Monday, June 30, 2008

In which Angie can look back and laugh now (even if it is an evil cackle)

The year is 1989. Angie is a senior in high school. Angie is sporting permed hair, electric blue eye shadow, and teased bangs. When she is not in her cheerleader uniform, she is wearing her Catholic high school skirt rolled up twice at the waist and writing IN INK all over the hemline things like: ‘We are proud and we are mighty. We’re the class of 1990’, or the Lyrics to "MORE THAN WORDS" and other Monster Ballads. When she is not wearing either uniform, she is donning her Units belt, over-sized shirt and leggings, or her Guess Jeans (the one pair she ever owned) and her sweaters made to fall off the shoulder. Angie is from the Midwest, so it could be that Angie’s fashion is JUST A TAD behind the times of other class of 1990 graduates.

Angie is feeling pretty cool these days. You see, Angie has a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend. A COLLEGE boyfriend. This boyfriend, who we will name FRANK for the purposes of anonymity and because his real name is actually FRED (family name) and FRANK is very close anyway, is a JUNIOR in college. YES, A JUNIOR. Frank is also ANGIE’s brother’s fraternity brother and one of his BEST FRIENDS. In fact, FRANK becomes Kevin’s best man just a couple years later.


Back to the story.


Over the summer between Angie’s Junior and Senior Year, Angie and Frank saw each other a lot. They went to movies. They hung out around their parent’s houses. They went to movies. They went to college rush parties. They went to movies. It probably needs not be said that Angie and Frank were on different pages with respect to social life. You see, FRANK was of legal drinking age. Frank was in COLLEGE. When school started back up, Frank lived AWAY from Angie for MOST OF THE TIME. At first it was fine. Frank came home for Labor Day. Angie went and visited Frank for a weekend. Angie even once snuck away and saw Frank for a weekend when STRICTLY forbidden by her parents who also foolishly LEFT TOWN that weekend. (Sorry Mom and Dad, although something tells me you are not as stupid as I thought you were then and you probably knew this).

As time goes on, Frank begins calling less. His letters (which match Angie’s volume in a 1/10 ratio) become more small talk and even fewer. He begins to mention things like “see other people,” “where do you think this relationship is heading, anyway? Marriage???” Kevin, Angie’s brother bluntly tells Angie when she calls for Frank that he was OUT with a girl named TRACY (who is actually Tammie, but Tracy is close). Angie curses and tells Kevin to tell Frank to call her so she could “TELL HIM HOW OVER HIM SHE WAS!” However, when Frank calls, he explains he was STUDYING with Tracy. Or that Kevin just doesn’t like them together because he is her brother. The next time Angie calls, the conversation happens EXACTLY as it just did before, so much so that when Angie calls, Kevin tells the other fraternity brothers to inform Angie when Frank is with Tracy, which is a lot. Angie acts exactly like her 17-year-old self and IGNORES these people in favor of the blatant LIES THAT FRANK TELLS.

That Christmas break, Frank does not come home from college until the Saturday AFTER finals week. Frank says ‘he actually has a final late on Friday, could you believe the bad luck, and then has to pack up.’ Kevin compassionately and gingerly tells Angie Frank is, in fact, staying for graduation because Tracy is graduating and her whole family would be there and expect Frank, you idiot. Angie says no, he has a final and Kevin says ‘no he doesn’t because we have the same classes and I have been home since Tuesday, you idiot’ Even if he is staying for Tracy’s graduation that isn’t so bad to an extent because they are, in fact, dating other people which means Frank is dating other people and Angie is patiently waiting for him to get over it. Kevin says 'Frank is not dating other people; he is dating Tracy, you idiot. '

Frank even stands Angie up on New Year’s Eve showing up AROUND ONE AM after promising her he was coming over to celebrate the New Year with Angie and her brother and her brother’s fiancĂ©. Kevin is not surprised and tells Angie that he is with Tracy, you idiot. Angie maturely handles this like any 17-year-old and has her best friend call Frank’s house around midnight asking for him because parents are stupid and would not at all think Angie is involved since Angie’s voice is not involved. Angie believes Frank when he finally arrives and tells her whatever lie it is she can no longer remember because she is sure he whispered sweet nothings to her about how much he missed the cute mole on her chin that most people mistook for a piece of chocolate.

