Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fried Chicken and a Witch's Grave

Last week I had the chance to do some recruiting for General Mills at Michigan State. This gave me the opportunity to see some family and friends. It was a great trip and I am grateful to Linz for taking care of the girls for 4 days while I was away.

I arrived Monday around 11:30am. I got my car and called up my Mom to see what we should do. I had a couple hours to stay in Ypsi before I had to head up to East Lansing to meet my work peeps. My Mom tells me that one of the local restaurants, Haabs, is having their "Back to the '30s" day of pricing. Basically the restaurant was founded in 1934 and once a year they have a day where they throwback their prices to what they were in 1934. So you wind up getting an awesome Fried Chicken dinner for $.40, including fries, biscuit and bread. You can get a spahetti dinner for $.30, and some other stuff I can't remember.

So my Mom wants to go for old times sake. I say for old times sake because for many years as a kid, all 8 of us would wait in line for hours in the sometimes nice, sometimes cold October night to get that cheap good food. I think our wait was always longer because tables of 8 are hard to come by when the restaurant is swamped with people coming in to get the good deal.

So I do a drive by the restaurant since it is on the way to my Moms and I see people waiting outside and my first thought is it looks like a soup kitchen line. I realize that the poor kid I used to be has come a long way from those days of going to Haabs and that being the best meal because we never ate out. And part of me does not even want to approach those memories so I tell my Mom that I have my hesitations, but if she wants to go we will. She does, so we hop in the car with my sis and nephew and we head out. We park and go get in line. At this point in the day it is sunny and really nice out. We stand in line outside the shoe store that I remember as a kid being there. It isnt a shoe store anymore, but I still remember in their store display they had a whole window filled with heels and soles of shoes, just piled up. We wait in line with all these old timers from Ypsi. This lady behind us keeps trying to talk to us and we are just trying to talk amongst ourselves since we are trying to catch up on our lives. We wait about an hour in line and finally get to the door. As I remember from being a kid, right in the entrance, they have a giant pumpkin. I think how cool it is that they still do that. We get to the point in line where we get our table and the same guy that I remember as a kid being the greeter is there. He is wearing a tuxedo and top hat, just like he used to so long ago. I think that is cool. Here is a pic of him helping us at our table:

We sit down and nostalgia surrounds me. The pewter plates that I remember, the paper menu on the table, the room crowded with people eating, it is all way familiar. I took a pic of the place setting and glass:

We order our food and it comes out looking amazing. I was starving at that point and fries, chicken and bread have never tasted so good. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, onion, and dipping sauce too just because it sounded good. We eat and all enjoy our meals thoroughly, here is Beths food, Moms food, and Riley:

All in all, I am so glad we went. The wait was pleasant, the food was great, and it was SO Ypsilanti. I try to forget and discount my past in many ways, and I thought this would have been something that I did not want to revisit, but it turned out to truly be a "Blast from the Past" and I am glad Mom wanted to go.

So after that experience, I went up to State for the next two days for interviews with candidates. Saw some friends and came back to Ypsi Wednesday night. Was there in time to see Mom after her surgery and spent all day Thursday with her.
On my way back from the hospital to the airport, I realized that I would be driving by Old Denton road, between Rawsonville and Belleville road exits off I-94. Old Denton road is a dirt road that has this really old cemetery on it and not much else. I was taken there once by a friend who grew up near there. She took me there to show me a real witch’s grave. Basically the story goes this lady was accused of being a witch back in the 1830’s and is buried there. Her grave according to my friend had a plaque on it stating that she was accused of witchcraft and some details behind what she did. By the time I saw it, the plaque was removed a long time ago, but the marks at the bottom of the gravestone show where the plaque would have been. The gravestone itself has a hand with a finger pointing down symbol on it, supposedly symbolizing her going to Hell. Several other gravestones in the cemetery, and even some cemetaries here in Minnesota have a typical symbol of a hand with a finger pointing up, symbolizing the souls ascent to heaven. So I realize that now would be a great chance to go and take a picture of the Witchs Grave, for posterity sake. Mind you, it is a cold, windy, and dark October night. I get off the exit, knowing I cant spend too much time looking for it, since I have to get to my flight and still return my rental car. I find Old Denton Road, which is still dirt, and drive down until I get to the cemetery. I park the car and leave it running in case a ghost or something else decides to get me. I hop the fence and with my cellphone as my light, quickly search the graves to find the Witch’s Grave. After a few minutes I finally find it. I take out my camera and snap a few shots, here they are:

Notice the finger pointing down as stated, as well as two white holes at the bottom where the plaque used to be.

