TGI Monday!

I am so glad it’s Monday. Seriously. Did you ever have one of those weekends? I just did.
 
Things started out mellow enough. I got up early on Saturday, showered and took Kacey to school so she could take the bus with her team to a volleyball scrimmage. Then it was back home for me and time to get on top of the weekend cleaning. I had a good start, but got sidelined when Mark called me downstairs to look at the PC. Something funky was going on with it and a virus warning kept popping up and preventing access to the internet. But the warning wasn’t coming from the anti-virus service to which we subscribe, Norton. After running a virus scan through Norton and finding nothing, I tried removing the offending program to no avail. Finally, I made use of Norton’s online chat service to get some help. I spent a couple hours chatting with “Aswathy,” a very polite and diligent technician, getting the infected program removed as well as getting a PC tune-up. And yes, it cost me. I think this is the second time I’ve had to pay a substantial cost beyond my annual subscription fee to have something removed by Norton. Does this sound fishy to anyone else?
 
So only some of the cleaning got done, but I sloughed off the rest in favor of going bowling with Jake. Lord knows I can’t turn down an offer to go bowling anymore. I’m an addict. And Jake and I had a GREAT time in spite of the fact that he kicked my butt. HE should be the one playing on a league! My time there wasn’t in vain though. I got some tips from Mattie, the owner of the bowling alley and hopefully will get my act together in time for this weekend’s tournament.
 
BrianSo, on to Saturday night. There was a get-together at the home of some friends of ours, Joe and Julie. This end-of-the-summer bash featured Joe’s new band, GPU (Ground Power Unit. I guess it’s an aviation term. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it?) Though we’ve known Joe for many years, we never knew he was a drummer. When I asked him why, he said, “Because you’re not really a drummer until you’re in a band and I haven’t done this in twenty years.” Joe said he was excited about the band. He said their lead singer was a guy who auditioned for American Idol, Season 8. Apparently he didn’t go on to earn fortune and fame, but he was pretty good.
 
I was excited to see and hear the band, as well as see Julie, who I don’t see often enough. Guests were asked to bring their own lawn chairs, beverage of choice and a dish to share. And so we did. We carpooled with friends, Bill, Tammy, Paul and Megan. Upon arrival, Tammy produced a bottle of our new favorite drink, UV Blue vodka. I passed on the beer we had brought along in favor of the vodka-lemonade that was offered me. I held the cup while Tammy poured the alcohol. The first time around, I dictated how much vodka she poured and made sure it was a responsible amount. Too bad I didn’t pay such close attention when my drink was refilled by Tammy a while later. By this time, the band was playing, and we were all seated on the front lawn and driveway watching the band perform in the garage.I was enjoying the music. Tammy turned around from her seat in front of me on the front lawn and proceeded to pour vodka and lemonade into my cup. Drink number two was substantially stronger than the first and by the time I finished it, I was feeling no pain.
 
Thankfully, Megan had agreed to be the designated driver because most of the rest of our little group were getting pretty happy too. Another group of guests at one point asked Tammy to take their camera and snap their picture all together. They’re going to be surprised when they look at the picture and see five smiling idiots hamming it up in the background of their photo.
 
More Cowbell

More Cowbell

I know I talk about having a few beers now and then, but I know my limits and rarely exceed them. Saturday night was one of those rare occasions when I exceeded them. I laughed a lot, and danced without a care. So I didn’t do anything too crazy. At least I didn’t get up and start playing the cowbell with the band, like some people I know. I woke up Sunday morning, early, not necessarily hung over but feeling a little sluggish. I went back to sleep until 10:30. I felt like I was dragging the rest of the day. I’m too old for this stuff! I gladly parked my butt in a chair and watched Kacey’s team play softball for a couple of hours, but other than that, I accomplished nothing. I ended up calling it a day by 9:00 last night and woke up this morning with renewed energy. We had a great time Saturday night, but I’m not in a hurry to do that again!

 
I’m really glad it’s Monday!

Life is Good – August 28, 2009

IMG_0650 by you.It’s Friday again, already? Where does the time go? This week has gone so fast!

