The 47th Year

The 47th year starts today for me. I’ve waited and wondered for the past 23 & 21 years if I would make it to this year and even more so will I make it past the 47th year into and beyond the 48th year. You see both my parents passed away when they were 47 years old. Since their passing I’ve been living with this thought. It’s a thought that I think about each day and don’t take any day for granite.

When I was in my twenty’s of course I thought my parents were old. Everyone thinks that way, eh? I’m hear today to let you in on a secret so listen up you youngsters. 47 is not old. Old is a relative term and I believe you are as old as you feel or act. I don’t feel old at all and I sure don’t act old. I sit here and think about how 47 really is young and I can’t believe my parents died so young, I surely wouldn’t want to pass away now. They were just getting into the prime of their lives with the kids being gone from home and them having enough money to finally travel and do things that they wanted to do. That time was short lived but I am so glad they got to do the few things that they did. There are two things that crosses my mind when I am thinking about doing something or going somewhere’s is that you only live once and life if to darn short. You need to go out and make the best of it and enjoy each day, so that is what I do. If I want to travel I travel, if I want to buy something I buy something. You just never know when your time is up on this earth so go out and make it a great day!

My brother passed the 47th year hump a year and three quarters ago, so I shall to pass that hump. Stop back a year from now and find out. Until then Happy Birthday to me and I’ll be celebrating life to the fullest!




Served Like a Girl (2017)

On this Veterans Day it’s only appropriate I give a shout out to the girls of Served Like a Girl. I want to thank each and every one of them and each and every Veteran for their service to this country.

Director Lysa Heslov’s documentary, “Served Like a Girl, provides a candid look at several American women as they transition from active duty to civilian life after serving tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our wounded U.S. female service personnel often return to a stark reality, one that is rarely discussed or considered. Struggling with PTSD, homelessness, broken families, serious illness, physical injuries, and the aftermath of military sexual abuse, these amazing women find ways to adapt and overcome debilitating challenges through participation in the “Ms. Veteran America” competition. Guided by event founder and veteran, Jas Boothe, the women leverage their experiences gained through competition to recover the parts of themselves and their personal identities they had lost on the battlefield. Called “Engaging, Honest and Powerful,” this film is a beautiful tapestry interlaced with poignant moments, social commentary, and humor.

Nichole Alred is one of the woman Veterans in the film. I am proud to say that we’ve been Facebook friends for over 10 years, our love for Chesapeakes brought us together. We haven’t met in person yet but hopefully in the next year that will change. I’ve enjoyed following along with the long hard process it was for her and the other girls to be noticed and to be picked as the girls in the film. I can’t wait to watch this documentary these gals deserve to have their stories heard and seen.

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Served Like a Girl is a film that allows us to take an intimate look inside the lives of 5 women veterans. The women share stories of what it is like being a woman in a war zone, being sexually assaulted, and overcoming odds, all the while having you laugh out loud. Lysa Heslov (the director) does an beautiful job at allowing the veterans to tell their stories without putting any kind of twist on it. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. *Nichole

Served Like a Girl – The Girls, read their bio’s here.

Follow on     Facebook     Instagram    Twitter      #servedlikeagirl

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Served Like A Girl DVD – get it on Amazon. I got mine today!

Served Like a Girl soundtrack – get it here.

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They ALL donated songs for us!! Christina Aguilara, Pink, Pat Benetar and Lynda Perry wrote “Dancing Through the Wreckage” just for the film. *Nichole

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Speaking of Final Salute Inc. meet the founder:

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Jas is a Chicago Native, disabled veteran, cancer survivor, and international speaker who served 17 years in the Army. She founded Final Salute in 2010 and the Ms Veteran America competition in 2012, which have collectively raised over $2 million and assisted over 3600 women veterans and children in over 30 states and territories. In honor of her leadership and positive impact on the community, Boothe has been recognized by Oprah Winfrey, Toyota, People Magazine, CNN Heroes, and The Department of Defense.

Read an article written by Jas here, after reading this you will understand why this film was created.

Follow on Facebook   Twitter    #finalsalute

I salute you Veterans!


Life’s Simplest Moments {This Moment} See Beautiful

Last night while hanging on the couch relaxing from a day of work then a little dog training I look over to this moment.

