Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wisconsin Trip: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Ugly!

Note: A lot of this VERY LONG post is simply for I can remember the details/history, just so you know I'm not TRYING to bore you!

The "Good":

1. We made it!

2. It was so good to see all the family...this is my Dad's side of the fam...he is the oldest of 6, 3 boys and 3 girls. There are 10 grandkids, of whom Kelly and I are the oldest, and now 10 great-grand kids...ranging in age from 3 months to 6 fun! It was the first time we had ALL been together since Christmas of 2004. We had been back in 2005 for my grandpa's 80th birthday, but not all the cousins made it. My grandpa died just a couple of weeks before our trip. I'm leaving that in the "good" category, because he was so ready to go HOME!

Jade connecting with her Great Grandma for the first time! Precious!

The 10 grandkids w/spouses and grandma! I think I need to find the time we did this pic 20 years ago...that is a whole other post!

Wearing red in honor of Grandpa....Jade didn't lack attention!

3. We attended a beautiful memorial service for my grandpa...fittingly, "Going Home" was played...a beautiful song by an all boys choir, Libera. To see a performance of this song, click here. The lyrics are beautiful too:

Going home going home
I am going home
Quiet like, some still day
I am going home

It's not far, just close by,
through an open door
work all done, care laid by
never fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting too
Lots of faces gathered there
All the friends I knew

I'm just going home

No more fear no more pain
No more stumbling by the way
No more longing for the day
Going to run no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dreams all gone
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life has begun

There's no break, there's no end
Just a living on
Wide awake, with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I am going home
Shadows gone break of day
Real life has begun

I'm just going home

Thank you, Lord, that my grandpa was able to go to home to his cottage...before going to Your Home for eternity. I miss you so much grandpa!

4. The memorial service was held at the Lutheran church in N. Leeds. I grew up going to that church whenever I was staying with my grandparents. My biggest memory of it was the fact that it didn't have A/C! My dad was confirmed there and so many of our relatives are buried near there. It is a special place. It doesn't even take me all the fingers on one hand to count the number of funerals I've been to. I am new to this, but I was AMAZED at the crowd. Such a testament to my grandfather's life. The service started late for the sake of allowing everyone to make it through the visitation line. Last comment on this occasion: afterwards everyone headed down to the basement for food...yes, all the traditional casseroles, but the staple was (and always is!) ham and BUTTER sandwiches and the drink of choice..MILK! Only in Wisconsin! Being raised by two northerners (my mom is from Michigan), I still love ham and butter sandwiches, but I have to have my TEA...SWEET TEA at that! I think my Uncle Alan could down 3 gallons of milk in a week, possibly more. We just don't view milk the way they do in the "dairy state"!

Above: The church in N. Leeds Below: Lily being a little clingy at the service.

5. Although it was getting dark and we don't even know the current owners of the property, we drove to my grandparent's old farm in Arlington, WI and I hopped out to take pictures of the hen house, the milk house, and the grainery...old buildings that have lots of childhood memories for me! Glad I didn't get shot at! We also drove by their old Victorian home in Columbus, WI...but my battery was already dead in my camera, ugh! That didn't happen with my old film one! Anyway, as a child I was never impressed by the outward beauty of the place like I would be now, my memories there lie in the 3 levels, many staircases, and the laundry chutes! Boy, was that a fun house!

6. There was snow a plenty! They had been getting snow all December, but got 6 or 8 more inches just when we were trying to fly in (see the "bad" below). It was beautiful. Breathtaking really. Deep, fluffy, snow. Not icy, and no grass and leaves poking through the way they do here when we get a rare light snow. We were most fascinated with the snow covered trees. They were gorgeous. The family had rented a local girl scout lodge for a family get together and right outside was the perfect hill for sledding. I was really envisioning old fashioned wood sleds with metal runners. My cousins laughed about that! I guess people don't use those anymore! I went down on some plastic thing I think they called a saucer or maybe a donut...I can't remember...again, my cousins are laughing. I can ski any day, but that thing was fast, wild and out of control! I ended up going down backwards and couldn't even stop myself...YES, I tried! Lily had a blast sledding though! Over and over again...she didn't even mind pulling it back up the hill. It was classic seeing my dad's baby bro give him a huge push down the hill. My sister and I even made snow angels. Lily had the sincerest tears when it was time to come in. She loved it that much!

