Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Colonoscopy Day!

Today Dan had his very first colonoscopy and let me tell you it was a treat to witness. Okay, I didn't actually witness the procedure but I did witness the pregame and aftermath of it all. 

Things you should know about getting a colonoscopy:
1. The preparation is shitty. 
2. When wearing a gown, for the love of God, keep your legs closed. 
3. You can't fight anesthesia so don't even try. 

Arriving at the office, Dan was very nervous. On a level between one and vasectomy, I'd say it was up there with his vasectomy. 

The nurses were extremely nice and after learning that Dan is a police officer and working in the city which they both live, made for interesting conversation. Dan made it perfectly clear that in his 25 years of serving he has never written a nurse and will never because of this situation right here. They thanked him for his service and he profusely thanked them for their service. 

Everyone is getting serviced today. Thanks all... 

Men, I know that you aren't accustomed to wearing dresses but there is an entire protocol when wearing one. It's called modesty, as in, let's try and have some. 

After Dan changed into his gown, things turned up a bit. As he was trying to sit on the bed the entire hospital received a nice view of his entire crotchal region. And I mean all of it.

The nurse turned and said, "oh my!" Dan asked me if his butt was hanging out. And I couldn't stop laughing and said, "Your butt is fine but everyone can see your penis..." 

Then they gave him a larger gown but honestly it didn't matter. 

They took him back and all went smoothly as planned. Less than thirty minutes later, the nurse came to get me from the waiting room and brought me back to Dan's room where I saw him completely passed out cold.

When the doctor came in to tell me about the procedure, I thought he was smiling a little brighter than one whose career involves looking at assholes should be. Also the anesthesiologist walked by chuckling and said, "Hey Dan!" and gave me a little wink.

I was a bit suspicious, what did he say to these people? 

This is when I should have propped my phone up and hit record. 

Standing at his bedside, holding his hand, I notice he is trying to talk. He is mouthing something to me. I lean in and try to reassure him everything went well. The nurse is standing next to me letting me know he will wake up soon. He continues to mouth the same thing over and over until he finds his voice and says, "take your top off." 

I look at the nurse and she laughs. Now that he has found his voice he continues with telling me to take my top off and adds, "close the curtain," and mumbles other things. It's hard to hear but I make out things like:

I have loved you for thirty years- that's nice, we've been together for twenty-two years... and thirty years ago you were loving me at ten... 
My doctor said you were smokin hot- really Dan? Your doctor said that... to your face...really?

I'm rolling my eyes, even though I know he can't see me, and firmly remind him where we are and very sternly tell him to clean it up. 

Then the nurse returns and this happens: 
Nurse: Dan, would you like anything to drink?
Dan: *eyes still closed and no response.
Nurse: Dan, I have apple juice, sprite, or water. Would you like something to drink?
Dan: {starting to flutter awake} I'll take a bourbon. 
Me: No you won't, Jesus! Please could he have a sprite and thank you so much. 

When the nurse returns he tries to explain that he usually only drinks on the weekends and does not have an alcohol problem. She chuckles and hands him his sprite and leaves. I fake toast his fake bourbon and say "to health" and we both take a shot. 

After a few minutes he finally comes back to awareness and remembers nothing. I tell him, "funny how a shot of bourbon can do that." Dan's a little confused but I'm guessing flashes of memory are starting to come back to him. He looks at me and asks if he said anything inappropriate. 

The good news is that:
1. Dan is a lover not a fighter when under the influence.
2. His colon is clear and will not be violated for another five years, according to the doc.

Although he put on a good show for everyone, I think it's safe to say it's a win-win for all involved that we don't have to come back anytime soon. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Camp

Happy Father's Day!


This weekend we celebrated the greatest, the legendary, the awesomest of awesome dads at Natural Springs Resort in New Paris, Ohio. 

