As my three boys were all teenagers and I needed a versatile vehicle to get from ballfield to ballfield, etc., I drove a Dodge Grand Caravan with tinted windows so they could all change into their baseball uniforms and so forth and so on. I even used the vehicle myself for changing on days I would be soaked from the rain while sitting in the bleachers. The car smelled like a locker room at all times. Jock straps, dirty socks, boy underwear, etc. It was disgusting and it was my life!
I wasn’t a stay at home Mom any longer. I hadn’t been since the youngest was in 3rd grade. It was back to work for me so we could afford all the “extras” our family wanted and needed.
It was the third job I had since being back in the working field and I was working for a Fortune 500 company supporting the CEO and CFO. It was a great job, but very demanding on my time. Because it was a difficult commute, I found myself at work 12-14 hours a day to avoid sitting in traffic in each direction. The job pretty much demanded that much time of me as well, so consequently, I had no time to worry about maintaining things like the house or car.
I knew that the battery was starting to fail on the minivan, but ignored it this one particular week, thinking I could nurse it until the weekend. I kept battery jumper cables in the car, just in case.
It was 6:30 and I was ready to head to my car to make the drive home. We had a nice parking garage at work, so the car was well protected every day. I put the key in the ignition and nothing. It didn’t turn over, didn’t do anything. Just click. Ugh! I’ve got my family waiting for me to get home and make dinner and get to evening activities and the car doesn’t start. I have AAA, so head back up to my desk to call. This is before cell phones too, so I needed to call the house to let them know I will be later than usual. I get to my desk, make my call home and then proceed to find my AAA card for the number.
As the office was empty at this point except for my two bosses and another exec, they heard commotion at my desk and wanted to know what was up. They told me not to worry about it that they would help me. My one boss who was the CEO told me not to worry, that if I had jumper cables he could get it started as he worked in a gas station a long time ago and still remembered how to do this! Pretty awesome CEO, don’t you think?
So where did I park? They would meet me at the car as they parked in a different level on a secure exec level of the garage. How sweet are they? They even recruited the other exec to help who happened to be the CMO. Yay! I was getting help.
As I am waiting at my car, the garage door opens and three cars pull in at once and surround my car. 1 Mercedes and 2 Lexus’. The hoods of their cars all go up, the CEO grabs the cables and begins to figure out the connecting of the cars. One problem, on the Lexus models at the time, the battery was hidden. Not suitable for jumping other cars. So it was the Mercedes that we needed to use which happened to be the CMO’s car. Thankfully he offered to assist or we’d not have any car we could use! Once we had it all figured out, the CEO got into my smelly locker room of a vehicle (I was so embarrassed) and started the car! (He didn’t say a word about the stench in the car! Hmmm)
When the rescue was complete, I thanked the CEO and CMO as they were the ones that figured it out and I was so grateful. I turned to the CFO who was acting more like a foreman during this scene of rescue as he kind of looked at me funny for not thanking him.
I asked him what he thought he helped with and he proudly announced that if the other two couldn’t figure it out, he was there for support and had a checkbook handy.
So how many execs does it take to start a car? 3
We had just finished dinner dishes and were preparing to watch a movie when it became very dark outside. The rains came and came stronger and stronger. I went to the deck window to watch and noticed that this wasn’t just any rain storm like we’d had all month. It was much worse. I called my husband over to watch and thought we might want to head to the basement. The rain came down in torrents. The wind was blowing so hard, the trees looked as though they would snap at any moment.
We’ve all witnessed this type of storm, but what was to follow, was a disruption in life and continues to this day….
1 hour into the storm: the power goes out. I was so glad we had eaten and the dishes were done. We find flashlights etc and wait it out.
3 hours past: the sky clears. Still no power. The neighborhood emerges to the outside to discover what looks like a war zone with all the branches, leaves and debri in the street and on our lawns. Then, the discovery of why there is no power anywhere. A tree, sitting on already saturated ground from our rainy month, had uprooted by the wind and took down the power and cable lines. Xcel Energy was notified and the wait begins.
Some of the neighbors have generators and get them started. We don’t. We go down to our basement and look at our sump. So far so good. It was working up until the power went out, but now we are concerned….no generator.
We go to bed on our easy chairs on the 1st floor as it was hot in the upstairs part of the house. Without air conditioning , the humidity was taking over the outside and inside of the house.
