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By Angela Holmes

The Gazette

RIVERSIDE – Kicking off Riverside Casino and Golf Resort’s summer outdoor concert series, Heart came out blazing Friday night with their signature song, “Barracuda.”

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

Dressed in black, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson dominated the stage from the outset – Nancy with her battery of acoustic and electric guitars and Ann with her voice.

Going through the archives, Heart pulled out “Never” from 1985’s self-titled album. The group hasn’t performed  “Never” live much since the big-hair 1980s but it was a favorite among the crowd ranging from young girls to people who jammed to Heart in the ‘70s.

The crowd mellowed during “Love Alive” from 1977’s “Little Queen” and “Mistral Wind” from “Dog and Butterfly” which Ann said is “celebrating its 30th birthday this year.”

Although the Wilsons’ talent and stage presence are still very much intact, they curiously dotted their hour-and-a-half concert with covers by Led Zeppelin, The Who and an ill-fated version of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” sung by Nancy.  After nearly 35 of recording, they certainly have plenty of their own songs to choose from rather than playing covers.

Ann’s powerhouse voice was showcased in Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me” but she was the most brilliant in the stripped-down version of Heart’s “Alone.”

“Sand,” slated for Heart’s new album to be released in early 2010, was dedicated to Michael Jackson who unexpectedly died Thursday. “Sand’ appeared on 1997’s “Whirlygig” album by the Lovemongers, the Wilson sisters’ side band.  

It was a warm, yet lovely night for an outdoor concert, yet the set-up was a bit awkward with the majority of the lawn seats actually on paved parking lot nearly level with the stage, rather than on a hill. But the 3,800 people in the crowd didn’t seem to mind too much. They witnessed one of the greatest singers in the business still in prime form.

A year ago downtown Cedar Rapids was a war zone. When the filthy water of the Flood of 2008 went down, the area was left devastated as the mucking and cleanup began.

One of The Gazette stories I remember the most was written by Erika Binegar. It told of a different scene from the one several weeks before when the farmer market filled the streets with food, flowers and people.

Downtown Cedar Rapids once again has life as people line the streets during the June 20 farmers market

Downtown Cedar Rapids once again has life as people line the streets during the June 20 farmers market

For weeks after the flood, the scene was one of catastrophe trucks lining the streets; debris from the ruined buildings piled high along the sidewalks and, ironically, the floodlights which lit the downtown at night because the electricity was out. Still, everytime I walk into work, I look down Third Avenue and remember the scene.

Fresh vegetables are a popular commodity at the Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids.

Fresh vegetables are a popular commodity at the Downtown Farmers' Market in Cedar Rapids.

There were many plants to choose from at the downtown market.

There are many plants to choose from at the downtown market.

Today there was a much different atmosphere during the second Downtown Farmers’ Market this year. The streets were again lined with vendors, people and life.

I stocked up on radishes, tomatoes, potatoes and baked goods. And, oh yes, the Bohemie Blush Rose wine with a blend of blueberry and rhubarb from John Ernest Vineyard and Winery of Tama made the trip to the farmers market complete.

So, Susan Boyle didn’t win Britian’s Got Talent. And judge and crowd favorite Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol. Both results were fairly shocking but not at all similar.

While Lambert came to American Idol with experience performing on a live stage, Boyle did not. Lambert’s flamboyant style didn’t just develop overnight while he was in Hollywood on the Idol stage. He has been doing this for years. That’s why he was so good and such a natural with the judges and the press. Whether he’s the lead singer of Queen or a solo sensation by the end the year, his fame will continue to skyrocket.

Boyle, on the other hand, was not used to performing or its subsequent sudden fame. Yes, there is a theory out there that she was planted on the show by Simon Cowell. Whether that’s true or not (I don’t believe it), is irrelevant. In two months Boyle went from total obscurity to international fame and scrutiny.

Going into the competition, she had no expectations and nobody had any expectations of her. As she stood on the stage for the first time, everybody expected her to sound just horrible. Then, she began to sing “I Dreamed a Dream.” From the first note, everyone was blown away. Then came the YouTube video. In the past two months the video of her performance has been viewed more than 200,000 million times. 200 million.

