I need a stale cigarette STAT

Those were literally the first words out my mouth to my in-laws. I know they knew Ryan married a classy lady, they just didn’t know how classy.

It all started with their anniversary present. 40 years! Can I get a what-what?! I would’ve loved to throw them a party like we did for my parents (see here), but I didn’t think it’d be feasible. So if we couldn’t bring them to a party, why not bring the party to them? Enter our Party in a Box. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
In a box full of streamers and feathers we stacked a series of gifts. The feathers were from Ruthie’s boas that I’ve been picking up all over the house and saving in a plastic bag. I knew they’d come in handy one day.  I guess I figured I’d make myself a new swimsuit for the summer…

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but the box will do instead. The pool patrons thank you, in-laws.

First in the party box were our toasts (aka letters).
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Then the confetti from Ruthie:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The party-goers:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI sent out postcards to their friends and family to write a note and they sent them back to me so I could send them all at once. There was a good turn out to the party! I’d say 40+ sent the card back.

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I think I was a stalker in my past life, because I had no qualms contacting their friends I’d never met and asking for addresses. Where was this confidence in 7th grade talking to boys? Strike that, in college talking to boys. I guess it’d be weird asking for their addresses though. “Hey, aren’t you in my Psych 101 class? Yeah, so what’s your address?”

But this is where things turned. For the worse, if you asked Ryan. For the better, if you asked me.

Ah, the After Party.

For my in-laws.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYeah, I went for it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI blatantly disregarded the phallic shape of the bottle and giggly wrapped the presents. Giggling mostly because of Ryan’s mortification. In discussing anything even remotely sexual with parents in general, he said “Carrie, guys are visual, okay? Girls are disgusting.”

But those cigarettes. I’ve hung onto that pack for two years now. They were originally during a first-time dinner date with a girl I’d met at a Hip Mamas meet-up and her husband. Did you catch that? It was basically our first time meeting them, and I laid out cigarettes next to our salad plates. It was an experiment based on a chapter from the Emily Post of Etiquette book. I never expected the turn it took. Wanna read it? Click here.

The leftover pack of cigs have been moved from mobile home to townhome to house and miraculously none were broken. Or smoked. How one was not placed in my hand after my 2 hour delivery of Annie, I have no clue. I could’ve just hung out in the birthing pool with a cigarette and bottle of Cristal while everyone bustled around me that first hour afterwards.

The night before we headed back to visit his parents, Ryan went to a fashion show to support his friend from KC who was showing his collection. His texts that night cracked me up. He said he wish he’d had a friend with him who’d actually laugh at what was coming down the runway. Because everyone took it way too seriously.

You know, when a girl walked down holding a shelving unit around her face.

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Or wearing a doile around her head.doile

My friend, Jesyka, said, “You don’t question fashion, Carolyn. I will be wearing a doile on my face this spring.” She should’ve gone with Ryan.

After the show, he met up with his friend Christian (from ChristianMicaheal) who incidentally also does historical reeanctments, one of which we visited several years ago.  At some point Ryan offered up our home for them to stay at that weekend since we’d be out of town. No big deal, I’d have done the same thing.

But when did he tell me this info? The day we were to leave for Wichita and only after I’d convinced myself to just leave the house a wreck because who cares, it’ll be a mess as soon as we walk back in the house. For some reason, I have to leave the house immaculate so that we can walk in the door to a clean home. Not this time though. It was a busy week working on a trip for my dad and I wasn’t in the mood to clean.

After hearing the news that our little home might be hosting some guests, I then had to go in overdrive to make every room look decent. Ruth watched about 12 hours of Barney and who knows where Annie was. By the time Ryan got home, I was frazzled, unkempt, and tired of hearing “I’m hungry” all day long. We got into our van and drove an hour longer to get to Wichita because one had to pee and then the other had to eat and the other had pee and the other had a blowout and then our van only drives 65 at the most and I couldn’t sleep because I have this asinine idea that if I fall asleep so will the driver and I was already tired from Annie getting up in the night and and and and. You people with young kids get it.

I was done.

And then we pulled up, was thanked heartily for our gift and I remembered.

The cigarettes.

“Don’t judge me, I need a cigarette now.” Julie must have seen a look in my eye because she ran to her bedroom and brought them out. I took one, went onto their back deck, stared into the dark acreage with the wind in my hair, and listened to… nothing. Nothing except me smoking that thing like it was made of gold. I closed my eyes and just inhaled. It was kinda like Clark Griswold’s wife, but more peaceful.

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I feel like I should now start a DARE program so Ruthie and Annie don’t think I’m advocating it, but dang. It was darn near perfect that night.

Thank you ornery After Party gift.

The rest of the weekend was really nice too. That night we stayed up until after midnight talking and tried sleeping in the next day. Actually, now that I think about it, I did! 8:30! Boo-yah. We lounged around some more until we met up with Ryan’s grandma.

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I wish Ruth would feel comfortable at their place. I mean, don’t be a wallflower, jeez. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShe was so busy. I think she ran circles around the kitchen and living room for 3 hours straight.

Then she ran circles around the couch.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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They were both wore out and took good naps before going out to eat and then onto the nursing home.

I know I’m going to eat these words, but I’m never afraid taking Ruth out to eat. She normally does really well, probably because food is involved. And that night was no exception. The stars were all aligned for everyone. Dinner went well. Annie ate, then nursed right before going in to see his grandma. No one was fussing, everyone was happy.

We waited in the lobby for her to come out and when she did, she first saw Julie, then me, then Annie and she almost started crying. Later she would say, “I hope you didn’t get a photo of me going crazy. I was just so happy.”

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His grandma (“maw-maw”) cracks me up. She asked if she could take ruthie back to pick out a stuffed animal from her closet. When they returned Ruth was carrying a huge panda bear, bigger than her almost. One time Ryan walked with her down the hallway because she wanted to show off Ruth, and he said she saw someone she wanted to talk to and rammed her scooter into his, almost pushing him backwards down the hall. Julie said she had to have her scooter taken away at one point because she was being too aggressive with it. Along the side you could see skid marks from who knows how many victims.

Ah, that made me smile. She’s still spunky as ever, even in her 90s.

It was a good visit and solidified my love of elderly people. My mom is thinking of volunteering at a retirement/nursing home. I might copy her and do the same. I just want to love on all these people and hear their stories!

The next morning we had a really good bible study and service around the dining room table. When I went on and on about fighting the same shortcomings every single day, Randy hit me with this verse:

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning
-Lamentations 3:22-23

They are new every morning. And that changed my outlook. God is good. God is love. He gives me grace every day. And I’m so thankful.

Afterwards we hopped back in the van to head home. The sun was shining, the girls were happy. It was just a 180 from the Friday before. Plus, we had a friend come along!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShady! The girls are in heaven.
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Shady is not. She’s exhausted. I think she’s used to sleeping all day and ain’t none of that is happening around these parts. Trust me, I’ve tried.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
In other news: SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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…and on that note, I bid you adieu.

Thanksgiving 2012

We switch holidays on and off with the relatives. This year Thanksgiving is with the in-laws, Christmas with my family. Next year it switches. The weather was sunny and, at times, warm. I managed to pack some dress (maternity) pants into my bag, but pretty much slothed it up in pjs the entire time while eating my weight and the baby’s weight combined. Pretty sure it already weighs 10 lbs, so I ate accordingly.

