Adventures in Strength

Bucket List Adventures Virtue Strength

Budweiser Might Be the King of Beers but Duke was King of the Clydesdales

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My favorite part of the whole New Year celebration thing is not ringing in the actual midnight hour, I am usually fast asleep long before that time arrives. No, my favorite way to celebrate the New Year is by anxiously awaiting the newest Budweiser Beer Clydesdale Super Bowl commercial. Seriously, I love these commercials and I can’t wait to see what they come up with every year.
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This fall we finally got the chance to go visit one of the few places you can actually see these magnificent animals up close and personal, Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri. The ranch is hard to get a tour at; in fact I tried for a fall weekend and was told in August that the weekend tours were already booked until the end of the year! Not one to be told no, I am glad to say I persevered and was able to score reservations for two for a beautiful non weekend day in September when my daughter had a day off from school. It was a perfect day for a ranch visit.

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It looks just like you imagine it would, 14 miles of white fence surrounding the pristine rolling hills and pasture of Warm Springs Ranch. The red barn sits high on the hill with ten separate pastures full of happy, contented and extremely well cared for Clydesdales. We stopped to say hi to several on the long winding road in,\ and were greeted with enthusiasm by these gentle giants, all of them anxious for some loving attention. I felt like a paparazzi as I ran from photo op to photo op while the celebrity horses pranced and patiently waited for me to get all the pictures my heart desired.

The barn had to be the cleanest barn I have ever seen, each section well marked showing all phases of horse care including where they are bred, exercised, trained and cared for by loving staff.

This grand experience was shared with my daughter and certainly makes the top ten things I’d recommend to anyone looking for a Missouri highlight.

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For me the high point of the tour was when we were introduced to Duke, a massive Clydesdale of 13 years who had retired from being a team hitch member and was promoted to official greeter. Duke was a towering example of the best of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Every inch of this 18-hand horse was groomed, every hair on this animal was clean and brushed. All I could think of when I first layed eyes on him whas how much my mother would have loved this place!

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Like the celebrity he was, Duke knew he looked good too! His eyes sparkled as he pranced around and I swear every time someone pointed a camera at him he held his head up high and turned his head to his good side! He was a good sport too, because he was patient and kind and let everyone from the oldest and frailest guest in a wheelchair down to the 10 month old little girl pet him and love on him. He even posed for a selfie with my daughter and I swear I saw him look longingly at the cold glasses of Budweiser the guests had in their hands, I am sure he was wondering where his beer was too!

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I am even more in love with these gorgeous animals now that I had a little chance to spend time with them. Three more months until the New Year and the next round of Budweiser Clydesdale commercials and I can hardly wait.

So glad this was on my bucket list and we made time for an afternoon of warm September sunshine and a little Budweiser!

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So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”
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Empower Your Estrogen Gets Rocky Mountain High and Wet and Wild in 2015

Taking on water

Ladies! Are you ready to get Rocky Mountain high and then mix it up with a little wet and wild?

Got your attention? Good! The girls behind Empower Your Estrogen are planning an epic summer mountain experience that you will not want to miss! Trust us!

We just wanted to get your attention, it won’t be THAT kind of a trip! This isn’t a party girl trip it’s a Rocky Mountain adventure girl trip!

This is your chance to summit a mountain, yodel at the top in your superhero costume with the Bucketlistblogger and Irongirl and then soak in the breathtaking mountain vistas that surround you on Friday July 31, 2015. But that’s not all! On Saturday morning, August 1, we will get wet and wild while we go white water rafting down the spectacular Royal Gorge, Colorado’s own version of the Grand Canyon! After a day of thrilling excitement on the rapids we will spend the afternoon at The Abbey Vineyard in Canyon City for some rest, relaxation and refreshments and retreat to our secret mountain back country camping spot among the Ponderosa Pines for a second fun filled evening of campfire and chocolate! Mountain summits and white water rafting all in one trip! Add a little campfire fun, a Tough Tiara Challenge or two and a stop at The Abby Vineyard and you have an epic adventure!

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We have worked with our favorite guides at Front Range Climbing Co and made all the arrangements for you. We will meet Thursday evening and set up camp in the spectacular Rocky Mountains and enjoy a quiet campfire night. Friday we will rise early and hit the trailhead at the crack of dawn so we can enjoy the challenging alpine hike to one of the most beautiful summits in the state. This will be a mountain hike on a rocky trail only (no ropes and harnesses needed) after the hike we will return to camp for laughter, stories and our famous Tough Tiara Crowning!

