Not your average suburban mom. I’m more your typical, normal, commonplace, everyday, garden-variety suburban mom. With a thesaurus.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Cottage Vacation to recover from my California Vacation

Never has a Friday felt less like a Friday in my  I don't even mind because the reason this Friday feels so crazy is that it is the last (okay, let's be honest - only) prep day I have before the Great Cottage Get-Away of 2013.

Today I will be doing all the laundry, packing a week's worth of crap for four kiddos and myself, and stuffing beach/cottage gear wherever it will fit in the Ford Flex.  Because we are a charming food allergy family, I will also be making a last minute trip to Whole Foods to buy $10 allergen-free marshmallows so Hosanna can have s'mores because I care about her childhood.  I will also make a pit stop at the bike shop because Eve's back tire completely blew out on our trip to Target yesterday*.

*If you ever think, "Dude, it's so gorgeous out right now.  It's normally so much fun to take four kids to Target, but I bet that trip could be improved upon vastly if we got there solely by the propulsion of our own bodies. A two mile round trip ain't nothin' to a three year old, right?" Quickly remind yourself THAT IS THE WORST IDEA EVER.  While you might tweak that original idea after remembering that you will have carry your purchases home (by adding a wagon for the little ones and allowing your older kiddos to ride their bikes) you will still come stumbling home after TWO HOURS and offer chocolate chip cookies for lunch because mom is now officially insane.

(**Also, an extra peek into my life for free:  I actually said this to my three year old: "Buddy, you don't need your pacifier!  You are a BIG BOY.  Now lay down and sleep because when you wake up we will go to Target and BUY YOU DIAPERS*."

*shut up.  I know he's three.  We are apparently following the "Potty Trained Before High School" Program.

Also, I'm pretty sure he's a genius because my logic of, "no pacifiers because they are all gone" was quickly refuted with the idea "Target has plenty of pacifiers and we are already going there for diapers ..." except he's three and has apraxia so it sounded more like, "Buy nuk-ers Target!")

All this is to say it's been a busy few days.  And since this will be my last post for a week or so, I'm leaving you with some highlights from last year's Great Cottage Get-Away.

*To read about the time LEECHES ATTACKED US, click here.  It's filled with stellar advice and could probably save your life, so really, for your own health and safety, consider what I'm offering you here.

*You can read about how I MEDALED IN THE HAIR OLYMPICS by clicking here.

*To read about  VACATION RUNS (not a blog about poop, promise), click here.

Also? Brian can't come to the cottage this time *insert super sad face* and will be home so burgle us at your own risk.  I will be sans internet for a week, so see y'all Monday, August 5th!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some call it "Fourth Place"; I prefer to think of it as "Third from Winning"

"Duuuuude, Kel, nice job on FOURTH place. You
must be soooo stoked and like, super fast, man."
So I totally did it.  I may have cried a little.  But I FINISHED THE RACE. I also may have placed fourth in my age group.  (Please don't harsh my buzz by reminding me there were only four in my age group.)

Thank you for all the prayers on my Facebook plea Friday night. My triathlon was on Saturday. My LAST CHANCE Thursday evening swim workout ended about fifteen minutes after it started.  I was stuck behind a slower swimmer and had to switch from freestyle to breaststroke.  I wasn't really concentrating and made a lame attempt at the breaststroke kick and tweaked my knee.  I tried water walking on it and it hurt so soon I just got out of the pool. 

On Friday night Sarah came over to look at it.  (How did I manage to get a training partner that is also in orthopedics?!)  She thought it was a bruised meniscus and told me how to treat it.  She encouraged me to go to the race as planned, and if I needed to, I could always DROP OUT.  All I could think of was a huge DNF next to my name.  What a struggle - do I try and risk a Did Not Finish - or do I just throw in the towel and not try at all?

I trained and trained my tush off for this race.  I only do one triathlon a year because I have four kids and they have some pretty messed up priorities.  I mean, they would rather have money to eat dinner than allow the woman who birthed them to participate in numerous triathlons.  How selfish.  So this was my one shot this year. *Enter Eminem's Lose Yourself swelling in the background like a wave ready to crash on the beach of Lake Huron* (Compatible simile FTW.)

"I love open water swimming.  Also, if you smile wide
enough you can almost forget this water is about 70
degrees*". (*not a made up number to shock you;
the legitimate temperature of the water.)
It was a huge victory for me to get in the water and start that race.  My lifelong buddy - good old Fear of Failure - was with me the entire previous twenty-four hours, but I finally duct taped his mouth on the beach before the swim and just decided I was going to go for it.

So, how did it go?

It was awesome.  And it sucked.

Firstly, some background on the young fella in the picture.  Sarah and I have been training with a teenager named Jacob for a few months.  He is a runner and a cyclist, and I thought he would love triathlon, but the boy needed to learn how to swim.  (I mean, he could swim, but he couldn't swim, youknowwhatImean?)  He decided to do the Olympic distance (which was double my Sprint!) and a very ambitious goal for a first tri.  He worked really hard to get his endurance up for the race, but we never had time to do any open water practices.  Pool swims are vastly different from open water.