The cameras came. The rumors started. Everybody wanted to know more about this plain-looking woman from Scotland who has the voice of an angel. All of a sudden, the 48-year-old who claims to never have been kissed was a superstar. Talk about pressure.

I suppose after all that attention, she did feel a little overwhelmed and entitled.  Now the expectations were high and the whole world was watching.

In the semi-final Boyle’s performance of “Memory” started out shaky but ended fairly strong. In the final, she again sang “I Dreamed a Dream,” the song that made her famous. Neither one compared to that first performance when she proved doubters wrong. How could they?

She came in second to a dance act, Diversity. Just like Lambert, she’ll be just fine. She’ll need to get a better handle on the press and the pressure, but her voice will carry her. For all of us who were inspired by her courage to shake off the skeptics in the beginning and then shake of the critics in the end, Susan Boyle is still a winner.

Ritalin – strike one; Strattera – strike two; and now on to Risperidone to try to tone down my son’s anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autistic tendencies.

My son, Sage, had a big week losing a front tooth and getting his first buzz haircut. Here he is with his Daddy, my husband, Jeff.

My son, Sage, had a big week losing a front tooth and getting his first buzz haircut. Here he is with his Daddy, my husband, Jeff.

After explaining to the child psychiatrist that the Strattera (atomoxetine) did somewhat lessen Sage’s hyperactivity but altered his personality, she immediately said to discontinue its use. When we first decided to use Strattera in early March, the doctor said the side effects may include depression, insecurity and mood swings so we needed to closely monitor him.

Sure enough, shortly after Sage started the doses, his kindergarten teachers began to recognize he was more argumentative and just not his sweet, happy self most of the time.  At home, he started crying for no reason. We thought he just needed to adjust to the new medication. But after two months, and one dosage increase, we knew it wasn’t the right treatment for him.

A little to our surprise, the doctor readily agreed. She said the typical steps of treating ADHD and autism spectrum disorders include first trying stimulants like Ritalin and then antidepressants like Straterra. If those don’t work or have negative side effects (Ritalin use was stopped after a couple of days due to aggression), the next step is Risperidone or Risperdal.

Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat bipolar disorder in adults and autistic disorders in children. The doctor explained that it is used in children with Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS. Sage was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in 2005 when he was 3 ½ and the child psychiatrist he is seeing now recently reaffirmed the diagnosis.

All these medical terms get confusing to me, to the point while I was asking the doctor questions, I confused her. She explained that patients with PDD-NOS have characteristics of those with classic autism, but not all. Impulsivity and hyperactivity are common characteristics. I did know that.

What I remained confused about was why Sage was not diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning disorder similar to autism. In 2005, specialists at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital could not diagnose him with Asperger’s because he was not verbal enough at the time. I assumed that was still the case, but his current doctor said he was too communicative to have Asperger’s. He can carry on a conversation and look you in the eye – which is typically lacking in those with Asperger’s or classic autism. That was good to know.

So tonight we begin the new regimen. The biggest side effect is drowsiness so we will give him a small dose with supper. After a week, we will add a morning dose to the evening one and see how that goes.

Do you have experience with Risperdal or Risperidone? Please e-mail me at

An open house for a proactive parenting program will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Resource Center on the second floor of St. Luke’s Hospital, 225 12 St. NE, Cedar Rapids.

According to program coordinator Craig Meskimen, Teaching Interventions to Empower and Strengthen families, or TIES, is a positive parenting program for children between 18 months and 6 years old. What makes the program unique, he said, is that parents and children go through the program together.

“Parents don’t just drop their kids off,” he said.

Parents are taught eight strategies focusing on positive interaction with the child. Parents need to tell their children what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.

“If they are sitting and being quiet in church, tell them exactly what they are doing right,” Meskimen said.

All eight strategies will be taught at four stations during Thursday’s open house. The goal is to control disruptive behavior before it begins with positive reinforcement.  

