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.  

Screenshot_20170817-191100
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.

20170817_191158

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.

Advertisements

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?

 

Late night ramblings of a widow #2

Late night ramblings…I can’t promise this post will be coherent.

It is late and I hate going to bed.

I hate being reminded that I am the only one that sleeps in my bed.

Well, unless my cat decides I am worthy of his presence.

My daughter got a toddler bed at Easter and it took her several months before she figured out she could physically get out of bed on her own.  So now there is a 50 percent chance she will make her way to my room in the early hours and climb into my bed.  And I will be too tired to care.  Unlike my cat, she is a cuddler.

I have been pondering life.

I have spent so much time living with blinders on and I never realized all the life that goes on.

I was on a run recently with Kimmy Gibbler and we were near train tracks and an Amtrak train went by.  I pointed out that the train was full of people heading to Western New York and that each person had their own agenda.

There were also other runners, joggers and walkers.  There were the maintenance men.  There was the homeless person sitting on a bench.  There were bunny rabbits in the grass.

So much life around.  Does it even matter?  Does it even affect me?

When I was back in Maine last weekend, I had breakfast with an old friend.  I will call her Charlotte because I don’t usually use real names and that was her name in French class.  I sat next to her and my name was Emilie.  Charlotte and Emilie.  Except the “E” had one of those accents on it and I can’t be bothered to try to figure out how to type with one.  Just being honest.

Charlotte said several things to me that made me think.  Some of it was about religion.  She definitely gave me some things to think about.  But if you are one of my religious friends reading this- don’t get too excited.  I am just thinking.

One of the other things that she brought up was the whole concept of the butterfly effect.  I honestly have never given much thought into it.  But it made sense to me.  Greed in the healthcare system has a trickle down effect that can affect patient care.  Laziness of doctors in overprescribing antibiotics plays into antibiotic resistance as well as the corporate greed that fuels the usage of putting antibiotics into our meat.

I was so fascinated by this concept that I spent some time on the internet reading it.  I also read Andy Andrews book about it.  It is a very quick yet powerful read.  And I am not just saying that because he talks about Joshua Chamberlain which automatically wins over this history buff from Maine.

Fun fact about me: I was a history major at the University of Southern Maine.  Your senior thesis was written while enrolled in your History 400 class and each offering had a different theme.  My final semester I was so excited that Maine History was offered in one of the sections.  But I did not write my thesis on Joshua Chamberlain.  I wrote it about French Canadian immigration to Maine’s mill towns.  I don’t have a copy.  It probably sucked and I am sure I could write a much better paper now.  Maybe I will write history books someday.

Everything we do matters.  It might not seem that way to us on a daily basis but our actions matter.  Positive actions create more positivity and negative actions create more negativity.  If you spend your time making those around you feel good, you are putting more positivity into the world which will have a butterfly effect.  You could be causing good for people you don’t even know and you may never know the magnitude of your good actions.

The same is true on the negative side.  Don’t be negative people!

Kimmy Gibbler always says that the world needs more hi-fives and less negativity.

It also makes me think about intricate our lives paths are.

When I was in Vegas last February, my friend and I had visited Mandalay Bay.  As I was walking around Mandalay Bay, I was thinking about how I attended the 2005 Young Republican National Convention.  If I hadn’t attended that event, I never would have gotten involved with the Young Republican National Federation.  I never would have met some of my closest friends from that organization.  I never would have met Bryon.  I never would have moved to New York.  My daughter would have never been born.  I wouldn’t even know my Albany family.

I have no idea what my life would be like if I had not attended that one event.

My life unfolded this way for a reason (and is still unfolding.)  Everyone is in my life for a reason.  Every opportunity in my life currently is there for a reason.  I may not be sure what it is yet, but I am right where I belong.

Chicago 2017: Navy Pier

During my weekend in Chicago I really wanted to go take my daughter on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

I first rode on the Ferris Wheel in 2004.  It was the Monday after Thanksgiving.  I had attended a wedding in Wisconsin and it was ten days after my Grandma Sullivan died.  I had found out while I was working.  It was a Friday and my father and I had been planning to leave that day to try to get to Massachusetts before she passed but we were too late.

