A new road

Just a quick update…we are in the process of getting Dad ready to come back home.

I know…I’m in shock myself. But as my dad has always done, he has managed to set his own path, beating the odds, and leaving the doctors scratching their heads.

My sister, niece and Dad…all enjoying a nap.

He has spent some time recovering in a nursing home nearby, but the time is coming soon in which he can return home. And we’re hoping that his journey to recovery continues to astound us.

While I’m typing this, I’m sitting in a room in Nashville, TN, where the events of the last 24 hours still amaze me.

I was privileged to be seated five rows back from an address by not only the US Secretary of Ag, Sonny Perdue, but also by President Donald Trump. Now, I get that not everyone agrees with his policies, but we should all admit that being able to personally witness an address by a sitting President is an honor.

And I followed that with a live interview on Fox and Friends…that’s right, national TV. Seriously.

Sometimes the events that unfold in my life just take my breath away. But I’ll chat more about that tomorrow.

For now, I hope you have all jumped into 2018 with both feet, tackling the new year with renewed vigor and hope. For we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Heck, we aren’t even certain about today.

Making decisions

I’ve been away from this source of therapy for far too long…but Mark mentioned to me last night that maybe I’d feel better if I wrote down my thoughts. I think he’s right. (Don’t tell him…let it be a surprise.)

For those that may not follow me on Facebook, or who may not know me in real life, I’ll fill you in: about 9 days ago or so my Dad was taken to the hospital via ambulance. That’s nothing new in my Dad’s life. He’s an old hat when it comes to hospitals, ER’s, doctors, etc. Except this time was different.

We don’t really know what all happened. We’re not sure if Dad had a stroke, a bad fall, a bad infection…and I guess it doesn’t really matter, because it doesn’t change with what we’re left with today. And that’s the shell of the man my Dad was last week.

We do know a few things: he had sepsis (to the point that the doctor told us frankly that only 50% come back from), he had a bladder infection, his gallbladder took a dump on him and his kidneys were in trouble. Let’s add to that Stage IV Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, GERD and a host of other things…and let’s just say that Dad was a hot mess.

Somehow, someway – he made it through. Or at least, his body did. The man that doctors warned at the age of 50 that he wouldn’t live to see 52…well, he’s now 77 and he’s still beating the odds. At least, on the outside.

But right now, we’re dealing with a new normal. My Dad can’t walk much on his own. He needs oxygen almost 24/7. And he doesn’t always know what’s going on. And he gets very angry and confused.IMG_3360

Last night he told me to not go home through Ripon…because traffic may be bad. For those that may not know, Ripon is in Wisconsin. We haven’t lived there for more than 40 years. But he was there last night.

He was also angry with the nurse and I because his chair “wasn’t spliced properly! The damn alarm is gonna blow this whole place wide open!” We looked at each other and tried to assure him that it would all be taken care of – the alarm wouldn’t go off unless he fell. He still grumbled and swore that he was rewiring the damn chair. (To which, I had to warn the next nurse not to give my dad a scissors or finger nail clipper or anything that may be tool-like…because he actually does know how to re-wire things. And I’m most certain the next time they looked in on him, they’d have a huge surprise on their hands. Kinda funny in this whole mess.)

For those that may visit, or have visited, and all of those praying, I can not say thank you enough. You have all been amazing. Sometimes he’s awake and alert and although maybe a little hard to understand, he attempts to talk…and sometimes he’s not.

By the grace of God, Dad is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. But unfortunately, we cannot take care of him at home. And there is where the problem lies…

and I’m broken.

We have tried to explain to my Dad that rehab is the only place where he is safe. And that once he gets some strength back, he can come home. But he’s adamant that he won’t go. And the hospital told me today that they cannot force him to go. Which places it solely in our laps.

I can’t even begin to describe what this does to my family. Or how the dynamics play out. Just know that the last few days have been difficult at best. For nine days I have sat at a hospital, doing what I can, praying for answers, talking, researching, holding a hand, rubbing a back, massaging lotion on skin stretched too taught, deciphering, translating, communicating…and yet…

My Dad is angry with me. He doesn’t want to talk to me. He hung up on me earlier when he tried calling my mom, but she couldn’t understand him. He’s frustrated. And although I know he doesn’t mean it, it hurts when he says those things. Although we have been there since 9 this morning, he accused us of not having stopped to see him today. He said I don’t care.

I know he doesn’t know what he’s saying sometimes…but still. This is my Dad. And I’m not alone in this. My siblings and my mom have all had to go through this together. But I’ve always been the one that “takes care of things.” Like paperwork, medical records, treatment plans, etc.

