Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Christmas is DIFFERENT!

Don’t be fooled. There are many pretty, empty boxes under the tree as well as my family’s gift for our trip to the in-laws on Christmas Day.

It’s funny! No one told me that Christmas would be way different once my kids got older. I mean, I knew it would be different but I didn’t know how sad it would make me. 

It was just different

Their lists are smaller. 

No one is asking for anything crazy or exciting. 

There are no toys to put together. 

No one is putting out cookies and milk (this was the first year). 

I can put the gifts under the tree as I wrap them instead of hiding them (this was the first year I did this because we were going to be away until the eve so I needed everything done for our return from vacation).

I didn’t need to wait for the kids to go to bed so my husband and I could very quietly make the magic happen. 

They woke after 8 and patiently waited until we were all ready with our coffee.

No photos were taken (this was the first year for that too!)

We didn’t record this year’s present opening (this was our first year not doing this as well).

It was just different.

I longed for my kids to squeal in excitement. Hug me after opening each gift, holding this up to show us we they got! They know I already know. I mean they could have showed Dad. He had no idea. 

It was just different.  

Christmas is different and you have to find something to be excited over. We were going to Universal before Christmas so they kids were told there would only be a few things from their wish lists under the tree. They understood. I didn’t get it for them. I got it for me. I find such joy in watching people open their gifts. It makes me warm and happy inside. 

My words to parents….it changes. Kids grow up. Kids find other people to spend time with during the holidays (this hasn’t happened for me yet but I am sure it will). Spend time with friends and family. Do crafts. Bake. Cook. Surprise a neighbor. BUT for now…enjoy every moment with your kids. When you are knee deep in wrapping paper and just can’t put together another toy and there are pieces of toys all over. Sit back and smile knowing you created magic for your kids. You made them happy. 

I am not sad! I am just missing their youth! Missing their excitement which means losing my own excitement. 

It was a great vacation. we are blessed to have been able to do it. It was a great Christmas. We are thankful to have been able to shop for gifts for our family. We are grateful that our kids are with us. We are truly blessed this year and we don’t take anything for granted. God is good and we are fortunate to spend time together. 

Reasons Why Moving Into A Care Home Could Be A Positive Choice


Deciding to move into a care home is a big deal that many people and their families may find daunting. However, it's essential to recognize that this change can be a positive and enriching experience for seniors. This article is here so you can learn more about why moving into a care home can be a positive choice


Professional Care 

One of the primary advantages of moving into a care home like stanshawescarehome.com is access to professional care and support. Trained carers are available at all times to assist residents with their daily activities, ensuring that their physical and medical needs are met. This level of support can bring peace to both older people and also their famillieswho can take comfort that their loved ones are in capable hands.


Social Interaction 

Isolation and loneliness are very common for older people, especially those living alone. Care homes offer a sense of community where residents can take part in activities, share meals, and build meaningful connections with their peers. The sense of companionship and camaraderie can significantly enhance the overall well-being of seniors, fostering a positive and supportive social environment.


Safety and Security

A care home provides a secure and monitored living environment, minimizing the risks associated with living alone, such as accidents or medical emergencies. With trained staff available to respond promptly to any situation, seniors can enjoy a sense of security that contributes to their overall peace of mind. This safety net allows residents to focus on living their lives to the max without constant worries about personal security.


Nutritious Meals 

A healthy and well-balanced diet is crucial for the overall health of older people. Care homes typically offer nutritious meals prepared by professional chefs, taking into consideration dietary restrictions and individual preferences. Having access to well-planned, regular meals helps to supportphysical health and also contributes to a positive and enjoyable dining experience for residents.


Access to Leisure Activities

Care homes often organize a variety of recreational and leisure activities to keep residents engaged and entertained. These activities may include exercise classes, art workshops, music sessions, and outings. Engaging in such activities provides entertainment and also contributes to mental stimulation, physical well-being, and a sense of purpose, fostering a positive and fulfilling lifestyle.


Relief for Caregivers

Moving into a care home can be a positive choice not only for the seniors themselves but also for their family caregivers. Being a carer can be emotionally and physically demanding, and the decision to transition to a care home may offer much-needed relief to family members. Knowing that their loved ones are receiving professional care and support allows family caregivers to focus on maintaining a healthy balance in their own lives.

While the decision to move into a care home may initially be met with apprehension, its essential to recognize the numerous positive aspects associated with this choice. Embracing this change can lead to a fulfilling and positive chapter in the lives of elderly people, promoting well-being and allowing them to age with dignity and grace.


