Thursday, March 29, 2012

Latest Article on Glass Heel--Lifting Up the Puppies 101

Here's the latest Glass Heel article!

It's pretty funny, if I do say so myself.  Quite the experience!


The Squishing of the Boobs.

I'd dreaded my 40th birthday for as long as I can remember, and not for the typical reasons.  See the closer I approached 40, the more nagging I heard from my mother to get a mammogram.  And I understand why.  With both of my parents being adopted (I truly only know one biological grandparent), we have no family medical history.  I can't mark "no" on the form when being asked about my family's breast cancer history.  I simply don't know.

I've always been pulled toward Breast Cancer Awareness--I've been doing the Race for the Cure for eight years--this October will be the 9th.  I've seen a close friend lose their best friend to breast cancer at a very young age.  I babysat my friend's kids when he went to the hospital, for the last time, to see his mother who died from breast cancer.  My mom has friends with breast cancer--some who died, some who are survivors.  It's a scary thing.

When I turned 40, I didn't get a mammogram.  I was terrified.  My mother told me how painful it is--literally squishing the boobs until they are like pancakes.  She mentioned I'd have to hold my breath--another thing I suck at, which is why I can't swim to save my life (unless it's the doggie paddle--I rock at that).

When I turned 41, I didn't get a mammogram.  I was terrified.  My mother once again told me I needed to go, but then added her terrifying stories to the mix.  Yeah, right.  That's going to get me in there.  By this time my sister had also gone.  Her stories weren't as dramatic, but still it didn't sound like a pleasant experience.  I was too scared to go, so I didn't.

This year I turned 42 and said, "Screw it, I'm going."  I made the appointment on Monday, and have been terrified ever since.  I named the day "The Squishing of the Boobs" and started the countdown right away.  The appointment was scheduled for this morning at 8:10--I had to be there at 8:00.  Yesterday, the panic started setting in.  As I was taking my shower, I tried squishing my boobs--how bad could this hurt?  UMM, HELLO!  It hurt!  Screw this.  Ten minutes after I got out of the shower my boob was still sore.  This was not going to go well.  Every time I looked at the clock I would think, "By this time tomorrow The Squishing of the Boobs will be over" or "Only 10 more hours until The Squishing of the Boobs."  I've been dreading it.

Around 3:00 yesterday afternoon, Kaiser called me to reaffirmed my appointment time and to remind me not to wear any lotion or deodorant.  I guess those things can skew the test results.  "Hey this is my first mammogram and I'm terrified," I told the lady on the phone.  "Don't worry, Meredith," she assured me, "It's really not that bad.  There are some amazing ladies working tomorrow and I'll let them know it's your first mammogram.  It's going to be just fine."  Yeah, right.

I woke up this morning, jumped in the shower, and headed over toward Kaiser.  "You okay?" my husband asked me.  "Yes, just scared," was my reply trying to focus on anything but The Squishing of the Boobs.  My daughter sent me an email (she's at her dad's) wishing me luck at The Squishing.  When we arrived, we headed over toward Radiology.  "Is this your first mammogram?" the lady behind the desk asked.  "Yes," I told her.  "I can tell by the terrified look on your face," she said.  "Try to relax, it's really not that bad."

There were two other ladies in the waiting area, and Kent, and me.  I couldn't believe these women could be here without any support.  Much braver than I.  When the radiologist came into the waiting area and called my name, Kent asked if I wanted him to go.  "No, I think I can do this," gave him a kiss and headed toward the galley.  I swear I took a deep breath as the woman showed me the changing room.  "I'll be right back, and don't worry, it's not that bad."