Angie (before mole removal) and best friend


Because Angie is in high school and Frank is a junior in college, Frank is LESS than enthusiastic about and actually completely unwilling to subject himself to the social festivities that highschoolers find so damn crucial to their well-being. Things like, homecoming dances, prom, being seen outside anything but the movies with a high-schooler, etc. However, late that Christmas break, FRANK decides to humor Angie and come watch her cheer at a tournament game. Because it is a tournament, Angie’s team is playing teams they do not normally play. One of these teams is from a town on the Illinois side of St. Louis that they have never played before and as far as Angie knows, have never played again. Did Angie mention that Tracy is from the Illinois side of St. Louis????

Angie's cheerleading squad photo from that year with a wide angle lens required to incorporate ALL THAT HAIR into the frame. The man in the middle is their cheerleading moderator who simply got paid the extra stipend 'coaches' get on top of his meager private high school teaching salary while doing NOTHING to help or teach the squad. Sadly, he was probably as qualified as ANY of the teachers at Angie's high school to fill the slot.



Frank and his brother walk into the gym, smile at Angie and sit down. Within seconds, Angie sees Frank’s brother laughing while Frank uncomfortably squirms on the bleacher, and she thinks they are laughing at her cheering which is, in fact, laughable. Angie laughs, too, and begins to beam that her friends can finally see she was not making up Frank all these months.

Then, Angie sees a perky crimped-haired cheerleader from the ILLINOIS side of St. Louis team come over, hug Frank and point to someone just down the way. Did Angie mention that Tracy has a sister Angie’s age? Frank gets up, walks down the way and starts talking to someone who looks like they are old enough to be Frank’s parents. He sits there THE ENTIRE GAME AND TALKS TO THOSE PARENTS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE GAME. He never once comes over, even during half time and acknowledges Angie. However, Frank’s brother does. In fact, Frank’s brother talks to Angie A LOT. Angie thinks he even puts his arm around Angie at one point in time and Angie is pretty sure if she would have looked, Frank’s brother ensures his arm is around Angie when those parent-aged people glance over at them. Angie is pretty sure we refer to that today as “taking one for the team.” Angie is too stupid love-struck by an older guy to see it, so much so, that it takes her about FIVE years to look back on that situation and figure it out.

After the crowd disperses and the opposing team leaves gym is practically empty, Frank finally acknowledges Angie who between sobs and screams tells Frank to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. NO WAIT, COME BACK HERE. EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN. I HATE YOU! WAIT, COME BACK, I LOVE YOU, while threatening to throw her Kelly-Green-striped K-Swiss cheerleader shoe at him. Frank smoothes over the situation trying unsuccessfully to run his fingers through her teased bangs and banana clipped hair telling her how much he loves her Add-A-Bead necklace.

However, about one week later, Frank officially breaks up with Angie. Why he didn’t break up with Angie about THREE MONTHS PRIOR will remain a mystery for the ages, since after all this, it is PRETTY DAMN OBVIOUS ANGIE IS NEVER GOING TO BREAK UP WITH HIM AND that he is CLEARLY IN LOVE WITH TRACY. However, Angie still thinks today, that part of Frank oddly still loved Angie a bit, too, and that is why he did not break it off completely until that night when he saw exactly how old Angie was.

AND because he probably didn’t want to get that close to being caught again by Tracy and her family.

Angie goes to Frank and Tracy’s college the next year. Tracy has graduated. She is a year and a half older than Frank who is 3 years older than Angie, making her blond, tall, beautiful, smart, employed and 4-1/2 years older than Angie. Angie forgives them both. However, she can never really look at Frank again that year. She does, however, join Tracy’s sorority, Chi Omega, because it is the best one for her on campus, and because Tracy doesn’t go there anymore.

Oddly enough, Frank was not a jerk. He was not a ‘bad boy.’ He was kind of nerdy, but tall, smart and cute. It’s probably safe to say that no one would have thought Frank had it in him to seriously date two girls at the same time. Frank and Tracy ended up marrying and having kids. As far as Angie knows, they are still happily married today. And Angie is happy for them.

The End.

KEEP BELIEVING

Friday, June 27, 2008

Open House




Hi.
Did you come from Mrs. G.'s place?
Welcome.
Nice to see you.
Oh, if you wouldn't mind, please take your shoes off at the door while I run around the hide the piles of clutter and quickly make beds. It has been raining a lot lately.

