Gratitude week 15

  1. It’s Easter! Although this is probably the first Easter that I didn’t go to church, it was one of the most enjoyable. We colored eggs while watching church online. We have the technology to do amazing things. Plus I didn’t have to dress up or anything.
  2.  And more compliments on my hair.
  3.  Clara was able to travel safely back home to Germany where she was reunited with her family.
  4.  We have been getting cards in the mail from friends and family telling us how special we are to them. It really means a lot.
  5.  I have been digging out memory boxes from storage from our wedding and when the kids were little. It brings back many happy times that I’ve almost forgotten.
  6.  A huge snowstorm is making its way through Wisconsin and it looks like it might miss us.
  7.  Life has gotten a lot quieter and less rushed. I like it more that way. When this whole isolation thing is over I might examine how busy I want my life to be going forward. It has given us the opportunity to look at what we want to keep or get rid of.
  8.  I am thankful for self-awareness.
  9.  I am thankful that all of my friends and family are healthy and safe.
  10.  I am grateful that today I am making the most out of the situation we find ourselves in. Although it doesn’t feel like Easter, or spring, we can take what we have and make the best of it.

Gratitude week 5

1. I’m grateful that the sun is shining today. It’s been a long time.

2. I’m grateful to be planning a vacation and visiting states that I’ve never been to before.

3. I’m grateful to have a house with an indoor pool. Last week we had a party for the youth group at church. It’s a miracle, but now the youth group has twice as many kids. Plus I have several new items to add to my collection of things left behind; a sock, a bra, and a cute bikini. Would these be weird items to put in the church lost and found box??

4. If all else fails, at least I have a sense of humor.

5. I’m grateful to watch my son perform with his new band for open mic. I am very proud of his talent. There is nothing like watching my children perform. Plus I saw an acquaintance there who said she goes to open mic just to sing with the house band. She said I should give it a try sometime and I’m planning on it.

6. I’m grateful to live in a state where we can provide unique experiences for our foreign exchange students. Yesterday Paul took us ice fishing.

7. I am grateful to try another new trauma therapy. I have been sleeping better.

8. I am grateful that several friends at this point seem to be winning the battle against cancer.

9. I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz this week and started another Holocaust book called The Choice written not to long ago by a survivor. I’m thankful that she was able not only to survive but make something good out of a horrible experience. I am very impressed she was able to write such an insightful and inspirational book in her later years of life.

10. I am grateful it is February and the end of winter is in sight.

 

Thailand, Day 2

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We arrived in Bangkok around noon. We were greeted at the hotel with a glass of sweet juice in a flavor I never tasted before and a washcloth. We were tired from the long flight, but not overly so. We decided to walk around the hotel. This is the view of the river from the hotel. It was a beautiful view while eating breakfast outdoors in the morning.

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Since we had a light schedule the first day, we decided to head down to the pool. I went down by myself at first clad in my swimming suit covered with a robe. I didn’t know how to get out of the hotel. The obvious exit to the pool had a sign that said fire exit on it. I was afraid that if I went out this way, I would set off all kinds of alarms because that is what would’ve happened in my country. I wandered around in my robe through the dining area and got a couple of  looks. I finally asked how to get out and the man pointed at the fire exit door directly in front of me.

We weren’t exactly sure how to use the outlets either as they didn’t look like ours at home. A few sparks flew that night. Here is what some of the outside wiring looked like.

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The day we arrived was the coolest day that we had there. There weren’t any reclining chairs in the sun. It was windy and the pool wasn’t heated. I just dipped my feet in and ordered a drink. They really didn’t have any wine to select. The common beers were Chang, Leo, and Tiger. They all tasted like Bud Light. I’m spoiled by every flavored craft beer at home.

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That evening we decided to check out the nearby night market. We decided to eat supper there. Paul bought some sandals, something we couldn’t find a good selection of this time of year at home. I fell in love with a red cashmere shawl, Paul liked the black one on me better. We bargained down to 2,000 bahts (which is approximately $70 at home). Just getting off the plane, 2,000 of any currency seemed like too much money so I walked away.

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We couldn’t decide what to eat. We really weren’t interested in the above delicacies. We decided on a restaurant and were seated without a wait.

The server gave us our menus and stood by waiting for us to order. They don’t just drop off the menus and come back later. I ordered the salmon dish and it was excellent. It came out in 1/4 of the portion size that you would get in the US.

