Baby’s Got a Brand New Name

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Sims scampering across the pasture.

A new baby horse changes things.  It guarantees that no day is a bad day because there is always that foal waiting to be petted, to try to bite you with his two tiny teeth, to try to kick you with his wee little hooves (which still leave a mark!) and always has new antics to show you. I waited for this baby in my life for a long time. He is all I ever dreamed about.

I promise this is the last time I will complain that another Flagmount baby stole our name. We wanted and expected to use the name Flagmount’s Reflection (it made perfect sense for us with the father being Flagmount and my mare being Blonder Reflection).   But a baby born weeks before us grabbed that name and it is gone.

Horse names maybe approved in many ways.  One is  by the breed registry.  The Jockey Club approves all the Thoroughbred horse names.  The American Quarter Horse Association,  the quarter horses,  and so on.  But there are also show registries that do not allow for any duplications of names.  So, common horse names are probably not available as a choice.

We register and compete in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).  One measure of the success of a sire is how many of his progeny are competing at top levels.  Most of these horses shown below are from the sire we used, Flagmount’s Freedom, unless they were from Flagmount’s King, who is Flagmount’s Freedom sire, or the grand-sire of most of this group. 

This is what is out in the USEF registry today.

Horse Name in USEF Sire as shown
FLAGMOUNT’S AMAZING GRACE Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S ANNABELLE Flagmount’s King
FLAGMOUNT’S COOL CUSTOMER Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S DEVIOUS DIVA not shown
FLAGMOUNT’S FREEDOM Flagmount’s King
FLAGMOUNT’S FRINGE BENEFIT Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S HARMONY Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S HEARTBREAKER Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S IRISH FREEDOM Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S IRISH RIVERSTONE Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S LIBERTY not shown
FLAGMOUNT’S NIGHTCAP Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S REFLECTION Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S SEMPER FI Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S SPARTAN Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S STERLING PRINCE Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S TEMPTRESS Flagmount’s Freedom
FLAGMOUNT’S TOY IMAGE Flagmount’s King
FLAGMOUNT’S TRADEMARK Prite of Gloster
FLAGMOUNT’S UPTOWN LUCK Flagmount’s Freedom

We reviewed this list for inspiration. We took name suggestions from readers. We looked up lists of synonyms for Reflection.  We even came up with a name based upon my three year-old granddaughter’s response to a Fire Ball cinnamon jaw breaker I talked her into trying (it was not pretty) and really thought we would go with the red colt and Flagmount’s Fire Ball.  We even ordered a stall name plate.  But I did not go register the name on USEF.  I still thought something else was out there.

I almost hate to admit this but when I have had some downtime (like hip replacements, shoulder surgeries, broken ribs) I have come to enjoy the TV show NCIS.  The main character is a retired marine.  Ally’s father-in-law was a Marine-a Vietnam Vet.  Our trainer was a Marine, although all of them would tell you that once a Marine, always a Marine.  My long time best friend has two sons that are active duty in the Marines.  The Marine’s motto is Semper Fi- from the Latin Semper Fidelis-Always Faithful.

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After checking that it would not be disrespectful on any front to name a horse after the Marine Corp motto, we decided this big colt could be a lot of things but we would always be faithful to do the best for him, and hopefully he would be faithful to Lauren to turn in his best performance every time. We could ask little more from him.

Plus, his barn name Sims, although spelled differently in respect to Sherre Sims, it does fit the “Sem” part of Semper Fi.  At three weeks of age, this colorful, buoyant, tender and terrible (watch those teeth!) colt is already nearly 12 hands high.  Seriously.  He has gained 25 pounds a week for the last two weeks to bring him to just short of 180 pounds.  Just think of what is in mare’s milk to let these babies grow like this!  It is amazing and endearing.

Welcome-Flagmount’s Semper Fi!! I cannot wait to hear that name over the loud speakers as he enters the arena.

Thank you to all of you that have ridden along and supported us in this dream.

River Rises and Falls-the Colt Grows

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We jokingly talked about a life preserver for baby Sims (this is not him!) but it really wasn’t funny.

Throughout a desperate week we were threatened by the Bravos River flooding and expanding onto our farm.  Coupled with that were days and days of rain forecasted with daily amounts of rainfall in multiple inches.  Friends all around us were abandoning their properties and evacuating their horses to higher, dryer ground.

As close as our neighbor, two properties away, the river rolled up to his door flooding his home and heading for our street.  We talked with our friend Caroline almost directly across the river from us.  She had talked to the Emergency Management folks and made a decision as early as the first Saturday (the 28th) to evacuate her horses.  Lauren then became best friends with the Emergency Management team.  Calling sometimes several times a day, Lauren kept up with rise of the river.  I am pretty sure they knew her by name.

