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My Life with Dogs

Things have gotten out of control.

Updated: 2016-09-07T23:31:19.528-05:00


Summer Fun and Fright


Yesterday, while out buying necessities to prepare our family to depart on a week's vacation to the beach, I made what will perhaps be the BEST purchase of the summer.Folks, I introduce you to the Tie-Knot Battle Pump by Kaos. This little beauty is what I dreamt of as a child: it allows you to quickly fill your water balloon and tie it off with ease so you can wage war on your sister in a more timely and efficient manner.  Can I get an AMEN from those of you who spend more energy tying those silly balloons than launching them?!Swanny Jr. is going to demonstrate the genius of this little device for you: allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />A water balloon battle ensued complete with a handshake and taking 10 paces from each other before the chaos reigned. Peanut noted that we need to take the Tie-Knot with us to the 4th of July party where there is always an EPIC water balloon fight.  Swanny Jr. said we need to take it on vacation.  Grammy (my mom, visiting until tomorrow) said she'd take it every where with her! Luckily we managed to squeeze in the water balloon fun before weather took a turn for the worse last night.  I was at Yoga, the kids at home with Grammy preparing to come to the YMCA to swim when the first batch of storms hit our area.The kids and mom never did make it to the Y--our sweet children preferring instead to stay home and comfort our fearful doggies.  I returned to this:This is the view as you look north down our road this morning.  Pretty scary.  Three of the large beautiful trees that adorn our street were ravaged by the storms last night and large portions of them came down in the road.  Luckily, no houses seem to have been damaged and the power stayed on. We were so fortunate that power stayed on and that we had no water in the basement.  I'm hearing stories about that from so many today.  I hope you all weathered the storm safely.Since the storms seem to have cleared, you'll find us here at My Life With Dogs filling and tossing our water balloons again![...]

Celebrating the Solstice


It always seems as though summer is well underway by the time the actual first day of summer rolls around on the calendar.  After the particularly brutal winter that we survived, the warm weather and sunshine have been welcomed with open arms. Way back on a snowy and cold day in February, Swanny and I, along with 4 other couples bid on an auction item at a fundraiser for our local YMCA.  What we won was the Summer Solstice Dinner party: an evening promising drinks, dining, friendship, and celebration of the change of season to summer.  I remarked with my friends that I was looking forward to enjoying a meal outside where there wasn't two feet of snow and a -20 degree windchill.Well my friends, the day of our dinner arrived this past weekend.  A few of the girls decided the occasion warranted a trip to buy new dresses.  We may have been distracted by the hats...We found suitable frocks for our dinner party and celebrated with some wine at Montage...and whiskey at Perry Oakes Brewery.On Saturday we fancied ourselves up and, despite a little bit of rain at the beginning of the dinner hour, we gathered with our friends in the gazebo and enjoyed wonderful craft beers, champagne, appetizers and laughs. Each dish seemed more delicious and enjoyable than the one I tasted before.We dined inside due to the rain, but the backyard, which was beautifully adorned with lights and lanterns, was our setting for dessert.I made a concerted effort to leave my mobile device in my purse so that I could be fully present in the festivities, which also means I don't have lots of pictures of each course or of my friends all prettied up, but trust me--it was a beautiful evening.  The food was AMAZING, the company a treasure, and our hostess the best. Swanny managed to capture a picture of his dinner before he devoured it.  Missing from this pic are the potatoes that I swear I would have brought home in my purse if I could!Our hostess, Mrs. P, was helped by a handful of her wonderful friends who appeared to have as much fun prepping and serving the meal as we had enjoying it.I should probably tell everyone we had a terrible time and that the food was mediocre so we don't have competition when we bid on this auction item next time!!  Who am I kidding, I can't lie.  It was a night of memories and worth every penny donated to our YMCA.  Maybe we should celebrate every seasonal transition like this!![...]

So I took three years off from blogging...but I'm coming back.


Wow.  It's really been three years.

Who knows if anyone will still check back into this blog since it's been on hiatus for so long, but as we say at church, we are a resurrection people, eh?

March 2011 was the last update around here and much has happened since then.

I could try to detail everything that has happened around here from starting school (Swanny Jr.) to graduating (ME!!), to joining swim team (Peanut), t-ball and softball teams, to visiting family in Idaho and Texas, to seeing chapters in careers close and new ones begin (Swanny)...but I think a photo recap is probably best.


See you again soon!



