Friday, March 30, 2012

Best and Worst

Seeger's worst - has to pick up his toys today
Nick's worst - waking up late and report card wasn't as good as he hoped
Natalie's worst - Nick's allergies are still really bad
Mike's worst - having to clean the house
Seeger's best - everybody noticed his new folders
Nick's best - it's Friday and we're having people come over tomorrow
Natalie's best - Papa's surgery went well
Mike's best - Papa's surgery went well and painting is finished


I've been thinking about the past a lot lately - great and/or funny memories from my youth. I think it's important to document for the future when my kids actually want to know about my life growing up. (Plus I read Bossypants over spring break so I was inspired by Tina Fey's stories.)

1. Some of my first memories are of the Fort Wayne house I lived in before my family moved to Auburn when I was four. I loved the Fort Wayne house because it had a swing set in the back yard and a church pew in the dining room and my brother's room had a stairway to a really awesome attic. It was a block away from the park. My dad would walk us to the park while my brother and I rode our bikes. We would hide our bikes (actually, mine was a tricycle) in the bushes of a house right across the street from the park because our neighborhood wasn't the greatest and my dad was worried that the bikes would get stolen.

2. This was the same house where my dad would sit in his recliner by the tv and pull out a Count Dracula puppet. In his count Dracula voice, he would say, "One. Two. Three. I'm going to eat thee." And then he's pretend like the Count was eating me. I would run away because I was scared of that puppet. Other things my dad would do to scare me... one time he hung me by my overalls on a hook in the laundry room and walked away. I started kicking and screaming for him to let me down. He thought that was pretty funny. In our garage, he had a stuffed fish hanging. It's mouth was open so it's sharp teeth were visible. Several times I remember him picking me up and forcing my hand in that fish's mouth and he would tell me that the fish was going to chomp my hand off. I would usually start crying before he put me down and let me escape. When he used to tuck me in a night, he would tell me that there was a momma snake living under my bed, protecting her eggs that were almost ready hatch and soon baby snakes were going to crawl on to the top of my bed and get me in the middle of the night. Of course I'd scream in fright and my dad would laugh and laugh. He definitely like to freak me out.

3. When we were building our house in Auburn, my parents would often drag us to the construction site. My brother loved exploring the area but I remember being bored. Until I learned that I could take the automatic stapler staples and make train tracks with them. I would put the pieces together to make a long track for my imaginary trains.

4. After we moved to Auburn, we would often drive to Fort Wayne to visit our family. My grandparents lived in the house my dad grew up in until I was about seven (and they moved to the Lake). My dad would take my brother and I to visit them. I loved eating plums off their plum tree and sneaking pieces of rhubarb when my grandma was making rhubarb crunch. I would explore the hallway closets upstairs and play with the games and toys that used to belong to my aunts. In the summer, we would walk a few blocks to the Little League baseball games where my dad would buy my a pixie stick for a treat. I always wanted purple.

5. During our Fort Wayne visits, we often stopped at the A&W root bear stand where we could order food and sit in our car to eat it. I never liked root beer but I always ordered it when we went to the A&W.

6. Behind our house in Auburn was a small creek that ran through our property. I spent hours exploring the woods next to the creek. My friends and I would find spots with overturned trees that we would call our house. We would skips rocks across the creek and take big pieces of tree bark and make boats filled with grass and leaves to send down the creek. We called them our love boats and pretending they would be found by imaginary boyfriends. Sometimes we would find empty vodka bottles and we would write notes in them and send them down the creek.

7. A few times growing up, the creek behind our house would flood our back yard. Once or twice, our entire house was surrounded by water. I remember my dad would have to drive us down the road in the mornings so the bus could pick us up because we couldn't wait at the end of the driveway. Sometimes I would go swimming in the back yard.

8. When I was 19, I received a letter from a couple who lived about 30 miles away from Auburn. They had found one of the bottles I'd sent down the creek. Apparently the note I wrote gave my name and address and asked the recipient to write back to me. That note must have been in that bottle for over 10 years before being found. Pretty impressive.