Glory on her back in heaven because John was rubbing her belly. Each time he rubbed her right paw would go up in a wave motion. He loves his Glory girl and I love seeing these moments.

This morning while making a stop in my way to dog training I had to stop and take a moment to capture one of my favorite sites in Montello. This waterfall is such breath taking sitting in the middle of town. Would love to just sit in the park with my dogs and take in the peaceful moment, I can’t thou as the park doesn’t allow dogs so I’ll just look at the picture and dream.

Hope you all have a See Beauiful day!

{This Moment} See Beautiful is a once a month Blog Hop, every 2nd Friday of the month. simply create a blog post that made your day, week, and/or month … inspiring you in Seeing Beauty. Blog Hop inspired by See Beautiful.


Sand Spring Chesapeakes Is Now An AKC Breeder of Merit


Sand Spring Chesapeakes Is Now An AKC Breeder of Merit

It all started in 2000 when we got our foundation stud Norman. We knew we wanted to become breeders so we did all that we could to ensure the success with Norman. We followed the guidelines in what the American Chesapeake Club recommended for proper health clearances on breeding stock, we knew we wanted to produce hunting dogs that would excel in any performance events as well as be structurally sound, correct conformation and live a long healthy life. In order to do all this besides health clearances we needed to “prove” our dogs have/had  what it takes to be great hunting/performance dog so the hunt test game began. We started training Norman in hunt tests when ready we would enter him so we could eventuality get his titles to “prove” he had what it took instead of just saying “we have the best hunting dog out there”. Norman went on to become our first UKC HRCH Finished and AKC Master Hunter titled dog.

Foundation Stud Norman

We bred Norman and got our foundation bitch Nellie in 2004. We continued on doing everything correctly with Nellie so we could breed her in the future. We completed her health clearances and started entering her in hunt tests as well. She went on to be our second dog with a UKC HRCH Finished and her AKC Senior Hunter title.

Foundation bitch Nellie

We chose a stud dog that we thought would compliment Nellie and have puppies that would better the breed. Our first litter was December of 2007. Nellie went on to have a total of 3 litters, 17 puppies in the end.

Nellie and Rebel 2007 puppies. Litter of 7

Nellie and Tiny 2009 puppies. Litter of 6

For Nellie’s last litter we chose a stud dog that we wanted to continue in our breeding program. We knew we would spay her after this litter so we would need a bitch to keep the Sand Spring line going. We kept  the little red girl and she became known as Glory.

Nellie and Lefty 2011 puppies. Litter of 4

Before breeding Glory, we ensured all her health clearances were up to par and started training her for hunt tests and so far have gotten her UKC HR Seasoned and AKC Senior Hunter titles. Glory we started doing other events with with, we went on to get her UKC Conformation title and her AKC Canine Good Citizen and Community Canine titles, Therapy Dog Novice and Temperament Test title. She is one of my therapy dogs.

Glory and Thunder 2015 puppies. Litter of 8

Nellie’s great maternal instinct was certainly passed down to Glory as she was the best mom you could ask for with her two litters she has had. As long as Glory is healthy we will have another litter with her this fall/winter.

So where as all this breeding gotten us? It has gotten us after 10 years the AKC Breeder of Merit accomplishment.

The following must be met in order to be accepted into the program:

  • Has a history of at least 5 years involvement with AKC events.
  • Earned AKC Conformation, Performance or Companion* event titles on a minimum of 4 dogs from AKC litters they bred/co-bred in each breed applied for.
  • Member of an AKC club.
  • Certifies that applicable health screens are performed on your breeding stock as recommended by the Parent Club.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to ensuring 100% of the puppies produced are individually AKC registered.

*Applied for titles, i.e. CGC, Barn Hunt, Working titles, etc., do not meet event requirements. 

We couldn’t be more proud to have had 3 generations of Sand Spring puppies in our house at one time. This past spring we said good bye to our foundation bitch Nellie, she was a great ambassador to our breeding program and taught me so much, without her there would be no continuation of Sand Spring.

Sand Springs letter explaining the benefits of the Breeder of Merit Program.

Glory is continuing on the tradition and soon her daughter Guilty will be entered into our breeding program pending her health clearances and performance titles. Guilty already has started her therapy dog career and has her AKC Therapy Dog Novice title as well as her Canine Good Citizen along with her UKC Conformation title and Dock Dog Novice title.

