Keeps on Giving

If you know me personally, you know I’ve been sick. Since Thanksgiving. That’s a long, long, time of being sick. It was dragging my ass through my December teaching, feeling poor for the holidays, not being productive because I haven’t felt right. It’s been tough. I powered through and still did things, including all my holiday celebrations, but I wasn’t my usual sparkling self. People kept saying to me, go to the doctor. But I don’t. I’m not a doctor person. And a cold is viral, there isn’t anything a doctor can do. But it wouldn’t quit, it wouldn’t go away.

2014 ended rough for me, my mom being so sick and having surgery, then me getting sick, then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and Kelly found out she needed surgery, and Mindy learned her collapsed lung will always be partially collapsed, and suddenly I blinked and went from August to December.

When the new year hit, I was actually relieved. I felt like things would have to start trending upward. And they have, sort of. Kelly had her surgery and while it didn’t go perfect, she is recovering and will be fine. My aunt had surgery to help with her cancer and it went very well. Now we have to hope this is the start of a healing process for her. My mom is scheduled to have her reattachment surgery in February, earlier than expected, so this is great news.

But I’m still sick. My ribs have been sore for a while now from all this coughing. Then Saturday hit and things went sideways. I got a flat tire on my car. I’m blessed that my dad took care of it for me, even though it still cost me $120. Then I coughed so hard my back spasmed and I couldn’t move. But luckily my sister had pain medication to help me get through. We finally saw my nephew Simon for Christmas and got to spend some much needed time with him. Sunday I wasn’t really feeling better. And my house was a disaster. Literally a mess in every room and I still hadn’t taken down my Christmas decor. The tree, yes, but not the decorations. But I was in such pain I couldn’t move. I called in sick to work for Monday and then I was sitting in my chair in my living room and I started crying. I was in pain, feeling poorly, and feeling overwhelmed. Everything just got to me, all at once.

Finally, I took a deep breath (which hurt) and starting talking to myself. Out loud, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear the words. I told myself it was okay, there really weren’t that many problems, and the mess was something I could easily fix once I felt better. I reminded myself that while this was a thing, I’m generally healthy, I have a good job, a good family, wonderful friends, and while we have had our share of problems, we are all still here. (Side note to mention this has been on my mind often because when my mom was sick, I worried she might die and it scared me, and with all the health scares for my loved ones…then Kelly just learned that a close friend of hers, her husband unexpectedly died at the age of 43. I know it can happen so it has been on my mind.) But the people I love are still here.

Monday, after another night of barely sleeping, I called to get a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I couldn’t get in for a week. So I looked up urgent care and they opened at 1:00pm. I got ready and headed over and was there at the stroke of 1. I got right in and had an exam, where I learned I am actually much sicker than I realized. I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. Far more than just a cold. It started as a cold, but developed into these other things at some point. I also have sprained my ribs from coughing. Fortunately, I have not fractured my ribs, so that is a bright spot. I got medication (though it took me 90 minutes at the pharmacy, grrr) and headed home to my messy, messy house to recover. I took my pills on Monday and they knocked me out. Asleep before 9pm. I woke up once during the night, took another dose and slept until 10 am Tuesday morning. Luckily I had already told my boss I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday.

I relaxed and recovered for most of Tuesday. I read a new book. It felt good, I haven’t felt like reading at all since I’ve been sick. I actually forced myself to read a few books in December, but otherwise, no interest. Then, about 7pm last night, I felt like myself. Not completely recovered, but better. So I got up and tackled my house. I put all my Christmas stuff away. I broke down the boxes in the corner that had been taunting me since Christmas. I gave homes to all my new Christmas gifts. I organized a cupboard in my kitchen that needed it. I did my dishes. I handwashed several items that wouldn’t fit. I cleaned my counters off completely. I ran three loads of laundry. I got everything back in order.

When I went to bed last night, I slept, deeply, soundly, and dreamlessly, for the first time in weeks. I finally felt as though I had turned the corner. I was up this morning to my clean house, ready to tackle the day and head back in to work. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, and used the toilet, then headed into the bedroom to dress. Suddenly I heard a sound I shouldn’t have been hearing. Running water. Did I not turn the shower off all the way? I went in to check and….stepped into a mess. My toilet was overflowing. Dirty water running everywhere. My bathroom is bordered by carpet, so I grabbed clean towels from the closet and built dams. I called my dad to find out what to do. He talked me through it and okay. I then called work to tell them I would be late and set about taking care of yet another mess. And it was a mess.