9. In the summer, I often played with a neighbor friend who was two years younger than me. I was always intrigued by her parents who were avid recyclers, gardeners, and composters (before recycling and composting were cool). One summer, they set up a camper in their back yard and my friend and I would hang out playing cards and eating cherries off their cherry tree. In winters, several neighbors would gather in the woods behind my friends house because there were a great hill for sledding. We would spend hours sledding down that hill.

10. My friends brother had the first Atari in the neighborhood. He had impressive Pac Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Pitfall skills.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why Today is Great

1. Nicklas studied hard for a test that he took today and I'm pretty sure he rocked it.
2. I'm wearing giraffe print shoes.
3. I found a frozen burrito in the freezer at work so I didn't have to leave the office for lunch.
4. The Polack has almost finished painting and we LOVE the colors.
5. I got to smell Seeger's head.
6. I finished a big work project.
7. It's almost Friday which means it's almost the weekend.
8. I watched America's Next Top Model.
9. I took a walk.
10. I reserved some books from the public library.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top 10 Things Happening in My Life

1. Nicklas had his Herbst appliance installed yesterday. He's still getting used to it and it's more visable than expected. We're having a hard time understanding him and he's having a hard time eating but I think things will be better once he gets used to it.

2. On top of dental woes, Nicklas has been experiencing terrible allergies. His allergies rarely bothered him when we lived in Lafayette. They were bad last year - our first year in Bloomington - but this year they are horrible. They kicked in when we returned from Florida to warm Bloomington temps. These past 9 days have been really bad - watery eyes, stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, etc. His cheeks and nose are red and raw from all the rubbing. We've given him all sorts of allergy meds but nothing seems to help so I scheduled a doctors appointment for him. Hopefully she can help because he's miserable.

3. I'm mailing off a quilt commission today. It's nice to have that project finished and out the door and the new owner is really happy with the photos I've shown her. This means I get to start a new project, though I'm not sure what that will be.

4. The Hunger Games movie was pretty good and I loved the casting but I didn't like the cinematography. We were in the front of a very full theater and all of that camera jostling make it difficult to follow the story visually.

5. The Polack is on spring break this week so he's in painting mode. He hopes finish the living room, kitchen, sewing room, and possibly the guest bedroom and bathroom.

6. I still haven't started working on our taxes. I've never waited this long.

7. Seeger's art classes finished a few weeks ago but his gallery show is this Saturday. It will be fun to see everything he worked on.

8. I spent $100 on flowers for our 14X4 foot flower bed. Why is landscaping so expensive??

9. We went morel hunting in our woods on Sunday. We didn't find anything but a cute little turtle. We also found some concrete blocks that someone dumped in the woods. The boys decided to make it their hangout so they spent about two hours "fixing it up". They brought some cardboard from the basement and made a door and created a password for guests. I'm so glad that spent some time outside.

10. I had to give up on going to the Kentucky Oaks this year. I'm so bummed but it's the day before commencement and this year I'm in charge of planning my units luncheon. We typically have over 1,000 people attend the luncheon so it's a huge event; there's no way I can be gone the day before. So yeah, I'm bummed to miss the Oaks but on the upside, my friend Stacey (who lives near Louisville) suggested we go to another race and perhaps also try at catch a Bats game. We're looking at weekends to get it scheduled.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break 2012

My mom and I took the boys to Florida for Spring Break and we had a fantastic time. We left at 3:30 am on a Saturday and arrived in Oldsmar by 7 pm. Seeger had to nap during the trip!

On Sunday, we woke up and headed straight to the pool.

While mom and I got ready to head to the store, Seeger had a snack and did some reading in the sun room.

We went to store to stock up on groceries and decided to catch a movie.

We made it back to the condo in time to catch the NCAA Selection Sunday. Nicklas wanted to keep track of the seeding - especially for IU. Even Seeger got in to and made his own bracket.

On Monday, we headed to Busch Gardens for the day. I'd never been so I didn't know what to expect. My mom isn't in to roller coasters which works out because she was able to hang with Seeger while Nicklas and I rode every one they had in the park. Here is Nicklas waiting for our first coaster.

The cool thing about Busch Gardens is that it's also a zoo. There were all sorts of animal habitats. After a few coasters, Nicklas and I met my mom and Seeger near the tortoises.

