A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Posts tagged ‘family’


Yesterday my daughter and I watched our friend turn into an Ironman.

Training for and completing the Ironman competition is no simple feat in itself. It is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, with a 26.2 mile marathon chaser. Truthfully you had me at entering a lake with nearly 3000 other people. Yikes!


Every one of those athletes impressed me yesterday, but what really inspired me is that our friend did all of this with Type 1 Diabetes.

No big deal you may think. Well, it is time to think about it. She pushed herself through those 140.6 miles from sun up to sundown, with a fantastic time might I add, while having to also act as her own pancreas. (We were exhausted just cheering and checking online updates!) While she pushed her body, she had to manually keep track of her blood sugar which I am sure was always on the brink of dropping too low or maybe too high from overtreatment. I was not there with her, nor do I have any idea as to what her plan was, but I know she had one. I know she probably ate high sugar snacks during the day even though she probably could no longer stand the taste of them because she had to. Not only to compete, but also simply to live. She probably felt awful at times and wondered, is it because of her blood sugar or because she was just exhausted? She probably had to wake herself up a couple of times during the night to test her blood sugar to make sure she wasn’t  dropping too low. I know I worried about her several times!

She did all of this with a smile on her face.

Watching her cross the finish line was amazing, but our highlight was earlier in the day. We were cheering her on during the bike ride and she cheered back to my daughter, her Type 1 buddy. She took that moment to remind my little girl that she too can do anything. Wow.

My little girl was forever changed yesterday and for that we thank you. Thank you for being such an inspiration. And congratulations on an amazing achievement!



Since my little girl was old enough to make friends I have been dreading the tear-filled conversation we were going to have when she wasn’t invited to an overnight party because of her diabetes. My concern that some Monday morning all of her classmates would be reminiscing about staying up all Saturday night, and then asking her why she wasn’t there.

Little did I know this was an unnecessary worry. My little girl is giggling in another room with eight other girls,watching movies and slowly settling to sleep. Little did I know how open and accommodating another family could be, allowing me to crash their party, eat their pizza and even sleep on their couch (and drink a little of their wine too!). I so appreciate the kindness of this family to not exclude our little girl just because it might have been difficult, just because they knew that I might have to tag along for the night.

Tonight’s act was one I might expect from family or my closest friend. While we know this family whose house I am in tonight, I am sure it is a bit uncomfortable having me stay in their living room! Tonight reminded me that our actions, no matter how simple, may have a profound effect on others. This family invited our daughter to a sleepover. I wonder what effect we can have on someone tomorrow?

Tears of Laughter.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out Awkward Family Photos yet stop what you are doing and go there now.

So darn funny…

I'm kinda glad I am an only child!


For almost 12 years I have been in a love-hate relationship…

Shame on you for assuming I was talking about my husband. I am talking about Camelback, a little mountain with a big attitude.

My photo of Camelback as seen from the Taliesin Ridge in the McDowell Mountains.

Camelback Mountain has an elevation of 2700 feet. It looks like a giant camel resting in the middle of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. It is an iconic symbol of the city and has become a bit of a fascination of mine. The hike itself is 1.2 miles long and has an elevation gain of nearly 1200 feet.  What this little mountain lacks in size, it makes up for with rough rocky trails, high temperatures much of the year, and a steep grade. I have heard the grade of the climb averages 40%, but don’t quote me on that because I simply heard it via word of mouth.

In the year 2000 I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, days after my husband and I were married. He had lived there for two years already and I had become enamoured with the Southwest. We hiked many different places on the weekends, but it was a hot December day when we took on Camelback for the first time.

I am by no means a regular fitness kind of person (with the exception of Cage Fitness which I will talk about at a later date). I am more of a barrel-into-something-and-hope-for-the-best kind of gal. Cases in point, hiking the Grand Canyon(2 times), riding 150 mile charity rides(2 times), and numerous hikes on Camelback Mountain. All of these events were done with virtually no training on my part, because to repeat, regular fitness is not really my thing.

A friend asked if we wanted to hike Camelback. We said yes, and off we went to hike up the Echo Canyon trailhead. I had no idea what we were about to do. There were extremely steep climbs that made me fearful of how I would ever get down again.


There were boulders to climb and gravel to slip on. There was even wildlife that at first made me wary. But we hiked it, and hiked it again and again and again many times that year. I don’t think there was a time that we hiked Camelback that first year that I ever enjoyed hiking up.  Ever. Sometimes I cried, usually I gasped for breath, one time I even stumbled and hit the dirt. As I stood bleeding, I looked up and there were two nuns in full habits and hiking boots coming down the trail. For just a few seconds I was convinced I had died. We all said hello, then I kind of chuckled at myself and continued on.

Kinda rocky.

When we came back home to visit family, I told my relatives of our hikes on Camelback. My Grandpa shared a story with us that back in the late 1930’s he went on a trip across the U.S. and stopped in Phoenix for a while. He talked of camping by the orange groves and the open space at the foot of Camelback Mountain. When I hiked up I always tried to visualize where he camped, but now there is nothing but houses and resorts in every direction.

Orange groves and Camelback -This is what my Grandpa saw.
Click on photo for more information. (Photo courtesy of Salt River Project)

In 2001 we moved back near where we grew up, but have visited Arizona several times since. Two weeks ago my good friend and I went to Scottsdale for a long weekend. I wanted to show her where I used to live, we both wanted a getaway and we were able to stay with my parents which made the trip very affordable. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) We went hiking with my parents in the McDowell Mountains.  I was not aware of how fascinated I must be by Camelback until I was told,

“You’ve been talking so much about that mountain. Let’s just do it.”

