Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best of Chicago

Late Monday night I got an email from Brita (she doesn't have long-distance to call) saying that "we" had tickets to the Oprah show for Wednesday and we needed to leave "tomorrow"! What? She had told me the week before that she had emailed for tickets and she told me what she had written:

We have been best friends for decades, through moves, trials and triumphs and the losses of her child and mine. Currently, we both have economic worries and would love to escape to see Oprah in Chicago. She is such a great mom - I love her children as they are loving, thoughtful, close, daring and adventurous. Having Caren in my life has been an immense blessing. A trip to Chicago would celebrate that and we feel since you and Gayle have had the best of friendships through the years, that we would be in the best of company!

Now she got tickets? Already? So after many emails back and forth and many guilty feelings from me she convinced me that she wanted to treat us to this great adventure and I just HAD to go with her. My family also told me that it was a "once in a lifetime must do" so I did.

Here is what I discovered...

I thought that Oprah was the best...I have watched her since 1988 and have received actual letters from her (before her website) as well as one phone call from a producer who wanted to record a portion of my weight loss story for one of her shows.
Brita and I had no idea what to expect, we were to show up at the studios at 7:00 am. We were pretty close to the front of the line so we got inside fairly quickly where we checked our coats and had our bags searched. My little Target planner was a No-No and so it had to be checked as well. Then upstairs to WAIT. We had fun talking to a couple of sisters sitting across from us. One of them had been trying to get tickets for 20 years and then her sister's husband ended up getting some through work! It seemed cruel to tell them that Brita had emailed on Thursday and had a phone call on Monday...but they asked.
Of course the talk turns to "What are we going to see? Favorite things?!!!" Yeah, right...
We kind of thought based on Brita's email that it might be about "sister friendships" or Best Friends or something like that and maybe we'd get a cute BFF gift bag with jammies, a lunch gift certificate or even popcorn and a chick flick.
One of the sisters said "I don't care what it is as long as it's NOT Suze Orman!".
They were hoping for Tom Cruise.
Well, guess what? It was Suze Orman and Oprah did not seem to be that happy or friendly. I mean she was kind of blah and the show topic was pretty boring. She looked great, I thought she looked exactly the same as on TV. We had thought that we'd AT LEAST get a book from the guest or whatever. Nope, nothing. Basically the show was over, there was a little bit of voting talk--early voting VS voting on the day--and she let us know "how the world is gonna shift when you-know-who is elected on November 4".
Then we were hustled right out and it was over. Kind of disappointing but yes, I would go again if I had the opportunity.

I used to think the best talk show host from Chicago was...Oprah!

Now I think it's Bonnie Hunt...too bad she doesn't film in Chicago!
The best pizza is still Gino's East...

And yes even better than Brown County, the BEST popcorn is Garrett's. It is totally worth the $18 we had to pay to park downtown to get it :-) OK so Brita might disagree!

After that excursion we were on our way to try Lou Mitchell's Coffee Shop where everyone gets donut holes while waiting to be seated and the ladies and kids get Milk Duds and we actually found on the street meter parking!

The food was delicious and we were seated next to a couple of guys who left and then a husband and wife come in and we said Good Morning and the guy says "Good Morning! We just got back from the Oprah show!"
So of course that gave us an opening into a wonderful brunch conversation. They were really fun and enjoyable people and so friendly. They were originally from Michigan but now live in Ojai California so we had several things in common, plus Chuck told us that his uncle was a physician in New Castle, Indiana and may have been the oldest physician in the country at the time!

After lunch we headed out to Oak Park to the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district.

Now I have always loved old homes for as long as I can remember. When I visited Beth in Michigan in 1976 we went to her Grandma's house in Dayton Ohio and I actually have the address of a house there that I absolutely LOVED at 300 S. Franklin St. Yes, I still have the paper.
My Dad was always a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan and so going here was by far the highlight of the trip!

Here are a few of the beautiful homes that we saw.

This is "my house". I fell in love. It is currently being restored and we could even see a little ways inside the front door. It is believed to be his first Prairie style house in Oak Park. Here is another view--

Here are the windows...

I wish I could explain why I was so emotional about this whole experience...
These are just houses and yet when I looked at this one and these windows I could have cried at the beauty. I know, corny, but I couldn't believe I was SO close to the past.

What I was stunned to realize is that real people live in these houses. There were Halloween decorations on the porch and Hondas parked in the driveways. I guess I thought all of them would be some kind of museums or that they would be old estate homes or something.
Some of them are even For Sale! (GASP) I now have a Powerball dream to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Did you know there are over 30 in Michigan and there is even one for sale in Bountiful Utah. Some of them are even less than $1,000,000. Oh yes, I have checked.
My current Powerball home is the F B Henderson house in Elmhurst Illinois.

Absolutely the most exquisite house I could ever imagine living in. I swear, I would spend all day just touching the wood and sitting at the windows imagining who else sat there and what their life was like.

