Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day Nine (I think)

As our story left off, we were anxiously awaiting snow.  Another major reason we traveled 1200 miles to Wisconsin in the beginning of January.  So the kids could see snow.  Imagine our dismay, when day after day went by and there was none.

We continued to pray and I had faith.  I just couldn't believe that after being in the North for as long as we were planning, that there just wouldn't be snow.

Before we went to bed the night before, the weather predicted flurries to begin during the night.  The kids and I were full of anticipation when we woke up the next morning.  One of the big girls threw open the curtains, only to reveal no snow.  In my mind, I had pictured the tree branches, outside our window, laden with the fluffy white stuff.  But no.

We were all visibly and vocally disappointed.  How could that be?  The weather had almost assured us we would see snow.  Then, literally, as we were looking out the window with dejected faces, we could see the beginnings of flurries.  Our countenances rose along with our voices, with the great expectation of snow!!

Everyone quickly ate breakfast and donned all of our snow gear.  And, headed out.  To the parking lot.  (It was the best we could do for the moment.)  Trust me, the kids didn't mind a bit!  The snow accumulated right before our eyes.  The weather channel told us we were to expect between four to six inches!  It snowed all day and well into the night.

I was to see a wonderful friend of mine from high school that day.  So we gathered the kids indoors.  (They were a little dismayed that they were wet.  They did not fully understand that snow was made of frozen water.)

Anyway, I touched base with my friend to assure her that the kids and I would still be coming out to her house.  I was confident the kids and I could make it.  Goodness, I was from there.  But, as the flurries continued and the snow started to build up, I decided that hubby could drop us off and then come back and get us.  I was not so confident about my driving skills.  But, there was no way I was going to miss a visit with my dear friend and her kids.

With Florida tags we were sure that everyone would stay miles away from us.  And out plan was to just take it slow.  The following are pictures of what I saw out of the passenger side window from the  front seat of the van.

The scenery around us changed dramatically.  All of a sudden, there was snow everywhere and it was not stopping.  It was exciting and a little scary all at the same time!

We made it to my girlfriend's house, after inching along like a snail.  Better to be safe then sorry was our thought.  I was so excited to see my friend and her family.  It had been over 5 years (my 20th High School reunion) since I had seen her.  We exchange emails and keep up with each other through our blogs.  But, it was GREAT to talk in person!

We talked and talked and could have talked for hours more.  The kids got a long great.  (Her two youngest were home, the big boys were still in school.)  I still picture Boop and her daughter L, sitting on the couch, next to each other just chatting away.  Fast friends.  We chatted for a couple of hours and watched the kids and the snow.  My friend and I have told each other, repeatedly, how great it would be if we lived next door!  Well, our couple hour chat would have to sacrifice.  And we made the best of it.

Hubby showed up to pick us up.  We were able to meet the rest of her family, the two big boys and her husband.  While we were chatting the kids got out side and played a little bit more in the snow.  I would have loved for them to all play in the snow together but we had dinner plans that evening.  So, we had to get back to the hotel, change and make our way slowly to the restaurant to meet our family for dinner.

We made it back to the hotel safely.  I am sure a 15 minute drive was more like 30 minutes for us!  Anyway, we were meeting Grandpa J and Nona K at a restaurant I always went to with them growing up.  It had changed hands a time or two and was now owned by a friend of Nona K's.  Someone else I remember from my high school days.  It was great to see them and it was great to have a wonderful dinner in such a nostalgic place for me.

Fabulous dinner, great dessert and, again, the kids were fabulous.  As we chatted for a little after dessert, EG crawled up in my lap and fell asleep on my shoulder.  

Anyway, I love taking the kids to places I went as a kid.  If I remember correctly, the first time I ever ate at this restaurant was lunch, one time, right before I left for camp, when I was about NG age!

I think it was still snowing when we left the restaurant.  Light flurries.  We needed to scrape ice and snow off of our windows!  Driving home, at night, in the snow was so surreal.  Everything covered in a blanket of white.  The contrast of a pitch black night and the lights dazzling, dancing off the snow.  We drove slow.  

We needed to get back to the hotel, get a good night sleep, because Grandpa J and Nona K were taking us sledding in the AM.  So, so exciting . . . 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Taking a break today from our vacation pictures.  For stories that just have to be told.  So they are not forgotten.

We went back to MOWs today.  The first time in about 3 weeks.  Of course our prayer was to be a blessing to all those we serve.  Of course, the blessing was to us.  I just think it is so funny how God works that way.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I was feeling sassy, so we decided it was time to let EG deliver meals.  The kids all knew that all our clients would say "Awww, isn't she cute."  And she took her job very seriously.  She had to carry one of the food containers and she had no problem whatsoever handing them over to the clients.  She really was cute!  Of course, when it was the other kids' turn to deliver she would fuss.  We are still working on the taking turns thing.

