Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday Night Magic

Recently my Mom asked me, "Don't you ever just want to spend time at home? Doing nothing?" To which I replied, "I've got plenty of time in my life for that. For now, I might as well just go." But in all honesty? Yes. I love being home with just us four - our perfect, harmonious little family. Especially after I've been away for a weekend of debauchery and know an upcoming business trip is looming like a midwest storm sweeping across Illinois. So on Monday night, I told the Husband that I'd like nothing better than a fabulous meal cooked on our new favorite toy.


I had that Norman Rockwell image of the perfect American family with 2.5 kids (what the heck is that anyway?  Have you ever laid eyes on half a kid?) happily dining on a perfectly balanced meal represented by all four food groups with the husband and wife smiling happily down on their beautifully manicured, well-behaved children.

So I asked the-man-who-does-it-all to stop at the store and purchase vegetables, meat, milk, bread and salad fixings for our perfect Monday night dinner. And he did.

Then fate intervened. Earlier in the day the neighbors dropped off a belated birthday gift (totally unnecessary) that I adore (bonus). A wine aerator that does the job with each glass poured. So much fun, that we had to crack open another bottle to keep 'practicing' with it. My Norman Rockwell dream dashed by 13.8% alcohol by volume deliciousness.

The wine tasted too good,
The flowers looked too beautiful (ok ok - no Botanic Gardens, but they're mine and I like 'em),










and Seinfeld was too funny to go inside. Screw dinner at the table - let's eat on the patio.


So that's exactly what we did.

Minus the vegetables.
Minus the milk.
Minus the salad.

But not the bread. Man can't survive on meat alone now, can he?

Miller loved our change in plans. Here's what happens when you say, "Pork Juice?"


I think the dog is a bit spoiled.
And when it started to rain? Not an issue. Because the man-who-does-it-all installed this.


Now go make some Monday Night Magic of your own.

xoxo
Jen

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Little Reunion

Generally speaking, I'm not big on reunions. But I am big on best friends. And when my best friend ever says she is going to join the committee for our 20 year High School Reunion, then guess what? I'm suddenly a fan of reunions.


So off to St. Louis I went this weekend to attend the Fox High School Class of 1990 Reunion.

But first, I needed some shoes to go with my dress. And I really think DSW is to shoe-lovers what the Promised Land was to the Israelites. 

Heaven. On. Earth. 

I walked in and scanned the store for the section that I needed.  The section that should read: 

 WARNING. USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN DRINKING, DANCING, CHATTING, OR DOING ANYTHING OTHER THAN WALKING BABY STEPS IN THESE SHOES.  THE SHOES ON THIS WALL ARE DANGEROUS TO YOUR WALLET AND TO YOUR HEALTH.   


And then I saw them.


Perfection. And without question, the sexiest pair of shoes I've ever owned.

And if you know me really well, you'll know a little secret about those feet and toes.  There might be only two other people on earth that know what I'm talking about here...but I digress.

So...back to the best friend.  Her husband says he's jealous of me. That I'm the only person that can put a sparkle in her eye, widen her smile to the fullest and put an extra spring in her step. Well brother Mike, the feeling's mutual, and everyone should have one. A Bestie. Based on the tone of my voice, she knows whether an immediate callback is warranted, or if it can wait a week. I adore her. For everything. Particularly for catering to my Northern tastes and lowering her blistering 78 degree home to a lovely 65 degrees in the midwest tropical rainforest known as the Gateway to the West. That's called a true friend.  And for that? I'll go to a reunion with bells on.  Or in delicious shoes with a hot pink purse, at least.



Many people (my husband included) would rather stab themselves repeatedly in the eye with an icepick than walk into a room of 150 strangers, clinging to your significant other's side while smiling ridiculously and idly chit-chatting, thinking, "...a bubble of sweat just ran down my back and is headed to my...whatever. How am I doing under my pits? Where's the bar, anyway? And when are we leaving, Honey?"


Needless to say, the love of my life stayed at home. With the kids. So I could enjoy a little of this...


and this...


and this...
Many of the above are all Facebook reconnects.  And because of that, I now choose to be friends with this fabulous gem, who I can't wait to hang out with again!
All because a group of people decided to do it up. Right. In a way that nobody had a thing to complain about, as they were dedicated to the details of a great party that went off without a hitch.