I take a shot of a grave with the finger pointing up as a reference for you to compare the Witch's Grave to:

Regardless of whether this is all true or not, it is kind of fun to have a bit of Halloween spookiness adventure. I packed as much as I could in those couple days and was reminded what a fun place Michigan can be this time of year. I am glad I grew up here.


Friday, October 16, 2009


So, I read about Zhu Zhu Pets on Monday this week on Yahoo News as one of the "HOT" toys for this coming Christmas season. If you read up on them on their website they sound and look really cute. I thought, man that would be perfect for Violet and Daphne. They both love animals, they love stuff that makes noises and moves, and so this sounded to me like the perfect gift for Christmas. Thinking like this, I assumed if I just dropped over to Toys R Us on my lunch break, I would find one for each of the girls. How na├»ve I was just a couple days ago. I show up and find the section where they should be and lo and behold, it is EMPTY with a sign saying that customers will be limited to “one Zhu Zhu pet, per customer, per day”, I couldn’t believe it! I talk to one of the employees and he tells me those things are impossible to find. Anytime they come in they disappear in an instant. Hearing this, I decided to see if it was the same at Target. I stop by and find the section they should be in and again, EMPTY. I talk to another employee and he says the same thing the Toys R Us guys says. He even says that he has never seen one, but gets asked about them all the time. He told me if I ever find one to come and show him so he can finally see one. I go home that night and look them up online and the only place you can find them is on EBAY or AMAZON for like $20-30 a pop. If you can find them, they range in price from $8-$10. All the stores that sell them are out of stock online. After hearing and seeing all of this, I become determined to find my girls some ZHU ZHU Pets! I take it on as a personal challenge to do this. Plus its kind of fun feeling like I am ahead of the trend since so many people haven’t heard of them and I love treasure hunting, and that is what this is becoming.

Next day, I have to run to some stores for a pricing project on some products in the Super Target Bakery, so I take this chance to see if any other stores have them. No luck at any of the Targets. I stop by Toys R Us again and a guy there says that they get a truck in on Thursday so check back. I call yesterday, and the lady says they don’t unload stock until Thursday night and they wont know if they have any until Friday morning. I am now thinking that this could get ugly over the next few months and if I don’t do this now, it will only get harder to find them as word spreads and Christmas gets closer.

So today, I decided to try one more time, maybe luck out and at least get one from Toys R Us. I take a quick half hour break from work and run over to the store. It is 5 minutes to 10am and there are already 5 other moms standing outside waiting for them to open so they can get ZHU ZHU Pets too. This just confirms to me the craze. An old guy shows up and I ask him what he is here for. It turns out he is a Hot Wheels collector and is there to check out the cars. We talk a bit and I finally tell him what I am there for and ask him the favor that if they have them, if I could give him some money and he could buy me another one, since they have the one per person per day limit. He agrees and I tell him I will find him in the car aisle if I need him. They open the doors, we walk inside in as civilized a fashion as possible, knowing inside that I would love to just push all these people aside and run back to the aisle to see if they have them. There are like 10 store employees standing there to greet us and I ask them if they have any. They say no, but maybe next Friday. I still go back to look and all they have is some of the accessories that you can buy to go with the toy. By the way, the accessories are where they get you. They look cute, but they are definitely more expensive than the actual toys. The other day I bought a hamster ball at Target in hopes that I would find a ZHU ZHU Pet to put in it. (Isn’t that crazy!!)

