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The #!Parentsroom Party!!! Part 1
The Parentsroom Party in Michigan at Brenda's (Bahama's) house was a resounding SUCCESS!!! I think one would have a hard time finding anyone there who did not fully enjoy themselves. I for one, have not laughed that hard in years (nor stayed up that late!). The following is a synopsis of the events of the weekend from my perspective. I'm sure everyone there has their own unique take on the party, so if you see anyone else on-line who was there, ask them what they thought! Thanks again to all who showed up and especially Brenda and Geoff for welcoming us into their home.
My mother in law picked up me and my children at 10:00 AM on Friday, to bring me to the bus that would take me to the airport. She was going to watch the kids for the day until my husband got home from work. In the car she was asking me all sorts of questions such as where I was going and who would I be staying with, and how many people would be there, etc. I sensed a touch of worry in her voice. She seemed satisfied with my answers, but I could tell she wasn't too sure of the whole thing. Afterall, the way our media is so bent on portraying the internet in such evil terms, her reactions were really not surprising.
We arrived at the bus station in no time and I said good bye to my kids, and off they went. The bus was there already, so I just needed to buy my ticket and hop on. I tried reading a magazine during the ride, but I found my mind wandering too much to concentrate. I was planning to meet Karen (Chowski) at the airport, and I was nervous about being able to recognize her. She was planning to be there first, so I figured she'd probably see me and all would be well. I even told her I'd be wearing the same shirt that I was wearing in a picture of me she had seen from the web page so she'd be more apt to recognize me.
The bus got to the airport fairly quickly and I was there right at 11:15 as planned. While carrying my bag into the airport, I realized that I was used to packing for driving trips, and probably should have tried to lighten the load a bit! Inside the terminal, I looked around but didn't see anyone who resembled the picture of Karen that I had seen. I hoped I was in the right place. I walked up and down the general area, but still no sign. I went upstairs where the gates were, thinking perhaps there was another entrance that she might be at. No Karen. So I figured she must have gotten stuck in traffic and I tried to be calm and just wait. I had both Karen's and my plane tickets with me, and was waiting for Karen before I checked in, but as the time started getting late, I decided I better check in and see if perhaps there was a place or someone I could leave the Karen's ticket with. The lady at the counter looked at the tickets and said that because they were "E-Tickets" (I had bought them totally through the internet at Expedia) that she would not even need to have the physical ticket to board the plane. She would only need to show her picture I.D. and that's it! So that eased my mind a bit, and I set out to wait some more. I decided to go upstairs again and check up there. I didn't see her up there, so I came back down. On my way down the stairs I saw her! Right away I recognized her and began to wave my arms in the air so she would see me. She had indeed got caught in major traffic. We checked her in and proceeded to the gate. We talked a little bit, but she was very quiet. At this point, it wasn't long before we were able to begin boarding.
We found our seats on the plane and prepared for takeoff. Karen had told me that she was very nervous about flying, so I was prepared to be the "strong one" and pretend that I was an old pro on an airplane. Take off was smooth but we were sitting right on the wing and could hear all sorts of strange and scary noises. Each time there was a new noise, Karen would get a panicked look on her face and say, "What's that??? Is it ok?" I would pretend that I knew exactly what those noises were and say, "Sure it's fine, that's just the wing flaps opening, or the wheels going back up, or whatever." She seemed to believe me, so that was good. Then I told her the trick that my sister and I had learned when we used to fly to Florida to visit my grandparents. We had figured that if you look at the stewardesses and they seem to be just going about their usual business, then everything must be ok. So Karen began keeping a close eye on the stewardesses! Once we were up at cruising altitude we relaxed a bit, and talked about the parentsroom channel and our families, etc. When it was getting closer to landing time, Karen got out her numerous pictures of her family to show me and to keep her mind off the landing. This helped a bit and we landed smoothly in Detroit at about 2:00 PM. Still, we had to catch a connecting flight to Flint, which I was fairly certain was going to be on one of those small propeller planes.
It turned out to be a fairly small plane, but not as small as I had imagined. However, my seat was near the front, and Karen somehow had the last seat in the back of the plane. I kept trying to look back at her to see if she was ok, but couldn't really see her. She was sitting next to some little kids that had come with their parents, and I was hoping that she wasn't going to make the little kids nervous! I enjoyed the quick flight to Flint and looked out the window most of the way. I found out afterwards that Karen was less than thrilled with her experience on the plane.