The water Saturday morning was C-O-L-D but also really, really rough.  Lake swims are usually fairly calm, but Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes, so it has things like tides and waves and undertow and mimics more closely an ocean swim than a smaller lake swim.

Pre-race I threw every word of wisdom at Jacob I could think of.  I'm sure it was entirely helpful and didn't freak him out at all.

"Dude, don't worry about your time - just stay alive.  You can make up time on the bike and run.  If you get tired switch to breaststroke or sidestroke.  Take your time to recover.  You are not going to drown.  You might get kicked, your goggles might get knocked around. You could even inhale some water, but remember, you can go a long time without air. Just stay calm, you'll be fine.  Look for the kayaks if you need help.  But, you'll totally be fine."

I'm a really good coach/pep talk giver.

The race started (Olympic distance first) and Jacob was off. There were only fourteen in his entire race and it was a very competitive field.  He was the youngest by a few years.

I waited nervously for the Olympic Distance swimmers to round the buoy at 250 yards, and then I peed in the water joined the horde of Sprinters close to the start.

I thought I was being smart this year by not placing myself behind the slower swimmers.  I knew I had upped my game in training and was ready to be a lot more confident in the water.  At the bell I scrambled for my position.  It looked something like this:

Only 20 yards in I got kicked in the face and my goggles got knocked off.  I also inhaled a ton of water.  I couldn't catch my breath and the waves (which really look non-existent in this picture so you're just going to have to trust me on that) were knocking me back.  I was already in over my head (haha - figuratively, as well) and couldn't stand to get any air or to fix my goggles.

I freaked the heck out.  I could feel a panic attack a-comin'.  It was every worst case triathlon scenario combining into a fantastic culmination of suck.  I don't even know if that sentence makes any sense - I just know at that point I was having a huge problem that had nothing to do with my knee.  I thought about calling for a pool noodle, but then realized I couldn't find a kayak in order to request one. Finally I remembered what I told Jacob, namely that I wasn't going to die.   First I had to clear my lungs and get some air.  After a minute of sidestroking and slowing down my mind while taking teeny breaths that did let in some air, I calmed down enough to cough a bit.  Once I had my full breath I adjusted my goggles.  They were still a little wet inside (and very foggy) but at least I wasn't completely blind anymore.

I tried freestyle but at this point I was fully entrenched in the breaststrokers.  I just couldn't get through anywhere.  These people had dutifully followed directions and waited in the back so they wouldn't get swam over, and honestly, at that point I was just not powerful enough to swim over anyone. (But I probably accidently goosed at least three people with my stroking arm.)(Stroking arm.)(*giggle*)

When I neared the beach I tried running out of the water but the undertow was cuh-razy strong and unexpected, so I sort of stumbled majestically.  Like, the waves battered me from behind while the water grabbed at my ankles and I did a weird curtsy looking thing in order to stay upright.  (Shout out to Will and Kate!) The beach that separates the water from the transition area is about 100 yards of soft sand.  I ran about six steps before my knee said, "Naw, girl, let's meander this beach."

Meander I did.  It looked something like this:

I would subtitle this photo: Discouragement/I'm About To Kill Something/Brian Better Not Be Taking A Picture Of Me Because I Hate Everything Right Now/I Can Literally Feel Seaweed On My Back/Tri Shorts Moving South In Order To Display a FANTASTIC Muffintop
I'm not going to lie.  I cried a bit in Transition.  I told Brian, "I can't run. Waaaaa." (Not an ugly Kim Kardashian cry, but a pitiful little whimper-esque thing.) Brian ignored me and yelled, "GO KELLY! YOU GOT THIS!" which is why I married him.

Broccoli tattoo in full effect.
P.S. It's totally not really broccoli.
Thinking only about the hill.  And my bike shorts.  Which were caught on the seat.
Bike started just the way I needed it to.  I was totally worried that the bike course starts with a hill.  There is no real lead up to it; it's just right there as you get on your bike.  As I was getting on my bike, my tri shorts caught on my bike seat. Since the only thing they have to grip is my bathing suit, the bike seat pulled my shorts down fantastically low and I had to make a snap decision - commit to the hill or pull up my shorts?

You don't even need to wonder what I chose; you know I'm a super hardcore athlete, so of course I mooned* everyone along the entire bike course. (* It was just a bathing suit moon, 100% legal, chill out.)

The bike portion was  I knew the course, biking wasn't hurting my knee (it never fully extends while pedaling), and, since I seriously doubted I would be running, I went full out for the duration, not worrying about conserving any energy for the 5k. WOO-HOO!  Miles 3-6 are a steady incline, so my legs were feeling it by the time I turned around.  Then I got to Speedy Gonzales my way downhill. It was wonderful.  THAT was what I trained for.

After bike I decided I was just going to walk to stupid 5k.  I certainly wasn't going to quit at this point.  The race volunteers assured me the course would still be open (due to the Olympic racers) for as long as it took me to finish.  My pride took a beating as I strolled past spectators cheering on the first finishers.  I jogged a few steps every ten feet just to test things out.  It was getting easier to jog as my legs calmed down from the bike portion, but it still wasn't the most graceful looking comfortable thing I've ever done.

