Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a better way to end the year than a movie.

        Christmas is over, but my daughter Lindsay, was still on winter break.  We needed to find something exciting to do on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter.  A movie sounded as good of an option as any.

     I've been anxiously awaiting for the movie Annie to hit the theaters and now that it was, I was also hoping to find a Tuesday that worked, because this day the tickets were a little less than the fortune they cost on a regular day.  This wasn't Tuesday so I decided to splurge and pay full price.

     But if the cost of a ticket wasn't enough, then they had to show us a cartoon of dancing concessions hoping to suck 40 more bucks out of us.

     Those little boxes of popcorn and hotdogs could parade across the screen til they were blue; I wasn't cracking.  Back in my earlier years it wasn't a movie without polishing off an entire box of Goobers but my conscience got the best of me.  It was all or nothing and fortunately (or unfortunately) I chose nothing...  A movie with out eating?!?!  Am I a savage or what?!?!

      For those of us who weren't getting sucked into their ploy of handing over the rest of our bank roll, they had another strategy to brainwash us into giving them our every last nickle.  The next 20 minutes was filled with previews of all of the up and coming movies.  Now, before the movie even starts we can start contemplating what movie we'll go see next.  Seriously?!?!

     Then they tempt us with movies that weren't all that great the first time around and convince us that the sequel is even better.  Example; Mall cop... When I saw it the first time around it wasn't very good, but it was the company that made it palatable.  The company would have to be out of this world to stomach it a second time around.

I will say though, how cool would that be to tool around the mall on a segue!!

           Incidentally, I had to bribe my daughter with some of that "dancing garbage" to get her to take this selfie:)  Hey, there are some things I will part with my money for...  (and don't think she wasn't loving every minute of it!!  She was probably wondering how many likes she could get if she posted it on facebook,lol).

Have a great day!!


Monday, December 29, 2014

Boys and their toys.

     I have never been one to expect a lot for Christmas; I would rather see the look on someone else's face when I figured out the perfect gift.  However, the gift wrap it's self is enough to put a smile on my face, no matter what's underneath it.  To know someone was thinking about me is the best gift of all.

   When I started shopping for my little grandbaby William, I knew what ever I got him had to be rugged and tough, and gender appropriate.  I asked his mom for gift ideas and she told me he loves pushing her vacuum cleaner.  Who was I to judge; isn't gender neutral all the rage these days??

      I looked all over town until I found a toy Hoover vacuum cleaner that looked just like the real thing, only smaller.

     But of course Grandmas have to spoil their grandchildren, so I wasn't done shopping yet.  This was when I had to put on my thinking cap and get into a little boy mindset.

     After finding a few more random toys I came across a huge box with a picture of a toy Black & Decker workbench on it.  This was the perfect little boy gift. Now he could also be just like daddy; I was finally done with my shopping for William.

     Then Baby Connor, at only one month old, was happy as a pig in mud to simply eat and sleep.  So the little menial gifts I bought him wouldn't make a bit of difference.  They would only end up in a corner somewhere.

     On Christmas Eve, as I kind of expected, William opened the vacuum and pushed it back and forth a few times, then set it aside, in the hopes of finding something more interesting.  

     He loved the huge gift-wrapped box containing the workbench, but after the brightly colored paper was off he no idea how he was supposed to play with it.  I never stopped to consider it would need to be put together.

     William and daddy went to town, both with screwdrivers in hand, using a team effort to conquer this project.

     I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out what toy would make a little boy happy.  I think the daddy and son team had quite an adventure creating this master piece.

      Then I discovered the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  William, like a typical guy, got sidetracked and soon his eyes were peering on the TV.  

          After wandering briefly, William remembered he and daddy had a project to finish, and the two of them worked side by side to complete the task.

       I know Christmas isn't about finding the perfect gift, but by the look on these boys' faces I would say we all hit the nail on the head:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas is over: now what can I obsess over??

        It seems like we've been working like crazy for a Million years to get ready for Christmas; when in reality we should have been ready all year long.  Now that there are land fills with three Billion tons of Christmas wrap in them it's time to focus on everyday life again.

