Year in Review

Happy New Year! As we say goodbye to 2009 and prepare to welcome a new decade, I thought I'd reminisce the best way I know how....through photos.


1. January: Miss J competes in and wins first gymnastics meet.

2. February: Miss J turns 8 and competes on her birthday at TNT Gymnastics. Gym Dad celebrates a birthday. Miss J competes in Kim Lupo Memorial Gymnastics Meet in Minot and places first.

3. March: Miss J competes at American Gold Gymnastics and at home meet at Red River Valley Gymnastics.

4. April: Miss J competes in ND Gymnastics Association State Meet and wins the all around gold.

5. May: Lake season officially begins with unseasonably cold temperatures.

6. June: Summer's arrival fails to spur warmer weather, however any weekend is a good weekend at the lake.

7. July: Miss J learns to drive four wheeler and time is spent in the woods on the family hunting grounds.

8. August: Sister K and I process endless pints of salsa, tomatoes and green beans. Two dear friends, Chad and Val, marry in Devils Lake and we enjoy a weekend of camping and fishing. Miss J begins third grade.

9. September: Sister K, Brother J, Gym Dad and I vacation in Las Vegas.

10. October: I have reconstructive knee surgery. Our new godson, Carter Jay Yonke, is born to best friends Kari and Jason.

11. November: Hunting season opens and despite being at a disadvantage with a bum knee, I bag a 11 point buck. I celebrate another birthday. Thanksgiving is celebrated at our house.

12. December: Many hours are spent shopping, decorating and cooking, readying for Christmas. Despite the first blizzard of the winter dumping over 25 inches of snow on our city, our Christmas celebration goes on as planned.

It is a little surreal that we are about to put 2009 to rest. Without warning it has come to an end. I wish you and yours health and happiness in the new year! Welcome 2010!



was what a three year old Miss J affectionately called her favorite movie. In those days we watched the movie almost on a daily basis. Maybe it was because the movie was repetitively played, or because Crazy Canadian Kramer is a simple soul, but he loves this movie. As soon as he hears the opening theme song he comes running to the TV. He also has been known to jump at the screen and attack the subwoofer.

For old times sake, Miss J wanted to watch Monster's Inc. over Christmas. True to form, Crazy Canadian Kramer jumped from his perch on the chair and stationed himself in front of the TV.


Let it Snow, Let it Snow....

Let it NOT snow any more this winter!! In my previous entry I mentioned that our city got hammered with over 25 inches of snow! TWENTY-FIVE inches of snow! It was one for the record books. Gym Dad spent a total of eight hours snow blowing and shoveling and the city streets still are a mess. It looks more like mid February rather than December with walls of snow making it difficult to see around corners and at crossings. That being said, this would be a great time to review my earlier post about winter driving!


Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009 turned out to be an interesting one indeed. Over 25 inches of snow fell from December 24th through December 26th in our fair city. My parents, grandmother and Sister K were all stranded at our house for the duration. This did not prevent us from carrying on with our celebration. Miss J was delighted to receive the gift she had been most hoping for from grandma and grandpa.


"Oh Come All Ye Faithful...."

was among the songs sung at Emma's annual Christmas Program on Tuesday night. The auditorium was stuffed from wall to wall with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone in between.

The packed house was wonderful to witness. It has been obvious to me that there has been a migration away from the Christ centered Christmas. Secularizing Christmas into a, plain ol' vanilla sort of holiday. I truly feel that it makes little sense to completely ignore all religious connections to Christmas, but hey, I'm an open minded person (insert laugh and snort), so I think it would also be wrong to assume that those religious connections are all that matter or that everyone shares the same religious beliefs about the season. I am, however, very grateful that Miss J belongs to a school that focuses on the reason we celebrate Christmas; the birth of Jesus.

Every year when we gather together for this event, I am reminded why we made the decision to enroll Miss J in Sacred Heart Catholic School. We certainly didn't take this decision lightly, or make it in haste. Both Gym Dad and I were brought up Protestant. Would this/should this be a deal breaker? Thankfully the answer was no. SH offered small classrooms, a small student body and a sense of community that the public school lacked. SH students are taught to exercise good manners, self discipline and to respect others. All are essential values we hope to instill in Miss J.


Attention drivers...

Winter is upon us, so it seems. We will most likely have snow on the ground until April. I must admit, I was a bit excited to see the snow finally fall and remain on the ground. Then reality hit. Winter driving!

