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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lizzy takes the plunge!

Posted by Brian C. Hedger
Hedgeradventures special correspondent

It starts like every other swimming class we've attended the past month.

Sickeningly buff teenage lifeguard hops into pool. Shivers for a few seconds. Flexes his muscles to put on a show for all the moms. Then, he invites his young students into the water as if it's like hopping into bath water.

So, Tuesday morning, Liz Hedger does what she normally does at that point. Removes the cotton cover up. Heads for the water. Then, before she gets in with her flashy sandals still on her feet, she's nabbed by yours truly, who rescues the sandals just in time.

"Daddy, do you think my Dora band-aid on my toe will come off in the water?"

"Let's not worry about it, OK babe? Let's just get you in the pool."


Then, she's off.

I start to get settled onto my perch on the end of a pool chair, figuring we're in for yet another day of stout refusals to go under water, pained expressions while "back floating," half-hearted kick board efforts and numerous attempts to flee the pool while Mr. Buff Lifeguard (Brenden) isn't looking.

For kicks, I bring along my swim goggles -- just in case Ms. Lizzy might want to wear them at some point.

At the very least, she'll look adorable, right?

So, the lesson starts. And all three of the students in what is obviously the slow learner's class begin kicking while holding onto the wall. Liz has this part down, primarily because her face comes nowhere near the water.

Then, Lifeguard Guy announces they're all going to go under the water. And just as the lone boy of the three-person "class" begins to weep (loudly), Lizzy hops out of the pool and makes a bee-line for me with eyes as big as saucers.

Brenden (the lifeguard) hunches his shoulders. I do the same back.

"Here we go again ... Liz, get back in the water please."

But then, a stunner. I start to go through my daily begging routine for Liz to at least try when she stops me mid-beg and says, "Dad? I just want to wear your goggles, OK?"

"What?" I say. "Oh, yes. The goggles. Right. Are you going to go under?"

She nods, looking just a little freaked out.

"But I want to keep the water out of my eyes."

As Clark Griswold once said, I couldn't be more stunned if I'd woken up with my head sewn to the carpet.

So, we strap up her goggles and off she goes. Brenden picks her up, she bravely pinches her nose and down they go.

It's brief, just a dip, but it's the first time she's gone all the way under without throwing an all-out scolding, kicking, screaming, coughing-like-she's-dying tantrum.

She even keeps her mouth closed, which is a big, big deal for her.

My theory?

She has a crush on Buffy the Lifeguard Lady Killer.

Typical woman.

But, whatever works I suppose. The rest of the lesson goes just as well. Liz kicks excitedly on the kick board. And she even paddles and kicks without it (as long as dear Brenden, man of her dreams, holds onto her).

She finishes by just barely beginning to jump into the pool without holding onto Brenden's hands first. It helps that she has his neck and shoulders to aim for, which she clings to once in the water.

Still, overall, what a great day. For her. For me. For Brenden, too, I suppose.

She tried everything bravely. She went under for a split second. She kicked and paddled. And, when she was the last one out of the pool in her "class" -- getting one more jump in with Brenden -- her daddy performed a very tastefully done fist pump from his perch on the pool chair.


Here are some pics. They're from my cell phone camera, so not great. But you get the idea. Next time I'll get one of her wearing my swim cap and goggles. Too cute.


Lizzy and Evelyn in remedial swim class. Evelyn can almost float. Lizzy can almost lean back into Brenden without looking like she's getting a root canal.

Go Lizzy, Go Lizzy. It's your birthday. Not really. You did it. Went under. No screaming. You rock! Uh-huh. That's right.

Lizzy paddles and kicks with her beau hunk Brenden.

Fully enjoying a Dairy Queen chocolate-dipped vanilla cone ... and the spoils of victory!

UPDATE: Oops, spoke too soon. Today (Wednesday) Liz took a step (several actually) backward. Refused to go under again ... but did keep progressing with the whole jumping into Brenden's arms.

Here are some updated pics from today (and yes, you're welcome ladies).

Swim cap? Check. Goggles? Check. Ready to go under again? Uh, no way bub. I'm outta here! Lizzy in full-on escape mode during "going under" time.

"Now this is more like it!"

"Jump! For your looove. Jumpin!"

"OK, so you're not Brenden. Marcus you say? You'll do."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Hedger goes to Hollywood

Posted by Brian C. Hedger
Hedgeradventures special correspondent

It wasn't exactly the way I'd always envisioned myself making it to Hollywood.

I drove a rented white Chrysler Sebring instead of a convertible Porche. I wasn't wearing sunglasses, let alone designer shades that are apparently quite popular on The Strip. And my two hot blondes were about 1,800 miles away in Indiana (one trying to get the other to stop putting things up her nose).

So, my first visit to LaLa Land could've been better. But it certainly could've been worse. It could've been me trying to dig the rock out of Lizzy's nostril. And she's very lucky it wasn't.

First, having this great point-and-shoot-on-steroids camera from work, I would've taken a photo of the lodged stone with the super zoom function.

And then, upon looking at it, I would've passed out.

So, I guess things really do happen for a reason.

Anyway, during my brief two days out in California, I got a lot done. I helped an Olympian sprinter move into a new apartment, interviewed him, got a few decent pictues of him practicing, wrote several stories about him, traversed the 405 and 5 highways with ease, drove to the Pacific Palisades via Sunset Blvd., and cruised the Pacific Coast Highway for a stretch.

I also took Sunset Blvd. back East, through Brentwood (O.J. murders)toward Bel Air (Fresh Prince land), Westwood (UCLA), Beverly Hills (Weezer, TV show from my youth) and, finally, Hollywood (Showbiz and Adult Entertainment capital of the Universe).