She came to get me and we headed into the room where The Squishing of the Boobs would commence.  There was this big machine with this metal square for the boob to rest.  Then there was a square plastic contraption that would press down on the boob.  "Hey, you look nervous.  Let me go through everything with you before we start, so you know exactly what to expect."  This lady was so kind, so nice--I can't even begin to tell you the patience she extended toward me.  She had me put my hand on the metal square, then lowered the plastic square.  I could feel the pressure.  She told me I'd hold my breath because it helps keep everything still.  She told me she wasn't going to squish it pancake style and that she preferred mammograms to paps.  And I've been handling the yearly pap forever.  "Okay, I'm ready," I told her.

She put these bandaid like things on me--this was so they could see where the center was on the pictures.  And then The Squishing of the Boobs began.  And it wasn't so bad.  It wasn't that painful--honestly, my squishing in the shower was way worse than the machine was.  What I didn't know was they'd also have to so sideways pictures--the only difference was in my positioning.  I literally had to side hug the machine, which I was okay with since the machine did not inflict the pain I was expecting it to.

And then it was over.  And my years of worrying were put to rest.  I thanked the lady profusely.  And I let her know how her kindness really relaxed me and helped put my fears to the wayside.  I'm no longer afraid of the mammogram machine.  I can insure good breast health for myself because the fears have been destroyed.

One day when my daughter is approaching the 40s, I'll let her know getting a mammogram is not painful, it's necessary, and it's nothing to fear.  Until then, I'll be going and getting them once a year--except this time there will be no countdown and my husband won't have to be in the waiting room...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Great Day To Play!

Ahh!  Today was perfect from the get go.  My husband and I decided to take a day, just for us, to celebrate our anniversary.  We started the day at the gym--but not just any gym.  We headed over to the 24 Hr. Fitness at Lowry.  This was the gym we would go to when we were just friends, and then when we began our relationship.  I remember when we first started working out together--Kent would always push me to the limit.  I loved that about him.  That I was able to lift more than I ever thought imaginable.  He'd be there to spot me, to encourage me, to be my friend.  As time went on, and our relationship blossomed into more than merely friendship, it was where we'd meet every morning between 4:30 and 5:00.  Funny how I wasn't too tired to get up and go to the gym back then...

When we'd finish our workout routine, we'd head over to the Starbucks at Lowry--which is exactly where our second stop of the day was.  They knew our drinks by heart four years ago, but now the barista's have changed--even though the feeling this place evokes has not.  We took our coffee and headed over to another favorite spot--Washington Park.

I love this place.  I love the neighborhood, the houses, the ducks in the pond.  I love how we have "our bench," which is right next to "our tree."  I never tire of this place.  Today we sat on our bench, sipping our coffee, talking and laughing and being so ridiculous.  Great morning.

Our bellies started rumbling, and it was time to get a bite to eat.  Neither of us had ever eaten at Snooze, but both have wanted to for quite sometime.  We tried taking the kids there a few weekends ago, but the line was literally wrapped around the block.  This time there was only a 30 minute wait--which was SO worth it.  Seriously delicious!  We can't wait to go again.  And their coffee cups are unbelievable.  I'm literally going online to order one.  They have this little nook for my finger and my hands perfectly wrap around the mug.  I love them!  Unfortunately, so does the rest of the free world and Snooze can't keep them in stock at their store--thus, the reason for ordering it online...

After coming home, cleaning up from the workout, and spending a little time with Gator we did what we've been wanting to do for a while--get new tattoos!  The last one I got was December of 2010--the Believe on my foot.  This time I wanted a sort of tribute for me and my children.  So I found this tribal eucalyptus tree--which symbolizes protection.  There's ivy climbing along the trunk to symbolize faithful love, attachment, and tenacity.  Finally, I wrote their names and had them underneath the trunk.      Kent got a tribal tattoo on his left arm--no meaning other than he really liked it!  =)

Tonight, we were going to head back out to see The Hunger Games, but I'm way too tired.  Tomorrow brings about another day, so perhaps we'll hit a matinee'.  Great day!  I love days like this!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary, My Love.

