Friday, January 28, 2011

Lucy and Ethel

You would have thought we were Lucy and Ethel for all of our shenanigans at the hospital yesterday. Mom needed to have a colonoscopy and an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (say that three times fast)... she was literally getting scoped from both ends, to put it delicately.

I would not be allowed back in the procedure room, so they told me to leave and they would call when she was ready to come home. Little did I know I should have brought a small army with me. She walked in under her own power, but was a "mildly" sedated and quite loopy woman in a wheelchair when I arrived to get her. I was a little surprised they simply handed her over to me and I was on my own to navigate her out to the truck. She looked at me with a silly grin on her face and said through slurred speech, "do you shtink this is how you feel when you are strunk, drunk?" Oh good... this was going to be a fun ride home...

So I managed to wheel her out to the lobby and then tried to get her to understand I had to walk to the truck and drive it up close. I left with her slumped in the chair, her glasses slipping from her nose as she nodded off over and over again.

This was going to be interesting! It was melting snow everywhere and the maintenance guy was cleaning the sidewalks with a shovel attachment on his truck. He allowed me to pull in close and park if I promised to be "quick." I went back to the lobby to find mom deeply asleep. I tapped her lightly, nothing. I shook her a little, nothing. I called her name and moved her more briskly, she stirred... and then her head flopped the other way. Oh Lord... I decided to push her out as she was hoping the fresh air and bright sky would help awaken her. I saw the maintenance man watching me out of the corner of his eye.

I inched her as close to the door of the truck as I could. She was at least looking at me and realizing I needed to get her into the truck. As I went to put the brakes on the wheelchair she managed to pull the foot rests on the wheel chair into a straight out position, AND SHE LOCKED THEM IN PLACE. I pulled, pushed and turned every lever I could find, only to have them stay stuck in place straight out in front. Not only did I have to get her up, but now she had created an obstacle course to get out of! All of this on a slanted sidewalk with ice!!

It was then the maintenance man, realizing he may never get his sidewalk cleared if he didn't step in, offered some assistance. In the meantime, mom had drifted back to sleep again, her head straight back and her mouth wide open, snoring softly. Uff da.

With help from the snow-removal guy, we got her legs freed from the chair and hoisted her up to the truck, with him pushing a little, and me pulling from the inside, we managed to get her inside. Even I had to chuckle to myself as I pushed the wheelchair back into the lobby with the leg rests still sticking straight out in front. I played a good Ethel to her Lucy!

With brute force and determination I managed on my own the rest of the way home. I got mom inside her apartment and put her to bed. I checked her on and off and got her up for dinner a few hours later. I left last night when I was assured she could manage on her own again.

It was late last night when I recounted my adventure to my husband. With tears streaming through laughter, I yielded to the humor of the events of the day.

Mom called me early this morning. She can't remember a thing! The last thing she remembered was her doctor telling her they were putting a little something in her iv to "take the edge off." I told her everything went fine! But her next "procedure?" I'm scheduling it in Pennsylvania, where my brother lives... I wouldn't want him to miss out on all the fun!

Monday, January 24, 2011

"untangling the threads..."

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
Sunset, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, January 21, 2011

Introducing... Roba Dolce!

Kudos to the Fed-Ex lady today!  Its was unspeakably cold, or -12 below zero outside.  Here was this tiny Fed-Ex woman trying to carry this enormous box up our snowy sidewalk.  Her glasses were fogged up and with the 3 scarfs she layered around her head, neck and face, she could barely see.  But she was happy as a clam to bring me a special delivery.   The box read "perishable" and I couldn't wait to rip it open.  She waited with me to see what it was...


Do you see what it says under the black and white triangle?  "Dry ice..."  The mystery of the box continues...

Until we got to this part...  the look on her face was priceless and I only wished she could have stayed to enjoy some with me.

Voila!  Roba Dolce Sorbetto and Gelato!!  Have you heard of Roba Dolce?  Chances are you will soon!  


Every time Karen @ This Old House II mentions her husband's new business venture, Roba Dolce my mouth starts to water for a taste, even when its breakfast time.  So even though it was 10:00 am?  You know I had some mango sorbetto for breakfast!! And yep... IT WAS AWESOME!  

We received lemon and mango sorbetto. For gelattos we got pistachio, coconut, and dark chocolate chunk.  Yummy! 

