Friday, December 5, 2008

Stroke Prevention and Awareness

Heart disease runs strongly in my family, especially on my Dad's side (he died of heart disease when he was 57, I was 20), so it's always on my radar. I'm constantly looking for ways to lower my heart disease risk factors. I realize that family history is still working against me, but I want to do everything in my power to keep my ticker going strong. It was one of my motivations to lose the weight I did.

However a new topic, one I hadn't really thought of before, has come to my attention and that is Stroke risk. My good friend Criss became Stroke Coordinator at the hospital where she works, and I've learned so much from her. Thankfully the measures we take to reduce heart disease also reduce stroke risk. I wrote a two part article about it here:

Stroke is a leading reason for death and disability in our country, and time is absolutely of the essense in stroke situations, so it's important to get the word out about signs and symptoms!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Guilty Indulgence

Check out my latest Guilty Blog Indulgence: a blog devoted solely to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Be still my beating heart!

I'm not much of a candy eater anymore, but those who know me well, know one of my all-time favorite foods is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. (And well really, anything involving Peanut Butter. And chocolate.)

My poor husband is deathly allergic to peanuts. It's a wonder he married me. I'm guessing just reading this blog would make him itchy. Sorry, honey, but this one is just too good to pass up!

Rivers of Water

Here in arid Colorado, water is a precious resource. Rivers of water flowing in the mountains? Beautiful. Rivers of water flowing from under my washing machine? Umm...not so good.

That was the sight greeting me as I came downstairs on Saturday evening. I'm not talking a trickle of water. I'm talking a flood. Apparently something is leaking on the tub of our washing machine. I'm not sure how much water a large washing machine holds, but let's just say it's enough to soak every single towel I own and I was thinking I grabbing blankets next. Rebekah and Kiersten were helping me and we were down to washcloths and hand towels before the water finally slowed to a drip!

This is one of a long string of break downs we've had since starting our new budget system early this Fall. We are following Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and it's been a wonderful experience (I would highly recommend his books and classes) but I do feel the Devil is out to get us with all the various break-downs we've had!

Mike wrote about his new adventures into becoming a handyman in his blog, so I'll allow him to share the details.

We have no solutions to the washing machine yet. Currently it's in many pieces spread throughout my hallway and downstairs bathroom. I'm just praying it's a repair and not an autopsy I see going on in there.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Thanksgiving List

Just for today, in honor of Thanksgiving...

...instead of griping that it's too cold to run outside, I'll be thankful I have warm tech clothes to wear.
...instead of wishing I could run faster, I'll be thankful my injuries are quiet enough I can run at all.
...instead of longing for a thinner body, I'll be thankful for the weight loss I've maintained.
...instead of gnashing my teeth every time I see others eating junk food, I'll be thankful I have the personal strength to make healthy choices.
...instead of saying I "have" to go work out, I'll say, I "get" to go work out.
...instead of focusing on the pain for now, I'll focus on the great feeling when it's over.
...instead of longing to finish races at the front (or even the middle), I'll remember so many others who never get to the starting line at all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

National Adoption Day: Remembering

Grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and sit down to remember with me our family's memories of 2 years ago today, National Adoption Day, when Paul Robert Borgstede joined our family officially.

Paul's story began on April 27th, 2004, when he and his twin brother were born at 25 weeks (15 weeks premature). Paul's twin brother, Alex, died when he was two months old due to complications from the prematurity, and Paul himself was not expected to live on several occassions. He's a trooper though and pulled through. This is what he looked like during that time:

When Paul was 3 months old he went to live with his birth family. It was when he was 5 months old that he came into our lives. Doyle, the director of the foster care unit for Lutheran Family Services at that time, called to tell me about a premature 5 month old boy named Paul, and would we be interested in taking him? The next day Mike and I were at the hospital holding him. This is Paul the night we brought him to our home:

We brought Paul into our family knowing very little about his medical issues, but as the days passed we learned the severity of his complex medical history. We jumped in with both feet, scheduling therapy and learning new medical terms. Daily therapy, medications, stretching exercises, feeding problems, oxygen, more feeding problems...this was Paul's life and now it was ours.

We also began to learn more about Paul's birth family and their life situations, and the county he was placed with began the long and challenging process of family reunification. The reunification process is usually a long and complicated one, with the county trying desperating to mend the biological family if at all possible, and Paul's case was no exception.
Meanwhile Paul was growing. We were becoming more attached to him and he was attaching to us. He was developing at his own special pace, but it was happening. The serious, sick little baby who came to us was becoming a smiling, energetic little guy:

After about two years of many ups, downs, twists, and turns with the court system, we learned we would indeed be getting our "happy ending!" Paul would be avaible for adoption, and our family was first in line to adopt him! We agreed to a semi-open adoption so Paul will still know his birth family and visit them a few times a year.