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On Saturday we will white water raft down The Royal Gorge on Class IV and V white water rapids past the 1200 foot cliff walls and over Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer & the Narrows! This will be wet, wild and very exciting! Experience two of the most breathtaking outdoor treats Colorado offers all in one girl power weekend!

You will need basic backcountry camping gear such as a small two-person tent, sleeping bag, good hiking boots and appropriate jackets for the colder Colorado temperatures at the summit. According to our custom rating scale this adventure promises to be a 6 on the Tough Girl Scale. You will need strong legs and big lungs! Our hike will be approximately 7-9 miles round trip!

Not sure if you are in shape to handle a mountain hike? No problem, For an extra $25 Coach Vicki, the Irongirl will create a 4 month long training plan custom designed for this advenutre for you so that you can start walking and hiking now and be ready for the challenge of summiting a mountian! Time to put some zing in your zap!

Our hunky guides with Front Range Climbing Co will take are of all the transportation from Colorado Springs and food, keep us on the trail, show us the best alpine hikes in the state, ensure we are having a great time and hand deliver us to the best white water rafting guides in the state for the thrill of a lifetime on Saturday!

This trip is going to be epic and full of great stories all for the amazing package price of only $299. This trip will be limited to 15 brave and crazy ladies and it’s a steal so don’t miss out! Email Isaac@frontrangeclimbingco.com or call 719-632-5822 today to book your spot!

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Lean Mean Fighting Machine

Kickboxing is an interesting sport, one I have never paid an ounce of attention to until now. I signed up for Ferrell’s Extreme Body Shaping Classes because I knew it was time to get off the couch and get back into they gym in some sort of fashion. I signed up because I liked the concept of 6 one hour classes per week combining cardio and strength training along with quality instruction and lots of motivation, the kickboxing part just came along with the package. I signed up to try something new and to help me meet my goal for the new year of leaning down, waaaaaayyyy down.

The first night of class we were all taught how to wrap our wrists, the idea being we would need extra support to protect our wrists when punching. I was pretty sure this was unnecessary since I have the upper body strength of a slug. It seemed the risk of real injury was fairly remote, at least in my mind.

Next, we put on our HUGE boxing gloves, suddenly I felt more like Mickey Mouse than Muhammad Ali, but if nothing else I am game to try something new so I too put on my massively over-sized gloves and stood alert waiting for my next set of instructions.

Our very fit instructor turned on loud music with a driving beat and started warming us up with a series of jabs, hooks and kicks. Within 30 seconds I felt like I was going to die. Hell, just holding my gigantic gloves up by my face seemed like a workout to me; within moments each glove started feeling heavier and heavier by the second.

In telling this little story, to describe my efforts as, awkward, is really being kind. I was taught to be a “little lady” and growing up with only a younger sister the need to defend myself from someone pulling rapid punches at my face was just not ever a problem.

I would start out ok, hands up, jabbing away, only to realize soon my tired arms had dropped and I had left my entire face exposed to the nearest bad guy willing to throw a punch. Then, talk about coordination, you are supposed to keep your feet moving constantly so you are not an easy target. Don’t you remember Muhammed Ali’s old saying “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee?” Picture him or Mike Tyson bouncing back and forth on their feet, dancing away from his opponent all the while holding his gloves up to his face, always protecting and waiting for his opportunity to jab and cross, striking before his opponent even saw it coming.

Now that you have that image in mind, transpose this one, me dressed in my dusty workout pants and baggy t shirt standing in a gym with 40 other people, trying desperately to be invisible in the back of the room, and still peer out periodically around my associates to try and follow my deft moving instructor. Alternatively, I would forget to keep my hands up or forget to move my feet. My stance appeared more like a tree trunk rooted in soil than a dancing butterfly and my jab about as harmful as a wet noodle. Now, picture me breathing rapidly, sweating profusely and averaging 4 steps behind the group at any given point in time. Ya, I looked good.

Sensing I might be a natural at this sport, I continued my efforts to keep up.

Next the instructor had us move huge punching bags out into the center of the room. I realized what I was really up against when I pushed with all my might and it merely laughed at me. Seriously, I watched as my peers pushed, tilted and rolled their pads into the middle of the room. Trying again, I threw my entire weight against it hoping to knock it over and instead it bounced back at me like Bozo the Clown, nearly knocking me out on the rebound. At this point, a buff looking female classmate had mercy on me and quickly maneuvered the punching bag into proper position. Well, ok, time to move on.

