Monday, September 28, 2015

Girls' Weekend to Remember

I usually don't do girls' weekends. In fact, I barely remember if I have ever done that. However, that is not the case now. I took a little road trip with my Bestie, Traci, and we met up with our dear friend, Ally in Topkea, Kansas.

You may wonder, why Kansas?  Well, Ally discovered the Oztober Fest of 2015 in Wamego, KS. .  Traci and I really had no idea what to expect.  I had never even heard of Wamego, KS or the Oztober Fest, but we trusted Ally and were willing to embrace the new adventure like our friend Ally does everything in life, so off we went.

I guess I should first explain that I had never actually met Ally in person.  Traci had the opportunity to do so a few months ago so this was exciting just finally meeting her.  We actually met through blogging almost 5 years ago and just instantly developed this friendship through email, blogging, and texting.  Traci also developed a friendship with her as well through my friendship with her so the three of us just became these fast friends who never met.
          Photo courtesy of Ally Miller
I took Friday off and once Traci got her boys to school I picked her up and off we went.  Now, if you know me, I'm not the most comfortable driving to a new place, but with Traci as my co-pilot I wasn't concerned.  (Okay, maybe we should have been a bit concerned, but we really didn't realize that until we were well on our way.)

Let me just go through our sequence of events/crazy situations:

