Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Christmas Warning

The Spirits of Christmas, Chloe and Gibson, are prepared to lay waste to St. Charles, Illinois. Examples of their destructive powers can be seen at:


Notice the force of the wind created by Hurricane Gibson:
(And with a mere pair of pants, mind you...)

With fury and determination this storm will be upon you before you know it (with sprinting speed far surpassing most 16 month olds...):

Baracades will not work against this storm's fury, as it has been known to climb them with ease:

The only real hope any of us has is if Chole can contain Gibson in some sort of inflateable prison:

And even then, he will only pause for long enough to figure out how to tip it over:
(yes, he is inside tipping and Chloe is trying to hold it upright...)

Its amazing we can make it look like he sits still for a moment here and there:
(Modern photographic equipment is amazing...)

See you Thursday,


Sunday, December 24, 2006

December Photo Update...

Our latest photos are up at www.gnat-man.com/december2006/index.htm

They include Chloe running faster than the biggest darn turkey I've ever seen in a Thanksgiving fun run...

Chloe & Gibson setting up the German Playmobile Advent Calendar (It is a manger scene with Santa instead of a baby)...

Chloe dancing the nutcracker with her balet class...

Gibson in his Incredibles baby costume trying to help Jeanne and Chloe make a gingerbread house...

Chloe and Gibson in the play loft that our realitor demands we rip down soon...

Cibson climbing the ladder into Chloe's bed and then practicing his backwards free-falls...

And finally, two photos of the exterior progress on our new house. (Drywall mud was almost complete on 12/23 so its moving along - estimated closing date is between 2/15 and 3/15/07).

We are looking forward to seeing you all later in the week.


December Photo Update...

Our latest photos are up at www.gnat-man.com/december2006/index.htm

They include Chloe running faster than the biggest darn turkey I've ever seen in a Thanksgiving fun run...

Chloe & Gibson setting up the German Playmobile Advent Calendar (It is a manger scene with Santa instead of a baby)...

Chloe dancing the nutcracker with her balet class...

Gibson in his Incredibles baby costume trying to help Jeanne and Chloe make a gingerbread house...

Chloe and Gibson in the play loft that our realitor demands we rip down soon...

Cibson climbing the ladder into Chloe's bed and then practicing his backwards free-falls...

And finally, two photos of the exterior progress on our new house. (Drywall mud was almost complete on 12/23 so its moving along - estimated closing date is between 2/15 and 3/15/07).

We are looking forward to seeing you all later in the week.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Local Health Officials Declare a Homedemic on Amelia Place

Local health officials declared a homedemic at 2140 Amelia Place yesterday. Fifty percent of the public have fallen ill thus far. The viral attack caught officials off-guard. "When the heck am I going to do my Christmas shopping?" one official was quoted as asking. Leadership at the home wants to assure the public that, though severe, it is not life-threatening. "You are NOT going to die" was the oft-repeated statement to victims. It is reported that the viral attack includes instances of sudden oral ejections. Alert officials switched hydration protocol from cola-based sodas to un-cola-based sodas in response. Although attacks of this kind often target the young and the old, officials note that the attack has thus far spared the senior members of the home. "We may be seeing the return of a virus from more than twenty years ago...at least we hope so", reported one health officer. Health officials have worked overtime to assist the afflicted. "Mostly we just try to keep them entertained and properly hydrated", stated one.

The homedemic started when a four-year-old fell ill. Three days later, he has recuperated, but the virus rages on.

In Tomorrow's Edition: The Homedemic's Impact on Education

Friday, December 01, 2006

Miles news

Well, last night it snowed a ton and school is canceled!! Turns out Janine doesn't have mono just a virus, which has passed. I am taking sleeping pills and they seem to be doing to opposite of what they are supposed to do (didn't get 1 wink of sleep last night).Just to clear things up mono is only spread by saliva so if your not sharing drinks or kissing Ian you don't have anything to worry about for Christmas. We cant wait to see everyone!!! Much love!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

John enters the 21st century

Since Laurie just posted, I won't get into too much. Yes, as President of the Kiwanis Club of Colonial Plymouth I am even busier than I have been in the past. Our club has 92 members and does a lot locally, as well as supporting an organization called Kids Against Hunger. We help set up sessions where groups (usually kids, like school groups) package a nutritious mix of rice, soy, chicken powder, and vegetables that is sent to various parts of the world to aid starving children and adults. Over the past year and a half, we have packaged over 300,000 meals. It's the best project we've been involved with in my 10 years in the club.