I had a pretty good week. It started out with an afternoon spent with my sister doing research for the family tree. We weren’t successful in finding what we were looking for, but I really enjoyed our time together.

Later on Sunday, I went bowling with my best friend, Gina which is always fun no matter what the scores turn out to be. In fact, we had so much fun, we bowled again Wednesday night even though our Wednesday league has ended for the summer. We talked and bowled and laughed and saw a few friends we’ve come to know through the leagues and talked and laughed some more.  Gina asked me if I was interested in bowling in a tournament with her on Labor Day weekend. I told her I was too much of a novice to be able to participate in a tournament but she wasn’t taking no for an answer. So I’m bowling in a tournament. And to be honest, I’m really looking forward to it! And it gives me an excuse to go to the bowling alley and bowl some more between now and then because I really need to practice!

The house has been unusually quiet this week and I’ve found myself missing my kids. Brad is back at school and he’s all settled in. Jake has been working so many hours that I don’t think I saw him for about four days in a row. Kacey has been at volleyball practice every day and has also joined a fall softball team. Why is it good that my kids are so busy that I miss them? If they weren’t such great kids, I wouldn’t miss them so much!

I got to spend some quality time with my dad this week. On Thursday, my sister and I took him to lunch and enjoyed good food and good conversation. We plan to make this a regular thing.

Thursday also brought with it a sad goodbye. My coworker, Missy is leaving our office family and moving to Michigan. Missy was one of the first people I came to know when I first started my job and we’ve come to be good friends over the years. We had a going-away party for Missy at a local bar near the office and per Missy’s instructions, there was no crying allowed. She made sure that everyone had fun and insisted on having her picture taken about a hundred times with all of us. The pictures grew more interesting with every drink Missy had, and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I’m going to miss that girl, but she’s definitely leaving us with some fun memories! The following are some of the milder pictures that were taken.

3863067101_0e64ea40e4

Missy wanted a picture of us together. She'd had a few drinks and I had to ask her to move her hands DOWN!

3863850454_0a2c6915a9

Missy and her "Minnesota BFF" Michelle. Not to be confused with her "Michigan BFF" Shelly.

3863066955_3fca9bd9c6

Missy proudly displaying the beer coupon I made for her. She liked it so much, she "laminated" it with tape.

All in all, a very good week! Life is good!

Lunch with Dad

Cory and I took my dad out to lunch today. We decided last weekend that we should make it a point to do something with Dad once a month and do the same with Mom once a month. Mom and Dad spend so much time together, we thought it might be nice to give each of them some freedom to do their own things once in a while when the other is out with us.

There was another motive too. I don’t make nearly enough time for my parents, unless I actually schedule time with them. When I called my dad to invite him, he was pleasantly surprised. He asked what we were celebrating. I felt guilty that he thought going out to lunch must mean there was some kind of occasion. I explained to him in not so many words that I was just trying to stop being such a slacker daughter.

We asked Dad to choose the restaurant and he wanted to go to Applebee’s. The food was good. Dad got some kind of club sandwich that looked as if it had an entire package of deli turkey stacked on it. I couldn’t believe he was able to finish most of it! I ordered something called the Ultimate Trio where you can select three items from a list of options. I got some mini cheeseburgers, boneless honey barbecue wings, and the famous spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips. I ate the chips and dip and then I was too full to eat anything else. I should have just ordered the chips and dip from the appetizer menu and called it good!

During our time together, we somehow got on the subject of how my parents chose the names they did for their kids. Cory has had conflicting feelings about her name for years. Due to the spelling of her name, those who don’t see her in person automatically assume she is a male. She says she still gets mail addressed to Mr. Cory ____. She commented to Dad that in 1965, the name Cory, especially for a girl, had to be very unique. He agreed it was, but couldn’t quite remember how he and my mom had come up with it. He just knew that they didn’t want to use any of the “typical” names of the day, “You know, like ‘Barbie’.” He did remember that my name was one he remembers liking because of a woman he had worked with many, many years ago when he worked for an insurance company. He had a coworker there named Terri who he described as “the nicest person in the world.” Then he leaned forward and spoke in an exaggerated whisper, “but she was kind of… well…not obese, but quite a heavy gal. But the nicest person in the world!”