7. We had great hosts. I think the last 4 times we've been to WI, my Aunt Janeen and Uncle Chuck have hosted us. It works out perfectly because they have 2 daughters and 5 grandkids, so they are used to hosting couples with kiddos! Jade had her own private nursery and Lily had the perfect kid's room...built into an attic dormer. They call it "Addy's Annex" for their oldest grandchild! Not only are Chuck and Janeen warm hosts and great cooks (I think I need another eggnog latte, UC!), they have a FAB house. In fact, it was featured in a local paper's home living section last month. I wish I could find an electronic link to the article because it is so interesting, but you'll have to just enjoy a few of the pics I was able to scan in below. In a VERY brief summary, the original owners of their home converted it from a carriage house and barn after facing a housing shortage in the area after WW II. I would have included a picture of them here, they are a lovely couple, but you'll understand why when you read "the downright ugly"! Not that they are ugly, but the situation sure was!

The "Bad":

Jerry and I were on different airlines, with different flights, and different schedules...but we were all supposed to land in Milwaukee within 15 minutes of each other. Only in a perfect world! Why, you say, were we separated? We had limited miles to use, limited funds, and I have flight anxiety! We started to use all our miles to ride together on American, but we had to get on a small plane in Chicago for the last leg, and well, let's just say...I don't do small planes. So Lily and Jerry did that route and I rode with Jade as a lap baby along with my sister and Avery on a "bigger bird"! It was all going perfectly until it snowed, snowed, and snowed some more in Milwaukee. Jerry and Lily left Dallas early and got out just fine. Our plane, however, was delayed from the start due to "zero visibility" in Milwaukee...really, that is what they said. Somehow the forecast changed and they put us on the plane...bad idea. A couple of hours later we are circling over the Milwaukee airport and the captain comes over the intercom and says something like....we have bad news. the airport is CLOSED for arrivals due to the snow. (what? airports CLOSE?) he continues...the plows can't keep up with the snow, they were letting some lighter aircraft land, but we have a heavy fuel load and cargo as well, so we couldn't safely land. we'll circle here for a bit longer while they re-plow and then I'll give a new update.......OKAY, at this point my sister and I are wondering why they even put us on the plane under these conditions and I am reaching for some more XANAX. Yikes! I don't like flying anyway, and then hearing things like the airport is closed and we're too heavy to land on the snow....well, I was a little nervous you could say. The later update wasn't any better...the snow was just coming down too fast...I think they got 6-8 inches in a two hour period...the plows couldn't keep up, so we had to be rerouted. 45 minutes later, we land in Des Moines, Iowa. Great! Just in time for the Iowa Caucuses! No gate for us there...just got to sit on the the jetway, yes the jetway, for who knows how long. The pilot wasn't sure if we could make it to Milwaukee or not. People are talking of hotel stays, the works. For the first time since quitting nursing, I am really doubting my decision to stop, I had only packed enough nursery water and formula for what I thought was going to be a two hour flight!

During our stay on the jetway in Des Moines, I got in touch with Jerry. He and Lily were stuck in Chicago. News reporters were even there reporting all the traveling woes. He has his own nightmare story that includes phrases like: cancelled! poopy accident(s)! no more pullups! airport only has size 2 diapers! no access to luggage! wait for a bus! miss a bus! finally, ride a bus to Milwaukee! Jerry has literally travelled the world...courtesy of his old "job" in missions...he has travelled under all sorts of conditions and issues but he now says this was his worse travelling experience ever! That says a lot!

Lily looking out at the snowy Chicago airport...thankfully this was her 7th time to she understands delays....sort of! She liked the bus car seat and huge windows!

Back to us...two hours later we were in route to Milwaukee, yet again. Yippee. Good thing they hadn't let us off that plane. I think Kelly and I both would have driven back to Texas in a heartbeat! 45 minutes later, we are descending and the plane is quiet and tense. Even the northerners among us were a bit nervous on the landing. The snow was still coming down as we made contact with the runway. Once we were all sure we weren't skidding off, the applause erupted! I am sure it would have been a standing ovation if it weren't for the darn seatbelts! I let Jade stand and clap on my lap!!! We had been on the same plane for 8 hours! And we weren't exactly landing in Maui! All things considered, Jade did amazing on her first plane ride!

The "bad" continued: OUR LUGGAGE......LOST!!

