February 27, 2015

Bear Head Lake State Park & a Birthday Boy

During a day trip to Ely, MN a couple of weeks ago, we made our way to Bear Head Lake State Park.  Voted "America's Favorite Park" in a major online poll in 2010, the little-known park, not even among Minnesota's most popular, won in a surprise landslide, capturing 28% of the more than 5.7 million votes.  Despite that acclaim, we saw only two other people during our visit to the park February 7th.  A cold, bleak, northern Minnesota day.  
All was quiet on frozen Bear Head Lake.




Some updates:
Beau turned eight years old! 
Similar to when we awaited his arrival eight years ago, our household was hit by a winter virus this year leading up to his birthday.  Lilly was down with it several days, followed by a feverish Johnathan.  
Still, Beau's birthday has been surrounded by all kinds of love and special fun.   
At 8 years old, he receives steady compliments on his manners and sweetness.  He's incredibly honest, while being incredibly kind.  He's fun loving and funny.  (I shared some of my favorite photos of Beau here.)  He brings us so much joy! 

Our long winter of traveling across the north half of our state for basketball games came to a close Monday with another 220 mile evening.  I was able to attend all 26 games of Mason & Eric's 11th grade season.  It feels very strange to suddenly have no basketball schedule filling our weeknights.

Days are growing brighter.. We can still see daylight holding on at 6 pm!
Our dark and dreary winter has shifted throughout February to more blue and sunny skies.  But it's still been mighty cold, dipping down to thirty below this past week with more bitter wind chills.

I may have made travel arrangements for an adventure someplace warmer, prompting me to do a little happy dance the other day.  A ways off yet, but it warms me to look forward to it.

From the Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes,
Blogger Tricks

February 9, 2015

International Snow Sculpting Symposium

We enjoyed a northern Minnesota Out and About this weekend.  
Our boys had a rare Saturday basketball game up the road in Ely, MN, so we left early and made a day of it.
We spend much of our long winter traveling all over the northern half of the state for basketball games, but all on weeknights after dark. 
It was nice to spend the day stopping to enjoy the scenery.

Ely is best known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the International Wolf Center, and the North American Bear Center.
We spent our honeymoon in Ely! 
When we arrived into town, we happened upon the International Snow Sculpting Symposium.
We enjoyed a very cold walk in the park checking out the action as the sculptors worked on their creations.  

This big hand was one of my favorites, there was a Musk Ox charging out of the palm.

Artists start with a giant compressed block of snow and use only non-motorized tools to work their magic.  They were busy shoveling, sawing, sweeping, and carving. 


This sculpture was half elephant, half octopus. (The creators were working on its curling tentacles.)

There was an actual Octopus in the works, too:

The flying pig (with little pig looking up to it) was complete.. another favorite!




The young man below had his ski goggles on.  Smart.  It was COLD!  The carvers work from morning til night.  My eyes were streaming with tears from the bitter cold air as we watched them. 

A minion in the smaller amateur division:

The eyes of the creature from the Never Ending Story are made of ice candles.  
After dark the sculptures can be viewed by ice candle light.

A great (though cold) day to stop and see the snow sculptures.

Peace, Love, and Winter Fun,

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

February 6, 2015

Small Acts that Make a Big Difference : Give Blood

One of my Goals and Intentions for 2015 is to seek out small acts that make a difference. I mentioned that I'm not a person who likes to be "involved" publicly a whole lot.  If there are meetings involved, you can likely count me out.  But even people like myself can make a big difference in small ways.  I resolved to be on the lookout and update as I discover them. 
I have found a valuable one. 
 
In January I donated blood for the first time. 
I've often thought I should donate, but always missed the boat.  I was never aware of when, where, or how to do it.  Then, my friend Kate stepped up and organized a local American Red Cross blood drive, posting the event on facebook. (One of the pros of social media is that it gives you the ability to reach many people!  I had never been contacted or notified of a blood drive before in my life.)  I eagerly jumped on board.
I'm so thankful for Kate's time and energy in doing this, and thankful that her efforts reached at least one new donor for life. (me)
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf

Why have I often thought I should donate blood?
Both of my parents have.  My mom is a regular donor, and I knew as I was growing up that my dad had been an important match for his teenage brother with Leukemia before I was born.
During my first pregnancy I learned that my blood type is B- which is a rarer blood type.  Knowing that, I've often thought maybe I should donate. 

I've only just now learned how needed it is.  I have the second rarest blood type, and the 2nd hardest to keep supplied, with only a 9% chance of finding a compatible donor.  (I learned one of my sisters is B- also. Very good to know.  She also donates!)

Once I began seeking information, I kept reading things like:
"As a B negative blood donor, you are unique due to the rarity of your blood.  Because your blood is rare, it is important to maintain sufficient supplies for our community and local patients.  In fact, only 1.5% of the population has B negative blood.  Your regular and frequent blood donations are especially valued."  And:  "Because your blood group is B Rhd negative, you are immensely important to our lifesaving work."

Immensely important.  Lifesaving.  Valued.
By doing something so simple, I can make a big difference!

I also read that the most powerful part of my blood is found in the red blood cells. To maximize lifesaving power, all B- donors are strongly encouraged to donate double red cells.
So, knowing little at the time, but eager to give a lot, I asked on the spot if I could do a double red cell donation.

Double red cell donors must meet blood volume and type requirements, as well as blood iron levels; they must have a slightly higher red cell count.
My hemoglobin was at a stellar level and I met requirements.  I was a prime candidate for double red cell donation. 

It was a breeze!  The staff was fantastic.  They told me I was really smiley. 
Double red cell donations take approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation, so I kicked back and relaxed.  I did get chilly toward the end.  The machine separates and collects two units of red cells and then safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back through the same arm.  The fluid returned to your body is room temperature, which can cool you down a bit.  But this is northern MN where a little chill is no big deal.  I felt perfectly well other than that.  I felt awesome!

I only wish I'd started donating years sooner.  But I'm educated on the need now, and I'm committed to donating regularly from here on out. 

Some facts:
♥  Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
♥  Although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do each year.
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
Blood that is required to assist surgical and cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, even prematurely born babies, cannot be created. It only is available through voluntary blood donation. - See more at: http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20150203/News/150209948#sthash.ZtThG8oR.dpuf
♥  A single blood donation can help save up to three lives.

The need is constant.  
While the holidays typically bring a slowdown to blood donations, this winter's flu outbreak and weather around the country have had a severe impact on blood supplies. 
There is currently an urgent need for all blood types. Many areas are are running dangerously low. 

To learn how you can give, visit the American Red Cross.
"Donating blood is the one true volunteer act that saves lives."

Peace, Love, and Life!