I had to laugh that Dad felt it necessary to share that last bit of information!

While we were gone, Mom took advantage of her freedom and went to have lunch with a long-time friend. Cory, Dad and I had a good time and when we dropped Dad off at home, he gave each of us an extra squeezy hug and thanked us for taking him. Precious moments. I wish I’d thought to do something like this long ago.

Stories

“So, where approximately are we looking,” I asked my sister, Cory?
 
“Well…the thing is,” she chuckled in a sort of embarrassed kind of way, “I don’t know.”
 
“You don’t know? You mean you have no idea whatsoever?”
 
“I thought we could ask at the office. They should have a map. But it looks like they’re closed on Sundays. We’ll just have to look around and hope for the best. Maybe we’ll get lucky,” she offered hopefully.
 
“I don’t know. This place is HUGE,” I replied, turning my head and looking out every window of her van. “But it could be interesting. I’m game. Let’s just see what we can find.”
 
Cory parked the van and I grabbed my camera, stepping out into the warm Sunday afternoon sun. There were grave stones in every direction, some clearly very old and others more recent. I was fascinated by the names and studied the birth and death years on each stone, mentally calculating the number of years each person had lived. A lot of people used to die young. There were a lot of babies and children. I felt a sudden pang in my chest at the thought of losing one of my own, then quickly tried to force the thought away before it succeeded in darkening my spirits.
 
I called over to Cory who was wandering a short distance away, her head dipped low, studying some of the in-ground stones, “What names are we looking for?”
 
“The one I really want to find is Anna D***.”
 
I didn’t recognize the name. “Who was she?”
 
“Grandpa’s sister,” she responded without looking up.
 
I stopped and stared at her. “What? I’ve never heard that name before. How could Grandpa have a sister I’ve never even heard mention of?”
 
Still studying the stones in her vicinity, she replied, “Probably the same reason Dad didn’t know of her. She died before Dad was even born. She was only like twenty-one when she died.”
 
I stopped my own search and stared at the back of my sister’s head indignantly. “I can’t believe Dad didn’t know about her! Didn’t our family talk about anything with each other? No wonder we know so little about our ancestry!”
 
I found myself feeling grateful that my sister has been working so hard on our family tree for the past several years and a little guilty that I’d done nothing to assist to this point. The day’s expedition was the result of Cory’s search of death records at the church my grandparents had attended all of their lives. She had found Anna’s death record there and information showing she had been buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul. Our search for the grave site was in order to substantiate Anna’s connection to our family. Calvary is an expansive cemetery. Not surprisingly, we had no luck finding Anna’s grave or any other of the names my sister had on her list. Our time there was fascinating and I did snap some pictures, but we agreed we’d come back another day when the office was open so we could find the exact location of the relatives we were looking to find. I suddenly found myself craving more knowledge of my ancestors; who they were, what they did, and what they were like. Cory’s genealogy research will help, and maybe I can help her with it from now on, but it’s not the same as knowing the stories. And now most anyone who could have passed on those stories is gone.
 
We left Calvary and drove to Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights where some other relatives were buried but were met with the same obstacles we faced at Calvary. The office was closed and there were just too many grave stones to think we could find the few for which we were searching.
 
Though our search proved fruitless, I had enjoyed spending time with my sister. We reminisced about our grandparents and relived old memories. We lamented the fact that my grandparents’ old neighborhood has fallen into such disrepair. We remember a street full of family homes, friendly people, a neighbor nicknamed “Okie” and walking around a block filled with tidy homes and yards. Today, the neighborhood seems sad and neglected; even a little scary.
 
 As Cory drove, I commented, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to travel back in time? I’d love to go back and spend time in the house when Grandma and Grandpa were young and raising a family. I’d love to meet the neighbors and friends Grandma used to talk about. I’d love to see the neighborhood as it was when it was when it was younger and full of life.”
 
“I know,” she agreed. “I know.”
 
**********
 
Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard the sound of a helicopter over the house. I thought it was just passing through, but the noise remained. I went to the lower level where Mark was watching television and Kacey was playing on Face Book.
 
