Autism’s sibling, journal 1

I love you Alissa. I am thankful the Lord has given you to me. You are a beautiful child. 

With Love, Your Mom XO


Had to clean my room before I ate. I ate at 8:07 PM.


I hate everything and everybody. Matt takes a knife and tries to poke mom’s eyes out. Mom blames me.


I hate mom. She only cares about the stupid Matt.


Matt tries to hurt our aunt. He is reacting to something he is allergic to. Luke pushed me into my aunt and uncle’s swimming pool with my clothes on. I had to ride home wrapped in a blanket.


Today Matt bit me. My arm will turn black and blue tomorrow. Mark stuffed a pepper up his nose. He cried and cried.


Mark got beat up by someone the day of his birthday party.

Travel woes, the mess we returned to

The first 24 hours upon our return from Orlando was such an emotional roller coaster ride that it rivaled some of the roller coasters that we were on during our vacation. While we were gone, we had icy roads. School was delayed. On the way to work, our employee hit a patch of black ice propelling her into the ditch. It wasn’t her first accident, she was so upset that she could barely work. On our way home, we saw a car in the ditch. Disoriented people were wandering around outside of their car in the middle of the highway. We faced the prospect of having to shovel 5 inches of heavy icy snow when we got home that evening.

While we were gone, we hired my daughter’s 17 year old friend to pet sit. She has been our pet sitter for the past two years without any issues. That being said, we were not prepared for the mess that was waiting for us. When we got home, our pet sitter was stuck in our unshoveled driveway. Our garbage bin was lying in the ditch tipped over spewing out garbage that was put out too late to be picked up. We parked our car on the road, running into the house quickly getting hit with blowing snow while jumping over snow banks. When we got inside, there were piles of dog crap everywhere along with rings of piss and puke in multiple locations all over our living room carpet. The floors were filthy, there was dog shit caked on our toilet seat. 

Our pet sitter started crying saying that she got a second job and asked her mom to help her with the pets. Her mother is absolutely crazy. She is the woman that the neighbor’s called the cops on because she would speed around the school bus while its stop sign was out. She also overfed her own dog from her hand. She somehow thinks that people don’t feed their dogs enough. It seemed as if she overfed our dog without letting him out. There were 4 piles of puke which contained a total of about 2 cups of food, our dogs total daily food allowance. Our dog seemed sick when we got home and threw up again during the night. I started cleaning up the mess while our pet sitter cried hysterically. Paul was able to get her out of the driveway and start on the shoveling. After our pet sitter went home, she got into a huge fight with her mother where things were broken and thrown. 

While I was cleaning up, I noticed a couple of wet stinky towels bunched up underneath the rest of the towels. It looked like someone was cleaning up a mess but trying to hide it. Then the kids and I noticed that some of our things in our bedrooms were out of place. Someone went through all of our personal belongings. I have never felt so violated and sickened in my life. I cried thinking of how my pets were not cared for properly. The house was absolutely trashed. Paul and I were finally were able to get to bed around midnight. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered more poorly cleaned up piss rings on the carpet. We ending up spending as much money renting a carpet cleaner that we did paying our house sitter. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the mess we returned to.

The next day I headed back to work. I was so busy catching up from the time that I spent away that I didn’t have time to do any more cleaning. To make matters worse, my in-laws were coming over that night for supper. My mother-in-law was going to be in the area because she needed a PET scan. Back in November, the doctors found a tumor in her stomach and lungs. They did a biopsy on the tumor in her stomach because that was less invasive. They found that the tumor in her stomach was highly treatable, so we decided to go ahead with our vacation plans. In December, the doctors decided to do a biopsy on my mother-in-law’s lungs. She had a collapsed lung and pneumonia which they treated with heavy duty antibiotics. But what was troubling was the finding that the cancer in her lungs was a different kind of cancer that was in her stomach. They are afraid it may be in other organs. She had breast cancer 15 years ago, now 2 different cancers in 2 different organs. Monday we will get the test results.

