Walking away

I bet you were waiting all weekend to hear if we have bedbugs. Good news! We don’t.

We spent money to find spiders apparently. But I have a piece of mind that everything is okay.

We have since moved on to our next crisis.

Our son’s car broke down right after the exterminator left. The car started steaming when he got to our road. When he pulled into the driveway, all of the antifreeze leaked out. Today we had to get the car towed to the garage to be fixed.

We have been having record high temps in WI. It has been hotter the first few days of fall than it has been all summer. All I wanted to do was go to the beach, but that never happened.

On Saturday we drove a couple hours to go to my friend Lisa’s 40th birthday party. She wanted to go to a small town’s Octoberfest.

While we were there, we heard from a friend that we might get sued.

Just a quick recap…last month my son, along with 20 other kids, went partying at another girl’s cabin without her. She got busted by her parents with alcohol but told her friends to go anyway. She gave them directions and told them how to get in. There was some minor property damage…a broken water pump, broken glass, blood on the carpet, and penises drawn on the wall.

We have been in constant communication with the parents and have offered to pay for a share of the damages. Now we are wondering if we need a lawyer. It doesn’t appear that my son will be facing criminal charges since he got permission to spend the weekend at the cabin via text from the daughter. However, we don’t want to get sued. We know some of the other parents will be unable or unwilling to pay. Will they go after us for more than our fair share?

I didn’t feel like celebrating after hearing we might be going to court. I didn’t even do one dance. I took a walk through the small unknown town by myself. I needed to be alone to think. I walked until I saw the courthouse and sat on the steps. It seemed bizarrely suiting for the occasion.

Sometimes I feel like walking out of my house with the clothes I have on and never coming back.

When I am really upset, I aimlessly drive for hours or go on a long walk. Last night I went for a long walk. I felt anger and despair. I wondered if God really was there.

Paul and I have been upset and/or fighting about this all weekend. We accused each other of not caring about the other, but neither one of us said that we didn’t care.

Now we just sit and wait wondering what will happen next. We just want this to be over with. We want to stop feeling angry every time we hear about it. Thankfully Paul and I are getting along better today..It is hard to be angry and to express that anger without feeling blamed or attacked.

I just want to walk away…or better yet, sit on the beach oblivious to the cares of my world..

 

Torn linoleum, bed bugs, and a touch of poison ivy

Remember last year when I told you about our worst return home from a family vacation to Florida??

Just a quick recap…we pulled into our snow covered driveway to find our pet sitter stuck in a snow bank…our house was covered in dog piss, feces, and vomit. There was wet pee covered towels shoved in under clean, dry towels…and someone went rummaging through everything in my bedroom..

This return home from Florida was up there with the worst.

We had a great time in Disney…then Paul and I stayed a few days for a conference..At the conference things started to fall apart. I was having a hard time sleeping and got a head cold. I had to force myself to stay awake for the seminars and was too tired to do a lot of the fun stuff afterwards. Great!

The kids spent the weekend at a camp up north for a family reunion with my mom.

The first problem came on Saturday afternoon when the new pet sitter arrived. She noticed that the dog got locked in our bathroom. I usually leave the bathroom door closed. But since I wasn’t there, it was left open. Upon leaving, I am always the last one to leave the house to make sure the oven is turned off, etc…to make sure these types of things don’t happen.

This is what I came home to:

Someone left the door open and the dog trapped himself inside. Our dog tried to scratch his way out of the bathroom. He tore the linoleum and clawed up the door and trim pretty good. To think that all of my worry scenarios involved teenagers trashing my house, not a geriatric dog!! Seriously!!!

Great! Good thing my son had that flooring job for the summer.

The following day, my son contacted me about bites all over his body. My mom thought it could be poison ivy since he walked near some. My son thought it was bed bugs.

The next day, he was covered in a rash.

I blew off some sessions to make a doctor appointment. Then I had to stay on hold to give parental consent since he is 17, under legal age.

