Saturday, March 31, 2012

My First Triathlon

When I started swimming again a few months ago, I set a goal to do a triathlon this year. Our local triathlon was schedule for today and I thought, "Why not?" and started working hard training. I choose a sprint distance or baby tri as I call it. 1/4 mile swim, 9 mile ride and two mile run. I swim and ride that far on a regular basis, really the run was my major concern.

The day came all too quickly. This morning as the alarm went off, my first thought was " Am I really doing this? What was I thinking?" and since my bag was packed and the bike was loaded in the truck, I decided there was no turning back.

Of course, I got there and saw all the seasoned triathletes and that brought my thinking to "I am going to embarrass myself, please God let me not embarrass myself!" I set out my transition area, which my friend Julie had well prepared me for and started stretching.

No turning back now!

It was a beautiful morning. A huge storm rolled in after the race.

I had to ask around for swim times to decide which lane to get in. I went with the time I had recently swam at practice. Unfortunately, I got in a lane that was too slow for me and had to keep passing women which interrupted my swim. The swim was a cake walk other than that. 400 yds is my daily warm up, so it felt fast.

I ran out and quickly changed into my riding and running outfit. I had decided against buying a tri suit for my first time out. I regret this decision now but know for next time. My transition was smooth ( thanks again Julie) and I headed out on the bike. I just couldn't get comfortable in the saddle and never found a good pace. I ride this distance normally but never have ridden that route. Once again, something I know now for the future. At the end of the ride, I began to realize, I was one of the last riders out on the road, if not the last.

I rolled in and put my bike away, tightened my shoes and ran off. Immediately, I got a stitch in my side and running was difficult. I was warned by my twitter friend Kim about this and so I pushed through. On the second mile, I found my stride and by the last 1/2 mile I got the runner's high and my feet just kept going. I really thought I was dead last, seemed like everyone was ahead of me. I was trying to catch a lady in front of me and that kept me motivated.

As I swam and rode today, I went down my prayer list and prayed for so many friends. Friends with cancer,   Friends with chronic conditions, a friend speaking at a memorial service, friends struggling with worry, Patrick who recently had a heart transplant and is in serious condition, and the last leg, I thought about Janet and how the whole world is watching her comeback. So what if I finished last? I didn't know anyone there besides Marty and the kids and they were proud. Plus, I recieved hundreds of comments on Twitter and Facebook cheering me on, I am loved and supported by many. I could feel that carrying me through. I literally cried reading all of the messages of support.

I finished in two hours, this was the time I figured it would take me. I was hoping for 1:45 but it didn't happen. I finished and I wasn't last! The best thing was Conner and Elizabeth were waiting at the finish and ran to hug me the moment I crossed the line. Marty was waiting with my bike and gave me a huge hug. That was the only thing I needed.

Elizabeth bravely did her first tri last year and inspired me to do my own. Conner is my bike mechanic and had my bike in tip top shape. They train with me and keep me company on the journey. So it was only fitting they were at the line. Marty too, he has put up with me running off to swim every evening and he pays for my adventures to boot!

I am tired and slightly sore. I took a fabulous nap this afternoon and a lot of the soreness went away. I got a massage after the race and that helped a lot.

Thanks to my friends Lei, Ronda and Darci for being my virtual workout buddies. These Momma's are so encouraging and supportive. Thanks to Mike, Lisa, and Andrea for the running inspiration and encouragement. Thanks to Julie and Kim for all of the tri advice and encouragement. Also my Twitter besties   Kristi and Melinda, they always are encouraging me every morning and evening at workout time.

I definitely am hooked and will maybe do one again. First I have to help E train for her next Tri in June. Feels great to have accomplished something. I am proud of myself.
My loot

A/N: This morning I found out that I placed 5th in my age group and my time was 1:47:50 seconds which means I was only two minutes off my goal time! I am thrilled.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Our Old Dog Max and my Deep Dark Secret

In 2002, after we were done having kids, we decided to adopt a pet. We had lost our beloved family dog Sam in 1997 and it was time to move on. We went to the local shelter and had a idea of what we wanted. We lived in a small two bedroom duplex and knew we needed a small dog.

As we walked the aisles, I spotted the "perfect" fit. A 9 month old chocolate Lab/Dachshund mix. YES, you read the correctly. A Lab dachshund mix. Perfect, our love of Labs and small dog put together. What else could we want. The infamous story goes like this, they offered for us to see him outside his kennel and he hopped up into my lap and started shaking. I should have known then.