November 17th, 2006 became the Borgstede family's "Forever Family Day" on National Adoption Day. It was a special day for Paul but really it was a day of celebration for each of us, as we became our new family. Rebekah, Kiersten, and Josiah gained a new brother, and Mike and I a son.

The adoption service was short, but the moment I'll never forget was when the judge turned to Paul and said, "Paul, this is your Mommy, and this is your Daddy, and forever and ever, no matter what, nothing will ever change that."
I think most of us were teary through the whole event, but at that moment there was barely a dry eye in the house!

After the adoption we had an amazing party because it was just too wonderful not to celebrate big!

Now here I sit today, two years later looking back on those moments. When we first expressed interest in adopting Paul, one of the members of his birth family had real concerns about how we could love Paul as much as we love our own birth children, and how we could treat him as fairly. There is no way to put into words my feelings but truly he is our son in every possible way. I couldn't love him one tiny bit more if I had given birth to him. He gets love, hugs, time-outs, presents, smiles, scoldings, and attention just like every other child in our home.

We also faced many unknowns with Paul's medical issues. The future is uncertain in some ways, but he's doing incredibly well. He still receives therapy and special help at pre-school, but in all the important ways he's a typical child. He writes, he counts, he runs (oh, yes, he runs and runs and runs!) with no more leg braces or special equipment needed. He is our miracle.

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition that I made to Him."
-- I Samuel 1:27

Kiersten: Future Triathlete?

My kids have been some of my greatest cheerleaders since I started racing. Their support means the world to me!

Kiersten (10 years old) has especially been excited about the whole racing scene and often asks when she can do her first Triathlon. I'm really proud of the progress she has made in this last year with her overall fitness and her desire to make healthy choices.

This fall our local school, Arrowhead Elementary, sponsored a program called Kids Running America. The kids practiced twice a week after school for several weeks, logging their miles in the effort to eventually run 26 miles total, a full marathon, over the course of the weeks. They ran their last mile at the Denver Marathon Kids' Race. Kiersten and Josiah both participated in the program and did an awesome job! They were so proud of their medals!

Kiersten and I have set a goal to run a 5K together next Spring, so we're going to be running together once a week in preparation. So far we've run twice and she's a great running partner. I enjoy our conversation as much as the running. We're both adjusting to the cooler temperatures and learning what layers to wear for these chilly winter mornings!

This picture says it all. Kiersten is a really awesome kid. I'm so blessed to have her for a daughter -- and running partner!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Wii Game: Build a Bear Workshop

As part of a writing opportunity, I was given the chance to review a new Wii game coming onto market soon called Build A Bear Workshop: A Friend Fur All Seasons.

While I'm not normally one to encourage video games, I'm a big fan of the Nintendo Wii. This is not your typical video game! It gets kids and adults off the couch and moving. I especially like the Wii Fit. We don't own a Wii but Mike's parents do and are kind enough to let us play on it when we're at their house.

Build a Bear Workshop is a fun game geared at the elemenary school set. The game begins with choosing your own animal and dressing it according to your tastes. I chose the Magnificent Monkey.

Next you visit various islands, play games, and score additional bonus items like extra outfits and small treasures. I found the game easy to manipulate and entertaining. I think all four of my children will enjoy it (we're saving it at a Christmas gift -- shhh, don't tell!), especially Paul, my 4 year old, because he loves hunting for treasure!

My one complaint about the game is that I don't think it gets kids moving enough. While some of the activities require moving the joystick, such as using it to pretend to dig, or my favorite, using it as a pogo stick, for much of time while walking around the island, all movement is done with the arrow buttons and not body movement.

Still, overall I would recommend this game as a great one for getting kids involved and problem solving. Thumbs up!

Taking a Foster Care Break

We're currently taking a break from a new foster care placement and kind people have asked why. Apparently seeing the Borgstedes without a baby or two, oxygen tubes, strollers, and various baby paraphernalia is a strange sight. Understandable, since we've had 30+ foster kids walk through our doors in the last 5 years.

We have several reasons for taking a break since last Easter when our placement of one year old twin girls went to their adoptive home. (We visited with them last week which was a real treat. They are doing amazingly well!).

Emotionally our family needed a bit of a breather. This Fall we had some big transitions with Rebekah starting middle school and Josiah starting Elementary school. I needed an emotional break from the constant demands of foster care. (In fact I just wrote a post about self-care for Buzz Prevention about this topic.)