Then we all rode the Sky Ride - my mom's favorite ride - to the back of the park.

We rode the log ride, which Seeger wouldn't have done last year. Luckily, he's getting a bit braver. Seeger and I rode in one log and my mom and Nicklas rode in another. (I'm not sure what my mom is doing in this photo but Nicklas at least looks like he's having fun!)

I bought our Busch Garden's tickets online and they had this deal for an extra $10, we got all you can eat for the day. Bonus! We took advantage of this deal when we went to Universal in August so I knew it would be worth it. The food was pretty good. For lunch we had bbq.

The boys loved that they got dessert with every meal.

The entire time we were at the park, the boys kept talking about the Canyon Falls ride. They really wanted to ride it but I wasn't too keen on getting soaked. I thought I could distract them with things and they would forget about Canyon Falls but I wasn't that luckly. Eventually, I took them on the ride. Of course, we all got soaked. It was fun though and they loved it.

Nicklas and I went to ride a few more rides but first we stopped to check out the animals - my favorite is the giraffe and Nick's favorite is the elephant. (Mom took Seeger on the train to see other safari animals, including HIS favorite, the rhinosaurus.)

Another photo from the Sky Ride.

I mentioned that Seeger is getting a bit braver with rides but I was still surprised when I suggested he ride the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster and he said, "Yeah, I've been wanting to ride that." My mom decided that if Seeger could ride it, she would too so we headed to the line. The whole time we were waiting, I kept expecting Seeger to chicken out. But he didn't and he LOVED the ride. His first big roller coaster - yeah! Here's a photo of it.

We stopped to get dinner on our way out of the park. The boys were so full and tired.

My mom and I were both impressed with Busch Gardens. The park is clean and staff are very friendly. They had lots of big rides and the wait times weren't bad. We rarely waited more than 30 minutes. We were a little bummed that we didn't get to see the ice show - Icepoloration. I wanted to make sure we saw a show since that's my mom's favorite thing to do. We arrived at Iceploration about 15 minutes prior to the start but the venue was full so we didn't even get to go in. I was bummed but it gave us more times to ride coasters.

The next day, we headed to Clearwater Beach. Since it was the start of university spring breaks, we decided to avoid the public beaches and spend the day at the State Park. We chose Sand Key. The boys loved the ocean - though Nicklas was a bit disappointed that the waves weren't bigger. They played in the sand and asked that I bury them.

We decided to treat ourselves to dinner that night. Since we were at the beach, we stopped at Frenchy's for grouper.

On Wednesday, I took Nicklas to Lakeland for the Detroit Tigers spring training.

I wasn't too excited about spending my day watching baseball but it was beautiful out and they offered concessions so I had a ballpark hotdog.

After the game (against the Mets) we made our way to the digout area so Nicklas could get some autographs. We didn't get through the crowd in time but a camera guy gave Nicklas a baseball so he was happy but still bummed about missing out on autographs.

When we were walking out of the park, we saw a big line off to the side of the parking lot. We decided to check it out and heard that Prince Fielder, a new superstar trade of the Tigers, would be signing autographs. So we got in this long line and hoped for the best.

As he started signing, I thought there's no way he's going to stick around for the 150+ people but he did. Very impressive! He must have signed autographs for over an hour. What a great picture of him with Nicklas.

He signed Nick's jersey. Nicklas was a happy boy.

The next day, we headed back to the beach. This time we chose a beach closer to Oldsmar and bit further away from the Spring Breakers. We got to Honeymoon Island fairly early. There weren't many people there.

Check out the boys from my seat under the umbrella.

The beach did get busier but mostly with snow birds and families.

Seeger and I made his best sand castle yet.

Nicklas was anxious to get back to the condo so we didn't say as long at the beach. He was eager to watch basketball so we dropped him off and headed back to Frenchy's in Clearwater Beach because Seeger wanted to see the sunset.

We had a snack and Seeger chose dessert.

Later that evening, we watched the IU game. Yeah for the Hoosiers win! Nicklas almost made it to end of the game though he missed the last minute of play. Luckily it wasn't a close game.

