The day after Thanksgiving

As you could tell from my last post, I was rather stressed out about the Thanksgiving holiday this year. In fact, the day before Thanksgiving the boy with the face tattoo showed up at our house and we had to kick him out because our son is grounded from having friends over. We were so stressed out that Paul and I wanted to cancel Thanksgiving altogether.

The strange thing was that it ended up being one of the nicest and most peaceful Thanksgiving’s ever. There weren’t any fights or problems.

I had to work late on Wednesday, but Angel came home from college and helped do some cooking with her boyfriend Dan. Paul made the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy. Everyone else brought a dish to pass. My brothers Luke and Mark didn’t make it over this year. But both of my parents came out with Matt which was surprising since my dad hardly ever comes out to family functions. He was even on his best behavior.

My mom even had boundaries with Matt. She asked him if he wanted more food and told him that he needed to get it himself versus waiting on him hand and foot. Before she would bake him a special meal, serve up his food, cut it into smaller pieces, go get him more food if he wanted it, and then clear his plate after the meal.

Paul’s step-dad Daryl and my Uncle Rick also came out. They have a lot in common and get along really well. After supper, we played cards. Angel did not play because she had homework to do and crafts to make for sales on her Etsy site. She is so much like me it is crazy! She is off volunteering today, so hopefully she will have time to play some games tonight.

Arabella had to work Thanksgiving morning and all day today. My girls are very industrious and for that I am thankful.

Even Alex sat with the family most of the day. Later that night he played the piano. It has been a long time since he played. I’d almost forgotten how beautifully he plays. The thought crossed my mind that maybe he didn’t want his friend over for holiday break. He is a totally different person around friends versus family. Today he rode his bike to a friend’s house since he is grounded from his car.

It is a beautiful day though. We have temps in the low 40’s. It is windy and sunny. I decided to take a run outside today on a new route. That is the fun thing about moving. There are a lot of new and exciting running routes.

Finally I’ve been able to keep my head above water and grab a few gulps of fresh air.

I am thankful I already lost my mind..

Things have been crazy busy around here. I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Or should I say turkey? Would that be more seasonal?

I am getting ready to have Thanksgiving at my house.

Tomorrow Angel is coming home from college. This has been the first time she has been home since August.

The guys just got back from deer hunting. My son Alex shot his first deer. He also played a trick on me. I asked him to send me a picture of his buck and he sent me a picture of a Bambi. Horrible thing to do. Then he told me it was too little to keep. He said he was going to throw it into the woods for the wolves. I was mortified.

He was just kidding. He found a picture of a Bambi online. Real funny! Not…He has my awful sense of humor…Oh deer..

I knew that they would get a deer because last month we got a quarter cow and this week we are getting a half a pig. The freezer is full…so of course the guys wouldn’t come home empty handed.

Alex wants his new girlfriend to come over for Thanksgiving. I feel like it is too soon since he just broke things off with Baylee. I wanted some explanation to why they broke up. Alex told me that Baylee was fake. He said that she was lying to us the whole time. He asked me if I really believed that Baylee didn’t drink at the underage drinking party at the cabin. She portrayed herself as a reluctant party goer…almost like a mother hen…or a nun. Paul and I wanted Alex to pay her share of the party damage fees. All this time he was covering for her lies..

The new girlfriend looks a little like Baylee…so the family we haven’t seen in months might think it is her..

Paul’s step-dad, Darryl, will be here. This year his wife passed away. Lately Darryl has become obsessed with online dating.

My uncle Rick will be in attendance as well. He is newly divorced for the holidays and has nowhere to go. On a side note, uncle Rick and his ex go to the same gym as I do…I have to budget an extra 20 minutes into my workout now to listen to them bitch about each other..

Then my mom will be here…my brother Matt…my brother Luke and his family. My antisocial dad will stay home and my brother Mark is not coming. This will be the first time that Matt is around Luke’s girls since he went off of his anti-psychotic meds and wanted to kill them.

Thanksgiving will be the test to see if Matt will be okay around Luke’s daughters again. I think things will be okay. His hallucinations are gone and so is his fixation with the girls since he is medicated again. We have been dealing with this for so many decades now, but it doesn’t make things easier.

So, I will be hosting Thanksgiving at my house.

Last month I had my daughter Arabella’s confirmation at my house.

