I’m moving…

… my blog that is! (Gave some of you a little heart attack there didn’t I?)

Just in case anyone is still reading this little blog of mine, please come visit me at my new home:



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Garden Wedding (Part 1)

This last weekend we celebrated a summer wedding for one of my cousins.  I don’t know if I can put into words or if my pictures can adequately capture just how beautiful the whole event was…

Hopefully some of these photos can give you a glimpse into that amazing day.

The gazebo that the couple is under was made by my uncle using an old satellite dish for the top.

The couple sent out fun invitations that asked all the guests to don a hat for the event.

I LOVED this idea, so our little family really got into the act:

I found both  my hat and Wog’s hat at an antique store in Grand Forks, my mom found Lou’s hat somewhere else (rummage sale, I think), and we found Nate’s at Lids.

At first Nate was a little concerned about his suspenders, but I think it totally makes the ensemble.

And here’s a shot of my mom and her fantastic sisters:

Mother of the bride is front and center ;-)

There were touches of brilliance all over the event – I can’t wait to show you more. ..

… but I’m so insanely busy at work right now that I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to do so.  But I have a ton on my computer, so you’ll definitely be seeing more in the next few days.

Until then –

Take care!


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While you wait…

I’m trying to get a chance to finish a post with pictures from my cousin’s garden wedding last Saturday. I thought (1) I would tell you that, and (2) give you something to enjoy while you wait.

I found this video on my phone the other day. I think I took it sometime this spring. It shows Miss Lou singing some songs she learned in preschool.

Kinda hard to believe she’ll start kindergarden in exactly one month… But that’s a post for another day.

Until then, enjoy…

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New Hand Update #2

Last week I was in the Twin Cities for three reasons: (1) nephew’s baptism; (2) anniversary getaway with my hubby of ten years; and (3) an appointment with Bob at Tillges Certified Orthotic Prosthetic.  I met Bob and the fine folks at Tillges for the first time last month when I interviewed three different service providers in the Twin Cities. 

Before I get too detailed about this process, let me give you a little background:

My current prosthetic was made for me more than ten years ago, but I’ve had this same basic type of prosthetic my entire life – other than a short-lived attempt with a meyo electric hand in high school.   I started out with a hook (yes, think Captain Hook…) and in about fourth grade I transferred to this lovely claw shaped thing.

Here’s a current picture of me wearing my prosthetic:

As you can see, my elbow is on the outside of the socket.  The whole contraption stays on because of the system of straps and pullies that go up my left arm, across my back, and loop under my right arm.  So, yes, I have a strap in my armpit.  Not much fun during the summer or during anxious, sweaty times! 

To open and close the prosthetic, I flex my right shoulder muscles. You probably can’t even tell when I make this movement because it’s something I learned how to do when I was just a toddler. 

As I was writing this I did some online research and found this article from 1955.  If you have some free time and nothing better to do than read old articles about upper extremity prosthetic harness systems, you’ll see that this harness system has changed little in the last 60 years. If you don’t have the time, just trust me. 

Do you get the sense I don’t really love this thing?

Don’t get me wrong, it does a good job of being very functional – especially to do tasks that require fine motor skills.  It also worked fine when I played tennis. But the appearance of this thing is less than ideal. While I appreciate the skin toned covering, it couldn’t look much scarier… or masculine.  I can’t imagine that there was a female amputee involved in the design or manufacture of this thing. If there was, my apologies.

But this is what I have and so I’ve tried to make the best of it… which is, now that I think of it, not exactly right.  I guess those were some of the reasons I put it in a box and didn’t use it or really think about it for ten years.

Then, sometime in the last few months I started talking to doctors and looking around at what has changed in the prosthetic world.  I was amazed at the changes in the last ten years.  I think I told you before about the iLimb from Touch Bionics.  I am very excited about the possibility of having and using a device that is not only functional, but is almost indistinguishable from a cosmetic standpoint. 

The main difference between the type of prosthetic that I have now (see above), and the one that I want is that there are no straps on the electric device… which of course begs the question: how would the darn thing stay on your arm?

 The first step in answering that question is making sure that I have a good socket fit – and a different from what is pictured above.  The new socket has to be above the elbow, and it has to “lock” onto my stump.  The fit is incredibly important because if it doesn’t fit right, it won’t be comfortable and I won’t wear it.

So last week Bob cast my left arm so that he could make a test socket for me.  The process is pretty much like getting a cast for a broken limb, except it needs to get on and off me while the cast is in that stage between “mushy plaster” and “hard, meant to protect a broken bone, have people sign their names” stage.

As you’ll see in the slide show below, Bob started by putting a very thin “sock” on my arm, and then made all sorts of marks on my elbow and arm to pinpoint the location of bones and muscles.  After that, he rolled on several layers of plaster casting material. He worked with my arm, shaping the cast so that it was a tight, comfortable fit.  He then threw a plastic bag around my arm and attached a vacuum suction to the bag to remove all the air. When that was finished, we removed my arm from the cast and reviewed the results.