When I got home from work on Thursday night, my mother-in-law was sitting in the recliner wrapped in a blanket. She did not feel good enough to go out to eat so we ordered food instead. She was so frail, weak, and sickly looking. It was hard to see her like that. When she left she spoke in a hoarse strained voice. She told us all that she loved us. She told Angel that she would like to see the college that she picked out someday. This is the point that Angel ran into the other room crying. My mother-in-law said good bye to me. She thanked me for being a great wife to her son. It seemed so final. I went in the other room to cry and comfort Angel. 

The beginning and end of our vacation was very rough. I am glad that we were able to get away for a couple of days of fun. I am afraid that the next couple months will be very difficult. I guess we will find out for sure on Monday. 

Travel woes, just trying to get there

You may or may not have noticed that I took a week off from my travel series. I took time off from writing about traveling to actually travel. We decided to take one last family vacation to Florida before my oldest child graduates this year. The trip down to Florida and what happened at the end of the trip was so horrible that I am still upset about it. I decided to vent about my woes with you today and then write about the trip (which went great) in another post.  

Last week my mom, husband, 3 kids, and I flew out of Milwaukee with Delta to meet up with my brother Luke and his family in Orlando. We were not able to get a direct flight to Orlando and had an hour layover in Detroit. Our flight ended up being delayed in Milwaukee because someone over fueled the plane which caused us to exceed our weight limit. Eleven people needed to give up their seats due to this. They also had to get a large hose to remove some of the fuel. When we were finally able to board they still needed to de-ice the plane which took a long time because they ran out of de-icer. It took an hour before we were finally able to leave. At this point, the flight attendant assured us that if we had a connecting flight they were aware of our situation and would most likely wait for us.

We ended up landing a few minutes before our next flight was scheduled to depart. We ran across the airport as fast as we could and got to our gate two minutes after our flight was supposed to leave. We arrived to the gate just as our plane was leaving. They could not wait for us for 2 minutes!! Then we were herded into a long line of passengers from our plane. At least 20 people that were sitting near us missed their connecting flights. After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we were able to talk to an agent that barely spoke English. He said that the only way he would be able to get all six of us to Orlando together was if we took a connecting flight to Boston. At this point, I was extremely angry. He wanted to direct us into Boston right around the time that the east coast was supposed to be hit by a blizzard. I pictured my family being stuck in the weather that we were trying to escape from. You didn’t want to hear the words that seeped out of my lips.

He booked us on the flight to Boston which we cancelled. Then he tried to get us all on the earliest flight available closest to Orlando. He had a few seats available but by the time he tried to type all of our names in the seats were gone. The best he could do was get an 8 PM flight to Tampa for my mom and Paul. He was able to get the kids and I on an 8 PM flight to Jacksonville. I would arrive in Jacksonville at 11 PM then have to somehow find a rental car to drive 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night with 3 kids on roads I’ve never driven on to get to the house that we rented. You would think that they would agree to pay for the extra rental car to get us there. Nope, they told us that the flight was delayed due to weather and that they would not cover that additional cost. The delay was NOT weather related.

We noticed a half an hour later that another flight was leaving for Orlando. We decided to run across the airport to try to be on stand by for that flight. When we got there, they made the announcement that they were overbooked and were looking for volunteers to take another flight. That wasn’t going to work. We saw another flight leaving for Tampa in 30 minutes all the way across the airport. So once again, Paul and I ran as fast as we could with 3 children and a senior citizen with all of our carry on bags across the airport. When we got there, the Tampa flight was boarding. They told us that we needed to talk to customer service to be added to the stand by list. We went where they directed us to go and no one was there. When we found where we needed to go, we had to wait in line for 10 minutes to speak to someone. When we explained our situation, the woman told us that she needed to leave for her lunch break and directed us to talk to someone on the phone. While Paul was speaking to someone on the phone, my daughter called me in a panic to say that the flight was about ready to leave. We missed the opportunity to catch that flight.

