Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Milwaukee's Finest

Last week it was once again time for our annual trip to Milwaukee to visit Nate's family, and I spent the 2 weeks prior (as I do every vacation) like a 5 year old little girl waiting on Christmas morning.  I always get overly excited to take trips, and this one my friends was no let down. 

I thought the best way to chronicle my Milwaukee 2010 adventure was through somewhat of a diary highlight reel.  I hope you laugh out loud (LOL, if you will) as you live vicariously through me as I visited the city with the coldest winter days in the nation (I read that fact on Yahoo!news yesterday. It also got voted in the top 10 worst states to retire because of bad weather, high taxes, and the economy -- eat your heart out old timers).

I'll apologize for how long this post is.  Actually, no, I won't apologize.  It's my blog, so I'll write whatever I want. If you get bored, just stop reading it. Don't feel obligated. I'll never know if you actually read it or not.

Thursday, December 16th
1:37pm:  Nate and I were somehow running late for our flight, and since I insisted I could carry on our luggage and Christmas presents, I was experiencing a little anxiety because I was trying my best to smuggle more than my 1 bag of liquids on the plane. I convinced myself that volumizer, hair spray, gel, and face wash did not count as liquids.  So, I picked the line with the bag scanning lady who looked the laziest and got in her line.  Little did I know we were also in the line for passenger retards who thought you needed a separate bin for every quarter in your pocket, as well as to undress down to your insulated underwear to pass through the metal detector.  I was freaking because I was SURE we were going to miss our flight (one time we got to the gate with 9 minutes to spare because our connecting flight was late, and the American Airlines huzzy wouldn't let us on because you had to be there 10 minutes before takeoff. We then waited 5 1/2 hours til the next flight). Anyway, after I almost Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked the old lady in front of us wearing a leopard print windsuit who set off the metal detector 4 times in a row and THEN remembered she had a knee replacement w/ metal in it & told the TSA agent all about her accident, we finally made it to the gate w/ 3 minutes to spare.

Do y'all remember that show Love Connection hosted by Chuck Woolery where the person picks their date by the way the other 3 schmucks behind the screen answer questions? Okay, I officially helped facilitate a real life LOVE CONNECTION on our flight. Nate and I weren't sitting together because he had to have an exit row, so I sat middle seat next to a chick from Milwaukee who was totally crushing on the guy sitting in seat 15A across from her.  They shared the same nasal accent, she was wearing basically no make-up and did not round brush blow dry her hair, and he asked her questions about which Lutheran church she attended in Milwaukee and where she went to college.  Perfect match. To make a long story short, they were both too chicken to take it a step further. After butting into their conversations multiple times, I pretended that I wanted to be friends with her, asked for her email address, and then repeated it back to her REAL loud so the guy could put it in his phone.  I bet they get married, and I get some major points in heaven for that one.

5:57pm:  Arrival in Milwaukee.  The below picture is real. It actually happened. No description necessary - just take a look at what the woman in the blue jacket is doing. Milwaukee's finest.

8:36pm:  It's Dave's birthday, so Nate, Phil, Kev, Dave, me, and Kaycee go to Shepherd's to grab a drink and just catch up a bit.  Shepherd's is 1 of about 9,674 bars in the greater Milwaukee area.  However, I blog about this bar because I've never walked into a bar and felt more like I was on an episode of Cheers. It's like we were Norm and Cliff was sitting on the other end in his postal uniform.  All the guys overly-compliment our waitress (who resembles a heavier version of Carla) in exchange for a few free beers.  They also have a juke box. But, not just any juke box. This one had every song I could ever think of, and for $6 I was mixing it up like a pro all night long.

Friday, December 17th
2:36am:  I had been asleep for at least 2 hours at this point, and was awakened by a sound I can only compare to what I imagine one would sound like as you are being slowly run over by a semi truck. No, there was no semi truck in the luxurious La Quinta room #307, it was just Nate puking in the bathroom.  I have never heard such a sound come from any human's body. It was like he was attempting to purge himself of all his internal organs. 