A beautiful curio cabinet stands in my dining room. When the cabinet belonged to Swanny's Grandmother, it contained assorted pieces of Swedish crystal. It now contains various remembrances from our wedding day: crystal glasses, our guest book, the cake serving set and a shadow box with the sugar flowers from our cake framing one of the invitations for the wedding.

Swanny Jr. felt it would be an appropriate place to keep one of his most prized possessions too.

Humbled and finally thawed out


Yesterday I participated in my 3rd Polar Plunge, to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. What started 3 years ago as a daring venture with co-workers to raise a little money for a good cause has, for me, turned into much more. As a parent of a Special Olympian said to me yesterday, what we do gives voice to what those who don't have a strong voice of their own know about the importance of Special Olympics. I'm thrilled to be able to do such a thing, despite the insanity it takes to submerge myself in an ice covered lake.The weather was the best we've had in my 3-year tenure. Sunny and not much wind.The water was cold as ever. Despite near 40 degree weather there was LOTS of ice on the lake.This year, I raised more money than I have before: over $4,000. While this earned me the Silver Plunger award for the second highest individual total at our plunge site, it is to the donors, the hard fundraising work of my team and the movement of Special Olympics that the glory goes.To say that being a part of a group that has raised over $100,000 in the past 3 years for Special Olympics is humbling would be an understatement. I just read online that the plunges this year have raised over $500,000 for the Illinois athletes. I can't think of a more deserving cause or group who needs the awareness and money that these events generate.The mission of Special Olympics is stated as this: "Through the power of sport, Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people." I've said it before, I don't think a value can be placed upon the experiences and lessons Special Olympics offers to the children and families with whom I work.Eight of my students medaled at a Special Olympics swim meet the day before we plunged.I saw a picture of one who medaled whom I have known since she was 3 years old. I was as proud of her as I can only imagine her parents were. A year ago, she couldn't swim and was afraid to let go of the wall of a pool. Now, she has advanced to the state games. I think of who this little girl was at the age of 3, and who she is now...I'm so proud of her.Thank you again to everyone who donated to the Polar Plunge. Your money is going out into our communities to support the amazing and life changing work of the Special Olympics movment.[...]

How a 2-year-old plays hide and seek



February is a long month


A good friend and I have said for a while now that even though February has the fewest amount of days, it seems like the longest month of the year. It typically includes what seems like a million hours of paperwork and meetings at work, the Super Bowl, the annual meeting at our church, as well as few "holidays" and birthdays. This year, February has been busy and stressful... Still feeling euphoric over the Packers' Super Bowl win, love was abound at our house for Valentine's Day. Peanut and Swanny had their second annual date at the Daddy-Daughter dance at the YMCA.This year, instead of just having a cookie and then wanting to leave, Peanut decided to dance. Apparently, she got most of her groove on dancing with friends, but managed to squeeze a few steps in with her dad. With help from the neighbors, the kids also baked us this lovely Valentine's treat.Swanny and I enjoyed dinner and a show in Chicago for Valentine's Day. (By the way, it was AWESOME--I've only now stopped singing the songs all day long in my head!)This past Saturday we enjoyed visiting with my cousin and her family visiting from out east. We took the opportunity to celebrate a Fairy's 3rd Birthday.No Fairy party is complete without Pirates though.That day though, Peanut started feeling unwell near dinner time, which I attributed to too much cake and partying. By 11 pm, the cake and punch were all over her bed. Thus started a 2 1/2 day saga of poor Peanut taking in some water or other fluids, then bringing them back up. She never ran much of a temp, but couldn't keep anything down at all. A phone call to the pediatrician Monday morning yielded typical advice on dealing with a virus (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, medicine for fever--except she couldn't keep the medicine down). By 9 pm on Monday, the poor kid had puked about 6 or 8 times (water, Sprite, juice, Pedialyte--all of it came back up) and I was really worried about how dehydrated she was. Swanny arrived home and we took her straight to the emergency room.That's my poor Peanut with her I.V. providing her fluids and anti-nausea medicine. She took 2 full bags of fluid and I spoon fed her a Pedialyte popsicle. The doc then told us she was confirmed to have Influenza type A and B. He then noted he had never seen anyone with both types of flu. Way to go Peanut, anything worth doing has got to be done right, huh?She was luckily able to come home (there had been talk of admitting her to the hospital) with a prescription for Tamiflu and anti-nausea meds. The doc ordered her home from school for the duration of this week. All in all it was a pretty scary event. It's awful to see your little ones sick and such a powerless feeling you have when there's nothing you can do to help. While I was sad to see her so sick with flu, I was still grateful it was nothing more serious. Happy to report she is back to herself again--eating meals (no vomiting since Monday!), playing, and of course fighting with her brother.So, the long month of February is now drawing to a close. Looking forward to March (and Spring Break), I say here's to good health and a less busy schedule. Oh yeah, and a quick jump in a lake![...]

