Sunday, June 29, 2008

Favorite Pics from our Midwest Sojourn

Green and lush. That's how everything looked in South Dakota and Iowa the end of May/beginning of June. Beautiful! These are two views from the patio at the farm where I grew up and my parents still live. (Click on the photos to appreciate fully!)

My South Dakota sister with a couple of her boys and Erin in my mom's canoe.

Erin and Grandma Ruth.
Erin and Brady with cousins, Levi and Seth.
My Dad sitting in my sister's family's new speedboat while he watches Alison park the canoe.
Hangin' out at the dock. My brother-in-law just purchased part ownership in his grandma's lake cabin which is about a 15 minute drive from the farm, on Big Stone Lake.
On my trip, I was able to visit with my 90 year old great aunt and my 90 1/2 year old grandpa. I also, was able to meet and visit with Mildred, pictured above, who's 91. She shared glimpses of a life filled with horses, trick roping at rodeos (she could have 3 ropes going at a time: one in each hand and one between her teeth), becoming a law student(when women didn't do that), learning how to fly to help train pilots in World War II, becoming a circuit judge (South Dakota's first woman to do so), and county judge, going to Elderhostels after she and her husband retired, and the pleasures of still living at home on their family farm (which was about 10 miles or so from where I grew up.) I exclaimed admiration for the life she's had and she said, "Yes, and I've loved every minute of it!" (The picture she's standing by is an artist's rendition of Mildred dressed to perform in a rodeo.)
My grandpa helps me identify some unmarked old family photos.
Target practice with Grandpa Maurice.
Erin's first attempt at shooting a gun.
We went up to my aunt and uncles horse ranch to see a couple of my cousins and their families who were back visiting from Minneapolis and Kansas City. We were treated to checking out the new spring foals, too. (Pictured above are a few of my cousins' kids.)
I think Erin caught this cute pose.
The mares with the oldest foals - maybe two weeks - stayed around us to eat their "treat" while the mom's with the youngest babies - one was maybe only 1 or 2 days old- were more protective and walked away from us, over the hill.
Adorable Adam. I don't think he reads this blog or I wouldn't dare label his picture like that. Oh, and it wasn't easy for Erin to get such a candid photo of him.
The lilacs bloomed late this year, Memorial Day, because of the long winter. Usually their blooms are gone and the peonies are blooming by then.
Grandpa took Brent and I to his favorite getaway - Hartford Beach (which is also on Big Stone Lake.) Here, he is joining Brent in some rock skipping. It is so fun to hear him talk about all the good times he had at Hartford when he was a teenager. The nine mile drive from town was gravel then, but they would come down at least twice a week in the summer. There was a hotel with a dance hall and a rollerskating rink to add to the place's popularity. He goes on the hikes now. The trails are full of trees, ferns, all sorts of wildflowers, and you have to be careful to stay away from poison ivy. The foliage provides a cool, green canopy for hikers even in warm weather. Grandpa fought in the jungles in Okinawa which had been literally stripped of all vegetation because of the war. He soaks in the fresh green life around him with transparent joy, still so thankful to have come home from the war to enjoy so many more years.
Brady takes Grandpa to Google Earth to see pictures of Okinawa and the island he was taken to after he'd been shot. The jungles have been replaced with high rises now.
A taste of some of the game playing that went on.
I don't know what this shrub is called, but I enjoyed the blooms out the farm kitchen window. I don't remember ever seeing this bush bloom, even though it was there while I was growing up!
Brady and Grandpa M watching cousin (grandson) Logan's baseball game, in LeMars, IA. (Home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream!)
Logan at first base. We enjoyed a gorgeous evening, - no rain, bugs, or wind!

Grandpa had shoulder surgery the end of April and was still in a sling. Erin became "matching" when she fell off her cousin's Ripstick and ended up with a hairline fracture in her arm.
We bought Brent's folks a Bocci Ball lawn game several years ago. It's the best gift we have ever given them. Bocci ball competitions are a tradition whenever we're back. (Right to left: Brent's sister, Ann; Brent; his sister, Sue; and Katie, Ann's youngest.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Through the car window on our road trip home

Scoop of the day!