We waited the appropriate waiting period and took him home. That's when the fun began. We thought training would be a breeze since Marty had impeccably trained Sam. WRONG.

Max sitting pretty in his youth

This dog came with a laundry list of neurosis. He loved to bolt at the first chance he could get, that explains why he was found "At Large" on his pound tag. He hated to sit on anything but carpet. He was obviously abused in his past life because he piddled when you looked at him or when someone new came into the house. Just a few things in a laundry list of neurosis.

He was very good with the kids. Elizabeth was one and Conner was three when we got him. Sadly, he quickly learned I was the momma and he was all about me, wanting nothing to do with the kids. He tolerated them and played with them but followed me everywhere. Often barking and throwing himself or jumping up and hitting, sometimes nipping my hand to get me to do things for him.

He quickly decided he didn't like Marty or I to hug or kiss. Still to this day he cries , "No no" or "Momma" when we do this. He loves me, more than I love him.

We tried everything to break him of his running. He would figure out how to escape from the kennel and still bolt out the door. No matter how many times we've moved, he always finds his way home in 15-20 minutes.  We finally moved to a house with a gated front entry so he no longer can run away. He still tries but after his famous "River run' where he floated down the St.John's river the day we got the first call from Stanford, he seems to be cured. On that day, as we were searching for him in the rain and cold, E said to me, " I know you don't love him but I do!" OUCH!

I do love him. He is just a handful and tries my patience. He is famous with our friends for his bad behaviour. Many of them have witnessed him following me around and throwing himself at me while I do my daily tasks.

In 2008, before we moved to this house. The "Incident" happened. On one particular, I wanted to go to the bathroom by myself, something most mom's long for. I thought I had achieved this only to see Max sitting at the bathroom door inside the bathroom watching me. Oh NO! this dog wasn't going to watch me pee. So I shoo'ed him out into my bedroom.

I noticed a brown furry bug on the ground and started yelling. Marty yells at the same moment, "Why is Max shaking" and then "Max is bleeding everywhere" and it hit me. On accident I  slammed his tail in the door, docking it in the process. It was Mother's day weekend and the vets were closed. We dipped his tail in Nu Skin and wrapped it tightly. Later we found out it was a clean break and we actually did the right thing. We were told he had to not chew on it or risk surgical removal. We waited it out and his tail healed quite nicely. You would never know he is missing the tip of his tail. Sadly, I have never spoken of it. The shame I feel is great, it was a accident and not my fault, I still feel terrible.

The good news is we are even. On Christmas eve, 2010 while attempting to get up from the couch and grab the drier buzzer before Oscar howled, Max hopped up at the same time and landed on my foot breaking my pinky toe.

He still is gun shy with me and doors, the dog is smart and doesn't forget. If I don't open the front door wide enough for his liking, he backs up until I do.  It's quite funny all these years later and he remembers. In 2010, he was sent to live outside after he marked twice in the house. Guess what? He is happier than ever and loves living outside. It actually fixed several of his issues. After a year, he is allowed to come in for the morning hours and loves it. After 11 years, we finally are enjoying each others company.

He is healthier than our 6 year old Doxie Oscar and we fully expect him to live to be twenty years old. It's been a labor of love to give him a forever home. I am glad we adopted him, most people would have sent him right back.
Old Man Max
He loves when you scratch his neck. He smiles
I refuse to serve him at the table!
Yes, he really is Lab/Doxie. Google it

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Ask Jules

Have a burning question that you want to ask me? Want to see me blog on a certain subject? Feedback about my blog? Want to be a Guest blogger? Help me continue to make this blog a success and have great content.

I am challenging you my blog readers to leave me a comment or email me at and I will either comment back or email back. I may use some of your questions as a future blog subject.

I've been wanting to try this for something and can't think of a better time to just do it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Heather

Yet another entry in my Happy birthday series. Every year, I try to pick and choose friends to send a wish to on their birthday. The blogs have been a way for me to share my feelings with special friends. You can never tell your loved one's enough how much they mean to you.