Next month I will be hosting Christmas and New Year’s. Time to buy a bigger house if I have to do all of this party hosting..We are crammed in this cracker box house tighter than ten boxes of stuffing in a small turkey..

If you don’t hear from me for a few days…I am cleaning, I am cooking, I am party hosting…

Hopefully I am not prying my brother Matt off of my nieces, explaining how Alex’s girlfriend is not Baylee although she looks like her, wiping away tears for the first holiday without my MIL Martha, talking with Darryl for hours about online dating, or commiserating with Rick on how much his ex sucks..

Oh, did I mention that almost everyone has a special diet??

Have a happy Thanksgiving! Gotta love my crazy family! Thank God I already lost my mind or I wouldn’t be able to deal with all of this!! There is never a dull moment.

Maybe you are lucky to have a prim and proper boring family. That was never my lot in life…

You will hear from me in a few days, unless I have the nervous breakdown I so rightly deserve…or maybe a midlife crisis…I just can’t decide!

 

Best friends fur everĀ 

   

 I have known many dog owners that sigh in relief after the 4th of July firework festivities are over. My brother Luke’s Boston Terrier is so terrified of fireworks that they have to medicate her to calm her down. Maybe she should be called a Boston Terrified. It probably didn’t help that their kids were afraid too when they were little. 

I have had a couple of pet emergencies over the 4th but they had nothing to do with fireworks. In fact, my dog loves fireworks. He gets excited and barks while we cheer. I can tell he likes it because he wags his tail and smiles.  

 
My cat and dog are best friends. I catch them snuggling together, grooming each other, and being playful even now in their old age. Heck, they get along better than my kids!

Our first problem on the 4th happened after we went up north for a couple of weekends. We took the dog with us and left our cat at home alone. How can I put this delicately?? Our cat started urinating blood one 4th. I took him into the animal ER. We ended up finding out that he had separation anxiety. He couldn’t handle being home alone, especially when we took his best friend with us. He would cry pitifully after we returned home, sometimes in the middle of the night. Now we try to find a pet sitter so they can be together when we are gone. Or if the dog comes with, I turn the radio on.

 

Look how sad and pitiful they look when we leave!

A few years after the first ER trip on the 4th of July, we had another problem. The extended family was up north with us at the cabin for fireworks. Our dog ended up getting into ant poison. He tore up an ant house like he hadn’t eaten in years. I was so angry. Normally in stressful situations I shut down, but this time I totally freaked out. I screamed, hollered, and cried. I accused my parents of trying to kill my dog by leaving poison out that he could get into.

I didn’t know what to do. We were several hours away from the animal ER. Not to mention that it was in the middle of the night on a holiday. This was back in the day before I could get on my phone and Google answers. I just didn’t know if it would be harmful or not. But my dog lived without even a symptom. Maybe it was because the ant traps expired in1982. Or maybe I should just disregard warning labels. It certainly didn’t do much for the ant problem either. 

One thing I know for sure. My pets sure seem to love their life with us. They love each other. I didn’t know if it would be like that. When we first got our dog as a puppy, we had another cat that was 15 years old. She could not stand our dog. The age separation was too great. Then one day my neighbor called. She asked if we had a white cat because if so she found it floating in her swimming pool. We were very sad. There were rumors being spread that it was self inflicted.

After almost a year past, we decided to take our chances and get another cat. This cat was a year older than our dog. After a short period of dislike, they became best friends. Now they are inseparable. 

Best friends fur ever!

Boom bust

Wow, it has been a whole four days since I wrote a daily post. LOL. To tell you the truth, it’s scary how much I didn’t miss it. I was busy doing other things.

I’m not sure where to even start. It was a busy but fun 4th of July weekend. We started the weekend off by going up north and visiting with family at the cabin. There weren’t as many fireworks that evening as I had anticipated. I was able to take a lot of nice pictures on the lake though that I will share later.

Sunday morning I had my first triathlon. I went home to get a good nights rest before the big day. We didn’t see many fireworks at home either. Then we were up before 5 AM to get to the triathlon. I will describe that in another post. After the triathlon, Paul and I went back up north for awhile. Before I could make it into the cabin, three relatives and several strangers had to tell me all about my sister-in-law Carla’s night of drunkenness. It seems like all of the excitement happened after we left on Saturday night.