The doctor didn’t know what was causing the rash…she told my son to thoroughly clean his room. That was the best advice a doctor ever gave my kid.

My son bagged his bedding and vacuumed his mattress. He thought he saw bugs, but wasn’t sure.

Meanwhile, my mom called the camp they stayed at for the weekend to ask about bed bugs in his cabin. This prompted a visit to the camp from the health department with no signs of bed bugs there.

Then I blew off some more sessions to contact my friend who works for an exterminator. To make a long story short, tomorrow I have an appointment set up with someone that does canine inspections for bed bugs. I really hope it is poison ivy or spiders. Yes, I am starting to like spiders even more..

At least this time I knew what I was coming home to. Although that did not make it easier..

I felt so miserable being sick. I felt stressed out about everything at home. I wanted to take a nice long walk…at nighton the freeway…but instead I literally cursed my luck with a few 4 letter words..

Why me?? Why??

I have a feeling this workation is going to be a lot more expensive than we had planned. It already cost what little was left of my sanity…

 

Animal Kingdom’s peculiar animals

…the herd is taken over by a younger male gorilla…the older male loses his family and remains alone…the staff member says as she waves her hand towards an older gorilla that we are gazing at. 

Two little boys (~6) slide in next to me by the gorilla display. 

Boy 1: That gorilla doesn’t look very happy. 

Boy 2: That is because he is an adult. All adults look sad. 

Boy 1: I think he is a female. 

Boy 2 turns to me and asks…Hey lady, is he a female? What do you think?

I turn to the boys with a smile masking an inward chuckle. I tell them that the gorilla is an old male. Look at his white fur. He is simply old and tired. 

The boys, satisfied with my answer, thank me and walk away. 

The old gorilla looks my way. I bet he thinks how peculiar the humans are that parade by on display. 

A hurricane, a pocketknife, and luggage lost

Our flight went so smoothly that we were feeling smug.

There was that one brief moment when Paul realized he had a pocketknife in his backpack before going through security. Last time he got pulled aside after security. That was a little nerve wracking. He ended up having a corkscrew in his carry on luggage. 

Because I am a nervous flyer, I read a lot of articles about flying. Somewhere I read that flight attendants size up passengers to see who needs extra assistance in the event of an emergency and who would be of assistance. 

On a plane, I watch the flight attendants. I put on my music and watch all of the nonverbal cues. The flight attendant looked bored. Good, good…for a minute he looked worried when another attendant ran to the back of the plane. But then he laughed and went back to looking bored again. 

The flight was easy this time, too easy..I was expecting turbulence from flying over the storms caused by the hurricane. But the most difficult part for me was getting off of the Disney bus. It was dark and I missed the step by the seat. I caught myself from falling into the older lady beside me. How embarrassing! I tell you this often enough…for an athlete I am very clutzy. 

Since it was late, I dozed off in my clothes while waiting for our luggage. I woke up every couple hours and opened the door to find nothing. 

The morning came and still no luggage. Apparently I put the luggage tag on but not the sticker. I don’t remember getting one. So it was basically my fault. I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Paul was upset and called back. He is direct and gets shit done but tends to be more reactive than me. He told them that they needed to help find our luggage. Paul said he had medication in the luggage. He was so worked up that they asked if he needed an ambulance.

I am laughing so hard as I write this.

We decided to get some coffee. There were workers clearing brush that was scattered around from the hurricane. On a side note, Orlando didn’t seem to sustain much damage from the storm. However, quite a few of the employees said they didn’t have power at home. The biggest complaint I heard in this area was of people losing freezers and refrigerators full of food. 

With the exception of the customer service person on the phone, the employees were great. Even a few of the workers cleaning brush asked how we were doing. Paul said crappy. Another worker asked jokingly if he wanted to help. Paul asked if they had any extra clean underwear. I inwardly chuckled because I knew he would be part of the day’s story. We spent the morning with the conceirge trying to find our luggage with no success. It disappeared.

