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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday, May 25th, 3:55pm

Get this: I am currently sitting in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I am one of the 1.3 million people to pass through this airport in the past three days. I am here, chillin’ in the food court, with some of my 1.3 million traveling friends. I just bought a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese from the Dunkin’ Donuts booth (it was the only thing that cost less than $5. I’d like to get some fresh fruit, but it costs $4.30 for a dinky cup. Forget it). I lugged Kara – the – Laptop all the way to Chicago and yet, just now is the first that I’ve taken it out to actually write. So much for using my get-away weekend as an opportunity to work on my first award-winning bestseller! I was just having too much fun doing other stuff! I’m forcing myself to get it out now, so the lugging was not in vain.

I’ve had a marvelous Memorial Day/Birthday/get-away weekend! Ooh, and I just made a friend. A fellow-laptop-toting chic-y from San Fran just joined me in my little half-moon shaped booth. I’m trying to look very intellectual and focused on my VERY cerebral, existential blog-writing…except that I realized I had a sesame seed stuck to my lip when I was talking to her. Oh well, she asked me if I’d come to Chicago for a “LABOR Day get-away.”

My trip got off to a great start. I tried to convince Matthew in the car on the way to the airport, that I’d be OK without him.

“Mom,” he said, “You won’t have any fun without us. You’ll miss us too much.” I decided NOT to tell him that I’d have fun BECAUSE it was a bit of a get-away from the offspring. I promised him that, while yes, it would be dreary on my own; I’d do my best to have a semi-OK time.

My direct flight arrived not only on-time but early to O’Hare. My cousin Anne picked me up and took us to her home where I stayed for Thursday and Friday night. I got to meet her littlest Grace (14 months)…[OK, now my laptop friend is reading OUTLOUD. I don’t like her anymore. I don’t want to share my table anymore.] I also saw her husband Mark (obviously) and their four-year-old Jack who for some of Friday referred to me as ‘Company.’ “Look at this, Company…let me show you this, Company.” Then when Anne reminded him this is “Cousin Jenny;” I’m pretty sure that I answered to just “Cousin” for a while.

Friday, Anne was kind enough to have lunch for me, her parents (my aunt Jackie and uncle Paul) and our uncle Kevin. And then on Friday night, we walked to a Mexican restaurant for dinner with my other cousin David. Good family reunion times!

Saturday morning, Anne and I headed into downtown. We wandered up to Millennium Park and saw “The Bean” as well as a water fountain-pond-dealy that shows images of people taken from photos. Hard to explain but cool. Then, Anne and I went on a 90 minute boat tour along the Chicago River and out onto Lake Michigan. I got some very excellent touristy photos taken and learned some fascinating historical facts. I love me a good boat tour! That’s how I saw much of Europe. Boat tours rule.

After our boat tour, we’d been given very specific instructions from my parents to experience the beauty of Chicago deep-dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno or Due. We opted for Uno, though later my dad said, he would’ve suggested Due. (Guess those instructions weren’t quite as specific as they could’ve been)! We shared a “Spinoccoli” pizza – spinach and broccoli with just the right amount of pizza sauce, cheese and deep-dishy goodness. Post-lunch, Anne deposited me at Union Station where I caught the train to meet up with my good friend Katherine at her parents’ house in Deerfield.

It was so great seeing my adorable little pregnant Army wife friend! She looks wonderful, and now we just need to all pray that Dan’s expected arrival from Iraq in early August is in time for the expected arrival of their baby in mid-August! Katherine and I drove, following her parents, to their place in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Holy Majoly! There are some swanky digs along that lake!

On Sunday morning (my 29th Birthday!), after church in town, Katherine’s parentals took us out on their new motor boat. It was a gorgeous day! Katherine and I later went for a run along the lake shore and got a closer look at some of the mega-mansions. After my shower, I sat on the deck in a rocking chair, drinking wine and reading my book. That is birthday perfection, my friends. We concluded our delightful weekend with dinner at a seafood restaurant in town and ice cream at a local chocolaterie.

This morning, Katherine and parents bid me farewell and I caught the train back to Chicago where Anne picked me up. We went to see yet another cousin – Mark, his wife Kim and their 6 week old baby Joshua! We walked through their ‘urban chic’ neighborhood to a cute, funky diner for lunch. We had a great visit! It’s been really fun getting to know these cousins who I heard about growing up but really hadn’t spent any time with. Now, I just hope that it won’t be another 20 years before we all get together!

So, alas, that’s a brief summary of Birthday ’09. All in all, a perfectly great combo of sight-seeing, spending time with a wonderful friend, reuniting with awesome family and having some serious relaxation. Oh, and possibly the coolest most magical discovery of all: at O’Hare Airport and Union train Station, the toilets are equipped with automatic toilet seat rotating covers. So, when you go, you’ve got yourself a clean butt seat to utilize. I think it’s genius, fascinating, and I admit I spent some time waving my hand in front of the sensor just to see the cover rotate!