Then we went home to go to another party. We ended up watching them light off five fireworks. Some partygoers asked if that was all. Show’s over people. We had fun anyway, but I was dead tired after being up early and the tri.

On the 4th, we sailed into the city to watch fireworks. We docked at the local marina. We were going to go near where the fireworks were lit off, but we couldn’t anchor in the water there. We had several other sailors come with for the festivities. We didn’t want to lead them in the wrong direction. We were too inexperienced, so we decided to watch from the harbor. Everything was great except for one small problem. Our view of the fireworks was obstructed by trees. About 15 people came out with us to watch fireworks and couldn’t see much of anything. We felt bad about it but we didn’t really know any better. So this year the fireworks were a bust.

It wasn’t all a bust though. We got to know a lot of our sailing club members a lot better. We also ended up seeing our new friends unexpectedly at the marina who are new sailors. I finally found another woman that I think I could be really good friends with. I don’t really hit it off with too many women my age. She is a very pretty woman my age who is into both sailing and running. She also has a teenage daughter that seems to be a bit of trouble for her. She was very sympathetic when for a brief few hours I was panicking about the whereabouts of my teenage son. It was funny because we dressed the same yesterday. We’ll see if it ends up leading to a lasting friendship or not. 

My new friend also has a great short hair cut. I have been tempted to cut all of my hair off to look like hers since I love it so much. Would that be creepy?? I am getting sick of birds trying to land in my hair. My husband and a friend both told me on separate occasions recently that my hair looks like straw or good nesting material. When I tried really hard to make my hair look nice, my mother-in-law asked if I got my finger stuck in a light socket. My hair has never been my strong suit. It is wild and wispy with a mind of its own. Sometimes I think it would be so nice to ride with the window down, sail, or run without my hair getting wrapped behind the back of my earrings. What do I have to lose?

So even though our boom was a bit of a bust, we had a great weekend anyway. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many exciting stories to tell you today. Don’t worry, things will get better. Tomorrow will be all about the triathlon.

Tri training for a new adventure

This weekend I will be doing my first tri. I am excited for the 3 day holiday weekend. We have plans to go up north, then do my first tri, and end by sailing into town for the fireworks. Nothing like a relaxing couple of days off. Not! I love the adventure.

I feel like I am as ready as I am going to be. Yesterday I completed my last day of training. It didn’t go as good as I expected, but I didn’t want to push things too hard the week of the event.

Everybody told me to train in open water for the swimming portion of the event. I did not train in a swimming pool at all. I have never been a serious swimmer but have never been afraid of water. I wish I would’ve started training in a swimming pool a few months ago, but don’t have a gym membership. After training for a marathon and having a cool spring, I didn’t have the chance to jump into open water until the beginning of June. I decided to swim in the scariest waters that I know, out by the sailing club.

The water at the sailing club is rather murky. I have to climb down some jagged rocks to get to the edge of the water. I jump into the water from an algae encrusted rock slightly underwater. I see a lot of weeds and big fish nearby. Then I swim out to the end buoy in the sailboat channel and back. Each time I try, I get more confident with putting my face in the water.

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of having seagulls build a nest on the first buoy. As I got closer, they started to dive bomb me while shrieking seagull cuss words. A few weeks before, Paul and I saw some seagulls attack pelicans that came near their nests. That still fresh in my memory, I decided to cut my swim short.

I also decided to change my biking route too. Why is it that I am more afraid of wild animals and creepy guys in vans than fast moving vehicles on narrow roads? I didn’t like biking on the county road because it did not have a bike lane. Instead it had narrow gravel shoulders with deep ditches. Last week I saw a car pass me right in front of an oncoming semi. I figured that it probably wasn’t safe for me or the other drivers. Especially since I heard of two more bicyclists getting struck and killed on similar roads since the last time I was out.

Instead of the main road, I decided to take very rural deeply wooded roads. Think Little Red “Riding” Hood on the path to grandma’s through the forest. The first road was surprisingly very pleasant. The only wildlife I saw was a harmless bunny. I even saw another biker and no cars whatsoever. The road was well paved. The last road was horrible. It was terribly rutted, cracked, and full of potholes which made biking fast close to impossible.

The running leg of my journey was fine. However, I think that if I decide to go any further with this hobby I will have to makes changes for a safer and better training route.