But they did a good job and they gave us accurate information. The roads closed more and more each day.  Finally, I just stayed home from work for fear I could not get back across the river to the farm. It was super stressful as we watched the river rise-seeing the river from our window was a little daunting.  And yet we were so lucky.  So many lost everything.  Animals drowned.  Homes were destroyed.

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The Bravos River at Highway 90A coming up almost to the bridge

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Our neighbor’s property as the River proceeds to the road

We rode out the flood and all stayed dried.  I enjoyed the time I had to get to know the new colt, Sims, as he grew and changed each day.  We caught up on some family time, seeing Ally and the girls, talking with Amber almost daily. As crazy as it seems, our arena stayed fairly dry.  Jordyn got rides in on her new horse, Diva, while I got back in the saddle on Nova.

But mostly after counting our blessings and trying not to lose our minds with worry, we just hung out with the baby.  Nothing like a new foal to keep your mind on happy!  In these first two weeks he has gained 25 pounds (and I thought only I could do that!) and has grown several inches.  Here is his cuteness—he is so friendly and adorable!

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Like momma like baby-look at his reach with those legs!

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Legs?

 

Thank you to all the family and friends that continued to check on us and pray for us!!

We appreciate it so much.  Continue riding along for more shots of baby Sims!

 

The Big, Red Colt

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Long legs, huge hip, solid shoulders and big ears make up my big, red, colt-baby Sims.

I ran the color genetics for Fargo (a palomino) and Flag (a gray).  Of course, I did. Gray is dominant and the chance of the baby being gray was over 60% according to the University of California-Davis.  But Gray horses, are not born.  It is a color that horses turn.  A horse can be any color at birth and become gray.  And UC-Davis factored that in as well.  So, I hoped for my favorite, a buckskin.  I hoped for a smoky black colt.  I longed for some white legs and Fargo’s trademark blaze (that she passed along to Betty Sue).  But never in my daydreams of this baby, did a red colt come to my mind.

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Here is the actual color calculation.  Gray is shown as the final color of the coat along with the color in parenthesis that the horse will be born. 

The chance of Sims staying my big, red horse are only 6.25%.  I am not aware of any Flag horse that is a chestnut (horse word for red).  So, Lauren will probably get her longed for gray Flag horse to match Feather.  Clearly, I did not get my 9.38% of a chance at a buckskin.

But that is all okay.  Sims is finally here!!  Sneaking in to be born as Lauren watched Grey’s Anatomy and I was at work.  (Someone suggested calling him Flagmount’s Grey’s Anatomy, but Lauren vetoed that!)  He is healthy, straight legged, big and super friendly.

A word about his barn name.  Sherre Sims befriended us during the Wharton years.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  She fought bravely and hard.  But cancer won.  She was one of the best people I ever knew.  So this is our tribute to her.

We are still arguing about his show name.  It will be Flagmount’s something  just like Feather is Flagmount’s Irish Freedom.  I will update you on that. Feel free to add suggestions, please!

Here are some more pictures.  Thank you for all you that have followed this boy from conception to life.  It is pretty awe inspiring.

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Mama Fargs saying”this huge thing came out of me?”

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At least he sleeps sometimes!

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We had some issues with Fargo being under the weather right after the baby came.  I cannot tell you how proud I was of my two daughters, Ally and Lauren, as they tirelessly took care of the baby, hour by hour, as the antibiotics took hold and mama Fargs got better.  I know if Amber had been here, I would have seen a truly top notch team as she is my certified International Lactation Consultant daughter and she would have known just what to do to help Sims keep eating to stay alive.

There was never any whining or complaining even as they tired and wanted to quit.  They were both already madly in love with this big red colt and nothing was stopping them.

We are so grateful to welcome Sims to Six Meadow Farm.  Expect big things from him! We are.

Thanks for riding along.

Easter Baby!

mom and baThe last time we talked, I told you all that I hoped there would be a new baby foal for us and that you all would have a happy Easter.  Well, I don’t know about you but that wish definitely worked for us!

Of course, I slept through Lynn’s call as I had not moved my phone off silent yet as Lynn was convinced that she had a few more days until TeeDee would have her first baby.  Lynn had a busy veterinarian day and was fighting insomnia as she dimly watched tv. She heard a yell that could only come from a delivering momma and raced out to find not only had TeeDee delivered but the that the baby had never even hit the ground.  Apparently she landed on her feet and took off from there.  There was not a  speck of dirt on the baby as Lynn inspected her.