Well, this is it. This is our house. Welcome to Suburbia in the MidWest. Let me give you the tour.

This is the entryway:


To the left we have the half bath and laundry room/garage entrance. We spent 2 years in Edmonton, Canada with the BEST LAUNDRY ROOM EVER - built in storage benches, extra utility sink, laundry shoot, walk-through pantry to the kitchen. It spoiled us, but it also forever ruined me for laundry rooms. I became so accustomed to the 'drop zone' for backpacks, snowboots, outerware, work bag, etc. that when we returned to Central Illinois in 2007, one of the first things we did was knock through a wall to add a drop zone to our existing closet of a laundry room. We think it is one of the best improvements in our house. Worth every penny.








To the right is the formal living room which is another way of saying WASTED SPACE. Therefore, we use it for our home office. I think it will also be the home of our FUTURE Wii.

Just off the formal living room is our formal dining room which is yet another way of saying WASTED SPACE. So, we use this for children's crafts, homework and coupon cutting. When we have a large group of people around, we will overflow into this room IF I get off my arse and can find a place to hide the piles of crap put everything away.




If you would keep going down the hall in the entryway, you would walk into the kitchen which also connects to the dining room. The kitchen is probably the heart of the home where I spend most of MY time. We upgraded the island and added the pantry last year (we busted out the old pantry for the laundry room drop zone). I love the kitchen. I wish it were about 2 feet bigger in either direction so the island would have been big enough for some bar stools. I love to have people belly up to the bar with me while I cook or clean or whatever in the kitchen. As it stood, though, space was limited so we opted for more cabinetry instead. We use every bit of the storage, so I don't regret it.



This is our family room. This is one of those open floor plans, so the kitchen and family room are open to each other. Open floor plan could also be described as LOUD AND DISTRACTING as far as I am concerned. I think rooms are best a BIT more separated from each other. Don't you think a lovely wall with peek-through fireplace would be nice right here? That is our wood-burning fireplace. Hubby will not let me get gas inserts because he likes dust and ash covering every item in this room and the trail of wood chips on the floor and surrounding the hearth that HE doesn't have to clean the smell of burning wood.





Downstairs you will find my husband sleeping in his recliner watching our big screen TV, our exercise equipment and the rarely played in toy room with the air hockey table never used, yet first game requested at any arcade, as well as a full bath and very small guest bedroom.




Upstairs holds our 4 bedrooms.

Gavin's where on any given day, you will find whatever he COLLECTED that day - rocks, bottle caps, receipts and other scraps of paper he likes to call TREASURE MAPS and I like to call OTHER PEOPLE'S GARBAGE, etc.

Grant's, where on any given day, you will find last night's bath towel and yesterday's clothes on the floor, as well as anything else he can get away with leaving around until I make him clean so he can melt-down for an hour to clean up something that otherwise would have taken him about 6 minutes.



guest/junk room/scrapbook room/Brian's work overflow


boys' bathroom where you will find toothpaste crusted on the sink, toothpaste spit on the mirror, unflushed toilets and toothpaste on the floor.




This is the Master Suite. This where the magic happens, and by magic, I mean that amazing thing I can do called falling asleep EXACTLY 2.75 seconds after my head hits the pillow.



Master Bathroom with our large whirlpool tub which is alternately the boys' indoor waterpark.



Well, that sums up our open house. Please do not think this virtual tour precludes you from coming for an actual visit.



Oh I, almost forgot. The true HUB of our house is our garage. It is in our garage where we keep the vehicles, the yard maintenance equipment, all Brian's tools, our outdoor toys, bikes, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, our second fridge, which we have affectionately and ACCURATELY named the beer fridge. BEHOLD!!!!!








*cue inspirational music*



Yes, all traffic to all parts of the house flows in and around the beer fridge. Come over. We'd love to have you maybe try a beer or 10 you've never had before.


See ya soon.


KEEP BELIEVING


* Okay, because I am apparently coming off too Donna Reed-ish, Here are some photos of what some of those rooms USUALLY look like. I have always been one to quickly tidy before guests arrive - you know that surface clean look.




Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to Inefficiently wash a mini-van in suburbia.*

First of all, invite your children to help you. This instills responsibility in them and family bonding time. Also, if you leave them in the house, they will unquestionably break something.

Don a bathing suit top. With your children’s assistance, you will undoubtedly get wet.

Get out the crate that husband assembled with all car-washing/polishing/detailing materials in one location. (Try not to develop complex that he is capable of this, yet doesn’t know where his socks are or that YOU are incapable of creating a similar system IN THE HOUSE for your regular chores.)

Spray wheels with that crap your husband insists gets them clean. Wipe with brush. Have children spray car down in the meantime.

Repeat above for each wheel. Have children rinse wheels.

Realize that the crap your husband insists get the wheels clean needs to be rinsed WHILE IT IS STILL WET, or else you just have SMEARED wheels instead of dirty wheels.

Repeat wheel process again for ALL FOUR wheels. Have children spray wheels when you finish.

Yell at kids to SPRAY THE CAR, NOT MOMMY!!

Analyze wheels. Realize the brush does not reach in every stinking nook and cranny in the wheels and realize there are a lot of nook and crannies in wheels.

Repeat wheel process this time WITH A SPONGE!

Yell at kids to SPRAY THE CAR, NOT MOMMY!!

Make small talk with neighbor.

Go inside and get a drink of water.

Check blog comments.

Read 3 blog posts.

Go back to car and have children spray entire car again.

Yell at children to SPRAY THE CAR, NOT MOMMY!!

Have children fill bucket with water and add some car soap. Rinse sponges.

Wave to neighbor passing by and laugh when they say….wait for it…WAIT FOR IT….. “When you are finished, you can do mine in the driveway.” BOO-Yah! BWAHHH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!

Start with front of the mini-van. The amount of bugs encrusted on the grill, windshield and license plates may seem over-whelming, but you will be burnt out on cleaning the van if you wait to do the front until later.

Enlist children to help you wash the van with sponges and rags. Show them how to scrub off half a fly and ¼ of a mosquito and ¾ of a moth, etc.

Yell at kids to use the sponges ON THE CAR NOT ON THE MULCH!

Rinse kids’ sponges.

Suggest the kids wash their bikes while we are at it.

Move to the sides and back of the van.

Curse the inventors of asphalt as you use your fingernail more than your sponge for the lower half of the van.

Go to beer fridge to get a drink.

Go inside and check blog comments.

Read 3 more blogs.

Go back out. Look for children to rinse car. Not present – listen for screams. No screams, assume all is well.

Rinse car and get out towels or chamois for drying.

Realize this van is really freaking tall and you are NOT, and get out a stepstool or small ladder, because you forgot the TOP OF THE van.

Get out the little Simonize brush extension thing your husband bought and never uses for the top of the van because you can’t reach it. Be prepared for children’s newfound interest in car-washing with the introduction of a new tool that squirts water.

Wash the top of the van.

Help each child climb ladder to also have their turn in washing the top of the van realizing this would be easier if you just set the ladder up somewhere else because it is all about climbing the freakin' ladder, not washing the van.

Wash the front of the van again because you will undoubtedly find enough bugs to populate a reasonably-sized colony embedded all over the grill, headlights, etc. that you missed the first time.

Rinse van AGAIN since new soap from top has dripped down the side.

Quickly dry van trying futilely to mitigate the water spot problem.

Go get another drink from the beer fridge.

Have a deep discussion with next neighbor who sees you out and hasn’t seen you in a while.

Go inside to cool off.

Check blog comments.

Read 3 more blogs.

Go back out to hear children screaming. Take the hose away from the one bully-squirting the other and squirt the bully feeling only slightly bad as he runs away screaming and crying.

Get out hose in back for both children to have a hose of their own and make individual mud puddles. Aplogize to the bully, but only AFTER you make him apologize to his sibling, first.

Force a smile as neighbor who is walking dog says…wait for it….WAIT FOR IT “Hey, when you’re finished. You can do mine in the driveway.” BOO-YAH!

Get out supplies for yearly waxing of the beast.

First have another drink from the beer fridge.

Hide drink from the knowing,judgemental glances of other neighbor walking by.

Add wax to entire vehicle cursing the amount of surface area the entire time.

Resist urge to lick the face of male neighbor who says he’d whistle at you if he knew how because you look so good.