Work is going quite well, though I am still in the growth stage of my business and not yet where I want to be. I have a new assistant (we call them Branch Office Administrators, or BOAs) named Kathy who is going to be fabulous as she gets more experience. I am already in a much better frame of mind than with my prior BOA, who caused me a lot of stress. The referral network worked well on this one. Kathy was Laurie's dad's assistant for 10 years at FTD.

Quick update on Zane. Played his first official varsity hockey game last night. Lost 6-2 to Chelsea. He played the whole game and made 57 saves. Yes, you read that right - 57 saves out of 63 shots, a .905 save percentage which is quite good. He was very busy. For those of you who don't know hockey too well, that's about twice as many shots as a goalie would normally face in a game. We are very proud of him.

My inquiries to join the Paisley Fogg have not lead to anything as of yet, so I started singing on a part-time basis with the OLGC choir. After 16 years of being a cantor and many times being asked, I guess it was time.

I will try to check Birchtales regularly, but what would really be neat would be an automatic email notifcation that goes out when someone posts. Is that possible, Gretchen?


Monday, November 13, 2006

Plymouth Update

Greetings from Plymouth!

Hockey is in full swing and we hope to squeeze in some family time when we visit a rink near you.
This weekend, Mom (Grandma) came to see Vaughn's team play at the Bloomfield Hills rink. A disappointing tie, 2-2 but fun none the less. She declined the opportunity to follow us to Oak Park where my team played; we managed a 3-1 win.

Vaughn's team, the Canton Crush, is doing quite well. You can follow their ratings at this link. http://www.midwestyouthhockey.com/view_2006_rank.php?a=p&t=n&m=n&r=US He is Mr. Versatility and plays wing, defense and occasionally center. A recent growth spurt added a couple inches but no weight. Ask to see his rock hard abs. Another inch and he will pass me up. School is going well and he plans to try out for basketball this year. His team will travel to Indy right after the New Year so we'll get to visit Craig and Jeanne.

Bryn is still playing hockey "with the boys." She's a great defenseman --a regular Nicklas Lindstrom in pigtails. She just finished soccer, to John's great relief. Although hockey is more expensive, it's indoors with bathrooms and snack shops and you don't have to bring a chair. Bryn is really enjoying 5th grade and is having great success in the classroom. She also has experienced a recent growth spurt and is a whopping 4 ft. 7 inches--average at last. Her team will be in Chicago for a tournament January 12-14.

Zane is a sophomore at Canton High School and gainfully employeed at Busch's markets, the same grocery chain that Mike used to work at. He took driver's ed and is now logging his student hours. Zane made the Canton varsity hockey team as a goalie and is still in the clouds about it. Zane started the first scrimmage game and there is hope that he will actually see some game action. It really pyschs out the other team to see a 6' 2" goalie in net. Unfortunately, he's the biggest kid on a very young team. I told him I hope he likes seeing his name in the paper, followed by "gave up 7 goals on 60 shots in Canton's loss." He reports that school is going well, although that has yet to be independently verified. Report cards come home this week.

John is now President of Kiwanis. I'll let him tell you more about that when he figures out how to blog. It does keep him very busy. His work at Edward Jones is going well enough to have won a family trip to Disney World in March. We have never been and are really looking forward to it. The kids are very happy that our hotel is right by the ESPN place. John was diagnosed with asthma, although it doesn't seem to be as chronic as with the boys, it does flare up from time to time. He is the official National Anthem Singer of the Canton High School Varsity Hockey Team.

I'm enjoying my 15 minutes of local fame. I have been in the news a bit lately and am very amused by it. I was featured in Detroit Free Press local section article in August, then a front page article in the Canton Observer on library technology had my picture and many quotes, then the Plymouth Observer featured my World Series Commissioner's Trophy, made from a garbage can lid and other items. I managed to get to one of the Detroit Tigers ALCS games with my brother and got tickets (the legal way) to World Series game 1 at Comerica Park with John and my brother. Soccer season is over for me also but hockey is going great and we are having lots of fun.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving in Essexville (Vaughn especially) and will bring Zane's new football. Also planning for Christmas in Chicago, but only if all the mono has cleared up! Hang in there Carol.

