Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Family Intervention

Luckily I am a fan of the show "Intervention" so I at least feel like I have an idea of what to do.  I have prepped my family that we should all tell my sister how much we love her, how scared we are that we are going to lose her, and that we are asking her to go into treatment.  I am armed with several boxes of Kleenex.

I don't think that you can ever truly be prepared though.   My sister has been struggling with eating disorders for years.  She feels that they are under control she doesn't see herself when she looks in the mirror - she sees someone else.  She has had several issues with her health - low potassium levels, susceptible to infection, thin hair - just to name a few.  I have heard about all of these through Mom but I haven't seen the impact for myself.

The first shock was seeing my sister in the hospital bed.  She looked so sick.  I think that she may have been more thin a time or two before but I can't even picture it.  She is all skin and bones with and IV and monitors all over.  I am truly scared that if we can't get her into treatment this could be out last Christmas together.

We all took turns telling her how much we loved her, telling funny family stories, and telling her how scared we were of losing her.  We ALL cried - even my brothers.  We all were truly, truly scared that this could be the start of her slowly slipping away.  I know it was hard for my sister to hear.  She sat, huddled up in ball, making herself as small as she could, trying not to let all of this affect her.  In the end we broke though and she agreed to go into treatment.  I left still scared, but now hopeful that maybe this time will make a difference.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Family Christmas 2010

As the years go by it gets harder and harder to get all of my family home for Christmas.  This year everyone was able to make it except one - my sister.  On the home I find out that my sister is in the hospital due to a ruptured esophagus.  She has been struggling with both Anorexia and Bulemia for a number of years and has been in and out of treatment.  This is the result of years of damage and probably that holidays bring on more bouts of binging.

I ask my brothers and sisters what the plan is.  I assume that she is going into in-patient treatment again as soon as she can leave the hospital. No, they say, she intends to go home.  I assume that Mom and Dad are going to make her go into treatment.  No, they say, Mom and Dad don't want to fight with her anymore.  I realize that this has been very hard on everyone, especially Mom and Dad.  They are the ones who keep replacing food, paying her multiple medical bills, pleading with her to keep up with counseling.

I understand that they are tired and worn out and don't know what to do anymore.  I decide that I am going to have to play the oldest sibling role and gather up the troops - like it or not we are visiting my sister in the hospital tomorrow and we are going to ask her to go into treatment.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baxter Family Christmas

Our Group of friends (aka The Baxter Family) got together for our annual Christmas Party.  What a blast.  Mark is so proud of winning the Ugly Sweater Contest in the sweater that his Mom made for his Dad circa 1968.  Perhaps the best White Elephant gift of all time was given.  Good times were had by all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vegas Baby!

We had an awesome Bachelorette weekend in Vegas!  - Stripper School, Mystere, Clubbing, and taking in the sights.....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bachelorette Party

Thank you for the best Bachelorette Party Every!  Seven, then The Gay 90's, the The Loop :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween 2010

This year Mark decided that he was going to be the "Old Spice Guy".  His representation of that was to paint himself head to toe (literally he even painted his toes since he was wearing flip flops).  We covered his hair with a bald cap and painted on hair.  I think he looks more like a Columbian Drug Lord (picture Brandon Fraser in "Bedazzled") than the "Old Spice Guy" but it works with him carrying around some Old Spice Body Wash.

I decide to also go with someone famous and am Lady Gaga a la "Poker Face".  I spent an entire weekend making that mirror mask.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Duck Weekend

Our friends all headed up north for Duck Weekend.  Usually this is just the guys, but since I have actually shot and killed before and have shown that I am a "real" hunter, the guys made a special exception to let me come along.  The other wives came also but stayed out of the duck blind.  We had a lot of fun - especially Friday night.  Which made getting up at 4:30 on Saturday really suck.  But...such is hunting.  Unfortunately we saw no ducks, despite the duck calls the guys were making (aka farts - lots of farts from all of the beer the night before).  I had to borrow a coat and waders - they were Men's waders and I have pretty small feet - I think my foot only took up about 1/2 of the boot.  At one point I managed to tip over on my back and couldn't get up - like a turtle.  I didn't get wet so in the end it was pretty funny.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Scuba Certification: Part 3 - "And Then There Were Two"

This is not an actual picture of me, but I think that this was the expression that I had going into our first open water dive.  The certification process consists of prework, a written test, a few hours of classroom instruction, 1 1/2 days of training in a pool, and then a series of 4 "open water" dives which are usually done over two days.