Instead, the foal was already trotting and cantering around the pasture.  TeeDee was experiencing that “I am a brand new mom and have no idea what to do” panic.  Momma was racing around whinnying and trying to absorb that this little (okay-not that little) object had just emerged from her uterus.

By the time Lauren and I got about six hours later, things had calmed down.  Baby was napping and momma was on the watch for those nasty gelding interlopers that kept looking at her baby over the fence. She was typically protective for a first time mom but not overly mean.  Lauren and I helped Lynn get the first baby exam done.  Names were flying around on Facebook commemorating the Easter nature of her birth.  I did not expect Lynn to go with a “Bunny”, “Lily” or “Hoppy”.

Lauren did her first baby holding as Lynn took vitals, ran the IgG, weighed and measured the leggy, big shouldered filly.  I entertained TeeDee while the baby got some more time being imprinted by Lynn.

The foal was a shade over 9 hands and about 105 pounds.  She is solid brown with no white on her, an exact duplicate of her momma.  Flagmount’s grey may well be hidden under the brown coat although I don’t see the tell-tale grey around her eyes.  She was quite the little charmer, yawning, smiling and primping for the camera.  She has an interesting swirl on her forehead that one of my friends described as looking like a Cinnabon.  I remember reading about one Grand Prix rider that only buys horses for the Grand Prix that have at least two swirls on their forehead.  This little should be super jumper with her giant swirl.

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Look at that swirl and those shoulders!

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I swear she was smiling at us!

My Easter day was untraditional as I played with the baby and did chores at home.  I ran over to Ally’s long enough to drop off some Easter baskets and pick up a “to-go” Easter dinner.

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Tuesday was get the new dog from the airport day.  I headed to Bush Intercontinental Airport to pick up a dog from Kentucky.  Lady, a seven year old, AKC Grand Champion was coming to live out her years with my family.  It is unclear at this point if she will stay with Lauren and I or head to Denver to be with Amber’s family.  Amber had taken a quiz to find the best dog for her and the answer was…an American Foxhound.  Sort of a giant Beagle with a calmer approach to life.

me and

Out of the crate at the airport, Lady’s nose worked overtime to categorize all the new smells.

Although it took two hours to get home in rush hour traffic, Lady just curled up and slept.  She must have smelled funny, though, as all my dogs were growling at the newcomer including my Kona.  But quickly, everyone settled into the pack like no change had been made.  Lady has never been around kids, per se, so part of this time in Texas is to see if she is sweet and kind.

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Lady and Kendyll made quick friends and happily enjoyed their first day

I have had some apprehension with Lady, like would she see a squirrel and take off to never come back, but she has come when called, respected the fenceline well.  I don’t know if this will be a Colorado or Texas dog, but she is a really special “Lady” and I am glad my friends from Kentucky trusted us with their girl.

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Bigger than I anticipated, Lady is taller than the poodles or the Doberman.

 

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Clearly settling in well, she and her Doberman sister are happy campers!

Happy spring and thanks for riding along!

 

We’re Pregnant! In foal! Having a baby!

Blonder Reflection aka Fargo

Blonder Reflection aka Fargo

Yippee!  Indications are that the insemination of my RPSI German mare, Fargo, was successful.  We will check her again in three weeks.  I think Fargo is a lovely mare, standing about 16 hands.

Fargo showing off her pretty trot in the pasture.

Fargo showing off her pretty trot in the pasture.

Her breeding as the Oldenburg Rainbow’s granddaughter coupled with her strong sire Blonder Hans whose strengths are wonderful elasticity and impulsion with a brilliant  jumping career should be a fine fit with the Flagmount genes we know and love so well from our own mare Feather.

Fargo's sire Blonder Hans

Fargo’s sire Blonder Hans

Fargo has had some lovely babies in the past and we sure hope to have another next March. Personally, I am hoping that Fargo as a Palomino from a Palomino sire from a Palomino grandsire coupled with her Oldenburg grand-sire’s pinto markings might create a colorful Flagmount baby.  But I do not care!  Happy, healthy and sound is the ticket.

Here are some pictures of Flagmount’s Freedom-

At 16.3, this is a big, solid boy reminiscent of his sire Flagmount King

At 16.3, this is a big, solid boy reminiscent of his sire Flagmount King

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These are shots of Flag in action.  No wonder our Feather is so brave!
Truly great news to brighten the seemingly endless days of rain that we have had.  We should know if our OTTB mare TeeDee is pregnant by Flag this weekend.  What a delight that would be!  Thanks for riding along!