I walked about 3/4 mile before I had this epiphany: It hurts to walk.  It hurts to run. I may as well run because it will go faster.  (This is the kind of reasoning that separates us from primates, y'all.)

About this time I met Jack, my Triathlon Best Friend.  Jack and I had been leapfrogging for the run portion.  (I know some people hate leapfroggers, but they don't bother me at all.  I just assume it's their well thought-out plan to avoid injury or something else altruistic.) He kept asking questions about the run course and I explained how clearly it was marked.  I was pretty sure he was over the tri thing at this point and just wanted to chat with someone.  Plus he kept jogging and walking at inconsistent intervals, so Hey There, Sherlock.

I finally called out, "Yo, Number 14," which was his age,"Wait up a minute."  He stopped and I caught up and continued, "So my knee hurts and you look like you are struggling a bit.  Let's stay together and set little goals.  What do you think?" He was all, "Totally, Woman Who Seems Not Crazy At All Like Someone Who Is An Expert At All Things Triathlon."  This was an excellent system for both of us.

Jack was a fourteen year old who recently moved to Michigan from Australia. He is the oldest of four, a soccer player, and about to enter high school in the fall.  I was all, "I could be your mom." Jack's proper response should have been, "No, you're not old enough," but instead he replied, "Yeah!"  I forgave him since he encouraged me for almost two whole miles before his uncle caught up with us and Jack blew our current pace out of the water to finish with Uncle John.

The last half mile was run on pure heart.  I knew the course; I knew I had the equivalent to a few blocks and some downtown area to run.  I was pretty warmed up and my knee wasn't as loud in it's complaining.  I knew I was going to finish this running. Dare I say I actually felt TRIUMPHANT at this point?  I probably cried a little again.

50 yards to go! Run, Kelly, Run!

SMILES? 25 yards to go!


I crossed the finish line at 1:35 - less than five minutes slower than last year.  You gotta believe that stung a little.  If only I would have run the whole thing ... ;-)  I came in fourth in my age group - there were only four of us, natch - and top three got finisher medals, but hey, now I know what is possible for next year, right?

We waited for Jacob to finish.  He finished in an impressive 2:39.  He beat out two other triathletes.  He was last out of the water but not last up the beach after the swim; he averaged 18.5 mph on his 24 mile bike course riding a heavy mountain bike (with the lock still attached!)(wish I'd caught that earlier), and finished the race with a 6.2 mile run with an average pace of 7:39 - WHAT?! (oh to be young, driven, and naturally athletic.)  I was so proud of him.  He worked so hard and is now a TRIATHLETE!

Future Ironman.  You heard it here first, kids.

We completed the day with a Grand Slam breakfast at a Denny's where the hostess loved me and got me a giant bag of ice to put on my knee.  She even sat us in the corner booth so I could prop up my leg behind Esther while we inhaled ate our pancakes like ladies.

I shared my bacon with Eve = Best Mom Ever.

The End.

Monday, July 22, 2013

When the Recap Fairy Sneezes

So, I really want to finish up the California Series (doesn't that sound totally like I have a grownup, well-thought out blog?) but I also really want to recap Saturday's triathlon.  Lest you think this is the worst First World Problem I've had today, let me share with you that:

My church clothes were really comfortable but I had to grocery shop so I had to change into my really comfortable blue jean cut-offs while I was still really comfortable from my nap and it's hard to transition between comforts.

My knee hurt but if I wore my knee brace with my comfy shorts my leg looked like a sausage in a casing.

I wanted Breyer's Thin Mint ice cream but Breyer's M&M ice cream was also on sale. I guess I had to buy them both.

One radio station had Imagine Dragons Radioactive while another was playing Bob Seger We've Got Tonight and I couldn't decide if I was feeling like a warrior or if I wanted to give in to PMS.

It was 5:30 p.m. but if I didn't have iced coffee right now I.might.die. but then I wouldn't be able to fall asleep quickly and I would have to stay up late watching t.v.

I got tired watching Brian unload the groceries from the car because then I could see how much there was for me to put away.

Let me tell you, it is rough living my life.  Truth.

In response to the initial recapping quandary (Cali or triathlon?), I'm simply going to share some pics, and recap the race fully on Wednesday.  Because you'll need the details about how I rallied from a life-altering knee injury* (*really, Drama Queen?) to place (7)1st out of EIGHTY-ONE competitors, which, if you can math, you figured that I beat out (count 'em) TEN of those participants.  But? I totally finished and I am darn proud I did.  Victory, yo.

Here is the pictorial conclusion to the California trip.

Dinner and an all-female mariachi band in Old Town San Diego.  Also, they did a Disney medley which was as awesome as it was weird.  I ate a tamale for the first time and now I think Eve is lucky we named her before this experience.  Otherwise my firstborn would be named Tamales de Pollo.  It was verde, verde good.
Mission Beach!  I've actually never seen a freeway exit with just the word "Beaches" on it.  It was sweet and prompted me to say, "Wat up, BEACH-ES?" a million times because it never stops being funny.  Never.

