This is My "Real" Blog: June 2009


Angie's Blog!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rockin' with the FloMax Crowd

Well, the evening proved to be everything I thought it would be. . . and more.

After a nice dinner at Ruby Tuesday's -- buy 1, get 1 free coupon -- we headed to the Tennessee Theater. This is a beautiful theater in Downtown Knoxville. It was recently renovated -- and the surroundings are just as beautiful as I remembered. But last night - - they were even more beautiful.

Mark parked the car after dropping me off at the front of the theater. I probably should have "hoofed up" up the hill with him -- because he had to walk up the street where the tour buses were parked--and he passed Boz Scaggs' bass player, background singer, and one other band member. He thinks he may have also spotted Mr. Scaggs himself.

. . . .yeah, I'd have been a mess.

We did a little "people watching" after Mark got to the front of the theater, and realized that the median age of the crowd was our age -- if not a little older. And then it hit me:

In the same way that I really like Corinne Bailey Rae and Jason Mraz (even in my aged state). . . back when Boz and Michael were on the Top 40 charts. . . people that are now MY AGE were listening to them, too.

. . .and they were at the concert with us last night.

We saw every manner of people. Of course, no concert would be complete without the hussies in gold lame shirts -- ready to shake their groove thing for the celebrities. There wasn't too much of that -- again, remember the age of the crowd -- so it wasn't as bad as other concerts I've attended in the past.

As people started filling in, we met the couple seated to my right. They live in Sevierville, and their adult-age mentally-challenged son, who lives with them, works at Dollywood. They moved to TN because it was his dream to work there. They spoke of him so lovingly -- and enjoyed the couple of stories I told about Caroline. So, I was happy with the people to my right.

I worried about the two empty seats in front of us -- the couple just to the right in that row were of average height -- and were about our age. So, at this point, they were not a visual blockage threat. But then he came in. . . .

Yep, the guy in front of me had to be 6' 2" tall. I remained calm. I realized that if I lean slightly to the right, I'd be able to see the center of the stage with no problem. Oh, did I fail to mention?

We were about 40 feet from the stage -- and DEAD CENTER. Happy girl? Oh yeah. . . .

So, after my visual obstacles were taken care of, I did a quick scan of the people around us.

And then they walked in. I couldn't make this stuff up.

A couple -- probably in their late 30s. . . with two toddlers. One was probably 18 months old. The other? Three, at best. These people -- who obviously either have NO family in the area, are too cheap to pay for a babysitter, or want to expose their children to decibels that will forever mar their children's hearing -- whatever their motive? They were in the row behind us. And yes, the baby cried.

The concert began -- and it was amazing. Boz Scaggs played for 60 minutes -- and came back out for a good 15 minute encore.

And then they walked. . . I mean stumbled in. Nope. Not the toddler-bearing couple. This would be "drunk couple on a first date" that were seated immediately behind Mark and me. She? Kept talking about how buzzed she was. He? Let's see -- HUGE samoan-type dude trying desperately to impress what I can only assume is a barfly he picked up on his way to the concert.

And to make matters worse? They spoke in outside voice volumes to each other throughout the concert. I wanted to do bodily harm. But again? He was a big dude -- and I wasn't looking for a rumble before Michael hit the stage. I started to pray.

That's right. I prayed during a Boz Scaggs concert -- asking God to shut them the heck up. (I think I said "heck" to God!) And, for the most part, God came through. However, when he was testing my patience and love for my brother, this is what we overheard:

BSG (Big Samoan Guy): So, what do you think? Are you allright?
DBFH (Drunk Bar Fly Hussy): Yeah. . .(mumbles something unintelligible)
BSG: Are you having a good time?
DBFH: (more unintelligible mumbling)
BSG: Do you like music? 'Cause, if you do -- and if you come back to my house -- I can show you my music. (etchings, anyone?)
DBFH: (nothing)


Pathetic. But we laughed. So, it was somewhat entertaining. Somewhat.

Highlights? Well, they had to be Lido Shuffle and Lowdown. He also did JoJo, which I remembered -- and then, he sang the song that made me cry.



Yep, I cried. It was as good as I could have imagined it would be. His band last night was a bit more animated than this video -- but you get the idea.

Totally.amazing.performance.

Then, it was time for the intermission -- and after a long, uneventful trip to the bathroom -- it was time for Michael to take the stage. While we waited, Mark asked me when I first began to recognize Michael as an artist that I adored so much. I told him that it would have been when he was with the Doobie Brothers -- and then started his solo career. I told him that when I was in high school, I used to buy sheet music at the record store -- and one of the songs I had bought was the Doobies' song, "Real Love." So, how did he begin the concert?



Well, what can I say? I was absolutely enraptured. Just ask Mark. He'll tell you. Actually, he'd tell you I screamed. He would be right. I did. I screamed.

