Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chicago




Hello all,
I know some of you have been waiting for an update. We're so exhausted! I'll put up something tonight and try to add to it over the next few days.

Okay....
First of all, I didn't want to take my good camera and chance anything happening to it, so I took our handycam, which somehow broke along the way and ruined the disc. So the first half of the vacation pictures are lost, including pics of Cathy and the kids and pics from the Cubs game. Drat. And Cathy and I completely forgot to take a picture of the two of us together. That's the bad news. Well, that and when we got back, Macky was completely covered in burrs and it took hours to cut them all out and now he has a mowhawk. Which could be funny except for the fact that he also had burrs all over his bottom which held the poopy next to his skin which is all infected and he has a fever. Vet tomorrow. Poor kitty. You should have seen Zach and I giving him a bath after shaving out all the burrs. What a sight. Although once he got in the tub he did relax for quite a bit, I think it must have felt better.

Now...the trip.

We left and stayed the night in a creepy little hotel in Federal Way. We had dinner at Red Lobster and I had the steak. Hmmm...it was lousy...what was I thinking? Anyway, we got to bed about 11:00 pm. We had to be at the airport at 5:00 am. Kate couldn't sleep...too excited I think. She kept complaining about Zach's iPod being too loud. She has hypersonic hearing. So, we wake up at 3:30 am. Well, maybe not WAKE up, but GET up.

So we head to the airport. I have had a self-revelation this summer. I HATE TO BE LOST! HATE HATE HATE HATE it. Really. I hate it. I think I have a little control freak in me. I think I told you about Eugene. Well, every time I go to SeaTac, I get the turn right but some darn passenger in the car convinces me to take the wrong exit. And since they were always right in Eugene, I did it again. And we end up driving along the parkway instead of on it. With me shrieking, "We need to be up there! HOW do we get up THERE???"

We made it ok.

Got to Denver and had a L-O-N-G layover. And food. And coffee. Gosh, was I glad to get back to Washington where they know how to make coffee!!!

On the way to Chicago, we flew Frontier Airlines, a Denver-based company. It was cool. They have in-flight tv and movies. The kids got a kick out of that. And every plane has a different northwest animal on the wingtips and tail. For that leg, we had Chloe the deer fawn.

We get to Chicago, and because of the time difference, it's 5:00 pm there. We take a crazy shuttle to downtown. I kept saying, "Gosh, I'm glad I don't have to drive." And the kids kept saying, "We know, Mom, we know." "We're glad, too." Much eye rolling.

And we check into our hotel. It's 40 stories high. With a pool on the rooftop. It's completely amazing. There's a zebra chair in our room. And crazy carpet that makes you dizzy in the hall. And bellmen. And we're on the same block as Nieman Marcus and The Disney Store and across the street from NikeTown. We walk around with our heads spinning around and around. So much to look at. So very, very different from Walla Walla. We were right downtown, and while there may be some ghetto-ish areas of Chicago, we saw a very clean and friendly city.

We called Cathy and met her at this little pizza place, one of only two she said she'd recommend, for some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Wow! Everyone loved that. And it was so good to see Cathy. She brought Damon, her younger son and it was great to meet him. He's very good-looking-kind of edgy. I think he has Lou's eyes. He's going to school in New York City and loves it. He's very artistic and creative and studying film...I can't remember exactly what aspect. He said he loves it in NY and can't wait to get back there, something always going on. Which made me kind of laugh, because Chicago seemed so huge to us, but was a bit dull for him.




Then we walked down to Navy Pier for some fireworks. On a Wednesday. People everywhere. The weather was perfect. It was in the 80's most of our visit. A couple of days it got warmer, but mostly it was wonderful.

Thursday we shopped. We found a mall in the Water Tower Building that was 8 stories high and had a glass elevator. On the top floor, you could look all the way down.

We walked all over the Magnificent Mile and ended up eating dinner at ESPN Zone, which was really cool. We also went to the Observatory at the John Hancock Building...which is where Cathy lives.

Cathy's house is the big black building with the two white spires on top.
The Observatory is on the 94th floor and Cathy lives on the 58th. Kate was amazed. She said, "Cathy lives in a tourist attraction!" Her building is amazing...the views are unbelievable. You can see the lake, the Navy Pier, the Sears Tower, the skyline...Kathy is right, it's so beautiful. And her front porch has not only gelato, but a Cheesecake Factory and a Jamba Juice and a nail salon and upstairs where only tenants can go is a pool and a weight room and a grocery store. I was just in awe! I wish we hadn't lost all those pictures! Here is Cathy's front porch.



Friday we went on the El to a Cubs game.