This is because I'm a really good friend to show you how committed Lauren is to getting a good shot.  The tide pools at Sunset Cliffs.  And yeah, as soon as she posts her pics to Facebook I'm totally stealing one of this cute little crab.  Adorbs.  Also, she will probably post (in revenge) several shots of me being "pensive" on the cliffs... and later standing up and realizing I left damp butt cheek prints on the rocks.  (Damp from sea water spray, not tush sweat. Stop being so gross. Seriously. Stahp.) (I almost published this with "stahp" - a Jersey Shore reference - spelled "staph", which would have taken this story in a whole 'nother direction.) 

So, I'm 34 years old and had never been here in my life.  Sister Wife Rachel suggested I get my fries "animal style" and the biggest regret of my life is that I did not heed her suggestion. No one in the vicinity of the restaurant had them and I was scared to ask.  This is how fear ruins your life, y'all.

Sunset at La Jolla.  If I wan't married I might troll La Jolla for a hubby. (#Iain'tsayin'sheagolddigger)

Two hours north of San Diego at Wayfarer's Chapel.  If I wasn't married and had found a husband at La Jolla, I would totally get married here.  It's a glass chapel that overlooks this kind of thing.

And this.

And this.  Sike.  That's just me.

So, to sum up California:  If I could pack up everyone I know and love and take them with me to southern California, I would do it tomorrow.  Consider that a heads-up, all you I know and love.  Settle your Michigan affairs and grab your sunblock because we are moving West. I will not easily forget you, California. Nor do I suspect some of you will easily forget me. (I might be thinking of you, Poor Snot Boy.)

As a teaser for Wednesday's post, check this out:

Awww yeah.  Jacob has been training with Sarah and I for a few months now.  This is his first triathlon. This picture was taken pre race, while we are full of terror optimism.

First of all, you're welcome.  Second, this is me before the start, mere minutes before I got kicked in the face, had to tread rough water to reattach my goggles and experiencing several of the other Triathlete's Worst Case Scenario happenings.  I can't wait to talk about this swim.  

Race recap Wednesday.  You don't want to miss it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

What's smaller than a rocket but packs the same amount of punch? A mortar bomb? Because I totally snot mortar-bombed the guy at the zoo.

Day Two of the Great Trip Westward started in a glorious manner.

First, I awoke at 6:30 a.m. Cali time which felt like 9:30, so, yeah, that was pretty awesome. Next, Lauren was still asleep so I laced up my kicks and went for a run. (Also, I now apparently say "laced up my kicks" for those taking notes.)  I ran along the freaking San Diego Bay, ya'll.  I ran by palm trees.  The weather was perfect - sunny and low 70's, and there was a slight breeze along the water.  I decided to just run for four songs and turn around because I had no idea where I was going and only had an easy two miles on the schedule.

See the dude fishing on the right?  Doesn't he look super tiny?  WTHeck?

"I was ruh-ning."

It was one of those wonderful runs that feels like you could RUN FOREVER, which honestly only happens once in a blue moon for me, so I took advantage of it while I could.  I ran the whole peninsula we were staying on (a 2.8 mile loop I later learned) and must have passed 30 other runners on the road.  It was awesome.  I felt like I met my people.  After the run I checked out the Hilton's fitness center.  I grunted through an ab workout, did some squats, and then did my arms.  I was worried a little about missing my swim workouts that week (have I mentioned I have a triathlon tomorrow?!) and wanted to do some extra arm strength training to compensate.  I got a little carried away on the triceps, but don't worry, I totally whined like a baby about how sore my arms were for the duration of the trip sucked it up like the hardcore athlete I am.

This is a picture of the same meal I ordered
that I stole off the internets because I am
horrible at remembering to photograph my
food before I inhale it.  It turns out I actually
stole it from a food blog, so if you want more
of a description of my breakfast that includes
phrases like, "balanced flavors", check it out.

We ate brunch in a cute little restaurant called the Hob Nob Hill.  It had paisley booths and chandeliers.  It's like they knew I was coming and decorated the interior to cater to me personally. I ordered a spinach, bacon, cream cheese, and avocado omelette which was just as delicious as it sounds, and I convinced myself it was healthy because I dubbed it Paleo if you ignore some of the key ingredients.  It came with spiced apples and rhubarb coffee cake which I washed all down with Diet Coke.  (Nope.  I didn't even try to make this meal diet friendly. Well, I actually subbed the apples for the hash browns, so yeah, totally low-cal brunch.)

After breakfast we headed to the San Diego Zoo.  Admittedly I'm not much of an animal person.  I don't hate them, I'm just not the friend that really cares too much about your pet critters (but I promise I'm really good at acting attentive in the interest of supportive friendship).  In fact, Sarah's dog is usually greeted, "Wut up, Dawg?" even though her name is Tess (okay, Tess is freaking adorable)(she's a Labradoodle)(with gorgeous eyes) because I'm pretty gangster like that.  The San Diego Zoo is pretty pricey, but it is supposed to be one of the best zoos in the country, so it was worth it to pony up the cost of admission. (10,000 Awesome Points for a zoo pun.)

The San Diego Zoo is fantastic.  The tour guide told us to think of it as shaped like a bowl. The hills were steeeeep.  In fact, in several places there were signs warning that only the really physically fit take certain trails.  These trails were probably my favorite part of the zoo, because there is no way I would have been able to hike them three years ago.