But now it isn’t. I got it fixed and cleaned up and threw in a whole load of dirty towels in the wash before I left for work. I also jumped back in the shower to rinse off and wash my feet. Gross.

When all is said and done, this has been a pretty awful week for me and many people I love. Yet, here I sit, blogging, not to tell you how rotten it was, but to tell you how lucky I feel. Life will always throw messes and challenges at us and we have to learn to deal and try not to get overwhelmed by it. At the end of the day, what matters is the people we love. If you still have everyone you love and they are, healthy (mostly) and happy, then it’s all going to be just fine. And if you don’t, if you lost someone, then it’s heartbreaking and horrible, but you still have all the moments that you shared with them. You still have the memories, good and bad, because for whatever time you had, you got to love them. So I’m happy and blessed with the people I love.

I don’t do resolutions in my life, but I notice a lot of bloggers choose words to help define their year. I don’t do that either, but this year, if I had to, I’d choose love. I’d choose to be happy and blessed with all of the life in my life and let that be my focus for 2015 and every year beyond.

Day of Friends

A few weeks ago, my mom got a phone call. A little voice asked when Simon was going to visit. Evidently Christian missed his friend and took the initiative to set up a play date. It was a lot of kids. Simon, Arionna, Camden, Victoria, Christian, and Brecken. The kids are all big enough now to go and just play, without being watched or entertained, so it’s pretty wonderful. Kelly and my mom and I just sat in the living room and talked, while cuddling on the babies.
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 The babies. They are only a month apart in age. They played and chilled. Auntie Livi got some good cuddle time:
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I call that one “Armful of Babies”.
Brecken and I were having fun practicing our clapping.
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We fed the babies lunch, I gave Brecken his first macaroni and cheese. It was nostalgic, because I fed Christian his first cheeseburger. Evidently I have a thing for giving babies their first taste of forbidden foods. Brecken is sitting in my family’s antique high chair, my father’s family has used that since before my dad was born (and dad is about to be 60!) there aren’t any straps or anything, we use a towel to tie the baby into the chair. Kelly thought it was awesome and took a picture to send to Mark.
It was such a fun day and great to spend time with all the kids together. Before our friends left, I was insistent upon getting a photo of all six kids together.
Here’s how it went. First, the boys wanted to hold the babies. The girls were disappointed.
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Arionna won’t smile and Victoria is on the fringes. But all four boys look great.
Try again.
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Now Victoria has moved closer but her hands are in her face. Arionna still won’t smile. Christian’s smile is fading, but what I like is that he is looking directly at me, while every other child has shifted their focus to Kelly.
Take 3:
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We have now shifted the babies to the girls. Cam is still being a champ, looking and smiling. Brecken is doing his own thing. Victoria is no longer visible. Christian is still maintaining solid eye contact with me but we’ve lost Simon and still no smile from Arionna.
Take 4:
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Probably my favorite outtake. Victoria, sweetie, what are you doing? Arionna finally cracked a smile, but it’s aimed at Kelly. The big boys, while being wonderful during this whole thing are clearly fading. The smiles are more forced and less pronounced. I think Brecken is screaming at me to stop with the pictures already. But Cam…still a smiling champ.
Take 5:
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Honestly, as far as it goes, this one isn’t bad. If I had had to settle for it, I would have been okay. You still can’t really see Victoria, no one is looking the same direction, and Christian has completely resolved to stop smiling. But, the two babies look fabulous. I know they are tired of this, all of them.
And so I said “one more” thinking I probably had something workable. I did not (see evidence above), so I am glad I took that one last photo.
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When it comes to getting SIX kids, ages 7 and under, including two infants, to look and smile for the same picture, I think this is well beyond as good as it gets. It’s sweet, they all look happy, everyone is (mostly) smiling. I’m very happy with this photo. There’s nothing quite like seeing the children you love all gathered in one place.
Thanks to our wonderful friends for giving us their Saturday. We should definitely try to manage it more than once a year!

Thankful – 2012

Last year I posted a “things I am Thankful for” post. I liked it so much, I decided to repeat it this Thanksgiving.