I will confess that I am an aggressive driver by nature. I anticipate every move I make on the road, the flow of the traffic, and the change of the stoplights. I'm impatient...leisurely Sunday driving is not for me! I may be aggressive, but I am very conscience of everything I'm doing, and for that matter, what you're doing next to me, behind me, and in front of me on the road.

Every driver expects the snow to fall in the winter. The roads change from snow to slush to ice. It is a known fact that this will occur, there's no debate, it happens every year. That being said, why is it that most drivers completely forget how to drive once the snow falls? They completely disregard all of their past experience on snow and ice and become morons on the road. Over the last few days I've been witnessing some exceptionally bad driving taking place. Take heed, bad drivers, here are some tips to help you avoid the horn honking and one fingered salutes you've been experiencing.

1. Get OFF your phone

2. Don't pull out right in front of me and proceed to drive 15 miles per hour.

3. Don't tailgate me; I am leaving safe stopping distance between me and the car in front of me and I don't want you in your stupidity to slam into my back end if I need to suddenly stop.

4. Don't drive in the middle both lanes; there are two lanes for a reason, to aid in the flow of traffic.

5. Just drive already! Hesitating, slamming on your brakes every block, and driving half of the posted speed limit only impedes on traffic and makes you dangerous.

Happy driving everyone!


New man in town.....

Carter Jay Yonke was born on Friday, October 30, 2009 to beaming parents Jason and Kari Yonke.

Kari and I go way back....way back to the "good old days" of Franklin Middle School. I remember meeting her the first day of 6th grade, the very first day of middle school. Her last name started with a K, mine with a L. Our lockers were close to each other as were our seats in many classes. We have been partners in crime ever since. Our daughters have grown up together, gotten in trouble together, and are certain to be in need of close supervision as teenagers when they're together.

We traveled to Fargo on Tuesday to meet the newest addition to the Yonke family. He couldn't have been cuter. Gym Dad and I were taken by surprise when we were asked to be the Godparents to this special little man. We couldn't be more honored. I cannot think of a greater gift than to be given the opportunity to create a special relationship with this child. It is a true testament to our remarkable friendship. My cup runneth over.......


Valley of Fire State Park

I finally have found time to edit the photos taken during our trip to Las Vegas. Not sure exactly what happened those two weeks I was sitting in the recliner at home........but I digress.

Unfortunately, I didn't seem to take very many photos in Las Vegas. I must have been too busy carrying my drink.....errrr....I mean enjoying the sites to take out my camera and snap some shots.

I did, however, get some fantastic photos of the Valley of Fire State Park. The Valley of Fire State Park is located in the Mojave Desert, a little under an hour north of fabulous Las Vegas. It's name was acquired from the red sandstone rock formations and mountains that grace this amazing land. Being from the "great plains" it was some of the most stunning beauty I have ever seen. It was also unbelievably hot....very, very 115 degrees hot! And, no, the "dry heat" doesn't make one bit of difference!

Gym Dad

Brother J

Sister K

Gym Dad was attempting to stand on a very unstable sign....not too sure what he was trying to prove, but I got some hilarious expressions!



Well, this is it! The end my confinement is closely at hand. I have been giving the a-okay to go back to work on Wednesday. I am about at the end of my rope with this room, this chair, and daytime TV.

The doctor confirmed that my knee and leg are healing well. He took a portion of my stitches out (the rest will dissolve) and showed me a lovely x-ray photo of his handiwork. I was astonished by the size of the screws. They resemble the ones used by Gym Dad to hang drywall. No dainty hardware for me! I can now bear 10% of my weight on my leg which isn't much of a change from what I was already doing, but can progressively add more as I can handle it. Only two more months and I should be rid of my brace and walking unassisted......Lord give me strength!


New & Improved Views from the Recliner.....

Sister K helped me improve my views by arranging my fall decorations around the house. Fall is my favorite time of the year for a few of reasons. It means that the curling season is around the corner, and fall brings about the start of college hockey. Not to neglect to also mention the colors of the trees, the first snow, and deer hunting. Thanks to Sister K I have new views from the and improved views!


pa⋅thet⋅ic [puh-thet-ik]


1.causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.; pitiful; pitiable: a pathetic letter; a pathetic sight.
2.affecting or moving the feelings.
3.pertaining to or caused by the feelings.
4.miserably or contemptibly inadequate: In return for our investment we get a pathetic three percent interest.

