Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holiday e-news Year in Review

2005 was a very eventful year highlighted by our relocation from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to Mankato, MN. Laura "Side Track" has taken an executive marketing position with the Wedding Division of The Occasions Group (a privately held subsidiary of the Taylor Corporation – no relation). Alex "Buzz Daddy" has returned to corporate America to help IRG, a Taylor owned start-up organization with business development strategies and execution. As he puts it, the pay is better than he paid himself and the hours are much more predictable.

Sadly we left a wonderful community, terrific schools and dear friends and neighbors. The only hiccup was when we lost our fish in a car accident that totaled our Van in Rochester, MN during the move. So now we have a new van and new fish. Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful move.

One major positive is our proximity to the Becks, (Laura’s sister’s family). It’s great to get the cousins together and watch the kids play.

Ellie "The Belly Bean" has migrated to Garfield Middle School, Addy "Boots" and Maggie "The Chalupa" (4th and 3rd grade respectively) to Jefferson Elementary and Ike "BD" spends most of his days at Techni-Kids, Day Care sponsored by one of the local colleges. And when they are at home they are carefully watched by Ashley Hoehn, who rules with an IRON FIST. She’s the BEST!

Our summer vacation took us to Beaver Creek, CO to stay with family friends (the Dorfman’s), then up to Jackson, Wyoming to stay visit the Chidsey’s (Taylor family friends and Alex’s Godfather). We managed to squeeze in Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore on our way back to Minnesota. All in all it was an amazing trip, and the kids were terrific.

We also managed to get up to the cabin to visit Laura’s folks (Pat and Harlin) which is always a fun time of boating, swimming, eating and goofing off. Unfortunately this fall, Pat was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. So we are hopeful and prayerful things work out and our spirits remain high. We are all learning as much as we can so that we can help and make all of our transitions/adjustments as smooth as possible.

However, one thing is constant in our lives. and that’s chaos. Ellie plays softball, guitar, piano, swims, acts and dances Jazz. Addy plays volleyball, violin, swims and does gymnastics and theater. Maggie plays softball, guitar, swims, theater and gymnastics. Oh and Ike… he simply plays. As you can imagine, there is lots of running around and activity all the time.

Tootsie still chews stuff like a puppy and Alex swears she is getting better, meanwhile Laura simply swears. Koko, is our grand old dame and lumbers around the house looking for comfortable places to nap. Truman (the cat), generally minds his own business and doesn’t seem traumatized by our chaotic lives.

Laura swims regularly to stay in shape, and Alex continues to run long and far. This fall, he managed to run 3 marathons in 5 weeks: starting with Crazy Pete and his sister in the Twin Cities Marathon, then with Crazy Pete again in the Mason City Marathon and concluding in the New York City Marathon. Alex took Ellie with him to New York and stayed with the Dorfman’s (again!) both in Manhattan and the Hamptons. What a great family. Alex and Ellie had a marvelous time.

Laura graciously gave Alex hall passes to attend two Hawkeye football games: one with his old pal Mark Koepke and the other with Brian (his brother in-law). During both trips Alex stayed with his Godmother, JoAnn. She is such a patient person with him and his antics. Anyway, Go Hawks in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2nd.

In sad news Alex’s Aunt Sally passed away just before Thanksgiving. Alex and his sister Emily went to California for the funeral. Along with cousins Erica, Kim, Tim and Steve it was a nice funeral with and a glorious send-off befitting of Sally and her sense of family and fun. It should also be mentioned that Alex’s cousin “Taylor” Vernon also passed. He will be remembered as a very kind and gentle man.

On a lighter note, we’d like to thank our many guests and friends who have visited or will soon visit: This year the Pellecia’s from Menomonee Falls stopped by and toured the area, it was a lot of fun to see them.

Of course many family members have stopped by to see the new digs. And for the holidays, JoAnn (Alex’s Godmother) and Uncle Brinz (Laura’s brother) will visit. Shortly after their visit, our neighbors from Menomonee Falls, (Tami, Adam and Lindsay Menting) will come up on their way to the Maul of America. They will return later in the Spring for a Badger hockey match against the local Minnesota State Mavericks.

