Saturday, October 29, 2011

MS Walk

Join The Movement!
Walk MS is the rallying point of the MS movement, a community coming together to raise funds and celebrate hope for the future. Walks happen all around the country, all year long. Austin's walk was today, October 29th. There was a surprising amount of people there - many had signed up for the walk in teams, with creative names like "Don't MS With Texas" and "MS Avengers."

Why I Walk
In March 2010, my right leg went numb from the waist down. Two days later, I was seeing double because a muscle in my eye was no longer working. I was lucky enough to be diagnosed quickly - many people spend years of confusing and frustrating symptoms before being told they have MS. After two courses of steroids and many weeks, I finally felt normal again - though "normal" suddenly included daily injections and the knowledge that I had an illness that would never go away and would likely become worse with time.

Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving like they should. I walk for those who no longer can. I walk for my aunt, who also has MS. I walk for my husband, who is my foundation and support. I walk for my daughter, to teach her strength. I walk for myself, in hopes that I will be able to do so for a long, long time.

Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment, made possible from the funds raised in events like the Walk MS, are moving us closer to a world free of MS.

This was my first year to participate in the walk and fundraise for it. I didn't know what to expect, so I set a goal of $300...and my wonderful friends and family exceeded that, at $330! A special thanks to all of will soon be receiving a picture and a card in the mail! Maybe next year we'll expand and have a team of our own...

After the walk, we went to Taco Cabana for lunch. While there, a woman read my shirt, and then Olivia's shirt. "You wear orange for your mommy! How cute! Are you going to the game today?"

(for those of you who dont' know, University of Texas is in Austin, and their predominant color is Burnt Orange)

I explained that the orange was actually for MS, and that we had just come from the MS Walk. The woman was so surprised, and said that her husband did the MS Bike 150 a few weeks ago in Galeston, TX. The MS Bike 150 is a 150-mile bike ride for MS awareness. When her husband came over to join the conversation, I thanked him for doing the bike ride, and he said, "Do I know you?" :)

The woman then asked if I have MS, and when I said yes, she said, "Well, you'd never know! Honestly!" I thanked her for that, and said I hope that will be the case for a long, long time.

I really do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sea World!

Since moving to Austin, we are constantly learning from other Austinites about things we should do, places we should see and go. Most of the time our answer is, "We'll try that when it gets cooler!"

Well...Austin has been strangely reminiscent of Tucson this summer, in it's oven-baking heat and sun (I think we've only seen rain twice since we moved here!). It has cooled down a bit - we're more in the upper 80's than in the 100's now - but still isn't quite fall enough.

All that to say that Sea World in San Antonio (a mere 2 hours away from our house) was definitely on the list of Things To Do. We'd been talking about it a lot lately, and had decided on last weekend. It turned out to be even better timing when we learned that Olivia was the Star of the Week in her preschool class, and thus got to take home Dangles, the class stuffed monkey. Each child does something fun with Dangles and then takes pictures and a story back to the class on the following we thought, Why not? Sea World with Dangles, it is!

This is at the entrance to the park. Notice Dangles with Olivia. He will be in most of the pictures. :P

Meeting Shamu! She was not even a little bit afraid of the huge walking killer whale...

We actually got to the park about 30min early, but they still let people in. We went first to the dolphin area, where we thought it would be fun to feed the dolphins. Turns out, we didn't need to feed them - they came right up to the side of the pool and let you pet them! It was pretty awesome. The dolphins reminded Levi and I of puppy dogs...they just had this "pet me! pet me! love me! love me!" demeanor about them. I'm glad I got this picture of Olivia touching one of them, because right after that one came up out of the water right in her face and scared her...she didn't want to pet them after that!

It's hard to see it under the water, but that's a sting ray she's touching. Very squishy!

In the middle of the park was the Sesame Street Bay of Play. I'm not sure what Seasame Street was doing in Sea World, but it's a match made in heaven for little kids. There were lots of smaller, kid-sized rides,which Olivia loved. This is Levi and Olivia riding on the Shamu Roller Coaster. We were worried that she'd get scared, since it went pretty fast, even for a kiddie-coaster. But no. Apparently the only thing she was afraid of was the dolphin. :P

Olivia, Dangles, and I on the Merry Go Round. She's pretty excited.

This was a ferris wheel made of little egg-shaped cups. It as also the only ride I was able to go on (other than the Merry Go Round) with Olivia due to being preggers. :) It was fun, but not fast enough for Olivia. She stood up at the top and said, "Can I get off now? I want to do something else." Oy.

Good thing daddys have strong shoulders, because girls get tired after all that walking!

Ice cream! which, of couse, was shared with Dangles. :)

This was one of those boat rides that swings fast back and forth. Now, look closely at the second-to-last row of seats. That's Levi and Olivia. Do you see her hands? They're up in the air like on a roller coaster. Did we teach her this? No. Are we in trouble when she's a teenager? Yes.

I had to include this picture to show that no matter where you take a child - and no matter what the cost of admission - they can be perfectly happy playing on a playground. Forget the dolphins, whales, otters, sea lions. Give the girl a rope ladder and a slide, and she's happy! I think we spent an hour there, which allowed her to get out a lot of energy, me to sit down for a while, and Levi and I both to have heart attacks trying to keep her in our line of sight. It is quite scary how easily you could lose a child in a place like Sea World.

We saw three shows during the day, and this is the last one - Shamu! I wanted to include this one because it has Baby Shamu jumping with his mommy. Awww. He was so cute.

And that's it! We had a lot of fun, saw lots of animals, bought a lot of expensive park food, and walked about 5 miles. No one got hurt, and to Levi and I's enormous relief, made it back to the car at the end of the day without losing Dangles even once. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Important Announcement!

Some of you reading this blog probably already know this, but...Baby Jackson #2 is on the way! :) He or she only looks like a little bean right now, but things change fast!

We're very excited, and Olivia says that she is ready to be a big sister. Our due date is April 30th! I'll post pictures and progress as we go...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tim & Kathy Lickliter's Visit

Next up in the family visiting line up are Tim and Kathy Lickliter (my dad and step-mom). They stopped by for a few days on their way home from visiting my grandparents in NM. Unfortunately, I had to work for two of the days that they were here, but Levi was a great host and made sure they had things to do.

And of course, Grandpa and Grandma brought Olivia a surprise:

Wonder if the ballerina bear will replace Kitty as the stuffed animal of choice (also a present from them)? We shall see...

The first morning was spent swimming, then lunch with me, then relaxing at home until we all went to dinner at Chuy's - the closest thing to "real" Mexican food that we've found so far in Austin. :)

The next day they all rode the train into downtown Austin. We'd been meaning to do it for a while but never had...Levi said that Olivia was really excited for about the first five minutes. :P

While downtown, they went to the Children's Museum, which is very hands-on, as you might expect. Levi compared it to Chuck - E - Cheese, in the amount of kids, activity, and chaos. I'm not so sure I'm sorry I missed Not really. I'd much have rather gone with them than stayed at work all day!

digging for dinosaur bones!

It was a short visit, but a good one! I think everyone had fun. 'Till next time!