Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Haunted Housing!



My first Haunted House experience was bone chilling and extraordinarily exciting! The feeling of fear and first time flutters were better than the haunted house itself. I remember exactly how I felt.

I was around 4th or 5th grade and had been wanting to go to a haunted house for a while, so my dad took my friend Tami and me. It was in downtown Kansas City, Mo and was called......
The Edge of Hell.

Standing in line, it was a crisp fall evening. I was feeling a happy anxiousness. When you want to laugh  from your gut even though nothing is funny. A type of exhilaration occurs with this anticipation. The fear and excitement grew the closer we got to the entrance. There were sights to be seen outside, too.  The haunted house employees were getting people riled up before you even went inside. They were in costumes and some were carrying rats!

When you finally arrive to the entrance and step inside, it's like a haunted mansion. Cobwebs, walls painted black and everything dimly lit. The cashier greets you from a glass booth, wearing gothic clothing. Next, you are going up a flight of stairs. There are now black-lights leading the way. Almost a chalky substance swirling around the chilling air with organ music (Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach).

Once upstairs, the haunting begins! Terrifying things happen for what seems like an eternity. Ghouls grabbing at you while you try to cross a rickety, swing bridge. Pounding on the walls that sounds like an axe. Places so dark, you can't see your hand in front of your face. This was the funnest thing I'd ever done!

Finally you reach light. You see white everywhere and realize it's supposed to be Heaven...A peaceful moment in this house of horrors. It doesn't last long! Next thing you know, you are at the top of a slide.

Wait, what?! Yes, a slide. Little do you realize, you have just climbed the entire height of this enormous old building, which happens to be several stories high.  I tell you, I was manic at this point! But I did it. I got on that slide and woooosh! Down I went, spiraling straight down in the pitch black!
Finally, I saw some light. I felt relief. But alas, it was not over yet.
Standing at the bottom waiting for me, taunting me, was the red man carrying a pitchfork. When I reached the end of the slide, I was on the floor, frozen with terror of this creature yelling at me to GET OUT!!!
He was prodding me with his pitchfork but I couldn't move. I was frozen with fear. He eventually showed mercy to my young self,  helped me up, all while continuing to  holler at me to leave!

WOW, it was over.

Stunned, I made my way to the waiting area where I met back up with my friend and my dad. I think I was speechless for a moment. As I recounted what had just transpired,  I slowly got my wits about me. Did this madhouse scare me away? Nope. I looked at my Dad and said.... "Let's go again!"

But it's not like a roller coaster, you can't just go back in line to do it again. No, you savor every memory of the experience. You smile ear to ear and talk about it the whole car ride home. Then you can't wait for next Halloween so you can have this experience all over again.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Wake Up Call

When I first became a mother,  I had nooooo idea how different my life would be. Of course it made my life better, richer, fuller.  But that's not the part I'm writing about today. There is also a very difficult side to motherhood. But thanks to a very old lady (sorry to use that term but I love old ladies!!) my whole perspective on motherhood CHANGED FOREVER!

So I'm not going to go into the details of my early motherhood days. Your first newborn baby is undescribable anyway, so I'll just get to the point.

One day I packed up the stroller, the diaper bag, the pack and play, the emergency kit, the binky and all the bottles I needed for a single outing to my local used bookstore. It was a rough morning getting out the door but I made it to the bookstore.  While in the store I couldn't pick out books, I was busy caring for my infant who wouldn't stop crying. I tried the pacifier, didn't work. Bottle, didn't work.
So finally I grabbed a few vintage cookbooks and headed to the checkout desk where there sat the sweetest looking little old lady.

I wanted to talk to her, learn her wisdom. Let her comfort me in my struggles of mother hood.  I began to tell her how hard it was to be a new Mom. How fussy my baby was and I couldn't just come and go as I pleased any more. How I had nobdoy to help me. My family all lived in another state. I was struggling.  I waited for her response. I needed some kind and inspiring words from a sweet person who has been through it herself.
After listening to me patiently, she spoke. She said 2 words to me that I'll never forget. She said ..........."You'll live!"

At first I thought...what the?! Then it hit me.....like a ton of bricks. I was a dip. I mean, here I was a modern mother. Caring for my baby in a modern home with electric appliances, indoor heating and plumbing. Fresh running water. Cable TV! Movies, Dvd's. Modern bottles and formula that were simple to prepare. Modern vehicle and most of all, a husband who works hard to support his family!

I tell you, from that moment on my life CHANGED and a new obsession was born in me. That obsession was learning how women before me did it. I went to the library and checked out every book I could on pioneer women and homesteads. Then books about the homelife during the Great Depression. Then the 50-'s through 70's...You name it I wanted to learn how they did it. How my Grandmothers raised a family with so much less than I had. They literally could not come and go as they pleased. I was not as tied down as I thought I was, especially compared to women of the past.

It has been years now since I began collecting my vintage cookbooks. I no longer collect them simply to collect. I collect them because I want to know how the women before me cared for their families with usually so little. I'm obsessed with learning the daily lives of women in history.

To me, all the women before me are pioneers!