I thought about being the paparazzi, snapping photos like a lunatic all night. I figured that people would just chalk it up to me being the loner chic who only attended the school for a whopping 11 months. Instead, I found myself loving every minute of "Hey - I remember you!" and "How've you been?" and "Are you married? Have any kids?" And when I really wanted to throw someone for a loop, I told them that I sold my children to gypsies and am living in a commune raising chickens and organic tomatoes.  


Not really.

But I did sneak out to replace the vice grips on my feet with a more comfortable, reasonable 3.5 inch heel vs. the 5 inch lovelies I started out with since Madonna was kicking my butt. And when I took the back-up pair off? Let's just say I'd liken it to an orgasmic experience that my piggies have never known. It's fun to look like queen for an hour with shoes that Cinderella would trade her golden locks for, but it's better to come back down to earth and let the oxygen return to the extremities.  

So for those of you thinking about ditching your high school reunions or the next wedding or political fundraiser or work event where you are a lonely outsider and don't know a soul...go. Push your comfort zone. Have a gypsy line ready to go to break the ice. But do it in fabulous shoes and if you're a guy, don't lose your pants.

And rock it out.

xoxo
Jen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heaven on Earth

I had a problem getting photos to upload, so I'll post another entry later this week showing our fun over the weekend.


How do I begin to describe our little piece of paradise in Wisconsin?  It begins during the 5.5 hour ride.  Which may sound like a long drive to some, for what can you do in the car but mostly nothing?  Unwind.  Talk to your family (ok...maybe just your husband since this is 2010 and the kids are watching a movie).  Listen to old music.  Flip through a magazine while keeping the driver entertained.  The peacefulness starts to creep into my psyche about 4 hours into the drive.  When I begin to realize that Illinois and the realities of our life there will be temporarily on hold for a few days.  When we pass the last size-able town and the landscape starts to change a bit.  After we've crossed the Wisconsin River about ten times and start to see more pine trees and fewer dairy farms.  My mindset begins to change, my jaw becomes less tense, and my shoulders relax a bit.

The real kicker is when we pull onto our street - that's when the sensory overload begins.  A deer scampers out of the way.  Pine scents so strong I breathe it in with the windows up.  Freshwater breezes greeting my face.  Listening to the cacophony of spring peeper frogs and the loons calling out to one another.  And the stars.  Oh, the brilliant stars.  Like I've never seen before, lighting up the night sky as far as I can see.  

If those stars align, we arrive early in the evening before sunset, and that is pure magic.  We unwind on the dock with an adult beverage while the kids swim and fish.  We watch the show put on by the resident water skiiers and wakeboarders, hoping they don't spray us for fun as they speed by.  Then hunger creeps in, and what are we to do with only a single frozen pizza in the freezer?  Head to one of the local bars, of course.  Knockers it is.

Knockers.  Where the Big Ones Hang Out.  Only in Wisconsin.  The proprietor, Barry, greets us with a friendly hello.  John the bartender pours everyone their favorite beverage while educating tourists about popular fishing holes and watching Wheel of Fortune with the locals.  Knockers is like a well-worn baseball glove.  It fits you perfectly, is pure comfort and can handle any of the curveballs that life throws your way.  We've made many a memory at that place, and will continue to do so as the kids love going there to challenge Mom and Dad to a game of euchre, play Barry's arcade games, dine on their delicious, unique pizza, and watch the sunset over Dam Lake.  

My favorite thing in the world in WI is the pontoon ride.  I would ride on that boat all day if my husband would drive me.  I like to sit and look at the landscape.  Take pictures of the wildlife that abounds through the channels.  Soak in the sun in the middle of the lake.  Stop at the beach.  Play a round of cards.  Go for a swim.  Sit on a float.  Read a book.  Listen to some tunes.  And later this summer - grill a burger.  Yep, that man of mine is installing a gas grill on the front of the boat.  Maybe we'll just start living out there.  Who needs a cabin, after all?

Ah - the cabin.  It is perfect for us, better than anything I ever imagined that we'd find.  