     I already started the ball rolling for the bike to the bay, but I have to have a lot more than that to keep me on track during the cold winter months.

     Maybe I'll start obsessing about my trip to Florida next month;  I'm sure that will make life interesting while I'm waiting for the spring thaw.

     I can spend countless hours on the internet researching all of the things I can't and can take with me.  If I'm well educated I should be able to make it through security unscathed.  I'm usually pretty good at convincing people I'm harmless, but I have a feeling Airport security  personnel might be ruthless.   I'll save that for getting out of a speeding ticket;)

     The first thing I did to make sure my luggage gets to it's destination was buy the most practical suitcase that was exactly the regulation measurement for carry-on, light as a feather, with wheels that swivel so much that my luggage and I could fall off a cliff and my luggage would be upright at the bottom. 

Then Piggy-back a tote... perfect!!

     Now I have a month to pack it so that not even an eighth  of an inch of space is wasted; that tiny suitcase has to have everything I need in case I was to get stranded on a desert Island for six months... Hey, you don't know!  I guess I better start packing;  this could take a while...

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I don't want a lot for Christmas...

          It seems like we've been through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season a million times before, and in two days everything will go back to normal, with the exception of the lingering stack of bills.

     But for little Connor this is all new.  Last year he wasn't even a thought, and now he has his whole life ahead of him.  

          A lot of challenges have been put in front of me recently and I'm totally blessed with the strong will to handle most of them.  But change can also be positive and I have to say my new grandbaby was the best change I could have asked for!  Now William has a little brother to be his best friend for life, and Emily gets to experience the wonderful balancing act needed to share her love with more than one child.


     This is the second tree I've decorated this year; the first one was at home, and now the tree at work.  But at the end of the day it isn't the decorations or presents that make the holidays special, it's being with those you love, and there aren't enough decorations in the world to make up for that.  Like in the song "I don't want a lot for Christmas..."  We need to remember what's important:)

     I hope this post finds all of my family and friends happy and healthy, and enjoying a wonderful Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Santa Babies

     The loves of my life are my precious little grandbabies!  In my mind there is no one more adorable.  But for some reason every mom feels the need to throw the man with the big red suit into the mix to capture the spirit of Christmas.  I'm a mom so I know how this works.  You stand in line for two hours hoping to get the "perfect" picture with Santa, which almost never seems to be the case.

     My daughter Emily was no exception to the rule of Santa pictures.  Little William and Connor were going to sit on his lap if it was the last thing Mommy did. 

     Connor, who was barely a month old wanted nothing to do with this charade; unfortunately he was too little to have an opinion.  William, on the other hand at just under two knew for some strange reason this big dude in the white beard and red suit was all the rage, and people were lining up to see him, so it was worth giving him a chance.


          But after a while, William realized that he was wasting his time; he had places to go and people to see, so he proceeded to attempt his escape. 

   Sure, Emily got her Santa Picture "2014", and it will go in her family photo album to be buried with all of the other "good idea at the time" photos, but William was proof that even the tiniest brains might have the better ideas, because this picture below captured an obviously more pleasurable moment, and that was making a gingerbread house with mommy.  

     It looks as though William was saying "Thank you!  I'll be here all week!  Be sure to tip your waitress (AKA Mommy)",  A picture that captures a memory that will top any Santa photo for years to come.  Incidentally, more candy got in his tiny little tummy then on the house.

And for my next act...!

Have a great day!!


Friday, December 19, 2014

It's still freezing, but Team Leapfrog is Hopping.


     You saw my wishful thinking the other day, but this is reality.  It is still freezing!  The amazing thing is, a lot of Team Leapfrog is ready to go.  When the first day of registration came about I had 12 team members jump on board.

     I'm a true creature of habit, and I absolutely hate change due to my fear of not being able to adjust to the new normal.  You would think by this stage of the game I would know it always works out.

