Sunday, August 05, 2007

A weekend of travels with sunburn included

Finally a weekend happens with lots of bloggable material. I might expound on certain events later in the week, but I figured I'd write the outline down before I forget about it all.

We left work early on Friday to get the hell out of Dodge. We were at my mother's house in Minocqua before dinnertime. Ben absolutely loves playing at Nana's house because, without fail, he always forgets all the new interesting toys she has at her house... and he hasn't even discovered the basement yet.

After dinner, my mother, Chester, Ben and I drove down to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation for a concert. We left my mother there after an hour because Ben was getting a little antsy and quite tired. It was way past his bedtime after all. But we had a nice time.

Saturday morning, we woke before dawn to get ready for the activities we had planned for the day, namely getting the hell out of dodge again. Driving in separate vehicles, my mom and dad drove to Eagle River while we followed. We had a nice breakfast at a diner owned by the same family that owns one of our favorite diners in Wausau. It was kind of funny to see the same menu, just with higher prices because of it being a tourist area.

After that, we drove. And we drove. And we drove. Sure it was only for two and a half hours, but it felt more like six. We headed to Upper Michigan to stop at my grandmother's farm in Baraga before we headed further north to Houghton. There we met with about thirty or forty of my relatives on my dad's side, and we got on a cruise boat and eventually traveled down the canal to the open waters of Lake Superior.

It was a fun family reunion, though after eating, I felt very seasick and nauseated. Seeing all of my relatives was interesting, especially seeing the little kids that I used to babysit. One kid is sixteen now, but I distinctly remember having changed his diaper before. Very weird. Most of that group isn't from the area anymore, though. They are scattered from sea to shining sea. From Florida to California to Toronto to New Jersey. It's a good family. Everybody is reasonably well educated and kind and unpretentious. Having originated from a place like the UP of Michigan tends to take a bunch of potential snobbiness out of your personality. I think it's directly related to the number of times you've used an outhouse or had a sauna naked with your grandparents.

After the boat, we drove back towards my grandma's farm (which isn't really a farm anymore since there aren't any animals). We stopped at the nursing home where she lives now. She's not really "there" either, but she likes getting visitors, even if she can't communicate well anymore and doesn't remember anybody except my mom. I sat with her and told her about my life, then kissed her and said goodbye. When she does die, I won't be reminiscing about this stage of her life. I'll be remembering the stooped old lady who made watery beef stew and always let me play with the ancient toys she kept in the closet.

Then we drove that ridiculously long and boring trek back down to my parents' house. We didn't get there until around 8 at night, but we ordered pizza from a local dive and watched TV for a while, mainly to wear out Ben some more. That silly little guy barely napped all day long. Maybe fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there.

Sunday morning, we amused ourselves with breakfast and cartoons, and Ben found a few more special toys he hadn't seen before. Then the boy and I took a nice long nap, after which we packed up all of our stuff and headed back down to Wausau. It's weird being at the house without my parents there, but they stayed in the UP for the night to be around the visiting Tepsa and Martilla family members.

When we got back to Wausau in the afternoon, there was a message waiting on our answering machine telling me to call my sister-in-law Jennifer in Green Bay. I called her, bewildered, since I only talk to her every couple of months. She tried making small talk, but I made her get to the point because I was dying of curiosity. I knew something was up because she had left a few messages on the answering machine at Nana's house as well. Turns out she's pregnant again, due in April. Ha!

Ha! I say. Over and over again. I'm thrilled, don't get me wrong, but this is not an expected turn of events. She has two sons, ages 13 and 8. For the last few years, she and my brother had been toying with the idea of having another baby, but she wasn't really into the idea, so they dropped it. Ha!

It's all very exciting. I'm due in November. She's due in April, and my sister Jolene and her husband are planning for another baby to be born in June or July. Ha! We're going to have to rent a freaking banquet hall for holidays now. So many grandbabies! There are already six, not counting the ones in utero. Ha!

So that was my weekend. We've got to clean house and get organized for the week to come, but we're so lethargic and exhausted, just relishing the comfort of being in our own house again.