Remember when I used to blog?


For all my new-year's-resolutioning and positive self-talk, I have fallen miserably short on my goals to keep this blog updated...if you couldn't tell.I am checking back in though. Tapping myself back into the ring, but this time NOT promising any kind of consistency or regularity of updates. That pressure will just get me no where.In case you were wondering though, here are some highlights of what we have been up to at Casa de Swanny:1. I have now completed 3 of 12 classes that will lead me to my second college degree: a master of health sciences in occupational therapy through the University of Indianapolis. I'm loving it, although finding that my perfectionist streak has not gone away despite my best attempts to bury it below the surface.2. Swanny is training for a half-marathon in April. I'm prouder of him for making the commitment to doing this than he knows. Just wish I could be there to see him run...I'll be on campus for my next grad school class that weekend.3. Peanut is half way through kindergarten. She has lost 4 teeth, had 2 more sleep-over parties with friends, owns an iPod complete with speakers, and now talks about BFFs. (No joke, singing a song about BFFs in the shower tonight). I swear the child is 6 going on 16 some days. She has opted out of basketball this year, but is in full swing preparing for her dance recital in May and faithfully taking private swim lessons each week at the YMCA.4. Swanny Jr has graduated to sleeping in a big boy bed--a full size twin that he looks just too small to be allowed in. This means that the crib that converts to toddler bed has exited the upstairs. That piece of furniture has been a fixture in this house for over 6 years. I was a little torn up to see it go. I'll be a mess when we paint the room this spring so that no traces of a baby's room are left....5. Swanny Jr. is now wearing underwear all day long and staying dry (I said that last part in a whisper not to jinx us into regression). He is particular about picking them out himself each day--already has a pair of Thomas laid out for tomorrow. You'll find no feelings of nostalgia or sadness at not having to buy diapers anymore from this mommy.6. Peanut can read. Watch out world, it's only a matter of time before she's in control of it all.7. An amazing friend and co-worker of mine took the most beautiful pictures of our family over the summer at Starved Rock State Park. Every time I look at them I'm reminded how lucky I am to have such a special family.8. Swanny Jr. has a "new" babysitter. His (and Peanut's) former sitter took advantage of an amazing opportunity to start a new job late last spring, and Swanny Jr. now goes to Ms. Frances while we work. I know he loves her because a) he calls me Ms. Frances sometimes on the weekend and b) she was the first one he wanted to show his new big boy bed to.9. We had an invasion of super-heroes at Halloween. Word up, it's Word Girl! To infinity and beyond!10. Swanny played comish and ran his own fantasy football league this year. I participated along with 8 other friends of ours. I was awarded the Toilet Bowl Award yesterday for finishing in last place. (Yes, that is a roll of toilet paper on my trophy). I was OK though since the Packers won the Super Bowl.11. We still love our doggies.12. Swanny demonstrated his temerity by taking on a Man Vs. Food challenge in Indianapolis on his way to a Monday Night Football adventure with a buddy.13. I continue to serve our church in a leadership role--mainly feeling like I'm stumbling through, feeling my way in the dark. I am realizing though there are many things I'm learning about myself and about people in general. Going to try my best in the next 11 months that I have left to serve in this capacity to do the job faithfully, but to be sure I'm not short-changing my kids and husband in the process. I need to make[...]

A book with Bite


I was excited to learn that one of my favorite thriller writers, Jack Kilborn (J.A. Konrath) was teaming up with three other wickedly fun authors to create "Draculas". Based on previous works by each of these guys, I knew to expect a full-speed, chaotic, blackly humorous, frightfest. I was mostly right.

Written in a style where there are no chapter breaks, only shifts of character perspective, "Draculas" doesn't really allow readers to catch a breath. The action takes place in the close quarters of a small town hospital, so when the action gets rolling, you can feel yourself being pushed and pulled through the claustrophobic hallways while characters are fighting for their lives. There are moments of humor and set against this backdrop, the jokes are darkly hilarious. While a good scary book was what I was expecting, it's not quite what came through. Horrifying? Yes; in the best possible ways. But scary? Not to me, but maybe to some.