Today is our 2nd Anniversary.  Time is already going by so quickly!  I can't believe that it's already been two years since we made our vows at Washington Park in Denver and had our little reception at the Denver Chop House.  

Each year I feel closer and closer to my husband--he's truly my rock, my best friend, my love.  As cliche' as it sounds, it's true.  I still have the emails that he sent to me when we were just friends, talking about our day, our kids, our lives.  I love the way he listened--the way he wants to know what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, who I am.  He supports me, isn't threatened by my intellect or by my intrinsic motivation.  He encourages me with all I strive to be.  He's my number one fan--and I'm his.  

I'm so proud of him.  I love the fact that he's not afraid to go after his dreams.  I love how incredibly loyal and kind he is.  I love how silly we are.  I love the fact that when we go on double dates, especially with friends who are dating new people (I won't mention who this may be...Tina), and I take on the role of interrogator, that my husband laughs and accepts that's just who I am.  I love when he shakes his head and says, "I can't believe you just said that" or "Did that seriously just come out of your mouth?" or just shakes his head with that chuckle that only he possesses.

I love that it's taken him so long to open up to people around us.  He's himself no matter what--another thing I love about him.  I love that we can have completely opposite points of view, and he never belittles or tries to talk me out of things.  I love that we can discuss our views, and learn a little from the other.  I love that he appreciates my independence--and doesn't try to take that from me.  

I love that he starts the laundry, cooks dinner, vacuums or does whatever needs doing.  I love that he respects my hatred of roses and gives me flowers when least expected.  I love that he gets up to greet me should I arrive home after him.  I love that we go grocery shopping together every single Sunday, and make the list together too.  

I love that he loves to read.  I love that he doesn't absolutely detest chick flicks.  I love that he appreciates the passion I bring when watching the great Green Bay Packers.  I love that he's a man's man and does all the repairs around the house or for the cars.  I love that he's a dog guy.  I love the words he writes to me in cards that mean a lot.  I love the way he'll leave them on the bathroom sink, just ready for me when I awaken.  I love the way he wakes me up to give me a hug and kiss good-bye in the morning.

I love his sensitive side that very few get to witness.  I love the way he is with his friends--the way they love him and he loves them.  I love the way he invents new sayings--like ride the lightening.  I.E. Gator you better sit down or you'll ride the lightening--referring to the zapper, should he misbehave.

There's so many things I love about my husband.  I'm one lucky girl.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, my love.  I love you very much!

Monday, March 19, 2012

They Say It's My Birthday!

Wow.  Crap.  I'm officially "in" my 40s as of tomorrow.  See last year and the year before, I was barely a 40-year-old.  But now.  42.  Shit.  I'm in my 40s.

Ummm, when the hell did this happen?  Seriously.  SERIOUSLY!

So tomorrow, when I awaken, I'll be 42.  Oh yay.  Let the celebration begin.  *insert applause here*

On a more positive note, I had a great birthday weekend!  My wonderful dad baked me the most delicious chocolate cake.  My wonderful husband cooked a fabulous Irish dinner and will be taking me out for my b-day tomorrow night.  My wonderful family spent the day with me.  Nice!  =)

Tomorrow I will happily await my children's call to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I will enjoy an amazing dinner at Carmine's.  I will continue to wonder where the last 20 years have gone.  And when the day is over, I'll wake up, still feeling 20, still not recognizing the wrinkles that are developing on my brow, still plucking that annoying hair that keeps showing up on my chin.

Whew.  42.  I'm embracing this age with vigor and excitement!  Okay, that was a bit much.  But hell, I am excited about the new role in my life.  I'm no longer the naive, ridiculously stupid 20-something.  I'm no longer the trying-to-survive and keeping-it-together 30-something.  I'm in my 40s.  I'm IN my 40s, dammit, and for ONCE I'm not naive.  I'm well-educated.  I'm doing what I love.  I'm making a decent living and yes, MY LIFE IS FINALLY TOGETHER!  If nothing else, that's a means for celebration.  Took me long enough to get here, but I'm HERE!  So yeah, I'm 42!  Okay, this is looking brighter.

