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Monday, September 04, 2006

Longest post ever.

Labor Day Weekend…

So far we have had a nice weekend. Some pleasure, some projects, some relaxing.
We spent Friday night at our friend’s house drafting our fantasy football teams. I have always wanted to be in fantasy football, but I have never done it. The closest I came was getting in a league that my former brother-in-law ran, but they decided that I was a girl and they couldn’t let me in the club. Mike and his friends let me in their club. J
Saturday was football practice, in which we had a really good turn-out for. Saturday afternoon Mike and I went back to the park so that I could pitch softballs to him and he could play around with his bats and decided what he wanted to do. Then we met up with another couple and had Mexican at a new restaurant. Very nice.

Sunday I slept in until 10am. We went out for our customary Sunday breakfast, went to the grocery store, the hardware store and then back to my house. We ripped out carpet in Grace’s room, moved furniture around the house (all in the hopes of making it perfect! Cause we really want to sell it. Soon preferably, before we’re married.) Then we headed to see World Trade Center and to a fondue dinner afterwards. I think, or I am certain that the fondue dinner was well over 3,000 calories. But it was fantastic…four courses including melted cheese, a platter of assorted meats and customized chocolate fondue (we made dark chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow with amaretto and it was fabulous).

Today is it. Summer is over. I am back at my house avoiding finishing the upstairs bedroom carpet project. Mike and I have a family lunch to celebrate September birthdays. And then tomorrow is the BIG day.

Tomorrow the girls go back to school, which is a blessing for me. And for them really. They are bored with summer, bored with me, bored with each other. It will be nice to reassemble a routine in the household that includes homework and bath time and getting to bed by ten o’clock. This year Grace will be in 5th grade and Margaret in 2nd. It is amazing to me that my baby is going to be in 5th grade. It is amazing that I am old enough to have a child in 5th grade. This was the first year that she really got into picking out school clothes and I think I spent over $500 on both of them. They are getting expensive…But it was adorable to see Grace pick out matching clothes (this from the child that for the past 3 years has worn nothing but sweat suits and t-shirts and looked like a huge slob!). We bought fitted shirts with embellishments, several pair of gaucho pants, two pair of fancy jeans with gold chain belts, brown corduroy pants, henly shirts, polo shirts, and hoodies. I gave her a budget and she figured out how to get the most for her money. Then we had to buy shoes because she had outgrown all her school shoes. She picked out black loafers with a wedge heel and silver charms, a pair of grey tennis shoes with the fancy Velcro (the ones that look cool and are trendy, not the ones we wore in the 80’s) and a pair of back dress shoes that she can wear to both of the upcoming weddings. My little Grace is no longer a little girl. She is sophisticated and smart and funny, she has mostly outgrown her awful mouthy stage (although I am thinking that it will return again) and she is independent. I vividly remember being in 5th grade and I know she now doesn’t need my help with most things—she can (and should be) self-sufficient. But, it is sad too. My little girl is growing up. Next year middle school and then high school and driving and leaving. It wasn’t that long ago that I was getting her dressed for kindergarten. The wonderful thing about seeing Grace grow up is that it reassures me that I wasn’t the worst mom ever. That I have raised and will continue to raise a good kid. And, as I get older I am certain that I am not done having children…that I am not ready to pack up all the small people things. I like small people, so it is a good thing that Mike and I will have more babies. It will be really neat to have two older children when we do have more kids. I’m looking forward to it tremendously.

I should go upstairs now and pull some nails out of the floor. Doesn’t that sound fun?
But my house is still for sale. The market is for shit. And we are ready to put in another offer on the third house (this one is IT though) and need to move on with life. We’ll be married in six weeks and we are refusing to talk about “what will we do if we don’t sell a house?” I am fairly sure the answer would be that we would still live in our own houses (too complicated and too expensive to move stuff). But, mentally I am not going there yet! My house looks the best it has ever looked. It is priced at an amazing price. And ready for new people. So. Let’s get on with it already, no? Arg, I am sure the world is sick of hearing our woes, and we are sick of the same conversation that we have been having for 6 months now.

New House: The house that we found is perfect for us—it is another 5 bedroom house including a master suite that has vaulted ceilings, two walk-in closets and our own bathroom with two sinks and a vanity. The main floor has a living room, an open concept kitchen, dining room and family room. There is also a mud room off the garage with cubbies a bench and coat rack and a huge room that would serve as a de/playroom. The backyard is gigantic and has a large cement patio off the family room and another huge deck with pergola (I just learned what that is). The basement is mostly finished, all we would need to do is put carpeting in and it would be ready for Mike’s arcade games. The only thing that we are worried about is some water that has seeped into the back corner of the basement. We think there can be an easy solution to fixing it—so we’re making another offer (third time is a charm?) and hoping that we sell at least one of our houses. Something’s gotta give.

Ok, this might constitute the longest post ever. I guess this is what happens when you neglect your blog for too long…happy weekend everyone. And happy back to school to parents everywhere!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm going to be a criminal.