It was at the zoo that I had an epiphany about both Lauren and myself.  This was unexpected because I've known Lauren for years ... and myself even longer. (Insert vocal rim-shot.) Lauren really likes birds.  Lauren also really likes photography.  I never combined those interests in my head before. Thankfully the four aviary's at the zoo had me well convinced Lauren likes to take pictures of birds.

Me surely being hunted in the aviary. I
don't even know what happened with
the lighting in this picture, but it totally
supports my argument that I was in
mortal danger.
Taking our time going through the aviary's normally wouldn't be a problem because I'm a super chill and undemanding friend except when I need iced coffee, but I discovered something about myself during the Lauren/Bird/Camera Epiphany.  Aviary's freak me the heck out. Like, a lot. Waaaay more than leeches.  You know in Jurassic Park, when they are being hunted by the raptors and you just know they are surely going to die in some grotesque way that will also be horribly painful? Being in the aviary's was exactly like that, except I knew poop would also be involved. Because, seriously, I'm like a bird poop magnet*. (*This post is already too long, but I promise I will share my bird poop stories another time.  Now that is the kind of teaser that keeps the crowds a-coming.)

After the first aviary I retreated as quickly as possible to the caged entryways of each aviary to "study the map".  (I'm pretty sure at this point I could get a job as a San Diego Zoo tour guide.)(#moremarketableskillzinmypocket)  I still had to walk through each one because I certainly wasn't going to confess my fears to Lauren because a Navy Seal doesn't ever show fear even when tropical sniper birds hiding in the trees above are aiming for a kill shot of poo.

"I'm coming for you, Kelly."
When I was pretending to appreciate the beauty of the foliage as I speed-walked through aviary #3, I saw two young guys meandering through behind me.  They were in their late teens and I was all, "Dude, that's cool. These guys are just hanging out at the zoo together, checking out birds."  I was preparing to greet them (because I have a big mouth and think the distraction of a good conversation is the best way to deal with stress when you are facing certain death) when, as I held open the chain link fence door for them, a bird totally crapped on the wrist of the kid reaching out to grab the door from me.  I immediately felt horrible, because I knew that poo was meant for me and this kid was just an innocent bystander.

I saw him look at his wrist, say, "ugh," look at me looking at his wrist, saw him get embarrassed and then get pissed because teenage males usually deal well with embarrassment, and I responded the way I do best.

I bit the inside of my mouth and thought, "please don't laugh out loud at this poor dude," and then, "ohmylanta, I'm totally going to laugh," and then, "maybe if I clamp my lips together nothing will happen," and then my body literally betrayed me.

I started to laugh, but since my mouth was out of commission, my giggles bubbled out in halting gasps through my nose.  This, in turn, produced a fine misting spray of snot to projectile from my face to this poor boy's outstretched avian feces spotted wrist.  It was like a snot-rocket that misdetonated.  Instead of producing a neat little ball of nasal mucus that projected forcefully to the ground, my halting reaction of suppressed laughter simply showered down in waves, drizzling over the unfortunate surface below.

I was all, "Sorry," and ran back inside the aviary.  So you know even though I was still giggling I totally felt bad about it.

So, yeah, the zoo was cool.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Y'all gon' give me avocados up in here, up in here.

Will Ferrell: Frustrated Gangster?

Let's review.  I've been recapping my fabulous trip to San Diego with Lauren and left you all relieved that we avoided being a part of any kind of gang initiation or other crime a suburban mama from Michigan might stumble upon in California (although "mama's" are pretty prevalent in gang activity) (usually as fodder for insults) (that are really hilarious) (like, "Yo Mama is so nasty that she makes Speed Stick slow down.") (or, "Yo Mama is so fat that THX can't even surround her.") (maybe gangbangers are just frustrated comedians) (more comedy clubs = less gang activity) (#Kelly@SublurbanMamaforPresident2016).

(I just took a five minutes break and realized I can totally make my hands spell "blood" if I try hard enough.) (But I did need to use one hand to position the other (is that cheating?) and immediately after succeeding both hands cramped and locked into position and I thought, "I can't even blog this because no one is awake to take a picture of me totally nailing this impressive feat of ... hand positioning and if I move at all it is lost forever because my hands are now in so much pain I am never doing this again.)

So, San Diego.  We arrived at the Hilton on Harbor Island at 10:30 p.m. (1:30 a.m. to our poor Detroit bodies) hungry enough to eat a - *GANGBANGER COMEDIAN INTERRUPTION* "Yo Mama is so fat she doesn't eat with a fork, she eats with a forklift."  Yes, GBC, exactly that. Thankfully the hotel bar was still open and the front desk even gave us a 20% off coupon because it was customary we were super hot.

We sat at the bar with exactly the kind of people you would expect in a hotel bar at nearly 11:00 on a Tuesday night.  Since it was nearing closing time, some of these fine patrons had been enjoying themselves for a while when we arrived.  The bartender was really cool about us coming near closing and ordering a meal. Seriously.  I ordered a Club sandwich and Lauren got fish tacos.  (Midwestern Fun Fact: When ordering food in a Midwestern restaurant and you see the word "California" proceeding the menu item, it means one of two things.  Either that item has avocado or that item has sprouts.  When my club sandwich came and it was loaded with avocado, my first reaction was, "Dude, I didn't order a California Club."  Then I realized I didn't have to.  Winning like Charlie Sheen.

