Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why I Love the Green Bay Packers

I don't consider myself a sports person.  I don't watching many sporting events, and I was never was involved in playing sports.  My middle school gym teacher gave me the unofficial award of "Most Injuries," but that's about as much athletic recognition I'll ever get.

Oh, but how I love my Green Bay Packers.

I was in love with the Packers before I really even cared about football.  I like to say that I was born and raised a Packer fan.  My hometown is in Michigan, but it's right on the Wisconsin border, only about an hour from Green Bay.  It's safe to say that the majority of the town's population fondly considers themselves to be cheeseheads.  I knew nothing of football in my early years, but I knew I loved the Packers.  Every person close to me did.  As I grew older and learned more, I was surprised to discover that Michigan had a football team.  I remember asking my dad why we weren't Detroit Lions fans.  He said, "Detroit is a whole other world, way far away.  Green Bay is right here! It's home!"

Well, that settled it. 

I was always a Packer fan growing up, but I still wasn't into football.  The games were always on our TV, but I usually did not watch.  I was always interested in the score and was happy to hear of a win, but that was about as involved as I got.

When I was 14, the Packers and Patriots were going to Super Bowl XXXI.  Although I don't remember it, I can say with confidence that our town was going nuts.  My parents bought Super Bowl sweatshirts for themselves, my sister, and me that we wore in anticipation of the big event.  My parents also bought us each a jersey of our choice to wear while watching the game.  I picked 92, for Reggie White.  

Spoiler alert: the Packers won!  We went crazy!  It was amazing!  But, as a kid not really into sports, I enjoyed the victory and then went on with my life.  It was cool that they won, but it didn't have a huge impact on me.

My dad and I moved to lower Michigan a couple weeks after I graduated high school.  For the first time in my life, I wasn't seeing green and gold everywhere I went.  We were now living in Lions territory, weird and unfamiliar.

Fast forward over 10 years.  Life was obviously a lot different.  I was married and living even further downstate.  I was still a true Packer fan, but I continued to carry my love quietly.  I was 29, and the Packers had once again made it to the Super Bowl. I made no special plans other than watching the game at home with my husband.

When the Packers beat the Steelers, I was literally running around the house cheering until my husband asked me to stop.  I called my dad right away, and we were both thrilled beyond words.  We kept our phone call quick so we could each get back to our TVs to continue savoring the win.

While I watched the Packers celebrate, I was so happy I began to cry.  I soon realized that I wasn't crying just because I was happy; I was crying because I was extremely sad.

I missed my hometown.  I wanted to be back home so badly. I was thinking of my friends and family who were surely all jumping around, screaming, and celebrating.  I thought of the joy that was spreading throughout the town, and I was sad that I wasn't part of it.  I laid in bed that night and finally began to appreciate how incredible it was to be a Packer fan and how much it meant to me.  Loving the Green Bay Packers made me feel connected to my hometown, to my youth, to the people I love most.  Having this shared link with people and places that I cherish is comforting and brings me happiness.

I decided that my love was no longer going to be carried quietly; it was going to be proud and prominent.  When I went to work the next morning, I brought my now 15 year old Reggie White jersey with me and draped it over my desk chair.  

These days, I make it a point to have Packers stuff around me. It makes me feel like I'm surrounded by love.

I'm home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, Same Stuff

Some people get really fired up and motivated upon the start of a new year.  They make resolutions and come up with all sorts of goals for the year.  Me?  I change the calendars and move on with life.  I don't need a major shake up or change for 2015.  I'm happy to just continue.

A few things that have made me happy lately:

1. Cracking open the Play-Doh that Matthew received from my parents for Christmas.

He had a great time, and I sadly discovered that my dough sculpting skills haven't improved much since my childhood.  Check out  my masterpiece!  This picture was taken about 3 seconds before his head pitifully plopped onto the table.

2. Ice cream sundaes used to be our New Year's Eve tradition.  We don't really celebrate the holiday anymore since having Matthew, as it's no fun to stay up until midnight when you have a kid who will surely wake up at 6:00 a.m. on New Year's Day.  We still had sundaes when my parents visited though.

3. When my parents spend the night, they bring their dog Andy with.  Matthew is quite fond of him, and I love seeing Chewie with a playmate.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

The end of the year flew by.  My "under the weather" pun costume for Halloween turned out to be a bad omen, as I dealt with medical problems for a good chunk of time after that.   Nasty kidney stone, critically-low potassium, a cold, and then the flu.  I had been given tickets for a Red Wings game, but I was too sick to go.  At least my husband and his friend made sure the tickets didn't go to waste, and my husband was kind enough to bring me home some of my favorite pizza.