It was good to be back.  And many of the clients were very happy to see us.  They love, love, love seeing the kids.

One of our favorite client's is an elderly woman who is from England.  Her house is like a picture of a wonderful English poem.  She has an English Garden surrounding her house, with birds and butterflies.  And as the seasons change, so do the many flowers.  It is just like a painting on a teacup!

When you step inside, their is art work and books and always classical music playing.  Very loudly.  Large picture windows with vines growing along them.  Then she speaks in her British accent and you feel like you have traveled back in time.  It is like entering another country.  So refined and peaceful and lovely.  (It is how I envision my life to be someday.)

Well, it turns out, our little lady friend with the British accent has written a book and it was just recently published.  I can't tell you how thrilled I was to hear that!  So many times, if I had had more time, I would have loved to just sit down and chat with her.  All while drinking a cup of tea.  Now I get to hear her life story in just a little bit different form.  The name of her book is England and Another Shore:  A Life.  It turns out she was in the Women's Royal Naval Service, W.R.N.S. and was a radio technician.  Her job was to listen to German U-boat communications.

She married an American musician and was widowed very young with 3 small boys.  She went to FSU and studied for her Ph D in Humanities.   I encourage all of you to look for her book an Amazon.  It is available in paperback and Kindle.  I told her I could not wait to order it!  She informed me that the Kindle version was cheaper, but it is just one of those books I will always want on my shelves.

I was so, so excited for her.  But, to be honest, I was not all that surprised she had written a book.  She just seems like such an interesting person.  Just full of stories to share.

Then, as we were delivering to our last stop, another one of our "little lady friends" we just adore,  informed me that today, was going to be her 99th birthday!!  You had to about pick NG and I up off the floor.  I would never, in a million years, have guessed she was that age.  She is quick witted, loves a good conversation and is totally mobile and lives alone!  We chatted with her for quite some time.  She mentioned that today her son was going to take her out for fish some place for lunch.  I gave her a hug and wished her a great Happy Birthday and told her I would bake her something next week in honor of such an occasion.

We have been so blessed by each and every one of our clients, in so many different ways.  We have developed relationships with almost everyone of them.  There have been times when I thought it was time to move on.  But, honestly, I can't imagine not seeing them regularly.  To know what is going on with them, to receive their wisdom (and great stories), to be able to minister and pray for those who need it.

Thank you, Lord, for showing, guiding us to this wonderful, amazing ministry.  For them and for us . . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Eight

Wednesday was a special day.  One of the bigger reasons we decided to make the trip was, I have a 99 year old Grandmother.  She will be 100 at the end of February.  It was my great desire to see her and for the kids to see her, also.  (Nature Girl and Little Mama had met her once before about 7 years ago.)

We picked up my dad late morning and had breakfast at Perkin's.  (I love Perkin's)  Then we headed out for Oshkosh, which is about an hour away from GB.  We all road together, so I crawled in back with the kids and read to them on our way down.  (We had our book club book we needed to get through.  George Washington Carver - what an extraordinary man!)

My aunt (dad's sister) had arranged for all of my dad's brothers (3) and his sister (1), their spouses and some of their children to meet at the nursing home where my Grandmother lives.  There was probably close to 20 of us getting together.  Some of which I had not seen in at least 20 years and many of which I had not seen in 7 years.

I have a lot of memories of getting together with my dad's side of the family.  And it was really enjoyable catching up.  A few pictures were taken.  The one below is of everyone that was there.

We had such a nice visit.  And I loved seeing everyone.  The kids (and hubby) did great!

We got back to the hotel early evening.  And the only plans we had were to let the kids play at the hotel's indoor water park.  Yes, that's right, an indoor water park in the hotel.  The water park was closed Monday and Tuesday night, so the kids were beside themselves to go swimming and sliding!

It was sooooo cool.  Two really big tube, curly cue water slides that went outside and came back in.  A water play area.  A kiddie pool with a little slide.  A lazy river.  And, a hot tub!  Inside and out.  We were one of three other families in the whole park.    The pictures I took didn't turn out that well because of the lighting.  Which was really a bummer because the place was remarkable.

We went up and down the tube slide so many times our legs were wobbly.  We raced and took turns taking EG and Boop.  The lifeguards were everywhere so we felt totally safe.  The big girls stayed together the whole time and hubby and I kept our eyes on Boop and EG while relaxing in the hot tub.

The real big news at the end of the day was that snow, the first of the year, was predicted during the night.  After we finished swimming, we spent a good portion of the evening watching the weather channel.  Hoping and praying we would get to wear our snow boots. . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day Seven

Notice anything different about EG?  She has on shoes!!!  Well, snow boots to be exact.  Grandpa J and Nona K brought the kids snowboots the night before.  As of yet, there was no snow but EG willingly but hers on that morning as we headed out to . . . can you guess where?

