Tuesday, June 29, 2010

fortunately it's non-toxic

How do you wash blue crayon out of a toddler's mouth?

blue crayon appetizer 1

With a raspberry popsicle (rolled in BBQ potato chips. Don't ask).

popsicle heaven 1

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sioux Falls

After 3 plane switches and a 3 hour delay, I made it here.

It's nice. Reminds me of Michigan. I really like my client, too, so that helps. (She's in one of these grainy, crappy Blackberry photos below.)

My sinuses are still killing me and I'm missing my boys. But at least I'm somewhere pretty with nice people.

sioux falls

sioux falls

sioux falls

Pops, 2010

This Father's Day almost came and went unnoticed, much to my chagrin. We've been so busy with, well, life and travel that it snuck up on us.

The weekend was spent mostly poolside and at the grill. Rich and Charlie played in the water, swimming, swirling and dunking. Charlie finally had enough and toddled his way toward the door.

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Cook enjoyed her lazy (as usual) afternoons on the patio, catching flies and keeping a close eye on the 3 of us. The morning glories are in their fullest of purple glory. It was all I could do to keep Rich from hacking them off. He likes them short and neat, I like them long and swoopy. It was Father's Day and all . . . who needs to do lawn work???

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The man with no regrets enjoyed a pair of new Ugg slippers from Chazzy. His previous slippers, Michigan State loafers that he stole from my Dad 7 or so years ago, were bio-hazards in our home. It was time.

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Finally, in the afternoon, we hung around out front, playing around in Rich's big new toy. THE truck. Which Charlie has decided is all his. And Rich loves it that way.

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Happy Father's Day, baby. You're the best.

Father's Day June 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

fresh and new

My haircut. It was time to get rid of the mop.

new haircut june 26 2010 (2) (700x583)

these 3 people

sib final

These 3 people pictured looped in my arms are so important to me, so vital, so *everything* to me. Just a little over a year ago when I got the call that it was time to get on the plane and say goodbye to Mom, it was these 3 people that were waiting at the end of the ramp at GR airport. It was these 3 people that drove me to the hospital. Who gave me peace. Who somehow kept me from cracking into a million pieces. Who gave me a reason to listen to the lady from Hospice drone on about options and dignity and all that other shit you do not want to hear when your Mom’s days are down to a few. When you feel as though your world will never be the same. That you’ll never laugh or somehow your family will never feel whole.

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But zoom ahead a year. To eating Glenside Pub pizza and laughing in a living room. To playing Wii dancing games and teasing each other. To sitting on the back porch of your brother’s house chit chatting with your Dad. To walking on the beach with these 3 people that lift you up and remind you that life goes on, family goes on. That this is why she birthed 3 kids (and patiently waited for Bry to marry Misty). This is why she made us ride in the car together. This is why she made me take on the Mama role. This is why she was so happy that after all those years of fighting, Bry and Steve like to go fishing together. That even though it wasn’t planned, Bry dropped to his knee in House of Chan and made Misty one of us. It was all part of her design. A screwed up, close-knit, “I’m not always happy with you but I won’t ever leave you” tribe of 4 people.

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And I cannot imagine going through the bad or the good without these 3 people. Thank you, Bry, Misty and Steve, for being there. Always. I love you.

Michigan and my Charlie

c big first

This trip was supposed to be about me closing out a year since my Mom’s going
away. It was supposed to be about visiting friends and family who live so far away from us. It was supposed to be about a much needed break from work and life and the grind.

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Somehow, it ended up giving me incredible moments with Charlie that I never would’ve had. A gift that I’m grateful for. A long drive along I-96, singing along to the radio, Charlie kicking his feet and smiling. Snuggling together in our friends’ and families’ beds. Watching him play with his cousins, remembering how I used to do the very same thing and the joy it brought me. Floating with a serene smile as if there’s no better place in the world along the Crooked Creek at Great Wolf.

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Life goes on. Love goes on. Charlie reminded me.

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Michigan and My Mom's Sisters

I have the best Aunts, I really do. The first day we landed, Aunt Dee Dee hosted a lunch at her house so the cousins and their babies could get together. My Dad drove Charlie and me over so we could visit and it was nice to see the baby derby in the house. And to catch up with family that I ordinarily don’t see or have 5 minutes with at the holidays. And I love Dee Dee’s sloppy joes!

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Janet let Charlie and I, otherwise known as This Motley Crew, stay in her house. She did our laundry, made us sandwiches, chased Charlie around and gave me refuge from some sadness that was hitting me pretty hard at the time.

Janet and Dave hosted a dinner at their home Sunday night so my family, Janet and Dave and the Mardi/David clan could all get together. This is exactly why I love coming back in the summer so much better than Christmas.

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Uncle Dave taught Charlie how to growl and Charlie reminded Uncle Dave how busy little 18 month old boys are. Aunt Janet, Grandma and us took a leisurely trip to Applebee’s and Wal-mart. Just the normal stuff that I miss out on not living around there.