We decided to go to Epcot as planned. We were wearing the warm clothes we flew in with. The clothes we slept in. We didn’t have a hair brush, tooth brush, or deodorant. It was hot and humid out. Hotter in Florida than it was in Wisconsin all summer. We stunk! Paul’s wet underwear painfully chafed his skin. Of course we had to be covered from head to toe in black. We didn’t pack extra clothes in our backpacks. Maybe we’ll have to rethink this whole traveling light idea. 

We walked around the happiest place feeling dirty and miserable. I felt strangely emotional. It was unexpected. I remembered coming to Disney a few years ago when the kids were younger. Those were magical times, middle childhood. Back in the days when my kids were innocent to the evil in this world. For the most part, I am happy that my kids are growing up. I am ready to let them go into adulthood, but sometimes I miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years. 

I felt a completely unexpected sense of loss. 

But then my son texted saying he was feeling sick. We had an employee call in because her mom had a heart attack. At that time, I wanted to be done with it all. I wanted the stress and responsibility of parenting and owning a business to be gone. 

But instead, we lost our luggage. 

I’m going to have to talk to the person in charge of magic here…

My gosh, there is always something to write about. Isn’t there?

Thankfully due to Paul’s persistence, our luggage was found. Frontier airlines was great to work with although our luggage ended up in Denver. They even reimbursed us our luggage fee for our inconvenience. 

Finally clean underwear! Woo hoo. 

Now maybe we can enjoy being at the happiest place on Earth!

Heading to Orlando

I printed off our boarding passes this afternoon….we are headed to Orlando. The best part is that we will be meeting up with some good friends for a few days at Disney before the business part of the trip.

I got the feeling that we might be traveling on Sunday despite the hurricane. My daughter Arabella said that she was starting to feel sick. She is the kid that has gotten strep the last couple of times we left home without her.

That was a good(?) sign we were heading out of town.

Arabella had me take her temperature this morning. It was normal. She is a little congested, but that is all. I did feel really frustrated with her at first.

But instead of being angry, I decided to talk to her about…gasp…feelings.. She admitted to feeling afraid when I leave. It is touching that she feels that way in high school, but I am starting to worry about college. Will she be the kid that ends up living in my basement?? I was betting on the music majors…hmm…maybe I got this all wrong..

She is worried that I will die. Too tell you the truth, I worry about that every time I step on an airplane. So of course I had to book my first trip out of the continent to Asia. Nothing like a 22 hour flight to conquer my fear of flying!

Thank God for the little white pills that keep me from having a 3 hour long panic attack on a plane.

(Oh my gosh, I’m going to be flying 22 hours soon!!!!).

As for today, I am excited to go to Florida. Maybe I will have a few pictures to share when I get back…

Ending, a new beginning

Paul and I are starting to think about retirement. Over the last several months, we received several generous offers for our business. Which, after much contemplation, we declined.

We were thinking of working for another 5 to 7 years, selling our business, and retiring. Then we had a day where we had absolutely nothing to do for 3 whole hours. We were bored. We just about went stir crazy. I was thinking of throwing food on the floor so I had something to clean…or braving into the dark realms of my teenagers’ rooms with a vacuum cleaner..

Then we asked each other how we would handle being retired with days to fill with nothing. So we decided that we would most likely work forever and just slowly cut back our hours until we were ready to sell…not a bad plan..

Then something happened…we had an auction as a fundraiser for our church. We put a 3 hour sunset sailboat ride on the auction block. It went for $400. After that, we had another bidder come up to us and ask if we would take them for a 3 hour ride if they offered $400 to the church. Really?? Seriously??

Then the idea started to trickle back into my brain…Let’s retire after the kids leave and start another business.

When our start up business was in its infancy, we could never leave it. For the first couple of years, Paul was a one man show. That meant the day our last baby was born, Paul had to leave the hospital and go to work.

In the beginning years, Paul had to have major surgery which required a week hospital stay. He was supposed to take at least a month off of work. He called clients from his hospital bed. Right after he got home, I drove him to the office everyday. I helped him walk up and down the steps one at a time wincing in pain. Then I came back and picked him up at the end of the day.

