28 May 2010

Childhood Pictures

There is a picture in my childhood photo album that always brings a smile to my face. I am two, maybe three years old, and visiting the park with my parents and grandparents. Holding hands with my father and grandfather, they swing me along. I don't have a care in the world.

Will Lola feel the same way when she looks at her childhood pictures years from now? Will she remember the strong hands that held her, the absolute certainty she would not fall, the thrill of the big jump, the simple pleasure of going wheeeeeee?

26 May 2010

Spilling The Beans

One of the perks of working for a casino, is that a visit to Las Vegas is considered a business trip. I had the pleasure of "doing business" in Vegas, not too long ago. We treated a handful of our VIPs to a trip to Sin City, in collaboration with a local Vegas resort. Hard work, people, hard work.

The saying goes "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Now I don't mean to shock you, but what happens in Vegas is mostly gambling and drinking, and a little bit of shopping. And something that has to do with all those guys lined up on the sidewalk, yelling "Girls, girls, girls" and waving little flyers in your face but I have no further details to share with you. Being from Amsterdam, I suspect I know what that's all about, though.

What stays in Vegas is your money. All of it, and whatever you manage to win back because of course you cycle that right back into the machines. How else are you going win a jackpot? Despite my best efforts, no jackpots for me. All of my money, my gambling money that is - I gambled on a budget, stayed in Vegas. All I have to show for my trip is a cute pair of sandals.

I had seen them earlier in one of the shops at Caesar's Palace but found the pricetag a bit steep. When I realized a few hours later, I had just spent more money on a slot machine than on a pair of shoes, I got up, cashed out, walked across the street, and purchased the sandals on the spot. At least I was bringing something back!

Aside from the gambling, drinking, and shopping, there is a lot of fun to be had. We took our guests out to dinner, to a Jerry Seinfeld show, and around town. They had a marvelous time, and so did we. Hard work indeed.

25 May 2010

All Dressed Up, No Place To Go

As of two weeks ago, Ryan and I are once again both gainfully employed. [Insert big sigh of relief.] While I continue to run the Promotions department and the Player's Club of the casino, Ryan has taken on the responsibility of ensuring the cable, internet, and phone needs of every business in the Northwoods are met. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have proper jobs and financial stability again.

Of course, with two full time jobs, we now have other issues to deal with. Meal planning, household organizing, limited time off together, and the big one, childcare. Since we are still living with my parents-in-law, we have it easy for the time being. However, their retirement plans did not include taking full time care of two adults and one toddler, so we are trying to get some sort of routine established.

Lola goes to daycare three days a week and absolutely loves it. She's been going to school, as she calls it, since January. She perfects her social skills, learns about letters and numbers, and plays to her heart's content with other little girls and boys. There is an awesome jungle gym in the backyard and on beautiful days like today, she plays on the swing all day long. Her daycare is just up the road from the casino, making it easy for me to drop her off and pick her up.

My only problem is getting out the door on time on daycare days. This morning however, everything went very well. We were all up nice and early, in part thanks to Lola who woke me up at 5:30. Not to snuggle like we usually do, but to remove a tick from her head. Nice. And for once, Lola did not object to the outfit I picked out for her and put on her shorts and t-shirt without a peep. Nicer. Ryan left just after 6 AM for an overnight trip to Wausau, Judy left at 7 AM for her golf date, Jim followed shortly after for his golf date, and Lola and I locked the door behind us at 7:45. Perfect!

My morning bliss was short lived, unfortunately. Lola started freaking out as soon as we closed the door because we did not bring the sunscreen with us. And no matter how many times I reassured her Connie has sunscreen too, she would not calm down. Very concerned about her skin, she is. She cried all the way up the driveway. When we got to the truck, there was no car seat in it. [Bleep!] My husband had taken off with one carseat and the other seat was in Jim & Judy's car, also gone. Lola and I were stuck at home. All dressed up and no place to go.

After venting my frustration to my husband over the phone, with a screaming toddler in the background who had switched from crying over sunscreen to "I want to go to Connie's house" without missing a beat, I called Connie to tell her we were going to be late, and emailed work with a similar message. And then I dressed down again, made myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed an unexpected morning off. Lola and I took our binoculars down to the lake where we sat on the swing watching eagles and butterflies.

My morning turned out perfect after all.

17 May 2010

Knock, Knock

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana, who?"