We had been smart, so we thought, and sent all our luggage with Jerry. He could take more with two tickets and I'd have Jade in my arms...not much I can haul around other than her! Well, somehow the luggage didn't make the transitions, and ended up in Madison. Madison? None of us were even scheduled to land there, so I'm not sure how that happened, but it did! Great, we have no clothes, nothing for the PJs, formula, diapers, wipes, pull-ups, you get the idea...and we don't even have any of the gifts we bought for the 2 exchanges that were going on the next day. No snow gear...hats, gloves, boots....etc! What a disaster! Good thing my Uncle Chuck knows his way around a Target store...he was on it instantly...picking up all the essentials for us. Jerry borrowed some clothes from him and I did from Kelly. Still though...NOT FUN!! Our luggage did get delivered though...late the next night. I felt so bad for my cousin Allison, she has a newborn plus 3 other girls, and probably lots of better things to do than pack up all sorts of clothes for our girls...we didn't end up needing them after all! Thanks for your effort!

The "Downright Ugly":

Let's rewind to the cheerful and safe landing of our plane. Shortly after that my niece gets sick. Ugh, let's make that really sick. Not just a little throwing up. Poor thing, it was outright projectile vomiting. All over her clothes, coat, shoes, her seat, the seat in front of her. And it smelled. Poor Kelly, too. Through all the craziness I had decided to take another anxiety pill and I just sat there holding Jade and looking at Kelly not offering a whole lot of help....a bit dazed and confused I think. Thankfully, the crowd on the plane had gained quite a bit of camaraderie through our whole ordeal, and someone passed back a spare change of girl's clothing....size 4T...perfect! As we were getting off the plane, the attendant was calling for someone to clean "that area" of the plane...yucky, stinky, throw up....everywhere......even after the cleaning....I felt sorry for the unsuspecting passengers that we passed walking out through the terminal...waiting to board our very delayed plane!

Our hopes of just a little motion sickness vanished as the vomiting continued...once more in the airport terminal....3 more times at the airport restaurant (we hadn't eaten since breakfast!), and on and on. Avery had a virus. Being such close cousins as they are, Lily just couldn't stay away from Avery...they may not be good at sharing toys, but viruses? No problem.

4 AM the next night...we hear a cough, cough....Jerry, is that Lily? Quick....we fling open the door to her room and she is puking everywhere. Mind you that my Aunt and Uncle are collectors...collectors of antiques, old books, antique toys, teddy bears from their own bear company a while, I, the loving mom that I am, quickly start moving anything that looks of value to the opposite side of the room! Then we start stripping sheets, finding blankets/towels, getting new PJs, changing her, and brushing her teeth. Back to bed.

5 AM repeat above.......

6 AM repeat above.......

The ugly gets uglier:

The adults staying at the "Finch Nest", as we refer to their house (it's on Finch St.), are so far happy that "the virus" seems to be staying among the kids....which is true of lots of viruses. Until the next night when Kelly comes down with it. Then in the middle of the night we hear my aunt coming down with it. The phone rings the next day with reports of others who have been struck. The healthy among us...basically Jerry, me and Uncle Chuck feel like we are walking targets. The running joke among the cowboy fans is that maybe it will make it to Bret Favre by the playoffs! I start praying....Lord, please Lord, if I am going to be struck with this yucky virus...Please Lord, just not on the plane, not while flying with two other sick people and a lap baby! And please not Jerry as he's trekking across the country with Lily. The Lord honors my prayers....we make it home healthy...and then it strikes...later I found out that Uncle Chuck, my dad and I all got it the same night. Fever, chills, the runnies, vomiting...people must have thought we had really partied hard for New Year's!!! I guess it did get us started on New Year's Resolutions for weight loss! My dad said he's down 8 pounds and little Avery lost 5...she's tiny to begin with!

So sorry to all my WI relatives that also were struck with the fun virus. We sent a care package to my aunt and uncle with sanitizers, cleaners, gloves, they could decontaminate their house after our visit...let me know if any of the rest of you need a package!


P & R said...

Loved this post! I think that house is my "dream house"...very cool! I hope our Women Of Faith trip goes better on the travel end! I hope it all works out - I think we would have a blast! Well, I am out the door to Harrisburg! I'm headed over on my own this morning. I could not get out of bed to make it with Phil at 5:00....Happy Sunday! - Rachelle

Tricia Hoffmann said...

OH MY GOODNESS! That is terrible. I can't even imagine. Glad you made it back in one piece!

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