Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break

Has it been a week already? Rats. Spring break came and went and I did nothing. Nada. Zip.

Don't get me wrong-it was a good break. But I did NOTHING! I feel so guilty.

No closets got cleaned out, no projects got completed, only a little bit of laundry got done and I slept late. I got 2 books read and cheered Gregg on as he worked on his own projects. Me? Nope. Just laziness. Bummer.

I DID, however, make my oldest do some work. She was angling for a pet fish (Get it? Angling for a fish?) and so I took the Things to the library to do some research. For whatever reason, she was really wanting to get a Siamese Fighting Fish. Why she wanted to get this breed is beyond my comprehension, as this breed does very little. They hang out. According to my sister, Happi, their own fighting fish actually lies on the bottom of their tank (and yes, it is alive). Boring. Three days of living in our house and these fish don't even swim to the top of their tank in excitement over dinner arriving in the form of colorful flakes floating on top of the water.

So, in an effort for Cassidy to learn all about this fish, I made her do some research. I also made her write a paper. (Seriously. Can I help it if I'd hoped this would disminish the desire to be a fish owner?)

Unfortunately, nowhere in these books did it say, "THIS FISH WILL DO NOTHING FUN IN THE TANK . . . NO CARTWHEELS, NO TRICKS, NOTHING! IT WILL BORE YOU TO TEARS! GET SOME CUTE NEON TETRAS, INSTEAD!" Instead, she learned all about the aggression of the male species, the bubble nest for the eggs, the saliva in the bubble nest and that it eats blood worms. Mackenzie was enthralled. The next day, Fish 1 and Fish 2 came to live at our house.

Fish 2 appropriately belongs to Thing 2. She named him "Swimmy." It has turned out to be a great name for him, as he does indeed do some swimming. Truthfully, he is more active than the other new addition to our family. I really pushed for a more Nebraska-friendly name . . . like Husker, Big Red, Osborne or even Bo. No such luck. Swimmy it is.

Thing 1 will do everything to try and convince you that her fish (seen below yet unnamed as she has changed the name at least 92 times in the past 24 hours), is full of pep and lots of personality. Just this morning as she got ready for church, she was convinced that he was barking at her (in a fish sort of way), slamming his little slimy body against the side of the aquarium to try and get her attention and that he blew some bubbles at her. Right after she told me this, I ran outside and saw a pink elephant go down our street riding in clown car, all while being pelted with sleet and snow.

I know, it's all ludicrous of course. All except for the sleet and snow part. I only wish I was exaggerating on that one.

So, that in a nutshell is spring break from our house. Seven days and two fish later, life is good.

Lazy, too. Like a Siamese fighting fish. But good nonetheless.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday-Part II

Several weeks ago-probably well over a month ago, my mom invited us to dinner to celebrate my birthday on the Saturday following my birthday. She also informed me that my dad wanted to take me to lunch that day. Fast forward to this past Wednesday-it was a great day and ended with birthday cards to open from Gregg and the girls. After opening the last card, I was informed by my sweet hubby that the two of us would be going to get my gift on Friday . . . WITHOUT the children. I was told that his mom would be arriving to pick up the grandchildren at 4 pm and that I was to be ready to leave.

Over the next 48 hours from receiving that information, I was given clues but didn't know our destination until just before walking out the door. As it turns out, my gift was located in Chicago and off we went.

Upon arriving downtown, we circled the block to find a parking garage and when Gregg pointed out the hotel, I saw that just next door was a theatre displaying "Jersey Boys" on the marquis. It wasn't until we were out of the car and approaching the hotel entrance that Gregg told me that we were indeed seeing the show that evening!!!

After checking in, we wandered down the street to do dinner before the show. It was at this restaurant that Gregg and I experienced the ultimate fish story. We have laughed about this more times than we can count at this point. We are certain that in our old age, when our girls draw straws as to who's turn it is to go in and take care of mom and dad, they will commiserate about having to endure the fish story AGAIN-as we're sure it will become legendary. Allow me to share:

Have you ever seen that commercial (I think it was for Visa/Mastercard or American Express) where the couple dines at a very fancy restaurant and when their food arrives, it's nearly miniature in size? The next scene shows them at a convenience store buying junk food since dinner didn't do the job of filling them up.

Having said that, Gregg ordered fish. Pacific Sea Bass to be exact. The restaurant is so nice that it's one of those places where everything is a la carte. Want a salad? You'll need to order it separately. Right after you take out a second mortgage on the house. Suffice to say, we didn't order salads. Surely our main entree would satisfy.