     I had a few team members say they weren't able to ride this year, a couple of them were ones that had pushed me hard last year to keep going when I began to doubt myself. For a few minutes I started thinking it was a lot of work and stress last year, and maybe no one would care if I dropped out too. 

     After I had a chance to process the change I started to see that the gaps would eventually fill themselves in.  My riding buddy Robert who has MS but rode in the BTTB for 12 years had thrown in the towel last year because of the physical challenge he faced, but encouraged me to carry the torch.  This year I convinced him that If I can do it he can't bail.  Now he's back on our team.  Robert is also trying to recruit riders who were on his team before.

     Then I looked on the list and saw a lady by the name of  Arlene signed up.  She was a stranger I met at Dick's sporting goods over the summer.  After telling her my story she said she wanted join my team.  She was serious!  The first day of registration her name was on our team list.  

     Remember, Team Leapfrog was based on the leap of faith that together we could do this; even those of us who are there in spirit.   

     So it's official; this team is going full force again and it's our leap of faith that will carry us:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rowing is definitely a workout.

          You might remember last spring I recruited my friend and riding buddy Kristina  to join Team Leapfrog.  She's very involved in the Toledo Rowing club, and as it turned out she wasn't able to ride the day of the Bike To The bay due to her rowing commitment.

     The rowing club is across the river by International Park and we ran into Kristina many times on our rides in the city.  Now that it's winter and rowing season is over, Kristina moved the rowing machines used for practice to a building in Downtown Toledo as a way to utilize these machines through the Winter.

     She invited me to come down and try them out, and I must say, these machines are quite the workout.  Not only do they work every muscle in your body, but it also requires real brain power.  You have to be on your toes to make sure to make the correct movement in the right sequence to operate these these machines properly.

     The day she had me test them out, she only had four of the machines moved into a smaller office area, but her goal is to move all of about 20 machines into this building in a much larger space and conduct rowing classes.  I thought I had tried every workout there was, and now I have yet one more option:)

     Kristina also invited a Yoga instructor by the name of Sandy to follow the rowing session with a small Yoga class, just to stress the importance of stretching your muscles after such an intense workout.

     Incidentally, a while back when I mentioned my leg quit working and miraculously yoga got it working again; well Sandy confirmed that yoga absolutely can help muscles that don't co-operate due to MS.  The oxygen to the brain can  wake the nerves up that aren't firing properly to the muscles.  Glad to know I'm not crazy...

    I'm not sure where I might fit rowing into my workout line-up, but if there is a way, you know I'll find it:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Date for the 2015 Bike To The Bay

     No, this isn't where I am right now, just wishful thinking:) But I'm starting to get psyched up for the next bike to the bay.  They just announced the dates for the 2015 ride and it's only a matter of time before the riding season is here again.

     The Official dates are June 20 and 21.  Registration starts today.  Last year Team Leapfrog was a new team and I had no idea how many riders we could drum up, but I set a goal of 25, and when we reached that goal I changed it to 50.

     Though we didn't quite make that goal of 50, we ended up with 44 on our team (41 who were able to ride).  I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined we could grow that big.

     This year we plan to exceed 50 riders for sure and hopefully pass the 22,000.00 we raised as a team last year. Our new goal is to top 30,000.00 to represent 30 years of my life with MS.

     Anyone interested in joining our team can e-mail me at the e-mail address on this blog.  Please help us wipe out MS!!

Have a great day!!



Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Again

          I know my blog is usually about the crazy, silly, or challenging things that happen in my life, but today I am writing about one of the absolute happiest things that has happened to me, and anyone who is a parent will surely get goose bumps when they hear this...

    With the holidays here, most people would have no reason to be anything but full of the holiday spirit.  However, that wasn't the case with my 25 year old son Matt.

     He was having a very hard time making sense of life, and though he knew he had a lot of family and friends who cared about him, he felt all alone. I know so many people have a hard time finding their purpose in life in their twenties.  His feeling of loneliness made me sad especially with this being the holiday season.  

     I tried to convince him to no avail that if he just hung in there and had faith, things would eventually make sense, and he would find happiness.  Some times all it takes is one person to make you feel like you're the most important person in their world before you finally get it.