A check of the sump two hours later shows danger imminent. The water was nearing the top of the well. Still no power restored. It’s midnight, dark and very humid.
At 2 in the morning, we are on our hands and knees filling buckets with water and carrying them upstairs to empty them. We can’t keep up. Water is now covering our entire basement floor. We haven’t slept we are both exhausted and it feels like we are figthting a losing battle. We give in and call the only children in town that night. It’s early in the morning, but we need help. In an hour they were by our sides helping us with the daunting task.
12 hours later:It’s now time for Menards to open. My husband leaves the three of us, sleepless, exhausted and still bailing out the water to wait in line for a generator. He is successful. It’s a smaller unit but will get the sump going and save one of the two refrigerators we have. It’s the last one available at this store. We are so very thankful to have it.
Still no sign of Xcel.
The sump works now and is working overtime, but the basement is destroyed. We’ve moved as much as possible to the 1st floor dining room.
It’s a long day of trying to get the water contained. Our insurance company has called a restoration service for us and they are trying to save the carpet, etc. Without power, there is no way to plug in their fans, etc. We have to give up the frig and sump in intervals to run their fans. And the carpet finally succumbs.
Where is Xcel energy? The lines are live and down in the back yard and they are not here. 50,000 people remain without power and they have called in crews to help from all over the midwest.
24 hours later: We here the rumble of trucks. They are here!
Our crew is from St Louis. The neighborhood is in the street talking to the crews after watching them climb poles and replace wires from pole to pole and house to house, etc. Still no power. There are no transformers anywhere. We need to continue to wait is what we are told.
A small white truck cruises by and there is some activity. We are oblivious as we are discussing local beers and Vikings. A small voice out of nowhere shouts “people, you have power!”. Oh my gosh! We have power. 50 hours later. 50 hours after rain has destroyed our basement, life as we know it, has begun again. No more hot sleepless nights as we have air conditioning once again. No more food destroyed in the frig for lack of power and no more feeling like we are living in a mobile home court with the sound of generators filling the air.
However, it’s the end of August. My dining room is still filled with the basement items we rescued. The basement is slowly being refurbished. After taking off the paneling, mold was discovered on the insulation. A total demo of the basement is underway. New studs, electrical, insulation, wallboards, ceiling and flooring are all in the process.
The High holidays are fast approaching. Days that are filled with family dinners, family guests and gatherings. I need the dining room useable again – we will find a way……
I’ve been out of pocket for a few months, not for any reason but just busy ness in my life……
So February brings a few family birthdays:
On the 14th we celebrated love and my Dad – he turned 88 this year! His quality of life isn’t great these days (nursing home living) but most of his mind is still in tact and he can still participate in somewhat of a conversation. His mind is outlasting his body and living so far from where he lives is tough on me, but thank goodness for sisters who live closeby and help to take care of him.
Happy Birthday Dad!
I have two sons with February birthdays. (don’t do the math boys, you’ll only freak).
February 21 my middle son turns 30. How am I so old that I have two children in their 30s? I have two daughter-in-laws in their 30s, but I don’t feel the age with them as much as I do with my sons.
We were living in Philadelphia at the time of his birth. It was a snowy day – 21 inches overnight (a lot of snow for the area at that time). We decided to watch Star Wars after taking our older one out for sledding in a makeshift sled we made of a diaper box with plastic lining (he was only 15 months). The movie was at the point where Luke released the bomb into the tiny hole entry to blow up the dark star and my water broke. I was 28 days earlier than my due date. Was it that exciting part of the movie that threw me into labor just at that very moment? I think my son just wanted to come out and watch the movie with us!!!
Happy Birthday son!
The other February birthday goes to my youngest son. Almost the last day of the month, the 27th.
We had just moved to our first home and I was totally disorganized with it. My husband was traveling for work and I had planned to go out for the night. I hired a babysitter brave enough to handle my 3 and 4 year old boys and went out with a group of friends. I went into labor. When my husband called the house and got the sitter, she told him that I was having the baby and he should get home. I was two weeks from my due date and the false labor pains really fooled me. I had gotten dehydrated so it threw me into false labor. My husband took the next flight home and in time to help my sister and brother in law pump large quantities of liquid down my throat to prevent early labor.