The food was so.good.  We were tired and the adrenaline from the travel and excitement over our first hotel was fading and being replaced quickly with a riotous form of The Slaphappy Giggles.  I don't know who started it, but it was probably Lauren.  She's definitely the more immature one in our relationship and way more prone to inappropriate public behavior. (Haha. Sike.)

(I should probably preface this story with the information that Lauren and I completely lost our marbles during the entirety of this next exchange. We lost it in the way one loses it when it is not suitable to laugh and so you lose your mind trying not to laugh and then inevitably explode. It was the most fantastic display of The Slaphappy Giggles in the history of that bar.)(I'm pretty sure.)

The lady at the end of the bar was trying to pay her bill when she realized how much money she drank that evening.  Her main point of contention was the chocolate martinis.  I don't know anything about the price of drinks, but $22 per martini seems like a legit thing to question.  So she asked our Super Nice Bartender (the same guy who welcomed us and our full dinner order at closing time) to kindly review the bill. The Super Nice Bartender kindly explained the cost of Grey Goose vodka, and then kindly explained how many shots of that vodka went into each of those martinis, and when he was kindly finished she kindly informed him she had five kids in college and wasn't paying $22 for a martini that "was clearly watered down.  I drink all the time, and seriously, those didn't even give me a good buzz." After numerous minutes of this sort of reasoning, Super Nice Bartender responded, "I didn't make those drinks, I'm just trying to close up.  Let me get the man who served you.  I'll go get Omar."

This sounded completely ominous to me because 1. Omar is the name of a man who could kick a little tush (not like Marvin or Casey) and 2. this lady was drunk "not buzzed" enough to try and take him on.  Frankly, I was a little excited it was beginning to seem like my life-long dream of being a bystander on the show COPS might come to fruition.

Omar. In animal form.
Then a young, tiny little man came out. He was super cute.  Super cute like a kitten cuddling a baby seal while wearing a top hat.  This was not going to be an even fight. Omar had almost the exact conversation with Not Buzzed Lady as did the Super Nice Bartender, but, being the second time around, my keen deduction skills and math genius started to kick in. This is when I realized that if Grey Goose vodka shots were a total of $22 per chocolate martini, and an entire chocolate martini was $22, then this Not Buzzed Woman had received all her chocolate for FREE.

I anticipated this being the kind of information that needed to be shared immediately, but Lauren convinced me this was not helpful information to bring to a debate between Omar and Not Buzzed Lady for the time being. Instead I settled for a stage whispered, "STAY STRONG, DUDE," just to help Omar out, and when Not Buzzed Lady said, "What did she say?" Omar totally wasted my support by saying, "They are just having a good time."

Later, when Not Buzzed Lady retired for the evening (after paying full price for her beverages and leaving a tip)(impressive, Omar, impressive) we had a chance to discuss the situation in full with Omar.  After a few moments of fairly intelligent conversation based upon our outsider perspective of the situation, Omar looked at us anew and confessed, "Oh, I thought you guys were high."

Then we went to our room where Lauren spent 45 minutes on the phone with Expedia because Quality Inn was refusing to refund any money because they want their customers to become victims of gangbangers who just need comedy clubs I finally went blissfully to sleep on the most comfortable pillows in existence.

The End of Day One of our Great Trip Westward.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amenities Include: Chance of Felonious Sexual Assault

"California knows how to party." - Tupac Shakur (also Lauren quoting 2Pac on several occasions over the course of three days)(also me quoting Lauren quoting 2Pac once I understood the reference after scanning the hip hop annals of my suburban youth memories)(this whole experience was like a Quoting Inception but way rappier).

San Diego, California.  I came, I saw, I got a little sunburned even though it was overcast almost the entire time.  After three days in southern California I'm only left confused as to why anyone lives any other place in the United States.  It is amazing.  But every great journey has a misstep or two. *enter wisps of ominous music*

Here is the recap to Day One: The Great Trip Westward.

We left Detroit around 3:30 p.m.  Our first flight was just a short hop to North Carolina where I had just enough of a layover to buy pretzel chips (score!) and root beer.  Our second flight was a five and a half hour cross-country adventure where I managed to snag the window seat. This was both a blessing and a curse as I have a bit of a nervous bladder.  My nervous bladder only rears its ugly head (punny!) when I fear I won't have ready access to the facilities.  This manifests mostly while traveling, and the thought of both a "keep seat-belt fastened" sign and of climbing over other travelers fourteen times as needed caused me to need to pee almost the entire flight.  Thankfully Jesus loves me and seated me in the row directly across from the mid-plane potties and gave Lauren and I a seatmate who was intimidated by our beauty I'm guessing did not speak English as a first language and compensated by smiling a lot.  He happily got up four times so I could do my business.

