Sunday, August 7, 2016

The fear is real.

I can remember it like it was yesterday; there is a reason my horrible mother wasn't letting me watch Pet Cemetery and it was only to make my life miserable. After all, I was 12 years old and surely I could handle watching this rated R horrific tale of dead animals coming back to life as zombies. I mean, why not?

But, I found a loop-hole. And that was spending the night with my friend Nicki, because her mom was going to let her watch it. I as so smart!

After the soft, grey, nice, sweet kitty came back to life and went for the jugular of the former owner, I was out of there. I walked home in the dark and those 3 blocks felt like miles.

I sat in my own bed, heart racing, as I replayed the scenes in my head. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe! I now understand this as a panic attack, but at 12 I didn't know what was going on and for sure my poor parents didn't know as I ran into their room at 3:00am proclaiming I couldn't breathe. It bought me a trip to our local ER where I was admitted overnight to make sure this wasn't some asthma attack that had come and gone. Strangely, I had to go see a shrink shortly after because then I started worrying about being buried alive. I knew these were irrational fears, but they were there. And frightening.

Fast Forward 22 years. Maysen is a bit sensitive when it comes to movies. He watched the end to "Signs" about 3 years ago. You know, the one with Mel Gibson? To this day, he doesn't like to be upstairs by himself. Sleeping upstairs without his little brother? No way. He gets creeped out very easily. So when I saw him sleeping with his head on the end of Griffin's mattress and his body on the hard hope chest nearby, I figured he'd gotten himself creeped out.

Later that day, I'm folding socks in the laundry room as Maysen walks in and sits down on the cold travertine tile near me. Say what?

"Whatcha listening to on your iPad?"

"Horror stories. This one is about ...."

Once I was clued into what he was listening to, it was stopped but the damage was done. That night he asked to sleep in my bed. As I laid with him asking him to tell me what he was afraid of, he broke down and explained he was terrified that someone was going to break into our house and watch him sleep.

He knows it's irrational. He knows he's safe. As he cries because he feels silly, but yet so scared, I'm immediately taken back to Pet Cemetery (which, to this day I can't watch ... even though I know it's the hokiest movie out there) and that night in the ER.

And although I know it's just as silly, I'll ride this terror storm with him, supporting him along the way. I know he'll be over it likely in a few days, but until then we have this in our room and I'm A-Ok with it:

Nate on the other hand, wants to stand above him and stare at him while he sleeps wearing a unicorn mask. "Do you think that'd make it better?" he asks. No. But that would be a sight! I'm sure if he could find a stuffed gray cat to attach to his jugular he'd take every opportunity to chase me around the house with it. And I'd run like the wind, even at 36 years old!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Colorado 2016 - Part I

Everyone has "that" special childhood memory of what summer vacations were to them. Mine has always been Colorado Springs. Every summer we would load up in the Winnebago with it's brown and orange stripes and 3-person front passenger seat and drive west heading for the mountains.

I've always told the boys about my summer vacations as a girl. I didn't get to go on a cruise ship or play in the turquoise ocean water. No. Instead we would catch fireflies, watch the lightning roll in over the mountains, or boy-watch wherever we went (most catches were attempted at "Fun Valley Rec Hall").

Nevertheless, they sat and listened to endless stories of "Colorado Times". Thats why when the opportunity arose to meet my Dad and Jo there and revisit some of the things I did as a kid, I pounced.

Thursday: Victor was an old Ghost Town we used to go to every summer. It's filled with old mines from the Gold Mining days and the town itself was a bit more bustling than I remember.

Kids were on the street corners mining for gold outside of the museum in an old gold cart, people were walking their dogs, and there was even a diner open attached to an old tavern. What I found funny is that the history of the diner/tavern was on the front of the menus.

It was outlined that prostitution was a big deal during the gold days and that this tavern (after burning down a few times) ran a ring out of the main floor up to a second "action" floor. The door that led up stairs sat right there, with an old crank-style door bell next to it. Oh the stories it held.

