15

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Alex at 6

The pensive look at age 11

Teen Alex

 

The traditional email to the August Moms when our babies celebrate their birthdays:

Alex at 15 (complied in bits & spurts during the week)

Well, you all know by now why he is called Sports Boy. His life is dominated by competitive sports and playing video games. In all of those endeavors he is ruthless about winning. Over the years he’s shown the heart of a true on field warrior. Oddly though, this hyper competitive nature does not translate to wanting to “win” at school. His best friend who he will do *anything* to defeat in sports/games gets straight a’s? He shrugs that off. Boggles the mind. He’s “selectively” competitive :-)
In fact, he’s a very easy going, always cheerful, sociable teen who is a good student with severe bouts of laziness. He could easily be an outstanding student, but he just doesn’t care to be at this point. Thankfully he is easy to teach and is very coachable. He’s still a bit naive & has quite a sentimental side. He is often classically “blond” as he describes it with his head anywhere but in reality. He knows how to laugh at himself and does it often. He’s getting to be more self conscious about things & more embarrassed sometimes though not obsessively. He just had NO self consciousness as a young boy so any sign of it now sort of sticks out.
He’s still barely caring about his appearance. Mostly he doesn’t want to look dorky but the notion of matching colors still eludes him! He’s a joy to talk to. Will discuss just about anything. Lets be real – if it involves talking, he is there! He never shuts up. He still asks those annoying kid questions that make you respond with “does it say Google search on my forehead?” He’ll proudly announce how lazy he is, but then just as proudly talk about being the smallest kid on his football team AND also a starting wide receiver. Again – selective laziness :-)

He still has no idea what he wants to study, but at least he does have college as a goal and has taken it seriously that this year begins the real task of earning grades to get in. As we have delved into deeper conversations discussing topics like history, politics & civil rights he has shown an ability to think beyond himself and to be empathetic. 

Even though he has pushed me once to ask “anybody want a teenager?!” he’s really been super easy so far and I know those of you get to meet him this year at the reunion will see what a gorgeous, happy goofball he is :-)

August moms do Vegas, or maybe the other way around? (oog)

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The annual group shot - 2010 version

Dear readers – meet my posse. My gals (+ one of our adorable Aug96 kids who are the reason we are together).

Meet my family.

Front row l-r: Cricket, Simone, Virginia

Second row: Mary, me, Lisa P, Dusty, Linda, Katie (Dusty’s mom) & Lisa B

Back row: Angie, Kar, Tandy & Frances

We met online in late 1995 – 15 years we’ve shared our lives together in the virtual world. We’ve been through everything that you can imagine happens to folks in that time span.

Since 1998 we have gathered every year in some spot in the U.S. since the majority of us live here. A few are overseas. This year, that lovely lady in the front row center caused us to change our routine a bit. Instead of meeting the second weekend in October in Santa Fe New Mexico (in our geographic pattern we were due for a central US location this year), we met this past week in Las Vegas because Simone was planning a trip up from Tasmania. Tasmania! Naturally being so far away she had not yet met many of us. A couple of our families had been lucky enough to travel Down Under and visit with her family, but this was her first time to the US. So we changed our plans to match hers. That brought a few more to the gathering than originally had planned. Including our lovely Frances who had moved back to her native England several years ago. So we had a few continents represented this year!

This trip is the highlight of my year.

Along with me, the three ladies immediately to my left in the photo have attended every reunion. I can’t imagine not going. It’s not always been the best for me financially, but I find a way (with a little help sometimes. My Sweet Prince knows how important this is to me and always makes sure I can go). The timing at work one year was horrendous, but I put my foot down, brought my laptop, made myself available for phone assistance and ended up getting the boss at that time to pay for the group’s Sat night dinner.

I didn’t sight see this year near as much as I did last year in DC :-) I did take several ladies around in my car and I had a fabulous time taking my roommate Tandy, Linda & Angie to the NYNY hotel & the MGM Grand so that they could gamble, see lions &  ride the roller coaster – after we all split a half dozen Krispy Kreme donuts of course. Yeah, I’m evil ;-) I partook of a few jello shots myself.