We landed in San Diego around 9:00 p.m. California time.  For those that can math, it felt like midnight to our sleepy, hungry bodies.  We took a shuttle to the car rental place, and a new employee was completely thorough in his collection of every scrap of information that needed to be exchanged.  He thought our Michigan drivers licenses were not ghetto at all, because apparently he had never seen a state give out stickers to put on the back of your license when you have a change of address and not bother to print a new license with your current place of residence. Also, Michigan seemingly has the longest drivers license numbers in the history of license numbers, and he questioned if maybe Lauren and I got the last ones offered in our state. (Seriously, Michigan has one letter and 12 numbers.  Is this excessive?)

It's a bird ... it's a plane...
No, seriously.  It's a plane.
We were moving right along - and by that I mean sloooooooower than I ever thought was humanly possible to rent a car - when we were given the rundown on the rules of car rental. This is a poor time to ask,"Is crack okay?" when told not to smoke in the vehicle.  Just trust me on that.  Finally we made it out to our sweet little California ride just in time to witness a plane fly right over our heads.  I captured it with my awesome photography skills.

Next we headed to our hotel.

Lauren put a lot of effort into finding a decent place to stay at an affordable rate. Since she is fairly familiar with San Diego, her main concern was location and found a place close to the zoo, Old Town, and some of the beaches we would be visiting.  I checked the website before we left and was excited to see a nice fitness center and a continental breakfast with waffles. (One totally cancels out the other, natch.)

Look at us.  Eight hours of cross-country travel.  Hungry bellies, tired bodies, and? trust and optimism.

However.  Sometimes the internet (who promised a lovely hotel) is a big fat liar.

After passing a bazillion hotels on the way to the Quality Inn Sea World Zoo Area hotel in San Diego, CA we finally saw the green and white sign like a beacon in the distance.  We pulled into the dark parking lot (clue #1 we might soon be a statistic) and passed the "fitness center" (a cinder block room with the door propped open to anyone on the street at 9:45 on a Tuesday night with a treadmill, fan, and a weight machine)(clue #2) and went to check in.  This is a dramatization of what happened in the "lobby" (clue #3).

Lauren: Hi, I'm here to check in.  Last name _____.

Clerk #1: Yeah, we have you in room 235.  Three nights ... but someone is already in that room. (Clue #4).  Hey, Clerk #2, the computer says someone is already in their room.

Clerk #2: No, no one is in there.  Just override the system.  That room is okay.

Clerk #1: I don't know how to do that.

Clerk #2: (Comes over and messes with the computer)(Our key cards come out.)

Lauren: Thanks.

Clerk #2 to Lauren: Heeeey, that's a nice bracelet.  That's from Tiffany's.  And your purse! Oooh, this is a rich lady! (clue #5)

Kelly: (Laughs because she loves it when people are unapologetically inappropriate.)

Lauren: (Laughs nervously) Yes, I'm rich.  That's why we are staying at the Quality Inn.

We all laugh.  Then Clerk #2 tells a long story about a family with a Hummer and lots of gold chains that could not pay for things like electricity and food but it was okay because they were on a budget and chose to spend the money they did have on nice material goods.  Kelly could not argue against this logic because ... 'Murica. It's their money, yo.

We left the lobby with our key cards and drove around the building.  This is a good time to show you what the website conveyed our experience would be:

Palm trees, blue skies, happy, cheerful, safe.  Not an ideal place for, I don't know, drug deals and human trafficking.

This is how you should alter that photo.  First, picture it at 10:00 p.m., but take away any source of lighting for safety.  Nothing in the parking lot, nothing by any of the exterior entryway doors, nothing around the three flights of stairs you may need to climb to get to your room.  Also, add a shirtless man sitting on the guardrail alone in the dark totally not looking fishy at all who stares silently from ten feet away as you park your car.

Now, when you and your traveling companion, both delightful young ladies in maxi dresses and GIRL'S VACATION! finery, grab suitcases from the trunk of your car, imagine looking up and seeing five different groups of men, some fully clothed and some in various states of relaxation, staring down from three floors of the hotel and watching silently as you strain to find your room.   Feel their eyes as you walk up the stairs and find your room.  It's kind of like in the movies when "fresh meat" new prisoners enter a prison and all the other prisoners welcome them from their cells above by showering them with flaming toilet paper. Except at the Quality Inn in San Diego it is totally silent and there is no flaming toilet paper even though you might welcome it because it would be a source of light.

When you finally reach your room you will attempt to make eye contact with the lone gentleman standing twenty four inches away because you saw on Grey's Anatomy that people who are going to harm you will have a harder time doing so if they see you as a real human being and not a potential victim, but it is too dark to commit to this and you will wait anxiously for your friend to open up the freaking door already. This is when your key cards will not work.  Either of them.

You will make your way back down to the car, casually stow your luggage inside, climb into the front seat and serenely get as far away from the establishment as possible.

It was like Thelma and Louise.  In a way that is nothing remotely like Thelma and Louise, but involves two girls and a car.  So, you know, exactly like it.