In 2012, these are all the things I am thankful for.

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My mom

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My dad
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That they love each other (and me!)
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Siblings

Simon

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Arionna
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Besties

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Christian Kane

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A new nephew

Friends AND babies!

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Identical goofy expressions
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Outdoor concerts (music in general)

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Gaggles of friends

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Photographs

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Kisses

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Happiness
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Affection

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Large families

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Swimming pools
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Dreams

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Books (I’ve been reading like MAD lately, 6 books in the last week!)

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Colors of Fall

First snowfall

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Sunsets
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Trying new things

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Josie

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Cranberry splash season

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Baby anything
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And me. I’m happy just to be me.

Have a grateful, extraordinary, loving, and unseasonably warm Thanksgiving!

Lucky the Leprechaun

There are moments in life when we learn lessons, even if we don’t realize it at the time.

When I was 15, I sat behind this girl in choir. She was quiet, only talked to certain people, and never to me. I was loud and talked to anyone. But she never talked to me. She never even looked in my direction. I decided, with all the wisdom of a teenager, that she must be stuck-up, therefore, I hated her.

We had choir together. We had French together. We had English together. I saw this girl all the time. Then, one day, in our English class, we got assigned a group project. I ended up in the same group as this girl. There were four of us total. Me, her, AJ Montpetit and another girl whose name I cannot recall. We set up a time to work after school and ended up going to “her” house.

As we sat in her living room, we were discussing ideas for the project. She kept making these dry remarks. I remember wondering if she was being serious or not. If not, she was pretty funny. Finally, after one of the remarks. I laughed. I have no idea what she said, but I laughed. The other two didn’t get it, but I did and it was funny. The girl looked at me and said something else and before long, we were laughing together.

We have the same sense of humor.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was not at all what I had assumed. She was just quiet. Shy. Reserved. She didn’t talk to me because she doesn’t do that. But, once we started talking, we didn’t stop. We became fast friends. We became movie buddies. We used to pretend we were British and make up outlandish stories when people asked about our accents.

We went to college and stayed in touch.

We moved to different parts of the country and stayed in touch. I moved home from DC and a few weeks later, she moved to DC. Then somehow we ended up at home, both of us, at the same time. We bought homes and live about 15 minutes from each other. We’re still movie buddies.

And tv buddies.

And book buddies.

And drinking buddies.

And just plain buddies.

For 18 years she has been my friend, my best friend. We’re more honest with each other than anyone else. We talk about things with each other that no one else understands. We still think each other is so funny. She’s my very best girlfriend. She might still be awkward and shy at times. I might still judge too harshly at times. But every day, we still laugh with each other and that holds us together as it once brought us together.

When we were in high school, I used to rub her head and tell her she brought me luck. My very own lucky leprechaun. She still brings me luck to this day.

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Today is her birthday.

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Happy birthday to you, old friend. (Even though you don’t like celebrating…I do! And besides, I’m sure writing this will bring me luck!)

 

Dollars and Change

When I first started this new blog in August of 2010, I talked about how there were massive changes happening in my life at that time and I used that as a launching platform to change from my old blog to my new one. I’ve somehow, inadvertantly, focused aspects of this blog on change.

I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, but it was not my intent. I guess that is why I find myself amused to be writing, once again, about change.

Recently, I’ve had some professional challenges. When I was first presented with the new change, I was dramatically upset. Crying and inability to focus kind of upset. But, I did not let it get me down. I knew, knew for certain, that this was not a change for the better. There was no way to put a positive spin on this. So I fought. I stood up for myself and said, “this is not okay”. And I lost. Those who outrank me decreed that the change was happening, like it or not.

And I hurt even more. Because now, I have the fear, the uncertainty, the uncomfortable feeling of change, but I also have the pain of losing. It’s not fun and it makes it hard, but I am glad that I fought. I don’t think I should have just accepted what was happening to me–at that time.

I fought and lost. But I’m proud of me for fighting at all.

