The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The grandparents come through

If you read this post you'll recall that C spent a month with my mom and step-dad in what I like to call the summer of spoiling. They had an early b-day bash for him and gave him all sorts of cool stuff. His favorite being the Indiana Jones gear (hat, whip, bag, brushes-for cleaning off rare treasures-a notebook that mommy lovingly pasted clip art of ancient stuff into and a pencil). He spent hours outside digging up treasures that my mom burried in a flower bed that she had not planted this year. It was crazy exciting. For some reason this pic is small and I can't enlarge it without it getting all pixel-y. You get the idea though:

Two weeks ago we were in Target and C wanted to look at the toys. He always wants to look at the toys. We have a deal: if he's good while I shop, we'll look at the toys. If he doesn't listen, no toy looking. It's an effective system. So, back to two weeks ago: he saw a pirate ship (ImagineNext, IIRC) and wanted it. Desperately. Des-per-ate-ly. He begged. He pleaded. He tried to bargain. It was sad really how much he wanted this pirate ship. He asked if he could have it for his birthday, but I told him all of his b-day presents had been bought. He came up with the idea that *he* could buy it. With my money. I laughed and told him that he could not spend my money, but if he saved his own money he could buy it. See what a good parent I am? Teaching about saving for something you really want. I amaze myself sometimes, I swear I do. He sighed heavily, but agreed that he could do that. He hates to spend his money, so this was a big break through. He has no problems spending my money, but not his.

His b-day came and the money poured in. He got a whopping $48! He already had $27 saved up in his own little wallet (tooth fairy and Christmas money he refused to spend). He was so ready to go get that pirate ship. He talked and talked and talked (and talked) about it. We went to Target on Sun, but forgot to bring his money and I wouldn't spot him any because I wanted him to hand over his own money. He was disappointed, but I promised the next time we went, we could bring his money and get it.

Monday afternoon a package arrived from O'Pa (my dad) had sent him a birthday present. If it's from amazon, we know it's from O'Pa. We were on our way out to dinner so we told him we could open it up when we got home. This led to much excited speculation about what could be in the big box. It made for fun dinner conversation. We finally got back home and I cut the tape on the box. The excitement was palpable. I could feel it vibrating off C. We opened the flaps, pulled back the packing paper, and there, in the amazon box sat the exact same pirate ship! C was over the moon. How had O'Pa known he wanted it, he wanted to know. M and I stared at each other in amazement. M asked if I had mentioned it. I had not! How freaky is that? I called my dad and told him the story and he was as shocked as we were. C has now decided that O'Pa must be "psycical." He really loves this thing. I hear him in his room all the time singing "Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho, a pirate's life for me." Good times.

And look! We even had sea monsters! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flight delays, a wedding and a birthday

What a weekend we had! One of my high school BFF's got married on July 25. That also happens to be C's birthday. He was super duper excited to get to spend his b-day in Chicago. The boy loves Chicago. I took him for the first time this past Thanksgiving (M was in a military school and we couldn't be together) and he fell in love. Background: I went to high school just north of Chicago and have tons of friends who live there. I try to go back as often as possible. When B told me she was getting married (and on C's bday) I knew we'd be there.

C and I flew out on Thurs. To Texas. Texas! Gah!!!! You know how I feel about Texas! To add even more fun to the whole thing, we got caught up in the remnants of Hurricane Dolly! Wooooooo! Know what that means? Oh, you got it that right: flight delays! Hours and hours and HOURS of flight delays. I can only say one thing: Bless the USO. If you don't give money to the USO, you really should. You have no idea what they do for military members and their families. We spent approximately 6 hours hanging out in the Houston USO. They were amazing. They had free snacks and drinks, comfy sofas and chairs to lounge on, a kids space with toys, books, games and movies and best of all, a small slice of sanity for tired travellers. C was happy as a clam and I was relaxed and amused myself by listening to newbie military members who have no clue. I don't mean that in a snarky way. It was just funny, because they just didn't know what they were getting into, and to hear them talk like they knew it all made me chuckle. I wasn't the only one. You could tell who the vets and vet families were. We all smiled knowingly at some of the things they said. We bonded in our silence. Those young members will smile knowingly one day at other newbies. If you want to donate to this amazing organization, please click the banner below. And thanks if you do!