I can still remember what I did in those ten days:

Friday- Grandma died.
Saturday- Went to Massachusetts (5 hours away from my home in Maine).
Sunday- Grandma’s wake.
Monday- Grandma’s funeral.
Tuesday- Went back to Maine.
Wednesday- Helped my mother prepare for Thanksgiving
Thursday- Thanksgiving
Friday- Flew from Bangor, ME to Madison, WI (via Cincinnati) to attend the wedding of a friend that I had attended university with while I was in England.  My cousin (from the other side of the family) was crazy enough to fly up from Florida to attend as my guest.
Saturday- Wedding just outside of Madison, WI
Sunday-  Went to Milwaukee with my cousin.  We went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, had lunch at Usingers, and toured the Colonel Pabst Mansion.

I couldn’t resist posting this Wayne’s World clip.

On Monday my cousin was crazy enough to take a bus to Chicago with me.  She was crazy enough walk around Chicago with me for 12 hours in the cold, November rain.  We had pizza at Gino’s, walked by Wrigley field, went to the top of Sears tower and rode the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

I have no pictures of myself on the Ferris Wheel but here is one of me on the El.

189627_17695717840_1577_n
Chicago 2004

And because I talking about the cold November rain got this song stuck in my head…here you go-

I returned to Maine that Tuesday.

There were lots of things that I did not know at that time.  I had just gotten involved in politics but I had not even heard of the Young Republicans.  18 months after that trip to Chicago, I would attend the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  On that trip, I would attend a party at the Romanian Embassy and on the shuttle bus ride there, I would sit behind a girl from Chicago who would become on of my best friends. (You met her here)

In the fall of 2007, I was living in Southern Indiana with another friend from the Young Republicans.  I was on a three months contract for work.  My roommate and I drove up to Chicago to see my best friend and another good friend in Chicago.  We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and then went to Navy Pier.  And we rode the Ferris Wheel.

196476_19062587840_3148_n
Chicago 2007
196644_19062522840_351_n
Chicago 2007
188498_19062527840_1474_n
Chicago 2007

In 2007 we were single girls travelling around the country, attending political meetings and partying with future leaders and elected officials (some of them surprised us).

In 2012, we both got married.  I got married in September in Albany and she got married in December in Mexico.  Her location was a bit more exotic than mine but it didn’t matter.  We were both there for each other on our big days.

163351_10152007789837841_2022148149_n
Albany, 2012
74198_10151974547607841_391795972_n
Mexico, 2012

We both had our daughters in 2014.  Her daughter came in April and mine came in September.  They are exactly 5 months apart.

And she was there for me when Bryon died.  She made the trip to Albany (along with the other lovely lady in her wedding photo).  They actually already had the plans to be in NYC the weekend that ended up being the weekend of Bryon’s funeral.  His birthday was the day after his funeral and she made arrangements to meet my father halfway between NYC and Albany to bring our daughter to see him for his birthday.   I told Bryon that he would see our daughter, as long as the doctors said it was okay.  He was excited.

But he died a week before his birthday.

And now I am here.  A widow.  Travelling as much as a I can this year to make up for the fact that I spent most of 2016 in an ICU room watching Bryon slowly die.  And because I promised him as he was dying that I would still take our daughter on adventures.

So that brings me to Chicago in 2017.  With my best friend and our young daughters.  And I wanted to go to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel…again.

20031690_10155814274532841_570146806796521482_n
Chicago 2017
20156130_10155814274707841_7469280915709934603_n
Chicago 2017
20106516_10155814275132841_3645585616520718671_n
Chicago 2017
19961177_10155814275247841_4499783531740664790_n
Chicago 2017
19989611_10155814275652841_9156754146822396110_n
Chicago 2017
20170716_142839
Chicago 2017
20170716_142602
Chicago 2017
20170716_142558
Chicago 2017
20170716_142554
Chicago 2017
20170716_142435
Chicago 2017
20170716_142431
Chicago 2017

Both of the little ones enjoyed the ride.  I can’t remember if it was my friends daughters first time or not.  I think it’s safe to say that when my daughter and I return, that we will go on the Ferris Wheel again.  Maybe next time, she will be tall enough for some of the other rides.