It's available now as a Kindle exclusive for $2.99. The story itself is around 80,000 words and the bonus content (yeah, like a friggin' DVD, the book includes interviews with the authors, a behind the scenes look at the making of the project, short stories by the authors, and a look at their upcoming releases) is another 80k.

Get it here:

Now turn off the lights, lock the doors, and get reading. I'd love to know what you think.

Birthdays... exciting kids since, well, forever


Our little boy is two. It's hard to reconcile the unassuming baby boy who came into our lives two years ago, with the big boy (and sometime wild thing) who makes his presence known at every opportunity. On the evening when he was born, Peanut didn't quite know what to think of her new baby brother. Seeing that tiny person swaddled in a blanket, and the weary look on her mommy's face, Peanut was not her usual boisterous self. A few minutes of peeking at Swanny Jr., and seeing that he wasn't a shrieking monster, she did eventually warm up.In the two years since that afternoon, Swanny Jr. has grown into quite the big boy. He's a big fan of Buzz Lightyear, Superman, Thomas, his books, and basketball. Always on the go, he never fails to entertain. Happy Birthday sir.[...]

A flower by any other name...


About four years ago, Jen and I stumbled upon method, a company that makes environmentally friendly cleaning products. This is from their company info page:what we're forAt method, we call ourselves "people against dirty." And by "dirty," we don't just mean the stuff dust bunnies are made of. method isn't only about cleaning up your home or your body; it's about cleaning up the way we clean.You may not know it, but if you're using typical household cleaners or common personal care products, you could be messing around with dangerous chemicals. Chemicals that aren't just bad for your home and the environment, but for you and your family as well.So what can you do about it? You can change. You can take a good hard look at the way you're cleaning, and see that harsh chemicals and toxins have no place in your home, no place in your body and no place in your cleaning products.Planet friendly and people friendly. No more hiding your cleaning products out of sight; or locking them up to keep your kids and pets safe. Sounds great, right? It is. Prior to discovering method, we used products from the Clorox family (who at the time, had no people friendly products). Jen and Peanut both suffered from allergies to dust and pollen, and we thought that keeping the house bleachy-clean would ease their suffering. Ironically, Jen often felt worse after cleaning. Couldn't be the chemicals wreaking havoc on my family's respiratory system, could it?So we switched to method, and the house is just as clean and the family can breathe easier. It's something that Clorox couldn't offer us. Maybe that has me in an uproar against Clorox anyway, but this has pushed me over the edge: Clorox seems to be claiming to own the daisy. That's right; a flower.You can read the details here (make sure you read the pdf of the letter and legal paperwork from Clorox); but I think the video sums it up nicely. What do you think? Watch, then vote.[...]

Weekend update, over due, again


What does my church mean to me?

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That about sums it up.

Love, compassion, equality, acceptance, hope, love, community.

God really is still speaking. I hope we're listening.

This date in history


April 14th 1865: President Abraham Lincoln shot in Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth1902: JC Penney opens his first store, in Kemmerer, Wyoming Marie & Pierre Curie isolaed the radioactive element radium1925: First regular-season Cubs game to be broadcast on radio (WGN)1948: A flash of light is observed in crater Plato on the Moon1971: Supreme Court upheld busing as means of achieving racial desegregation1978: WRR-AM in Dallas, Texas changes call letters to KAAM1979: Susan Horvath, of Penn is crowned America's Young Woman of the YearCongratulations to Ms. Horvath, but this is who should've won as soon as she was born.As Peanut pointed out to anyone who would listen, "Today is my mommy's birthday. She's 31!" Happy Birthday Jen![...]

Toothless Thursday


"So what'd you do today?"

"Nothing much. Went to work, sold some books, picked up the kids, and pulled Peanut's second tooth."

*Has* he learned anything?


Saw this new Nike ad causing a little stir on interweb. Over an image of a remorseful looking Woods, we hear the (I assume) digitally replicated voice of Earl Woods, Tiger's late father. On one hand, it plays as Nike standing behind one their athletes, encouraging him to examine both the life he has chosen to lead and those he has hurt with the choices he made.

On the other hand, it looks like Nike trying to make some dough off of Tiger's return to competition this weekend. As with most things in advertising, the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle.