Friday was a quiet day. We hung out at the pool, did some laundry, cleaned the condo, and watched some great NCAA basketball. (Go Lehigh! Yay Norfolk State!)

Saturday was our driving day. We wanted to make it home in time for IU's second round game. It was an exciting one and Nicklas definitely didn't fall asleep during this one.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr.

I didn't get any great photos of Nicklas in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr. (I really do need to stop relying on my iPhone for pictures and break down and buy a camera.) so I wasn't going to post anything except this picture (the only decent photo I took).

But then I played around on an iPhone photo app and was able to edit this one somewhat. At least you can see Nicklas in action.

Seeger in Glasses

Seeger loves to wear glasses. He's always trying mine on and he thinks he's especially cool in sunglasses. Remember this post from 2008?

Here he is a few weeks ago. We were eating lunch at Upland Brewery (where we had bacon ice cream with chocolate covered bacon!)

He's a looker, for sure.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Realistic Fiction

By Nicklas

The rise of Jacob Chiprush

Ok, this is not a happy story. There is only one good part, and at least three that are very, very sad. So, I shall repeat what I said, this is a sad story. Keep that in mind as you read this story….

Sorry, I just had to warn you. Plus, better I tell you now than tell you later. So, now I have your attention, here it goes.

My name is Jacob. Jacob Chiprush. I’m a baseball player. Living 15 minutes away from the Miami Marlins stadium, I grew up watching the Marlins play. I more than anything wanted to be a pro baseball player and become a hometown hero. But, I can’t hit the ball.

Anyways, my team, the Pythons, was at their first practice before they went into the playoffs when coach came up to me. He’s a bulky man that could probably break the world record in any food eating competition.

“Jacob!” he yelled as he came over to me, “get in the batting cage, you’re up! Hit a grand slam and I’ll take the whole team out for ice cream after practice.”

“Yes sir!” I said and went up. When I got in there I watched Logan throw a 2,000 M.P.H fastball. I ducked, it looked wild. As I got up, I found Jack looking at me, grinning. Meaning it had been a great pitch. This was going to be a long post season.

. . .
I forgot to tell you, the Pythons suck. The only reason we made the playoffs was when the Warriors coach broke his arm and the team forfeited the season. The league held a drawing to see which team would take the Warriors spot. We just happened to win it.

I felt as if I had a good chance to hit the ball. The Kings pitcher was slow, but had great accuracy. I came a millimeter away from hitting it once, the whole crowd went “ooooohhhhhhhh!” when I missed.

Despite our teams 5 for 26 hitting, we pitched like our life depended on it and won 1-0. I wish we may have lost.

Our next game was vs. the bees. I can’t forget the 4th inning. What an inning it was, very memorable. Yet it was also so horrible…
We were down 5-3 when I got a nice clean hit right at the shortstop. BAM! BAM! The first bam was my foot hitting the bag. The second was the ball touching the glove of the 1st baseman.

“Out!” yelled the umpire.

“What?” I asked, “How was I out? You lump of cheese.”

“Hey you want out of this game for good?” asked the ump.

“Go ah…” I couldn’t finish because someone grabbed me from behind. It was the catcher for the Bees. He, however, wasn’t the one I was looking for…
I pushed the catcher away and darted faster than a speeding bullet. I zoned in on my target. Tom Fredrik. First baseman for the Bees. He was the one who caused all of this to happen.

Standing next to Tom was the backup linebacker for the all city team. I, however, acted like nothing happened and flew past him.

By now, his whole team was screaming his name “Tom! Tom!” but it didn’t matter. I was past them and Tom didn’t look up until I was all over him.

I won’t tell you the details of the tussle, but I heard Tom ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and I was in Cody Smith, the league officer’s, office. I was suspended for two games.

We ended up with an 11-8 win over the Bees before going on a 2-1 and 5-2 victory against the Vikings and Warthogs. We were in the Semi’s.

. . .

Before I tell you about the main hurrah, I must tell you something that happened at the end of the Warthog’s game.

I was sitting there, watching us win when Bill came up to me. Bill is my only friend on the Pythons. I hoped he had good info for me; he was the owl of the tree.

“Hey!” he said as he sat down next to me, “how ya doing?”