Ruth and I snuck into the kitchen and watched the man of the house cut our turkey. No manual labor here, only a chainsaw will do.
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Ruth stayed close.DSC_6466And we finally sat down to eat. Finally because the sweet potato casserole I made caused a hold up. We probably should’ve just scratched it all together because it was mostly only glanced at and Ryan was held at knife point to eat some. My mom said it had a lukewarm reception in KC as well.

I, of course, tried everything freely. Three times over. DSC_6467After we paid our yearly dues to the gluttony gods, everyone went into the living room. Most of us walked, someone hobbled though. Nathan was having back pain to the point that anyone who walked by in a trench coat was hounded for drugs.

Eventually he was medicated enough to lay still in the back bedroom. Shirts not required. I kept mine on. Ruth showed everyone her obsession with certain body parts.
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I did too.
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Along with my obsession with havarti cheese. Holy moly, Carolyn. Put the cheese slicer down. DSC_6474_2
The next day, Ryan and I snuck away to go to the mall. I was in there three seconds before I wanted to claw my way out. Ugh, if there’s anything more boring now that I’m not a teenager looking for boys to sit next to in the lunch court. I’ve conveniently forgotten the looks at my Spice Girl shoes by said boys, thus resulting in me sitting with only the girls I came with. Those shoes were massive. Like, drag queen tall. It was awesome.

I guess it also never helps to be on a budget too. Now, if I’d won that 500 mil powerball…. nah, still boring.

On the way home, I spotted the smallest Estate Sale sign ever created. That was a sign for the truly addicted. The prices at the sale were not. Too high for my taste, so we went home and got Ruth ready to see her great-grandparents.

She showed off her latest talent: blowing her nose. Great Grandma Leitta and Great Grandpa Jesse acted impressed. While she continued I did what I normally do… grilling Leitta on her past. She won her school’s talent show when she was 9 (1940) which gave her the opportunity to sing on the local radio station KFH. She had background singers too… the Arc Vally Boys. They asked her if she ever sang to a professional musician or what note she starts on. She said had no idea and said only her sister had played the song for her. So they had her sister come in and start the Arc Valley Boys off. Of course I didn’t write down the song she sang and now I don’t remember.

This reminded me of the karaoke story my mom likes to reminisce about… She and dad were out with friends and mom signed up to sing ‘I heard it through the grapevine.’ They called her name while she was in the bathroom. By the time she came out, a group of guys had already gone up to sing it. So mom ran up there, scooted her way in front of them, and they sang back up to the star. I wish I’d been there to see it.

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Her other great-grandma, Vivienne, came over for a ham dinner. Round two of stuffing myself like foie gras. Ruth was hesitant at first, but eventually found a common playing field: rocking chairs.

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And using a walker…
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Vivenne is hard of hearing to say it lightly. So at any given moment, someone was yelling conversations in the living room. They normally got an answer too. When she asked me, however, something about Ruth, and I explained it to her, she stared at me and said simply, “I can’t hear you” and turned towards someone else for another conversation.

Heh. You’re lucky that happened after dinner, Vivienne, otherwise I would’ve made you eat my sweet potato casserole.

The rest of the time? Ryan and I went on a mini hike on their 5 acres, which after actually walking it, really does seem like a lot… movies were watched, games were not played (you’re welcome, Randy), and Ruthie was watched. Or, hopefully she was… I didn’t pay attention, I was on vacation!

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And poor Shady was bothered. This dog is the most docile animal I’ve ever known. She runs away from Ruthie like it’s Godzilla walking towards her. That is, until Ruth is eating. Then she patiently waits to be given a piece. I told Ruth she’s getting a taste of her own medicine. This girl can hear the slightest movement of hand going to mouth and beeline to your knee. DSC_6483
Overall, it was a good holiday. Sweet potato casserole and all.

Great Grandparents

Before I assault you with a bazillion photos, wanted to see if you’ve been over to my other blog: The Mobile-Homemaker? It’s a chronicle of our journey to becoming debt free, while learning new (and old) homemaking skills. Go check it out!

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R is lucky to have 3 of his 4 grandparents still with us. And during our visit to Kansas, we made our rounds to see them.

It was wonderful.

First, we visited V. She is a crackerjack, and makes me literally laugh out loud. As soon as she was wheeled out, it was one hello to us and then all about Ruthie.

V was enthralled with Ruth’s eyebrows and asked her if mama was painting them on.

I love asking his grandparents about their past. For instance, the Dust Bowl. V had been living in Oklahoma when it hit. She was around 11 or 12 and remembers having to go to sleep with wet rags over her mouth and waking up to a line of dust on her face.

They moved to Arkansas Ozarks soon after because her mother had lived in the Missouri Ozarks and loved the area.


She also remembers roller skating down to the grocery store for her mother.


R would tell me stories about her superstitions growing up. Like, if they were walking together and came upon a pole, they could not let the pole split their path. If they did, she would make him come back around it and walk with her on the side. So, being ornery, he would purposefully run around it to make her come after him.


V will be 90 in June. When R asked her what will she do for her birthday, she said without a beat “Oh probably go out on the town.” So fun.

While we were chatting, some visitors brought valentines day notes for everyone. Ruth wanted to eat it.


Along with her eyebrows, V also loved Ruthie’s hands. She has such pretty hands. Turning to me to see if they take after mine, Let me look at your hands.  Hmmm.. Let me see your hands, R. Hmmm…

I guess neither of ours made the cut.


But hers did. Can’t wait to see her again.

After our visit, we headed straight to his other grandparents. They still live in their 1950s home, full of interesting things collected throughout the years. I’m sure she is sick of me asking for a tour every time we visit. I can’t help it. Some areas are like a time capsule.

Ruth was at first aloof.


But immediately warmed up.

Family portrait time!

Look at this photo and tell me this has any of me in her. Sigh. As a friend of mine said, who’s daughter is also an exact copy of her husband, “I did carry you for 10 months. You could have had at least a little of me in you.”


We then went into the dining room for some cookies and convo. This used to be their breezeway, where R’s mom and her siblings would go roller skating.

An old highchair was pulled out and Ruth was strapped in.

Her great-grandad gave her a spoon to play with…

But Ruth only wanted to eat it. Of course. I guess that’s where I fit into her personality. Whatever.

After eating too many candies, the girls went downstairs because great-grandma had a toy whipped up for Miss Ruth.

Made out of an old box and some rope, just throw padding in the bottom and you have yourself an indoor sled! She took a tour of the basement…

And then made her way upstairs where R was also talking about the Dust Bowl with his grandad.

I guess after the major part of the Dust Bowl had ended, he and some friends went pheasant hunting.  They would climb hills of dust that rose over fences and smothered homesteads. The dust-hills were so thick you could walk on it and they would do so. Over those fences and through the windows of those homesteads, out the other side.

It makes you wonder if some of those rolling hills you see are due to the Bowl. And what’s buried under them?

I love these stories and visiting these grandparents of R. But it makes me miss my own. I wish Ruth could have met them.

She will one day. That gives me comfort.

Hanging with the In-Laws

We had a great weekend with my in/out-laws.  R took Friday off and we took our time driving that morning, stopping at Ropp’s Bakery (an amish/mennonite farm that sells the best donuts around), and taking a different route than normal. I drove most of the way because I’ve found that if R is trapped in the passenger seat he’s more likely to have a conversation with me. Otherwise, he drifts off into his own world while driving.

When we arrived, Ruth (as always) attacked her family.