 

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.

20170709_190551

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.

20170709_200037

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.

20170709_20113820170709_20233620170709_20580220170709_21061420170709_21181420170709_21185820170709_212922

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.

Felix natalis amici mei

Felix natalis amici mei.  

That is Happy Birthday my friend in Latin.  At least that is what Google Translate tells me.  My friend is a Latin teacher and I am sure she can tell if it is the correct Latin grammar or not.

Today is her birthday.  But we celebrated her birthday the other night.

My friend is very special to me.  She was in my wedding.  This is her favorite picture from our wedding day.  (She is the one pinching Bryon’s cheek.)  

27891_10152007832552841_1967426603_n

My friend was the one that got me to run a half marathon.  And even though she was dealing with some pretty rough stuff in her own life during those months while Bryon was in the hospital, she still came by almost every day.  She brought me fluffy literature to pass the time and she brought pizza to sustain me.  She was with me during Bryon’s two worst days and she made it down to NYC before he died.  I don’t know what I would have done without her friendship.

We met at an Italian Restaurant called Il Faro. I am conflicted writing about it because it was so good and we didn’t want the whole world to know our secret.  But the food was so good that it was only fair to mention it.  It is only a matter of time before it gets discovered and will be crowded.  I am not Italian, but several of the people at our table have Italian heritage and they were impressed.

We had drinks at the bar and chatted.  A lot of baseball talk. The group consisted of four couples and me.  I was the ninth wheel.  It’s times like these that I miss Bryon. Granted, he wouldn’t have been by my side all night as he would have taken this as an opportunity to catch up with his friends.  He would have been making fun of his best friends beer selection. But these are my closest friends- my Albany family- and we still talk about Bryon as if he is still alive, which makes me feel better about being the third, or fifth or seventh or ninth wheel.  

I believe everyone was impressed with their meals.  I had the eggplant parmesan with a side of meatballs and linguine and it was amazing. I had enough eggplant leftover that it was dinner the next night for me and my daughter and the meatballs and linguine were lunch the next day.  And even in leftover form, it did not disappoint.  

19553871_10155726481187841_6159819428753131614_n

We got a group picture

19437222_10155726481242841_8504507847566134684_n

And then we got a picture of the girls.

19430094_10155726481642841_4913529174539925240_n

Then the guys got jealous and had to have their picture taken.

19429986_10155726481407841_2815241845094731301_n

In the bathroom.  Something to think about.

19511250_10155726481217841_9209828769688453271_n

My friend and I got into my car and right when I turned the key in the ignition, Hall & Oates started to play.  It was my friend’s favorite Hall & Oates song.  

19437699_10155726481747841_8453390195679011018_n

We took it as a sign that Bryon wouldn’t let us celebrate her birthday without him.  We cried.

19437517_10155726481847841_8432225906648666233_n

Half of us went back to my friend’s house where her boyfriend had a cake.  It was an orange creamsicle cake.  I don’t particularly care for orange creamsicle ,but I thought it was good.

19554399_10155726481957841_2346424058134353816_n19510569_10155726482202841_3316627307644598250_n

Then we did presents!  Which I didn’t get any pictures of my friend opening up.

I never thought birthdays were a big deal.  They are mostly for kids.  As adults, once you celebrate your 21st, you only celebrate those birthdays that end in zero.  But after losing Bryon at such a young age, I know realize that birthdays are meant to be celebrated.  We are lucky to have them.  And I am lucky to have friends to celebrate these special days with and I look forward to celebrating more.

Amicus meus est natalis beati. te amo.  (Don’t fail me Google translate!)

My Kimmy Gibbler

Yesterday Facebook let me know that Kimmy Gibbler and I became friends 8 years ago.

IMG951364 (2)

We actually became friends earlier than that.  In September 2008.  Bryon and I had been dating for 6 weeks.  I came out to Albany and it was the weekend of LarkFest.  I was impressed (and intimidated) by her Chanel eyeliner and her fancy sunglasses.  Bryon and I had not had that awkward “what are we” conversation yet and she referred to me as Bryon’s girlfriend.  From that point on, Bryon referred to me as his girlfriend.  She saved us from having to have that conversation.  