Thanks to Gretchen for reviving interest and her patience with the techno-challenged.

Family Photos

Some family photos from the annual pre-Christmas Helmreich photo shoot are posted at: http://www.gnat-man.com/familyphotos/index.htm

It has gotten a little harder to set up the background, lights, operate the camera, and convince two very mobile children to cooperate, but we still got a few decent shots. (And some funny ones when Chloe and I took our own picture while messing with the remote trigger...)

Not much new in Indianapolis. Chloe has become quite the big sister, taking care of her little brother at all times. Gibson is getting quite good a throwing things - the larger the better. Jeanne and I are becoming quite tallented at prying Chloe off Gibson - "No, you can not carry your brother to the car," and I continue to run regularly (mostly to make sure I am fast enough to catch Gibson.)

Our new house has a basement at this point and framing begins this week. People continue to look at our current house, but no real action in the first 45 days on the market (except the ten showings). Thank goodness we have a guaranteed buyout from the builder if the current house does not sell.

We plan on being in Joliet on Thanksgiving and St. Charles for Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing everyone during the holidays.

P.S. If anyone is in the mood for Christmas music already, check out Aimee Mann's new album of ten standards called "Another Drifter in the Snow" its amazing.

Now how do I get spell check to work on this post???


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sick Sick Sick

Well, don't know if any of you have heard Ian has mono and is quite sick. Janine also may have mono and is getting her test on Monday. I am not sleeping well and may have to be put on sleeping pills. Carol/Mom is cooking up a storm and I am FINE with that. Jim/Dad is working very hard and we are all looking forward to Ian's return!!! 7 more nights to sleep!!! I know he can't wait to come home and see the dogs and sleep in his own bed (something he will be doing a lot of). Can't wait to see all of you for Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Totally Out of It AKA Out of It...Totally!

Hello Family!

There isn't much news here because all I do is work. Lost my construction coordinator August 1 and have been leading Saturday work teams at Habitat houses where I know enough to organize the site. Six day weeks do not agree with me, but I have met a lot of very nice people giving of their time on the sites. Hired a new guy a week ago but I am continuing with 3 sites that are near final inspection so he can concentrate on 3 others - one is a foundation, one is framed but not enclosed, one is at mechanical inspection. Two others are being built by local high school building and trades classes - that is mostly a stop by and see how they are doing situation.

I can't wait until things are back to "normal".

Rich is practically as nutty with his plastering business as I am with Habitat. It is a rush against the cold temperatures for him.

For Thanksgiving we are hosting any and all in the Chicago area. Rich's daughter, Lauren, will be visiting for a week during that time. We hope all who join us will try their luck at our new poker table!

(Thank you, Gretchen, for teaching me how to blog and bringing some of us into the 21st Century - at least when we can remember our sign-on information!)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Geezer Rock

Here are a couple pix of the Paisley Fogg at the Dogwood Theatre

Uncle Keith checks in

Greetings from Bay City

Thanks to Gretchen for putting this together and tutoring us on its use.

Last night I had a nice dinner at Bennigans in Mt. Pleasant w/ Amanda followed by a concert at the music school by the Jazz Lab I band which played "Hey That's My Bike" among other notable big band jazz numbers. While at Bennigans we disovered Uncle Buddy's perfect meal-Guiness glazed steak (or chicken, salmon or shrimp :) Mike made the mistake of going home this weekend so he missed out on the jazz concert and more importantly Uncle Keith's dinner treat, but I gave him a raincheck.

Ethel is coming home today from a visit to her dad in Albuquerque. While she was gone Radar and I made a trip to the cottage Saturday to clean up the yard. Gretchen, Paul, Barbara if any of you ever feel like coming for a visit to the cottage it is about 6 hrs from Chi-town and would be a fun way to visit. I think you (and Craig's family) are about the only family members who have never been to Shores Sweet.

I am keeping the grass well trimmed on the football field in preparation for the Thanksgiving Day game in Essexville. Vaughan be sure to bring the football because I don't know if my OJ Simpson signature model still holds air!

The Paisley Fogg is still croaking out its age old (I mean timeless) music. We played in beautiful Fremont MI, home of Gerber Baby Food a few weeks ago. Maybe when I figure out how I'll post a photo of the gig.

The law biz is still reasonably good to me although my interest flags from time to time. Craig recently helped me a great deal on a common carrier damage claim which is something he is an expert in and I'd never been presented with before.