Okay. . .but here's the part that got me. He came out in a white linen-ish shirt. Very, very nice. But he was wearing glasses. And, I cannot explain it -- it made him even more (ahem) attractive. He wore them for the first couple of songs -- and then they went away. I was a little sad -- because those glasses. Sigh. But still.

Oh? You wondered about BSG & DBFH? They came back after the intermission. And talked. Loudly. So loud, in fact, that Mark turned around during the first of Michael's song, and tried to shut them up.

[side note: That Chick - Stephanie - is a friend (blog buddy) of mine. I so wish that she'd have been with us. She's very bold. She's extremely brave. She uses words that would make Big Samoan Dude want to go back to the island. Steph -- we missed you last night! I could have used your bravery -- and wordsmith prowess!!!]

So, I admitted that I cried during Boz's song. . . but with Michael, I didn't cry. But I loved every single, solitary minute of it. He did songs that I scrapbook to. . . sew to. . .dance to. . . and. . .

Ain't No Mountain High Enough
What a Fool Believes
Takin' it to the Streets
Minute by Minute

Pretty much -- you name it, he sang it. And I loved it. And then, it was over. Of course, he came back for a 3-song encore. . .and then, it was really over.

Everyone -- let's do a collective sigh here. {{sigh}}

My title? Oh yeah. . . .that was the other fun observation we made last night. Being that we were the "median" age of concert-goers, Mark and I both found it fascinating, and mildly creepy that all the men (okay, all of the older -- older-than-us-men) kept getting up from their seats in the middle of the concert.

EEEEWWWWWWW!!! Getting old obviously has its downsides -- one of them being the need to visit the men's room more frequently. (But it gave us a laugh. . .and me a blog entry title!)

Prostate issues aside, it was a great concert. Both acts -- totally amazing. Unforgettable.

Thank you, Mark -- you made a couple dreams come true last night -- and in the process, made me fall even more deeply in love with you.

(I know it's sappy, but James Taylor might be coming to town next year. . . . .) Toodles!
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Up. . .UP in a day. . . .

That's right. It's 24 hours away from the dollar theaters, and we're finally going to see the movie "UP" on Sunday afternoon. At least, that's the plan, unless they take it to the cheapie theaters on Saturday evening.

It's gonna be one of those wonderful, jam-packed, crazy weekends. But, I'm actually looking forward to it.

Tomorrow, we're going to do some Buddy Walk errands in the morning, and then have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Knoxville. We haven't been there in AGES. Litton's has -- in many peoples' opinions -- the best hamburgers in Knoxville. Their buns are heavenly. (leave it. . .) The burgers are wonderful -- and the smoked cheddar, bacon, and grilled onions?

Honey, that's just the "gravy" as some would say. Oh. . .and the fries? Hand cut -- and cooked to french fry perfection.

Again. . .watch, they'll be closed for inventory, or something. Sigh.

After that, we're coming home. Edison and I are going to bake Monster Cookies. They're the "bomb diggity" as my friend, Caitlin, would say. Seriously. They're really good. And tomorrow, I'm going to try and add some Reese's peanut butter chips to the regular M & Ms and chocolate chips. We'll see, but I'm predicting a successful addition!

Then, tomorrow night -- assuming we're all still in a coma from the burgers, we'll probably have a very "light" dinner. I'm aiming for an early bedtime. . .in hopes of a good night's sleep.

Sunday -- well, it's Sunday. Church -- two services, no waiting! :) We're doing a newer song (to us, at least) and I'm looking forward to that. I posted a video of it a few weeks ago. Here. Everyone seems to enjoy that song -- not sure what the "older set" thinks. But, I'm not sure what some of them think most of the time -- and if I'm honest, I'd just soon not have my ego torn to shreds.

After church, there's New Members Luncheon -- pizza, salad, and dessert (some of the Monster cookies, actually). It will give us a chance to meet some of the new members to the church in the last three months. These are always fun -- for the most part, fellowship *is* always fun. But there are times. . . .

Then, after lunch, Caroline is going to Grandma & Grandpa's house to go swimming -- don't get excited, it's an inflatable pool -- and we're going to the movies.

After the movies, Edison and a friend (a guy -- don't get excited) are going to a Movie Night and impromptu lock-in at the church. How many movies can a kid take in one day/night? I guess we'll find out on Sunday. We're supposed to pick him up on Monday morning at 8.

Which is where my week begins anew. I can't believe I failed to mention that on Sunday night, while Edison, Luke, and a host of teenagers are enjoying "Prince Caspian" and all the pizza they can eat -- ugh -- Mark and I will be watching not one, but TWO -- NEW -- episodes of "Law & Order: CI" and then a new episode of "In Plain Sight." This is probably the most exciting part of our weekend. . . .next to the burgers, of course.