Everything that my Dad never wanted to go through…it’s all happening right now. And I cannot do what he wants me to do. I need to protect him. And my Mom. And it breaks my heart.

Even though you will probably never read this, Dad, please know that I love you. Through it all, I have always loved you. And above all else, I just pray that you find peace and relief from your pain. You’ve worked so hard…and you have earned your rest. I just don’t want you to hurt any more.

That is my Christmas wish.

When headlines hit home

The headlines in the news lately have been overwhelming, to say the least. Whether it’s plunging markets, crop disasters, social unrest or just the “regular” ridiculousness that seems to be coming from the highest office in our country, it’s fair to say that for the most part I’ve been avoiding reading the headlines.

Until last week.

There was a blurb that caught my eye…and then it caught my heart.

Most of the time, when I catch the headlines, especially those with medical focus, I hardly glaze over it before I move on. The world of news is a tad over the top these days…and truthfully, I prefer not to drown myself in the negativity that seems to be occurring. But last week one headline had my full attention:

“For some people, too much protein can be deadly – “

Oh wow. That hits home.

What Eli has been diagnosed with is a urea cycle disorder. This could be his story. This is what we fight against.

Every. Single. Day.


Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Every meal.

And it’s exhausting. And there are times when we aren’t as vigilant as we should be. But after reading about a bodybuilder who didn’t listen to her body soon enough, I’ll be on guard. I’m just grateful for the wake-up call.

Because wake-up calls are a lot easier to answer then the ones that end in tragic news.

I am afraid

I am afraid.

I am afraid that my children will wake up one day and not understand that there is a difference between Freedom of Speech and being free from consequences for what you say.

I am afraid that my children will be so immune to hatred and conflict that they won’t stand up to fight it because it’s simply the norm.

I am afraid that my children will not understand that the value of a person comes from what they can accomplish, not what they can accrue. And neither is decided by any physical characteristic.

I am afraid that my children will take the ability to succeed for granted…but worse yet, will not experience the value of being allowed to fail.

I am afraid that my children will not know that great leaders do not make you fear the unknown. But more importantly will give a sense of peace and security, even when the path is not clear.

I am afraid that my children will forget about the battles that others have fought, writing them off as trivial and irrelevant to their lives.

I am afraid that my children will raise their children to be even more removed from their surroundings.

I am afraid of all of these things…and more. Which is why I will teach my children to stand up for what is right, speak for those who can’t and appreciate the gifts and blessings that have been given.

I am afraid…but I must move past the immobility of fear. For darkness only fills spaces where the light doesn’t reach.

Be the light.

Darkness only occurs where the light can’t reach.

Finding sunshine

We all go through moments in our lives when we take a step back and really start to wonder about where we are and what we’re doing. At least, I hope we do. I don’t think I’m an anomaly. But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time.

I will admit that since last July, things haven’t really been the same. And not that I expected it would be, but it’s amazing how quickly one word can change your outlook on a lot of things. Even if it’s the “good kind.”


Cancer. Not a word you ever want to hear.

Sometimes I think back on the last almost-40-years of my life, and I wonder how I managed to survive it as intact as I am…and then I wonder if I really am. But the beauty of it all, is that no matter what you’re faced with, the only thing that matters is how you handle it.

And there’s only one person that gets to determine that…and that’s me.

My life growing up wasn’t easy. I learned quickly what it meant to love and lose. Death is nothing new to me. I’ve said goodbye to many people that I’ve loved…classmate, friends, family and more. Some of those goodbyes were difficult to get through, but I knew that it was a temporary goodbye.

I’ve seen medicine at its best. I’ve seen it fail as well. I watched my dad get a new lease on life with breakthrough treatments, my brother as well. I see what advances do for George every day. But I also know its limitations.

I know the miracle of birth, first hand. But I also know the pain associated with it. I was blessed with a “natural” birth for our first child, with an amazing epidural. But remember every second of a c-section that included a failed spinal. Which meant I felt every minute of it, until after our last son was safely born.

I’ve won some battles. And I’ve lost some. I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve gained a few. I lost my voice, it came back…just different.

But as I turn this page (yes, there’s a milestone birthday coming up soon), I realize that I need to focus on more sunshine. I need to find my joy in life and feed it. No one remembers your bad days, but you can influence people with good ones.

As I look to the future, I want my children to remember me as their ray of sunshine. And in order to do so, I have to find my own.


You can hardly see my scar today. I’m blessed beyond measure.

And so here I am…wondering if the path I’m on will lead to my sunshine. The clouds outside do not deter me. I know what I’m destined for. I just need to outshine the rain clouds.