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Earl and Tiger @ Yahoo! Video

Let me say this: I don't know Tiger Woods. I don't know anyone involved with the whole sorry, horrible mess. Do I think he's proven himself to be a horrible husband? Clearly. Do I think he's a bad father because of his actions? Maybe. It kind of depends on what impact this whole thing has had on his kids as well as what steps he's taken to make sure his kids are fine from here on out. Do I think (as others seem to) that Tiger's a terrible person because of his actions. I don't think so. Am I glad to see him back on the golf course doing what he does best? Absolutely.

When all of this broke into the news, I took a little bit of flack from people for continuing to wear my Nike Tiger Woods golf cap. As I pointed out to these people, my hat was a golf cap, not a "world's greatest dad/husband" hat. I'm not sure what's best for Tiger and his family on a personal level because, as I've said, I don't know them. But, personally, I think that Woods being back on the course is, if nothing else, great for golf and golf fans.

I'm not looking for validation or confirmation. Just wanted to share the ad, and say that I don't know what's right or wrong here; but with all the anger in the world, can't we wait and see how it all plays out? Maybe it will be a hollywood type ending for his family and the game he loves. Maybe it'll all go to shit and he'll lose everything.

Like I said before, it'll probably be somewhere in the middle.

Weekend update volumes 12 & 13


Swanny totally stole my blogging time Sunday I'll have you know. I decided to let him have his 5 minutes on "his" blog so I'm posting today to make up for some lost time.I took a 2 week hiatus because I wasn't exactly sure what to say about the recent goings on here at My Life with Dogs. I felt to publish posts that simply chronicled our family photos and random acts of the children would be doing our readers a disservice because it would be hiding the real issues that were occupying our time.Many of our readers know that Swanny and I belong to the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ottawa, IL. I can only speak for myself, but I LOVE my church. I love its vision and mission. I love the message of its ministry. I love how mission-minded we are. I love that we are Open and Affirming and extend a welcoming hand to everyone. I love the people there--they make me feel both comforted and challenged. They help me grow spiritually and intelectually.Our church has recently encountered a crisis, to put it plainly. In the past 3 weeks, we have had a member (also a church employee) arrested and charged with 2 counts of arson as well as with embezzling a rather large amount of money from the church. (The arson being an apparent attempt to divert attention from the money matter). No one was physically injured in the fire and the fire was not set at the church, but it was an act of violence against 2 other members of the congregation.To say that we all have felt betrayed on a personal level is quite literally an understatement. The person in question was someone who was close to many of us, including our children. She was in fact, Peanut's sunday school teacher. She was the mother of 3 children herself and my heart simply breaks to think of what those children now have to live with and face.The initial shock of what happened took days to sink in and still longer to process. The magnitude of the financial situation is still something I personally am grasping at and I think will be something that will take a long time for people to fully understand the depth of. We are all grieving at this point--for our church, for missions and other causes that likely never received money they were due, for having always operated on trust rather than on good business sense, for a family that has been torn apart and will NEVER be the same again, for people who have suffered a devastating loss of their home and property, which while they may get much of that back, they will never get back the time, energy and emotion they have spent and will spend dealing with the situation.I don't know what the future holds for sure for our member who now sits in jail, awaiting a trial they say some time in June. I don't know what the future holds for her girls or her husband, but I think of them every day and pray that they know they still have a church family who loves them. I pray that they feel the mercy and love of Jesus and of His church here in Ottawa.While I don't know exactly what the future holds for our members who have been displaced from their home, I do know that they have significant trials ahead of them and lots of work to do in putting their lives back together.I don't know what the future holds for our church. SIGNIFICANT changes in policy and procedure will need to take place, but the tricky thing is, we all see this situation from different shoes. We all had different relationships with those involved and bring different experiences to the table when we put the pieces back together. Listening to each other with patience and open hearts is all we can do.Radical forgiveness and mercy. Our pastor has taught us that r[...]

Hey, remember when I used to blog?


I feel as though I owe some folks an apology. I've been neglecting My Life With Dogs. Hell, this is my first post since... well, it's been too long.

All of my reasons for not blogging are tired, half-assed excuses; "I can't blog in the morning because I have to take Peanut and HP to pre-school, and get some miles in before work at 1", "I can't write tonight because I just got home from work, it's 10 p.m., and I'd like to converse with Jen and watch some DVR before I collapse into bed", "I can't blog during my day off, because I need to get some shit done," and on and on.

