Sunday, August 21, 2011

Memories from the ballpark

My hometown team is hot right now. The Brewers are first place in their division by nine games as of this afternoon. One of my favorite things about moving back to my home state is all the teams I grew up with are actually on TV. If you haven't lived in another state, you don't realize how nice that is.

It is also great to have the natural camaraderie of sports. It was tough cheering for the Packers and the Brewers while at school in Missouri in the midst of Cardinals and Rams fans. Then in Iowa and Oregon where fans of various allegiances could not relate to your Packer pride.

It's been a good time to be a Wisconsin sports fan all around from the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, to Packers as Super Bowl champs, and now the Brewers working toward a pennant race. I love it.

I have lots of memories tied up with Brewers games. We only lived about 15 minutes away from the old County Stadium. We would be listening to the game on the radio, and my dad would say, "Let's just go to the game!" Tickets were extremely cheap then, mind you, so we would pile in to the car and head to the ballpark. It was often a few innings in to the game by this point. We would buy nosebleed seats and then sneak down into the prime seats later in the game. We would eat peanuts and Dove Bars.

I remember scandalously skipping school to go to Opening Day and sitting in the second to last row. The drunk college kids behind us peed in the corner and their urine soaked my program, I vividly remember how disgusted I was.  My dad went off on them, "Do that again, and I'll put you in it!" he said. Good old Dad protecting his daughters.

Similarly, we decided at the last minute to go to the game in which Robin Yount could possibly hit his 3,000th hit. We sat behind a pole, but he did it, and I remember standing and applauding until my hands ached. It was exciting to be a part of it.

My sister held her wedding reception at the shiny new Miller Park's 300 Club. We took pictures on the dugout and despite being sternly warned not to by the staff, we sneaked out into the stands and slid down Bernie Brewer's slide. Really, what did they expect us to do?

From tailgating to wearing my glove to the game to getting Brewers baseballs cards from police officers, many happy childhood memories are tied up with the Brewers. Now my kids have Prince Fielder shirts and squeal when they see Bernie Brewer take his home run slide. It doesn't get better than that.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pain in the throat and other problems

My pharynx is phalty. The poor thing is blisteringly sore like I have been gargling shards of glass. But you'd think I'd be used to that by now.

I have gotten strep throat more times than I remember. I get it at least once a year, if not more. I didn't realize this was abnormal until I began 2011: The Year of Random Health Issues. Fast-forward to August, and I am staying home without a voice today, taking a medley of medical treatments, and scheduled for a tonsillectomy.

In January, I started noticing some red, itchy spots on my arms around the time I got horribly sick with a 103 degree fever, horrible body aches, and a sore throat. This was all in the midst of a blizzard, so I never made it into the doctor. After several months of misdiagnoses, a dermatologist finally told me I had a type of psoriasis brought on from an untreated strep throat infection. Who knew that happened? Certainly not me.

I eventually saw an ear-nose-throat specialist who told me recurrent strep was not normal for a 32-year-old (at least my throat still thinks I am a teenager) and recommended I get my tonsils out. Unfortunate side note: tonsillectomies are also more common in children and said to be especially painful for adults. Yay. It's also not a great thing to have untreated strep floating around in your body which I have apparently often had. Those little strep jerks can cause your immune system to attack your own organs. So in a few weeks I will get the offending tonsils stripped out, slurp ice cream, and watch daytime TV. But just to get in one last dig, my throat has been incredibly painful for the last week, and I lost my voice yesterday. My tonsils aren't going down without a fight!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

July Favorites: St. Louis Edition

We just returned from our first family vacation road trip. We chose to go to St. Louis to see the sights, visit my college friends, and stop by my Alma mater, the University of Missouri. So for the month of July, my favorites are Show Me State inspired.

1. Seat-back DVD players

The drive to Missouri isn't terrible. It's about six hours (stretched to eight or so with frequent kid-related stops), but that can feel like an eternity with small children. T bought a two-screen seat-back DVD player and checked out a stack of DVDs from the library. It was our savior. They were zoned into those things and mostly peaceful. We also relied on DVDs in a laptop to keep them entertained at night as we were all crammed into one hotel room.The boys were on a hide-a-bed and Lena was in a crib in the bathroom. It wasn't the most relaxing set-up.

2. The City Museum

The City Museum in St. Louis is pretty incredible. It is several floors of mazes, slides and other activities. The kids were in heaven. Everything in the museum from the lighted walls made of bottles to wooden caves and a bank vault are constructed from recycled materials. It is hard to adequately explain. You really have to see it if you are in St. Louis.

                                                                                                             This is an ingenious concept for a restaurant: all different types of macaroni and cheese! T got bacon macaroni and cheese, I got Mediterranean (with feta, mozzarella, Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes), and the boys got macaroni and cheese with broccoli and hot dogs and chicken. 
Even Lena got a taste.

4. Free Beer                                                            Wisconsin is the real beer state of course, but St. Louis has a strong brewing heritage with Anheuser-Busch everywhere you look. Despite having three small children in tow, T and I made sure we hit every locale with free Budweiser. This included the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour but also Grant's Farm that includes Ulysses S Grant's cabin and a menagerie of animals. The boys had a blast feeding goats, looking at elephants, and slurping Sno-Cones.

5.  Everything Else in St. Louis
There is a ton to do in St. Louis, and we crammed in as much as possible.

It was crazy-hot, but we did make it to the Arch, and managed to take some oddly-angled pictures.

The Museum of Transportation was a hit with our train-obsessed boys, as was the Magic House. We also checked out the St. Louis Basilica. The next time we go, when the kids are older, we will actually go up in the Arch, and we will visit the St. Louis Science Center. That place looks really neat, but not quite right for littler kids.

6. Memories from College

Besides visiting St. Louis, we also went to Columbia, Missouri, where I went to college at the University of Missouri. It is the first time I have been back since I graduated in December 2000. It felt like a million years ago and just yesterday at the same time. Pushing my third child around campus in a stroller was quite different from the last time I was on those grounds. Many things were the same, but my dorm had been demolished, a new business school built, and an impressive student center constructed. I enjoyed pointing out the locations of my happy and humiliating memories. We had to take a picture by the hallowed Mizzou columns of course.

The last time I posed in front of the columns, my parents were snapping the picture, and I was in my cap and gown holding my diploma. My how things have changed.  

The second day we were in Missouri we gathered for a barbecue with old college friends and their many children. Our last night in town, we stayed with my friend Lisa in St. Louis. It was a blast reliving old times and watching our kids getting to know each other. (Even if it resulted in my boys dressed in tutus and fancy hats.)

7. Family Vacations

Your idea of what a vacation is changes over time. When I was a kid, family vacations were thrilling, anticipated occasions. As a teenager, they became another chore of forced family togetherness. Then vacations became trips with friends to Panama City or New Orleans for drunken debauchery. As a couple, vacations were romantic weekend getaways. Now vacations have returned to being family-oriented. All of our stops were entirely kid-oriented (except for the free beer of course). Our meal choices and hotel accommodations all had to be family-friendly. The drive there and back included frequent stops and impatient questioning. But for all the challenges a family vacation brings and the aspects I miss from the before-kids trips, it is a joy to see experiences through their eyes and to create memories they will hold on to until the days they are taking their own family vacations.