Still, the change is coming. I cannot stop it and I cannot fight it anymore. It will happen. I dread this change. If I think about it too closely, my stomach starts to hurt. I’ve had a headache ever since it was finalized. That’s not dramatic, that’s reality. I am more tense and sit all day with my shoulders squared, trying to face this new challenge with my brave-face on, and the tension is causing an eternal headache. (Ok, “eternal headache” was a bit of drama…)

Recently, a friend told me about a big change happening to her, professionally. She is extremely upset about this change, and understandably so. From her earliest memories, she’s had her eye on one single goal and she reached it ten years ago. Since then, she is maintaining and growing and making herself even better in her choice. However, the powers-that-be in her world have decided that things must change. She will be making a major transition soon, and she is not happy about it.

I don’t blame her. I feel the pain she feels. The fear, the uncertainty, the insecurity you feel-wondering if you’ll possibly be good at the new, the anger and frustration that come with a change you did not choose. I’m sorry this is happening to her, but then I wonder…

What if this isn’t bad? What if she finds out that she was MADE for this new role? I know her, she overachieves at her job, she will conquer this and become as amazing in her new role as she was in her current role. She doubts, right now, that this can or will happen, but that is the emotions associated with change talking. She will succeed, I really have no doubt, but it is so hard, so very hard in the throes to recognize this.

It requires time and distance, the strength to get the emotion under control before you can gain perspective. I’ve still not acheived it for myself, I am fighting through the added difficulty the emotional aspect brings and still wondering if there is a light at the end of my tunnel. I know, from experience, that there is, but at the moment, I’m not there. Not even close.

I think I will get there, experience has taught me that, but when it comes to my friend, I know for certain that she will be okay.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because of a conversation I had with my mom this weekend. The conversation was very personal, regarding my brother, but it dealt with change and adaptation. Somehow, no matter how hard you resist the change, there comes a point, somewhere down the road where the way things are become “the new normal”. You stop thinking of the things in your life as change or as an intrusion or as new or different, they are just the way things are. Even if, when the change begins, it is absolutely unthinkable (as in the family situation), there comes a point when you do achieve a new normal.

I call this adaptation. Even if you hate a particular change, especially when you hate a certain change, there will come a point when everything will adapt. Your feelings, your emotions, your daily life, your routine, the way you think and feel and act; these things will all reform around the new normal. What was once “the way it is” will become no longer and will, eventually, become the odd, scary, different  part of your life.

It’s almost sad, and certainly a whole lot scary, but we can adapt to anything. We can change the world around us and we can let the circumstances of our lives change completely and none of that means that we lose who we are. We remain the people we have always been, just with new experiences and new challenges to draw from in the future.

If change is the hard part, then the new normal is the dollars. The good part we’re all waiting for, when the world rights itself once again.

It may take a while, but we always get there.

(Interested in some past posts on change?)

Birthday Party – 33

Does it seem like a long time for everyone else, or just me?

It’s been less than two weeks, but for some reason…

Okay, let’s dive right in. I hosted my 33rd party in downtown St. Paul. My plan was simple. Everyone meet up and then we’ll bar hop. While hopping to and fro, I devised a “photo hunt”. That’s what I’ve been calling it, but maybe there’s a real name. At any rate, I created a list of challenges for my friends to complete and they had to photo themselves doing the challenge and then text me the photo for credit. They worked in teams, assigned by me, but could use anyone to get a challenge done.

I spent so much time searching for ideas and creating the list of challenges. I really wanted it to be diverse and fun, but also I was trying to find challenges that I thought everyone would enjoy. From the feedback, I’d say it was successful. Rather than detail the whole night, I’m going to just publish the pictures of the challenges.

Let’s begin with the people who came, my beautiful friends and family.
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It was so great to have such a high turnout. I know people were freaked out by the idea of this, and many didn’t understand what I was planning, until that very night. Still, they came and they participated (most of them!) and it was terrific. It also left me with so many pictures of the people I love, that was the best present I got that night, without question.