So, unfortunately no luck at Toys R Us. There is a Target right by there and so I stop in just to know I tried. I go back to the toy aisle where they should be and LO AND BEHOLD, a fully stocked shelf!!!! And Target doesn’t have a limit on how many you can buy!!! I cant contain my excitement. There is a lady in the aisle with her little daughter and I ask her if she has heard of these. Of course she hasn’t, so I explain what the phenomenon is. She seems skeptical, so I’m like whatever, I am stocking up! I start pulling them off the shelf but then realize that I don’t have a cart. I go look for one, find a hand basket and come back to find them all still there. I grab two of every color they have and then get a few more for good measure. I won’t tell you my total since I am not sure if we are gifting some or maybe we will sell some down the road. Either way, I can’t believe my luck and that I have already accomplished the mission I set out on just a few days ago. I decide I should leave some for some other parent who is looking for them, so I don’t take them all, even though I was tempted. I step away to call Linz and let her know that I found some, since she is highly involved with my quest. (I think she even asked her Mom to start looking for them. My Mom is going to look for them too.) I don’t reach her, and so I walk back to the aisle to make sure I didn’t miss anything else, and the ones I left are gone and that Mom who seemed so skeptical before has them in her cart! Now that cracked me up.

Anyways, I am relieved to find them now and also glad I don’t have to go out on all my lunch breaks in the next few months to try and find them.

This experience has reminded me of how before I had kids I used to think that parents were crazy going to no end to get there kids the “HOT” toy. But now that I have these cuties running around our house, there is not a thing I wouldn’t do for them if I think it will make them happy. The funny thing is, Violet and Daphne could care less about these toys, but to me, I think they will love them, so that is my motivation.

If you so choose to take on the quest of finding ZHU ZHU Pets, I wish you all the best. Be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead from one who knows. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

General Conference Sunday

So, this past weekend was General Conference weekend for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is a time for members of our church to hear two days straight of inspirational, divinely inspired messages from the leaders of our church. Normally this is a weekend cherished by all who partake due to the fact that you can now listen to it from the comfort of your own home with your loved ones and household comforts around you. For Linz and I, our pre-kids conference weekends were some of the best I have ever had. We would totally relax and soak it all up, as well as get some of the best naps of our lives between sessions. :) We would do this thing where depending onthe location of our computer, we would make a comfy "nest" of blankets, pillows, inflatable mattresses, etc... to make our surroundings as cozy as possible and then listen to our church leaders. Now that we have kids, those days of ease are but a distant memory and now we heavily rely on the Ensign with the written messages to ensure we get the most out of conference. The girls just dont allow us to sit and listen anymore.

So, that said, this past General Conference Sunday was probably one of the most stressful Sundays I have ever experienced. To set it up, take into account that I have struggled with sleep due to stress or sickness for the past 3 weeks. I have not been able to take a nap or fall asleep easily for quite some time. This past Saturday night being no exception. So I wake up Sunday morning groggy as all get out, trying to just force myself to go downstairs. Linz was already up with Daphne and Violet and I woke up at the same time. Thankfully Linz let me sleep in a little bit which helped, but still I was tired. So we go downstairs and Violet sits down on our leather couch still wearing her night time pullup. I am sitting on another couch when all of the sudden Violet says, "I tinkled", so I say,"where?", she says,"I tinkled", and I again say "where?" confused at what the heck she is talking about since she is wearing a pullup. This exchange goes on for 2-3 more rounds and Violet gets up to go to the kitchen. I then get up to go to the couch she was sitting on and lo and behold, I found the "where". Her pullup was totally full and basically couldnt take anymore and leaked all over. So, groggy, tired me gets to clean up all the tinkle first thing in the morning.

I wish it all ended there, but for some reason this day had some challenges in store for me.

The next incident involved me sitting at the kitchen table trying to drink a glass of OJ to soothe my sore throat and checking out the paper. Violet asks to sit on my lap and hops up. She reaches for a piece of the newspaper and knocks over my OJ and it spills all over both of us. Linz by now is laughing at what has happened so far in the day and I too find it amusing that I am having such bad luck.