(Thanks for this pic and the one of us by the pizza place, Cath!)
Cathy got us seats 10 rows behind the home team dugout. Right between home plate and third base. We could almost reach out and touch the players. It was so cool. The boys were so excited. Kate was not feeling terribly well and was worried we'd miss her Vidal Sasoon appointment, so she didn't have as much fun. We took the train back and Kate made her appointment. Her hair looks so cute, but I just keep thinking that it's going to grow out like any $20 haircut, even though it cost 5 times as much!!!




After that we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and had a waiter with a really big mowhawk. That was really a lot of fun. Then we went to Cathy's house and swam there, and Cathy and I got to visit a little bit. After swimming, Cathy and Kate put on a little song and dance show for the rest of us. They were hilarious. Like BFFs. Kate wants to come to college in Chicago and live with Cathy!


Saturday we did a little more shopping in the morning and Pete and his crew arrived a little after noon. Okay, for those of you who don't know exactly who this Pete from Ohio is....he found my blog last November. His wife died of a brain tumor in September. He and Lori are about my age, but their kids are younger, two boys, 8 and 5 and a girl 3. Anyway, we started talking in November, and Kate has fallen in love with Pete's little girl. So, since he's in Ohio, not very far from Chicago, he and his crew decided to veer through Chicago on their way home from their vacation.

Wow, are we glad they did. I was amazed at how incredibly well the kids got along. Kenny and N were deep in conversation most of the time. Zach gave G piggy-back rides and participated in cannon-ball contests. Kate and E were great buddies. We went to the Children's Museum and spent the day digging for fossils, inventing hammers to wake up teddy bears, testing flying machines and sculpting clay heads.





We walked to the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner and then spent the evening by the pool.

It was a great time. Crazy and chaotic sometimes...the RF Cafe was loud...we were by a waterfall, and N got elbowed by Kate in the eye and the gyroscope we got him also bonked him in the head. But other than that, once the kids were warmed up, it was an amazing time. Pete and I got a little time to talk while the kids were swimming. We were on the top of a 40 story building, the night sky above and the incredible skyline all around. It was a peaceful time, contemplative, even with splashing from cannonballs nearby. It reminded me of times in our backyard, around the campfire.

I told him about the book I read on the plane, "The Shack." Bonnie sent it to me...and Bon, I can't thank you enough. I cried all the way from Denver to Chicago. It's a story about a man who suffers a great loss, finds himself engulfed the "the great blackness" and gets a chance to ask God why. I won't tell you any more. You have to go get this book. It will make you cry, make you think.

In the morning, Pete called and said, "If you were a bear in a Children's Museum, something would be falling on your head right now." And so we woke up smiling and went to the corner bakery for breafast. The time flew by. G took off his shoes and declared he wasn't going to go home. When Pete gently reminded him that he had to go back to work, G insisted, "We have enough money already!" I think we all kind of felt like G. None of us was ready for the vacation to end.

After Pete's clan left, we took the trolley to the aquarium. A trolley through the part of town that had a bike race going on! But we got to stop right by the Sears Tower. And the aquarium...it was huge! And beautiful. The planetarium was beautiful, too, but we didn't have time to go there. We also went by Soldier Field. Later, we took a water taxi back to Navy Pier, which was a ton of fun. Zach made a video of it. I'll have to see if I can upload it.


Back to the hotel for a late night swim. Off to the grocery store for breakfast foods....the room service food was less than desirable...and in the morning it was time to pack and get back on a death-defying shuttle and onto another airplane. Our first plane was Hank the Bobcat and our last plane was Spike, the porcupine. Some of you will appreciate the Spike...Dave had a little finger puppet named Spike in his orange VW bug. Lots of Spike stories out there.


At the airport in SeaTac, had trouble with our parking ticket, were tired and grouchy, but still, we noticed some of the things we had missed already...the air was fresh, clean, clear. You could smell the ocean. The coffee was good. And the stars....a million stars. So we headed to Walla Walla, where there are even more than a million. Got home about 2:00 am, which was really 4:00 am on Chicago time.


All in all, we're home, broke, exhausted and happy. Happy we went, but also happy to be home.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicago, here we come!


Things continue to be eventful around here.
Or at least, I continue to travel from event to event!

After Eugene, the boys travelled to Missoula, Montana, where they rolled over everyone and came home the undefeated champs. And this trip, they stayed in a motel. And took the team bus. Much better, eh?

Then they went to Wenatchee and Kennewick, oh and Lewiston, too.

And Kate went to the Eastern Oregon University for four days for basketball camp.

Then she and some friends competed in the 3-on-3 tournament in Hermiston, OR.


Then the Bruins had a home double-header. They won both of those games, but missed going to districts by one game. Drat.



And now we are headed to Chicago! Whoo hoo! I'm ready for a vacation. Although, I'm not looking forward to driving for 6 hours tomorrow and getting up at 4 am to get to SeaTac for a 6 am flight.

