Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Weekend in Cheeseland

This weekend, Iwanski and I took a trip to Wisconsin to visit my Mom & Dad…and we also packed lots of other visiting into the weekend. I AM TIRED.

Here are some highlights of our weekend in ‘Scansin:

--Stopping off for a quick walk on a nature preserve along the way and seeing a sign that said “Do Not Feed Bread.” (What would one feed bread? What does bread like to eat?)

--Enjoying wicked-good green curry and funny conversation with my sister Sheri and my hubster.

--Having a blonde moment wherein I realized why egg-drop soup is such a bright yellow color.

--Seeing the excited expression on my almost-three-years-old niece Nora’s face when we showed up with my sister Sheri at Nora’s day care, to pick her up.

--Following Nora down the hallway of her “school,” as she proudly showed us the way to her locker.

--Sheri telling me she had a present for me, and then handing me a package of string cheese. (Only in Wisconsin does one get handed a “present” of string cheese within the first two hours of your visit. But of course, I loved it—fresh Wisconsin string cheese bought from the local cheese factory is a thousand times better than the crappy way-too-soft string cheese you can buy at the grocery store.)

--Tasting some cheese curds that were also purchased at the local cheese factory, and happily realizing that they were still “squeaky.” (Fresh cheese curds squeak a bit in your mouth when you eat them—and believe me, it is yummy!)

--Somehow being convinced to try Nora’s child-sized sit ‘n spin (which my skinny sister Sheri has no problem riding on)—and then realizing way too late that there was no way I could get my fat ass on that thing. Then laughing hysterically and proclaiming it to be the “most embarrassing moment of my life.”

--Being captivated by Nora Lu’s cuteness as she played with her Dad and with us—I especially loved it when Iwanski played with her and made her laugh, as she ducked in and out of her little cardboard playhouse. (See pictures below.)

--Having dinner with my parents and eating yet more cheese with dinner. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

--My parents sharing stories of how they first found out about square dancing, how long it took them to learn how to square dance, and how many interesting people and places they were introduced to because they had joined a square dance club. [My parents have square danced on two cruise ships, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific, and they’ve also square danced on the East Coast, the West Coast, in the Midwest (of course) and in Canada.]

--My Mom getting excited when her favorite “Lotto Girl” came on WGN-TV to announce that day’s Illinois lottery winning numbers…and finding out that both she and my Dad really liked the one lotto announcer because, according to my Mom “she always wears such interesting outfits, and she’s so smiley and upbeat.” (Have you ever heard of anyone being excited to see a lottery announcer before?—especially one from another state?!)

--Suddenly realizing that my Mom (who had not yet put away her Easter decorations) had bunny decorations, bunny knickknacks, and stuffed bunnies in every corner of the living room—and then going through the house and counting SEVENTY-FIVE (yes, seventy-five!) decorative bunnies in their house—not to mention three more of them on a decoration in the front yard. Iwanski and I laughing our asses off over the plethora of bunnies.

--Having a great conversation with my sister Mary about life, nature, and animals—and finding out for the first time that there is a sturgeon spawning season, just as there is for salmon. (Mary said it is supposed to start next week, when the water temperature finally gets warm enough—and she said there are some spots nearby where she lives, where you can actually touch the sturgeons as they lay their eggs on the rocks.)

--Visiting with my sister Cindy and her granddaughter (my great niece) Amaya. Amaya is almost two years old and full of energy and big smiles. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday following her around and playing with her—and man oh man, I had a lot of fun, but she wore me out! But she is sooo adorable and fun, so it was worth it. (Who else but an almost-two-year-old can find it hilarious when you say “vroom, vroom” while turning the wheels on an exercise bike with your hands?)

--Enjoying bratwurst from a “real Wisconsin brat fry” with my family. (In the spring and summer in Wisconsin, it’s very common to see brats being “fried” (they’re not really fried, they’re grilled—but the Wisconsinites call it fried) at a stand outside your local grocery store, with the proceeds going to a local charity. It smells wonderful and tastes just as good.) And of course, I ate some more string cheese with our brat meal.

--Seeing my sister Bonnie and my nephew Nick (who lives in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota—but spent his spring break with my family in Wisconsin). Nick (who’s in first grade) showed us his “Spring Break Collage” and “Cereal Box Car” (a toy car made from a cereal box) that he and his cousin Michael (who’s in college) had made together, and then he proclaimed Michael to be his “favorite cousin.” I’m telling you, that really warmed me cockles, to see the fantastic friendship that had developed among the two cousins.

--Visiting the nieciest niece Stacy and her husband Nabil, and meeting their precious three-month-old daughter Nina for the first time. (Nina was a bit cranky, but still smiled and “talked” with us a bit.) Enjoying delicious chicken, bacon, & ranch pizza and cheese sticks (eek! More cheese!) with Stacy and Nabil, while Nina hung out in her little swing nearby.

--Driving home and realizing that I had lost our little cord that plugs our MP-3 player into the car stereo, which made Iwanski very cranky and “lecturey” about carelessness…but then a few hours later, Iwanski realizing that he had left both his MP-3 player and his sunglasses in the rental car that he had dropped off in the evening rental return place earlier in the night.

--Thanking the universe for “even-ing things out” as I offered to walk back to the car rental place with Iwanski, smiling all the way. [Luckily, he had also left the car door open—and amazingly, the MP-3 player and sunglasses were still there. Still, I was glad that for once, Iwanski was careless, too. (It’s not just me!)]

--Iwanski saying, “I just had my ass handed to me by karma.”

--Relaxing and recovering from a weekend of socializing, full of good memories that will last a lifetime.

And now, without further adieu, are some pictures of my adorable niecey Nora Lu, for your enjoyment...


Sling said...

Peek-a-Boo Nora Lu!..What a cutie!

Random Thinker said...

How on earth did you pack all that fun into one weekend. Not to mention all that cheese.

Barb said...

I loved reading about your trip ~ sounds absolutely wonderful ~ and your niece is such a cutie!

Daisy's Mom said...

LOVE squeaky cheese curds!

Mom said...

With all that visiting and cheese-eating, you must not have slept any.
I think bread eats peanut-butter and jelly.

Anita said...

Wow they aren't kidding about being the cheese state are they? Um, are you feeling ok after all that cheese?
Your family sounds wonderful, I know you had a blast!
Your niece is a cutie little kids!

Maria said...

I had to show my daughter those photos. She used to do the EXACT same thing with big boxes. God, the fun we had decorating them.