Thursday, May 30, 2013

R.I.P. Doughboy!

I came across this recently and it made me laugh, so I thought I would share it to make you smile in case you're in "knead" of a pick me up!

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly.  He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies and Captain Crunch.  The gravesite was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Born and bread in Minnesota, Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers.  He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven.  He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Star Trek" and "Iron Man 3"

I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness last weekend. Even though there have been lots of Star Trek movies/TV shows over the years, I guess you would call this latest movie a "sequel" to the movie Star Trek that came out in 2009 since it has the same actors in it and follows the same storyline.
I'd been starting to wonder if/when they were going to make another Star Trek movie. It's been four years since the last movie came out, and it seems like most sequels usually come out every year or two. When I found out about Star Trek Into Darkness a few months ago I was really excited since I liked the first movie so well.
Anyway, Chandra, my friend Sienna and I saw the movie on Saturday afternoon. The movie was fast-paced and it kept my attention the entire time. I didn't even fall asleep; something I've been known to do on a fairly regular basis! (I guess it's a good thing I still have connections at the movie theater so that I'm not wasting my money!) ;)

I'd done my "homework" to prepare for the movie by re-watching the first one so that it could be fresh in my mind. I thought the first movie was great, but I absolutely loved Into Darkness. (I thought it was even better than the first movie.) I really hope there are more Star Trek movies in the future, and I hope I don't have to wait quite so long for the next installment! Heather's rating: 9.5/10 stars
Chandra and I went to see Iron Man 3 on Memorial Day. I'd done my homework for this movie, too, so I was prepared. (I always find watching the previous movie(s) before watching the new one helpful because I get so much more out of the story.) I really liked Iron Man 3! Since I'd just watched the first two movies I noticed a difference in the third movie, in regards to the tone/overall feel of the movie. The first two movies were more lighthearted and comical, and the third one was slightly darker/more serious. It's hard to explain, but it just had a different feel to it than the previous two movies.

Another difference I noticed in this movie was that the ending had more finality to it. The first two movies ended in cliffhangers and left you knowing there would be more movies coming. I don't know for certain, but this almost seemed like the last Iron Man movie. I'm usually left wanting more at the end of a movie, especially if I've really liked it, but that being said, I think Iron Man 3 would make a good stopping place for this movie series. All of the ends were nicely tied up and there aren't any dangling strings leaving you with burning questions. I'm sure that Tony Stark will be back in The Avenger movies, though, so we'll still be able to see Iron Man on the silver screen. Heather's Rating: 9/10 stars (The best part about the Iron Man movies is definitely Robert Downey Jr.! He is so funny and always makes me laugh, whether I'm watching him in a movie, or in an interview on a talk show.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

My mom, Chandra and I went to a church picnic at Arnold Park yesterday afternoon to celebrate Memorial Day with our friends from church. I was a little apprehensive when Mom and Chandra said that they wanted to go because I haven't been to this park since May 2002 when I went there for my senior class picnic. I think I've actually only been to Arnold Park two times (before yesterday) and I couldn't really remember what the layout of the park is like, so I didn't know how "wheelchair friendly" it would be.

Chandra knows I get nervous going new places (or "old" places that I've never been to in my wheelchair) so she suggested stopping by the park on the way home from church on Sunday so we could check it out to see how accessible it is. Checking places out beforehand always sets my mind at ease because then I know with certainty that either yes, it's accessible and will be easy to maneuver around in my wheelchair or no, there's absolutely no way my wheelchair would be able to go over the rough terrain. The picnic grounds met with my approval, though, so we decided to go to the picnic.

There was a great turnout of people and I always have fun socializing with church folk apart from "formal" church on Sunday. The food looked and smelled good, but all I ate was a cupcake. The weather was beautiful yesterday, but my one complaint was the wind! It was terribly windy, and if you know me, then you know how much I hate wind! Some people can pull off the windblown look and still look cute; I am not one of those people! I looked like a hot mess as soon as the first gust of wind hit me after getting of the van, but I just had Chandra tuck my hair behind my ears and I tried not to mind. At least I was in good company, though, since everyone else was rocking the same "windblown" look, too.