Our instructor resumed his stance and proceeded to demonstrate a series of sidekicks and alternating punches. He outlined what he expected. Gloves up, I danced in place nodding my head that I was ready to go for it.

I threw my punch with all I had, danced back on my heels and brought my knee up for a menacing sidekick designed to disarm and disorient. The bag didn’t even move. Really, not even a tiny bit. I looked around the room, people were waylaying into their bags, loud smacks could be heard and bags teetered back and forth from the force of the kicks. Mine stood still staring back at me. Daring me to try it again.

After several exhausting minutes of this our instructor paired us with a partner. The plan was to have us stand on opposite side of the bags, alternating our punching and kicking. My partner was a stout man who had done this before. He nodded I could go first like a gentleman, so I grinned and threw the first of my punches, I hit with all I had, jab, jab, hook, upper cut, jab, side kick, side kick. I think I looked like I was having a seizure. The bag didn’t even twitch. Gasping for air I stepped back, impressed with my furry. I waited for my partner to go at it. Nothing happened. Finally, after a few seconds my partner peered around the bag, looked at me and said, “oh I guess you went already”. Then he proceeded to beat the living hell out of our bag and I soon found myself defending my face and head for fear the bag would fall over onto me, certain to kill me instantly. Seriously, he hadn’t even realized I had gone, what the hell!

Day one at Ferrell’s Extreme Body Shaping had me extremely whipped.

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Coping with Cadbury

So, my life has been in turmoil the past 7 weeks and it has been a real challenge for me. God is good at giving me challenges; it keeps me on my toes and I am not a ballerina so being on my toes is difficult for me. After the start of the New Year, I was on a roll! I was working on my website, researching new ways to do items on my bucket list, heck, I was even working out and eating pretty well in my annual “get fit for the new year” resolution.

The most impressive thing of all was that I was going to “break a bad habit” and for me, that meant giving up eating chocolate. I was so excited I found a hypnotism class to help me stop eating chocolate and I was really giving it the old college try. That was about when the bottom dropped out of my world and my mom got sick and then I had to cope with the profound and painful grief of losing her. So much for coping well. So much for giving up chocolate.

I don’t want to admit this, and it is taken me several weeks to even get the courage to sit down and attempt to write this post, but here it is. I have been coping with the stress of everything by eating Cadbury Eggs. My family and friends love me, so they haven’t been too hard on me about this, but I can’t even tell you how many of these mouthwatering gems I have eaten in the past 7 weeks. Friends have been telling me it looks like I am doing so well, they might not agree if they knew the whole story.

Officially my hypnotism class worked. I know this is confusing, but when I took the class I asked the instructor to zoom in on CHOCOLATE CHIPS for me. I even asked him to make chocolate chips taste like doggy do to me, somehow thinking this would cure me of the need for all forms of chocolate. It worked. I have hardly had a chocolate chip in weeks and I even have some in my pantry, which is the true test of my willpower.

The sad truth is that once my stress level soared to space station heights my coping without chocolate went right out the window.

My sister and I would leave the hospital after visiting our sick mother and head directly across the street to a Walgreens store only to leave minutes later with a fistful of Cadbury Eggs. Somehow the creamy milk chocolate would sooth our broken hearts for just a little while. We both needed all the help we could get. Walking through the isles of Walgreens in search of a somewhat healthy snack I veered off track and my eyes locked in on the row of shiny, colorful Cadbury Eggs and I was about as strong-willed as a bowl of Jell-O.

One of two of these golden eggs might not have been so bad, but this quickly became our daily routine. Soon my jeans didn’t fit, soon I felt sluggish and chronically fatigued. I had a lot going on, but I am sure the constant supply of chocolate through me veins did not help.

This week I decided I had to take control of this situation again. I had to do it and Mom would want me to. I am now swearing off chocolate again and walking away from all the refined white sugar. I am putting my workout clothes back on and stepping outside into the sunshine for some nice long walks. No more coping with Cadbury. I am going to give up this bad habit once and for all.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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No! Not Now, I’m Not Ready Yet!

Hands of Strength


You know how life is, you get busy doing the day to day stuff, dishes, bill paying, laundry, etc and somehow the days just roll by, one fading into another like the blur of an oasis in the distance. Logically, you know the people you love the most will not always be there, logically, you know everyone has to die at some point. You just don’t think now is the time you will be forced to deal with this brutal reality. That is, until the phone rings one day, and time stops.

