Six Flags – After 30

I know it’s been six months since I’ve posted anything on this blog.  I have no excuse. Really, I’m just lazy. But, last night’s trip to Six Flags certainly deserves a story.

Chris and I had the opportunity to hit Atlanta’s amusement park last night with some new friends.  We both realized when we arrived that we hadn’t been there since we were both teenagers. Well, let me take that back. I did go with a bunch of kids when Henry was 2, but I don’t think riding Thomas the Train and the Looney Tunes Cars really count as living it up at the park. Needless to say, we were both excited and ready to hit ALL the rides.

It was during the first roller coaster – the Georgia Cyclone- that we fully realized our age.  When we were 15, Chris and I were much smaller people and easily fit into those teeny tiny bucket seats they so graciously provide for you.  I would personally like to send a shout out to the makers of that ride for so generously reminding me just how big my ass has grown over 20 years. We were jammed in there so tight, our only consolation was knowing that if the ride somehow malfunctioned and we were catapulted off of it, there was no way in hell we could have been thrown out.  I thought they were going to have to use the jaws of life to get us out when the ride was over.

And don’t think that just because we were jammed in there like ketchup in a glass bottle that we didn’t feel every twist and turn of that roller coaster.  You see, when you’re 15, you don’t really notice things like whiplash or a severed vertebrae.  But, when you’re a tad older, it matters. A lot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Roller coasters like Goliath, the Mind Bender and the  Mine Train were awesome!  The designers actually thought that maybe a normal sized person would want to ride those. But, then we happened upon the Scorcher.  Or in my case, the Boob Reducer.

If you’re uncomfortable reading about boobs, then please exit the blog right now.

You see, you stand up on the Scorcher.  I was so pumped about this ride! Everyone got on, stood in place and easily buckled themselves in. Except me. Mayday! If you know me at all, you know that I am rather well endowed.  Well, on the Scorcher, you have to pull a harness down over your chest and lock it in place.  It took three people to lock me in.  THREE PEOPLE!  And I bet you’re wondering if I could breathe. Well, NO!  Of course I couldn’t breathe!  As the ride started, I wondered who was going to win – my boobs or the harness? My only consolation was knowing that I would die instantaneously if my boobs decided to stage a rebellion in the middle of the ride.  And yes, they still hurt.

Which brings me to Acrophobia.  You see, our new friends are really fun. And very persuasive.  You see, Lacey stated that she wanted to make memories with us last night and I just thought that was so sweet. I should have known something was up when I soon learned she spent 8 years in the air force jumping out of airplanes.

You see, when you get on Acrphobia, you ascend 20 stories to the top of the ride, all while spinning around. Then, you get to the top and wait. And wait. And wait. After about 15 seconds, you fall straight down. Wait, did I mention your dangling on this ride?  Oh and did I also mention that for those 15 seconds while you’re at the top, you’re seat is tilted 15 degrees out so you have no choice but to stare straight down at your impending death?  When I went to get on this ride, BY THE SHEER UTTER GRACE OF GOD, there were no seats left. So, I had the joy of actually watching this monstrosity before my very eyes.  When it was our turn to get on, I walked straight to the exit. Chris got on the ride.

Sucker. I seriously doubt he will ever do it again.

Did we have an amazing time?  Absolutely! Was feeling hungover today worth it?  100%  Will we do it again anytime soon?  Not so much 🙂



One Towel, One Juice Box and Let’s Call It a Day.

I’m a terrible blogger.  And I’m 100% sure it’s because of laziness.  Well, I’ve made a pact with myself. I will post something NEW every Friday.  After all, I should have a week’s worth of thoughts to choose from, right? We’ll see.

Today I am thinking about our neighborhood pool.  More specifically, the check I have to write to our neighborhood association for our neighborhood pool.  But, it got me thinking about my  neighborhood pool growing up.  Until I reached an age where my father insisted I get a summer job, my days were spent swimming with friends.  And I mean, SWIMMING. Swimming so much my hair turned a permanent shade of green and I fell asleep every night in a chlorine induced coma.

