Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Val & Steph's Excellent Adventure

Our trip started out with some exciting news. Our all day flight had been changed to a quick layover in Chicago, and then onto Portland! That was, until Steph showed up at my house and goes, ‘Um, that change made it so we fly out Friday, not tomorrow.’  So we got on the horn promptly and finally got a flight that went from DM to Denver, to Boston, instead of the original plan of flying into Portland Maine.  Our flights went off without a hitch, so we went to get a rental car.  Unfortunately, I had reserved a car through Priceline, to pick up in Portland, with no exchanges, transfers, or changes allowed.  So, we had to pick up a car in Boston, drive it to Portland and then get our originally reserved car for the rest of the week.  We attempted through at least 2 phone calls to see if we could avoid driving to Portland to drop off a car and pick up thew next one, but we either got caught up in a never ending loop of automated hell, or chatting with someone with English as a second language who had absolutely no comprehension of what our problem was or understanding of our suggested solutions. So, we carried on thru countless toll roads and tunnels from Logan International in Boston to the Portland Jetport in Maine. The drive was about an hour and a half, but the Hertz pain took at least 45 minutes on each end.  I likely won’t be doing that again, the Priceline Negotiator, or Hertz.  They got enough out of me this week (specifically, about $40 more for the hour and a half rental from Boston to Portland than I had paid for the rest of the week).  As we picked up the car in Portland, or let me back up, got back in the car we had just driven from Boston to Portland, it started pouring. 
I had talked to some friends the night before and they had told me that every road is lined with trees.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  What I learned very quickly is that: 1. Maine doesn't invest much money into road signage. 2. There are no straight roads. And 3. I’m going to guess as a result of one and two, the speed limit on 90% of standard paved county / state highways is 45 mph.  One really shouldn't go much faster than that anyway.    
As we weaved our way through the ‘towns’, we kept a look out for some sign of life.  I think we only passed through 2 ‘towns’ that had a convenience store or something more than a string of houses.  We finally rolled into Back Country Excursions around 12:00 a.m. eastern.  This journey had started at 8:00 a.m. the day before.  We were exhausted.  
We received a warm, albeit wet welcome from Tyler, who did a nice job of swatting away the huge bugs and moths as we entered the ‘rustic cabin’.  He showed us to our ‘room’ where we would be staying for the next 3 days. ‘Rustic’ is a state of mind that really cannot be described without photos.  The owner of Back Country Excursions, Cliff, built the cabin himself, in 1970-something. I’m pretty sure there haven’t been updates since then.  Tyler told us that there was another Stephanie in the room adjacent to ours (no door, shared bathroom with shower).  We would meet her the next day (specifically as I groggily rolled over to see a tiny thing bee-bop by me).
The Cabin:  You walk into a small kitchen, and wrap around through a living room with couches and chairs, and plenty of biking and Maine themed magazines.  To the left is a small screened in porch for dining.  Beyond this is a ½ bath (with pastel blue and pink plumbing fixtures) and full sized bed, no doors, mind you, this is just as walk through the cabin.  As you squeeze by a tight dresser up the steep, shallow stairs, you wind up to the loft style bedrooms.  Our bedroom consisted of 3 toddler beds, I called the one off to the left, and to the right, under a sloped ceiling was where Steph took up residence.
There were 2 small beds that were made of a 5 inch thick foam camping mattress that sat atop a plywood base.  She also nabbed a window fan, unfortunately for her, there was no operational window that she could open to place it in. 
She propped it up against a couple pillows and made due. The upstairs bathroom housed a toilet that stood about 7 inches off the ground, perfect for potty training a 3 year old and a shower that was tucked into the same sloped ceiling.  I spent more time washing the ceiling than I did my hair.  It was built in the 70s, smaller people back then, I guess.  And so we made ourselves at home. Before we tucked in for the (short) night, Steph shrugged, ‘Maybe the thought is that if you work hard enough and you’re tired enough, you’ll just fall asleep.’  Turns out, that is exactly how it works.