Today at 1pm CST I have a court appearance to (I think) enter a plea in a criminal charge. I am being charged by the state of Wisconsin (your tax dollars at work) for filing a false campaing finance report under $100. It is a class U Misdemenor and the maximum penalty that I can get it $1,000 fine and /or up to 6 months in jail. Which I am assuming won't happen, but putting me in jail would definitely not be a cool thing at all.

So, am I guilty? I guess I am. I did file an incorrect campaign report; it wasn't my intent to be deciectful or break the law. Let me also say that these errurs were made in relation to a campaing for school board that I lost in 2001. So, not exactly recent. I made errors and I guess that now makes me a criminal. I have to admit that I am a tad nervous about this afternoon. I have to go before a judge and plead "no contest" and then who knows? Will they set bail for my release? Will they fingerprint me take a mug shot (I'm wearing a lovely suit and good jewelry)? I really don't know what to expect. I just want to get on with it and figure out what my punishment is.

So, I will keep everyone posted.

On another, happier note, Mike and I are looking at yet another house tonight. We have been stalking it for several weeks and really like it. It is very similar to the last house that we just let the offer expire on, it is another 5 bedoroom house. This one is brick and white aluminum, it has a lovely open kitchen/dining room/with sunken family room. It also has a finished basement and master suite with vaulted ceilings, walk-in closets and a private bathroom. The price is significantly lower than the last house and the yard is ten times nicer. We'll see. I am betting that we make another contingent offer--but who knows, maybe we'll just try and wait to see if we can sell one of our houses.

As for weekend plans I am looking forward to my first fantasty football draft on Friday night. Saturday we have football practice-Sunday we may golf and Monday is family b-day lunch at Mike's parents. We may try and sneak in a night with Dennis Miller who is coming on Saturday, but we haven't purchased tickets yet, so who knows.

Hopefully I won't be in jail this weekend! :-)
I'm kidding, I really can't imagine that I would go to jail-legislators who had multiple felonies with elction fraud didn't go to jail. Why would thy want me?

Back to work. Happy Labor Day weekend everyone.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm in love

Have you heard Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" yet? It may be the most awesome love song ever. I'm quite addicted to it...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cigarettes and Beer...

Two Stella Artolis beers and two cigarettes (I am publically admitting this) later and I feel much, much better.

This has been a killer week. And I have to admit that I am emotionally drained and ready to become a hermit and hide out from the world.

My brother, my younger,baby brother is facing a total life change. Without getting into all the details, he got into some major trouble, was arrested after a violent outburst where he threatened to end his life, and then held at the Milwaukee County Psychiatric Center until he could be released into family custody. He is facing diagnosis of being bipolar, and potentially other mental illness. This isn't completly out of the blue...my father's family all struggles with varied degrees of mental illness and differnt dianosis. I sometimes have mental breakdowns and become over sensitive and borderline paranoid. But to have this happen to my little brother, to watch him struggle with alomst identical issues that I watched my father struggle with has been exhausting. He trusts me and I have an unconditional love for him that is exactly what is appropriate. There is nothing that he could do that could/would change my love for him. And all I want is to be loving and supporting.

My mother has been on an Alaskan cruise for two weeks and Karlyn live in Seattle. The Bonk side of the family hasn't lived through the same history that I have. Hasn't seen their father kill himself. Hasn't worried that mental illness would rear its ugly head for their entire life. I have. And frankly, having to live through this, twent-one years later with my brother has been profoundly difficult. Too much even. So much that as I drove to work this morning watching the lake front I just sobbed; I haven't slept well in a week and all I wish is that he didn't have to be stuck facing this. That I wish I could do my job as the older sister better and protect him. But I can't protect him from a family history that is decades in the making.

To compound matters (for MY mental sanity anyway) there is a woman that is in Mike's circle of friends; it is no secret that she dislikes me and no secret that she acts inapporpriate with Mike, overly friendly and as a married woman, she crosses the line. I play volleyball with her. I lost it last night and ended up bawling and being an asshole. Not what I want, really. But today, after months of objecting to her behavior, I sent her an email that was blunt and stratightforward. I am sure that there will be consequences, but oh well. I am beyond acting like we are in high school. It felt good to say what I have wanted to say in a long time; there is something important about speaking one's mind instead of supressing or second guessing yourself.

And, on a vright note, there is my friend Stephanie. She is someone that I met through my work life and has become a friend and total joy to hang out with. After our board meeting today we had luch together, and by coincidence ended up meeting some teachers, one that I knew, three that I didn't. We st outside at neighborhoo bar/restaurant. I had beer and a hot dog. And bummed two cigarettes (I'll regret it tomorrow, but they were wonderful in the moment).

There are great things about life. Not all the time. Sometimes people suffer, sometimes people are mean. But life and love are good. Thank you to my Mike who is amazing, and thank you that Kennan is alive this week.

I think that I will sleep well tonight.
And I will run on treadmill in the morning, instead of running away.
It is good to face reality, even if reality is painful.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good PR.

(Mike's favorite picture from yesterday).