Now, back to my boys!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wowie. This was one heck of a weekend. One of a kind. Unlike any other. Unforgettable and ridiculously amazing! Yesterday, Mike and I got up at 6am. (The boys were with my parents). We picked up our friends Greg and Sara from Engaged Encounter and went to Pioneer Square. At 8am, we met up with the director and videographer for our video shoot. We filmed a ‘movie’ to promote Seattle and the National Convention that we are hosting here (Mike and I are the co-chairs) in October 2010. The video will be played at the district Conventions this summer; it will be on our website and on YouTube. Finally!! My big break!!...I mean OUR big break, of course. We spent 16 hours, I repeat SIXTEEN HOURS shooting for this five minute video (yes, 16 hours of filming = 5 minutes of video!). So, we filmed from 8am-12am and didn’t get home until 2am. Um, can you say ‘tired’?! Yet, ridiculously fun.

The first scene is following Greg and Sara – playing an oober-cheesy, in-love married EE team couple (not too hard since that’s what they are…except for maybe the over-the-top cheesiness) as they sight-see in Seattle. We could not – COULD NOT – have asked for a better day. It was 70 degrees and sunny and gorgeous. Seattle has never looked better. It was like ‘Extreme Makeover – Seattle Edition.’ We spent eight hours doing all of the main touristy things in Seattle. It was awesome. And our video crew and producer were so great and fun to work with.

The next scene…well, you’ll have to wait for the video to find out what happens but Mike and I play a Super Hero couple. I will at least give you a sneak peak photo though. I can’t wait to get to see the final video!

And drum roll please…today I added just a wee bit of crazy, beautiful bling-bling to my life. Et voila! It's subtle, it's small, but it's gorgeous!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In precisely one week I will be gracing the Windy City with my presence. I am SO excited – perhaps a little too excited – for my long weekend away! I’ll be flying to Chicago on the 21st and not stepping foot in the Evergreen State until the late eve of the 25th (the day after my birthday for those of you not in-the-know). The purpose of this trip is multi-faceted:

1.) I’ve not been in the Chicago area since I was…I believe 3 or 4. I don’t remember a thing about it and am super excited to see the city.
2.) I have family to stay with and visit! My cousin Anne, her husband and two offspring will open their home to me for two nights where I will do nothing but be the perfect house-guest. J I aim to please. I need to study up on what all this entails. I’ll get to see two uncles and my aunt for lunch as well as my other cousin, his wife and their newborn babe.
3.) I will also spend two nights with my dear friend Katherine and her parents. Katherine and I met when we were both starting our first year teaching at St. John’s in Seattle. (It wasn’t her first year of teaching, just first year at St. J’s). Katherine’s husband Dan is in the Special Forces, and right after we met, 9-11 took place, Dan was shipped off to a secret location, Mike and I were newlyweds and he was going through Chemo, I was a brand new teacher...basically, my world was strewn asunder in a pile of emotional distress. Katherine and I clicked right away. And perhaps it helps that our birthdays our two days apart! We became birthday buddies and for the last five years, since they moved away, she’s flown out for our bdays both times that Dan’s been deployed. He is currently serving his second deployment in Iraq, AND Katherine is pregnant with their first! So, I thought it genius to suggest we meet up in Chicago for our bday weekend!
When Katherine inquired what I’d like to do whilst in town, I immediately responded with: “I’d like to go out drinking and dancing!!” Just kidding! One – a pregnant mama-to-be and the other a mama of two, I won’t make my hostesses entertain…I’d be happy sitting in box somewhere reading! I’ll be on vacation! All alone! (Again, is it wrong to be so happy about having a mommy-break?! Eh. I’ll fight the guilt.) Besides, I’ll get to fly! And while I’m not a super huge fan of flying, I AM a very big fan of airports. They are one of my favorite places in the whole world to people-watch. I can’t wait!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Mother’s Day card from Matthew – dictated to his teacher – read, “I love you. I want you to play Legos every day with me. And I want you to eat chocolate! Love, MTTHEW.” Matthew had written his name but skipped the A to “save room.” When I thanked him for the card, I just casually mentioned the missing letter A. He said, “Oh, no, Mom, that wasn’t me. Mrs. Morris forgot the A. She doesn’t know how to spell Matthew.” Uh.huh. There sure is a big difference in the handwriting between the note part and the name part!

We had a good day yesterday. The highlight was going to the Storybook Theater production of ‘Hansel and Gretel.’ They do a phenomenal job there of making it age appropriate for the kids but also VERY funny for the parents. My parentals and bro, Chris, also joined us for the festivities that were followed by dinner at the Olive Garden (when you’re there, you’re family!). We ‘beat the crowd,’ arrived early and only had to wait…a full hour! By the time we were seated at 5:30, the people behind us were in for an hour to an hour and a half long wait. During our wait time, we noticed that Zachary was acting a little odd – very quiet and reserved and not at all ‘himself’. Once we got to the table, Zach was saying that he had a tummy ache.