Thank you Roba Dolce!  Thank you Karen!

The boys of course have to wait till after school tonight to try some, but then we'll get a "review" from them.  Would you like to learn more about Roba Dolce?  Click on the button in my right hand sidebar at the top or follow the links...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Squirt hockey tournament

When you are hosting a hockey tournament for 14 teams plus two of your own teams, the planning starts long before the weekend of the tourney.  But the long hours don't really accrue till the weekend.

   I volunteered to check credentials for the tourney knowing it would be an early start to my day.  I beat the sun coming up but was welcomed by this sight out the office window before the craziness of the day started.  A good omen perhaps?
I sat sipping this as the teams started to arrive.  We had teams from Minnesota, North Dakota and even Canada participate.

The only downfall to my job, was not being able to see much of the first morning's games.  The upside- when I was done a little before 2, I was done with being in that room- yay! The work?  Never really ends. 


This was my number one helper... she had "buffy" (Family Affair) pigtails in the day before and it was the cutest thing ever.


The hardware- every one of our boys stopped to admire this and dream a little bit.


Ummm, mascot anyone?  This little sparrow has taken up residence in the rink.  He is well fed- hello popcorn heaven, and has a constant supply of water- hello melting ice from the zamboni.  He has gotten so used to his environment that he even swoops down on the ice in the middle of games.  

But now on to the action!  As a pre-tournament warm up, the boys played a game Friday night against Minnetonka.  Anyone who knows this area will tell you that our community has some big time rivalries with the teams around the Minneapolis area.  We're sadly accustomed to losing more than our fair share of games to them.  So our boys were a little intimated to play, wondering how their skills would match up.

Nolan got a stick to the neck in this one... ouch!  He had a big red mark across his neck and he is lucky that is all he got.

But we needn't have worried.  The boys rose to the occasion and beat Minnetonka 5-2.  This proved to be a highlight that we couldn't have appreciated nearly as much until after the weekend was over.

Our next game was our first tournament game against Elk River, another big rivalry near the cities.

I missed this game and what a doozy of a game!

With the score tied two-two towards the end of the third period... well just watch the clip and see what Nolan wearing #25 does...

Untitled from Vicky Westra on Vimeo.

From a sliding on his knees position he gets the go ahead goal!  One of the mom's came rushing into the office I was sitting in to tell me the good news.  Yay for Rick's video later that night so I could see it.  I have said this before, I cannot fathom the skill and raw athleticism it takes to play this sport.   I am in awe of ALL of the kids, not just my own son.  His goal is a great example of something every one of our kids on that team can do.  So when I brag on him?  Really I am bragging on all of them.

Unfortunately, Elk River went on to tie the game up and we headed into overtime.  Just  a minute or two into OT, Elk River scored in sudden death.  Our boys came out off the ice crestfallen.  Nolan said they all cried in the locker room because they knew that 5th place was the best they could attain.

Saturday night they hung on to beat a team from West Fargo, 3-2.  We would play for consolation on Sunday.  We played a Canadian team and after a few intense minutes, we figured out how to light them up.  We won the game and the consolation bracket.

So remember I said that win against the Minnetonka team would grow in significance for us?  Guess who who the Championship game?  Minnetonka beat Elk River!  And who was the only team to beat Minnetonka?  We were.

Rumor has it Minnetonka agreed to a re-match.  We'll be heading their way in a few weeks.  We can't wait!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

some assembly required...

Its a highly technical endeavor.  You have to get just the right angle on your shovel, or garden hoe as the case may be.  The bigger the brick,  chunk of snow, the more manpower it takes to place it.  The crew has been at it for weeks now. They use sleds and wagons to haul the big chunks of snow left behind by the snowplows.  Then they hoist them stacking one on top of the other to build up the walls.

On any given day between 2 and 6 boys show up to play, work.


Nolan decided to venture out on his own and dug this fort out on his own.
He is explaining to me he wanted to be able to stay out of the wind so he dug down, then built the walls up.

You see, the boys have been taking notes.  Across the street is the grandaddy of all snow forts.  Now this is an entrance.  Its perfectly mommy-proof as no amount of convincing could get this neighbor mom to crawl inside.

But don't let the fact that you have to crawl in on your stomach fool you... its big inside and has not 1 but 2 rooms in it.