We did take a great tour one night – City Lights it was called and it was a 5 hour bus ride with a few stops including the Stratosphere Tower, Bellagio for the fountains, the Welcome to Las Vegas sign & then downtown for the light show there. Though I had done all those things in the past, I thought it was the perfect way for those new to the city to hit the highlights.

As always, Linda had us eating at just the best places every day. She does not travel withou her Zagats & a local city guide book & is an expert at surveying the tastes/needs of the group, choosing a place & then calling to make sure we can get in. Then she gets directions. I have no clue what we would do without her!! We had Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese & Italian and it was all delicious. She even wisely looked at the schedule for the bus tour, figured we would need food and orchestrated a sandwich order for the whole group to take with us. Other riders were quite jealous :-)

We stayed in a resort just next to the strip that Simone found. The rooms were literally condominiums with full kitchens stocked with every pot, pan, glass, and utensil you would need to cook all your meals. All appliances too! So we all ran out to various stores the first day & bought snacks & adult beverage mixes. The popular drinks were a Bucket O Margarita mix with some Tequila & my special Grey Goose & Sprite mix (the key is 2/3 Grey Goose) ;-) This allowed us to relax and do what we really gathered together to do – TALK! There were several monster gab fests in the room I shared with Tandy. No – we really do not sleep much on these trips.

I got to learn upon a tv show called Pawn Stars. Cricket, Linda & Tandy apparently watch all the time so we went out on an excursion the pawn shop where it is filmed somewhere between the Strip & Fremont Street. We got to see one of the guys from the show (Chum-ley) and Tandy ended up buying herself a lovely pearl ring from there. I must say that was one pretty fantastic pawn shop! They had championship rings from every major sport along with Olympic medals and art work and just about every darn thing you could think of. The gals would see a piece that had been on the TV show and whip out their cameras. While we were there, a potential seller was being filmed with some kind of very old looking official documents. I’m now curious enough to try & catch the show because I want to know what those were!

A word about my roommate. Can I just say that I pretty much struck platinum when I rolled the dice & agreed to share with her back in Seattle on that first trip in 1998? PLATINUM. We get each other at every level. We don’t see the world *exactly* the same (which is a good thing), but it’s close enough sometimes to be scary. Naturally she lives about as far away from me as possible in the lower 48 – Portland Maine! So we only get to see each other this one time a year & I am selfishly so glad that I get double time with her. Even after the others leave we often still sit up & talk. I swear I am going to figure out a way to dye a streak in my hair like hers! I can’t get away with one in front like her, but maybe underneath, at the neckline..just one stripe that I can cover at work as needed?

Anyhow…it was a fabulous 4 days. I loved hearing about the trips that some smaller groups took to the grand canyon, hoover dam & red rock canyon. Their photos are stunning & I can tell they had a blast. Simone & Frances did almost every tour & show we had planned definitely getting the most out of their long flights here.  Oh, and watch out if those two get their hands on one of those 3 foot long Margarita drinks! You *will* laugh until you your cry and can’t breathe!

At the last breakfast before I started on my drive back, Mary asked those of us still there what our favorite thing had been on the trip. I was much too tired to focus & totally punted by saying it was just being with everyone. Sitting in our room, sipping our various drinks & talking. But Mary, since I know you will read this – I figured one out as I drove home and replayed the memory tapes in my head.

Tuesday night on the City Lights tour when we stopped downtown (Fremont Street) several of us had decided we wanted to go in to the place with the 99 cent fried foods & the real coin slots. After choking down some fried Oreos (horrid really, there is a reason the ones at my local fair are $3) & fried Twinkies, Tandy sat down to put in her one dollar of quarters into a machine. Well wouldn’t you know it – on something like coin #3 she hit a $10 payout! 40 quarters came clanking out making that ching ching ching sound that you know so well. Well, I tell you, I will always remember that giggle she unleashed when it happened! She was giddy like a kid scooping up those quarters & just reveling in that sound. We got her the traditional crappy plastic cup for her to carry around her winnings and there was NO ONE happier in that place. THAT was my favorite moment of the trip.