Chandra and I took off early so that we could go see a movie. I'll write more about that soon!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

happy Memorial Day! I wanted to make a short post expressing my gratitude for the country I live in. I'm so grateful to live in the United States; a country where it's citizens are basically free to live the way they choose. I'm really grateful for the Armed Forces and for the honorable men and women that willingly serve to keep this country safe. I'd never make it in the military, so I'm grateful that there are people who volunteer to serve so that people like me don't have to. 
This is a picture of my Grandpa Zimmerman. He's a veteran of World War II and he's such a good man. He falls high on my list of heroes! Grandpa turned 90 last year, so we had a family reunion to honor him. One afternoon during the reunion Grandpa told us stories about his life, including some of his experiences in the war. It's always so interesting listening to Grandpa talk about the "olden days."

Here's a picture of Grandpa talking to a captive audience comprised of his children, most of his grandchildren and even a handful of his great-grandchildren. And also a picture of his patches, a pin, his dog tag and his Purple Heart medal that he courageously earned.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Hannah, Same Both Ways"

A few weeks ago I made a blog post with my review of the book Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed by Carmen Tarleton. A few days later I got an email from Sam, a marketing manager who works for a publishing company, and he asked me if I would read a book that the company he works for recently published and then write a review of it on my blog. After reading the synopsis of the book I said that I would since it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Sam sent me a copy of the book and my mom read it to me, because I knew that she would like it, too.

The book is a memoir called Hannah, Same Both Ways and is about Hannah Rose, a young woman a few months older than I am who also happens to be paralyzed from the neck down. When Hannah was 15 she developed a pain in her back and went to the hospital to get it checked out. It was a rare condition known as transverse myelitis. Within days Hannah was completely paralyzed from the neck down. This is a quote from her book:

"I pulled my jeans out of the wardrobe and my GAP hoodie. I did my hair for the umpteenth time and took one last look in the mirror before heading back downstairs. Little was I to know, but that would be the last time that I would be able to walk down a flight of stairs. I have never seen that bedroom again." 

Wow, that sounds really familiar! I can say the exact same thing for the morning of November 17, 2003––my last morning as an able-bodied person.
I enjoyed this book for many reasons, but especially since Hannah's life parallels mine in so many ways. Needless to say, I could relate to many of the experiences Hannah shared in the book. I made a list of some of the things that I really identified with, as well as some of my personal thoughts (which are in red so they're easier to distinguish):

  • Learning how to communicate with others when Hannah couldn't speak, and learning how to speak again after undergoing a tracheotomy.
  • Having her hospital room decked out and decorated with mementos to help her feel loved and supported.
  • Having a steady stream of visits from friends, and having supportive family members never leave her side.
  • Coming to terms with having to be dressed, bathed, fed, toileted and more.
  • Becoming friends with the nurses that cared for her in the hospital.
  • Missing out on the fun things that her friends were doing (like going on a school trip to France). I felt the same way when my friends went to go see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King a few weeks after my accident. I was still recovering in the ICU, so there was no way I could go. This was a painful representation of the long list of things I would never be able to do again.
  • Sitting in one of the hospital recliners. This might not sound like much of a milestone, but I remember how scary/uncomfortable getting out of bed for the first few times after becoming paralyzed was, and I looked at it as quite an accomplishment. 
  • Getting to the point where you're no longer considered "ill" and coming to terms with the fact that your old life is over and your "new" life is just beginning. This adjustment is a steep learning curve that has its definite ups and downs.
  • Missing the small, simple things in life. How well I know what it's like to just be a spectator of life instead of an active participant since there are so many things I physically can't do that most people can. Sometimes it's really difficult to have to sit back and witness everyone around you having the things/doing the things you wish you could.
  • Having to plan out your life with precision and accuracy. Paralysis pretty much kills any chance for spontaneity and it's hard to do anything on a whim, which is sad because sometimes flying by the seat of your pants can be pretty fun.
  • Having difficulties with kidney stones/bladder stones. The renal system of a paralyzed individual is compromised and you are prone to having stones form since you aren't ambulatory and your kidneys/bladder don't drain as efficiently. The urine tends to pool in your kidneys and starts to crystallize, causing stones to form.
  • Hannah's desire to have a romantic relationship/her own family. I can relate to the feelings of longing for love and wishing/hoping that someone will come along that will be able to look past my physical limitations and be able to accept me for ME. This is such a natural desire that I think most people can identify with, whether they are disabled or not. 

