Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
A lively bunch
Monday, April 21, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wow, I went to the "beginning home schoolers" conference today and to sum things up, I'm overwhelmed but reassured! There were approximately 350 to 400 "newbies" in the conference. I'm not alone in this! And the information....wow!
Duluth is a very quaint city. If you've not been, it's kind of built on a pretty large hill and dumps into Lake Superior. There is one street which, like Tony and I found out on our honeymoon, if you turn on and don't exit when you're supposed to, you'll end up in Wisconsin! Today was also the first time I've been here that the sky has been wonderfully blue and cloudy.
It's also unique in that there is a "Skywalk" that is like a whole city above the city. I can walk from my hotel to the convention center which is about 1.5 miles thru the skywalk -- stores, restaurants, photography studios, all kinds of business. A mess of stairs and corridors, quite easy to get lost (which I discovered on the way back to my hotel!).
Okay, signing out for tonight...more maybe tomorrow!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Watkins has been really going, too. I had three parties in five days with two others two weeks prior...have a big open house next Saturday (lots of prep work for that!) then four more parties schedule so far in May. That's not counting.....
Getting ready to open our market. We'll probably open somewhere around Mother's Day (depending on weather, that's usually a target date), so I have orders ready to call in with several different vendors...already have my order placed with Carrie (at Greenstar)! Have my employees hired...except for my niece, we have all new employees this year, ugh! Training! We're also revamping our website, so I've been working like crazy on that and hope to have it up and online (the new one) before the end of this month. It's quite extensive with lots of information and won't be completely ready, but the bulk of it will be. Yippee! Tony also decided it was cheaper to do our own brochure for the Market this year, so I put that together....huge task but it's printing as we speak! Now I just have to get them cut to size and to our Chamber of Commerce before Thursday morning because I'm.....
Heading to Duluth Thursday morning early for a home school conference. Yep, we're planning on home schooling, officially starting fall of 2009 although we already do some school work (ABCs, counting, etc.) -- the kids love it! There is a great annual conference here in MN for home schoolers with all kinds of workshops, materials, etc., and I'm going to be checking out what's in store for us. Plus, they have a great workshop on getting started, what is needed, stuff like that.
All that on top of the normal wife/mom stuff. The weather is FINALLY getting nice, so I've been trying to wash sheets/blankets/towels to hang up outside and get a nice spring scent in the house. The wind is really blowing today (perfect for laundry), but it also knocked the front door off the hinges, oops!"
Unlike my husband, I'm not this tired....yet!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Miss Brittany and Nikki...we love you...and we will miss you so much! Can't wait to see you soon!
Samuel, Jonathan, Clinton, and our heroine - Jean
Maggie Kay, Julia, Hazel
Susi, Wanda, Dad, Mama
Luke, Julia & Hazel, Maggie Kay, Samuel, Tony, Jean's head, Jon, Clinton, Susi, Wanda
James Bordewick Park Rapids Enterprise
Longtime family friends Russ Carter and Jean Ballard now share more than inside jokes: both of them are using the same set of kidneys.
Jean donated her kidney to Russ earlier this year.
“I didn’t want him to quit singing,” Jean joked.
The friends of 54 years went through the operation April 11. The donation is considered remarkable given the age of the patients.
“My doctor told me I was the oldest woman in the US to donate a kidney,” said Jean.
Russ and Jean both moved to the area from southwest Michigan in 1953. The two met while doing mission work together.
The two continued to visit each other over five decades.
When Jean found out about Russ’s kidney failure and subsequent peritoneal dialysis, she saw the opportunity to perform a good deed for her good friend.
“Well, I’m listed as an organ donor on both my driver’s license and in my living will,” Jean explained.
She added she often heard of younger people in need of a kidney and wished she could do something to help out.
Jean offered Russ her kidney after prospective donors, including family members, failed to provide a match.
She said she prayed over the decision during the process.
“I placed it before God,” she said, adding she took the compatibility tests and doctor’s approval as a sign to proceed.