Then we went across the airport again to get on stand by for the next flight to Orlando at 5:30 PM. It was at this time that I switched the Orlando rental car that I booked over to Tampa. I made several other troubleshooting and problem solving calls. I was so angry that I wanted to take my carry on backpack and slam it into the garbage bins to knock them over. I don’t think that I ever swore so much in my entire life. I don’t know what it is about yanking around people’s schedules (while feeling a total lack of control) that can turn reasonably sane people into raging bulls, but it does.

I will be totally honest with you right now, I am terrified of flying. Every little bit of turbulence, I agonize that the plane is crashing. I usually pop a couple of anxiety pills and sleep most of the flight arriving in a comatose state. Paul usually has to make sure that I get to wherever I need to be safely. I read everything that I could about flying to try to get over my fear. I read that planes don’t crash due to turbulence. Most planes crash during take off or landing. Thanks, now that scares the hell out of me too. I am afraid of dying. The thought of falling terrifies me. I feel trapped with a total loss of control while flying. My life is in the hands of some pilot that I don’t even know. You say that flying is safer than driving? Well, that scares me too. I spent a good deal of my life struggling with driving anxiety. I told Paul that I didn’t think that I could handle flying and then driving 2 1/2 hours after being awake 20 hours. He did everything that he could to make sure that the kids and I were on that next flight to Orlando. At the very last second, the person at the desk was able to get the kids and I on the flight. I told Paul to make sure that if they couldn’t get my luggage on that they would send it to Tampa. I had to fly totally alert and unmedicated ridden with anxiety.

Once we landed, I got the message that Paul and my mom were able to get an earlier flight to Tampa. They said that my luggage was in Orlando. My youngest two kids were fighting and touching the luggage carousel. I was just about going crazy, but I was there. My luggage never came out and I panicked. It turns out that they set some of the luggage to the side. Then, due to miscommunication, my brother did not know that he had to pick us up at the airport. We sat at the airport another hour waiting for him. Finally we got to our rental house after 10 PM. My mom and Paul ended up getting there at 11:30 PM.

It was a rough start to our vacation. I am glad that we were able to get there the same day. All of the stress could have been avoided if some idiot did not over fuel our plane. I don’t think I would have been quite as angry if we didn’t watch our connecting flight leave two minutes after the scheduled departure time without us.  Running back and forth across the airport with 3 kids and my mom was extremely stressful as well. I am thinking about writing Delta a letter. Unfortunately, our arrival back home was just as horrible and that had nothing to do with Delta. I will tell you about that next, this post is long enough already.


The travel diaries, Jamaica


Paul and I stayed in Jamaica at the gorgeous Sandals Whitehouse Resort for our 10th anniversary. Besides my 20 minutes in Canada, it was my first time out of the country. It was Paul’s first time on an airplane. This is a picture of the island taken from our hotel window.


The most adventurous part of the trip was simply getting there. I picked Paul up after work on a Wednesday evening. We had plans to stay at a hotel the evening before and fly direct the following morning. Our 2 hour drive to a direct flight turned into a 5 hour drive due to a snowstorm. The first half we drove snow free, the second half was downright treacherous. We had to drive through blizzard conditions the rest of the way. We saw multiple accidents, drove around jack knifed semis, and cars in the ditch. The highway was down to one unplowed lane. Every so often the snow whipped around in front of the truck so hard that our headlights would flicker off. We spent hours driving in the dark through white out conditions wondering if we were going to be able to stay on the road and oftentimes finding ourselves veering off. Nearby highways were shut down.

We drove through two feet of snow that evening in very windy conditions. When we finally got to the hotel, nothing was plowed out and we couldn’t tell which parking spaces were occupied. Management was fluttering around in a fury of flurries trying to figure out what to do. They ended up telling us to park anywhere. I had to take a picture of Paul in the snow to show what he had to drive through.