I want to include two excerpts from the book that really resonated with me. Here's the first: 

"How I look is still as important to me today as it was before I became ill, but keeping control over such a basic female need has proved difficult. I remember one day when Mum was trying to do my hair and I just burst into tears through sheer frustration. I was desperate for a mirror, a brush and two ‘working’ hands so that I could tackle it just as I wanted it done. It is one thing not being able to walk but not being able to make myself look good is really very hard to take. I’d love to be able to run my brush through my hair and put my makeup on instead of having to sit motionless and helpless while others do it for me." 

After my accident one of the most difficult things I dealt with was feeling "ugly" and wondering if I would ever feel pretty again. This was a low blow for me. I was 19 years old and I liked looking pretty, so feeling anything but was really hard on me.

In the early days after my accident I remember how frustrating it was trying to teach my mom the ins/outs of the hair and makeup routine I'd perfected as an able-bodied person. What had become second nature to me seemed foreign to my mom. Even the most descriptive words and phrases couldn't seem to convey the how, where and what I wanted in an easy to understand way. Truly, words only go so far when you're trying to teach someone a practical skill like that. There's really something to be said for physically showing someone the technique you've become accustomed to.

and the second excerpt: 

"I don’t even care if people stare at me now. I just smile back at them. When I first became ill I said to Dad, ‘I’m never going to shop in Northwich or eat in a restaurant. There’s no way that I will go out anywhere.’ … 'No one in Hartford, Northwich or anywhere is going to see me looking like this.’"

I could really relate with this, because I felt the exact same way after my accident. I solemnly vowed that I would never do certain thing again, like going to Walmart, the mall or the movie theater. I was content to stay in the safety of my own home. Home, the place where I still felt normal and was able to do my own thing without having to worry about getting stared at. 

As time went by after my accident I became more comfortable with my new identity as a disabled person, and I ended up eating my words about all of the things I vowed to never do again. (Now I know why "never say never" is such a popular phrase!) I no longer mind going out in public, and I actually look forward to it. I love shopping and movies too much to let my fear of looking different restrict me from things I really enjoyed. I know I probably get a lot of stares and curious glances when I'm out, but that's okay. If things were the other way around, I'm sure I'd shoot some curious glances of my own if I saw someone like me out and about, too. (But in a more tactful way, of course!)

Language: Hannah lives in England, so another thing I found interesting were all of the British terms/expressions that she used. I didn't understand all of the British lingo, but here are a few examples… She talked about "going to hospital" whereas we Americans say "going to the hospital." I'm not sure why British people omit "the" from the expression (or why Americans have added "the" but it's an interesting difference).

Another term I found interesting is "poorly." (Hannah is poorly today.) My mom's friend Linda lives in England and my mom said that she's heard Linda talk about her husband being poorly. It's interesting  how British people say "poorly" and Americans say "feeling poorly."

Hannah also talked about her "carers," the term she used for what Americans refer to as "caregivers." The differences in language/expressions are very interesting.)

Differences: I've mentioned many of the ways I relate to Hannah, but there are some ways that we differ, too. Hannah went to "University" and got a degree, and she now has a job working with the police. I think it's wonderful for her that she went to college and got a job, but college/work definitely don't interest me. I know that if I went to college or have a job I wouldn't have time to spend doing the things I enjoy, like using my computer to work on projects.