Time stopped for me at 5:32 on February 9th. I was just pulling into the church parking lot to drop of my youngest for church school when Dad called and I answered. “Hey Dad, how are you? “ I cheerfully asked as I maneuvered my SUV into the parking spot.

“Not good, we’ve had some health issues here today…” That was about all I heard before my ears started ringing, my head started pounding, and my stomach started churning.

Mom was sick; they’d visited doctors, then hospitals, then a heart cath procedure……

All I could think was “this is moving so fast, make it stop.”

Soon, another call. Ring, ring, “Hi Dad, what were the results?” I heard myself ask, sounding like I was in a long tunnel.

“She will have a triple bypass in the morning.” Dad managed to say.

Next thing I knew, I was on a plane heading to Texas as fast as I could get there. It was a nightmare of a trip, late to the airport, held up in security, running to the gate miles away, barely making the plane, sitting next to a young family with two babies both with double ear infections, no rental cars available, no hotels available….. A nightmare, and yet God blessed me with angels along the way. First, an angel at the airport check in that let me go to security even though I was too late to check my bag, an angel at the rental car place who found the manager, who found a car, the shuttle driver who found me a hotel at 12:30 am etc etc.

All my life I have been taught by my mom to trust in the Lord. I have learned to trust in God, HE will provide, even when it feels like there is no solution, HE will provide.

I made it to Texas in time to hear the really bad news. The surgeon said the surgery needed to be done again. Then the doctor said she seems to have had a stroke, she needs the ventilator and the heart machine. Time will tell.

It has now been 17 days, she lies in ICU with tubes and machines helping her make it through another day. One day we are up, things seem better, the next, we are down, another complication. Fear lies in every breathe we take, what if this happens… what if this doesn’t happen… will we have to make a decision…After so many days of this you start to go numb. Your body moves on autopilot and you start to lose track of time, you can’t remember what day it is or when you last talked to your husband.

One moment, I am at peace with letting her go, I know she does not want to live if she is only kept alive by a machine, but other days I am reduced to tears when I realize I can’t call her and talk to her today, or any other day. My moods shift like the wind, sometimes I am strong, sometimes I am so weak I can’t look at her. It pains me to see her lying so weak in a bed that makes her look like a small child. It feels like she is here with me, and yet it feels like she is already gone, just a memory.

All I can really think about is all that she has taught me. I recently told a long time dear friend of hers, that the greatest thing she ever gave me was the gift of teaching me how to be a good mother. That is what it all boils down to, my mom taught me how to be a great mother. Somehow that gives me strength and hope. I want to curl up like a child and rest my head on her lap like I used to do, I want her to make it all better, but I know that can’t be. I know what I have to do because she taught me. I have to be strong, I have to help hold up Dad. I have to ask questions and make phone calls to relatives far away. I have to be a mom to my own children and reassure them that even though things are not ok, they are ok.

I am not ready to get the next phone call. I fear for it, I worry about it at night, I pray for it. I am not ready, not now, not yet. I don’t want to say goodbye to my mother.

I wrote about this before, one of my bucketlist items is to be stronger than I ever thought I could be. I have been tested before, and as much as I hurt at the time, I was able to do what I had to do. I have been taught by the best mother in the world how to be strong, how to love and how to let go. I am afraid I am being tested again.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

I am dedicating my bucketlist to my mom, a true adventurist at heart, and the inspiration for my life.

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Giving a Hand Up, Not Out

Gathering Donations

Every now and then something just happens in life and an opportunity to really make a difference in another person’s life presents itself.

If you are like me you want to help others whenever you, can but it is difficult to know how to step in and help those in need in a direct kind of a way. You know what I mean, you might know a family that looks like they could use some help, but the last thing you want to do is offend them so you hold back unsure of yourself. Other times you might see a homeless person panhandling on the side of the road and part of you really wants to help but you don’t want to give them cash if they are an addict; instead you want to help clothe them or feed them and that seems so big that we get scared away. In the end we give to charities that we hope put the help in the hands of those who need it but we never know for sure.