I was startled by this sound and woke up and said "Nate, are you okay? What's going on?!"  Okay, reallllly Whitney??? If it would've been me in that bathroom the response would have been something like "Oh yeah, you moron. I'm just peachy. Just in here on the floor with my head in the toilet living a f-ing fairy tale right now, can't you tell?"  Of course, this was Nate, so he did not respond to me in that manner, and simply said, "I'm real sick." Sweet Nate. 

Over the next 5 hours I set out to get Wife Of The Year award. I put aside my weak stomach and every time he puked I quietly put my head in the plastic wastebasket, held my breath, put my fingers in my ears, hummed "Mary Had A Little Lamb," and waited on my own personal purging session to begin.

3:17am: I went to the front desk and asked the lady where a 24hr pharmacy was and she directed me to the Pick & Save a few miles away. So, I throw on flannel pj pants, wool socks, my over the knee boots, an insulated thermal shirt, a scarf, and my dressy red Guess coat and hit the road, braving the 13 degree weather. Quite a site I was I'm sure. Well, this moron directed me to a Pick & Save that was NOT open 24 hours. I then got lost as I tried to find my way back to the hotel and had to call Phil (Nate's brother) at 3:30am as I was on the verge of tears for assistance.  He helped direct me to the ONLY 24hr CVS open within a 3 hour radius, and through the woods, over the hill, and directly smack dab in the middle of the ghetto I drove. I spent $37 on sick people stuff for my husband, AND avoided shopping the hair product and make-up aisle (for any of you who know what awesome beauty products CVS carries you realize what inner strength this took). 

I stayed up all night with poor Nate. It was an awful sight for the next 2 days. He tried his best to be a trooper and attend all the events we had planned, but it was late Saturday afternoon before he could leave the hotel. I'll spare you the details. I really don't want to, because one particular part of it is now funny, but I don't want to get served with divorce papers this Christmas season, so I'll leave that story with just our family!

Saturday, December 18th
3:15pm: Stopped by Andy and Annette's before the family get-together where I witnessed my first true man cave, equipped with a bar that looks like it actually came from a REAL bar, and stocked like one at that.  There was a 400" TV, signed pictures of athletes, a trophy case, couches that you sink into, and a set of bar dice. Nate was jealous. Thank God we don't have a basement.

4:15pm:  Christmas Party. I met my newest nephew, Hudson.  He stole my heart - he is so precious, and seeing Haydn try to be a little 6 year old mom with him was priceless!  I couldn't really think of what you give a 2 week old for Christmas, so I opted for a practical gift - a pair of camouflage cowboy boots.  What 2 week old can survive without a pair of those? 

Let me just say this - Grandpa Maass has a FLY girlfriend. Her name is LaVerne Jager (yes, like as in jager bombs) and if I were a 90 year old man I'd be on her like stink on poop.  I really dig this chick. She says her bank account is in "the red" and still gives all of us Subway gift cards. She also cross-stitched cute little lambs on dishcloths for my wedding shower, and I keep them out all the time. She just moved to the retirement home, and I know she's probably like the most popular chick there.  She'll probably win homecoming queen or something next year.

10:28pm:  Red Rock Saloon. Ohhhh my, people, Red Rock Saloon. I could go on for DAYS, but I'll try to stick to the most important parts. They told me they were taking me to a new country bar downtown...where NO ONE knows how to country dance...I was puzzled by this, but okay, whatever, I went with it. Let me try to paint a picture for you.... they actually play really great country music. There is a mechanical bull, beer tubs, and people wear cowboy hats (sort of wear cowboy hats - the straw ones they sell at Wal-Mart).  There is a "dance floor" that is about 5' x 20' and where people do one of about three things on this supposed "dance floor" - they either dance via the grind or jump and fist pump, OR they get on the dance floor and stand there.  Yes, they stand there just talking in a group. Not dancing...on the dance floor...just standing and talking, as if they couldn't do that in another part of the bar. Let me just say if you have never seen people bump-n-grind to "Big Green Tractor" then you are really missing out. BUH-NANAS. 

Okay, so Phil Hahm is somewhat of a celebrity at this bar, and I take full and shameless credit for this.  He's the only person in the bar who can 2 step, which I taught him a few years ago, and which he perfected at the Electric Cowboy in Texarkana, AR in May of 2010.  So, all the girls want a piece of the action, but are scared because they know they are going to look like complete uncoordinated idiots when they are 10 drinks deep and trying to learn to dance.  This, in turn, leads to Phil picking the cute ones and just dragging them around like a rag doll.  Priceless. 