And the crazy year will end and New Year will start appropriately. Crazy Pete and his dork kids will be here for December 31, NIDDE (New Insane Dumbass Diver’s Eve). The following morning, to start off the New Year, Crazy and Alex will submerse themselves (sans wet suits) in Lake Minnetonka. Should be a bracingly dumb way to launch more adventures to come in 2006 -what a pair of idiots, it's no wonder they haven't institutionalized.

Anyway, that should do it for now. Happy Holidays and warm regards for a terrific New Year with many friends, family, adventures and good times.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Trail Running in Decorah

This is every bit as cold as it looks. According to Crazy Pete there were fewer than zero degrees when he undertook this trail in Decorah over the December 17-18th weekend.

Always good to get reports from our far flung correspondents.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy Turd Birthday Ike -

From cRazY PeTE

Happy Birthday Ike,
Three is the age,
When you're learning,
So many new words.

Hat's off to you,
Your mom,
And your dad,
Who's definitely King of the Turds!

Monday, December 12, 2005

"Under Construction?"

Trimming our Christmas Tree is serious business, for serious people, with serious equipment... seriously.

"Personal Narrative"

By, Addy Taylor
November 21, 2005

I remember when I was six years old and I first saw my baby brother, Isaac. It was December 13, 2002. He was born at Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

My mom and dad decided that my sisters and I would go to my neighbor's house while they went to the hospital. We had just turned on a movie, and hadn't even reached half-way when the phone rang. It was my dad, he told us that Isaac had been born.

A day later, mom was told by a nurse that Isaac would have to stay at the hospital because of an infection that my mom had during her pregnancy. The infection was passed on to my brother.

At first it felt weird having a brother. During school it was hard to concentrate. I would be surprised when I'd walk in the door and see him in the living room with my mom.

Even though he was sick when he was born, or how much he would freak me out when I opened the door, I still have to say that the first time I saw him was the best time of my life.

Happy 3rd birthday, Ike. Love Addy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


At last we’ve landed. It’s 12:30 AM, I’m tired but relieved to know the hotel is only 20 minutes from the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I’ll still be able to get a few good hours of sleep and in the morning I’ll meet up with two travel partners from work at the hotel.

As I exit the plane I pull out a printed copy of the email I have with my itinerary and scan the page to ‘hotel’ to figure out where I’m headed. To my surprise, when I read the ‘hotel’ part it says ‘I’m going to make reservations at either the Marriot Weston or the Baymont Sunrise’. That’s all there is. No confirmation of which one was reserved or what the phone number is for either. Great.

I’m thinking I wish I had a cell phone right now so I could at least call Alex in the middle of the night and file my complaint. I certainly can’t call the office at this hour to get information on where my reservations are. Instead I head to the luggage area where they have a row of pay phones with a nice big telephone book hanging from every sixth phone.

I proceed to a phone book and look up the first hotel, thinking I’ll call and see if they have a reservation in my name. I scan the pages and soon realize someone has torn out the one page I need! How rude! Why would someone ever do something like this! Fine, I think to myself, I’ll just look up the other hotel then. I find that hotel and place my call. As I ask for a confirmation of a reservation for Laura Taylor I get the response ‘we have no reservation under that name’.

So I hang up the phone thinking I could just risk it and go to the other hotel. It makes sense that if one hotel doesn’t have a reservation in my name, then the office must have made the reservation at the other hotel. But something didn’t feel right. I look 6 phones down and see another large telephone book hanging down and decide it’s worth getting the other hotel’s phone number to call and confirm my reservation before I go and make a trip there at 1 AM.

The airport is empty and I’m tired. So I leave my bag, computer, winter coat (I had left Minnesota in the middle of a snow storm), everything at the first phone and walk down to the other phone to look up the other hotel. I am pleased to find that this phone book does have the page I need. Then I realize I didn’t bring a pen and paper, or change or anything with me from the first phone. So I can’t call from the phone I’m at because I don’t have my change, and I can’t write the phone number down because I didn’t walk over with pen and paper but if I walk back to the first phone to get one of these things the big heavy phone book will fall back down into it’s hanging position and I’ll loose my spot. I have no confidence that I can remember a phone number at this hour to think I could walk over to the other phone with the number memorized.