As we were eating, a cat roamed by our table. We saw several apparently owner less animals wandering around. We left after the meal, forgetting Paul’s old shoes in a bag by the table. The server chased us down quite a way from the restaurant to return Paul’s old shoes which was very kind.

We went to bed early that first night…exhausted.

I’m leaving

In about 24 hours I will be packing my bags and leaving this cold climate behind. I’ll be visiting a climate that is 100 degrees hotter than mine.

I will finish cleaning the house and doing loads of laundry. Soon I will create a packing list. I’m afraid of leaving something behind, something obvious like a camera or my passport. Don’t laugh, I’ve done things like that before. I packed a suitcase for my husband once and forgot underwear. The good news, my husband never asked me to pack his suitcase again. Last year my husband went on a sailing trip and forgot to pack any shirts.

We will be on an airplane for a total of almost 21 hours. 21 hours!!! The longest I’ve been on a plane is 6 hours and that freaked me out. We are heading to Thailand tomorrow and checking our first continent (outside of our own) off our bucket list.

What is it about traveling that makes everyone tell you about their horror story flights? Or bring up terrorists? Or plane crashes? The TV show Lost??

I’m not sure how I will handle the flight. I always have this irrational fear that I am going to start screaming on a plane. Kind of like the time I went on a roller coaster that was too much for me. I am afraid of being out of control.  I certainly won’t have any control over the plane. It makes me feel trapped.

Thankfully I have medication for that. I am going to start a stop watch on my phone after I take my medicine. A stop watch seems kind of creepy though. I don’t know any other way to keep track of time after skipping so many time zones. The last thing I want to do is OD on a plane. Yes, I suffer from chronic worry.

Since we are leaving Chicago right after midnight maybe I will sleep. But I sleep on planes like I sleep in the hospital. How can I sleep sitting straight up? Plus there is always noise…dinging from announcements, other people, hospital emergencies with a little turbulence thrown in..I always wondered why they hand out peanuts on planes. Don’t a lot of people have serious allergies to peanuts??

There is a 12 hour time change for us in Thailand. I am excited to finally see the world, it’s just the getting there that sucks! Sitting still and relaxing are not my things. Now if they had a treadmill on the plane…The more nervous I am, the more I want to move. I try not to let fear stop me. There is nothing like flying 21 hours one way to confront my fear of flying.

Paul and I are going to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We will be visiting with our old neighbors, and going on a tour. I promise to take lots of pictures and keep a journal. This will probably be the last time you hear from me for awhile. But I promise to tell you about it when we get back.

This will be the first time we are away from family and work for this long. We have family staying with the kids every night. The last time we went away things didn’t go very well. The dog tore up the linoleum in the bathroom. Alex got a rash and thought he had bedbugs (thankfully we didn’t). I expect the house to be trashed and a pile of work waiting for me when I get back.

But I think that having a break will be worth whatever we come back home to. I will try my hardest not to worry and to relax. It might be so nice that we won’t want to come back home..

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…

 

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.

 

Day 1: Departure

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Enjoy the journal of our week long sail to Washington Island, Wisconsin.

A total of 5 boats departed on this trip. I’ve known some of the sailing club members for a year and others I just met. This is a story of how strangers became friends through rough waters and sunny skies.

Paul started the journey with a prayer blessing our trip from death, destruction, despair, fierce storms, and mechanical failure. As a group we held hands until the final amen then were on our way. We knew we needed some divine intervention to brave the waters of Death’s Door. Maybe saying mechanical failure was taking the prayer too far…maybe just mechanical issues would have been better…but you know what they say about hindsight.

Our trip was delayed due to mechanical issues on the first day.

Like our sail the week before, we started with warm temperatures and calm winds. Unlike our last sail, it stayed that way. I still felt some trepidation though..like I started where I left off. 

I felt a twinge of sadness, nostalgia perhaps. I felt anxious about leaving Angel in charge at home. Not that as an adult she was not capable.

I feel worried about Alex. He just got his motorcycle license and a motorcycle. The back tire on his motorcycle was bald. We insisted on buying a new tire. I almost had a panic attack following my son to the store off of the highway during rush hour watching him in front of me dipping through traffic. It was actually quite horrifying.