She was happy to be out of the car seat and in her grandma’s arms. I was happy to be there too, because our visits normally revolve around one major thing: FOOD. There’s a plethora of snacks that I really shouldn’t eat, but do. This weekend I tried to hold off as best I could…

until they ordered BBQ for dinner.

Hello, ribs. Is this seat taken?

I literally could not stop myself from sucking every last bit of meat off that bone. It was bloody. I’m pretty sure I was a T-Rex in my past life. Probably the best BBQ I’ve had in a long time (not counting the homemade ribs my mom made that are de-LICIOUS).

And the carcass on my plate proved it.

Ruth was in shock and watched my every move.

Ah, drooling in the face of ribs.

She really IS my daughter. I knew it.

We also read bedtime stories.

and laid beside her as she struggled to fall asleep.


5 months must have brought out the full moon in her, because for a baby that went down pretty easily (despite a few rough moments here and there), she has begun to fight naps consistently. Arms locked in the upward dog position, screaming bloody murder.

The first few minutes are cute. And then frustrating. And then draining. Doesn’t she know we’ll be here when she wakes up, ready to play?

Mornings though, are the best. Despite going down with a grimace, she always without fail wakes up with a smile.

At breakfast, grandpa showed her how to let birds land on her finger.

When R was younger, after watching a bird land on Mary Poppins finger, he decided that he was going to catch a bird too. He stood outside with his finger in the above position for a very long time, waiting for a bird to hang out with him.

So serious. It’s both funny and sad at the same time. I hope Ruth has a little of that in her.

The weekend was spent relaxing, watching old movies (think pre-1960s) which R and I have become obsessed with, having passionate rants about this subject or that (like my FIL’s article for a newsletter that was butchered by the editor to the point that it made him sound like an idiot – or so the story goes.. we’ve yet to lay eyes on said story.), organizing the newly finished basement, looking at J’s cross-stitched artworks, ogling over primitive-style decor in magazines, napping for both adults & babies, and generally hanging out.

Our last day we went to church and R’s mom joined me in the cry room for most of the service. It’s located in the back with a big window looking into the auditorium so you feel like you’re still actually a part of the congregation, unlike the one at our local church where I feel quarantined in a small, windowless, florescent-lit, white-walled room. This one was a breath of fresh air.

And after the preacher made a joke about having to always listen to “the same lame stories at family get-togethers”, J and I started giggling really hard. So hard in fact that we glanced down at sleeping Ruth and she had her eyes wide open staring at us. We couldn’t stop laughing and she couldn’t stop giving us a confused stare.

But it’s those same worn-down stories that we’ll be telling when we’re grandparents too. And you’ll be happy we did, Ruthie, because they’ll give you comfort when we’re not here anymore.

Trust me.

And the winner is…

What happens when you mix two girls, one of which is due soon, and two dueling chicken restaurants in Pittsburg, KS?  Honestly?Mostly heartburn. But at least there’s laughter along the way.

My friend, J, and I met up at Fort Scott, KS to enjoy one last get together before baby H is born. We were coming from opposite directions so this little town seemed a good midway point. I found a hotel right smack in the middle of downtown, in which all streets were bricked.

You know that made me happy.

We pulled up to our hotel, waved at the owner and hopped out.
Move it, J. I know you’ve just driven a couple hours and need to relax, but we’ve got some eating to do… and Momma Carolyn is hungry.
Here was the plan:

 

 

VS

 

 

This is not for the faint of heart, my friends. You need to train diligently for this type of assault. No sit-ups, no portioning, and definitely no dieting. Eat grease, nap, and conveniently forget where you put the scale.

I’ve been in training for this night it seems since the day I was born.

But first, we had to check out the barracks.

And this was our first test. Could we walk in to a multitude of patterns on the bed and the wall without losing focus? J held up well. I, on the other hand, had to sit down and put my head between my legs for a second.

Luckily I only wear solids, otherwise J would’ve lost me in there.

We didn’t waste any time, but headed to our first destination: Chicken Mary’s.

Before I get into our analysis of each restaurant, can I point out that J only has two months to go before she’s due (not to mention the fact that she’s wearing horizontal stripes!)? Don’t make me cuss, J.

She looks like me after Thanksgiving dinner. So I was more than happy to shove fried chicken in her mouth.

I don’t have as many photos of Chicken Mary’s as I do Chicken Annie’s, so I’ll give you a brief description. We walked in and me, being a bundle of nerves, walked up to the check out lady and asked her seat us. She pointed us to the right person who graciously led us to a corner table. The room was busy and it felt cozy. Country decor, candle on the table.

The waitress, whose name we did not write down (oh yes, folks, we took notes) advised us to *not* drink the tap water. She looked horrified at our suggestion that we could.

J loved the potato salad, stating “It has a dill taste.” This is of course after she took a nibble and rolled it around in her mouth like a Top Chef judge. I could only taste potato.  The applesauce was sweeter than Motts, which we later found out had cherry mixed in.

We loved the thigh, to which we agreed, that once you go thigh you just can’t go back. The fried skin on all pieces were perfect: crunchy & greasy, or, how we justified it, “juicy.”

Then it was off to Chicken Annie’s.

We walked there from Chicken Mary’s as they are literally side by side, and appreciated the brief reprieve from grease. I spotted a windmill and it instantly got a plus sign in my book.

We entered into a more open floorplan, which made it seem less busy. I had no confusion as to who was the hostess. She took us to a corner table as well, however this one was not yet ready and the cooks in the kitchen yelled at someone to come clean it. Open floorplan, remember.

I guess Annie would’ve yelled from the kitchen too. Authenticity? check.

Our waitress, Carly, instantly sat down with us to discuss the menu.

She said to J, and I quote “You can drink it. I like the water, but I’m weird.” Chicken Mary’s – no water. Chicken Annie’s – yes water.

We’re getting somewhere.

We devoured our meal and discussed:

J thought the potato salad was greasier, with more of saur kraut taste. I could only taste potato. The applesauce was plain. The chicken skins were not extra crispy and the white meat surprisingly ended up being juicer than the dark.

By the looks of my hands, it appears that I was slowly turning into a chicken myself.

Let’s take a look at a few more comparisons:

  • CM – no stuffed chicken in lobby. CA – chicken proudly displayed.
  • CM – smaller butter, but no trans fat. CA – HUGE, but with hydrogenated oil.
  • CM – no arcade corner/living room. CA – yes, in which we both dilly-dallied.
  • CM – total $12.45  CA – total $9.39 (however, I did buy a lottery ticket at CA and won a dollar, so make that $8.39)
  • CM – only lettering on sign. CA – lettering and a chicken that spoke.

The verdict?

Chicken Mary’s won on the actual chicken dish. Chicken Annies? Ambiance & Creativity. Who can beat looking eye to eye with the animal you just enjoyed.

Did you think we ended there, though?

Heck no! We took our wild and crazy selves, back to our 20-toned room for some dessert. Chocolate on graham crackers, cheeze whiz style.

J asked if I could make her one. Little did she know that my chocolate to cracker ratio is about 300 to 1.

She didn’t touch it.

Afterwards, we watched TV and knitted for a couple hours. Looks like I was trying to knit a spider web of sorts.

But it didn’t take long before we fell asleep into a grease-induced coma.

The next morning we hopped on a guided tour of Fort Scott.

We were the only ones on it.

The announcer said that if we had any questions, to feel free and ask him. I did several times and he never answered. Ah, I felt right at home, Fort Scott. Or shall I call you Scott from now on?