One of the rules was that a team member must appear in the photo, because obviously I want my friends in the pictures, not just random snapshots. One challenge was “take a picture of a mustache” and I got so many pictures of strangers with mustaches. Weird. Plus, two different teams sent me the same picture of these two old guys with mustaches. How funny is that! But, I did get:

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The guy on the left is Ben, who was on a team. (Yes, he has a real mustache under there, I jazzed it up for fun). The other guy is Greg, who is a former employer of mine and now owns a pizza restaurant in St. Paul. We stopped there during the evening and someone used him for this challenge, so I counted it.
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This challenge had them finding a coaster that carried a name of a beer that I drink: I got a couple more pictures, but just of coasters…no people! I also, somehow ended up with a coaster in my bra at the end of the night. Not sure how. Tom used me as his model for this, which is good, it’s nice to be included! I gave him a bonus point, because I was hardly asked to be in any challenge photos!
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This challenge had contestant drinking a margarita, which I don’t think any of my friends actually drink. Yes, Elena is in there twice. Two teams sent me a picture of her drinking that margarita. And, unless I’m mistaken, Frodo then borrowed Elena’s margarita. So that’s 4 photos, 3 people, and 2 margaritas.

One fun challenge was “a team member holding a ball” because there usually aren’t balls in bars, so it was fun to watch them be creative.
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That bottom photo? Mindy and Tom. Exactly what you’re thinking. Definitely bonus points for that.

“Entire team standing on chairs” was one I thought would get me more creativity, but I got the same picture from each team…in the same bar.
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The top left? Niki and Ben. You’ll notice how it looks as though he is cupping her breast? He’s not. But it looks like it, so I gave them a bonus point (first bonus of the night, actually) because they are brother and sister.

“Have a team member eat something” turned out to be more clever than I expected.
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Chad was in a pizza joint and ordered a single piece of pepperoni (not a slice of pizza–just a pepperoni). Elena ate a life saver. Niki chose to eat Frodo’s ear (bonus!) and Kelly, bless her, chugged ketchup straight from the bottle.

“A teammate on someone’s shoulders” was another one I envisioned differently.
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Chad and Kelly partnered up, from different teams. I’m impressed that tiny Elena can hold Niki and she is standing up. The top right is Tom and Mindy, who were going for difficulty points. Tom has Mindy on his shoulders, while moonwalking down a yellow line. Three challenges in one. Awesome. Bonus points.

“Team member with an animal”
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Not too many completed this. The reason I am in there is that while we were arriving and trying to find a parking spot, this random guy was walking down the street and he was wearing skinny jeans and this ratty t-shirt a ball cap, converse and had massive tattoos. He was an anomaly. We actually talked about him in the car. Then, we arrived at the last bar of the night and he was the bartender! So I asked for a picture and realized later that he had an elephant on his shirt and I counted it.

The bottom photo I’ll discuss later in detail, but the ladies are wearing animal print. I counted that for Tom and Mindy and gave them a bonus point for creativity. (see a pattern here?)
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As it turns out, this is actually pretty impossible with a camera phone. I wanted a photo of them in the air while jumping. Not one person could accomplish this. But the pictures are funny.

“Team members taking a shot”
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How funny is that top picture? My parents wouldn’t take shots, but my dad came up with this idea. Bonus! The one of me and Chad was late in the evening, but I gave them another point for it.

“Olivia and a neon sign”
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I wanted a team member and Olivia and a neon sign…came close. The one of Chad and me was an accident, but I counted it, and it is the second after the picture of us taking a shot above (before and after, if you will)…yikes.

“Reenact the Abbey Road album cover”

Turns out, not many of my friends knew what this meant. This was EASY…all you needed was four people. And I guess no one thought to Google it.

The actual cover looks like this:

(courtesy Google images)

and these were the only TWO who even tried it.

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They are both good tries and got the points, even though I don’t know why the one on the right (Dad, Mom, Kelly, and Mark) looks like they’re doing the Robot across the street.

“Walk the yellow line” (and try not to get killed)  was another challenge. I didn’t realize that streets in the city don’t have yellow lines. Whoops. Suburb girl here. Still, two teams managed to find one to walk…

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Tom–as you saw earlier

and my Mom, who was certainly creative in her solution–that was also proposed by my dad, I believe. I wish he would have participated more, because he is certainly creative.

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These are just some random snapshots of challenges. I didn’t have enough good ones of each to create a collage, so I did this. Starting at the top left:

Hats: was supposed to be a team member with a strange hat on. This was the ONLY one that qualified. I got lots of pics of strangers wearing a weird hat.

Gift: Amy and Elena gave me a car. I didn’t count it because I couldn’t keep it…but it was still funny.

In common: find someone else in the group you have something in common with. Mindy and Kelly. I’m guessing here, but Mindy has a child in 2nd grade and Kelly teaches 2nd grade?