Historically, there is a giant line you had to wait in to enter the gates to Seven Falls. As we cringed heading that way, we noticed that this was now "Shuttles Only" and people were to park down in a lot, and shuttle up. I get the idea, but thought of another shuttle was not on my "I really want to do this" list. The van in front of us turned around to go to the parking lot and I saw my opportunity: right in front of us, a shuttle was entering through the automatic "shuttle only" gate. I joined him. The look on the gate attendant's face was priceless but she didn't say a word and we proceeded past her and all the poor people who had chosen to walk up instead of shuttle in.

Dad also was proud that he figured out that the piping system actually fed water back up to the top of the falls and that this likely wasn't a natural running waterfall (to the extent it was running). This was sort of a bummer, but I guess it wouldn't be much of an attraction if this was literally "Sometimes Running Seven Falls" or "Trickling, Look Close, Seven Falls".

It could also legitimately be named "Seven Heart Attacks Falls" because the series of 1,594 stairs that you could opt to climb look like a heart-attack waiting to happen. The boys (Nate included) figured that at the top of the falls, there HAD to be a rare Pokemon (Pokemon Go is a retarded web-based game ridiculously popular right now), so they climbed to the top but were let down when Griffin turned the phone off and when it turned back on, the rare Pokemon was gone. Bummer.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Colorado 2016 - Part 2

Friday: When I was like 6 years old, we rode the Cog Rail up to the top of Pikes Peak. I remember I was terrified (thinking for sure this hummer was going over the side for some unknown reason) and a nun sat across from me. I wondered if this meant we were protected from falling off the side of the mountain or an Omen ...

I mistakenly did not book tickets on the Cog rail beforehand and they were sold out the entire week we were there. We opted to drive up to the top. I need to add a disclosure that I had been suffering from mild altitude sickness since we arrived (hard to breathe in thin air), going from 500ft to 8,000ft was a bit shocking for my system, apparently. The boys were forced to get off the pacifiers (screens) while we drove up and look at the beauty around them. I'm not sure who that act was more painful on ... us or them?

When we reached the top (14,220 ft) and I exited the Tahoe, the world began to spin. Hating any attention on me (medically anyway) I pretended it would go away and began walking to the gift shop. It only got worse and having previously discussed the gift shop having an "oxygen room" I immediately asked Nate to go find it. He asked the attendant who followed him to find me, and as I began to ask why we were there (getting confused), it bought me a trip to the full-time EMT they have working there. I was escorted to a back room where he presented a rickety old 1960s wheelchair. As I proceeded to tell him there was no way my "fat-ass would fit in that" I was slowly melting Maysen off the chair nearby and basically sitting on his lap.

"Bryan", the hot EMT, put the pulse oximeter on my finger, which tells you how oxygenated your blood is. The goal is anything higher than 90%. Usually anything below 90% requires oxygen. As it registered my reading, I looked at it and said "Oh, 95%, that's not bad!" He told me to turn it around (as I was reading it upside down) and I saw the problem: 56%. Not to mention my pulse was running about 140 to compensate. That bought me an non-rebreather oxygen mask and many faces peering at me - you know how cats will look at bugs as they crawl in front of them with that face-half-cocked look? I had Maysen and Griffin looking at me that way. After about 10 minutes I was good as new and away we went down the mountain. 

Fargo's Pizza was an iconic place in Jenn and I's minds. Lots of old clocks, women in 1800s dress, and your order number would eerily appear silently in the mirror. It was as good as I remember, but not as busy.

We all then went and watched Jason Bourne. Jo fell asleep through part of it, and I was right behind her. She and I both were struggling a bit with the altitude and I think after being up so high, we were both just pooped out. All of the boys liked it though.

Saturday: Cave of the Winds was something that you never forget. The smell of damp, clay, and dirt all mix in your nose as you get goosebumps from the chill in the cave. I've been so many times I could recite the welcome speech when your group meets. Dad and I had discussed going to look at some of the awesome antique stores in a nearby town called Florence, so Nate took the boys to Cave of the Winds.