The town has got some real beauties of architecture. I was so engrossed with it that I didn’t realize how stupid it was to not have a lid on my steaming coffee. Several third-degree burns later, I was still enjoying the views.

It was a quick trip; we only stayed a night and left before noon the next day. But like every time I hang out with J, it’s never the amount of time, but the quality. I so enjoy her! Can’t wait to make these trips a trio with baby H.

“It’s (still not) my birthday” month

This entire month, I’ve been planning (and not planning) things, using my birthday as the excuse. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t think it will ever arrive, it’s taking so long.

It kind of reminds me of a friend, who will remain nameless, that literally told me of the conception of her child the day after said event occurred. It felt like she was carrying that kid for years. Who knows, maybe she did, because he came out as big as a three year old, I swear.

Speaking of which, is it possible to give birth to an 8-yr old? That’s what I would like to do once the C & R family starts growing. I love that age.

But anyway, back to me. (oh Lord, am I now stealing the spotlight back from the twinkle of a twinkle in my eye?) My birthday. I’ve been using it as an excuse for everything.

Like when I forced some friends on a pontoon boat. It’s my birthday.

Or when I reached for that second brownie. It’s my birthday.

Or when tagging along while my bro-in-law was buying his bday gift, I bought the same thing for mine. It’s been a month and I still haven’t worn them. N, on the other hand, wore them out the door and into Starbucks where everyone asked him where he uses them. This is literally an hour after the purchase, so we had the pleasure of watching him lie to the general public on “the best” places to wear them. “Well, I normally use them canoeing, but they’re also very comfortable to work out in as well.” Oh, it was priceless… and it was also my birthday, you know.

Or when unable to find the remote to watch a movie, asked R to please press play because if he hadn’t heard already… it’s my birthday.

Or indulging myself with a 50 cent pair of salt/pepper shakers because they are reminiscent of R and me. It’s MY BIRTHDAY.

Or sleeping in that extra 15 minutes and forgoing the Shaving of the Legs. Leave me alone, it’s my birthday.

Or going to a scotch-tasting with a co-worker and realizing that I really can’t fake making a face when drinking it. I tried to cover it up by smiling extra hard when the guy came by, but it only resulted in him thinking I actually liked it and thus giving me a little bit more the next round. The irony here is that as each round increased in liquid amount, so did my liking of it. My head the next day did not. However, it was my birthday, so I let it slide.

And lastly, having a Wuthering Heights experience on the shoreline of Rhode Island.

Thank you for the birthday surprise trip, R.

And still, it is not my birthday yet. Even I’m annoyed.  I hope we do nothing, because, you guessed it… It’s my birthday (tomorrow).

The Fourth, in Fast Forward

I don’t have nearly enough time. We have been busy moving, packing, playing cards, moving some more, packing some more, more cards and eating. In the middle of it all, we trekked down to Wichita to celebrate the fourth.

When I get back from a Regency-era adventure with my mom, I will sit down and write a proper blog post about the weekend.

Until then, here’s a snippet of our weekend:

Bus Tour

Barn Dance

Lake Swim

Car Stuck

And, yes, the car is still stuck in Wichita as of today. Didn’t even get to see a sparkler in action. Oh well, I got my barn dance in, so the weekend was still a success in my book.

I hear my parents on their way. A week in an RV with just the three of us.

Pray…. Hard.

4 years, baby!

Ah, yeaahhh. 4 years. Can’t believe it.

I think I’ll make R watch So You Think You Can Dance tonight. That’s right. 4 years, baby.

I neglected to mention in last year’s post that about month before we were to be married, the roof of our chapel was blown off from a tornado.

Midwest, ugh.

I was sad, R sent me flowers at work (the first time ever — and can I say… so appreciated. No Hallmark law stating he should, just him knowing I was upset and sending an uplifting flower with a sweet note in my time of need. Loved it.),  and I started searching for a new venue. A church down the street offered to take the displaced couples and we had no choice.

But we still went to a service to see who we’d be working with.

They were pretty cool, for being children of the fricken corn.  As soon as the service was over, they turned with arms outstretched and moaning as if half-dead.

Looking back, who doesn’t want to get married in a Thriller video?

So we said yes, and that was that. Oh, if I had to do it over. We’d be in a field, me in a white cotton dress picking wildflowers down the aisle for my bouquet.

Oh well, maybe for our fifth. Right now, enjoy photos from my 3 yr anniversary right here.

While you do that, we will go out to eat with possibly a golf game included. Ta Ta!

Oh, Stanley!

A few weeks ago, my friend turned a year older. We were on our way to visit R’s parents and stopped through on the way.

Oh my goodness.

Also, Oh Stanley!

That’s what I said every other second for the night we were there.

This is Stanley.

He’s sad.

I love sad dogs.

One time my sister and I went to Petsmart and we found Freckles. He was sad. I still regret not buying him.

Look at those eyes. I know what he’s thinking.

“Why is life so hard. What is my purpose. Who is this person shoving their face into mine. I want to jump out that window over there.”

The next day we woke up and treated S to a round of golf.

But first I had to give her a bday gift.

Our library gives some books away free. And no I don’t mean I just walked out with it. It really was free.

And this was one! Perfect for S.

This book along with a pink plastic flamingo for their housewarming gift has led me to believe that I’m probably the world’s best gift giver.

It ended up being a nice sunny (littly chilly) morning. We only played nine holes before heading off to lunch.

And I actually enjoyed myself. I think it took not playing for a year and a half to come back a little more laid back. That being said, I can’t wait for more rounds.

I wish Stanley would come along.

Topeka Winery

I figure I might as well show you a teeny midwest winery in the heart of Kansas’ capital city before we start in on the big ‘uns. We had moved to Topeka in the early 90s and, let’s just say, it’s very pretty… at night. You know, when you can’t see as much. I feel the same about Wichita and, honestly, most of the bigger towns in Arkansas. Not much there for me to grab onto.

But look at this oasis!

We were in town for a wedding and Juice suggested we swing by here beforehand.

I mean, it even has a rusted-out knight.

The best part is the tiny cellar. You have to walk downstairs to the tasting area and take a photo with your friend, not realizing that the photo being taken was probably the last one before you quit dying your hair. You’ll look back on that photo with a sense of longing. I actually looked my age in it. Wow.

The guy working the counter was really excited to have visitors as it was only the second weekend open. He was eager to discuss the wine and let us try as much as we wanted.

A cute place if you’re in the area!

J and T’s 30th Birthday Party

I don’t know where the nickname Juice came from, nor did I invent it for her. But I was introduced to her in college with that name and it’s still stuck in my head. She and I ran around in the same group our last year at KSU and she was also living with a group of R’s friends. The first night I met her, I stayed up all night dancing watching people from the wallflower section of the dancefloor. The next morning I woke up next to people I only vaguely knew and she immediately made plans with me to eat breakfast where R was waiting tables.

Just like that. She’s just a tad friendly.

But little did I know how creative she was until we slowly became better friends.

She’s quirky and in my world, quirky = cool.

You know, people who aren’t concerned with what others think of them. I’m still trying to get there, but I have come long strides since my early 20s. This blog has helped.

So, she and her husband T (who both also did the Adventure Race with us back in November – click link here), both turned 30 recently and wanted to celebrate. They invited their friends and paid their way for a night of 80s Roller Rink Fun-o-rama.

And we made it just in time for the Limbo. whew!

