Million Dollar Smile

We flew to Phoenix on August 20th and proceeded to spend the next ten days busting our butts with house projects. I reached a level 3 cleaning status on the house by Friday morning. Which means I pretty much did everything except vacuum the drapes and clean the oven. Why all the effort? For the baby, of course. And her parents.

Yes, the Australian contingent of my husband’s family is here for a visit. We couldn’t be more excited. They landed in Los Angeles on Friday morning and drove to Palm Springs to spend a night recovering from the 14 hour flight. We didn’t know exactly what time they would arrive on Saturday, as traveling with a baby doesn’t lend itself to precise scheduling. I spent the better part of an hour jumping up and looking out the window at every little sound.

When they finally arrived, Nola was awake and cheerful after having napped most of the drive. She slept a record 12 hours on Friday night to make up for not getting much rest during the flight. She took the long plane trip like a champ, despite the lack of sleep. After we showed her parents around the house and got all of the luggage out of the car, everyone went for a swim. Except my husband, who acted as paparazzi by the pool. I am proud to say that I resisted the urge to get out my camera and immediately start photographing Nola.

Today we head up to Sedona for a night, followed by the Grand Canyon. This will be my 6th trip to the South Rim, but the first one in 19 years. I expect to take a few photos. As stunning as the Canyon is, nothing compares to the toothy little grin of a beautiful baby girl.

Saturday at the Track

We spent today at the Milwaukee Mile. It’s located on the Wisconsin state fair grounds and its claim to fame is that it is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world. It’s a great place to watch a race because you can easily see the entire track from the grandstand. It also happens to be an easy drive from Minneapolis. By my count, this will be our 17th race in Milwaukee. Our first race was in 1996 and since then we’ve only missed one year because we were in Europe.

If you’ve gone to the bother of counting the years between 1996 and now, you will notice I’m one year short. That would be 2010, when the series did not race here. But enough about history, today’s events started with practice at 10:00. We nicely timed our arrival to reach the pits just as practice started.

A day at the track is usually marked by intervals of excitement well spaced between a lot of sitting around. Today was no exception. The second practice wasn’t until 1:30 and qualifying started at 5:00, so we had roughly 3 hours of “activity” over an 8 hour period of time. Plus lunch.

After a long day in the heat, we didn’t feel much like eating when we left, so dinner was frozen custard followed by snacks in our hotel room. At this rate we’ll be having mints for dinner tomorrow. Except we’ve already made a reservation for the massive steak place. With any luck, it will be a celebratory dinner. But I’m not holding my breath.

Friday in Milwaukee

Today was our free day in Milwaukee. There were no track activities scheduled for IndyCar, so we had the luxury of sleeping in late and bumming around. After a massive steak dinner last night, I needed the extra time just to digest. I’d like to say that I got a really good night’s sleep, but that would be a blatant lie. The hotel bed just wasn’t up to my cushy standard.

So how do you start the day after a massive dinner? With a massive breakfast, of course. There is an Original Pancake House right across the street from our hotel, so we made that our first stop. By the time we were seated and actually got our food, it was more like lunchtime. I only managed to put away a little over half of my three egg scramble.

After breakfast we made a quick stop at the track to pick up our credentials and then went to check out a local art fair. The art fair was located at The Domes, which is a conservatory consisting of three large (you guessed it) domes, each with a different theme. It was just a little kitschy, but a good way to kill some time since the art show turned out to be pretty small.

As a counterpoint to our massive and expensive steak dinner last night, we ended up just going out for wings. Just a laid back Friday in Milwaukee. Tomorrow we’re off to the track.

Let the Insanity Begin

We drove to Milwaukee today, thus beginning a 30 day stretch where we will only be home for two full days. Well, that’s not completely accurate, since a big chunk of that time will be spent in Phoenix, which is our secondary home. But not home, home, if you know what I mean.