A week later, real labor started. It went relatively fast – 16 hours compared to the 36 and 24 hour births previously. Our little family was complete at last.
Happy Golden Birthday son!
Happy February Birthdays to three of the 6 men in my life! I love you! xoxo
This is the view from our hotel room. A little enlarged but you get the picture. We are perfectly situated to sightsee in Sydney. We don’t board the ship until Wednesday, so we have a good 2 days to see Sydney. Let’s see if we can keep ourselves awake to enjoy a full day today.
After getting ourselves situated, we head out to the streets. Deciding to go on a “walkabout” as it’s called here.
I guess I still have work on my mind…………
The Birds of Paradise flower grows wild here and there are palm trees everywhere! I feel like we are in the tropics. But alas, it’s only about 50 degrees out. The Australian springtime has just begun.
This is the wharf where our ship will be docked in two days. The ship is so large that is will not be able to fit under the bridge. This terminal is a short 1 block walk from our hotel. How lucky is that?
We decide to get our bearings and take a harbor tour. The hop on hop off tour is the best deal, so we hop on!
It’s cool and overcast, but we didn’t mind – after all, we’re from Minnesota, don’t you know. We had our wind/rain jackets and hikers on and were ready to explore. We decided against hopping off at the first two spots.
The fort – which was an event center, but is still historic:
And the Zoo:
We had other plans to see Australian wild life, so we could pass on this one as we had limited time. Apparently, you need 4 hours to visit this zoo. The animals are not just Australian and I had no interest in Giraffes and Elephants this trip.
The next stop was Watson’s Bay. There is a national park there called the Gap, so we opted for this hike and stop.
The Park has a area for a hike up along the side of the cliffs with spectacular views of the Ocean.
And we even saw whales!
Great hiking spot…..
Watson’s Bay, we were told, is the home to a pretty great fish ‘n chips place at a restaurant called Doyles. So we ordered and ate while we waited for the boat to continue on our tour.
The beer helped. It wasn’t that wonderful………
Sydney harbor is an amazing harbor. Aside from the spectacular views, it’s a very busy port.
We passed an amusement park called Luna Park. It was closed on this day, but is supposed to be a pretty big tourist attraction/trap.
Next stop, Darling Harbor. There is an aquarium and wild life park that we wanted to visit. The aquarium is said to be well worth it and the wild life park is where we will see just Australian animals. There is a Madame Tussaud’s Wax museum there too, but not for this trip…………
We decided to wait to go to the wild life park until the next day as it was now dinner and starting to storm a bit. So we hopped on the harbor boat and back for some dinner near our home base – in the Rocks, which is in the area of Old Town Sydney . This area was once a very seedy place where sailors went for some bawdy fun and it was quite run down. The city refurbished the area and it is now a wonderful place to explore, shop and eat.
We decided on which restaurant would satisfy…..there are tons as you can imagine. We wanted to eat on the wharf, so we just had to look at each menu and decided. We sat down with perfect timing as it then started to look like a monsoon. We could hardly see the Harbor bridge!
After dinner and the rain, we took a nice stroll back to our hotel. Day one in Sydney had exhausted us and we were ready to get some sleep.
Tomorrow is another day……..
After a teary-eyed goodbye to my kids (Bonnie and Clyde pups), we are off to the MSP airport. Found an easy spot to park on the skyway level, locked the car and headed in. First issue, skyway was closed. Now we had to lug the luggage down to the lowest level and go through a tunnel and up another elevator to ticketing/check-in. We decide to check-in while the check-in area is empty in the basement area then all we have to do is go through security and we are done! Little did we know…..
Australia requires a visa for entry. This is an electronic visa, done on-line. $35. They are good for 3 months once you purchase them so I did this about 3 weeks before. My husband travels tons for a living, so his passport needed a refresh as he had already filled extra pages. He gave the US State department his passport a couple weeks before we left and he received a new one the week of departure.
While at check-in, the agent got my info taken care of, no problem. Then he was working on my husband’s…..as the new passport did not have the electronic visa associated with it and the old passport did but was punched, he needed to see “special services” at the check-in level. There goes our quick bag drop!