Friday, October 12, 2012

They Meet

When I graduated highschool, college was not in my future. My Dad never pushed me to go to college and that is a good thing. He did, however, always tell me "You don't have to go to college, but you have to do something!" And something is just what I did. I went straight from highschool into cosmetology school.

I loved being a hairdresser! It fit my lifestyle perfectly. I was the wild hairdressing, party animal.
But I was also stuck in a bad relationship.

I am not putting him down, I was there too after all. I just mean, we were not meant to be so, of course, we did not fit well together. But when you are young, you don't realize how much better the future can be. So I stayed and we tolerated each other's bad behavior for a few years. Looking back, it seems like such a waste of time. But I know now that God has perfect timing. I was there for a reason, whether I knew it or not.

By the time I turned 21, my head was spinning from this relationship. I'm sure his was too as I was no prize. But I was also feeling strong and I was growing up. I didn't know how to walk away from him, so I didn't walk away from him.... I MOVED away from him. Seems drastic but that is what I needed. It turned out, it wasn't him I was running from, it was my husband that I was running to! I did not know it yet, but every step I took was leading me to my one true love.

Back to the story....

So I did it. I packed up all my things, said some tearful, yet excited goodbyes to my family and I was  out of there. Never looked back. (Except once and it led me to my husband!) It was only an hour away but that was all I needed to start my new life.  I stayed with my Stepsister's family for a few months. We are no longer Stepsisters, our parent's marriage did not last and I don't even speak to her anymore. Yet she is a key player in my success story! She encouraged me to move in with her to get out on my own.

While there, I quit doing hair and started working in a cup factory, of all places. I went from having a FUN hairdressing job, to working 12 hour shifts at night, in a factory.  And I was happy to do it. This new freedom was amazing to me!

After a few months, I got my own apartment and met a guy at my work who would become my boyfriend for about a year. His mother happened to work in a town 20 minutes  away as a medical records director in a hospital. I quit working at the factory and she hired me in the medical records department. Well guess what? Her son and I broke up! But for some reason, it wasn't so bad and I continued to work for her and we are still friends, even now.

Next thing I know I have a friend who works upstairs in the ER who is also an EMT. She says to me "Hey did you see the flyer? EMT class is starting soon at the fire department".... I said, uh  no, I'm not smart enough, I could never be an EMT. The thought never even crossed my mind!
Well, guess who started EMT school a few short months later? Yep, me. And guess who had a BLAST in EMT school? Me. Guess who did really, really well in EMT school? Again...Me.

So here I am out on my own, away from the town that was dragging me down. I'm in EMT school now, living in a college/air force town. Making new, lifelong friends, left and right. Partying my butt off, having a blast!

I became an EMT, began working on an ambulance while still working full time at my medical records job. Life was so good!

A few years passed. I'm sitting on the front porch of my townhouse with my roomates drinking a 40 and smoking a cig. Out of nowhere...and I mean NOWHERE...I say "I'm moving back to KC."
They were stunned and frankly, so was I. I had no idea why. None. I only knew, it was time. Time for me to go back. Why?? I would soon find out!

So less than 2 months later, I'm back in my hometown. Got a job, working nights in an ER. Living in my own apartment that had a pool and was just awesome! Yes, I was back in the town that held many good memories but many, many bad ones too. But something was different. I was different. I was stronger. I could face the ones who hurt me and the ones who I hurt. I was not the same person and never would be again.

So I moved back in January of 2000. And who would I meet in July of 2000? My husband.  The odds of this are so very slim, you realize.  You have no idea how close we could have just walked right by each other and never spoke. But the stars lined up in my life and his. It was very unlikely because, I was back living in this town after being gone several years. He was only there working on a job. He was from a completely different state!

I became very close friends with a girl in the ER. We went out to see a band at a bar that I barely ever went to.  The band was called Blue October. They have had several hits now, but back then, not so much.  I see my now husband standing across the room. I watched him for a few HOURS! We only had about a 5 minute conversation that night. I gave him my phone  number and he could have lost it, but he didn't.  We could have just walked right by each other and never looked back. But we didn't.

From that 5 minute conversation came a life of love, laughter and peace. I am amazed every day by our story.
So you see, every heartache along the way. Every bad decision, every good decision. Every person who was in my life, but no longer is was there for a purpose. It  was all pointing me exactly where I needed to go!

I did not find him. He did not find me.
God lined up our paths and I am so glad I followed that path.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Renaissaince Festival...of LOVE

One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up, was going to the Renaissance Festival.
We went every October. Rain or shine. The weather was always brilliant, even if it was rainy. I have seen some other festivals that seemed quite generic. The one I always went to, was in Bonner Springs, Ks.  Nothing compares to it. The grounds were MAGNIFICENT and I am not just indulging you. It is heavily wooded. Dotted with all the little shops and food areas. Beautiful trees, excellent scenery!

Where to begin?! Well let's start at the beginning. You park your car in a huge field. There is nothing in sight except a giant outdoor amphitheater right next door but it blends right in the parking lot. You begin to walk up to the entrance and you start to see all the trees in beautiful Autumn color. The outside entrance is very peasanty and rustic.