After much anticipation, our food arrives and it takes nearly everything to stifle the giggles. Gregg's fish is literally about 1" x 3" in size, beautifully displayed on a plate nearly 14" in diameter. A can of tuna would probably have been more filling. Don't believe me? See for yourself. And note the point of reference in placing Gregg's fork in the photo. That will help you understand.

We went ahead and splurged on dessert-partly to stave off hunger midway into the show, as I shared my ravioli (about 8 to be exact) with Gregg once he'd finished his fish. Dessert arrives. Cookies. All three of them were the size of a quarter. Nuff said. Moving on.

As we nearly collapsed in laughter AFTER we left the restaurant (we tried desperately to act cool and everything-pretending like we knew all along that our dinners would be miniature sized), we headed to the theatre and thoroughly enjoyed the first act of the show. During intermission, Gregg got a phone call. Somehow, via my mom to my brother-in-law through a co-worker to her boyfriend in the show, we were going backstage for a tour afterwards. I'm sure that a tie in with Kevin Bacon fits into this somehow, but I'm not quite certain of the connection yet.

The tour was interesting and I desperately wished for my mom. Once upon a time, she did a 6 month run of "Hello Dolly" with Carol Channing at this very same theatre and as we wound our way through the maze backstage and down in the basement, I had to wonder where my mom had applied her makeup and warmed up before the start of a show once upon a time. It was an experience I won't ever forget.

Fast forward to nearly 12 hours later. Gregg and I were heading home again and I commented at how much I wished we had more time to enjoy the city. Gregg said very little, other than needing to get me back in time to meet my lunch date.

Right on schedule, my next date arrived and off we went to eat. As I looked over the menu, I shared our fish story with Papa Dean and he had a good laugh as well. At the end of our meal, his cell phone rang and I heard his end of the conversation with my mom. Apparently our next stop would be at the studio-some customers had arrived and could we come on over so that I could help them out with some ballroom shoes? Off we went.

To try and explain what happened next is still surreal in memory. A gentleman as always, my dad had opened the door of the studio and ushered me in first and when I opened the next door, the sight of a crowd of people in semi-darkness greeted me. Then, the singing began-specifically "Happy Birthday" and as I focused more on the faces in the crowd, it dawned on me. This was a party for me. I was the guest of honor!

I found myself starting with the people nearest me-hugging the necks of people from church, my baby sister Darci and her family from 5 hours away, the girls from my Bible Study, and on and on. Students of mine were in attendance, my other sister Happi and her family and my preschool teacher! I continued to wander through the tables and as I was hugging that first teacher of mine, I nearly fell over. My best friend from high school stood behind her and as I left Mrs. Swann's arms for Cindy's arms, I burst into tears. My BFF had traveled over 400 miles to celebrate with me.

The party rocked. My parents and sisters had worked tirelessly, though they never said so. I just know so. Every detail was planned out perfectly. It was obvious that more planning, thought and love went into this occasion than I will ever be able to fathom. To top it off, Happi presented me with an amazing gift . . . a scrapbook of photos, letters, and memories of my life from birth through the present. I had notes from people who held me as a newborn to friends who have become a part of my life just in the past year. I had letters from family-sentimental notes and ones that made me laugh. It was a lot of work to put together-I know. I also knew that it was a labor of love. To say that I was awe-struck wouldn't even suffice. I will treasure this book forever.

As Gregg and I laid in bed later than night and replayed the evening back, he half jokingly commented that the afternoon had been like getting to experience your funeral before dying . . . being honored and loved on by family and friends and being ALIVE to experience it. Odd as it may sound, it was true. I'd never experienced anything quite like it. Now that I have, I hope everyone gets an opportunity to do so in their life at some point. It was amazing!

So again, I say thank you to everyone who had a hand in making the weekend happen. I know that my family busted themselves to show me an incredible experience and I don't know that it would be possible to ever convey my extreme gratitude to each of you. I won't ever forget it. I had the time of my life! I love you all!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

THIS Is Your Life!

If there were ever a story written about the greatest weekend a person could experience in their life, I would hope that the author would consider mine to become their next bestseller.

I turned 40 this week. I made reference to "40 and Fabulous" here on this blog. Little did I know how fabulous "40" can be!

The details are numerous, but suffice to say I have experienced a real-life version of "This Is Your Life" in the span of a few hours. From my preschool teacher to my BFF from high school to 4 of my 5 bridesmaids from my wedding to an old roommate from my days on Carnival Cruise Lines and newest friends just made in the past couple of months, I had the extreme blessing of being honored, blessed and loved on for a few hours meant solely for wishing me a happy birthday.

I know that several of you read this blog, live quite a distance and couldn't be here today. I read your messages and you will never know what they meant to me. Thank you so much for your kind words.