Remember neighbor and his wife read this blog and remind yourself to ensure they know above comment is, in fact, sarcasm, as your face-licking loyalties lie with your husband.

Find an old sock (preferably clean) to wipe off car wax.

First, have another drink. Hydration is KEY!!

Wipe off car wax, cursing the surface area amount the entire time.

When third neighbor walks by saying… wait for it….WAIT FOR IT… “Hey, when you’re finished, you can do mine in the driveway,” reply with, “I only do my husband in the driveway.” And salute him with your beer. Do not expect long-term friendship.

Look at watch and realize it just took you 3-1/2 hours to finish to this point and the interior has not been touched. Calculate that you could have taken it to the Red Carpet Car Wash for $20, and realize that at this rate, you are making about $4/hour by the time you finish the interior.

Decide to NOT finish the interior today. Put away all supplies.

Go inside to check blog comments and read a couple more blogs.

Look at watch again and realize it is dinnertime, and you just spent the last 4 hours on the van (and small talking with neighbors and blog-reading.)

Go to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner with family. Give kids several dollars worth of quarters for video games. Order more beer and lots of wings. Play Texas Hold Em with husband on video monitors.

Realize you could have taken the car to the car wash for WAY cheaper than it just cost to go to Buffalo Wild Wings.

Go for a walk the next day. See a neighbor washing their mini-van. Make small talk by saying, “Hey, when you’re finished, you can do mine in the driveway.”


* Events, occurrences, dialogue and personalities are PROBABLY fictional. The content of this blog was not necessarily meant to depict any actual person or event.

KEEP BELIEVING

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The pain that never totally goes away

As you may or may not know, we live in the Midwest. The Midwest is known for a few things – corn, soybeans, corn, flooding, corn and coming into trends about a year after they were trendy. One such trend is the movie Juno.

Brian and I watched Juno last weekend together FINALLY. As I suspected, I found the movie witty, surprising, intelligent, sharp and fun. One reaction that took me off guard, though, was painful. Yes, painful. The movie made me cry. For fear of harsh embarrassment, I held back what were actual sobs inside my body. My head was on Brian’s lap and I found myself crying streams of tears down the side of my face for half the movie.

Why? What about this clever flick could spark such emotion?

The pain of infertility.

I have never given birth. As far as I know, I have never even been pregnant. I have tried to trick my body into being pregnant. I have taken many prescription drugs to convince my body to become pregnant. I have been poked, prodded, tested, squeezed, punctured, scraped, enlarged, starved, etc. – all in desperation to become pregnant.

My children are mine through the womb of another. I have the UTMOST respect and admiration for all birth parents and their difficulty in the decision to choose adoption. Because of these birth parents, my children are mine as yours are yours. There is never a day that I do not feel like their mother. There is never a moment that I do not feel the deep piercing love for those two boys that only a mother can feel. Never.

And I am resolved that we are meant to only have these two boys. I am resolved to the fact that God created these two little boys through the seeds of 4 others to be ours. I REALLY AM SO OKAY WITH THAT.

Why then is it that, out of the blue, something happens to make me yearn and ache?

I have become accustomed to the fleeting moments –

Like when a close friend or relative announces she is expecting, and my internal reaction is a fleeting moment of jealousy and pain. A fleeting moment that seems to last an eternity and I pray they do not see the sting their joy just caused me, because my infertility is not their fault any more than it is my fault. A fleeting moment that gives way to delight, enthusiasm, and excitement for their own good news - for THEIR moment.

Or like when friends and colleagues share birth and pregnancy stories, not realizing, (How could they? Why SHOULD they?) I feel intimidated, embarrassed and insignificant when the topic arises. For a brief moment, I don’t feel female. The feeling soon gives way to general interest in their own personal accounts.

I have become accustomed to those moments and they seem to be fewer.

Sometimes, however, the moment haunts me and lasts for hours. Juno brought out mourning for a part of my life I never expected to forego. A part of my identity as a female. A part of my life I thought was a RIGHT. A part of my life I think I have come to terms with, only to feel a deep surging of anguish overcome my demeanor and resurface the same emotions as the years of unsuccessful conception attempts. My right to carry a child.