Exploring the Benefits and Must-Have Treatments at a Skin Clinic

Skin health often takes center stage in your quest for beauty and well-being. A skin clinic, with its array of advanced treatments and professional expertise, becomes a haven for those seeking to enhance and maintain the vitality of their skin. The benefits of visiting a skin clinic extend beyond superficial beauty; they encompass holistic well-being. Let's delve into the myriad advantages and some of the best treatments one can experience at a skin clinic.

Personalized Consultations

One of the primary benefits of a skin clinic, like visavisskinclinic.com, is the personalized attention and consultation provided by skilled dermatologists. These professionals analyze your skin type, identify concerns, and tailor treatments to meet individual needs. This personalized approach ensures that the treatments are effective and safe for your specific skin requirements.

State-of-the-Art Technology

Skin clinics are equipped with cutting-edge technology that goes beyond what can be achieved at home. These tools allow for precise diagnosis and targeted treatments, from laser therapies to advanced imaging devices. Technology such as laser resurfacing, intense pulsed light (IPL), and radiofrequency treatments can address a variety of skin issues, including wrinkles, pigmentation, and acne scars.

Medical-Grade Skincare Products

Skin clinics often offer access to medical-grade skincare products that are not readily available over the counter. These products, formulated with potent ingredients, can address specific skin concerns and contribute to long-term skin health. Dermatologists can recommend a skincare regimen tailored to your needs, incorporating these high-quality products for optimal results.

Acne Treatments

Acne, a common skin concern, can be effectively managed through professional treatments available at a skin clinic. Procedures like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and targeted laser therapies can help combat acne and minimize the appearance of scars. Dermatologists can also prescribe medication and provide guidance on proper skincare routines to prevent future breakouts.

Anti-Aging Solutions

Skin clinics offer a range of anti-aging treatments to address wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of skin elasticity. Injectables like Botox and dermal fillers are popular choices for minimizing the signs of aging. Additionally, non-invasive treatments such as micro-needling and ultrasound therapy stimulate collagen production, promoting a more youthful complexion.

Skin Rejuvenation Therapies

Skin rejuvenation goes beyond addressing specific issues; it focuses on overall skin health and vibrancy. Treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and photofacials can revitalize the skin, improving texture and tone. Regular skin rejuvenation sessions can contribute to a radiant and refreshed appearance.

Treatment for Skin Conditions

Skin clinics are equipped to address various dermatological conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Dermatologists can provide targeted treatments and ongoing management plans to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals dealing with these conditions.


A visit to a skin clinic offers a holistic approach to skin health. The benefits extend far beyond the surface, from personalized consultations to state-of-the-art treatments. Whether you're seeking to address specific concerns or simply enhance your skin's natural beauty, the expertise, and resources available at a skin clinic can guide you on a journey to radiant and healthy skin.


Friday, December 15, 2023

Compelling Reasons to Consider Plastic Surgery for Personal Transformation

Plastic surgery can improve self-esteem by addressing issues that cause discomfort, such as a misshapen nose or disproportionate breasts. It can also create more symmetry or give a younger look.

However, ensuring you're seeking a cosmetic procedure for the right reasons is important. Otherwise, you might rely on it for happiness and a sense of self-worth that could be more easily achieved through other means.

Extend Your Youthfulness

Many people who undergo plastic surgery want to address a particular body part they feel is faulty or unattractive. For instance, some men and women want to correct their enlarged ears or flabby noses. Others feel their breasts are too small and opt for augmentations to enhance the size and shape of their chest. With the right surgeon and technique, such changes are very natural-looking.

Another reason for cosmetic surgeries is to slow aging by reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. This allows patients to look more like their age and may boost their competitiveness in the job market.

Plastic surgery can make people feel better about themselves and lead happier lives. However, it is important to have realistic expectations before deciding on the procedure. The most successful outcomes come from choosing a qualified and skilled plastic surgeon Bellevue who operates from an accredited facility and prioritizes safety. The right surgeon can help you achieve the physical and psychological results you desire to improve your quality of life.

Improved Self-Esteem

One of the top reasons people seek plastic surgery is to enhance their appearance and improve their self-esteem. This is not just a matter of feeling more confident in social situations; studies show that individuals with healthy self-esteem are better equipped to handle life's challenges.

Some patients experience body dysmorphic disorder, in which they obsess about nonexistent flaws in their appearance. In these cases, undergoing plastic surgery to correct an unattractive feature can help them feel more comfortable in their skin, but it does not cure the mental disorder.

For the rest of the population, however, a plastic surgery procedure can make them feel more confident in their skin and able to enjoy life to the fullest. When done for the right reasons—to meet societal beauty standards, to impress a spouse, or to catch the eye of a potential love interest—, it can positively impact an individual's quality of life, especially for those with physical insecurity, like a misshapen nose or disproportionate breasts.