Once inside the wooden gates, you are immediately taken back to a different time. Each person was dressed in mediavel garb. From peasant clothing all the way to detailed royalty clothing in deep, rich colors. And back in the 80's, every single employee spoke in an English accent, even the food workers were dressed appropriate of the time and spoke in this accent.

As you walk around, you smell the woods, incents burning and nature all around you. Go in a little further and you will be greeted with the smell of turkey legs, hearty soups served in bread bowls or my all time favorite...Pizza on a stick! For dessert I always got to have an Orange Ice, which is an orange sliced in half with this orange flavored icee/sherbert type thing but it wasn't typical. I could not put my finger on the texture, it was like nothing else!

Most of the shops were nestled among the trees. Lined up in little nooks.  They were full of artisans who made their very own goods. Leather wear, giant walking sticks, windsocks, incents, candles. All kinds of things! My Dad always bought me a wreath made of ribbons to wear on my head.

Of course my favorite part was always the face painting, games and elephant rides! I loved getting my face painted and one year I saw the art teacher from my elementary school! I was so excited to see her there. It's always neat to see teachers in the real world. But since I saw her THERE, I thought she was cooler than ever! One of the games I always did was jousting. You got on this toy horse that was suspended by two ropes. Then they handed you your very own jousting stick. They would pull and pull and lift you into the air! They let go and you went flying down and you had to hit the target with your stick and get the ring off the little gadget. I never won!! There was also log rolling and one game where you sat on a giant log and tried to knock your opponent off with a burlap sack!

Toward the middle of the day, we always got to watch the real jousting. Time to take a load off in the stands and watch the giant horses race back and forth with the men in their suits of armour.

If you needed to use the restroom, even that was outdoors and whimsical. Not at all like any other outdoor event. Every area of this place was in character! The outhouses were wooden and were called Privies.

As the day would wind down, the air would get cooler. The smells were even deeper and your sense of peace was at an all time high. There was always a parade at the end of the day. You would wait over by the wooden exit gates. While waiting, children could wrap ribbons around a tall pole, it was very  beautiful. Once you heard the parade coming, you were silent! Eyes glued to every person walking by! There were the peasants, the court jesters, the children acrobats and finally the King and Queen. All were dressed of the time. They were singing, dancing and laughing loudly.

Walking to the car, you knew....the day was over. It would be a whole year before going back. Many times we were with my Dad's friends. I remember them so well and they too loved the experience. I went every year as a child. And even into my 20's! When I grew up and moved away, I missed it for the first time. As the years went by, I missed a few more. But then when I met my husband I insisted on taking him! He had  never been to one. And even if he had, it would not compare to this one.
He had a wonderful time, and so did I. But I don't think words can express just how good a time I actually had! It had been several years since I'd been to this magical place. This place so dear to my heart since childhood. Now, to experience it with a brand new love in my life was just.....
A festival of love.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Party

When I was growing up, there were lots of parties in my house. Summer parties, Saturday Night Live parties, Monday Night Football parties, Christmas parties, family reunions. Birthday parties. Parties just to get wild and crazy. You name it, we celebrated it.
But my favorite party of all was my Dad's famous pumpkin carving parties every October.

He loved to make the house smell like pumpkins and apple cider. He would make brilliant appetizers to feast on. People could come in and out at their leisure. Eat, drink and carve. The house was always inviting and guests filled each room.

He would get his carve on long before the guests arrived. He made incredible free hand drawings, mostly faces and did a technique where you just carve half way through, not all the way out. I know this is common now days, but back then, not so much. People were in awe of his pumpkins.

His parties started in the 80's and went well into the 90's. My friends always looked forward to going to my Dad's pumpkin party! A good time was had by all.

When I grew up and moved out of the house, he carried on his pumpkin party tradition for a few more years then finally threw in the towel.

But that didn't stop me from carrying on the tradition, no sir! Well for a few years it did. I had a lot of single life living to do. Lots of partying to get out of my system before settling down. But that would all change the moment I met my husband.

We met and fell in love quickly. Well I did anyway. I moved in with him less than a year after meeting him. He lived in another state as me but that didn't stop me. I always tell people that cupid went and bitchslapped my heart! It was about time, really. I was in my late twenties already so I was happy to start settling down.

So the first year we lived together I told him about my Dad's tradition and how much it meant to me. He was on board to carry it on! We decorated our trailer (yes our love nest) from floor to ceiling in Halloween decor. We went all out with some good food. And we invited a whopping 2 people! But they came! And she brought her son, so  bonus.

The mood was set and we carved our pumpkins and had a blast doing it! I still have pictures from our very first pumpkin carving party of our very own.

Each year since, our parties have grown bigger, as has our family. We look forward to it every year and we are now approaching our 12th year.

I want to thank my Daddy so much for this tradition, from the bottom of my heart. I cherish the memories he made for me. And I adore making new ones for my family!

Arthur's Theme

Arthur's Theme (Best that you can do) ...This song has a way of sweeping me off to another time and place. It starts in my childhood an...