Friday, June 29, 2012

Illinois highlights

Four years ago I traveled back to land of my childhood for a family reunion.  The week prior was the week I realized, after all the time Paul spent trying to impress me and capture my attention, I was starting to develop feelings for him.  The day before my scheduled departure I almost backed out the trip because I feared he'd move on to another girl once I left.  That night he called the house phone and asked for my cell number.  Two days later he began to text me.  I spent the whole trip with my face in my little green phone like the picture above on the steps of the Saint Louis Basilica.  Ever since that trip we've been together, and I have wanted to take him there and show him this place that I love.

Last Monday we finally had the opportunity to go on our first family vacation with Andrea to Southern Illinois.  I have to say, it was exhausting, but once Andrea quick puking in the car she was actually a pretty adaptive little traveler.  So as to not bore you too much, I'll just post some highlights from the trip.  I'll also point out some major tourist attractions in case you ever decide to visit Southern Illinois as your next vacation destination.

Because my mom had had surgery 19 days before we left we had to stop every 2-3 hours.  During this time Andrea and my mom would walk a bit.  This was our first stop.  Andrea wanted to just sit on these bumps.  When we told her it was time to get back in the car. . . you can imagine the meltdown.

Paul and I found some disguise glasses in the toy box at my grandma's house.  Te he.

Sleeping arrangements.  Andrea did really well sharing a room with us.  I was afraid that the crinkly plastic mattress covers my grandmother put on our beds would wake her up, but she didn't seem to notice any tossing and turning.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Hay bails.

Perfect for planking.  Just saying.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Bug infested trees.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Cemeteries.  We visited quite a few, and drove by at least 15 in all of our wanderings.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Custard Stand in Sesser, Illinois (population: 2,300).  This place was where my mom worked in high school.  Paul enjoyed an upside down banana split and Andrea enjoyed tasting it.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Old houses.  This is the house my grandmother grew up in. . .  not looking so good.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Beach.

On Thursday we went to Rend Lake.  It's a man-made reservoir with a rocky little beach.  This was a first beach experience for Paul and Andrea

She was a little unsure and nervous at first.

But by the end she didn't want to get out of the water.
I love her grin in the picture.  If you tell her to smile and say cheese, this is what you get.

I love this girl!

We built a sand castle around Paul.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Bowling.  (Wearing our matching family reunion T-shirts)

Family picture with happy Andrea.

This is what most of the pictures looked like. . .  with screaming Andrea.

Andrea loved this basketball, much to the grand dismay of the Hatchett men.

Kitty kitty staring contest.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: This is the water tower in Giant City.  When we got to Missouri and saw a water tower I asked Paul if he knew what it was.  He guessed it was some sort of sign.  I couldn't believe he'd never seen a real water tower.

So, the Saturday before we left we drove to Giant City to climb a real water tower.
The view was amazing.  Green as far as the eye could see.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Dead animals.  Not only did we see some taxidermy masterpieces, but we also saw lots and lots and lots of roadkill.  Yum.

This has to be a riveting magazine.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Chiggers.  (These are not my legs, fyi.)  Someone, who has asked to remain anonymous to maintain his dignity, got chiggers.  Compliments of the Midwest.

I overflowed my grandma's dishwasher.  This was the fifth towel we had to put under that mess.

Andrea looking off my grandmother's front porch.  I have so many memories playing there.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Lots of small towns!  There was a sign on the highway for Benton (the town where my grandma lives, population: just over 7,000) that read, "Tourist Attractions: Craft/Quilting Shop and Antiques."  Who wouldn't want to vacation here?

On the way home we stopped in St. Louis so Paul could go in The Arch  This is "technically" a Missouri tourist attraction, but it's only two hours from my home town, so I count it.. 

I personally believe it's one of the most beautiful sights in the country.

Memorial Park.

Bug splats.

View of Saint Louis from inside The Arch.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: The Mighty Mississippi River.

The top of the arch.

In the pod leaving The Arch.  Andrea didn't like this part very much.

Southern Illinois tourist attraction: Beautiful sunsets.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I’m not very good at packing.  I discovered this today as I almost put an entire roll if plastic wrap in my suitcase.  You just never know when you’re going to need some plastic wrap, amiright?  I wasn’t always like this.  Girls Camp would roll around and I’d only pack a couple pairs of socks and reuse them all week.  You can’t avoid stinking up there so why not embrace it?  But I didn’t have a child with me then either.  There must be something in those mothering hormones that trigger some preparedness OCD’s.