  • We get on a toll road in KS and take a ticket.  We knew (after Traci educated me on this new process for a toll road) that depending on how far we went on the road that would indicate how much we paid when we got off on the exit.  We finally reach the exit we needed to take and Traci hands me the ticket and some cash and as I hand it to the collector at the booth he tells me we are good without taking the ticket or cash.  Confused I try to pay him again and he says again, no you are good, you have a tag.  I looked puzzled at Traci and we were both perplexed at this point, but he was insistent that we were good so we left without paying.  I have a Pike Pass for OK, but not for KS.  As we pull off Traci says, "he does know we aren't in OK, right"?  LOL!  I said, I don't know.  She decides to google it and finds out that OK recently accepted KS and North TX as part of their Pike Pass contract so it turns out, we were good.  
  • We go to the hotel that Traci's husband, Brian, so graciously hooked us up with using his points (thank you again Brian, that was so nice for you to do this for us).  I had to go to the bathroom (of course) so Traci checked us in.  When I return to the front desk the look on Traci's face was priceless.  The look definitely said "get me out of here and away from this guy, now".  LOL!  As we left she tells me how he went into great detail about all the options for dinner and even said she should have been there the night before, because it was ladies' night at the Blue Moose.  She got a great laugh out of that one (okay, so did I).
  • THEN, one of the funniest situations that happened would take place next.  We decided while we waited on Ally's arrival we would go grab some lunch and find some Flea Markets around the area.  We start looking for a place to eat and we kind of wanted a local place and not the same ole thing we could get at home.  We see a sign and Traci says, there is Chicago Pizza and Seafood.  I said that seems like an odd combination.  She says, I can't really read it well, the only other thing I could think it looks like is Chicago Pizza and Tampons.  You guessed it, by this time we are rolling with laughter.  She decides she must look it up to see what the name really is.  Turns out it was Chicago Pizza and Taproom  Well, you could see if that sign was the distance it was for us how Tampon could be an honest mistake.  Hard not to love that story (for us anyway).  
  • We finally get to our lunch place of choice, Jose Pepper's Mexican Restaurant  Our waitress was fabulous.  She was funny and had a great personality and she knew her restaurant.  She laid a ticket on the end of our table and when Traci and I read the name on it, it read, Tajae.  I said I wonder how you pronounce this (this will not be the last time this statement would be said that weekend).  I decided I would ask her when she returned.  I did.  Her response, Domonique.  Now, I'm pretty good at spelling and I'm certain that you don't spell Domonique Tajae.  Seeing that there is no way I can just go along with this Traci steps in and says, oh.  The waitress says, they may have called me Dom.  Traci again says, yeah, that might have been it (something like that).  I'm still stunned and looking completely perplexed again.  Domonique walks away and we just cracked up.  We aren't sure how Tajae is, but we would still like to hear how it is pronounced and our guess is it isn't Domonique.  Ha!
  • Then, we head off to find the local Flea Market/Antique shops.  Traci has a handy little app for this (so we thought) so she punches it in and off we go.  The first 3 or 4 locations were either an empty lot, neighborhood, or part of the highway.  Yep, it was quite the adventure.  At one point we were certain we were in a location we had no business being in so we quickly turned around and tried again.  Then we see we are heading nowhere again and decide to turn around just to realize (as we are driving down this street) that we are on a one way road THE WRONG WAY!  If that wasn't bad enough, there were 2 cars heading towards us (hence how we realized we were going the wrong way on a one way road), the 2nd car gave us an ugly look and acted like we were idiots and I told Traci, she had no business acting like that with purple hair!  For the record, we finally did find some antique stores and did a little shopping as we waited for Ally's arrival.
  • You would think some of the craziness would be over by now, but you would be wrong.  Ally arrives and we are just blocked away from the hotel and before we get there she sends a text asking what was up with the tailgating in the parking lot of the hotel?  We were like, what?  We pull in and right away don't see anyone in the parking lot, just cars.  Then suddenly, there they were!  A group of adults tailgating in the parking lot.  When Traci and I arrived at the hotel there were barely cars there, now there is a parking lot party!  Apparently this is pretty common around there, who knew?
  • We visit some in the room and toast our reunion with a glass of wine and decide we will go have dinner.  After much consideration from all the options Traci's buddy at the front desk recommended we decide we will give pizza (not the Chicago Pizza & Tampons) a try, but we wanted it to be a local place.  We ended up at AJ's NY Pizza  It was very good and we had a great time.
  • The next morning we were heading to Womega, KS about 30 minutes away to experience the Oztober Fest 2015.  The 3 of us had no clue how to pronounce Womega so Ally asked the guy at the front desk how to pronounce it (told you it wouldn't be the last time this statement was made this weekend) and very slowly he said T O P E K A.  ROFL!  You can't make this stuff up people!
  • Off to Womega, KS (pronounced with a long O and E like Egg) we go.  I have to say, it was a very cool drive.  We turn on the main and final road to find a road sign that said Road to Oz Highway.  It actually felt like the road to Oz, just not yellow.
  • We get parked and walk over to the festival.  WOW!  There were far more adults dressed up in all things Wizard of Oz than I expected.  The whole town gets involved.  We had the Wizard of Oz museum and the Oz Winery, and costume contest to experience.  It was very cool.  We slipped into the winery for some wine tasting and that was a lot of fun (and of course we had to purchase our own Oz wine) and while in there we ran into a family from the Panhandle of TX (Wheeler, TX) that went all out on their costumes.  The mom, dad, and twin girls' costumes were amazing.  They said it took them 2 hours to get everything on and you could tell.  The mom and dad won the best Tin Man and Bad Witch costume contest, as they should.
  • Once back at the hotel we visited and cooled off a little and watched a little football.  It was a sad day not only for Arkansas, but for my TN Vols as well.  We couldn't get the KY/MO game at the hotel so we decided to go to dinner at the Blue Moose (recommended by the one and only hotel desk clerk, AKA Traci's buddy)  It was a very cool place, he was right.  As we were about to enter the bar and grill Ally said, we may have to ask them to turn on the KY game.  Traci said, maybe you should ask them to turn on the Mizzou game instead, you might have better luck.  LOL....  She is so wise, because Ally's mom had the same advice for her.  So we did and they did.
  • So we have a pretty uneventful dinner and watched most of the game and as we were wrapping things up Traci and Ally fight over the check.  Our 19 year old waitress comes up and Traci (yes, she did) played the cancer card and told her she wanted the check.  We gave her grief for pulling the cancer card and Ally said she would pull the deployment card, but Neal isn't deployed (thank goodness).  We had a good laugh.  However, the laughter wouldn't stop there.  As our waitress brings the ticket back to Traci she tells Traci, "happy birthday".  Bahahahahahaaa...  We all looked perplexed at this point and I turn to Traci and say, had I known I would have gotten you a gift.  We aren't quite sure how she got birthday out of cancer, but hey, it allowed us to end our visit with Ally with laughter and any time you can do that it's a good day.
We had a great time and I would do Girls' Weekend again, especially with these ladies.  What great memories we made and I couldn't be more blessed.  Thank you Bestie and Ally for a great weekend and lots of laughs.  I wouldn't change a thing we did, not even the wrong way on the one way road.  :)