Our flight ended up being delayed the following morning, but we decided to go to the airport early anyway. Last minute Paul forgot to pack his tennis shoes, so I grabbed a pair from home and apparently grabbed the wrong ones. Just before we hit security, Paul exclaimed that I brought his old shoes, the ones that he put a screw in to hold the bottom flap together. (Cheapskates, remember?) So here we are trying desperately to get the screw out of his shoe before we hit security trying not to look suspicious. Talk about having a few screws loose!  We were really frazzled. Finally, after a 5 hour delay, we were able to fly out. We finally made it to our resort in Jamaica at 10 PM on Thursday.


Finally we were at our resort and could relax a little. When we went, the resort was very new and in immaculate condition. The staff took very good care of the property and even raked the beach every morning. We were in paradise. We took some dance lessons, sang at the martini piano bar, went snorkeling, and spent most of our time at the beach. The staff was personable and the food was good.


This is one of my all time favorite pictures of myself surrounded by the beauty of the island’s colorful flowers and plants. Especially since it was twenty below at home and our plants were dead, dormant and/or brown. We went in February and the temperature was absolutely perfect with highs around 80 without a lot of humidity.


Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to explore the culture outside of the resort. The beach was rugged outside of the resort grounds. We had to sign out of the resort before we left because at that point we were on our own and the resort was not responsible for our safety. This was a little unnerving so we didn’t stay away too long being very inexperienced travelers at the time.

Monday morning we were on our way back home. We were loaded up in a van for the hour and a half drive to the airport. Now if you are ever thinking of visiting Jamaica, let me give you a little forewarning about their roads. Our one and a half lanes at home are like two lanes for them. There are often animals and people along the road. They do not have traffic lights or stop signs as far as I am aware of, even in the city. The main roads were in very poor condition with a lot of potholes. It seems to work out for them, but was very scary for us. There was a woman that started screamed as we passed a truck up a hill and came inches from knocking a bicyclist off the hill. Made me have a new appreciation for our roads, even with the road construction.

On the trip back, we saw school children in uniforms walking to school, a man washing his clothes in a stream, and just the every day flow of how the people lived. For the most part, the people seemed to be happy. We really enjoyed our time there. It would have been nice to interact more with the people outside of the resort and learn more about their culture. If there is anything that I would recommend to a new traveler, it is to stay for a whole week if at all possible. We only had three full days to explore the island and that wasn’t enough.

I would recommend a vacation to Jamaica. It is relatively affordable. Sandals resorts are great, it is all inclusive including transportation to and from the airport. We were able to try some new fruits that we don’t have at home. I fell in love with eating papayas.  I was able to relax and reconnect with Paul in the slow pace under the warm sun. The constant reggae beat was calming. We listened to local radio stations in our room and I really miss the uniqueness of their music. If I went back, I would take some tours and immerse myself in the culture more. What a lovely place.

Then just like that our vacation was over. We went back to the hotel and picked up our truck which was parked sideways in the parking lot. We smiled through construction. We thought of the Jamaicans that have never seen snow who thought our snow looked like sand on a beach. It is amazing what a few days in the sun away from  everyday life stressors can do. But the best part of the trip was that we fell in love all over again.  

The travel diaries, Pictured Rocks


These pictures were taken at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan. The Pictured Rocks consists of 15 miles of sandstone cliffs and caves along the shores of beautiful Lake Superior.

We took a boat tour to view this wonder of creation. We stayed at our friends cabin near Munising on a kid free weekend in August. We were there during a heat wave with temps around 90 degrees. Temps in the 90’s is spectacular since the average high in August is 75 degrees, which is typically the hottest it gets all summer. The picture above almost makes it seem like a warm tropical vacation. It may feel that way on a typical day if you are wrapped in a blanket or winter clothes.


If you look closely at the right hand of the picture above, you can see a face in the rock formation.