Also honestly, foster care has drained us financially and we needed a chance to regroup in that area. The reimbursement we receive from the state doesn't begin to cover the expenses we occur in caring for these children, especially when they come with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. Also with this break I've had a chance to pursue some freelance writing, which I've never had time for before.

But not to worry, I'm sure there will be more little ones in our home soon. Mike and I both feel God is calling us to foster care. We can't turn our backs on the kiddos who need us so much. Finding the balance between caring for self and caring for others is always a challenge (and doing it without guilt!). It's an area of my life I'm constantly working on.

I'm finding myself getting the baby urge so my guess is soon enough we'll be announcing the arrival of our next little one!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Chef Jeff Project

Although I'm not much of a TV watcher (the internet is my addiction), I'm hooked on a new show called "The Chef Jeff Project" on Food Network. It's on Sunday evenings at 8:00 MT.

Food Network describes the show like this:

Jeff Henderson grew up on the tough streets of South Central L.A. and San Diego. At 19 he was running a $35,000-a-week cocaine operation. At 24, Jeff was arrested and sent to prison, where he spent the next ten years. While incarcerated, Jeff discovered a passion for cooking and the drive to turn his life around. Jeff became Executive Chef at Café Bellagio in Las Vegas, wrote a bestselling book, and now he is focusing on giving back. In The Chef Jeff Project, he takes six at-risk young adults and commits to turning their lives around by putting them to work in his catering company, Posh Urban Cuisine. He arms them with the knowledge, the skills and, ultimately, the opportunity for a new life with a culinary career.

This program appeals to me because it's a combination of two of my favorite loves -- helping troubled kids, and food!

I'm allowing Rebekah and Kiersten to watch with me and it's also opened some good discussions. They feel grown-up since I'm letting them stay up past their bedtime to watch a show that does have some adult influences. Tonight we were all crying as we watched the young adults on the program talk about how they are trying to turn their lives around. Inspiring.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Being a Triathlete in the Off-Season

Winter is generally the off-season for Triathletes. This is certainly my off-season from racing and I'm taking advantage of it in several ways.

This summer when I finished Tri for the Cure, I was heart-broken that the Triathlon season was over. It was such an awesome summer! I told several people it was the best summer of my life. Training for something that seemed impossible to me, and then seeing it WAS possbile -- it doesn't get much better than that. Crossing the finish line (no matter how far back in the pack you are) is a high that can be amazingly addictive.

I extended the season a bit by training for the Denver 1/2 Marathon in October. Although I didn't finish in the time I was hoping, it was still a great experience.

Now I'm done racing until next Spring at the earliest, which requires a shift in thinking. How does one stay motivated in the off season, without that finish-line-goal? There are many possible answers to that question, but one key for me is to continue thinking of myself as a Triathlete, year round. I might be not be training for a specific Triathlon today, but I'm still a Triathlete. That's a title that can't be taken away from me now, and the more I embrace it, the more it motivates me!

People who know me also know I'm a sucker for goals so yes, I have goals for myself for the off-season. Here are my off-season goals:

1. Focus on weight lifting. I admit I've been a slacker in the weight lifting arena this summer. Time to get back to lifting 3x per week again. To be honest I don't enjoy it too much, but I know how important it is so I'll keep at it.

2. Switch things up. These last couple weeks I've taken a few exercise classes (kickboxing, spinning) I haven't taken in 6 months or so, and the change of pace has been great.

3. Have fun, for goodness sakes! I want to relish going for a run "just because," not to get in a certain number of miles. And who cares about time? Why even keep track?

And speaking of goals, now for the moment of truth: sharing my goal for next summer. I want to do an Olympic Distance Triathlon in Summer of 2009. That would be a 1 mile swim (about 34-36 pool laps to give you an idea), 24 mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run. Once I stop hyperventilating at the thought (because now that I've written it down it's going to be a reality), I'll look forward to blogging about it more in the future!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joey for President

Last night we were watching the Presidential election unfold and Rebekah asked Paul (age 4) who should be President, Obama or McCain. Paul thought about it for a moment and said, "Joey should be President!"

Joey for President. I love it. Ahh, if a 7 year old could run the country. Forget about taxes. We could all play with Transformers and eat leftover Halloween candy.

I'm glad Paul has such confidence in his older brother.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Life Lesson: It's Just a Thing

This morning a friend and I somehow got onto the discussion of life lessons, and I shared one from my college days.