And to the untrained eye?  That is just an old broken hockey stick sitting in a snow bank.  But if you watch carefully... smoke has been seen arising from the depths of the fort.  We've heard it has its own "heat" source, but we're keeping mum on that little added bonus. 


Monday, January 10, 2011

What is black and white and whistles?

What is black and white and whistles?  Its Nolan reffing his first hockey game!  Not only did he play in two of his own games on Saturday, but he reffed two games that day.  And Colton played in two games as well- meaning, yes, we spent most of our weekend at the rink.  Yesterday each boy skated in one game, and Nolan reffed the last game of the night.  He took a class in October, then had to take a test.  Now he is on the rotation for reffing.  He gets paid per game and will get his first paycheck in a couple of weeks!  Nice!

Dropping the puck for the face-off.
Whistle ready for the call...
It was an exciting game that looked like it might be a blow out, but then the other team came back and it was close till the very end.  

What better way to entertain a little brother, than to tell him to hop on your bag and you'll give him a ride! Could his smile be any bigger?
When it was time to hop off, big brother just eased the bag straight up and little man hopped off and hit the ground running.  I should have shot it in video because it was the funniest thing I'd seen in a long time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Molly B' golly

At first he said "no." "I am not going to the nursing home and getting a grandpa or grandma for a partner.   No." His mournful eyes welled with tears as he tried to explain, but words weren't necessary.  Having lost his best ball playing buddy, his grandpa, just a month prior to the start of school, it was no surprise Colton wasn't in the market for a replacement.  The unsigned permission slip sat on the counter for weeks.  His teacher encouraged us to take our time and just see if he'd come around.

Mrs. Larson has participated in a service learning project for years. Once a week her class goes to the nursing home and the students are paired with an elderly "partner." They play bingo, or work on crafts or play other games for an hour. Our kids learn how to be of "service" to another who in most cases have less ability than our kids do. Sometimes the kids have to repeat directions that went unheard, or they need to get the big grip scissors for cutting, or they have to read to their partners.

The day the class was scheduled to take a tour of the nursing home, Colton heard they got to ride the bus. He reluctantly decided he'd tour the facility. Two rides later, and one candy bar secured in his hands, he came home and grabbed the permission slip. He'd give it a try. "But I don't want to hug anyone and Mrs. Larson said I don't have to."

It was a rocky start.  His first partner, Evelit, slept most of the hour away, not giving Colton much of a chance to interact with her.  He was less reluctant to keep going.  But shortly thereafter he got a new partner.  I knew it was going to be a better match when he said "her name is Molly,  Molly b' Golly" and he broke into a little grin with just a hint of a nose crinkle.

They've been inseparable ever since.  My month to volunteer is January and I got to go for the first time yesterday.  By golly, I met Molly.  She is soft spoken and can't hear very well.  I tried to talk with her a little, but they were playing a mean game of bingo, and she and Colton were highly engrossed.  Molly could cover her own numbers, but she couldn't always hear them.  So she would look to Colton to tell her the numbers and help her look for them if she got behind.  When Molly got a bingo, Colton clapped excitedly for her and happily took her card up and read her numbers.  If the students won they got a little rubber duck.  If the partners won, they got a dime.

The hour flew by.  I asked for a quick photo as we were leaving.   As I waited for the flash to go off on my camera, I missed the first photo op.  Molly threw her arms around Colton, and without hesitating, he hugged her right back.  She then slid her dime over to him and with a soft voice told him something.  I turned around just in time to see the crinkle in his nose as he waved goodbye.



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paul Bunyan and Babe

A few days after having spent Christmas a little to the north of us, we drove back up to Bemidji, Minnesota, or Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox- land. The first time I saw Paul Bunyan, in Brainerd, MN, when I was 6 or 7 maybe, he said our names as we walked up to see him, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever that he knew us!

It doesn't take a towering lumberjack and his blue ox to signal you are in logging country however, one look at the towering trees and you know how vital the trees are to the logging industry that the community of Bemidji thrives on.

But this trip, was all about playing hockey. We had heard the team from Bemidji was good and would give us some solid competition. It was a back and forth game all the way through, but eventually we came out on top 6-4.


Ice fishing houses out on the lake...