Adventurers can also explore the cliffs, caves, cracks, and crevices by kayak or canoe.  This can be a rather extreme sport in this area because the water temperatures in summer are right around 50 degrees. On this very hot day, we did see a few people jump in the water but they didn’t stay long. I have also heard that it can be treacherous for boaters because there is a great variation in the depth of the water. If you are looking for a place to get away from the heat this summer, this is the place to go! You can be surrounded by cool water along miles and miles of sandy empty beaches. There are also breathtaking waterfalls along the hiking trails flowing forth from the rock formations.

There is so much to explore in this area that you could spend your whole summer doing it. Again, I would give high ratings to this location if you enjoy exploring nature in a tranquil, remote, and beautiful location. I would absolutely recommend this location for extreme outdoor adventurers, unless you are really into swimming. This location really rocks for geologists as well!

Keep traveling!!


The travel diaries, Munising


Deserted beaches. Stormy days. Why won’t you come out to play?


Friends of ours have a cabin near Munising, Michigan. Munising is located in north central Upper Michigan along the southern shore of Lake Superior. We have had the opportunity to stay at their cabin twice over the past couple of years. Once with all of our kids (7 children between the both of us) and once without kids. Both times were in August, once over a hot sunny weekend and once on a cool rainy weekend.

The last 20 minutes of the journey to our friends cabin is on unmarked dirt roads. On the weekend that I took these pictures, it was cool and rainy with a high of 50 degrees. Yes, in August! We put on rain ponchos and loaded up the kids in their suburban. We toured the beaches along Lake Superior, hiked trails along rock formations, toured a lighthouse, and saw what seemed like miles of sand dunes in the rain. 

After the day of touring, we swerved around as we took washed out potholed dirt roads back. One of the kids got car sick and threw up several times. When we got back to the cabin, we huddled around the fire.

What I really love about the Munising area is its beauty and personality. You do not need A/C on the hottest summer days. There is variety in the landscape’s feel and emotion. Stormy desolate beaches are just beautiful. There are never any crowds with miles of sandy beaches on ice cold water. I would recommend visiting at least once. 

While you’re on the way, stop in WI for some cheese curds, brats, and beer. 

The travel diaries, Omaha

The story of how we ended up in Omaha one year during Thanksgiving winds around a rocky path. Before Paul and I met, he was best friends with Dwayne. Dwayne was a man that looked like what you would picture Jesus to look like. He had rugged good looks with shoulder length brown hair that glowed a perfect shade of brownish red in the sun. He was a smart man who loved to discuss philosophy, theology, and psychology. He was fun loving, liked to joke and play cards. But Dwayne had one major personality flaw that inevitably led him down a path of destruction unaware. Dwayne would do anything for a dare.  One night while camping with friends someone dared him to dive off a dock near the campgrounds. Dwayne accepted the dare and dove into water that was only a couple of inches deep. Instead of costing him his life, it left him paralyzed from his neck down.

Before his accident, Dwayne had married his high school sweetheart too young. They had two children and divorced. When Dwayne had his accident, he was with Tammy. I met Dwayne a couple of years after the accident while he was with Tammy. Now Tammy was an evil person. But you know how it goes when your best friend dates someone you don’t like, you tolerate that person. Plus there was never a dull moment with Tammy around.

Tammy had some major character flaws herself. First, Tammy liked to steal things. Once when we went out to eat for Dwayne’s birthday, Tammy went around to every table and took the fake flower displays. She shoved a stack of fake roses into her purse. When it was time to leave, the manager told Tammy she needed to give the flowers back which caused her to make quite the scene. Nothing unusual for her. 

Second, Tammy liked to cheat. Tammy had two sons, one that she had with her ex husband and the other with Dwayne after the accident. Ok, there was absolutely no way that Dwayne could have fathered a child as a quadriplegic, but he was listed as the father on the birth certificate. One year at Christmas time the true story came out about her other son as well. Tammy and her ex were fighting on the phone while we were there. She told her ex that the boy that he thought was his for the past 10 years wasn’t his son, wished him a merry Christmas, and hung up on him. Tammy was just being Tammy. Tammy eventually got together with Dwayne’s caregiver and moved into the apartment next door. Her bedroom and Dwayne’s bedroom shared the same wall. He could hear them at night. Then she tried to keep his “son” from him. Tammy was not a nice person.  