We will drive back home from Milwaukee on Monday, spend Tuesday in Minneapolis and then turn around and fly to Phoenix on Wednesday. We’ll be in Phoenix for just over two weeks and then, after spending two nights and one day in Minneapolis again, it’s back on the road to Baraboo and Chicago for a trip with my husband’s family. Call it 50 shades of insanity.

The Milwaukee stretch of this little bit of craziness is prompted by a race. We’ve attended the race in Milwaukee nearly every year it’s been held since 1996. It’s always been in early June, until this year. Which is convenient, because the old race date would likely have conflicted with my 50th birthday party. So you can say I got to have my cake and still go racing. Not too shabby.

The Ganassi Racing team has had a pretty tough season so far, only managing to win one race. But the weather is forecast to be nice and Milwaukee’s a pretty nice city, so I think we’ll manage to have a fun weekend, regardless. Let the Insanity begin.

Underdressed and Apprehensive

I watch some weird TV. Some of it falls into the so bad it’s funny category (yes, we watched Sharknado and Sharknado 2 last week) and some of it falls into the gawking at a train wreck category, ala Renovation Realities and World’s Worst Tenants. My latest obsession is a little gem called Naked and Afraid. It makes shows like Survivor look like a picnic in the park.

The basic premise of the show is that two people (one man, one woman) who don’t know each other, get left in some godforsaken wild area with no food, no water and (wait for it) no clothes. If they manage to last 3 weeks, they get to endure a grueling hike/swim to a designated extraction point. Their prize? Nothing other than the satisfaction of surviving. As someone who’s idea of roughing it is a hotel with no wifi and no cable, I can’t even begin to comprehend why anyone would subject themselves to such a hellish experience.

People do Survivor for the $1 Million prize. That, I can understand. But to spend 3 weeks naked and starving with a complete stranger, just for bragging rights? It’s just not something I can wrap my head around. I wouldn’t last 3 weeks with a stranger in a cold hotel room without TV and internet. Don’t even get me started on the subject of camping – that’s my idea of hell.

Life of Leisure

It’s August already, dammit. Where did the summer go? It’s amazing how quickly time seems to pass even when I feel like I’m not doing a whole heck of a lot. One of my friends is taking a sabbatical between jobs and she sent me a text two weeks ago, asking if I was free that day for a late lunch. I had to decline because I was on my way to a massage. She sent me a similar request the next day. I had just finished a facial and happened to be free.

When we met up, I said “You must think I spend all my time getting massages and facials. That’s because I do.” Not completely true, but not totally inaccurate either. We had a late lunch and then did some shopping. Her comment just before we parted was “I could get used to this.” I know she meant it at the time, but I also know she’ll be just a little bored and more than ready to start her new job at the end of this month. We’re talking about someone who juggles the responsibility of being a mom to 3 young children while excelling at a demanding job.

Unlike yours truly, who has made living a life of leisure into a fine art. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Many people flounder in retirement. I think my husband was concerned I would get a little stir crazy after quitting my job 4 years ago. While I was never a type A personality, I did have a pretty demanding job that occupied a significant number of my waking hours. I will admit to an occasional bout of boredom now and then, but mostly I’ve just slowed down my pace, dropped my stress level to almost zero and redefined the meaning of “busy.”  It doesn’t suck.

The Bitch is Back

You may have noticed I’ve been on hiatus for the past 6 weeks. That’s what I’m calling it, anyway. You might call it “bitch be too lazy to write on her own stupid blog.” Hell, I’m 50 now and I’ll call it whatever I like. My 50th birthday party was the bomb, naturally. It ended up being too cold to wear the second dress I purchased for the event, so I made a last minute switch. Fortunately, my closest is copious and I pulled out a dynamite purple neoprene number that zipped all the way up the front. It was a big hit.