I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to share when we get back. I'm going to see Cathy, the city mouse, and hopefully her boys, and Pete from Ohio and his kiddos. Doesn't look like Cheri and Olivia can make it this time. :-(

Keep praying for Kristi. She has the most amazing positive attitude. And her mom, Dee...pray for her, too. Dee is such an incredible, supportive person. She's been there for me for years, and she's always there for her daughters and their kids. I pray every day for God to give her strength and peace and to show me some way to give back a little to her.

Love to you all. Shelley

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Home Run!

Well, the Eugene tournament was quite an adventure. Eugene is in a far away land. At least if felt that way. Lots of driving.

The team camped during the tournament because the Olympic Track trials are being held in Eugene and the hotels are booked solid. The campground was about 30 miles from the stadium, more driving.

The team has a bus, but they share it with the Bears, who were in Seattle. So the team drove in two Suburbans. Ummm...14 players, 3 coaches, camping gear for 4 days. You do the math...however you add it, the answer is...WON'T FIT! So Zach and assorted gear rode with us. I hadn't planned on leaving as early as the team, but there you go.

Had noticed a tack in my tire, decided not to mess with it and watch my air pressure. Thank goodness for those monitoring systems.

Finally, finally got to the campsite. Have you ever watched 16 year old kids pitch tents? It's pretty funny. Reminds me of when they rake the fields. One or two kids are working, the rest are standing around, leaning on their rakes, appearing to "supervise." Same thing at the campground.
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Oh....and we make the 45 minute trek to the ball field and ooops. Zach forgot his contacts. So I miss the first game and pick up his contacts. Sheesh.
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And Eugene? Well, it's a maze of one-way streets and, being directionally challenged, I could NOT figure out where our hotel was in relationship to the stadium. I could kind of get from here to there, but knew I was taking the long way 'round. So one of the first days, I'm lost (again) and Kate is telling me to go one way. So I do, but it's not familiar and I'm frustrated, and so she tells me how to fix it and I think I do, but we're still not in the right place and so, being the mom-of-the-year type that I am, I yell at her. "I can't believe I listened to you. You don't even drive. And now we're lost! I don't know where the heck we are or how to get where we need to be." And Kate gets quiet for a few minutes and finally says, "You're on the right road, but going the wrong way. The hotel is WEST." And of course, it turns out she was right all along. I spend the rest of the way to the hotel apologizing. Needless to say, Kate was navigator for the rest of the trip. She got us back and forth...campground, hotel, hospital, ballpark.

The games went pretty well, the kids made it to the semi-finals, losing 3-1 to a team they had earlier lost to 12-0. So it was a good showing. Beautiful weather, amazing stadium...it was great.
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And watching Zach. Wow. He's the very picture of his dad. As a catcher, he often goes up to the mound to talk to the pitcher. I asked him once, what do you say to them? Well, it depends. Sometimes I tell them how to adjust, what pitch to throw. Sometimes I encourage them, tell them they can do it. Sometimes they just need a minute to get their head together, so I tell them a joke. He always leans in, looking right at them. When he heads back to the dish, he almost always leaves with a pat on their shoulder or a swat to their butt. He's the first one out of the dugout to congratulate a good play or to encourage after a strike-out. Dave had the gift of always being in the moment with people, making them feel important, like they really mattered. I see that growing in Zach. I watched in awe, as he connected with his teammates, seeming to know just what they needed, encouraging and appreciating them. Many have shared with me how, when they talked with Dave, how he made you feel as if you were the only thing that mattered at that moment, that you didn't have to be anything but what you were, that he really cared. That kind of love doesn't die.
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All was good, except one of our pitchers got sick. Poor kid. He's okay, but we spend from 8:00 pm til 1:30 am with him at the hospital. With Kenny and Kate in the waiting room for those 5 hours. Can you imagine??

On the 4th of July, we drove an hour to a little beach town called Florence. We wandered the pier and poked in all the little shops, had fudge and ice cream and caramel corn and stopped a little sidewalk cafe for pizza. It was cold there, so we bought souvenier sweatshirts. Then watched the fireworks by the water.
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After it was all over, we drove home, tire pressure still good. Met Denise in Portland and picked up Luke and Amy. They're staying with us while Denise, Darren and Jake go to Orientation at WSU.

The dogs had a fabulous time at the kennel while we were gone. The kennel has put in a dog park and a dog pool. You can see the pool here. They spoil the dogs rotten. Duke actually knows where we're going when we make the turn off the highway to get to the kennel, and he gets so excited. He's been going there since he was just a pup, and his friend, Roxy, is often there at the same time. And the staff there are so great. They are always happy to see the dogs, Duke in particular.

