Holy Cow. It has been a busy week for all of us, so this promises to be a very long post... Here we go!
It all started about two weeks ago. Stephanie, one of my oldest and dearest friends, was turning 30, and to celebrate, her sister had arranged for a dozen or so of us to converge on Indianapolis to celebrate. But as it turned out, only one person--besides Steph and her sister--could make it. This, of course, made me very sad, so I called up another friend who lives in Indy, Ellen, and told her I was bringing the kids on Tuesday and we were going to celebrate, doggone it. It turned out that she was already planning to take Steph out to dinner, so it worked out perfectly. Ellen then emailed a bunch of friends, and--presto--we had ourselves a mini-party, scheduled for a Tuesday.
I drove the kids down in the Camry. Sad but true, TheCam has no air conditioning, which only seemed to fuel the fire (no pun intended) of Judah's car seat hatred. Charis also hates the wind in her face, but what can you do? We stopped several times at various retail establishments just to soak up the free climate control and return our core temperatures to a more acceptable level. Let me just say this: Indiana=The Surface of the Sun. It was that hot. It was unreal.
Ellen was gracious enough to allow us to crash at her house. It promised to be a very relaxing and refreshing time, but quickly slipped into a comedy. For the sake of time, I will not go into all of the details, but highlights include vomit, screaming children, small girls chasing one another around and around and around, and six very new bedtime routines. It was a very humorous answer to the question, "What happens when six children under the age of 4 get together for a sleepover?" Priceless.
The other priceless thing was the joy Steph expressed over this birthday surprise. She was truly appreciative. The funniest thing she said about it was, " Wow. This is a random way to spend a Tuesday!" For me, the greatest thing about getting together with my dear friends during the week was that it almost seemed normal. For a couple of hours, I could forget that we are all separated by hudreds of miles and vastly different lives, and pretend that we are all friends who can just chose on a whim to go out for dinner together. Won't heaven be great like that? Except instead of Ellen's, we'll all crash at Jesus' place. That's pretty cool.
Charis, Judah, and I shared a room, which I did not think could be done. We conquered! Charis went to sleep first, then Judah much later, then finally, I slipped into the double bed next to Charis. It was worse than sleeping with my husband--talk about being a Bed Hog! She was all over the place, taking up as much room as a two-year-old can possibly take up. I switched sides of the bed several times throughout the night a) to keep Charis from falling out, and b) so that I could have more than a sliver of mattress. The highlight of the night was when Charis stirred during one of my switches, snuggled up close to me, cradled my face in her hands and said cheerily in her soft, sweet voice, "Hi!" and promptly drifted back to sleep.
The next day, Charis stayed with her new friends while I went for lunch with Steph and Judah. It was great to get out, and wonderful to catch up with my friend. We keep finding things that make us kindred spirits--this time, we discovered we both enjoy most bottled water, except for Evil Evil Yucky Dasani. I always thought I was alone. It was so great just to have that time to chat. Of course, then I returned to Ellen's house to collect Charis, and learned that, while she was well-behaved and sweet, Charis also chose to call my friend "Mommy" and her husband "Daddy" in my absence, so I think I will not have anyone but her Grandmas and Grandpas baby-sit her for a while. I do not want her replacing us so easily!
The trip home on Wednesday went about as well as the trip down, and also included stops at Target and McDonalds, but the hardest part of the trip was thinking that I had to gear up to take another road trip with Judah on Friday--This time to Milwaukee, to visit with another friend, Noelle, and her husband, whom I had only met briefly before.
I highly recommend visiting them, if you're in the market for a vacation! They were gracious hosts and catered to our every whim. Noelle's husband, who is of Middle Eastern descent, made several authentic Middle Eastern dishes for us, whose spellings I will now butcher: hummus, tabbouleh, lebane, and zatter. I did not think we would be up for such things, and I was worried I would have to find ways to make it appear I had eaten lots of it while, in fact, I had dumped it in the potted plants, but that was not neccessary--it was very tasty! As a rule, I am not typically a very adventuresome eater, but I made an exception this weekend, and it paid off. Of course, after the hummus and tabbouleh, we went to Germanfest and had funnel cakes, which I suppse is adventuresome in its own way.
I know this is getting long, but stick with me...
There were other highlights of our trip. The first highlight was actually the initial reason for our visit; as a surprise to Abe, I had applied for Antiques Roadshow tickets, and as a surprise to me, we were chosen to attend. We took up some family silver that turned out to be plated and not worth very much, but to us, that was of little consequence. What a fun experience! Sure, most of the 2.5 hours we were there was spent shuffling through a Millennium Force-type line, but there were lots of antiques to speculate about along the way, and once we were in the filming area, we also spotted the Keno twins, our favorite appraisers. On the way out, we stopped to share some comments in the Feedback Booth, so starting in January of 2007, watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and you just might see us (and our cute little boy, who gamely went along for the ride)!
The real highlight for Abe, I think, was Sunday afternoon. Our visit just happened to coincide with HarleyFest at the Milwaukee Mile. Hog heaven. Abe loves to ride motorcycles, but his riding them sends me into fits of panic, and my incessant crying and nagging has induced him to (mostly) give them up, so this experience was a huge treat for him. Noelle's husband is an engineer at Harley/Buell, so he had a little bit of a hook-up, and throughout the course of the day, Abe drove FOUR different bikes, logging a total of 2 or 3 HOURS in the seat. And he came out of it unscathed.
The next day was a long one, but also good. We drove on to visit Beth and her husband, and their one-year-old daughter, whom I had never met. It was wonderful, and I was beginning to feel a little spoiled in the friend department. It was only a few brief hours before we had to depart for home, but they were particularly good ones. Cute kids always make the time fly. Good friends help, too.
We returned home to find that Charis had started to actually say please, instead of "YAY!" during her stay with Yia-Yia and Papa and Auntie M. Drat.
Tuesday was a pretty low-key day, much needed. Because then there was Wednesday. I was scheduled to bring Judah in for his 4-month well-baby appointment, and the pediatrician's office had called to request that we use a secondary entrance so we could skip the waiting room, which was filling up with kids being seen for an outbreak of Whooping Cough. I thought this particular disease had gone the way of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but was happy to comply. Until, that is, I noticed that Charis had a peculiar sort of cough. So, being a hypochindriac by proxy, I looked Whooping Cough (or Pertussis) up on the internet, and listened to sound files of Pertussis coughs, which sounded conspicuously like my daughter. To make a long story short, we are apparently having a bit of a Pertussis epidemic in this area, so rather than test her, they immediately started treatment on her. And Judah. And me. And Abe. And we were instructed by the Department of Health to keep the kids at home until their course of treatment was over.
BUT, literally hours after I returned from the doctor's office, my mom called.
"Got any plans tonight?" she asked.
"None," I replied.
"How would you like some company?" she asked.
I was so excited. "When can you get here?"
"Look in your driveway..."
So now it is Friday. My mom left today. We had two fantastic days of just hanging out with the kids, spending time chatting, fixing dinner together. She read books to her granddaughter and cradled her grandson. She enabled me to finally clean the bathroom upstairs and vacuum the kids' rooms and the hallway. It, too, felt a lot like normal, and, to paraphrase, was a "random way to spend a Wednesday."
I feel completely spoiled. I have had such a wonderful time visiting with these people whom I rarely see, but whose company I enjoy so much... I worried that next week would feel like a let-down.
Until I remembered we're leaving Wednesday to go camping with two other families that we really like.
Here we go!