And twitter. Don't get me started on twitter. At first, I didn't think that I would get into twitter all that much, but it's really sucked me in. A chance to be funny, poignant, sarcastic, whatever, in no more than 140 characters? I'm in.

If I'm suffering from writer's block, nobody on twitter notices until a new tweet shows up in their feed. On here, if I'm struggling for words, people notice because the same post stares them in the face until Jen posts our family shenanigans for the week.

Ironically, several of the people I follow on twitter are fellow bloggers. Folks like @DadGoneMad, @undomesticdiva, @MyBottlesUp, @amalah, @mommywantsvodka, @maggiedammit, and @cheekylotus make me laugh, make me think, and make me want to be a better blogger.

So; apologies to Jen, who has had to shoulder the load in keeping this blog entertaining. She has done a terrific job of making sure (at least weekly) that we're up to date. I've been slacking lately, and Jen's been keeping our online house in order. If I'd waited to blog much longer, she'd shut down my access. To the blog, stop it.

From now on, need a couple of laughs? More musings than Jen's weekly wrap-ups? I'm at your service once again, constant reader.

Weekend update volume 11


Can you believe this kid is 8 today???

Happy birthday Jay-bug!
I'm sure if he sees this he'll roll his eyes as only he (and his mom) can because he is getting too big, too old and way too cool for his Auntie to call him that anymore.

We miss you mister and can't wait to see you soon!!

Hope you had a fabulous birthday!!

Weekend Update Volume 10--Popsicle Edition


allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />The 2010 Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Illinois took place today. I, along with 22 team mates, and many many others to an icy dip into Loon Lake in Yorkville, Illinois.And it was icy...did you see all the ice and snow on the lake in that video?? Here it is again, in case you missed it.NOTE: See all of that ice out there?!?!Here is what the lake looked like last year....Yeah, it was a little bit colder this year.According to the thermometer, the lake was a balmy 15 degrees.I apologize that there are not yet any action shots of the team in mid-plunge, but I'm working on laying hands on some.You'll have to do with some prep and lead up shots:There are many thoughts and emotions running through me at this moment..Pride: in a team that undertook this "crazy" challenge with a goal set in their minds to raise as much money as we could in order to support the kids we love so much and the movement that has changed the lives of so many.Amazement: in the generosity of my friends, family, co-workers and community members. We more than DOUBLED the amount of money that we raised last year. For those of you who didn't know, last year our team won the award for raising the most money in the state, which was about $20,000. This year our total is in the the approximate ball park of $52,000.00. (You read that right--amazing!!)Humility: to be a part of such an unbelievable group of women who have done something so wonderful for people who teach us so much and deserve to have the experience of Special Olympics for their journey in life. Being a part of something like this reminds me that my own fears, anxieties, and excuses just get in the way. This type of event is so much bigger than just me, its importance is so far reaching, how can I not be a part of it?By the way I call this picture above, the "Medal Sweep." Members of our team (from left to right) took the Gold Plunger, Bronze Plunger and Silver Plunger for being the top 3 individual money earners at our event. Our team captain is pictured on the right is holding the Golden Plunger our team won for raising the most money at the event.Two of the reasons I've done this:To me what the Special Olympics movement means was summed up best in a letter written by Timothy Shriver, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics, upon her death in 2009 noting what her ambition with this endeavor entailed: "her unconditional love for the athletes of Special Olympics that so fulfilled her life. As Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist reminded us: "the beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image, lest we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." Her love for the athletes of Special Olympics was always just like that. She never hoped that people with intellectual disabilities should be somehow changed into something they were not. Rather, she fought throughout her life to ensure that they would be allowed to reach their full potential so that we might in turn be changed by them, forced to recognize our own false assumptions and their inherent gifts. 
"Thank you to everyone out there who sponsored me or someone on my team. Your support of us means support to the Special Olympics Athletes and the move[...]

Do you know what this number is??



That would be the running total so far that the Power Plungers have raised for the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics! We've officially topped what we raised last year when we were the top money earning team in the state.

We plunge on Sunday at 1:00 and we're pumped.

Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported us so far. Thank you for deciding that this Cause is worth working for and giving to.

There is still time to donate if you haven't had the chance yet!

Pictures to follow on Sunday!

Weekend Update volume 9


Men out there--you're on notice.