Sidenote: it was nothing spectacular, but I rode the mechanical bull. I wasn't great, but I definitely beat the chick who rode it in front of me. She was pushing 300lbs and was wearing a pair of leather leggings as pants. This should be illegal. I'm going to write a letter to the Wisconsin Senator.  Anyway, I woke up the with bruises the size and shape of California on the inside of my legs, and found it difficult to walk in 3 inch heels the next morning at church.

Sunday, December 19th
10:30am:  I am hoping that after reading my blog ramblings that Karee and Dave Hahm don't regret asking Nate and me to be sponsors for my sweet Hudson. Oh well, too late Karee & Dave - our names were printed in the church bulletin, so there's no turning back now!! :)  No, in all seriousness (which I know is rare for me), we were so honored to be asked to sponsor Hudson and stand by Rach, Dave, and Karee at church on Sunday.  I am publicly promising to guide and lead him to be an awesome little guy to the best of my ability.  I'll also teach him cool stuff no one else there can -- like how awesome cowboy boots really are, a little bit of southern charm, a true and deep love for the Arkansas Razorbacks, appreciation for real Tex-Mex food and BBQ, and the value in finding a good southern woman to settle down with.

Also at church Nate almost puked. Again. We had the first 2 rows reserved for family, so when he had to hustle to the bathroom he had to pass by the WHOLE church. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people thought he was suffering from overindulging the night before and had themselves a chuckle. Poor Nate. No people - he didn't even drink! He's sick! I wanted to stand up and confess. I decided it was not the best idea I've ever had, so I let it slide and their imaginations run wild.

1:22pm:  Milwaukee airport about to head home. Sadness sets in. And exhaustion. And fear my husband was going to puke on the plane, or on me, or both. I visited my favorite store in Milwaukee. Okay, it's sad, but my favorite store in Milwaukee is actually in the airport. It's called Renaissance Books. They sell used books - new, old, the classics.  You can trade in what you are reading, the guy will buy it from you, and you can pick out a new one.  Love love love. I also found a new appreciation for the neck pillow Nate bought me because I always fall asleep on the plane and can never get comfy.  It's dorky, and cumbersome to carry around, but that little thing is my new traveling companion.

Gosh, there are so many more stories I could tell about the weekend, but I'm tired, and am developing carpel tunnel in my fingers.  All in all, it was so wonderful to make our yearly trip to Wisconsin, though I was so sad that Nate missed out on so much being sick.  I am just anxiously awaiting the next trip to Texas from the Hahm guys and gals.

Final Note:  on my reading list for this trip were 2 books that I definitely recommend:
The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler.  I LOVE this funny lady, both on TV and on paper. She's hilarious.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

As many of you know for the past 6 months I have been spending my spare time at an organization called Faith, Love, and Hope.  It's an after-school program for disadvantaged kids where they get a meal, tutoring, and can participate in "extra" activities like football, cheer, drum line, dance, etc.  I got involved originally to assist with a back to school backpack program, and it has since evolved into a 2-3 day/week volunteer effort for me. 

I have a classroom of about 18 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders and I help them with homework, math skills and reading comprehension. As you can imagine, it's EXTREMELY hectic to have that many kids from 5 schools and 3 different grades all with different homework and subject struggles. It's not easy, but I guess nothing worth doing is ever really easy.

The founder, Rose McGill, and the leader of the Across Ages Program, Mrs. Jones, are always telling me how much they appreciate what I have done for them and the community awareness I've brought to their organization. But, the crazy thing is that I feel like I am the lucky one. These kids have overcome so much - they are fighters. They come to FLH everyday by choice. They could easily get off the bus and walk home instead of to FLH, but they don't. They may not act like it all the time, but they want and need the help, attention, love, and for someone to believe in them and their future.  I guess these 18 kids found that in me.  I was looking for something to be passionate about, a place where I could make a difference, and somewhere I could pour my heart into.  God was listening, because he brought me here, and I have received all that and more.