And then Monday. It's just another manic Monday. It's just another MICHAEL MONDAY!!! That's right -- the day will finally arrive, and you'll be liberated from my posts about my PCB (Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend).

I couldn't let another minute go by without reminding you what he looks like. (heh, heh)



And I couldn't live with myself if I didn't give you a chance to listen to him, too.

Side note: It's kinda comforting to see the audience sitting down during this performance.) I'm assuming it has something to do with the median age. . . I'm just saying.

Okay -- I'm done with teasing you with Michael. I'm finished with food descriptions. I have tired of predictions of movies and merriment. It's 10:51 on Friday night. I have Beth Moore homework to complete, and I have a full day ahead of me tomorrow.

. . .which brings us full-circle, and nudges me to say, "Goodnight!"
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A FARKLE a Day. . .

Overheard tonight at band practice:

"Ann, do you farkle?" (spoken by Mark)

"Usually just in the bathroom." (spoken by an embarrassed Ann)

'splanation? No problem.

Farkle is a game that is now available on Facebook. One more die than Yahtzee. Far more addicting.

Melany? Hooked
Mark? Hooked

Me? Shamelessly Hooked.

Turns out. . .it's a real game. I never knew.

Check it out. If you're on Facebook -- give it a try. But I have to warn you. . . you'll be hooked.

Let's see. . .what else? Oh yeah. . .(sigh)

Today's entry can be filed under "Things You're Gonna Blog About"

This morning, the City of Knoxville Special Events Department held their monthly meeting for organizations that are holding events in Downtown Knoxville. I attended two of these meetings last year, in anticipation of the Buddy Walk. This year, I worked it out to only have to attend one. . . and it was today.

The Knoxville Civic Coliseum is an old-ish building. It's great -- we saw the Knoxville Opera Company's production of "Aida" a few years ago. We've also been to concerts there -- and the Knoxville Ice Bears play there.

Today, the City meeting was held in their 3rd floor ballroom, where it is always held. In previous years, I have gotten stuck in the parking garage, or gone the wrong way down a one-way street. But today -- all traffic incidents were inconsequential. In fact, things went swimmingly.

When I got inside the building, things took an interesting turn. You see, the Civic Coliseum has an old-fashioned elevator. The kind like you see on episodes of Will & Grace -- not that I watch Will & Grace. But I have seen the elevator -- metal grates--door that closes vertically, rather than horizontally.

This elevator was no different.

I entered in the lobby, hit the button for the 3rd floor. Then I thought to myself: "Gosh, I really do like this elevator. Such character. It's so Greenwich Village." The metal grates closed, and the exterior door closed vertically. I took in the sights & smells. The old wooden floor -- the creaking of the gears -- it was a feast for the senses.

2nd floor

3rd floor

I arrived at my destination, and the elevator came to a stop.

Nothing happened.
The grate didn't open
The vertically closing doors stayed closed.
The gears stopped making noises.

Nothing.

Trying not to panic, I laughed at how I'd just celebrated the idiosyncrasies of this antique elevator -- and now those idiosyncrasies were holding me hostage.

I could hear the voices of people entering the ballroom adjacent to the elevator. I had arrived to the coliseum a good 15 minutes early, so I wasn't worried about being late.

I was, however, worried that -- in the unlikely event that it hadn't made it all the way up to the 3rd floor -- I would have to be pulled out (imagine the jaws of life) of the elevator car. But, I looked out the little window in the door -- seriously, there was a window so you could see the floor number -- and it said "3" so I knew I was where I needed to be.

I saw the "call" button. I remembered the fact that the call button in the church elevator (my work) would call the janitor. I figured that this elevator would get me to someone. But to be sure, I had my cell phone ready to call 9-1-1 if necessary.

First attempt at the button was confusing. . . hard to hear the speaker (over my thundering pulse in my ears). Second attempt? A sweet woman's voice answered and said to me:

"Are you stuck?"

"Yes. I'm on the 3rd floor of the convention center in Knoxville." (I was on the 3rd floor of the Civic Coliseum -- but she knew I was nervous.)

"Are you okay?"

"Yes. I'm fine. Just embarrassed."

Understatement of the decade.

I kept praying that she wouldn't call the police -- you know, the police that were there in the ballroom waiting to talk to me about Buddy Walk. But she didn't. She called one of the precious maintenance men from the Coliseum who came to my rescue in about 4 minutes. Of course, that 4 minutes felt like 2 hours.

And, when he arrived, he looked in the window. Opened the outer door (vertically opened 'em), pulled back the metal grates -- and I exited as quickly as I could, muttering a humiliated "Thank you so much!" as I slinked into the ballroom -- praying that NO ONE realized what was going on.