It's been one of the happiest days of my life. Truly. I am overwhelmed, thankful and full of gratitude!

I know that a lot of people were instrumental in making this day happen, but a special thanks goes out to my family. I know you put more hours of love into making this all possible than I will ever be able to fathom and I hope you know how much I love you all and how much of a blessing you are to me! Thank you so very much!!

I will catch you all up on the details when I have more time (and energy-partying takes a lot out of a girl) but I just had to stop and take a moment to say thank you. For everything. As special as you made ME feel today, I hope you know how special YOU are to me! God bless you all!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Forty and Fabulous!

Yep. It's a milestone today.


And Fabulous.

It's all good!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doc-In-the-Box . . . The Story That Dr. Seuss Didn't Write

It was a cloudy, cold day.

Then, it was a beautiful sunny, warm day.

Then it got cooler the next day.

The tornado sirens went off.

It got colder.

It rained. Then it snowed.

The sun came out.

It was still cold.

And that's our weather. No wonder I'm afflicted with "the crud" right now. To make matters even more fun, Gregg's sick. So is my mom. She is the original bearer of the crud germs though, so we are blaming her for our problems. (Isn't that what kids do? Blame their parents for all things bad?)

Things didn't improve much with a trip to the Doc-in-the-Box yesterday. (Doc-in-the-Box is what we call the kind people who we visit when our own family doctor has too many crud-inflicted people in the office for the day to be able to squeeze us in for a visit. Doc-in-the-Box is located in Wal-Mart in these parts. Maybe you have a Doc-in-the Box somewhere "unusual" where you live . . . a grocery store? A pharmacy? Maybe even in a Dunkin Donuts?)

I knew we were in for a humor-less visit when Thing 2 and I were first escorted into the Doc-in-the-Box room and the kind nurse practitioner on duty gestured toward one of the chairs and said, "I put the basket of suckers and stickers out for you." I immediately thanked her profusely, paused then said "oh, you meant they're for her!" as I motioned to Thing 2. No laughter. Moving on.

The exam commenced. As predicted, I did indeed have "the crud." As she left my side to go write out a prescription for antibiotics, I asked if she could also prescribe or recommend something for the sinus pressure. She looked up at me.

"I guess I should look inside your nose," she said.

Uhm . . . I'm thinking that she probably should have done this earlier on, but that's ok. She's sending me off with a prescription for drugs. I like her so much that I just may add her to the list of people to send Christmas cards to if I ever actually resume this activity again rather than just discuss it in the next holiday season.

As Thing 2 and I headed to our prescription-filling place of choice, I noticed sparrows busily building a nest in the "R" of DRIVE-THRU" as we waited in line at Walgreen's. I was mesmerized by their activity-wondering if they had any clue that it's still way too cold to comfortably wear capri pants. Later on in the evening, Thing 1 spotted robins in a yard on our street and upon arriving home, spotted two more robins in the yard next to our's.

"Look Mommy, those robins are fighting with each other!" she laughed. "See how they're hitting each other with their wings?" As I turned in the direction of the birds, she was right. They were definitely working out some issues with eachother.

The nesting sparrows and conflict-filled robins have given me hope, though.

Capri pants just may be in my immediate future after all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reality TV At It's Finest!

Ah, a fresh new season of reality TV has arrived . . . let the games begin.

I was so glad to see "Dancing with the Stars" return to Monday nights. I hope I'll still be saying that in the next few weeks as I anticipate growing increasingly frustrated with my least favorites still in the mix. I know that the whole point of the show is to bring in non-dancer "celebs" but was it really necessary to bring in the former co-founder of Apple? Poor poor Steve Wozniak . . . definitely gifted in the computer scene, but not so much on the dance floor. (YIKES!!) And then there's the whole costuming thing with Karina . . . I think I was blushing as I desperately tried not to look too closely. (Insert another YIKES here.) And she's engaged to Maks? I shudder at the thought.

And can we have gotten off to a more interesting start? Lil Kim (who the heck is this person?) dedicates her performance to the girls in the pen? And the next guy? He's creepy.

On a more positive note ('cause right now I'm picturing my grandfather making claw-like gestures with his hands and meowing at me for being too catty), my favorites are Gilles, Melissa (poor girl, but she's better off) and Shawn. I am hoping that these three make it to the end and I can't wait to see the improvement that happens from here on out.

American Idol didn't disappoint. As usual, Paula seemed to have had a few too many before the show. Sadly, we (Gregg, actually) didn't reset the time on our VCR over the weekend (yeah, we don't have DVR or TiVo) and we missed the first few contestants. Based on the final clips and the smallish-sized sample on iTunes from last night's performance, I am loving Danny Gokey and hope it comes down to him and Adam battling it out at the end. Time will tell.