Heather and I met in 2002 when I started attending her church. At the time, she and three other mom's had small children in the nursery like I did. Our daughters along with one other became playmates. Heather,another mom Alyce and I started having mom's night out every month. I quickly learned, Heather is a quiet person like Marty and doesn't have much to say. She is also a intensely private person, who keeps everything to herself. Basically, we are polar opposites. Over time, I slowly gained her trust and we became closer than friends.

Heather is my sister, she has walked through so many dark times in my life. She helped me when my own sisters weren't so nice, she was there when my grandparents died and she was steadfast when Marty was sick. In fact, the day we got the call she was the one who came and took the kids on a moments notice. In return, I have been a sounding board for her and seen her through some tough times. At one point or another we both have worried about our Dad's heart conditions.

We have shared the joys of motherhood together. We often can be found at the park during the summer or spring break. We finally got past the Chuck E. Cheese years together ( she may still be going because she has younger kids) and now are navigating the teen years together.

Sadly, she is one of the people I am hurting the most by leaving to Georgia. It's going to be tough for her and I know that. She doesn't know it, but I am going to force her to come visit me. I will win this one!

I am so thankful for your friendship and sisterhood. Thanks for always being there when I needed you most. We've had some fun times together and will continue to have those fun times together. You will learn, I am always here no matter how far away I am.

Happy birthday, my sister, I hope its a wonderful day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

16 years and counting

Today is our 16th anniversary. I can't help but think of Jerry and Debbie, their gift makes this day possible. Last year, I made a slideshow last year to commemorate our 15th. You can watch it here:

Happy 15th Anniversary Marty

We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate 16 years. Hard to believe in just three years, we will be married as long as I was old when we got married! Time flies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nectar of the Clouds

I asked Joel from reasons2ride to write a guest post about our new daily habit. Before I started my fitness journey I drank virtually no water daily. I just thought I was never thirsty. I didn't drink soda, tea, juice, I just didn't drink anything aside from two cups of coffee a day. I would occasionally sip water here and there. Since this started, I am up to over 80 ozs of water a day now and feeling better.

Social Media has been a wonderful addition to my daily life. I like the interaction with people from all walks and all parts of the globe. I’ve made some wonderful friends and feel it has really enriched my life. I started blogging almost a year ago to hold myself accountable for my actions, and invited others to join the ride.
The feedback has been nothing short of life changing and I’ve been able to find personal strength and motivation never before realized. To be asked to guest blog however, that is special and when Jules asked me to guest blog I was deeply moved. So I would like to give Jules a heart felt thank you for providing me with this wonderful experience.
This all came about nearly 3 weeks ago when I tweeted about being sick, to the point I felt I should see a doctor. I do not like going to the doctor’s office for many reasons, none being I dislike doctors. Something was wrong, vomiting; diarrhea and I could not keep fluids down. I went to an urgent care facility and was placed on IV fluids within 25 minutes of my arrival. The problem, I was severely dehydrated.

How?  I’d been drinking close to 90oz every day. That wasn’t enough to maintain hydration based on my activity.

How could that be?  I increased the amount I’ve been drinking as my activity increasedthe problem, I wasn’t compensating for all the toxins being dumped into my system as my metabolism finally began firing on all cylinders.

It was put to me quite simply, “our bodies are literally nuclear reactors and the hotter the fuel rods become (burning calories), the more water we need to cool and maintain normal operation”. I wanted to know more about dehydration so I naturally I took to the web. The information was overwhelming, like asking for a glass of water and being offered a fire hose. Filtering through these blogs, case studies and clinical research I was amazed at what I discovered. Here is an illustration from the Global Healing Center’s website showing how vital water is to our personal wellbeing:

Symptoms of dehydration are fairly universal, but I found the information presented on the Mayo Clinic’s website most useful:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:
• Dry, sticky mouth
• Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
• Thirst
• Decreased urine output — no wet diapers for three hours for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
• Few or no tears when crying
• Dry skin
• Headache
• Constipation
• Dizziness or lightheadedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

Extreme thirst
Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
Lack of sweating
Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
Sunken eyes
Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold
In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby's head
Low blood pressure
Rapid heartbeat
Rapid breathing
No tears when crying
In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

During my quest for thirst quenching information I came across a neat site, Dumb Little Man Tips for Life, which does an excellent job summarizing the key benefits of water (other than it is absolutely necessary for life).

1.     Weight loss: Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, first of all because it often replaces high calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn't have any calories. But it's also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we're hungry, we're actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, and no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss regimen.