This week an opportunity presented itself to me on Facebook of all places! You see I was just checking on my friends various lives when a post come up from a friend asking if anyone had a baby crib available. The post was from an old friend of mine, the dad of my daughters’ best friend and college roommate. Billy owns an auto repair shop and said he had a young man (only 20 years old) working for him who just got custody of his 7 month old baby boy and he was in need of baby equipment, specifically a crib.

My first response was “darn, I don’t have one, I long ago gave away all our baby gear. I wish I could help but I can’t” but then a thought hit me, “Wait a minute! I don’t have any baby gear anymore but I sure do know a lot of moms, maybe one of them has a crib that this young Dad could use.” I wrote back to Billy and told him I would send out an email to a bunch of my mom friends and see what I could come up with.

I sent out the email and explained the situation. Within minutes I started getting responses. One mom had no crib, but did have a changing table and dresser, desk and full size bed. I shot an email off to Billy and asked if the young Dad could use this stuff. Just as fast was the answer “yes, this kid could use anything” in fact, “about all the young Dad has is a job with me.” Billy finally told me.

Next came a crib offer, complete with a mattress! Soon a high chair and a stroller were offered. Baby boy clothes and toys were promised.

I spent the afternoon receiving and sending email messages back and forth. Every time something new would come in I’d send a note to Billy making sure the young Dad did in fact need the donated item. Soon enough of the puzzle pieces had fallen into place. The young Dad needed everything in the way of baby equipment and clothes. Billy stated repeatedly that the young man was a great guy he was just in a very difficult situation and it was a long sad story how he came to get custody of the baby boy.

That was all I needed to know. I spread the word among the mothers, explained that anything they could donate would be a GREAT help to this young man. Even if the donation were an old stroller, at least the dad would have a stroller for now!

Several of my mom friends got back to me and said they had also given away all their baby stuff but that they would be happy to pick something up for this young Dad. “Wow!” I thought. “These mom’s are impressed enough with this young Dad’s courage that they are willing to buy something brand new for him!” I was amazed at the generosity of my friends.

A Full Load

The process continued for 4 full days, the donations arriving daily. My husband and I got the trailer from work and went around and picked up the larger furniture items and soon the trailer was full.

On Sunday one friend showed up with a dozen brand new items and a toy storage unit her children had used when they were little. It seems this mom took her kids to Target and got them involved in helping this young Dad and his son. Her kids helped her select bottles, sippy cups, bibs, blocks, diaper ointment, baby cereal, bath toys and more!

My own daughter went through her entire bedroom and came up with 3 well loved Teddy Bears, several books and a couple of toys. As I started digging around the house I found an extra first aid kit, a toy box, and an extra vaporizer. Then I headed to Target myself and found a dozen little boy items on the Clearance isle including a winter coat!

I heard back from my friend Billy today as I let him know of the extra items that had rolled in. His reply was perfect “OMG, this kid is going to shit! Lol!”

Well, I do hope that he understands that the world is full of very good people and when you stand up for what is right and try to do the right thing people notice.

I will tell him when I meet him in the morning that there was an army of mom’s out there and when they heard about his situation wanted to donate so that he had the proper tools to take care of his son. This was not a hand out, it was a hand up and there is a big difference. The only thing these moms wanted in return was his word that he would take excellent care of his baby boy.

Truck Full

I had several people tell me what a great thing I was doing to help this young Dad. I only sent out some emails but it did feel good to know that a 7-month-old baby boy would sleep well tonight in a crib, wrapped in soft blankets with a full tummy. I hope this young dad realizes the huge responsibility and blessing he holds in his hands. I pray that the two of them will make their way safely in this big old world.

One of the items on my bucket list was to help someone who really, really needed the help. I think my friends and I might have given a hand to a young man who really needed it this week.

Baby Items

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Change in Perspective

 

Ironman

 

About 10 years ago my husband of 11 years announced to me that he wanted to compete in an Ironman Triathlon. This was surprising news considering he had not worked out in years, and although he was active in sports in high school he had not shown any interest in participating other than turning on the TV.

Not wanting to seem like I doubter, I offered a fairly noncommittal “hum.” I was pretty sure this was not going to go anywhere so I engaged in a little conversation.

“Isn’t that the big thing they do in Hawaii?” I asked.

“Yes, but you have to qualify for Hawaii, they have other competitions all over the US that you do not have to qualify for.” He explained.

“Well, what exactly is a triathlon?” I ventured.

“A competition where you swim 2.4 miles, then you bike for 112 miles and then you run 26.2 miles” he patiently explained.

“All in one day?” was my uninformed question.