A New Lease on Life

As long as patients don't go into plastic surgery with unrealistic expectations, it can be a life-changing experience. It can be a major component of a personal transformation that involves rejecting bad health habits and esteem-lowering attitudes and starting over with new goals.

For example, women who opt for breast implants might find that their appearance boost helps them to be more receptive to romantic possibilities and can help them stay focused on their careers instead of feeling self-conscious about their new, natural shape. They might even feel more able to say yes to a well-deserved promotion at work, knowing that their appearance will give them an edge over the competition.

The same might be true for men with a facelift or another cosmetic procedure. Although they might not want to admit it, many men feel they are a better catch when their looks are improved, which may lead to greater success in the dating game.

Enhance Your Physical Appearance

Some procedures, such as rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty, enhance facial features that make a person more attractive in social or professional settings. Others, like tummy tucks and liposuction, improve a person's posture and help him look healthier after weight loss.

People who are self-conscious about a specific body feature often turn to cosmetic surgery. However, it's important to note that a person should only consider such surgery if he is emotionally healthy and has worked through the problem with the help of a therapist, as changing his appearance won't solve emotional problems.

Also, while cosmetic surgery can boost self-esteem and improve a person's outlook on life, it shouldn't be seen as a quick fix for weight issues that could be treated with diet and exercise. Ultimately, patients should think carefully about what they want to change about their physical appearance and choose a surgeon who has a good track record in performing the procedure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Go Multisport!


(New York, NY): Multisport is the new frontier for extreme and endurance sports. From its humble beginnings in triathlon, multisport has grown to become the most varied, exciting and rewarding way to get outdoors, get active and get physically fit.

Go Multisport combines Jennifer Strong McConachie’s storied history in endurance sports with a comprehensive overview of the ins and outs of multisport — how it came to be, today’s most popular multisport categories, and a look at what’s to come — along with anecdotes and insights from her own experiences.

Go Multisport then takes things one step further, providing an all-in-one resource to help you create your own multisport, perfectly tailored to your wants and needs that will help any weekend warrior or endurance athlete put the spark back in their sport!

If you want more from your sport — longer distances, higher heights, more weight, more challenge, more fun — look no further. Don’t just go hard, go multisport!

About the Author

Jennifer Strong McConachie 
is an ultrarunner, mountaineer, marathon swimmer, distance paddler, and multisport athlete. An Outward Bound graduate, she is also a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society and member of The Explorers Club. She trains for mountain ascents around the world, including several of the Seven Summits. Jennifer has several certifications in fitness teaching including from the American Council on Exercise. As a professional speaker, presenter and trainer, she leads groups and workshops on business goal setting and leadership. Jennifer previously wrote Go Far: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life.

Praise for Go Multisport

"Jennifer has done an incredible job providing us all with a clear and concise picture of how important and powerful adventure can be in all of our lives." —Ray Zahab, Arctic world record holder & author of Running for My Life

"Go Multisport
 offers fun, inspirational advice for adding spice to our exercise, training, adventures, and life." —Roman Dial, author of Packrafting! and national bestseller The Adventurer’s Son

# # #

Go Multisport
Written by Jennifer Strong McConachie
978-1-57826-992-1, $18.95 paperback
978-1-961293-00-7, $9.99 ebook

Published by Hatherleigh Press.
Distributed through Penguin Random House.
Available wherever books are sold.

OMG I Am Feeling Done

The past month and a half have been a literal shit show of just rapid moments of craziness and I am so over it. 

I knew November and December would be a bit nuts because we have been planning a vacation for the month of December since February and I knew that most everything for my personal life and my school life would have to be done before I left. In preschool this is a very important month for these kids. Many don’t remember their first two Christmases and are very excited about this one. I, as a parent of young adults love making this is special month for my class and sometimes go a bit overboard with my plans. That’s on me. I have a tree up in the class, two felt trees with ornaments as well as a felt gingerbread they can play with and decorate. I play and sing Christmas Carols with them, read them Christmas books and talk about Christmas. 

For the past few years I have about 15 different things I do with my class for Christmas plus the parent gift  and the gift I give each kid. It is a stressful I mean it’s December and my personal life is as busy. Shopping lists, cards, cleaning, decorating, touching base with friends and family and all the normal things that go into everyone’s day to day life. 

This morning I woke at 2:50 A.M. I was trying to come up with something for the project the Director of the center felt we should do, plus the one I had started weeks ago on my own not know there would be some global project that was decided for the teachers of the center. I need to mail out things, feeling like I don’t have anything for my own kids and husband for Christmas. They are fine with that, we are going on vacation but it’s not for them, it’s for me. I want to give them something. 