             Family from Wheeler, TX
      Ally in front of the winning window
                  1st Place Winners

Friday, September 18, 2015

I needed this today

At first this morning I couldn't put my finger on why I felt more blue today than normal days and then suddenly it dawned on me.  Today would have been Chad & Katie's 6th wedding anniversary.  WOW!  My son would have been married 6 years and would be 27 years old (yes, I am far too young to have a child that old).

I often wonder if he would be a police officer now (something he always said he would be), if he would have children, if he would live close to us.  Those are things I will never know the answer to, but I do know he would be an amazing young man.  He would be loyal, kind, caring, and loving.  That's just who he was and I believe he always would have been.

So today I was privileged enough to come across this song by Annie Morgan,, called "If you could see me fly".  Any mother that has lost a child will relate to this song.  It will definitely make you cry, but be honest, when talking about your child that is no longer on this earth, what doesn't make you cry, but I hope it brings a little smile to you heart like it did mine today.

I encourage you to listen to this song and I hope it brings a small ray of sunshine into your cloudy heart.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Remembering that First Year Again

I had an opportunity to communicate with a father that lost his son suddenly through email today.  It turns out he and his wife are living through their first year and all the firsts that you have to go through.  He made the comment that this first year he feels like they are just living in a fog.  He is right, that first year is exactly like you are living in a fog.  If I were to be completely honest, even through the second year I felt like I was still living in that fog.  Truthfully, there are still times it feels that way and it will be five years December 1st. 

Five years... That truly doesn't seem possible.  There are days when it feels like forever since I've hugged him, kissed his forehead, or watched him sleep (those crazy sleeping positions of his) and then there are days it feels like that moment that doorbell rang and those Marines were standing at our door in their dress blue uniforms to notify us that Chad was killed in action.  It was gut wrenching and a feeling I will never forget.  Sadly, there are days it feels just like that all over again and I suspect it will forever be that way and you know, that's okay. 

He mentioned that there have been those that state, "be grateful for the time you had with your son".  Well, of course they are grateful for every moment they had with their son, but that doesn't mean they can just move on without their son and be whole.  They will never be "whole" again.  Parents are not supposed to bury their children.  That is not the natural way life is supposed to be.  Our children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around.

You know, I had the sweetest visit with a friend/co-worker yesterday who came to chat with me.  I initially thought it was because she was hurting (which she was) over the recent loss of her husband and I was completely prepared to listen and offer support and encouragement and she says, I've thought about you since yesterday.  Me?  That was unexpected.  It wasn't unexpected because she wouldn't think about me or even tell me, but she was the one hurting since recently losing the love of her life and yet she was worried about me.  We chatted for a short time and just listened to each other and while my goal was to help her feel better and hopefully encourage her in some little way, she is the one that was lifting me up. 

That's what this world is missing (in my opinion).  Care and compassion, but more than that, just simply taking a few minutes or just a moment to reach out to someone that could be hurting and letting them know that they care and their loved one they lost still matters.  Guess what, we want to remember our loved ones and talk about them.  They were a part of us, a huge part, and not asking about them or talking about them doesn't make us miss them less and talking about them or asking about them doesn't make us sad.  They continue to matter to us and always will and just because they don't walk this earth anymore doesn't mean they didn't or don't matter or that just because you aren't mentioning them that we aren't thinking of them.  Trust me, we are thinking of them constantly and without ceasing. 

Consider taking a moment to send a text, email, make a phone call, or send a card to someone you know has lost someone or is just hurting and just let them know you care and that you are thinking of them.  You would be shocked how much that will mean to them.  Trust me.