“What do you want?” I retorted back to him.

“Your bat looks too heavy for you.” he replied, “try this one.” He gave me a bat.

“Why?” I asked


“BECAUSE WHY!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

Luckily, the 2nd baseman made an unbelievable snag, so nobody but Bill heard me.

“Try it.” he whispered.

“Ok, have it your way.” I said.

“Great.” he replied and walked away.

It was the Semifinals, Sharks vs. Pythons. USSR vs. USA. And just like that day 29 years ago, it was the second to last game that would often be remembered as the finals.

Just like in that game, the underdogs took a lead early and they were both 2-0. People started wondering what happened to the Sharks. I heard one fan say, “This could be the greatest upset in sports since Miracle on Ice!” If only he knew.

In the 5th, a thing that was also parallel with the 1980 hockey game. The great player got taken out. Jose Ortiz (who later was a closer for the Houston Astros) was a 15-2 pitcher and had a 1.11 ERA in the regular season and a 3-0 record with a 0.67 ERA in the playoffs that season. He was taken out.

The Sharks took it as a motivation to score 3 runs and take a 3-2 lead. In the 8th, it all went crazy. And Bill was in the middle of it all.

In the bottom of the 8th Bill was on 3rd and Jack was up, ready to hit the ball. Jack hit the ball to deep center field. It is still a mystery if the centerfielder ever made the catch or not but one thing is for sure. It was close.

Bill took off. He thought it was a clean hit. He got out at the plate. He went up to argue with the umpire, not noticing the whole group of Sharks, circling around him. Their pitcher however made sure there was a small hole between the mound and the plate.

He took the game ball, walked to the mound, and fired right at the back of Bill’s head. It looked like it was going to knock out Bill.

Next thing I know, Steve comes charging out of the dugout. Helmet on head and bat in hand. He dives at the ball and just barely makes contact. It goes an inch at most but, Steve’s master plan isn’t done yet . He slowly trots around the bases, with Jack just ahead. They both don’t stop until they get to the plate.

It took about 15 minutes until the umps realized what happened and fixed it, it ended up being 2 runs to us.

Their theory was that Steve was the next batter and the centerfielder never caught the ball. That way, Bill was only the second out, and then Steve and Jack scored.
The third out was the next batter, but in the 9th, we allowed a run, having the score tied at 5-5 heading to the bottom of the 9th.

In the bottom of the 9th, Danny, our best hitter, hit a triple. It ended it off with a stare down that showed the Sharks who was the boss.

The next two hitters came up, and came back, shaking their heads.
Coach called a timeout and everyone huddled up. Well everyone except Danny, who was too busy pacing around to join us.

“OK!” said coach in the huddle, “Who wants to go up and face this guy?” Nobody raised their hand. I suddenly had a great idea. I raised my hand, slowly.

“NO!!” yelled everyone but, our coach didn’t listen to the team moaning or groaning.
“OK, who else will go up?” asked coach. Nobody moved a muscle.

“OK than, Jacob it is!” yelled coach. But, I was already getting ready.

You may ask why I did this but once I tell you, it will make sense. The game was tied. If I missed, it would go into extra innings. But also, if this were the case, I would be the last batter to hit.

I’m sure the pitcher could hear my heart thump as I walked up to the plate. I again went back to the 1980 Miracle team and I found a difference. Their captain was the one who had scored the game winner. I was not this team’s Captain.

I was blurry eyed as the first two pitches zoomed by me. Then someone threw a pitch that was right down the middle. I cowardly made contact as it was hit right at the pitcher. I could see the grin on his face as the ball came toward him.

Someone screamed real loudly as the ball touched the pitcher’s glove and landed on the ground as the pitcher fell over. He was in time to watch Danny stomp on the plate like we owned the team, the stadium and everything in it.

All I remember about the next 5 minutes is that I couldn’t see a thing. Besides an occasional ear here and leg there. My teammates were all over me.
Then we gathered at home plate as some parent with an iphone played (what else) Miracle on Ice. When Al Simmons would get to the end, we would all yell the same word as him “Yes!”

We than went to the line, and watched the other team get their third place trophy’s. We clapped after every one then coach went to their coach said a few things in whispers.