2.     Heart healthy: Drinking a good amount of water could lower your risks of a heart-attack; A six-year study published in the May 1, 2002 American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who drink more than 5 glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses.

3.     Energy: Being dehydrated can sap your energy and make you feel tired -- even mild dehydration of as little as 1 or 2 percent of your body weight. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated -- and this can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and other symptoms.

4.     Headache cure: Another symptom of dehydration is headaches. In fact, often when we have headaches it's simply a matter of not drinking enough water. There are lots of other causes of headaches of course, but dehydration is a common one.

5.     Healthy skin: Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won't happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.

6.     Digestive problems: Our digestive systems need a good amount of water to digest food properly. Often water can help cure stomach acid problems, and water along with fiber can cure constipation (often a result of dehydration).
7.     Cleansing: To help flush toxins and waste products out of the system the body uses Water.

8.     Cancer risk: Related to the digestive system item above, drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.

9.     Better exercise: Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise.

Now that I am armed with the whys, I need to know how much. Oh my goodness! Congress will agree on a universal healthcare plan before the experts will come to a consensus agreement as to how much water we drink. Again, I really like what Dumb Little Man Tips for Life has to say about how much water we need:
“This is a debatable question. What's clear is that the old recommendation of "eight 8-ounce glasses a day" isn't right, for several reasons: that amount includes all dietary water intake, including food and non-water beverages; it also ignores a person's body weight, which is an important factor in figuring the amount; it also varies if you are sick or exercise. It's also not good to just with each meal, a glass in between meals, and be sure to drink before, during and after exercise. Try to generally keep yourself from getting thirsty”.

All of this information is wonderful and probably review for the majority, but as I watch twitter conversations and read blogs, it seems taking in enough water every day is a problem not unique to me. Enter Jules…her caring nature had her concerned as she learned I had to see a doctor. Once I told her what was what, she told me she also struggles getting enough water daily. I suggested we use twitter to remind each other throughout the day to drink some water. I like to use hash tags (#) on twitter and since water is already bland enough, I thought Id liven up the name, thus the birth of #NectaroftheClouds. Its funny because
We’ve both been asked, “Whats Nectar of the Clouds"? “Is it a new energy drink”? Once we mention it is just water, you can almost hear the duhs…but then something cool happens, people say thanks, I like that, it reminds me to drink water.

How about you?

Do you get enough water in a day?

What are your tips or tricks to keep you hydrated?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trapped in a Box

I heard a great sermon years ago from our friend Jason. It was about living your faith outside of the box and living your life standing on top of that box. So often, we live in a box that we or others create for ourselves. Marty's renal failure and subsequent journey trapped us in a box that we didn't create for ourselves. It was a God ordained journey for us and we needed to live through it.

During that time, we felt doors were closing here in California for us. I wrote about it quite extensively in this blog here about our desire to move to Georgia. I think that I need to backtrack a bit and give some little known history. When Marty asked me to marry him, he told me that he didn't want to live in California forever and that if I couldn't handle moving then I was free to say no. I told him that was something I could do and forgot all about it. Over the years he has talked on and off about moving to Minnesota ( see the other blog) and I have not been okay with that.

When he came home and said Georgia, I knew. I knew this was it because it was somewhere we could both agree on. I have many friends there and wouldn't be going without built in support. Something I did when I moved to Visalia. I only knew my sister and aunt, I left my support system behind and that was tough.

The decision was made before transplant. Fast forward two years, we know this is meant to be. Slowly but surely doors in our life here have been closing. The more information we have gleaned about our move, the more we know this is where God is calling us to go.  The list of pro's is numerous and the list of cons is about four things.

Two of the major reasons are fear and the box. We are scared, its a huge move with a lot of unknowns. We moved here with less of a plan and opportunities though. We can't stay here because we are scared. We have face bigger challenges in life than this. I came across this scripture recently Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:16

We can't lived trapped in a box of fear and expectations. The second reason is we are disappointing a lot of people. My family and our friends don't want us to go, they will miss us and it hurts that we are leaving. This has been the hardest challenge, I hate hurting and disappointing people. I am a people pleaser, so it goes against my very nature to do this.