A little bit later, I am drawing with Violet at the kitchen table, Linz is upstairs getting ready for the day, and Daphne is playing by herself in the living room. I soon realize that I have not heard from Daph and decide to go check on her. I enter the living room and hear a splashing coming from the front bathroom. I open the door and there is little Daph splashing away in the toilet water. At this point I yell something like "what the freak??" and scare the poor kid. I grab her and run her up to the tub so she can get clean. She is totally crying and I am feeling bad that I scared her, at the same time, I just cant believe how my day is going so far.

Conference finally begins and we all try to listen to the speakers, and play with the kids.

First session is over and now its time for family nap time. Daphne goes down, Violet is getting there, and Linz is asleep. I stay up to ensure Violet falls asleep before I lay down. I finally lay down and Vi calls me in and says she cant sleep. And I see that I have zero chance of convincing her otherwise so I forego my nap and take her downstairs to hang out.

The last straw of the day occurs after we have just finished bathing the kids and trying to get their night clothes on. Violet is running around like she usually does when all of the sudden she starts choking on a hair in her mouth. Before I know it she is running at me and throw up comes flying out of her mouth from the choking! At this point I just couldnt believe it. I clean it up cause Linz hates throw up. I do too, but she does more and she is pregnant so she wins.

What are the odds that all that stuff would happen on supposedly one of the most enjoyable, spiritual, relaxing days of the year? Poor Linz put up with me all day, I was a grump.She is so compassionate. Poor girls put up with me too, but I tried to put on a good face for them.

Overall, I learned that I need patience. I need to let go of my expectations of how it used to be, or how I think it should be, and just go with what I am given. I love my family so much and will clean up tinkle, spilled juice,toilet water,and throw up for all eternity if it means I get to be with them.

I just didnt want to forget this day, to help me keep it all in perspective.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Awesome New Coldplay Video

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!!!

If you want to see one of the most creative, entertainting, and awesome music videos set to one of my FAVORITE Coldplay songs ever, go to this link to watch it:


Let me know what you think.

If this doesnt get you to be a hardcore Coldplay fan I dont know what else will.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Check this out!

This reminds me of why I at one time wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Amazing. What beauty exists in our world.

Thank you Heavenly Father.

Do you want to be happy?

So, last night I was giving the girls their bath, which is normally my nightly duty. Lately they have been getting a little crazy. We do them both in our big tub, which is awesome since its like a swimming pool to them. They play off each others energy the whole time. Daphne barely sits down during bath time so I am always worried she will fall and crack her head or fall and go under water. I swear for the last month she has gone underwater at least once every night. Needless to say, with all the splashing, drowning, screaming, and craziness, it is somewhat stressful at times. Last night was one of those times, and so I got so fed up that I pulled them both out and was semi roughly drying them off due to my frustration. Violet sensed how I was feeling due to my actions and said "Do you want to be happy daddy?" Ouch. She totally called me out. But yeah, shes right, do I want to be happy? Of course. What takes away from happiness? Letting the little things get to you when they are of no significance. Who am I to stop my girls from having fun with each other? Whats a little water on the floor or on me? Who cares, its just stuff. But to enjoy my girls and all the sweet, crazy fun they are is what makes me happy. So theres a little life perspective provided by my awesome almost 3 year old daughter.

So I pose the same question to you, "Do you want to be happy?"


Friday, June 26, 2009

Late Fathers Day Post About My Dad

So I realize Fathers Day is gone and past, but I really meant to take the time to write up some of the thoughts I have regarding my own Dad. Again, this post is more for me to remember than for you to find interesting or intriguing (sp?).

My first set of memories revolves around cars. I grew up in the times where child seats, wearing seat belts, or any type of kid/car regulation was non-existent. Not that that is a good thing, thankfully I survived, but it definitely made for some fun times if you had a Dad who was cool. I owe it to my Dad for creating some awesome memories for me in our cars.