Our certificate.

Norman, Nellie and Glory have all had offspring that have gotten performance, conformation and companion event titles. There offspring are still going strong and I have to take a moment to thank their owners for training and entering their dogs in various events. Without them I too would not be where I am today. At Sand Spring we strive to always better ourselves in our dogs. We are learning as we go and hope to be passing on our knowledge to our puppy buyers so they can make informed decisions on their pups. In 2015 we have implemented the Puppy Culture way of raising our puppies as well as started doing Early Neurological Stimulation on our puppies.

USJ HRCH U-GRCH Sand Spring’s Ev’ry Paw’s A Winner MH THDN CGCA TT TKI – Gambler

Our foundation stud Norman is no longer with us either but he lives on in the swimmers we have in storage waiting for future use and lives on in his children especially Gambler who is now the living stud dog at Sand Spring. Norman was my heart dog and I never thought a dog could out do Norman but his son has proven to have out did his old man in accomplishing so much more in performance and companion events. He also has offspring that are playing the hunt test game and hopefully soon they will be getting titles and proving their worth out in the field.

We will proudly display the AKC Breeder Of Merit Banner on our website and continue to breed to the standards of the AKC and the American Chesapeake Club.

AKC Breeder of Merit Participants demonstrate a commitment to the AKC Community, dedication to their breed(s), and actively promote the sport of purebred dogs. The AKC is proud to recognize AKC Breeders who are dedicated to breeding beautiful purebred dogs whose appearance, temperament, and ability are true to their breed. These breeders are the heart of AKC. *AKC website*

Rest Easy Sweet Girl

Nellie was laid to rest on March 16, 2017. She’s been hanging out in our living room by Norman’s memorial. Since this weekend is Memorial Day weekend and we remember those who gave their lives for us which my dad was one of those people I thought it was only fitting that Nellie be put to rest at her final resting place by my dad. My dad isn’t the only one at this special place, my mom my dads mom and dad, Norman and various other animals along with my best friend Susie are all resting in this remote secret location. I go here to think and just be alone.

I never opened Nellie’s cremation box until yesterday. I took some of her fur and her ashes and spread them in the same place I spread everyone else. John and I cleaned up the memorial. I feel Nellie is with all my loved ones and is watching me from above.

Before and after.

Thank you dad and all the other soldiers for your time in the service. Peace to all!

We are joining Dachshund Nola & Sugar The Golden Retriever for the Black and White Sunday Blog Hop.

Happy Earth Day ~ Tribute To My Dad

Happy Earth Day Everyone. Every Earth Day since 1994 is the Anniversary of my dad’s passing. Each year I plant a tree for Earth day and in memory of my dad. My grandparents owned a 24 acre wooded piece of property that they gave to my dad and now my brother and I own it. It is called Bradley Branches and the Bradley’s that have passed rest there. Grandpa, Grandma, Dad, Mom, many of my parents pets as well as my pets rest there as well. Nellie will be the next pet of mine to be laid to rest with the other loved ones.

Go out and enjoy this Earth Day and please respect it, it’s the only one we have and if we don’t take care of it we won’t have it.

The Twenty Years – Reflections And An Upcoming Milestone After Parents Deaths

The Twenty Years – Reflections And An Upcoming Milestone After Parents Deaths – Part 2

