Monday, January 21, 2013

Take me out to the Ballgame.

OH my,  I have to find time to get this writing done and edited.  I have these posts started and then life happens and I become busy and they just sit here.  If you could see all the drafts that are started and just not quite finished.  I guess I need to work a little harder.  So,  back to this adventure.  Last Christmas (yes 2011)  my brothers and I gave my dad a trip to Chicago to see the Chicago Cubs (for my Brazilian/ International readers, they are a professional baseball team)  You see,  my dad has been a Chicago Cubs fan all his life - well as long as he can remember.  When he was a young boy his family
would sit around the radio and listen to games at Wrigley field.   We decided a great lifetime gift would be to take him to Chicago to see his first live Cubs game.  We purchased tickets in the spring for an August adventure.  We wanted to go earlier in the season but it was the first date we could get coordinated with everyone's schedule.    It would be dad, brother Dan, brother Steve, and nephew Zack. The summer flew by and soon August 25th was here.  I planned to meet them in Chicago as they are all coming east and I would be traveling west.  My brother Dan volunteered to drive as their vehicle would fit everyone and he is also the furthest west so a good place to start. He picks up Zack (my nephew) who is in his first year of college and then off to Dad and Steve who
are meeting up  along the way.  I am not sure how the trip goes as I did not travel with them but I hear it went well with dad using his new GPS to navigating and Zack trying to catch up on some sleep lost due to his college experience.  I on the otherhand,  have a short trip west and arrive at the hotel just outside Chicago early evening.  From the occasional texts,  I realize I have a little me time as I await there 11 pm arrival.  Honestly I think it was a long drive but they made it safely and I am sure the pillow sure felt good.  The next morning dad is up at 6:00 full of excitement while Zack and I try and get a couple more minutes of sleep.  Finally we all are up, have breakfast, get ready wearing our Chicago Cubs blue and head to the shuttle that will take us to the L train (Chicago's public transportation).  On the train ride we talk about life growing up for my dad and ask if he ever thought he would see a game live.  It was such a different time and getting places was not as easy as it is today. This has been on his "bucket list" and it is obvious that he is enjoying the experience.   I spend the rest of our train ride thinking of how my life would be different if travel was not as easily accessible as it is today.
The short L ride is soon over and we are dumped off to take a short bus ride in the direction of Wrigley Field.  Built in 1914,  the ballpark was constructed to served as home to the Chicago Whales of the Federal League.  The team played there for two years until that league folded.  In 1916 with the financial backing of William Wrigley the gum mogul,  the Chicago Cubs moved their home field from the west end of Chicago to the two year old stadium and have played their home games here ever since.  Over time it has become a symbol of the organization.    In November of 1926, Wrigley acquired controlling interest in the team and changed the name to Wrigley and that is what it is still known as today.
Back to our current adventure ...  After a short trip through some nice brown stone neighborhoods showing us a glimpse of the city, the bus stops on the street in front and we step out onto the sidewalk in front of this iconic stadium.   A row of bronze statues commemorating some of the great Cubs players line the street.  We head in that direction to pose for photos and see who the players honored are.  Of course my dad knew them being such a loyal fan all these years.  As we walked through the crowd around the stadium,  in the distance we hear a band playing music and smell the smells of baseball.  We head towards the music and of course we cannot skip the souvenir shops for a t shirt and soon it is time to head to our seats.  It is a gorgeous blue sky day with the sun beaming down.  It could be a warm afternoon at the ballpark and I am glad dad has brought an extra baseball cap and willing to loan it to me.  We make our way into the stadium and find out seats.  (about 7 rows back just on the first base side).  The row we are sitting in just happens to be the first
row in the shade from the upper deck.   We are please that the sun will not be bearing down on us which will sure make it a much more enjoyable afternoon.   One row closer and we would be hot hot hot.
The seats around us fill up and it is a good crowd although the home team is no longer in the running for the playoffs.  Just shows you how loyal Cubs fans are.  The game soon gets starts and we follow as the Cubs score first and all is good, but soon with a few errors on Chicago's part,  Colorado comes back to take the lead and eventually wins the game.  It sure would have been nice if dad's first live Cubs game would have went into the win column but I know he enjoyed the experience and I am glad we could make it all work out. The adventure ends and time to head back to everyday life.  We will have to see what we do this year as a follow up to the Cubs game!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

BABY - BABY - the shower

Previously I had mentioned my sister from my father's sister (my cousin)was having twins and since we are close I took on the responsibility of throwing her a "baby baby" shower.  Our extended family is from Northwest Iowa and they were the focus of the invites so a location in this area would be ideal.  After a couple of searches we confirmed availability at my grandma's church and off to planning we began. We??? you ask?  Since I had traveled to the Midwest a lot already this year I solicited the assistance of my mom,  sister Pam, and two sister in laws - Trish and Tina 
to help as I had no plans to actually attend the event myself due to all the planned travel.  A date was picked, invitations printed, and a Facebook event page created.  Many of my relatives who we wanted to include are not necessarily on Facebook so our first task after creating the guest list was to get mailing addresses for them all.   Fortunately her brother was the last to get married in the family and his wife had a partial list of addresses,  a good place to start.  The rest could be gathered from internet searches and a quick call to my aunt Lorraine.  She does a ton of letter writing and is always in the know about these sort of things.  
My family divided the responsibilities taking on the games,  decor and food. I was in charge of the invitations and I also had some ideas of what to serve and Pam had a local chef to create the food so we worked on that together.  Cute
 ideas all over the internet that just needed a minor tweak for twins.  Everyone took on there responsibility and the planning went smoothly.  RSVPs started to roll in and it looked like there would be a good crowd.  As the event got closer the plans were coming together nicely but at the last minute Tina's grandmothers got ill and she had to make a quick trip to see her.  My brother graciously gave me frequent flyer miles so I could come and help with the final details so off I flew once again.  I arrived in Omaha and spent the evening with brother and his family.  In the morning we loaded the centerpieces which Trish's mom had created and off we headed. Cute 
baby blue and light pink filled the back of the SUV.   It was a beautiful spring morning with plenty of sunshine.  After a short drive we arrived and began by putting up the decorations,  configuring the tables, and getting the food ready.  The table was set as we waited for family and friends to arrive.  The expecting couple were first to arrive as they also had the longest to drive and wanted to make sure they were on time.  The tables were ready and soon guests started to arrive and the diaper tower was started.  We had asked everyone to bring a package of diapers for the happy couple and we built a tower out of them. 
What a wonderful afternoon as family and friends enjoyed the games,  food and fellowship. What amazed me was that all my uncles ended up joining the festivities.  I had suggested my dad to come and maybe we could hang out while the ladies did
 their thing and I figured my mom would rather have him drive.  When they got to the church my cousin's dad showed up with her mom and one by one my other uncles showed up and participated in the afternoon.  I realized we as a family just don't have enough opportunities to get together.  I think this was probably the first baby shower many of them had attended and I was happy they all seemed to have a good time.  The party went off without a hitch and soon all the planning was behind us as well as the afternoon. It was time to head back to Omaha for the flight back and wait for the twins to arrive. 

(sorry this is out of sequence.. it has been partially written for almost a year. please accept my apology.