“I wonder what’s with the helicopter,” I mentioned as I passed through the family room.
 
Mark went out to investigate and returned to say it looked like there was a search going on. Kacey said she received a Face Book message from her friend Andi saying that a stabbing had occurred in the area and the authorities were searching for the perpetrator.
 
“This neighborhood is turning SO ghetto,” Kacey announced.
 
I was already on my way out of the room, but that comment struck me. We’ve been in our neighborhood for almost twenty-two years. I wondered about Kacey’s assessment. Ghetto?
 
I thought about the house next door. It was once the home of a young family and later that of a young couple. The couple has since divorced and moved away. The house is in foreclosure.
 
I thought about two homes across the street. The families living in each are struggling with family problems. The upkeep of their homes has clearly fallen to the bottom of the priority lists.
 
I thought about families we knew when the neighborhood was just developing; families who have since moved away. Homes have been sold over and over. Trees have matured. There’s definitely an older face on the place we’ve called home all these years. I suddenly worried that my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren wouldn’t know our stories.
 
And then I remembered… this is why I have a blog.

Letting go again

It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday with temperatures warm enough to have the windows open but not so hot that the air conditioning needs to be turned on. I’ve been cleaning up after the chaos of the past week. There was Dacotah fur EVERYWHERE.

It’s too quiet around the house. Mark will sleep most of the day, the victim of the over-night shift at work. Jake has gone off to work again. Kacey is playing in her first volleyball scrimmage of the season. And Brad? Brad has gone back to school in North Dakota.

His departure was so different this time around. There was no packing craze leading up to it. He left all of his big furniture and things in Fargo over the summer. All he really needed to do was pack his clothing and a few personal items. And he wouldn’t let me buy him anything to start off the new school year. No new clothes, no laundry detergent, no toiletries, no groceries. Nothing. He merely grabbed a few notebooks that I had purchased when I found a good deal last week. I didn’t buy them with anyone in particular in mind, just figured between he and Kacey, they’d make use of them.

“I’ll pick up stuff when I get there, Mom. I don’t want to have to haul it all from here and have to unpack it when I get there.”

I felt kind of helpless. Buying him things is my way of still taking care of him. But he can take care of himself now. I know his refusal of my offers to buy supplies for him was just a matter of convenience on his part. I can’t take it personally.

He doesn’t need us to transport him to school anymore either. He’s the proud owner of Mark’s old truck now. He drove himself back to school. I didn’t even take the day off of work. It seemed pointless to use vacation time just to be here when he walked out the door. I knew if I did that, I’d just be left feeling sad the minute the door closed anyway.

As luck would have it, I woke up yesterday with a raging headache. I tried to start my day and got some clothes ironed before heading to the shower. And then I just stood there. I felt slightly nauseous. I tried to tell myself it was no big deal and as soon as I really got moving, it would pass. I argued with myself.

“Call in to work.”

“Just keep moving. It’ll go away.”

“Call in sick.”

In the end, I called in and said I was going back to sleep for a while and would be in later in the morning. I went back to sleep for a few more hours and when I surfaced again the headache was still there, but not pounding as badly as  it had been earlier. Brad was awake when I wandered into the kitchen .

“So you decided to take the day off after all,” he asked?

“Not really,” I told him. “I decided to have a whopper of a headache and go in to work later.”

I was grateful for the chance to see him awake before I went to work. I was able to hug and kiss him and remind him to call me when he got there. He and Heather were “caravanning” to school, so I got to hug her goodbye too, and remind them to keep an eye on each other as they travelled.

It seemed so strange, so uneventful compared to the last couple of years. I thought to myself that maybe you can actually get used to saying goodbye to your kids. I left for work before they made their departure. Brad called me at noon to let me know they were heading out. I told him again that I loved him and to be careful.

Things were slow at work and as a result, the office atmosphere was very social. I guess it was a good distraction. I may have been talking with a coworker or maybe taking a customer call when I missed the vibration of my cell phone. I picked up Brad’s voicemail late in the afternoon. They had made it safely to Fargo.

