Vacation!

Hello, world!  I’m home!

The family and I spent nine days visiting with friends and relatives throughout the Midwest.  I call this trek our annual Midwestern Tour, as we hit Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the same week. This time of year the area where I grew up is amazingly beautiful.  You wouldn’t believe how green everything gets.  Even the corn fields look beautiful when I haven’t seen them in a while.

We spent the first couple of days in Chicago, then drove south to central Illinois to visit my grandmother.  We then drove three hours north through Indiana and Michigan to reach my mother, other grandmother and various relatives who live in the area.  It was fast, organized, exhausting and incredibly fun.

Here’s the highlight reel…

10635748_10152955877379574_8811372455149121989_n[2]While in Chicago, my college friend hosted a house party and invited all of our girlfriends from school, along with their families.  We BBQ, drink, laugh and relive our glory years together while our kids run around and make new memories and form new friendships.  This year the adults sent the kids to the basement to play so we could play the game, Cards Against Humanity.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an adult card game of mostly vulgar and inappropriate topics.  If you’re not too uptight and appreciate a dirty joke, then this game is for you.  I will say that I did surprisingly well in the game, and my two most popular cards read, “Altar Boys,” and “Two Midgets Shitting in a Bucket.”  Feel free to use your imagination here as to what these cards may have been in response too.  ūüôā

We visited my grandmother, who is 94 years old.  I’ve always had a very close relationship with my Nanny and she’s an incredible woman.  She is in amazing health but starting to lose some of her short-term memory.  We looked at the same photo album about four times, and although it was new for her every time, I continue to be amazed at her ability to remember details about family history from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Her own mother was born in 1897, and every conversation feels like a history lesson, but one you don’t want to miss.  When I ask her how it feels to be 94, she tells me, “getting old is not for sissies!”

St. Joe lighthouse

St. Joseph, Michigan

While in Michigan, we visited with several of my high school friends, my mother, grandmother, aunt and a few cousins.  I went to my favorite childhood restaurants.  We drove to St. Joe and took the kids to Silver Beach, which is on Lake Michigan.  My kids ran down the pier alongside the lighthouse, disbelieving that Lake Michigan wasn’t as big as our Pacific Ocean back home.  I found a lake house there I would like to buy for the low, low price of 1.6 million dollars.  What a steal!  LOL!  At one point Bryn looked at me, while having dinner outside on a patio overlooking a beautiful lake active with boats and jet-skis, and she said, “I can’t believe you got to grow up here!”

Yeah, I got to grow up there.  It’s funny how so often in life we don’t appreciate what we have until we can look back with some perspective.  Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the fields, the lakes or the small community that looked out for each other.  I took it for granted and was more excited to see other places.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that the older I get, the more I appreciate where I come from, and this annual trip means more to me every year.  I want my kids to experience the things I loved about growing up in the Midwest.  Admittedly, my kids have opportunities that I never had as a child, and I’m thankful for that.  But I also want them to appreciate the simplicities of life.  The small things and traditions that add up to big things when you look back on your life and remember what you loved most about your childhood.

lake canoeingI want them to gorge themselves on strawberries while picking them fresh from the fields, and then bring the berries home to make fresh strawberry jam in grandma’s kitchen.  I want them to canoe the rivers of my hometown and camp under the stars, even if it’s just in their grandmother’s back yard.  I want them to catch fire flies,  sit around a bonfire in a field with their cousins, learn to water ski on the lake and marvel at the incredible beauty of the leaves turning in the fall.   I want them to know who their people are, and why, no matter what they choose to do in life, it will always be special that their family comes from this incredible place.

So yeah, it was a good vacation.  ūüėČ

 

 

Wanda Says…Silliness, Shenanigans, and Good Friends.

This past weekend one of my lifelong friends and her daughter, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, came to visit me here in California.

After three days of preparing my house for the festivities and four days of entertaining, along with pee-your-pants hilarity, I am exhausted.