Initially, when Jean offered Russ her kidney, he said he was a bit reluctant to take her up on the offer.
“I was kind of hesitant about it,” Russ said. “I thought I was getting along fine without it.”
But their friendship over more than 50 years gave Russ a lot of confidence in her, he said.
“If she thinks we should do it, it’s a good indication,” he said.
Doctors at MeritCare in Fargo exercised extra caution before the procedure, because the pair were the oldest combined donor and recipient in the world.
But Dr. Bargav Mistry, director of transplants at MeritCare, said recent medical advances are opening new doors for organ donors and recipients.
“One has to look at the progress that’s been made,” he said. “Basically, we are breaking new barriers.”
According to Mistry, 20 years ago, doctors were reluctant to perform transplants on patients over 50.
“With improvements in the field, we no longer look at age as a barrier,” said Mistry.
Now, he explained, the physiological age of the patients plays a larger role in receiving and donating organs.
Doctors now evaluate the current health of patients to predict a positive outcome.
Both Jean and Russ underwent a thorough evaluation before the operation They received general, kidney, cardiac, psychological and social evaluations to ensure the procedure had a high chance of success.
Russ as a potential recipient had a higher probability of success than some people in their 20s or 30s, Mistry said.
Debate still exists in the medical community over age limits on recipients, Mistry added, but he defended Russ’ right to an operation.
“If people have a right to health care, transplants should be no exception,” he reasons.
Mistry also pointed out the similar ages of the pair counter arguments about “wasting” organs. “Most likely the kidney of an 80-year old would not last another 30 or 40 years,” he said, making Jean’s donation less suitable for a younger recipient.
“If we can give a good life to Russ, that’s the point of the operation,” he said.
The road to recovery
Jean’s operation to remove the kidney started around 7 a.m. April 11 and lasted about two hours.
She joked the transplant began two hours later, “after they yanked it out, cleaned it off and cleaned up.”
Russ remained in Fargo for several weeks afterward to undergo tests. Medical examinations revealed his creatin count, used to measure kidney effectiveness, did not level off after the surgery.
Doctors later discovered one artery leading to the kidney was constricted. A follow-up surgery corrected the issue.
“Immediately, I felt better,” he said.
Jean said, “My stamina is not quite up to par yet, but it’s coming along very well.”
Jean and Russ both credited a network of support for their recovery.
“People all over the world were praying for us and our success,” said Russ.
The two remain light-hearted about their future after the surgery.
“In the future, her kidney could fail,” Russ mentioned.
“Well, I would just ask for my other one back,” kidded Jean.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Lately, every time Luke wakes up we hear, "I have a dream! Susanna, let me tell you about my dream!" Sometimes it's about Larry Boy. Sometimes it's about Bible Man. Sometimes it's about a duck chasing a butterfly. This morning it was about a little girl who was downstairs with her Mama when Luke went down to go potty...but he wasn't sure if it was real or a dream (it was a dream...or at least it wasn't a Mama and little girl that live in THIS house!). He also wanted Susi to go downstairs with him because he was scared it really wasn't a dream and there was "another Mama and another little girl" down there.
And going back to not knowing what's in their little heads, I am often taken aback at what comes out of their mouths at the most unusual times. Why don't they still have that show "Kids Say the Darndest Things?" My kids would be a hit!
Tuesday, we stopped by Nikki's house (the same Nikki that at one time was going to marry Luke but now is going to marry Jeffrey...ah, the soap operas that 3 and 4 year olds live in!). There were sandwiches waiting for us, and as the kids finished eating, Luke got all cow-eyed and blurted out, "Nikki, I love you. I really, really love you. Alot." After some giggles from the Mamas, he then added, "Sometimes I just lose my mind and go crazy."