“Yes!” he enthusiastically explained.

In my mind, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly do all that in one day, certainly not my wonderful husband.

The next week my loving husband announced he was going for a run, in Tennessee where the humidity averaged 80% and the temperatures even at 5:00 am often exceeded 85 degrees. He returned home soon, covered in sweat and soaking wet. I was pretty sure this was not going to last too long but I tried to be encouraging and supportive. “I am proud of you for trying.” I replied.

Soon my husband joined a gym and continued to focus on improving his health. He worked out and slowly he was able to get back into fighting shape, so to speak.

After several months of training he asked me how I felt about him doing an Ironman in San Francisco so we could combine a trip to see my sister with a race for him. Interested I started asking questions. “That could be cool, where would you race?” I inquired.

“Well you swim from Alcatraz and then you bike and swim a route in the city.” He explained.

“Wait a minute, you SWIM from ALCATRAZ? Are you kidding? You can’t swim from Alcatraz; they put Alcatraz out there for a reason! No one escapes from Alcatraz! There are sharks in the water for heavens sake!” I shrieked passionately!

I have never actually told my husband no when he presented a new idea or plan, but this was something totally different. There was no way I could go along with this hair-brain plan even if I got to see my sister out of it!

“Can’t you find a race where you swim in a lake or something?” I begged him.

“OK,” he replied just moderately defeated.

“ I  want to be supportive, but come on, Alcatraz?” I begged again.

Months later he came back to me with a new plan. “How about Utah?” he asked testing the water so to speak.

“I found a new race that I think would work. Ironman is hosting an inaugural race in Provo, Utah next summer. I would swim in a small lake just out side of town. Then I’d bike in the mountains and run in town. What do you think?” he asked as he pitched his new plan.

“Sounds great to me, let’s do it.” I endorsed his big plan.

I spent the next several months watching my husband set seriously challenging goals and then every day take little steps toward that goal. He worked hard, he trained hard, he ran, he biked and he swam. He read books and he studied tapes. I was impressed and I became a believer.

About a year later we packed the van and headed west to Utah.

The day of the big race we woke very early, I could tell he was both excited and a little scared. I am sure he was wondering if he had trained enough and if he had what it took to handle the mental challenge.

Hours later the kids and I stood on the shore of the lake and watched in awe as 2000 competitors all dressed in black wet suits and matching purple swim caps jumped into the water almost as one, and began the grueling day ahead of them.

Having never been at an event like this, I stood just trying to take it all in and understand how this all works. The lake wasn’t big but the wind was really blowing hard. It was impossible to see how the competitors could handle the huge swells, almost 4 feet high.

Finally, I got brave and asked a woman and man standing next to me on the shore- line. “How do the swimmers handle waves like that?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know” came the reply. “I have never seen conditions this bad.” They honestly answered me. Fear started to swell in my heart.

“How well does your husband swim?” they asked me.

“Oh I don’t know! He can swim in the pool at the Recreation Center in our neighborhood, but I have no idea how well he will do in a lake with 4 feet swells!” I answered. My voice rising as it started to reflect my hysterical nerves.

Within seconds the Ironman officials announced they were calling the race because of the unsafe conditions. They were announcing it right now and the athletes would soon be coming back in.

I stood on the shore frantically searching for my husband when suddenly, I saw a recreational boat roaring toward the dock. I could see a man and woman kneeling on the floor of the boat pushing on something. Much to my horror, I realized they were doing CPR on an athlete as they came to a sudden stop, an ambulance siren ringing in my ears.

“Oh my God!” I whispered, panic rising in my blood.

I struggled to maintain some semblance of control, I did have my three small children with me and I did not want to scare them. I found a race official and asked how I could find my husband.

The volunteer sadly replied that they had no idea who was out of the water and who was not. The only thing they could suggest was that I go stand by his bike because that is where his transition bag would be and if he were out of the water he’d go there for dry clothing. “This was the best they could offer me?” I thought!

I did as I was instructed and I waited there for almost 90 minutes until I finally saw my husband coming on shore and heading toward the bike rack. In nearly a full out panic by now, I rushed to him and gave him a huge hug. He pulled back from me giving me a strange look “what are you doing” he asked.

“Where have you been?” the words rushed out of me.

“What do you mean? I have been swimming.” He replied a bit disgusted.