This weekend we let these dads work their asses off to set up camp so that we could show them how much they mean to us. It's the least we can do because in 1910, Sonora Smart, a woman who was raised by her father, heard about Mother's Day and thought it would be a good idea to celebrate fathers as well. She proposed this idea to her church. They were super supportive and decided to have a celebration. Sonora wanted to party hearty on June 5th, her father's birthday, but the pastors didn't have enough time to prepare the sermons. Everyone agreed the third Sunday in June would be better and viola! Father's Day was born! It took three presidents (and other members of Congress) to proclaim Father's Day a national holiday! And because it took a lot of work getting this day recognized, we let these dads work hard at relaxing this weekend! 

You're welcome dads!

Natural Springs Resort (NSR) is a wonderful family friendly campground about an hour west of us. They are situated on one of seven natural springs. Their campground is clean and offers lots of amenities for the kids.... which in turn is a gift to the dads, if you know what I mean. 

It is very rare to have both boys camping these days. Work, soccer, basketball...just life in general seems to get in the way. This weekend the stars aligned and we were able to have one night without interruptions. 


Camping this weekend was much of the usual. Laughing, eating, and just the right amount of shenanigans. For example, tree climbing. 

This was sometime around or after midnight and I dared Dan to climb these trees, like we did when we were younger and bored and standing within a door jam and thinking, "I can climb this", and then our dads called us idiots and yelled at us to get down before our mother saw us. There is a kid in all of us and Dan's inner child is still an annoying 10 year old looking for adventure. 

In addition to tree climbing, the dads enjoyed a little ping pong.  


Please don't confuse our camp toys with a lack of campground activities. There is much to do at NSR. My favorite was:


The weather was perfect and this campground has a very clean beach and lake, as well as a heated pool full of chemicals for those who find comfort in chemicals and a clear view of the bottom. 


If you are planning a trip to NSR here is a friendly tip. Make sure you get to the beach early to secure chairs because it fills up quick. 


Don't forget your beach toys! We built Father's Day castles, complete with a mote, and because we love our daddy's so much we even brought a little sand back to the campers. 


Someone remind me to get a Lifeproof phone case because this is a crappy picture of the best part of the weekend. Thanks dads, for blowing up all of these rafts. Another reason we are members of the Father's Day Camp Club. 


Hey dads, we care about you and your relaxation this weekend. So we are going to do you a favor and rent golf carts, with your money, so that you don't have to do too much walking. And while we are add it, we are just going to use it to cruise around the campground which means you might have to actually walk to the beach every now and then. But if you think about it, it's really good exercise and we care about your health. 


Remember when you were nine and could drive? Me neither, but it's Father's Day so the dads get to call all of the shots! Like climbing trees and letting children drive. 

There's no age limit on Father's Day. Nope. Because when daddy was a kid, "Hell, I was driving when I was six. Yep, my dad told me to get the hell out of the house and I did exactly that. No one cared about us in those days. We were just kids and we turned out just fine."


Now for a few more Golf Cart Fun Shots:




As usual, the best times happen around the table and camping is no exception. Whether you are with family or friends, or lucky for me- both, good food and good conversation go hand and hand. 


All of these men have proven time and time again that family is always first and even when we are a pain in their ass, there is nothing they won't do for us. 

Father's Day Camp was a success. These kids are pretty lucky. 


To Camper Dan,

Happy Father's Day. 


Friday, June 2, 2017

Memorial Day Campout 2017

WOOOOO HOOOOO! It is officially camping season for the Hamlin family!

We decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend and set up at Poor Farmers. Close enough to pop in and out for graduation parties yet far enough away to forget about all the laundry, housecleaning, window washing, and yard work that needs a little attention.

Poor Farmers had quite the lineup of events for the weekend.

Please take note that there is a discount for Active Duty, Veterans, Police & Fire! BOOM! Thank you for your service Danny cause we just saved some money!!

And now on a serious note. To all the men and women who have sacrificed all so that we may be free, we will never forget. To all the men and women who have served, are serving, and walk the streets so that we may be safe, thank you.

Friday night it poured something awful. At one point the campground lost power, but only for a second, and long enough for us to pause to think about our back-up sump pump. No worries though Max stayed home because he had to work this weekend, but more importantly he is seventeen, now a senior, and doesn't like camping as much as he used to. However he coincidentally showed up a couple of nights around dinner time. Yep, the campground is that close.