Until next year ladies! Here’s a few of my favorite shots from my own camera & also some of theirs

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Is this thing on?

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Oh hey, hi! I do have a blog don’t I? One that should cover more than just freshman football?

Well, you see, the thing is, since the last time I went to that place up there in the photo (Las Vegas), it’s been a little crazy. Employee turnover during the year end audit at work is not the optimal event to promote blogging time. Naturally in the two weeks leading up to my next drive out to that place up in the photo, the days got even more intense. I’ve been down to just one of us in the office twice now since my other staff member had the audacity to get marriaed and go on a damn honey moon the last two weeks. Suddenly the nice little 3 + me department that I love showed it’s limitations. And drained every last bit of brain power I had to keep it floating. This week, the new employee started which meant training. Which meant not doing my own job during the day for two days. Which meant long hours. Which meant no day off before vacation #2 to prepare for anything. Thankfully the freshman football had a bye this week. Also thankfully the honeymooning employee returns today.

All of that whining to say, sorry I haven’t posted & oh by the way I wont post much over the next week either. August moms reunion is under way! Our mum from Down Under is en route today as are a couple of others & then the rest of us descend into the valley of heat tomorrow. Oh, and I would like to file yet another weather protest! We’ve had NO summer at home as you may have heard me complain before. NONE. So what is in store for this coming week? Now that it’s Fall? A Santa Ana heat wave! Supposed to be in the 80s today then into the 90s the next few days! Where am I going? INTO the belly of the beast where it was staying in the 90s rather pleasantly the last few weeks but soars back to the low 100s while we are there. Oh YAY.

Goodbye my friend

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How do you mourn the passing of someone you never set eyes on in real life?

How do you explain why you feel a hole in your heart over someone you never once hugged yourself?

How do you become a family over a flickering monitor?

I don’t know, it’s some sort of magical human connection for sure, but all I know is waking up to the email from the DH of our August Mom sister in Melbourne announcing her passing last night, well, it just ripped all of us apart.

A lucky few of us had met J over the years. Traveling to Australia meant looking her up naturally, just as it is anywhere we go where an August mom may be near. Our dear mom in Tasmania was the closest geographically and spoke with her when the news hit the list last week that J had been denied a chance at a clinical trial for cancer treatment and was looking for hospice care.

We thought we had a few weeks. Tasmania-mom told us that J would love to receive cards from all of us to brighten up her room. I hadn’t sent mine yet. I wanted to go to a specialty store to pick up a particularly festive one and with the three day weekend here, it had not yet gone out.

I thought we had a few weeks.

I think J did too because her last message to us spoke of her intention to get things in order and enjoy her last weeks with the family hopefully not in too much pain. Weeks, not days.

So now our cards of love will go out to her family. Husband and three children. A 17 year old daughter, a 13 year old daughter and a 10 year old son.

I hope they know their beloved mom was also beloved to us for the last 13-14 years. I hope they know they have an extended family out here enveloping them in virtual hugs, crying with them for our loss.

Rest in peace my August mom sister.

Washington DC – Wrap up

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Group photo

Sat night dinner group shot

Monday morning came too soon and too early – it sounded like they were trying to rebuild the city right outside our hotel window!! While everyone else was set to leave right after breakfast, my flight wasn’t leaving Baltimore until nearly 6pm so the shuttle didn’t need to pick me up until 2:45. I arranged for a late checkout at 2pm and went out for a morning with a local friend from high school. He had one of those magical contraptions that we’d spent the whole weekend without – a CAR!

Off we went for coffee and a stroll through Georgetown. First thing I noticed besides the lovely boutique-y shops (he confirmed that you did NOT bargain hunt there!) was that it was SO CLEARLY a college town. I walked past two telltale splatters of excessive drinking just outside a pub (if you know what I mean ;-)) Since Monday was a federal and most likely a school holiday (Columbus Day), Sunday night must have been wild!