TIES is the result of a partnership of the ABBE Center for Community Health, Grant Wood AEA, Healthy Linn Care Network, Mercy Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital and Linn County Community Empowerment.

It is offered at no cost to parents but has a payback system – as parents learn the program, they then teach other parents.  

Although the program was developed in 1969 in Tennessee to treat children with Down’s syndrome and those on the autism spectrum, Meskimen says there is no minimum or maximum behavior for a child to be involved.

Children in the program range from “whiny” to destructive, he said.

The program works with parents and children on an individual basis, depending on the child’s behavior. The behavior is targeted and the parents need to realize how to control that behavior, Meskimen said.

This TIES program is the only one in the Midwest. It has been available to Eastern Iowans since Oct. 13 and has received a positive reception, Meskimen said. The evening program is full with a waiting list and the daytime program has a few spots left.

“Parents are here because they want to be,” Meskimen said.

For more information, call (319) 558-4861.

On Thursday, I will be attending the annual “Beyond Rubies” Women’s Conference at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

I will taking my laptop and take my first crack at liveblogging. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it – whether it be short play-by-play reports of workshops as they happen or longer overviews after the workshops are done.

Either way, I am excited about going the conference and reporting on it. It is a two-day conference with a plethora of speakers and workshops. I am only attending Thursday’s session and obviously, can’t make it to all of the workshops.

That’s where you come in. If you are attending “Beyond Rubies” and would like to write about any of the workshops you’re attending, e-mail me at and I’ll post them on my blog. That way, we’ll have a more comprehensive report.

Here are the workshops I’m planning to attend and write about:

  • Seven Habits for Happiness: keynote speaker  Julia Theisen, owner, Body & Soul Wellness Center and Spa.
  • Surviving the Flood: One Woman’s Story: Gail Naughton, president, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
  • Personal Leadership Skills – Not Magic, Just Practice: keynote speaker Mary Kramer, U.S Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean (ret.)
  • FOCUS – Making the Most Out of You!: Richard Dedor, Dedor Communications
  • OMG! I’m So Stressed!: Richard Dedor, Dedor Communications

I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me decide to do this – so publicly. Maybe it was getting together with a bunch of my high school buddies at the Iowa-Minnesota game in November. Maybe it’s the double chin prevalent in every recent picture of me.

Wearing the sleek black dress with Jeff Holmes on Valentine's Day 1996.

Wearing the sleek black dress with Jeff Holmes on Valentine's Day 1996.

Maybe it was reading about the sleek black dress to wear for the holidays (yes, I used to have one). Oh, and there’s the borderline high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, too.   



Have I really settled into frumpdom? The recent gathering with the buddies proved that we are still as funny, spunky and snarky as we were back in the day. But why should that only come out once every five or more years?

I hate to say New Year’s Resolution because I intend to lose weight and better myself every January. And that’s only really happened once – in 1999. I am looking for a life transformation, not just in health and appearance, but also in overall productiveness and happiness. My 20th class reunion coming up later this year provides a pretty good incentive to set goals and complete many of them by August or September.

I have all sorts of excuses for my plumpness and frumpness. I will go over them in more detail in future blogs. Over the past decade they include thyroid surgery and the subsequent whacked out levels and depression; dealing with my 6-year-old son’s autism and developmental delays; helping my husband start a business while maintaining a full-time job; unemployment and financial struggles. Those are the bigger ones. Others include the never-ending candy jar across from my desk; getting home too late to exercise; the weather being too hot or too cold to go for a walk; and being partial to high-calorie micro-brewed beer and foofy creamy drinks.

These excuses can either be worked around or remedied all together. During

Williamsburg High School graduate in 1989

Williamsburg High School graduate in 1989

this experience, I will need help and frank suggestions from you, the reader. So please chime in.

I’ll leave you with a video of Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young,”

 This song was out during my senior year at Williamsburg High School and was the first song I heard when I turned on my radio the morning of my last day of school. It still rings true 20 years later. 

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