Now, it's been 15 years since we were last there. This place is no longer just an attraction for people to sign up and get a tour of the cave. Oh, no. There were zip lines, food carts, balance contraptions, raptor rides, and the list likely goes on. 

The boys were pleasantly surprised to not have to only have to walk through a cave but they also got to swing from things and eat things out of a truck. Score! 

Also having said that, I think if none of that was there, the boys would have enjoyed it just the same. Look at this face. You would have gotten the eye roll face, not this one. I got a call on our way home from the Antique Market telling me about the part where they shut the lights off during the tour to show how dark it is. "And guess what? You can REALLY go blind if you don't see light for 6 weeks!!!" like he's somehow wanting to either prove that right or prove it wrong. That was quickly followed by "you would have hated it though - too closed in." They know me well! Haha.

I found a kitchen clock from 1868 that I really wanted, but they wouldn't budge on their price. Plus I was picturing how to get that hummer on the plane to bring home:

"Ladies and Gentleman the captain has turned on the Fasten Seat--"

"BOOOONNNNNGGGGG .... BOOOOONNNNNGGGG..." (while looking forward, eyes as big as saucers, avoiding eye contact) while I held it in my lap.

I'm 6. Sitting with my best friend Cherina, who lives across the street. Her dad is behind the bar at the American Legion serving us popcorn and soda out of those guns where you choose on the handle which soda you want to pour. (I always wanted to run one of those). The Legion was packed waiting for the melodrama to start. There was a buzz in the air; the HISSSSS, and BOOOOO signs were leaned up against the piano as the pianist played light-hearted music. This was my memory of "The Melodrama" from growing up and I hadn't been to one in 25 years. The last one I went to was when my father, so out of character for him, was asked to play the part of the town drunk (and did so swimmingly). So when I saw there was one playing in Manitou Springs, right where Dad and Jo were staying, I went for it.

The title was Mary's Peril, a tale of a beautiful wealthy daughter who inherited a fortune being manipulated by a man who was after her money. Of course the handsome Sheriff shows up and saves the day.

Dinner was served first and it was a family-style of dinner. We all had pot roast and they brought out huge bowls of mashed potatoes, green beans, and rice. It was absolutely delicious. After apple cobbler dessert, we went up to watch the melodrama. Maysen hadn't been getting too good of sleep so his attitude had been a problem that day. Everytime someone would BOOOOO or CLAP he'd jump, cover his ears, and act like he was being shot at. Stinker. We asked for a family photo before going into the play. As you can see in the picture, we were photo bombed by the Sherriff in the play waving from behind us all. The gentleman we asked to take our picture was actually the comedy-relief-sidekick to the Sherriff in the play. As I sat down to see how our picture turned out, I found this:

I guess he really wanted us to have a picture of him, too! It was hilarious to find and unexpected, as he never let on that he was doing this. It was a terrifically fun night. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Colorado 2016 - Part 3

Sunday: Another reliving childhood moment was Garden of the Gods. I can appreciate it more now as an adult than I did as a child. I will say that I originally wanted to take the Segway tour of the Garden of the Gods but Dad and Jo were too big of sissies to try it. Something about a broken hip or falling off .... (haha). So, we drove. We stopped for photos and then Nate once again came up with a brilliant plan that involved ..... Pokemon.

He suggested that since we still had one more antique store we wanted to explore, that he could be left at the park with the boys walking on the nature trails looking for Pokemon. It was 95 degrees, but they had sunscreen, water, and we would just meet them at the VISITORS CENTER (capitalized not to be screaming at you, but making a point ... hint hint).

The boys begrudgingly went along with the idea because lets face it, they didn't want to look at old crap. They started off on their adventure while we went on ours. After arriving at the antique store (which, lets face it, it was a MALL ... this hummer was huge), my dad gets a message from Nate that sounded a bit desperate "How much longer will you be? We're out of water, the phones are almost dead, so we're heading to the VISITORS CENTER". Well. We had just gotten to our shopping place, so sorry honey, it might be a bit.

As they made their way to the visitors center they did come across some great finds; one being a Momma and Baby Deer and the second being really cool rock formations that you can't get to or see from the road - you have to hike in. I was glad they got to experience that.