Hannah also wrote about her social life and how she enjoys going out to clubs with her friends. She said how one time she was so drunk she couldn't even drive her power wheelchair. I still enjoy having a social life, too, but going to clubs and drinking definitely doesn't interest me. I have to admit I was kind of shocked that Hannah would drink to the excess that she was too impaired to drive her wheelchair, or that her friends/carers would assist her in getting intoxicated. It seemed irresponsible to me, but I know people have different ideas about such things.

I found it interesting that Hannah didn't really mention God or her spirituality. My belief in God is so much a part of my life that I can't help but talk about my faith in God and how it impacts and affects every aspect of my life.

Hannah seems to have more medical problems/complications than I do. She's been in and out of the hospital a lot over the years. In the book she mentioned suffering from autonomic dysreflexia a few times (a potentially life-threatening condition common to quadriplegics), and she also talked about the serious problems she's experienced with pressure sores. Sometimes her pressure sores have been bad enough that she's even hospitalized. She said that she once had a sore that was so severe that maggots were used to try to help heal the wound. Yes, maggots! As gross as it sounds, they're actually efficient consumers of dead tissue, while at the same time leaving healthy tissue alone.

I've had my fair share of kidney stones, but for the most part I'm remarkably healthy for someone in my situation. I've never experienced dysreflexia, and I've never had a pressure sore (which I think is unusual for someone that's been paralyzed for nearly 10 years).

Health Care: One of the things I thought about while reading the book was how Hannah's situation might be different if she lived in America. From some of the experiences she shared in the book it seemed like she received sub-standard care at times. I thought it was odd how Hannah said that it was several months before she got out of bed and sat in one of the hospital's recliners. The hospital staff encouraged me to get up in a recliner right away (within the first few weeks after my accident) telling me it would be good for my lungs and skin to sit up straighter and shift my weight around.

One of the times Hannah was sick and admitted to the hospital she said that the nurses were marveling over her ventilator, asking her how it worked. You'd think that anyone who worked in a hospital would be familiar with what a vent was and how it worked.

I wonder if Hannah would benefit from getting a diaphragm pacer. I know she doesn't depend on a ventilator 24/7 and mainly only uses her vent at night, but I just know how much I've benefited from getting my pacer. I went from being on a ventilator 24/7, to now no longer requiring the ventilator at all. I still can't breathe on my own, but using a diaphragm pacer to breathe for me is a lot healthier than using a ventilator.

One thing that Hannah has that I think is superior to what the healthcare system in the US has to offer (at least in the state I live in) is round-the-clock caregivers. Even though I have great insurance, the most help I qualify for is six hours of paid care a day, seven days a week. This is really pitiful and doesn't come close to cutting it since I need someone with me all the time, but I try not to complain too much and am just grateful for what I am allowed.

Conclusion: I really enjoyed reading Hannah's book since there was so much I could relate to. This book would be enjoyable for anyone to read, but especially for those who are affected by paralysis (or other diseases/conditions that have physical effects on the body), as well as the family/friends of people with disabilities. I always think it's interesting to read about people with challenging lives to see what they've gone through, how they've coped and what they've learned along the way.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bird Watching

I have a nice, big window in my room that looks out into the front yard. There's a river birch tree right outside the window and a few weeks ago we noticed a robin building a nest in the tree.

Last Friday my mom saw some movement in the nest and she said that the birds had hatched. We've had fun watching the two baby robins the past few days. Yes, even me! (To read about my love/hate relationship with birds click here.)

Yesterday we didn't have church until 1:30, so after I was up I positioned myself in front of the window and watched the birdies for a while. It was fun seeing their fuzzy, little heads stretching upward with with their beaks wide open when the mama bird would swoop in with food for them. I tried to get a picture of the baby birds, but our vantage point inside the house wasn't very conducive to a photo shoot.