So Happy Birthday to me.  And besides, I'll always be younger than Joelle (my MUCH older sister).  haha  (She's going to love that one.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring...Please Stay for Awhile.

It is so beautiful out--and has been all week.  There's nothing like walking through the neighborhood with my husband and Gates on these warm, springlike evenings.  I love our conversations, or sometimes just quiet walks that we have.  Gates, on the other hand, is like a puppy on crack.  I swear he goes 10 miles to our 1.5.  He runs around in circles, back and forth, back and forth.  And god help us all when he sees a bunny.  Our dog has some serious issues.  The cutest part though, where cars even slow down to look at him, is when he sits at the corner to wait to cross.  It's just so damn cute.  Tomorrow I'll take a picture.

My son is my child that loves to be outside--it's where he is as I write this.  When I was on my way to the gym today, I called the kids to make sure they made it home safely.  Marissa was telling me that Brandon locked her outside of the house.  "WHAT!"  I yelled and had her put her brother on the phone.  He started to laugh, in that prankster-on-the-prowl way that he does--telling me he'll tell me all about it when I got home.  Hmmm...

Dinner was yummy--French dip, roasted potatoes with onions and green beans, and broccoli.  Oh how I love my crockpot!  Once I had everything ready, we sat down at the table--with me ready to hear how Roo got locked out of the house.  She was still fuming a bit when Fuzz starting relaying the story.

"Mom, it's beautiful out," he began, "and she wanted to just sit in the house and watch T.V."

"I was watching a movie, if you don't mind," she snapped his way.

"She said to me she didn't want to go outside.  I kept bugging her and she told me there's no way I could get her to go."

"So what did you do?" I asked, knowing he was up to something.

"I grabbed her Ipod, ran outside and put it out there.  When she ran out of the house, I ran back in and locked the door."

I just looked at him and shook my head.

"See what I have to put up with!"  Marissa said, with her brother laughing next to her.  He's such a pain in the ass, although he was right--it is beautiful outside and they both should be out there instead of in the house.

After dinner, Marissa went back to her movie and Brandon called a friend to hang out.  And that's where they are, hanging outside in the dirt somewhere.  He actually brought his remote control Jeep to maneuver around out there.  I love that he loves to play outside still.

So my son just walked in the door, and I discovered that no, he didn't play with his remote control Jeep.  Instead they tore around in his friend's Jeep--rallying around.  Oh well, at least he was outside!  =)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Walk Down Memory Lane...

Today Kent and I went to the parentals for dinner--which included a nice walk down memory lane.  My sister and I spent much of the afternoon just laughing our asses off because some of our stories from our childhood are absolutely ridiculous.

Nostalgia must've been in the air because the moment the kids walked in the door, they wanted to go down to the basement--Fuzz to shoot pool, wanting Roo and I to be there down there with him.  I went down there, planning on writing my article for this week's Glass Heel contribution, with Marissa following shortly.  Five minutes in, Marissa started pulling down all the old photo albums.  We started flipping through the pages--in awe at all the time that's gone by.  It's funny how easy it is to determine age, based on the look of the teeth!  I couldn't stop oohing and ahhing--I seriously made some very beautiful children.

So even though my family is constantly busting my balls for taking a million pictures, I know that one day my kids will be all grown up, with families of their own.  And I'll have my pictures to look back on and reminisce, to share with them, and to pass along to their kids someday.  Pictures have the ability to stop time--to take me back to any day I wish to remember.

I'll keep on snapping away, putting my shots into albums, and loving those moments when we sit around the albums talking about the "good ole' days..."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One of the Greats...

When one of my friends from my younger days posted on Facebook this morning that his father had been gone for 24 years as of yesterday, I couldn’t help but be taken just a bit aback.  24 years.  Where has the time gone?