Each of us took our turns getting reaccustomed to roller skating. I don’t think any of us had skated within the past 10 years, so the whole “balance” thing was a foreign idea.

Well, except for Juice.

She’s been practicing to join the local Roller Derby Team.

Anyway, some of us pushed off the wall and hoped to slow down at the Limbo line.

While others had to be helped by an outstretched hand. Eventually we all made it. It took an hour.

Now, this first experience on wheels really tested you. The length from the line to the actual limbo pole is, oh, about 20 miles. No, seriously.

I wanted to cry, it was so scary.

It was like your first jump off the high-dive. Once you started, there was no turning back.

So instead of actually skating, I did one little push and then bent over. I don’t think my head even cleared it.

The failure was promptly blamed on my high ponytail.

Then it was R’s turn.

Oh, R.

He started off with feet parallel to each other and then somehow one foot started to split off and he couldn’t pull them back together. So the only option was to go with it.

Hopefully he can still sire children after that. It was painful to watch.

After our first run on the rink we were already sore.

R and N stretched it out for a bit….

While I chomped on Pop Rocks, provided by the hostess, and watched the show on the rink.

Every two seconds you heard someone scream and then bones breaking.

Like these three. I hope the horizontal guy is okay.

R stayed near anyone with a helmet thinking he could just fall on them and avoid the cement. Good thing this guy had one too. Man, he wiped out hard several times, causing the ‘referee’ (what are those guys called – bouncer? chaperone?) to blow his whistle and check on him.

It was awesome.

Others just breezed on by without a care in the world. Juice called ahead to ask if she could wear those fast special skates. They said yes.

What a show off.

We were jealous of her skills.

But I bet you’re jealous of my mad braking skills. That’s right ya’all. I could eat your brake for brakefest.

…and with that pun I bid you good night.

Later on, we skated the birthday girl into the bathroom (appropriately decked out in daisies) for a birthday toast. There’s something so liberating about having skates on while going pee. I’m not going to delve into that thought process, but I felt liberated.

We hung out for awhile until we were busted by the rink patrol. They were cool, thank goodness, and tsk-tsked us back to the rest of the group.

It was no use explaining to them that the bathroom break was necessary to..

do this.

Yikes. This should’ve been a recipe for disaster, but we both held on strong and whirled around. That was the thing I was most looking forward doing…. Spinning in the middle of the floor.

This had to be on of the most fun parties I’ve been to. We even broke out our Thriller dance when the song came on.

On SKATES, people.

And now I also want to take up skating as exercise… Forget running, people, skating will kill your thighs.

But it won’t kill your fond childhood memories. It only enhances them.

We used to do the Hokey Pokey, the coin toss, races and a bunch of other things. But I bet you all have some memories of your own.

Share if you’d like, I’m all ears.

Feetsies

What is my obsession with feet in photos? There’s no logical thought process since I don’t even take care of them, so why should I photograph them?

But I do.

And now you have to suffer.

Some of these I’ve blogged about (and have linked back to those posts) and others I haven’t, but wish I had.

Hot summer weekend trip in Iowa. Cool, sweet water.

Just prior to having a semi-heart attack on the Brew to Brew: 50 mile relay race from Boulevard Brewery in KC to FreeState brewery in Lawrence. The worst part was knowing that after your team drove past cheering you on, they immediately rolled up the window to say how sorry you looked. I know this, because we did it to every other person on our team. But I’m sure they didn’t do it to me. Right. RIGHT?

Hiking the Grand Canyon. What a glorious day, despite R almost dying.

Garage sale shopping with my mom. This was a terrifying flash forward of our lives when she literally parked in someone’s front lawn. Not on purpose.

What you don’t see above these feet is a girl dry heaving on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Apparently I don’t like heights?

After wearing heels for too long, asking R if I could borrow his shoes for a few minutes. No I wasn’t wearing socks either.

[collective groan / shrieks of horror]

Dancing the Thriller…in sneakers. If I saw a zombie coming towards me in white tennies, I’d either poke him in the eyes (and hope he doesn’t block me with the finger shark fin) or run my butt off. He might’ve died running, you know.

Do you see the steep stairs in this Irish castle ruin? And the rain water? You do the math.

Visiting our cousins in the Sunshine State. This is also a good reminder: Kids, always remember to put sunblock on your feet. Do not, I repeat, do not stop at your ankles.

Costume / Dance Parties. Oh, penny loafers.

Camping / Hiking – and facing my fear of the granddaddy spider of 2001.

And last but certainly not least… running through fields. I was apparently really excited to get to something…. probably food.

As I was looking around, I found even more feetsies photos. Oh yes, there will be a part two. Who sighed? I heard that.

Christmas – Snippits of His Side aka Home of the Goatees

{Watching my brother-in-law figure out the best way to get only cheese popcorn out of the tin. And by doing so, making us not want to eat the other two kinds that were barricaded by the inside of his shirt.}

{Being handed the stocking by my father-in-law who having neither grown up with girls nor had girls can only smile patiently through my barrage of photos and finger-in-the-air tirades.}

What? You’ve never seen my finger in the air pose? It comes around quite often, I’ll scrounge up a photo for you.

{Enjoying when people can laugh at themselves. This towel made me guffaw.}
{Watching R open up gifts from his brother, which included random items left over at his house}
{Then being told by J that there are over forty little elves hiding around the room. In the photo above, I’ve already found three. Our job? Find as many as we can.}

{After we found our loot. She then read various backstories on some of the elves. If we had those particular ones, we got more points.}
{But my favorite elf was the one who was happy because he ate a bunch of chocolate. I could really relate. See his chocolatey smile? J’s so creative.}

{Some even came with money!}
{And lastly, an extremely yummy corn chowder dinner where I realize how I need Katie to do my hair every day. See what happens when I’m left to it on my own? Move to Arkansas, Katie. I need you.}

Christmas – Snippits of My Side

{Watching my mom’s expression as she tries to organize a group photo. It’s hard work herding us in from the eggnog.}
{Waiting for someone to step up and be Santa. We were all too comfy with our coffees. I think my 3 year old niece ended up having to be him…which explains what happened later.}
 
{Congratulating my mom on giving us clothing that will not be returned. Her secret, she said, was not caring what we thought.}
 
{Seething with jealousy over my nieces’ new tu-tus.}
 
{When finding out that they are very, and I mean very, expandable, snatching it from E and forcing her to wear another skirt during our recital. Aren’t I nice? Don’t try to get in between me and a tutu.}
{More on the recital later}
 
{After getting fed up with being Santa, K grabbed her new luggage and tried to flee the scene. We sat there not knowing how to proceed with the presents}
 
{Nephew W becoming less and less impressed with his uncles’ ability to put together literally three pieces of plastic. It was unbearable to watch.}

{Getting a fresh ‘do, cut lovingly by my cousin Katie. If you want a hairdresser that hands you a glass of wine along with the expectation that you don’t have to talk, go to her. And isn’t that what we all want out of a hairdresser? She could’ve given me a bee-hive and I would’ve been happy that no silly chat-chat was needed. She works at Rio Salon in Parkville and is classy classy classy. Tell her that Carrie sent ya. It won’t get you any discounts, but you can still tell her — you know, right before you down that glass of wine and close your eyes.}

{On a side note, if you click on the photo, you can start to see my gray coming through. When my sister saw the cut, she said, “You look ten years younger. So you finally look 29.”}

 

The Life of a White Elephant Gift

I’m ba-ack. Never did I think I’d miss my cozy dorm room, but it feels nice to be back into its space-confining arms. After more than a week in Kansas, we arrived home last night and are implementing many things for our 2010 selves. Until then, I’ll continue to eat my weight in chocolate.