We finally arrived in Chicago at 1am, long after we were due. I was never so happy to see a hotel. C was a trooper though. He slept on the flight and was so super excited to get back to the City. We had to take a taxi from O'Hare because the shuttles had stopped running and he loved it. Taxis are high on his list of favorite things. The driver laughed the whole way to the hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Metro in Greek Town and the people were fabulous. Friendly, attentive and welcoming. I thank them all.

The next morning (C's 6ht bday) we woke late and then walked to the Sears Tower. He was absolutely fascinated. He couldn't believe how high we were. I think the History Channel mini-movie you have to watch before going up about how it was built was more exciting than being up in it though. He was a little ticked off that he didn't get to push the elevator button. ;)

After the Tower, we went back to the hotel to nap before the wedding. It's a good thing we did too, because I have a little party animal on my hands. You'll see proof af that later.

The ceremony was at Old St. Pat's. B looked beautiful. K (her new hubby) looked over the moon happy and her mom cried. I did too, truth be told. The ceremoney ended and some of my other high school friends, C and I headed to the reception at the amazing University Club. C hung out the window of the car and said hello to every single person we passed. My friends were cracking up. He's pretty funny.
There was a cocktail hour in the Library and the reception itself was held in Cathedral Hall . Wow, wow, wow is all I can say. Oh, and WOW! It was gorgeous! Also, fun!!!!! You rarely get to enjoy your own wedding reception, as you are too busy talking to relatives and posing for pics, but you can totally enjoy a friend's reception. More of my friends need to get married! I'm talking to you girls! I need to dance some more! Here are some pics of the awesome party.
Us before the cocktail hour:

The first dance of the new Mr. and Mrs.:

Parents of the bride watching the first dance. I spent many an hour at their house when I was in high school. You know what? They still look exactly the same! I think there's some voodoo going on there. B is their only child. Don't they look proud? They are such wonderful people.

The cake:

This is one of the shields on the wall. I thought it was cool:

These are some of my friends from high school. Class of 1991. Left to Right: JJ,SF,SL and me (standing). We all look the same. Scratch that, we look better. :)

Us with the beautiful bride. I think the dress I wore makes me look pregnant, but believe me, I'm not. Awwww....aren't they cute? K's speech made us all weepy. He said he had found his fairy tale with B. What a guy! I heart him (Not like that! Like one of my BFF's hubby who is great and makes her happy-you pervs).

And now for my party animal. The boy has moves!

Here he is dancing with SF. He loved her. He danced with her, then me, then asked if he could go back and dance with her instead of me. Nice.

He was upset when he saw this pic because I was not supposed to smile. I was supposed to do my "serious dancing face." One of the most fascinating things for C (aside from dancing with the ladies and hanging out in the kid room) was the ice sculpture. Why? Because they had 2 luges to pour martini's through. He absloutley loved this. B's dad asked the bartender to pour some water through to clear the alcohol, then pour C a drink (water, at C's request) through it. He thought this was the coolest thing ever.

At the end of the night, the bartenders (who C had talked to endlessly) pulled the luges out and gave him one. He was thrilled. What 6 year old wouln't want an alcohol luge for his birthday? He then used it to blow out every candle in the place (we were among the last to leave, so it was cool). There were probably 100+ candles.

When we got back to the hotel, he told me it was the best birthday he'd ever had. That's saying something. We went to Disney last year! I told B's dad I really appreciated him throwing such a big bash for C's b-day. He laughed.