With bags in hand, we proceeded up to the desk we were directed to. No line. Good. In the meantime, our son had flown in from San Antonio to take care of the pups for us for the first week so we wouldn’t have to board them. His flight had landed and he was waiting for us on the other side of security to have a meal with us and get the car keys. I had alerted him by text that we had an issue, so he was waiting patiently…..
“Special services” looked at the situation and said no problem, we’ll just get you another electronic visa for the new passport! One problem, you can’t get another visa for the same person if one already issued isn’t expired. Now we had help from Federal Agents at the airport to try to get us on our plane. The Australian government needed to be called and then TSA stepped in as well.
UGH!!!! It’s now 70 minutes later and we are still unsure if we are even going!
As past cruisers with Holland America, we were receiving daily emails with offers for this cruise as it was oversold. We were thinking that we would just change the date if we couldn’t get another visa. The January cruise would fill the bill. We had used frequent flyer tickets for the air part and could change those easy enough. I was getting ready to phone the Cruise line to see if we could take them up on their offer, when the agent appeared to say they had it all worked out. The Aussies were going to let us purchase another visa. Yay!
Now with boarding passes in hand and luggage checked, we headed off through security. After a brief meal with our son and quick goodbyes, we were off to the gate. Now we are running a little late and our gate is at the very end of the terminal. My husband flags down a people cart and we whiz down to the gate. They are already boarding, so we are able to just walk on.
Good bye Minneapolis!
Now we have a 3 hour layover. Off to the sky club and away from the hustle bustle in the terminal. It’s time to medicate, so there is no holding back. With internet still available, we keep ourselves busy until it’s time to board.
Our plane to Sydney was one of the new 777-200s with Delta. This is a HUGE wide-body plane. 3-3-3 seating, I have a middle seat for a 15 hour flight. Nice…….
All the medicating we did at LAX kicked in and the two of us crashed fast to wake up only a couple hours later. Not good. We were sitting in the economy comfort section of the economy class so we had our own movies free of charge. Out come the headsets and I don’t remember what I selected, but back to sleep I went.
Sleeping in two-hour increments isn’t the best way to feel refreshed after a long flight, but it’s what I have to work with……….
Touchdown at 7:50 am on October 22 in the Sydney, Australia airport. We have arrived down under.
Both passports were accepted through security (Thank you to the MSP Delta staff for getting this done) and we are off to the hotel in old town Sydney….
Next up! Part 2 – with pics!
It’s either going to go well, or it isn’t.
When we first introduced the parents we were newly engaged. His parents lived in North Jersey and my parents lived in South Jersey. If you are from New Jersey, you know that is like two separate States! Ha!
Not sure why we decided to bring my parents to meet his up in North Jersey, but that is where we made the introductions.
As his parents lived in a town near the Jersey shore (Northern Jersey shore), we took the parents to the beach for an activity. It was too cold for swimming, but it was a great day for a walk on the beach. My parents were dressed a little formal for the beach, but they went with the flow…..
We were in Asbury Park and it was a beautiful sunny day (Yes, of “The Boss” Springsteen fame). My husband-to-be decided it would be fun to walk on the jetty. This is a man-made rocky structure which juts out to sea. So we started walking out towards the end of this jetty. We walked and talked. It was a pleasant day. Now if anyone out there is reading this that knows this husband of mine, they know he is a bit of a thrill seeker. Husband-to-be kept walking to the end of the jetty. The parents and I stayed back.
Waves were crashing into the jetty. The waves were crashing harder and higher as the tide would come in. All of a sudden…………
I don’t think any of us ever forgot that day!
We had no change of clothing with us either so this daredevil of mine had to have dinner in wet clothing……
Great memories of a memorable day….the day we introduced the parents.
I met my first husband the day after my 21st Birthday. Actually, you could say we “met” on my 21st Birthday as that was the day he first called on the phone.
About 6 months earlier, he had been visiting a friend of his at his office where my Mom’s good friend was working. This friend asked his friend if he was available then called me. She wanted to know if it was OK to give out my information to someone. I was surprised at the call, as how many people usually ask if it’s OK when they are trying to “fix you up”. I agreed.
6 months later I received this random phone call from this guy who said he got my name from this secretary to his friend. Aha! It’s the same guy I was expecting a call from a little sooner than 6 months!