Mom was released from the hospital, she came home to spend the rest of her life at home. I took care of her, my brother’s wife took care of her, family and friends came to visit. Hospice was brought in and this was my first experience with hospice. What a wonderful organization I am so glad they are here for us. During this time my mom and I talked, reminisced and spent a lot of time telling each other how much we loved each other. Since I was spending 24 hrs a day with mom she spent a lot of time filling me in on things, like what keys were for what item, where important papers were, dates on the calendar that she had stuff going on, most of all she had a lot of antiques that were her mom and dad’s so she made sure she told me about each and every one of them. Today I am so glad that she did that otherwise I would of just packed up those trinkets and got rid of them not knowing the significance of them. Mom got weaker and weaker so together we planned her funeral. The hospice nurses would tell me what phases of death she was going through and what to expect. My mom’s brother was driving in from California, she was not responding much the nurse told me that sometimes they hold on for people they love. She also remembered that my first wedding anniversary was coming up on March 22 and that under no circumstances was I to have the funeral on my anniversary and she told me John and I had to go out for a nice supper. My sister-in-law and brother were expecting their second child at this time. Mom wanted to know the sex of the baby before she passed so Lynn had a ultrasound so she could tell our mom the sex of the baby. The night before my mom passed my sister-in-law came over to spend the night and give me a break, my brother spent the night as well it was at that time they told her the sex of their baby. I went upstairs to sleep for the first time since mom came home. That next morning after my brother and John went to work mom passed away. She put up a good fight but she passed before my uncle made it to town. I feel she waited for me to not be by her side since I was by her side the whole time. The doctor had a pretty good prediction as she passed away three weeks to the day of her operation from a sarcoma that arose from her radiation treatment she had in her late twenty’s to treat her ovarian cancer.

My mom died 20 years ago on March 19, 1997, my dad passed away 23 years ago on April 22, 1994. Both parents passed away when they were 47 years old. In the early years after my mom passed I happened to be watching a interview with Madonna talking about her mother’s death at such a young age and she said she will not have closure until she has outlived the age her mom was when she died. That interview has stuck with me for the past 20 years. It’s another thing I think about each and every day. Will I live to make it to 47, will I die before 47, will I die at 47 just like my parents did. 47 seems to be the magic number. I am happy to say my brother has surpassed the age that our parents died at. He is now 48 years old and going strong! I am so close to my brother (it helps we only live 3 miles from each other). Now that we have gotten older I see so much of my dad in my brother it makes it feel like he is right with us. I have now come to the year I’ve been thinking about for the past 20 years. This year in November will mark my 47th Birthday. You will have to follow along to see if I make it past the age of 47 or will I be cursed like my parents, a huge milestone that I have been carrying around with me. Hopefully I will make it and on November 19 a day after my Birthday I can start a new life of not thinking about when I’m going to die all the time. I will have surpassed the age of both of my parents deaths and I can finally have closure and know I have out lived them.

Another thing I have often though about during these years is about not saying good bye to my dad and the precious time I had with my mom. I’ve had the experience to witness death both ways and have tried to wrap my mind around which one is the best way of going. I would have to say that it was better for me to have the chance to say good bye to a loved one. It was for a very short time but at least we got to say good bye. As we were cleaning out my dad’s things we would come across things that we had no idea what they were for and wished he was around to ask. So when mom went around and told me all kinds of things it made the transition to cleaning out her things so much easier. You usually don’t have a say in when, where and how a person dies but at least hopefully you can find comfort in it. If I would have to do it all over again I wouldn’t want my dad’s death to be a surprise I would of wanted to have a few days to spend with him alive to say I love you and till we meet again peace be with you. I’m sure I will still think about my parents each and every day from this day forward but come Nov 18th I can put one thing behind me move on and think of something else to worry about for the next 20 years.


The Twenty Years – Reflections And An Upcoming Milestone After Parents Deaths

The Twenty Years – Reflections And An Upcoming Milestone After Parents Deaths – Part 1

Early morning of April 22, 1994 the call from my mother I hoped would never happen. It wasn’t a bad dream it was real even know it felt like a bad dream. “JoAnn”, yes mom, you need to get to the hospital I am here with your dad and their working on him. During this time in my life I was 23 years old working and living in Milwaukee. I hung up the phone, gathered up some things and headed up North to the hospital where the ambulance took my dad. My dad since 1989 was being treated for kidney failure which was in part caused by a genetic disease Poly Cystic Kidney Disease and untreated high blood pressure that caused him to have a stroke that lead to his diagnosis. He recovered from the stroke, was being treated for his high blood pressure and then started his new life of treating his kidney failure which back in the day was by peritoneal dialysis which is where they inserted a tube into this abdominal wall which would stay there and he would administer fluid into the abdomen, leave it there to work its magic by  clearing the toxins from the blood caused by the kidney failure. The solution would then be drained out and the process done over and over until one day my dad got very sick was admitted to the hospital to find out his intestine was perforated, a complication from the peritoneal dialysis. He had emergency surgery to remove the affected intestine, the dialysis tube was removed and they prepped his arm for hemodialysis. He would now have to go to a clinic and spend 3-4 or longer hours there having a machine clean the toxins from his blood three times a week. He was then put on the kidney transplant list where he waited for a call that they found him a kidney. During this time Grandma (dad’s mother) went in and was tested for a potential live donor. She was refused as she was pre diabetic. My mom tried and was refused to. Other family members weren’t considered because of the genetic PKD. I tried to get tested but they wouldn’t even consider me since I was a girl in her twenty’s and I hadn’t had children yet so they wouldn’t take my kidney. I tried to tell them that I wasn’t going to have children but they said I didn’t know that for sure at that age. To think I am now 46 and still don’t have or want children, and they thought I didn’t know at that age what I wanted. This is one thing that bothers me the most is that the doctors made up their mine that I couldn’t help my dad when all I wanted was to help him.