I cried tears of resentment when Juno was talking so callously about the pregancy at first. I have never had a positive pregnancy test. I cried tears of jealousy when Juno and her family and friend were watching the ultrasound. The only ultrasounds I have had administered showed the size and quantity of my follicles developing from the fertility drugs - follicles releasing eggs that would never develop into a child. I cried tears of empathy when Jennifer Gardner put her hands on Juno’s stomach to feel the baby move and awkwardly talked to her potential child-to-be, knowing that is the closest she or I would ever come to feeling life begin. I cried tears of understanding at Jennifer Gardner’s guard for the prospect of the adoption falling through - knowing baby showers and shopping trips are for pregnant people only. Adoptive parents have showers AFTER the baby is a sure thing. Then I cried tears of mixed emotions in the hospital - sympathy for Juno and her loss, yet respect at her decision and excitement for Jennifer Gardner and her new beginning. I cried tears of compassion at Juno’s father’s gentleness and counsel telling Juno someday she would be there on her terms. The whole movie sparked emotions in me I once felt so deeply and emotions I thought I had stifled.

I am then reminded that movies like Juno only amplifiy emotions I experience on a regular basis. A resentment I feel at stories like these teenagers and their pregnancy pact and a bitterness that so many of them were so easily successful in their pregnancy attempt. A jealousy when seeing unplanned celebrity pregnancy adorning the covers of most Gossip rags. Ugly, ugly emotions.

Pain.

Will it ever go away completely?

Maybe what I need to come to terms with instead is… no.

KEEP BELIEVING

Friday, June 20, 2008

Next Stop.... Hilton Head

I'm back. Wow. Summer sure is busy, ain't it? It gets increasingly difficult to find the time to create posts, edit pics and video, read others, and just sit inside at this computer since we STILL do not have a laptop, even though they are only $500 for a kick-ass one these days because I just can't justify it when I haven't identified a NEED for one yet.


So, the boys and I came home from Wisconsin on Thursday evening, June 4, and left for Hilton Head on Sunday morning before the butt-crack of dawn and let me remind you that the butt-crack of dawn IS REALLY EARLY IN JUNE!!! Naturally, since we had two days between trips, we were able to squeeze in a playdate with friends, a tee-ball game, a trip to the movies, a birthday party and an afternoon out enjoying each other before we left Brian for a week, all the while unpacking, packing, laundering and shopping. Told you summer was busy!


ANYHOO...

Hilton Head. We flew there without a hitch. Back, umm, not so much, but that is for another post, and at the rate I am going probably sometime in July since there seems to be parks, swimming pools, flowers, lawn, etc. that call my name daily.

Where was I?

Oh yes, Hilton Head. How can I forget?

I have been to the ocean/beach in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Fran, Vancouver, Pensacola, Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Jamaica, St. Thomas and Galveston. NOTHING COMPARES TO HILTON HEAD. I am told the North Carolina beach is similar. It is beautiful. You are driving through magnificent forest-type landscape with lush, enormous trees, not just palm trees like Florida, and then voila, you are on an amazingly kept beach. AMAZING. The weather was relatively hot, in the low 90's, but on the beach it didn't feel like it because there was a constant whipping wind ocean breeze. We stayed in a little shack we like to call PARADISE with 6 bedrooms, 6-1/2 baths, a gourmet kitchen, a huge wrap around porch, gazebo, beautiful landscape and its own pool and spa - all about 70 steps from the beach. We were not ocean front, but we were one away and unfortunately, there is no going back now. No going back to compact condo units and crowded pools. No going back to shared amenities. No going back to long treks with half our belongings for the day on the beach. We have been ruined in the best way possible. Those in attendance were as follows: Aunt Jane, Aunt Deb, Uncle Paul, Aunt Vicki, Uncle Stanley, Mom, Dad, Angie, Cousin Jenny and husband Jake, Cousin Hillary, Cousin Corey, Cousin Nick, Nick's friend DJ, Gavin, Grant, and 2 year old Mason. As you can see, we needed all of the 6 bedrooms, but the house was so vast, we never felt crowded. I never did anyway. The ONLY negative I can think for the entire weekend was the mosquitoes in the evening that surrounded the house requiring more DEET. Oh yeah, and the fact that BRIAN was not present.

Here is a picture of the boys and me on the beach.