     Well, Christmas came early for me when Matt admitted he found happiness again, and even more so when I discovered this song he composed.  As a parent, there is no greater joy than to see your children happy.  Click on happy again and imagine my tears of joy; see if you get why I'm so happy as well:)

                                                              Happy Again!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It worked for Venus!!

        So now that the pink frog was painted on my brace I had to wait 24 hours to let it dry.  Luckily I was at work all day and  I had less chances of forgetting I didn't have my brace on and tripping...

     Sure, my bionic leg is helpful in stopping my leg from buckling when I walk, but in a perfect world I wouldn't HAVE TO have it.  but since I do, I hope my pink frog will help me deal with it:)  If nothing else, maybe strangers will say "cute frog!"  rather than "what happened?!", which incidentally, I've found the best answer to cut the conversation short... "I'm just a walking mess!!", or "bar fight...".  Where do you go from there??  

     So it was day two of my frog painting and we went back to the bike co-op.  

     We took the stencil off and the pink frog was nice and securely in place. The next step was to put the helmet stencil on the dry pink paint and tape that off too.  later we would draw in the eyes with a white paint pen.

     It was hard to know how the helmet was turning out until we took the stencil off.  But once we did we discovered the best laid plans don't always go the way they were intended.

     A combination of the paint not adhering enough and the stencil adhering too much, and we ended up with some real abstract art:)

     My buddy Robert was very disappointed because he worked so hard to make those stencils.  My poor froggy was armless.  

     The funny thing was, to someone who is very artistic this is a failure.  To someone creative, this is a masterpiece!!  It worked for Venus De Milo.  His sculpture with one arm missing made him a very famous man, and that piece of art has been admired by millions and millions of people over the years.

     Robert wanted to scrape the paint off immediately and start over, but I told him to leave it just the way it is.  Sure, someday we might try again or try to fix what we have.  But for now I'm just happy to be sporting such a unique piece of art.  Besides, now I have an even more interesting story; forget the bar fight:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, December 8, 2014

A real tattoo would be quicker!

          I told you I was painting a pink frog on my bionic leg, but I was beginning to think a frog tattoo was going to be quicker. 

What do ya think??  Uh... maybe I'll wait for the paint...

 My riding buddy Robert, who is also very artistic, made the stencil and I bought the paint, but it just never seems to work in our schedules to paint it on because it's a two day process.

  With the tattoo parlor we would be in and out:)

     The longer time went on I was tempted to just draw  a frog myself.  After all, I can draw a mean stick figure:)  I know... I need to be patient; anything worth having takes doing it right.  And in the end we'll all be happy:)

     So yesterday our schedules finally matched up and we were actually going to paint that frog.  I told you we would do it at the Bike Co-op because of the fumes.  We also wanted to get it done before the Sunday afternoon crowd came in, but in about an hour this place would be swarming with people working on bikes so we needed to get in and out before the craziness began.

      Below is the stencil that was cut out for the pink frog, but the helmet is green, so there had to be another stencil which would go on the dry pink paint, and it would take about a day to dry.  My bionic leg would have to spend the night at the bike Co-op.

We were using spray paint which could be messy, but painters tape worked well to protect the rest of the carbon fiber.

     By leaving a gap between the stencil and tape, we were hoping to have a pink boarder around the frog; That was my idea, and I hope it works...  Then we sprayed the entire area pink, and the next day we'll take off the tape as well as the first stencil, then we'll put the second stencil on, and paint on the green helmet, and add the eyes.  Yikes!!  I'm beginning to think the tattoo would sure be a heck of a lot easier...

   I'm with out my bionic leg for a couple of days, but it's worth it to finally get my pink frog!!  Check back to see the final result soon:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Okay, so maybe I don't know everything...

     I've had MS for 30 years now and if anyone knows how this crazy disease works, it's me.  I've read up on every tip and trick to help fight the things that attack my body, and at the end of the day I do what I know in my mind to work the best.