We've been to the pool every day. Luke lost a tooth. Kate's getting ready to leave for basketball camp. She's also competing in two 3-on-3 tournaments this summer. Kenny's been doing BDAD every day (Blue Devil Athletic Development-strength and agility training for all sports). We had a home double-header and Zach hit a HOME RUN! He's only had a few out-of-the-park HR's. This one was at WWCC's field. It was really exciting. They didn't mention it in the UB write-up, and didn't even give him credit in the stats, only for a hit. But he still knows he smacked that ball right over the fence!

Zach and the team left for Missoula, Montana today. They should be back Monday. Wish them luck!

The kittens are getting so big. They are adorable. And funny. And running all over the place. We have Freeway, who is quite observant and curious, but a little shy and really attached to her mama.
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We have Butterball, who is the most adventurous and has the sweetest face.
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The Thing is a little brute, really strong and sometimes aggressive.
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Then there is Grumpy (who is not, by the way, grumpy at all) who loves the dogs and tries to follow them everywhere and also loves Zach and is often found sleeping on Zach's chest.
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And, Sparky, my favorite, named for the tiny spot of white on the tip of her tail, she is a snuggler. She really likes people and will roll on her back and purr whenever you pet her or pick her up.
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Juno is doing fine, she's a good mama. The babies are roly-poly and happy.

Duke loves the babies. He will go right in the middle of them and lay down and they'll climb all over him. It makes him so happy. He often puts his giant nose right in the box to watch them sleep. Koda is still not sure what to think of them.
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All in all, life's good.

Then, there are moments. Pretty much every day. When it sneaks back. The grief, the loss, the anguish. It chokes me, squeezing the breath from my throat, its weight square on my chest.

Yesterday it was driving back from Wal-Mart. Along the road that used to join with the highway, there are these huge-antic cement things, set along the end of the road to block cars from going that way. They are set close together, but not touching.

I drove by, and saw those and had several random thoughts. Among them was: "If you were walking together, two people couldn't go through that gap at the same time, it's too small." Which brought back a flood of memories of Dave. He liked to walk holding hands. He'd often hum or sing the Beatles tune, "I wanna hold your hand." And when we came to a barrier where we had to separate, he'd shout out, "Peanut butter!" as we dropped hands, and I was supposed to shout, "Jelly!" as we re-joined. Silly little game. He never got tired of it. Salt! Pepper! Peaches! Cream! Bert! Ernie! Dave! Shell! And he'd put that happy little hop in his step, big smile on his face.

On the "little things that make me ridiculously happy" front: I discovered that the "Furminator" that we bought to de-fuzz the dogs actually takes the fur off my couches!!! WOW! I've had hairy couches for 3 years now, vacuuming didn't work, tape didn't work, but the Furminator is AMAZING!

Here's hoping you have those moments today...the ones that remind you how precious "your people" are, how fleeting yout time. And the ones that bring you a bright spot of pure joy in the small things. These moments, woven together...they make a life.

PS. When I got home I had the oil changed and they said I had nails in TWO tires. Turns out I had to put all new tires on the Suburban. YOUCH!

PPS. Thanks to those of you that comment...Patti NJ, Kathy IA, Kathy CA, Sue, Pete OH, Sherri, lesleegp TN, Kathie, Cindy VA, my bestest love and brother of the heart PETER NY/NJ (who can't figure out the comments, but calls on the phone, like he did this weekend...man, it was more than great to hear his voice), Sonja & Canute Seattle, and of course, my two C's...Cathy & Cheri, and my "help is on the way" Deb --- OH, almost forgot: and THE MOUAT CLAN, OR!! You guys keep me going, probably a lot more than you even realize. You keep me grounded, connected and somewhat sane. I know I'd be lost without you. And I love you for reaching out, holding me up and caring about what happens in this crazy life of mine. Not having Dave here to share those ups and downs is harder than I can describe, but you, each in your own way, make it bearable. I love you guys!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tournament

Whew!
Last weekend we had a tournament. We worked hard. And I don't mean just the boys. We had gate admissions, scoreboard and concessions to run. There were 16 teams at three different fields. Yikes. I slept all day Monday!

The boys did great. They made it to the semi-finals, but then had 6 of their players take off to basketball camp, so in that last game, they had players in really weird places. Like....Zach was playing first base. Yeah. They had 4 errors the first inning and by the second inning were behind 8-0. But they battled back and the game ended with them losing 10-14. I was proud of them.

So, the kittens are getting big. Gotta get some pictures of them soon. Poor little Snickers is ready to be done. And I think she eats her weight in food every day! The babies are adorable, though.

Tomorrow morning we're off to Eugene for a tournament. At least this time I don't have to run any concessions!

Wish us luck. Lots of baseball photos on the flicr site. I learned how to get my camera to take those continuous shots, so I went a little overboard at our last game. 300+ pictures of one game. Oh well, uploading is free.

Summer is just flying by.....

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