In Minnesota that means that you get to head over to your nearest lake for you open water dives.  Keep in mind that our lakes are not very clear or very warm - especially in October.  Unfortunately we waited until the very end of the diving season to get our training done.  This meant having the pleasure of squeezing into 7mm wetsuits (you normally wear 3mm), and wearing gloves, socks and a hood to try and keep warm.

Gloves can suck as you are a bit clumsy in them and it is harder to manipulate things with your hands- especially under water.

Hoods can suck as it feels like your head is being squeezed and most importantly, you often get your mask stuck on them so they make water continuously leak into your mask.

The socks I am totally fine with because my feet are always cold.

I was feeling pretty apprehensive about the whole thing and we had a 45 minute drive to the lake - plenty of time to fully psych myself out.  Because it was chilly the instructor was in a hurry to get this whole thing over with.  Unfortunately a good way to make someone who is already anxious feel even more anxious is to rush them.  I panicked before we even went under the water.  I started to swim to shore.  I was done with SCUBA.

Mark was pretty good about the whole thing.  He was hoping that I just needed a little pep talk like the last dive and that I would go back.  I told him I was done.  I said that I barely felt comfortable in the pool and absolutely don't feel comfortable in the open water.  Luckily the instructors stayed back and let him make up what he missed so that he was able to finish his certification.

At least I tried.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My First Grouse

I am sure that this will come as a surprise to many people, but I am a hunter.  I have both deer hunted and grouse hunted before.  I will not say that I am a very successful hunter as today was the first time that I actually shot something.

I didn't grow up hunting despite my upbringing in Iowa.  My Dad was not a hunter.  Instead I picked it up as an adult.  Our first November together, my ex-husband announced that he was going deer hunting.  Me being interested in trying new things and new experiences announced that I was interested in knowing more about this deer hunting.  I borrowed some gear and gun and froze my butt off in my stand and even helped clean a deer.  Unfortunately I was never lucky enough to shoot a deer on my own.

After my divorce I dated someone who grouse hunts.  I decided that I may like this more than deer hunting in that you get to move around a lot more.  Also it is earlier in the year so the weather is nicer.  I am not the quickest on the draw and my ex wasn't essentially patient enough to wait and let my try to take a shot, so our hunting trips never ended up in me shooting any birds.

Mark's family has some land up north - way up north.  No, not a cabin, and no there is no lake.  Just land.  They have a large outbuilding with a bunk room and they park their RVs up there but no real running water and limited facilities.

Their land isn't that great for deer hunting but has a lot of grouse.  He and his family have shot quite a number of them over the years on their own property.  Luckily Mark is patient, and grouse aren't very smart.  He helped get me lined up so that I could shoot my own grouse finally.  I even got a second one later that day :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scuba Certification: Part 2 - "And Then There Were Three"

I was determined to power through the second day of SCUBA training.  Today was "worst-case scenario day".  Today is the day where you get to practice for all of the bad things that could happen to you while diving.  I survived having my regulator knocked out of mouth and having to have to fish around to retrieve it.  I survived having my regulator go into free flow and having to "sip" the air bubbles.  I survived having my air shut off and having to use my buddy's regulator.

I (barely) survived snorting water up my nose from my mask.  I actually got into some trouble here as I freaked out and shot up to the surface.  Which, in 10 feet of water is OK, but is extremely not OK on an actually dive (coming to the surface too fast is how you get "the bends").  I wasn't doing very well with the water in the mask thing.  This actually isn't completely uncommon for new divers.  It is one of the many things that you need to get over in order to SCUBA.

I made it through day 2, but barely.  One of the last things that you need to do is to perform a short no-mask swim.  I know some of you are freaking out just picturing this.  How are you supposed to dive without a mask!!!  You actually only need to mask to see better underwater.  Your nose will automatically seal itself while underwater - babies do it instinctually - adults must somehow forget this basic skill.