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into his 7th grade English class.  I was so excited to be in his classroom—he was one of the greats.  You know, those teachers whose reputation precedes them.  My older sister had Mr. Kruesel as her teacher and all of her stories made me long to have him as mine.   Mr. Kruesel did things differently.  He was able to connected with a roomful of 13-year olds like none other.  He listened, when other adults shut us down.  He laughed with us, when other adults told us to stop being so immature and silly.  He understood that we had feelings, when other adults told us we couldn’t possibly understand—after all, we were only 13.

It wasn’t until my 8th grade year that I formed a real bond with my teacher—and lucky for me he would be my English teacher again!  For the first time that I can remember, our school hired on a school psychologist—who was always trying to intervene with the girl drama my friends and I invoked.  Then there were talks of suicide—and to be honest, I don’t know if it was coming from our school or from the high school, but it changed things for me.  I will never forget walking into Mr. Kruesel’s classroom that day.  He was somber as we all took our seats.  He stood in front of us and started talking about something other adults would be too afraid to mention.  With this gentle voice and these kind hands, he maneuvered his way around the classroom telling all of us that if anything ever got so bad that we thought about suicide to just call him first.  And with that he handed each of us a tiny slip of paper with his home telephone number on it.  I’ll never forget that moment.  He let me know I mattered.  I still have that little slip of paper, with his phone number on it.  That little piece of paper reassured me—it allowed me to know that no matter how difficult life got, someone out there would listen.  I’ve kept it over the years in my little brown treasure box—tucked away with all of my important mementos from my childhood.

I was elated when I found out Mr. K would be moving over to the high school to teach my freshman year.  And who was my teacher once again?  Yep, Mr. K.  I remember when he kept me after school one day, to ask me what was up with all my silliness in class.  I told him I was bored, that I already knew it all.  Instead of a stern reprimand or sending me to detention like so many of my other teachers, he told me I’d be teaching the class the next day.  Really?  And I did.  I remember getting up there and loving it.  I wasn’t afraid, wasn’t intimidated by being in front of my peers.  Instead I embraced what would be my life’s calling—only I didn’t know it then. 

Mr. K allowed us to be creative—oh the stories my classmates and I would come up with in his class.  He instilled in me a passion for the written word--another of my life's passions.  We were all just in love with our English class—because we adored our teacher. 

Sophomore year I wasn’t as lucky.  I got stuck in some boring, horrid English class.  I don’t even remember the teacher’s name to be honest—although it would be easy to find.  But I do remember my bestie Tracey and I enrolling in a Heros and Villains class, just to have Mr. K as our teacher for the 4th year in a row.  I had no interest whatsoever in Heros and Villians, but I loved being in Kruesel’s class.  So there I was, once again. 

Tracey and I were ridiculous in that class.  I remember sometimes showing up, in the cold WI winters, in my jean skirt and 80s top.  Mr. K would shake his head and tell me, “Only you Meredith would be wearing that in this weather.”  I’d laugh and nod my head. 

My locker was right outside of his classroom, and every morning he’d be there with a kind greeting, a hug when needed, and a chat about something.  He was so much more than just a teacher.

I’ll never forget the time my friends and I decided to TP his house.  We snuck up his road, thought we were being so slick, when we could see him step outside donning his shotgun.  “Who’s out there?” he hollered from his porch.  All of us girls took off running, jumping into Tracey’s car and tearing down the road—yeah, we didn’t get him…

And then came the day during my sophomore year when Mr. K stopped coming to school.  We were all concerned and they told us he had pneumonia.   And we kept waiting for him to come back.  I’ll never forget the day he showed back up in class.  He was wearing a tam on his head and had lost a ton of weight.  He stood in front of the class and told us all that he had cancer.  That he shouldn’t have smoked all those years.  And that it spread all over his body.  Tears started rolling down all of our faces and that’s when he stopped us.  “Don’t be sad,” he told us.  “I’ve had an amazing life—let’s celebrate that.” 