(Taken from Saturday's edition of the Quad City Times)

"Making its way around the e-mail world is a list titled "Nine Words Women Use." It's meant as a guide for men. So, fellas, pay attention:
1. FINE--This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
2. FIVE MINUTES--If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
3. NOTHING--This is the calm before the storm. This means something and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with "nothing" usually end in "fine."
4. GO AHEAD--This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it!
5. LOUD SIGH--This is not actually a word, but it is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of "nothing.")
6. THAT'S OK--This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. "That's OK" means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
7. THANKS--A woman is thanking you. Do not question it or faint. Just say "you're welcome." (We must add a clause here. This is true unless she says "Thanks a lot." That is pure sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. Do not say "You're welcome" in response. That will bring on a "whatever." See below.)
8. WHATEVER--This is a woman's way of giving her man a directive that begins with a four-letter word.
9. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, I GOT IT--Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something the woman has told the man to do several times but is no doing herself. This will later result in a man asking, "What's wrong?" For the woman's response to that, refer to #3."

Gentlemen, I hope this helps clear up any misunderstandings out there.
Ladies, you're welcome.

Weekend Update Volumes 7 & 8


Ok, so I missed a week. Does that technically count as already breaking my new year's resolution?Life has been running at break-neck speed around the Swanny household lately. Unfortunately, I've been finding myself either in the grips of a ho-hum-type attitude no doubt brought on by the gloomy cold and busyness, or I find myself running after children and wiping noses and taking temperatures instead of snapping cute pictures of them.In the past 12 days:Swanny Jr as gotten 2 new teethSwanny Jr has had croupSwanny Jr has had at least 3 days of fever (not for a week now--hopefully it lasts)Swanny Jr has begun using 2 and 3 word phrases consistently for example:Daddy shoesButt poopDaddy runningAdam eat it, all goneAw, jeez (sounds just like his dad when he says that one)Peanut and Swanny attended the Daddy-Daughter Dance at the YMCA stepping both of them out of their social comfort zones. They looked so sweet, but only had enough interest for dancing one song, having a cookie then coming home.Peanut had camp-out day at Pre-school complete with jammies and s'mores.Peanut has scored at least 6 points in the 2 basketball games she has played in.Swanny took a run in the snow today and LOVED it.Swanny has been reading, cooking and cleaning a lot because his wife is so caught up in all of the work she has to get done.I have been raising money like a lunatic for Special Olympics (you can still donate--there's still time!!)I have been LOVING the new flip-video camera that my dad and step-mom gave me for an early birthday present.I am up to my ears in my current grad school class--readings, papers, presentations oh my!All of the "little" things out of the way, we have entered the Lent season. Lent has never really been terribly important to me personally--just another thing that in my Catholic upbringing made me feel sad and guilty. This year, however, the thought of not being able to be at church on Ash Wednesday for Soup Supper and Taize service was quite troubling to me so despite the hectic go-go-go schedule we had this past week, the kids and I made it there for supper and service. It was worth it. Good community, nice meditation time (even with a squirmy 22 month old on my lap), and good things to think about.I'll quote part of Pastor Lisa's prayer:"In fear, but also in hope we come together with ashes on our heads. The planet is dying in our hands, people turn to each other for food and strength only to be shoved away. Each day we deal in death, yet pretend that we are good. Let us take forty days to look hard at our so-called goodness and see what it covers up. Then we will join together on taking up the cross of living in the world as it is, for there is only one earth and one human race."Lent for me is going to be a time of reflection of what the truth is in me and around me--and how the path that I choose to walk is an expression of that truth or a contradiction to it...not easy stuff to ponder, but life isn't always supposed to be easy, is it?Soup supper is every Wednesday during lent at 6:00 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ottawa. Taize service follows at 7:00 with lessons, prayer, songs and time for reflection and meditation. It's a nice way to get centered and connect at the same time. You should come!That's the latest from My Life with Dogs. Fair warning, next weekend's update will likely be entitled: Paper due Monday, see you next weekend. I need to get back to that now....take care![...]

Weekend Update Volume 6 (a day late)


It's that time of year again folks! You know, the time of year when I voluntarily allow my body temperature to plummet, risking life, limb and hypothermia all in the name of Special Olympics! I am once again part of an award winning team that will be taking a dip into Loon Lake in Yorkville, IL on March 7th. We have our sights set on raising the most money in the state again as we did last year. HELP US OUT!!

Over 22,000 individuals in the state of Illinois participate in Special Olympics. It is an organization that is near and dear to my heart as many of the children with whom I work day in and day out take part in it. I cannot even begin to describe the impact Special Olympics makes on their lives. It teaches them the value of hard work, the reward of dedication and perseverance, and above all it helps them believe that they can do more than they ever thought possible.