Ohmylanta was it the most ridiculous situation.  This is probably when I got the giggles.  I was so hungry it hurt. I was tired.  Lauren was coping masterfully with the situation.  She pulled over and called Expedia.  I called Brian.  It was 12:30 a.m. at home, but he was still up and spent the next half an hour trying to find us another hotel.  From Michigan.  We worked the California side of things and quickly realized that in Southern California in July, in the middle of two conventions including a huge LGBT convention and the beginnings of Comic-Con, there just simply wasn't much available.

We walked into the Residence Inn in Mission Valley and pleaded our case.  They were at capacity, but took the time to search for us until we found a place that could take us. *sigh of relief* *Shout out for Awesome Customer Service*

This is where we finally landed at 10:30 p.m. California time.

Hilton on Harbor Island

Not too shabby, eh?  Stay tuned for Part Two of the recap to Day One (Whaaaa? How can there be more to day one?!) subtitled, "Oh, I thought you guys were high," said our new friend Omar.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Case of the Mondays: Three Little Words

With three simple words I have kept the dreaded Mondays at bay.  Those words?

Vacation to Cali.

That's right, y'all.  In a mere 30 odd hours I will be on an airplane westward with Lauren for four days sans children.  I plan to eat my meals without first cutting food for other people.  I plan to run amid palm trees.  There will maybe be some zoo-ing, maybe some kayaking, and certainly lots of gabfest and girly time with my bestie who I see far too infrequently.  I am so excited.  

So I will not be blogging this week.  I will be far too busy laying on the beach (why lie?) laying on the beach.

I will miss you all terribly.

Also, something to think about.  If you live in the southeastern part of Michigan, mark your calendar for August 7th at 7:00 p.m.  Why?  Because it's the night of the most fun 5K in the history of 5K's Where You Dress Up In Old Prom Dresses. (Totally a category.)  It's time for the Red Carpet Run!  Come to the Running Fit in West Bloomfield dressed in your finest red carpet attire.  Prepare to get stalked by the paparazzi, dance to the live band, and collect your finishers champagne in a souvenir flute. You don't have to be a runner to participate.  Go ahead and walk that bad boy.  Or run/walk it.  Or jog.  Heck, feel free to skip the distance.  Just don't skip the whole event.  Because you need to race with me and whoever else I rope into this other amazingly awesome people who love to have fun.  Remember last year?

Rose definitely outdid me in the Awesome Attire Category. Dollar Store blinking tiara?!  Who does that?! Genius.  It's time to up my game.

Have a lovely week.  I'll see you next Monday with (hopefully) lots of tales of Californian adventures!

Friday, July 5, 2013

May the Fourth be with you*

*I already feel like this title has been beyond played out, but stay with me while I explain the relevancy.  Here in southern Michigan it has been raining for almost a week.  Solid.  Big stormy rain, the type with thunder and lightning and no hope of your yard being dry enough to mow.  I have been surviving this near constant deluge by allowing the children to watch a liberal amount of television in the form of movies from the library.  The kiddos were first introduced to the Star Wars franchise back in October at Disney World, and I finally got the original trilogy for them to watch this week.

It was going extremely well.  Then it wasn't.

In a house full of little girlies, matchmaking and wedding planning are some important happenings.  So imagine the absolute disgust and horror at the revelation of Luke and Princess Leia's shared biology. I don't know if they've fully recovered yet.

Brian and I at Disney World.  Awesome.

I'm not a big 4th of July person.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some liberty and I fully celebrate all the day stands for, but as far as holidays go, The Fourth rates somewhere around "meh" for me.  This might be because I have a ginormous aversion to the average Joe having access to exploding pyrotechnic projectiles but also that I question the merit of encouraging a child to hold a flaming stick named because it shoots off a shower of sparks to wave said wand of death around to "write your name".

The man I married, on the other hand, feels it is our God-given right as 'Murican's to purchase and combust as many rockets (or roman candles, or sparklers, or firecrackers, or mortars - what?! did I stutter? yes, mortars) as possible.

This is why I returned home from the gym Wednesday night to find the population of our neighborhood in our front yard (ok, just Chris and Stacy and their brood from down the street) gleefully awaiting nightfall so they could watch a fantastic display while I held my breath waiting for someone to blow off a limb in the process.

"Never, ever play with fire.  Unless I ok it in celebration of our liberation from the Brits. Then, throw that fire in the air and wave it around like you just don't care. But watch out for your brother."

Look at the boy's face; I'm totally having a Beavis and Butt-head moment here - "Fire! Fire!"

Man Heaven Partners in Crime.

Watching our daddies "blow stuff up".

Everyone (and their limbs and digits) survived the night unscathed, so I went to bed that night to the sound of everyone else in my suburban town shooting off rockets, blissful that it was finally over at my house.

Thankfully my children have listening to the Madagascar 3 soundtrack forty million times and can sing Katy Perry's Firework ad nauseum, so the day after this impromptu block party we were able to recall the memories of such a fantastic night of potential dismemberment and maiming.

On the actual Fourth of July I took the girlies to see Monster's University. (Totally worth seeing.)  It was a surprise to them. We "took a walk" and ended up at the theater a half mile away. It was awesome to watch them freak the heck out when they figured out what we were doing.  *Collects her Awesome Mom Points* 

Happy Friday! Go have a great weekend!
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