At the Flint airport, I knew we were supposed to be picked up by Brenda's (Bahama's) husband, Geoff (GeoStorm) and I also knew that they were supposed to have made some sign that he would hold, although I didn't know what it was supposed to have said on it. I had seen Geoff's picture on the page, so I knew somewhat what he looked like. As we entered the terminal, I saw a lone guy that looked about what I would expect but he wasn't holding a sign. He seemed to recognize us and I said, "Geoff?" He mumbled something about blowing it, and proceeded to reach behind him for his sign which read "Bahama's Hubby" with an arrow on it! Apparently he had held up the sign for the first few people that came off the plane, but couldn't take the strange looks he was getting, so he put it down. He made us sware we wouldn't tell Brenda that he didn't have the sign. (First thing I told her...!!!) They didn't live too far from the airport, which was good because we didn't really know Geoff too well, and I was feeling a little bit shy. Karen stayed fairly quiet too. I noticed that Flint looked rather flat, as opposed to the hilly windy roads in New England where Karen and I were from, so we discussed that for awhile.
The Party - Day 1
Upon entering the house, I think the first person I saw was Lisa (SuperMom), I recognized her right away from her pictures (and her hugs!!!). Lisa introduced me to her mom, who had come to the party with her. (Click here to see a picture of Lisa from the party.) Then I think I saw Brenda (Bahama) who I somewhat recognized, but mostly from her voice. (I had talked with her previously on the phone.) There was another woman sitting in a chair, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out who she might be. It turned out to be Chrissy (Ctomasic). She did NOT look anything like her picture as far as I could tell! (Click here to see a picture of Chrissy and Lisa's Mom from the party.) Oh, and how could I forget...Brenda knew that I am less than thrilled with dogs, so apparently they had made a sign that morning and had put it on the dog when I got there. It said "Kiss Me Jill!". (I didn't.)
We all sat down and talked about our flights, etc. Everyone seemed just like they were on-line. Chrissy (Ctom) appeared much more outgoing than I would have guessed, but of all the people there, I think she was probably the one I knew the least going in. Lisa (SuperMom) acted pretty much how I would have expected, although I'd say she was even more friendly (is that possible???)! Lisa's mom fit right in with the bunch, which was good for everyone. Brenda (Bahama) was Brenda. No real surprises there. One might say she was not as "tough" as she might seem to be in the #!Parentsroom, but I already knew that. I really felt like I had known her for years.
Todd (Falech) and Gill (Gianne) had arrived earlier, but were still at their hotel. (Click here to see a picture of Todd and Gill from the party.) Brenda tried calling over there, but received no answer. Some of us decided to go out and buy some stuff to drink and some munchies, etc. Brenda took me, Lisa, and Karen out to the store. On the way we were wondering where Todd and Gill were, and were making jokes that perhaps Todd missed the cornfields of Nebraska. When we passed by a cornfield, we weren't sure, but could have sworn we saw them in it.... We decided to try to find them at their hotel. The hotel desk clerk dialed their room, but there was no answer. Brenda tried to bribe them with $20 to give us their room number, but the clerk wouldn't budge! So we headed out to the store in search of beer, wine coolers, soda/pop and the ever illusive lime liqueur!
We spent some time at the store, picking out what we wanted to drink etc. and could not find lime liqueur anywhere. Karen was looking for it for a drink she wanted to make. It was Lisa's birthday and Brenda went to the bakery section to get her a cake. I suggested the Big Bird cupcake, but Brenda went with the cake anyway. The checkout was quite an experience. The young girl at the cash register asked me for my birthdate when I put my purchase of wine coolers up to buy. I was so confused as to why she needed my birthday that I couldn't think of what it actually was! Apparently was their way of checking the ID of someone who they think is under 30. They don't actually need your license, unless you look real young. Brenda wasn't exactly thrilled when the cashier (who was trying to be nice) said to her, "Well your not as old as my mom!!!!)
When we got back to the house, Todd and Gill were there! It was really cool to meet them. Gill looked EXACTLY like her picture, and Todd looked like an older picture of him that we used to have on the page. It felt strange for me to be meeting Todd in real life. He's one of the originals of the Parentsroom channel, and I've known him longer than just about anyone else I know on IRC, so finally meeting face to face was just kind of "different" but I'm not sure why. Perhaps because he was actually much shyer in real life than he is on the channel. I had decided I wasn't going to be shy, and by george, if I wasn't!
The whole gang wasn't quite all there yet. We were still missing Jeff (JC3), Lynda (Cea), and Kim (Skybabe) and Joey (Woody). We all were a bit nervous to meet Jeff, because none of us felt that we had known him very well. He had been very good friends with Kim on the channel, but the rest of us only knew him casually. Brenda's husband Geoff went to pick up Jeff at the airport, not having a clue as to who he was looking for or what he looked like! Apparently, Jeff didn't know that Geoff was picking him up either, and I think may have been expecting Brenda. I'm not clear on the details of how they finally found each other, but it had something to do with a metal detector going off!