They obviously didn't know a thing. I made it through my meeting -- and trust me, nothing was difficult by comparison.

As I drove home, I mused that things could only get better. And, for the most part -- they did.

When I called Mark, the first thing he said -- even before "Are you allright?" was: "Well, this will be something you'll blog about, right?"

And (obviously) he knows me pretty well, I'd say.

Last Thoughts
Today is a bizarre day in history. I heard the news early that Farrah Fawcett's death was imminent -- in fact, I heard a sound byte from Barbara Walters that said she thought she only had hours left. By the time I got into the office, turned on the computer, and checked my email -- it turns out Barbara was right.

But no one could have predicted the death of Michael Jackson. I read a quick news item that he had been taken to the hospital -- but all indications were that he was going to be allright. By the time I arrived at church for band practice -- the news was released that he'd passed.

These were two icons for my generation. Countless girls in 7th grade in the 70s tried to feather their hair -- based on the countless pictures of Farrah. Many of our friends of the male persuasion had her poster up in their rooms, or in their lockers. Her most famous poster was controversial then -- and I have to be honest -- I wouldn't want Edison to have it hanging in his room. It's amazing how one's perspective changes when its YOUR teenage son.

And Michael? The King of Pop? Gone? Well, I'm still scratching my head over this one. What a multi-faceted soul. Brilliantly talented. No one can deny that. Troubled beyond words. Again, no one could argue that fact.

But the truth remains -- he leaves behind three sons.

Side note: Who names their kid "Blanket?!?!"

His father, brothers, and sister are mourning their loss . . as they should. And a generation that grew up marveling at his Moonwalking abilities, his creativity, and his generosity (albeit the strangeness really came out at this juncture) -- we're mourning the loss of one of our superstars.

I had the "Thriller" cassette in college.
I had the Jackson 5 Christmas album.
I even had Michael posters up in my dorm room in college.
They hung next to Tom Selleck. It was the 80s.

So, with very mixed emotions -- I'm closing off today with a slightly heavy heart. And if this is how I'm reacting to Michael Jackson. . . you won't want to read the blog entry when a few other celebrities pass on.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Zucchini Breads

It was the best of baking. . . it was the worst of baking. . . all in one day. In my kitchen.

You see? It's Zucchini Time in Tennessee! (Strange reference for the locals -- in the fall, we all hear: "It's Football Time in Tennessee!" yelled very loudly at every turn)

Sorry, digression. You've read me before. You're used to it.

I was given a zucchini at church on Wednesday night. Until today, I hadn't done anything with it. But, thinking it might not be enough to make a bread recipe, I bought three (3) more small zucchini at the store yesterday.

Turns out? The one would have been enough. Only, it really wouldn't have been enough. For, you see, the first batch of zucchini bread I made -- and it came from a reputable source (church cookbook) -- failed horribly. We're talking fallen in the middle, caramelized all around the perimeter, just generally bad in an overall way.

So, I dumped those out, and started again (after supper, of course). 2nd batch? Perfect.

Of course, for the second batch, I went to the master: Paula Deen. Someone kiss a ring.

This bread is rich, light in color, beautifully risen, and delicious in ways I cannot begin to describe. Here, my friends, is the link to the recipe: zucchini bread

Did I make it exactly as the recipe is given? Hello?!? Have you checked the URL to see whose blog this is? Of course I didn't follow it exactly.

I only omitted the orange zest.

This is actually the second Paula Deen recipe I made today. I had seen her "Garden Anniversary" episode yesterday - which featured a recipe for "Asian Chicken Salad with Orzo," that looked really, really good.

It is. Wow.

That will be my lunch tomorrow. It is very, very good. All crunchy and delicious with water chestnuts, toasted almonds, and sugar snap peas. Recipe? Of course. Here.

I realize it's been a couple days since I last blogged, so I probably ought to catch you up on the other important aspects of my life (all 2 of them) that you're waiting to read & hear about.

Big news!!!
Caroline filled out her "potty chart" yesterday! It's taken more time than I had originally hoped to fill the chart out -- but it's progress. And for that, I am grateful.

She's also back in summer school -- two days each week. The bus came at 7:30 yesterday morning, and dropped her off at 1:30. She seems to enjoy it -- and we're hoping that she'll easily transition into "real" school in August. Of course, it will be a bigger, different school -- but we have high hopes that she'll love Kindergarten!

News of the Weird
Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up -- feeling kinda weird. Had a headache, and was a little nauseous. I took a few advil, and tried to sleep it off. Just about the time I'd start to feeling better, I'd sleep -- then when I woke up, the headache and nausea was back.

Yesterday was a long day.

Unfortunately, because of feeling like crud, I missed our Ladies Bible Study at church last night. I'd done all the homework leading up to the session, but I just couldn't make it to church.