Here's a shot of the tree and you can see the small nest in the "v" where the branches of the tree come together. The second picture is a closer shot and you can see the mama bird's head peeking out.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"The Elite"

I finished another good book yesterday, The Elite by Keira Cass. This book is the sequel to The Selection and the second book in a trilogy. (What is the deal with trilogies these days? It seems like trilogies are really popular right now.)
I'm always a bit skeptical when I read a sequel to a book I've enjoyed, so I'm happy to say that I really liked The Elite. I liked it just as much as The Selection. It picked up right where the first book left off and was really exciting the whole way through. There were a lot of tense parts and I had to find out what happened, so I finished it in just a few days. I'm not sure when the final book is set to be released, but I'm really looking forward to it and I hope it's a good conclusion to the story.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Last Friday I had a doctor's appointment with my urologist. This was my yearly checkup to get x-rays of my abdomen to check my renal system to make sure I didn't have any problems, like kidney stones. I had my x-rays to take a peek at my kidneys, ureters and badder to make sure everything  looked okay. After the x-rays I met with my doctor so he could review them. The x-ray showed a 2 cm stone in my left kidney. This wasn't anything new because I had this same kidney stone last year. The good news is that it hasn't grown any larger in the past year, but the bad news is that it's still there.

Last year when I was hospitalized with kidney stone related issues my doctor attempted to remove the stone, but found that it wasn't one stone at all, but a dense pocket of hundreds of tiny kidney stones. My doctor wasn't successful at removing very many of them because the instrument that is used for the procedure has holes in it, and the holes were too large to collect the stones. As he put it, it was like trying to collect sand in a colander. SO, I'm assuming that the 2 cm kidney stone that showed up on the x-ray is actually hundreds of little stones. (Although, there's really no way to know for certain from the x-ray.)

The tricky thing is that the stone(s) are located in a part of the kidney that isn't easy to access. Usually they go in through the urethra and up through the ureters to remove kidney stones, but that method won't work with where the kidney stone(s) are located. My doctor said that when the problem needs to be addressed, access to the kidney will have to be made percutaneously, by making an incision in my back to get to the kidney externally, instead of internally. My doctor doesn't do this particular procedure near as often as he used to a few years ago, so he said he would have to refer me to of his colleagues that does this procedure on a more regular basis when I need surgery. I suppose this is the responsible thing to do, but I really like MY doctor! We've been through a lot together in the past nine years! I actually didn't like him at first, but we're friends by now and I love him. (And I think he really likes me, too!)

So right now I'm just trying to maintain the status quo in regards to my kidneys. I'm sure in the not-too-distant future I'll have to have something done, but I'll happily bide my time until then since the procedure of going through my back is much more risky for my particular situation. When my doctor did this procedure on me in 2008 to remove a huge kidney stone from my right kidney there were major complications and I almost died. I'm not saying that to be melodramatic, either. My doctor wasn't sure if I was going to pull through or not and later told my mom and me that I was "teetering on the edge." I'm not ready to die yet, so waiting to do this procedure until absolutely necessary is just fine with me!

Yesterday I met with my cardiologist. I had a pacemaker put in after my accident to help regulate my heart rate. Now that my situation is more stable I don't rely on my pacemaker like I used to, so it's  more of a backup than something I rely upon. The battery in my pacemaker has lasted a good, long time. Most pacemaker batteries need to be replaced every three to five years, but mine has lasted more than nine. I've known that the "gas gauge" on my pacemaker's battery has been getting closer and closer to "empty" since I've had it for so long. When the nurse checked my device at my appointment yesterday he told me that as of April 30 my pacemaker hit the point where it's about out of juice (then you have a three-month window to replace it).

When I had my annual check up last year my doctor changed the settings on my pacemaker to see how often my pacemaker works to see if I could do without it. When my pacemaker was checked yesterday it showed that I haven't used it at all in the past year. That's good news, so my doctor gave me the option of either replacing my pacemaker with a new one with a fresh battery, or just leaving my old one in without replacing it. I decided that I want to try leaving the old pacemaker in since I really don't need it. I don't look forward to having surgeries since it's inconvenient, so I'm going to try this for now. I can always change my mind in the future if anything changes.