Perhaps the best part of our cabin visits is the day before we leave to return to Reality.  I used to loathe that day.  And sometimes I still find myself getting subconsciously grouchy as I begin the laundry and start pushing leftovers on everyone.  But since we started staying through Monday or Tuesday, I now cherish those days.  Everyone else on the lake bugs out on Sunday afternoon to get back to work on Monday, except us.  As I write this, it is a beautiful Monday afternoon at about 2:00 and there is one boat on the lake.  It's ours.  My husband and Miller went fishing, leaving me to the solitude that can only be found on a weekday around here.

I could probably write forever about what this place means to me, but I wouldn't even come close to doing it justice.  So instead I'll just have to break it down into parts.  Including, but not limited to:

Swimming 
Loons
Fishing
Muskies
Miller's Adventures
Outdoor dining
Funniest Stories
Boating
Stone Lake Beach
Animals
People in Wisconsin
Neighbors
Eagles
Bond Falls
Fall
Winter
Spring
Snowmobiling
Hiking

More to come on those topics and more!

xoxo
Jen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to me, and to my Blog!



Today is my 38th birthday. And I am celebrating in a number of ways, one of which is the start of this blog. So excuse the rough design of this page - it is not necessarily "me" yet, but will be eventually. I figured it's more important to actually start something you've always wanted to do and fix the rest as you go, so here I am...Genuinely Speaking.

Last night before bed I noticed a "plz knock" sign on my 12-year-old daughter's bedroom door. Curious, I knocked. Kahley would not let me in. After reassuring me she wasn't lighting candles to hold a seance or sneaking out the window to meet a boy, I let her be. I walked into the kitchen this morning to this.



My heart leapt.

My son Jake, on the flip side, came downstairs and admitted that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the goings on in the kitchen after bed last night. Instead, our Good-Morning discussion evolved like this:

Jake: "Good Morning, Mom. Happy Birthday."
Me: "Thanks hon."
Jake: "What're you going to do for your birthday today?"
Me: "Work."
Jake: "That sucks. But I know one other thing you can do..."
Me: "What's that?"
Jake: wistfully, hopefully, "Make me pancakes."

Ah - the narcissistic life of a 10-year-old boy. Pancakes it was.


Chocolate Chip, of course.

At my age, or maybe even earlier, a lot of people start to dislike birthdays. Dislike being queen for a day? Dislike getting a massage while making said pancakes? Dislike sweet emails and promises of a romantic dinner from the husband? Dislike receiving flowers from a reunited childhood friend, who is seriously like a narcotic of which I can't get enough? Are you kidding me? I'll take a birthday twice a year, which would make me the best damned 76-year-old you've ever seen!

My fabulous new bathing suit with brown polka dots and a flirty ruffle around the top arrived around 10:00. So...I did what any rational, work-from-home sales manager would do on her birthday...I rounded up the kids at 12:15, told them they had 2 minutes to report to the garage in their bathing suits, and we went for a dip in the pool in my new suit.  Of course the boy would not allow me to stop at luxuriously soaking in rays while reading a mere 15 minutes of my book.  No way.  Down the waterslide I went, squealing like a child, exiting arms and legs askew while all the bronzed, perfectly skinny, bikini-clad mommies watched in horror trying to hide their embarrassment for me.  Jake said I looked like a rock skimming water when coming out of the slide.  Hmmm...not sure how I feel about that image.  I was just grateful that my girls stayed in place in that new suit!





I love my job, especially the flexibility it provides for spur-of-the-moment, non-eating lunch hour excursions.  I was back at my desk at 1:30 working the afternoon away.  And that, my friends, is why they call it "eat at your desk."

Fast forward - calls from co-workers and scads of facebook well wishes that I treasured and kept sneaking peeks at until 5:30, when my almost-teenager and I headed off to transform ourselves with a manicure and pedicure.  There is just something about being freshly showered and gussied up with a summery, iridescent orange that screams martinis and oysters on the half-shell.  So that's what we did.  Loaded the kids up with season 1 DVDs of Lost to addict them to yet another TV show while we went.  Out.  Grown-up sexy style.  And I loved every minute of it.

And all the while?  This paradise awaits me tomorrow through Tuesday.  Be still my heart.  



xo
Jen