I'll let my children post their own updates to let us all know what they are doing.

Uncle Keith

Sunday, November 05, 2006

tom birchler is in the loop

So we have our own Birchblog? how cool is that. thanx for setting it up Gretchen. NO big news but did enjoy recent visits at mom's with Uncle Bud and Aunt Delores and a week later with Bridgid and Joe. They are all doing well.
Emily made the 8th grade volleyball team and won her first game. Mike's flag football team is winless, making them worse than the Lions.

News from the AA Birchlers

There is nothing extraordinary happening in our house, but I can report the boring truth! We hosted 10 at our house this weekend. My sister, Chris, from Indiana, plus hubby & 6 kids came in. Another couple (friends of theirs) came, too. The 4 Indiana adults went to the UM/Ball State game (my sister and her friend went to Ball State) while we watched kids (w/ grandparental help). A great time was had by all!

Amanda is doing fine in school - and she is not having roomate issues this year - YEA! She came home this weekend (with loads of laundry, of course, and left w. lots of provisions, of course!). We were glad to see her. She is hoping to study abroad next year & is working on the details for that.

Justin is doing well at Coastal. He is having a great time in marching band. He has a nice group of friends and is doing well academically. He played intramural football this fall. Jim and I visited in Oct.; we had a great time - saw him march during a football game (that was cool!), and hung out and watched the Tigers beat Oakland (we won't talk about what happened after that!).

Andrew, soph. @ Fr. Gabriel Richard HS, recently finished his cross country season; not his best year (rebounding from an injury last spring), but he enjoyed it. Drew is still the reptile man. He currently has 10 snakes and 7 (I think) lizards. He's holding his adult male corn snake in the photo above. He is going to breed his 2 adults this spring; he has started the process of bromiating them (snake hibernation) . They will hibernate for 2-3 months, then breed. If all goes well, he'll have eggs about 10 days later and baby snakes a few months after that. If any of you want to give a snake a home next fall, let Andrew know!

Joey (Gr. 8) has had a busy fall. He ran CC for his MS, and did ok. He played flag football for school; they were undefeated. He is preparing for Confirmation (this April), and is filling out his application for FGRHS - almost as involved as a college app. In addition to Joey having to fill out 5 short essay questions, the app. has a parent section that has 3 essay questions, including writing a letter of rec. for Joey. Basketball is next on the athletic agenda.

Josh (K) finished his first rec. soccer season this weekend. The team was undefeated - mostly because Josh and another kid on the team (also 6 years old) bowled kids over as they ran the ball down the field to score! He is still into animals big time. He currently wants to be a veterinarian, live on a small farm and own horses, and train killer whales part-time! He asked if he could visit a veterinary hospital sometime to see what the Docs do to take care of the dogs....

Tony (preschool) is looking forward to the day when he can play soccer, too.
He's doing typical preschool things, is very interested in learning to read, and has been dressed in his Lions football uniform constantly this fall (he doesn't know enough to be embarrassed!)

Things have been hopping at the hospital for Jim of late. He's playing in our parish men's basketball league.

I lost all my drivers this year, so I'm back to being the taxi mom - that has been a major drag! Andrew turns 16 in January so, if he gets his license, that will help, but he can't get a school parking permit until next year, so I'll still need to do the daily post-athletic practice pick up during rush hour for the remainder of the year...sigh.

There you have it - the boring truth ; maybe next time I can get Jim to blog - he can breath more life into the boring truth.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No News is Good News?

Hi Family,

So . . . I've noticed that there aren't a lot of posts on Birchtales and I'm feeling out-of-date on all things family. Maybe the Birch8 are still emailing each other and keeping current that way . . . or maybe they use a device I've heard of called a "phone" to keep in touch with each other . . . or maybe Birchtales got lost again and will resurface in 6 years or so . . .

But whatever the case, here is a friendly reminder:


I have moved the "Post to Birchtales" link to the upper left side . . . click it! login! post!

Click here for instructions on how to post to Birchtales
Click here for instructions on how to create a Birchtales Blogger account

Feel free to email me if you are experiencing technical difficulties and need some help getting setup again.

Hope to hear from you soon . . .


Update from Indy

Click here for our latest pictures.

1. Selling our house, building another...
2. Chloe is in Ballet (see photos at link above)...
3. Gibson is running around - and has been dubbed Gibson the Destroyer by Jeanne...
4. I finished the Chicago Marathon in 3:39 (8:22 mile pace), an OK time for my first try on a 40 degree windy day...