I am so glad I went and that Brita wanted me to go with her. We met the most wonderful and friendly people and enjoyed every minute.
San Fransisco will always be my favorite city, but Chicago is number two!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ya Ya Weekend October 3-5

Since 2005 a group of my friends have been having a Girl's weekend, It started with book first book was in November 2000 and it was at Kim's house and it was The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.
From there we became a core of friends with kids, who hung out together scrap-booking and reading and what-not. Some in the group had kids the same age and played at the park or one another's home.
I was BFF's with Kim and so I kind of got in by default on the pre-Ya Ya weekend trip which was in October 2001. I was happy to tag-a-long to Chicago with 4 (or was it 5?) pregnant women. We had a great time sleeping in bunk beds...insert sarcasm here, and listening to the hormones going wild in a sometimes cranky sort of way :-)
The true yearly weekend began in February 2005 when one of the girls had moved away and was having a hard time being away from all of us and the FUN we have. Who could blame her? We all pitched in and flew her out for a surprise weekend of fun!
Since then we have lost a few more Ya Yas to out of state moves and so getting together has become more important than ever.
I am sad to say that Kim was not able to make it this year and she was sorely missed.

We stayed at a cabin in Brown county-
Friday night we had a Birthday party for all of our birthdays and Jen even brought party hats! It was fun to get a giftbag and know that all of us are loved even if birthdays get lost in the mess of everyday life.

Saturday we spent the day at the cute and srtsy little shops and ate lunch at a diner that Nicole had found highlighted in the newspaper. That night we had a wonderful campfire and watched Traci and Becky's fascination with fire bloom. We always try to elicit some secret information from someone in the group...a deep, dark secret but come on, we're Mormon Moms what kind of pasts could we possibly have?! (No comments from my pre-1983 friends is necessary. I know your secrets too!!)

Sunday everyone went horseback riding while I stayed at the cabin and watched General Conference...Yes I know, I am SO spirit-chill.
Really, I just wasn't into horses.

It was fun and relaxing and I love the girl-bonding that it creates. Somehow we all have a hard time translating that to real life. Life is getting in the way and stress keeps us from enjoying our friendship fully.
But I love the Ya Yas and I hope that this will be a sisterhood for the ages--with or without Divine Secrets!

The Long and Short of things...

I am way behind in the happenings of my family and me. I have several things to talk about, but let me start back at the Thursday before Ya Ya weekend. I have been feeling kind of blah, a little blue and, if I'm honest, a teensy bit old.

Getting ready for a weekend trip with "my old (but young and thin) friends" I decided I needed a haircut. You know, just a few more layers and a little more "oomph"!
Calah had been begging me to let her cut my hair because she is going to be going to beauty college and she cuts all of her friends hair. So I decided now would be a great time.
Well, let me say first of all that Calah has the same love of thinning shears that I have only with a little more zeal. I told her that I wanted some more layers and she asked where I wanted my shortest layer to be and we began a "hair"rowing journey.
After she had a pile of my hair on the floor she started to get a little quieter. Now,to be fair she has done some great cuts on her friends' hair and mine was going well, in the "choppy Goth style" that she and her friends adore. I think it's cute too, but I am too old for cute or trendy or cutting edge. I was OK, it's only hair, it will grow back. It did end up being shorter than I thought I wanted my shortest layer, but that's alright.
Vanessa thought it was too abrupt and choppy and Calah was feeling a little scared about what I might think and so Vanessa thought she should blend it a little more. Snip, snip, snip...You get the picture.
Pretty soon we she was calling her friend Becky to see if I could get in for a fix. Long story short (ha ha!) Becky took off another inch or so and now I have a short flippy hair cut that is definitely not blah.
I also now have a love-hate relationship with my hair. I used to be ambiguous about my hair. I either liked it okay or I put it in a pony tail. Now I either love it as in the other day when it looked phenomenal or I hate it as in getting up in the morning or after a day of bad weather. There are no more ponytails for me but without Calah's zeal for the shears I would never know that it is possible for me to love my good hair days!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Kian!!

Blessing Day 2003

Today Kian is FIVE years old! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone and how I forget already what it was like to have him as a one year old...

I love to look at his pictures and remember all of the funny things he has done. He has made us laugh every single day and that is not an exaggeration...
From playing on the computer to bringing me books when he was only crawling. He has loved learning and of course he loves playing with Daddy.

Like Father, like son...

He also loves to have "Guys Night". It started when we went to Michigan and the girls went to see Wicked with Aunt Brita and Kian and Daddy stayed home. They played bowling and got Monster M&Ms and who knows what else. Since then they have had a few "Guys Nights" and Kian really looks forward to them.

Gaming Buddies...

Piano Man...

Summer 2005

He has been a challenging child there is no doubt about that. I mean he is basically an only child with 4 Moms (well, can we really count Calah?) He definitely has his own mind and his own opinion. And he can't help but copy what we say...Things like "That's not the point" and "The bottom line is..."

Summer 2007 with Iggy and Lucy

Now he is going to school and making friends and he has a whole life for those few hours a week that I am not watching. I know this is only the beginning, but I am already feeling like he doens't need me.
Then he comes up to me as I'm writing this, throws his little arms around me and says "I love you, Mom". What a blessing he has been. We cannot imagine our life before Kian.
I love you, Kian!