"Banana orange! Ha ha ha ha ha..."

It is Lola's first joke and she cannot get enough of telling it. She thinks it's hilarious. So do I. It is not so much the joke itself though, it is the delivery that does it for me. It is a good thing we are related and share a silly sense of humor, because I have a feeling this is the first of many, many Knock, knock jokes...

16 May 2010

A Vision In The Woods

The Wood Fairy riding her horse, pre tick season

15 May 2010

Extreme Make Over, Cat Edition

Meet Sandman. Our handsome, ten year old fuzzy friend. He loves the outdoors, hunting, bird watching, and sleeping. He eats lap dogs for breakfast, despises big dogs, other cats, raccoons, and small children. Despite his best efforts, he has never caught a gray or a red squirrel. He has however dragged plenty of other critters into the house; chipmunks, mice, garter snakes, birds, and once even a flying squirrel.

When I first flew out to Washington for a visit, Sandman and I hit it off immediately. However, after I moved in permanently, we fought a little tug of war over Ryan. Every time Ryan and I would sit down together, Sandman would squeeze himself in between the two of us and laid his paw on Ryan's leg, telling me Ryan was his. It didn't last very long. As soon as he realized he now had someone to keep him company during the day, he warmed up to me. We have been buddies ever since.

His gorgeous long locks protect him from the elements in the colder months of the year, but can be a bit of a burden during the summer. Not only does he get very hot on the warmer days, his hair tangles to dreads, especially on his belly. And if you value your life and limbs, you keep the brush away from that belly. His fur is also a haven for fleas and lately, for ticks. The little buggers frequently hitch a ride in his pelt, sneaking their way into the house. The obvious answer to this problem is a haircut.

Ryan had Sandman's hair cut once before, about five years ago, a buzz cut of his body. His head, tail, and paws were left untouched. Evidently Sandman put up a bit of a fight, because the groomer never wanted to see him again. Last week things went very smooth. In addition to the haircut, he received a mani/pedi and a bath. His groomer loved him, and took the haircut a step further than simply shaving his back and belly. It's a bit of a change, but he has never looked more dashing, albeit very skinny! To avoid any self consciousness on his part, we have given him lots of love and attention. He revels in it.

Are you anxious to see what he looks like? Of course you are. Without further ado, I give you The Lion King...

I just love his tail! What do you think?

10 May 2010

Creepy Crawlies

Ryan and I went out for breakfast the other day, just the two of us, taking advantage of my parents-in-law's return. When our delicious looking eggs were set in front of us, I tucked my hair behind my ears in preparation. (Old habit; I just cut my hair short and in no way does it interfere with my eating.) As my fingers slid over my head, I felt it. A tick. Embedded just behind my right ear. I froze.

"Ryan," I whispered, "there's a tick behind my ear. Please remove it. NOW!"

He sat down beside me and in one smooth motion, pulled out the tick and tossed it on the table. He's very good at it. Not surprisingly, since he has had quite a bit of practice lately. He has removed three ticks from Lola's head already and several from Sandman, the cat. They were all dog ticks, not to worry. It's the deer ticks that carry Lyme disease.

I know this because I did extensive research after the first one we found on Lola's head. I know more about ticks than I ever wanted to know. I was at work that first time. Ryan called me after he had removed it and I immediately took off into cyberspace and looked up Lyme disease symptoms, the occurrence of ticks in Wisconsin, types and sizes of ticks, and so on and so forth. Nothing to worry about, really.

Later that day I was talking to a co-worker in the break room about ticks and other fun topics, when I felt something itching on my leg. I softly scratched my leg and it stopped. Just to be sure, I checked under my skirt when I got back to my office. And sure enough, there was a tick hanging on for dear life in the seam. I flicked it away, making sure to spot where it landed.

Then I closed the blinds, locked my door, and stripped naked right there in my office. I checked every inch of my body and every garment inside and out. Nothing. Phew. It would have been really awkward to have to call on a co-worker to assist me with tick removal in my nearly bare-naked state. And no, there are no surveillance cameras in my office. I checked.

Of course after getting dressed again and unlocking my door, I was no longer able to find the tick on my boldly patterned brown and green carpet. Housekeeping was kind enough to come and vacuum my office on the spot. I did not see the tick again, but the rest of the day I was itching all over. And now you are probably too. Sorry.