Parenting was very challenging for Dwayne as well due to his handicap. One time when he was still with Tammy, Dwayne and their baby accidently got locked in the van. It was twenty below outside and they were locked inside the van without heat. This happened over the weekend. Tammy was desperate to find someone to unlock the doors. Dwayne sat inside helplessly watching. It could have gotten dangerous really fast. Dwayne also had issues parenting his two older children. His little girl loved to sit on his lap but he could never hug her back. He couldn’t drive them anywhere or do anything. It was at this point that I saw Paul play the part of dad. He took Dwayne’s son Dan fishing, a hobby that he used to share with Dwayne before the accident. We took the kids to the zoo and had them stay with us sometimes. When I first started dating Paul, it was attractive to see him being a positive role model for the kids. He still was caring towards his best friend even after his friend made some terrible mistakes in life. He also had no problems treating his friend like a regular person, going out with him even if it meant emptying his bag or feeding him. He was not squeamish, nor did he complain. His compassion was touching.

Dwayne was the best man in our wedding. A couple years later, Paul was the best man in his wedding. His new wife had some major flaws, like having an absolute filthy house and allowing her children to run wild. But I have to give her credit for marrying a man that she would never have a physical relationship with and had to care for. Six weeks after he was married in his church, Dwayne was buried there. He had a heart attack and died in his 30’s. He will be gone for 15 years this year. What an avoidable tradegy that affected so many lives.

Fast forward time a bit more, Dan grew up and asked Paul to stand up in his wedding in Omaha. He wanted Paul to be there to represent his father. We flew into Omaha for the wedding over Thanksgiving. Dan’s in-laws welcomed us like we were family. We ate Thanksgiving meal there and played a lot of games. They seemed to have a very close knit family. His wife’s father was dealing with cancer. He showed us pictures of himself, a big guy at 300 lbs before cancer. He lost 200 lbs and was skin and bones. At this point, I want to tell you that everyone lived happily ever after. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. Dan and his wife moved across the country. He was in the military and was deployed overseas. During this time, Dan’s father-in-law passed away. Dan’s wife moved back home and the marriage fell apart almost a year later. But while we were in Omaha, everything was pleasant.

While we were in Omaha, we met up with one of my best friends from college. She took us to the Omaha zoo. It was hands down the best zoo that I have ever been to. It had an open concept. You didn’t get the impression that the animals were unhappy in their cages. The aquarium was my favorite display as it submerged the viewer in a tunnel surrounded above and at all sides with beautiful water creatures. Great job in your design Omaha zoo. I just wish the marriage turned out as well.

The travel diaries, Nashville

A couple of years back, Paul and I went to Nashville for a business conference. The cost of airline tickets were insane. If I remember right it was around $1400 to $1500 round trip for 2. Remember that I am a cheapskate?? You should see my office equipment. I have a used printer that is probably older than my teenage kids. I have my Aunt Grace’s old desk which is older than me. I have two office chairs from the 70’s or 80’s. I have art work on the wall that was given to me as a kid painted by another deceased relative. Yes, $1400 is a lot of money for a plane ticket, so we drove instead.

On our way down from WI, we took a pit stop in Chicago to visit with some relatives. We walked along Navy Pier, but it was a cold night so we didn’t stay outside long. It cost $30 to park for one hour, if I remember right, which was way too much. We had Chicago style pizza which was absolutely awesome. It was 2 inches thick! Then we stopped to visit some friends in Kentucky. We finally meandered down to Nashville for the conference. Paul did all of the driving while I worked in the car.