It comes down to, we can't live our life for others. We have to live them for ourselves and for God. It's hard and it will be hard. We have to do this and see what happens. What's the worst? We fail and have to come back home? When Marty was sick, we looked back and regretted not doing a lot of things. Now we have the chance to change things and live free. We are busting out of the box and standing on top of it!

All we can do it ask for everyone's support during this time. It's going to be hard for everyone. We as a family are excited and looking foward to new adventures. Our plan is in full motion now. After May is when we will start the process of job hunting seriously. We are hoping to be there before September, so we can start school in Georgia.

A/N I sang the No Doubt song "Trapped in a Box" the entire time I wrote this blog! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pizza Pasta

This recipe was given to me by a family friend years ago. I think she found it in the newspaper and decided to share with me. It's been a family favorite since we were newlyweds. It's a great alternative to pizza night and the kids are sure to love it.

Shopping list: 1 pkg. sliced pepperoni, 16 oz. mozzarella cheese, 1 jar spaghetti sauce ( your favorite flavor), 1 16 oz package macaroni pasta, parmesan cheese.

You can add mushrooms, peppers, olives if desired. The potential ingredient list is boundless. This just happens to be the way my family likes it.

Cooking directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Lightly grease a large baking dish

Boil macaroni until al dente. While macaroni is boiling cut mozzarella into chunks, slice pepperoni into halves or smaller chunks. When pasta is done, drain and put back into the pot. Add to the pot the spaghetti sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Mix well and then scrape the mixture into the large baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and place into oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and cheese is golden brown.

Sure to be a Friday night favorite with the kids. The recipe can be adapted to be low fat or vegetarian.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Riding Buddies

When I was about 11 years old, I made a friend named Tony. I had recently recieved a Schwinn 10-speed for Christmas and he loved to ride bikes also. I remember hopping on my bike, riding from my house to his house and going off on a adventure.

We would ride all over our city without helmets, hair blowing in the wind and seeing the sights. We would ride miles and miles together. I loved the freedom my bike gave me to see the world around me. I loved that Schwinn, I wish I still owned it. What a great bike that was and what adventures I had on it.

As a parent, I can't imagine letting Elizabeth go wander around our town on a bike. I think back, that was the days before cell phones and I was often gone for hours. The world was a different place back then and life was a lot simpler. I really would never let my kids ride off alone so we ride together.

We often get up early to get the schoolwork done before lunch., After lunch, we hop on the bikes and go on adventures together. We love riding in the sun with the wind blowing, often our view is the mountains on the top of the page. I love being able to share that experience with them while making memories together.

Being a short mom, my kids are about my height right now. It's nice that our abilities and statures are about the same. We keep up with each other very easily. Elizabeth isn't a fan of pro-cycling like Conner and I are. Even she loves her bike named "Clare" and riding the vast expanse.

I often get asked the question, "Do you ever want a break from the kids?" and that answer is sometimes I do need a break. Every mom needs a break sometimes. I do love spending every minute I can with them and enjoying our time together. Someday, not so very far off, they will be busy with their own lives and grown. I would rather spend every minute I can with them before that time. Someday, I will have plenty of time to myself and will miss these days.

So for now, we are riding buddies exploring together. What a precious gift to share with each other.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday my Friend

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. 

My friend Staci, often calls me "my friend" as a tear of endearment. It was her birthday on March 1st and I fully intended writing her a birthday blog like I have done for a few other friends. Then the day before her birthday, we got the call from Debbie, our donor's mother and that took precedence. It was okay because I was helping Staci's husband Wayne plan a surprise party for her the next day.

Two weeks later, I am finally sitting down to write this blog. I think of all the birthday blogs, this will be the hardest to write. Staci and I met when she gave me a baby shower gift for Elizabeth. Our churches had recently merged, she was a member of one church and I was a member of another. Two of our kids were very close in age and her daughter Maddie was just a few years older.

We became friends on a shaky foundation. It's hard to explain without going into major detail but basically we were ill suited to be friends. We both had issues that prevented us from being a really good friend to each other and our surroundings didn't help. Because of this issue, I actually went to biblical counseling that changed my life and the way I am as a friend. I am a better person for knowing Staci.

We had years where our contact was almost non existent. We had a friend in common and that line of communication was often cloudy at best. In fact, once that commonality was removed from our lives, things became much clearer.