Although Poor Farmers has just about everything you could want, a petting zoo is not one of them. What do you do when you get eighteen inches of rain overnight and your campsite is all muddy? You put down two bales of hay of course. Isn't that what all campers do? Perhaps not but we are smart campers. 

It's because this happened after the rain and this is not what you want inside of the camper.

If you are ever worried that kids are doomed these days take a look at these pictures above. These beautiful little girls had the time of their lives making mud pies and mud cakes. You guys, this is what camping does, forces kids to be creative because quite frankly camping is boring as hell. But in a good way, the way that asks you, "well, are you going to just sit in a chair all day and sweat your ass off or are you going to take a walk or take a stab at that canoe?" And then you end up taking a nap instead and everyone just feels great. 


This Snapchat picture is courtesy of Tommy. If you aren't fluent in teenage language, I will translate the picture above: Look! My cousin caught a fish! 

Tommy has recently picked up a love like tolerance of fishing. From the looks of his Snapchat story, he's getting better. 

And then there are cards. A classic pastime of bored kids. 

But the very best part of camping usually comes at night. Nothing beats a campfire. It is, hands down, the greatest way to unwind. I firmly believe that if all of the world leaders met around a bonfire, we would have world peace. 


By the way, we had seven campers this time. It seems we keep adding campers. This week it was Todd and Lisa. Their son is a celebrity, not in a TMZ way, rather a soccergod to some developing soccer players kind of way. 

Photo Creds to Lisa 

These boys took a break from camping to watch Peyton and the Dayton Dynamos put the hammer down on Syracuse FC. 
It's how we camp now. With professional athletes. 

But I think the biggest hit was our new addition to camping, aping pong table. Dan has been talking about this for a year and finally pulled the trigger and bought one. 


It's small enough to travel but big enough to create a little excitement. 


If you are wondering if you are able to play a game of doubles, the answer is yes. It's a little tight but it can be done. 

I'd have to say the greatest pastime of camping is eating.

I hope you all get a chance to meet Mike some day because you haven't lived a full life until you've tasted his meatloaf burgers. 

There is nothing he can't make and to top it off his wife, Megan, is a mastermind of candies and desserts. 

So there you have it, a much needed camping weekend with family and friends. 

Until next time... 

This is the life! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Generating Memories

This is the honest-to-God truth about our power outage struggles this weekend. I will say though, since we didn't need a Bobcat digging up our yard, it did feel like a win for the Hamlin's. 

Here's how Sunday played out for us. 

Saturday night (or technically Sunday morning) was the night the Hamlin's have been waiting for. I feel like we've been training for this day for the past four years. 

You guys I'm serious. We train for these events. Physically. 

At approximately 1:30am our power went out. 

In the 22 years I've known Dan, I have never seen him jump out of bed faster. By the time he had the generator started and the electrical cords running to the sump pump our water level was dangerously close to the top. I'm gonna say two and a half minutes TOPS it took him to achieve running to the garage, pulling out the generator, starting it, plugging very tangled extension cords in, running back into the house while unraveling cords on his way to the basement and plugging in the sump pump, just in time to save us from the Hamlin Flood of 2017 (part 3). 

It was so impressive to watch. Which is what I did. To be honest I would have been in the way and I'm pretty sure Tommy was still standing in front of the open powerless refrigerator while all of this was going on {insert eye roll}. 

Side note: This past summer DP&L changed out all of the power lines along our road. They left huge ruts in our front yard and now every time it so much as rains, our power goes out. Thanks DP&L. Stern phone calls have been made. 

After we get the essentials plugged in, basically the sump pump, the boys decide to "go to bed early" since there was nothing to do and Dan and I fall asleep on the couch so as to listen to the wonderful hum of a running generator. 

At 3:30am the power comes back on and Dan is back at it, undoing all the work of putting cords away, resetting clocks, etc. we finally head to bed. 

Less than and hour after all that his alarm goes off and he's getting ready for work. I feel so awful for him that I don't complain when he doesn't turn the annoying alarm off right away. He's a hero at work and in our home.

