09 October 2015

Word to the Wise

Purex plus oxi laundry detergent.  Don't buy it.

We have been through a period of time when we weren't sure whether the laundry was clean or if it smelled of stale sweat and old urine covered up with something sweet and disgusting.  It was so disconcerting.  And it's just the laundry detergent.  Why anyone would want their laundry to smell like that, I have no idea.


While going for a hike in the "wild" to the east of our house...

Mack:  I think this is the pride of our house.
Kelvinator:  I think Mom is the pride of our house.

08 October 2015

The Rest of Toledo

So we knew we were going to be short on time in Toledo and so we had to prioritize what was most important.  The absolute number one thing I had to accomplish in Toledo was finding my dad's grave.  So we did that first the minute we hit town.  

As we approached the cemetery, we needed to turn right.  But if you were to turn left, the street would have a different name, Cove Blvd.  I recognized that street name as part of the street address of my dad's second house.  He and his wife moved into that house a few years after their marriage.  So after we visited his grave, we drove back down that street.  

It was a funky little street, actually and we ended up on a different street about a block over.  But I KNEW this was the right area.  And then as we approached an intersection, I knew exactly where I was.  I was able to give the Hubba precise directions right to where my dad's house was.  It was totally gratifying that from my little kid's memory I was able to pull out my exact location.  I remembered that huge open field and how it looked the last winter I ever saw it, all covered in pristine white snow.  I remembered the walking path across the street from his house where we would take his dog, Abbey, on walks.  I remembered the stream next to wooded path whose sole purpose was to breed mosquitoes to torment me for my entire visit.  My dad was so sick of me complaining about my itching mosquito bites.  But honestly, mosquitoes LOVE me, and my bites get huge (like several inches across) and hard and painful.  I was sick of calamine lotion.  Apparently that was before the days of benadryl and hydrocortisone.

Unfortunately, I could not recognize my dad's house.  I know I visited him in that house at least twice.  I have memories of it from the only time I visited at Christmas.  But I also have summer memories of it, too.  I'm not sure how many other times I would have been there.  The first time I saw the house, I thought of how well-off he must be.  It was a two-story brick home with wood floors in a lovely neighborhood.  There were no two story brick homes in Phoenix.  Anyway, as I was looking at that street, it was full of two story brick homes.  I was fairly certain of the positioning of the front door but even using that I couldn't narrow the options down enough to know which one had been his.  I should have taken a photo, but we were running low on batteries and still needed to use a lot of GPS for the rest of the day.  And since I wasn't sure which home was actually is, I decided not to waste it.

From there I wanted to see all the other things I remembered more than I wanted to go grave hunting.  So we set out to find my grandparents' houses.  We first arrived at my great grandmother's house.  Beulah Turner.  We called her Mother Dear.  The house was no longer there--just an empty lot.  I remembered that my aunt had told me she thought the house had been demolished.  And I could have google earth'ed it to see but I didn't want to know for sure until I got there.  But it had been a red brick Bungalow.  I did not recognize the lot or the neighborhood at all.  Not having any sort of feeling of recognition, I did not take a picture.

On our way to Mother Dear's house, though, we had passed the street that my grandparents lived on.  So we just went right back about four blocks to go see their house.  I had no idea that they had lived so close to each other!  If I had known the one house no longer existed, I would never have looked for it and never have realized how close they lived to each other!  

Anyway, here is my grandparents' (Lillie and Leon) house:

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure this is their house.  I recognized the neighborhood and the house is approximately at that point in the block.  I know their house wasn't the one to the right and there was an empty lot to the left.  The GPS said this was the place.  Later on after we got home when I looked it up again on google, the house number was off by 1.  But there are no houses that actually have that house number.  So I don't know.  I'll have to ask a relative if this is it or not.

This is my childhood home.  I lived here from the time I was born until just past 5, I think.  I'm pretty sure it used to have a red brick front.  I have photos of me in front of this house.  I'll have to double check.

 What I was most thrilled by was the surrounding neighborhood.  Do you see that building with the red roof at the end of the street?  It looks like a run down convenient store now, but back in the day it was a small grocery store.  I remember the little white stickers with prices on and cash registers with big buttons you pushed and numbers that popped up on the top.   My favorite memories were of my dad taking me to that store and there was always a huge bucket of those long, fat pretzel sticks near the cashier.  My dad always bought me one.

There used to be two huge conifers in the front yard.  I remember my best friend, Timmy, and I used to have SO MUCH FUN playing a game in my front yard.  It seems silly now but my mom would put on the soundtrack to Peter Pan on our record player and give us instructions--like go outside and run around the trees three times.  And we'd go do it and come back inside and she'd tell us our next set of instructions!  Haha!

And across the street from my house there had been a...I don't know...little strip mall?  Not sure what you would call it?  It was always strange in my memories.  Like why would that huge building be across the street from my house?  But in my memory there is a woman who works there--maybe as a pet groomer or something, I'm not sure--and she has several boys.  The brothers all play in my neighborhood during the summer and there is one particular brother that I have a crush on.  His name is John.  I have photos of these boys going swimming with me in my backyard.  One where John and I are sitting on my little swing.  I have my arm around him.  Anyway, it was just so so wonderful to see that these buildings still exist and my memories are real!