The one thing I really liked about Nashville was that it was a good 10 degrees warmer than WI. We stayed at a hotel downtown that had an outside glass elevator that went really fast. Being afraid of heights, it was rather unnerving to ride in. I also asked for a room on the lowest floor. I got over this fear after several more trips with rooms on high floors. It was on this trip that we met Joe. Joe sat across from me at a table and commented that my eyes were the perfect shade of blue. He asked others if they thought that my eyes were beautiful. Now who doesn’t like a guy like that? He has great people skills and a love for adventure. We hang out with him and his coworkers at every conference. We can count on him to plan crazy and unique adventures. I am not quite sure what it is, Paul and I seem to attract eccentric or adventurous friends more often then not.

That night I checked singing in Nashville off my bucket list. Who cares if it was just karaoke? It was awesome feeling like a star for one night. From what I saw of the city, it looked rather clean. Although Joe said that he went for a walk early one morning and ended up by a deserted warehouse full of people that had him fearing for his life, but I think Joe tends to exaggerate at times.

Soon the conference was over and it was time to head back home. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful until we hit Louisville. While we were on the bridge we blew out our tire. We ended up having to pull into the little median between the highway and off ramp while cars went by us at 75 mph to put on the spare. That and having our GPS navigation go out in the middle of Chicago made for an interesting end to our adventure.


The travel diaries, the Door County winery tour

Today I am going to talk about my wonderful home state of WI. Door County to be a little more specific which is the thumb peninsula in the hand print of our state.

Door County has several state parks, my favorite being Peninsula State Park. This park has wonderful biking trails, fishing, camping, weekend outdoor theater performances, and my favorite part is the large sandy beach. This beach is so large that you can lose track of your children when they are right in front of you (yes, I have done that). Another great state park is the Whitefish Dunes State Park which is great for picnicking. It is very scenic with its cliffs and caves which makes it a beautiful background for wedding pictures.We have been there a couple of times when they had sand castle contests. It it amazing what can be built out of sand. It has a great beach for swimming and like the name suggests there are large sand dunes. But before you pack your bags and catch the next flight out, it is winter so you should probably wait.

Door County is a wonderful place to go boating, or in our case sailing. Sturgeon Bay has a water passageway that connects the bay to Lake Michigan. Plus in the summer there are many places to shop, have a fish boil, or check out local maritime artists. It is a great place to pick apples and cherries to make pies. Grapes grow plentifully there in season. Which brings us to the topic today of the winery tour.

A few years back we decided to take a day trip with our most adventurous friends, Tom and Lisa, for their anniversary. Tom and Lisa were with us on the accidental overnight and rescue sails that I posted about earlier. We had a driver lined up and we were going to spend the day winery hopping. The evening was going to end with a meal hosted by a winery attended by a local celebrity. At the first stop, we sampled some wine and shared a bottle while enjoying live music by a woman that apparently liked Janis Joplin hits. It was great, we did a lot of laughing and a little dancing. But after we were there a short time, the music ended and it was time to move on. We went to a couple more wineries before we stopped at the last winery before our meal.

We did some more wine sampling at this last spot. Then we went outdoors where a band was set up. There were probably 50 chairs set up with about 40 patrons sitting and listening to the music. That is not what we did though. We got out there and started dancing which caused people to get up from their chairs to dance. People seemed to be having such a great time that the owner of the winery came up to us and offered us free drinks for livening up his party. Free drinks, free drinks, free drinks! We probably didn’t need anymore drinks at this point, but we had a driver….so free drinks, free drinks…..we found another couple looking for excitement and ended up inviting them to spend the rest of the evening with us. We took pictures out in the vineyards…danced, free drinks, free drinks..