In Other News
I don't think I've mentioned this for a couple weeks. . .but it certainly bears repeating....I'm going to see HIM in less than a week!

Monday night.
Him.
Me.
Mark (He is my date, after all).
Boz.
Tennessee Theater.
Row 10.
Tears.
Singing along.
Smiles.
More tears.
Camera.

Simply stated: I cannot wait.

Until then? Hopefully I'll blog again. But for now, I'm getting me a piece of zucchini bread and watching some reruns of Scrubs!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seriously?

If someone would have told me that the first month of summer vacation would breeze by so quickly, my response would have been something like they do on SNL.

Seriously?

Seriously, summer? Were you going to linger at all? Just going to zip on past without giving us a chance to breathe.

Seriously?
Seriously.

I feel like every time I blink another week is gone.

Since I last blogged, things have been crazy busy -- but good.

On Saturday, we celebrated Baby-James-only-he's-not-a-baby-anymore-so-we-just-call-him-"James" first birthday. Since he was born, Caroline has referred to him as "Baby James," but once his birthday passed, we have tried to get his name changed to "just James." And, we're doing better.

She also refers to her cousin, Carson, by just the one name--after calling him "Baby Carson" for his entire first year. In fact, she actually referred him as: "Baby Carson--Baby Carson's SO sweet" initially.

Seriously.

Saturday afternoon saw Mark helping a friend move into a neighborhood very close to us. There were four adult men unloading a truck--and Steve was going to drive back to Johnson City (90 minutes) to get more stuff.

I loathe moving. Seriously.

On Saturday evening, we had dinner with friends at P.F. Changs. Seriously? I could eat there every week, and not get bored or tired of it. Lettuce Wraps, Mongolian Beef, and Crispy Honey Shrimp--seriously? Best dinner experience in a long time.

On Sunday, we stayed after church for a luncheon for volunteer ministry leaders at church. Seriously? Excellent food--pork roast, potato casserole, green beans, fruit salad---seriously yummy.

Sunday afternoon/evening was spent on my couch -- unapologetically. Stayed up too late, but what else is new? Baked a little bread, and made some chicken salad. Other than that, it was a lazy Sunday.

Monday -- work. Monday is a "meeting day" for me. Seriously? I had three meetings. . .and the third one went from 2-4 p.m. Seriously. So, on Monday night -- I not at all surprised when I was hit with what I thought was a head cold coming on. Thankfully, it was just allergies and I was mistaken. Benadryl helped get me through. You gotta love that stuff.

Tuesday I spent the morning at home -- and ran errands for work on Tuesday afternoon. Had Chick-Fil-A for lunch with my kiddos. Seriously? Great chicken, and good times with my family.

Tuesday night -- new Bible Study began for 21 ladies at our church. I think it's gonna be a good one. Beth Moore is ah-mazing! This study on the Fruit of the Spirit should prove to be very good for all of us. And, the chance to get to know other women at church will be good for me.

Wednesday -- back to "regular" work. Long day -- had to bake a pie for our "pie social" after church last night. I opted for cherry pie with my "Michigan Pie Cherries" that Mom & Dad got last year. Seriously? Best place to get cherries.

Church last night was a lot of fun. From the "community" dinner, to the worship service, to the PLETHORA of PIES that were offered after service was over. Ironically, I tasted my own pie, and my mom's blueberry pie. She had? My cherry pie and her blueberry pie. I think we're a lot alike. What do you think?

Sometime, during the service -- unbeknownst to us (except for the sound of thunder) the heavens perfomed a LOUD symphony of torrential rain, lightning, and thunder. . .which, as I learned while waiting for pie . . .Caroline didn't like it. (Sorry, Barry!) We managed to get home during the downpour, and got Caroline into bed after the weather settled down.

(she was so exhausted, she slept in today)

Today -- another "long" workday -- but it was just us girls at the office. The menfolk were all out. So, other than a testosterone deprivation experiment, it was great. Edison helped chaperone a children's ministry trip to the Knoxville Zoo. Caroline stayed home with one of her favorite babysitters, Rachael, and had a great day. Sometime around 2:00, when Edison was due back at the church, the sky decided to literally open up. Lightning is a beautiful thing -- when you're at home. In your car? Driving down the road -- avoiding hydroplaning & other cars? Seriously? Not so much.

After delivering Rachael back to her home -- amid the protests of Caroline -- we drove through Sonic. I tried the Mango Peach "thingie" and seriously? Ick. I don't need fresh fruit in my drinks--unless we're talking sangria--and last I checked, they don't sell sangria at Sonic.

Quick dinner tonight -- hot dogs (grilled, of course) baked beans, and homemade peach/blueberry cobbler. It was good.