See everyone at the Miles Christmas...


Saturday, October 28, 2006

From Gretchen's Kitchen

So, maybe you know this about me and maybe you don't. I love to cook and I love to make up stuff. When I cook at home, I just kind of smell the ingredients and decide what would go well with them. Sometimes, my inventions are worth writing down. Tonight, I invented a barely soup that I thought I would share. Please note, this invention was created under the following restrictions: low-cholesterol, low-sodium, low-fat, what-was-available-in-my-house. Here's the latest recipe added to my recipe box:

Recipe For: Barley Lentil Soup
From The Kitchen Of: Gretchen Helmreich

1 cup dried pearled barley
1/2 cup dried lentils
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
2-3 spoons of jarred minced garlic (aka "Jarlic")
~1/2 cup dried sliced onion (I was out of real ones)
~1 Tbl dried parsley (maybe a bit more - I don't measure)
~1 tsp black pepper
~2 Tbl olive oil

Keep a kettle on. Combine all ingredients in a pretty big pot. Boil (medium, medium-low) for at least 40 minutes. Keep adding water as needed. Stir occasionally. Cook covered.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Tonight, this made 4 LARGE bowls of soup. It was thick with barley - you could use more water to make it go farther, but then you should add more spices. If you aren't watching the cholesterol and sodium like we are, then use more bouillon if you use more water.

This is good stuff. I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Love to all,

Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Mary Jane!

Hey, today's Mom's birthday so don't forget to give her a call and send on birthday wishes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Plymouth Birchlers

We here in Plymouth are not technologically challenged, just insufficiently equipped. Well, at least some of us. Getting signed up was not a problem but it becomes more and more obvious that a computer upgrade is not only wanted, but desperately needed.

I've been reading over the blog and wondered what happened to the lovely family that Craig has. A brief mention of a wife and some Kenyans but I remember seeing a beautiful daughter and hearing a rumor about a son. Maybe he could fill us in on them.

Things in Plymouth are very busy. April, May and June span three sports season, wreaking utter havoc on the calendar. Zane is on the freshman baseball team. I think. They dress up in uniforms but never play games because of the weather. I guess that's still a team, even if you don't actually play the games. When they do play, he does quite well and his strong arm has been put to the test on the mound and at third base. He's been hitting the crap out of the ball too.

Vaughn is playing baseball on the Cardinals and hockey on the Crush. Spring hockey is pretty relaxed so he can usually manage to fit in both sports. He prefers hockey, mostly because there's more action and you get to move around a lot. If you aren't involved in the play, you just skate over to where the play is happening and, viola! you're involved. They frown on that in baseball. Vaughn is our resident cool guy and keeps us up to date on what's happening in pop culture. Or at least on TRL.

Bryn is playing hockey, soccer and softball. Hockey, she plays defense, still on a co-ed team (more ed than co) and in soccer she plays forward. She scored two goals in their last game. The kid has some wheels. Softball has just started but she's glad to be on the Tigers with several close school friends. It looks to be a fun season.

I'm playing hockey in a co-ed league. Each team has at least 1 woman, maxed out at 2. Or the genetic equivalent thereof. I've figured out how to move a 220-lb guy out of the crease. Now I just have to figure out how to keep him from falling on me. Soccer starts in a month--a woman's over 30 league. Really, an over 40 league would be better fit for our team so we just make sure that we have beer, Advil and ice packs after every game and we're fine. In two seasons, we've score a total of about 5 goals. I figure I should get the mileage out of my first knee--it's that rust out/wear out thing. The job at the library is going pretty well. Beats a 45 minute commute and 70 hour work week at Campbell-Ewald, although I do miss the creative stuff.

John is doing well. His business has really picked up lately, his assistant moved on to another office and he has hired a new one. She survived the first week without difficulty. His Kiwanian activities take up a good portion of his time as he is the VP and in charge of fundraisers. Next year he will be president. We are all going to the Kiwanis convention in Montreal at the end of June. He continues his role as Chief Spectactor and Ice Bill Payer for the family, a job that is very much appreciated by the rest of us.

Gordie is also doing well. John will be appalled that I've blogged about the dog but if he could figure this blog stuff out, he could comment. At the vet on Wednesday he weighed 84 pounds (Gordie, not John). He's big and hairy and slobbers a lot, just like he's supposed to (again, Gordie, not John) and we love him (we love John, too).