I am not sure what will happen next year yet. When I was at the wedding, I spoke to my cousin who lives far away. He said he might be interested in coming my way next spring to run the marathon with me. I told him that if he does that, I would be willing to travel out of state to his area to run a race with him. He mentioned a trail marathon. So, we’ll see if that pans out or not. He is planning on running a 100k this fall. I think he is crazy! But he has teenagers and has had to deal with situations more difficult than mine. I can totally relate to the desire to self-destruct in a positively healthy way.

After all, I am still outrunning my demons and probably always will be…

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!

Ending the holiday season

I didn’t tell anybody this earlier, but I started the new year off on the wrong foot. We had a couple of friends over for New Year’s Eve. Everything went well and the last people left at 1:30 AM. Paul and I finally made our way to bed around 2. At 6 AM, a noise woke me up. Somewhere between 2 and 6 AM, our furnace went out. The house temp was under 50 degrees. We ended up having someone come out at the crack of dawn on new year’s day receiving holiday pay to fix it. It was a rough start. 

Today we took down our Christmas tree. I put all of the decorations back in the crawl space and dug out all of my old journals. I don’t know how quick I will go through them to be honest with you. I always have a rough time this time of year with the lack of sunlight. Even though I take massive doses of vitamin D, my thoughts and emotions tend to be dark. Just thinking about the past can bring me down on the sunniest of days….so this month might be light and fluffy like the winter snow. Talking about the winter snow, Paul and I were able to get out and cross country ski for the first time on the skis that we bought last winter. What a workout! Sure made me feel out of shape, especially since we saw a friend of ours there and he did two laps to our one. 

Yesterday I told you that we were going to one last Christmas party at my uncle’s who happens to be a clean freak. Well, I am embarassed to say that it was me this year that made a mess. That’s right. After being at the party for about a half an hour, I cracked open a bottle of beer. I took 3 sips and proceeded to spill most of the bottle everywhere. It went down my shirt with a majority of it landing on my pants and their off white carpet. I greeted relatives coming to the party looking like I peed my pants. My uncle said I could leave behind some money for the carpet cleaning. I am glad he was just kidding. Or was he? He didn’t freak out though like the story I heard of when my cousins accidently knocked over his fish tank. Other than looking like a complete idiot, the party went well.

Our staff party a couple weeks ago went great too. We took our employees to a painting class. It was so much fun. And I didn’t suck at painting. I was happy to be average. Out of the four of us that went, not one single person between the ages of 30 and 52 ever painted on a canvas before. Checked that off my bucket list and would love to do it again. 

Other than that, I have been trying to upload a video of my daughter and I singing. I haven’t been successful at that. I will probably figure it out by July. Geez. We sang our Christmas songs at the party yesterday. Every year my aunt insists that we sing. My daughter moves people to tears with her singing. She wants to spend the summer singing and performing on tour. She is auditioning to do that next month. When my cousin heard that, she was bummed out because she wanted Angel to sing at her wedding this summer. Angel just sang at my brother’s wedding a few months back. Angel and I have very similar voices, except that hers is well trained and mine is not. I used to be the one asked to sing at weddings, now it is her. When did she become better than me??? She used to ask me for advice and now she tells me what to do. I listen to her because she is right, but can’t help but feel hurt that I am no longer wanted. I am happy that she has had so many opportunities that I didn’t.

Sometimes it is hard for me to accept this whole aging thing. 

One last Christmas party

This afternoon we will be going to one last Christmas party. It is for my mom’s side of the family. Unlike my dad who was an only child and only grandchild on one side, my mom comes from a very large family. We usually get together twice a year as a group. Collectively my mom’s siblings are hard working, average (not eccentric), and slightly neurotic.

The uncle’s house that we are going to today would fit into the above category very well. I am not sure why year after year they host the family Christmas party which usually attracts between 30 and 50 family members. My uncle is an extreme clean freak. I have never seen any clutter or anything dirty or out of place. Last year during the party, I saw my uncle on his hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor. I have a sneaky suspicion that my autistic brother may have missed the target. Years past, he has followed around his guests with a dust buster, vacuuming crumbs or any speck of dirt that they may have dragged in.