Some of the reading material found in the cabin. 
Day 2: I tiredly wandered downstairs to check the schedule.  Breakfast preparations were underway, and we were to report back downstairs in another hour or so.  During breakfast, our get to know you time, we sat with a mechanical engineer, Stephanie (23, and our loft mate), a school teacher from the Bronx and his fiancé, Andy and Joseline, Cliff, our fearless tour guide, and his female companion, Lynn. At the other table there were 4 people from Virginia, brothers, Jimmy and Chris, Amanda ( Jimmy’s wife), and the brothers’ aunt, as well as Tyler, Cliff’s apprentice.  We had read some reviews prior to arriving that had us nervous…something about Cliff not being afraid to discuss politics.  Within about 12 minutes he had already mentioned something to the school teacher about using the history books with the ‘right’ version in it. I don’t know what that means. 
After breakfast it was still raining but we decided to get fitted for bikes and try on helmets. Then we went for a 2 hour ride.  I was the first one to hit a stump and go off my bike.  In my defense, Cliff did tell us that if we saw it, the bike would go over it, it was just our mind saying it couldn't.  Well, I didn't make it over the stump.  I do however now have some pretty impressive bruises. Can’t say I didn't try!
The trails are all on an easement from the State of Maine. Cliff doesn't own the property, but through an agreement with the state, he maintains the trails.  There are miles and miles of winding trails, that if you didn’t know where you were headed, you should probably pack some overnight gear.  They’re pretty easy to follow, but they are indeed, in the middle of nowhere. I believe Cliff also has naming rights to all the trails that he uses for riding.  There was Katy’s Trail, Lady Slipper, Half Pipe, Wild Wild West, and Upper and Lower Anaconda, just to name a few.
Steph and Virginia Chris posing while Tyler fixes Jimmy's bike that he over powered while changing gears going up hill and busted a chain. Photo op!
Anaconda Trail was a pretty flat trail that twisted and winded around, kept you on your feet, but all I could think / sing in my head was,
‘My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon!' I probably sang those 2 lines about 17 times throughout the day. When I told Sister Steph about my daydreaming, she responded with, ‘All I heard from your mouth all day was ‘Piss!’ and squeals, and the occasional ‘sssiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh’.   So yeah, that was how I sound mountain biking.  Other than that, the ride was pretty uneventful.  It rained all day, but we were working so hard, the rain gear acted like a sauna suit and my lungs felt every bit of elevation that we climbed.  Cliff told me that all my excitement and adrenaline was coming out my face.  Once I got that under control, the ride would be easier.  (I never got that under control, by the way.)
We came back to the cabin for lunch. This is when we realized that Cliff really likes to talk about himself, isn't the least bit modest, and very proud of himself (I believe narcissist is the proper term). At one point, someone had asked Cliff about the house.  Cliff went into some long spiel about how he was a general contractor, did a lot of work laying brick pathways and stone chimneys.  Tyler innocently said that we would probably love to see the handiwork he was doing on Lynn’s house.  Cliff came out of nowhere and uncomfortably snapped at him saying, ‘Tyler, they’re asking me questions! Don’t respond when they are talking to ME!’  AWKWARD.   This was just the beginning.
Since it rained all day Friday, the 4th of July fireworks all around were postponed until Saturday, so we had some time to head ‘into town’ to get some dinner.  I plugged, ‘Corning, ME’ into the GPS (the lovely GPS that so reliably got us here in the first place), we got a hair place in NYC.  We drove around aimlessly for about 45 minutes trying to find a signal, nothing. 
Finally we turned onto a highway and decided that the first gas station or sign of human activity we saw, we’d stop at and ask how to get to the nearest lobster source.  Well, eventually our highway came to an intersection with signage (!) and low and behold, there was a sign that said ‘CornISH, Maine, 9 miles.  Yeah, knowing the right name of the town would have probably helped the GPS out a little bit.  Anyway, we pulled up to what looked like a little mom and pop restaurant.  Luckily for us, Bay Haven was the ‘best lobster for hours, at a wildly reasonable price. We scootched ourselves into the bar area and ordered a drink and engaged in a little chit chat with the locals.  The ladies out here are crazy.  ‘Where ya from?’ How’d ya get here, whattaya doing?’  ‘You girls out here all by yourselves?’   I talked to a guy who responded with, ‘IOWA? Geez, I almost got thrown in jail in DeZ Moinerz’ (add additional consonants and vowels as you see necessary, you had to have an idea of where he was going with the story to make it out)!  Turns out, back in his wilder days, he was hitchin’ on I80 and almost got picked up by the police for vagrancy.  Apparently they did that back then.  A few minutes later, we got seated in a cozy table next to a couple and their friend, the gals were from CHI-caaaagoo, one a United Airlines stewardess, the other originally from Ellinois.  I told her I knew for realsies that she was from Ellenois because she pronounces the I like an E. They were lovely.  Ordered ‘steamas’ which are steamed clams that you take out of the shell and then rinse them off in some water, dip in some butta and, down the hatch they go.  

They gave Steph and I each one to try.  They were good, but I don’t think I could have ordered a whole appetizer for both of us to share.  I ordered twin lobster, with sides of a bun the size of a softball, coleslaw, and fries. Steph ordered shrimp and scallops. The bread was amazing, everything was.  (Side note: If you’re a Hagamaroe reading this, if these were the buns at Ashley’s graduation party, I would have eaten - all the buns.) 

Blurry photo one of the Helpful Ladies Of Maine took for us. 
Next came our stab at cracking open some lobster.  The ladies next to us wouldn’t let us waste a single bit of meat, so they showed us all the tricks to getting every bit out.  We sang some songs from, ‘The Little Mermaid’, and enjoyed all the lobster our stomachs would hold.  On our way out, we ran into Steph #2 eating at the bar with another one of New England’s finest worried moms.  She pretty much made us sit with Steph until she finished her lobsta.  She just couldn’t handle all us girls out here by ourselves. It was hilarious, really. Then we headed back to camp, as you would expect, not the right way.  We managed to touch base into New Hampshire for about 10 minutes (not technically on the route).
Day 3: Saturday
It stopped raining somewhere in the middle of the night, the sky was blue and all signs pointed towards it being a nice day. Breakfast started out with Bronx Andy asking Virginia Jimmy what he does for workouts (I think he was legitimately trying to get some iron pumping advice), without prompting, or even a notion, Modest Cliff chimes in and goes, ‘So, what kind of workout do I do during the winter, well, (well, actually MC, no one asked you, but go ahead, tell us how amazing you are for the next 15 minutes) I split wood, I blah blah blah. Ya know, we really don’t need gyms out here. We just move at a different pace, I’m retired, believe it or not?’  Good job MC, I’m proud of you. That carried on for far longer than necessary, at which point, I made eyes at Sister Steph, pushed by her and muttered, ‘I’m going upstairs, I can’t handle any more of this !@##’.
After breakfast we headed out on the bikes.  We did some more trails, ventured out onto the Half Pipe, which as I was just beginning to understand, our fearless tour guides undersell the level of challenge something ridiculous.  I believe the words, wide trail, not bad, super fun, and not hard, were all used to describe this trail.  It was horrifying.  I noticed nothing wide about the trail, and don’t recall being told about the 90 degree, tree root and rock infested incline following the 90 degree decline.  Somehow, I fought off the tears, but the internal dialogue was psychotic. I don’t think mountain biking is my thing.  Yes, horrifying was the right word. 