Then it was time to go to our meal. When we got there, they opened the gift shop for us but no one was there to check out our purchases. Tom grabbed a couple of items, settling up his purchases later at the meal. We were into the first part of the meal when Paul, Lisa, and I decided to take a bathroom trip. It was at that time that Tom decided to find someone to pay for his purchases, except we didn’t know that. When we got back, someone took Lisa’s place. There was a beautiful 20 something year old woman sitting really close to Tom. Maybe she was sitting close because she couldn’t hear him, I don’t know. Lisa was getting upset, so upset that Paul went up to the girl and told her to leave Tom alone because he was there celebrating his anniversary with his wife. But she wouldn’t leave which caused everyone, including our new friends, to feel really uncomfortable. A heated discussion broke out at our table right as the local celebrity began to talk. It was all a horrible misunderstanding. We finally finished our meal and were ready to head home. To make matters worse, as we were leaving Lisa’s heel broke on her boot as she was coming down the stairs which caused her to miss the last few steps. She hurt herself and had to be carried out to the car.

It ended up being a long ride home.

The travel diaries, Virginia Beach

The trip to Virginia Beach was the first vacation that I took as an adult with kids. I probably shouldn’t have gone. I was probably only invited as a nice gesture, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. I was invited by my mom who was going on the trip with Luke and his future wife Emily. I think that they seriously thought that I wouldn’t go. Paul couldn’t take a week off of work as he was a one man show back when his business was in its infancy. People thought that I was crazy for going because I decided to go with a newly turned two year old and a newborn. We loaded up a rental van and headed across the country on an over 2,000 mile round trip road trip.

We didn’t make any reservations in advance, we just looked at a map and drove as far as we could in a day. Our goal was to see the ocean. The trip in and of itself was pretty uneventful until we got closer to the ocean. What I really liked was that we decided to eat at a restaurant at the top of a hill in West Virginia. It was a winding drive to get to the top of the hill. It was exciting because WI is pretty flat. Another thing I noticed, in WI we have about 2 bars for every church. Bar, bar, Lutheran church. Bar, bar, Catholic church. But when we went to WV it was church, church, church, church, and bar that was shut down. What different cultures depending on where you are in our big country.

When we were almost to the ocean, I think we were touring a fort or something when I ended up feeling sick. I laid down on the grass while everyone took the tour. The long body jostling miles 2 months after having a C-section, the sleepless nights of being up with a newborn, and keeping up with an energetic 2 year old finally took its toll on me. The day we planned to go to the ocean, I ended up in the ER. I had a foreign doctor with a southern accent that I needed a nurse translator to understand. He wanted to hospitalize me. I got hooked up to an IV and they put a catheter in me. He wanted me to go on some heavy duty antibiotics that I would have to stop nursing my baby with. I refused. I told him that I only had a bladder infection and that being hundreds of miles from home that I couldn’t just stop nursing as I had in no way prepared to buy bottles and sanitize them on the road. Plus we were going to see the ocean TODAY! I got some regular antibiotics and we were on our way.

We finally got to the ocean in the afternoon. The doctor said that I could not swim so I walked in the ocean for the first time up to my knees. I remember hearing a mother screaming up and down the beach because she lost her child and was afraid he might have drowned. Someone was kind and offered me their canopy when they were leaving as I didn’t have an umbrella to protect my baby from the sun. We stayed at the beach for 2 hours and then had to leave to meet up with a friend of mine. So our long trip to the ocean was again cut very short because of me.

The next day we did some touring of the area. I remember going to tour a president’s plantation house in the afternoon. We got there right before the last tour of the day. My mom and I were going to take turns with the kids. We planned to go on separate tours but since it was the last tour of the day we couldn’t do that. Once the tour group of about 20 people got inside, they locked us in. With a 2 year old and a newborn this incited some terror within me. Sure enough while the tour guide was explaining about the original antique rug that we were standing on, my son spit up all over it. My 2 year old had a tantrum at the end of the tour. It was great being locked in while she was screaming and crying. Oh, and the dirty looks. I can laugh now because I will never have to go through that again. Phew. On the way out, we walked through a pet cemetery. I guess that really was a thing.

After that we drove through the night to get back home. I crossed going to the ocean with little kids off my bucket list. What a trip!