I look forward to more Birchler blog posts and will try to post more frequently with less volume. Thanks for your patience on this long one.

Technologically Challenged

Hi All, Here is my first posting. We'll see if I can figure out how to get back in for a future posting.

The Adams family is busy. Lots of chasing since Leah has mastered walking (can even do the sloped driveway now). It is spring, but Clare still can not understand why she can't swim in lakes yet (she keeps asking every time she passes one). We will be traveling to New Hampshire/New Jersey in mid-June to visit friends/college roommate/cousin.

The kitchen countertops are ordered, they finally found a distributor with our color of counter - so the installer's goal is to have the counters ready to install by June 1st. Yeah!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Comments from Ann Arbor

Proms - yeah! Races - Yeah! Allergies - BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Our lives are much more uneventful. Quick rundown:
Jim - played 2 basketball games last night and gets sent back to preschool for 'Fishing with Fathers" with Josh tomorrow
Ginny - still doing the mom/cantor/handbell director thing-lots going on @ church w/ Holy Week coming up. Currently working on Justin's T-shirt quilt for graduation
Amanda - almost done w/ year 1 of college; deciding whether to transfer to a different school and what summer plans will be (work/school combo is the current favorite)
Justin - school band went to band festival competition and scored a I (highest rating); he was in a clarinet quartet that went to district solo and ensemble festival and scored a I, then to state S&E and scored a I. Remember I mentioned the music dept. at his school was named best in the nation by the Grammy Foundation? There will be a special concert on Tuesday, May 30, at Hill Auditorium where the school ensembles will perform and be presented their award by representatives from the Foundation. It's free and open to the public so if anyone wants to hike on over, you're more than welcome; we'll even spring for coffee and dessert afterward! Speaking of May, another fun day looms for us: Justin's final band performance of his high school career and his senior prom are on the same day- the same day as my sister's wedding! - that'll be a fun one! We're heading down to SC over spring break for college orientation.
Drew - driving! - need I say more??? He made JV baseball and having fun. So far the team is 1-0-1. His band went to the band festival, too, and scored a II - the best his school has ever done - they were ecstatic!
Joey - Doing better grasping his first year with 9 different teachers. Spring school band concert went fine. He'll be doing track and baseball this spring
Josh - reading! My first experience with a reading preschooler - fun! He's starting to read signs we drive by - the first time he did it I thought it was a fluke!
Tony - reading by imitation - very convincing:)!

Jim told me my last entry was weak, and I'm not sure this was much better, but that's where we're at in A2!

Love to all.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Another One . . .

So this week was a good one for allergic reactions for Gretchen!

On Friday, I went to lunch with co-workers - Indian food. Called the restaurant ahead of time to make sure I could eat there. Spoke with the server. It was a buffet and he told me there were 2 dishes on it I could not eat. So I picked other stuff, had one bite. Waiter came back and said, oh yeah, you also can't have these 3 other things. Too late. I had tasted one of those on a fork already - it was already in me.

Took some benedryl. Dealt with the mouth hives and esophagus stabs. Left the restaurant, went back to the office to chill out for a bit. Mouth hives were getting better, but then I was suddenly hot from head to toe . Went to the restroom- yep, head to toe hives. Also, what joy, my eyes were swelling up and so were my lips and ears (anyone seen "Hitch"?).

So, took a trip to the ER. Got pumped with the drugs. Called Paul and he came down with Iram. Jason left the airport where he was about to board a flight and came down. We had a little party in the ER for a few hours.

So I'm better today - still on a lot of medicine. They make you stay on it for 4 days. Apparently that's how long it takes to get the stuff all the way out of your system - and since the reaction was so severe, it can recur even 2 or 3 days later. So the meds are making that not happen. Prednazone, Benedryl, and Pepcid.

Yeah. It was awesome.

So today, I called the restaurant to see what it was that I ate. The reaction was so bad, I figured it had to be peanuts. I have not had a peanut or peanut substance since I was 2. And that's my worst one, so I figured it had to have been peanut oil in the thing I ate.

Nope. Spinach, mushrooms, cream, and CASHEW nut paste for flavor. Cashews?? You bastards!

If it was that bad for cashews, I'm really glad it wasn't peanut oil!