Not so fast on SB 2327

Warning…political post ahead. But it’s worth a read, especially if you live in North Dakota.

I recently became aware of a bill that’s being pushed through the North Dakota legislature. And I’m not sure if the word “pushed” even gets close to describing how quickly it’s being hurried along. In fact, it only spent 90 minutes in committee on the Senate side before getting a “Do-Pass” recommendation. Not bad for a bill that’s 153 pages in length. (And yes, I’ve read the whole thing.)

Let me break down a few of my concerns:

  1. This bill creates, in essence, a state Environmental Protection Agency. I’m not sure yet if I’m for or against the creation of a state EPA, but I do know that it should take some time and thought in order to make sure it’s done right. Not just cut and paste certain sections of the existing century code and call it a day.
  2. This bill creates a new division of government. Yes, it’s true that there is already an existing Division of Environmental Health that exists under the Department of Health. This would take that department and make it its own division. Is there something wrong with the current system? Is there a benefit for the new division that we aren’t being made aware of? Grant dollars? Federal money? What’s the carrot for more government when a division already exists? I understand the desire to streamline. But when the department seems to be just a cut-and-paste model of what’s already in place…I don’t understand the point.

    All 153 pages of SB 2327 printed and reviewed.

  3. “Zero fiscal impact.” Come again? You’re going to create a new division of government…with no money? Yes, I know that the bill provides that “any special funds or accounts administered or under the control of the state department of health which relate to environmental quality functions transferred to the department of environmental quality must be transferred to the administration and control of the department of environmental quality.” (Engrossed Senate Bill No. 2327, lines 24-27, pg. 2) Which is a messy way of saying that any money appropriated for environmental stuff now moved into the new department will also be transferred to the department. But can you really start a new division of government with NO added expenses? Even if you just shuffle around existing employees – aren’t there extra costs? What about letterheads? Business cards? Office space? Compensation for council members? Not one more dime will be spent? I’m almost interested in seeing this pass, just to watch this happen. (Not really…that’s sarcasm.)
  4. Speaking of council. There’s a new one in town. The “Environmental review advisory council,” will be established, consisting of 11 members. All appointed by the governor. The members must be: a representative of county or municipal government; a representative of manufacturing and processing; a representative of the solid fuels industry; a representative of the liquid and gas fuels industry; a representative of agriculture; a representative of the solid waste industry; a representative of the hazardous waste industry; a representative of the thermal electric generators industry; a representative of the environmental sciences; the state engineer; and the state geologist. Energy is well-represented – and agriculture gets one seat at the table. Seems a little lopsided to me, for an agency that will dictate what a lot of agriculture will look like in the future.
  5. Did I mention the head of this new division will also be appointed by the governor? The director, as well as the council as a whole, will be appointed to serve “at the pleasure of the governor.” Environmental quality and the people will have no say in who will serve, except by vote of the governor. I’m sorry, but as our elected officials become more and more removed from agriculture, I am not comfortable relying on one person’s ability to know what is best for the diverse world of agriculture we are in. Can one person adequately represent the ranchers of Dickinson, the valley sugar beet farmers, organic growers, niche markets, wheat growers, hog farmers, dairy farms and everything in between? We can’t agree amongst ourselves most days – how would one person be able to encompass it all?

I could go on for longer, but you can read it all yourself if you’d like.

I’m all for streamlining systems and making government more efficient whenever we can…I just am not sure creating a new division will accomplish this. I’ve never seen a situation in which adding more government makes it easier to maneuver and understand. But maybe this would be a first.

Highlighters make me happy.

I’ve spent no less than seven hours studying, discussing and considering this bill. I printed 153 pages of text, made several calls and emails, and delayed my calving checks a few times because I was in a zone with reading and research. (Don’t tell Mark.) In all, I’ve already spent significantly more time than the committee did before issuing a DO PASS. And my monetary investment with printing costs and time spent is somehow more than the fiscal impact that this bill will have on my state.

Excuse me while I go check cows…at least out there I’m well aware of the dung I may step in. I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about. And if you’re just as concerned as I am, there will be a committee hearing for the House at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 3. Maybe your voice should be heard.

The Un-American American

The last month or so has been an amazing study on current American society. I’ve quickly realized that we have a booming problem of passive-aggressive social media outbursts, mostly proclaiming that people are not inherently political – and then they continue on with a political rant.

Pledge Allegiance

Every day during our last Mayo trip, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He was only 6, and he gets it.

Let me be clear: I’m a political person. I enjoy politics. I have definite ideas of what I would like to see our country look like in the future. I want to be engaged, involved and abreast of the topics. I will tell you, straight up, how I feel. And not with vaguebooking.