Tonight was the Christmas celebration.  All the kids in the FLH organization got little dollar store gifts, candy, and spent the afternoon playing games.  I went there as usual, just expecting to enjoy free time with them.  Little did I know I was in for an overwhelming experience.  FLH has a school "store" where kids use their behavior points to buy things.  My kids pooled their points together and bought me a pillow, which they all signed, a cozy blanket, and mugs.  But, the part that really got me is that they all wrote me letters.  By the end I was a mess (and looked it).

Here is one of the letters from a 3rd grader who started CRYING as he was reading me his letter! It was one of the most shocking thing I've ever witnessed:
Dear Mrs. Whitney,
I love you. I like your smile and your clothes. You are a beautiful person and the best teacher I've ever had. I know you care about my future because you keep coming back to FLH to help us learn even when we act bad. I promise to always do my best because you say that is what makes you proud. 
Love, Keshaun

My cup runneth over.
with some of the girls in my class (and my pillow) :) 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Small Town, USA weekend

What a great weekend we had!  On Friday night we had our company Christmas holiday party - yes, we are one of those companies who can't say the word Christmas in regards to a party.  Anywho, no time for politics now.  It was really a lot of fun.  Not fun like back in the day when I worked for Dallas Real Estate/Barber Group and the Christmas party involved an airplane hanger and Kool & The Gang (I'm not going to pretend that I knew who those guys were before the party, but they wore some SWEET silk outfits that resembled Bill Cosby pajamas), but still falls in the category of fun.
         Mini shout out -- Keri Barber Chambers:  Random Guest: "Where'd you get your dress?"
          Keri:  "Ssssshhhh  Ssssssssaid Yesssssss." 
Okay, so...the party.  Nate was super excited about the food (imagine that). It was at the new add-on at Zapatas, and yes I agree the food was fantastic.  They gave out some awesome door prizes, of which I won none, although I had a legit feeling I was a shoe-in for the $1,000 cash prize. Negative. Loser. A quick recap: great food, a band, a guitar jam session by a surprising group of guys from the office I didn't give "rock out" credit to before Friday night, drama in the girls bathroom I haven't seen the likes of since 6th grade homecoming dance, funny tribute videos, and a general all around great time!

On Saturday Nate and I had married people bonding time....I guess this is the thing you do when you've been married for over a year -- it's not called hanging out anymore, it's called "bonding."  So, to drive home the point that we now live in Small Town, USA here is what we did... We woke up relatively early and sat on the couch reading the paper and watching CMT. Then, Nate decided I should see DEER CAMP -- ohhhh, the beloved DEER CAMP, not to be confused with duck camp, fish camp, or Sulphur River Thanksgiving camp -- these are ALL different camps, people.  So, we took Charlie and Cokey and headed to Cass County.  It was a really nice day, so we took the windows off the Jeep, turned up the country music, rode around, the dogs ran (and surprisingly Charlie came back), we put out corn in the feeders, and to save you the further details we basically enjoyed the wilderness all afternoon long.

My favorite funny moments of the day....
     The song  "If I Die Young" comes on.  Me: Gosh, I really love this song.  Nate listens for a while to the    lyrics "....sink me in the river at dawn...."  Nate:  Soooo, you want me to bury you in the Sulphur River?


Hellllooooo World!

Hello blogging world!  Well, I have recently discovered that there are tons of ordinary folks such as myself (ok, so ordinary might be a stretch), whose lives seem fascinating enough that they had to create a blog just to keep us up to date on what they do every day.  So, I ask myself - are these people really THAT much more interesting than me? Does my everyday life here in the bustling metroplex we call Texarkana not warrant such a public diary?  I. THINK. SO.

Now, I am a realist. I'm quite aware of the fact that I grow bored of things way too easily. I imagine that I will one day soon grow tired of this phenomenon, which to read other people's posts sometimes seems like a burden ("I knowww I'm terrible, I haven't blogged in over 3 weeks!"  ya know - those people).  I would imagine I'll tell you everything interesting about my life as it stands now, then realize it's not all that fascinating, and then break until I have babies and post like 10 times a week with hundreds of pictures and tell you how excited I am about how much they sleep, and teething, and .... well, you know... baby stuff.

So, here I go...I know, it's tough to contain your excitement.