Wednesday as we were heading into church for Awana, one of the teen girls was walking towards us. Luke immediately stopped and started backing up to me. I assured him, "That's Patty, Luke. She's very nice. She'll be helping Daddy at the farm this summer." Confident that she was okay, he continued on his way, telling her as he passed, "We have a red and green car." What???? WHERE did that come from? (and we don't have a red and green car, we have a red van and a green car!).
Yesterday, after music lessons, I told him we were going to stop at the Chamber of Commerce for a short while. Now, Luke loves the Chamber. Lots of places to run outside, friendly people to talk to inside, my boy's dream come true! After his cheering died down, he asked me, "Mama, is Miss Katie a boy or a girl?" (Katie is one of the main ladies at the Chamber and makes a point of talking to the kids each time they come in.) "Katie is a girl, Luke." Oh. Silence for a few minutes then, "Mama, are you sure?" "Yes, Luke. I'm sure." After a few more seconds, "Mama, I really love Miss Katie. She's very kind. But she looks like a boy. And she talks like a boy." After quickly telling him, "Never, NEVER tell Miss Katie that, it is very rude!" and getting reassurances that he wouldn't tell her, I did assure him that she does NOT look like a boy, and while her voice is a bit deep, she definitely is a girl.
Thankfully, the topic didn't come up again until AFTER we left the Chamber! (As soon as we walked in, Luke dashed by the main desks up front and high tailed it directly into Katie's office with a big, "Katie!" She had fun with him -- I think! -- and ended up giving him a tri-colored highlighter...which he absolutely loves.) And he's been talking about her all day.
Except he didn't dream about her.
And today's blast from the past.....it was labelled "JonTonyMark"
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Rita and Tony
Have a Carter's tomato!
Then later that day, Susanna decided she was Jesus and came to tell me she "dieded" on the cross, "see the owies on my hands?" "Why did you die on the cross?" "Well, you don't need to be sad, I'm not dead any more. I'm in heaven! And I dieded so your sins could be 'given. Now you can go to heaven, too!"
Other than that, they spent the day fighting, verbally and physically.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
So far, the snow is above the bumpers on our cars, the kids' bikes are buried in the snow, and it's hard to push open the front door due to snow build up...and that's under our front porch!
Thanks for your prayers....
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Clinton (now MUCH taller) and Tony
Friday, April 4, 2008
As they honeymooned at a bed-and-breakfast in Nevis and at Cascade Lodge up on Lake Superior's North Shore, we who remained at home thought it best that their bed be short-sheeted and its pillows lined with the smiling faces of a number of chirping bird puppets that were found at Tony's old quarters at the Lodge. A variety of fox and beaver pelts as well as a skunk pelt were placed here and there for a warm feeling. Tony's muzzleloader was placed at bedside for a secure feeling. A goodly number of balloons with pig and other animal faces, those that had once filled the backseat of the Cadillac get-away car, were placed with care in the bathtub, filling it well up the side of the shower curtain. I believe that other balloons found their way to other undisclosed locations. Gummi worms found their way to the kitchen dishes and cupboards, along with a scattering of gummi bears. Larger teddy bears congregated in rows of folding chairs in what had been the chapel's auditorium. They appeared to listen attentively to the words of a scarecrow who wore the groom's Goofy cap. The couple were welcomed to their living room by Howdy Doody himself, who seemed quite at home on the sofa, seated in front of a notice bearing the reference for the message of the day: Job 19:17, KJV (LindaSue later confessed that those words proved prophetic and that they had placed breath mints at their bedside.) I must confess that I may have forgotten other special touches that were placed here and there. (from Linda: We discovered the bed was short-sheeted when I changed the sheets before we retired for the evening. Sorry gang, that part back-fired! The muzzleloader was on my side of the bed, and I'd wondered if it was placed there in case someone thought I may need it. I didn't. We thought we'd gathered all the skins that were left around, but I discovered another beaver pelt in the bottom dresser drawer just yesterday. There were also red and white streamers hanging down from the entrance of our great room. Oh, and I should note, the reference for the message of the day was Job 19:17A -- hopefully the second part of that verse will never apply.)