My stab at taking a panoramic photo of the woods and some of our fellow riders. 
Once we got back from that death trip, we had lunch and cleaned up.  Steph, Steph, and Cute Chris decided they wanted to go out again, I decided I’d rather get lost in the woods in my car.  So we went on our separate ways. 
I spent about an hour and a half winding around the back roads of Maine and New Hampshire. Got to see a lot of beautiful country that I hadn’t even imagined existed in the US.  If Dana were with me, we would have sang Taylor Swift songs and run around looking for vampires and werewolves ala Twilight.  But, alas, I was by myself and had finally located one radio station that came in pretty regularly, no T. Swizzle, but I made due. 

When I got back to the lodge, Steph was getting cleaned up.  The Virginia people had left early (bummer), and we still hadn’t seen any more from the Bronx couple. Steph Squared and I decided to go find some dinner and hopefully some fireworks.  We wandered into another small town restaurant, had a delightful seafood dinner and washed it down with a delicious blueberry beer, my new favorite. This one actually had fresh blueberries floating on the top. So refreshing.  Shortly after we were seated, ole MC and Lynn showed up to sit at the table next to us, which was just a little weird as they had invited us to go along with them, but after the lunch time tirade about all of Cliff’s accomplishments, I didn't have the stomach for it.  After dinner we were in search of some fireworks.  Now, I’m not sure what your preconceived notions about New England looks like, but to me, this was not it.  We were closer to the documentary, ‘The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia’ than we were, the quaint and reserved New England that I had imagined…which was nice, because I took this evening as an opportunity to wear my kitty shirt.  Luckily for me, we were kickin it in the sticks with my people, and there was a whole family of teenagers wearing patriotic kitty shirts.  
Steph Hageman was not pleased during this. 
Since we didn't know what to prepare for, we didn't have a blanket or lawn chairs to watch the fireworks from, so we went back to the Kia Soul, put the back seats down, opened up the hatch, and made ourselves comfortable. 