She is actually the friend, who helped Marty find the new doctor who diagnosed him with renal failure. We slowly started on a beautiful journey of prayer and change that makes us the friends we are today. We spent months and years praying together for different things in our lives. As we reconnected our kids were older and became friends. Her daughters are precious gifts to me, I adore those girls as my own. It's such a blessing to be friends with her and the girls.

We have often said, its a miracle. A true miracle that we are friends and our bond is so strong now. We have been through some ugly things together and the end result is beauty. We forged our common faults and truly know the ugliest parts of each other. That's what makes this such a special friendship. When you know all of someone's "ugly" they can't hide from you or really let you down.

She truly is my sister of the heart. In fact, last week at her party, people kept asking if I really was her sister because we do resemble each other.  Our times now are spent in laughter, prayer and joy. We have survived the odds and overcome. I am so grateful that we kept pressing on and not giving in to ourselves. Our love for each other, keeps us from giving up. We were meant to be friends, the kind of friend who changes your life and truly makes you a better person.

I love you "Foxy Mama", thanks for everything you have done for me throughout these last 12 years. Can't wait to see what the future holds for us. Happy big birthday, I am not far behind you.

Camping Pismo 2002

Just last week, a few years older but much wiser.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Just Jules Famous Grape Salad

The recipe isn't mine by any means, I just happen to make it upon request quite a bit and get asked for the recipe almost once a month.

This is a great dessert type salad. Red,black and green grapes in a sweet dressing with a brown sugar and nut crumble topping. Really simple to make and a guaranteed hit at parties. This is a must have dish for Easter or spring celebrations.

Some of the ingredients may sound odd but don't let that turn you off!

2lbs green seedless grapes
2 lbs red seedless grapes
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste
1 cup brown sugar, packed, to taste
1 cup crushed pecans, to taste
Wash and stem grapes.
Set aside.
Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla by hand until blended.
Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving bowl.
For topping: Combine brown sugar, and crushed pecans.
Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely.
Chill overnight.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What is a Good Friend? Guest blog by Darci

Last Summer I was introduced to Darci. I met her through Ronda, who is one of my cycling fan buddies. I added Darci on Twitter thinking she was a cycling fan also. She actually isn't! It is one of those things that a simple "mistake" is really not coincidence at all. I know Darci and I were meant to be friends. I adore her outlook on life and enjoy reading her blog. Be sure to add her blog to your reading list. You can visit her aBusy but Precious Moments. I read this post on her blog and had to post it here, its a subject that has been on my heart all week.

Good Friends....

What is a good friend?  In church yesterday, we heard the 3 traits that are traits of being a good friend.  The 3 traits aren't anything unexpected, or shocking.....but they did make me think.

1. A GOOD friend encourages us. 

Now, let's think about this.  Who do you encourage?  Does that SAME person encourage you?  I have 557 friends on Facebook.  Other than if I have a motivational status that impacts someone, I know I am not encouraging 557 of my friends on a daily basis, or a weekly basis, or monthly basis for that matter.  I do know that I try to encourage my friends, but I don't encourage ALL of them.  However, I started thinking about those that encourage me.  This is an important thing.  It is GREAT that I might encourage some, but who is encouraging me?  I've realized that friends I have gotten upset with or, stopped encouraging is probably a result of the fact I don't feel they encourage me.  Now, please don't think I am asking for encouragement.  I'm not.  I'm just understanding that it is important for it to be a 2 way street.  I also realize that I have probably lost GOOD friends, ones that were encouraging me, when I didn't encourage them.  For that, I am sorry.

2. A GOOD friend keeps us on the right path. 

This one is kind of interesting.  I believe it means to keep us going and doing what is right.  I also think it means helping us to be ourselves.  I have some friends who I can truly be myself around and I LOVE being with those people.  I have other friends, that when I am around them I find myself trying to be who they (as I feel) want me to be, and usually those times aren't as fun.  Now, that is silly.  I am who I am...and that should be enough for a GOOD friend.  I think this one is tough for kids in school.  Here is where we have to learn that it is okay to be ourselves and not act like others. 

3. A GOOD friend complements us.  (Notice, it's not compliments...though that is always nice.)

A good friend helps us see our strengths and weaknesses.  They are there through the good and bad.  They are there when we need them, whether it be to just listen, or to just talk.  They are willing to support us and tell us the truth when it needs to be heard.  They remind us of our priorities and yet remind us of our free-spiritedness.