     Eating healthy; been there done that... My nerve zapper to make my toe go up, my bionic leg to stop my hyper extension, and then the good ole injections three times a week to stop progression.  I know it all, and any other tip and trick is probably just a pipe dream to give people hope that they can be cured.

     You know my routine of the treadmill  and strength training and then my bike; I do absolutely everything in my power to fight this battle and I know the number one thing I can do is keep my body strong.

     Last spring when I was at the bike to the bay I started a conversation with one of the volunteers who was passing out medals at the finish line.  He also happens to have MS.  Well, you know us MS people, we all swap war stories and tips and tricks.

     Chuck told me he used to have very bad debilitation due to MS and he was unable to walk for months.  He began doing yoga and now he  can walk again.  He developed a "Yoga for MS" DVD, which he was selling for 20 bucks and suggested I try it.

     What he didn't get was I can walk, and always could; my only real disability I have is my footdrop, which I have had for over 12 years.  Nothing was ever going to make that go away, until the day we have a miracle cure for myelin replacement.

     I really didn't need anymore "tricks" to help me.  Sure, I had spacticity in my toes, but that was a residual effect from my foot drop, and that was what my muscle relaxers were for.  Of course, the muscle relaxers don't have a direct route to my toes and sometimes my whole body has to be knocked out before my toes get the message.  Let's not forget the brace for my hyper-extension, but again it's all part of the domino effect of the footdrop, and by now we've got this MS thing completely figured out;) 

     As usual, I politely acted as if I was interested and said I would be back later.  Who was I kidding... I was saving my money and I wasn't coming back.  

     However, I was handed twenty bucks from a concerned and maybe overly optimistic friend and after some persuasion I had no choice but to get the DVD.

     A couple weeks after the bike to the bay, that concerned/overly optimistic friend asked if I started the yoga yet.  I admitted I hadn't but I had a million reasons why not.  I was already doing everything in my power to keep healthy and I just didn't have any more free days to add yoga to the mix.

     After a few more nagging comments I decided to give this yoga thing a try just so I could say I did it.  I knew the strength training was the most important thing I could do for my health but who knows, maybe the yoga would help the spacticity in my toes.

          I was pleasantly surprised that my spacticity was actually getting better and I was convinced that it was worth keeping Yoga in the rotation.  

     Did I think Yoga was beneficial to my MS it's self??  not really.  All it was was breathing and stretching.  If I didn't keep my body from getting week nothing else I did mattered.

     Then the other day I was catching up on a couple of my recorded movies, and by the time the movies were done, after sitting like a slug for so long I had practically grown roots into my sofa.

     When I got up to call it a night something frightening happened.  My right leg (the one with the footdrop) had absolutely no strength in it.  I could feel it buckling beneath me.  I kind of felt like the scarecrow from the Wizard Of OZ.

     At first I convinced myself it was from lack of blood flow from sitting on my foot for so long.  but as I hopped on the strong foot and barely put any weight on my weak one, some time had passed before I realized the strength wasn't coming back.  

     With having MS for 30 years, I had heard many stories of people suddenly losing function in their legs for long periods of time, maybe even forever; but the foot drop was always the extent with me.  I have plenty of strength in my legs, but what if the connection from my brain to my leg was suddenly gone, and that was the last day I would ever walk again??

     I went to bed with the hopes of sleeping it off.  maybe by morning it would be back to normal and I would be right back on my treadmill and strength training, never skipping a beat.

     Well the next morning my leg was like an over cooked piece of spaghetti, and I started thinking that in spite of all my efforts my days of walking could actually be over.

     There was no way my leg was going to hold up my seemingly 300 pound body to do the treadmill, and I had absolutely no strength to do my strength training.  But I had to do something...  It wasn't my day to do yoga but it was my only option. 

     I got on my yoga mat and did my one hour of stretching with therabands and deep breathing.  When I was finished I just laid there for about 15 minutes, wondering how the day, and possibly my life was going to go.