Photo of the clock at 11:11pm: ONLY one who had people in it. Muffy’s eyes and the top of Tom’s head.

Chug a beer with a stranger: I didn’t get many of these, but this was funny because he was our waiter at the first bar–and this was while he was working!

An interesting group photo: I didn’t get many of these, which made me sad. I love group pictures. I got one, actually. This was Chad trying to get the group himself, while in the picture. It makes me laugh.

Two of my favorite challenges were based solely on results.

The first was ” a photo of a team member with a celebrity” and I LOVED the creativity of this.

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It was also the most results I got. I actually added Elena, because she is a celebrity to me. Tom and Mindy used Greg, as he was our boss when the three of us met, which sort of makes him a celebrity. Frodo said, “I don’t know how anyone could find a celebrity” and my dad said, “I’m a celebrity to her, I’m her dad” which is how I got that. It’s not true, but it IS funny. What is funnier is that Elena used Frodo himself, because we call him that as he looks like Frodo Baggins. Self portrait, maybe, Frods?

For sure some of my favorite photos.

This last set was based on sheer humor. Not that many photos, surprisingly, but a lot of creativity.

 
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Kelly is a pro at looking passed out. My sister is funny because she’d been there for 10 minutes…and already passed out.

Ben’s is also funny. Who passes out on a newspaper machine? With a lit cigarette in their mouth?

The large one on the right is Frodo. He stole a lampshade off of a working lamp in a building, then went into a public bathroom and laid on the floor for this. Possibly the best photo of the night. I’d say top five, for sure!

That covered the majority of interesting picture challenges. I did have some video challenges, but I am having trouble getting them to load. That might have to just be a separate post.

I do, however, have a bunch of photos I want to share, whether they were challenges or not.
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These two were teammates. Unfortunately, they only did like three challenges before giving up. However, they did send me this, not as a challenge, but just to…make me laugh? It worked. They went into the bathroom and changed clothes. He’s wearing hers and she’s wearing hers. They even switched glasses. Imagine if all that humor were channeled into the game!
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Likewise, this was not for a challenge. My mother took a picture of herself using the toilet and text it to me. I love it!
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Someone took this. I thought, the moment I saw it, that it looked like an old time photo, you know, where people never smile? Obviously, my mom and I are smiling, but perhaps it is the poses? Or my dad’s hands, folded on his lap? I put it in sepia to enhance the connection…either way, I love it.
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I spontaneously kissed her and her partner, Amy, made me do it again for a picture. And it is one of my favorites of us!
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I actually took this one. I was being silly, resulting in the laughter, but these are my GW peeps. My gang. I love this group of people. I was honored Niki came up from Madison for my birthday.

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And this. There are a scant few photos of the three of us and I wish there were more. They are two of my favorite people in the world. I was so happy they were able to make it to the party, and if you hadn’t guessed by the bonus points alone, they were the winners of the evenings festivities. No surprise there, they are the perfect pair. Next year I might separate them and see how they fare?
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Speaking of Tom…

This is a photo of Tom with five hookers. Okay, I don’t really know that they are hookers…for sure. But we were walking down the street and following these girls, not one of whom looked old enough to drink. Their shorts were so short and tight that they were wedged up in their buttcracks. No lie. Mindy and I were miming our disgust with these girls, get a little self-respect, hmm? Then I had a brilliant thought. I told Mindy, “5 bonus points if you get a picture of your husband with all five strippers” (yes, I was using strippers and hookers interchangeably, then and now) and she was game. She sprinted down the street and caught up to them, just in time to overhear them saying, “we need to find ourselves a white man” which was her cue. She offered them her husband…for one picture.

I LOVE IT!

And while we are STILL talking about Tom, he also features in one of my favorite photos of the night. I don’t know how it happened, I might even have taken it, but it is so completely awesome I can hardly contain myself.
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That’s right. That is Tom and my MOTHER. He’s rarely that animated in photos (but he should be, could he possibly look any more fun?) and I think it is odd that I have a picture of the two of them. I lovelovelove it.

Lastly, someone did organize the group photo, which is how I got this, my all-time favorite photo of the evening.

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Thank you to everyone for coming. It was an incredible night and oh-so-much fun. I have a ton of memories (yes, even some that I didn’t blog here!) and am delighted at another birthday of being spoiled by the people I love most. Thank you all so much. Love you!