So what have I been doing for the past 6 weeks? Going through menopause. Pretty much right on schedule it would appear. Technically, the official diagnosis of menopause only comes after a year of no periods. But I went in for a hormone test on Friday, after I quit taking the pill 5 weeks ago and came back with a score of 98 (under 10 is considered fertile). So I’m going to officially announce that my ovaries have failed. Should I be happy? Mournful? I opted for champagne. (No, seriously, we split a bottle of Krug on Friday night)

I could really do without the hot flashes. Waking up every hour or two and having to through off the covers is getting to be a bit of a drag. At first I only had them at night. Now they are starting to creep into my waking hours as well. I’m usually cold, so now I get to alternate – sweatshirt on, sweatshirt off. My husband finds it amusing. I’m just grateful I haven’t developed any other symptoms yet. Hormonally induced tears and/or rage, anyone? No, thanks. Of course, if I do get exceptionally bitchy, I now have an excuse. Like I needed one.

50 and Fabulous

Today is my 50th birthday. I can’t really say it snuck up on me, as I’ve been planning a party for almost a year now, but I’m still feeling a little stunned by its arrival. Fifty, can I really be fifty? I don’t feel fifty, I’m not even sure I ever felt like forty. I’m certainly in the best shape of my life, excepting the last four pounds I still need to lose from our epic vacation.

On Thursday I bought a bombshell dress to wear to my party tonight. My second bombshell dress, as the one I bought last summer is just too structured to forgive the extra four pounds. I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity to wear it someday. The new dress shows more boob and less leg (’cause too much of both is slutty) and it’s ruched around the midsection to provide a little more camouflage. The stretchy fabric is more forgiving too.

Of course it decided to rain on my parade today. Literally. It was 55 degrees and raining when I got up this morning. I’ll probably freeze my ta-ta’s off tonight. But I’m not buying another dress at this point. I’ll bring a dressy little jacket and hope for the best. I can’t get too wild, as my acupuncturist warned me against drinking too much alcohol. Apparently it can cause a setback in my frozen shoulder treatment. Plus, I have a bit of a bad habit of going from one glass of wine to dancing on the table with a lampshade on my head. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I indulged in a manicure and pedicure two days ago, for only the second time ever. The first was for our wedding nearly 15 years ago. So far I’ve managed not to chip my nails. I expect them to start peeling as soon as the party is over, though. They just don’t seem to hold polish. But at least I’ll have pretty fingernails for the party. ‘Cause it’s all about me, right?

Warm and Sunny

It’s officially summer. I can say this with authority because I turned on our air conditioner and our sprinkler system yesterday. That officially marks the beginning of summer. We had a few days of spring in there somewhere, I think, but for the most part it seems like we went from cold and rainy to warm and sunny way too quickly. Such is the weather in Minnesota.

The forecast is mid to upper 80’s for the next week. That’s a little on the warm side for me. Guess I won’t have many opportunities for leather jackets and boots until fall. Which kind of sucks. Time to break out the shorts and sundresses. Not to mention the faux tanner. I know, #firstworldproblems. Wah, wah, wah.

My posting has been pretty pathetic this month. I think I got a little burned out by posting every single day while we were on our six week vacation. Or maybe it’s just that we haven’t done a whole lot worth writing about since we got back. I got through the almost 7000 images I shot and have processed about 600. I put together and ordered a photo book of trip. Needless to say, I included a few too many baby photos. How could I resist?

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Special Delivery

A big heavy box showed up today while I was at my second acupuncture treatment. It contained 33 copies of the new MIM catalog, which was finally delivered last week. Why 33 copies? Because that’s how many come in a case. I won’t be giving out as many as the first catalog but I’m sure I’ll manage to go through the carton eventually.

I haven’t written nearly as much about this book as I did the first one. Mostly because the bulk of my involvement took place during a two week window last November. An insanely busy two week window. Since then, I’ve attended a few follow-up meetings and taken a few additional photos, but it’s really been off my radar. The book was actually supposed to come out while we were in Australia, but, like most projects, nothing ran on schedule.

Right after the books were shipped, I received an email from the MIM store manager telling me that she had found a printing defect in some of the books. She didn’t know whether my box was impacted or not, but offered to send me a return label for it. The “defect” turned out to be some really faint gray markings on one page. If I hadn’t been specifically looking for it, I don’t think I would have seen it. So I’ll be hanging on to my copies, thank you very much.