Now that I’m the same age my Mom was when she used to take me and my brother to the pool everyday of our summer vacation, (insert scream here) it got me thinking about her life back then and my life now.  Every morning,  Mom would tell us to dress ourselves as she got our pool bag ready. She filled it with one sandwich for each of us, some chips, two squirt guns, four quarters and one bottle of dark tanning oil (and the bag was seriously no bigger than a small purse).  She would then throw us each a towel – we were allowed one towel only that we had to carry, and we’d walk up to the pool. 5 minutes later, we were there!

Now, this is what I do when I take Henry to the pool.  I tell him to get his bathing suit on, while I begin to pack  two totes and a cooler. I  stuff one bag with at least three bottles of suntan lotion, all the pool toys, water wings, a hat for Henry, a hat for me, an extra outfit for Henry, an additional cover-up for me, two kinds of after-sun burn lotion, a comb and a book.   I jam pack the second tote with towels – one for Henry when he gets out of the pool, one for him to sit on while he eats lunch, one for him to use just in case the first towel doesn’t dry fast enough, one for me to sit on and one for me to use just in case I decide to get in the water.  Then, I start on the cooler, which gets four juice boxes, 2 cokes, 2 bottles of water, goldfish, strawberries, peanut butter crackers, yogurt, two granola bars, a bag of fruit snacks and something for me to eat.  At this point, I yell for Henry to come get in the car- yes, the car – because even if I wanted to walk,I couldn’t. And let’s face it, I don’t want to walk. It is then that I notice Henry is not dressed.  So, to save time, I put his bathing suit on for him. One hour later, we arrive at the pool.

When I arrived at the pool with my Mom, she would quickly join her friends and grab herself a chair.  My brother and I were shooed away to go play (notice she did NOT put any suntan lotion on us).  Most of the time, Page, Patsy, Susie, Eileen and Theresa were already there, basking in the sun’s glow, without hats or sunblock.  Every now and then I would hear laughter coming from their corner. When it was time for lunch, Mom would sit us on the ground next to her chair, hand us our sandwich and chips, then give us each 50 cents for the vending machine for a drink.   We would eat, wait the requisite 15 minutes  for our food to settle and then hop back in the pool.  Hours later, my Mom would tell us it was time to go. We’d get out of the pool, wrap ourselves in our one towel, say goodbye to our friends and walk home.

This is how Henry and I spend the day at the pool. We finally find a parking spot and after searching, sometimes without any luck, for a table with an umbrella or an area with an immense amount of shade, we put our stuff down. Well, I put our stuff down as Henry has carried nothing except his pink blow-up ring.  Yes, pink.

Once we find a spot, I take off his shirt and douse him with copious amounts of sunscreen, throw his toys into the kiddie pool and unload my laundry basket of towels.  As Henry goes off to the pool, I wipe the sweat off me that’s trickling down my face and arms, cover myself with copious amounts of sunscreen, make sure my towels are strategically placed so no one steals one of the four chairs I’ve called my own and dig around in my tote for my book. When lunch rolls around, I make sure Henry is sitting appropriately in his chair and offer him a buffet of snacks. As soon as he’s finished, he jumps back in the pool, because you know that 15 minute rule is a myth, right?

Hours later, I tell Henry it’s time to go. After physically removing him from the pool, dressing him in brand new clothes, apologizing to the teenagers sitting next to me for the whiny kid making a spectacle of himself, packing up my bags, and giving Henry his pink ring, we trudge to the car.

I’m not really sure when my 4 year old became the center of the universe.  But, I think I’ll take a page from my Mom’s book this summer and pack only one bag for the pool, give Henry one towel, and make him buy his juice box out of a vending machine.

OK, I can hear your laughter from here.

A cup of noodles

I rarely go out for lunch.

 In fact, most of my lunches are spent quickly eating a microwave meal in the break room and discussing the day’s events with coworkers. It is actually a bright spot in my day. I would imagine that this same scene is played out in workplace after workplace.