“There are all kinds of people missing, don’t you get it? They called the race almost 90 minutes ago and I couldn’t find you anywhere. I was afraid something had happened to you! They took two people away in ambulances!” The words rushed out of me.

“I am fine, I thought I was swimming a good race. I had no idea they cancelled the race.” He calmly explained to me a bit embarrassed by the way I was acting.

Finally, assured my husband was fine and in good shape I relaxed just a bit.

The race officials got the situation back under control and restarted the race with the bike and the run soon to follow. I spent the rest of the day watching for my husbnad to bike and run by, the kids and I cheering him on as best we could.

My husband did something really cool that day, he showed me that amazing things can happen once you change your perspective. Once he decided he wanted to complete an Ironman he changed his perspective about what was possible. As soon as he believed he could do it he simply took many little steps toward his goal until his goal became a reality. He taught me that once you decide to do something, anything could happen, even something that should be impossible.

One of my goals in life is to help my husband make a dream come true. I tried to be his support team and believe in him when he needed it the most. The sad thing is that he is the one who taught me the most that day. It was a powerful lesson for me.

I have never been so proud of my husband as I was when the announcer loudly proclaimed in the microphone, “Dan you are an Ironman!”

Later, laughing about the excitement of the day I told him he might as well have done the Alcatraz Ironman, it couldn’t have been much more dangerous than this one was!

Ironman Dan

 

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list.”

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Mom on Call

I am not sure how this happened but I love it. Somehow over the years I became one of those “mom’s on call” out there. The kind of mom that kids with problems seem to gravitate to. I don’t really understand what it is that attracts them to me but it happens.

Every time I go to an amusement park with my family I find a lost toddler, in the mall I will see the child hiding in the clothes rack or the little one running fearfully down the isles of the grocery store looking for the lost mom. Sometimes it feels like I am a magnet and the force is beyond my control. I am not sure if I have a force that pulls these kids to me or I am just on mom alert all the time. Maybe it is a little of both.

As my own children have gotten older my “force” seems to work in a different way. Now I have become the “Go To” mom almost like I am the “Mom on Call.” The funny thing is I don’t mind it. I usually get a kick out of it. Whether it is a sick college girl calling for advice on how to survive Swine Flu or the occasional distress call from a kid involved in a hunting accident I seem to have become a Jack of all trades.

I am honestly honored that these young adults would think to turn to me for help. Whether I am dispensing dating advice, tending a broken heart, helping someone deal with divorcing parents, encouraging an under performing teen to raise the bar, helping a young teen learn study skills or revising a resume the night before a big job interview, I hope these kids know that they are loved.

My son and his best friend roll their eyes when I try to get them to eat healthy or remind them to study hard now that they are away at college but no matter what they know I am here if they need me.

Being the best mother I can be to my own kids is one of the most important things in my life. I just want to raise great kids that turn into amazing adults. I guess if a little of that mothering spills over I don’t mind.

I heard a great song on the radio the other day that I love and it kind of fits here.  It is by Chris Young and it is called “Voices.”  I hope my kids, all of them, hear my voice!

I’m the mom on call.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Christmas Cookies

 

Christmas Cookies

 

As a kid I loved everything about Christmas.  I loved the smell of the Christmas tree as we put it up after Thanksgiving.  The pine smell filling our house with the anticipation of what was yet to come.  I loved the sounds of Christmas music wafting through the main floor, Elvis or Glen Campbell telling stories of Silent Nights and First Noels.  I loved decorating Christmas cookies with all my cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Some of these memories are crystal clear, others just a bit fuzzy, in a warm and welcoming way.  Every December my Grandma would pick a Saturday and invite all 23 of her grandchildren for a day of magical cookie making.  Parents were only involved enough to transport us to her house, then they were encouraged to disappear and use their free time wisely!

Grandma's Gang

 

Grandma was an organized woman, she had to be, she and grandpa had eight kids and she was the aunt to another 18 kids!  She would be waiting for our arrival; her apron tied around her ample bosom and hips, the smell of warm sugar cookies floating in the air of her kitchen.  The long table would be set up with balls of dough, flour for sprinkling, rolling pins for the big kids, and tons of tiny cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes.

The grand kids ages ranged from late teen to newborn so the older kids would be placed in charge of the little ones.  I always seemed to be in the middle, not big but not the baby either.  The big kids would roll out the dough and the little ones would have the important job of selecting the cookie cutter of choice, should it be a Christmas tree or maybe an angel?