Worship Band practice began at 6:30 p.m., and when we got home at 8:15, Caroline did everything she could to convince Grandma to take her home. It didn't work. But, she can be pretty convincing.

Getting her into bed wasn't difficult. Edison was a bit more tricky -- but he eventually made it into bed, and I believe was asleep quite quickly.

Me? I spent a little time on Facebook. I read my work emails (none). I read blogs that I haven't read in a week. And then, after nearly a week, I blogged.

I was starting to worry that I was going to lose some of my readers if I didn't blog again.

And seriously?

That would make me sad.
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Today, I Cried

Here's why. . . .


video

I am constantly amazed at how these two women (along with some others) have become a part of my everyday life. I think about them constantly -- not just when I blog, or go to read blogs. Their kids have become a part of my extended network of nieces and nephews. Our inside jokes and stories are commonplace in my vernacular. Their faces and lives are forever etched in my heart.

. . .and I've still never met them in person.

How is this possible? If I say, "Beats me," I would be lying.

It's partly the phenomenon called social networking. . .but it's so much more than that. It's Yahoo chatrooms, Facebook interfaces, webcam talks, emails, long-distance phone calls (some to a foreign COUNTRY, for heaven's sake), prayer requests sent and received, and lots and lots of laughs.

Beth and Melany both live in Canada. They met for the first time a couple years ago, and although I was jealous, I was so happy for them. They met again this weekend -- and send this precious video to say "hello" to my family.

Yes. . . if you're wondering, I did cry the first time I watched it. . .and the second, third, fourth, and fifth times, too. (Caroline watched the 2nd time, and insisted that we play it again and again) And, while Cooper (Melany's youngest) made a face at the camera, Caroline made the face right back at him. And when Emily and Hannah just waved, Caroline waved back at them, too.

We connected.


And let me say it again. . . .I've never seen either of them in person. And yet, not a day goes by when I fail to wonder how they're doing. Are they healthy? Is Melany at work? What did they have for dinner? Have they seen any good movies lately? (They both watch more movies than I do -- I live vicariously through them!)

Today's video was just what I needed. I was having one of those days -- at the end of one of those weeks. I needed a little shot in the arm -- a reminder than I'm loved. (I know I'm loved, by the way--it's just sometimes nice to hear it) I needed a reminder that my world is bigger than the home and community that surrounds me. I needed to hear their voices, and see them as they waved, made faces, and smiled at the camera.

Today, I cried. But, I needed to cry. Just to remember. . . and marvel.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The LAP (long awaited post) Part Deux

Okay, so I didn't get on here yesterday to finish the update. There's a simple reason, with two parts:

1) I was tired.
2) We had no power in the afternoon.

And, if I'm honest? I had more energy in the afternoon than I did the entire day--without power and therefore internet connectivity--blogging (especially with pictures) was not going to happen.

So, it's now Monday evening (Tuesday morning, actually) and I'm trying not to simply "phone this in," but actually write some more about our trip.

So, here goes: As I mentioned in my last post, my mini-reunion was a blast. Here are a couple of pictures of some my wonderful friends from high school. . .

Yeah, we've all aged a bit -- but our reunion was SWEET and WONDERFUL. It was just too darn short! Oh, and the little one in the front? I think they all wanted her as our official "mascot" and we couldn't take a picture without her!


One of my favorite friends, Dan Frachey, drove up from Rochester, IL to be at our little gathering. Dan and his wife, Sherry, are my buddies on Facebook, too. In fact, everyone at the reunion has met up as a result of getting connected on Facebook. What a great evening. In fact, Caroline enjoyed it. . . so much. . . .

Before:

After:
Our little party animal gave out FIVE MINUTES after we got in the car. What a little trooper!

After we arrived in Michigan on Friday evening, we got the kids in bed and slept as quickly as we could. Our sleep was brief, however, because we had to get to Owosso in order to help get ready for Daniel's graduation Open House. (Which meant making a mound of potato salad as large as a VW Beetle) but I digress.

So, the peeling, dicing, mixing, and combining began the very minute we got out of the van. (Yes, I washed my hands!) At one point, the mixing got so intense, I took off my rings, and used the "spatulas at the end of each arm" in order to get the potato salad mixed. And, might I add?

It was gooooooood.

Daniel's Open House was fun. Lori and her inlaws set up a very nice area in their church's Fellowship Hall. . .including tables with star-shaped confetti. . . confetti which, we learned, will "launch" if you hold them just right. For about an hour, Mark, me, my dad, Edison, my nephew
Andrew, and even my Saint of a Mother "shot" little metallic stars at each other. It was quite fun. . . especially when Edison was volunteered to sweep up our shrapnel on the floor!

Daniel (left) greeting friends (including Edison, center) to his Open House. Yep, that was about the level of his enthusiasm the whole time!

