The time my friends ate grasshoppers

Warning- Stop reading Mom!  I know you read everything I write, but do not read this story.  (She has major bug phobia).

So tonight two of my good friends came over to help me around the house to to help me prepare for my new couch which arrives in the morning.  The three of us love Mexican food and we planned on ordering Mexican food for dinner.

I opened the food ordering app because I prefer to order my food online.  Because I hate talking to people on the phone that much.  

I do not see our normal go-to restaurant listed.  So we decided to try a new Mexican restaurant.  I quickly google the name and I learn that it is a restaurant that specializes in authentic cuisine from the Oaxaca region in Southern Mexico.  I said we should be adventurous.  The worst thing that could happen was that the food wouldn’t be good and we would have to get food from somewhere else.  

We decided to give it a try.

I look at the menu and made a comment about the fact that they had cow tongue.

One of my friends decided on a grasshopper burrito.  The description seemed palatable and it said there was a choice of meat.  My friend wanted chicken.  

My other friend decided she wanted to order the same thing.

I looked the menu over and became overwhelmed so I ordered chicken tacos and an order of chips, guacamole and salsa.

When the food arrived, we were starving and ready to eat.  I pull out the two burritos.  My daughter said she wanted one and I said that they belonged to our friends.  I gave my daughter some guacamole and chips and one of my chicken tacos.  We all dig in and we talk about how good the food was.  

Everything was great.

Then one of my friends jumps and says that her burrito actually has grasshoppers in it because one just fell out.  My other friend was about five bites into her grasshopper burrito and she stops eating.  I was eating chicken tacos but I lose my appetite in solidarity.  The only one who continues to eat without being phased is my daughter.  

“Grasshopper Burrito” wasn’t just a cute name.  

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We contemplated what to do.  Do we call the restaurant and try to get something else?  My friends felt bad because I put the whole order on my card.  I assured them that this was such a good story that it was worth every penny.

Seriously, I have been bummed lately.  I haven’t laughed this hard in a very long time. This might have been the hardest I laughed since before Bryon got sick. 

My friends decided to just order a pizza instead.  With no meat.  And orange soda.  Sunkist.  Though the person on the phone called it Outcast soda.  Hey ya!

The burritos went into the trash.  My friend brought the trash outside which was good because I was having images of the grasshoppers coming back to life in my house.  

My poor friend got the creepy crawlies.  

You can’t really tell by the picture but in person, you could totally see the grasshopper legs.

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A quick google search does reveal that grasshoppers are actually part of the diet in Mexico’s Oaxaca region.  They are called Chapulines.  So this cuisine is authentic.  

Just a bit too authentic for us.

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Little moments

This weekend I did the first of my long runs for my half marathon training.  My training cycle has gotten off to a slow but steady start.  I have joined a new gym called Metabolic Meltdown and I do those workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and I run on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays.  I was having trouble motivating myself by just running and I need more strength so I hope this plan works.  So far I have been enjoying it.

So on Sunday I took my daughter to the local university and did the 3 mile loop around campus, plus one extra mile.  

It was the longest four mile run I have ever done.

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First of all, since I have slacked off on my training, I gained weight and I was pushing a stroller with my almost 3 year old.

It was hot.

My daughter kept dropping things and I kept having to stop and pick them up.

I didn’t want my daughter to fall asleep on the run so I kept her entertained by singing Old MacDonald since we watch OutDaughtered all the time.  OutDaughtered is the show about two year old Quintuplets.  My daughter refers to the show as “Babies.”  All I hear is “I want to watch Babies!”  Anyway, there is an episode where they are singing, or supposed to be singing, Old MacDonald in a recital.  So my daughter and I sang Old MacDonald and my daughter kept choosing “chicken” so this Old MacDonald had a farm full of chickens.  Old MacDonald can thank for me sneaking in one cow and one cat.   

My daughter saw one of the Albany city busses and kept saying ice cream truck.  I told her it was a city bus, but she wouldn’t believe me.  I told her she would disappointed if we went over and tried to order ice cream.

But I made it through the run.  I think when I reach the six mile mark on my long runs that I will need to get a babysitter.  I can’t be pushing the stroller for 8 miles.  I will go nuts.

I was really wanting to get an iced coffee but I decided to stop and let my daughter run around the fountains.  She was so happy which made me happy.  Life is about the little moments.

Recharging: Hiking at Thatcher State Park

Yesterday morning Kimmy Gibbler asked me if I wanted to go on a hike with the kids to Thatcher State Park.  I was game.  I had never been to Thatcher State Park but I have always heard it was a lovely place to visit.  My local blogging friend Melissa recently visited Thatcher Park and wrote about her trip.

I just had to make an emergency stop at Target to get a pair of sneakers for my daughter because I think I might have left them in Chicago.  Once we got a new pair of sneakers, (and some fruit snacks and some juice boxes and some bottles of water) we were ready.

We didn’t hike long or anywhere steep because we had small children with us, but it was still a really fun outing.   I look forward to many more!