The Carter's strawberries sign (courtesy of Dorothy Pritchard) that had decorated the getaway car now decorated the entryway of the home. That was not the only sign that decorated the place, for a neatly painted new sign was posted out at the road, proclaiming proudly that this was "The Love Shack" or "The Love Nest." (Its painter thought that the latter sounded a little nicer.) (from Linda: Tony wasn't too happy with the sign in front of our house, but I couldn't stop laughing...and implored him to leave it up for a few days...which may have been a bad idea...keep reading and you'll understand)
And what did the honeymooners think of their welcome home? It is their job to report their own feelings, but the groom did say something akin to "How embarrassing!" concerning the roadside sign. Yet he must have liked it in some part of him, for it stood in its place a full day after their return to the nest. It was as he was taking it down that a curious man stopped by to ask for more details about just what sort of a place this "Love Shack" was going to be. Tony reported that the man was associated with Friendly Farms. Linda reported that he was very strange-looking and that she was going to keep the doors locked. (from Linda: The sign was up for about 2-3 days...and the man that stopped by looked like he was from the late 60s, early 70s, with a long scraggly ponytail. You BET I was gonna keep the doors locked!)
But who could lock the doors against their sweet and beloved nieces, Anna and Ruby? Anna herself had proudly announced to them on their return that "We decorated your house!!" Anna and Ruby were delighted to be supper guests of Linda and Tony while David and I dined out alone last Thursday night. Tony and Linda looked a little weary when we stopped by to pick up the children around 8-8:30 pm, and I pitied them, for I knew their day was not over. As we drove back toward the farm (in the black Cadillac, I might add), we met the contingency who were heading on foot to the Love Shack, armed with all manner of noisemakers, muffled for the moment. Dan and Cheryl Atkins had several goose calls around their necks, but he was called upon to be the signal man with the shotgun, to start off all the noise. (Tony usually gets that job with his muzzleloader.) Jean Ballard had the school bell that had been used at the Emmaville School. Dwight had a notched spool to use on the windows. David had Dwight's cornet. Others mostly had a variety of pans. There were several Wolffs, a couple Crooks, the Russ Paulsons, Beckers, Evinks, Hendersons, LaMae James (of course), Doris Klingenberg, Sue Parks, Sally and Don Johnson, and the like. There was a special guest appearance by Larry Gartner, himself, with some of his children! That came about as a result of Mama's inviting Luella Bliss, the neighbor across the road, who would be part of the action whether she wanted to be or not. She declared that she'd be happy to come and that she'd bring a friend. Who would have guessed that that friend would be Larry Gartner?! Actually, the guest she had in mind was a gentleman friend from the southern part of the state, but Larry happened to be visiting her, thought the party seemed like a good place to be, so he joined the crowd. When Luella was asked what she thought about the "Love Shack" sign, she said that her friend had thought very highly of the sign and thought that she should have a sign in front of her own house, saying "Love Shack II." Well! (from Linda: I'm so thankful my husband warned me about a week before the wedding about shiverees and LaMae's habit of instigating them! We had a delightful time and we're still not sure how many people showed up, but I think there were at least 50 or more who piled in that night...still not sure where they all came from!) (2008 update -- Luella later married her gentleman friend from the southern part of the state...but they never did borrow our sign!)
Well, when the noise started, the door didn't immediately open. When it did, who should peer out but a gorilla!! It looked an awful lot like the gorilla who had made his appearance at and after the wedding reception, but it must not have been, for this gorilla was not wearing the smart plaid sport coat. Eventually, we were all welcomed inside where no shortage of tasty treats were served, many of them left from the excess from the wedding--cookies, pop, chips and salsa, coffee, tea--and a huge bag of gummi bears. The groom, with insistence from the crowd, played his banjo. A small Becker and a small Blake danced. (from Linda: We initially thought if we ignored the noise, perhaps everyone would go away. Yeah, right! They just started making MORE noise and banging on the windows! We then remembered the gorilla suit that I'd just tucked away in the closet, and when Tony opened the door, it was fun seeing a few people take a step back in surprise.)