Friendship is tough.  You have to be there for the GOOD and the BAD days.  It's funny, there are some friends that I would NEVER tell I had a bad day.....why is that?  We all have them....the truth is I don't think they will really care, so, it is easier to just pretend that my life is great. 

I am thankful for all of my friends, but I am especially grateful for my GOOD friends.  My encouragers, my friends who help me to be me and inspire me to have fun and live life to the fullest, my friends who complement me and help to make my life better. 

I hope you are this type of friend to others and that you have friends that are this for you

I loved this scene from Steel Magnolias...."Here, hit this!!!"

Have a WONDERFUL Monday!  :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a Week!

This has been such a week, so many things happening at once. Ever had a week like that? It was a happy yet extremely overwhelming week.

It started out with a prescription issue. Our very first experience since transplant happened with a pharmacy issue. We use a great pharmacy that specializes in specialty medications. Our specialist has always been helpful and I told her about this issue a few months ago. Unfortunately, she is on maternity leave right now and that information stayed with her. Our insurance no longer covers the brand name of one of the anti rejection drugs and we needed the generic. The difference is about $575 dollars, the new specialist couldn't understand why we didn't want to pay that? Anyone have a extra $575 dollars laying around? didn't think so!

It came down to five minutes before his pills were due to be taken. The delivery driver showed up with the medication at our gate. I told him he saved the day and I hope that I made his day. Marty didn't miss a dose and all was well. That ordeal went on from Monday until Wednesday.

Then Wednesday the call came from Debbie. What a blessing to hear from our donor's mother and hopefully provide her some comfort and peace in her trying time. We are so grateful to them and can never thank them enough. It was very emotional.

Last week, My friend Wayne called and asked me to help him plan a 40th birthday party for his wife Staci. Staci is a long time friend of mine and one of my closest sisters of the heart. I was excited to help and we were keeping it simple. That was Thursday and went off with only one small hiccup. The party was a roller skating party and one of her guests broke his leg and ended up having surgery. Needless to say we all felt awful and nobody will forget the night!

Then I helped run the women's fellowship night at our church last night. The director has been sick with pneumonia and asked me to take it over. It went well and we had a lot of fun together. We played this fun new game which is like pictionary and telephone combine. You write a saying on a piece of paper, then pass it to the person next to you. They read the saying and draw a picture, they fold the paper and pass it to the person next to them. That person tries to guess what the saying is and writes down what they think. They pass it to the next person who draws a picture. This goes on until it gets back to the original writer.

It's been a long week. Needless to say, we are playing hooky from church today and vegging on the couch! I am exhausted in the very best of ways. One thing that was in the forefront of my mind this week was Jerry. Without him this week would have have been much worse and because of him our life is good. It's easy to let little things annoy or upset, when that happens, I get more upset with myself. I remember that not too long ago life was tough and now its not.

I remember when Marty was sick, I looked back on the good times and the silly little things that annoyed me before. I was so upset with myself for letting them get to me. I made a promise to myself to not let silly little things bother me on this side of transplant. I had to remind myself of that several times this week.

Life is good and it was a fun week! Can't wait to see what next week brings!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

His Name is Jerry

His name is Jerry, he was 18 years old for only 24 days and he is our hero. Last night, I spoke with Jerry's mom and she told me her son's story. On December 5th, 2010 he told his mom he wanted to be a organ donor should anything ever happen.

One short month later it did. His final act in life was being a hero and he saved Marty's life. I hope it brings his mom some peace and comfort knowing he lives on inside of Marty. We talked for about 45 minutes in a very emotion filled phone call. We hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This is about all I will be sharing for now. I want to respect his family's privacy and not share anymore details. I will ask you to please pray for his mother and siblings. This has been very hard for them and they need a lot of support.

I told her that thousands of people read my blog and have been praying for her for a very long time. I think that was a comfort to her and quite a surprise. It was quite shocking to check my voicemail yesterday and hear her message. I had been told by my dear friend Andrea that it would come out of the blue and she was right. The donor's mom just got the letter yesterday.

This is all very new to all of us and really a lot to process. We are hoping she will agree to meet with us and meet Marty face to face. He hasn't spoken with her yet and needed some time to process the information also. This is all I will share, I had to share something with you all since you have been such a support. I wanted you to know about the contact.

If you have any questions, you can email me at