Dings' Dock

(Grace, Margo, Andy and Nick with me in back)

Yesterday Mike and I braves canoeing the Crystal River with four children ages 7, 7, 10 and 11.
The water was exceptionally low due to lack of rain and excessive heat this summer so that presented challenges. We paired off, I canoed with Andy (7 years old), Mike canoed with Margo (also 7) and Grace and Nick (10 and 11) canoed together. Click here for Ding's Dock website!

The trip started with water so shallow that we literally had to walk the canoe in spots because we were grounded just sitting there. The river winds along through beautiful trees, bridges, tunnels, and rapids. It is something that small children can do, but also has enough obstacles that make it challenging for adults. Everyone tips there canoe at least once, especially on the rapids. Our canoe became lodged on rocks many times, requiring me to get out and banged up on the rocks. Grace had a bloody knee, Margaret and Mike submerged and became stuck in rapids and were there for about 20 minutes before the next group came along and helped them. Andy and I did fairly well, but did sink once when we hit a fallen tree and tried to maneuver around it.

The trip itself lasted 4 hours and we have no idea how far we actually went. Several weekends ago when Mke and I kayaked we did over 10 miles in 3 hours...BUT, we have a feeling we maybe went 4 or 5.

This morning it is 9:15 and Grace is still in bed (unheard of, she's wiped). I have bruises all over my body, and Margaret is flopped out on the couch. The river got the best of us, but boy was it fun. Our only regret was that we didn't (and couldn't) take a camera down river with us. Those shot would have been hilarious!

Monday, July 31, 2006


Today my car registered 109 degrees. They are predicting a heat index of 115 tomorrow. I'll be driving to Madiosn all day--in my convertible with no air condition. Hopefully there will be a breeze. At the moment I am packing some clothes and grabbing the kids to find a restaurant and movie theatre for the evening. Then we're sleeping on Mike's couch. No way I can endure this anymore. I am sweating just sitting here. Stay cool and drink fluids.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


...I spent almost the entire day at Mike's sister's house. It was HOT again. Not as hot as it was two weeks ago, but still when my car registers over 95 it is time to seek shelter. Julie has a pool and air conditioning and fun kids for my kids to play with. I had spent the morning cleaning the house, mowing the yard and planting flower and was sweaty. Nothing felt better than hopping in the car and eventually hitting the water of the pool.

Mike spent the day working on chores around his house.

After swimming and eating grilled meat (yum, nothing says summer more than jumbo grilled hot-dogs!) Lynn (married to Tom, Mike's brother) joined us her gorgeous dog Quila (pronounced Keela). Julie and Lynn are in charge of the music at the wedding. They are geniuses and can play anything and know everything. I just sat there and said, "sure, that is great..." or "...hmmm, I have no idea what we want." We settled on a variety of musical selection ranging from Ave Maria, to Catholic songs that all Catholics know by heart, to "I Hope" by the Dixie Chicks. I think the music will be awesome and we'll have a keyboard, a flute, a clarinet, a guitar (if Tom plays too) and a trumpet (if my sister plays). I am quite excited.

It was cool to have a girls afternoon to plan stuff. Like how should I walk down the aisle? With who? What kind of dresses should the girls wear? Etc. I like my new sisters in law a lot.

At about 5pm the boys joined us, well Mike and Todd (Julie's husband) did. We all went to see Grace and Margaret's performance of Underwater Adventure, the culmination of three weeks of church camp. It was adorable. Grace was an angelfish, Margaret a pufferfish. The scenery was amazing. We were all underwater, there are murals everywhere with sea turtles, schools of fish, dolphins, a giant whale and blue saran wrap strung up above us signaling that we are underwater. I also love seeing the girls sing, dance and act in a very supporting arena. The kids that attend the camp come from all different backgrounds and races and income levels. They all seem to truly love each other as there is no shortage of hugs, smiles and high fives! The camp is held at the church that I loosley attended for about a year or so--the musicians are amazing. The theology that the pastors preach is about unity, peace, tolerance, justice, equaitly, and counters everything that the right wing pumps out. It is a very good place.

The night ended back at Julie and Todd's for a trip to Kopp's Custard (whoa, major calorie alert) and then another evening dip in the pool. We left at about midnight as I was turning into a pumpkin and falling asleep on the couch. But, what a great day.

I love being a part of Mike's family. I was really worried before I met them that they wouldn't like me, or wouldn't be thrilled that I had kids, or worried that I was too loud and mouthy. But. I fit in great and they have totally welcomed me into their group. I love my family, but everyone is younger than me so our relationships are different, I love that Julie and I can relate to one another about our kids, that we are all in our 30's (or really close....) and have similar interests. It's very cool these Crowell/Guelke people. And we won't even start the list of quotes that Todd and I generate!!! Good banter. Good times. Good people.

And I get to claim them as my family! I'm so lucky.

(This doesn't even underscore the fact that the girls and Mike's nephews couldn't be more alike. Grace, 10 and Nick 11 share a passion for reading: Harry Potter, Narnia, etc. And their personality traits. Margaret 7 and Andy 7 could be identical twins, they are totally peas in a pod. They have the same effected voice, they are the rambunctious monkeys of the group and they play hard. All four make a lovely little group. And I think that it is way cool that Grace and Margaret gain two cousins that are their ages!!! Another bonus.)