My friend Lisa is from Florida and loves all things having to do with the ocean, most especially sea manatees. On her coffee table she had a pretty sculpture of two manatees swimming. I don't remember the exact details, but while she was out of the room I accidentally knocked the sculpture off the table breaking it into several pieces.

I dreaded when Lisa would come back into the room and I would have to tell her I broke her treasured sculpture. In fact, when she did come back into the room I immediately started crying when I told her what I had done.

I was totally shocked when she replied, "Sara, it's no big deal. It's just a thing." I was so surprised she wasn't angry at me for breaking something important to her. She was sad, yes, but she truly wasn't that upset. She reminded me people are always more important than things, and that I was much more important than any object.


That life lesson has stuck with me. Even writing this (15 ish years later) I get emotional thinking about it.

When we moved from Indiana to Colorado, several items of ours were damaged in the move, including one of sentimental value. A friend of the family had taken the flowers from the arrangements at my father's funeral and made a wreath for me (which, by the way, I think is an awesome gift to give someone who is grieving!). During the move the wreath was crushed beyond repair and I admit shedding some tears when I took it out of the box and saw the damage. But, I said to myself, "remember, it's just a thing." Just because the wreath was gone, my memories of my Dad aren't gone. Those are all still alive and well.

I try to follow the motto of "it's just a thing" in many ways. I'm quick to loan out objects because after all, they are just things. Stuff gets broken or damaged in a house full a kids, but ahh well, those objects are just things.

With today's economy being what it is, I think it's easy for many of us to get wrapped up in worry, anxiety, and stress over our houses, our money...our stuff. I'm not saying there isn't reason to be concerned, but in the end, it's all just things, which don't matter. God matters. People matter.

Thanks, Lisa, for a life lesson that has served me well!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Bike Ride

This afternoon Jan (my neighbor and training partner extraordinaire) and I went on a glorious Fall bike ride. We've been enjoying an unusually warm Fall this year and I've enjoyed it so much. We went on Cherry Creek Trail/Highline Canal, a path we hadn't taken before. The leaves were in full color, the sun was shining, and we were enjoying our ride.

As much as I grieved when the racing season came to a close at the end of summer, I have to admit that days without strict training goals are really, really nice. We ride as long as we want, as slowly as we want, and we turn around and come home when we feel like it.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for goals. In fact I'm hugely into goals. Give me a goal and I'll achieve it or kill myself trying.

But I'm discovering that not having a strict goal is really okay too...for a season.

Going for fun and enjoyment took us 26 miles today, which is no small distance for us.

Oh and during our ride Jan had a flat tire -- our first one to change out on the open road, and we changed it ourselves with no extra help. It was the back tire too.

Yeah, we rock.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

Life is never boring in a house with 4 (or more, depending on the day) kids, and Halloween this year proved to be no exception. Poor Kiersten woke up the night before with the stomach flu which lasted well into the middle of the night.

There's something about stomach bugs that they seem to hit us right around the major holidays. Last year was at Christmas, which is a horrible time for any family, but for a pastor's family is the worst possible day of the year! So I guess Halloween isn't so bad in comparison.

Thankfully Kiersten was well enough to try out her costume but she and I stayed home while the other kids ventured out. We enjoyed some Mommy-Kiersten bonding time instead, watching Food Network together and having some girl talk.

Rebekah and Kiersten created their costumes with Mike's mom, Jeanne, and they did an awesome job! They decorated umbrellas to be a squid and a jellyfish. By moving the umbrella up and down they made them "move."

Halloween Scare: Starting a Blog!

This is my first blog post and I'll admit to some major anxiety.

I've been a blogger for Buzz Prevention for the past few months and it's been an awesome experience. I love what I'm doing there. Thanks to anyone and everyone's who has read some of my posts.

I've toyed with the idea of starting a personal blog for quite some time. Yet I keep putting it off. Quite frankly it scares me. Something about sharing the details of my daily life feels incredibly transparent and personal. I know I only have to write about what I want to write about, yet the nervousness remains.

However a writing job I just got requires a personal blog, so it's time for me to step out of my comfort zone and start a blog. It was the kick in the behind I needed to get going.

"Stepping out of my Comfort Zone" could quite easily be the theme for my whole life in the last few years. In future posts I hope to share more of my story -- becoming a foster parent. Losing almost 100 lbs. Moving from a total couch potato to someone who now does Triathlons. Getting our family finances in order (attempting to). Becoming a freelance writer.

One thing I've learned about stepping out of my comfort zone is that the first step is usually the hardest. So thanks for sharing in my first and hardest step, and I hope we can share many more hours of words and ideas together!