Mom and Andrew (my other nephew) who is, I believe, "loading up" another metallic star to shoot at someone. Probably me.

At some point, in the past 10 years, First Church of Christ (Owosso) was given a mannequin. This "gentleman" actually accompanied Daniel and his date on prom night. I don't know. . .he kinda creeped me out. But, Daniel decided that "Bob" needed to come to the party, too. (I was just thankful it was wearing pants)

Of course, I had no idea how Caroline would react to "Bob" when she met him. . . .

She tried to get him to sing with her. Seriously. The girl's got chops.

After the Open House, Mark took me out for a wonderful treat. . . the Kone Zone in Downtown Owosso. I had a wonderful cone -- unfortunately, we didn't take the camera. But trust me, it was very good.

Church on Sunday was nice. It was refreshing not to be in charge for a change. I sang with Lori & Dad a couple times during church. And, that was nice. But beyond that -- I had NO responsibilities. And I liked it very much.

As soon as church was over, we headed out of town -- with only one minor stop when we realized that we'd forgotten Caroline's two prescriptions on Lori's kitchen counter. Once they were retrieved, we met back up with Mom & Dad, and caravanned our way back home.

On Monday, we attended Caroline's Preschool Graduation. Yes, we ZOOMED our way back 591 miles in one trip in order to watch Caroline (nearly) weep with fear during the song the kids sang. Then, after she received her "awards" including a graduation certificate -- she bolted for my lap, and stayed there until it was time to go home.

Caroline -- spotting Mommy & Grandma in the audience. Bolts.


Caroline - foiled by a quick-thinking teacher who grabbed the hem of her dress and kept her "in line" (so to speak) with the rest of her class.


Caroline receiving her graduation diploma, a reading award and the computer award. The reading award actually says: "Caroline loves books." (which is a nice way of saying that Caroline finds refuge in the book area when the other kids are having meltdowns) I can live with that. . . I love books, too.

I think we probably overdid the weekend -- especially considering that she'd been sick the week before. But, family is so important -- and celebrations like this don't come along every day. 600 miles in 4 days = crazy? Probably.

. . . but I'd do it all over again, if I was given the chance. She may not have actually enjoyed "performing" with the group, but she won't graduate from preschool again -- and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for anything.


Congratulations, Caroline! We are so very proud of you. And we know this is just one of many promitions we'll celebrate in years to come. We can't wait -- but please, slow down! It's all going so fast!!!

The week flew by -- just getting ourselves adjusted to "normal life" was challenging. But, we somehow managed to get through. Edison is babysitting Caroline some this summer -- and although we are having to pay him -- we pay him less than we pay our typical babysitters, so it's a win/win for all of us. He's also mowing the lawn (coincidentally for less than we paid the guy last year) so again. . . we win. And he's getting good exercise and developing the desire to be responsible, hold down a "job" and earn some money. I think those things are pretty good for him.

Allright, it wouldn't be one of "my" posts without some random pictures. Here goes:

The pool at the hotel on the first evening was far too cold for Caroline. . . but not Edison:


And then there's this. While driving through Indiana, we visited my Aunt & Uncle's gravesite. I hadn't been back since they died nine years ago. Seeing their gravestone brought back some memories that I guess I'd fogotten. I wound up shedding a few tears. . . but that shouldn't surprise you. Of course, those tears were soon wiped away with some laughter after seeing this:


He and his beloved MUST have been NASCAR fans. And yes, there are plenty of one-liners that can be made. Trust me. . . I've thought them (even spoken a few out loud) but I won't do that here. If you really want to hear them, because you can't think of any. . . email me. I will be honored to share my off-color remarks with you privately.

That just about sums up our trip. It was fun -- but honestly, it was almost too much to cram into a 4-day jaunt. I wish we'd have had more time. I did get to enjoy my first Tim Horton's experience -- and it was wonderful. For those of you who haven't experienced Timmy's -- it's kinda like the best of Starbucks & Dunkin Donuts rolled into one. They didn't seem to have nearly the selection of coffees that Starbucks has. . . nor the donut selection that can be found at Dunkin Donuts . . .but the onion bagel was to die for and they had Diet Coke. You gotta give props to a place like that. (And yes, Caroline thoroughly enjoyed the box of TimBits that I bought for her!)

Allright. . . there you have it. Another SAGA from me. Tomorrow? It will be some of the fun, random things we've experienced since returning home. Things like:

Caroline making LEGO worms in Edison's window
Caroline dancing with her Lamb in front of her new mirror
Caroline napping in a basket (I promised this before, I know)

And, how could I forget???

Mark getting the autograph of Ryne Sandburg at tonight's Tennessee Smokies game. It was awesome. And yes, Caroline loved the Rally Monkey. Go figure.