Tootsie Farklepants once wrote that her camera adds anorexia. Mine adds muffin top. Although, to ADD muffin top would be to insinuate that muffin top was not already present and I know think I can't make that claim. (I was sucking in during this shot and I, naturally, used the shot that made me look the best regardless of how my children looked)


Here was Grant's favorite part of the vacation:
video



(the pool in general, as proven by the swimmer's ear the day after our departure)

Here was Gavin's favorite part of the vacation:




(trying to fit in with the teenagers and being humored by the teenagers to think he was, THANKS NICK, DJ and ANDY)

Here are my favorite parts of the vacation:




if you look at this and think, "Gavin and Grant being taken care by adults other than me while I quietly rest, read a book and smuggle margaritas relax on the beach," you would be CORRECT!
Also:






video
If you look at these and think "isn't that just about everything?" you would also be CORRECT!

To my family who let us tag along and pay for nothing against my will, WE CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH. I mean it. You spoiled us and you pampered us and you entertained us. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

KEEP BELIEVING

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wisconsin Northwoods

And the winner is … Monika. Dear Monika, my former Alberta neighbour who is actually Dutch. Monika, you win my friendship. Oh wait, you already had that!

Mosquito bite.

Yes, it looks like I took a baseball bat to the head, but it was an insignificant mosquito that wreaked that havoc on my face. Within literally seconds of leaving the car and entering the Wisconsin Northwoods resort landscape, I had two mosquito bites and was applying Deet to every square inch of my exposed skin. Apparently, the Northwoods of Wisconsin had a record wet spring and a bit of a late spring so we were lucky enough to time this with our trip deep in the woods on a body of water next to bodies of water and the last time I checked mosquitoes breed in wet areas and did I mention the mosquitoes had recently HATCHED? So full families of mosquitoes with new babies and extended families of mosquitoes and friends of the mosquito families were partying all around our cabins during our stay. As I stated, this required covering every square inch of exposed skin on myself and my children with some form of Deet (lucky Brian is unaffected by mosquitoes), only logic dictates eventually this Deet will fade and need replenishing as proven by the goose-egg on my forehead. I love that not only do mosquitoes devour my blood with vampire prowess, but also they leave behind whatever it is that causes me to swell up like Pamela Anderson’s boobs. That, my friends, is sarcasm. Not the swelling up like Pamela Anderson’s rack, but the part about loving it. I don’t really love it. REALLY. Brian was very understanding and compassionate about the mosquito problem I have by shrieking in horror or squirting his beer through his nose whenever he caught a glimpse of my profile and the mosquito bite that only lasted for TWO of our FOUR days in the Northwoods. Also, he only gagged and coughed the first night in bed when he came in to snuggle since the mosquitoes were resourceful enough to infiltrate the screens and enter the cabin requiring Deet application after showers and before bed. He only gagged once because he did not attempt to snuggle next to the Deet drenched lady the rest of the week. He also didn’t attempt to snuggle again because we had another uninvited guest named AUNT FLO (guys go ask a girl) and he knew it wasn’t worth it.

So, let me recap the REST of our Wisconsin trip. First off, we headed to the Wisconsin Dells, which is a strange tourist trap of an area about 4 hours from here and 2-3 hours from Chicago. This area used to best be known for its damming of the Wisconsin River creating the Upper and Lower Dells – lakes. Now, it seems it is best known for its Water Parks. Sitting in the middle of Wisconsin is a strip of hotel after hotel claiming to have the biggest waterpark, largest waterpark, tallest waterpark, best waterpark, fastest waterpark, extremist waterpark, family-friendliest waterpark, etc. We stayed at Kalahari and it was great fun for the kids. I enjoyed watching the kids have fun riding the waterslides, playing in the wavepool, climbing on the water structures and even surfing. And when I say I enjoyed watching the kids have fun it means it doesn’t matter if I had fun, whether or not I had fun became irrelevant the day I had kids.

After the Dells, we headed to Rhinelander for a 4-day trip to Thompson Lake for fishing and whatever else. Besides the mosquito issue outlined above, the fish were biting. The boys were catching them left and right and Grant had quite the attention span for fishing. Once he figured out how to bait his own hook (with a worm) and take his own fish off the hook, he was off and running.