I didn’t feel weepy or immensely lonely. Only this morning when I  experienced such a quiet in the house  as I haven’t known all summer did the melancholy set in.

I guess it never really becomes easy to say goodbye. The sadness becomes less intense than those first few goodbyes. He’s grown comfortable, happy and confident at school. He has friends there and likes being on his own. It’s hard to feel too sad about that.

But it will never really be easy to let him go.

Life is Good – August 21, 2009

IMG_0622_1 by you.Another week has flown by and it’s Friday again already. Time to look back over the past seven days and count my blessings.

There were plenty of clouds and rain this week and even a tornado warning.  On Wednesday there was a tornado sighted in Minneapolis. Outside my office in St. Paul, the sirens began to blow. A quick glance at the calendar reminded me it wasn’t the first Wednesday of the month, so it wasn’t just a drill. Looking out my window, the skies were dark and the wind was blowing. Rain was pummeling the downtown streets below. The employees were actually asked to seek shelter in the stair wells as we waited for the worst of it to pass. Tornadoes are known to hit hard and fast without much warning and the damage can be severe. In Minneapolis, the roof was blown off a duplex and the residents were left homeless. Luckily, the storm mellowed and no damage was done in our area.

All the rain this week has made the prospect of going out for a run less than appealing. Lucky for me, I’m enjoying a one week free trial at the local gym. I have given a few of the machines a try and quite enjoyed them. (I really like the elliptical machine!) I have decided that I do, in fact want to actually join the gym. I’m trying to be smart about the process of joining and get the most for my money. I have asked around about initiation fees and monthly charges at other gyms. I even went so far as to ask my neighbor and good friend, Bill if he’d mind telling me what he paid when he and his family joined the same gym a few months ago. Bill avoided giving me a direct answer and instead reminded me that he is a member of the local business professional association and that he has an “in” with Susan, the manager at the gym. He promised to talk with Susan and ensure I was offered the best prices. A couple days later, Bill called me with some good news. I will not be paying an initiation fee at all and will pay only the very reasonable monthly fee that I was quoted. It pays to have friends in positions of power!

IMG_0613 by you.Speaking of friends, we had a couple of special ones staying with us this week. Brad’s girlfriend Heather, and her dog, Dacotah arrived on Monday. Brad finished up at his summer job early this week and he and Heather have been enjoying some down-time before they leave to return to school in North Dakota today. It was nice having them around. Heather is just a sweetheart and she fits right in and accepts all of our family craziness as if it were normal. She and Brad even cooked a taco dinner for everyone one night. IMG_0608 by you.And Dacotah was entertaining as always. There is still a lot of puppy in her and she’s fun to play with. She found a big stick in the back yard and entertained herself endlessly, refusing to let anyone take it and throw it for her and even wanting to bring it in the house, though we wouldn’t let her.

IMG_0581 by you.Of course, with the extra bodies in our not-so-large house, there was a need on my part for some space. Wednesday evening provided the perfect opportunity. Our summer bowling league came to its official end and we celebrated with a banquet. Our team didn’t break any records. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We came in 17th out of 18 teams. But we had fun and that’s all that really matters. We didn’t walk away entirely empty handed though. Dave earned a couple of patches and yours truly earned a bobble-head trophy! Never mind the fact that it was pretty much the booby prize since I won it for low series!Trophy by you. It was cool! Check this baby out! The top teams may have won big money, but everyone wanted to see my cool trophy.

I just got myself a new pair of bowling shoes and women’s leagues begin in a few weeks. After a summer of bowling against the very competitive men, I’ve learned much, improved my skills and I’m ready to kick some butt in the women’s league!

Jake has had a busy week, working like crazy. He loves his job and has been wanting to get more hours. He has a new manager who really seems to be impressed with his work ethic, so Jake got his wish.  Suddenly, he’s got all the hours he wants!

Finally, my list of blessings wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention Kacey. She’s been busy trying out for the volleyball team at school. She brought home an evaluation form that was completed by the team of coaches and it listed her strengths as her “calming attitude” and “consistency.” I am proud to report that she earned a position on the JV team and I’m looking forward to watching her play her favorite sport this fall.

Life is good!

Me? Join a gym?