The show lasted about a half hour, and we were off, back to our home away from home.  We stayed up for a little bit, shooting the proverbial shit with Tyler, learned all about his bike and adrenaline junkie lifestyle, then headed off to dreamland.  We had decided earlier that Sunday’s ride was going to be a short one so that Steph could get back to Boston to play tourist with her friend, and I just didn’t have the blazing desire to kill myself again. 
Once we were out on the trail though, day 4 turned out really well. The trails had dried out a little bit, my confidence wasn’t completely lacking, and I didn’t throw myself off the bike or well up with tears once.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to abandon my road bike, get me some 29s and start using the words ‘gnarly’, and ‘flow’, but I am glad I stuck with it and went for the 3rd ride.  It was fun, and I’m glad I challenged myself.  We even did the ‘Half Pipe’ twice, and I admitted to enjoying it.  It wasn’t nearly as terrifying the 2nd and 3rd times around.  #lifelessons
After the ride, we came back, had a quick breakfast, cleaned up and headed out for Portland.  We even had some revelations about MC, although when in a social setting, he comes off as a narcissistic, self-absorbed a-hole, when he’s on the bike, he couldn’t be more supportive, helpful, and complimentary.  I might go again. This is just my two cents, but I think the dynamic of the whole weekend would be different if he would start people out on bikes instead of in his ‘made by his own 2 hands’ cabin and kitchen, making small talk. 
Steph and I got into Portland about 1:30, but couldn’t check into our hotel until after 3:00.  We went down to the waterfront area and headed out on a ferry to Peak’s Island.  We got some ice cream, rented some bikes and took some more touristy pictures.  We thought the ferry was going back at 4:00, but quickly realized we still had an hour to burn. We headed to the closest watering hole that we could hear playing some reggae tunes.  We walked in and it was an all-out Jersey Shore, college inspired booze fest.  Now, I’m all about a good game of flippy cup and accelerated drinking, but after all the quiet that we had become so accustomed to, it was a hard pill to swallow.  We chugged our drinks and got out of Guido-land as fast as possible.  Back to the ferry we went.  A group of hammered girls sat themselves close to us and slurredly planned out their weddings to Francois and Nick, the 2 strangers they had just met at the ‘Shore’.  Thankfully, the ferry ride was only about 17 minutes (yes, I counted) and we bailed from that train wreck.
We headed to the other side of town to check into our hotel and relax.  Then we drove around looking for a Mexican restaurant that Steph said she had seen on our way from downtown…ended up going to a Thai restaurant and ordering far more than either of us could handle.  We decided that if we saw a homeless person, we would give them our leftovers.    We didn’t see any, but while I’m on the topic, Portland, Maine has some of the cleanest homeless people I’ve ever seen.  They’re well placed and know exactly which stoplights hold on red for 7 minutes at a time.  We called the front desk, got a mini refrigerator for our leftovers and went to sleep. 
The next morning, day 5, for those of you keeping track, we had massage appointments at 10:00.  I got one of the best massages I’ve had in my life.  Stephanie, not so much, which I was terribly sad to hear; because as I waited for her to emerge from her room, her masseuse came out,  a tall bearded man who I could have only imagined receiving nothing but bliss from. Unfortunately, I think he was scared of her similar ‘LMT’ status (licensed massage therapist, for those of you not in on the lingo), and just tried too much fancy work instead of just beating out the tense muscles.  After our appointments, we headed back towards the water, got some grub, did some shopping, I got a cupcake, she got some gelato, and then went back to Casco Bay to take another ferry through the islands.  We rounded the trip off by hitting up a local DQ (after searching for other ice cream places in the area, which without driving back downtown, there appeared to be none) and heading back to the ole HoJo (Howard Johnson).  Our return flight took off at 6:00 a.m. and we needed to (finally) return our beloved Kia Soul.  All in all, we had a great trip! Perfect way to ring in a new decade for Steph Jo!
What you probably didn’t know about Maine!
  1. Their state slogan is, Maine, It’s for Vacationing! 65% of residents get at least part of their income from tourism related industry. 
  2. Maine is the most sparsely populated state in the continuous 48 states.
  3. Road signage is not a strong suite, in fact, where us Iowan’s are used to seeing a street sign at each street, with its corresponding intersecting street named as well, Mainers (pronouneced, Mainuhs) save 50% and only put up one. Like no one has to know what street they’re currently on.  Hard to explain.
  4. Sometimes gravel / dirt roads are ‘the way’. GPS recognizes them, whereas in other areas of the country, the GPS would send you on a 20 mile loop before they send you on a secondary road, there isn’t an alternate route.
  5. They still have full service gas stations!  I had no idea how to behave.
  6. Their towns carry on for miles, even if the main portion of it is just a string of 3 houses somewhere in the middle. There is a sign for coming and going to each town, which seem more like counties or townships than how I typically think of a town (with a main street, Casey’s General Store, bank, and a BAR.)
  7. Clean homeless people, kinda just look like they got dressed for work, and showed up on a median of a busy intersection.
  8. Their neighbor, New Hampshire, home to Mitt Romney, looks pretty much identical to Maine (in the tree-lined back roads that I saw, anyway).  Their state slogan is, “Live Free or Die”, and upon entering NH, they have a big 4’x4’ wooden sign hanging from a street lamp (where you might more ordinarily see a holiday décor / wreath, or state / USA flag) with a painting of a hand gun.  You probably don’t need to guess which way they swing on the political spectrum.
  9. The low toilet thing isn’t reserved for rustic lodges, I got extra squats in all week getting down to Maine’s level.
  10. If you can’t clearly pronounce your R’s, you should move to New England, they don’t use that letter anywhere.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No good, very bad week.

I've had a horrible week. The kind that I would only assume causes some to pick up smoking, hook up with a random, or flirt with the idea of getting into meth. Well, don't worry, I just had a melt down and threw away all my underwear. No big woop. Now I get to go shopping.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 3: Being the tooth fairy wasn't on my itinerary

Today was the first day of the boys going to school and me working. Dawn told me to get Logan up around 6:20 a.m. for him to shower.  She also said that mornings are 'chop-chop' and not to dilly dally.  As a quick translation, that means, 'wake Logan up at 6:15, don't screw around, and for the love of God, don't suddenly introduce any kind of new behavior into the established routine.'

I know that most of the things described in these posts / my journal musings are old hat for any parent, but I'm not a mom. I'm a 31 year old single woman who rarely even has a schedule beyond gym, work, couch, rinse and repeat.  But this week I have an eight page itinerary that outlines my every intended move.  Kids need to be places, I need to pick them up, drop them off, and not fail, so here we go.  A little breakdown of my day, if for no one else's entertainment besides the kids' parents whom have so idiotically entrusted their children's lives to my care.

1. Showers.  Logan and Bryce did well, as planned and expected.   I was instructed to help Colton as necessary.  I thought I would stand back and see how things went without my intervention.  He screwed around for a good seven minutes when I finally opened the door to check his progress. I peaked in just in time to see him squirt out a handful of Axe body wash into his paw and mash it into his hair.  I watched to make sure he got it all rinsed out and called it good. I then blow dried his hair to see how Axe did on creating volume.  Not too shabby.  P.S. I may have added a new thing to their daily routine...a couple more days of me blow drying his hair and he's hooked.  Sorry, Dawn.

2. Dawn revealed to me about 14 years ago that she is crazy. She has a policy regarding Tupperware leaving her house, it doesn't. So, taking advantage of my freedom in her house, I took her Tupperware to work with my lunch in it today.  I laughed all the way to work.  No worries. It made it home and into the dishwasher without incident.