Let me just get a few thoughts off my chest:

  1. You have the right to vote. Although I encourage you to exercise that right, guess what? It’s also your right not to vote. And when you choose not to vote, then I have the right to minimize your influence on my opinion. That’s how it works.
  2. If you don’t believe in the “process” of government, then why are you shocked when it doesn’t work for you? Get involved. Make it work. Understand.
  3. Guess what? Every American has elected officials that represent them at some level of government. We, as citizens, control who sits in those offices. Don’t like them? Vote for someone else. Encourage your neighbors to do the same (maybe make sure they’re in the same political district…I don’t encourage voter fraud. lol). Don’t like any of the choices? Run. Unless you can’t – legally. But if that’s the case, maybe you shouldn’t be protesting so loud.
  4. You have the right to protest. But you don’t have a right to endanger others while doing so. Including blocking school buses full of children, throwing homemade bombs at law enforcement and leaving a mess behind that others are forced to clean up. I’ll defend your right to protest. But when your protest damages the very environment you proclaim to protect? I question your authenticity.
  5. Have a complaint? Better have a solution to go with it. Complaining just to rant is fine. Just don’t do it on social media. That’s why everyone needs a BFF to rant to – Facebook is not your BFF.

I get it. Life is hard. Things don’t always go like we want. Our candidates may lose. Some laws aren’t passed. Budgets are cut. Spenditures may skyrocket. And we all should have an opinion on those things.

But let’s truly use the American rights we’ve been given. Because if we don’t – well, then don’t be surprised when the un-American Americans begin to take over.

2016’s Last licks…

I’ve heard most people come to the consensus that 2016 wasn’t exactly the best year – and if you were an older celebrity, you’d have been pretty darn lucky to make it out alive.

I’ll admit that 2016 wasn’t a great year for me. But it ended with one final blow – to George’s hair line.


Location, location, location – of course, it couldn’t be on the back of his head.

Yep, the poor kid now has alopecia. And we’re hoping it’ll stop at the one spot, but only time will tell. The doc wanted to treat with steroids, but apparently having a few injections to his scalp didn’t sound all that appealing to my little man. He declined to cooperate. So we’ll try again another day.


He wasn’t impressed with the day as a whole.

We are on track to get some blood work drawn, so we can make sure there isn’t anything else going on…because that’s how we roll. Something simple snowballs into something more complicated and then all of a sudden you end up at Mayo having a world-renown doc tell you that she’s never seen anything like it before. Not that that’s happened before or anything.

And really, what are the chances that could happen twice.

Never mind.

So here we go – down the road of wait and see. At least it’s a familiar path. And I’m much more patient now.

Did I just hear you laugh?

I’ll keep you posted. And if anyone has any tips or tricks, let me know.

Winter Wednesday

Thought I’d just share a few pics from the ice storm we had last week. It meant that we were without power for a few days, but grateful to have a generator that we hooked up less than 24 hours into the outage. Those lineman for our co-op are AMAZING!

What’s your favorite part of winter?

2017…Under construction

It’s funny how quickly people become experts on self-help, self-improvement and life coaching when a new year rolls around. Everyone has advice: make resolutions, don’t make resolutions, embrace your true self, reinvent yourself, start from scratch, build from your foundation, etc.

Here’s my advice: Do you.

Whatever that is – just own it. Yes, we all need improvements, we all have flaws – I have only read about one perfect soul, but have yet to meet any.So don’t strive for perfection. Strive for satisfaction. Strive for peace.

I have only made one resolution for this year: Be better. Be a better person. Be a better listener. Be a better mother. Be a better advocate. Do I know what that will all entail? Nope. But as I say in the title, it’s under construction. And so am I.


I feel short in this pic…and I’m not. But Scooter is now officially a teenager. His heart is as big as his feet. And he’s not afraid to be himself. I’m taking lessons.

I can tell you a few things that I am going to try to be done with: settling, procrastinating, complaining. But that comes with my resolution. To just be better.

That doesn’t mean I’m striving for fame or fortune, nor am I out to conquer the world. I’m just working towards a better me. Which will hopefully lead to other improvements that set me up for success.

I’m actually excited about 2017. I won’t lie that the last year was a tough one. But I’m already better because of it. I can survive some pretty challenging moments. And I’m stronger now than what I was a year ago. So I’m grateful for the challenges. And it’s time to implement some changes so that I’m not constantly coming up against the same challenges again and again. I may drop some baggage. Clear the clutter – in my house, my head and my heart.

But that’s just me doing me.

How about you? Are you a resolution-type? Or are you just going to make sure that 2017 is the best year yet!