The girl in this photo used to be the baby in the stroller at the rink all the time.  She is 5 now and completely smitten with the coach's newest addition.  Is it not written all over her face how "pleased" she is that she got to hold him?

The Bemidji hockey arena is gorgeous!  My favorite part was the fireplace roaring in the lobby.

Travel hockey has been such a great distraction from the winter months and all the snow.  We have a fun group of people whose kids love to play hockey and we just feel lucky to be a part of it.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Its a wrap... EMHE final thoughts...

Did you get a chance to see the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Show last night?  I think I've expanded on my 2 seconds of fame, to maybe 3 now of me standing in the driveway, (smile).  Was Garrett Grommesh not Mr. Personality plus?  I think the portrayal of the family was spot on.  Wouldn't every community benefit from an organization such as Hope, Inc?  I love that the whole organization was started by just a mom and a dad, who wanted something more for their boy who happens to be in a wheel chair.  Makes you wonder what you can't do yourself?

It was a 5 tissue show for me.  How they take 500 plus hours of footage and break it down into a 44 minute show is beyond my comprehension.  I love that as much as I could place myself in so much of the footage- I knew precisely where I had been standing when certain scenes were shot,  so much of the show was still a surprise for me.

Here is link to the show from last night, its on Hulu.  Plus there are 3 bonus scenes that were deleted from the final airing of the show.  Our local newspaper provided both a pictorial tour of the house as well as a video tour if you'd like to see as well!  See it here at Inforum.

Bye Ty... 

I think its a wrap for the Grommesh show, and hopefully closure for their family.  But the builders have indicated if they were asked, they'd build another house for the show anytime.  You never know, you may not have seen the last of Fargo-Moorhead on EMHE...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Extreme Makeover Home Edition: our show airs at 7 tonight!

Tonight our community of Moorhead will be featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition! Garrett Grommesh and his family were chosen to have their home "made over" and their story told through the show. I hope you will watch. There is a small chance you will see me in the beginning when the family walks down their driveway and Ty tells them where they are going on vacation. But really, you should watch because Garrett's personality is larger than life and you will love him right off. Plus the family and the way they choose to live their lives is very inspiring.  I can't wait!!

Yesterday I chose the word "alive" for my one word challenge, and it stemmed from the week and 1/2 I spent at the build site chronicling the building of the house. Between the energy on the site, the camaraderie of the cast and crew, and the huge outpouring of love in the spirit of the volunteers, how could you not feel very, very alive each day?


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 1-1-11... and my one word!

I am going to share my "word" for this year in a bit... and after all the shoveling and snow removal we are doing I think I couldn't have picked a better word!

Nolan tackled the drift by our front door last night.  I wanted to at least make a narrow path for the newspaper delivery person who has amazingly continued to not only bring our paper, but get it to our front door.


But then we awoke to this!!  Its bigger and badder than last night!  Even I, a seasoned Minnesotan, am in awe of this drift!! 


Plus, in further amazement... the paper neatly lying by my front door AGAIN!  Hello, can you say BIG TIP... I think so!  


The ultimate "flocked" wreath.

The view from the front of the house.

Nolan tackling the drift again.

If we dug all the way down to the concrete, he'd be level with the top of the drift!

It was blustery and cloudy earlier today, its now sunny, but still windy at times.  The highways at this time are still all closed!  This hardly ever happens.  The sheer magnitude of these two storms will be felt for a long time. 


The mailboxes...

My project for the afternoon... find my front door...   Nolan already threw in the shovel... ha.

Without further ado, the word I have chosen for the Ali Edwards one word challenge: 

ALIVE...   (trust me on this, shoveling snow makes you feel very alive amongst other things)

I picked a word that describes what I want to feel, more than anything.  The first word I chose two years ago was "intention." I still strive to live my moments with purpose and thinking of the word intention grounds me in the moment instantaneously.  

Last year my word was "reaching."  I assumed the word would entail me reaching for something, but quickly discovered it was about all of the things and people who reached me.  My word surprises me every year.  

This year, I stumbled across a feeling that I tried to articulate.   In part due to the passing of my Dad,  I've been leveled by grief, but also filled to bursting with joy.  The common thread in these feelings, is that they make me feel alive.  I want to be sure that I continue to seek the moments, the people, the activities that help me feel fully alive.  

Have you picked a word this year?

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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