3.  I picked up Colton at babysitter #1 today.  We got home just in time to beat Bryce and the school bus with about 4 minutes to spare.  Snacks all around.  Then Colton comes to me saying his tooth is wiggly.  He wasn't kidding. It was really loose.  Knowing how much of a wuss I was about getting my teeth yanked, I figured I could ride this out a few days.  Nope, he wanted it out, and he wanted me to pull it, now.  While Bryce pulled every tool out of the junk drawer, trying to convince me that we would need at least a flashlight and a pliers, if not a corkscrew and knife, Colton and I wiggled it back and forth a little more.  Finally, I grabbed a paper towel, dried it off and gave it a couple good tugs, and out it comes.  Now begins the grueling process of figuring out what this tooth is worth.  I finally settled on $2.00 with a fairy signed note.  I hope it was good enough. Side note:  This was his first tooth!  He was completely fearless in getting that sucker yanked.

4.  Logan had reading group and basketball practice after school, so we had to pick him up on our way to RAD, their self defense class.  Long story short, I got lost, drove through the city pool's parking lot, and made some questionable maneuvers with Dawn's minivan, all in front of a cop who was patrolling the empty pool at 6:30 on a Monday night in February.  Seems reasonable.  Anyway, after some sketchy directions from the boys, I amazingly stumbled on the preschool.  Hopefully Wednesday will be easier.  Should be working off the same itinerary. 

5.  Bryce called me out on looking at my phone while I was driving.  Lesson learned. They know the rules and don't hesitate to let you know you're breaking them.  

It's 11:00 p.m. and you'd swear I was hit by a damn train. Time for me to snuggle up with Morgan, who by the way has a body temperature of about 200 degrees.  Last night I woke up and moved to the other side of the bed because I was sweating bullets with her all up in my space.  It's the least I can do though, she's been locked in her kennel all day.  Even this hardened heart has a soft spot for this little ding dong of a dog.  Also, she shit in her kennel today.  Her way of telling me that she's not okay with the current arrangements. 

My 9 Day Stint as a Single Mom

Day One

I wake up in the downstairs bedroom around 7:00 a.m.  We have a basketball tournament for Logan, the 9 year old at 10:30 in Albia, Iowa, which happens to be an hour away.  I've been instructed to be out the door by 8:30 at the latest.  I groggily take my pantsless self upstairs where Morgan, their Jack Russel Terrier meets me.  This is strange, I think.  Then I look at the love seat where I can hear 2 little voices speaking in muffled tones. Colton and Bryce, the 5 and 7 year old are already up and at 'em playing games on the Ipad.  I decide I should probably get in the shower and get this day going.  The boys convince me that they don't need to shower, so we start breakfast.  Bryce is struggling with a mean case of bedhead and I'm half tempted to wear my kitty shirt. I know it will embarrass Dawn more than it will the boys, so I'm saving it for next week. We seamlessly get ready for the tournament in record time.  We're in the garage by 8:22 a.m., which is when I realize I can't find my phone and Logan's ipod has mysteriously disappeared.  After 3 trips in and out of the house, I find my phone in my pocket and Logan's ipod on the counter. I've only looked in that exact place 3 times.

During our hour plus ride down to Albia, Logan asks no less than eight times how much further we have to go to get to the tournament.  He reads through the schedule thoroughly and then breaks down last weeks tournament at Dowling when the lights went out halfway through the day, just like at the Super Bowl, JUST. LIKE. IT.  Meanwhile, in another part of the school, a wrestling meet was also being interrupted by the power failure.  Logan adds that they decided to stop the meet where they were and started  putting the wrestling mats away through the gym that the basketball tournament was taking place.  Logan notes that it was all Chinese guys that were putting the mats away.  I ask him if the fact that they were Chinese had anything to do with the story.  Logan says no, and I use this opportunity for a lesson in racism. 

We arrive in Albia ahead of schedule.  I'm amazed, but decide not to pat myself on the back too much until we've at least made it to the end of the day.  I didn't realize I was supposed to wear purple, I'm definitely breaking suit with the the rest of the parents.  Also, I think we're sitting in the wrong area of the gym. Colton has taken at least 3 basketballs to the head, and the game hasn't even started yet.

They win the first game. The second and third games are in the High School on the other side of town, so we pack up and head to the other school. We take a seat in the bleachers with the other parents.  Colton and Bryce stay relatively entertained with I-devices...they pick on a couple of the other dads which is a welcome break because I clearly suck at rough housing.  Logan's team loses game two, but wins the third and last game pretty easily, he even scored 4 points. I say my goodbyes to the other parents and we load up the van and head for home.  I thought / hoped that the boys would zonk out on the way home. Turns out I was the only one that was even affected by the day out of the house.  They do this all the time, I'm the only one struggling.  We get home, do some stuff, fight over i-devices, have dinner, and then around 7:30 Traci and Dana show up to tell me about their first night without me. I come to the realization that married procreators must stick together, otherwise hearing of their single friends exploits would get really old and sad really fast.  Apparently I missed out on a party at my house...I've only been doing this for about 16 hours and already I'm homesick. Dana does a couple puzzles with Colton, and reads a book to Colton and Bryce.  Traci makes sure to tell the boys that their teeth will fall out if they don't brush well, so they obediently head to the bathroom to get their brush on.  The boys go to bed as they do every night without a hitch.  I think there may have been one or two instances of butt exposures that resulted in time outs, but otherwise everyone was reasonably well behaved...for what I can recall anyway.  I had some wine with the girls.  It was a perfect way to wind down after a long, fish out of water day.