Now, we huddled up in the corner and coach talked to us.

“Great guys!” he yelled at us, “you boys just became men out there!” He pulled the game ball out of his pocket and said, “Everyone put your heads down and when I say the name of the person you think should win the team game ball for today, raise your hand and please remember, you can’t vote for yourself!”

We all put our heads down and coach started calling our names out one by one.
“Joe, Bob, Stanly, Steve, Jose, David, Will, Danny, Jack, Logan, Jacob.”
It took a while before he called us up.

“OK.” he said, “Danny got one vote and Jacob came in 1st with 14 votes!” (I gave Danny his one vote)

I felt num as I caught the ball. And I raised it high. I knew all the fans started clapping. I could get use to this.

. . .

I felt my spine tingle down my back as I walked into the dugout. It felt like this game was just like any other game, but I knew much better than that.

It was 2 days after the Sharks game and we played in the finals. I was now the face of the sport of baseball. I had already; in two days received calls from Larry Bird, Jose Reyes, Payton Manning, ESPN and CBS sports.

I told the media that I was shy; I would never appear on TV for them. Even if they were willing to give 2 million dollars to my mom and dad, I would still never come on national TV. That got some groans.

But right now, I had to put that all to the side and focus on one thing: baseball. And we were playing the Tigers; a good team that had 2 of their 3 losses to the Sharks, which we had just beat.

The game got under way but it was ugly, boy was it gross but that was NOT a good thing, it was very bad.

By the time we came back for the 4th inning, the score was 7-1. And it was not in our favor but, we had a huge 4th inning, scoring a total of 3 runs. We were back in it.

But the rest of the game was not in our favor and we lost in a horrible fashion that I wish to forget, 19-5. And the Tigers were the team that had 19. It was done, all over, we had a great run, but we came out in a huge limp at the end.

. . .

I will never forget rising above all. Hitting contact and watching Danny go completely nuts. As we scored the final run and acted like we were the USA, and we had just beat the USSR, by one.

Best and Worst

Mike's worst - not being able to sneak out at work and watch the IU game
Natalie's worst - was very tired this morning
Nick's worst - Mrs. Piekarsky saying no to watching the IU game during school
Seeger's worst - that he has to eat cooked carrots again
Mike's best - Seeger had a good report from school and Nicklas is working hard on homework
Natalie's best - one day until vacation
Nick's best - did bracketology during recess
Seeger's best - A+ on spelling test

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Quick Post

This will be a quick post because I only have about 15 minutes to write but it's been a busy month and I'm leaving for vacation next week so I don't think I'll find another - better - chunk of time to update ya'll.

And know you've been waiting oh-so-patiently to read what's happening in my world.

So vacation next week.... Holla! My mom and I are taking the boys to Florida/Tampa/Clearwater Beach. We're planning some days at the beach, a day at Busch Gardens, and I've promised Nicklas that I would take him to see a Tigers spring training game. (Am I great mom, or what?!) My mom wasn't too keen on Busch Gardens but I've talked her in to going with us. Someone needs to stay with Seeger while Nicklas and I ride all the big rides. I just looked at tickets and apparently if you buy a single day admission you get a second day free. I haven't told my mom this great news yet.

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr. took place over the weekend. Nicklas was in the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon performances. He did great - of course you knew that - and overall the show was pretty good. Nicklas wanted to see the other cast performance so I took him to the Sunday afternoon show. He even sat with his other cast mates during the show so I was happy to see him sorta interact with others.

Sunday evening, the Polack and I were offered tickets to the IU/Purdue basketball game. It was the last home game of the season so it was Senior Night. All five of the team seniors gave a speech after the game. It was nice to see everyone stick around for that tradition and I enjoyed hearing the seniors speak and learn a bit more of their personalities. The team plays their first game of the Big 10 tournament tomorrow afternoon. I hope I can stream the game online while I'm finishing up some projects I want to complete before spring break.

Okay, I'm out of time. I would have written more if I hadn't been interrupted twice. I don't have time to proofread so I apologize for the errors. I'm not sure when I'll post again - it may be a few weeks. Adios all!