Plus, I was trying to remember to order the kids contacts today, and what was that other thing I need to do? UGH I don’t remember. I am babysitting two nights this week, I hate flying and will have to do that soon. It just felt like too much. 

Not only did I wake too early, I had to be at work by 6  A.M. today. Have a 3:00 appointment at the chiropractor, it just never ends.

Then there is this whole “real” world thing going on. War, people dying, global warming, prepping, government, blah blah blah. It is all too much.

Does anyone else feel that things are spinning out of control or is it just me? I remind myself that I am blessed. My family is healthy, I am healthy, and my class is healthy. Things can always be worse but this morning it just seemed unbearable. 


Lzzy Hale Fans


NASHVILLE, TN (December 5, 2023) Kramer, the original Made to Rock Hard guitar brand has been setting trends with premium, performance-focused instruments since 1976. Kramer is proud to partner with Lzzy Hale--frontwoman of the GRAMMY® Award-winning hard rock band Halestorm and Gibson’s first female brand ambassador--to release the new Kramer Lzzy Hale Voyager. The Kramer Lzzy Hale Voyager is now available worldwide at all authorized Kramer dealers and on www.KramerGuitars.com.


“Come meet this bonafide rockstar from outer space! I’m proud to introduce the most out of this world guitar I’ve ever had in my arsenal. Straight from my inner child, my signature Kramer Voyager is a tribute to my ferocity. Horns high, and sharp as lightning. This little alien creature dreams and screams big. She’s love at first flight…and you’ll never find another like her!”



Watch/share the new clip featuring Lzzy Hale with her Kramer VoyagerHERE.

Click the image above to play the video featuring the Halestorm song “Alien” from the Back From The Dead: Deluxe album, available now: https://halestorm.lnk.to/BFTDDeluxe.


With its Original, Modern, and Artist Collections, Kramer offers entry-level and intermediate options, as well as guitars for professional musicians and continues to be the guitar of choice for today's rock and metal legends. The Kramer Lzzy Hale Voyager marks the first Kramer signature guitar created for a female artist and the fifth collaboration between Lzzy and Gibson Brands’ luthiers overall.  Lzzy was heavilyinvolved in the design of the guitar which started with a pointy version of the classicKramer Voyager body style. The guitar is finished in an attention-grabbing Black Diamond Holographic Sparkle finish that looks incredible on stage. The Lzzy Hale Voyager is a single-bridge position Kramer 85-T™ humbucker™ and a single Volume control along with a Floyd Rose® 1000 Series tremolo and R2 Locking Nut for rock-solid tuning stability. The three-piece maple neck has an ebony fretboard with lightning bolt inlays, a satin finish for speed, and a Slim “C” profile for comfort. Add it all up, and you have an awesome guitar that, like the artist who helped design it, is Made to Rock Hard! Only a limited run of 300 Kramer Lzzy Hale Voyagers will be made, and a Kramer hardshell case is also included in the package.


Explore the new Kramer Lzzy Hale Voyager in Black Diamond Holographic Sparkle:HERE.

Friday, December 01, 2023

A Washington Toddler Receives the Best Gift - A New Heart

This Month She Will Enjoy the Season Thanks to the Selfless Gift She Received


December 1, 2023 -- December is the month when many families focus on gifts. For a Pacific Northwest transplant family, December is the month to celebrate the ultimate gift -- the gift of life. Lester Stoltz and Andrya Dodson are stepping into December focusing on their toddler’s third birthday and excitedly waiting to watch her enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season later this month … all thanks to receiving a new heart and a second chance at life.


Lester and Andrya were excited to learn they were pregnant with their first child. As Andrya was stepping into the last trimester of her pregnancy, they were looking forward to the final ultrasound before they welcomed their baby to the world. On that October day in 2020, the unanticipated discovery that their baby had an enlarged heart took them by surprise. Further in-utero testing revealed the baby had Cardiomyopathy, which had caused the left ventricle of the heart to expand and develop incorrectly. They were also told the tiny baby would not survive a Cesarean section at this stage in the pregnancy. A neonatal team from Seattle Children’s Hospital consulted with Andrya’s obstetrics team who determined it would be best to keep Andrya on bedrest and allow the baby to grow to 37 weeks. The news … and the plans they needed to quickly make …were sobering.


Pediatric cardiomyopathy is a rare heart condition that affects a small percentage of infants and children. Cardiomyopathy means disease of the heart muscle (myocardium). Several different types of cardiomyopathy exist and specific symptoms can vary. Cardiomyopathy is a progressive condition that may result in an impaired ability of the heart to pump blood, irregular or rapid heartbeats and, potentially, heart failure. Most infants diagnosed with cardiomyopathy eventually require a life-saving heart transplant for long-term survival.