1338993291108_8649686[1]My friend T (names will be shortened to the first initial of first names) and her daughter K are very special to me.¬† T is one of those friends that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since we last talked or saw each other.¬† Every conversation or visit takes place like its been mere moments since the last.¬† When I’m with her I feel nineteen again.¬† And sadly, we often act like we’re teenagers when life allows us to have these brief but special visits.

T lives in my home state of Michigan so we only get to see each other once a year, if we’re lucky.¬† We met when I was fifteen and she was eighteen.¬† I knew the very first time I met her that we would be friends forever.¬† We’ve been partners in crime for 25 years, and every time we’re together we seem to have these unforgettable moments that take my breath away.¬† Like, literally, I’m laughing so hard I can’t breath.¬† And there are tears running down my face.¬† And I may or may not pee my pants.¬† That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re laughing that hard so often, it begins to hurt.¬† Joy can be extremely painful.¬† And embarrassing.

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I love you, T!

 

This past weekend was filled with laughter, silliness and varied shenanigans.¬† Here are my top¬†five favorite moments from the weekend…

1.  In our attempt to find one drink K would like on her 21st birthday, T and I got shit-faced while drinking all her cocktail rejects. We ordered her ten different drinks trying to find one she liked.  We failed.  K remained sober while T and I partied like it was 1999.

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2.¬† T smuggled a Moscow Mule out of the bar in her purse.¬† Her excuse?¬† “That drink cost $12 and I wasn’t about to leave it behind.”¬† She pulled it out of her purse when we got home and gave it to my babysitter, who apparently loves Moscow Mules along with delivery bar service. (Yes, my babysitter is over 21 and is a part-time bar tender.)

3.¬†On one of our cab rides, our¬†cab driver ran every stop sign and attempted to channel¬†his inner Mario Andretti with us in the car.¬† I think he was showing off for K, who is an extremely gorgeous young woman.¬† While we were clutching the arm rests and hanging on for dear life, my phone rings and it’s the dispatcher telling us that the cab we ordered has arrived at my house.¬† I tell the dispatcher that we are in the cab, but obviously this isn’t the cab that was supposed to pick us up.¬† Who is this cab driver?¬† Holy shit, are we being kidnapped?¬† I attempted to communicate my distress over the cabbie’s driving skills over the phone, but the dispatcher seemed to feel it was just a mix-up.¬† I wanted to use¬†a safe word so the dispatcher would know we might be in trouble, but telling the dispatcher our cabbie was fucking crazy seemed like a bad idea¬†since I didn’t know if he was a kidnapper or not.¬†¬†The dispatcher then¬†told me to have a good night and disconnected the call.¬† Thankfully, the cabbie dropped us at our destination before we all died in a fiery crash, or we ended up at the bottom of a well with cabbie man using our skin as a cape.¬† I’m only listing this as¬†a top¬†five moment because now that it’s over, and I’m not dead, kidnapped or skinned alive,¬†I can laugh about it.

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4.  My birthday gift to K was tickets to the Comedy & Magic Club to see Jay Leno.  It was a blast and Jay was awesome!  We had good seats, great drinks, and it was an awesome night.

5.  We treated ourselves to massages at the spa, and it was one of my favorite activities of the whole weekend.  Since I started working out with my trainer three weeks ago, my body has been in a continuous state of soreness and pain.  Everything hurts, but in a good way.  I can feel myself getting stronger.  But I have knots in my muscles everywhere and no amount of stretching can work them all out.  So I paid to have a massage therapist, aka torture artist,  work them out for me, and while it was 60% pain versus 40% relaxation and pleasure, I needed it desperately.

Overall the weekend was amazing.  We laughed, we danced, we had girl talk and reminisced about days past and our epically bad behavior.  We laughed hard, played at the beach, ate amazing food at amazing LA restaurants and giggled as K stalked and fan-girled over the LA Clippers basketball players working out at the gym.

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I’ve missed these girls, and I cried when they left.¬† They don’t make women in California like they do in the Midwest.¬† We are a breed unto ourselves and having them here made everything more beautiful and more fun.¬† ūüôā