Thank you, Janet. Sorry that Charlie gave you hell those few days. But with 4 other grandchildren, I know you’re used to it. For letting me use your van, for being Hotel Brott, for being Gramma Janet, for letting me cry and whine on your shoulder and for being such a good friend to me. Love you.

large aunts photo

Michigan and Traverse City

Mid trip, Misty and I packed up the kiddos & an adorable friend of Kayle’s into Bryan’s Ford and headed to Traverse City’s Wolf Lodge for a sisterly getaway. We somehow managed to get the kids into the car without having a nervous breakdown and remembering to pack swimsuits for the indoor water park and made our way to Dogs and Suds. Dogs & Suds is one of those old fashioned pull in and eat at your car drive-ins. Great way to start a perfect trip.

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The kids were perfect in the car. At least, I think they were. Misty and I were way too busy chatting, gossiping, and catching up on everything we’ve missed since we’ve seen each other 5 months ago.

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Large blog photo 1

The Lodge was rustic and great and perfect for kids. The girls were unstoppable on the water slides and Charlie floated his way through every kiddie pool in the joint. We indulged in ice cream and goodies from the overpriced gift shop (thanks, Papa Dickie!).

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On our final night, we drove "into town" for a very rich pasta dinner with J-dogg at Auntie Pastas. Delicious food and company. The girls were exhausted but Charlie made it through without a meltdown.

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Stopping along the way for photos of gorgeous skies, watching the kids enjoy themselves, ride in the car with Misty with my feet on the dash (sorry, Bry) and laugh. That was my Traverse City trip. And that was wonderful.

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Michigan and Campbell Lake

Campbell Lake in little ol’ Hesperia, Michigan is where I spent my summers. My parents found their way up there when I was around 3 years old. But interestingly enough, my Grandma Cunningham told me that she & Grandpa vacationed there during the summer when my Dad was small. Much history on that small lake.

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It’s the perfect lake for water skiing and fishing (depending on who you ask). My brothers and Dad hunt up there during the non-summer seasons and I have a string of memories involving my Mom, me, iced tea and summer novels. Endless afternoons of nothing to do but for my Mom to catch up on whatever book she was on that day and for me to splash around in the swimming area. Or talk her ear off as we sat on the front porch, watching the boys try to knock each other off the wave runners. This is my lake. My Mom’s lake.

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And this is where we spent the anniversary of my Mom’s going away. May 22nd was 1 full year. The end of most “firsts” – thank God. But it was also a reminder of the sadness, broken hearts, pain, closeness and love we all went through just a year before.

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Not an extraordinarily dreary or beautiful day. Not necessarily grief stricken as we all woke and wandered around, wondering what to do. Just quiet. Much like that Friday morning, 365 days before. Quiet, contemplative.

Dinner came, Misty and I made chicken cordon blue for us. For the same “us” who sat vigilant in a Hospice the year before. We all sat together at a picnic table, at sunset, overlooking the lake. And ate, chatted, and even managed to laugh a little.

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The other days at the lake were filled with more family, Grandma Cunningham, Greg & Margaret, and the great grandchildren. My cousins Nate and Matt Gelderloos were there to enjoy the perfect May Saturday we were having. Nate brought his son, Kayden, who is close in age to Charlie. It was a treat for Grandma to have so many of her great babies around.

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Of course there were wave runners, swimming, wine, a campfire, and watching Bryan power wash everything there was to power wash. The day just winds around from sitting to doing to visiting to goofing to napping.

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The lake, for me, is a hard place to be because it feels the most empty without her. But the sunsets are gorgeous and I’m hoping the lone loon who kept an eye on all of us most of *that* Saturday was there to remind me of the sunsets. And the memories.

lake blog final pic

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Michigan and Aunt Bob

Charlie has 2 cousins, Aidan and Kayle. Aidan is Rich’s sister’s son, just 9 months older than Chazzy and lives down in the Chicago area. Which means there’s a heck of a drive involved when we all get together.

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Robin almost wasn’t able to make it up to Muskegon at the last minute but I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that she made it. Somehow it made the visit feel whole.

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The boys played. They swung at Whippi Dip while we were forced to eat their ice cream. They had stroller wars while we shopped at Younkers for swimsuits and shoes. We drank wine and sat on the porch while they conspired to do things that only 2 year olds conspire to do in the back yard.

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Aidan, in his sweet voice, called “Charrrrrrr-liiiiiiieeeee” every morning. Charlie now calls Robin “Bob”. So she’s officially Aunt Bob.

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They hung on Grandpa Phee’s lap. Grandma Elaine gave them baths and fed them Finnish pancakes. It was, all in all, a cousin retreat. And just as I had imagined. Thanks, Robin, for making the drive.

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