In November 2020, Lester and Andrya moved from their Leavenworth, Washington, home and settled into a Seattle condo that close friends graciously invited them to use. Andrya was able to carry the baby to full term and delivered her via Cesarean section on December 5th. Their baby girl, Betty, was immediately intubated and transported to Seattle Children’s Hospital while Andrya remained at the University of Washington Medical Center for several days to recover from the operation. Lester remembers spending these days travelling back and forth between the two medical campuses to be with Baby Betty and with Andrya. Once the family of three was finally able to be together in one place, they learned COVID-19 restrictions dictated that only one parent could be with Betty at Seattle Children’s Hospital. They settled into the routine of Andrya staying at Betty’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) bedside during the day, and then returning to their borrowed condo each night to rest. Lester spent each night at the infant’s bedside. 


This was their routine for about a month while Betty continued to hold her own. Christmas was spent on the split parent schedule, but their tiny baby who was fighting to live was the only gift they needed that year. Since both Andrya and Lester worked in the medical field, they were keenly aware of the hurdles their baby was facing. Andrya worked as a Medical Assistant (MA) at Cascade Medical in Leavenworth and Lester worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) there. Both had to put their careers on hold to be at Betty’s Seattle Children’s bedside.


While at Betty’s bedside, Lester started to research and calculate what he and Andrya could possibly be facing in terms of inpatient stay costs, loss of income, out of pocket medical costs, medical insurance for a medically fragile baby … all of these issues that would soon become stressors for the young family. A transplant social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital encouraged them to reach out to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) to see how the organization might be able to help. On December 18th, Lester called the COTA office to learn more. Lester spoke at length with COTA’s Family Services Outreach Specialist about insurance co-pays and deductibles they would soon be facing. He explained their home (and their jobs) were roughly 140 miles from the transplant center; therefore, travel, meals, lodging and parking were going to be significant, ongoing costs. Then, of course, there was the cost of a heart transplant and their portion of that likely substantial bill. But primarily Lester wanted to ask about a GoFundMe that had been established during Andrya’s pregnancy once family and friends heard about the baby’s condition. Of primary concern was the fact that funds raised via GoFundMe are considered taxable income for the individual or family who receives them. Lester understood the GoFundMe would need to be shut down before anything could move forward with COTA. Lester was agreeable to this due to numerous conversations with the social worker and the transplant team regarding the lifetime of transplant-related expenses they would be facing.


On January 8, 2021, the family’s signed agreement arrived at COTA’s Indiana headquarters, and Lester and Andrya officially became part of the COTA Family and Betty became a COTA Kid. A few weeks later in late January, a COTA fundraising specialist trained their group of volunteers via telephone due to COVID-19 and so fundraising for transplant-related expenses could begin immediately. The COTA staff member shared information about COTA’s fundraising process, fundraising templates, guidance and support, and the no-cost website they would be provided. COTA in honor of Bettys Big Heart was launched, and the website was immediately available for online donations to help with transplant-related expenses. 


The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) uniquely understands that parents who care for a child or young adult before, during and after a life-saving transplant have enough to deal with; therefore, COTA’s model shifts the responsibility for fundraising to a team of trained volunteers. COTA is a 501(c)3 charity so all contributions to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law, and COTA funds are available for a lifetime of transplant-related expenses. 


One of the lead COTA volunteers shared this message with their community of supporters:

While we continue to pray for Betty, the Stoltz family needs your help. Your donation to COTA in honor of Bettys Big Heart, no matter how big or small, will allow COTA to help this wonderful family during this difficult and unprecedented time. Travel to and from Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington Medical Center, growing medical expenses, an uncertain number of months off of work, and daily living expenses are adding up quickly. Your support of COTA in honor of Bettys Big Heart allows Andrya and Lester to stay focused on Betty and help her grow strong!


Lester and Andrya took turns utilizing the COTA-provided website to post Betty updates to their community of friends, colleagues, COTA supporters and family members who were more than a hundred miles away. Here are some highlights of how they kept everyone connected to what was happening with Bettys transplant journey:


January 19, 2021: There is a heart for Betty! As of January 18, 2021, a donor heart became available that is a match for Betty. The transplant team at Seattle Children’s Hospital is planning on performing a heart transplant surgery today to save Betty’s life. Please keep Betty and her family in your prayers. We all know the sad reality of what it means to have a donor heart available. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family who is coping with the loss of a loved one. It is bittersweet, but Betty’s family will be forever grateful.