Brenda reminded us that she had no intentions of staying in the kitchen and cooking, etc. and "persuaded" Gill, Karen and I (well me she grabbed kicking and screaming into the kitchen...just kidding) into making up some hamburger patties for the grill. It was interesting hearing the different words that Gill uses for things, being as she comes from Wales and all. She told me that the ground up hamburger meat is called "mince meat" in Wales. There were some other interesting words, which I can't remember at the moment. Gill was everything she seemed to be from chatting with her on the channel - sweet, nice, smart and funny! We showed Karen how to make the hamburger patties as she is one of those lucky few whose husbands do most of the cooking. Geoff took our creations and cooked them up on the grill, adding some hot dogs with them. Lisa, her mother, and Brenda, had already made up some macaroni salad and potato salad to go with them. It was a tasty meal altogether!
After we ate, we settled in to "The Outback" (Brenda and Geoff's large extra garage type gameroom), where we played Pool, Ping Pong, FoozeBall, etc. Brenda proceeded to whoop my butt at Foozeball. (Man she's good!) I played a little ping pong, but my real pingpong games started when Jeff got there. He and I got into quite a tournament throughout the weekend, with some real nail biters. He beat me the first 3 games, but not by much. I finally was able to beat him a few times, but I guess I'd have to concede that he was the better player overall (boy I hate saying that...!). I'm going to have to find a virtual PONG game or something to get him back with.
Lynda still hadn't shown up and we were getting worried about her. She was driving quite a distance with her husband and two of her children (who were going to sleep at a hotel). Finally, she called and said she was on her way! She got there soon after and came in to "The Outback" with her husband. If I didn't know that it was Cea, I would definitely not have recognized her. To me, she looked completely different than the picture I have on the page of her. She recognized Gill at first and gave her a big hug. I think she was a bit overwhelmed at meeting everyone at first and she didn't notice me right away! It must have been hard to come in and meet everyone after we had all had the whole day to get to know each other. (By this time it must have been around 9 or 10 at night, although I'm not positive!) Lynda handled it like a trooper and fit right in immediately (as did her husband, Tom, who stayed for a bit).
We decided to play the game that Karen had lugged with her called "Gender Bender." We weren't sure if there were enough men there to make it work, but tried anyway. It turned out that the game was kind of funny. The women's team got some pretty simple questions, (What does rebooting a computer mean? hehe!) and the men were getting ones that were not quite as easy. (I can't think of any of their questions offhand.) We never did finish the game, but I'd have to say that the women were most definitely winning! Lynda sent her husband back to the hotel so she could party hearty (just kidding cea!) Actually their 2 children were at the hotel with Brenda's 2 children, and it was getting pretty late.
So now, all we were missing was Kim and Joey (Sky and Woody). Their planes were coming in around the same time and they were planning on going to their hotel first then coming over. Brenda tried calling their hotel a few times, but wasn't getting any answer. Finally, they got a hold of one another, and Kim said they had been waiting for over a half hour for a taxi. Brenda decided to go pick them up. Since Brenda had had a few drinks, Chrissy (who doesn't drink) said she would drive. Apparently, it didn't matter whether or not Chrissy drank...but I guess I shouldn't tell that story, as I wasn't actually there. All I know is it had something to do with a flashing red light and the car almost tipping over...
When Kim and Joey arrived, they surveyed the scene, trying to figure out who everyone was. My first impression of Kim was that she looked much younger and prettier than her picture suggested. Other than that, she appeared to be the same Kim that we had all gotten to know over the past year or so! Joey, was pretty much what I had expected. He looked basically like his picture, but was a bit quiet that first night. (He was REAL tired.) The night was starting to slip away. We continued talking til the wee hours of the morning, and no one really wanted to go to bed. Finally, Joey could barely keep his eyes open so Brenda (who had sobered up by this point) drove him and Kim back to the hotel. Todd and Gill went back to theirs also, and the rest of us who were sleeping at the house, figured out what rooms we would be in etc.
When we finally got the room situation straightened out, I was rooming with Lynda upstairs in Brenda's daughter's room, Karen and Chrissy had their son's room, and Lisa and her mom were going to sleep on the sofa downstairs. Jeff was going to sleep out in "The Outback." Lynda and I could not stop talking, although it was past four in the morning. Our rude neighbors in the room next door (Karen and Chrissy) banged on the wall and told us to SHUT UP! (Note to my kids: This will NOT effect how I act at night when you won't shut up in your room when you are supposed to be going to sleep!) I heard Lisa (I think) yelling up "Goodnight John Boy!" Once Lynda and I finally felt like we could stop talking and perhaps go to sleep, we were serenaded by the LOUD sounds of the birds who were just waking up! Lynda made some nasty comments about the birds...but somehow we managed to sleep through their racket...at least for a few hours.