Through the years, we were friendly.  We’d see each other at various parties and sporting events.  But she was closer to Bryon, but most people were.

17903440_10155479994597841_7088198661435851561_n We had our kids 18 months apart.  She was at my daughter’s Christening.  

She was at Bryon’s 30th birthday party.  It was a fun night with hibachi.  We did not know that it would end up being his last.

Then Bryon got sick.  She came by the hospital.  She made Bryon laugh and she brought me coffee.

Then Bryon died.  I forgot to wear my pearls that Bryon got me on our honeymoon in St. Thomas.  She offered me hers.  I didn’t take them, but I told her that she reminded me of Robin Scherbatsky and how she was Vice-Girl at Marshall’s father’s funeral.

She was there for me through those rough early weeks.  She stayed with me when I started crying after having too much wine.  She never once told me how to grieve or how to feel.  She just listened.  And she listens to hear what you have to say, not just to respond.

The Sunday before Christmas I woke up feeling sick.  I couldn’t get myself off the couch.  Not the best position to be in when you have a two-year-old.  But she came over and made me drink apple cider vinegar tea.  She swears by apple cider vinegar.  It didn’t taste good, but it made me feel better.  It is now my go-to when sick.  That and coconut oil.  Kimmy Gibbler loves coconut oil. 

People may see our banter back and forth on Facebook, but people don’t realize that that is actually a small amount of our interaction.  One time we had three different conversations at once, one on Facebook, one on Facebook messenger and one via text.  And it wasn’t on purpose.  

18274947_10100349974535373_489459375922397510_n

I can message her whenever.  It can be when grief is hitting me hard or if I just want to randomly (but passionately) say that I don’t like the Uncle Jesse/Aunt Becky storyline on Fuller House.  And she will respond thoughtfully in each scenario.

She understands my humor, which is some weird combination of cheesiness, sarcasm, and being wildly inappropriate.  I have never once shocked her.

We know to adult and be good moms.  But at times we act like two teenage girls.  We might be known to giggle and tee-hee at times. Especially when we hear Bryan Adams.

Resized_20170429_105808 (2)

We work well as a pair.  I am the visionary and come up with the crazy ideas.  She is the planner and executes them.

She is always up for an adventure, even with the kids.  We are both history geeks and we took the kids to Philadelphia (I will write about that trip soon, I promise).  

I found out that there was an Amato’s in Ticonderoga and she was crazy enough to take a road trip with me.  With our two kids.  I was so scared that the Italians were not going to be as good as I remembered them but they were.  We then drove through Washington County (I think) and then over to Vermont to look for a cheese shop and a chocolate museum that I remembered visiting with Bryon.  We found a cheese shop, but it was closed and we couldn’t find the chocolate museum.  Luckily we found a chocolate shop in Bennington.  The kids seemed just as excited.

17155758_10155349638042841_2559565754904561267_n

Sometimes I curl my hair like DJ on Fuller House.  I don’t do it every day like DJ because I am a real person, not a TV character and I do not have daily access to make up artists and hairstylists.  I told her that I am like DJ because we are both widows, except DJ has amazing hair and a hot boyfriend while I have neither.  I told my friend that would make her my Kimmy Gibbler.  She accepted her new role (as if she had a choice!)

20170621_163535

We sat at Bryon’s grave yesterday.  She brought him a Stewarts Mountain Brew Tall Boy (which still does not have rugby listed as one of the activities you can enjoy while drinking a Mountain Brew).  We talked about how it sometimes it feels like yesterday that he died and other times it feels like a lifetime ago.  We talked about much we miss him, but we know we wouldn’t be close friends If he were still alive.  She also told me how much I have changed since Bryon had died and how she never knew who I was before.

She was the one of the first people to help me embrace my new self and grow as a person.  We will never know why Bryon had to die, but I truly think that my friendship with Kimmy Gibbler is one of the biggest gifts that Bryon gave me.   I can’t imagine my life without my Kimmy Gibbler.