An item that did not come home with us this year was R’s white elephant gift. Actually, neither did mine;  of the $20 worth of lottery tickets, only one was a winner (a free ticket). And even that gained us nothing.


But what those tickets didn’t give us in money, the 3D pear fruit plate gave us in fun.
Here it is, in all it’s glory. Primed to be hung on any proud ceramic fruit displayer’s wall. We were in disbelief when no one tried to steal this from us.

So R tried to give it away as part of his secret santa gift.
R drew our brother-in-law’s name for our annual secret santa amongst the siblings. This year we decided to do a $5 limit. Does anything cost 5 bucks anymore? It was hard, but we at least we were all on a level playing field.

At least I thought we were. I opened up my gift from my brother & his wife and oh, just a “five dollar” COACH purse.  Uh.. hope you guys enjoy the homemade laundry detergent. Pretty fair trade, I’d say.

R was clever with his money, though. He knew that Joe (he has allowed me to use his full name) loved his Boulevards. But when R noticed the price was $6.98, he calculated how much he’d have to drink before giving him the present. A few chugs and a couple of leftover backwashes later, we were in business.

As an extra touch of thoughtfulness, R added his lovely pear plate (free of charge) to his secret santa gift.

Joe was thrilled.
A few days later, we found the pear plate hiding in a cupboard.

“Oh, Hail No”, my mom said. “This is not staying in our house.”

So she suggested I wrap up the plate and give it to R during his family’s christmas morning.
And being the dutiful daughter, I did.

R was not as thrilled as Joe. That is, until his father and brother went out to shoot blue rock in their backyard. And this is where the plate’s lovely life took a sad, sad turn. 

Please cover your eyes as there are shocking images ahead.

Not a direct hit, but fatal nonetheless. We will miss you, oh gawdy ceramic pear plate. May you go into white elephant gift heaven.

Drawing

My sister is going to kill me for posting this. Sorry L, but this made me laugh so hard, I could hardly control myself.

Our nephew gave R a drawing over the holiday weekend. It was quite elaborate and detailed.

The more you analyzed it, the more you saw.

For instance, did you see the guy coming up the stairs holding not one, but two guns? He was packing some heat, yo.

Or how about the man with the machete chopping off someone’s head? I think that was supposed to be me. Okay, W, I get the point. Next time I won’t make you sit through old home movies of me.

But honestly, how can you not admire the imagination? Talk about a 7-yr old boy through and through. I loved it.

Same Smile

Continuing on from the last post… let’s visit a photo taken during my 14th year of life. Different year, same smile.

Oh, the love one feels at that tender age. Or it might’ve been just emotional residue from all of the Harlequin romance novels I was gobbling up that summer.

My mom and friend, V, headed to a conference at our local church where, ahem, HE was speaking. The infamous HE. HE ruled my universe and basketball highlights. sigh, oh.. HE.

Anyway, afterwards, HE sat down to write autographs for everyone. So I stood (im)patiently in line, ready to deliver the one-liner that would bring HIM down to HIS knees and propose.

But as I shuffled my way to the front of the line, and before I could get a word out edgewise, my mom decided to take matters in her own hands.

“Oh Jared! Why don’t you stand up with Carolyn and pretend you’re going to prom together!”

I. was. mortified.

(and happy)

She managed to break the awkward stare I leveled at HIM as HE waited for me to speak and create a joking atmosphere. Making fun of the fact that I really was pretending we were at prom, made it seem like I wasn’t in fact thinking that very thing. She was always cooler than me, that mom.

But then. Then! Years later in college…. I had been dragging around this darn photo for 7 years, pulling it out from under my bed when someone felt down in the dumps and needed to compare themselves to a lowlier being.

But one day, I noticed a path had been made through the 5 tons of dirty laundry on my bedroom floor. Who had been in here? What would they have possibly wanted?

Later that evening, in walks one of my roommates. A, who was dating someone on the college team that HE started to help manage. She hopped down the stairs and casually handed the photo over.

HE had signed it! And he even wrote my name on it!

Two thoughts ran through my mind:
1) I love you, A.
2) Did she mention that I look different than that 14 yr old in the photo? That I grew into my nose? That I got a cuter hair cut? That I… That I….

And right back into a 14 year old, I turned… With that same huge goofy grin.

Krumping & Humping

In between forcing the in-laws to watch my new favorite dance style (Krumping), thanks to Russell Ferguson and So You Think You Can Dance…
Popping into the local library for a good half hour of reading…

Going out to eat, playing a game of scrabble, and watching the movie “The Scarlet Pimpernel”…..

Watching Shady hump my husband’s leg….

Hearing the crackle of a fire being stoked…

And confronting “the other woman” during a football game…

All in all, a thumbs up.

Tonight is Jammed Packed Full of Excitement! Coffee’s in the back!*

**Warning: Many words and photos ahead. Read & Look at your own risk.**

*The title was actually said via mic by my sister A. She was trying to get these baby boomers pumped up.

So after many a secret email, decorations bought, and lies told directly to my parents, the night had finally arrived! We had told B&P that R and I were driving into town to take them out to dinner with the rest of the family. My sister, A, was the head planner and quickly sent L & me an email listing the top ten things NOT to do when planning a surprise. The first rule that topped the list said to not avoid talking about the day and the “plans”. So we took turns calling them, asking if they were exciiiiiiiited, since that’s what we’d ask every two hours anyway.

Then we turned paranoid.

Everything my parents said sounded like they may already know of the party and are playing along. My dad laughed and said “yeah right” when I mentioned how we were (exciiiiiiited) to take them out for dinner.

Yeah right? He knew.

We had to sneak into their home to steal some photos and other paraphernalia while they were visiting my brother in California. (ps: M & D – we wish you had been here!! We missed you.) I had the excuse off dropping of my table, but still, when they said “oh we were wondering who was in the house. No one ‘fessed up.”

‘Fessed up? They knew.

Then it got bad. My mom answers the phone “Hello?” Hello? They knew. “How are you, Carrie?” How are you? They knew. They knew, they knew, they knew.

But they didn’t. Oh, not by a long shot.

When they first walked in. I love L’s shoes.
So a few things happened through the process that made my heart hurt. First, I had messed up royally by suggesting to B&P that R and I would be arriving at their home before taking them out on Saturday. If that were so, how was I going to help decorate and cook my roll-ups?

I had to think of something. And fast. A would beat me up if I didn’t.

On Saturday morning, I called B&P and told them R had to go into work last minute and we didn’t know when we’d leave. In fact, we had arrived the night before and slept in our nephew’s bedroom. He has a full bed and we thought we were in heaven…not even bumping into each other all night like in our glorified twin bed.

But I had to call my parents again as soon as I “got on the road” and it had to be timed so that “we’d have to meet you at the restaurant. Wish is were different, guys! Muah!” I even dropped a few “I’m so annoyed right now” to mom so that it sounded believable. Carolyn annoyed? Very believable.

So relaxing.
But as I walked around the grocery store saturday morning with my sister L, my stomach (and heart) began to hurt. I really did want to hang out with them and L’s conversation with mom the night before didn’t help any.

First, she had called mom, P, while she was out grocery shopping for lasagna. A lunch for me and R. Ouch.