As I was driving up to the hospital all I thought about was my dad being at peace. I knew deep down that he wasn’t going to be coming home. I arrived at the hospital, went in to see my dad and my mom told me he was already gone. I kissed his cheek told him he was at peace now, no more doctor visits, no more pain. I left there empty as I never got to say goodbye and his life at 47 was taken to young. I was feeling very selfish the upcoming years as I was just starting my adult life and doing so many things and adventures and I didn’t have my dad, my best friend there to share my experiences with. You see I was a daddy’s girl, he taught me how to bowl, taught me how to play softball, taught me how to hunt and most of all taught me how to enjoy life and make everything fun. He could make anyone in the room laugh and you could hear his distinctive laugh a mile away.  He was full of life for such a short time. We had to learn a new normal, my mom had to learn how to live without her husband, my brother and I had to learn how to live without our dad. Dad passed away from complications from the kidney failure. The learning to live only lasted three years…..

The end of February 1997 I got another call from my mom. This time I was living with my husband John and we were living closer to my old home. “JoAnn”, yes mom, I haven’t been feeling well so I called the ambulance and they are taking me to the hospital. I was at work in Milwaukee at the time so by the time I got to the hospital they already had my mom in surgery for what they thought was an obstruction in the bowels. While I waited for the surgery to be over I thought about how it has been only three short years since my dad passed away. In those three years I moved closer to my mom so we could spend time together more often. She would make meals and bring them to John and I when we got home from work. We would go shopping, we would spend time with her first grandchild Brittany. She continued to work selling Avon to her customers and working in different restaurants. She was there for me when I got married. We at this point in our lives became best friends and I was so happy to be able to share my adult life with my mom. We didn’t get along well when I was growing up because she was trying to teach me about values, morals, how to be a decent person, the difference between right and wrong all the stuff a parent should teach their children. They aren’t there to be your best friend they are there to be your parent and hope like hell what they are teaching you sticks. I of course had to be a rebel and think my mom didn’t know what was best for me so we butted heads a lot. I think we were mad at each other more times than not mad. Through it all she never abandoned me, she was my biggest cheerleader at all my gymnastics meets, she continued to love me when I pushed her away.

The surgeon came in and told us what he found during the operation. There was a blockage in the intestine it was because she had a tumor that caused the blockage and they found that the cancer had spread throughout her body. They removed the tumor did a colostomy and told us it didn’t look good. He predicted that she could have anywhere’s from 1 to 3 weeks to live. What does one do with this type of information? One does everything possible to get everything arranged as fast as you could as you don’t know how much time you have. I ended up taking a leave of abscess from work, I packed up John’s and my rental house and moved everything into my mom’s house so I could be there with her when she was able to come home from the hospital. You hurry up and get a living trust together so her belongings don’t have to go to probate, you get a power of health care and a power of attorney set up. You contact her boss and tell them she won’t be coming back ever and contact all the people close to her. You go through the motions so fast that you don’t even take the time to understand what is all happening and why. When my mom was awake from surgery and after the doctor had talked to her about what he found I was sitting by her side and she looks and me and says “I’m sorry for being so hard on you while you were growing up”. I looked her in the eyes, hugged her and told her it was ok, it was because of how she raised me that I am the person I am today. Those words have stuck by me for the past 20 years. I think of them each day and am sad that I was so hard on my mom all those years prior. It’s nothing I can change now but move forward knowing we both loved each other very much.

Stop back tomorrow to read Part 2.