January 20, 2021: Betty has a New Heart! Betty had a stable night after a successful heart transplant! She is still recovering and has a long road ahead of her, but she is doing great and her new heart is beating on its own. She has great color returning to her skin. Lester and Andrya are running on fumes but have expressed relief and excitement for Betty’s future. Just one week ago Betty was going downhill quickly. Today, she has a new heart and is on the road to the healthy happy life of a normal little girl. Please keep praying for Betty and family, and also pray for the donor child and her family. Pray for peace in their hearts, knowing that their child helped save the life of another.


January 24, 2021: Last night Betty was taken off all breathing support and is doing great. This is a huge step, and she is already showing relief from tubes, tape and cannula on her face. She is still struggling with her feeds but is making progress. She will continue to have a feeding tube, which we do not anticipate being removed anytime soon. She was taken off a heart medication that she has been taking since birth. It is hard not to be overly excited with her progress since it has only been 5 days since her heart transplant. This next week we will begin OT and PT, to learn how to move and feed her. We thank all of you who have helped support us, so we can support Betty. We will continue to dream of a bright future.


January 28, 2021: Betty continues to amaze. We have graduated from NICU and moved to the floor. We are told life on the floor is more relaxed and will be a learning environment for Betty and for us. Betty has been removed from all cardiac medications and has no breathing support. She still has sedatives and will need to learn to eat, but for now she is still on a feeding tube where she receives mom's milk and medications. 

Simultaneously with our move to the floor, COVID-19 restrictions have eased up and both Andrya and I can be at her bedside. This is a great relief and we have already proved to be a great team and look forward to a more normal parenting schedule. Betty is much easier to pick up and does not require three people to do so. She still has some ‘attachments’ but compared to what she had before, they are very manageable.


Your continued support has been crucial to our success. The speed at which Betty progresses leads to thoughts of the future. We will likely be on the hospital floor for 2-4 weeks and will then move to a condo or apartment in Seattle for 3-6 months. During this time, I will commute to Leavenworth to work and to care for our house and pets. Andrya and Betty will enjoy the spring and summer in Seattle while the cardiac team focuses on her anti-rejection meds.


February 14, 2021: Betty is home in Seattle! Betty is doing great; her new heart is working great. There is no way to express our gratitude for such a great blessing. We were able to write a letter to the donor family and hopefully this will bring them some relief. We enjoyed a snowy day in Seattle in the comfort of the condo. It truly feels like home with Betty here.


Betty has a long list of meds that we diligently are learning to administer on time with accuracy. She has about 20 different medications and we have 15 or 17 alarms set to administer them. Thankfully there is an app that helps keep track and can be updated in real-time by her doctors, nurses and pharmacists. 


The support we are receiving is tremendous and has allowed us to focus on being new parents to our special girl, which by the way is a wonderful and tiring experience in itself. Betty will have a bright and healthy future and your contributions will ensure COTA’s help all along the way. One of my biggest struggles is finding ways to express our thanks for all that has been done for us and in honor of Betty. 


September 28, 2021:  Betty is wonderful. We had her GI, transplant cardiology, and ultrasound appointments in May. She weighed in at 12lbs 11oz and no longer needed Mom’s milk fortified. Betty’s heart is terrific. Her ECHO came back with a reject level of 1 which is fantastic, and her EKG came back normal as well. She is off all narcotics and sedatives. Meds are now 5 times a day (from 10 times a day) and she is down to 10 meds (from 18)!

Lester is back to work full time and Andrya is Betty’s fulltime Mom/Caretaker. Due to her transplant, she will not be able to attend a daycare so that leaves Mom and Dad. In June Betty turned 6 months old! We introduced baby food. She can have 1 teaspoon twice a day. She seems to like sweet potatoes and carrots and is not a fan of bananas.

In July Betty weighed in at 14lbs and 4oz and was 25.5 inches long. She is starting to hit some milestones even if she’s a bit behind. Most days start with her big smiles after waking from a long night of sleep and follows with her sitting in Dad's chair. Then we do floor time, Johnny Jumper, physical therapy, feeding therapy, naps and play time. We returned home to Leavenworth near the end of July.  This little girl amazes me every day. We are still dealing with some pain and learning about her new feeding tube. On July 27th, Betty cut her first tooth, and another is right behind it!

This wonderful little girl means the world to us. Her deck of cards is unique but this Mom and Dad would not have it any other way. The universe and those up above looking down on us found it fit for us to have this special girl. Life for her will always be filled with daily meds and monthly medical appointments … but it will also be filled with lots of love, snuggles and kisses. Love you Betty!!! Proud to be your Mom!!!