And no, I did NOT experience any of the latter, thank you. I did, however, spend a few minutes checking out the Scientology store, where I was actively recruited by two starlet looking women who were probably L. Ron Hubbard's kin.

Also, in my quest for a good photo of the Hollywood sign, I met actor Dorian Harewood on the Hollyridge Trail in what I assume was the Hollywood Hills area. His most famous big picture appearance was playing "Eightball" in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. He's also had recurring roles in a number of TV shows, including Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and 7th Heaven. And he played Jesse Owens in "The Jesse Owens Story."

I think his wife, Ann McCurry (who was also there) was Lt. Nara on Star Trek The Next Generation.

Anyway, here are some pics from the trip. Next time I do Hollywood, my two hot blondes are coming with me!

This is David Neville. He's from Merrillville, Ind., and now lives in Santa Clarita, Calif. He runs the 400 meters very fast. Olympic fast. Go for the gold, David!

You can never have too many pictures of the ocean. That's what I always say.

Any fan of "The Big Lebowski" knows why I took this one of the In 'N Out Burger. Dude.

I've decided that I need at least one obligatory flag shot in every batch of photos I post on here. Ha! So, here's one of the flag atop Capitol Records at dusk.

As Kid Rock might say, "Spent all my time at Hollywood and Vine ..."
That's where this one was taken.

Guess we know what the Hollywood seagulls think of smarmy former sportscaster-turned Access Hollywood talking head Pat O'Brien, eh?

Spidey clowning around with kids for "tips" in front of the famous Chinese Theater, where all the famous hand and footprints are in the concrete.

A few shots of the Hollywood sign taken from the Hollyridge Trail (a hiking and horseback riding trail). The last one is of me and Dorian Harewood, the actor. See if you recognize him.

Oh, I almost forgot what else I saw up on the Hollyridge Trail. There was a small film crew (two very strange-looking people) filming this guy who was dressed as an alien (complete with antennae). I watched them film their shot from afar, and the alien guy, who looked strangely similar to Mr. Spock, kept saying, "When I come back in the future, I want to be ..." and then I kept missing what his punchline was.

I imagined it was something like, "... a better actor than to be dressed up as an alien, with Dollar Store antennae on my head, saying stupid lines like this."

But I could be wrong.

Anyway, here's a pic of them from a distance. They didn't seem open to talking with ordinary human hikers like me, so I kept my distance. It's a dark shot, but you get the point I think.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Rocky Day

We had a delightful weekend until Sunday night. Brian headed off to California before the sun even rose on Sunday morning. Liz and I lounged about at our neighborhood pool for a few hours.

We'd finished dinner and were on a nice evening stroll to the park when Liz calmly said: "I have a rock in my nose." She said it with the same ease, she might mention that her shoe was untied.

Sure enough, there was in fact a tiny rock embedded in her right nostril. I hurried home to see if I could try and get it out. That wasn't going to happen. It was in part because of how far the rock had gone up her nose, combined with her tiny nasal passages.

Most readers of this blog know that kids with achondroplasia have tiny nasal passages, and I tend to think Liz's are even on the "more narrow side" if that's possible.

I called the doctor and he confirmed we needed to head to the ER. Off, we went.

It took several tries by the ER doctor and three of us to hold down a screaming Liz - before he finally got it out. He kept asking for smaller instruments. Obviously, there was a bit of blood but no damage - just some pain getting it out for Liz.

At her ER visit, Liz got a coloring book about visiting the hospital along with crayons, a teddy bear, a Popsicle and lots of adoring comments. I got the rock that I'll keep as a reminder about sticking foreign objects in one's body. Though, to be honest, I don't think I need to be reminded, but maybe it'll find it's place in a scrapbook.

I kept trying to remind Liz about the lessons we learned. As she was sobbing after the "extraction process" I asked her what we learned, and her response through sobs was "to be brave."

Yes, that's an important lesson. But what was I hoping she would say is that she learned not to put anything in her nose, ear, etc...

I think it may take a bit for that lesson to sink in. I was working from home today and went downstairs at snack time. I got Liz some string cheese and I had some fruit. While we were eating, Liz's babysitter looked up - stunned and said: "Liz, don't put that string cheese in your nose. Do you want to go to the ER again?"

Yikes. Talk about a stubborn child. And, it truly is amazing how quickly it happens.

I'm afraid she might be remembering fond memories of getting a bear and ice cream from her ER visit. So, we had more talks today about the "painful" extraction process and how we don't ever want to do that again.

Hopefully, a lesson has been learned. Ultimately, time will tell.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pool time with Lizzy and Mommy

So, I've finally done it. I've added a contribution to the now infamous Hedgeradventures blog that my beautiful wife, Lisa, started. This is Brian, her husband (and Lizzy's dad/servant).

These are a couple of pics I took the past few days as practice shots for my pending trip to Los Angeles to write about and photograph Olympic sprinter David Neville, who is from Northwest Indiana.

Personally, my favorite shots are the one of Liz screaming about not wanting to go under the water with mommy and the one of her little caboose sticking out while trying to pick up her toys at the pool.

Actually, that's not entirely true. My "favorite" shot was deleted off the camera before any of Lisa's former co-workers at the Post-Tribune could see her in a full-length bathing suit shot. Let's just say it was a great shot of a pretty lady poolside wearing her black "Baywatch" swimsuit very well. ;)

Enjoy the pics ...

Huge waving flag at sunset in Merrillville that's anchored outside a Tire Barn down the street from where I work.

"No!! I don't want to go under! It will hurt me!!"

A much happier Liz ...

Say cheese! And ... maybe ... say ... hold your nose let's go under the water?

Baby Liz got back ...