Day 2...

Now, this day may be a little more difficult to read, for Dawn anyway.  We were up before 7:00 a.m. I should have gone to church, just to break up the day a little.  I'll know better for next week.  We put together a few more puzzles, had breakfast, etc, and I swear I looked at the clock thinking it had to be at least 11:30, and it read 9:05.  I knew it was going to be a long day.  Shortly after lunch I came up with a brilliant idea to make cupcakes.  Since you would have to be a miracle worker to come up with a flavor that all three agree on, I made plain white cupcakes, split the batter into thirds and colored one bowl blue and the other orange for Chicago Bears colors. Bryce even said they tasted like blue.  Whatever that means, I'll probably never know.

We ended up having to run into Indianola to get powdered sugar and cupcake liners. This was a perfect excuse to get out of jammies and brush our teeth.  Oops.  Just a little behind schedule today.  We checked out right behind Casey Blake, a local hero and pro baseball player that returned home.  Good looking dude. Kudos to Logan for pointing him out. Good thing we all brushed our teeth and didn't roll into Hy-Vee wearing spiderman jammies and kitty shirts.  If I had been at home in Des Moines and suddenly realized I needed cupcake wrappers, there's a pretty good chance I would have just put pants on with a coat, gambling that I wouldn't see anyone I know.  I'm guessing this may have been the first day that these boys have not showered since they were in the womb. This is a clean family....which is nice, because after watching a 5 year old dress himself, I'm pretty confident saying that I doubt there is any square inch of his bedroom floor that hasn't had his bare butt rubbed on it.  Put socks on, bare butt on the floor. Put pants on, bare butt on the floor.  So funny to figure out how their minds work.

My friend Kyle came over shortly after the Hy-Vee run to play games and become Logan's new best friend. He stayed for dinner to entertain me with adult conversation.  Seriously, how do single moms do it, on so many levels?!  This next statement is coming form a person that depending on when the first person calls me on a Sunday, may not even use her voice until well after noon.  It is wildly taxing to not be able to have an adult conversation for a day.  I was exhausted and ready for bed at 8:00 tonight.  Had Kyle not made it over, I may have gone to bed at 6:30, all of us.

Quote of the day (with a little context): Bryce and Colton had been 'playing' /picking on one another for what seemed like hours, it was probably 10 minutes of screaming, whining and yelling, but I couldn't take it any longer.  I dug down deep into the, 'stuff my mom said that drove me nuts' file, and pulled out this gem: 'If you're going to kill one another, do it downstairs!'  Nice work.  So proud of myself.  Bryce and Colton each got time outs today.  Bryce for smacking Colton's butt, I can't remember if it was a bare butt or not, but I remember knowing it was worth 5 minutes of solitude.  Colton had about 95 seconds of timeout because he just wouldn't stop screaming, and I didn't know how else to make it stop.  Every time they put Pandora on the damn TV the place turns into an all out rave.  You'd swear someone laced their grape juice with some Ecstasy and handed out glow sticks.  Bouncing off the walls singing to Ke$ha, Bruno Mars, or Will.I.Am...you never notice an inappropriate lyric until you hear a 5 year old sing some Ke$ha.

Also, last night we played the board game, Sorry.  Children don't know how to follow rules.  It was wildly frustrating to not go all 'Rules Nazi' on them as they skipped spaces, counted crazy and made up rules as they went.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iowa State Fair Reflections

Another year of the Iowa State Fair has come and gone.  I was recently reminiscing about previous years and some of the high (or low) points. Some of my biggest fans have been around for these monumental times, so I thought I'd put them together in one place before I forget about how awesome they were....I've already forgotten some of the details.

1. The most infamous ISF moment has got to be the night that I attempted to pick up my friend John at the wrong house. There just so happened to be a guy named John that lived 3 houses down in another red house with a red SUV in the garage.  The wrong John was a retired elderly man with a very concerned wife.  I showed up in proper fair attire, low cut black cowgirl dress, green alligator boots and cowboy hat. Hopefully I never forget that one. But here's a recap http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/notes/val-hageman/ben-wanted-me-to-write-a-story-about-how-paul-revere-ate-a-tyranasourus-rexand-h/440646868808.  (Side note: this was the first time I've read that story in nearly 2 years...for some reason I recall it being written better.  But if you'll note the time, it was written at 3:00 a.m., after a wild night at the fair.)  Also, I don't know where or why a Tyrannosaurus Rex came into this story, muchless the title, but I do know that we had Paul Revere's pizza when we got home from the fair, I'm guessing it has something to do with that???

Also noted in this Facebook note was a reference to George Bush.  What the hell does that have to do with anything, you ask?  Well, while John and  I were leaving the fairgrounds that night there was a couple that was getting into a fight, it was about something really stupid, like the lack of cabs at midnight at the fairgrounds.  All of a sudden the guy freaks out, and screams, 'What do you want me to do, call George Bush?!'  It made absolutely no sense.  Barack was already in office, George was nearly helpless at this point.  But the event topped off a really weird night.