     The crazy thing was, when I stood up I actually felt the strength back in my legs again.  It was something I would never believe if you told me it happened to you.  But when I tried to make sense of all of this I started to realize that while it's true my foot drop is there forever;  building muscle, while beneficial in preventing atrophy, is not addressing the area where this crazy disease starts; and that's in the brain.  Oxygen to the brain can help the nerve signals to the rest of the body and it's the misfiring of the nerves that control every crazy transient symptom of MS.

     My body went completely back to normal; as normal as can be expected.  Yes, I still have footdrop and hyper-extension, but I'm still walking.  This made absolutely no sense, but then, nothing about MS makes sense:/

     So the next time I try to convince my self I have all the answers, I guess I have to remind myself; maybe I don't know everything:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There's a blanket on my bike trail; I sure will miss him

     I was driving past Wildwood park the other day and my car sucked me right back in.  I think it's like a homing pigeon, going back home.   The trees and grass were covered in snow but I really wanted to go back and see my old friend.  My bike was no longer in my car but I sure missed the days of jumping on it and heading to the trail.

     Here's what it looked like.  It was a little sad to see, but this is life with four seasons.   If I did snow shoes or was a skier  I would be in heaven, but for now I'll just sit and wait patiently for my day to come.

     Remember that crowded parking lot??  Those were the days...  They'll be back before you know it:)  And we'll all be riding again.

     Ironically, a couple of days later the snow was gone and I was tempted for a second to take my bike off the trainer and head back out there, but that sounded too much like work and so my bike stayed put indoors.  And the snow kept coming back...

     The good news is, it's only a few weeks now until the days start getting longer and my bike and I will be back on the trails again:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, December 1, 2014

No rules; why not?!?!

       Okay, so Thanksgiving is over; now I can get serious about Christmas.  The week before Thanksgiving my daughter was home from college and she wanted to go shopping for Christmas decorations for her college apartment.  

     I wasn't ready to even think about my regular Christmas tree.  I know I already put my tiny snow globe tree out, but I wasn't ready to tackle the life size tree yet.  Though I was happy to go with Lindsay to help get her in the holiday spirit.

     We went to Michael's crafts and they were swimming in red and green as far as the eye could see.  It was like Christmas...

     About half way through the store I noticed an isle filled with pink and green decorations.  I laughed and told Lindsay I should decorate my tree in pink and green:)  She said "why not?? There are no rules.  You can do what ever you want".  I said "that's true; why not!?!?"  

     I just started filling my shopping cart with everything pink and green imaginable.  I didn't have a plan yet, but that didn't matter;  my life is filled with plans that change anyway.  I knew it would all come together.

       When I got home, the first thing I did was make a pink and green center piece for my table, and until my tree was up I placed my two frog ornaments on the top.

     A few days later Lindsay was in town for Thanksgiving and she offered to help me with my tree.  I couldn't pass up that offer so we went crazy. 


     At first I thought this pink star tree topper may have been a bit much, but remember the no rules thing... I was doing it!

          The pink and green ornaments in my mind didn't look as tacky as one might think.  Then the pink and green beaded garland was like the icing on the cake.  It was really starting to come together.

       Pink and green pipe cleaners to make candy canes... why not?!  Remember, no rules.

      Add a few pink snow flakes and if this doesn't show my personality, I don't know what does.

      But something was missing;  What is a Christmas tree with out a tree shirt.  I looked and looked for a plain green skirt, but all I found were red and green ones.  A shinny gold skirt here and there, but come on; now that was just silly...

     Then my BFF Joann said she would love to make me a green and pink skirt.  I was so anxious to see it, and at the same time curious what a green and pink skirt would look like.

      Two days later she brought it over and I was in heaven!   This skirt was perfect!  Sure the pink bling might be a bit over the top in some folks opinion, but seriously... isn't this whole tree a bit over the top as it is!?!?  

          I'm so glad I decided to step outside the box instead of playing by the rules, and I think my new tradition for Christmas will now become pink and green (and frogs!),   because in a life where the best laid plans can change on a dime, I think I'll just make my own rules!!

Have a great day!!