But here is where the story gets better.  

After he gets home from work on Sunday, he decided that we needed a full blown "disaster drill" to teach the boys how to prepare for if this ever happens again. It included eye rolling and lots of yelling. We go through ALL the motions of an actual power outage crisis (in the event our battery back up is not functioning properly or is not hooked up because it's being returned, such as was our situation the previous night...). It sounded a little like this and was acted out as such: turn it to "run", pull the choke, turn valve gas on, pull the cord as hard as you can, put the choke back in, plug in cord, come on! RUN the cord to the basement, unplug pump from the wall and plug into extension cord, run back upstairs, now we are dead because no one opened the garage door, it's the red cord pull hard and throw the damn doors up. Let's start from scratch. 

Insert eye rolls and heavy sighs..... 

Not more than an hour and a half after said drill Dan and I both leave the house to run errands and Max leaves to get his haircut, three cars pulling out at once. 

As I'm driving home, I get a phone call that went like this: 

Dan: Max called and the power is out! #%*! 

Me: Are you kidding me?

Dan: No! I thought he was messing with me too. He said the generator isn't starting. 

Me: But we did the drill. I'm about 2 miles away. I'm hurrying. Tell him to plug it into the battery back up. 


Me: %#*! %#^! 

Dan: %#*! %#*! 

Me: *passing cars on country roads* ok, ok, ok.  This will all be ok. 

Dan: I'm almost home. 

As I pull into the driveway I see Dan hugging Max.

 Max did it. Our kids listened and learned!!! When it mattered! 

He managed to tinker with the generator and got it started and ran the cords to the sump pump. He saved the house. And although he forgot to open the garage doors first, he remembered and put his shirt over his face so as not to die, like we were told would happen, and went back into the garage and pulled the red cord and so on and so forth. 

This earns HUGE points in Dan Hamlin's eyes. You don't just listen in the Hamlin house. You learn something that is far more valuable than algebra or reading.  

Max is named a hero that day! I see a twenty dollar bill go into Max's hand "just because". 

It's all smiles and rehashing the events,

 "So you pushed the choke in?" 

"Yeah I just pulled the starter cord so hard the generator was flying off the ground" 

"I knew you'd do it!" 

High fives all around. 

People. This was a big win for us. We are in the middle of reorganizing our sump pump setup. It has included replacing all pumps, digging all new drainage lines, and our last step was to replace the battery back up pump system. We are so close to never, and I mean never, having to worry about this again. So close. 

Poor Dan is exhausted. He's been working his ass off on this project for weeks now. 

By the way, Tommy enjoyed a movie with friends.  🙄 

Good times. Good times. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chewbaca "The Beast" Hamlin


Chewy Hamlin, the World's Best Dog 

Today we laid Chewy to rest. 

You will not find sarcasm here today. You will not read about any feelings of relief. You see, of all the years I've complained about the hardships of owning a dog, I've never been more grateful for what Chewy has taught my family. 


Chewy is not our first family dog. We've had a couple before him. Farley, our first German Shepherd was dropped off about three days after I brought Tommy home from the hospital. With two babies in diapers, a puppy was the last thing we needed and so we found him a good home. Then came Brutus, our Great Dane. He was the world's dumbest dog. After he knocked Tommy down two flights of stairs we had to find another home for him. Stupid us for getting such a big dog, he clearly wasn't the right fit for our family. 

We knew we wanted our boys to grow up with a dog. Yes, even I wanted that for my boys. This time we didn't jump into it, we remembered that Farley was a really good puppy, it was just bad timing. We decided that a German Shepherd was the kind of dog we wanted. Easy to train (unlike Brutus), smart (unlike Brutus), and big enough to protect yet small enough as to not knock everything off the tables as it walks by (very unlike Brutus). 