2.  I have a picture from this night, but remember few details.  My cousin Amber and I went to a concert at the grandstand. I have no clue who we were there to see, but I do remember that we were in either the very top or 2nd to top row of the upper deck of the grandstands.  We were stuck smack dab in the middle of the section which was terribly inconvenient because we were drinking beers on a pretty aggressive pace.  This started to piss off the teenagers that had to get up and let us thru every 20 minutes and they were got more vocal with their annoyance with every drink that we got.  So, being the courteous person that I am, I decided that since no one was in the seats directly in front of us, that I'd just scale over a row of seats instead of inconveniencing the kids again.  So, I swing one leg over the seat, and as I'm bringing the other over, I hear and feel, rrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiipppppppppppp. Did I mention that I was wearing a knee length jean skirt with a 4" slit in the middle front? Well, it turned into an 18" slit.  Good thing I'm always sporting full coverage undies.  I have a pic of the aftermath somewhere. We'll see if I have the guts to scan it.

3.  Another cousin time, I was in the grandstand with Tara and we were playing catch up and chatting during intermission and then continued thru the next concert. Again, I don't remember who we were there to see.  But our constant chatter must have started to piss off the concert goer in front of us. At one point she turned around and says, 'Are you girls going to talk the entire concert?'  Yikes, I'm guessing this was the first time ever that Tara got in trouble for talking too much. I'll take the blame on this one. Cranky bitch. Live a little.

4.  Leaving the fair one night with some Hagamaroes I encountered another domestic dispute. In this case, the guy was being an absolute jerk, yelling at his girlfriend and being completely out of control. I took it upon myself to stick up for this stranger, interrupted and said something along the lines of, "Honey, you don't have to put up with this asshole, why are you letting him talk to you this way?' This made Super Ass much more furious and irate.  So I continued sticking up for her and started my own argument with him. This turned out to be really dumb, and I ended it.  Not before attempting to literally kick his ass with my green boots.  Mind you, I was 3 feet behind him and just mocking the motions, well, I got a little ambitious in one of my last attempts to 'kick' his ass and did a super high kick, while walking across 30th Street at Dean Avenue (one of the main and busiest gates at the fair for some of you non regulars) with at least 200 other late night fair leavers.  Side note: this fair night I was sporting some torn up jeans with holes up and down the legs as well as a hole in the bottom leaving the hem just flailing behind.  At some point during my wind up and execution,the bottom hem of my torn up jeans got stuck under the heel of my boot. Once my jeans realized they were being stretched to their max, and my heel extended, this stopped me in my tracks and I ended up high-kicking myself to the ground and landed square on my butt.  This impressed everyone around. I think at least one Hagamaroe peed herself.

I'm sure there are more, but as I've stated earlier, the devil is in the details and I'm getting old.  Feel free to add your best ISF moments in the comments.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just when you thought I couldn't get any dumber...

If you've been keeping track lately, I haven't necessarily been kicking ass and taking names. I've had what one may call, 'a good run of bad luck.'  I'm not dying and as far as I know, I'm healthy so it's nothing serious, but it is enough to give me a headache and a bad attitude.  So, tonight I come home from work with all intentions of going to the gym for the first time in a month or so.  My plan is to come home, watch the news, convince myself I'm smarter than everyone on Wheel of Fortune and then go run in place at the gym and watch the Olympic beach volleyball gold metal match.  I promptly change into my gym clothes so I don't talk myself out of it, charge my ipod for an hour and I'm ready to go.  I grab my phone and ipod and head out the door.  Halfway down the stairs I realize I forgot my water bottle, turn around and just then I realize,  I don't have my keys. Son. Of. A. Bitch.  I go to the door, turn the handle just to make sure I wasn't overreacting, but yes, it is indeed locked.  I google a locksmith and call, they'll be here in 15-30 minutes. So I hang out on the balcony, checking for wandering criminals, shoot out a few texts, and the guy shows up within about 20 minutes. Not too shabby.

While I was hoping for the male stripper version of a locksmith (similar to the often envisioned hot cable guy or hot Mid American guy that I've never gotten), I knew better than to expect that. Just a week ago I watched a locksmith come to the rescue of a guy locked out of his car outside our office.  The locksmith showed up in a 1992 Taurus with no hub caps, a coat hanger and a sideways hat. I adjusted my expectations, but one can dream. 