Since the devastating earthquake struck Japan earlier this month, I have read many reports and news bulletins about various shortages. Nothing in Japan is easy right now. Stable electricity is hard to find. Gasoline shortages abound. Even the simple dietary staple of noodles is in short supply. 

Cups of noodles remind me of college. These quick and inexpensive rations were perfect for a college student. They were cheap, portable, and filling. On average these cost about $1.00 each. And then it hit me, this was a tangible way that I could give to the response efforts in Japan and create a deeper awareness with those around me. Let’s call it the Noodle Challenge.

Basically, for one week I will commit to eat a cup of noodles each day for lunch. Typically a microwave meal cost around $4.00. A cup of noodles $1.00. The $3.00 differential per meal will be my donation to the Japan Response effort. So that means, in one week, one person will be able to donate from $15.00 to $21.00. What a simple way to make a difference and be a part of something much larger than ourselves. Try it in your breakroom.

To donate to the Japan Response efforts and start your own Noodle Challenge, click here.

“Does Everyone Have a Copy of the Birth Plan?”

In my perusal of other blogs,  I have noticed a trend – everyone, at some point, tells their birth story.  And since I have become intrigued with a new show on Lifetime called “One Born Every Minute,” I have decided to tell mine.   After watching “One Born Every Minute” and reading so many other incredible birth stories, I now realize that Henry’s birth was quite uneventful.  But, as always, Chris and I were able to produce a few moments of hilarity.

Let me start off by giving all of you a glimpse into our birth plan.

Get epidural. Have baby.

Yep, that was pretty much it.  Sure, we took natural childbirth classes and learned all the breathing techniques.  But, mostly those classes were spent quietly snickering at the other first time Moms who insisted on having a drug-free birth because as they said, and I quote, “How hard can it be?”  Now, I have nothing against women who choose to have natural childbirth.  Lots of my friends, not to mention my own mother, have had their children without any drugs.  I both admire and fear them.  But…that is not who I am.  I scream incoherently when I get a paper cut.

So, that was our birth plan. Get drugs. Have baby.  And, honestly, it was a good plan. It worked out well for us.

At about my 35th week, I started noticing some swelling.  I couldn’t wear flip-flops without getting those creases in my skin and I couldn’t type OR write because my hands and fingers looked like something Jimmy Dean would sell in plastic casing.  And I know I’m a big girl, but gaining 20 pounds in 3 weeks seemed to be just a tad out of the ordinary. Come to find out I actually had a medical condition called pregnancy induced hypertension.

You know it’s never good when, after a normal routine procedure, such as taking someone’s blood pressure, the person doing the procedure goes running out of the room calling for a doctor to come immediately.

Well, that’s what happened at week 37.  Really high blood pressure and enough water retention to fill a small baby pool.  The nurses and doctor were simply amazed that I hadn’t blacked out, had a seizure, or simply a headache.  Needless to say, I was sent home with strict instructions to quit working immediately and lay in bed for an entire weekend.  If Monday came and my blood pressure wasn’t down, I would have a baby the following week.  And I can’t claim that I wasn’t somewhat aware that I would be put on bed rest.  Chris kept telling me that on the way to the doctor.  Over and over again.  Seriously, like a broken record.

Well, I was sure my blood pressure was going to be fine.  Oh, did I mention I was in the midst of a huge work event, a banquet featuring a silent auction and over 600 guests? Oh, and I was also hosting a baby shower for my best friend at my house that weekend.  No work and bed rest? That was funny.

Well, I got through the weekend just fine. Everyone at the shower told me I looked great. Liars.  I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy getting ready to explode.  When Monday morning rolled around, I grabbed my computer and began working on  my event database. When it was time for my appointment, I noticed Chris was feverishly packing a bag.  Whatever.  I knew I was coming home, which is why I left my computer open and my purse on the kitchen counter.