Last year when I was in the hospital my friend Steve (a long time friend of the family) told me about renovations that were being done to the ICU at the hospital, and that I should come take a tour of the new ICU when it was finished. SO, since I finished with my appointment at the cardiologist in good time I decided to call Steve and see if he had time to give me a tour. He said that he did, so my mom and I met up with him. The ICU has been expanded from a 24 bed unit to a 36 bed unit, and it takes up an entire floor of the hospital. The new and improved ICU is quite impressive, so it was really neat to see. I don't mind being in the ICU, just as long as I'm just visiting and am not a patient!

While I was there I even ran into two nurses that remembered me. I didn't remember them, though, which made me feel badly since I always try to remember people. Oh well… it was a stressful time, so I guess I get a pass! Anyway, one of the nurses said that one of the things she's always remembered about me was how nice and positive I was and how I was always so appreciative. I'm glad that that's what she remembered about me. Truth to tell, I DID always try to be very positive, cheerful and appreciative. I know that being a nurse can be a thankless job, so any time I've been in the hospital I always try to express gratitude to the people that care for me. I've found that showing a little gratitude goes a long way and can really improve the kind of care you receive.

I really don't enjoy going to doctor's appointments since they aren't a fun way to spend the day. When I have to go to the doctor I always make a mental list of the pros and cons of going. Here are some of the ones I thought of during my last two appointments:

  • The long drive (nearly an hour each direction).
  • Looking for a parking spot in the parking garage.
  • Waiting for an elevator which can sometimes take forever since the main elevator area is like Grand Central Station!
  • Having to get x-rays. This involves getting out of my wheelchair which is easier said than done since there aren't any lifts and we have to do the old "heave ho" with the manpower of the x-ray technicians. I hate getting tossed around like a rag doll, and then I always feel disheveled when I get back in my wheelchair. I HATE having my hair messed up and looking disheveled!
  • Waiting for the doctor. I fortunately didn't have to wait long at my last two appointments, but more often than not I wait and wait and wait!
  • Being stuck behind people who walk slowly! I guess this is just an opportunity to learn more patience.
  • The player piano in the lobby that plays fun music.
  • People watching. Saying that there are lots and lots of interesting people at the hospital is an understatement!
  • Witnessing the kindness of others. (Like when people help you with the elevators.)
  • Smiling at others. I figure if someone's having a bad day and they see me smiling despite all of my physical challenges, maybe it will brighten their day.
  • Getting to talk to new people. I'm always chatty with the people I come into contact with who work in the doctor's office.
  • Having a good book to read while my mom and I wait.
  • Having my mom be the one to take me to my appointments. There's seriously no one else I rather go with!
  • Having a good hospital relatively close to me (although it seems far) with really competent doctors that take great care of me.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Now that I'm finally finished listening to Les Misérables, I've had more time to listen to some of the other books that have been piling up on my "to read" list. In the past month I've listened to three books (and I'm working on my fourth). This feels like a lot since it took me three months to listen to one book (granted, Les Misérables was nearly 60 hours and very complex/deep compared to the light-hearted pieces of fiction I'm currently listening to).
Two of the books I've recently listened to are Legend and its sequel, Prodigy. I listened to Legend  last September, but I wanted to listen to it again to refresh my memory before starting on Prodigy. When I'm reading a book series I'm always nervous to read the subsequent books, especially if I've enjoyed the first book. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed in Prodigy It picked up right where Legend left off and was a suspenseful, fast-paced read with another cliffhanger ending. Now, the true test will come when I read the third and final book. I've really enjoyed the first two books, so I hope I'm not disappointed in the way the trilogy ends. Champion is set to be released in November and I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"The Impossible"