Let the games begin, indeed!

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Know Things Are About To Get More Interesting When . . .

. . . your 4 year-old wakes up in the morning and announces "Mommy! Jesus escaped from my heart in the middle of the night." (For the record, He remains in her heart-apparently she had a dream that He left.) Phew.

. . . the American Idol judges announce that they are bringing Tatiana back for another shot on the wildcard show. What?????????

. . . someone approaches you after your car's been parked for several hours already (so you know they're not coming in to tell you that your lights are on) and they sheepishly ask, "do you own that white Buick at the end of the parking lot?"

. . . one of your children thinks that a great solution for getting a sibling out of a closet is to slam their head in the door.

. . . you hear a loud crash (see above) and your husband calls out for ice. "Quick!"

. . . you accidentally wedge the corner of a car door into the back of your calf. Note to self: add ice pack to the list of things to pick up next time I run to Target.

. . . the preschool Superstar chooses Daddy as her special guest to read to her class, learns that he might not be able to make it, and requests that her sister be pulled out of school to read to the class instead. Upon learning that this is not an option, taps her chin and looks thoughtfully into my eyes and says, "I don't have anyone else left to ask." (Is there any greater humbling job than that of being a mother?)

. . . you offer to teach a class for the kids department at church and your child informs you that she'd rather be in a different class. (Did I mention the humbling aspect of motherhood?)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Because I Know You May Have Lost Some Sleep In the Anticipation:

I give you . . .

The SUPERSTAR vest!!!!!!!!!!

Martha Stewart never made a paper bag look so cute. Or so feathery.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

If March Comes In Like a Lion . . .

. . . then it sure better turn lamb-like in about 30 days.

That's what I'm sayin'.

Sheesh. A whole week has flown by since my last post. My writing mojo's gone on hiatus, so this post is going to be a lot of random nothingness. (Is nothingness a word? If not, let's make it one.)

Monday: Gregg came home! PTL! May I personally send a shout out to all single parents out there? I don't know how you do it-honestly. The Things are good girls, but it was really great to have him back in the mix.

Tuesday: I discovered that American Idol was being bumped to Wednesday night. Bummer.

Wednesday: Mackenzie learned that she is next in line to become the weekly "superstar" at preschool, starting tomorrow. She has been waiting (NOT so patiently) for her turn at this since the beginning of the school year and finally has her moment in the spotlight this next week. I have explicit instructions at what all is involved with being the superstar, starting with her paper-grocery-bag-vest. Her teacher handed me the bag, smiled cheerfully and she encouraged us to decorate it. I know you all are dying to see our work. Too bad I'm going to save that post for tomorrow. ;-) Ah, and American Idol was back . . . I'm thinking that Adam is our next David Cook.

Thursday: It rained. A lot. Then it snowed. It's all because I'd gotten ambitious on Wednesday and washed, vacuumed and cleaned the car. I should have known better. Rats. We also had a field trip with Thing 2's preschool class to Culver's. There is nothing quite like handing 20 dishes of ice cream out to 4 and 5 year-olds in a nearly empty restaurant without a child to adult ratio of 1:1-let me tell you. At one point, a group of the girls started chanting "GIRLS TA-BLE . . . NO BOYS ALLOWED" while beating the rhythm out on the table top with their plastic spoons. I regret to inform you all that Mackenzie was one of the loudest, although I had to give her props for the no boys thing. Gregg would be proud.

Friday: I finally got started on Mackenzie's vest. She let me know each time I did something unsatisfactory and I was humbled by her honesty. Something tells me that this is going to be a long week.

Saturday: It was a busy day . . . work, catching up on housework, church, and recovering from watching a commercial on TLC. Has anyone ever heard of the show "Toddlers and Tiaras?" Oh my word . . . the commercial alone was enough to nearly send me over the edge . . . mothers shaving their toddler daughters' legs in preparation for a beauty pageant and no, I am not kidding.

Today: I need to send a shout out to my brother-in-law, Jerry. Happy Birthday, Jerimus!! You're the best!!! Also, the work on the vest continues. Can we say pink maribou? I know you're all on the edge of your seats waiting.

In the meantime, I hope you all are enjoying a sunny start to March-a lovely month, indeed . . . St. Patrick's Day, my birthday, spring break (or in these parts, we call it "supposed-to-be-spring-but-feels-more-like-winter-break") and last, but not least, shamrock shakes from McDonald's. Ah, gotta love March.