Flag and Fargo make a baby (we hope)

Lauren with Flagmount's Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Lauren with Flagmount’s Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Caution-this post involves details of horse breeding/insemination.  Parental Guidance suggested.

Last week started our push to get our German mare, Blonder Reflection (aka Fargo, aka Grandma) pregnant with Feather’s sire, Flagmount’s Freedom.  Flag is an Irish Sport Horse stallion standing in Bryan, Texas. I have other articles about him in my blog if you want to ‘search’ his name for more information.   This mating would produce a cousin to our yearling Betty Sue and a half-sibling to Feather.  Some crazy times at our farm, for sure! Still those a pretty special relatives.

Even though I have seen others go through this ritual, I was not quite prepared for the science of getting a mare pregnant now.  I hate to say it but back in my day, we turned them out in the pasture and got what we got next spring.  Now, the equine reproductive process rivals that of any major human Fertility Clinic in the US.

Once I made the commitment to move ahead with this breeding of Flag and Fargo, and she had received a clean bill of reproductive health, we had several steps to go through.  First, we had to get the mare to go into cycle-which involved an injection.  Then we started tracking her follicles. To me they looked a lot like odd shaped balls but what do I know?

Several at the barn got embroiled in the Fargo follicle process and asked each day what size Fargo’s follicles were. Identifying the follicle size involves a sonogram (ultra-sound) of the horse’s reproductive parts.

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

By Thursday we were getting close but didn’t know if Fargo would be ready for baby-making on Friday or on the weekend.  We asked Dr. Marden with Flag for a late Friday afternoon collection.  I have to admit I did enjoy posting on FaceBook that my daughter and her friend were en route to College Station to get some sperm. I found that pretty funny until I got some blowback from the father of Lauren’s under-18 friend.  But I am guessing he is telling the story at work so he can’t be too upset.

It was Lauren’s first time to see Feather’s dad in person.  She also got to meet Feather’s full sister and brother.  They are built a great deal like Feather but one is a bay and one a chestnut.  Lauren retrieved the vials of precious cargo and headed back to the farm.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lynn Criner was checking Feather to see if we were ready to breed, but she was not.  I was worried Friday as we stored the vials in the refrigerator until we could do another check on Saturday.  I hoped this mare that I knew so little about did not out wait the semen.  The semen in the best of worlds was good until maybe Sunday (or so I had been assured).  I was terrified the mare would take her time and have the perfect follicle on Monday.

Saturday, the rains blew through hard, causing some downed limbs and another three inches of accumulation. All the horses stayed in their stalls.  Lynn showed up mid-afternoon to check on Fargo.

I have worked for OB-GYNs off and on for many years.  I know my way around the female anatomy and sonogram images.  Not so much when I was reviewing the images on Lynn’s machine.  But by this point in the process, I could id the follicles but not a lot else.

As an aside, one of the ladies at the barn needed a pelvic ultra-sound for her own reproductive issues and I volunteered Lynn and her machine.  She choose to keep her appointment with the radiology team at the hospital.  We would have cleaned the probe first.  I promise.

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, the rains had stopped (for a while) the skies had cleared but no one but the two of us (the doc and myself) were at the barn.  We got Fargo to assume the position for seemingly the umpteenth time. I said silent prayers for follicle readiness.  And yes, glory be, we had lift off!! It was time to inseminate the mare!

The semen (I have typed this word more in the last two weeks than I ever have in my life) had been ‘cooled’ and it was time to warm it up prior to insemination.  I was told to put the syringes filled with Flag’s magic power next to my skin.  I asked, “Like in my pockets?”  No, I was told, next to your skin.

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

Then it was soon time for Fargo to take the magic vials from their warming position and have them injected into her.  This process required a lot of cleaning of mare parts and sterile procedures.

With the tail tied out of the way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag's swimmers to make a super foal.

With the tail tied out-of-the-way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag’s swimmers to make a super foal.

I swear Fargo brightened up remarkably as the syringe was emptied.  When the tube was removed, Fargo gave a huge sigh of satisfaction.  I wanted to ask her if she would like a cigarette or something.

Here’s to hoping we are on our way to lovely, kind, athletic, jumping-fool of a foal.  We should know more in the next couple weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Say a prayer.  For those of you wondering, horses carry approximately 342 days.  And you thought you had it bad.

Many thanks for riding along this journey with us!

