What is the one thing that goes faster than Spring Break? Nothing. Not one thing.
I remember cleaning off my desk, shutting down my computer and locking my office door. I closed my eyes. When I opened them I was driving along the highway during morning commute, heading back to work. What the? How did that happen? I had nine luxurious days without a single work-related thing to do. I know I planned to use those days well. Did I? I can’t remember.
I guess that’s another good reason for blogging. I need some written record to prove I’m doing things. I need proof that I’m not Rip Van Winkle, sleeping through life.
This year, we decided not to go to Branson with my parents. That was kind of a hard thing to decide. My parents are slowing down a little, and they didn’t make a trip to Branson this year either. We decided that finishing our basement was our vacation. That was very responsible of us, right? We made that decision last fall. That decision didn’t seem like such a good idea as spring break got closer. We made some last minute arrangements for some fun.
The weekend started with the family splitting up. Scott went to a wedding of one of his former wrestlers from Iowa. He loved that. Olivia and I went to her basketball tournament in Northern Wisconsin. Because that’s where all the cool people spend Spring Break. In Northern Wisconsin.
Olivia’s teammates happen to have some of the funniest and most pleasant families a gal could know. Especially the moms. This tournament was really just like a girls’ weekend disguised as a basketball tournament. Please don’t tell the coaches.
I was still a hair out of sorts from the craziness that has been our life this year. I didn’t know if I was up for intense socializing at the tournament. One mom (who also happens to be a super bff) told me she completely understood my position. She said that right before she forced entry into my hotel room under the guise of not being able to tell me her story properly in the hallway. Then, she and our other bff proceeded to make me laugh ’til I cried for the next hour. And, I thought I needed to be alone.
Sometimes a girl just really doesn’t know what she needs.
After the basketball tournament, the next item on the agenda was cousins. Our kids see their cousins way less than they’d like. A shame, because spending time with their cousins is our kids’ favorite thing to do. The boys went off and did boy things. There was a lot of sweat, violence and laughing involved. That’s all I know. That’s all I want to know.
The girls went shopping. We took my niece shopping for a prom dress. That was really fun. Olivia and I also took the opportunity to give Scott a heart attack. Olivia tried on some dresses.. We found the worst possible choice (a dress that is only slightly more modest than showing up to the dance in a string bikini) and took a picture of Olivia wearing the dress. We sent a picture of Olivia in the dress to Scott, and told him he could quit worrying about what Olivia would wear to homecoming. We found the perfect dress.
When we got home, Scott told us that we need to reevaluate our sense of humor. He doesn’t find us amusing.
After the shopping trip, Scott and I planned a 24-hour, no-kid-outing. We try to do this every spring break. Our kids find this outing disgusting, and that’s exactly why it is required. Our children have always been just generally offended by the nature of my relationship with Scott. I hate disappointing my kids, but in this particular situation, I do believe the best and wisest parental advice I can give our offspring is to say, suck it. We’re going.
Sorry kids. The cold truth is, your dad and I enjoy each other’s company. We like to talk. We like to have time to think out loud with each other, plan for the future, and, yeah, hold each other’s hands. We know you don’t like this, and that is exactly why we are going away. Don’t worry. We will always come back. Like, 90% chance. Almost always.
I had a lovely friend give me a spa gift certificate for Christmas. Scott and I used the gift certificate at Oasis Day Spa in Madison. We got the couple’s massage. I thought it would be awkward. It wasn’t. I recommend this outing for all tired, overworked and overwhelmed married people. Just do it. You’re born. You die. It goes fast. Make the stuff in between count.
Scott and I were a little out of our element in the Spa atmosphere. Spa employees are trained to dote on you. We’re not used to doting. But, let me assure you, it takes a fraction of a moment to get used to doting. I could put up with it full time. I really could.
After our one day honeymoon, we went back home and did a bunch of boring grown up stuff. We cleaned the garage. This garage thing is going to be a whole other blog. You’ve been warned. Everything that was in our basement before we remodeled is now in our garage. The inside of our garage is one of the most frightening sights imaginable. My mother opened the garage door a few weeks ago; what she saw took her breath away.
The whole remodeling thing started during the wrestling season. There was no rhyme or reason to removing stuff from the basement. It was a giant, freaking, nightmare of a free-for-all. Scott and I felt renewed enough from our time away that we felt able to face this garage situation. We made some progress.