Well, I didn’t come home for 7 days. Let me say this right now, because it may be the only time you ever see this sentence in print. Chris was right. I was sent to the hospital immediately.  And I was simply unprepared. Now ladies, you will know what I mean when I say this.  I had the best laid plans to “spruce” myself up before giving birth, so you can imagine my distress.  Not to mention the fact that I arrived at the hospital with no ID and, worst of all, no chap stick.

After being put in a “transition” room the size of a storage closet, being hooked up to a million monitors, peeing in a cup and finally figuring out how to get Wheel of Fortune on the 7 inch TV, I settled in for the night. Well, at least the next 2 hours.  This part is boring so I’ll fast forward for you.

Blood pressure taken. Sonogram. Big Baby. Parents arrive. Hideous dinner. New room. Induction. Sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I was only dilated 2 centimeters.  This was bad. I was induced the evening before and that was it?  Well, at least I wasn’t feeling any contractions.  If you know me, you know that I don’t do pain.  So, this was going rather well so far.  I was dilating, albeit slowly, but not feeling any pain.  This childbirth stuff was a piece of cake!

I had just welcomed the 53rd member of my extended family to the hospital when my very pregnant nurse raced in holding a needle and an IV bag.  The conversation went something like this:

Nurse:  Sweetie, I know you’re feeling good, but you’re not progressing so we’re upping your Potossin. Oh, and I have to put you on this horrible medication called Magnesium Sulfate because the doctor is afraid you are going to start seizing and that’s just not good.  This medicine is really bad – it makes you hot and you may be throwing up all afternoon.

Now, at that point in my life, I had a huge vomit phobia. So, when she mentioned “throw up”, I began to get nervous.  No, I didn’t get nervous when she said I might have a grand mal seizure, it was the throw up part that did me in. And she wasn’t done talking.

Nurse:  Now, hon, these two medicines are gonna be fighting each other all day long and the Mag is gonna win, so just prepare yourself for a long day.

And a long day it was. After I was “magged out” as I like to call it, life for Chris  became unbearable.  The meds didn’t make me puke, thank goodness, but it did make me feel like I was slowly melting from the inside out.  I think by 3:00 PM the room was -5 degrees and Chris was covered in several warming blankets.  Family members refused to come in the room without their winter parkas and ski gloves.  But, for me, it felt like an inferno.  I think the nurses were outside drawing straws to see who would be next in line for frostbite. There was no hope for Chris.

Well, finally around 6:30 PM, when I had dilated a whopping 5 cm, my doctor felt like I’d had enough.  It was time for a c-section. The epidural guy came in and I was apparently overly friendly, due to my “magged” out state. I kept wanting to tell him my life story.  He just wanted to stick the needle in my  back and get the hell out of the Ice Freezer he’d unfortunately found himself in.

I think it was on my way to the OR when my sweet nurse stopped the gurney, handed me a small cup and told me to drink this “tiny amount of fizzy water” that would settle my stomach.  OK, that stuff tasted like ASS, if you will excuse my language.  And why did my stomach have to be settled?  My last meal was over 72 hours ago. What? The ice chips had a hard time digesting?

I had a wonderful c-section. Chris was amazed. I was clueless and drugged. See, my birth plan worked out great!  Chris actually watched the whole thing and for five days afterward told everyone he met that my doctor was wearing waders during the procedure because of the gallons of water that burst forth when the first incision was made.  Chris also told me that Henry had red hair. Now, I love kids with red hair but all I could picture was my baby with a Ronald McDonald fro.  (And by the way, Henry did NOT have red hair.) Did I mention that Chris is color-blind?

It was after the birth of my precious baby that I learned a few things about childbirth.  I will pass on my wisdom here.

1.  When a nurse tells you NOT to inhale a gallon and a half of water after childbirth even though you are so damn thirsty, you’d make yourself cry just to taste the tears,  listen to her.  Drinking that fast will make you throw up consistently for several hours.

2. When a nurse offers you a sleeping pill that you’ve never had before, just take half. Trust me.  I’ve been on the bad side of an Ambien.