Since I was still freaked out about the water in my mask thing I was of course freaked out about swimming with no mask on.  I ended up having a crying anxiety fit and wanted to give up.  Thankfully Mark and the instructor were very patient.  Talked me into not quitting, and I did my no-mask swim without any issues.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Scuba Certification: Part 1

I feel like this is a good representation of how I felt on our first day of SCUBA training - flipped over, out of sorts, out of my element.

Mark and his best friend Andy had a great idea for our upcoming Maui trip - we should all get SCUBA certified!  I have to admit that I had never thought about it before.  MN isn't exactly a divers paradise - unless you like the idea of ice diving or diving into lakes with pretty much zero visibility.  To date I haven't really had any beachy vacations, so I hadn't really even snorkled before...but I do like the water and am a decent swimmer so it sounds interesting.

The bad thing about SCUBA certification is that you have to do a lot of prework before you even get into a pool.  And, that this prework is basically the worst-case scenario guide.  By the time I get to the pool I know about 75 ways that I could be seriously harmed or even killed by SCUBA diving.  This is not a good confidence builder for me.

It probably wasn't good that Andy's wife Andrea wasn't entirely on board either.  I think that our anxiety kept being fueled by the others anxiety.  Both of us were really having a hard time getting used to this whole breathing under water thing.  You have to admit it is a little unnatural and freaky. While we were still having problems in the 3 foot section, our husbands were already at the bottom of the 10 foot section playing around and karate chopping at each other.  There was definitely some disparity in our reactions.  I made it through the end of day 1 (barely).....Andrea did not.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Renaissance 2010

This year our friend April joined us for the Renaissance Festival.....we had a blast

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Andy & Cassandra's Wedding

2010 was the year for weddings.  The third of the year (our second as an engaged couple) was Andy & Cassandra.  The whole crew made it up to Brainerd, MN to celebrate with them.  It was a good time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Dress!

The Dress!

After what felt like a never-ending search (I know I looked at no less than 5 bridal shops and hundreds of dresses online) I found "the one" at The Wedding Shoppe in St. Paul, MN - Pronovias "Ideal" from their 2006 collection.

It was everything that I was looking for and more - Cathedral train, Spanish lace, beautiful beading, a pretty and flattering fit-and-flare shape, and yet very light.  It seemed to float around me as a walked.  So what that we were planning a destination wedding in Maui - I still wanted a beautiful dress that I felt beautiful in.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mark's Surprise 30th Birthday Party

Mark's Surprise 30th Birthday Party

To this day I cannot believe that I was able to pull this off.  I wanted to do something very special for Mark's 30th Birthday.   I thought a surprise party would be very fun.  So for weeks while I was secretly contacting Mark's friends and family and arranging his party details I kept maintaining that the two of us were going our for dinner and then hitting the town.

Despite Mark seeing one of his friends in the restuarant lobby, he STILL had no idea about the party until we happened on the table with all of our guests.  Thank you Hell's Kitchen and everyone who was able to attend (and keep quiet about the whole thing ;)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

We celebrated Father's Day with Mark's family.  It has been really wonderful for me that Mark's family is so warm and loving as well as here in the Twin Cities.  It can be very difficult being a transplant with no family in the area.  They have made me feel like a member of the family.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dan & Jamie's Wedding

Our first wedding as an engaged couple.  That's my father-in-law off to the left.  He seems to approve of the match :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Enagagememt

On June 13, 2013, Mark S got on bended knee in front of Niagara Falls and asked for my hand in marriage.  Ladies....note the size of the ring...there was no way that I was going to say no ;)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Matt & Steph's Wedding

Most of the gang traveled to Ithaca, NY to celebrate Matt & Steph's wedding.  It was a great time.  The next day we continued to trip to nearby Niagara Falls.

This was the first big trip for Mark and I.  We determined that we travel well together :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kristina's Graduation

My sister Kristina graduated from University of Iowa and the whole family made it down to Iowa City, IA to celebrate with her.  Go Hawkeyes!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our One Year Anniversary

We headed back to Chino Latino for Sake Bombs to celebrate one year together.  BONZAI!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grandma's 80th Birthday

I am from a large family (the oldest of 7 children).  My mother is also from a large family (the oldest of 10 children).  As you can imagine, I have a lot of cousins.  This is only a small group of the grandchildren who were able to celebrate Grandma's 80th birthday with her.