The Hubba drove by the house and then turned around farther down the block to go back.  The driveway he pulled into was Timmy's house!  Like, it just jumped out at me, you know?  Well, we drove back to park the car and get out and walk around a little bit.  As I walked past the house again, I noticed the windows in the basement and suddenly remembered the basement and where the stairs were inside the house.  I have a lot of memories of that basement.  And actually songs associated with it.  And my dad's best friend, Fred.  I wish I knew his last name.  Anyway, my reaction was so strong that the Hubba said, "You should take a picture!"  So I did.

At that point we went looking for more cemeteries but ran out of time.  Because we were scheduled to meet these people for dinner!

We went to Carrabba's restaurant where we met the Hubba's cousin, Brian, and one of his daughters (his wife and other daughter couldn't make it because they had to attend a volleyball game).  The Hubba and Brian hadn't seen each other in 30 years.  I had been told the stories of how similar they looked as children.  I could definitely see several similarities.  Most striking to me was their hairlines!   Total twinners!  There were a lot of Brian's characteristics that I didn't think looked much like the Hubba.  But all of those things actually reminded me of the Hubba's mom.  It was seriously disconcerting.

Anyway, we had a fabulous dinner with them.  I was totally charmed by Brian's daughter who was funny and smart and reminded me of Wiyah.  She plays volleyball and wants to be a pilot and loves Disneyland and loves to cook and bake.    She was precocious and I just enjoyed talking to her all evening long.

I know what you're thinking...  WHAT?  You saw LIVING relatives on this trip?!?!  Yes.  Yes, we did.

 We actually left Brian and left Toledo to go to a small town about 30 or 40 minutes away where Brian's mom and sister live.  Below is a photo of Aunt Debbie and Cousin Sarah and her husband and their tribe of 5 boys and a princess.  We stayed there until near midnight just talking and swapping family stories and at one point Sarah and I got off on a tangential rant on our education system and homework.  They have an 11 year old son who reminded me so much of Mack!  Aunt Debbie looks nothing like my mother-in-law.  But their speech patterns and mannerisms are so similar that it was freaky.  Again, the Hubba hadn't seen these people in 30 years.  Crazy!

Finally we went back to Aunt Debbie's house where we were finally able to try to catch up on sleep.  "Try" being the right word choice because it felt like we never got enough sleep on this trip!

Also, one random comment.  I thought Michigan and Ohio were beautiful.  I loved all the just open, wild spaces with grass and trees.  In the west, things are pretty open and spacious, too.  But unless land is owned by someone in particular it is ugly, barren dessert filling in the spaces.  But in Ohio and Michigan there were parks everywhere and just green spaces everywhere for people to enjoy.  It was beautiful and fresh and free and green. I loved it.  Seriously.  I know I couldn't do an Ohio winter.  But I kind of wanted to have a Toledo summer home.  Ha!  Even the run down neighborhoods still had a beauty about them.

The non-grave hunting parts of our trip

We actually did spend (a little) time doing other things than visiting graves!  And I'm about to start chronicling those other things.

Before we left, the little girls wanted to make us going away treats.  So they concocted their own recipe that called for a whole lot of chocolate chips, peanut butter, honey and Pero.  Elise knows I am trying to "eat healthy" so her cups for me only had about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips each.  So sweet.

 X had to be at work a few hours before we were leaving.  It was all chaos and then we walked in the kitchen and found this sweet note from our boy on the fridge.  Awwww!

These are pictures that we texted our kids once we boarded the plane.  It makes me sad that JJ was on a plane when he was a year old and he does not remember it.  Baboo and Wiyah have been on planes several times.  But JJ's first memories of flying will be when he heads to Tahiti or possibly he may go to San Francisco to pick up his visa in a couple of weeks.  And none of the other kids no anything about flying in planes either.  I wish we could just give them all that experience and go do something fun somewhere, anywhere, as a family.

Our flight landed in Detroit in the wee hours of the morning.  It was so freezing cold.  We had to wait outside for about 30 minutes for the shuttle that would take us to our rental car.  And when we got there, we found out that they just changed their policy a week previously so that they no longer accept debit cards.  They only take payment by credit cards.  That was problematic for us because we are a family that chooses not to use credit cards.  So we don't have one.

And yet, there were were already in Detroit, stranded.  At 5am.  Apparently there was one last holdout who would accept debit card payments so we went there.  We were able to get a vehicle at the last minute (yay!) but unfortunately all the research I had done previously to get us the best rate was out the window and we had to pay almost $400 extra for this rental car.

But what can one do when one is stranded in Detroit at 5am?  Absolutely nothing but fork over the money and try to have a good attitude as you go on your merry way.  Sigh...

We drove to a small town near Ann Arbor, Michigan where one of my on-line friends whom I had never before met in real life had offered to have us come sleep a bit in the morning.  I met her on a group for large, LDS families a couple of years ago.