As you can see it is very hard for me to
get any work done as of late. Crazy
Canadian Kramer seems to think that
he should have my undivided attention
at all times. He is pathetic!


Sunday Update.....

I'm not feeling sleepy tonight, even though I have every reason to be sound asleep right now. I watched the weekend fly by from my recliner. Gym Dad helped winterize the lake cabin while Sister K took care of me. She made, from scratch, a fabulous lasagna, and decked out the house with my collection of fall decorations. Thanks again K! These decorations make me smile and I could use a few new reasons to smile!

It was an exciting sports day. It was hard to keep up! The President's Cup, the Vikings, Nascar Racing, and the Twins. The U.S. took the cup, the Vikings are 5 and 0, Jimmy Johnson can go fly a kite, and the Twins STUNK! By the way, isn't base running a skill these guys should have learned in little league? Geeze! Rent a clue! It could have been an exciting series. Just for the record, I will be cheering from here on out for whomever is playing against the Yankees.

Even with the exciting boob tube action, I am going stir crazy sitting here day after day. Which is unfortunate because as I found out today trying to help Sister K with decorating, I am in no shape to be returning to my regular daily routine. Why can't I accept that my body needs time to heal? If you watched the video of my surgery, you can see that it was quite a traumatic ordeal for a body to endure. Again, I think this goes back to my inability to admit weakness. I shouldn't be walking by now, I shouldn't be out cruising the town, I shouldn't be grocery shopping.....I know these is common sense. However, for some reason I still long to return to the mundane activities of my life. I'm less that a week post surgery! I have got a long road ahead. If I get through this without asking to be shot (...ahem...Rob...) it will be a miracle! The sedentary lifestyle is NOT for me!


My new love....

Since being at home I have discovered that television sucks! I mean really sucks! We have somewhere in the ball park of 200 channels at our disposal....surely there must be something worth watching on at all times of the day, right? WRONG! Between infomercials, The Golden Girls, and international soccer I can't even find an episode of The Andy Griffith show to occupy my time. Heck, at this point I'd settle for a rerun of Matlock. I find myself aimlessly flipping through the channels trying to score 30 minutes of entertainment.

While doing just this, I stumbled upon Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show was created by and stars Larry David who was co-creator of Seinfeld. I LOVE this show! It is hilarious! I found myself laughing out-loud possibly with a few snorts! The Seinfeld references in every episode are undeniable. As I huge Seinfeld fan, the references remind me of the show I never missed. Kudos, Mr. David! You have done it again!


I finally was able to get a good night's sleep last night. I woke up only once to re-medicate myself, lest I get behind on my pain control again.

My first physical therapy appointment was this morning. I was convinced that my doctor was some kind of sadist scheduling therapy so soon after surgery. My therapist, L, assures me, however, that the pain endured during therapy has a purpose. Really?? If I wasn't able to trod though the session in a drug induced haze, I'm certain I would have a different opinion. Thankfully my legs are conditioned and in good shape so we did not have to begin therapy from square one and all went well. I will continue to see L biweekly for approximately two months. I have exercises which I am to perform at home. I will dutifully do so every day. Seriously, I know that therapy is imperative for recovery, and I am way to young to not make a full recovery.

Now I must rest. Crazy Canadian Kramer has just reminded me that it is time for our afternoon snooze. Ahhhh....the life of a cat!


Views from a recliner........

I am feeling slightly better this afternoon. Doctor T. prescribed a new pain med to try and I am optimistic that I may soon be able to rest comfortably. I am ultimately concerned about the pain because I start physical therapy tomorrow morning. Therapy with zero pain relief is not an adventure I want to experience. In fact it sounds rather insane!

I have been sitting in the same recliner for what seems like an eternity and have been looking at the same areas of the living room. Leave it to me to see it as a photo opportunity.

Crazy Canadian Kramer has become my constant companion...

And last but not least.....a very lovely and gorgeous smelling flower arrangement sent by the best co-workers; Kathryn, Julie, Phyllis, Rob and Cheri. Love you guys!!