We made our way to the shores of the Potomac where I laid my eyes on yet another infamous part of DC:

The Watergate Hotel

The Watergate Hotel

A note on my previously loaded pictures – I am sorry, but as I’ve stated before I HATE THE WORDPRESS PICTURE UPLOADER!!! I *thought* if you clicked on the loaded pictures that you got a larger version. You *used* to at any rate, or maybe I was imagining things, but apparently that is no longer true. My parents have been complaining about the quality of the photos if they go to print them and they are right – even really good quality pics are being shrunk and messed up in there. SO SORRY!. So yesterday I threw them all up on Flickr – click on the Flickr sidebar to see all of the DC photos full sized. I’ll have to start loading them in a larger version here and being more diligent about sending them to my Flickr account for those like my mom who want to print some out.

Francis Scott Key bridge (aka The Key) crossing over the Potomac into Virginia.

Francis Scott Key bridge (aka The Key) crossing over the Potomac into Virginia.

And the final picture from my trip, the canal which was originally created when the city was being built since everything had to be transported over water back then:

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We walked on that trail along the canal and it was such a lovely, peaceful stroll. Yet all I could think of was: “No railing + narrow path + drunk college kids = how many splashdowns into the canal per night?!”

Anyhow, we then hopped into the car and I was provided (as he called it) the Nickel tour of DC. It was perfect really as it allowed me to connect the dots and really understand the ground we had covered by foot and metro all weekend. And just for fun, here’s a picture of my Monday tour guide, not from that day, but from about a month prior when he was in San Diego visiting his parents and we got together for a beer:

GK raising a pint at Oggis

GK raising a pint at Oggis

It kills me how many of the guys from high school have lost their hair!

Thus endeth the DC tour.

Back to our regularly scheduled cat/football/boring daily drivel blogging tomorrow :-)

Washington DC – Monument Day

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Lots of pics. Not much to narrate other than we had to say goodbye to a few ladies throughout the day as some went on Sunday. I wanted to clone myself to participate in the Equality Day march, but instead we had tickets to be up on the Washington Monument so I had to be content to takes pics OF the march from up there.

WW2 Memorial with Lincoln in distance

WW2 Memorial with Lincoln in distance

WW2 Memorial with Washington in distance

WW2 Memorial with Washington in distance

Flowers left at Vietnam Memorial

Flowers left at Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

The White House from up in the Washington monument.

The White House from up in the Washington monument.

If you click on the photo above to see it full sized, check out the large crowd in the street to the right with the tell tale rainbow flag in the middle of it all. Yep, there’s the marchers! Also the tent in front of the White House is the one we saw being put on while we were there Saturday morning. It was for a Latin music concert they had the following Tuesday night.

Reflecting ppol & Lincoln Memorial from the WM

Reflecting ppol & Lincoln Memorial from the WM

Yes, the reflecting pool was green. Ew. Actually, later in the day from a different angle it looked a lot better.

Click on this one too to see it larger – in front of the LM are the Breast Cancer 3 Day podiums. The walk was finishing up just to the right on the memorial, and then the closing ceremonies were going to be held on the steps of the Lincoln. Quite the busy day in DC eh? Crazily enough, we NEVER felt surrounded by crowds in the least. The place is plenty big enough for everything. Still, thinking of it all as it looked on Inauguration Day now REALLY awes me. Because it IS a huge area and to think of just how PACKED it was. Stunning.

Jefferson Memorial across the water from the WM

Jefferson Memorial across the water from the WM

And obviously into the sun at that point ;-) We didn’t make it across the water to the JM so this was my best view of it.

View of the Mall and Capitol with museums on either side

View of the Mall and Capitol with museums on either side

The Marchers are on the left coming around to the steps of the Capitol. The Smithsonian Castle from an earlier post is on the right.

Close up of the White House from in the WM.

Close up of the White House from in the WM.

This is the side of the Capitol where the inauguration took place. The pics from our tour were taken on the other side. The Supreme Court is on the left and the National Archives on the right just behind.

Just imagine all that open space I just posted with people packed shoulder to shoulder on a cold day in January. It’s really a breathtaking thing to imagine now that I’ve seen just how very very large the area is.