We finally make it to the visitors center and .... no Nate/boys. No where. And guess what? The phones Nate had are dead. Straight to voicemail. We wait. Nothing. We decide to drive back through the park looking for them walking. Nothing. This search grows tired after 1.5 hours. After drive #3 through the park, we see a sign that says "Navigation Center" and we decide to follow that after Jo said "I wonder what's through there, lets just go see". Sure enough we pull in and there they are. No where near the Visitors Center. But they were alive, well, and the boys were as sour and grumpy as I expected!

This also meant that this was our last day with Dad and Jo. After this debacle of a morning we finished off our day with them at a restaurant with a waitress who tried to get my dad liquored up.

That's pretty much what he said, too. This is dad's wax creature that he built using the children's wax sticks that came with their kids' meal. Yay dad. 

We said our goodbyes and headed to Woodland Park, CO. It's about 20 miles west of Colorado Springs. This is where Nathan and I got engaged back in 1999 on Millennium New Years Eve. This little property started out renting out 5 tiny cabins. Nathan and I were in Cabin 4 - our friends were in Cabin 3. Today, the property contains townhouse-style rooms and even some executive suites ... so it's grown. We decided we'd stay there our last night near Colorado Springs and let the boys relish in the nostalgia. Ha! They couldn't have cared less, were ornery, grouchy, but we did get them to play Life with us, a new family favorite. 

Ok, so it's late into the vacation. We're on each other's nerves. Everyone's a little testy. Well, it slips out that Maysen told Nate on the walk around pretty much entire Colorado when they were lost, that "...this vacation is just for mom and what she wants. We haven't gotten to do anything fun." 


Right? I'm giving you pause to get over the shock of that. Now. I will have you know, that guess what? We've gone to DisneyLand ... but it wasn't because I wanted to go. We've been to Disney World ... but not because I wanted to go .... the Disney cruises? Well. They were likely in-part because I wanted to go, but perhaps maybe not the "Disney" part. You get the drift. So we had a pretty heated discussion about vacations and being thankful and appreciative. But in the end I think Nate and I decided that they probably shouldn't go on anymore expensive vacations for awhile because they're just too immature to appreciate all that's involved in planning one. It all ended well, but it was pretty heated.

The next morning before we left, we walked down to the cabins. We had explained to the boys what took place, how it took place, and then we were at the physical cabins where "We" started. We knew the cabins were rented so we were quiet. Nate wanted to kiss me in the same spot we got engaged so we walked up the steps as Maysen went to get a picture. Just as he goes to kiss me - "BARK BARK BARK BARK GRRRRR.R......" This beast sounded like it was going to come through the door. So we were outta there, but you get the idea. 

I like to think I'm a caring mother, a considerate mother. It hurt my heart that Maysen had said he hadn't been having fun. I always had so much fun as a kid coming to the places we'd just visited but maybe they truly didn't. So instead of rushing off to Denver right away, we stopped at The North Pole Amusement Park for the afternoon to let the boys have "some fun" after all the torture we'd put them through all week. I think we were redeemed. 

Another pooped out day, as this amusement park was basically built on the side of a mountain. It's a mini San Fran with 60 degree grades up every turn and switchbacks down to other rides. But, THEY. HAD. FUN. Score! We could barely get them away from the guns. What is it with boys and GUNS!? I'm thinking "Should I be afraid?!" But there were other boys all over waiting for their turn at the gun rack. We walked away owning 2 new guns. One was pink. I won't spill it on which one wanted the pink one (until his senior year, maybe) ....

We drove to Denver after that ready for our flight home the next morning. We needed a long rest before bed and heading home. Our hotel was awesome and I'm glad I booked a 2 bedroom. The boys did their thing in their room and we got peace and quiet in ours. 

As I sat in the kitchen and reminisced on our time in Colorado, I turned and looked out the picture window and saw this rolling in over the mountains:

My last and final Colorado storm was rolling in. What a great going-away present. Until we meet again, Colorado!