I didn't get to do nearly as much as I wanted for Christmas.  I did manage to get out all of my Christmas cards.  One Vicodin and five hours allowed me to crank out over 80 cards.  I knew I had to take advantage of having a stretch of time when I was feeling good.  I don't feel obligated to send out cards, but it's one of my favorite traditions.  I enjoy doing it and would be very disappointed if I were unable to do that.

I also managed to get special cards and gifts for my immediate family.  The one thing I really wanted to do this year was get gifts for everyone at work.  This was the year I was going to hit the kitchen and hopefully get a little crafty.  Unfortunately, all of my issues with illness made it impossible.  I swear, this year every single co-worker and boss got me something.  On a few occasions, I made a remark about how I felt bad and how embarrassed I was that I didn't have anything to give.  Everyone was kind and said something sweet to make me feel better.  I appreciated it, but I sure hope I can pull something together for everyone next year.

My son turned two last month.  He is still too young to really get into the gift opening portion of Christmas, but that was actually kind of charming.  I expect that next year he will be ready to shred wrapping paper as soon as he gets to the tree.

It was a sweet and quiet Christmas.  My flu had improved greatly by the holiday, and I actually felt good all day.  I hope I'll keep feeling good for 2015!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ten Memories of Buddy

I started dating Ernie in December 2004. In February 2005, he called and told me that he got a chocolate lab puppy and named him Buddy. I moved in with Ernie a couple months later, and Buddy became my puppy too. We celebrated all of his birthdays together, 1 through 9. 

If Buddy were still with us, we would be celebrating his 10th birthday today.  It is amazing how many things remind me of him on a daily basis. I still think of him several times a day, sometimes to the point of tears. He was unforgettable.

In honor of his 10th birthday, I decided to reminisce and write down ten of my favorite Buddy memories.  He was such a character that it was hard to narrow down the list to just ten.

1. Mirror, Mirror

There is a small mirror on the headboard of our bed.  Buddy was playing on our bed one day when he suddenly turned to the mirror and saw his reflection for the first time.  He seemed completely captivated by the handsome dog staring back at him.  It was as if the world had stopped for a moment.

2. Runaway Dog

Ernie and Buddy were in the driveway seeing me off to work one morning.  As I drove down our road, I glanced in the rear view mirror and was shocked to see Buddy bounding down the road behind my car and Ernie way back in the distance, waving his arms frantically while running and yelling. 

3. Sticky Paws

I had a feeling that Buddy kept jumping up on the counter to, as we call it, "counter cruise" for food or whatever else he could get into.  I set up my digital camera to start recording video, placed it on the counter, and went outside.  I came back in a couple minutes later and watched the video, which confirmed that Buddy was counter cruising.  Hoping to bust him, I laid long strips of tape, sticky side up, along the edges of the kitchen counters.  I went outside for a couple minutes and came back in to discover Buddy sheepishly walking around with lots of tape stuck to his front feet.  That did help to deter him, but it didn't stop him completely (see #4...and #5).

4. Muffin Tops

I baked some corn muffins to go with dinner and had them cooling in the pan on top of the stove.  Chewie wanted to go outside, so I pushed the muffin pan all the way to the back of the stove.  I figured they would be safe from any counter cruising that way.  When Chewie and I returned, I was pleased to see the muffins were still there.  Upon further inspection though, I discovered that the tops of all of the muffins had been nibbled off.

5. Country Crock

Ernie's family was staying with us, so we bought a 3 pound tub of Country Crock to ensure we'd have plenty.  While his family was having toast one morning, Buddy took advantage of them not being familiar  with his sneaky ways and managed to get the tub off the counter.  By the time he was discovered, half of the tub had been eaten, and his whiskers were slick with the spread.  

6. Furniture Tipping

I was standing in the kitchen with my back to the living room when I suddenly heard a disturbingly loud thump.  I turned around and was shocked to see Buddy on top of a now tipped over loveseat.   He seemed pretty shocked too.  He had jumped the loveseat several times in the past with no problem, but he obviously didn't clear it this time.