Led by Jane Wolff at the organ keyboard, all the visitors joined in a--well, probably not rousing, but generally sincere--rendering of "Going to the Chapel" with a few changes in the lyrics. ("Gonna buy a chapel and we're gonna get married"..."fixin' up a chapel"..."livin' in a chapel"...something about it being spring with singing birds and farmboys being busy.) The idea was to have some impromptu costuming with a bride and a few bridesmaids (reminiscent of the Dixie Cups, the original artists) singing, but there was some confusion and it became a moving group number instead. (Such numbers are always MORE moving when they start out with the solo voice, building to the crowd representing all of mankind, sort of like "We Are the World" or "I Want to Know What Love Is" and the like. We would have needed a sea of glowing candles for that sort of thing, anyway, I suppose.) (from Linda: If you really wanted to use candles, we had plenty left over....and would have gladly lent them for use...but we don't have our home owners insurance in place yet, so maybe it was best not having so much fire lit! All in all, it was a good and fun evening...with many people telling me at church on Sunday that they were sorry they were not able to attend. Goodness, I don't know where we would've had room for more people anyway!)
Things seem to have settled down in the lives of the honeymooners. They can report to you firsthand about that. There was the washing machine incident... (from Linda: Ah yes...the washing machine incident.... I'd been smelling something foul in the bathroom area --and yes, the toilets had all been flushed-- so Tony took apart the wall between the laundry room and bathroom to see if something was stuck in a drain or whatever. We figured out that the trap in the bathroom was low on water and filled it, and Tony put the wall back up, put the washer and dryer back in place, and we were good to go. We thought. I filled the washer -- a "super large" load -- then set out to do a bunch of errands. Came back home three hours later to find a good amount of the carpets downstairs absolutely soaked through. Called the farm in a panic and talked with Tony who came home and discovered the pipe wasn't put back in the drain for the washer. Oops! I wonder if Jon even knows that we borrowed his shop vac? Thank you!!!!)
That's all from here for the moment. Rita Blake, reporter.
And wrapping up from Linda: Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. As things are starting to come together in our new home, we'd love to hear from you. Things are getting busier as green houses are being planted and fields will soon start being readied for the upcoming season. I'm trying to start getting some orders put together for the market, setting up QuickBooks for the farm account, and keep up with house work while Tony is getting things going at the farm. We've taken down the cross from the front of the house today (thank you Tony and David!) so our place now looks like a home and no longer like a chapel.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
We had a great start. Little traffic, beautiful weather, great company. LaMae James, a dear lady from Park Rapids, flew out to California to spend a few days with her son that lives close to where I lived. She joined us on the trip back to help with driving. Well, about three hours into our travels, we came to a grinding halt along I-10 East. There had been a terrible accident on the westbound side several miles up and both sides of the freeway were temporarily closed while they brought in medivac helicopters. We didn't know what the hold up was for almost an hour though. We figure we lost about 2-3 hours of travel time because of the accident, but we did find out later that -- although two full tour buses crashed and several severe injuries occurred, thankfully nobody died. We ended up stopping for the night about an hour past the Utah border.