Raelyn & Me
She gave us warm beds, where we slept for less than three hours and a yummy breakfast of farm fresh eggs from their very own chickens and toast.  Over breakfast we discovered that her brother served in the Hubba's mission and they overlapped a bit.  She showed us photos but while his name sounded familiar, the Hubba didn't really recognize the face.  Small World.

Also, she used to be a bus driver on University of Michigan campus.  The Hubba was dying to see campus and the rest of Ann Arbor and there was no one better to show us around than her!  She spent her morning just driving us all over town and showing us the sites.

Her home and yard were amazing.  I think she said they owned 4 acres of land that was just gorgeous lawn and beautiful trees.  The neighborhood was breathtaking and the beauty of the land was enough to make you question why you choose to live in the desert mountains out west.  One of the most beautiful neighborhoods I have ever seen.

A view of a portion of her land.
I wish I had thought to take more photos as we drove through town (That will be a constant theme of the trip though.  It was impossible to use our phones to be in contact with people, take photos and use as a constant gps on the battery life we had.)  Because the whole area was just absolutely, 100% beautiful.  I could not get enough of the beauty drunk in through my eyes.

UofM campus was huge.  I mean, dang.  It's the largest college campus I've ever seen in my life.  So big that I can't even imagine it even feels like a campus.  I, personally, like my quads.  The newer sections of campus were ok.  But the history of the older sections was fabulous!  She took us to the law school and we got out to look around.

Us and Raelyn's boys in front of the Law Library.

It's exactly what you would think a law school should like.  So there are four buildings that all face inward towards a beautiful courtyard.  From that courtyard you can't tell that you are on a larger university campus or that down town is just a block or two away.  All you can see is this heavenly architecture that was built to last and be beautiful.

I can't remember what the inscription was above the doors but it was the kind of quote that makes you want to look it up again and gave the Hubba pause for thought over the next day.  (I did look it up but can't find it.  Maybe the Hubba knows.)  We walked inside the law library and it was exactly what you would think it should look like.  Deep, stately woods.  Everything was ornate and the desks all had those green lamps on top of them.  The room was lit by floor to ceiling windows letting in natural light and lighting fixtures hanging down that looked like chandeliers filled with candles.  It was truly a cathedral to justice and the law.

As we turned around to leave, I realized we had passed by corridors and stairways leading away in every direction.  The gray stone of those winding halls made it look like Hogwarts or some other castle and I know the boys would have wanted to explore!  I wished they had been there to see it.

After that, it was time to move on.  We had to get to Toledo to hunt some graves and we were on limited time!  Even though we weren't very hungry yet, when we saw the signs for Tim Horton's, we had to stop!  Baboo and Wiyah have been raving about Tim Horton's in Canada for years and they both sent us pictures of the food they got there.  I didn't know Tim Horton's was in the United States, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at the events I am about to describe), the Hubba took several wrong turns once he got off the freeway.  It was very frustrating at the time and actually took us quite a while to get to the place!

Once there, instead of ordering, we had to take a photo.  First I took a photo of the place.  Then the Hubba said we should take a selfie.  So we did.  See the helpful and nice worker who photo-bombed the picture?  He was pretty great!  We still hadn't ordered yet and I was having trouble texting the photo to Amber.  While I was figuring that out, I got a call from my sister-in-law.  She is also a member of that LDS large families group and she said that Raelyn was trying to get a hold of me.  I was confused and still frustrated that I hadn't been able to send that text yet and as I was getting off the phone with her, Raelyn called me herself.  It turns out the Hubba's driver's license had fallen out in her car.

So we had planned on driving straight through to Toledo with no stops.  But instead we decided to stop and it took a long time to get to Tim Horton's and then there were several frustrating delays but in the end, it means that we hadn't actually travelled very far yet, so when we had to turn around and drive back in the other direction, it was less frustrating than it otherwise would have been.  On Raelyn's part, instead of going back home, she had decided to go visit her parents who lived in the direction we were heading.  So when we figured it all out, we were only about 15 minutes away from each other.  So it was a blessing and a tender mercy that I'm grateful for!

The Hubba ordered Tim Bits and hot chocolate.  I ordered a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant that was one of the best croissants I've eaten in the states.

These next few pictures really don't belong here chronologically, but I'm sticking them here anyway.  Below are some puzzles and games that Wiyah made for the Hubba when he went on a trip a while back.  We rediscovered them in a bag on our trip because the Hubba can't bear to part with them.

As we were driving to the Nashville airport at the end of our trip to drop off our rental car, we passed by these hangars and thought of our future pilot/aeronautical engineer (who is currently serving a mission in Vancouver) and how much she would love this and how much we missed her.  Took some photos to commemorate the moment.

I think this was the last photo I took on the way home.  It was a Best Buy vending machine.  It was full of like ear phones and ipads and cell phones and tablets and stuff!  What a crazy world we live in!


While making lunches first thing this morning...

Pink:  Mom, no offense, but your hair looks like a swamp tree.


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