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Bob and his amazing staff will now use that cast as a mold to make me a test socket.  The lab is right on site in their Maplewood location, which will make adjustments quick during my limited time in the big city.  Once we have a good fitting test socket, the plan is to reuse much of the existing hardware and get me used to the new socket, but with the old straps and operating system. After I’m comfortable with the socket, we can start adding some weight to the end of the device so I can get used to that sensation.  The “weight lifting” stage is necessary because the electric hand will have a motor and battery that are significantly heavier than my body powered contraption.  

Once I’ve adjusted to the new socket and the added weight, I’ll be fitted with some electrodes and probably reuse parts from the electric hand that I used for a very short time in high school. There will likely be two electrodes placed in the forearm part of the socket, one on the inner, one on the outer part of my arm.  The idea is that when the inner muscle contracts, that electrode will send a message to the motor to open the hand, and when the muscle on the outer side of the prosthetic contracts, that electrode will send a message telling the hand to close.

Finally, after I’m comfortable with all that… then we’ll order the iLimb… or whatever works best for me at that time.

So this will be a little bit of a journey for me… I’m anxious to have you along for the ride.  Please let me know if you have any questions – I’m more than happy to answer pretty much anything!



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Anniversary Trip Update #1

So we’re half way thru our ten year anniversary celebration in downtown Minneapolis. We just enjoyed an amazing couples massage at the Sanctuary Spa (Aveda) and on our walk back to the Graves 601 hotel, we stopped for some apps and a drink at The News Room.

I’m not sure if Handy Hubby is dehydrated from the massage, or just out of drinking practice, but he’s definitely enjoying his “Dean Martin” martini.

I love this guy ;)


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As I look back on that photo – taken just minutes after our wedding ceremony – I could only hope that our life together would be what it is today.   And as a tribute to our first ten years of married life, here’s a top ten list for my Handy Husband:

1.  I love how you’ve supported me in “almost” every crazy idea that has come into my head in the past ten years… good call on suggesting we pay off law school loans before applying for more graduate degrees.

2. I love how we’ve worked together to make our first not so cute house into a home.  Not to mention how much fun we’ve had along the way.  We’re just about done, wanna start all over again? ;-)

3.  I wasn’t ready for how much more I could love you after Lou was born…

4.  … and then again with Wog.  You are an amazing father.

5.   I love how we met in the church kitchen while doing dishes for youth group fundraisers… and you still do dishes today.  And cooking. And laundry. And so much more around the house that even though I don’t say thank you enough, I really do appreciate all you do. I know I’m one lucky lady.

6.  San Diego.

We’ll just leave it at that! ;-)

7.  I love how we’ve worked together to improve our eating and exercise habits.  It’s so much easier to make big changes when we’re on the same path.

8.  I love how you didn’t give up on my cooking skills after the infamous California veggie incident of 2000.  I still can’t believe you had two helpings of that mush!

9.  I can’t begin to express my feelings of how you’ve supported me in the last year as I struggled. You’re my rock.

10.  And most of all, I love how after ten years of  growing and shrinking, good times and struggles, that we still enjoy each other, respect each other, and care for each other…

in all ways and for always.

I love you.


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Highlights from the 4th of July

We had the best 4th of July weekend and I’m just getting around to telling you about it, but man o man was it a great weekend.

The weather was great  – even the windy day was nice on the water and fun on the floaties! We got some shopping time in Alexandria where I found a great dress for an upcoming summer wedding.

Total side note: Of course I found it that day because I didn’t go
 out with the sole purpose of finding a dress for said wedding.

It’s funny/slightly annoying how that seems to happen.

But it was a fantastic deal, so I’m happy!

Sunday morning (July 4th) we went to church at Lake Carlos State park, which was beautiful but I felt a little funny about taking pictures at a church service, so you’ll just have to imagine a relaxed service overlooking a beautiful Minnesota lake.

After a quick lunch at the cabin, we hoped in the van and drove about 20 minutes over to the small town of Evansville for their 4th of July Parade.

The kids loved it and really enjoyed the candy they received.

Handy Husband loved the campaign strategery (yes, you should say that in your best George “W” voice) of this guy who followed the horses.  The wheelbarrow was plastered on both sides with his campaign sign:

Handy Husband says it’s great symbolism that this candidate will, ehm, clean up the county government “mess,” so to speak.  I think it’s just as easily seen as that this guy is full of, well, you know.  I guess either way it worked because we both noticed it and now I’m telling you all about it.  ;-)

And we had to chuckle just a little bit at the huge amount of time and creative energy that must have went into the slogan on this float:



But the highlight of the parade was seeing this clown ride a cow.


All I can say is “wow.”

After the parade we went back to the cabin and spent the afternoon relaxing in the water.



On Monday my fantastic sister and her 7 mo old cutie drove over for the day…

… he’s getting soooo big… and he’s such a little flirt ;-)


Thanks again to our amazing family for sharing their cabin with us and for an extra special 4th of July weekend.




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