Strolling along the reflecting pool

Strolling along the reflecting pool

Approaching the Lincoln decked out in pink for the 3-Day

Approaching the Lincoln decked out in pink for the 3-Day

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From the Lincoln with the pool finally reflecting at the end of the day

From the Lincoln with the pool finally reflecting at the end of the day

And since these photos too almost 90 mins to upload (!!!) this will have to end it. One more small post with just a few photos and the promised group shot will end the DC report. Thanks for your patience as I document this really fabulous weekend.

Oh yeah, for dinner that night we were too lazy to MOVE (you see all that ground I posted pics of? We walked it!!) so we just ate at the restaurant Sunday night. Probably the best part of that was a moment when those of us with iPhones randomly asked “Hey, do you Bump?!” Yes, we are all geeks ;-))

Washington DC – museum tour!

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After the Saturday AM guided White House tour, we met up with one last mom who came in just for the day and made our way on the metro to the Mall and museums. We split up into two groups and my group made our way to the Natural History Museum to see the Hope Diamond. Because no matter what a Diamond is a girls best friend and I will *always* sign up to see sparkly things :-)

Again, me with no camera instincts until a little later so here:

Hope Diamond unmounted

Hope Diamond unmounted

It didn’t actually look this blue on the pedestal though you could see shimmers of blue. Oh, and diamonds also bring out the worst in girls! The Hope was on a pedestal  that rotated in it’s display case. Given the FREE museums and some cold/rainy weather and it being a Saturday, the museum was pretty packed and the gem rooms were particularly so. When we got to the Hope, the display was surrounded by people on all four sides. No clear line up of any kind. So we approached one side and waited expecting the women who were at the front to move on after the diamond had made a complete rotation (that was our plan at any rate). One rotation. Two rotations? No movement. I moved behind one of them to right to get a better view and to see if a spot would open up on another side and I brushed against the back of one of their purses. She turns around and snaps at Florida mom who was next to me “Do you have a PROBLEM?!” Whoa lady. Fla mom and I apologize and then she points out that they had been there for more than one rotation and that there was a crowd building up behind them and perhaps they should let others have their turn – think she also said something about me coming from a long way to see the diamond and such. Oh boy were they not happy to hear that. They snapped back some more, but they did move at least.

After avoiding a Brawl in the Museum where they set Night in the Museum, we moved on towards a native American etching exhibit. On the way we passed this room and I actually DID take out my camera:

Blue Whale room at Nat His Museum

Blue Whale room at Nat His Museum

Blu Whale from side

Blu Whale from side

As we walked out of the Nat History museum we saw this building – the original Smithsonian, also known as The Castle:

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We could also see the Capitol peaking out from the top of some fall colored tree tops:

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On to my favorite thing to see – Impressionists Paintings at the Natl Art Gallery. Specifically, Renoir & Van Gogh:

Girl with a Hoop, Auguste Renoir

Girl with a Hoop, Auguste Renoir

Oarsmen at Chatou, Auguste Renoir

Oarsmen at Chatou, Auguste Renoir

Self Portrait, Vincent Van Gogh

Self Portrait, Vincent Van Gogh

I was VERY happy with the museum setting on my camera! After our art gallery tour we were SPENT so a few of us grabbed a cab to take us directly to the restaurant for dinner where we could sit and have some cocktails while waiting for the rest of the group to re-join us there. Oh, those were some mighty tasty drinks!! Oh, the restaurant was Zaytinia and while we were there we saw the Presidential motorcade go by. Pretty cool! Saw the Cadillac on Steroids and the typical Suburban escorts front and back. We did know the President would be moving around the city that evening since he was talking at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. Oh, speaking of dinner – wowza. It’s a tapas style Asian/Greek/Turkish cuisine and I had the BEST tabouli and then I remembered to take out my camera for my other two dishes:

Warm bean salad with spinach & tomatoes

Warm bean salad with spinach & tomatoes

Crab cakes

Crab cakes

We took our group photo there after dinner which I will post separately after I play with it a little. Don’t want it buried at the end of such a long post! This was one fabulous night of food and drink at this restaurant and I highly recommend it if you are in DC.