Last year we were at his house for the Packer game. When the game was over, he asked his guests if he could get their coats for them. The game is over, now get the hell out! His wife kindly suggested that he take the dog for a walk. After he got back, he seemed to calm down a little. I have another aunt that is also a clean freak. We went camping with her one year near her house when a huge storm came up out of nowhere. We were wet and cold. We ended up huddling in her garage. She didn’t want us to come in her house because we were too dirty. I guess that explains why I am slightly neurotic. It’s a family thing.

When we all get together, everyone is best friends. There is some animosity over some people getting more family heirlooms than others when their parents passed away. I imagine that this would be very hard to do fairly. One other thing about my family, they are very competitive when it comes to playing cards. I wouldn’t recommend a potential spouse of the cousins to join in a card game. Winning trumps being kind to each other in this one area. My mom just found out that her brother refused to go to my brother Mark’s wedding this past year because a couple of years ago he passed in a card game when he should have picked. God forbid!

I’m sure that we will have a good time today. Just stay out of the card games and don’t make a mess. Other than that, they are the nicest people that you would ever meet. There is a lot of laughter and fun.

Crafty staff party

Tonight Paul and I are taking our employees out for a staff holiday party. Another thing about me, I love to organize and schedule things especially parties. The summer staff parties have always been easy to plan because our staff really seems to love sailing, so that is what we do. The winter staff parties take a little more thought on my part because winter sailing is not an option. Last year we took them to a laser light show and fondue. The year before we saw a comedian and had Irish food. This year we are going to one of those wine drinking and painting classes followed by a Japanese steak house. 

Now I have another confession to make. I think I am a fairly good writer and photographer. It sure helps having a different and interesting story to weave. It also helps to live in a beautiful state to take pictures in with a lovely family. But I absolutely suck at painting, drawing, or anything considered remotely crafty or artsy. I don’t keep anything in my life within the lines. Stick people are a challenge for me. And straight lines, phew, forget about it. I don’t think I could even paint you a picture of how bad I am at it. 

So forget about me posting any pictures. I may hang it up in my office. Unless it really sucks. Then I will adjust the painting a little with a paintball gun and call it abstract art. I know it is not competitive painting. No office awards will be given. It looked like something fun to do. 

So while I won’t share any pictures, if something exciting happens today I’ll be sure to paint a colorful story. 

Handing over the Christmas baton

After decades of Christmas perfection, little tremors needled away at our  family tree structure creating (gulp) change. The Thanksgiving after Paul and I got married, Uncle Harold passed away. A few years after that my grandpa passed away. My brothers grew up and moved away, with the exception of my autistic brother Matt. I started to have children of my own. Grandma struggled more and more as she aged with doing all of the cooking, cleaning, and decorating involved in having a family Christmas party. We tried to help her as much as we could. Then one year it all ended. My grandma had open heart surgery the summer that I had my third child. It was at this time that my grandma handed the Thanksgiving and Christmas baton to me.

At the time, we were having my in-laws over every Christmas Eve. Year after year it was pretty much the same. My in-laws would show up 2 to 3 hours late. The table would be set. The food would be cold. The kids would eat supper at bedtime. The kids were tired and hungry which made them very crabby. They would cry and have meltdowns. This upset my mother-in-law which resulted in an argument between her and my husband over her being late. At this point, Paul’s stepdad and I would look at each other across the table with a knowing look that said “here we go again”. One of two things either happened. Paul’s mother would disown him and take off for awhile. Or Paul’s mom would scream at my husband and he would kick her out of the house. Eventually she would come back in both scenarios, the gifts were opened, and the kids would go to bed.

After receiving the Christmas baton, Paul and I did what most reasonable people do. We combined our families to make one big happy family Christmas. Insert thoughts of the National Lampoon’s Christmas here. It did go pretty good for quite awhile. Whoever showed up, showed up. We ate at 1:00 PM. If you were late, there were leftovers. Things went pretty well, although after awhile it seemed that my mom and mother-in-law started an unspoken “best grandma” competition. My mom won that one hands down because she could afford nicer gifts and spent more time with the kids. Then my in-laws started to find excuses not to come for Christmas. Either someone was sick, or my personal favorite was that Paul’s stepdad scheduled a colonoscopy the day after Christmas. Priceless.

Oh family, you bring laughter and tears but we love you anyway.

Then a couple of years ago, Luke and his family bought a house that was bigger than mine. I handed him the Christmas baton. All problems solved.