7. Bread Thief

I made myself a sandwich one afternoon and decided to eat in the living room.  I sat down in the loveseat with my plate and my drink.  I twisted to the side to set my drink down on the end table and turned back around to see Buddy standing next to me, a corner of the top piece of bread in his mouth.  He was slowly pulling it towards himself when our eyes suddenly locked.  He stood frozen for a moment, like he didn't know what to do.  He then chose to suck the piece of bread into his mouth like a vacuum cleaner, chew it furiously, and run away.

8. Pizza Pickup

Ernie and I ordered a pizza, and I offered to pick it up.  I brought Buddy along, since he always loved a car ride.  When we got to the pizza place, I reminded him that he was supposed to stay in the backseat. He sat obediently as I walked across the parking lot.  As soon as I entered the pizza place, I turned around to look out the window and saw Buddy instantly hop into the front seat.  I was then informed that my pizza wasn't ready because they had burned it and were making a new one, so it would be a few minutes.  I sat to wait, watching Buddy out the window the entire time.  He was gloriously going back and forth from back seat to front seat, over and over, constant motion.  Once I got the pizza and stepped out of the building, Buddy saw me and dove into the backseat, where he sat as obediently as I'd had left him.  Even if he had been slick enough for me to not see him, the brown fur all over my seat and the drool on my steering wheel was a dead giveaway.

9. Camp Fire

Things that used to have no effect on Buddy started to bother him as he got older.  He developed a fear of smoke later in his life.  While camping, we were sitting around a fire with a group of friends while Ernie held onto Buddy's leash.  Everything was fine until the fire started getting really smoky.  Panicked, Buddy took off for the camper door, which was behind Ernie.  Still holding onto the leash, Ernie went flying backwards out of his camp chair.

10. Rock Star

I was outside with Buddy, and it was time to go back in.  I called him several times, but he was intently exploring and was ignoring me.  To get his attention, I picked up a pretty good sized rock and threw it so it would land near him.  The rock thumping on the ground caused Buddy to look up, so I called him again and turned around to head for the door.  I waited on the porch for Buddy, who was running towards me.  When he got to the porch, the huge rock fell out of his mouth, and he eagerly waited for me to throw it again.

I put this list together this morning with the idea that I'd finish it up this evening.  During dinner, I told Ernie that I'd put together a list of 10 Buddy memories and asked him to guess them.  The first one he guessed was on the list, but then he said about five or six that hadn't made the cut.  We were laughing so hard and continued remembering many Buddy moments.  I think this list could have easily been three times as long, but I'm sticking with these ten.

Happy Birthday, Buddy.  I miss you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My First Packer Game

I don't have one of those oh-so-popular bucket lists, but if I did, I know one item that would definitely be on it: go to a Green Bay Packer game.  Seeing a game at Lambeau Field would obviously be the best, but I'd be happy with getting to see them anywhere.

Last week, one of my friends said that she and her husband would be unable to use their Lions season tickets for Sunday.  Their opponent?  The Green Bay Packers!  She said they were hoping to pass the tickets on to someone who could use them.  I texted my husband to ask if he'd like to go.  He told me to take the tickets but to ask my dad (also a lifelong fan) if he'd like to go.

I really thought my dad would say no.  My parents live three hours away and have made countless trips back and forth since Matthew has been born.  Matthew recently started daycare full-time, which will reduce their number of trips here.  They had actually just come to visit the previous weekend, so  I expected my dad to be all sensible and reasonable and say that he really shouldn't make the drive again.  Our conversation went something like this when I called him:

Me: "Do you want to see the Packers play the Lions in Detroit on Sunday?"

Dad: "Huh??"

Me: "I got offered two free tickets to the Lions game on Sunday, and they are playing the Packers.  Want to go with me?"

Dad:  "Um, yeah!!!!!!!"

Cue major excitement!  It was crazy that such a huge event was going to be happening in less than a week.  I'm used to having at least several months of waiting for an event once I get tickets.  I've already held concert tickets for over a year before a show (due to a postponement).  To be able to get tickets on a Tuesday for a game on a Sunday was crazy.

The game was incredible.  Well, actually, the game was a bit disappointing, since the Packers lost.  I think a more accurate statement was that the entire adventure was incredible.  Being surrounded by fun and crazy fans, even for an opposing team, is an absolute thrill.  Wearing our Packers gear made us easy targets for teasing, but that was part of the experience, and we rolled with it and had fun.  We will also never forget the two extremely vocal Lions fans who sat behind us.  Thanks to them, we have a lot of new phrases to use as inside jokes!