Up the stairs comes an 18 year old kid. He turns the doorknob, yep, it's locked. He pulls out his toolkit that looks like he could clean my teeth and fill a cavity with, and looks up at me and says, 'just to let you know, this is going to be $95 plus tax.' 'What? I thought it was $25.' He stands up and says, 'thats only if there's a kid locked in a car.'  'Well remind me to start locking kids inside next time!'  He chuckles, I don't.   I don't need this shit right now, but what's my other option, hit the screen out of my bathroom window and jump from the balcony into my window?  'Ok, fine, proceed.'  He wiggles an Allen wrench (or in April Hageman terms, 'monkey wrench') in the keyhole and takes out a nail file and starts shaking it. I'm sure there is some method to this, but I'm pretty sure I know what to do next time.  That doesn't seem to work so he gets out a small drill, looks at me and goes, 'this isn't going to drill thru, it's just going to vibrate a little bit, pretty much the same thing I'm doing with that tool, just faster.'  (Insert your own dirty joke here.)  He plays around a little bit longer, and then pulls out a folder of plastic cards.  He tells me that if a criminal were to attempt to break into my house, they would use something like this to bypass the locked door, and that if I had used the dead bolt, a criminal can't bypass it without knocking down the door.  Good to know.  So he continues playing with his plastic cards, apparently have switched over into criminal mode, and pops the door open.  Then he looks at me strange and goes, 'are you sure the door was locked?'  'Um yeah, the handle is still locked.' 'But I don't think it was engaged,' he responds, 'I think your door is just heavy and neither of us pushed on it when we tried turning the knob.'  'You have got to be kidding (or more colorful language) me!'  He tries it a couple more times, locking the door and shutting it and then just pushing it open.  Sweet mother of God, I am an idiot. So, having not used my deadbolt except from when I am actually in the apartment, I have left my door open to intruders every day since I moved in.  Thankfully my friendly, pre-facial hair growing age locksmith sympathized with me a little bit and gave me a 'deal' only charging me $65 to push open my door.  I guess it's time to call someone who can actually fix my lock now.  But good news to all that read this, referral unlocks are only $35! Call me if you need a door unlocked, I can get you a deal.

P.S. I still made it to the gym to see Misty May and Kerri Walsh kick ass.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hagamaroes take on Country on the River

Good morning, all!  I hope you've all been well in my absence. I just got home from a nice weekend with fellow Hagamaroes, and I thought I'd let you know how things went.  I took the liberty to pack a journal for this occasion, knowing that it would indeed be filled with memorable events...I had no clue how well that plan would work out....so here is my detailed account of our weekend in Prairie du Chien.  You're welcome.


3:15 p.m. Kim walks in the room in a cute little dress, lifts up the back to show off her bare buns.  Somebunny forgot their underwear.

3:16 p.m. Kim is wearing my purple underwear.

4:30: Lady on bus (whom we've dubbed Ms. George from her freckled arms that are similar to our uncle George's) leans over to her seat mate and says "wanna feel how wet I am down here?"  April and I looked at one another in amazement and cheersed our Busch Lights, and then threw up all over in our heads.

5:00: Freckled guy to the left (whom we've also taken to call George) leans over to his buddy and says, "ya know, the girl on my facebook that I like, with the big titties...end scene.

9:25:  (Side note: I wish you could see the handwriting on this entry)  Lirp says, 'Travis Tritt looks like a cross between Ronnie Dunn and Billy Ray!'  I just read on the Facebook that he was  'visibly drunk'. Apparently when one is drunk, they can't make these types of judgements.  I thought he was fine.


7:00 a.m.: The breakfast sausage smells like pot. Lirp Dogg has changed her name to Lirp Lion. Kim threw away my underwear.

7:30: April starts cleaning the chocolate from the mess in her purse. A rousing game of 'poop or chocolate' ensues.

10:04: April looks at me and says, 'its 10, we can put vodka in our coffee now". Ok...I'll go along with this.

Random untimed note: Waiting in line for shuttles last night a bus full of people slows in front of us, a ding dong looks around and says, 'are they dropping people off?'  I sarcastically say, yeah, they're coming from another concert.'  She snarks back at me, 'well you don't have to be so mean about it :('  I almost got punched.

11:05 I just tweezed a stray pube from Trisha's forearm.

11:41: About 30 minutes ago April started cleaning the chocolate off all the stuff in her purse. We're going to write an apology note for the white washcloth that looks like its covered in shit. She's almost done.

12:19: Maid service came in and switched out towels and emptied trash cans. One of them carried on a conversation with April while she brushed her teeth and then touched her arm while telling us to enjoy our weekend. It was weird.

12:32:  Kim silently walked out of the room to go back to shower. She crop dusted on her way out. I called her room saying only, 'I know what you did' and hung up.  We could hear her giggling thru the wall.

2:04: 'Kim, you look like a little Chinese lady, would you do my nails?'

2:49: Kim and Trisha met members of Gary Allen's band. Tisha farted. They have already reserved their room for next year, the Fur Trader Suite. 

3:06 Traffie's first band spotting from her post on the AC unit.

3:10: Talked with Levi and Gary Allen thru the hotel window. They like us.

3:42: Gary Allen's band member, Levi took a drink out of Traffie's cup. Her brush with fame.

4:27: Kim got walked in on in the porta potties by an old dude. I think she'll lock the door next time.

5:49: One man Memorial Day parade as Darryl Worely sings, "Have you Forgotten' he is wearing camo shorts, a cutoff t-shirt and carrying a huge American flag. We later got a picture with him.

11:26: Kip and Tosh - night night snorey-snorey panks (this is word for word from the journal).

11:30: Mike and Steve Spalla show up having gotten a ride from the concert grounds by the porta potty truck.

11:45: Val to April: Do you have enough vodka in there?
April: Don't question my altacohol intake?
Val: Ok then, I won't.


7:30 a.m.: April: 'these jeans are awful hot to sleep in.'

9:30: on the way home...Val to April: Were you talking about corn last night? Like the sneaky corn that sprouts up in the middle of beans?'
April: 'It's called volunteer corn. Not sneaky corn.'

Until next year....