When I think about that day, I can’t help but be in awe of how he was able to put us first, even then.  He didn’t allow us to hear the news through the grapevine or speculate from someone else.  He met everything so head on.  I wanted to be like him.

That summer of ’87 I moved away from WI and back to RI.  I was not a happy camper, but due to my parents’ financial situation, I didn’t have much of a choice.  March of ’88 was when I got the phone call from one of my good WI friends.  I remember not saying anything.  I just hung up the phone and sunk to the floor.  My older sister cried too, when she heard the news.  Mr. K meant something to her as well. 

When I finally took the time to think about what I wanted to do with my life—and granted I was almost in my 30s before this happened—I knew I wanted to inspire people the way Mr. K was able to inspire me.  I wanted to invoke that excitement, that joy, that love for learning.  I wanted to validate kids’ feelings, thoughts, intellect in the way he validated mine.  Whenever I thought of the kind of teacher I wanted to be, I always thought of Mr. K—how could I not?

Yesterday as my 7th grade classroom was begging me to tell them one of my WI stories, one asked why I became a teacher.  I started telling them about Mr. Kruesel—my English teacher that inspired me to become their teacher.  A bit coincidental how his story was shared with my students exactly 24 years after the day he passed.  I didn’t know it then, and wouldn’t until I saw his son’s Facebook posting this morning.

Thank you, Mr. K, for inspiring me to teach every day—and to love what I do.  And like you told me many years ago, when I was struggling to make sense of what was happening to you—Memories never die.  You were one of the great ones, and with that your life has carried on through others--it sure has carried on through me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bye Bye Snow...At Least Until Wednesday.

Ahhh...  Today was so invigorating.  Just knowing it would be almost 60 degrees outside made me want to feel and dress like spring.  I couldn't help but put on capris, open toed shoes, and a spring top.  There was a bit of a skip in my step and a smile gracing my face--all day long.  While I love my four seasons, there's something about the first day of warmth following a few months of the chill.  There was no need to stop for a Starbucks--shocker, I know--or a need for a warm coat.  Instead I grabbed my jean jacket as I headed out the door, and threw on my sunglasses.

The best part of my day was after school and after the gym.  On my way home, with sweat beads still swarming on my brow, I unleashed my window.  The breeze filled my car and I loved it.  Tomorrow's going to be another warm, 70-something degree day and I can't wait!  I just checked the forecast and they upped it another 10 degrees!  Woo Hoo!

Of course, there was just a bit of disappointment when I noticed there was another change in the forecast...  From one day of forecasted snow (Wednesday) to the new forecast of snow for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Ugh.  Oh well--guess just a few more days to wear my fuzzy boots.  As for tomorrow, it'll be another day of open toed shoes!  Yay!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Girls Day + Family Night = Happy Me.

There are some days when everything goes right.  In a house with teenagers, this is the rare occurrence--ask any parent of teenagers and they'll tell you the truth in this statement.  But yesterday, ahh...yesterday, was the perfect Saturday.  Truth be told, it began with quite the wonderful week.

I woke up bright and early yesterday morning, and not because I wanted to but because my son needed a ride to work (and yes, he did pay his five dollars to get to and from work yesterday...).  We left the house at 6:30 am, and I gave my daughter a quick wake up warning before I left--letting her know she'd have about 30 minutes to get ready for the day once I got home.  On the way to Fuzzy's work, I stopped at Mc-A-Ds for him where he got his breakfast fill-up.  I don't know where the child puts it all.  He downed his 350 calorie Ensure before ordering 2 burritos, hash browns, and a Dr. Pepper.  Seriously--the breakfast of champions.