As you know, we are a pukey people and have a history of vomiting in restaurants. We haven’t yet christened the Olive Garden, so maybe it was time. We were all – somewhat – on the edge of our seats just praying that Zach would not, in fact, demonstrate puke-rotechnics on the table. It was a little tense. Who says we’re not adrenaline junkies? We like to live on the edge, man.

Thankfully, the breadsticks seemed to revive him a bit and all was well…until Matthew slouched down and said, “I don’t feel so well. I’ve got an icky tummy.” Seriously?!! Mike took him to the bathroom which proved fruitless. Meanwhile, the rest of us shoveled our food frantically. Mike – who can eat twice as much as me in half the time – was done with his meal, so he packed up the boys and headed home with them (I’d ride to our house with the ‘rents). With the departure of the puke-boys, I sat back, breathed a sigh of relief and finished my glass of wine.

When we got home, Mike greeted us at the door. I could tell by the look on his face that something pukey had gone done. The questions were: who? when? where? It was Matthew – who does tend to take after me and be the pukiest. Outside the restaurant, amidst the throngs of people waiting, clutching desperately to their little blinkers, hoping in vain that those little lights would blink and it would vibrate like crazy announcing that finally – at long last – their table was ready and their arduous wait was over, Matthew announced again, “I don’t feel good.” Mike said, he asked him, “Do you need to throw-up?” Matthew nodded.

Mike somehow managed to get them all around the corner and to the bushes – just beyond the sight of the waiting Mothers and Mother’s Day-out-to-eaters. Mike said he tried calling me, but really, what would I have done anyway? The puke was already in the bushes – a fine place for puke if you ask me. I’ve even puked in the bushes at Disneyland before! (Yes, see how this is a family business?!) So, while I sat in the restaurant slowly sipping my Merlot, Mike was sweating bullets the whole drive home praying that no one puked in the backseat. Not having to deal with that, was perhaps the best Mother’s Day present of all.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The next couple of weeks are so busy it makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. I just can’t bring myself to go into too many details ‘cuz it’s overwhelming, but I’ll attempt a brief list. In the next two weeks I will: attend five evening meetings, teach 14 classes and do music for one birthday party, I will register Matthew for Kindergarten, I will script and block and be in a promotional video as well as make the costumes for Mike & I, and I will be in constant communication with the videographer, and I will somehow stay on top of dishes and laundry and ‘normal’ life all while Mike’s schedule is thrown wackily into the air because he’s on a jury! The man, seriously, was born to be a juror. He reported for jury duty two years ago ON his birthday and was selected for the trial. And again, he received his summons for Federal Court jury selection a couple of weeks ago. He reported on Monday, and sure enough, to my utter glee, he was selected.

‘Your “glee,”’ you say? Yes, ‘tis true. I am so very fascinated by the whole jury duty process and have never gotten to participate. I’m sure my day will come, but until then I’ll just harass Mike with questions. The issue, of course, is that during the trial he’s not allowed to tell me ANYTHING about it. [OK, but let’s face it: even if he could tell me everything, he’s not the chattiest, most detailed guy]. This KILLS me. It’s like the presents just hanging out under the Christmas tree taunting me for weeks with their secret contents. I’m a huge fan of presents, and secrets and surprises as long as I am clueless of their existence. If I know that there’s a clandestine situation it eats at me and tortures me until I know every detail. This, my friends, is why Mike was MADE to be a juror. He is the superstar of secret-keeping and surprises, and he gets quite a bit of pleasure from the ability to torture me with his withheld knowledge.

I think if I ever got called for Jury Duty, I’d have to just sit there and say, “Look, peeps, the airport and Costco are two of my favorite places in the world for people-watching. And quite frankly, the whole jury-trial situation would be a mecca for studying interesting people and behavior. I’m DYING to do it, and I really want you to pick me, however, it’s only fair that I be totally honest. (I don’t have a choice, huh?) I’m REALLY bad at keeping secrets. It’s not that I blurt out details of gifts, but I definitely like to push the envelope with a bit of ‘I know what you’re getting, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nahhhh’ business. I just can’t help it.”

I think I’d be let-go. Mike should try this next time, since he’s a serial-requested-juror. People are supposedly called randomly for jury duty? Random-shmandom.

So, while we’re on the topic of secrets, I’ll drop a teaser now. Also, in the next two weeks, in the middle of my hectic busy schedule, two of my friends will be taking me to do something that some would consider a little wild, crazy and rebellious. And I’m SO excited about it! (If you know what it is, shhhh, don’t tell. Do a better job of keeping it a surprise than I can!). I pray that my parents still speak to me. After all, I’m nearly 29 and this may be the first time that I knowingly do something they won’t be super pumped about. So, they should be able to let this one transgression go, right?! (And by the way, it’s totally legal). But if they disown me, will you adopt me? Thanks.