December 2, 2021:  Betty is turning One! These words bring me so much joy to write. We have had a year to remember; we cannot believe the support we have been given. The feelings I have experienced in the last year can never be explained. Betty brings so much happiness to us and those around us. She is growing and learning every day. She tolerates so much with very little complaining. She is learning to eat and stand and will soon walk. She sleeps through the night. She is excited to see new places. I would say her biggest complaint is going to the hospital. Poor girl had a fever two weeks ago and got poked and prodded for 3 days. She came out on top and back to her normal joyful self. 


Two years have passed since Betty’s First Birthday update. This month, Betty turns three-years-old; Andrya and Lester are grateful. “COTA has helped us immensely throughout Betty’s transplant journey to date. Specifically, with insurance costs. Betty’s monthly insurance premium is quite high and with only one parent still able to work fulltime, things have been financially tight for us. We are able to make her monthly insurance payment with an allocation from COTA. COTA has also helped us with our costly trips to Seattle. Sometimes the tests that need to be done take two days, which requires overnight lodging and meals in restaurants. COTA funds have been crucial for us to afford these trips as well,” Andrya said.


Very soon, Andrya and Lester will be celebrating Christmas at home with Betty, which is a milestone they were unsure they would ever see come to fruition. They are thankful for two gifts that cannot be wrapped or put in a gift bag with lots of tissue paper. The first is seeing Christmas through their toddler’s eyes. The second is the gift of support in the forms of donations to COTA for Bettys Big Heart campaign. In a relatively short amount of time, their friends and family members utilized COTA’s fundraising resources and guidance and were able to raise nearly $33,000 to assist with transplant-related expenses.


“COTA was critical to us during a time of great need and great unknowns,” Lester said. “COTA funds have been crucial to keeping our family financially whole when we were at our miracle baby’s hospital bedside and unable to work. With COTA, we did not lose everything. COTA gave us a platform where we could share Betty’s transplant journey with our networks back home. And when our family and friends could respond and share their words of encouragement, we were given a gift we will always treasure.”


However, this year has also presented new challenges for the family. Betty has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, but new medications prescribed by her new GI doctor have helped tremendously. Also, this year in March, Betty was diagnosed with moderate autism. These new hurdles, along with keeping her new heart healthy, are difficult for Andrya and Lester … but not insurmountable. Life today for this family includes weekly occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and feeding therapy. They check in with Betty’s nutritionist quarterly via Zoom. Every three months they travel to Seattle and for appointments with her G.I. Specialist and transplant team. Betty currently gets blood drawn monthly. It is a lot for Lester and Andrya to manage, but they both are thankful for the support they continue to receive from COTA for transplant-related expenses.


“We love our Betty no matter how many toddler/sensory meltdowns she has,” Andrya said. “Betty is so very happy most every day and she always has a big smile.”


Three-year-old Betty loves her inflatable bounce house that is filled with many Squishmallows. She loves Queen’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Eagles’ song “Hotel California,” and regularly watches Casper Babypants, The Bee Movie and Moana. Andrya said that due to autism, it takes Betty a little longer to like things so she watches one thing repeatedly for a while before they introduce something new. One of Betty’s favorite activities is walking with her daddy to the fruit stand to get apples.


This Christmas will be filled with lots of singing and celebration. Betty will likely be gazing at the Christmas tree nonstop while chattering away. For Andrya and Lester, simply being able to watch their little girl enjoy the sights and sounds of the season is the only gift they will need under their tree for many years to come.


Merry Christmas, Betty, Andrya and Lester from your COTA Family!


For more information about the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA),
or to find a COTA family in your area, please email kim@cota.org

Betty 2.jpg

Finding Motivation to Exercise in the New Year


Have you ever found yourself running around in circles? Promising yourself to start exercising tomorrow?

The way to sustain motivation to workout throughout the years is to stop doing what we’ve always done and focus on creating an environment that will lead us to adapt to bigger challenges. Below are five steps that will help in your journey.

Step #1: Visualize. Lean onto your vision to discover the source of exercise motivation

The first step is to ask yourself What was it that drove me to start exercising in the first place? and think of a specific thing you can visualize. Was it running the 5k that takes place in a couple of months? If you have the visual – good. Picture it, feel it and, most importantly, focus on it. If it helps, write it on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet. This shall serve as a vision for you and will create motivation to train.

From now on don’t think about daunting workouts you have to complete. Think of the vision you created and the end result you’ll want to celebrate. Once you focus on the vision, it will pull motivation to exercise and help you stay on track without any extra willpower. You’re more likely to succeed when you know where you’re going.

Step #2: Be inspired. Add a dose of challenge and set inspiring goals.

In life, just like in training, we only grow in response to resistance. Our mind & body need to be challenged, otherwise we will stagnate. In fact, without pushing ourselves to do something uncomfortable we will fall behind, because the world around doesn’t wait for us to catch up.