Once I got home, I nudged my daughter again to let her know she had 30 minutes or so before we needed to leave.  Then into the shower for me.  She was ready before I was done and we jumped in the car--without me realizing it was only 7:45.  We didn't have our hair appointments until 9, but decided we'd hit up a Starbucks and have breakfast before our appointment at the salon.  It was so nice sitting sipping coffee and eating some treats with my daughter.  I love listening to her chat up a storm--her voice filled with excitement about different things.  This week it's her dreams of being either a lawyer (first time for this dream) or a CSI agent or a detective.  Recently she received offers of summer youth leadership programs for law/CSI work at Stanford, Columbia, and George Mason.  Her excitement is contagious and we chatted about fundraisers and what she'll need to do to get to George Mason for the summer program.

Soon we were off to the salon, where one of my co-workers from Sky Vista is also a miracle worker with hair.  She did her magic and Rissa and I left feeling gorgeous, happy, and kept running our fingers through the silk on our heads.  We hit Park Meadows and had the best time shopping, having some lunch, and having fun.  Just the perfect afternoon with my daughter.  Love days like yesterday!

From there we zoomed over to Safeway in Denver to pick up Fuzz from work.  We headed into the store to surprise him, and he came strolling on over.  I had some extra Nuggets tickets and he gave them to his boss.  He was happy to do so, as he wanted to brown nose just a bit.  I thought it was cute as he showed Marissa and I the areas he's responsible for keeping "perfect" in the store.  When Marissa picked up some Easter treats and put them down, he was quick to tell her to face them forward--telling us the time he spent earlier "fixing" the aisle.  We walked around, bought a couple of things, and finally left.

The sun was still shining and we were all craving something sweet, so we stopped at DQ on the way home.  No counting calories for me on Saturdays!  Fuzz was be-bopping the entire way home--perhaps it was the sugar, perhaps he was just happy to be out of work.  Regardless I love the times when there is no arguing and instead laughter and silliness in its place.  I relish these moments.  We cranked the music and watched him dance the entire way home.

From there we picked up Kent and headed over to Dave and Buster's.  I love this place--mostly because of how good they were to me in 1997, when I opened the store as the accountant.  At the time I was a single mom, going to school, and they took such great care of me.  From the hours I worked to sending me home with stuffed animals for the kids on a weekly basis--they were simply kind.  The kids have been going there from the time they were little.  We have memories of Brandon and I beating the Jurassic Park game, and little Marissa rolling up those wooden balls on the SkeeBall game.  We have shot a million basketballs for tickets and raced many horses with
the water gun.  And while it's not a cheap place to spend the afternoon, never did they let me pay in those early years when I was a single mom.  Seriously.  They would pay for our Power Cards, our meals, our drinks.  And when the kids didn't have enough tickets to get the "cool" gifts, my manager would give us the hook-up.  Things have changed a bit in the sense where I now pay for their Power Cards, and yes we pay for our meal, but one of my old managers still works there and still hooks the kids up.  Last night it was adding another 250 points to each of their cards--Kent and I purchased 375 points on each of their cards, so they were off and running.  Two hours laters, with a crapload of tickets, we headed into the SWAG area--it used to be called the Winner's Circle back in the day...  Marissa came out on top with 5714 tickets and Brandon had 5280--almost 11,000 tickets between the two of them.  Ridiculous!  They walked out of the place with Apple headphones, a remote control car, and a plasma ball--no wonder they love the place.

Kent and I love the place too.  It was here where on date #3, he finally planted one on me.  It's where we are able to sit and chat for a few hours, drinking a cold one, and relaxing--all the while knowing the kids are having a great time.  It's where we can compete against one another, should we choose to, or join forces.  We've come here with friends, with the kids, and just by ourselves.  It's where I plan on throwing his 50th birthday party this November.

It was just a great day--from beginning to end.  As the kids are getting older, the times we get to spend together seem to be getting fewer and further between.  There's always something going on, someone working, or just something that gets in the way of spending time all together.  So I cherish these moments and love when the days, like Saturday, are simply perfect.