Well, I’m ashamed of what one will do in tired, frustrating times…without even thinking I ripped the page out of the phone book. Oh my gosh, I now understand how someone could have done such a thing! And I’m shocked at myself for stooping so low just to avoid having to look the number up again!

What’s done is done. I walk back to the first phone with my phone book page and call the other hotel (I tell myself I’ll leave the ripped page in the phone book so I won’t be quite as bad as the other person). When I get through I’m told ‘I’m sorry our computer system is down right now and I have no way of knowing if we have a reservation for you or not’. So much for technology!

I explain my plight and the hotel assistant offers to connect me with the ‘national line’ and there they will be able to look it up on their system. So I get connected to the ‘national line’ and am asked where I am (Ft. Lauderdale of course) and I hear a pause as she looks up the information. During this pause I realize it’s the Marriot Weston in Weston, FL (just outside Ft. Lauderdale) so I interrupt the pause and explain this. To my surprise I hear a snotty ‘Well why didn’t you say so! You know I can’t tell where you are…I have to know where you are if you think I’m going to help you!’. I felt like yelling ‘I DID TELL YOU WHERE I AM, THAT’S THE PROBLEM. I SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOU WHERE I’M GOING!’. But instead I quietly apologized and waited for my information.

I hear her voice a moment later informing me they have no reservations in my name. In the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘yeah, you’re just saying that because I ticked you off!’.

I hang up the phone once again feeling tapped. I decide to call back the first hotel that didn’t have a reservation and ask if they have any rooms, because if they do I’ll just take one and figure out how I’ll hook up with my travel partners in the morning.

I place yet another call which uses up the last of my change. I ask if they have any room available to which I hear ‘sorry, we’re booked’. Thinking there’s no way I’m calling back the place who’s computer’s are down with the nasty national rep, and thinking I’m alone in the airport, I rather loudly yell ‘S*&%’! Boy did it feel good to vent.

But then, to my surprise, a head pops up behind a row of benches and gives me the nastiest look I’ve ever received. Obviously he was sleeping back there but as Junie B. Jones says ‘Yeah, but I didn’t even know that guy was back there’.

I decide I’m better off moving from this guys ‘area’. As I do so I hear on the overhead announcements ‘Ft Lauderdale now offers free wireless internet access from all our waiting areas’. That’s it! I think to myself. I’ll quickly get online and check my email and see if there were any other emails related to my travel plans that might indicate the hotel where reservations were made!

I get online and pour through the sea of email. I finally find an email that says the hotel was set for Hilton Sunrise. What a relief!

I head for the shuttles to find a shuttle to the Hilton Sunrise. Unfortunately I find that the shuttle only goes to the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale, not the Hilton Sunrise (just outside Ft. Lauderdale). So I’m going to have to take a cab. I quickly check my cash situation and realize I only have $20. Hummm? I’m afraid that might not cover what I’ve been told is a 20 minute drive.

As I look around for a cash machine all I see is rows of shop fronts with bars across them (of course, it’s now pushing 1:30 AM). I see a lonely airport personnel across the way and go up and ask where I can find a cash machine. Of course it’s on the other side of the airport.

So I rearrange my bag, my computer, my purse and my heavy winter coat as I set out for my treck across the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I get my cash and treck back to the cab line. What a relief it was to dump my things and my tired body into the back seat of the cab!

The cabbie heads out for our destination. As with many airports, when you are leaving the airport area the road splits giving you your options to head one way or the other. As we approach just such a split, the cabbie starts swerving back and forth from one side to the other. As we reach the split he slams on the breaks and stops in the median between the two roads! He looks back and in broken English says ‘Did you say Hilton Sunrise?’. ‘Yeeeesssss’, I reply. Then in a shocked voice with English I can barely understand he says... ‘I don’t know where it is!’.

It is now 2 AM and I’m sitting in a cab with a large foreign man who can hardly speak English and doesn’t know where we’re going.

Ahhh, the joys of traveling. And THIS chapter doesn't include the entire rent-a-car saga/fiasco upon my return. That particular snafu ended four days later with my husband and a $230 cab fare. But that's another story for another time.

Until then, suffice it to say, there is nothing like a little adventure to add spice to a person's life!