He went to the office with strep. Some nights he worked until 10 PM.

Finally his hard work paid off and he was able to hire an employee. After the first employee left and the kids were old enough for school, I joined him. Then we hired a few more people. We really didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t even have an employee handbook.

This past week we had an employee oversleep her 1 PM shift. I’ve had to come back early from vacation to cover for people. Sometimes having employees is like parenting. They are great people, but managing creates a lot of stress and frustration in my life. It requires disciplining, hand holding, encouraging, instructing, and being the one who makes difficult decisions. That’s what you get when your name is one the door.

Maybe when I am done parenting, I would like to be done managing people too.

So it got me to thinking about retirement again. Paul and I always talked about starting a new business doing sailboat chartering. We could sell our business, pay off our debt, and start a new company. Apparently there is a market for it. Then we could get back to working together alone again.

Once the kids leave home, it is still on the table. We would buy a bigger sailboat. Paul would get his captain license. I could do all of the scheduling. I would take pictures and write about the experiences of the people sailing with us and make a scrapbook for them of their adventures. Paul is an excellent chef…he would do the cooking, I would do the cleaning. On days of bad weather, Paul and I are amateur actors. He also plays guitar while I sing. We like to laugh and tell stories. We like to listen and learn about the lives of others.

It wouldn’t be a big money making venture, but it would be fun.

Outrunning my fear of biking..

This past weekend I participated in a 20 mile bike ride to help raise money for our church. I was the only person that signed up for 20 miles this year.

The lady that rode with me last year ended up having knee surgery, lost her mother, and had her husband leave her for another woman all in the last couple of months. It really wasn’t a good year for her so I can’t really complain about a little fear of biking.

I realize that I haven’t spoken about running or racing at all since I competed in the Half Iron a couple of months back. Completing the Half Ironman was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I wish I could capture that feeling and put it in a bottle. Its scent is more enchanting than the world’s sweetest perfume.

After the Half Iron, I took 3 weeks off from exercising. I typically take 1 week off after a large race to re-cooperate. Then we went for our week 20th anniversary sailing trip, so we were on vacation..Between these two events, it was one of the best summers ever!

Anyway, that first run was difficult. It always is. I don’t get too hard on myself if I need to walk a little that first time out after a grueling race.

However, I noticed now that I feel very anxious on my bike. I feel kind of embarrassed about it. I think part of it is feeling a lack of control over the clip on shoes. My right foot has been hard to unclip and I feel nervous since I fell. I sprayed my pedals with Pam before I left home.

The main roads were very busy on the bike ride. I was afraid that I was going to fall in the church parking lot and make a fool of myself in front of all the people. I had to maneuver around a lot of cars and a tractor on the road. Yes, a tractor! It was challenging.

After about 10 miles, I started to relax once I got on the back roads. I stopped a couple minutes to re-hydrate. A couple passing in a car stopped to ask if I was okay. There are still some good people left in the world..

As I was biking past tall reeds and weeds, I heard a loud crashing noise. I scared two deer out of their hiding place in the tall grass and boy did they scare me!

I hesitate to ride my bike in the center of the lane because of cars. I hesitate to hug the ditch because of animals. I almost hit a skunk last year on my bike. I scared up deer, many rodents, and wild turkeys. Sometimes animals that are afraid are unpredictable. At first, the wild turkeys came towards me as I was riding by them.

The busier road I took on this ride was under construction. There were bump signs and I had to dismount my bike. I also walked it through a busy intersection. It took awhile to get back on my bike because there were so many cars. There was a semi that passed me up a hill in a no passing zone which always scares the crap out of me. I’ve had a few close calls with cars as you can imagine if you are an outdoor runner or biker.

Sometimes I also feel lightheaded. That scares me. Seriously, what doesn’t??!