We found a place in New Bremen, Ohio with German Shepherds. I'll never forget how excited Max and Tommy were driving up! We even invited Kendall, our niece, to help us pick out the perfect puppy. The breeders lived on a farm and had several different litters of puppies. The boys, Kendall, and I immediately went to the smallest, youngest crew. They were so fluffy and cute. Dan on the other hand kept looking at this older puppy, all alone. The rest of its siblings had been sold and he was the last one. Dan said, "Kate, look how calm he is. He's a little older. He will be easier to train. I think we should get this one." 

And he was right. 


And so we brought Chewy home to be a part of our family. From the very beginning he has been the most well behaved dog. Even off a leash, he never left our side. 


Where ever the boys went, Chewy went. 


He protected them and kept them safe. 


They were best friends. 


Often times Chewy was tackled, wrestled, and ridden like a pony. 

He would let the boys do anything to him. He was patient and kind. 


He loved going to the park. 


It's funny how going through pictures I didn't realize how big of a presence Chewy was in the background of our lives. 


 Chewy's full name is Chewbaca Hamlin. Obviously named after Star Wars. He's been called lots of different names but Chewy or Beast is what we called him the most.


It is an interesting story how he earned the name Beast. Many years ago, we decided to take a winter trip to Michigan. We packed Chewy up and sent him to Grandma's house for the weekend. A few days in, we received a call from Grandma saying that Chewy jumped the fence and ran away. It also happened to be record low temperatures in Ohio. There were two police departments looking for Chewy, as well as many family members and friends. Although there were many sightings, no one could catch him. He ran around Englewood for two days and then we received no news of sightings. The boys were old enough to be devastated from this and yet young enough to not really understand. We decided not to tell them until we came home. Arriving home, after the eleven hour drive, we told the boys we were going to pick Chewy up from Grandma and Grandpa's the next day. The boys were disappointed but were so exhausted they went to bed with little argument.

Dan decided to drive to Englewood, that same evening, and search where he was sighted last, the wooded area behind Krogers. Dressed in snow pants, layers and layers of clothes, and a ski mask, Dan grabbed his flashlight and walked out the door at 10:00pm. An hour later Dan called me, breathless and emotional. He said he walked around the woods and as he was just about to turn back he heard a rustling near a big pile of sticks. He called Chewy's name and from under the pile, out crawled Chewy. Dan dropped to his knees and ripped off his mask so that Chewy would come to him. Once Chewy recognized Dan, he ran to Dan, crying and barking. And this is how Chewy got the name Beast. He survived the wild for over three days in below zero temperatures. We never told the boys the story until several years later, you know, just in case we needed someone to watch Chewy again.


We would often take him to dog parks. 


He was the best dog. He taught our boys lessons about life that we couldn't. It was unconditional love from the very beginning.


And then we bought our camper. Nobody loved camping more than Chewy. Until this past summer, Chewy went on every camping excursion. The best was our trip out west. He barked at wolves and bears, and lead the trails for us.


Even as the boys got bigger, Chewy was always around. For the past ten years he has been in the background of our family.

It wasn't until the past six months we noticed a change in Chewy. He started losing his balance and his walking was a bit off. It progressed so quickly to the point he couldn't get up and lost the use of his back legs.

It was time.

We all went to the vet and circled around him as he fell into a peaceful sleep. We told him how much we loved him and how important he was to our family.

I said my goodbyes a week ago. You all know how I feel about Chewy. He was a pain in my ass most days. I hated the constant vacuuming. I hated how he was always under my feet making me trip around the house. But a week ago I laid on the floor with him and told him that the feeling I felt the most, despite ALL the other feelings was gratitude. I was so grateful for what he did for my boys, the lessons he taught them about love, patience, duty, and friendship. I was grateful that he kept my boys safe when I left the house. A quick errand here or there was ok because The Beast would protect them. I was grateful that he was our dog, our family pet.
Ten years ago I watched my little boys pick out their puppy and today I watched my adult-like boys, shovels in hand, bury their best friend. Even after death, another lesson taught and learned about life.

Chewy, you were the best dog on this earth. We know you are flying high in heaven with all the other dogs and many other loved ones. May you forever rest in peace.

Chewy always under my feet.

Tommy's best friend.
The boys and the Beast.
Yellowstone Park
Camping out west with Chewy.