So J. and I got up the next morning and did it. It was tough, I’m not going to say it wasn’t. But it was great to hike those rocks again. It was great to see again the characters that hike that mountain every day, some twice my age, passing me or passing me more that once. It was great to see that city again from high above, to share the camaraderie with a bunch of strangers who had just accomplished the same thing. And it was great to share it with a friend who can now maybe better understand my obsession with the collection of sandstone and granite that is Camelback Mountain.

Life With Louie.

I was a country girl when I was a kid. We had horses, some great barn cats and various dogs through the years – a great one, a mischevious one, two brainless ones and one who died much too soon. I went off to college, and then to my various apartments as a single girl. I really wanted a pet but my lifestyle was not dog friendly, I am allergic to cats and fish aren’t very snuggly.

I want to love him and squeeze him and...

A few days before Christmas 1994, my Mom and Dad took me out for dinner. We then stopped at a little business, and my Mom told me that she had picked out a bird for me. She had researched birds a lot, and determined the right breed and breeder to go with. We went into the shop and I met a young hand-fed Cockatiel. I also learned that a cage was already set up back home and all the toys and food were there too.

We took him back to my parent’s house for the Christmas holiday and we all took care of him there, but then I took back to my apartment. Much like having a baby for the first time, it was a bit nerve-wracking learning how to take care of the little bird. I asked myself:

  • Is he eating well?
  • He’s not eating vegetables, he’s supposed to eat vegetables. Why won’t he eat vegetables?
  • I’m gone a lot, is he lonely?
  • What should I name him?
  • Why does he keep pooping on me?

It took weeks to name him, and finally the name came to me, “Louie.” At the same time my boyfriend dumped me, I was working as a waitress for less than minimum wage with a Bachelor’s degree, and to be truthful, my roommate was scary.

Louie was my savior at that time. He was a crabby little bundle of feathers, but we grew to understand each other. He could talk a little (“Good Morning, Louie.”), he could whistle a lot, and he loved to look at his reflection in the mirror. We took afternoon naps together before I would head to my work shift at five pm. He sat on my shoulder as I watched reruns of Dougie Howser, MD.

Louie was there through relationship drama, several roommates, meeting the love of my life, planning my wedding, moving far from home, buying a house and having kids. During all of that time I was his person. He hissed at my husband and children, he tolerated my Mom only when I wasn’t around, and would occasionally sit on my Dad’s head (where I am sure he had plans to go to the bathroom if I hadn’t quickly picked him up).

Louie wanna cracker?

My son liked Louie, even though Louie would have bitten him if given the chance. He talked to Louie, tried to feed him and wished that he could pet him. They were starting to make some headway, but then in the Spring of 2010 Louie began to show his age with weakening and confusion. While his door was always open, he never left his cage any longer. One morning in July of that year he flew over to me to scratch his head. When he flew back to return to his cage he didn’t make it. I picked him up and he was gasping for breath. I held him for just a moment before he died in my hands. My then four-year-old son asked if he could finally pet Louie. I let him hold his limp body and he gently scratched Louie’s ear as he had seen me do so many times before.

Louie was a one of a kind chap who was there with me through some of the most significant moments of my life. I will probably never get another bird, but I so appreciate the 16 years he was here and he will always hold a special spot in my heart.

The Spoon.

Maybe this is sharing too much.

I love a spoon. I am maybe even a little obsessed with a certain spoon. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t special. If you looked at it you wouldn’t even notice it. Truthfully though, when I see someone else in the family grab it to eat some applesauce or soup, it takes all my strength not to rip it out of their hands! Spoon-able food without that spoon just doesn’t taste quite as good to me.

Crazy right?!

Isn't she a beauty?

I “found” this spoon almost 20 years ago when my Mom, Dad and I went to the Grand Canyon. The three of us had never camped or hiked before, so it seemed like the perfect place to experience both! Well seasoned hikers that we were, we realized the morning of our hike that we did not have any utensils to stir the dehydrated meals we had packed. I grabbed a spoon from the cafeteria fully intending to return it after we emerged from the canyon.

We had a wonderful trip, one day to hike down, two to hike up. We ate our awful dehydrated spaghetti for dinner, the dehydrated scrambled eggs for breakfast. The spoon stirred it all for us, was there with us during this life-changing adventure.

We rose out of the canyon on the third day, filthy, sore and dying for a cold drink. We packed up our gear and immediately headed out of Grand Canyon National Park. We drove to Tusayan, the closest form of non-park civilization, and went through the drive thru at McDonald’s.

A couple of days later, after returning home and unpacking the camping gear, I found the spoon. I did not mean to keep it, but I was thousands of miles away from that cafeteria, so I washed it and stuck it in the drawer.

I was single then, with really cheap silverware. The new spoon had sturdiness to it. Some good weight which made it pleasant to hold.

Nearly twenty years later I still grab that spoon first, even with my “good” flatware added to the collection.  The spoon and I have been through the Grand Canyon together. It has joined me in five homes, served me through heartache, through love, through a wonderful marriage, and raising my kids. This morning I had the revelation, “why don’t I just buy a whole set of that flatware?” So I searched and searched. I found many similar place settings but none were just right. I imagine the style has long been discontinued (but why?), and even searches of discontinued styles brought no results.

I may never stop searching. Somewhere, there has got to be matching pieces to make a set. Maybe when I bring my kids to see the Grand Canyon someday, I will again eat at the cafeteria.  I suppose I could ask where they buy their flatware.  I am not sure I will be able to return that spoon however…

I better stop now before I get too stirred up.

Get it? Stirred up?

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