "chewy".  Probably not a rousing endorsement of a stick food if I've ever heard one.  The frozen banana dipped in chocolate and the corn dogs were still hits on my dance card, though.
    Of course, there were the racing pigs.  C-man was quite pleased his pig, Shakin' Bacon won.  Meanwhile, my pig, Tammy Swynette, just laid around and ate cookies.
    And one of my favorite spots, the Expo Center, didn't disappoint.  C-man got to play some hockey. He didn't win, but did get a nice poster out of it. I think being a round-headed kid with glasses gets you extra stuff sometimes.  I got to look at the infrared saunas a bit more too. (Now if we can just figure out where to put it, we're buying one of those suckers!)
    I got to see the salsa maker in action and hear Beerman tell me if I wanted it, he'd get it for me. (Once upon a time, I went to the fair with an old boyfriend who wouldn't buy it for me, even though it was THE ONE THING I wanted in the whole wide world but couldn't afford because I was in college, and he could because he had a real life job as an engineer. It's still a sore spot for me, and Beerman knows he gets easy points by telling me I can have it. It's just not that appealing of a gadget when I know I can have it. I mean, it's not like I eat salsa very often, anyhow.)
    C-man got to fire a paint ball gun. You'd have thought he'd died and gone to heaven.  (Just wait until he finds out he is going to learn to shoot a BB gun later this month while we're on vacation!)
    And at the end of the day, C-man got his blow-up Superman.  He spotted it on the way into the fair and it was the only thing we heard about 
    So imagine my surprise when at bedtime I asked him what his favorite part about his day was, and he answered, "Learning about the animals and what stuff we make out of their bodies." Maybe the fair is special to him too.