I dont remember how old I was, but I was pretty young I think. I clearly remember us in the family car and I must have been sitting in the front seat. If you are from Ypsilanti, you should know that going down I-94, I think it is the Huron Street exit, right past there, you start driving by Ford Lake. At that exact spot in the road, I was placed in my dads lap and given the steering wheel. I moved it back and forth and thought it was just the coolest thing in the world to be at the drivers seat with my Dad.

I also have the best memories of going to this one apple orchard near my Moms old house, not Wiards, but it was this little family orchard near a gravel pit. (Said orchard is also the location where at the age of 3 I accompanied my 13 year old oldest brother John in picking up apples off the ground for like 25 cents a crate or something ridiculous like that. I think John even gave me a portion of the proceeds. Anyways thats beside the point, but that was where I got my first job at 3 years old.)So as a kid, even though the orchard probably wasnt that big, to a little kid it seemed like its own protected world. You were surrounded by trees and the dirt roads between the rows of trees were like the city streets. Well, I have the memory of my Dads station wagon with one of those doors that folds down, kind of like a pickup truck, with the rear facing seat back there. Well, my Dad would let down that door and let us sit on the tailgate as he drove us into the orchard and out of the orchard. Seeing the ground go by beneath my feet, and sitting next to my brothers and sisters enjoying the ride, man it didnt get better than that. Now that I think about it, one of my cool older brothers would always be crazy and jump off the back as we were going through the orchard, and then try to catch up to the car to hop back on and my Dad would speed up so they couldnt catch us. At the time it was some good ole fashioned family fun.

My last car memory for today occurred on a Saturday as we were getting ready to head home from a scout campout. My Dad always went on campouts with us in Scouts. He would always volunteer to help out and drive or whatever. Well, that day he had to head back earlier than the rest of the group and I was going to leave early with him. We left the group somewhere to go load our car. As we were about to leave, my Dad asked if I wanted to steer us out of the campground. I sat on his lap in the seat, and was enjoying steering us down the dirt roads through the woods to get out of the campsite. Unbeknownst to us, the rest of my friends and leaders were all coming down the same road we were driving on walking back from wherever they had been. When my friends saw that I was driving I could totally see on their faces how jealous they were. I pretended like I was going to steer towards them and they laughed and we laughed and we just kept driving. I know that those kids were so jealous of me that I had a Dad who would let me do cool stuff like that. I will never forget it, it made me feel so special.

My next memory is based on a little thing in the Kennedy Family we referred to as "Pudding Parties". My parents are divorced so we would go on visitation with my Dad every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and once a month we would spend the weekend at his house. One day, my Dad took us to the cafeteria that resided on the second floor of Meijer Thrifty Acres. The cafeteria was awesome. My dad let us pick out what we wanted to eat as a treat and most if not all of us chose pudding. Hence began the tradition of "Pudding Parties". We would not always get pudding, but it was still a pudding party. That cafeteria eventually closed down and the pudding party location was gone forever, but the memory of the pudding party will live on in my heart forever. Thanks Dad.

I also have a memory of all of us kids at once would tackle and wrestle my Dad on his bed. It would be so crazy. We would all try to get him and he would just flip us off and roll us over. We would be a jumble of bodies, but it was so fun.

One of my favorite things to do with my Dad when I was little was to build model airplanes with him. He would buy me models to work on with him. I will never forget the first one we built together. I know that I globbed on the glue, and messed up the pieces or paint, but he would still let me participate. He was patient with me and would help me feel like I was doing a good job. I hope that I can do that kind of stuff with my kids too.

Needless to say, my Dad is the man! I love him so much. When I was little people would say that I looked just like my Dad and I was so proud of that. My Dad is left handed and none of my siblings are. I remember my Mom telling me that for a while they thought that I was going to be left handed too, but then I turned right. When she said that I had wished that I turned out to be left handed because my Dad was. He has created so many good memories in my life, all because he made us kids a priority and because he wasn’t selfish with his time. When we were little I don’t remember ever seeing my Dad sit down and watch a football game or baseball game rather than playing with us. I hope I can create the wonder and fun for my kid’s lives the way he did for me. I am grateful for all the sacrifices he made to make our lives as good as they were.
Thanks Pops!