Then, L told me mom had mentioned about 5 times that she’s looking forward to such a relaxing evening. Relaxing. hmmm….

Father B. 40 years later.
I made my dreaded call, lied to my parents for the second time within 3 hours, made my 2000 pinwheel roll ups, and got dressed. We met up a couple hours prior to the party to put up lights, lay out table decorations, and set up the buffet. When R was asked to lay out the napkins, he put them on each table as if we were having a sit-down dinner. You know, instead of piling them at the beginning of the buffet. He almost got beat up. We were all nerves.

L left early to meet my parents at her home. Thank goodness too because they showed up 15 minutes early and she had to stall by trying on several different dresses and asking for everyone’s opinion. Nice save.

She was also in charge of driving them to the location. Our schtick was to scout out possible locations for my brother and (new) sister-in-law’s reception hall. L was supposed to just “swing by real quick”. Well, she did manage to get them to the parking lot and my mom out of the car.

My dad? Different story. I mean, the Chiefs game was on the radio and why would he need to give input on the space? So he didn’t. Well, he tried to stay put, anyway.

My mom watched as L insisted strongly that he should get out of the car. That’s when she thought something seemed strange. Dad and L went back and forth and finally he (probably) sighed loudly and got out. Then he saw the lights. And a party.

Heck no, he wasn’t going to crash a party just to check out a space. But he was outnumbered and was shoveled through the door.

SURPRISE!!!!!

The first thing he said: “I’ve got to go apologize to L.”
A surprise party just isn’t the same without a struggle. Love it.

{You can click on the photos to make them larger}
So my parents mingled with old friends and family. Some they’ve seen recently, others… years.

We managed to find the actual priest that married them 40 years ago. Father B. My mom used to think he was cute. I think he looks the same.

As the night went on, each of us girls had our microphone duty. (If a mic isn’t in our hands, we feel naked.)
  • Amy: Introduce Father B. Prayer. Toast.
  • Lisa: Roast.
  • Carolyn: Bouquet and Garter Belt toss.
In that order.

I’ll give you one chance to guess if it was raining that night or not.
A introduced B as planned and he said a really nice prayer for us. I videotaped it all and felt really disrespectful, but at the time didn’t care. I had a job to do.
Then we dug into cake… cake framed by photos of my parents sharing cake on their wedding day. Oh, and nametags.
Thus begins the replicating of their reception:

Look at dad’s face. Oh, how 40 years changes things!


Soon afterwards, the mic duties went south. As soon as the little ones were taken home for bed, L went up to start “the roast”.

Okay.

You need to know my parent’s friends. They are loud, ballsy, funny, and sarcastic.

Well, I guess that’s how they always are in our memories of them hanging out with my parents. You forget how time can change energy level. Because tonight? They were quiet. Maybe the lighting was too bright. Yeah, that was probably it.

A few got up to speak, which we appreciated. Some were poignant and some were, well, confusingly funny.

One person brought up a basketball game in which the guys were playing. The speaker got side-lined with an injury and so the girls (mom) were asked to get ice. Well, they must have spent the majority of the time shopping or something because they didn’t get back until much later. And all the guys yelled at them. But he ended it with…. “and B chewed her out. [pause] They’re just a great couple.”

The segway made me laugh.

I think it made L nervous though because after he sat down, she asked for any more stories. Any one? Any one? (Ferris Bueller).

Nope, no one.

She then had the gall to cut into my mic time and immediately said “Okay!! All the girls get up for the Bridal Toss!” How dare she. But it was okay because we got some audience participation. Everyone stood up! And how appropriate that my mom’s good friend from high school caught it.

Next up? My dad. I couldn’t find a garter belt in time so we had to make do with a ribbon. He seemed to enjoy it.

My cousin’s fiance caught it. Then promptly put it around his head like rambo. Perfect.

Lastly, the first dance (for the second time.) Dad was okay with slow dancing (he always has a good strong arm). But then a fast song came on….

And that’s when his eyes turned red. Well, it could just be red-eye from my camera. But it might not be.

We were so happy to throw this party for B&P. They’ve been such a strong example for us growing up… and now, even more so, now that we know how difficult it is to maintain focus as a couple.

Through hard times, they leaned on each other. Through fun times, they laughed with each other.

Leaning and laughing. That must be the secret.

Good days…

Like I mentioned, I stayed with my friend K for a few days. She has a newborn baby and so I wanted to help out with what I could. I tell you what, the day positively flies when you stay at home. This was a glimpse of what my future might hold (don’t read into that. I’m not pregnant.)

Riding off into the…
First off, 24/7 of cowboys. After introducing me to his imaginary horse, Jack, I made the mistake of asking J if we were standing in front of his cowboy ranch. He scoffed at me and said, “No. Cowboys don’t have homes. They roam.” Ah, rookie mistake #1, Miss Carolyn. Know your cowboy facts.

I should’ve given history lessons on the Nazi regime based on my “red light” stance.
I spent a good 5 minutes explaining Red Light/Green Light, only for them to green light it out of the yard. Rookie Mistake #2: Do not go into a history lesson of Red Light/Green Light. Learn how to hold a 4 year old and 2 year old’s attention.

The light is flashing! Hurry, hurry! Now look natural.
K and I reminisced about college days during a walk on campus. Rookie Mistake #3: When using a stroller, for gawd’s sake, use the handicap button to open the door. Remember, you are not graceful.

Our college exercises: Bend, two, three, four..now hold, two, three, four… up, two, three, four.
Good job! Reward yourself with skittles!
You saw one of my college memories in a previous post. So K reenacted her routine in between spanish classes. If anyone from KSU reads this blog, she just might get a few more Facebook friend requests. We don’t think many people would recognize her in any other position. Rookie Mistake #4: Not recognizing K until downloading this photo.

She done picked a good ‘un, that thar sh’did!
And lastly, getting to know little C’s ornery side. A lot can happen in a year (which I can’t believe is the last time we saw them.) She’s a quiet one, but watch your back! Rookie Mistake #5: Asking kids to give you their sweet faces for the camera. Just one.. C’mon.. just one!

I wish I had amnesia.

Just for specific moments in my life. Like when I stepped on a soccer ball which caused me to roll forward into the splits and go headfirst into an old lady’s lap. Or, when offered a piggy-back ride, jumping onto a guy’s back which caused him to dive bomb into the pavement and break his teeth. Or, one of the most squeamish (and telling) memories of insisting that my 5th grade “boyfriend” hold my hand during a viewing of Anne of Green Gables.

But as K and I wandered through the KSU campus, other flashbacks caused me to sigh loudly and roll my eyes. I decided to reenact one for you at the very scene of the crime. Interestingly, though, we both thought the number of stairs leading into this building had been lessened. It just seemed small, but I suppose that’s how all memories disappoint you.

Okay, so let me set the stage.

There was a beautiful student, me, headed to class… My mahogany hair fell in layers around my face and shoulders… I was ab-solute-ly stunning.

What. That’s how it is in my memory. Okay, let’s be more realistic.

I rolled out of bed in my pjs, glanced at the clock, and ran out the door while rubbing toothpaste on my teeth with my finger for last minute freshness. I was lucky if my hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Ugh, I hated this class…whatever business class it was. Where’s my spanish poetry when I needed it.