If I could change the outcome of the game, I'd have the Packers win.  However, there was something really great about being surrounded by ecstatic Lions fans and seeing their excitement over the home team's win.  I was even amused by the exuberance of the girl who ran up to me and knocked my cheesehead off. 

I will always remember this day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our Big Road Trip

Last weekend I was able to do one of my favorite things: drive back to my hometown and stay with my sister. The last time I was able to do that was almost 2 years ago, when I was pregnant with Matthew.   Matthew was once again with me, but of course he is a toddler now.  I was slightly nervous about the two of us making such a huge trip.

Our drive there on Thursday went super smooth, and he napped for a nice chunk of it.  After crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we stopped in St. Ignace to fill up the car and grab some lunch.  I specifically chose where to eat based on the view.

Once we arrived at my sister's, Matthew was immediately smitten with her dog and cats.  Matthew had never spent time with cats before, but it was clear that it was love at first sight.  I'm also pretty sure that my sister's dog, Rusty, gained about 10 pounds that weekend.  He and Matthew were pretty much BFFs, especially when Matthew had food.  "Rusty" is Matthew's new favorite word.

The three of us enjoyed some time together.  We ate pizza, visited my sister's co-workers on their lunch break so they could meet Matthew, ate some more pizza, and basically just enjoyed being together and playing with Matthew.  Our parents joined the fun on Friday, along with their dog.  My sister was also dog-sitting for her friend, so we had a really full house.  It's very clear that Matthew is an animal lover!  I am getting such a twinge to adopt a second dog.  I know that wouldn't be a wise move right now though.

Saturday took us to Green Bay for a family reunion for my dad's side of the family.  It was Matthew's first time meeting just about everybody.  He was a little shy at first but definitely warmed up.  The reunion was at my cousin's house, and she has a beautiful home and yard.  Matthew had a blast, and it was great to have fun with everyone.

We were able to spend time with some relatives from my mom's side of the family.  One of my aunts had us over to our house and cooked dinner.  She had a couple desserts, and we opted to give Matthew the least messy choice: angel food cake with Cool Whip.  He loved it!  My aunt commented when I was a kid, I just called it Cool and would eat it with my hand.  I'm not surprised.  Matthew also got awfully close to my aunt's TV, but it was to watch the Packers, so I allowed it.

We were able to visit my grandma (my dad's mom) at her apartment afterwards.  Matthew got ahead of me and ran down the hall and was rattling every single door handle he could reach before I caught up to him.  Thankfully, they were all locked.

Then it was back to my sister's house for one last night.  She graciously let Matthew and I have her bedroom so we could close the door at night to keep the kitties from jumping into Matthew's pack 'n play and accidentally causing chaos.  Her bed was crazy comfortable, and I slept great every night, except for the last one.  The last night is always hard.  I hate falling asleep because I know that when I wake up, it's time to hit the road.  Being realistic with vacation days I have left for the year, I'm certain I won't make it back until sometime next year.  It's always so hard to leave.

The drive home went almost as nicely as the drive there, so I really can't complain.  My parents decided to take the long way home so they could drive through Michigan, so we left at the same time and traveled together for most of the trip.  Mom rode in the backseat of my car to spend time with Matthew.  He loved having her there.

By the time we got home, our trip odometer showed that we had logged 1,063 miles.  I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eventful Weekend

This past weekend gave us a few fun Matthew milestones:

  • Matthew's first camping trip
  • Matthew's longest road trip so far
  • Matthew's first night away from home

Matthew did awesome with all three!  We unfortunately experienced a lot of problems with our fifth wheel (a leaking toilet, a blown out tire on the freeway, and a hole in the roof, to name a few).  We also found out before we hit the road that my credit card number had been stolen.  How lovely!  Fortunately, our credit card company was suspicious of the card activity and contacted us.  The charges were at a local store that I shop at regularly, so I was really impressed that they were able to detect the fraudulent activity so fast.  

It was kind of funny because on our way up, Ernie had stopped to change a blown out tire on a horse trailer for two ladies.  We had left feeling happy we could help and also thinking that maybe that would give us good karma for the weekend.  Apparently not!

After Ernie finished changing our blown out tire, we continued on the freeway in silence for a little while.  I could tell that he was also exhausted and in disbelief over how much stuff had gone wrong for us.  I finally broke the silence by saying, "You know, someday we are going to look back at this weekend and laugh."

Ernie said nothing.

"I mean, that day is really far off, but we are going to laugh so hard someday."

"Well, at least we're all okay," Ernie said.  "That's what's important."