3. While I don’t wish for anyone to be in the high-risk ward for any reason during pregnancy, if you find yourself there, you will be OK. It’s the difference between a Motel 6 and the Ritz. At least, that was my experience.

4. When your doctor tells you at 33 weeks that you are having a 10 pound baby, don’t laugh.  Henry was 3 weeks early and he weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces!

So, that’s my story. A new job, new insurance and new hospital for next time.  We’ll see how it goes.

(No, I’m not currently pregnant.) Why is that always your first question?

The First Valentine’s Day

In 2000, Chris and I had our first Valentine’s Day “date”.  I use quotations because we really weren’t dating then, we were “just friends”.  I use quotations because, well, while technically we weren’t dating, we spent all of our time together and didn’t see other people, but whatever. Since neither of us had any other options for the evening, we decided to spend it together.  And because we were young and hip and I hadn’t developed a fear of enclosed spaces yet, we decided to spend Valentine’s Day at the mall.

There are two things you should know before I continue this story:

1. Chris has a very high threshold for pain medication.

2. Chris has no qualms about taking other people’s prescribed medications.

Well, Chris just happened to have a headache that evening.  Realizing he was out of Advil, he did what any sane person would do – grabbed a bottle of different colored pills and took two blue ones.  When I asked him what they were, he shrugged and said they were probably some of his dad’s arthritis medicine. Uh Huh.

We got to the mall and were having a super fun time window shopping, when suddenly Chris decided he needed a hair cut.   Because that’s what most men do at the mall on Valentine’s Day.  So, while he got settled into the barber’s chair, I went across to the Hallmark store to purchase myself something made of chocolate to salvage this day.  It was while I was perusing the boxes of chocolate covered cherries that a strange lady with purple hair grabbed me and said I was needed at the haircut place.  Apparently, Chris had passed out  while getting his hair cut.  Yes, my date PASSED OUT while getting his hair cut.  At this time, I figured the blue pills were NOT arthritis medicine.

I dropped down on my knees in front of him and immediately noticed the glazed expression on his face.

Me:  “Are you OK?”

Chris:  “What do you mean?  I’m just getting my hair cut.”

Me:  “Well, you passed out.”

Chris:  (quite belligerently) “No, I didn’t”

Me: “Um, I think you did.”

Chris:  “No, I was just resting my eyes a little.”

Me:  “And that’s why you’re on the floor?”

Chris:  “I’m not on the floor, I’m in the chair.”

My friends, he was on the floor.  Luckily, the sweet purple-haired lady hadn’t cut his hair yet, so I lifted him to his feet and we staggered out of the shop, never to return.

I don’t know why we decided to go to dinner after that, but we did.  It was dreadful. All through dinner, Chris’ face got whiter and whiter and then he began sweating profusely.  You can imagine the looks of the patrons around us as they were trying to enjoy their special 5-course meal for $20.  I ate everything they put in front of me and Chris sat there like a corpse.

The next day I saw him at work and he apologized for the evening.

Chris: “Getting my hair cut on Valentine’s Day was pretty lame. I’m sorry about that.”

Me:  “Really?”  “That’s what you remember about our magical evening?”

Chris:  “Yeah.  And they didn’t do a very good job either, did they? It looks like it wasn’t even cut.”

I think you can imagine the look I gave him and the hand gesture I used as he was leaving my office.

Three Wisemen – Really?

I love the story of the wisemen and what they represent. My pastor preached on this story in church this morning and I want to share just a few things he said that really hit home for me.  I think, without a doubt, this  story is a lesson in faith. If you haven’t read it or need a refresher, turn to Matthew 2: 1-12.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the setting.  Matthew mentions both the time (during the reign of King Herod) and place (Bethlehem) that these wisemen take their journey.  I think this is important because Matthew is reminding us of the humanity of Jesus.  Yes, He is the King of Kings, born to reign forever, but He was also a boy, a toddler, a young child, loved by a mother and father.  Matthew reminds us that Jesus once lived as we live.