As I was pulling up to a stop sign near the bike ride rest stop, I was able to unclip my shoes but I couldn’t reach ground. I hit the brakes and almost flew off my bike. I tried to put my feet on the pedals, but they slipped off. I almost fell. Great way to make an entrance to the snack and hydration area! Look at me! The only biker that went 20 miles and crashed into the snack table! Well, it wasn’t that bad but I had them lower my bike seat so I could touch the ground easier. I think that is going to help me a lot!

Last year was the first time I biked 20 miles…since then I did an Olympic tri that was all hills and completed the Half Iron.

I hate to say this but I don’t think I enjoy biking as much now as I did when I was a kid. But I did accomplish much over this past year and think I can conquer this newfound fear.

I am still not sure what is on my racing menu for next season…but I am still biking and out running!!

Birthday blessings

Today is a special day because it is the golden birthday of the child we recently sponsored in Togo, Africa. I’m sure he won’t be complaining that the birthday money I sent will be a little late.

This child comes from one of the poorest countries in the world. He has a big head and a tiny little emaciated body. Almost half of the people don’t have electricity. Most don’t have indoor bathrooms and have to walk for miles to get clean drinking water. That is their normal. I feel grimy if I can’t shower everyday. Showering is probably the least of their concerns.

The average annual salary in Togo is $400, so the $30 that we are sending him every month is considerable. But what is it to us? We probably spend close to their annual salary in one month of internet and cell phone charges. We are giving $30 out of our excess. Pocket change..coffee for a month..

It reminds me of the Biblical story of the rich man giving a lot of money and the poor widow giving the last of her money. Who gave more? The rich man. But did he really when the widow gave everything she had?

We had the opportunity to sponsor a child years ago but didn’t. Money was tight starting a business on one income with 3 little mouths to feed. It seemed practical to not spend any extra money. We didn’t give when we had little to give.

The child we sponsor sent a letter saying that he was praying that God would bless us for our giving. I’ll admit, it did give me warm fuzzies. But am I really that great if I am giving out of my excess? Maybe I should sponsor 100 children…but I would have to give up blogging to write all of those letters.

To tell you the truth, it is really hard to relate to a child whose favorite toy is a ball. He would be overjoyed to receive a new ball for his birthday. A ball? Not the newest iPhone? Or how about a fidget spinner? Or is that fad over now?? That’s right, most of the children in Togo don’t have the opportunity to stay in school. The literacy rate is horrifying, not to mention how the kids become easy target for sex trafficking.

Someday we would like to visit our child in Togo. I think it would be a humbling experience. Paul and I always spoke of doing a mission trip. We would love to help people rebuild their lives. But we wouldn’t be able to commit to anything until after our children grow up.

Paul mentioned how nice it would be to go to Togo to bring our sponsor child home with us to the land of milk and honey. Or the land of beer and cheese depending on how you view Wisconsin.

Can you imagine what it would be like to place an iPhone in the hands of a child who lived his whole life without electricity? He would be sickened by our excess.

Is it arrogant to think that our way of life is better?? I mean, my kids don’t call me a blessing every time they nickel and dime ($5 and $10) me. Which, come to think of it, happens pretty often.

I bet the food our country throws away in one day would be enough to feed another country. Remember the guilt trip our parents took us on about the starving kids in Africa when we didn’t eat all of our food? If only our parents could’ve sent our food there.

I think the average American would love to help those in desperate need if they could. If they can’t physically help, they would love to send money. The problem is that we are afraid. We all know of someone that was scammed. We cannot trust that our money is going to where it is supposed to go. There are some bad people out there that really ruin things for the people that need help.

Regardless, I feel blessed to help a child. Happy birthday to my other ‘son’.

 

 

Blizzards, hurricanes, and airplanes

My husband and I are flying to Florida next week…or at least we are (were??) planning to.

As you may have guessed, we have become obsessed with the news coverage of hurricane Irma. We are going to Orlando for a conference and decided to go a little early to spend a few days at Disney without the kids.

I was surprised to see people sharing things on Facebook about it being the end of the world. Major hurricanes, wildfires out West, and a solar eclipse…but all of these things have been happening since the beginning of time. At least we have modern technology to know about the storms before they hit.