My Mom always told me not to be too quick to be available for a man, so when he called and asked if we could go out, I said I’d have to check my calendar. Ha! That didn’t work as he could figure out that I really didn’t have a social calendar I had to check!
I was just coming off a relationship with a guy from Williamsport, PA who was a real jerk in the end. We had dated for about a year when he felt it was time to introduce me to his family. They were an Orthodox family and very traditional in their home. I wore a two piece bathing suit to their family’s swim club and that was a big no no. His father spoke to him and when he drove me home after the weekend, he told me I just wasn’t good enough for him to introduce to his business associates, etc. How dare he! I wasn’t good enough? Who did he think he was? I was willing to forget he had major physical flaws, but he wasn’t able to forget that I showed off my great figure to the world! I remember telling him that he was a jerk and slamming the door on him.
So when my future husband called, I figured what did I have to lose? I schemed with my Mom and told her that I would wait in the back of the house and she should answer the door. If he looked OK I would go out with him, but if he looked questionable I was going to invent a headache and she would need to send him away.
I wore a two piece wine colored skirt suit with a gray blouse and gray pointed shoes. I was in fashion design school at the time and always tried to present myself In the best way possible.
The doorbell rang, I went to the back hall of the house and my Mom answered the door. A few minutes passed and my Mom came back to me and said to have a good time….. But Mom, what was he like? He’s a nice boy, just go out and have fun! Hmmm. A nice boy. I didn’t want a nice boy…….
Well, he was a nice boy. He took me to a fancy restaurant (the Silver Lake Inn in Clementon, NJ) and we had a great meal. Then we crossed the river and went to an Irish Bar (McGillins in Philadelphia) for some drinks and dancing. He danced funny, but he was fun. I was actually having a fun evening! I even felt myself getting that feeling you wanted to be with this person for the rest of your life! Love at first sight? I guess it does exist!
We stayed out quite late (4:00 am). No one was awake when I came home, so I snuck into my room and went to sleep.
Little did I know that Mom was actually awake and heard me come in. She was starting to scold me for staying out too late when I threw her the shocker…………Mom, don’t worry, I’m going to marry him.
He told me to go back to my room and get my stuff for bowling and suggested I put the shirt on. I walked back to my room, unbuttoning my shirt on the way so I was ready to put a new shirt on. I pulled out the bowling bag to grab the shirt and couldn’t find it! However, stuffed in the holes of the ball was a handwritten proposal and the ring box! I was so excited, I ran out of the room to where he was waiting with my shirt still unbuttoned!
It’s now 33 years later. I love him more each day – even with all his quirkiness. We’ve been lucky to raise 3 wonderful sons and our family grows with the addition of beautiful daughter in-laws, etc.
Memorable/creative ways of proposing wasn’t a big thing back in the 70s, but I think my husband started the trend…….
You would think that when your second child is ready for college, you will be ready for them to go away. It was hard taking the first one and dropping him off, but it seemed harder the second time and then even harder the third time!
This blog is about the time we dropped our second son off at school….
We live in Minneapolis and our second son decided he wanted to go away to school but stay within the State. He loves the weather and area that Duluth, Minnesota has to offer. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive north of here just up 35W, depending on who’s driving. It’s 20 degrees cooler there and snows a lot more that here with the lake effect snows they get off of Lake Superior.
Duluth is a beautiful town and we had visited it a lot when the kids were little. There is a train museum there, an aquarium, a river walk and lots of maritime history museums and even has a submarine to explore.
It is a very kid friendly area. And the state parks are beautiful. Split Rock Lighthouse, Goosebury Falls, a logging camp and the Superior National Forest Scenic Highway.
It’s no wonder that our son fell in love with the area. So when he selected a college to attend it was the University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus. The buildings are connected with underground tunnels, so when the snow is flying, the student body can get to class from their dorms under protection from the elements. Many even where their slippers to class to this day!
The fall color starts early up North, so when we arrived to drop him off at school the area was beautifully warm and welcoming with the colors of fall.
We did a little sightseeing to make it easier for me to say goodbye…
And then poof! Before you know it, you are leaving your child in a strange yet familiar town for them to begin their next chapter in life without you….
And as his chapters in life unfold, this town called Duluth, would play a big part in this child’s life as he grows up and proposes to the love of his life at a landmark that he grew up knowing in a town he knows so well…..
But that is for a future blog……