Alex got a flat tire this past week and through that we found out that he needed brakes on his car. He borrowed my car to get to work and ended up getting rear ended on the way home. Oh my, son! Are my bumper stickers okay?? Priorities! I just added my Half Ironman bumper sticker this week after all. He was unhappy that the bumper stickers were okay. He feels embarrassed by my tattooed car. (I did ask if he was okay first).

Anyway, Alex called me that first day. He said that he got a parking ticket by parking overnight on the road at his friend’s house with my car. By the way, you owe the city $25. He usually calls me when there is a problem.

I also worry that he won’t get up at 4:30 AM for work without me there. What is the worst that could happen? Besides death or dismemberment, that is.

Maybe I should just worry about myself. Things could’ve gotten really bad the last time we went out sailing. Or maybe I shouldn’t worry at all. Is that even humanly possible??

We motored most of the way to our first destination. Finally it was a warm sunny day. We had some motor problems close to the harbor. Once we got to the marina, we ordered parts along with another person that sailed with us. The bartender at the tiki bar owned a boat part store on the side. He would bring the parts when he came in for his shift. Perfect!

We spent most of the afternoon in the pool by the tiki bar. Time melted away. We planned to meet as a group for supper between 6 and 6:30. Wait! What time is it anyway?? Already after 6. How did that happen??

After supper, Paul and Mark got out their guitars. We all sang songs until after dark. George requested the song Redneck Mother. I wasn’t really sure if I liked George at first. He seemed kind of blunt in the way that could offend people when they first meet. By the end of the trip, he was one of my favorite characters.

That night I went to bed and slept a whole 7 hours without waking up. That usually doesn’t happen on the first night.

Epic sail (epic fail)

It started out calm the way troublesome days sometimes do without a hint or foreboding of danger in the air.

It was a clear, sunny day. It was warm, but not breezy.

We had to motor for the first hour before it was even windy enough to put up our sails.

Our destination: A beautiful resort in Door County.

We had passengers with us. Our pastor surprised his wife with an overnight stay at the resort for their anniversary. Romance. A nice quiet sail there and back, or so we thought.

We were all in for a surprise.

A storm popped up on the bay. We had the foresight to take down our sails before it hit. It wasn’t a strong storm, but it produced 10 minutes of heavy rain. It was our first storm. We huddled below as Paul steered the boat. He barely had enough time to throw on his raincoat. I discovered that I forgot mine.

It wasn’t the storm that created the most difficulties. It was the aftermath. The temperature dropped 20 degrees. The winds picked up to 20 mph. Then we had to fight against 6 foot waves.

At first it was kind of fun like being in a giant wave pool. Every tenth wave was gigantic and would crash against the bow soaking us. We laughed, listened to music, and jokingly talked about dying.

After the first hour, things weren’t fun anymore.

The coast guard came on the emergency radio warning boaters of a 22 ft sinking boat partially submerged in water near but not in our path. We were worried about getting off course. It was starting to get late in the afternoon. We used up a lot of gas motoring against the waves.

If we didn’t make the harbor, we might hit the sinking boat.

Things did get rough when we had to hit the waves sideways. Everything that wasn’t tied down flew everywhere. People bounced around like there wasn’t gravity. Even the carpet didn’t stay. The pastor dry heaved into the garbage while I was knocked to the ground.

Paul was hollering from the deck that his waterproof case on his phone gave out. We no longer had our navigation once his phone died. But Paul knew the rest of the way. We were almost there..

I laid on the floor thinking that I was going to die. It felt hopeless really. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t snap out of the panic. I made it my mission to find all of the life jackets. I had to keep my mind from shutting down.

We never have been in waters like that before although Paul calmly told the pastor’s wife that we do this kind of thing all of the time.

Three hours of rough waters and Paul got us to shore safely. I am so proud of him. It wasn’t easy.

Once we got close to shore and things settled down I noticed that Paul and the pastor’s wife were completely soaked and shivering. Almost everything was wet. I found whatever I could find that was dry to keep them warm. The pastor’s wife huddled in the spider ridden sail cover.

We were all freezing cold in July. We were all feeling sick. We weren’t able to get the bumpers out. I was able to tie a line and had to jump on the dock quickly as the motor died out when we found the nearest empty slip.

The pastor’s wife started throwing up once we got to shore. She was so sick that she wasn’t able to join us for supper.