Gavin also learned, but didn’t have quite the enthusiasm and steadfastness at it as Grant did. So, naturally, Grant began to smack talk Gavin. “I’m catching way more fish than you. I am the perch master. I am a great fisherman. I caught that all by myself.” Etc. Gavin handled it like any brother would and threatened to beat him up, occasionally did throw a punch, and cried and whined. Oh yeah, and he caught the biggest fish (of the kids) –
a Walleye over 15 inches long and the only keeper Walleye of the weekend. This naturally, sent Grant into a meltdown since Gavin’s fish received lots of attention.

The week was cool, though. Literally cool – temps in the 50s and 60s. Which ended up being pretty fine by me since I needed to wear long sleeves and long pants to mitigate my mosquito problem. One afternoon the ladies went into town for some shopping and lunch. It was a nice change of pace for a non-fisherperson like me. The men were left alone with the kids. When we were finishing our time out, we went into a microbrewery and got a Growler of a Pudgy Possum Porter for the guys to thank them for our freedom for the outing. We did not feel we had time to stay for a beer, though, and when the bartender asked why, we replied “we have been away for a few hours now and the guys are back at the cabins watching all the kids themselves.” To which he replied, “Do you honestly think if the situation were reversed and they were here and you were there, they would be saying they couldn’t stay for the same reason?” Good point. We didn’t stay, though. Probably mostly because Jen couldn’t drink due to reasons un(bun in the oven)disclosed and Jan couldn’t drink due to Vicodin in her bloodstream.

When we returned, I asked Brian if he had fun. He said, “I had fun watching my boys have fun.” I repeated the question and he repeated the response, which we know once again is code for – it doesn’t matter if I had fun, whether or not I had fun became irrelevant the day I had children.

But, you know what? It really is fun watching the kids have fun.

Know what else is fun? – even if you don’t fish, sitting back and watching the man of your dreams pass on his passion – his legacy - to his children. Instilling in them a love for a sport/hobby that burns deep within him and watching those boys catch on, succeed, and develop the same enthusiasm. That, my friends, is great fun.

Also, it’s fun to play cards and drink beer. Just sayin’.

Other pics:

Grandma arming the cavalry with water guns
The actual biggest catch (Uncle Murph)cousinsAunt Jen

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Parallel Vacations

We have returned from our two weeks of different vacations. The first with Brian's family in the Wisconsin Northwoods. The second with my family on Hilton Head. I am gathering my thoughts and my pictures and videos for some good posts, but I also have to sort through mail, pay bills, tidy the house and unpack a few more things. Oh yeah, and it is summer and I am now addicted to the sun and warmth of outside, so I plan to play and weed and mow the wash things outside delaying my posting of the festivities.



In the meantime, our two vacations had something else in common besides large bodies of water providing recreation and entertainment. Here is a clue:


Any guesses?

And I don't mean no-makeup and freakishly frizzly unkempt hair, although that would technically be true.

edited to add another clue - there was no blunt force trauma to Angie of any kind.



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Monday, June 9, 2008

results from afar

Very quick unimaginative post because I am still again on vacation from fishing to tropical/beach/ocean paradise and currently feel like I am being both pulled out to sea and pushed over by waves. (don't have my sea legs yet).

Brian had his Dr. appt. today. In the able hands of his parents during my absence, he went for the latest MRI results and the next round of chemo providing those results gave evidence to the effectiveness of this chemotherapy treatment.

Results:

Excellent. Showing large amounts of shrinkage of the enhanced area. The doctors are well pleased with the MRI results. MRI results are one thing - but the clinical progression of the patient coupled with those results is what determines overall effectiveness of a treatment. Brian has been feeling GREAT with lots of strength, wit, endurance, and overall neurological improvement/stability. So, the doctors are WELL PLEASED. BUT, Brian is even more well pleased and Brian's family delightfully concurs. I am elated and feel as though I can relax and enjoy the remainder of the time here in Hilton Head until we see Brian again on Friday night.

Recaps of our trips to come. For now, I am still on vacation and do not feel like writing and being creative. Instead, I choose to play with my family and my children, drink more margaritas, run on the beach in the morning, and watch my boys become addicted to play Wii (that my aunt brought along) so they can incessantly beg me for one every day from now until eternity we buy them one.

Thank you for your prayers. Please keep praying fro Brian and our family. Please keep praying for the effectiveness of this treatment path upon which we continue and our overall well-being.

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