For example, I am paranoid I won’t pack enough clothes.  This week I’ve been trying to launder all of my favorite articles of clothing, as well as some essentials, so I’d be able to pack on Saturday and relax on the Sabbath.  However, this week was also my birthday, which means it is Andrea’s half birthday, and we had doctor’s appointments, birthday engagements, and celebrations galore.  Because I didn’t want to overbook my weekend with travel preparation, I began my laundry festival early in the week.  Monday and Tuesday I washed a couple loads of colorful clothes.  Wednesday I took the day off because, hey, it was my birthday, and Thursday I did my very last load.  Whites.  Which in my house is mostly complied of underwear.

My little OCD brain took over when I stared that load and told me that although there will be a washing machine available to me in Illinois, I must pack as much of my undies as I possibly could.  So I put every pair I owned into the wash, including the ones I was wearing, and hopped into the shower with the intention of transferring the load to the dryer as soon as I got out.  But as I stepped out the shower, the door bell rang.  I wrapped up in my towel, threw on a bathrobe, and peaked through the peep hole.  There stood my two visiting teachers.  I opened the door, dripping wet and asked them if they could wait outside in the blistering heat for just a minute while I got dressed.  They kindly agreed.

But you may remember I had no dry underwear.  It was still sloshing around in the washer.  And the time of month made going commando out of the question.  I streaked through my apartment searching for something to wear underneath my clothing, and Andrea followed me, clearly amused by my desperation.  When I finally found a solution, I threw on some smelly pajamas and invited my visiting teachers into the house.  While I wrestled the soggy towel on my head, they gave a sweet message and politely left before I became too embarrassed to breathe.  No, I will not be making eye contact with them on Sunday.

You see, none of this would have happened if I wasn’t so bad at packing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hairy situation

Kids, please don't try this at home.

Last week my sister asked me if I would cut her hair.  As you know, I have a business.  However, my business is geared to men, predominantly my husband,who can be sheered like a sheep with a razor.  My sister is not a man, nor is she my husband, and unlike Paul who has stick-straight hair, Janell's head is topped with long, luscious locks of dark curls.  She didn't want just a bob either.  No, her exact orders were: short. . . really short, but not short enough that I'd have to buzz her neck, slightly a-line, stacked in the back.  Oi.

Just to prove that my sister is completely out of her mind I have to confess I have only cut three things in my life with hair scissors.  My own bangs, a Cruella DeVil wig, and a poodle.

But Janell is trying to save some money and people tend to do drastic things when trying to save money.  Like ask their no-experience-cutting-hair sister to touch their ebony ringlets.

And I said yes. . . because I'm a masochist.

So, the morning of her birthday (I know, this story just keeps getting worse) she washed her hair for me and I combed it out for the main event.

Before I touched her hair.
Notice my little photobomber
Front view.
Armed with hair-cutting shears, clips, combs, styling mousse, and 13 youtube tutorials, I made my first snip.  Once the panic attack ended and I could stop breathing into a brown paper bag I made another snip.

I tried to act calm and collected so Janell would relax.  But how calm can a girl act while chopping 8+ inches of real human hair off a real human head on that real human's birthday, while that real human is related to you and will never let you live it down if things don't turn out well, and while several other real human family members are watching?  Did I mention a dog and baby were underfoot as well?

But after snipping away for a bit, things were starting to take shape.

When I finished stacking the back and saw the a-line that Janell requested I began to smile because it was actually looking how I wanted it too.

I layered the sides a bit for some blending and in an attempt to avoid triangle head.  If you have curly hair you know what this means. (Once her hair was fully dry there was a bit of this, but we are going to trim up in the next few days.)  When I was completely finished hacking away at Janell's curls I applied a little mousse and called it good.

 Voila!  Here is the finished product!  She looks pretty good for being traumatized for an hour and a half.

Here's the side view.  My magnum opus.

You now have permission to be jealous of her natural curls.

I have to say cutting Janell's hair was quite the adventure.  Will I ever do it again?  Probably not.  But I have a whole new appreciation for hair stylists everywhere.