Some people also have been thinking that the world was ending for awhile too. I remember hearing stories in my lifetime of people waiting on their rooftops for the end of the world to come. They would’ve died waiting too…which sends my thoughts to wonder how many fell off their rooftops? I wouldn’t want to climb out on mine, especially in winter.

Maybe people are talking about the end of the world because it seems like America is getting hit with some pretty nasty natural disasters.

Did anyone proclaim the end of the world when eBola hit Africa?? What about during the Salem witch trials, the year 666, and during the bubonic plague??

My brain might explode!

Do I believe that someday the world will end?? Yes, perhaps so, but I believe that the world has been ending since it first began. Kind of like life…people will debate over when life begins..Does it begin at conception or birth? But no one would debate that the minute something is living that it begins the process of dying whether it is a plant, human, or animal…

Wow, that is morbid and deep…okay, enough of the philosophy.

I don’t know if we will be flying out next week…As a Midwestern girl, I know nothing about hurricanes. I’ve only dipped my toes in the ocean a handful of times. I’ve never seen a shark in the sea. I’ve never seen an alligator or crocodile in its natural habitat. I couldn’t tell the difference between them.

All that Wisconsinites know about is blizzards.

Most of us know how to drive in a foot of snow. Some people around this neck of the woods can manage driving in a foot of snow drunk. I wouldn’t recommend it.

We rarely shut down for more than a day for a snow storm…usually a few hours. Most people have a truck, snowmobile, or 4 wheel drive. We’ve gotten used to white out conditions, sliding into snow banks, and leaving the house when it is 20 below without gloves and hats. We can live 3 months barely seeing the sun. We’ve become accustomed to seasonal depression. We shovel the snow out of our driveways with snot dripping and freezing onto our jackets. We are so desperate to get out that we fish on the ice. The bravest of us see how long we can make it before turning the heat on.

But hurricanes, I don’t know anything about that! I can’t even comprehend its impact.

I suppose I too am guilty of being self-centered. I am worried about myself, my flight, my ability to get away for a few days. I seem to be more concerned about the storm for my purposes then the people that have lost everything even their lives.

I admit I am rather happy that all of the news on Facebook isn’t political rants, rioting, and that weird stuff about statues. But I feel horrible about the stories of devastation that are replacing them.

Oh, and I never did read that article about the end of the world.

 

Arabella’s letter

Our local high school encourages parents to write a letter to their child upon entering high school to be given to them at graduation. Sounds like an easy task for a ‘writer’, but it is not.

I don’t remember what I wrote for my oldest daughter and she never let me read it after graduation.

A few years back, I wrote the letter to my son and shared that letter with you. It was easier to write because quite frankly I was moved. We were going through some really hard times with him. Times a lot harder than him going to an underage drinking party at someone’s cabin. Let’s just say that I had a lot of words of wisdom and advice to share..

But it is not all about my middle child and his ability to rock the boat today. It is about Arabella, my baby, the child I have little in common with. She doesn’t even look like me. She was a horrible baby. She cried non-stop for the first year, day and night. After that first year, she has been easy going and probably my easiest child to raise so far (although we are only a year into the teen years). She has been practically a straight A student and seems to have her head on fairly straight. What kind of advice could I give her??

Well, here goes…

Dear Arabella,

As I write this on your first day of high school, I can’t believe that you are graduating already.

I have to wonder…Did you start your own business yet? What will the future hold now that you will be out from under our wing?

I remember the day you were born. You were the ‘famous baby’ in a published photography book. Your dad proudly showed the book to every visitor that entered our house for years.

Then came the first day of school. You were afraid to let go of my hand just like now I am afraid to let go of yours. It doesn’t seem possible that childhood could fly by so quickly. Now you are graduating!

We are so proud of you, not just on this one day. We are proud of your past accomplishments and are excited for your future endeavors. We know you will go far with your intelligence, persistence, and leadership skills.

Love,

Mom & Dad