Illinois has a proud place in the Special Olympics movement history. Chicago, specifically Soldier Field, was the sight of the first Special Olympics games in July of 1968. Mayor Richard Daley noted to the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver that "the world will never be the same after this." Thankfully, he was right. In a 2008 tribute to Eunice, on the 40th anniversary of the first Special Olympics games, a Sports Illustrated article noted that the Special Olympics movement "did nothing less than release an entire population from a prison of ignorance and misunderstanding. It did something else too--create a cathartic covenant between competitor and fan that is unlike anything else in sport. You watch and what you see is nothing less than a transformation, the passage of someone who has been labeled unfortunate, handicapped, disabled or challenged to something else: athlete."

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We're freezin' for a reason. Honor the Special Olympics heritage of Illinois and donate to the Polar Plunge!!

Weekend Update Volume 5


Swanny Jr. and Peanut were getting ready for the Pro Bowl today.Swanny Jr. received a very cool football gift from Grandpa and Grandma for Christmas and the kids really got into tonight. You put the football in the toppress the lever down,and it snaps the ball to you.Then you're set to pass it like Payton Manning or Drew Brees.The kids had fun with it tonight. Swanny Jr. caught the ball a few times with my help, but on the occasion he resisted assistance, the ball typically hit him right in the forehead.He then took to pressing the lever and stepping to the side, letting Peanut field the ball.Peanut became quite good at catching the ball. She would then proclaim, "She scores!" and dance around like Ickey Woods.Too bad the video was too dark to post. What a fun time.[...]

Weekend Update Volume 4


778. Any guesses as to what that number represents? This is the approximate grand total number of miles that Swanny and I traveled this weekend, including a trip to the Quad Cities to drop the kids off with Swanny's mom, a trip to St. Louis for a wonderful wedding celebration, and the return trip to pick up the kids and come home. My dear friend from college, Molly got hitched this weekend. Molly has been a friend of mine ever since, in my second year of college, I moved in next door to her in the dorms and in meeting her discovered that she was also on her way to becoming an occupational therapist. We've since shared many of life's experiences together: ups and downs with school, health challenges, weddings, births, family drama, you name it. Distance between us certainly means we don't see each other as often as we would like, but our friendship has lasted.Swanny's mom generously offered to watch the kids for the weekend for us so they didn't have to make the long drive and so that we could enjoy some mom and dad time away. So, after dropping the children off on Friday night, we headed out to St. Louis Saturday morning. After relaxing with an appetizer and a few beers at the Irish Pub in our hotel, we tidied ourselves up and joined up with friends at St Xavier College Church on the campus of St Louis University for the wedding. After the beautiful ceremony, complete with EIGHT flower girls and one ring bearer, we proceeded to the Missouri Athletic Club to celebrate their union with toasts, dinner and dancing. The reception ended about midnight but we moved the party to a new venue (the Irish Pub we had already visited earlier in the night). Despite the late, late night (I'm getting too old to stay out until 3:30 am), much fun was had by all. Swanny and I dragged ourselves out of bed and headed out to collect the kiddos from Grammy this morning, then made the drive back home from her house. Here are some shots of the action from the wedding:The big girls walked down together. The 3 babies were pulled in a wagon by the ring bearer and another flower girl. It was too precious.I just love the anticipation of looking for the bride--here are Molly's 3 sisters and her mom awaiting her entry...Mr & Mrs!Is it obvious the wine and drinks were flowing freely at this point?Swanny and Mr. Seimons decided that since the bride and groom hadn't eaten their pieces of cake (well over an hour after they had been served) that they would take care of it for them! They sat right down at the head table as the reception wound down, and enjoyed the uneaten wedding cake.All in all, the miles and time were totally worth it.Congratulations to Molly and Patrick. I know the future holds years of love, laughter and adventure for you both. The ups and downs of life seem a little more managable when you're holding the hand of a partner in whom you have complete love and trust. It's amazing to me that with as many weddings as I have celebrated over the years that I am still able to see something new in the joy of a wedding. This weekend I fully recognized the happiness these two families shared in as they welcomed new family members and celebrated their family growing.Congrats to my friends and their families!! (And another big thanks to Grammy for watching the kids for us. They had a ball! I'm sure she's going to be sharing some of the great pictures she took of the kids at her house[...]