After 3 hours of intense waves, I felt panicky like I do with turbulence on an airplane. It was an awful feeling. I also felt sad. I thought about death, how things could’ve gone terribly wrong and we could’ve died. I thought a lot about my grandma. It stirred up strange unexpected raw emotions of grief and anxiety within me that I find hard to explain. I felt empty, hollow, alone, and frightened…

For the last two weekends I battled death in the grueling waters of Door County. First under the dangerous swimming conditions for the Half Ironman. Then this weekend, 3 hours of sailing in very rough waters. I want to think that I won’t have to face this again. I didn’t enjoy my brush with death very much. But I already committed to sailing for a whole week next week with Paul and some other sailors to the tip of Door County through Death’s Door.

To be continued…

 

Up north adventures

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We left Wednesday afternoon to take the winding roads through the north woods of Wisconsin to get to our friends cabin. This was our first time at Tom and Lisa’s cabin. The last couple miles of our journey was on dirt roads.

When we arrived at their cabin, I felt like we stepped back in time. It was quiet and peaceful in their cabin in the woods on the lake. Their biggest form of entertainment upstairs was a record player. We listened to Kenny Rogers and Huey Lewis, the records I listened to as a kid. It’s amazing how I haven’t heard some of those songs for 30 years and can still sing them by heart. I picked out a few records, but to be honest I almost forgot how the record player worked.

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We spent the first evening kayaking around the lake. We sat around the campfire and spent the evenings playing darts and board games. We spent half of the next day at the beach we had to ourselves. It was a hot day and storms blew through in the evening. We had to rescue the kids from the beach in the evening as the storms were coming in. The thunder echoed off the lake magnificently.

I was surprised at how at peace I was there. I certainly shouldn’t have been. Yesterday Tom and Lisa’s friend came up with his kids. Out of all of us, we had 7 kids between the ages of 10 and 15.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. There wasn’t any A/C. The mattress was little and old. It caved in towards the center. I ended up rolling downhill into Paul all night, tossing turning and elbowing him. Four of the kids slept in the room above ours. It sounded like a marching band was practicing above our heads. At 2 AM, I told them to shut up. Nicely, of course, since they weren’t my kids.

I awoke at 6 AM after a restless night of sleep to the ringing of the phone. Our employee called in saying that her mom was in the ICU and couldn’t make it to work today. My mood darkened considerably. I decided to stick with our plan anyway, but modify it a bit.

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Lisa and I were planning on going for a 9 mile run and then hiking to a waterfall. Instead, we hopped on the back of their 4 wheeler to hike. Can you believe that I was never on a 4 wheeler before? It was fun.

We hiked the muddy path to the waterfall. There wasn’t another person in sight, which was great because I had to pee. We had to hike around fallen trees. It felt like an obstacle course more than anything. We made it there and I thought I would share a few pictures.

Afterwards, our husbands dropped us off on the road and we ran 6 miles back to the cabin. It was a tough run. I’m not sure if it was because of working out 3 hours two days before, the endless supply of liquor, a week of barely any sleep, that it was hot out, or because we had to cut our vacation short to go back in to work to cover for an absent employee. Good thing we didn’t see any bears! I could never outrun Lisa.

Regardless, we had fun on our mini vacation. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep??

Then tomorrow we are off bright and early for a sailboat cruise, then ending the day with a sailboat race. Another adventure awaits!

 

Left without pants…

This morning I had a new bedroom set delivered to our house. Previous to the new set, I have been using the same bedroom set that my grandparents bought me in 3rd grade. Let’s just say that it has been a long time since I have been in 3rd grade. It has been a while since my kids were that young. More drawers were broken than not.

After the delivery men left, I noticed I made a gross error. I forgot to remove my pants from one dresser drawer. It was the drawer that contained my dress pants and nice jeans.

Tomorrow morning we are leaving to spend the weekend in Chicago to see the sold out Hamilton. And wasn’t I just the one complaining about people wearing pajama bottoms to concerts??

To make things a bit more interesting, I have two interviews with potential employees lined up very early next week. Can I hope that we have similar hobbies and they show up in running pants too? Yeah, probably not..

When I called the company earlier, it sounded promising that they would be able to find my pants. I felt like a complete idiot until the customer service rep said that one time the delivery drivers left with someone’s pet..

Why do these things always happen to me?? Why??!?