Our book reviewer, (Miss Erin,) was interviewed over here today. The blog she's featured on is the blog of authors who will all be having their first book published this year (hence, the name, The Class of 2k8.) Check it out.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June Health Update

We've been home for over a week now and I've been meaning to post a health update, especially so you can be praying for Erin. But between trying to recuperate, getting to the doctor just 5 days after getting home, (well, we stopped for treatments at his office on our way home, too) and Erin's bf arriving to stay with us for two and a half weeks, I haven't got around to updating until now.

Many of you don't know that Erin came home with a broken arm! Actually, it is a hair-line fracture and because of the type of break and location (near the elbow) it doesn't require a cast. Sometimes Erin wishes it did, as the sling is aggravating to the shoulder. She had an accident trying out her cousin's new Rip Stick (a two wheeled skateboard.) It happened two weeks ago yesterday. B and I were just driving back to his folks' after a nice visit with dear friends (met them for a couple of hours in a park in Holstein, IA,) when our brother-in-law called to let us know Erin was hurt. A few minutes later, my sister-in-law called and suggested we meet at the emergency room in Cherokee.

At first, the doctor came back from X-ray saying nothing was broken. When we were leaving, she gave us the number to call on Monday to get the X-ray final report. Monday afternoon we finally called for it and she informed us the bone may indeed be broken, to not move it all, (we'd encouraged E to try to move it earlier that day,) and to get it re-checked when we arrived home.

Our doctor, north of us, is giving her treatments on it once a week - laser, NMT, and a new one (can't remember its name) next week. We can tell healing is happening, so we're encouraged. The doctor says her arm should be back in working order by the time Erin's rehearsals start up for "Fiddler on the Roof" the end of July. We are praying for that.

Erin also hit her head when she landed and had a big black eye. She has some bleeding in the eye, but last week, the doctor gave her something to help stop the bleeding. So between the sling and her eye, she's looked pretty beat up.

Brady and I could tell we were a doing a little better, health-wise, on this year's trip to the Midwest, compared to last year's. Brady's bad breathing and chest pain problems were hardly an issue (just a few occurrences and not at emergency levels like last year.) We are praising God for this! Brady does get headaches whenever he "overdoes." That happened this week, too. But they don't seem to last as long - his recovery time is quicker. Everyone says we look a lot healthier then we did last year. We're so happy to report these improvements!

Monday, June 16, 2008

just me in pictures

Here's a meme going around that I decided to try.
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into flickr search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush/hero?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name. (I don't have one, so I used one of my internet usernames.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Spoons and budget

Here's a link to an article about a gal who has lupus who uses spoons to try to explain what life is like with her chronic disease. I've used a similar illustration to this, explaining that we are really poor and have a very tight budget. Each day we have to figure out how much money we have to spend; some days we find a little extra in our shirt pocket, some days we come up so short we wonder how we'll "put food on the table." Either way, each day we have to limit our activities to those we can "pay" for. When we "go into debt" by spending too much we are in big trouble for the next several days.

I don't often "spend my money" writing thank-yous - I try to thank the person "in person" at the time because I can't "afford" thank you writing time. I often can't "spend my money" on birthday card shopping, writing, and sending either. I don't especially like these two ways of budgeting, but just trying to save up to see people or call people (both rare, because I am poor, remember) is where I concentrate my budget in this regard.

For those who have lived a life of poverty, you may get the idea. This isn't fun, this isn't easy. It pretty much stinks, but this is what we've been given right now and we keep fighting to make the best of it. We feel like we've been doing a pretty good job - but you know, what we've found out is that the poor (whether talking in terms of economics or disease) are often misunderstood, criticized, and worst of all, overlooked.

Life is hard for us. Please help make it joyful by being our cheerleaders every time we "score," or to keep up my illustration, every time we save enough "money" up to be able to share our lives with you. If we haven't found a way to "make ends meet" and you haven't seen us for awhile, come visit us and maybe even ask how you can help.

Life truly is "in the giving" and we've been blessed greatly by the many physical ways you've stretched your own "budgets" (so creatively and cheerfully) to help or be a part of our limited lives. Hey, here's a big and sincere, THANK YOU! You add richness to our lives. And that helps us to face our limited budget, one day at a time.

Endnote: Have you gone to the above link yet? If not, please do. It shows in a real way how hard this "budgeting" is.
Reading stories is a great solace to us, but it does not compensate for the act of living.