Happiest birthday to me. Helluva way to kick off 33!

(p.s. remember my post about picnik? every single photo was edited there and all collages were created there…I’m really, really going to miss it)

Family and Friends

A few weeks ago, I threw together a party with my family and our family friends, the Kranzes.

Frank and Kathy have been friends with my parents for…well, ever, I suppose, and we grew up with their kids. However, as adults, we don’t see each other that often. I’d been chatting with Kelly, who is my age and she and I had been talking about a get-together.

We planned it for November 4. Somehow, miraculously , that is a date that worked for EVERYONE. Mom,dad,Frank,Kathy, Colleen, Roy, Jamie, Jerry, Avery, Macy, Kelly, Jeff, Gracie, Carrie, Matt, Natalie, Paul, Em, Chad, Zack and me. Count ’em up. That’s 21 people, across 10 separate families who were able to make it with less than two weeks notice. Either we all have no lives, or else we got very, very lucky.

Everyone brought an appetizer, and who doesn’t love appetizer dinner? We had more appetizers than we could fit on the counter at my house! I think there were something like 4 crock pots plugged in…and none of them were mine.

It was so much fun to sit around and reminisce (that means to recall old memories) about all the nostalgic (that means to remember the happy times) times we had as children and teens. Most of our family vacation memories are of both families. We chatted about favorite memories and laughed, told fun stories and laughed, Kelly sang a bar or two of “I Will Always Love You” and we laughed.

We still are trying to organize a home movie night. But Kathy needs to get involved, as she is the owner of the home movies.

I ran around taking photos:
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Zack, Jamie, Kelly, and Natalie. I love how Jamie’s hair is in motion here!
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Zack and Natalie…apparently he doesn’t like her!
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Hmm? Maybe he likes Kelly? Or else just having two beautiful girls fawning over him…
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Men, congregating (that means gathering) in the kitchen.
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Uncle Matt, threatening to toss Avery over the railing.
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Uncle Matt, attempting to toss Macy over the railing. Those poor, terrified (that means very scared) girls.

 

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 Starting with my mom (if you read this blog, you MUST know my mother, but if not, she’s the one drinking wine) and going right…Mom, Roy, Jamie, Carrie (who is preggers and due on Xmas day!) Kelly, Kathy (something funny?), and Colleen.
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So cute! The baby was kicking and her sisters were divebombing (that means attacking furiously (that means frantically, harshly, or angrily) in a downward manner) her trying to feel the kicks. I even snuck in there and got to feel Baby Bissell moving around.
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This has most of us. My mom, bottom front in the purple, with her back to the camera. Going clockwise (that means in the same direction as a clock turns) we have Colleen, Kelly, Frank, Emily, Zack, Jamie, Roy (who is married to her SISTER but has his arm around her) Carrie (seated and drinking a mocktail (that means a fake cocktail)) Natalie, Matt, (seated with blue cap and head in hand), Paul, standing behind Matt, and Kathy.
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I just like this one because of how hard everyone was laughing. Zack and Chad are about to burst. This was before Colleen fell off her chair from laughing so hard (no lie, that really happened).
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Another fun group shot, I seem to have caught everyone in the midst (that means middle) of disputing (that means arguing or discussing) some long-forgotten point about family vacations. This was not the Great Easter Egg – Was it Vermilion, Otter Tail, or Ely? Debate. That was earlier. I don’t remember what they were arguing, but I love the varying stages of  expression from everyone.
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Jeff found us boring and decided to take a nap. (Just kidding, he’s awake, it’s just the angle I caught him at).
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Frank, telling the “Better Mousetrap” joke. I think I’ve heard that joke 5 or 6 times (and it is still funny) but somehow it was the first time for his daughters. Strange! But, damn, that is a funny, funny, joke and NO ONE tells it like Frank.
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See? Told you she fell off her chair from laughing so hard!
Lastly, two inebriated (that means drunk) friends:
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At the tail end of the night.
It was a night of laughing until your stomach hurt, telling tales and jokes, and just being with friends that are practically family. We’ve got a plan. Twice a year! One in summer, one in winter, from here on out.
And that doesn’t count the beer fest, coming to you in March!
Thanks for coming everyone!