So, I'm trying to get in to an allergist on Monday or Tuesday to get retested. I'm a bit freaked out because I'm leaving the country on Thursday to go to Mexico and I've had two allergic reactions this week, so now I'm even more sensitive than usual, so that could suck. My friend Cesar who is from Mexico is going to translate some stuff for me so I can communicate that peanuts/nuts are not good for me. He also filled me in on the mole sauce - apparently mole sauce in Mexico is made with almonds . . . good to know.

That's the story. Gotta find an allergist in my plan now . . . frickin' cashews.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So this was a new one . . .

So, last night I had an unusual experience . . .

(I promise to keep this post in the realm of the readable for length! Ahem Craiggo!)

I was at a Barrel of Monkeys benefit, (Monkey-O-Kee = bar, karaoke, fundraising) and I was talking to a group of people. Suddenly, my eye didn't feel quite right. It was dry and itchy and felt like something had gotten in it. So, I went to the restroom and flushed it out and returned to my conversation.

But it wasn't feeling any better, so I went outside, thinking that all the cigarette smoke wasn't helping. But it was feeling worse.

So, I took a return trip to the restroom, and took a look . . . and lo and behold the area under my eye was thrice its normal size!

Suffice it to say that after several Benedryl, 4 ice packs, and a rendition of "Summer Lovin'" duetted with my boss . . . the swelling had lessened.

The Theory: There were bowls of nuts on the bar. Someone in the group I was conversing with must have been eating those nuts. That person must have been a spit talker. Said spit must have made direct contact with my eye.

Meanwhile, 24 hours later, the eye is STILL not down to it's normal size and it's quite bloodshot. Oh yeah. It's hot.

Andrew, take note! In my 29 years with this food allergy, that was a new one!

March 21, 2006 - Press Releases

Below are three press releases issued by "Helmreich Worldwide Promotion" this morning.
1. The First Press Release
Now, after years of waiting, wondering and hoping for a chance to see your favorite distance runner in action...
After a ten year hiatus, the greatest distance runner to ever live at 25W475 Hamilton drive from 1985 to 1993, or thereabouts, has officially announced his return to competitive running...
That's right, Kenyans beware... His blinding speed is only matched by his blindingly white skin (well that and his blinding emissions after eating Taco Bell...).
On Saturday May 6, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. (by then Indianapolis will be observing daylight savings time an will be on Eastern Daylight Time!) the one, the only, Craig Joseph Helmreich will be running the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works, responsible for repairing any damage to the 13.1 mile course, has been heard complaining that of the 35,000 registered participants, it is most concerned that Helmreich, with his thoroughbred-like pavement thudding may actually damage the streets used for the race. This concern is shared by the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, since the race does a lap at the famous oval. However, Helmreich has agreed to pay the race entry fee - and not attempt to use a sponsor's exemption this year to help offset any damage he does to the course.
You, the family, friends, and insanely dedicated fans, are invited to attend the race - and or the post race party (which Helmreich will be informing his spouse of by copy of this e-mail). At this festive post-race event, it is anticipated that Helmreich will be suffering from oxygen deprivation and will, therefore, be unable to incessantly blabber and instead be forced to listen to what others have to say. This PR agent has his doubts... especially since Craig is secretly considering forming a band and rocking out in his yard on the 6th (Finklea and Core consider yourselves warned...).
In late breaking news, Helmreich has boldly announced this morning that he GUARANTEES he will set a new PR for the half marathon distance. At the time this release was issued, researchers could not locate Helmreich's previous PR for this distance, but continue their tireless search.
2. The Second Press Release
In addition to the May 6, 2006 festivities...
On June 5, 2006, in celebration of the eight year anniversary of the union of Craig & Jeanne Helmreich in unholy matrimony (the Catholic Church has obtained a restraining order preventing the use of the phrase "holy matrimony" when an individual raised Catholic gets married in a rent-a-mansion, without first saying 430 "Hail Marrys" and 690 "Our Fathers"), Jeanne and Craig will be celebrating by racing Craig's Corvette in Joliet! The Lotus Car Club of America has invited Craig to attend its annual track day, which this year will be held at the Autobahn Country Club ("ACC") in Joliet, Il. The ACC is a 3.5 mile, 21 turn, 40 ft. wide road course. The event is not competitive and passing is only allowed when waived by. (This prevents relatively inexpensive Corvettes from smashing into not so relatively inexpensive Lotuses...)
Craig will be taking guests for rides around the circuit, so long as they can guarantee they will not soil the vette's passenger seat. The event is from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Monday June 5, 2006. Helmreich Worldwide Promotions is looking for videographers and photographers to capture the excitement of the day. Please submit your resume and portfolio, or in the alternative your e-mail address, if you are interested in shooting photo and/or video for the Free DVD that is bound to be produced in the hours following the event. (And by hours, we mean thousands of hours... thereby removing any obligation to produce and distribute the DVD before Helmreich Worldwide Promotions is darn good and ready to market the same).
Finally, if you miss these two events - do not despair... because:
3. The Third Press Release
On Sunday October 22, 2006 Craig Helmreich is planning to run the Chicago Marathon! The race organizers have confirmed that Craig Helmreich will be in the field at the start and that they are preparing a limited edition DVD of Craig's race highlights. (Notwithstanding the fact that Helmreich paid for the DVD, Helmreich Promotions Worldwide believes the race organizers commitment to tape Helmreich and distribute a limited edition DVD clearly indicates they expect great things from Helmreich in the race.) The initial DVD production run is limited to one copy, but Helmreich Promotions Worldwide is anticipating huge demand and is acquiring the necessary bootleg software to mass produce this collectable title. Order your free copy today! (In fact, Helmreich encourages his fans to mob him at the various points on the course where the video cameras will be located, including the start, 5K mark, 10K mark, 15K mark, 20K mark etc... and by mob, he means ply him with Gatorade, Water, Candy Bars, epinephrine injections and emergency CPR, as necessary.)
We here at Helmreich Worldwide Promotions hope to see you at one or more of these amazing events this summer and fall.
The one, the only,
Craig J. Helmreich