Last weekend my mom, Chandra and I watched a wonderful movie called The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. This movie shares the experience of the Belon-Alvarez family and the chaos that followed the massive tsunami that hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. 
I don't know how they re-created the scene when the waves generated by the tsunami hit the shore, but it looked very realistic. It would've been absolutely terrifying to just be minding your own business when you look up and see a wall of water rushing towards you.
This is an excerpt from January 2013's issue of People Magazine about the Belon-Alvarez family:
On Dec. 26, 2004, Maria Belon was enjoying a Spanish novel, The Shadow of the Wind, poolside at a resort in Khao Lak, Thailand, while her three sons, Lucas, 10, Tomas, 8, and Simon, 5, splashed in the water. Belon, a doctor, and her husband, Enrique Alvarez, were on Christmas vacation; they had spent the previous day unwrapping presents, including a telescope and a ball from the hotel gift shop. But in minutes their lives changed forever. "Suddenly we heard a horrible sound, like the sound of thousands of big planes," Belon says of the guttural roar that froze her in her tracks. "Seconds later there was a black wall in front of us. I thought it was death. I couldn't imagine it was water. It was a monster. The most horrible monster you can imagine." 

Moments later the Belon-Alvarez family was swept apart by the torrential force of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The family was cast into a lethal current swirling with fallen trees, debris and bodies. When the churn spit her out, Belon was badly injured. "My family was all gone," she recalls. "It was, 'Oh my goodness, I'm alive but I am alone.' The most horrible thing I could ever think of was being alive without them." But as she clung to a palm tree, she spotted her oldest son floating nearby. "When I saw Lucas, I thought, 'Okay, I have an incredible reason to be alive,'" says Belon, who says she gained strength from the souls of all those who had been plunged into the surf with her. "We were in the water struggling, and Lucas was screaming, 'We're going to die!' I could feel something incredible, and I said, 'We need to be courageous, we need to take care of each other, but we will not die.' Lucas was 10 years old, but he was very brave."
Watching the tsunami and imagining what it would've been like to actually be there when it hit was really intense. I can't imagine the terror of being swept away by a wall of water that you couldn't escape from, and being torn away from my family not knowing if they were dead or alive or if I'd ever see them again. It was also intense watching the family search for each other in the movie.They kept passing each other like ships in the night, unbeknownst to each other. I was mentally biting my nails the entire movie!
The acting in this movie was SO good! The actors really did a fantastic job portraying the characters/emotion in a believable way, which is actually easier said than done. Sometimes I've watched movies that have definitely had the potential to be good, but were ultimately spoiled with acting that left something to be desired.
Here's a picture of the actors that portrayed the Belon-Alverez family, and a few pictures of the actual family at the movie premiere. I know including these pictures kind of spoils the suspense of the story since it's clear from the pictures that everyone survives/reunites, but I really I wanted to include pictures of the real-life family in my post.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Yesterday was Mother's Day and it was such a perfect day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. The sky was so blue, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was actually kind of chilly, but it wasn't too bad in the sun.

I'm so thankful to have such a good mother. I don't know what I would do without this lady! Here she is in her new Mother's Day dress. Isn't she cute? I'm proud to have such a cute mama. She is so classy and has great figure for a woman of her age.
Here's a few pictures of my mom, Channie and me after church:
This year I picked up a small token of love for my mom when I was at the dollar store: a Chunky candy bar. The only reason I even know what a Chunky is, is because I've heard my mom talk about them before. She's said that when my dad was still alive and they would stop at the gas station so my dad could fill the van with gas it always seemed to take him forever. Mom would be left in the van with a  car full of restless girls while Dad leisurely and meticulously washed all of the van windows. Dad would often return to the van and slip a Chunky into Mom's hand. I've never seen Chunkys at the store before, so when I saw one while checking out at the dollar store I knew I had to get one for Mom as a little Mother's Day gift from my Dad via me. It was truly a thoughtful gift from the heart, so even though it cost less than a dollar, it was a perfect gift and Mom loved it.
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