Next, the big kids would help load up the cookie sheets and grandma would confidently run the double ovens, continuously rotating the uncooked with the slightly brown finished cookies.
The best was yet to come, next we’d get to slather on the frosting and add sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut and any other whimsical topping Grandma could think of.

Carrying on the tradition

 

As a mom I have tried to continue this special tradition with my own children, but even after years of practice I still can only handle my three kids and maybe a couple extra.  Every year I am amazed at the amount of cookie dough it takes just for my small crowd.  The volume of sprinkles and the dust of the flour can take hours to clean up but the fun is priceless.

Now that Grandma and I have switched roles, and I get to host these wonderful cooking magic making parties I have a whole new respect for what my Grandma was able to do.  I cannot even imagine how she had the energy to keep up with all 23 of us and still never get cranky!

I see, now that we switched roles, what a strong woman she was, and I hope that I can carry her traditions on in a way that would make her proud.

Doing it at my house

 

Grandma was a force to be reckoned with in many ways.  Her view of family shaped my view in more ways than I realized.  She was strong and completely unafraid to roll up her sleeves and get to work when she saw something that needed done such as a house to clean, a baby to rock, a hungry man to feed, or an orphan who needed a blanket.  She would just get to work and make it happen.  She managed to raise all these kids, usually fed another 20 hungry men every day for lunch and then raise chickens and grow a garden!  Grandma might have been a bit vocal, and things were not always calm around her house, but Grandma was the glue that held the family together.

A family that large can be a loud and rambunctious crowd, often there was some loud fighting, and it usually was not all warm and fuzzy, but when the chips were down and you needed a hand there was always a strong one from Grandma ready to reach down and pull you up and get the job done.

I hope that in my small way I can help continue both traditions, warm Christmas cookies for the kids in my family and a strong and steady hand ready to dig in and do whatever needs done so that a family that loves each other can be held together with strong glue.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?’

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Dreams Come True

My daughter can dream really big. Ever since she was a tiny toddler she has wanted to be a star.

When she was tiny she would dress up in a frilly “twirly” dress, add all the accessories she could find, and then insist we introduce her grandly to the living room as “Lisa Peasant Girlllll!” She would then waltz grandly into the room and begin her performance. We would watch enthusiastically, clapping and cheering her on for the camera. This went on for years. I mean years.

At first my husband and I thought it was cute, then we thought it was funny, then we tried to distract her, eventually we gave in and just chalked it up to the notion that she would out grow it eventually.

As a kid she would insist on directing, writing and producing each and every play date. Orchestrating the play and play actors every move.

I remember trying to get her to let others lead. It usually didn’t work. I worried about this. Was this normal?

Flash forward about 17 years. The young, silly girl is now a beautiful, young woman. Confident and radiant she commands attention where ever she goes.

The young woman is a natural leader and has miraculously found that she can continue to direct and produce in every activity by becoming an officer of the school group.

The young woman loves to sing and when she opens heart to the song it usually makes me cry from its beauty.

All Grown Up

 

As a senior in high school this young woman was given an amazing opportunity, an opportunity she earned by singing the National Anthem at virtually every high school sporting event her large high school held. Much to all of our dismay, she was given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a professional Rockies Baseball game.

The night of the event, the Rockies played the Atlanta Braves, the stadium was filled and Saturday night excitement filled the air.

She walked out on the field and the field manager handed her the microphone. As calmly as if she were walking into school she stepped out and began to sing, acappella, all alone.

The words “Oh say can you see” ring out loud and clear from her voice, solid and strong. She was a sight to behold. The giant TV screen showed her performance to all in the stands and on TV.

“What so proudly we hail, at the twilight’s last gleaming” as she sang the notes got even stronger. Somehow she realized this was her dream and she gave it all she had to give.   She held nothing back; she had no fear.

In the stands, I was overcome with a wave of nausea, I was shaking from head to toe and couldn’t bear to let the air out of my lungs. I was terrified for her. There were so many people, the TV cameras were rolling, and everyone she loved was there watching her. My own insecurities drove my fear until I realized she did not have this fear. She was living her dream, sharing her gift with thousands of people.

As she hits the high notes flawlessly I stare at my beloved daughter in complete awe and admiration. She held the crowd’s attention for the entire four minutes and delivered a flawless performance.

Watching her spread her wings and fly I realized somehow I had managed to give birth to someone who just might change the world with her gift, a gift from God that she was not afraid to share.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?’

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