I always love a story with great characters.  And this one has a doozy!  King Herod was probably one of the most evil kings in the history of the world.  He had his wife killed, his mother-in-law killed and three of his sons killed because he felt they were a threat to his throne.  He was jealous and overwhelmed with fear.  And just hearing about a small boy who is destined to become a King drives him to insanity!  So, he deceives the wisemen to get them to find the child so he can worship him as well.  He kind of makes Henry VIII look like Gandhi.

How can you tell if someone is deceiving you?  I personally think the three wisemen knew better than to believe Herod, but you never know.  He could have convinced them that he had changed his ways.  Do you think if someone deceives you, they will eventually get caught?  Herod did. During their trip, they find out the truth about his scheme through a dream and realize that they can never go back to Jerusalem.   They must have had some courage, those wisemen!  I would not have wanted to defy Herod and be on the receiving end of any punishment he might have laid out.

But, the most important aspect of this story is the journey itself.  Which brings me to the title of this post. Scholars are really not sure how many wisemen actually traveled to see Jesus.  There were at least three, who are identified as Melchior, Casper and Balthazar, but they could have brought a dozen other men with them. They only know that three gifts were brought.  Gifts that were only given to Kings! Gold, something pure and valuable. Frankincense, a perfume and myrrh, an anointing oil.  Each one symbolizing something in the life of this child’s future.

But, I digress. The journey.  The journey of these wise men reminds me of the journey that each of us takes to find Christ.  We are looking for Jesus, being guided by the bright, shining stars in our life, whether it’s a parent, a friend, a teacher, etc.  It doesn’t happen overnight as I’m sure it took the wise men quite a while to reach their destination.  And just like the wise men, we may stumble, or even fall, along the way.  But, each of us knows that what we are searching for is worth getting back up on our feet and continuing on our way.

And think about it…once they found Jesus, they had to begin a whole new journey, a new life, because they could not go back from where they came. They no longer belonged there.

After all, they had seen the face of God.

Laurie’s Favorite Things!

In the spirit of Christmas, I am listing ten things that I would give each of you if I had a gazillion dollars and my own TV show. Welcome to Laurie’s Favorite Things!

I would start by giving each of you a peppermint mocha from Starbucks. I know for a fact it has healing powers. I would then give each of you a laptop so you could shop online.  I think the homicide rates increase during the holidays due to the long lines at Target. I feel so sorry for Jewish people who simply need laundry detergent.

Then, I would give each of you an I-Phone for the sheer joy of downloading Angry Birds. Yes, shooting birds from a slingshot to kill pigs is really, really fun.  In fact, spending time away from the game right now to write this post has really been a lesson in patience.

I would then provide you with a Cranberry Margarito (the marriage of a margarita and a mojito is sheer genius on the part of Southern Living) and several Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Trees, because let’s be real people- you can’t eat just one.

All of you would then get a copy of my all-time favorite Christmas movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” as well as a copy of my favorite Christmas book “The Autobiography of Santa Claus.”  Yes, the book is fiction.

I would then have my son sing to you his version of “Deck The Halls” which includes using “Galls” and “Strolley” to decorate your home instead of the traditional boughs of holly.  It will warm your heart when you hear his sweet little voice though.

You would then each get a huge empty box and $500.  The box would be to put all your kid’s unused toys in to take to your local Toys for Tots or Cooperative Ministry. Be sure to have your kid(s) help you clean out the toys. That is a real Christmas treat!  (Yes, that was sarcasm.) The $500 is to give to the charity of your choice. Because Christmas truly IS about what you give and not what you receive.

Finally, I would give all of you something that you can get for free- at any place and at any time.  And you know what it is. The love of Christ our Savior. I would read you the Christmas story as recorded in Matthew and Luke. And I would tell you that unlike any other baby, the one born that night in  Bethlehem was unique in all of history. He was and is God, the Holy Son, Creator of the Universe. In the birth of Jesus, the eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing Creator came to earth.  For You. For Me.

Have a wonderful Christmas!