On the Hunt for a Mare

Ally riding Mac.

Ally riding Mac, a registered Quarter horse.

My daughter Ally, mother of Kendyll and Jordyn, gets mentioned frequently on this blog, but not that often in the context of riding.  Ally started riding in grade school in Florida at a hunter/jumper barn.  When we bought our first Florida horse, and then her first Quarter horse, a Rugged Lark mare, she rode under the direction of Kit Kope who is now a top Paint Horse judge.  Something about that time with Kit has always stuck with her because Paint horses are hands down her favorite.

Since the loss of our horse Kid, and since moving to the new house, I have been on the look-out for a horse.  I know, I am always on the look-out for a top horse for little money, its what I do, but this time it is different.  I have put off my riding for Lauren’s riding or for buying a horse that would be quick to sell.  I ride a lot but I have no horse that is mine.  The same is true of Ally.  She wants to ride more now that we are close.  We have Mickey and Bruno.  Mickey is fine for me to ride, just not a horse I connect with too well, same for Ally.  His major forte is jumping and we are not interested.

And riding Bruno, well, I am hoping one of Ally’s Florida friends hits it off with him.  I would like to see him ridden more.  If not, I will be buying a big girth and saddling him up in my western barrel saddle.  He needs to be worked and I am a chicken (and old) so just going to go with what I am comfortable with.  He will be the largest western horse in history!

I also put down on my bucket list to have babies born on my own farm and while my daughters might comply, I am referring to horse babies.  My cousin reminds me not to wait too long.  As does the owner of Flagmount’s Freedom (Feather’s sire) whom I want to be the father of said babies.  So, I need a mare.

It would be even be more awesome if I could find in the horse I want to ride and share with Ally, to also be the mother of the horse babies.  I didn’t think I was asking a lot but apparently I am.

Here are a few I have looked at:

Try Delta-you know maybe I should.

Try Delta-you know maybe I should.

This is a three-year-old off the track thoroughbred that is the granddaughter of AP Indy (just like Bruno).  I love Bruno and this way Feather and Bruno would both be represented in this mare’s baby.There is a lot that is good about this mare, except she is three.  The last thing I want is a three year old to work with, especially to ride.  But…I am still checking to see if she has been sold and still can see her nicking well with Flag and producing quite a magnificent foal.  Then my vet just had to send me the text the day after the Derby that California Chrome is an AP Indy great-granddaughter. One more thing in this mare favor, except, then I remember she is three.

I have been all over the usual horse sale sites.  In a perfect world, I am looking for a 15.2 to 16.1 hand paint, quarter horse or thoroughbred that is not the heavy stocky look but the more refined, lighter boned variety.  Oh, and one that has great ground manners, is quiet and easy to ride.  Anyone have one of those?  Because it is not going well in my search.

I got real excited to learn a local thoroughbred breeder was going to close her business.  Off Lauren, Ally and I went to check out three horses that promised to be exactly what we wanted.

Ladifa

Ladifa

This mare had several foals.  Many were on-site.  She was said to be quiet and easy to handle.  She is 16.  I figured it would be a great fit.  We arrived at one of the most beautiful horse properties that I have seen, the rolling pastures and well-kept horses, it was amazing.  However, they had just separated this mare from her pasture mate and she was frantically searching for her.  Up and down the paddock she went and there was no way I would convince Ally that this was a quiet, easy to handle horse.  Check her off the list!

QueenLadifa-daughter of Ladifa

QueenLadifa-daughter of Ladifa

Then I easily went and caught this seven-year old daughter of the horse above.  I saddled her up and it was like I was back riding Kid. She was very quiet, well-mannered and easy to ride.  But Dev was texting he didn’t like her neck and shoulder.  Both Dev and doc Lynn thought something was going on in her hind end.  So much for the Queen!

She has a chip in her knee, how fast could she be?

She has a chip in her knee, how fast could she be?

Finally, I looked at this 11-year-old.  She was quiet and sweet.  She had successfully had babies. She was a good mom.  She could be ridden lightly as she had a bone chip in her knee.  I figured that would limit her running off with us.  But Ally had to get back to pick up kids and I didn’t ride her.  As we left I was pretty set on taking her.  But as time went on, I just haven’t felt a connection to her so the search continues.

Let me know if you have the perfect horse for Ally and I and one who can also be the bride of Flagmount.  If only Mickey or Bruno was a mare!  Then we would have a perfect solution.

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Thank you all again for the cards you have sent to my mom.  She is doing a little better day by day.