Yes, what you see before you is the great home field of the awesome Green Bay Packers!  We spent Tuesday morning taking a tour of the "new" facility.  New to me because it didn't look like this when I lived there. ;)  Because the Packers are owned by the city, they had to come up with some creative ways to raise money in the current NFL climate.  

Their GM (I know I don't have the story exactly right but close), as he looked out over the stadium, conceived a way to share the legacy of Packer football with every one.  Hence the stadium and atrium.  It contains the Packer Pro Shop, where we spent a considerable amount of time and money thanks to Grandpa J.  

Inside the atrium are restaurants, a game room, tours, convention space, access to the suites and a place where they hold weddings.  I don't remember all the specifics but a lot of people from different countries have taken the tour and lots of weddings have taken place there,  (I would have considered it had I gotten married in GB.) 

The playoffs were in GB for the up coming weekend.  Everyone kept asking if we were going.  Had someone offered me a ticket I would have been there!!

The Hall of Fame was located downstairs.  We didn't do that because we didn't think the kids would enjoy it.  But, we learned later on that you could actually do the Lambeau Leap there!  Maybe next time.

Part of our tour took us to see the view from one of the less expensive suites.  I think you could get one for like 20 grand.  They lease them out every year.  The view was pretty spectacular.  Best of both worlds, at the game but right next to a potty.

The best part of the tour was getting to go on the field.  We got to walk down the tunnel the players walk down before the beginning of every game.  With the same music they listen to.  It really was pretty exciting.

Hubby took tons of pictures of the field.  I tried to pick the best ones.  It was so neat to look up and around and realize this is what we see on TV when we get the opportunity to watch them play.

The visiting team comes out of this little tunnel pictured below.  Sure didn't seem to make a difference this past Sunday. ;)  Nona K's seats are seven rows up.

The tour was rich with Packer history.  For as many years as I lived in GB, I never got to see Packer football from this perspective.  (I had been to a game or two when I was younger.)  The kids seemed to like it and it was well worth our time and money.  Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

Later on that night we had a family Christmas at Grandpa J and Nona K's house.  We got to see tons of family that I had not seen in a really long time and many of which the kids had never met.  There was great food and we exchanged gifts.  All of us got an apron, handmade by Nona K.  She also beaded us each initial bracelets.  They are beautiful!  Part of our Christmas gift had been the gift certificates to the ProShop and the kids were spoiled by Great Grandma M with arts and crafts and cars!

We had an enjoyable day and evening.  We were doing all the things we had come to do.  See the sights and visit with family.  We were doing great . . . 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day Six

Day Six started with some great expectations.  We were leaving that morning from my aunt's to go and visit with my dad and his whole family.  Back in the town where I spent a good many of my teenage years.

But, as most days with expectations, things didn't really turn out as planned.  EG woke again, very early in the morning, with an upset stomach, vomiting etc.  At first we were not all that concerned.  It had been on again, off again for days.  But, we hadn't been paying much attention to what she was eating and drinking.

About breakfast time, we found her just lying in the middle of the dining room floor.  Just laying there.  And, if you know EG, that is not her personality at all.  Both hubby and I were concerned.  We just were not sure if she was dehydrated or not, or was there something else going on.

We found the nearest urgent care and left the big kids with my aunt.  By the time we found the place, she was very listless.  In fact, she took my winter coat, placed it on the floor and laid down in it and fell asleep.  Right in the middle of the waiting room.  It was going to be an hour wait, but when the nurse saw her, she was able to get us in right away.

The doctor we saw had four older kids of his own and was very reassuring that she was OK.  Probably tired and a little weak.  He gave us some symptoms to look out for, told us how to feed and give her liquids and sent us on our way.  Whew!!  When we got back to my aunt's EG slept in my arms for over two hours!

During that time, hubby took the big kids to Cabela's.  He had been looking forward to that for a while!  There was a shooting range and nature scenes all right in the store.  And each of the kids got to pick a little something out because he wasn't able to go to Cabela's when he was in WI in November.  Little Mama picked out EG a big stuffed moose which EG just absolutely loved.

After their long shopping trip, they came home and we had to pack up.  It was time to move on to our next destination.  Thankfully the car ride was only a couple of hours away.  We were sad to say goodbye.

We had hoped to get into Green Bay late afternoon but didn't arrive until early evening.  The hotel was incredible!  We went to our room (smaller then we had hoped and I say that only because we did so great in such a small space).  We got unpacked, called Grandpa Joe and Nona Kris.  They came over and brought with them Jake's Pizza, a local favorite!

Inside the hotel lobby.

By the fireplace inside the hotel lobby.

The stuffed bear in the hotel lobby.

We visited for a little bit, caught up and made plans for the rest of the week.  It felt good to be in a place, no matter how small, knowing we were going to be there for a little bit. . .