Dear Crutches:

You are an evil spawn from hell....a medieval torture device invented by a sick individual. I mistakenly thought that our previous meeting three years ago would be our last. I again was mistaken when I thought that packing you away deep under the stairs, would make the memories of our relationship disappear. Alas, I was wrong....very wrong. The pain you once created has again become my reality. My arm pits and ribs are bruised, my hands are swollen. As if that wasn't enough you tipped over and smacked me in the head! The grand paradox is that you are the only one that can help me get from here to there, and there to here. You are my only source of support. What cruel irony!

All my best (errr.....drop dead),



Oh the pain!!

Ok, ok!! I know they told me that the first few days following surgery would be the most difficult. Why is it that I always think I am the exception to the rule?? It is well known by friends and family that it is extremely hard for me to admit any form of weakness......but this is PAINFUL.....and EXHAUSTING! Being an independent creature, it is difficult to accept I need help....well, with everything.

For those of you waiting for an update, I'm happy to oblige. My surgery went very well and was considered a success. However, there were some unexpected factors. (Why wouldn't there be, right??!) My knee was in worse shape than originally conceived.

The first part of the surgery involved an arthroscopic procedure to examine and clean up the cartilage under my patella. What they found were 50+ floaters (cartilage that has sheared off, hardened and is floating around independently within the joint) wreaking havoc under my knee cap. They act like bits of gravel sanding away at the healthy cartilage. This was a good explanation for the grinding, snapping and swelling I was experiencing.

The last portion of the surgery involved the Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy. It was originally thought that my tubercle (the upper portion of the tibia) was rotated out approximately 14 degrees. Zero degrees is considered normal and helps ensure that the femur, knee joint and tibia are in a straight line. However, my tubercle was found to be somewhere in the ballpark of 20 degrees, much more severe than anticipated. What does this all mean? It means that because of the severity, they were unable to place my tubercle back to the 0 degree position. However, I still should notice significant relief upon my recovery. And I am very thankful for this. Doctor T. assures me that we made the right decision performing this radical surgery opposed to another that would simply act as a band-aid. This procedure should help preserve my knee function and delay a knee replacement until I am at an appropriate age (or never!).

I am taking things hour by hour at this point, but know that with every day I should be feeling better. Thank you for all of the well wishes! They do a great deal for the morale!


Going Under the Knife!

Tomorrow I will be having knee surgery. I have been dragging my heels over having this procedure done since it was first mentioned to me three years ago. I resisted my doctor's recommendations, thinking that surely my knee would get better on it's own, surely I wouldn't need that procedure! Alas..I concede! I can no longer ignore my ever aching, cracking, snapping, swelling and stiffening joint.

I will be having what is called at Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy . In laymen's terms it is basically a knee realignment surgery. Over the years, curling, injuries, and being blessed with hypermobility have all attributed to my left knee becoming severely unaligned.

I am looking forward to two weeks off of work, 6 weeks on crutches, 3 months in an immobilizer brace, and extensive physical therapy.....or maybe NOT! However, I am grateful that there is a treatment to improve my condition.

I will try to update as I can. On the bright side, during my convalesce I may actually have time to edit and post my Vegas photos!


"Blood is blood and land is land..."

As a child that sentence alone could make me cringe, run away, or want to hide. I was frequently lectured on the importance of both by my godmother, J. She too was given this oration by her father and over the years it has been perfected by both. In the mind of a child of 8 or 9, I had reasoned that she was either trying to bore or punish us purely for her entertainment. As I have gotten older, I slowly began understand the truth behind that statement.

My family collectively owns a large chunk of land just north of my grandparent's farmstead. Some is rented out as farm acreage. The rest consists of woods and thickets. Over the years, the area has been the site of many hunting seasons, bonfires, and camping trips.

Last weekend we made the trek to visit my grandparents, cousins and the land from which my family comes. After the stress of the past month, I felt my soul renewed. For me it is somewhat of a religious experience...the smells, the sounds, the beauty. The scenery was perfect and the company divine.

So, my dear godmother, J, I must confess, I now understand perfectly the reasoning behind your now famous lecture. There is nothing more important than your family, your blood... and the soil, the land, from which it came.


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish...

Our fishing stop in Devils Lake was not quite as exciting as the Dr. Seuss book, but it was a beautiful day, one of the nicest of the summer.  The light was perfect and I couldn't resist firing off 200ish photos.  Gym Dad, Sister K and Miss J were trying their best to catch dinner and I enjoyed myself photographing the moment.

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere."
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
by Dr. Seuss


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