It’s those things that scare us eventually lead to growth. For athletes that is where adventure comes into play. Stay ahead of what might come and challenge yourself before life challenges you.

Step #3: Plan your exercise program. Create a plan to turn your vision into reality.

A plan essentially splits the entire journey into many smaller parts (phases) that are easier to focus on and execute. Having a plan ensures that every important detail is considered, which reduces the pressure and allows a person to immerse him or herself in the present moment and fully enjoy the experience.

When we plan something meaningful and inspiring, we put our heart and soul into and actually enjoy it. In such empowered state it’s not difficult to consider small details, because they come to mind on their own. Moreover, being involved in the planning process satisfies the second need that cultivates intrinsic motivation – autonomy.

Step #4: Share your journey. Training with a group makes it easier and more fun.

As humans we thrive on communication and the sense of togetherness. We need to feel recognized, interact or just have someone to share our success & concerns with. Many pro athletes agree that having a community that pushes you is one of the most effective ways how to become a better athlete and stay active throughout the years.

Having meaningful connections also helps to satisfy the third need that affects intrinsic motivation – relatedness. An experience that is shared carries more power and provides much stronger stimulus to carry on. So, make an effort to involve more people in your journey. Join a fitness group, find a mentor, or hire a coach.

Step #5: Celebrate the journey. Take the time to stop and appreciate the moment.

It’s more important to take the time to stop and appreciate where you are and where you’ve come from. Celebrate the journey – not just the outcome. Cultivating that mindset will help you to stay motivated to exercise.

When we celebrate, we tend to immerse ourselves in the present moment. The present moment connects us with joy that is within us. So, embrace that and let it fill you.


The goal of the strategy above is to self-drive your fitness journey and create a foundation for continued growth. That will guide you to get motivated to exercise even in the lowest of points.

The real magic happens when you incorporate all 5 steps in your life. Craft a vision that inspires you. Find an exciting adventure that is a little outside your comfort zone and take active part in planning it – from training to lifestyle. Involve others in your journey to make it meaningful and exciting. And, finally, celebrate the experience you get along the way to keep it fun.

About the Author

Andrejs Birjukovs
 is a certified coach and multisport athlete with a background in swimming, kayaking, marathon and trail running, as well as long-distance triathlons. Throughout his professional athlete and coaching careers, Andrejs has learned the value of reinventing oneself through physical exercise and lifestyle changes. He is an IRONMAN certified coach and runs The Athlete Blog where he shares his training and coaching experience with the world.

# # #

The Resilient Athlete
Written by Andrejs Birjukovs
978-1-57826-955-6, $20.00 paperback
978-1-57826-956-3, $9.99 ebook

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Dolly Is Colorful, Now You Can Color Dolly



Crafted by Michael and brought to life by Ramon Salas, "Dolly Parton: Female Force the Coloring Book Edition" spans 56-pages, available in both digital and print formats on platforms like Amazon. The paperback version showcases a cover by Ramon Salas, while the hardcover edition features an alternative cover crafted by the talented Marvel Comics artist Yonami.


Embark on over 50 pages of coloring delight, immersing yourself in the vibrant world of Dolly Parton! Become a colorist in the comic book realm—grab your cherished crayons and relish the experience. This coloring book provides a distinctive look at Dolly Parton's diverse journey, catering to a unique audience. Renowned for her quote, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap," Parton's roles as a singer, songwriter, and philanthropist reflect her empowering ascent from humble origins to the most honored female country performer, leaving a legacy of generosity and inspiration.


“Imagine my surprise when I learned that a comic, I wrote would become a coloring book, too! It’s a great way to show off the incredible work of artist Ramon Salas and cover artist Dave Ryan and Joe Phillips."said Writer Michael Frizell. 


TidalWave's "Female Force" imprint highlights accomplished and influential individuals across diverse fields such as authors, business executives, entertainers, journalists, politicians, and activists. This latest addition to TidalWave's library of over 200 comic book biographies enriches the collection with a broad spectrum of inspiring figures. Past titles have featured extraordinary women like Reba McEntire, Tina Turner, Gloria Steinem, Pink, Cher, Oprah Winfrey, and numerous others.


TidalWave has also published comic books on other country icons such as Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood. 


The biographical comic series has sparked widespread media attention, garnering headlines on popular platforms like The View, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, and earning features in esteemed publications including Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, TIME, and People magazines.


TidalWave Comics is available for purchase from various online book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Furthermore, the diverse range of TidalWave Comics titles is easily accessible for digital download on platforms like Kindle, iTunes, EPIC!, ComiXology, Global Comics, Google Play, Overdrive, Library Pass, Biblioboard, Nook, Kobo, and other eBook outlets.