The day after the wedding we slept LATE and then went to the Museum of Science and Industry. C had so much fun and learned a lot, but continued to talk about the wedding all day. Oh, and every day since.

Congrats to B and K and we can't wait for your anniversary party! We love you guys!!!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Road Trip Day 3: We finally get out of Texas!

Day 3 and we start off with no movie.

Oh and still in Texas. Look! More nothing:

Why doesn't everyone in America understand this?
We stopped for a potty break and I found these. Don't worry, I was parked when I took this one. They also had plain Limon, but I opted for the Chili Limon. The Limon was tangy and delicious, but the chili was HOT!
Look, it's lunch time. All eyes are on me. Or rather the "Justaburger" I was holding:

OMG! El Paso! Do you know why I was so excited to see El Paso? It's the last city in Texas!A shot of my GPS. See the US Border? That's the 'heel' of Texas. Mexico is on the left. Quite a difference, huh?New Mexico! No more Texas! No more Texas!
Um...where's Wyle E. Coyote?
I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque!
Goody! We're driving into this:
Border Patrol! Being blond haired (with a smidge of help) and blue eyed (naturally), I was not stopped.

Hey, when you're the only gas station for miles, look what you can do:
A choir of angles broke out into the halleluiah chorus:
Maybe Arizona is not for me:

Awww, look how Ft. H welcomed us:

Home! For a few months anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Road Trip Day 2: Why is Texas so BIG?

Day 2: Still in Texas. C being silly at the hotel:
Our goal today was to make it from Houston to Fort Stockton. With my sanity still in tact. Maybe. The drive started off much like yesterday:Apparently the people in Houston have problems:

Hey, ever wonder where your Igloo cooler is made? Now you know, just outside of Houston:

Where are we? Texas or Germany?

About 30 minutes outside of Houston I started seeing a series of signs that intrigued me. What is this all about?

Unfortunately it was raining too hard to get a pic of my favorite signs. They read: "Eat Jerky, don't drive like one" Amen! "Bathrooms so clean you've got to Pee to believe." Well how can you resist advertising like that? Huh? I couldn't! I had to know more!!!!! So, we stopped (and thankfully the rain did too):

The signs must work because the place was packed. I mean packed. It was huge but you could barely move for all the people. I have to say the bathrooms were ridiculously clean. There were 22 individual room like stalls in the ladies, along with 10 sinks, 6 chairs, 2 benches (one covered with a buffalo hide) and several lovely western themed vignettes. I peed. I believed!

The shop had a jerky bar. You read that right. Jerky. Bar. Who knew there were so many kinds of jerky? Being a non-meat eater I wasn't all that impressed, but still. They also had a deli, a standard snack shop, a pottery store, leather wear, cowboy hats of all shapes and sizes, and fudge. Oh, sweet, sweet, delicious, evil, thigh enlarging fudge. By 4 pieces, get 2 free. Gah! C had to have it, so we got 2 pieces of chocolate for him, 2 pieces of choclate pecan for me and my ever expanding thighs, and 2 (Free) pieces of Rocky Road for M. It's so rich you can only eat a sliver at a time, but oh my is it good!

C picked what is probably the only flower in Texas. Isn't it pretty?

After we left we found a whole lot of nothing. Want proof? Here you go. See the serious lack of roads on the GPS?:

I did however find something to like about Texas:

When the speed limit is 80mph, that really means you can do this because really, no one cares:

And even this (but don't tell my mom):

Apparently I'm the only one awake:

It's amazing what you can find to amuse yourself. Do you see the viking long boat in this cloud?

Oh, hey, look! An old style oil well! This of course popped the phrase "Up through the ground came a bubbling crude. Oil that is. Black gold. Texas T." Then I sang the theme to the Beverley Hillbillies in my head for at least an hour. If you're now singing it, you're welcome.
Civilization? Nope, just a display of Texas pride and an overpriced gas station:

Finally, Fort Stockton! Oh, yes, I will!

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