So, with my mouth set in a frown and face turned down, I forged on. It was chilly that morning and was starting to sprinkle. Hurry, hurry, hurry. As I rounded the corner, walking to the front door, I happened to look up. And there she was. The epitome of “the girl I’d like to be.” Yeah, I could dye my hair red like hers, or work out a bit more for slender ballerina legs, but that gracefulness. Oh, that gracefulness. I watched her as she opened up the door, stepped out and then did a little hop onto the first step. Then a second hop. And a third. All the while her toes were pointed and wrists dainty. Damn it to pieces.

I sat through that class analyzing myself when I realized that I not only wanted to be her, I wanted other people to also think to themselves that they would like to be me! Control freak that I am, I literally wanted to force people into admiring me.

So give it a go, Carrie! — I thought — After class walking down those same stairs, it will be your debut into a graceful person.

So I did. I opened the door, dug deep for my kindergarten ballet moves, and gave my first hop.

It was also my last one.

What I didn’t know was that while in class, the rainy drizzle had turned into ice. After just one step, my legs went straight into the air and I literally remember seeing the sun and thinking “Oh my, what a beautiful sunrise.” Then thump a-thump thump. I landed on my back, arms outstretched like I was auditioning for Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

And two things happened.

First, a girl passing by smiled at me pitifully and said: Don’t worry, I’ve done that before too.

Not exactly admiration.

And then something more horrifying took place. As I peeled my head up off the stone steps, I looked down the path and saw, what else? A tour given to a large group of high school seniors!

“And to our left is Calvin Hall, where you will want to be careful to not try to look cool in front of others, lest it bites you in the ass. Literally.”

She likes me, she likes me not.

I caught myself a few hours into the roadtrip to Manhattan quietly pulling off petals. I like this… oh, I don’t like that… I finally grabbed my camera and tried to capture those petals as they fell.
I like driving on stretches that are lined with growing corn.

I do not like eminent domain.

I like catching the name of the river before crossing.

I simultaneously do and do not like boarded up windows. It makes it look old and mysterious, but at the end of the day, would a board be the best way to preserve a historical building?

I like to read bridge numbers.

I like looking off into the plains’ distance.

I do not like when people will not go on a proper walk.

I like stopping by a quick garage sale with my sister and find a free button. I also like making my sister wear it despite her dirty looks.

I do not like the overuse of Wizard of Oz.

And of course, I like old farm houses.

Curls Gone Wild

J and T moved into their new home a few months ago and had their housewarming party last weekend. It was really nice. They had games for both kids and adults to play, but most of us just ate, drank, and chit-chatted.

Here’s our hostess. J. She’s a creative one in my life and I never ever feel like I can’t be my sometimes too day-dreamy self around her. We talk about traveling non-stop, but have yet to go on a (big) trip together. Something is in the works for next year, though. We’ll wait and see.

…with the mostest.
I want curly hair. Bad. But I don’t want to spend money on a perm, so I rolled my hair up the night before in spongy rollers like I was either 10 years old or 80. Take your pick. R would say 80 in looks and 10 in maturity. Had the worst sleep of my life due to said rollers and woke up to a frightening sight. I badgered R into giving me his “honest” opinion. (And when I say honest, I mean he better give me a compliment.) So when he lied and said that it looked scary, I glared at him.

I had texted J before getting to the party that I may look like a Glamourshot photo and to not be scared. So after she got a good laugh when I walked in, I started talking with B’s wife. She wore a big smile and asked whether I had dyed my hair a different color, clearly avoiding the fact that my curls were preventing me from moving through doorways. This, in turn, made me laugh.

…no, my hair has been brown for the past 28 years.
I made my rounds with the guests, but my favorite person to talk to was B’s son. He made me want to hug him, pinch his cheeks, high-five him, and tickle him all at the same time. He is such a mini-me of B, and made me giggle hard.

He was scared of my curls too. No smile.
The rest of the time was spent outdoors playing games. After washers, J pulled out some random (authentic) bowling pins from her garage. B & R tried their hand at juggling them.


Water balloons were next, and we all saw the outcome of that in the previous post.
Then followed some water gun vs hose fights along with a slip-n-slide. A must at any party.

Later in the evening, we sat around a fire and made smores. It was a beautiful evening.

The next day we hung out with R’s brother N. Went out to eat and watched Star Trek for the second time. Love that movie. Got a late start on the road and arrived even later then expected. We saw a storm a’brewin up ahead.

Then the next thing we know, hail is coming down with tornado alerts in the area.

But as soon as it came, it was gone again. And we were left with a little present, a rainbow. Is it just me, or is the pot o’ gold on this guy’s bumper?? Why didn’t we take down his tag?

I’m trying some new things at home and so far they are working out well. I’ll post with more info soon.

I’m not surprised.

R and I went to Topeka last weekend for our friend’s housewarming party. This photo encapsulates what my friends have to put up with.
  • New hairstyle = awkward conversations regarding everything about me except my hair. I try my hand at self-deprecation, but end up liking to watch them writhe in pain as they look me over.
  • The refusal to change out of a shirt soaked by a water balloon, thus making it seem to all new-comers to the party that I have been sweating profusely.
  • The underarm stain confirming that I sweat profusely.
  • In an attempt to reduce extra inches on my upper arm, hold in a way that enlarges my elbow to twice the size of my head. And I’ve got a big head, my friends.
  • When given the task of making queso, somehow drop dangling jewelry into it. When someone almost chokes on it later in the evening, I mutter “Who made that dip? What a loser” and then look at someone accusingly.
All in all a good weekend. More to come.

Frisha

After earning $90 at my sister’s garage sale, we celebrated Mothers Day on Sunday at her house. She offered to serve up a brunch and boy were we glad she did. It was delicious! But I could eat breakfast food at anytime of the day.

Queen P. (Which kind of sounds like Queen Bee, and that would work too.)



Afterwards, we played a game in which we asked questions about different stages of her “motherhood”. Some stories were told that I had never heard before: that her friends and her used to have sock-throwing parties (they were my age), that she worked in a particular school district, and various other embarrassing stories of her childhood.

Here are somethings that I do know though: she laughs a lot; she swing-dances; she is social, but enjoys her alone time; she was stubborn in her youth; she appreciates the arts; she flips her head sometimes as though she has long hair; she used to say “gee” in order to change conversation topics; she stands for what she believes in, even when she’s the minority; she teases people and laughs when she is teased; she’s a worry-wart; gay men are drawn to her; she always says: ‘You may quote me on that’, ‘You can put that on my gravestone’, and ‘You better be glad I have a sense of humor’; she is a thesbian; she is diplomatic; after the first sip of a cold beer, she always says “aaaah”; her fingernails have been filed in the same way since she was young: oval; she isn’t afraid to be self-aware; she tolerated my women’s studies days in college; she is a quiet leader; she is self-deprecating; she’s a reader; she likes the Backstreet Boys; and she’s my friend. That’s something we both know. Thanks for everything, mom.

Shady

Meet Shady. You’ll never forget her. She’s R’s parents’ adopted dog of their son, N. Did that make sense? Anyway, there are two things I get excited about when traveling to my in-laws. The first is what type of nut/dried fruit/candy mixture will be on their table and the second is Shady. She makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

She watches you unpack.

And watches you wake up.

And watches you tickle her.

And watches you read.

Wind Farm

After our picnic, we took the roundabout way home and drove through a wind farm. They were gigantic and so impressive. The juxtaposition of old and new was so intriguing. Cattle also grazed right around them as well. Oh, no big deal, just a 180 foot blade swirling over my cow head. This grass sure tastes good.