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Under the Sea in 83 Prom Party

Hi Everyone!

We're celebrating Sarah's 30th birthday in April with an 80's Prom!
We've rented out a bowling alley on Friday, April 28th (9pm - 1 am).
For more details and an online invitation, send me your email and I'll mail you one! (sarah at sarahsoda dot com)

Hope to see you there

Friday, March 17, 2006

David & Dale Enjoying Warm Temps

David & Dale are in Aventura, FL with Rick & Bobbie Grawemeyer. Sunny, high 70's.

Just returned from a great weekend in Chicago getting caught up with Jason & Sarah. They are doing well and both working hard toward advanced degrees in Info Tech and Acupuncture, respectively.

Kevin is in Cape Cod (again) visiting Katy - between stints caring for the alpacas.

Keith is house-sitting, we hope!

More news from Ann Arbor

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Jim and Tony had the opportunity to experience 'Donuts with Dad' at Tony's preschool this morning. From what I heard, they had a great time sitting in pint-sized chairs, playing with toys, doing an art activity (I'm told it's a tyranosaurus rex) and, of course, eating donuts. Jim will have to fill in the not-to-be-missed details!

News from the Ann Arbor Birchlers-Justin

Pioneer High School (where Justin attends) was named the 2006 National Grammy Signature school last week. What that means is that the music department at Justin's school is considered by the Grammy Foundation (yes, of the same organization that gives the awards) to be the best high school music department in the country. Justin has had a great experience as a band member at PHS (he's marched & been in the top band for the last 2 years) and we are pleased that he has had the priviledge & opportunity to be part of such a strong program.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Birchtales in da house!

Hi Family,

I got a pretty good response from people today requesting to sign on to Birchtales!

Here's the who's who of invitees (in Birch8 birth order):
-Jason B. and Sarah - invited and accepted!
-Keith J.
Babs - invited and accepted!
-Craig - invited, accepted, blogging
-Gretchen - obviously blogging
-Jason S. - invited and accepted


Please be sure to email me if you happen to talk to a family member who did not receive the original email . . . I'm sure my address book is sorely out of date.

Love to you all,

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Craig's First Post

I just finished a run for the evening and Gretchen had a message waiting for me with Jeanne and another on my phone demanding I immediately try out the Birch Tales blog... Never one to be shy about blabing about myself to the family and various unknown strangers, I liked the idea and now write to inform the world that I am training for the Indy Mini Marathon in early May and just ran 6 miles at 7:30 min/mile pace.

Sweet. I need more Gatorade...


Birchtales Beta

This is a test post to the new Birchtales blog. TEST.