The next day was uneventful, although during the short time that I took over driving the fully-loaded truck, we had some pretty strong winds on a small state highway in Gillette, Wyoming...it felt like I was going to end up tilted over a few times, but thankfully the winds died down. We stayed in Wyoming that night and got a good start the next morning. After making it through the rest of the mountains, we decided to take a small interstate (85) that would cut off several hours from our travels. It goes from the bottom of South Dakota up to I-94 which would take us home. I don't know if any of you are familiar with route 85, but after going through the small town of Belle Fourche, there is literally nothing for 71 miles until you get to a small town called Buffalo...then literally nothing again for another 45 miles until you get to Bowman...after that it's only 32 miles until the next small town, and a short 26 miles until reaching I-94. Well, I shouldn't say "literally nothing." There are plenty of antelope in the fields along the two-lane highway...and about 40-some miles north of Belle Fourche, there is a small convenience store called Crow Buttes...it has a couple tables for hungry travelers, some souvenirs, and a gas pump.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, about six miles past Crow Buttes, Tony veered off the road. Initially, LaMae and I thought he was pulling over to see the herd of antelope...until I saw the front left tire rotating diagonally. We're still not sure what the problem was, perhaps the tie rod or the axle, but that was when a bit of panic set in...what in the world were we going to do? I don't know how many saw our truck before we left, but that thing was FULLY loaded! We had horrible thoughts about having to unload and reload into another truck, and no one knows better than Tony, Ted Bultsma, James Hansen, and Jerome Foster Sr. that THAT possibility was close to impossible. I'm still not sure how they got everything into the truck in the first place! Luke and Mandy also had the front completely loaded down with wedding flowers and my wedding dress...there was just enough room for Tony and a small cooler in the cab. After thanking God that Tony was able to pull over okay, LaMae and I set out in the car to find a phone. We drove back to Crow Butte and called Penske. After explaining to the man on the phone what the problem was (oh yeah, did I mention that Saturday after we loaded the truck, James and Tony noticed that same front tire wasn't round? It was kind of square. We took it back to the place where we picked up the truck and asked them to change the tire. The guy told us "oh, it's okay; that's just because the alignment is off...you'll make it there with no problem. However, you can always go to the Penske service station and see what they think." We opted to do that; the service station opted to change the tire; we thought that was the end of that....were we WRONG!), I was glad when he told me "we found someone to tow you." I asked, "to Belle Fourche? Buffalo? Bismarck? Tow to where?" wondering, what will happen then? I was stunned when the reply was "all the way to Park Rapids." Wow! That was about 650 miles! No worries about transferring items; we didn't have to pay for gas in the truck for the remainder of the trip, and the best thing....we didn't need to return the truck! We were going to have to return it to Minneapolis, about a 3.5 hour trip each way. Praise God! No, actually the best thing was that Tony and I finally got to ride together :) We did, however, have to wait for just over six hours for the tow truck to arrive...but I wasn't about to complain about that. After finally getting on the road around 6:00 p.m., we ran into a blinding snow storm. There wasn't alot of snow, but it was whirling quite severely and by the time we reached I-94, it was next to impossible to see while driving...and when someone would pass, we were blinded for almost a minute or more until the snow settled a bit. We stopped that night in Bismarck while the tow truck continued home. The next day we made it to Park Rapids without further incident and were warmly welcomed by Tony's parents.
Within the next couple weeks, we got things unpacked and started welcoming visitors. Tony's sister and her family ended up coming home unexpectedly from Indonesia. Because she is close to her due date, they weren't expecting to be able to travel home for the wedding. However, with the war starting, their team leader thought it would be best for them to return in case things heated up more...and before it was too late for her to travel. Soon, more and more family and friends started arriving...the week of the wedding, Faith Baptist (my new church) had a "mixed" shower for us -- men and women. We had a great time (updated note from 2008: one of the games we played was the wed.com game -- sort of a "newlywed game" featuring four married couples and us...little did the others know, we'd been told the questions ahead of time and knew how to answer....and to everyone's surprise -- but ours -- we won!). Later that week, the day before our wedding, Tony's sister Carla (from Ethiopia) and his sister-in-law Lori hostessed a personal shower/tea at LaMae's house. There were around two dozen ladies and girls there; as Anna (his 4-year-old niece) told me when I asked where Ruby (his 2-year-old niece) was "this is only for BIG girls!" All the gals wrote down a piece of advice for me for marriage...every bit very much appreciated. I also got my first glimpse of the wonderful spreads my sister-in-law Lori puts together (with help from Tony's sisters Rita and Carla) -- wow! We also has lots of fun with my soon-to-be new name...especially my sister-in-law Beth!