Do you hike? Where do you like to hike?

 

So much weekend: New Kids on the Block!

I am going to get a little Sophia Petrillo on you.

Picture it: Billerica, Massachusetts.  1989.  Or 1990 depending on which half of the school year it was.

A young girl sits in her fifth grade class at Eugene C. Vining Elementary School.  Her female classmates have a whole bunch of boy band paraphernalia on their desk, including those large pins that you could stand up.  Like a picture frame. Her male classmates would snicker and lodge pencils at these large picture pins, trying to knock them down.

This girl thought the boy band was stupid.  That girl was me and that band was New Kids on the Block.

I wanted nothing to do with them.  I wanted nothing to do with those large stand up pins, or the t-shirts, or the plastic water bottles or the bed sheets.

My mother, who was a Beatles fan back in the day, encouraged me to like them but I wouldn’t give in.  In fact, that might have fed into my resolve not to like them.  (Sorry Mom!)

So I have no stories about going to their concerts when I was a middle schooler.  Because I just didn’t care. I have always had a streak in me that didn’t want to do what was popular.  To this day, I have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie.  So leave it me to be 25 years late for the New Kids Party.  But better late than never, right?

My friend had won tickets and four of us went.  We were so excited.  We had dinner and margaritas at El Miriachi before the show.

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Oh no!  I admit, I was more excited about seeing Boyz II Men than I was about New Kids but I wasn’t going to let it ruin a great night.

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My friend and I joked that Bryon was behind it.  Bryon liked Boyz II Men though I wasn’t allowed to talk about it when he was alive.   He was embarrassed.  Though when we were planning my daughters Baptism, he made me watch the scenes from the Fresh Prince of Bel-air with Nicky’s Christening.

Our daughters Christening was the Sunday of Epiphany and Bryon said it would be cool to get Boyz II Men to come.  I didn’t put any more thought into it until a few days later when Bryon says that Boyz II Men won’t be playing at our daughters Christening because they were not in our budget.  Leave it to him to actually look into it.

So my friend was saying that because Bryon couldn’t see them, then none of us could.

We will have to catch them next time.

My daughter’s Godmother and I were talking about how my daughter will like some band that doesn’t exist yet and she won’t want to go with us.   Because we will embarrass her.  Her Godmother’s stepdaughter will probably take her.

And one life lesson: don’t spend too much time on social media during the concert.  You might miss the dancer that rips off his shirt.  True story.

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In the past, I didn’t enjoy my life fully.  I never lived in the moment.  I was always worried about other things all the time.  So I made sure to really just embrace being at the concert with my friends.  There may have been some adult beverages.

But being a widow always has some level of sadness. It shows up even at the happiest times.  Even though Bryon wouldn’t have gone to this concert if he were alive, I did miss him.  I missed the fact that he would have been making fun of me.  I missed the fact that I didn’t have him to come home to.  I came home all excited and he wasn’t here to listen to my stories.

There is also some level of guilt.  Guilt that I am having fun without him.  Guilt that I am here to enjoy events like this and he is not.

I carry close to my heart the fact that Bryon embraced life.  He didn’t hold back.  And when he was in the ICU for five months, he fought.  He fought even though he would likely have permanent damage to his body.  He wanted to live.  So I must continue to live my life fully.  I owe it to him.

Mother’s Day Weekend

I had a good weekend.  My parents and my friends spoiled me.  However, like all the other “firsts” I am feeling lots of emotions, of which I am still sorting out in my head.  I am mentally too exhausted to write about them at the moment.  I might need to take a day or two to decompress.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t share photos from our trip to Indian Ladder Farms for Baby Animal Days.  The goats, the bunnies and the 4 day old chicks were my daughters favorite.

 

First Annual Bryon C. McKim Memorial Derby Party

I have two words to describe Derby Day 2017.  

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The first word is Epic.

We all came ready to celebrate the two most exciting minutes in sports.

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There were old friends enjoying each others company.  There were new friendships formed.  Lots of laughter, celebration and happiness were in the air.

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There were lovely ladies in dresses, hats and fascinators.  

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There were dapper men in seersucker suits.  

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Delicious food was served- bourbon meatballs, pulled pork sliders, mini Kentucky hot browns, mint julep chicken skewers and chicken and waffle skewers.  Because we all know that food tastes better when it is served on a stick.

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Makers Mark Mint Juleps were consumed in special Bryon McKim souvenir cups.  So many Mint Juleps were consumed that the bar ran out of Makers Mark two hours into the party.  Bryon would be particularly proud of that.  

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There was a silent auction full of amazing items that were generously donated from members of our community.  The silent auction was accompanied by friendly competition to outbid each other.

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The second word is Bittersweet.  

We were having a great time but we all knew that this party would not be happening if Bryon was still alive.  If Bryon were still alive, we would have been having our annual Kentucky Derby party in our backyard.  The backyard party would have been at a smaller scale but just as fun.

Ultimately Bryon had to die to bring us all together to have a good time.