Our final brew-ha-ha was two nights at the Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, WI. I had visited this place during a work convention. I knew it was nice. I saw a Groupon for the resort, and we decided this would be our spring break mini vacay. We asked my parents to come too, because spring break without them seems sad. They agreed right away.
Lake Geneva is close to Elkhorn, the little town where my Mom was raised. My Mom’s Dad, my Grandpa, was my babysitter when I was in preschool. He watched me while my mom finished college at Whitewater.
My Grandpa was, without exaggeration, the nicest man I have ever known. Grandpa was amazed by pets, children, and, really, just about anyone he met. Grandpa never raised his voice. He thought having a 4-year-old girl companion was just about the best luck he could have.
At that time, my family had no money for extra indulgences. Grandpa and Grandma worked hard and saved hard their entire lives. To me, it seemed like they were rich. Grandpa would always find an excuse to go to the store and buy me a little something. Or, he would take me out to eat. Eating out was something we almost never did at home. Gosh, I loved that man.
Grandpa died when I was in 7th grade. I was devastated.
My Mom had a brilliant idea to visit Elkhorn on the way to Lake Geneva. I told her that it would be so fun to show the kids one of the happiest places from my childhood. I was remembering with my Mom how Grandpa would take me to the restaurant downtown. We would sit at the counter and order our food. Grandpa and I preferred the malts. My Mom did some research. Turns out that restaurant is still there.
Guess where we took the family for lunch?
The “Elk Restaurant” still has awesome food, and the counter is STILL THERE!!! My kids thought this was great fun.
What I didn’t know is that my Grandma used to waitress at the “Elk Restaurant”. The story is that my Grandparents met at this restaurant.
Grandma’s story is sad, but it has a happy ending. Grandma’s Mom died from that wicked influenza breakout in the first part of the 1900’s. Grandma was just a baby then. Grandma’s father (my Great Grandfather) married again. My Grandma lived with her Dad, her step mom and too many step siblings.
Eventually, at the ripe age of 13, Grandma was forced out on her own. She became a cook for farmhands. My Mom says she is pretty sure Grandma survived some ugliness during those years without the protection of adults in her daily life. We’ll never really know to what extent Grandma suffered. Grandma wasn’t one to carry on about things, or indulge in self pity. Hard to believe we share the same blood. I know.
Eventually, Grandma decided she had enough of farmhands; she packed all her belongings in one small suitcase and walked to town. She came to the “Elk Restaurant” and asked if she could have a job. They said, yes. Grandma started working that day. One of the waitresses saw Grandma’s suitcase, and asked Grandma where she planned to stay. Grandma said she didn’t know, exactly. The waitress said Grandma could stay with her until she found something. So, Grandma did.
I feel sad when I think about Grandma’s hard life. Then, I think about her resourcefulness, intelligence and work ethic; I thank God for providing that sweet young girl with those attributes. I believe that It’s those attributes, and the kind people God put in my Grandma’s life that altered her course. Grandma found my Grandpa eventually; they had a happy, secure and sweet life without any of the trauma and neglect that Grandma knew well.
My Mom told us this story while we were eating at the “Elk Restaurant”. She had my kids’ full attention. It was beautiful. My kids can’t help that they’re spoiled. They really can’t. I can’t help that I’m spoiled. It’s so difficult, almost impossible, to understand and appreciate what you have, when you have always had it.
Grandma’s story was a good chance to appreciate what we have, and to honor Grandma’s part in providing it for us.
Eating at the “Elk” might have been the highlight of my vacation.
After our history lesson from Grandma, we traveled on to “The Grand Geneva”. That’s a nice place. What a happy coincidence. Our kids like doing the same things Scott and I like to do. Our whole family played a lot of games of basketball with random kids we found in the gym. We played tennis (indoors, of course), and used the work out facility. Olivia and I walked outside too. We asked the boys to join us, but the boys don’t walk for enjoyment. They say it hurts their hips. Yep. These are the guys that beat the crap out of each other in the wrestling room every day. Sometimes you just have to pretend people make sense.
We read a lot (well, maybe that was just me), ate a lot, and just had loads of fun.
Whew. I’m so relieved. I guess I did do some things in those nine days. I only slept part of the time. If I had to guess, I would say there’s a chance you’re sleeping now. I would be, if I just tried reading all that.
I hope you did something special on spring break, whether it was last week, this week or next. You should. You really should.
Don’t forget, we’ll be dead soon.
That needs to go on a greeting card. I’m a word crafter, you know; delicately combining words that help to inspire and encourage. I’m good. I’m really good.