I might.

Maybe.

It could happen. Yes. Me. The life-long dork without an athletic bone in her body is contemplating joining the gym.

It all started when a solicitor-looking person named Joey (who looked all of twenty years old) arrived at my door one day last week and offered me a free one week trial at the local, brand new, state of the art LA Fitness which just so happens to be practically out my back door and which I regularly run past when I go out for a run. (And I secretly laugh at those people in the gym, thinking about how I’m outside running in the beautiful summer weather FOR FREE while they are paying a monthly fee to burn calories and tone muscles!)

As I contemplated Joey’s offer, I thought about the fact that I don’t like to be seen when I am running and possibly struggling and very likely looking like a big dork. These are the reasons I like to run in the early morning or when night is just beginning to fall because I am less likely to be seen. My first thought was, “No. I do not want to join a gym. People will see me sweat and struggle and looking like a dork.”

I also thought about the many people I know who pay for gym memberships that go unused month after month and I just KNEW I would be one of those people.

But then I thought about those long winter months when I wanted to go outside for a run, but the temperatures were too cold, or there was too much snow on the ground or a layer of ice on my path. I thought about how I began to feel cooped up last year and how I complained and cursed the winter weather because it wouldn’t let me get out and blow off steam. I thought about the fact that running in the dark is quite possibly not the wisest choice. I started to realize that I wouldn’t be the one secretly laughing at those gym members when I was outside running, bundled up in my UnderArmour Cold Gear, and other layers and ear-band and gloves. And I started to think, “I might want to join a gym.”

Joey quoted me some not-very-impressive prices, but I figured I could at least take advantage of the one week free trial and easily turn down the opportunity to join. So I said to Joey, “Sure. I’ll take a free one week trial.”

Kacey was present for Joey’s entire spiel and by the time he was done, she had received a free one-week pass as well.

So tonight, Kacey and I headed over to LA Fitness to  meet with Joey and get a tour of the place. Upon entering and seeing all of that excercise equipment right out in the open where everyone could see everyone else working and sweating and possibly looking like dorks, I had a panick moment and thought, “There’s no way I’m going to join this place. People will see me. I know I’ll never do it.”

But Joey (who as it turns out is about twenty-two and a recent college grad) was there to greet us and we had no choice but to go along on his grand tour of the place. He had me try out some of the equipment and I realized that I REALLY like the elyptical machines and the excercise bikes, not to mention the treadmills which would not require me to bundle up for warmth in the winter. I saw a lot of things I might want to try someday when I might actually become somewhat…dare I say…in SHAPE.

People looked at us as we toured the place which was kind of an odd feeling, especially when he walked us through the pool area and the thirty people in the pool participating in a class all watched us walk behind their instructor, but I started to realize that all the exercisers were looking at us and not actually looking at each other. I started to think I might be able to handle working out in a gym. I could eventually be one of the regulars curiously staring at the newbies taking a tour of the place. I started to realize that I might want to actually join.

When the tour was over, Joey quoted me some new much-more-impressive prices than he had quoted me when standing at my front door. I’m an easy sell and admitted to thinking these prices were much better than the original. Had I decided to join right there and then, I would gladly have paid the newly quoted prices. But I have to say Joey is not a very good salesman. With no pressure from me whatsoever Joey decided to knock fifty dollars off the one-time-only initiation fee. The  fees are now looking extraordinarily reasonable and members are allowed to “freeze” their accounts at any time for any length of time and return at the same price whenever they are ready. These prices are guaranteed for two weeks and if they ever go lower, I’m allowed to negotiate for the lower price.

This was all sounding pretty good.

I already had myself half-convinced to join but I wasn’t committing to anything just yet. I want to go try things out a couple of times and then make my decision. On the way back to the car, Kacey, who had been rather quiet the whole time said to me, “Can we do it? I think I would really do this. I mean, if I ever got lazy about it, you could just hang it over my head and tell me, ‘I paid good money for this, now let’s GO!’ Can we do this?”

This was looking better and better. I was growing more comfortable with the idea by the minute and now I could even have a partner, my favorite daughter, to work out with.

So…

We might join the gym!