As much fun as I had on Derby Day, I would have given it all back if it meant Bryon would still be here.  But I think I am reaching the point in my grieving process where I am beginning to accept Bryon’s death as it is.  I have days where I still ask “why” but I know that even if I can figure out the “why,” it doesn’t change anything.  Bryon will still be dead.  And there is nothing that can change that.

We can’t change the fact that Bryon is gone but instead we chose to take a horrible situation and make the best of it.  Many people die without leaving their mark (pun not intended) on this world but Bryon made his mark (okay, pun was intended this time) and we made the choice to keep his memory alive.  Derby Day had the potential to be a very sad day but instead, we chose to celebrate Bryon’s favorite day of the year.  And we celebrated in true Bryon McKim fashion.  I am grateful that I had so many amazing people to celebrate Bryon’s life with.  We all remember what a difference he made in this world. He helped so many people when he was alive and we chose to continue his legacy and help others in his memory.

I want to thank the Bryon C. McKim Derby Party Planning Committee: Vince Casale, Lynn Krogh, Danielle Grasso, Joseph Hanson, Jennifer Muthig, Mike Utzig, Nick Wilock, Jennifer Armstrong, Mike and Natalie Kosar, Sara Stein and everyone else who assisted in the planning process.  I am awe of your talent and you ran this event like a well oiled machine.  You could run a small nation.  Bryon would be proud.

I want to thank our sponsors for supporting the event and all the business who generously donated items for our silent auction.  My daughter and I are very lucky to be part of such a supportive community who looks after their own.

I want to thank Wolff’s Biergarten for all your hospitality and help putting on this event.  You were great to work with and made our experience enjoyable.

And I want to thank everyone who came out to support our event to celebrate Bryon’s life and keep his memory alive.  One of the biggest fears that a grieving person has is that their loved one will be forgotten.  Thank you for reminding me that while Bryon may be dead, he did live.

I look forward to celebrating with you again in 2018.

Bryon C. McKim Memorial Derby Party

Derby Party 2013

Our first Derby Party was in the tiny townhouse apartment that we rented but that didn’t stop Bryon from wearing his seersucker suit.  We had some friends over and crowded into our little living room to watch the Derby on Bryon’s flat screen TV that was too large for our room.  We served bourbon meatballs, mini Kentucky hot browns and derby pie and Bryon made Makers Mark Mint Juleps.

Derby Party 2014 and 2015

The next year we had moved to our house and we were able to have a larger party.  We still made the bourbon meatballs, mini Kentucky hot browns and derby pie.  Bryon bought a little costume for our cat that had a jockey on the back.  Our cat hated that costume.  Bryon served Makers Mark Mint Juleps and bought an ice crusher that was from the 1980s.  I was always so worried he was going to lose a finger in that machine.

Derby Party 2016

Bryon was really excited.  He decided that he had had enough of that ice machine and was looking into renting a snow cone machine.  It would serve two purposes, make snow cones for the kids and he could use the crushed ice for his mint juleps.  He sent out his Facebook invites.

But the Derby Party of 2016 never happened.  Bryon was in the ICU.  I sat with him all day and watched the Derby coverage but by the time the Derby was on, Bryon was too tired to stay awake.  I was so sad that Bryon couldn’t enjoy his favorite day of the year but I told myself that it would be okay.  We’d be celebrating with our friends in 2017.

And now it’s 2017 and Bryon is not here.

But the party will go on.  Bryon wouldn’t have it any other way.

We will be dressed up.  There will be Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps.  There will be mini Kentucky Hot Browns and Bourbon meatballs.  There will even be chicken and waffle skewers.  There will be a silent auction for raise funds for the Bryon C. McKim Foundation and our daughter’s educational trust.

What is the Bryon C. McKim Foundation?

Our friends and I have been working hard to make sure that Bryon’s legacy will stay alive through the Bryon C. McKim Foundation. Bryon helped so many people when he was alive and he was never one to brag about it.  When he was in the hospital, people would visit and tell me stories of how he had helped him.  Even 8 months after his death, I am still hearing stories from people that he helped.

There is no reason that Bryon shouldn’t still be helping people even if he is no longer with us.   By helping people, Bryon’s spirit lives on when we help people.

Through the Bryon C. McKim Foundation, we will establishment scholarships to Siena College and Albany Law School.  Bryon was proud of his education and we hope to give that gift to others.

The Bryon C. McKim Foundation also plans to provide patient education to teach patients how to advocate for themselves.  However, some patients can’t advocate for themselves.  When Bryon went into the ICU, I had to advocate for him right away.  It was a scary place to be and I had to learn what to do quickly.  The Bryon C. McKim Foundation wants to give people the tools on how to advocate for their loved ones.

Tickets can be purchased at mckimderbyparty.com  You can also join the excitement on our Facebook event page.  We would appreciate your support in keeping Bryon’s legacy alive and ask that you purchase a ticket even if you are unable to attend.

We hope to see you on Saturday!

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