Good night, everyone!
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Long Awaited Post

I hope it lives up to your expectations. It's nearly 1 a.m., and I should be in bed. But, this has been hanging over my head for a couple days. And, I don't like being a disappointment. . . so here goes:

WOW.

I could honestly stop right there, in writing about our whirlwind trip last weekend. Both for the fact that we put over 1,200 miles on the van. . . but also for the amazing reunion and celebrations that took place in those four, very short days.

On Thursday, we headed toward Louisville. We actually crossed the border into Indiana. Mark and I have found Candlewood Suites to be a great (bargain) hotel. They're set up primarily for people who travel for work -- each room includes a desk, stovetop, full-size refrigerator, and microwave. Seriously, they are very nice.

The kids enjoyed it, too. This hotel had a pool -- and although Edison enjoyed the water, it was far too cold for Caroline and Mark. (Especially since Caroline had been diagnosed with croup and a slight ear infection on Thursday morning)

On Friday morning, we took the kids to IHOP, and then headed for Chicago -- by way of Target, of course. The trip to Target was a highly profitable one -- we got Caroline one of those Color Wonder pads with markers. She didn't start using it until the trip home. But, oh my, did it make for smooth travel.

In fact - - I'll stop here and comment on what an amazing little traveler she is. I was certain that she was going to get bored and out of sorts on our trip. However, that was totally incorrect. She read books, sang to herself, played with her Leap Pad, and talked to her faithful companion, Murray the Dog. Seriously, I would take this child on a car ride to Disney, if I thought she was up for a trip to the Magic Kingdom. (A couple years. . . I promise!)

So, back to our trip. We made it through Indiana -- stopping in lovely Seymour, IN -- for gas. My dad had called and said that gas prices in Michigan were high, so when we found something under $2.50, we decided to go for it.

Since we were in Seymour, IN -- home of our dear friend, Brent Bradley, we called his cell phone to tell him that we were in his hometown. Brent, of course, was in an airport terminal waiting to board a flight to Buffalo, NY for a wedding. He called when he was able to actually talk. I think he liked the fact that we thought of him--if only at a rest stop.

They are doing some serious road construction on I-65 (both north- and south-bound). We sat in traffic for about 30 minutes (creeping ever-so-slowly). I started to get concerned that we wouldn't make our dinner that night with my High School friends. . . but traffic started to move, and we did just fine.

In an attempt to avoid more traffic delays due to construction, we opted to drive over to Aurelio's by going through my hometown of Crete, IL. That wasn't on the route for our GPS, and let me tell you, Sally Mae -- or whatever her name is -- was going crazy. But, we made it -- with an HOUR to spare. What does a family of four that's been in a van all day do when you arrive at your destination an hour early?

You drive around for a half hour -- and show your kids mindless and useless trivial places. Seriously--it was Glenwood, IL and Chicago Heights, IL. There's very little that is going to serve them in their later lives--but we took them anyway.

What can I say about dinner on Friday night???? Oh man. . . what an evening. Laughing, crying, hugging, reminiscing. . . and that was before the pizza arrived.

Edison and Caroline delighted everyone there--they were the only kids in attendance. And, I know I'm biased -- but Caroline was a special inspiration to everyone. At the end of the evening, even though the restaurant was crowded and still noisy, she sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for everyone.

I don't think they'll soon forget her singing for them. I hope they don't. I want them to always remember how much love she embodies in that little 30-lb body. I want them to see her joy. I want them to hear her voice. I want them to experience her love.

And, they did. It was awesome.

After dinner, talking, and reconnecting, we drove to Michigan. That's right. We are certifiably insane. We drove to Battle Creek MI to try to carve some more driving time into our trip. It was fine -- but being after 1 a.m. when we all got to bed--we were TIRED.

And it's there that I must leave you. It's 1:06 a.m., and I've got to play two services tomorrow morning. They're not going to be difficult services, but it will be a long morning, especially with very little sleep.

Tomorrow's post (I promise there will be one) will include pictures that have yet to be unloaded from the camera. And that post will be followed (maybe even on the same day) by some events that transpired since we've been home.

They include:
Caroline graduating from preschool
Caroline sneaking into Edison's room with her gift bag of Legos
Caroline dancing in front of the new full-length mirror in her room
Caroline sleeping in a basket

Yeah, since she's graduated from preschool, she has been going non-stop around the house. She's had a good week, but it's been a busy one. I'm not sure I'm ready for this summer -- but it's upon me. What can I do???

Have a great Sunday morning -- I'll try to update while watching NASCAR. Those are always exciting posts!
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Friday, June 05, 2009

I really am. . . .

. . . coming back.

I promise.
I swear.

Tomorrow? (Which at this point, is really today.)

Probably.

Pictures?
Stories?
Anecdotes?

Absolutely.
You have my word.
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